Thursday, April 19, 2012

Once again police have to be called because of lack of disciplinary powers in the schools

Police in Georgia handcuffed a [black] kindergartner with her arms behind her back after she threw a tantrum at school, and the police chief defended the action as a safety measure.

“She might have misbehaved, but I don’t think she misbehaved to the point where she should have been handcuffed and taken downtown to the police department,” the girl’s aunt said.

Her father remarked: “A six-year-old in kindergarten. They don’t have no business calling the police and handcuffing my child.”
Police Handcuff 6 Year Old Salecia Johnson After Temper Tantrum in Georgia School

While it’s unusual to see a young child handcuffed in school, it’s not unheard of. School officials around the nation have wrestled with the issue of when it’s appropriate to call police on a student.

“Our policy is that any detainee unreported to our station in a patrol vehicle is to be handcuffed in the back…There is no age discrimination on that rule,” the city’s Chief of Police explained.

Salecia Johnson, 6, was accused of tearing items off the walls and throwing books and toys in an outburst Friday at Creekside Elementary School in Milledgeville, according to a police report.

Specifically, they say the child threw a small shelf which struck the principal on the leg, and also jumped on a paper shredder and tried to break a glass frame.

So, the school called the police. When an officer tried to calm the child in the principal’s office, she allegedly resisted.  The police report says she was then “restrained by placing her hands behind her back and handcuffed.”  A juvenile complaint was filed, accusing the girl of simple battery and damage to property.

The girl’s aunt and mother say the 6-year old waited in a holding cell until they picked her up, and was “so shaken up.”

However,  police chief says the girl was taken to the police department’s squad room, not a holding cell, and officers there tried to calm her and gave her a Coke.

Officials at Creekside Elementary did not immediately return calls Tuesday.

Salecia Johnson has been suspended and can’t return to school until August, according to her mother.

“We would not like to see this happen to another child, because it’s horrifying. It’s devastating,” her aunt told The Associated Press.

Elsewhere in the U.S., incidents involving students, police and handcuffs have raised difficult questions for educators, parents and policymakers.

In Florida, the use of police in schools came up several years ago when officers arrested a kindergartner who threw a tantrum during a jelly bean-counting contest. Since then, the overall number of student arrests in Florida has declined, but those for minor offenses have increased on a percentage basis.


"Teaching as a Subversive Activity": The Theory of Political Indoctrination

Last weekend I visited the U.C. Berkeley campus and on a whim attended a lecture with the provocative title "Teaching as a Subversive Activity — Revisited."

Because this was a presentation aimed at education insiders only, the lecturer, retired professor H. Douglas Brown from S.F. State, seemed perfectly willing to let the cat out of the bag about political indoctrination on college campuses. Fortunately, I had my trusty camera with me, so I was able not only to snap a few pictures but also record several key portions of his speech, which I found so eye-opening that I felt the general public deserved to hear it as well.

The timing couldn't have been better: A devastating new report issued by the National Association of Scholars had just been issued a few days beforehand, which documented with exquisite and irrefutable detail the extreme liberal bias at the University of California. However, the main problem with the NAS report (which you can download in full here if you're interested) is that it's too overwhelming and too technical to deliver the kind of emotional impact needed to sway public opinion. To drive home the point in a more personal way, the NAS report needed an introductory companion anecdote of a professor frankly confessing the rationale behind what is essentially the "theory of indoctrination." As if on cue, Professor Brown stepped into that role, unwitting though he may have been.

Let it be noted that Professor H. Douglas Brown is no wild-eyed extremist; in fact, he's rather bland and respectable and not the most thrilling of speakers, as you will soon hear. But that's what made his presentation so disturbing: radical and self-admittedly "subversive" attitudes that affect the future of society are discussed with matter-of-fact nonchalance. The main drawback of Professor Brown's verbal style (at least from my point of view) is that he often resorts to the academics' tried-and-true escape hatch, which is to rephrase statements as questions, so as to have plausible deniability if later confronted. Thus, for example, instead of just flatly saying something like "We should indoctrinate students with leftist ideologies," he asks "Should we indoctrinate students with leftist ideologies?" and only after five minutes of talking in circles eventually concludes "Yes."

The title of Brown's lecture is taken from an influential and groundbreaking book published in 1969. Written by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, the manifesto Teaching as a Subversive Activity did not actually advocate political indoctrination in the classroom, but rather it was one of the first books to completely deconstruct the concept of education itself, and the "subversion" it advocated was much deeper and more structural: Get rid of tests, the notions of "the right answer" and "the wrong answer," the memorization of facts, the ascendency of teachers, and so forth; instead, make education an ungraded process of learning how to think and how to criticize, respecting the opinions and ideas of the students themselves. Of course, this being 1969, it was presumed that the establishment status quo with its facts and rules was rigid and conservative, while the students were radical and transgressive, so all one had to do to foment a revolution was simply to put the kids in charge of their own education, and they'll naturally overthrow society without even being specifically instructed to do so. (If you're curious, the entire text of Teaching as a Subversive Activity is now available for free online as a PDF document.)

In the decades since, many of the recommendations in Teaching as a Subversive Activity and similar books were in fact implemented to various degrees, but things didn't quite work out as the authors envisioned. Without some structure, students often flounder aimlessly. Furthermore, the "authority figures" controlling academia are no longer uptight conservatives, but are instead now liberals, progressives and radicals themselves, so when students are encouraged to ignore those in charge, then they may very well ignore the progressive messages as well.

Professor Brown's talk focuses specifically on this problem: His basic thesis is that it is no longer sufficient to simply tell students to think for themselves, because then we lose the ability to influence them, and there's no guarantee that the students will then develop progressive worldviews. The "Revisited" part of the lecture's title means that these days, we must be more blunt and to the point: Since the good guys are now in charge, let's just dispense with all the experimentation and instead directly indoctrinate the students in leftist thought and ideals.

Now, I'm sure Professor Brown, were he to ever read this essay, would take exception to my characterization of his lecture; but listen to the excerpts below and judge for yourself. Although he (and his legions of fellow educational theorists) seems partly aware of his biases, and frankly admits them, he also seems to be blithely oblivious to the depth of his political prejudices, which you'll encounter below.

I'm not presenting this lecture in and of itself as a significant political watershed, nor as a shocking behind-the-scenes glimpse at academic bias. Rather, it's just another random day at a random university; stuff like this goes on all the time. And it's this normalcy of radicalism that makes it so alarming; people in the academic hothouse chat about the most disturbing ideas as if they were discussing the weather. The banality of subversion, as it were.

Below you will find six audio clips from his April 6 lecture, followed by six exact transcriptions. The sound quality of the audio is, admittedly, rather poor, so read the transcriptions as your main resource and only refer to the mp3s as proof that the transcriptions are true and accurate. The lecture was nearly two hours long in full, far too long to present in a short essay like this, plus I was only able to record segments of it, so what you see here are only excerpts; but they're a fair representation of the overall lecture. (Portions of the transcriptions [in brackets] indicate words that are not clearly audible; Ellipses [...] indicate passages skipped because they were inaudible or were asides.)

Following each clip are brief comments and analyses by me.

Also scattered throughout the essay are photos I took of various slides in Brown's PowerPoint presentation; if you want to see the whole thing as a PDF document, the Berkeley Language Center (which sponsored the lecture) has made it available here.

Ever wonder how "progressive" educators justify their one-sidedness? Behold:

Much more HERE

Nutty British bishop wants to keep Anglicans out of Anglican  schools

On Monday in the House of Commons, Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said that he was keen to work with John Pritchard, the Bishop of Oxford, on extending the role of the Church of England in schools. His words have been taken to mean that the Government will support the creation of a new generation of state-funded Anglican academies.

In theory, that should please anyone who is concerned about two recent social trends. The first has been a steady decline in the country’s position in international educational league tables. The second has been our drift during the same period towards an all-consuming secularity.

For all who favour high standards, and who also believe that moderate religious affiliation benefits children and those involved in their education, the Secretary of State’s support for the expansion of publicly funded Anglican schools can only seem a cause of celebration.

But I’m not so sure. There’s a risk that educational standards, and even Anglicanism itself, might be endangered by the expansion of church schools. My fear is that Anglican schools may be forced, for the sake of becoming more inclusive, to dilute their distinctively religious character, and even to turn away applicants from genuine Anglican backgrounds, to accommodate those who are not.

Last year, the Church put John Pritchard in charge of developing its policy on schooling. He soon disclosed – much to the horror of many Anglicans – that he favoured his Church’s schools reserving no more than 10 per cent of places for children from Anglican backgrounds, an unprecedented level of “inclusiveness”. The bishop justified this, saying, “Our commitment [is] to serve the whole community, including those of other faiths and no faith. We are not a club that exists only for its members.”

He must realise, however, that church schools will only continue to achieve good academic results, and hence remain popular, so long as they preserve enough of their religious character. It’s what drives their success.

The question that should be exercising Bishop Pritchard and Mr Gove in the coming months is whether all or any new Anglican schools should be encouraged, or made, as a condition of extra state funding, to become so socially inclusive that the vast majority of their pupils cease to be from Anglican or Christian backgrounds.

Would it be wise to have admissions policies at Church of England schools that force them to turn away applicants from Anglican or other Christian backgrounds to accommodate those who are not? Surely not. Charity begins at home, after all.

Opponents of faith schools often claim that these schools only achieve better academic results because skewed admissions policies enable them to cream off middle-class children, who are easier to educate. They also claim that savvy, well-off parents know that an educational premium is attached to their children when they’re being taught with children from similar backgrounds.

Such concentrations of middle-class children at faith schools are said to be unfair to children from poor backgrounds, because these disadvantaged children become concentrated in community schools, often adversely affecting the performance of each other.

In support of their claims, critics of faith schools cite dodgy statistics that seem to bear them out. One is that nearly two thirds of Church of England primary schools have fewer pupils on free school meals than is the average for non-religious schools in their neighbourhoods. The same applies to nearly half of the Church’s secondary schools.

But such charges against faith schools are wrong because these statistics are misleading. There is no guarantee that distributing middle-class children evenly across all schools would improve the academic performance of children from poorer backgrounds. More likely, it would so widely diffuse their presence in the classroom as to spoil any potentially beneficial effect from it. The appropriate solution to the over-concentration of children who are difficult to teach in some schools is not to dilute the ethos of faith schools. It is, rather, to continue what the present Government has already started: to attach a pupil premium in the form of extra funding to schools for every child they admit from a socially disadvantaged background.

More important, pupils of faith schools often perform better on average academically than their counterparts at community schools, even when their levels of social deprivation, as measured by eligibility for free school meals, are similar.

Several studies suggest that children at faith schools do better than children at more secular schools because of the religious outlooks they share with each other, their parents and teachers. If so, the Department for Education and the Church of England would do well to tread cautiously when expanding the number of Anglican schools. The price of expansion may be too high if, to accomplish it, they are forced to water down their distinctive religious ethos and character for the sake of government funding.

The Church of England should be the last body to need reminding that it was for the sake of a mere mess of pottage that Esau lost his birthright.


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