Tuesday, September 13, 2011

All the Wrong 9/11 Lessons

Michelle Malkin

Are your kids learning the right lessons about 9/11? Ten years after Osama bin Laden's henchmen murdered thousands of innocents on American soil, too many children have been spoon-fed the thin gruel of progressive political correctness over the stiff antidote of truth.

"Know your enemy, name your enemy" is a 9/11 message that has gone unheeded. Our immigration and homeland security policies refuse to profile jihadi adherents at foreign consular offices and at our borders. Our military leaders refuse to expunge them from uniformed ranks until it's too late (see: Fort Hood massacre). The j-word is discouraged in Obama intelligence circles, and the term "Islamic extremism" was removed from the U.S. national security strategy document last year.

Similarly, too many teachers refuse to show and tell who the perpetrators of 9/11 were and who their heirs are today. My own daughter was one year old when the Twin Towers collapsed, the Pentagon went up in flames and Shanksville, Pa., became hallowed ground for the brave passengers of United Flight 93. In second grade, her teachers read touchy-feely stories about peace and diversity to honor the 9/11 dead. They whitewashed Osama bin Laden, militant Islam and centuries-old jihad out of the curriculum. Apparently, the youngsters weren't ready to learn even the most basic information about the evil masterminds of Islamic terrorism.

Mary Beth Hicks, author of the new book "Don't Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid," points to a recent review of 10 widely used textbooks in which the concepts of jihad and sharia were either watered down or absent. These childhood experts have determined that grade school is too early to delve into the specifics of the homicidal clash of Allah's sharia-avenging soldiers with the freedom-loving Western world.

Yet, many of the same protectors of fragile elementary-school pupils can't wait to teach them all the ins and outs of condoms, cross-dressers and crack addictions.

We pulled our daughter out of a cesspool of academic and moral relativism and found a reality-grounded, rigorous charter school where no-nonsense teachers refuse to sugarcoat inconvenient facts and history. Many of the students are children of soldiers and servicemen and women who -- inspired by the heroes of 9/11 -- have voluntarily deployed time and time again to kill the American Dream destroyers abroad before they kill us over here.

There's no better way to hammer home the message that "freedom is not free" than to have your kids go to school with other kids whose dads and moms are gone for years at a time -- missing births and birthday parties, recitals and soccer practice, Christmas pageants and Independence Day fireworks.

But instead of unfettered pride in our armed forces, social justice educators in high schools and colleges across the country indoctrinate American students into viewing our volunteer armed forces as victims, monsters and pawns in a leftist "social struggle."

A decade after the 9/11 attacks, Blame America-ism still permeates classrooms and the culture. A special 9/11 curriculum distributed in New Jersey schools advises teachers to "avoid graphic details or dramatizing the destruction" wrought by the 9/11 hijackers, and instead focus elementary school students' attention on broadly defined "intolerance" and "hurtful words."

No surprise: Jihadist utterances such as "Kill the Jews," "Allahu Akbar" and "Behead all those who insult Islam" are not among the "hurtful words" studied.

Middle-schoolers are directed to "analyze diversity and prejudice in U.S. history." And high-school students are taught "Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" - pop-psychology claptrap used to excuse jihadists' behavior based on their purported low self-esteem and oppressed status caused by "European colonialism."

It is no wonder that a new poll released this week showed that Americans today "are generally more willing to believe that U.S. policies in the Middle East might have motivated the 9/11 terror attacks on New York and the Pentagon," according to Reuters.

To make matters worse, we have an appeaser-in-chief who wrote shortly after the jihadist attacks a decade ago that the "essence of this tragedy" derives "from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others." A "climate of poverty and ignorance" caused the attacks, then-Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama preached. Never mind the Ivy League and Oxford educations, the oil wealth and the middle-class status of legions of al-Qaida plotters and operatives.

9/11 was a deliberate, carefully planned evil act of the long-waged war on the West by Koran-inspired soldiers of Allah around the world. They hated us before George W. Bush was in office. They hated us before Israel existed. And the avengers of the religion of perpetual outrage will keep hating us no matter how much we try to appease them.

The post-9/11 problem isn't whether we'll forget. The problem is: Will we ever learn?


AZ: Teacher accent scrutiny halted

Facing a possible civil-rights lawsuit, Arizona has struck an agreement with federal officials to stop monitoring classrooms for mispronounced words and poor grammar from teachers of students still learning the English language.

Instead, the task of testing teachers' fluency in English will fall to school districts and charter schools as part of federal and state legal requirements.

The state's agreement with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education allows it to avoid further investigation and a possible federal civil-rights lawsuit.

The investigation began after unnamed parties filed a civil-rights complaint in May 2010 alleging that the state's on-site monitoring reports led to teachers being removed from classrooms based on their accents.

In November, federal officials told Arizona that its fluency monitoring may violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against teachers who are Hispanic and others who are not native English speakers.

Under the agreement, the Arizona Department of Education will remove the fluency section from the form used by its monitors who visit classrooms. It also will require schools and districts to file assurances with the state that their teachers are fluent. The state did not admit any wrongdoing.

As a result, federal officials determined there were insufficient facts to establish a civil-rights violation and closed the case.

Despite the agreement to drop fluency from the form, John Huppenthal, Arizona superintendent of public instruction, said his office will continue to instruct state monitors to talk to districts about individual teachers whose English pronunciation or grammar is flawed.

"We still are going to be conscious of these articulation issues," Huppenthal said. "Students should be in a class where teachers can articulate."

State monitoring

Each year, state monitors visit a sampling of classrooms to determine compliance with state and federal laws covering how schools teach children still learning English.

The monitoring of teacher fluency began in 2002 after passage of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

A concern was the low proportion of English-learning students who pass the state's standardized test in reading, writing and math, called AIMS.

Monitors have reported infractions such as teachers instructing in Spanish, using Spanish-language teaching materials or hanging Spanish-language posters on their classroom walls, which are prohibited by Arizona's English-only law.

Monitors also reported that some teachers did not have proper credentials to teach English learners.

The monitors also noted what they considered unacceptably heavy accents that caused some teachers to mispronounce words and teachers using poor English grammar.

In 2007, The Arizona Republic examined reports from the 32 districts monitored that year. State officials found teachers with unacceptable pronunciation and grammar in nine districts.

Examples of concerns included a teacher who asked her English learners "How do we call it in English?" and teachers who pronounced "levels" as "lebels" and "much" as "mush." Last year, federal officials found monitoring reports that documented teachers who pronounced "the" as "da" and "lives here" as "leeves here."

In recent years, the state has monitored up to 60 districts a year and has notified between five and 10 districts of concerns regarding fluency issues, said Andrew LeFevre, spokesman for the state Department of Education.

After monitors documented the mistakes, the state required districts to develop and implement "corrective-action plans" to improve a teacher's English.

Arizona has never suggested a teacher be removed from a classroom or fired because of improper use of grammar, syntax and punctuation, LeFevre said.

"It was certainly brought up to the district but never in a fashion that this teacher should not be teaching this class," LeFevre said.

Instead, state officials would suggest helping the teacher take additional English-language classes or work with a fluency coach, LeFevre said.

The monitoring did lead to transfers of some teachers.

After a visit from a state monitor in the 2006-07 school year, the Creighton Elementary School District received a list of about 10 teachers who monitors said had problems speaking English fluently, said Susan Lugo, the district's director of human resources. Lugo said the 10 teachers were very skilled at their jobs and their students made academic progress.

"We offered them assistance with classes for grammar and pronunciation," Lugo said. The classes were free. Five of the teachers continued to struggle, and Creighton transferred them out of English-learning classes and into regular classes.

"Nobody lost pay," Lugo said. "Nobody lost a job. Keeping them in the district was a good move for us."

The Arizona Education Association, the state's largest teachers union, investigated several complaints that teachers were removed from classrooms for fluency reasons, union President Andrew Morrill said.

"We followed up on initial complaints that they themselves or someone they knew in their building were being harassed, receiving undue scrutiny and having their fluency called into question because of their accent," Morrill said. No evidence was found that it was widespread.

Morrill said the union never heard of a teacher being fired because of the monitoring reports.

Federal concerns

Federal officials found Arizona's approach to determining fluency was unacceptable because findings were subjective and based only on brief classroom visits. That was the case even when targeted teachers had passed more extensive English-fluency exams administered by districts.

During the 2010-11 school year, the state monitored 1,000 classrooms "and most visits were for at least 15 to 20 minutes," LeFevre said.

Arizona defended its actions, saying the classroom visits were effective and the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 required the state to monitor fluency.

The state agreed to change the monitoring form by removing the fluency sections.

The state instead will accept a district's or school's assurance that a teacher tested as fluent on a more complete, objective exam.

But Huppenthal said he will continue to find ways to regain state power over determining the fluency of English-language teachers.

He plans to explore requiring a fluency test when teachers are licensed by the state and seeking direct authority to monitor fluency through the state Legislature.

"We're going to want explicit authority from the Legislature so we can have regulatory power over these issues," Huppenthal said. "That's how we're going to resolve this issue.


Bring back grammars schools! Selective schools must be set up wherever families demand them, leading Tories tell PM

New grammar schools should be set up to boost academic achievement, senior Tories have told David Cameron.

In the latest in a series of challenges to the Prime Minister ahead of the party conference, a leading backbencher called for an increase in academic selection.

Graham Brady, chairman of the influential 1922 Committee, says: ‘We should end the “Henry Ford” approach to school choice by which we allow parents to have whatever kind of school they want as long as it is a comprehensive. ‘Selective schools should be available in the state sector where there is demand for them.’

The Tory MP made his remarks in a book – being serialised by the Daily Mail – which calls for a return to traditional Conservative policies. Twenty-six MPs and advisers on the centre right of the party have contributed essays that reflect their growing unease at the power and influence of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

John Redwood, a former cabinet minister, calls for lower taxes while others press for more conservative policies on the European Union and law and order.

Mr Cameron’s refusal to back the opening of more grammar-style schools made for one of the most toxic rows of the early years of his leadership and culminated in the resignation of Mr Brady from the Tory frontbench in 2007.

The fact the MP has raised the issue again shows that Tory backbenchers are increasingly confident of trying to steer Mr Cameron down a more traditional path. Although there are no Government plans to add to the country’s 164 grammar schools, Education Secretary Michael Gove is encouraging other types of selective school.

Mr Brady, a former Tory education spokesman, called for fully selective grammar schools or partially selective schools to be set up where parents want them. He says academies should be allowed to select 20 per cent of their pupils on the basis of academic ability – and even more with Government approval.

In the book, called the The Future of Conservatism, Mr Brady says: ‘If we really believe in giving more autonomy to schools and more freedom to parents and communities, it follows that we should allow the creation of selective or partially selective schools where there is local demand for them. ‘These opportunities should be provided wherever parents want them and should be available within the state sector – not just for those who can afford to pay.’

He said one in four families in the London borough of Camden goes private because local schools are so bad. In Bromley, a wealthier borough in the capital’s south, the figure is nearer one in 11.

‘Research shows that academic selection can raise standards in the selective schools and in neighbouring non-selective schools,’ Mr Brady added. ‘We now have 40 years of evidence showing that, while it is possible to achieve good results in comprehensive schools, areas with selective schools as a whole tend to perform better.’

David Davis, who helped plan the book, said the goal was to draw up ‘a distinctively Conservative point of view both as a foundation for fighting the next election and as a basis for debate in formulating policy’.

An internet tool that allows parents to compare their local schools has gone online. Available on the Department for Education website, it draws on a range of previously hidden data, including spending per pupil, staff salaries and school meal budgets. It also carries the more familiar Ofsted ratings and exam results so that schools can be judged against local, regional and national averages. Up to five can be compared against each other through a postcode search.

Education Secretary Michael Gove says the initiative is the ‘educational equivalent of Go Compare’, which helps families shop around for everything from insurance to mortgages.


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