Friday, January 13, 2012

RI: Fed court orders school to remove prayer mural

A federal judge has ordered the immediate removal of a prayer mural displayed in the auditorium of a Rhode Island public high school.

Teenage atheist student Jessica Ahlquist had sued Cranston city and Cranston High School West officials, demanding they remove the banner because it promotes a religion. She calls it offensive to non-Christians.

City officials claimed the mural is a historical artifact from the school's early days and serves no religious purpose. The prayer encourages students to strive academically. It begins with the words "Our Heavenly Father" and ends with "Amen."

A senior U.S. District Court judge on Wednesday ruled in the atheist student's favor.

The student has 20 days to file counsel fees and costs. City officials will have 10 days to respond. The court will enter judgment after these issues are resolved.


Compulsory education: The slippery slope

"I believe that every child should have the opportunity, even if they don't go, to at least apply to a college," gushed Washington, D.C. Council Chairman Kwame Brown last week.

That’s nice. What a sweet guy – thinking about kids. I believe every child ought to have opportunities too. Certainly, if a kid, after finishing high school, desires a chance to apply for admission to a college, he or she ought to have the opportunity to do so. It’s part of the American dream: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Is that what Councilman Kwame is talking about? Liberty? Freedom? Opportunity? Equality under the law?

Unfortunately, no; I’m afraid it’s the opposite. He’s talking about forcing his own personal agenda upon every young man and woman within his ambit of political power whether they like it or not. He introduced a bill to require every high school student to apply to a college or trade school even if the student has no interest or desire in attending.

The bill would establish a "mandatory workshop" to teach teenagers how to apply for aid and admission. It would then require all to apply to at least one post-secondary school before graduation, and further require that every kid take the SAT or ACT college admission tests..

Brown says he’s worried that that some D.C. students aren't going to college simply because they "don't know how to navigate the enrollment process," and he wants to make sure they all learn it whether they want to or not. He doesn’t care what they want for themselves. He just wants to exercise his power over them.

Actually, Brown has it ass backwards. These kids don’t know how to navigate the college enrollment process because they simply don’t want to go to college. It’s as simple as that. Why should they learn it? They aren’t interested in pursuing more formal education. They lack the skills and aptitude for college. They’re sick and tired of compulsory education, teachers, principals, school administrators and people who think they know better about how to lead their own lives than they do. They want their freedom!

The main reason why high school and undergraduate college education in America is quickly becoming worthless these days is because of the attitudes and statist thinking of Authorities like Councilman Kwame Brown. When every kid graduates from high school, including those who are dumber and less ambitious than a bag of marbles, a high school diploma is next to meaningless. When every kid is admitted to college, college loses its value.

There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that compulsory education laws in America are patently unconstitutional, despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled otherwise. Incredibly, the highest court in the land has ignored the Constitution altogether and held that the state as a proper function of its police power may require school attendance – for their own good.

Forget about liberty. Forget about the First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments; the right to free speech; freedom of religion and personal conscience; freedom of association; due process; and the rest of the Bill of Rights – none of it matters when the Authorities want to dictate how you lead your own life.

If the Authority is looking for justification for ObamaCare and the individual mandate for every person to buy health insurance whether they want to or not, there is no better precedent than the laws mandating and upholding compulsory education.

If the state can compel the attendance of children in school, it can compel the conduct of adults to buy health insurance – or to do anything else for that matter – for their own welfare; for their own good.

And the United States Constitution may be damned.


A fifth of British primary schools at bursting point (but if you move to the country there are plenty of places)

A fifth of primary schools and a quarter of secondaries were full or had too many pupils last year, official figures show.

Statistics published by the Department for Education (DfE) reveal that more than 4,000 schools across England were at or above the limit in terms of student numbers.

The figures suggest that some places are feeling the squeeze on places more than others - with Bristol and parts of London among those hardest hit.

The data shows that 3,438 primary schools (20.4 per cent) were full or had pupils in excess of school capacity as of May last year, along with 837 secondaries (25.4 per cent).

At the same time, nationally, there were 444,410 unfilled primary places, with a further 396,240 available in secondary schools - many of these are in rural areas.

The data shows that among those most affected by a lack of school places is Barking in east London. The borough has 19,615 school places, but is projected to have 26,879 primary pupils by 2015/16 - a shortfall of 7,264 places. Waltham Forest is expected to be short by 5,372 and Brent by 6,234 places. Outside the capital, Bristol is expected to have a shortfall of 6,684 primary places by 2015/16.

The DfE said it is targeting funding at the areas facing a critical shortfall to help them provide extra school places.

Today’s figures also show that according to local authority forecasts, there is expected to be an extra 454,800 pupils at primary school nationally by 2015/16, while the number of secondary-age pupils will increase by 44,210.

Schools Minister Lord Hill said: 'We’re creating thousands more places to deal with the impact of soaring birth rates on primary schools. 'We’re more than doubling targeted investment at areas facing the greatest pressure on numbers - to over £4 billion in the next four years. 'We are building Free Schools and letting the most popular schools expand to meet demand from parents.'

The figures come as the West London Free School, spearheaded by writer Toby Young and which opened in September, announced plans to submit an application to open a primary school in 2013. Mr Young said that the primary would offer the same 'classical liberal education' as the existing secondary school.

If approved, the primary school will open with two reception classes in 2013 and take on more pupils each year. Mr Young said the new school would help meet the demand for places in Hammersmith and Fulham.


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