Sunday, May 15, 2011

Indiana School Employee: Education Reform = Nazi Ovens

Last week, my organization praised the Indiana lawmakers for passing some of the nation’s most significant education reforms. In one of Education Action Group’s weekly newsletters, we said that Indiana’s new voucher program and its decision to lift the cap on charter schools will transform the state’s public education system, to the benefit of all Hoosier families and students. (An EAGtv report that details Indiana’s education reforms can be found here.)

Well, EAG’s audacity in celebrating the idea of school choice generated a number of hateful email responses – from unionized Indiana teachers.

The writers (all with the telltale “” in the email address) accused us of “attacking public education” and “bashing” teachers. One writer blamed us for demoralizing “those of us in the trenches and on the front lines of the classroom.”

Anyone who dares challenge the status quo of Big Education can expect such name calling. But as unhinged as unionized teachers can become, one Indiana educator stooped to new lows. An email from a teacher at East Allen County Schools said this:

“Why do you distribute this propaganda? Do you have a conscience? Do you really believe any of this? I am not a union member but feel that Mitch's agenda is killing Indiana. The education agenda is a holocaust against our children. Please understand I am speaking as a grandson of a Holocaust survivor. This is truly as bad or worse than what was done to the Jewish people only it is happening to innocent young people. It is frightening to me.”

According to this—ahem—educator, allowing children to attend a charter school is “WORSE THAN” placing children in ovens like the Nazis did.

Even more disturbing than this teacher’s irresponsible comments is the fact that he is allowed anywhere near a place of learning. It’s darn near criminal that he’s allowed to shape the minds of Indiana’s youth. (By claiming to be “a grandson of a Holocaust survivor,” this teacher believes he is immune from charges of insensitivity.)

Now, some readers are likely thinking that we’re using the words of one loony teacher to smear all union teachers, but we’re not.

The accomplishments of this new crop of education reform-minded governors (Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, Michigan’s Rick Snyder, New Jersey’s Chris Christie, Indiana’s Mitch Daniels, to name a few) have caused unionized teachers to lash out at anyone supporting a reform agenda. We’ve received numerous profanity-laced emails sent from teachers who feel threatened by accountability and choice.

The teacher unions’ public image is one of standing up for the interests of kids. They’re just well-meaning teachers who believe in the value of public education. Right.

In reality, the teacher unions are dominated by a group of angry leftists who care far more about their compensation packages and collective bargaining privileges than they do about educating children.

That might strike some as a harsh conclusion, but we’ve got the emails to prove it.


Could Penn. Kids Soon be Subjected to PETA Ads in School?

A national animal rights group has offered a cash-strapped school district an undisclosed amount of money if it allows ads in school promoting alternatives to animal dissection.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which has approached dozens of schools across with country with the offer, said it found out about the Kutztown School District’s financial woes over the Internet.

The group recently sent a letter to Superintendent Nicholas Lazo Jr., offering to pay money if the school allows the posting of ads that say, “STOP SCHOOL VIOLENCE. DO YOUR HOMEWORK – CHOOSE NOT TO DISSECT.” Different versions of the ad feature rats, frogs and fetal pigs.

Lazo told the Reading Eagle newspaper that he is gathering more information on the offer. A message left with the district Friday by The Associated Press was not immediately returned. This week, amid community protests, the school board approved a $28 million budget that calls for the elimination of nearly 13 teaching positions.

PETA spokeswoman Ashley Gonzalez said the group has made similar offers to dozens of schools across the country in the past few years, but none has accepted. Some schools, however, have taken the group up on its offer of free software that allows students to perform digital “dissections,” Gonzalez said.

“We are always on the lookout for schools that can benefit from our support,” she said.

The group has not specified how much money it would provide to a school that allows ads to be posted, but said it would depend partly on how many ads were placed and in how many schools. “We’d have to sit down with them and work out how much exposure we would get,” Gonzalez said.

PETA already has a site targeting young people called There, students — and even educators — can learn how to start a “campaign” against dissection:


Leading British Catholic school in admissions overhaul

A top Roman Catholic school favoured for the children of Tony Blair and Nick Clegg is set for a clash with the admissions watchdog over plans to root out unbelievers.

The London Oratory School in west London is proposing to introduce an admissions policy that favours children and parents who are more involved in parish life.

The move will be sure to mark out committed Catholics over so-called “pew jumpers” who conveniently discover religion to get children into popular faith schools.

It beefs up the school’s previous admissions rules that focused on the extent to which pupils meet the Church’s requirements regarding Baptism, Holy Communion and attending Mass.

But the change – being introduced next year – could bring the school into trouble with the official admissions watchdog which has already criticised other faith schools for breaching strict entry guidelines.

Last year, Ian Craig, the outgoing Chief Schools Adjudicator, warned schools against using complex points-based systems that benefit middle-class families heavily involved in church activities. He suggested the move disadvantaged children with poorer parents who have less time to volunteer in the local parish.

In recent years, a number of faith schools have been ordered to re-draw their admissions policies for perceived breaches of the code.

Eight Roman Catholic schools in Newham, east London, were ordered to change admissions rules after asking parents and children to meet a local priest for a reference – a move which could favour more articulate middle-class families. A Sikh school was criticised for allocating points to parents who took part in community activities, which could penalise those who are unable to do so for work or family reasons.

The London Oratory is already among the most sought-after faith schools in England and regularly sends talented pupils to Oxford and Cambridge. Tony Blair was famously criticised after bypassing dozens of nearby schools to send his sons across London to the Oratory.

And last year it emerged that Nick Clegg – an atheist whose wife is Catholic – was considering sending his son to the school next year, even though other state schools are closer to his home.

The school’s proposed admissions rules for 2012 prioritise children who regularly attend Mass on Sundays, those fulfilling the Church’s requirements regarding Baptism and whether candidates have received their Holy Communion.

Points are then awarded to recognise “service in any Catholic parish or in the wider Catholic Church by both the candidate and a Catholic parent”.

The Diocese of Westminster – which covers the Oratory – has already clashed with another faith school over its use of a points-based admissions system. It shopped Cardinal Vaughan School to the admissions regulator in a bitter battle with the school, claiming that its entry policy was too elitist.

But the Oratory could escape censure because the Government is currently planning an overhaul of the school admissions code in a move designed to slim down the document and give more power to individual head teachers.

Dr Craig, who refused to comment on the issue yesterday, is due to stand down later this year. The Oratory was also unavailable for comment.


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