Thursday, June 02, 2011

Middle School Yearbook List Compares Hitler and Bin Laden to… George W. Bush

Who says young people aren’t political? A quasi-scandal has broken out at Arkansas’ Russellville Middle School. The school’s yearbook featured a list of the “Top 5 Worst People of All Time.”

Some of the world’s most horrific murderers and maniacs were included: Adolph Hitler, Osama Bin Laden, Charles Manson…

Few people would argue that these individuals don’t deserve a spot on that roster. Each went on murderous rampages and were, arguably, mentally-imbalanced. However, it‘s the list’s last two names that are causing a stir: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

The former president and vice-president don’t seem to share many characteristics with the other men they were clumped with.

Once the yearbooks were printed, the district attempted to remedy the alleged oversight. KLRT-TV has more:

"Superintendent Randall Williams calls the list “an oversight.”

Parents caught it after the yearbooks were printed. The district’s solution was to cover the list with tape. It didn’t work.

“Really?” said Williams when told the tape could be pulled off. “Well that’s disappointing because the yearbook supplier told us this was a definite fix.”

There’s no word yet on potential disciplinary measures for the teacher responsible for managing the yearbook’s production process, though the principal maintains that it was an accident.

Mediaite asks another important question: Where did the list come from?

Williams explains that the teacher in charge of the yearbook didn’t put it in and is “very, very, very upset” about missing it before printing.

Apparently some of the students pulled the thing off of the website, a site where people just make lists of stuff.

A cursory search didn’t find the exact list in question although there are a ton of “worst people” rankings that do feature members of the Bush administration like this one, this one, and this one.


Dumb British High School examiners

Impossible maths paper puts university places at risk, say A-level pupils

A-level students fear their university places may be at risk after they were set an ‘impossible’ question in a maths exam.

One of Britain’s biggest exam boards apologised for the blunder yesterday which affected a paper sat by nearly 7,000 students.

A teacher who saw the exam paper spotted the error and alerted the OCR last Friday.

Yesterday furious students flooded social networking sites calling for the exam to be re-run.

The question, which could not be solved, accounted for more than 11 per cent of marks.

The exam board pledged to take the mistake into account, but students said the precious minutes wasted on it meant they failed to reach other parts of the test.

On The Student Room website, one teenager said: ‘They should definitely give us a re-sit.’ Another said: ‘I spent 20 minutes on that question (as it was worth the most marks) and had to rush everything else. I really needed to get an A and now I am scared I won’t even get a B.’

The error centred around a 90-minute ‘decision mathematics’ AS-level exam sat by students in 335 schools and colleges. AS- levels are normally sat in the first year of two-year A-level courses. In the final section, students were presented with a diagram showing a network of tracks in a forest. The exam board failed to calculate the length properly, which meant it failed to tally with their mathematical equation.

An OCR spokesman said: ‘We have several measures in place to ensure candidates are not unfairly disadvantaged as a result of this unfortunate error. ‘Because we have been alerted to this so early, we are able to take this error into account when marking the paper. We will also take it into account when setting the grade boundaries.’ He added: ‘We will be under- taking a thorough review of our quality assurance procedures.’


In Australia's academe, the Left show the totalitarian stuff of which they are made: Larissa Behrendt revisited

Larissa Behrendt claims to be an Aborigine and pretends to wisdom about Aboriginal affairs -- but she is as pink-skinned as I am and has nothing new to offer on Aboriginal policy. She is nothing like a real Aborigine, even if she has some remote Aboriginal ancestry. She is just a conventional Leftist. She is comfortably ensconced with others of her ilk at the University of Technology, Sydney, far away from the day-to-day problems of real Aborigines. Her many awards and honours suggest that her claims of Aboriginality have served her well, however. It's so comforting to give awards to "Aborigines" who are just like us. It helps to hide the real and sad differences that need to be dealt with constructively -- JR

Janet Albrechtsen

This is about a big idea: the human right to free speech. Yet in the academic world devoted to human rights where Larissa Behrendt earns her living, free speech is often scorned. As the poster girl for urban academics, the law professor has done a first-class job of exposing the Left's lack of commitment to free speech.

Behrendt is entitled to her views. But as a high-profile indigenous academic with a long list of public appointments - professor of law and director of research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology, Sydney, former chair of one of the Australian Research Council's panels that hands out taxpayer-funded research grants and so on - Behrendt is accountable for what she says and does.

If she wants to follow an out-dated agenda of postcolonial guilt, treaties and indigenous sovereignty, she is free to do so. Some will agree with her. Many others will disagree with an agenda best described by anthropologist Peter Sutton as pie-in-the-sky. They will argue that real progress depends on eradicating violence against indigenous women and children.

Yet when Behrendt tweeted that watching bestiality on television was less offensive than watching Bess Price, a strong supporter of the Northern Territory intervention, on ABC1's Q & A, Behrendt clearly rejected the merits of debate. She undermined her own credibility as a defender of human rights when she transformed an important debate about indigenous violence into something petty and personal.

Behrendt's email apology does not hide her deeper contempt for free speech when she defaulted to the Left's standard tactic of trying to muzzle those with different views. Those who stray from the orthodoxy are not just wrong, they are evil - worse than watching bestiality. Ergo, those with evil views should not be seen or heard.

And then there's the hypocrisy. Behrendt and her fellow travellers are using discrimination laws to try to shut down Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt for expressing strongly held views. Behrendt said much worse things about Price.

Just imagine the fatal career consequences had a white academic tweeted in the way Behrendt did. Defending Behrendt and her appointment to the government's review of Aboriginal higher education, chairman of the Indigenous Higher Education Advisory Council Steve Larkin said the tweet fiasco had nothing to do with higher education.

This is not just about a throwaway tweet. As The Australian reported on April 19 and 20, Behrendt tried to stop the National Indigenous Times from publishing the views of human rights lawyer Hannah McGlade, whose focus is protecting indigenous women and children from violence. While Behrendt said she had had no conversations with Stephen Hagan, editor of the Times, she wrote an email to the newspaper's general manager Beverley Wyner and her husband, John, which noted her distress at discovering McGlade was a likely new contributor.

In the email, Behrendt writes: ". . . I felt that this meant that our paper was giving all her views legitimacy, including her personal attacks on me." What happened to debate, Dr Behrendt?

In fact, Behrendt's disdain for free speech has everything to do with higher education. As naive as it sounds, the heartbeat of free speech should be at its healthiest within our universities. Instead, free speech risks flatlining when a professor of law ridicules and shuts down opponents. Warren Mundine told The Australian: "If you don't have free debate in academia, then where the bloody hell are we going?"

Consider this too. Since 2002, Behrendt has been a director of the Sydney Writers Festival, a cosy, taxpayer-subsidised couch where like-minded people sit and nod in agreement. At no stage has historian Keith Windschuttle been invited to talk about his contributions to history. He's been invited to the Adelaide Writers Festival, the Melbourne Writers Festival. Even Byron Bay luvvies have hosted him. But not the writers' clique in his home town.

There is a devastating human cost here. It is no coincidence that the human right to free speech is the critical driver of human progress. Progress doesn't come from sticking with the herd. In every sphere, the best ideas often challenged the mainstream. Behind every advance, there is a dissident voice, a radical idea, a genuinely curious, bravely independent mind. Yet so many on the Left, who mistakenly wrap themselves up as progressives, have little time for such voices of dissent.

As Mundine says: "This is about serious debate. Nothing could be more serious than the issues raised by Bess Price in regard to violence against women and children within our society. This really gets down to the very fabric of what our society stands for."


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