Sunday, October 17, 2010

More on the appalling Alief saga

Legal piranha responsible?

Critics are calling the Alief Independent School Districts three and half year lawsuit against the family of a special needs student retaliatory, mean-spirited and a terrible waste of taxpayer money.

On Wednesday FOX 26 broke the news that the entire Alief School Board is claiming the on-going federal case against these parents has been waged without their knowledge.

Today FOX 26 learned that the legal advice to sue the family of autistic student Chuka Chibuogwu for legal fees likely came from AISD attorney Erik Nichols who in the months preceding the 2007 filing of the lawsuit against the Chibuogwus taught a seminar to fellow education lawyers entitled "Show Me the Money: Recovering Legal Fees in School Litigation."

For months, before the District filed its lawsuit, the Chibuogwu's claimed AISD was not delivering the appropriate education to which their son was legally entitled. The family eventually gave up their battle to win concessions and withdrew Chuka from classes.

FOX 26 attempted to contact Nichols and ask whether his advice to AISD was impacted by a desire to test his legal theory. Nichols has yet to respond.

The strategy has been unsuccessful thus far and cost Alief taxpayers more than $200,000 in legal fees. The case could get more expensive. That's because if the District loses its appeal to the Federal 5th Circuit, Alief taxpayers may be forced to pay the Chibuogwu family's legal expenses, which could run several hundred thousand dollars.

If AISD prevails and the Chibuogwu's are forced to pay, the family claims it will be forced into bankruptcy. Chuka's mother Neka Chibuogwu spoke with FOX 26 about the latest development and the Alief School Board's upcoming October 19th meeting.

"I don't know what they are planning to do, but I would like somebody to tell the truth. I would like them to say that they knew what was going on and I would really like for them to say they did wrong and try to fix it, not just for Chuka, but for all children with disabilities that attend this school district," she said.


Superwoman Just Resigned

The nexus of urban decay is often single party rule – a political sinecure where the incentives for reform are few. The recent Mayoral primary in the District of Columbia provides a cautionary tale.

Unlike most urban Democrats, Adrian Fenty was a genuine reformer. He hired an Education Chancellor, Michelle Rhee; and gave her the power to fire teachers, relieve principals, and close failing schools - at the risk of putting her boss out of work. Indeed, Mayor Fenty lost the recent Democrat primary to Councilman Vincent Gray and now Ms. Rhee has resigned too. None of this is good news for kids. Predictably, the local union has already filed a suit to reinstate those 241 teachers fired for “poor performance.”

When Fenty and Rhee touched the third rail of reform, the academic left mobilized. Randi Weingarten, of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and law professor Mary Cheh made common cause. Weingarten is the anti-hero of Waiting for Superman, a documentary about public education in which Variety claims she is cast as “a foaming satanic beast.” Satanic may be a bit of a stretch, but Weingarten might be the worst thing to happen to public education since head lice.

Icons of the past often foretell the future. Other Gray supporters included Marion Barry and Eleanor Holmes Norton. Barry is best known as a drug addled former mayor. Delegate Norton and her Democrat colleagues in Congress killed the popular DC Voucher program which allowed over 3,300 lower-income children to escape the “ghetto” schools.

The dim prospects for genuine schoolhouse reform in cities like the District of Columbia is not just a local phenomenon. The national outlook is grim too.

When the academic Left brought the AFT into the DC mayoral race, the President and the Secretary of Education went to ground. As Fenty and Rhee were getting mugged by teacher union money, the national party leadership refused to campaign for education reform in their own front yard, the nation’s capital.

Democracy is a bit of an odd duck; sometimes we get what we want and, just as often, we get what we deserve. A pathetic schoolhouse is only possible where no one has the courage or integrity to put children first. In self-segregating cities, the likely victims of inverted models are minorities, black kids in particular. Indeed, the most notorious example of “black on black” crime might be our public school system.

Take the Dexter Manley case. Manley was an athlete who went through the entire Texas public school system and then played football for the Washington Redskins. After football, Manley landed in the Washington Lab School where he tested as a functional illiterate.

Manley was victimized by a system that gave him a permanent hall pass for his race or his jockstrap, or both. If Manley’s teachers applied the same rigor for academics as his coaches did for athletic achievement, Dexter might be a different man today.

For two generations, public school systems have been bottom fishing. Most grade and high school teachers come from the dregs of baccalaureates. And many of these underachievers are credentialed with “education” degrees with little or no substantive knowledge. And many of those weak teachers are now principals or administrators. In short, K through 12 has become an affirmative action program for unionized nitwits. Such swamps are not easily drained; and the muck is now generational.

Yet black parents continue to vote for the urban plantation. Marion Barry ran and won four terms as mayor in DC. If he ran today, he would probably win again. Fenty, sober and progressive in the best sense of the word, was tossed after a term. One of the great ciphers in the wake of Martin Luther King’s death is black urban voters who continue to vote against their own best interests.

On Sunday, 26 September, Education Secretary Arne Duncan appeared on Meet the Press and preached that “we must have the moral courage” to change. We have no evidence that Messrs. Gray, Duncan, or Obama have the courage or integrity to adopt any education policy any more enlightened than ‘business as usual.’ And who expects superman if superwoman leaves town?


Is university really such a good thing? I spent three years learning to be a Trot

Peter Hitchens comments from Britain

What are universities for anyway? I went to one and spent the whole time being a Trotsky­ist troublemaker at the taxpayers’ expense, completely neglecting my course. I have learned a thousand times more during my 30-year remed­ial course in the University of Fleet Street, still under way.

I am still ashamed of the way I lived off the taxes of millions of people who would have loved three years free from the demands of work, to think and to learn, but never had the chance.

We seem to accept without question that it is a good thing that the young should go through this dubious experience. Worse, employers seem to have fallen completely for the idea that a university degree is essential – when it is often a handicap.

For many people, college is a corrupting, demoralising experience. They imagine they are independent when they are in fact parasites, living off their parents or off others and these days often doomed to return home with a sense of grievance and no job. They also become used to being in debt – a state that previous generations rightly regarded with horror and fear.

And they pass through the nasty, sordid rite of passage known as ‘Freshers’ Week’, in which they are encouraged to drink dangerous amounts of alcohol and to lose what’s left of their sexual inhibitions after the creepy sex educators have got at them at school.

If they have learned self-disciplined habits of work and life, they are under pressure to forget all about them, suddenly left alone in a world almost completely stripped of authority.

And if they are being taught an arts subject, they will find that their courses are crammed with anti-Christian, anti-Western, anti-traditional material. Proper literature is despised and ‘deconstructed’.

Our enviable national history is likewise questioned, though nothing good is put in its place. Even if they are study­ing something serious, their whole lives will be dominated by assumptions of political correctness, down to notices in the bars warning against ‘homophobia’ and other thought crimes.

I think this debauching of the minds and bodies of the young is more or less deliberate.

The horrible liberal Woodrow Wilson, who eventually became President of the United States, was originally an academic who once blurted out the truth as seen by many such people. He said in a rare moment of candour: ‘Our aim is to turn out young men as unlike their fathers as possible.’

Well, look at the modern world as governed by graduates who despise their fathers’ views, and what do you see? Idealist wars that slaughter millions, the vast corruption of the welfare state, the war on the married family – and in this country the almost total disappearance of proper manufacturing industry.

Rather than putting an entire generation in debt, the time has come to close most of our universities and shrink the rest so they do what they are supposed to do – educating an elite in the best that has ever been written, thought and said, and undertaking real hard scientific research.

Or do these places exist only to hide the terrible youth unemploy­ment that is a result of having a country run by graduates?


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