Saturday, April 16, 2011

Political Correctness roundup: Liberal school officials attack Easter, Thanksgiving, and 'white privilege'

The National Review notes that one Minnesota school district is “laying off 94 teachers” even while “sending a delegation” of teachers to an annual “White Privilege Conference” with Marxist speakers, “which starts today and ends April 16.”

"This will cost the district $160 a day for each teacher plus $125 a day for the substitutes who will handle their classes while they are away, learning ‘how white privilege, white supremacy, and oppression affects daily life.’ Other cash-strapped districts will also be sending delegations. The keynote speaker will be Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz,” who was “part of the Venceremos Brigade in Cuba. . .Last year’s speaker recommended looking to Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela for ‘exciting progressive developments.’ The sponsors of this educational event include the University of Minnesota,” “Hamline University, Gustavus Adolphus College,” and “Augsburg College, among others.”

The Seattle schools, a past participant in the White Privilege Conference, recently insisted that Easter eggs be referred to as “spring spheres” so as not to offend non-Christians. In 2007, the Seattle Schools illegally used federal funds to send students to the White Privilege Conference. (One of the Conference speakers says that Christianity has far too much influence in our society.)

“Past speakers at White Privilege Conferences include Obama’s Department of Education appointee, Kevin Jennings, founder of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network.” In a move trumpeted by Jennings, the Education Department recently reinterpreted federal harassment regulations under Title IX to reach constitutionally-protected speech even outside of schools (as well as bullying and homophobia that, however personally or morally objectionable, are not covered by existing federal civil-rights statutes).

The Seattle School District also said that celebrating Thanksgiving is racially insensitive. The Seattle Schools told parents that Thanksgiving is a “time of mourning” and a “reminder of 500 years of betrayal” of Native Americans. This is the same school district that claimed for several years that “individualism” is a form of “cultural racism,” that only whites can be racist, and that planning ahead is a white characteristic that is racist to expect minorities to exhibit. (Those claims were criticized in Supreme Court opinions in the 5-to-4 decision striking down racial quotas in Seattle’s schools.)

Glenn Singleton, the Seattle Schools’ “diversity” consultant, was later hired by California Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell (D), as well as several school districts, such as Arlington, Virginia, and Greenwich, Connecticut. So this politically-correct nonsense may soon be coming to your own child’s school. Maybe the celebrated author Mark Twain was right when he questioned the wisdom of school boards. (Singleton, by the way, claims that Mark Twain was a racist).

Diversity training often backfires, resulting in animosity among employees of different races, and even lawsuits. In Fitzgerald v. Mountain States Tel & Tel. Co. (1995), where employee reactions to diversity training gave rise to a lawsuit, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals noted that “diversity training sessions generate conflict and emotion” and that "diversity training is perhaps a tyranny of virtue."


ME: An iPad for every kindergartner?

Does your 5 year old need an iPad? School officials in Maine certainly think so, where the Auburn Schools Committee voted unanimously to provide all kindergartners with a brand new iPad 2 next year -- with the process repeated for each new incoming class.

It's a move that will ultimately cost the school system about $200,000 next year, including Apple's $25 discount from the designer tablet's regular retail price. While the thought of a bunch of grubby kindergartners running around with $500 equipment may seem ridiculous, school superintendent Tom Morrill is a staunch believer in what he considers "a game changer."

"This is truly redefining how we're going to teach and learn," said Morrill, speaking to the school committee. "We're talking about a new tool, the iPad 2. You begin to watch how young people jump on, jump in and figure this out. It has great potential for leveling the playing field for all students."

Steve Jobs has long touted the educational potential of his latest shiny toy. But for local parent Nicole Fortin, the whole thing is just too much, especially when the district is looking for a 5 percent budget increase.

"It's crazy," Fortin told Maine newspaper The Sun Journal. "I look at all of the budgetary restraints we have. Our school system loses money every year to certain things. This is a lot to put in the hands of a 5-year-old."

Morrill hopes to find the money in the school budget and from grants from now through June, when he retires.


The Unteachables: The violent pupils who have sexually assaulted teachers - yet are being let back into Britain's classrooms

Pupils who have sexually assaulted teachers, threatened other children with knives and attacked police officers have been allowed back into the classroom, a shocking dossier reveals. In most cases, exclusion orders were lifted by their head teachers, school governing bodies or independent appeals panels. In a handful of schools, the child was not even removed in the first place.

The dossier on the 16 ‘unteachable’ youngsters was compiled by teachers who warned that their authority is being undermined by allowing such children to return to school.

In all the cases, ballots for industrial action were launched last year by members of the NASUWT and the National Union of Teachers in an effort to force schools to protect staff from troublemakers. They threatened to refuse to teach the child involved, and in most instances the boycotting tactic resulted in the pupil being transferred to a different school. Dozens more discipline cases were resolved without the need for industrial action.

The NASUWT report, unveiled before its annual conference in Glasgow, features a horrifying catalogue of violence by classroom hooligans including the sexual assault of a female learning support assistant and an attack on a police officer.

The union’s general secretary, Chris Keates, said: ‘We are seeing a trend whereby in over 50 per cent of our cases, it’s either head teachers not taking strong action or governing bodies overturning the professional judgments of heads and teachers.

‘All that pupils see is that someone either assaulted a teacher verbally or physically, or caused a major incident of disruption. They leave the school for a short time, then come back and it looks as though that behaviour’s OK because all they get is a few days off school. It’s completely the wrong signal that’s sent. That’s why teachers are very keen there is zero tolerance.’

Mrs Keates said that early intervention to combat low level disruption was vital. ‘It’s important schools take a very strong stand at the outset and make sure that not just the pupil concerned, but other pupils have an example of what the consequences are for unacceptable behaviour,’ she said. ‘However, teachers feel that their head teachers are often divorced from the daily realities of the classroom.’ She added: ‘Teachers shouldn’t have to resort to taking action to have their professional judgment about behaviour taken seriously.’

Mrs Keates said that heads should continue to have some classroom experience to help keep them in touch.

Shane Johnschwager, of NASUWT in Brent, north-west London, claims that head teachers’ reluctance to discipline pupils has left some schools ‘ghettoised’ and abandoned by the middle classes. He is putting forward a motion at his union conference claiming that lessons are being ‘ruined for the majority by a minority of poorly behaved pupils’. He told the Times Educational Supplement: ‘Middle class parents are more likely to hold schools to account over issues such as behaviour; the loss of involvement means behaviour in the school might get worse.’

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said the majority of schools had good behaviour and discipline procedures in place. She added: ‘Where there is inconsistency in the application of such policies the union will take action.’

Last October, Education Secretary Michael Gove unveiled wide-ranging plans designed to restore discipline to schools. Head teachers will be granted the right to expel pupils without fear of independent appeals panels reinstating the child. However, they face fines of thousands of pounds if they make the decision unfairly.

Schools will have a duty to make alternative provision for the expelled pupil, for example by ‘buying’ provision for the child at a special centre.

Other measures aimed at boosting class discipline include powers to frisk pupils for pornography, tobacco and fireworks. Children could also be checked for mobile phones and cameras if teachers fear they will be used to harm others or break a law.

Too many heads are wasting money by attending junkets in expensive hotels while their schools face cuts, staff claim.


No comments: