Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Some straight talk from Mike Adams

Who teaches criminology at a university he often satirizes

Dear (Name Deleted): I want to take the time to thank you for turning in your paper assignment on time and for conforming to the minimum word requirement. Unfortunately, I have some bad news: You turned in the paper assignment for your political science class. I am not your political science professor and my name is not Dr. Johnson. The mistake was understandable as you are only a senior. I am certain that such errors will be less commonplace by the time you get your doctorate. In the meantime, the good news is that I went ahead and graded your paper. The bad news is that you got a zero. It really had nothing to do with the requirements of the class you are taking under me. I hope you understand.

Please note that I am aware that you suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder. I know this because you have told me in writing, over the phone, and in person. There is no need for you to repeat yourself. I generally pay attention when people speak to me. But I am giving you the zero - not in spite of your ADD, but because of your ADD. I really think that attaching a consequence to your conduct will help you grow out of it.


Dear (Name Deleted): Thank you for your concerns over the content of our last murder lecture. These lectures can be tough and sometimes offensive – although I am rarely able to predict just what will offend students these days. In your case, you have been very specific with the basis of your personal offense. Regrettably, however, I will be unable to act upon your request. Let me explain.

When you asked me to refrain from using the term “pit bull” (when I discuss the People v. Berry dog mauling case) you were simply asking too much. I understand your concerns that “pit bulls will be unfairly stereotyped as dangerous” if (after they kill someone) we refer to their specific breed. But what you fail to understand is that the dog’s breed was a relevant fact in the murder trial. Berry chose the dog on the basis of its reputation in the hopes that it would keep people away from the illicit drug business he was operating out of his back yard. He had a pit bull but no fence. That is how the little child ended up being mauled to death.

Generally speaking, I have more concern for the lives of small children than for the reputations of dogs who cannot ever know the status of their reputations. I think if you reflect upon this you will understand that people may speak badly of pit bulls without them actually knowing it.

On a positive note, I have taken your concerns to heart. The next time a Yorkie or a Poodle mauls a small child to death I will make sure to emphasize their specific breed. That way, people will understand that pit bulls are really deeply misunderstood creatures.


Dear (Name deleted): I hope you don’t mind this unsolicited email concerning your status in my criminology class. As you know, I have a policy against coming into class late. You are always in your seat before class begins. But, recently, you have been getting up and walking out during the middle of my lectures. In fact, you do it every class period at about the same time. As you walk out of class, you generally reach into your right hand pocket. I suspect that is because you’re reaching for your cell phone in order to call your girlfriend.

Ever since I banned cell phones, guys have been getting up and leaving class to “go potty” with some regularity (no pun intended). But we all know that my cell phone policy did not really cause grown men to go potty more often. Instead, it began to interfere with their girlfriends’ rule that they must either call or text them at least once every half-hour. Since I am aware of what’s going on, I am going to implement a rule you will not like: I am hereby declaring that upon re-entry into my class, you are officially considered late. This means you will lose a point from your final average every time you step out and then step back in during my lecture.

This may seem harsh, but it will be of tremendous benefit to you. It means you will now be forced to act like a man, take charge of your relationship, and stop letting your girlfriend monitor you like a suspected terrorist. Furthermore, it may actually save your relationship. When a woman monitors you she is most likely cheating on you. She is making sure you are not nearby so she will not get caught in the process. If she isn’t cheating on you, she is very close to dumping you for someone she cannot control. Women love a challenge more than having a lapdog. Please think about what I have told you.


Dear (Name deleted): This is just a quick note to remind you of my policy concerning cell phones in the classroom. At no time am I to see or hear one of these annoying devices during one of my lectures.

I know that when your cell phone went off during our last class that it was a complete accident. I appreciate how quickly you reached into your pocket to turn it off as I was answering a student question on the topic of aggravated rape. This brings us to another issue. Please hear me out.

I know that I have not established any rules concerning the content of cell phone interruptions in my class. But I am considering a new policy in light of the nature of the incident with your cell phone.

Please, don’t get me wrong. I certainly support your right to listen to rap music celebrating the joys slapping a “booty.” I mean, DAT is your right if you’re really into booty slapping. However, (especially given that we sometimes forget to turn off our cell phones) it is perhaps unwise to program the ringer in such a way as to celebrate booty slapping every time someone calls. Know what I’m saying?

Anyway, I just thought I would share my insights with you. I wasn’t really offended. But the sensitive topic of rape should be discussed free from unanticipated celebrations of booty slapping. After all, the women might not share your love of booty slapping. And they might turn on you faster than a Yorkshire terrier.


Teachers must not be neutral about homosexuality?

One would have thought that neutrality was the only proper stance on a politically sensitive matter

The school board in Minnesota's largest school district approved Monday night a replacement for a policy that required teachers to stay neutral when sexual orientation comes up in class, a stance that some critics blamed for fostering bullying.

The Anoka-Hennepin School Board adopted the "Respectful Learning Environment" policy on a voice vote. Only board member Kathy Tingelstad voted no.

After hearing more than an hour of often impassioned testimony from more than 20 people on both sides, board member Scott Wenzel said the change eliminates an old policy that singled out one minority group for different treatment.

"This policy is truly a compromise, Wenzel said. "And I truly hope that it will move this district and community forward from this point on."

The district, which is the target of two lawsuits over the old policy, has found itself in the national spotlight over the issue, and Tingelstad and several parents who testified said they didn't appreciate it.

"I just think we could have done a lot better job," Tingelstad told reporters after the vote. "I think we were being pushed by outside influences that were outside of our school district. I know we're setting some national standards her tonight but I'm disappointed," she said, adding that the board could have better addressed the concerns of those who testified against the change.

The new policy commits the north suburban Twin Cities district to providing "a safe and respectful learning environment for all students." It says that when contentious political, religious, social matters or economic issues come up — it does not specifically cite sexuality issues — teachers shouldn't try to persuade students to adopt particular viewpoint. It calls for teachers to foster respectful exchanges of views. It also says in such discussions, staff should affirm the dignity and self-worth of all students, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

The proposal was unveiled at a Jan. 23 school board meeting after an earlier revision attempt left all sides unsatisfied. The new policy takes effect immediately and might move the lawsuits closer to settlement.

The district's teachers union endorsed the policy change. Julie Blaha, president of the Anoka-Hennepin local of Education Minnesota, told the board the new policy could just become buried among all the district's other policies, or it could become "the first few paragraphs of a new chapter ... in which everybody feels safe and welcome at school. A chapter where it is clear that every student, staff member and family is valued for who they are. And a chapter full of rigorous conversations between professionals about how to improve our school climate."

Critics said the old neutrality policy kept teachers from preventing bullying of students who are gay or perceived as gay. It had the support of parents who believe homosexual conduct is immoral and told the board they don't want their children taught otherwise.

Barb Anderson, of Champlin, was one of several parents who asked the board not to give in to demands for changing it.

"If you pass a policy with weak language of appeasement, the gay agenda will be given an even greater foothold in our school district," Anderson said. "We are at a crossroads. You either cave in the demands of the homosexual activists, an action that will make our schools unsafe for all kids, or you stand firm and protect the children."

The old policy had been under fire since six students in the district committed suicide in less than two years. A parent of one of the students who committed suicide says her son was bullied for being gay. Gay advocacy groups say some of the others students who killed themselves were also bullied.

The district has said its internal investigation found no evidence that bullying contributed to the deaths. But the district changed its anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies in October 2010 to clearly state that harassment or bullying of gay students wouldn't be tolerated.

The district has about 38,500 students and 2,800 teachers.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven Rau has scheduled the next round of settlement talks for March 1 and 2 in two lawsuits filed by students, former students and parents against the neutrality policy. Both sides have been keeping those discussions confidential, but the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which are representing the plaintiffs, issued a statement applauding the policy change.

"Today is the first day in nearly 18 years that Minnesota's Anoka-Hennepin School District no longer has a harmful policy that singles out lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students. Although we would have preferred for the District to have repealed this stigmatizing policy without replacing it, we are pleased that the new policy expressly requires district staff to affirm the dignity and self-worth of all students, including LGBT students," the statement said. "The repeal of this policy is an important first step, but the District must do much more to create a safe, welcoming, and respectful learning environment for all students, including LGBT and gender non-conforming students, and those perceived as such."


One in 20 British 11-year-olds leaves primary school with maths ability of a seven-year-old

Huge numbers of pupils are leaving primary school with the maths ability expected of children four years their junior, shocking new figures have revealed.

Results of this year's SATs tests show that tens of thousands of pupils - one in 20 - are starting secondary school with the numeracy skills of a seven-year-old.

Boys were found to be performing worse than girls with around 15,600 falling well behind.

And figures for GCSE level maths, released two weeks ago, are equally shocking with one in three pupils failing to get at least a C.

The government has been quick to blame the previous Labour administration for misspending billions of pounds on education. A government source said: 'Employers and universities complain about the quality of our children's maths. 'We have to put right Labour's failure.'

Last week we revealed how universities are now being forced to dumb down degree courses requiring the use of maths, including sciences, economics, psychology and social sciences, because both the pupils and lecturers cannot cope.

The reputation of the country’s universities and graduates is now under threat, according to a report published by the education lobby group RSA.

‘English universities are sidelining quantitative and mathematical content because students and staff lack the requisite confidence and ability,’ the report says, adding that English universities are ‘not keeping pace’ with international standards.

A survey released in January suggests that parents are partly to blame because they are often too busy to help with homework.

The study by online tutor mytutor found many young children were leaving primary school unable to spell, add up or do their times tables. It claimed more than a quarter of children were unable to add two small sums of money without using a calculator as they can't do division and basic algebra.

Twenty-seven per cent of children surveyed could not add £2.36 and £1.49 to get £3.85. In addition, more than a third, 36 per cent, could not divide 415 by five and a quarter did not know the answer to seven multiplied by six.

The survey of 1,000 children aged between 10 and 12 found that one in four did not know their times tables and a quarter could not use decimal points.

Almost half of parents surveyed, 48 per cent, said they thought their child was worse at maths than they were at the same age. Almost four in 10 parents - 39 per cent - said they spent less time learning with their children than their parents did with them a generation ago. Only 30 per cent claimed to spend more time helping their child with their learning than their parents did.

And nearly six out of 10 parents - 59 per cent - spent less than an hour a week learning with their children - amounting to just eight-and-a-half minutes a day. One in five parents spent less than 30 minutes a week learning with their offspring.

Government education adviser Professor Steve Sparks argues that all students who continue with further education after 16 should also take a new maths qualification alongside their other subjects.

He claims that teaching post-16 students basic maths and statistics is vital for them to be able to compete in the modern world.

Last year a report by former Countdown presenter Carol Vorderman recommended that school pupils in England should study maths up to the age of 18. It found just 15 per cent of pupils study maths beyond GCSE level, below almost all other industrialised countries where nearly all study the subject to the age of 18.

Ms Vorderman said 24 per cent of economically active adults were 'functionally innumerate', with many universities and employers complaining that school-leavers did not have necessary skills.


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