Saturday, July 09, 2011

Straight talk on homosexual lessons in public schools

Compulsory education in America makes captive audiences of children and parents who have little or no choice in the matter of what the state decides they should be taught. The state decides what is relevant. The state decides what is important. The State – not the parent -- decides what children should think.

As far as I know, there are no laws in this country mandating lessons in public schools on the United States Constitution. There are no laws requiring instruction on free market capitalism, critical thinking, logic, or implications of individual liberty. No state has decided that those subjects are worthy of compulsory education, regardless of their importance.

But now, the state of California, upon the insistence of gay rights advocates, is poised to implement The “Fair Education Act,” making compulsory the teaching of "gender sensitive" history; i.e. lessons on the contributions of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people in America.

Similar laws of appeasement have already made mandatory the teaching of African American, Mexican American, female American, and other so-called “over-looked” group’s contributions.

Now please don’t get me wrong; I’m all for gay rights. To me, gays are the same as straights within the meaning of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Sexual orientation should not affect equality in America. Nor is sexual orientation relevant when the subject is historical contributions.

I don’t, for example, give a fig whether George Washington was gay or straight or bisexual. Why should anyone care? His preferences for sex partners don’t matter to me when I consider his contribution to American history.

If he was heterosexual, that fact is not a necessary part of the lesson. That is not what school children should be taught about George. If he was homosexual or bisexual, the relevance would be the same – zero. He deserves his place in the history books for his contribution to society, not what he liked to do in the privacy of his bedroom.

Martin Luther King, Jr. deserves his place in history, not because he was African American, but because he was a leader in the cause for civil rights. Likewise, if slain San Francisco politician Harvey Milk made a significant contribution to the cause of civil rights, he also deserves his place in history, and no law is necessary to make it so.

History and social studies should not be used for the sole purpose of promoting personal lifestyles to a captive audience. That is not education; it’s indoctrination.


A quarter of British primary schools do not have a single male teacher

A quarter of primary schools do not have a single male teacher. Staffrooms in 4,278 of the 16,971 primaries in England are solely populated by women, according to official figures yesterday. There are just 25,500 men teaching young children, compared with 139,500 women. To make matters worse, a quarter of the male teachers in primaries are over 50 and close to leaving the profession.

The worrying trend leaves tens of thousands of boys with little or no contact with an adult male before they reach secondary school.

And with dwindling numbers of male secondary teachers, some could finish their education without being taught by a man.

The figures, released by the Department for Education, have raised fears that bad behaviour will rise among boys whose lives lack male authority. The problem is most acute for youngsters who rarely, or never, see their father.

Ministers under the previous government pressed teacher trainers to recruit more men. However, the Coalition has lifted this pressure, shifting the focus to the recruitment of more highly qualified teachers.

Nick Seaton, of the Campaign for Real Education, said: ‘These are shocking figures. Young boys especially need male role models.

‘Ideally each school should have at least two male teachers to provide a male perspective on life.’

The figures show that the area with the highest proportion of primary schools without a single male teacher is Bedford where 61 per cent of schools, a total of 31, do not have a ‘Sir’ on the staff.

The figure in Central Bedfordshire is 57 per cent, Northumberland 53 per cent, North Yorkshire 48 per cent, West Berkshire 45 per cent, and Windsor and Maidenhead 44 per cent.

Areas that have 100 or more primary schools without any male teachers are North Yorkshire on 154, Essex 151, Hampshire 148, Derbyshire 139, Hertfordshire 128, Surrey 120, Norfolk 115, Lancashire 115, Kent 104, and Cumbria 100.

At the other end of the spectrum, just one of 29 schools in Blackpool and two of 66 in the east London borough of Newham are women-only.

Conservative MP Philip Hollobone has raised the issue in the Commons. He said: ‘This is especially a problem because there are more and more families where children are growing up without a father. ‘The teachers in primary school are overwhelmingly women, and they do a great job. ‘But it would be even better if there were more male teachers to act as role models, particularly to young boys.’

A DfE spokesman said: ‘Quality of teaching in our schools is what we should all be looking at, regardless of gender. ‘Our job is to recruit the best men and women into the profession and give them outstanding training. ‘We’ve extended Teach First to primary schools so top graduates will be placed directly into deprived schools. ‘We’re offering bursaries of up to £20,000 to plug the gap in subjects where posts are tough to fill. ‘And we are opening a network of teaching schools, many linked to universities, to train teachers on the job.’


Most populous Australian State dubious about proposed national curriculum

Since Professor Stuart Macintyre, a former member of the Communist Party, was a leading light in drawing up the curriculum, they have reason for concern

THE NSW government has warned it will not approve the national curriculum in October if it is inferior to the curriculum now used in the state's schools.

The state Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, issued the warning - echoing the position of the ousted Labor government - after the Ministerial Council for Education, Early Childhood Development and Youth Affairs met in Melbourne yesterday.

While the federal Education Minister, Peter Garrett, trumpeted new national professional standards for principals and the endorsement of the first stage of a plan for greater school autonomy, Mr Piccoli left the federal-state meeting warning NSW would not be rushed.

He said the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), the national body leading the curriculum framing, was moving to new subjects before the first-stage subjects - English, maths, science and history - had been resolved.

"There's a lot of disquiet among stakeholders in NSW. Nobody is happy with it," Mr Piccoli said. "We're not sure how much it is going to cost [to implement]. There are a million unanswered questions."

NSW remains concerned it will be pushed to approve a weaker curriculum when ministers meet again in October. Mr Piccoli said he was worried the federal government appeared ready to begin work on the next stage "before they've even got this half right". "We've taken a strong view that we're not going to sign off on something that is inferior," Mr Piccoli said.

Mr Garrett noted the scale of the challenge ACARA continued to face. "This has been a huge task, the national curriculum, and I don't think we should underestimate that at all," he said, acknowledging "quite a lot of detailed work" with the states remained to be done.

He also rejected Mr Piccoli's pitch for extra funding to help implement the curriculum. NSW argued that less significant curriculum reforms in the 1990s had cost (in today's dollars) more than $60 million to implement.

"A single day of professional development for all teachers would cost each state many millions of dollars," Mr Piccoli said.

Teacher goodwill would depend upon the investment in professional development, he said. "If right from the very beginning there's not enough professional development - teachers aren't confident with it, don't feel they've been consulted - then the goodwill that's required to implement it won't be there," he said.

"A lot of schools run on goodwill - the goodwill of teachers. They don't run on money."

Mr Garrett said the meeting had "significantly enhanced" his government's education reform agenda, describing it as "a really important day for principals".

Apart from new national professional standards, principals will also be affected by plans to empower local schools.

For most states, this would mark a major shift away from centralised decision making and into a more localised, community-based school governance, Mr Garrett said.

The federal government has invested $69 million in the first phase of the autonomy program, which will involve 1000 - about 10 per cent - of Australian schools. But Mr Piccoli said giving principals more power would not get Australian schools "leapfrogging" other countries in performance. "It's one aspect but a relatively minor one," he said. "The real priority is teacher quality and high expectations [for schools]."


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