Thursday, January 05, 2012

VA School District Defends Shocking Occupy-Themed Song Performed by Third-Graders: ‘I’m So Happy to Be Part of the 99%’

The ever-vigilant crew at WeaselZippers has uncovered a jaw-dropping incident at Woodbrook Elementary School in Virginia in which third-grade students performed (and school officials claim wrote) a song titled, “Part of the 99” as part of a “Kid Pan Alley” performance in October.

But despite the backlash, Albermale County school district is standing behind the song, claiming the children chose and wrote the lyrics themselves.

The lyrics, which mirror the very same sentiments and slogans espoused by the Occupy movement, have critics up in arms. The highly politicized song, which many believe is intended to indoctrinate children, follows below:

Some people have it all
But they still don’t think they have enough
They want more money
A faster ride
They’re not content
Never satisfied
Yes — they’re the 1 percent

I used to be one of the 1 percent
I worked all the time
Never saw my family
Couldn’t make life rhyme
Then the bubble burst
It really, really hurt
I lost my money
Lost my pride
Lost my home
Now I’m part of the 99

Some people have it all
But they still don’t think they have enough
They want more money
A faster ride
They’re not content
Never satisfied
Yes — they’re the 1 percent

I used to be sad, now I’m satisfied
’Cause I really have enough
Though I lost my yacht and plane
Didn’t need that extra stuff
Could have been much worse
You don’t need to be first
’Cause I’ve got my friends
Here by my side
Don’t need it all
I’m so happy to be part of the 99

Local CBS 19 reports:
Conservative blogs are buzzing, discussing what they call “an indoctrinating sing-along” with an Occupy Message. In one blog, Weasel Zippers, writes “to have third graders sing about class warfare and rail against the one percent is evil and a violation of the trust parents put in them [schools].”

“Just as I wouldn’t promote a Tea Party song in a third grade class, I think the same is true for any song of political ideology.” says Jefferson Area Tea Party Chair, Carole Thorpe.

Kid Pan Alley is an organization that helps kids write and perform their own songs. Their mission is to inspire kids to be creators.

Students write the songs and school officials are standing by the lyrics.

“They don’t censor what the kids write. They don’t shape what the kids write. It all comes out of the kids own mouths and the kids own words,” claims Albemarle County School Board Chair, Steve Koleszar.

But many question whether third-graders have the faculties or political knowledge to write such lyrics and even if they do, assert that a song like “99” has no place in schools, period.

“Does this also include religious content of lyrics? Would it include profanity? Does the school at any point say this content is inappropriate for an eight-year-old?,” presses Thorpe.
Kid Pan Alley leaders have addressed the song, saying “we have taken swift action to clarify our guidelines for lyrical content.”

School officials are standing by the Kid Pan Alley program and also the lyrics.

“The kids choose the topic, this class chose the topic and those are their words” asserts Koleszar.


CA Judge Deems Ramming Jewish Woman with Shopping Cart ‘Free Speech’

Back in June of 2010 a leader of a pro-Palestinian student group at University of Berkeley allegedly rammed a Jewish woman with a shopping cart as she staged a counter-protest to an anti-Israel “Apartheid Week” rally conducted by the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine. The counter-protest was dubbed “Israel Wants Peace Week.”

Now, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Seeborg has deemed that the Muslim students who harassed Jessica Felber and other Jewish students were simply engaging in protected political speech.

The Greeley Gazette reports:
On Thursday U.S. District Judge Richard Seeborg said the harassment, even if true, constituted protected political speech and dismissed the case against the university.

Seeborg said the university did not have any obligation to intervene in any dispute where a private individual on campus was allegedly interfering with another’s constitutional rights. He instead appeared to indicate that the incident was an outcome of Felber’s counter protest.

Felber and another Jewish student claimed the University did not do enough to prevent the harassment which included the Muslim group conducting checkpoints around the campus. Students were asked if they were Jewish while passing the checkpoints.

“The incident in which Felber was assaulted with a shopping cart, for example, did not occur in the context of her educational pursuit,” Seeborg stated. “Rather, that event occurred when she, as one person attempting to exercise free speech rights in a public forum, was allegedly attacked by another person who likewise was participating in a public protest in a public forum.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Seeborg said that much of the conduct involved “pure political speech” that is constitutionally protected even if it “contained language that plaintiffs believe was inflammatory, offensive or untrue.”
Seeborg said some courts have allowed public colleges to outlaw harassing speech and conduct that interferes with students’ rights, but schools have no legal duty to do so. The Muslim organizations receive campus funding on the same basis as other groups, the judge said, and any attempt to withdraw it would raise “serious First Amendment issues.”

The Huffington Post adds:
The suit also alleged this attack was part of a pattern of behavior during Apartheid Week, during which Jewish students were spit on and Israel’s government was equated to that of Nazi Germany.

While the university has previously disciplined some of the event’s participants and even had Husam Zakharia, the student who hit Felber with the shopping cart, arrested in connection with the incident, Felber (who graduated last year) has accused university President Mark Yudof, who is Jewish, of allowing an anti-Semitic environment to flourish on campus.

“SJP and Zakharia have been involved in other incidents on campus to incite violence against and intimidate Jewish and other students,” stated the lawsuit. “Defendants knew of this history of incitement and intimidation yet took no reasonable step to adequately control Zakharia or other student members of the SPJ.”

Jihad Watch founder Robert Spencer said the judge’s decision affirms that Muslims assaulting Jewish students is now protected speech.

“This is an outrageous decision. The Muslim students were trying to silence the freedom of speech of the Jewish students. The judge says this is a ruling in favor of free speech, but actually the freedom of speech was being infringed and the judge is saying that is ok to protect the freedom of speech of the Muslim students. Don’t the Jewish students have freedom of speech as well?”


Taking the soft option: Figures show number of British pupils doing High School courses in traditional subjects fell by half under Labour government

Just one in five pupils were entered for GCSE exams in traditional academic subjects during Labour’s last year in Government, new figures have revealed today.

In some areas, just three per cent of children were given the chance to study the core academic subjects of English, maths, two sciences, a language or history or geography.

The official figures reveal the extent to which hundreds of thousands of children were encouraged to drop academic subjects in favour of so-called softer options.

They show that in 13 years under Labour, the number of pupils entering these academic core exams fell dramatically from 50 per cent in 1997 to 22per cent in 2010.

Of those who were took these subjects, only 16.5 per cent in England achieved good grades of A* to C.

Ministers have now introduced a new ‘English Baccalaureate’ – made up of five traditional subjects: English, maths, a science, history or geography and a foreign or ancient language - to encourage pupils to study subjects value most by employers and universities.

The figures reveal staggering regional variations. In Knowsley, just 3 per cent of pupils achieved good results in these traditional subjects - just 107 children.

There were 9 local authorities where fewer than 1 in 10 pupils were entered for the exams, and 34 local authorities where fewer than 1 in 10 pupils achieved good grades in these subjects.

Pupils in deprived local authorities were much less likely to study an academic core of GCSEs than their peers in wealthier areas.

The local authority with the largest proportion of pupils achieving the core EBacc subjects was Buckinghamshire, where 33.2 per cent pupils achieved good grades. In Hertfordshire, 4,612 were entered the EBacc academic subjects – more than in 24 other local authorities combined.

The statistics relate to pupils who took their GCSEs last summer and chose their subjects in 2009.

In nearly every other developed country in the world, children are assessed in a range of core academic subjects at 15 or 16 even if they are on a ‘vocational’ route.

In France, for example, all children take the ‘Brevet des Colleges’, which assesses French, maths, a modern foreign language and one of either history, geography or civics.

But Labour gave non-academic qualifications - including computer skills, sports leadership and certificates of ‘personal effectiveness - parity with traditional subjects in league tables in 2004.

The move helped fuel a damaging collapse in the number of children taking academic courses as schools pushed weaker pupils into other areas to improve their league table performance.

Ministers believe the move was part of a deliberate attempt to obscure the poor performance of schools after years of massive public spending increases.

Recent research by the Department for Education shows that the EBacc has made a dramatic difference already with 47 per cent of pupils due to take their GCSEs in 2013 now studying a combination of EBacc subjects.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said: ‘Labour’s educational betrayal of the poorest children is the unwritten scandal of the last thirteen years.

'While children in wealthier areas sat the exams which guaranteed entry to the best universities, pupils in deprived areas were steered away from the qualifications which could have transformed their opportunities.

'If we are to ensure our young people get the college places and jobs they deserve we must stop students being diverted towards soft subjects and give them the qualifications employers respect.’

Tory MP Damian Hinds, who sits on the Education Select Committee, added: ‘These figures show categorically how, over 13 years, the last Labour Government imposed a postcode lottery on the life chances of a generation, with too many young people steered away from the subjects that employers value most.’

But shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg hit back at the claims. He said: ‘Labour broadened the curriculum, and raised standards. All these figures demonstrate is that more children had more choice in the subjects they took at GCSE under Labour. The figures ignore the fact pupils also got better results.

‘This re-hash of old figures makes no account for outcomes, just a crude assessment of how many pupils took subjects. As well as in core subjects such as English and Maths, Labour raised standards in GCSEs like History and Geography.’


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