Monday, December 12, 2011

University Teacher Attacks Military, College Republicans

An Iowa State University lecturer is under a firestorm of criticism after he insulted the U.S. military and condemned efforts by College Republicans to collect gift boxes for American soldiers.

“Why do Republicans care so much about the military?” Thomas Walker wrote in a letter to the Iowa State Daily. “Because the military-industrial complex is dear to their simplistic laissez-faire fantasies: a bottom-line patriotism that excludes the people at the bottom.”

Walker is a lecturer in the university’s English and orientation program. He ridiculed the charitable actions of the young college students and questioned their motives.

“Soldiers are to Republicans as fetuses are to them: prized,” Walker wrote. “But once out of the womb-like army, Republican solicitude for hapless veterans goes where extracted zygotes go.”

Walker was referring to a newspaper article detailing efforts by Iowa State’s College Republicans to show their support for America’s fighting men and women.

“Donating toiletries, boxed and canned foods, socks and beanies to U.S. soldiers who can already deodorize themselves, who eat better than the poorest Americans and who are gallantly garbed, is an eleemosynary travesty,” he wrote. [Wow! Big word: "eleemosynary". He is a show-off as well as a hater. Just a big ego all round. I am familiar with the word from its church associations but I doubt that I have ever used it]

His comments have created an outrage among students and supporters of the university.

“I, along with many Iowans, was offended and disgusted by the unfortunate and highly inappropriate remarks made against our soldiers in uniform,” Regent President Pro Tem Bruce Rastetter told the Quad-City Times. “Not only did Mr. Walker insult our sons and daughters in uniform – he also questioned the kind and humanitarian efforts made by our students to ensure that our soldiers know we care about them and are exceedingly grateful for their service.”

Iowa State University President Gregory Geoffroy was a bit more subdued in his remarks – explain that he respects freedom of speech, but disagreed with Walker’s letter.

“Please understand that Mr. Walker’s opinions do not in any way represent Iowa State University, and as a military veteran myself, I strongly disagree with his comments,” Geoffroy stated in a release provided to Fox News & Commentary. “I do however respect every individual’s right to freedom of speech, which is so highly valued in our nation, and which is one of the cherished values that our troops are fighting to defend in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Walker remains employed by the university.


More than 1,000 failing British primary schools are facing closure

More than 1,000 primary schools face closure or takeover after failing to hit Coalition targets in English and maths.

Official league tables published next week will reveal they are still not ensuring youngsters get a good enough grasp of the three Rs, despite the billions poured into education under Labour.

Ministers have warned that by the end of this year, headmasters must meet a minimum of 60 per cent of 11-year-olds reaching the standard expected in English and maths.

Schools failing to reach this target can gain a reprieve if they prove children are making necessary progress between the ages of seven and 11.

The escape clause is designed to counter critics who claim some schools are punished for having large numbers of pupils from troubled backgrounds, who are far behind their classmates.

Last year, school-by-school data published by the Department for Education showed 962 primaries – which were attended by 269,000 pupils – failed to hit the official benchmarks.

However, full results were only recorded for 11,500 schools after almost a quarter boycotted the tests.

Education experts expect the number of schools failing to meet the targets to rise to around 1,200 when the data for all primaries in England is published on Thursday.

These substandard schools will go on a Government ‘hit list’. They face being closed and reopened as academies under the leadership of a new headmaster, or being merged with a successful neighbouring school. The weakest 200 will be pulled out of local authority control and converted into academies as early as next September.

Schools are supposed to ensure that at least 60 per cent of their pupils gain ‘level four’ – the standard expected of their age – in both English and maths. They are also expected to satisfy ‘pupil progress’ measures designed to chart improvement between the ages of seven and 11.

Statistics show that 74 per cent of 11-year-olds reached ‘level four’ this year in English and maths, up from 73 per cent last year. However, this still means more than 142,000 do not understand the basics.

Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: ‘Since overall performance has only gone up by 1 per cent, one could expect 1,200 or more schools are failing to meet the expected standard this year.

‘It’s very disappointing so many children are leaving primary school not able to handle words and numbers properly. 'The Government is quite right to want to tackle this.’

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, accused ministers of being heavy handed, adding: ‘Having failed to persuade the majority of primary schools to become academies, the Government has resorted to bullying.’


Queering the Schools

At a high school in prosperous Newton, Massachusetts, it’s “To B GLAD Day”—or, less delicately, Transgender, Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian Awareness Day. An advocacy session for students and teachers features three self-styled transgendered individuals—a member of the senior class and two recent graduates. One of the transgenders, born female, announces that “he” had been taking hormones for 16 months. “Right now I am a 14-year-old boy going through puberty and a 55-year-old woman going through menopause,” she complains. “I am probably the moodiest person in the world.” A second panelist declares herself an “androgyne in between both genders of society.” She adds, “Gender is just a bunch of stereotypes from society, but I am completely personal, and my gender is fluid.”

Only in liberal Massachusetts could a public school endorse such an event for teens, you might think. But you would be wrong. For the last decade or so, largely working beneath public or parental notice, a well-organized movement has sought to revolutionize the curricula and culture of the nation’s public schools. Its aim: to stamp out “hegemonic heterosexuality”—the traditional view that heterosexuality is the norm—in favor of a new ethos that does not just tolerate homosexuality but instead actively endorses experimenting with it, as well as with a polymorphous range of bisexuality, transgenderism, and transsexuality. The educational establishment has enthusiastically signed on. What this portends for the future of the public schools and the psychic health of the nation’s children is deeply worrisome.

This movement to “queer” the public schools, as activists put it, originated with a shift in the elite understanding of homosexuality. During the eighties, when gay activism first became a major cultural force, homosexual leaders launched a campaign that mirrored the civil rights movement. To claim their rights, homosexuals argued (without scientific evidence) that their orientation was a genetic inheritance, like race, and thus deserved the same kind of civil protections the nation had guaranteed to blacks. An inborn, unchangeable fact, after all, could not be subject to moral disapproval. There ensued a successful effort to normalize homosexuality throughout the culture, including a strong push for homosexual marriage, gays in the military, and other signs of civic equality.

But even as the homosexual-rights campaign won elite endorsement and lavish funding, even as supportive organizations proliferated, the gay movement began to split internally. By the early nineties, many gay activists viewed goals such as gay marriage or domestic partner unions as lamely “assimilationist”—an endorsement of standards of behavior that “queers,” as they called themselves, should reject as oppressively “straight.” And they militantly began defending the “queer lifestyle” not as an ineluctable fate but as the result of a fully conscious choice.

Underlying this militant stance was a radical new academic ideology called “queer theory.” A mixture of the neo-Freudianism of counterculture gurus Norman O. Brown and Herbert Marcuse and French deconstruction, queer theory takes to its extreme limit the idea that all sexual difference and behavior is a product of social conditioning, not nature. It is, in their jargon, “socially constructed.” For the queer theorist, all unambiguous and permanent notions of a natural sexual or gender identity are coercive impositions on our individual autonomy—our freedom to reinvent our sexual selves whenever we like. Sexuality is androgynous, fluid, polymorphous—and therefore a laudably subversive and even revolutionary force.

Rutgers English professor Michael Warner, a leading queer theorist, observes that categories like “heterosexual” and “homosexual” are part of “the regime of the normal” that queer theory wants to explode. “What identity,” he writes, “encompasses queer girls who f*&k queer boys with strap-ons, or FTMs (female-to-male transsexuals) who think of themselves as queer, FTMs who think of themselves as straights, or FTMs for whom life is a project of transition and screw the categories anyway?” To overturn the old dichotomies of hetero/homo and even male/female, Warner encourages continuous sexual experimentation.

A relatively recent arrival on college campuses, queer theory has swiftly dominated the myriad university gender-studies programs and spread its influence to other disciplines, too, “queering” everything under the sun. Type “queering” into’s search engine, and up comes Queering the Middle Ages, Queering the Color Line, Queering India, and many other books, many from prestigious academic presses.

It would be tempting to dismiss queer theory as just another intellectual fad, with little influence beyond the campus, if not for gay activists’ aggressive effort to introduce the theory’s radical view of sexuality into the public schools. Leading the effort is the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Educational Network (GLSEN, pronounced “glisten”), an advocacy group founded a decade ago to promote homosexual issues in the public schools. It now boasts 85 chapters, four regional offices, and some 1,700 student clubs, called “gay/straight alliances,” that it has helped form in schools across the country.

GLSEN often presents itself as a civil rights organization, saying that it is only after “tolerance” and “understanding” for a victim group. Sometimes, therefore, it still speaks the old gay-rights language of unchangeable homosexual “identity” and “orientation.” But it is, in fact, a radical organization that has clearly embraced the queer-theory worldview. It seeks to transform the culture and instruction of every public school, so that children will learn to equate “heterosexism”—the favoring of heterosexuality as normal—with other evils like racism and sexism and will grow up pondering their sexual orientation and the fluidity of their sexual identity.

That GLSEN embraces queer theory is clear from the addition of transgendered students to the gays and lesbians the group claims to represent. By definition, the transgendered are those who choose to change their gender identity by demeanor, dress, hormones, or surgery. Nothing could be more profoundly opposed to the notion of a natural sexual identity. Consider as evidence of queer theory’s influence, too, the GLSEN teachers’ manual that says that middle-schoolers “should have the freedom to explore [their] sexual orientation and find [their] own unique expression of lesbian, bisexual, gay, straight, or any combination of these.” What is this but Michael Warner’s appeal to pansexual experimentation?

One of the major goals of GLSEN and similar groups is to reform public school curricula and teaching so that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender—or LGBT—themes are always central and always presented in the approved light. GLSEN holds regular conferences for educators and activists with workshops bearing titles such as “Girls Will Be Boys and Boys Will Be Girls: Creating a Safe, Supportive School Environment for Trans, Intersex, Gender Variant and Gender Questioning Youth” and “Developing and Implementing a Transgender Inclusive Curriculum.” Every course in every public school should focus on LGBT issues, GLSEN believes. A workshop at GLSEN’s annual conference in Chicago in 2000 complained that “most LGBT curricula are in English, history and health” and sought ways of introducing its agenda into math and science classes, as well. (As an example of how to queer geometry, GLSEN recommends using gay symbols such as the pink triangle to study shapes.)

Nor is it ever too early to begin stamping out heterosexism. A 2002 GLSEN conference in Boston held a seminar on “Gender in the Early Childhood Classroom” that examined ways of setting “the tone for nontraditional gender role play” for preschoolers. To help get the LGBT message across to younger children, teachers can turn to an array of educational products, many of them available from GLSEN. Early readers include One Dad, Two Dads, Brown Dad, Blue Dads; King and King; and Asha’s Mums.

As for teaching aids, a 1999 book, Queering Elementary Education, with a foreword by GLSEN executive director Kevin Jennings, offers essays on “Locating a Place for Gay and Lesbian Themes in Elementary Reading, Writing and Talking” and “How to Make ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’ in the Classroom”—the scare quotes showing the queer theorist’s ever present belief that categorizing gender is a political act.

For comprehensiveness, nothing beats a GLSEN-recommended resource manual distributed to all K–12 public schools in Saint Paul and Minneapolis. The manual presents an educational universe that filters everything through an LGBT lens. Lesson ideas include “role playing” exercises to “counter harassment,” where students pretend, say, to be bisexual and hear hurtful words cast at them; testing students to see where their attitudes lie toward sexual “difference” (mere tolerance is unacceptable; much better is “admiration” and, best of all, “nurturance”); getting students to take a “Sexual Orientation Quiz”; and having heterosexual students learn 37 ways that heterosexuals are privileged in society. In turn, principals should make an “ongoing PA announcement”—once a week, the manual says—telling students about confidential support programs for LGBT students.

Teachers, the manual suggests, should demand that public school students memorize the approved meanings of important LGBT words and terms, from “bigenderist” to “exotophobia.” Sometimes, these approved meanings require Orwellian redefinitions: “Family: Two or more persons who share resources, share responsibility for decisions, share values and goals, and have commitments to one another over a period of time . . . regardless of blood, or adoption, or marriage.”

Two videos come particularly highly rated by gay activists and educators as tools for making primary school queer-friendly. Both films strive to present homosexuality in a favorable light, without saying what it actually is. It’s Elementary, intended for parents, educators, and policymakers, shows how classroom teachers can lead kindergartners through carefully circumscribed discussions of the evils of prejudice, portrayed as visited to an unusual degree on gays and lesbians. In That’s a Family, designed for classroom use, children speak directly into the camera, explaining to other kids how having gay and lesbian parents is no different from, for example, having parents of different national backgrounds.

GLSEN even provides lesson plans for the promotion of cross-dressing in elementary school classes. A school resource book containing such lesson plans, Cootie Shots: Theatrical Inoculations Against Bigotry for Kids, Parents, and Teachers, has already been used in second-grade classrooms in California. A children’s play in the book features a little boy singing of the exhilaration of striding about “In Mommy’s High Heels,” in angry defiance of the criticism of his intolerant peers:

They are the swine, I am the pearl. . . .
They’ll be beheaded when I’m queen!
When I rule the world! When I rule the world!
When I rule the world in my mommy’s high heels!

Some of the LGBT-friendly curricular material aimed at older children is quite sexually explicit. The GLSEN-recommended reading list for grades 7–12 is dominated by such material, depicting the queer sexuality spectrum. In Your Face: Stories from the Lives of Queer Youth features a 17-year-old who writes, “I identify as bisexual and have since I was about six or seven. . . . I sort of experimented when I was young.” Another GLSEN recommendation, Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology, has a 16-year-old contributor who explains, “My sexuality is as fluid, indefinable and ever-changing as the north flowing river.”

Some of the most explicit homosexual material has shown up in classrooms. An Ohio teacher encouraged her freshman students to read Entries From a Hot Pink Notebook, a teen coming-out story that includes a graphic depiction of sex between two 14-year-old boys. In Newton, Massachusetts, a public school teacher assigned his 15-year-old students The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a farrago of sexual confusion, featuring an episode of bestiality as one of its highlights. Such books represent a growth industry for publishers, including mainstream firms.


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