Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Commencement Season Disconnect

Like millions of families this month, we attended a commencement ceremony this past weekend, at Mills College, a liberal arts college for women in California. Mills was founded as the Young Ladies’ Seminary, and a few years later was bought by missionaries Cyrus and Susan Mills, who relocated it to Oakland and directed its educational emphasis to the training of young ladies as missionaries. Saturday’s ceremony was notable, therefore, for the complete and total absence of any mention of God.

The gods of today’s “progressive” education were regularly invoked throughout the ceremony, however, including those at the top of the pantheon, “Social Justice” and “Diversity.”

Predictably, the graduate student representative’s presentation culminated by her quoting the high priest of progressivism, FDR.

Immediately following that address, an honorary degree was conferred on a lively lady of 89, whose Japanese ancestry had resulted in her being forcibly removed from Mills in 1943 and interred in a “War Relocation Camp,” together with her family and neighbors, until she was able to later attend college on the East Coast and pursue a career in nursing. The great sorrow of her long life had been having her hope of being—in her words—a “Mills Girl” dashed, and receiving the honorary degree clearly meant a great deal to her.

While she made mention in her talk of her internment and shattered dreams having resulted from “Executive Order 9066,” no one seemed to make the connection between the Executive issuing that order—FDR—with the Great One quoted not five minutes prior.

Which makes Bob Higgs’s recent presentation at Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala even more refreshing: “Societies flourish when they permit a million flowers to bloom, each in its own time, and its own way.”


Scottish schoolgirl wins right to use her iPod in exams as she can't concentrate unless she's listening to music

A schoolgirl has won the right to use an iPod while sitting her exams - after claiming she can only concentrate while listening to her favourite music. The girl won the unprecedented concession after threatening legal action against her school and examination authorities.

The Mary Erskine School for girls in Edinburgh, where boarders pay nearly £18,000 a year, has been forced to buy a new iPod that is loaded with the girl's choice of music by a teacher - to ensure no exam answers are hidden among the tracks.

Staff had initially refused the request, fearing it would open the door to the possibility of cheating. The girl's parents then took her case to the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) examination board, which also ruled it out.

However, it was forced to back down after reportedly being threatened with legal action under the Equalities Act because the girl, a year six pupil, (equivalent to year 13 in England) often struggles to pay attention in class.

SQA bosses have allowed the pupil, who is in the middle of her Higher exams, to listen to the iPod as long as it can be 'proved not to contain any prompts'.

School staff are understood to be unhappy with the decision but were forced to comply as the SQA is the governing body for Higher examinations.

The pupil has to sit in a separate area to prevent the noise from her headphones distracting other students.

The move has been allowed under what the SQA calls 'special arrangements'. Now, SQA chiefs are bracing themselves for a flood of similar claims. Exam invigilators are also furious because loading the iPod has added to their workload.

They fear traditional exam invigilation will be severely disrupted because hundreds of other pupils' iPods may have to be checked.

One insider said: 'Everyone is very angry that this has been allowed to happen. The implications are massive. Once this girl has been allowed to do this, there's nothing stopping all pupils bringing in their iPods.

'The amount of manpower it will take to put music on every student's iPod and check they don't contain study notes will be overwhelming. 'It will also present quite a logistical challenge to ensure those who do not have them are not interrupted by the noise.'

Nick Seaton, spokesman for the Campaign for Real Education, said: 'I would have thought the whole idea of using an iPod, or any other portable music device, in an exam would be ridiculous. 'Exams are a serious matter and they lose their integrity when some pupils are treated differently from others.'

Thousands of Scottish schoolchildren are in the middle of their Standard Grade, Intermediate II and Higher exams at the moment. All other schools have a blanket ban on iPods inside the exam hall.

Linda Moule, deputy head at The Mary Erskine School, confirmed that the pupil has been allowed to use an iPod.

The SQA said the ruling would not automatically open the floodgates for other pupils. A spokesman insisted: 'This decision sets no precedents. We receive many requests for "special arrangements" to be made every year and each is treated on its individual merits. 'In this case the iPod is new and the music is loaded by the school and given to the candidate in the hall. It is removed by staff once the exam is over.'


British teacher who challenged rowdy pupil sacked after 30 years in schools

A teacher with 30 years’ experience told yesterday how he was sacked after a rowdy pupil claimed he grabbed his arm and left four small scratch marks.

Ronnie Lane, 56, admitted confronting the unruly 15-year-old boy, who had special educational needs, after he had repeatedly wandered the classroom ‘scrunching up’ other boys’ GCSE art coursework. The married teacher agreed that during the lesson in July 2009 he did touch the boy’s arm while asking him to release another pupil’s painting, to stop it being damaged.

But a tribunal in Liverpool heard how ‘minutes’ after leaving the room to find a colleague, the boy claimed Mr Lane had grabbed his right forearm so hard it left nail marks. Despite a retired senior police officer saying the injuries could have been self-inflicted, Mr Lane was sacked from West Derby School – even though the boy later refused to assist investigators.

Yesterday Mr Lane, from Wallasey, Merseyside, said he had only just returned to work that month after spending eight months off suffering from stress. He was teaching art to more than 20 GCSE students when the boy – referred to only as Student J – started disrupting the lesson.

‘He was getting out of his seat and walking round the room. This went on for 25 minutes. ‘He went to the other side of the room and grabbed another student’s coursework. When I asked Student J to return it, he did – but he then took it again. ‘I went over to Student J to take the work but he also grabbed hold of it, saying “Go on, rip it”. ‘I placed my hand momentarily on his wrist but he said “Get off or I’ll stab your eye out!”

I handed the work back to Student SR who thanked me, and asked Student J to leave the room but he refused so I left to summon help.’

The tribunal heard that on Mr Lane’s return, Student J complained to the other teacher, telling her: ‘Look at the marks on my arm.’

The tribunal was told that two days later Mr Lane was suspended and after several hearings, including an unsuccessful appeal, he was sacked for gross misconduct.

Vice chairman of governors Jonathan Jones told the hearing that a disciplinary panel had reached the opinion Mr Lane had ‘failed to control a challenging class’ and his conduct in grabbing the teenager ‘was not acceptable’. Mr Jones admitted that despite requests by Mr Lane’s union representative that all the boys in the class make witness statements, it was never done.

Instead only a handful of students’ statements were considered. Student JP wrote that Mr Lane merely ‘touched’ the pupil and claimed Student J ‘embellished the story’.


No comments: