Thursday, December 09, 2010

Dubious education at UNC

Mike Adams

The Associated Press recently ran an article that should firmly establish the UNC system as the most ridiculous system of hire (pun intended) education in the United States of America. The article begins, in typical liberal fashion, by lauding a confused individual as a heroine when clearly he is not even a she.

According to the AP, “Nicole” actually spent over $100,000 on an attempted transition from male to female, including flying to, of all places, Thailand, for sexual reassignment surgery. (Please, no dirty Bangkok jokes.) After spending at whopping $20,000 on facial hair removal Nicole still had a problem: His voice still gave him away as a male (because he was and still is a male).

This alleged victim had to endure callers referring to him as "sir" when he answered the phone. It offended him badly because he wants to be referred to as ma’am – at least until he moves to California and is elected to the United States Senate. By then, he’ll be offended by ma’am, too – especially if it comes from one of those annoying military types.

So what was Nicole to do in order to find a “solution” to the “problem” of people correctly identifying his actual God-given gender? Well, even though he’s not an obese black woman (see my last column for details), he found a “solution” to the “problem” at UNCG, which ought to stand for the University of North Carolina at Gomorrah.

Despite the deep budget crisis, North Carolina taxpayers pay UNCG speech pathologists to teach transgender people how to speak like the people of the sex they are trying unsuccessfully to become. Does that make sense? Of course it doesn’t. We’re talking about UNC-Gomorrah.

The AP quoted the 57 year old man named Nicole as saying "To me, there's nothing worse than seeing someone dressed as a woman, a beautiful woman … then she opens her mouth and she sounds like a sailor. It's very off-putting for people." I agree. In fact, I feel the same way every time I watch The Vagina Monologues.

Nicole took eight private classes at UNCG where he learned to redirect his voice through the front of his mouth instead of his throat or chest so that he sounds more like a woman – although, clearly, he is not. Each semester, speech pathologists at the UNCG School of Health and Human Performance take time off from addressing legitimate problems in order to teach about eight or so transgender people.

The classes for transgender people - those who want to live as the gender they weren't assigned by God - teach a number of valuable lessons. For example, they teach that women use more adjectives, and gesture more with their hands and use their face more to express feelings. This is all so profound, isn’t it? I suppose that women who want to become men are taught the importance of breaking wind in public and coming home late for dinner.

Dean Hopper explained to the AP the importance of teaching men who want to be women to say girlie things when looking at art: "And women will say, 'that's a beautiful picture, I see a bubbling stream ...' they’ll really elaborate. Men will just say, 'I see a house and a car.' And then women add, 'it's just a fabulous-looking house.'"

At UNC-Gomorrah, transgender voice training students get handouts that compare male directions to those given by females. These intellectual giants inform the transgender students that women use landmarks, while men use a compass when they give directions. A landmark intellectual breakthrough, isn’t it?

Dean Hopper shares more of her intellectual genius by showing how women might give directions: “When you get to the red house with the blue shutters, take a right, go three miles. You'll go past the store, you'll see a cornfield. You'll see a beautiful fire station. It's new, you know, they just built it last week. Then you turn left."

Dean Hopper adds that men might give directions like this: "Go west three miles, take a left at this road, go four miles, take a right." Hopper fails to provide directions to the office of a UNCG Dean who doesn’t sound like a complete jackass.

But Dean Hopper does give some great advice if you are not exactly an old, rugged cross-dresser: "One thing we recommend, if you've never worn heels, probably your 40s and 50s are not a good time to start. You can get cute shoes that are flat. So why be awkward and start doing that? Especially if you're large and have big bones, heels aren't for you."

"I never really thought of myself as a strong person," Nicole told AP reporter Martha Waggoner. He added, "But now that I look back on what I've gone through, I think I'm a very strong person and a very courageous person for just standing up for myself and saying this is who I am and I have a right to be happy."

The present state of higher education is the future state of our culture. Its promise is that every man has a right to be happy by becoming whatever he wants to become regardless of what he is. If we just put our faith in the gods of diversity they will deliver us from ourselves. And we won’t be mistaken for men any longer.


Victory for common sense: British parents should be free to take pictures of their children's nativity play

Schools that ban parents from taking pictures of their children ­acting in Nativity plays do not have the law on their side, the Government’s privacy watchdog declared yesterday.

Parents should stand up to headmasters hiding behind the 'myth' that there are privacy laws against relatives taking photos or film footage of school events, the Information Commissioner said.

A string of schools have prevented parents from taking pictures of their children in plays, on sports day or at other events, often citing the Data Protection Act as justification. But the Commissioner, Christopher Graham, who is responsible for implementing the Act, said parents should 'stand ready to challenge any schools or councils that say "Bah, Humbug" to a bit of festive fun'.

'Armed with our guidance, parents should feel free to snap away this Christmas,' he said. 'Having a child perform at a school play or a festive concert is a very proud moment for parents and is understandably a memory that many want to capture on camera.

'It is disappointing to hear that the myth that such photos are forbidden by the Data Protection Act still prevails in some schools. 'A common sense approach is needed – clearly, photographs simply taken for a family album are exempt from data protection laws.'

Last month the Daily Mail revealed one headmistress who banned parents from taking pictures in school and even blacks out pupils' faces in the school yearbook.

Vicky Parsey, headmistress of Applecroft primary school in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, has imposed the rules for fear that children’s faces will be superimposed on obscene internet images.

Critics said the 'absurd' rules branded all parents potential paedophiles, creating a 'climate of fear'. But the commissioner's guidance – sent to education authorities nationwide – says: 'The Data Protection Act is unlikely to apply in most situations where photographs are taken by parents in schools.

'The Act does apply when photographs of children are taken for official use by a school or college such as for issuing identification passes.

'In the other small number of instances where the Data Protection Act does apply, if the photographer obtains permission from the parent or individual to take a photograph, then this will usually be enough to ensure compliance.'


Smart kids being ignored in Australia -- with the inevitable result

And given the now demonstrated truth of smart fraction theory, that's pretty bad for Australia. The national well-being would be better served by treating them exceptionally attentively.

Most very bright students will do well regardless of the system, however. My educational development was retarded rather than assisted by the environment into which I grew up but I still sailed through the system without a care. I even taught myself (successfully) the last two years of the High School curriculum!

THE number of high achievers is shrinking because all the attention goes to the weak.

THE results of the Program for International Student Assessment every three years are highly anticipated in education circles and are dissected for years afterwards.

Unfortunately, the 2009 report released this week has been cause for dismay. Australia was one of very few countries to have a significant decline in its average reading and mathematical literacy scores. This decline is attributed largely to a reduction in the proportion of students performing at the highest proficiency levels.

It is important to bear in mind that country comparisons need be considered with some caution. Comparing city-states such as Hong Kong and Singapore with a country that has a widely dispersed population like Australia has obvious problems. It might be more defensible to compare these cities with Sydney or the ACT. However, even putting aside the international rankings, the fact remains that Australia has failed to meet its own previous standards.

The bad news about our PISA performance should not come as a shock. Australia's relatively low representation at the top of the academic spectrum was evident in PISA 2006. Shamefully, it was not taken seriously at the time.

The PISA report does not offer any explanation for Australia's shrinking pool of bright sparks. It rejects the argument that there has been a focus on students at the low end of the academic range at the expense of students at the top, apparently on the basis that there has been no change in the proportion of low achievers. Logic suggests this does not mean that there has not been increased attention paid to these students, just that it hasn't worked. In my view, education policy over the past decade has leaned heavily towards alleviating the effect of social disadvantage and lifting the performance of low achievers. These are important aims. Unfortunately, the evidence indicates that not only have low achievers not benefited, high achievers have suffered.

In all countries participating in PISA there is a positive relationship between socioeconomic status and literacy performance, to varying degrees. The strength of this relationship in Australia has reduced from PISA 2000 to PISA 2009. In 2000, Australia was described as a high-quality, low-equity country. By 2006, Australia was no longer judged to be a low-equity country and in the 2009 results released yesterday, Australia is now slightly better than the international average in terms of the impact of socioeconomic background on literacy.

Nonetheless, a socioeconomic literacy gap was still evident in PISA 2009, particularly among students with the lowest literacy performance. Only 5 per cent of children in the highest socioeconomic quartile scored in the Level 1 literacy bands, compared with 24 per cent of children in the lowest socioeconomic quartile.

But there is more to the relationship between social background and school performance than meets the eye, and our understanding of this relationship has profound implications for policy.

Over the last decade, a number of studies, including PISA, have shown that socioeconomic variables are stronger at the school-level than the individual level. That is, the mean socioeconomic status of a student's school has a larger impact on their achievement than their own socioeconomic status.

These findings have been accompanied by research looking at the ways ways in which school-level socioeconomic status might affect the academic achievement of students. Gary Marks's research in this area has led him to argue that the academic context or "climate" of the school is more important than the socioeconomic status of the students themselves.

The association between socioeconomic variables and literacy is not inevitable -- there are high-performing students from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as low-performing students from advantaged backgrounds -- and it is mediated by other factors, such as quality of instruction and school climate. Marks says: "there is no deterministic relationship between socioeconomic background and low achievement". There is good reason to believe that the entrenched literacy gap can be substantially reduced.

The problem remains in finding a way to target resources without creating a new form of disadvantage. Geoff Masters, chief of the Australian Council for Education Research, once said that any student whose needs are not being met is disadvantaged. It seems that at the moment, our high-ability students fall into this category.


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