Friday, July 06, 2012

PBS: Brainwashing  America’s Schoolchildren

When most people think of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's education programs, they remember the gentle Mr. Rogers welcoming children to his home, or documentaries offering exciting encounters with whales and other exotic creatures.

These shows still exist. But CPB today produces lessons that glorify the Black Panthers and riots and protests of the 1960s, present rocker Patti Smith as a "patriot" for singing songs that condemn President George W. Bush, vilify Wal-Mart, and sanctify environmentalist Rachel Carson. Although their educational materials claim to be objective, the truth is that their unrelenting ideological slant that promotes the politics of protest and civil disobedience is aimed at re-educating children into becoming far-left activists.

But whenever there are attempts to cut federal funding to CPB, the corporation points to its "educational programming" as proof that the approximately $450 million it receives annually from federal taxpayers is being put to good use. Big Bird and other members of the cast of Sesame Street show up in Congress to tell members of the educational value of CPB-funded programs.

The same justification is offered by state affiliates. For example, in 2011, Georgia Public Broadcasting's marketing vice president, Nancy Zintak, defended their executives' salaries by explaining that "80,000 Georgia teachers have downloaded data more than 5 million times from GPB's educational website. [1]

Georgia taxpayers directly fund half of GPB's annual $29 million budget. Millions more are funneled through the state's public university budgets.

Teachers across the nation do turn to Public Broadcasting for videos, classroom projects, and even entire course syllabi. National statistics are elusive, but those 80,000 Georgia teachers downloading Public Broadcasting educational materials represent 63% of all public and private K - 12 educators in the state. If Georgia's teachers are typical of educators in other states, it is clear that most K - 12 schools rely on PBS to teach subjects ranging from arithmetic to World History.

The PBS Teachers website touts its "high-quality pre-K-12 educational resources...classroom materials suitable for a wide range of subjects and grade levels...thousands of lesson plans, teaching activities, on-demand video assets, and interactive games and simulations." Education is big business for CPB.

Their teacher training and certification are also big business. PBS Teacherline boasts it is "the premiere provider of high-quality online professional development." Their "collection of more than 130 top quality, graduate level courses for educators spans the entire curriculum." PBS offers peer assistance, instructional coaches, and other "productive communications and collaboration," to K-12 teachers.

For the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, providing course syllabi, teacher certification, and other materials to schools serves a dual purpose: it justifies the continuation of taxpayer subsidies for Public Broadcasting while inculcating millions of schoolchildren-a captive audience-with their programming and ideological messages.

For foundations that donate to CPB, PBS, NPR, or state affiliates, PBS Teachers provides a ready-made platform for advancing their ideas and agendas to those same captive student audiences. George Soros' combined Open Society Foundations (OSF) has supported National Public Radio and independent projects throughout the CPB universe, including underwriting documentaries used in classrooms to "educate" students on various causes. In 2010, Soros made an additional grant of $1.8 million to NPR's state government reporting initiative. Other large donors include the Joan B. Kroc estate ($230 million after Kroc's 2003 death), the U.S. Department of Education, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

By creating primary materials through programming and reporting and then producing syllabi packaged by age group based on those primary materials, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has evolved into perhaps the single most influential voice in the nation's classrooms, while defending their own taxpayer funding streams by doing so.

The PBS Teachers Educational Universe

What types of lessons do students get for this money? An analysis of the thousands of lessons available would fill volumes. At first glance, PBS Teachers curricular materials reflect the skill Public Broadcasting has achieved in putting a veneer of objectivity on their radio and television news programs. But a closer look at the courses offered reveals two overriding tendencies: first, a decidedly leftist ideological slant promoting a "social justice" agenda, and second, relentless emotional manipulation of students, the aim of which is to make them into activists for far-left causes.

What Is Being Taught?

The leftist ideological slant is evident in a variety of ways: the quantity of lesson plans focusing on multiculturalism, or identity politics, versus traditional learning; an emphasis on leftist causes and social movements; partisan political material disguised as "media analysis" of elected officials or government policies, and criticism of capitalism and the idea of American exceptionalism. In addition, there is an overemphasis on pop culture, that isn't necessarily leftist, but is of questionable educational value. 

For example:

 *      There are approximately equal numbers of courses about George Washington and "hip-hop" music.

 *      Nearly 100 lessons are dedicated to protest movements, several of which are large, interdisciplinary projects designed to occupy substantial portions of the school day or school semester.

 *      The number of courses dedicated to the theme of environmentalism dwarfs other subjects.

 *      Health and Fitness, Economics, and Current Events curricula routinely feature highly ideological themes, such as the negative effects of a Wal-Mart moving into town (Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town), or the dangers of genetically modified foods.

Even traditional subjects are presented with an ideological bent. Lessons on periods of history such as World War II or major literary works focus on oppression. [2] Short shrift is given to universal themes, major literary developments, or a sense of historical progression.

How Are Subjects Being Taught?  (The Emotion Revolution)

PBS Teachers is leading the shift in education from objective to "emotional" learning. This increasing reliance in classrooms on emotion-based encounters is revolutionary, affecting both what is taught and how it is taught. PBS lessons across the curriculum de-emphasize facts and ideas in favor of eliciting subjective responses and personal opinions from students, or even leading students through exercises designed to make them imagine the emotions of various individuals involved in historical events. Students are evaluated not so much on what they know as on the attitudes they hold.

Consequences of the Emotion Revolution:

 *      PBS lessons vigorously promote an extreme, trans-historical version of identity politics, dividing all people into groups of "victims" and "victimizers."

 *      Lessons and assignments are designed to force students to express political beliefs and engage in coercive, emotion-based exercises in reaction to controversial issues.

 *      Students are forced to engage in a variety of staged traumas in the classroom and with each other, ostensibly to "experience" historical events.  

 *      Students are subjected to obsessive exhortations to "oppose bullying" and "teach tolerance." They are made to play-act instances of bullying and are instructed to discover intolerance and prejudice in their own families, communities, and peers.

By imposing political bias and forcing students to participate in scripted explorations of "appropriate" emotional responses to selective historical events, PBS Teachers is transforming education into re-education. A closer look at individual lesson plans will demonstrate how PBS curricula turn classrooms into recruitment sites for leftist causes.    

Protest Lessons: Pigs in the Street

            Public Broadcasting has become bolder in casting an ideological lens over history, and this is reflected in the classroom materials they produce. Some of the most egregious examples of this ideological bias appear in syllabi covering the protest movements of the 1960's. One such lesson was derived from an episode of the PBS show, History Detectives. The show examines a protest poster from the 1968 Democratic Convention featuring a picture of a thuggish street cop and an upraised "black-power" fist, with the words: "Hot Town-Pigs in the Streets...But the streets belong to the people! Dig it?"

            The Hot Town lesson plan requires students to contemplate the radical street protests and riots of the late 1960s almost exclusively from the perspective of the protesters. The videotaped segments taken from the History Detectives show are narrated by an academic who speaks of having been enrolled in a "Black Panther Party breakfast program" and having "heard a lot of their educational speeches." The violence of the Black Panthers, including murders and armed bank robberies, goes unmentioned as the Panthers are romanticized as mere social workers. The poster crudely depicting policemen as "pigs" becomes the object of a "mystery" hunt to discover its origins.

The Hot Town lesson is typical of many PBS syllabi that deliver radical content from a biased perspective while claiming to be teaching students useful interpretive skills: in this case, the skill is "researching an historical artifact." The lesson enables sympathetic-appearing radicals to reminisce about screaming epithets at the police and rioting in the streets. "Police brutality" is discussed at length, while the Black Panthers' murderous campaign against real police officers and fellow activists is not mentioned. The Hot Town video ends with the poster creator's happy memory of knocking over a police van. He is described as an activist who went from rioting to serving health food to poor people and who now works as a Chicago Ward president for the Democratic Party.

A related "protest" lesson that whitewashes protester violence is the multi-part curriculum, Chicago 10. It uses an animated version of the 1968 Chicago riots depicting violent protesters as victims of police brutality to "encourage people to take a more active role in protest." The lesson also describes the arrest of protesters planning to bomb the 2008 Republican Convention as mere police over-reach that was exposed by courageous activists with cell phones. Revolution in Newark teaches students that the Newark Riots were a principled "uprising." A Civil Disobedience exercise featuring Code Pink activist Cindy Sheehan directs students to imagine "a situation in which they might use civil disobedience" and then write a  journal "reflect[ing] on" their imaginary protest and law-breaking.

PBS protest-based curricula are deployed throughout the disciplines with the justification that the lessons are not only about the protest itself but also are intended to teach "critical thinking" or historical research, or music, or art.  Thus, more of the school day may be dedicated to romanticizing protesters, demonizing those trying to maintain social order, and training children to become activists.

Much more HERE

Math results show up Britain's junky government schools

The ‘shocking’ failure of comprehensive schools to nurture bright pupils is exposed today in a global league table of maths skills.

Teenagers in England were placed 26th out of the 34 counties who achieved the top grade in a respected international test.

Just 1.7 per cent of English 15-year-olds achieved the highest mark – compared with 7.8 per cent in Switzerland, the best-performing European country, and 26.6 per cent in Shanghai, China.

Almost all of England’s top performers attended private schools or state grammars.

Our dismal showing was condemned as an indictment of the failure to nurture ‘gifted and talented’ children at comprehensive schools.

Professor Alan Smithers of Buckingham University, who compiled the figures, warned that provision in  England for able pupils was ‘a mess’ and urged an overhaul including the revival  of some academic selection, but at 14 instead of 11.

He said that Labour’s drive to encourage schools to identify bright pupils had been so ‘confusing’ that some heads gave 100 per cent of children the label and others none.

‘In some cases, “gifted and talented” appears to have been more of a rationing device for popular trips than a means of high-level education,’ he added.

Professor Smithers, working with Dr Pamela Robinson on behalf of the Sutton Trust education charity, analysed the results of international tests in maths and reading set in 2009 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In England, 10,350 pupils sat the maths test, 6.3 per cent of whom attended private schools. Just 1.7 per cent scored the highest grade – a majority of them fee-paying.

England trailed the Czech and Slovak Republics, with 3.2 per cent and 3.6 per cent respectively, as well as Estonia, Poland, Hungary and Luxembourg.

Taking the top two grades together, just 10 per cent in England achieved them, against 50 per cent in Shanghai. This provided further evidence England was ‘a long way off the pace in educating the highly able in maths’, according to the research.

In 2006, English pupils who gained the top level in maths were placed 18th out of the 30 countries sitting the test.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, said the latest results showed that most able children had been failed by a ‘hotch-potch of abandoned initiatives and unclear priorities’.

‘These are shocking findings that raise profound concerns about how well we support our most academically able pupils, from non-privileged backgrounds,’ he said.

Professor Smithers called for the top 5 or 10 per cent of pupils at age 11 to be tracked through school and for high schools to be held accountable for their progress.

Government targets currently focus on the weakest and middling performers, he warned.

‘It is assumed these brainboxes will look after themselves but they show up rather badly against pupils from other countries,’ he said.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said: ‘This report underlines why the Government is determined to act decisively to restore academic rigour to schools and ensure our exams match the world’s best.

‘Until we do this, our young people will continue to pay the price for the previous Labour government’s decision that lower standards were a price worth paying for higher grades.’


Every 11-year-old in Britain will be tested on grammar and punctuation

Every 11-year-old in the country is to be tested on their grammar and punctuation skills.  The new exam in May could also include a check on the neatness of handwriting.  The initiative is aimed at preparing children for tougher GCSEs which will put a stronger emphasis on spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Primary pupils will be questioned on tenses, subordinate clauses, parts of speech and the correct use of ‘I’ and ‘me’. They will also be expected to use commas and apostrophes correctly, avoiding the so-called ‘greengrocer’s apostrophe’ where apples and pears are wrongly written as apple’s and pear’s.

The hour-long exam will be taken alongside a reading and maths test as part of primary school SATs.  It replaces a writing test which required pupils to compose extended passages but was unpopular among teachers who claimed marking was wildly inconsistent.

Teachers will instead give pupils a grade on composition, based on their work throughout the year, which will be combined with results in the new test.

It is thought to be the first time pupils have faced a specific national test in spelling, grammar, punctuation and possibly handwriting, although some will have tackled similar questions as part of 11-plus exams.

The brightest pupils will sit a tougher, separate test which may include some extended writing.  Sample questions show it is likely to cover the correct use of semi-colons as well as personal and impersonal forms.

Ministers will decide whether to include handwriting in both tests later in the year.

In a leaflet for parents explaining the new test, officials said the test would encourage primary schools to place a stronger focus on the teaching of grammar, spelling and punctuation than in previous years.

‘Changes are also being made to GCSEs so that from 2013 there will be marks awarded for spelling, punctuation and grammar in key subjects.

‘By developing confidence in these skills early on, your child will improve their chances of succeeding in important qualifications later on in their education.’

However some schools are already threatening to boycott the new test claiming it will narrow their curriculum.

Members of the National Association of Head Teachers, along with the National Union of Teachers, boycotted all national tests days after the 2010 election and have warned they could repeat the action


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