Thursday, November 17, 2011

S.C. Teacher Accused Of Making first-graders Rub Her Feet

And she still has her job!

Lexington County School District Three is investigating after a first-grader complained about having to rub her teacher's feet.

A district representative said the district has launched a full investigation, appropriate action has been taken and the situation has been rectified. But that's not nearly enough for some parents.

"She admitted to the children rubbing her feet," said Brenda Norris. "Just the thought of it... They immediately sent her home, but she's back there today."

Norris is far from satisfied after her 6-year-old granddaughter, who is in first grade, came home from Batesburg-Leesville Primary School last Wednesday to said she was "tired of rubbing her teacher's feet."

"'Do she take off her socks and shoes?'" Norris recounted asking. "'Grandma, she wears flip flops.'"

Norris refused to name the teacher, but said she would select students to massage her feet during class time. "My granddaughter has nightmares, she cries," said Norris. "She said 'I have three wishes, Grandma. One of them was not to go to school today.'"

Outraged, Norris took to Facebook and found at least half a dozen parents who said this also happened to their kids. The district says the situation has been handled. "I don't trust the system at all now," said Norris. "I can't trust the system. I'm afraid for her to go to school."

Norris said the punishment is unacceptable since the teacher still has her job, and her granddaughter's trust has been destroyed. "She was taught to do what the teacher said do," said Norris. "And the teacher wants her to rub her feet? She told me 'grandma, you didn't tell me if I touch someone else, to tell you.' That broke my heart."


British parents rebel over lessons on sex for pupils aged four and plans to teach homosexuality to six-year-olds

A primary school is facing a parents’ revolt over the content of sex education classes for children as young as four. Up to 20 families are said to be prepared to withdraw youngsters from the lessons because of concerns they are being sexualised too soon with discussions about homosexuality, masturbation and orgasms.

Under the plans, those aged six could be taught about same-sex relationships and the difference between ‘good and bad touching’. Topics for ten-year-olds include orgasm and masturbation.

Grenoside Community Primary in Sheffield already offers sex education to pupils in the two oldest year groups, but is planning to extend it to the younger ones as well. Some parents have been shocked by details of the lessons revealed in consultation meetings.

Headmaster Colin Fleetwood insists the material is not explicit and is in line with national curriculum guidelines. But parents including Louise Leahy – who has four children aged five to ten at the 319-pupil school – are furious.

‘There is a great deal of material in there which children don’t need to know at such a young age,’ the 41-year-old said. ‘It’s almost like the lessons and videos shown are saying, “Put all your toys in the bin, now it’s time to grow up”.’

She said some of the vocabulary used for the first two year groups is inappropriate, and objected to a DVD for older children showing a man lying on top of a woman.

Videos about people touching themselves encourage children ‘to think in a sexual way’, she said, adding: ‘One governor told me her child needs to know this stuff because she watches Emmerdale and EastEnders, but mine don’t and I don’t want them to.’

Katie Burrell, 26, whose six-year-old son Redd is at the school, agreed, saying: ‘My boy still believes in Father Christmas, he doesn’t need to be told these things.

‘The lessons for six- and seven-year-olds are far too explicit. I think a lot of parents will take their children out of these classes. ‘I am by no means a prude, but some of this is beyond stupidity.’

Mr Fleetwood said governors will decide what can taught following the consultation. He added: ‘We want this to be a positive learning experience which will help our children make sensible and responsible decisions as they grow up.’

His view was echoed by Dr Sonia Sharp, executive director for children, young people and families at Sheffield City Council, who said the lessons are widely taught at other primary schools in the city.

More than a fifth of UK primaries offer sex education, the content of which is decided by governors. It is compulsory only at secondaries.

Labour planned to make the subject compulsory from age five. Yesterday, the Department for Education said it is reviewing the subject.


Australia: Parents support Judeo-Christian teachings, say Queensland conservatives

Queensland's Liberal National Party has strongly backed religious instruction in state schools, arguing Islamic and non-religious parents often want children brought up with a Judeo-Christian grounding. sought comment from both sides of politics about the prospect of introducing secular ethics classes in Queensland, nearly a year after the New South Wales government rolled out such courses state-wide as an alternative for non-religious students.

Both Labor and the Coalition in NSW support the ethics classes, saying students who did not attend religious education sessions should have access to some structured learning rather than being sent to the library for private study.

But their Queensland counterparts appear to be lukewarm on the idea. LNP education spokesman Bruce Flegg said the party was not planning to alter any legislation at this time, but would be happy to consider any proposals or submissions.

“The LNP believe that the overwhelming majority of Queenslanders want their children brought up with a Judeo-Christian grounding in religious education,” he said in a written response. “In many cases this applies to people who themselves may not be particularly religious.

“I am sure this also applies to the increasing number of Queenslanders who identify themselves as Islamic. The LNP is therefore supportive of RE in schools.”

Dr Flegg said he respected the view of people who objected to a faith-based RE program but the overwhelming majority “still want their children to understand values as they underpin our community”.

The government was last night unable to provide figures on the extent of religious education participation in Queensland state schools.

Queensland's education laws allow approved representatives of denominations and faith groups entry into state schools to provide religious instruction of up to one hour per week.

However, this is meant to be provided only to children whose parents have nominated that religion on their enrolment forms or to children whose parents have given written permission. Parents can opt out, with students sent to alternative activities, such as reading or studying.

Education Minister Cameron Dick did not express a view on ethics classes but said Education Queensland would seek further information from NSW following the first full year of the program, which began at the start of 2011.

Mr Dick said principals had discretion over the types of activities offered to students who did not attend religious instruction classes.

“Alternatives already exist, which include wider reading, doing personal research, revision of class work or other activities at the discretion of the principal,” he said in a written response. “These decisions are made by principals at the local level. Principals may decide to provide an ethics-based class.”

A year ago, the then-Labor NSW government announced it would give parents the choice to place their children into secular ethics classes instead of religion lessons after declaring a pilot program a success.

In the trial, year 5 and 6 students explored philosophical issues surrounding how they ought to live and what principles should guide ethical decision making.

Each of the 10 lessons in the trial explored a particular ethical question, such as what made a practice or action fair or unfair, and students had to discuss their reasoning. Other topics included lying, ethical principles, graffiti, the use and abuse of animals, interfering with nature, virtues and vices, and children's rights.

The ethics classes were spearheaded by the St James Ethics Centre which developed a 10-week lesson program delivered by volunteers.

The philosophical ethics program was rolled out more broadly from the start of this year, with students encouraged to engage in dialogue and discussion on ethical issues.

The NSW Coalition, which swept to power in March, insists it will maintain an election commitment to keep the ethics classes available "because the government believes that there ought to be an alternative provided for students who are not taking scripture classes".

Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens' Associations state president Margaret Leary said yesterday the ethics class idea had not been raised as a major topic within the organisation. She said non-religious students were sent to the library or other areas to read, study or perform other learning activities.

It would be interesting to see how the ethics courses worked in NSW, she said.

University of South Australia ethics and philosophy lecturer Sue Knight, who last year evaluated the NSW pilot program, made a broader point about the lack of structured alternatives to religious instruction in state schools across the country.

Humanist Society of Queensland president Maria Proctor said last year ethics classes had merit, but they should not be limited to students not attending religious instruction.

Ms Proctor said her organisation, which defended the separation of church and state, disliked religious instruction being provided in state schools and believed students should not be “segregated based on what their parents believe”.


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