Monday, February 13, 2012

Will University of California, Santa Cruz, Address anti-Jewish Bigotry on Campus?

Mark Yudof, president of the University of California, claims that two federal complaints against his university, alleging a hostile environment for Jewish students, are without merit. While expressing general support for the recent extension of the provisions of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include Jewish students, Yudof does not believe that the situation on UC campuses rises to the standards of the federal statute. He recently told the Forward: “I think it is about people engaged in abhorrent speech on our campuses. But I am skeptical at the end of the day that with those two instances we will be found to be in violation of Title VI.”

As a lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and the author of a Title VI complaint filed on behalf of Jewish students at my university, which has been under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education since March 2011, I strongly disagree with Yudof’s assessment.

Although he implies that the primary target of my complaint is “abhorrent speech” on campus, this is simply not so. Rather, my complaint focuses on university faculty and administrators who have regularly and egregiously abused their positions as employees of a public university and violated the tenets of their profession to promote their own virulently anti-Israel political agenda, which in turn has had deleterious effects on many Jewish students.
Consider the following examples included in my complaint:
1) A conference titled “Alternative Histories Within and Beyond Zionism” took place at UCSC, sponsored by eight departments. Four professors and one graduate student, none of them scholars of Israel or the Middle East, though all of them self-proclaimed anti-Zionists and anti-Israel activists, delivered papers demonizing the Jewish state, denigrating its founding ideology and promoting efforts to harm Israel, such as divestment campaigns.

The five talks were replete with lies, distortions and gross misrepresentations of the facts, including claims that Zionism is racism; Israel is an apartheid state; Israel commits heinous crimes against humanity, including genocide and ethnic cleansing; Israel’s behavior is comparable to Nazi Germany, and Jews exaggerate the Holocaust as a tool of Zionist propaganda. All five speakers agreed that Israel should be dismantled as a Jewish state.

2) A UCSC community studies class designed to train social activists was taught by a professor who described herself in her online syllabus as an active participant in the “campaign against the Apartheid Wall being built in Palestine” and used her class website to encourage students to protest Israel’s “destructive actions“ outside the Israeli consulate in San Francisco. The professor’s course readings, chosen to incite hatred of the Jewish state, contained unreferenced statements such as the following:

*“Israeli massacres are often accompanied by sexual assault, particularly of pregnant women as a symbolic way of uprooting the children from the mother, or the Palestinian from the land.”

* “We define Zionism as a settler-colonial political movement that seeks to ethnically cleanse historical Palestine of the indigenous population and populate it as a Jewish-only state.”

These examples and many others found in the complaint contain language that clearly meets the working definition of anti-Semitism adopted by the U.S. Department of State, including rhetoric that denies the Jewish people their right to self-determination (such as by claiming that Zionism is racism); that applies a double standard to Israel’s behavior not applied to any (for example, blood libel); that compares Israeli policy to that of the Nazis, and that accuses the Jewish people and the State of Israel of exaggerating the Holocaust.

As a result of their experiences with such university-sponsored, anti-Semitic expression, Jewish students at my university have expressed feeling emotionally and intellectually harassed and intimidated by their professors, isolated from their fellow students and unfairly treated by administrators. Some have even reported leaving the university, dropping classes, changing fields of study and hiding symbols of their Jewishness.

Ultimately it is up to the federal government — not Yudof — to determine whether there has been a violation of federal law at UCSC, and it is important to point out that the DOE would never have initiated an investigation of my complaint had it been deemed frivolous or lacking in merit.

If Yudof truly valued the protections that Jewish students have recently been afforded under Title VI, he would not pass premature judgment on my complaint. Rather, he would simply welcome the federal investigation of a UC campus and the opportunity it could provide for understanding and addressing the serious problem of anti-Jewish bigotry.


Teachers Unions Staring Into Financial Abyss, Channeling Saul Alinsky

Fresh on the heels of an exclusive report detailing a 7-day Caribbean cruise that National Education Association staffers are currently enjoying, Education Action Group has learned that dozens of teachers unions around the country are running out of money.

According to reports published by the National Staff Organization – a group made up of NEA and state affiliate union staffers:

“Fifteen states are considered to be financially distressed because of membership loss and their very survival is in jeopardy. And because of financial hardship, 41 state executives are on NEA’s payroll instead of being paid by their state. Two states—Indiana and South Carolina—remain under an NEA trusteeship.”
NSO President Chuck Agerstrand called it a lesson in “trickle-down economics.”

Or maybe it’s just “trickle-down karma.” It’s ironic that the very same financial problems unions have created for government schools – through collectively bargained contracts that give annual, automatic pay raises and world class benefits – are now appearing in their own organizations.

The teacher unions’ laser-like focus on left wing politics means that state legislatures – many of which are currently controlled by Tea Party Republicans – have no incentive to help rescue them.

The unions’ chickens have come home to roost, as the saying goes.

What’s the solution? Creating a “culture of organizing,” according to the NSO, which wants to boost the number of dues payers and thus soothe the financial problems. So prior to the 7-day Caribbean cruise, staffers participated in a three-day retreat to learn how to better organize.

The staffers studied organizing theory charts and read quotes from Saul Alinsky. The National Education Association is now teaching an organizing method the Service Employees International Union has been using as well: “Constant Organizing Goals.”

In a 2010 PowerPoint document, SEIU described the COG method this way:

“[It] requires unions to build public relationships involving a quid pro quo interchange driven by self-interest and guaranteed by mutual accountability.”
This underscores the notion that the union’s strategy is to meet its needs first and not seek what is in the best interest of students or taxpayers.

The NEA’s bargaining strategy method has these four steps:

1. Educate

2. Agitate

3. Escalate

4. Evaluate

The further into the process, the theory goes, the more power is built. But the power, of course, is for high salaries, better benefits, and fewer responsibilities. That’s great for the adults, but doesn’t do much for the students.

But after all – it’s not about the students. Somebody has to bail water out of the sinking union boat and it’s not going to be students. Teachers, grab a bucket.


Australia: SCHOOL CRACKDOWN: Dud teachers face axing in deal worth millions

Good if it actually happens. Government schools cannot afford to be too fussy, though. It's mainly the least talented of graduates who go into teaching these days. Trying to teach in an undisciplined school is only for the desperate -- aside from a few idealists

POORLY performing teachers will be sacked in a landmark education reform to be rolled out nationally.

In return for signing up to the Federal Government's teacher hiring policy, aimed at improving standards, state governments will be offered cash handouts worth millions.

The national reforms will need to be agreed to by each state and will be first rolled out in Queensland and New South Wales. The Queensland Government will be offered $7.5 million, and the NSW Government will be offered a handout of more than $12 million.

In a move that will break the longstanding deadlock about whether principals can hire and fire, school management will be given free rein to take over the recruitment and management of teachers and support staff.

School boards and councils will also take over the budget control and strategic planning, giving parents a greater role in oversight of their school operations. They will also be given the right to set salaries for teachers and contracts for school maintenance, such as cleaning.

"To get the best results we need principals to have the powers to get and keep the best teachers," Prime Minister Julia Gillard told The Daily Telegraph yesterday.

NSW government schools have the most centralised decision-making processes in Australia. All staff hiring is also centralised out of the state Department of Education, which has the say on hiring and firing of teachers.

The PM will announce the reforms ahead of the release of the Gonski review of school funding, due next week. It will be the first review of how schools receive funding since 1973 and is expected to call for major injections of funds into an education budget that tops $36 billion annually.

As federal education minister, Ms Gillard introduced the My School website and the Naplan tests, which brought in national standards for Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 in reading, writing and numeracy.

The Federal Government will withhold the additional funding if the State Governments do not sign up to the harder reforms, specifically around the hiring and firing of teachers by principals.

The onus is now on NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell to submit an implementation plan to the Federal Government to prove how he would lift education performance.

Inability to hire and fire staff has been one of the principals' greatest gripes. Principals will now become more accountable for their school's performance. A trial of the reforms will involve 325 schools in NSW over the next two years.


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