Monday, April 02, 2012

Two Alabama  teachers caught taunting disabled boy, 10, as 'gross' and 'disgusting' after his mother bugged his wheelchair with recording device

Teachers can be surprisingly unprofessional.  My son is physically robust  and very bright but his female teacher in Grade 4 was contemptuous of him because he sat quietly rather than running around like the other kids.  I spoke to the Principal about it and he promised action but I sent my son to another school for grade 5,  where he was found to be two years ahead of his classmates in reading age.  When my son got a First in Mathematics at university years later, I emailed the  Head teacher and pointed out that one of his alumni had distinguished himself but with no credit to the school

Two Alabama teachers were caught cruelly taunting and abusing a 10-year-old boy who has celebral palsy after the boy’s mother attached an audio recorder to his wheelchair.

The shocking recording captures two voices chiding Jose Salinas for his ‘disgusting’ drooling and reveals he was left alone with no instruction for long periods of time.

The teachers accused, Drew Faircloth and Alicia Brown, have been put on administrative leave from Wicksburg High School, Alabama, where Jose is in the fourth grade.

Melisha Salinas knew her son was not happy at school and he often came home sick but Jose always said he had a ‘good day’ when asked about it. In despair Salinas, a nursing student, took her son to a psychologist who told her the problem could be stress or anxiety but could not determine the cause.

An explanation came when one of Jose’s classmates told Salinas that the teacher’s aide had been mean to Jose three times that day.

Determined to be sure of what was happening herself she attached a bugging device to Jose’s wheelchair and left it recording over three days.  The recording revealed that her son was being cruelly taunted about his disability and ignored for the majority of the day with no-one giving him instruction.

'You drooled on the paper,' a male's voice, allegedly that of teacher's aide Drew Faircloth, can be heard saying. 'That's disgusting.'  'Keep your mouth closed and don't drool on my paper,' a woman's voice identified as Alicia Brown is heard saying.'I do not want to touch your drool. Do you understand that? Obviously, you don't.'

After listening to the tapes. which she said 'broke her heart', Salinas immediately pulled her son out of the school.  'I could not believe someone would treat a child that way, much less a special needs child,' Melisha Salinas told

'The anger in his voices ... and the thing he was getting angry about, [Jose] just can't help.'

She played the tapes to the school board and the teachers were placed on administrative leave.

And Jose, who is known as Little Joe to his family and friends, was able to return to school.

But within days the teachers were returned to their positions so Salinas and other parents took their children out of the school in protest.

Feeling that ‘nobody was listening’ Salinas took the recordings to her local newspaper and the teachers were placed on leave once again. 

'There were some very disturbing things on the tape,' Superintendent Tim Pitchford told The Dothan Eagle.  'Employees were not very compassionate to the needs of the child and the symptoms of his disability. It did not appear on the tapes that there was much teaching going on.'

The  recordings have shocked YouTube viewers and a Facebook page called 'We Got Your Back Little Joe!!!' has nearly 5,000 supporters.

The school board are meeting on April 9 to decide what action to take against the teachers.


UC's Leftist Echo Chamber Drowns Out Diverse Voices

Political activism has drawn the University of California into an academic death spiral. Too many professors believe their job is to "advance social justice" rather than teach the subject they were hired to teach. Groupthink has replaced lively debate. Institutions that were designed to stir intellectual curiosity aren't challenging young minds. They're churning out "ignorance." So argues a new report, "A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California," from the conservative California Association of Scholars.

The report cites a number of studies that document academia's political imbalance. In 2004, for example, researchers examined the voter registration of University of California, Berkeley faculty. They found a ratio of 8 Democrats for each Republican. While the ratio was 4-to-1 in the professional schools, in more political disciplines, the ratio rose to 17-to-1 in the humanities and 21-to-1 in social sciences.

Over the past few decades, the imbalance has grown. The report noted, "The most plausible explanation for this clear and consistent pattern is surely that it is the result of discrimination in the hiring process."

UC Berkeley political science professor Wendy Brown rejected that argument. (Yes, she hails from the left, she said, but she doesn't teach left.) The reason behind the unbalance, she told me, is that conservatives don't go to grad school to study political science. When conservatives go to graduate school, she added, they tend to study business or law.

"If the argument is that what is going on is some kind of systematic exclusion," then critics have to target "where the discouragement happens."

OK. Freshmen sign up for courses that push an agenda of "social justice." Most professors may try to expose students to views other than their own, but others don't even try. The message could not be clearer: In the universe where politics and academia converge, conservatives are freaks.

That's how ideologues self-replicate.

The fallout isn't simply political. The association scolds argue, "This hiring pattern has occurred just as the quality of a college education has sharply declined."

Campus reading lists require trendy books instead of challenging authors, such as William Shakespeare, who can draw students deeper into the English language. Teach-ins are notoriously one-sided. College graduates today are less proficient as readers than past graduates. The National Center for Education Statistics found that only 31 percent of college graduates could read and explain a complex book. In 1961, students spent an average of 24 hours per week on homework; today's students study for 14 hours per week.

At the same time, grades have risen. "Students often report that all they must do to get a good grade is regurgitate what their activist professors believe," quoth the report.

Though she had not read the report, Brown didn't dispute that today's students have trouble writing a "deep, thoughtful essay" about a passage from Thomas Hobbes or Milton Friedman.

"If Shakespeare were required, I would be thrilled," Brown stressed. But: "Don't pick on liberals for this." Universities have cut back on core requirements because students, parents and alumni revolt.

That may be, but in ideologically lopsided academia, there aren't enough voices to stand up for educating students about, say, the U.S. Constitution. Besides -- this is me, not the report -- in pushing protests, faculty members essentially have assured students that they already know enough to occupy Sacramento. Only a third of them can read and explain complex material, but students already know better than lawmakers and voters how best to pay for education. Why study?

The proof is in academia's acceptance of this imbalance. The old, discredited excuse about why women didn't work in management that I heard when I was young -- because they didn't want to -- now somehow works for the left when it comes to conservatives and academia.

As for UC administrators, "A Crisis of Competence" concludes, "far from performing their role as the university's quality control mechanism, (they) now routinely function as the enablers, protectors, and even apologists for the politicized university and its degraded scholarly and educational standards."

Like those in so many other ailing institutions, they don't know how to change to save themselves.


Parents will have legal right to choose the best school for their children, says British PM

People will have a legal "right to choose" which schools and hospitals they use under new laws overhauling public services, David Cameron says today.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, the Prime Minister sets out his vision for ending “once-and-for-all the closed, state monopoly” of public services.

Under the changes, the Government will give people the power to lodge a complaint if they are forced to send their children to a certain school.

Patients will also be able to go to a tribunal or ombudsman if they are not offered a choice of hospitals for medical appointments.

“We are publishing draft legislation that could enshrine in law the right to choice,” Mr Cameron says. “This means if your mother needs hospital treatment, or your child is about to start school, you will get a choice over where they go.

“And if that choice doesn’t exist, or you’re not happy with it, you will have a way to get your complaint properly and fairly listened to – and resolved.

“So if as an outpatient you are unfairly denied the choice of appointment, you will be able to have that unfair and anti-competitive decision over-ruled.”

Last year, Mr Cameron said that private companies, voluntary groups and charities will be given the right to run schools, hospitals and vast swaths of council services under ambitious plans to end the “state’s monopoly” over public sector work.

New draft laws published today will build on this idea by allowing private companies and charities to challenge local councils or hospitals if they feel they are being squeezed out of the market.

“If you are a new service provider who believes you can offer a better service - you will have a way to break through the state monopoly and allow the service user, not the bureaucrat, to be your judge and jury,” the Prime Minister says.

Mr Cameron also wants to see more “neighbourhood councils”, where small groups of residents can force local authorities to fix problems like broken street lights and potholes.  These groups would be like town or parish councils, but potentially covering just four or five streets.

“Some local authorities have been guilty of the same kind of top-down bureaucracy that has for so long been the Achilles heel of central government,” Mr Cameron says.

“I want us to challenge this kind of institutional behaviour, and really turn the tables so local people have a genuine opportunity to come together and take responsibility for the services in their neighbourhoods.”

Cabinet Office ministers have expanded and updated last year's White Paper as they seek to make more progress on ending “clumsy and inefficient” bureaucracy in the civil service.

“Nearly two years on from coming into office, brick by brick, edifice by edifice, we are slowly dismantling the big state structures we inherited from the last government,” the Prime Minister says.

The Government will also conduct an independent review to make sure “the most disadvantaged in our society” have equal access to choice in public services.


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