Saturday, April 21, 2012

'I Had an Abortion’ Shirt Sales Stir Controversy at University of North Carolina Wilmington

Not a nice place to send your kid however you look at it

While the right to privacy may have been the key to securing abortion rights in Roe v. Wade, some advocates of the controversial procedure today want to walk around with a sign, t-shirt to be exact, broadcasting their reproductive decisions.

In 2004, abortion advocate and author Jennifer Baumgardner  launched the “I Had an Abortion” project to encourage women and men to “come out” about their procedures. The campaign featured shirts that read “I Had an Abortion,” a book, photo exhibit, and documentary film featuring 10 women – including feminist Gloria Steinem –  describe their abortion experiences spanning seven decades.

In preparation of an upcoming panel discussion and book signing featuring Baumgardner at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, controversy ensued when “I Had an Abortion” shirts began to pop up around campus. WWAY reports that the panel was held Monday by the Women’s Studies Department and LGBTQIA Resource Office, where the controversial shirts were sold for $15 each at the event.

WECT reports that the shirts caused a protest and other students rallied with their own shirts, saying things like “I haven’t killed a baby.”

“It’s still a very controversial issue,” Jimmy Eastman, a spokesman for several students that held a silent protest outside the panel room, told WWAY. ”It’s not about the abortion or pro-choice. It‘s about ending a human life and that’s the real issue here. That‘s what we’re trying to get at.”

Supporters of the shirts told WWAY that they are simply trying to de-stigmatize the word abortion. Critics said the abortion shirts are out of line and embarrassing to the UNCW student body.

Proceeds from t-shirt sales went to Soapbox Inc., the feminist non-profit group formed by Baumgardner and fellow author activist Amy Richards.


RI: Mural controversy at Pilgrim High

Who is not being "inclusive" here?  Are traditional families an obscenity that may not be mentioned?

A student's artwork is at the center of a controversy at Pilgrim High School in Warwick.

Seventeen year old Liz Bierenday designed the mural, which shows a man's evolution from a child into adulthood.

She said she was given the go ahead from the school's vice principal after showing him the sketch. However, the last portion of the mural, which depicts the grown man married with a wife and child, was later painted over.

"Some members of the Pilgrim High School Community suggested that the depiction of a young man's development... as displayed may not represent the life experiences of many students at Pilgrim High School," Supt. Peter Horoschak said in a news release.

Bierenday says she thinks its her depiction of wedding rings that has stirred the controversy, and that some may feel the mural has religious undertones. She told Eyewitness News she is upset with the changes made to her design, but is willing to work with the school.

Supt. Horoschak suggested the student artist's ideas be respected and that she be allowed to finish the mural as she had originally visualized it.


The sheer number of immigrants has made it harder than ever for British parents to secure a place at a good primary school

For just over half a million parents this week is Terror Week, when the nation’s four-year-olds are allocated a place at primary school. In most countries, this is a dull formality. In Britain, it is anything but: gaming the system has become nothing short of a national obsession. Some atheist mothers will have spent years in the pews with their offspring, praying for nothing more than a school place. Others will have rented a second home near the catchment area, calculating that this is cheaper than going private. Many parents who refused to play this game will lose none the less. A handful will be told there is – at present – no place for their child at all.

This year the problem is worse than ever, with one in seven parents in England likely to be denied their first choice. Every child will eventually find a place but it may well be in a portable building in the playground. All the indicators suggest an even bigger pile-up in the next few years, so the nation’s supply of angry mothers will grow exponentially. If David Cameron thinks he has trouble with women voters now, then he should wait until the May 2015 election, by which time hundreds of thousands will have been refused their first choice of school by his Government.

All of this raises a basic question: where are Michael Gove’s new schools when you need them? The Education Secretary’s success story, so far, has been mainly about state secondaries being granted “academy” status. A great liberation to their teachers, no doubt, but it hardly broadens the choice available to pupils. When it comes to actual new “free schools”, set up from scratch, the story is less impressive. There were just two dozen of them last year and 70 more have been approved to open in September, half of which haven’t even found a building yet. Of these, just 21 are primaries. All of this is welcome, but England needs 410 new primaries a year, for the next four years, just to keep up with pupil numbers.

The size of Britain’s schools problem is rapidly outgrowing the size of Michael Gove’s solution. The Education Secretary has made much progress, and in less than two years has granted quasi-independent academy status to half of England’s secondaries. Yet he has failed in several critical areas. In opposition, Mr Gove spoke about bold new powers that would grant planning approval to any new school, sweeping aside council objections. Such powers have not emerged. Anyone wishing to set up a new school now needs permission from the very people intent on strangling the experiment at birth.

The Tories originally wanted the best academies to use their freedom to expand. Some attract six applicants for every place, so they could open a new wing, or even sponsor a new school. Or they could become chains, like the extraordinarily successful Harris Federation in London. But the schools have been denied the basic requirement for anyone who wants to expand anything: to be able to borrow money. They are told to wait until they secure a large cheque from a philanthropist (such as Lord Harris of Peckham) or to negotiate a large transfer of government funding. If businesses cannot borrow to expand, the economy does not grow. The same is true for schools.

Mr Gove has prevailed in his battle with the teachers’ unions. His real struggle lies in persuading the rest of Mr Cameron’s Government to help. The Treasury hates the idea of schools borrowing money to enlarge their capacity. The Communities Department lets councils blackball new schools simply on the grounds that parents would clog up the morning traffic. The Cabinet Office has failed to deliver the empty government buildings that Francis Maude once offered. And No 10 is failing to bang these heads together, or accept that the problem will be much worse for the class of 2015.

At the heart of this lies denial about the ongoing surge in immigration. The concerns, so widely felt throughout the country, were never driven by racism or xenophobia. It was more about the supply of GP clinics, houses or school places. Under the last government, a refusal to talk frankly about immigration mutated into a failure to consider its implications. Of the children who enrol in primary school this September, one in four will have a foreign-born mother (including, I should add, my eldest son). The implications of our multilingual baby boom were known about for years, yet preparations were not made.

The government machine has spent so long managing a decline in education that it cannot handle its expansion. The Labour years meant the closure of, on average, 110 schools each year, with teenagers being shoehorned into Grange Hill-style secondaries for bureaucratic convenience. Even today, the Department for Education arranges its statistics in a way that suggests there is no problem because there is, overall, a surplus of places. Under-filled schools vastly outnumber the popular ones. This, of course, is precisely the problem – bureaucrats hate opening new schools if there are places to fill in bad ones. But in the real world, parents want the best schools, and many will do anything, even fake a religion or a divorce, to secure a place.

This is not middle-class paranoia. A quick look at the CVs of Cabinet members shows that schooling still matters very much in Britain. England’s state schools may rank a lowly 18th in world league tables but our private schools are second. This staggering quality gap, the largest in the world except for Uruguay and Brazil, is reflected in the difference between state schools. The top tenth of England’s state schools do every bit as well as fee-paying schools, so a house in the right area is worth the extra money (typically £90,000) for those who can afford it. The infamy of the bottom tenth, the sink schools, requires no elaboration. This is why so many parents play the school places game: the stakes are terrifying high.

Once, Mr Gove hoped to usher in a new era where pupils would inform schools by text message if they had been selected, not vice versa. With so few new schools being set up, this power flip now looks impossible unless changes are made. This would involve a single school licensing authority, saying “yes” unless there is an extraordinarily good reason not to. It means putting pupils before ideology, so Liberal Democrat objections to profit-making schools are overruled. It means No 10 starting to function properly, and grasping the urgency of the situation. And it means making the Coalition’s most radical policy bolder still.


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