Saturday, December 24, 2011

Denmark: Schools drop Christmas traditions out of consideration for Muslim students

Schools are increasingly changing Christmas tradition in order to take into account a growing number of bilingual children.

At the Klostervænget school in Copenhagen, the school administration changed a few verses in the 'A Child is Born in Bethlehem' hymn sung by the children because they thought it would be preaching too much to the bilingual children.

At Møllevang school in Aarhus the school administration asked a music teacher to choose hymns that took into account the Muslim students, after students in a 3rd grade class and their parents protested that the children were expected to sing "Here come your little ones, Jesus".

At the Nørrevang school in Slagelse, the school administration canceled the Christmas ceremony in church, since the priest insisted on saying the Lord's prayer, and the school administration thought it would insult some of the students.

These examples show that various schools with many students of immigrant background are changing the way Christmas is celebrated. The schools feel they're in a dilemma between Christian traditions and taking into account the fact that increasing numbers of students are Muslim.

"By us it's important that all children have the same rights and obligations. Nobody should feel excluded, and therefore we won't go into a church with some of the children. Instead we're having the Christmas celebration at school," says Tom Schultz, principal of the Nørrevang school in Slagelse.

Anders Balle, head of the principal's union, asks principals to be pragmatic. "We shouldn't let go of the cultural part of Christmas, but they shouldn't be preaching either." He says students should be allowed not to participate in events in churches.

Education Minister Christine Antorini (S) doesn't want to intervene if schools decide to drop hymns. "But I think there's a fine balance that parents can ask that their children be exempt from religious events that are not part of the curriculum."


Teachers Union President Deems Education Too Complex for Tax-Paying Rubes

It’s so reassuring to have the intellectual elites in our nation’s teachers unions, like Sandy Hughes of Tennessee, looking out for us rubes.

Hughes, a local union president, is pitching the idea that school board membership be limited to people who “have worked in the education field,” because the issues at hand are “so complex” and too complicated for average citizens.

In other words, all will be well if taxpayers just get out of the way and let the wise and wonderful union folks run our schools, no questions asked. All we have to do is keep paying the taxes, then mind our own business.

This is a perfect example of the snobbery and arrogance that is so pervasive in the public education establishment.

A stay-at-home mom that wants to be on the board? Sorry. Business owners who know how to control labor costs and balance budgets? They don’t have the right skill set, according to Hughes. Public education is too "complex" for them.

Hughes didn’t happen to mention the 80% graduation rate in her county, the 52% of 3-8 graders who aren't proficient in reading or the 62% who aren't proficient in math. Perhaps she thinks those statistics are acceptable, and the public school accept them, too.

There's another issue at play here. Most communities throughout the nation elect school board members. Teachers unions throughout the nation provide millions of dollars in campaign contributions to get their hand-picked candidates elected, then lo and behold, they negotiate juicy, expensive contracts with their pet board members.

Union leaders have clearly thought this through. Some have actually produced How-To manuals, such as the Michigan Education Association’s “Electing Your Employer – It’s as easy as 1-2-3!” In it, the union details every step necessary to elect union-friendly school board members.

The only problem is that, with a board full of union supporters, nobody is looking out for the interests of students and taxpayers. But of course, people who aren’t dedicated to the union agenda have no business on school boards, according to Hughes. We obviously don’t understand the process. It’s all too “complex” for us.


Fewer black students at Oxford and Cambridge

Oxbridge recruits from a high IQ pool. Very few blacks would be in that pool

The number of black students being awarded places at Oxford and Cambridge dropped even lower last year, according to newly released figures.

Fewer than one in 100 students beginning courses at Britain's two oldest universities in 2010 were black, including just 20 of the 2,617 British students accepted to Oxford, a fall from 27 in 2009.

The number of new black students at Cambridge dropped to 16 among an intake of 2,624, compared with 25 the previous year, admissions data show.

The statistics come months after David Cameron branded the universities' ethnic admissions figures as "disgraceful", incorrectly claiming that just one British black student had been accepted by Oxford in 2009.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the incoming head of Ofsted, told the Sunday Times it was the role of schools to press more black pupils to apply for places at Britain's most prestigious academic institutions. He said: "The statistics clearly show that [state] schools aren't doing enough to encourage black and ethnic minority students to apply to the top universities."

Oxford said it had accepted 32 black students in 2011, an increase from last year, and said white pupils were more than twice as likely as black pupils to score three As at A-level.

Cambridge said 15 per cent of students at the university last year were from ethnic minorities, compared with five per cent in 1989.


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