Monday, August 22, 2011

Anti-Americanism Disguised as Ethnic Studies in Tucson Schools

The Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) is in a contentious fight with the state of Arizona over its controversial Mexican-American Studies program. A state law went into effect in Arizona on January 1, 2011, banning the teaching of ethnic studies in K-12 schools. It was prompted by an investigation into TUSD’s ethnic studies curriculum by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne when he was State Superintendent of Schools.

The program is known as “raza studies,” which means race studies, championed by organizations like the far left organization National Council of La Raza. The course does not simply teach Latino youth about their heritage, it goes well beyond that. The textbooks teach Latino youth that they are mistreated by America, training them to become radical anti-American activists. Textbooks include “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed” and “Occupied America.” Another text "gloats over the difficulties our country is having at enforcing its immigration laws." Benjamin Franklin is vilified as a racist. White people are referred to as “gringos” and “oppressors” of Latino people. “Privilege” is described as related to a person’s ethnicity.

At a TUSD school board meeting on May 10, one upset mother read excerpts from the textbook “An Epic Poem,” including,

My land is lost and stolen, My culture has been raped….we have to destroy capitalism…overthrow a government that has committed abuses….to the bloodsuckers, the parasites, the vampires who are the capitalists of the world: The schools are tools of the power structure that blind and sentence our youth to a life of confusion, and hypocrisy, one that preaches assimilation and practices institutional racism.

Under the new state law, which was drafted by Horne, schools will lose 10% of their state education funding if they are not in compliance. The law bans teaching that advocates overthrowing the U.S. government, returning portions of the U.S. to Mexico, promoting resentment towards a race, and advocating for one race.

In January, during the last days of his term as State Superintendent of Schools, Horne found Tucson’s schools in violation of all four provisions of the law. Arizona’s new Superintendent of Schools John Huppenthal ordered an audit of the program earlier this year. 11 teachers and the director of the Mexican-American Studies Department refused to work with the auditors. Instead, they sued the state alleging the law is unconstitutional.

The audit was a failure, only analyzing 9 out of a possible 180 lesson units, or 5%, not enough to make any sort of objective analysis. The auditors gave the teachers advance notice of classroom observation, and allowed them to handpick students for the focus group. Nevertheless, Huppenthal found the program in violation of state law and gave the district 60 days to comply or lose funding. The program may also violate Proposition 107, the Arizona Civil Rights Initiative, which passed last year banning preferential treatment or discrimination based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin.

The TUSD school board is split over the program. However, at a hearing on Friday, TUSD Governing Board President Mark Stegeman and member Michael Hicks relayed their concerns about the program. Hicks said the program is not in compliance with state law, and Stegeman said the behavior observed in the course is almost cult like.

School board meetings discussing the program have been raucous, with students chaining themselves to board members’ chairs, which prevented one meeting from taking place, and the removal of several people from another meeting.

Former history teacher John Ward, who is Hispanic, is speaking out against the program. He taught Mexican-American studies for TUSD several years ago until it became radicalized. He objected to teaching an American History class which gave students American History credit for learning the history of the Aztecs, without teaching any American History. He was told to sit in the back of the classroom while an ethnic studies proponent without a teaching degree actually taught the class. Due to his objections, he was removed from teaching the class.

TUSD’s test scores are among the lowest in the state. Contrary to the claims of ethnic studies proponents, students who take ethnic studies classes perform worse academically than other students. A school board member asked the district’s statistician to compare those students’ academic success to others. The statistician found that students who take ethnic studies are less likely to pass the state’s AIMS (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards) test than others. Clearly, the district would be better off transferring its efforts into improving academic scores.

The students are being used by a handful of radical adult activists with an agenda, who are employing classic Alinsky tactics to force through their extremist agenda. They cannot win through legitimate elections and democratic processes, so they resort to intimidation. District superintendent John Pedicone wrote an op-ed for the Arizona Daily Star exposing that adults were behind the students’ disruption at a board meeting, “Students have been exploited and are being used as pawns to serve a political agenda that threatens this district and our community.” In addition to filing bullying lawsuits, proponents have also sent threatening letters to various government officials.

It has been shown that students become angry and resentful after being taught this kind of propaganda. One high school student said she did not know she was oppressed until she was told so in one of these programs. The people of Arizona voted almost 60% in favor of Proposition 107 which banned ethnic preferences and discrimination. It would be an affront to the efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr., who used civil disobedience to defeat discrimination, if a handful of radical activists successfully use not-so-civil disobedience to bring discrimination back.


How the British Labour Party let a generation down with easy High School courses

The number of pupils studying core GCSEs more than halved under Labour, creating an under-skilled generation, figures have revealed. Experts said the decision to introduce a raft of easy GCSE-equivalent qualifications had led to dumbed-down teenagers deprived of key skills for survival in the workplace.

Only 22 per cent of youngsters - 152,000 - took GCSEs in English, maths, two sciences, a humanity and a language last year. This is a reduction from 50 per cent - 293,000 - in 1997 when the last Labour Government took power.

Instead of rigorous subjects such as physics, tens of thousands sat soft subjects such as a Certificate in Personal Effectiveness, which includes a module on how to claim the dole. Ministers have now called for pupils to sit the EBacc, a new qualification based on the old O-levels which focuses on traditional subjects.

Tory MP Damian Hinds said: ‘These figures show categorically how, over 13 years, the last Labour government undermined the life chances of a generation by steering them away from the subjects that employers value most.’ He said students need a ‘core of recognised key academic subjects’ to ‘compete in an increasingly global marketplace with their counterparts from countries like China and India’.

The figures, revealed today, emerge as around 750,000 children in England, Wales and Northern Ireland prepare to receive a bumper crop of GCSE results on Thursday. It is predicted that nearly one in four could be awarded at least an A grade and one in 12 exams could score a coveted A*. Last summer, the pass rate rose for the 23rd year in a row, with 69.1 per cent of entries achieving at least a C grade.

The figures showing the sharp decline in core subjects - revealed in response to a parliamentary question - followed a massive increase in non-academic qualification awarded since 2004. Some 115,000 non-academic subjects were taken in school in 2004 - and this soared to 575,000 in 2010. Most of these were taken at the age of 16 and included BTECs in subjects such as ICT, which is equivalent to four separate GCSEs.

An independent review by Professor Alison Wolf, of King’s College London, found that 350,000 young people each year are pushed into courses with ‘little to no labour market value’. She said schools have ‘deliberately steered’ pupils away from the more difficult core subjects to improve their league table rankings.

Official figures show that while only 22 per cent of pupils took five EBacc subjects, fewer than one in six achieved them last year. The EBacc measure was included for the first time in the league tables in January this year. It is thought that next year its effect will be seen in results, bringing a halt to the year-on-year rise of pass rates.

Union leaders are against the EBacc. Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said it would do more harm than good. She added: ‘The pressure on schools and teachers of the league tables has already led to too much teaching focusing on getting pupils through exams.

‘The Government’s intention to devalue and limit vocational qualifications in league tables will tie schools’ hands and push many people into qualifications that don’t allow them to develop their talents and excel.’


Islamic school racket: Australian Federation of Islamic Councils siphons off taxpayer money meant for education

THE nation's peak Muslim body is extracting millions of dollars in rent and fees from a successful Islamic school in Sydney that draws most of its funding from taxpayers.

Documents reveal the Malek Fahd Islamic School paid the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils $5.2 million last year alone, an amount equal to one-third of the school's educational funding from the federal and state governments.

An investigation by The Australian has uncovered millions of dollars in funds charged to the school, including unexplained "management fees".

The school has also been charged $2.59m in back rent after AFIC retrospectively altered a lease agreement in 2009. Last year, it paid $3.15m in "management fees" to AFIC, which included $2.2m in "management fees back charge".

AFIC, also known as Muslims Australia, has not explained how the fees are being spent by the organisation, despite detailed questions from The Australian.

Malek Fahd, in Greenacre in Sydney's west, received $15.7m in educational funding from the commonwealth and NSW governments last year, accounting for 74 per cent of its overall income.

According to the school's financial statement, it received a total of $19.6m in government funding last year, with the figure boosted by cash from the federal government's Building the Education Revolution program.

The school of about 2000 students is widely considered a success story for Islamic education in Australia, rating 15th in NSW HSC system ratings last year and in the top 10 in 2007.

The school is listed as independent and is a separate legal entity from its landowner and founder AFIC. Government funds are given directly to the school, not to AFIC.

Both are not-for-profit organisations, with the school entitled to a range of tax concessions as a charitable institution.

In 2008, a lease was signed between the school and AFIC that set annual rent for the Greenacre property at $1.3m, but documents reveal that in 2009 the lease was changed to increase the rent to $1.5m a year. The agreement was backdated to January 2004, resulting in a one-off payment of $2.59m going to AFIC.

According to the school's last financial report, another deal saw the school hand over a lump sum of $2.2m in backdated management fees to AFIC, with another $959,800 handed over for management costs in that year.

Neither the school nor AFIC can explain what the management fees are charged for.

AFIC president Ikebal Patel, who has held the role since 2007, is also the chairman of directors of the school. He was briefly removed from the position of AFIC president by the AFIC congress in 2008, but was reinstated after a complex federal court challenge to the legitimacy of the vote.

When asked by The Australian how he explained the fees being charged to the school and where and how AFIC was spending the funds, Mr Patel said: "The financial statement is out there. If you want to discuss anything else I'm happy, but I'm not going to discuss any of this."

Mr Patel has not replied to questions in writing about how the large fees were justified or where the money was being spent.

Mr Patel would also not answer questions as to how much he or other members of the AFIC executive were personally drawing in income or any other payment from AFIC funds.

Intaj Ali, the school's principal, told The Australian that "all questions about the school's finances should be directed to the school's director, Ikebal Patel".

However, it is understood that Dr Ali - a respected educator who has been principal since the school's inception in 1990 - is privately furious over the manner in which AFIC has been using the school's funds.

Senior figures at the school and in the Islamic community are angry the school is being denied its funds to reinvest into the school, which has large classes and generally caters to students of non-English speaking backgrounds and of lower socioeconomic groups. The school receives proportionately larger government funding for this reason.

The Greenacre school site was purchased by AFIC in 1989 for about $2.2m with funds from the Saudi royal family. The school, which charges fees of about $1200 a year, has been responsible for funding the construction of its own buildings.

Along with Mr Patel as chairman of directors of the Malek Fahd, the school's board also has several other AFIC executives. These include AFIC vice-president Hafez Kassem, treasurer Mohamed Masood and assistant AFIC treasurer Ashraf Usman Ali.

Neither the commonwealth nor the NSW education department has provided comment on the matter, but The Australian understands the school's funding issue has been brought to the attention of NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell's office.


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