Sunday, January 16, 2011

UC Berkeley Chancellor Links Tucson Shooting to Immigration

About what you expect of UCB but still dishonest and irresponsible. Intellectual standards? Nil

Striking up controversy while commenting on last weekend’s shooting, a University of California Berkeley chancellor sent an e-mail linking the Tucson shooting to Arizona’s war on undocumented immigration, and the downfall of the DREAM Act.

In the e-mail sent Monday, Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau, he stated he was angered by a “climate in which demonization of others goes unchallenged and hateful speech in tolerated.” [So he does some hate speech of his own, directed at Arizonans? Accusing them of complicity in mass murder?]

The chancellor also gave his opinion on why the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner , could have been motivated to kill those six people and injure another thirteen.

“I believe that it is not a coincidence that this calamity has occurred in a state which has legislated discrimination against undocumented persons,” [Whoa boy! It's illegal immigrants who are affected, not "persons" in general] said the e-mail, referring to Arizona’s law that gives local police officers the authority to enforce federal immigration law, by asking anyone appearing to be an undocumented immigrant for proof of their immigration status during a traffic stop.

The comments in the e-mail were picked up by news sources immediately, as this kind of blunt opinion on a matter like this is rather rare occurrence from a university leader.

Birgeneau added that Saturday’s shooting was caused by the “same mean-spirited xenophobia [that] played a major role in the defeat of the DREAM Act by legislators in Washington, [which left] many exceptionally talented and deserving young people, including our own undocumented students, painfully in limbo with regard to their futures in this country.”

["mean-spirited xenophobia". Would calling people that be contributing to the climate of hate by any chance? "Xenophobia" means neurotic fear of foreigners so he is calling Arizonans and conservatives mentally ill. How does that contribute to calming down the debate? His words sound to me like the "anger, hatred and bigotry" that Sheriff Dupnik was talking about. Birgeneau certainly seems to be doing his best to create a climate of hostility -- JR]

While UC Berkeley has a tradition of supporting student activism, college officials are rarely this vocal, and Birgeneau’s e-mail has caused an uproar, with some going as far as demanding his removal.

Holmes says response from the students has been minimal as they are still on winter break.


North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple wants to see results from higher education funding

North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple is advocating a new approach to higher education funding that has seen mixed results in other states. But Dalrymple and higher education leaders say North Dakota should be able to avoid mistakes other states have made by adopting the new approach slowly and getting input from the campuses.

Dalrymple recommends in his budget $5 million for higher education that would be allocated based on how campuses perform on certain measures. He gives examples of performance measures, such as increasing the number of students who graduate on time or the number of students who transfer from two-year to four-year campuses.

Dalrymple wants to work with the state Board of Higher Education to establish a Commission on Higher Education to adopt those performance measures and implement the new approach.

North Dakota State University President Dean Bresciani, who has a Ph.D. in higher education finance, said Dalrymple has wisely suggested taking a first step rather than trying to overhaul the funding model all at once. “Performance funding is a model that keeps being introduced and has yet to take off completely,” Bresciani said.

One unintended consequence of performance funding is that universities can sometimes “game it,” Bresciani said. “If you want to make it that 90 percent of your students have to graduate in four years, watch grade inflation just take off,” Bresciani said.

Dalrymple said a critical part of his recommendation is to involve campus leaders in establishing the performance measures to find measurements that can’t be abused. Other states have erred by not getting input from the colleges and universities, Dalrymple said. “They have jumped into some things without engaging the input of the campuses sufficiently,” Dalrymple said.

Chancellor Bill Goetz said a major difference between what Dalrymple proposes and what other states have done is that North Dakota would use performance funding as only a portion of higher education funding. “The difference is we would be looking at some very specific areas,” Goetz said. “We would not be building our entire system finance plan around incentive funding.”

Dalrymple said he proposes to start with $5 million, and over time the incentive funding could become a larger portion of higher education funding.

Goetz said it also will be important to make sure all 11 campuses are treated fairly. “What makes this work is being sensitive to each individual institution,” Goetz said. “So you are truly focused on the institution versus looking at this quantitatively at all 11 institutions.”

Legislators will begin hearing the higher education budget request this week.


British teacher pursues seven-year battle to return to classroom after being acquitted of sexual assault

A teacher falsely accused of groping school girls is to launch a final bid to clear his name after a seven-year battle in which the allegations on his police record have prevented him from getting another job.

Robert King, 45, was acquitted of sexually assaulting four girls following a criminal trial but was subsequently fired from his job and lost an appeal in which he claimed unfair dismissal. He has since been unable to teach as the allegations appear on enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks, casting a permanent veil of suspicion.

The experience has left him battling depression and has cost him £154,000, including his home.

Due to his lack of financial resources, Mr King will represent himself when he appears before the Employment Appeal Tribunal in London on Monday in a bid to win the right to lodge an appeal against Sheffield City Council’s decision to uphold his dismissal.

He said: “When I was acquitted of the charges, I left the court with my head held high. “But these malicious allegations have stopped me from doing a job I love. “I can’t afford to give up on it now. I’ve lost everything already and I’ve nothing more to lose. “These matters are critically important for teaching as a whole, not just myself.”

The science teacher was suspended from Handsworth Grange Community Sports College in Sheffield, where he had worked for two years, in May 2004 after four girls alleged that he had touched them inappropriately.

Mr King, who gave up a 15-year career with the Postal Service to retrain as a teacher, claimed he was the victim of a “witch hunt” by friends of a boy whom he had been instrumental in excluding.

He appeared at Sheffield Crown Court in October 2005 and was acquitted of four counts of sexual assault and two charges of sexual activity with a child. Despite the jury’s verdict, school governors formally dismissed him in May 2006.

Among the reasons given for his dismissal were that he played snooker and bowls in the school's catchment area while suspended and used "industrial language" in the classroom, including the phrase "shut the book up", when trying to attract pupils' attention. One student reported him for using the word "rubber" instead of eraser in class, which she claimed had a sexual connotation.

A year later, Mr King lost his unfair dismissal case at an employment tribunal when Sheffield City Council successfully argued that there had been a "breakdown in trust and confidence" as well as citing other matters.

The false sexual allegations remain on the council's "dismissal register" as well as on Mr King’s CRB certificate, ensuring that he has since failed to get work with local teaching agencies. He has also been forced to give up the 2,000 hours a year voluntary work he did with the Red Cross and local Army and Air Cadets.

Diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety, he has not worked since and has only recently felt capable of pursuing the matter.

If his appeal is allowed, Mr King will argue that a conflict of law prevented the employment tribunal from allowing him to return to work as it was awaiting the result of a government safeguarding inquiry, which could have barred him from working with children.

The Children’s Safeguarding Operations Unit confirmed in 2008 that the Secretary of State, then Ed Balls, had decided not to take any action preventing him from working with children under Section 142 of the Education Act, widely known as List 99.

Mr King said: "The tribunal decision was both perverse and statutorily unfair as they did not have the ability to return me to work.” He will also challenge Sheffield City Council's decision to put him on the "dismissal register" and South Yorkshire Police's disclosure of the allegations on his CRB certificate.


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