Friday, April 06, 2012

 School removes God from the song "God bless the USA"

Parents at a Massachusetts elementary school are furious after educators first removed the word ‘God’ from the popular Lee Greenwood song, “God Bless the U.S.A.” and then pulled the song all together from an upcoming concert.

Fox 25 in Boston is reporting that children at Stall Brook Elementary School in Bellingham were told to sing, “We love the U.S.A.” instead of “God Bless the U.S.A.”

After parents started complaining, school officials removed the song from the school assembly concert. The school’s principal released a statement to Fox 25 stating they hope to ”maintain the focus on the original objective of sharing students’ knowledge of the U.S. States, and because of logistics, will not include any songs.”

Greenwood [song author] released a statement to Fox News condemning the school’s actions:  “The most important word in the whole piece of music is the word God, which is also in the title ‘God Bless The USA,” Greenwood said. “Maybe the school should have asked the parents their thoughts before changing the lyrics to the song. They could have even asked the writer of the song, which I of course, would have said you can’t change the lyrics at all or any part of the song.”

Greenwood said the phrase “God Bless the USA” has a “very important meaning for those in the military and their families, as well as new citizens coming into our country.” He said it’s also played at every naturalization ceremony behind the national anthem.

“If the song is good enough to be played and performed in its original setting under those circumstances, it surely should be good enough for our children,” Greenwood said.

An online poll taken by the television station indicated more than 80 percent of viewers were outraged by removing God from the song.

“I don’t have a problem with the song if somebody else does I guess it’s their business,” resident Patrick Grudier said. “I mean It’s on our currency (God).”

But not everyone agreed – including parent Matthew Cote.  “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with changing the song,” he told the television. “It’s a public school. If you want to have the word God in the song, go to a private school.”

Reaction on Facebook has been overwhelmingly in favor of the traditional patriotic song.  “Here we go again, more war on Christianity,” wrote one Facebook user. “You can remove God all you want, but the good news — there is still a loving God and He lives.”

Another Facebook user called it sad and disgusting. “I’d like to say unbelievable — but it is so totally believable.”


Michigan Teacher's Aide Said She Was Disciplined for Not Giving Boss Facebook Access

When Kimberly Hester of Cass County, Mich. posted with permission a photo a coworker sent her on Facebook, she didn't think it would offend the public school where she taught, or lead the superintendent to demand access to her Facebook page. But a photo of her coworker with her pants down did just that.

Hester, 27, was a full-time peer professional, or teacher's aide, at Frank Squires Elementary in Cassapolis, Mich. for about two years. A year ago, in April 2011, a coworker texted a photo showing herself with her pants around her ankles, with the message "thinking of you" as a joke.

"She's actually quite funny. It was spur of the moment," adding that there was nothing pornographic about the picture, which only showed the pants, part of her legs, and the tips of her shoes.

"I couldn't stop laughing so I asked for her permission to post it [on Facebook]," she said. The coworker agreed. Hester said all this took place on their own time, not at or during work.

Hester said a parent (not of one of her students) showed the photo to the superintendent, calling it unprofessional and offensive. Hester said the photo could only be viewed by her Facebook friends. The parent happened to be a family friend.

In a few days, the superintendent of Lewis Cass Intermediate School District, Robert Colby, asked Hester to come to his office.

"Instead of asking to take the photo down and viewing it from my friend's point of view, they called me into the office without my union," she said. Hester is a member of the Michigan Education Association, which represents more than 157,000 teachers, faculty and support staff in the state, according to its website.

The superintendent asked that she show her Facebook profile page.

"I asked for my union several times, and they refused. They wanted me to do it right then and there," Hester said.

Colby did not immediately return a request for comment.

A letter from the Lewis Cass Intermediate School District said, "…in the absence of you voluntarily granting Lewis Cass ISD administration access to you[r] Facebook page, we will assume the worst and act accordingly."

Hester's story echoes reports of employers asking job applicants for access to their Facebook pages.

Robert McCormick, a professor at the Michigan State University College of Law, said normally in the private sector and in a non-union setting there is nothing to prevent an employer from asking for access to a Facebook page. But in a private sector setting, if an employee is summoned to a disciplinary meeting with the employer and requests union representation at that meeting, it is an unfair labor practice to refuse that representation.

"I would be surprised if Michigan law did not follow the same standards," he said.

Louis Chism, the school district's special education director, wrote in an email to ABC News, "At this time it would be inappropriate for me to comment on any aspect of this situation."


Ban on the cane in British schools 'left schools unable to impose discipline and led to deterioration in children's behaviour'

The scrapping of the cane has led to a deterioration in children’s behaviour at school, according to teachers.

Sanctions available to schools since corporal punishment was abolished 25 years ago are ‘totally inadequate’ at reasserting authority in the classroom and lack the same deterrent effect, they said yesterday.

While rejecting a return to the cane, members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers condemned existing sanctions such as detention and suspension.

‘Novel’ punishments are needed to allow teachers to reassert their authority in the classroom, they said.

Delegates at the association’s annual conference voted unanimously for research into ‘effective’ disciplinary methods.

‘When corporal punishment was abolished nothing was put in its place that had equivalent deterrent powers,’ said Julian Perfect, a teacher from London.

Laws forbidding state schools from using the cane or slipper to discipline pupils were introduced in 1987, and a decade later in independent schools.

But Mr Perfect pointed out that subsequent governments had failed to give teachers sufficient sanctions.

He added that while teachers have statutory authority to discipline pupils whose behaviour is unacceptable, governments have failed to suggest methods for making authority ‘meaningful’.

Suspensions and expulsions were now handed out all too rarely amid pressure on schools to reduce the number of pupils who are excluded from school, the conference also heard.

Research by the teachers’ association suggested pupil behaviour had declined further in recent years.

Responding to one of its surveys, a teacher said: ‘The children know that our hands are tied and play up frequently.  ‘In the past two years, we have only successfully permanently excluded one pupil. It is the good students whose education is being wrecked that I feel for.’

Another said: ‘Persistent low-level rudeness and disruption seems to have become a fact of life in education today and no longer raises eyebrows or seems to merit special attention.’

A third reported: ‘I had a female student threaten to kick the smile off my face, in front of a whole class.’

The association’s general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: ‘Sanctions do have to be something students don’t want to have to endure.  ‘We’re not saying at all that children should fear teachers but they should respect them.  ‘If they go beyond the bounds of respecting a teacher there should be sanctions.  ‘And those sanctions should be something children would rather not face.’

Proposing a motion aimed at tackling poor behaviour in the classroom, Mr  Perfect said: ‘This does not seek the  reinstatement of corporal punishment but rather the identification of additional forms of sanction.’

Jean Roberts, who teaches at Old Oak Primary, London told the conference: ‘We need more research into behaviour  management particularly sanctions  that work, are equitable and can be  used widely in schools supported by  governments and parents.  ‘We have to ensure more of our classes are not disrupted but are places of real learning for all.’


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