Saturday, January 14, 2012

Adopting Pro-Sharia Textbooks in U.S. schools

When states should step in

In 2010, Act for America compiled research from former assistant education secretary Diane Ravitch, American Textbook Council and Textbook League on how 38 public school texts handled Islam; last month, Christian Action Network launched a national campaign warning of bias.

Some 22 states and U.S. territories currently maintain central textbook “adoption” standards to either recommend or require specific textbooks for public schools. Textbook adoption originated during Reconstruction to ensure that the Civil War narrative included Confederate views in southern states.

In the last two decades, sanitized Islamic history and dogma crept into broad use in U.S. public school books thanks largely to Shabbir Mansuri; to advantage Muslims, he maximized the minority role in textbook adoption (and falsely claimed to be a USC-educated chemical engineer). In 1990, he founded the Fountain Valley, Ca. Council on Islamic Education to promote Islam in textbooks and curricula, which he calls a “bloodless” revolution inside American junior high and high school classes. Mansuri derived the idea in 1988, after seeing a textbook disparage physical aspects of Muslim prayer, he says.

Independent review agencies affirm that CIE---deceptively renamed in 2006 as Institute on Religion and Civic Values (IRCV)---powerfully influences U.S. textbooks via state standards it helped to write.

For advancing “change” in school standards and curricula, CIE can largely thank Muslim convert Susan Douglass, who for 10 years wrote CIE lesson plans, advisories, guidelines and pamphlets to softpedal Islam in public schools. Central is the Teacher's Guide to Religion in the Public Schools that this author exposed shortly after its 2003 publication, purportedly as an interfaith “First Amendment” plan.

While probably unaware of their carefully staged genesis, parents for years have vocally opposed such Islamic instructions in public schools and texts as:

In 2005, Scottsdale, Ar. schools shelved Across the Centuries, only to introduce more offensive Islamic propaganda in TCI's History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond.

In 2008, a Seminole County, Fl. school let Muslim women co-opt a “family dynamics'” talk.

A Houston middle school sent students to a class on Islam during a period reserved for phys ed.

California parents have repeatedly rejected curricula and texts (including TCI's History Alive) that sanitize Islam or teach its pillars.

In Sept. 2010, a Wellesley, Ma. school “field trip” to a Saudi-funded Roxbury mosque taught kids how to pray like Muslims.

In early 2010, Minnesota's ACLU sued St. Paul's public k-8 Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy for breaching the ban against government religious advocacy.

Massachusetts schools adopted a Notebook by Abiquiu, N.M.'s Saudi-funded AWIRG. Pushed by Harvard's Middle Eastern Studies Center, it claims Muslim explorers discovered the New World and Native Americans had Muslim names. (In 2005, the center had received $20 million from Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talaal, who later boasted he could control global TV news.)

In Sept. 2010, the Texas Board of Education endured heavy criticism after issuing a textbook resolution asking publishers to fix the “pro-Islamic/anti-Christian half-truths, selective disinformation, and false stereotypes” that riddled textbooks. The board included four pages of notes to document “pejoratives” targeting Christians and “superlatives,” Muslims---e.g. brutal conquests of Christian lands were called “migrations” of “empire builders.” Books listed Crusaders' massacres, but not the Muslim Tamerlane's 1389 Delhi murder of 100,000 prisoners or his 1401 Baghdad massacre of 90,000 Muslims.

Whether named CIE or IRCV, Islamic forces spent decades stealthily cultivating influence over our nation's public schools and curricula through “minority” channels afforded by “textbook adoption.” Other “adoption state” authorities should perhaps now add teeth to their own Texas-like counter-efforts.


'Dumbed-down' degrees: British university standards under fire as 50% more students awarded a first

The number of students awarded first-class degrees has more than doubled over the last decade. A record one in six graduates obtained the top qualification last year, prompting fresh concerns about grade inflation and the value of degrees. One expert says that degree classifications are now ‘almost meaningless’.

The trend has fuelled demands for a major overhaul of the system, with the introduction of a ‘starred first’ degree for the brightest graduates.

According to figures released yesterday by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), 53,215 graduates gained firsts in 2010/11 compared with 23,700 in 2000/01. A decade ago, nine per cent of graduates gained the top classification. By 2010/11 the proportion getting firsts had risen to 15.5 per cent.

HESA also provided detailed data covering the period between 2006/7 and 2010/11, when there was a 45 per cent increase in the number of students gaining firsts. Sixty-six per cent of degrees obtained by women were firsts or 2.1s in 2010/11 compared with 61 per cent of those achieved by males.

Demands for reform of degree classification have increased over recent years amid claims that some lecturers turn a blind eye to plagiarism to help their institutions climb official league tables. University whistle-blowers have also alleged that external examiners have been ‘leaned on’ to boost grades.

Universities have been asked to adopt a new graduate ‘report card’, providing a detailed breakdown of students’ academic achievements plus information about extra-curricular activities. However, they cannot be forced to.

Professor Alan Smithers, of Buckingham University, said: ‘The inflation in degree classes is rendering them almost meaningless. ‘Employers have to look at A-level results and the university at which the degree is being obtained.’

The heads of elite universities are raking in average pay packages of almost £318,000 ahead of the tripling of tuition fees.

Many vice chancellors are enjoying salary rises when higher education has seen its funding slashed and students are being forced to pay up to £9,000 a year in fees.

Times Higher Education analysed the 2010-11 accounts for 18 of the 20 Russell Group universities. It found that they spent an average of £317,742 on their vice chancellors’ pay, benefits and pensions.

Highest paid was Oxford University’s Andrew Hamilton with a total package of £424,000. Second was David Eastwood of the University of Birmingham with £419,000, a 6.9 per cent increase on the previous year’s figure of £392,000.


Bad teachers should be sacked 'in weeks': British education bosss wants parents in classrooms to help drive up standards

Parents should help schools root out and sack failing teachers, according to the Education Secretary. Michael Gove is scrapping rules that shield incompetent staff to allow them to be dismissed within just nine weeks. In an interview with the Mail, Mr Gove said he wanted parents to ask to go into classrooms to assess how well children are being taught.

Headmasters can monitor teachers for only three hours a year and the process of sacking one takes at least 12 months. But Mr Gove is introducing a requirement for teachers to be assessed every year against simpler, sharper standards as well as scrapping more than 50 pages of ‘unnecessary’ guidance on how to deal with failing staff.

The proposals, to be unveiled today, will trigger a storm of protest from education unions. Only a handful of teachers have been struck off for incompetence over the past decade, suggesting it is all but impossible to get thrown out of the profession.

Between 2001 and 2011, just 17 of England’s 400,000 teachers were prevented from applying for another job after being judged incompetent by the General Teaching Council for England.

Mr Gove said: ‘You wouldn’t tolerate an underperforming surgeon in an operating theatre, or a underperforming midwife at your child’s birth. ‘Why is it that we tolerate underperforming teachers in the classroom? Teachers themselves know if there’s a colleague who can’t keep control or keep the interest of their class, it affects the whole school.

‘Children themselves know they are being cheated. Ultimately we owe it to our children. They are in school for 190 days a year. Every moment they spend learning is precious. If a year goes by and they are not being stretched and excited, that blights their life. ‘We have got to think of what’s in the children’s interests first.’

Mr Gove vowed to crack down on what he called the ‘dance of the lemons’, where failed teachers turn up at a new school and get a job by presenting well at an interview. ‘It is only after a term or two the head recognises they have taken on a lemon,’ he added. If you are applying for a job when you’ve been subject to capability procedures, you’ll have to say so under new legislation.

‘The single most important thing in a child’s performance is the quality of the teacher. Making sure a child spends the maximum amount of time with inspirational teachers is the most important thing.

‘The evidence is quite clear: if you’re with a bad teacher, you can go back a year; if you’re with a good teacher you can leap ahead a year.’

Mr Gove said the process to sack a teacher usually took a year or more. ‘Some individual teachers and some unions adopt a variety of dodges,’ he added. ‘They won’t attend meetings, or the teacher will be signed off with stress, which is intended to prolong the process.

‘We can’t have the union tail wagging the dog. We can’t have a situation where union representatives think it’s their job to defend someone who isn’t up to it. The whole procedure should now be telescoped into just a term – eight to nine weeks.’

Under his plans, the GTC is being scrapped and replaced with a body that will deal with the most serious cases of misconduct. But heads will be given more responsibility and authority to dismiss those they deem to be failing.

Mr Gove said he was astonished that contractual arrangements meant teachers could be monitored for only three hours a year. Most provocatively, he suggested parents should ask to go into classrooms – in sensible numbers – to see how their children’s learning is progressing.

‘In the Far East, they regard every classroom as an open place. If a parent wants to come to observe a lesson, they think fantastic,’ he said. ‘If another teacher wants to come in and watch a lesson, they think that’s wonderful. If a teacher knows they’re struggling, they will welcome someone coming in and saying to them afterwards how they can do it better.

‘If a parent says, I would like to come along and watch when my children are being taught, then I think teachers should not be afraid and encourage that level of commitment.’

Despite the billions poured into schools by Labour, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development think tank found that between 2000 and 2009, England fell from 7th to 25th in reading, 8th to 28th in maths, and 4th to 16th in science.

Headteachers’ leaders backed Mr Gove’s proposals. Russell Hobby, of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: ‘A streamlined approach to capability will, on the rare occasions that it is needed, help schools act more decisively in pupils’ interests and reduce the conflict that these actions can generate. ‘The vast majority of teachers are dedicated, talented professionals who do an essential job in often challenging conditions. Better performance management will celebrate this fact.’

Brian Lightman, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said ‘drop-in’ observations by heads would ensure high standards of professional performance.

But Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teaching union, said: ‘This is yet another depressingly predictable announcement from a Government seemingly intent on destroying the teaching profession and state education. ‘The draconian measures announced today are totally unnecessary. There is no evidence which demonstrates that there are problems with the current system. ‘This announcement will only serve further to devastate teacher morale and endanger future recruitment to the profession and the retention of existing teachers.’


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