Sunday, September 16, 2012

"Courageous Conversations" are racist anti-white gobbledegook

Even peanut butter sandwiches are racist in one Oregon school

Dr. Verenice Gutierrez leads a talk about race with her staff just before the school year starts. Racial equity is a top focus for the school and district.

Verenice Gutierrez picks up on the subtle language of racism every day.  Take the peanut butter sandwich, a seemingly innocent example a teacher used in a lesson last school year.

“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?” says Gutierrez, principal at Harvey Scott K-8 School, a diverse school of 500 students in Northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood.

“Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.”

Guitierrez, along with all of Portland Public Schools’ principals, will start the new school year off this week by drilling in on the language of “Courageous Conversations,” the district-wide equity training being implemented in every building in phases during the past few years.

Through intensive staff trainings, frequent staff meetings, classroom observations and other initiatives, the premise is that if educators can understand their own “white privilege,” then they can change their teaching practices to boost minority students’ performance.

Last Wednesday, the first day of the school year for staff, for example, the first item of business for teachers at Scott School was to have a Courageous Conversation — to examine a news article and discuss the “white privilege” it conveys.

Most of the staff are on board, but there is some opposition to a drum class being offered to middle school boys of color at Scott School.

Fifty percent of the students at Scott are Hispanic; another 15 percent are black and 9 percent are Asian. Eighty-five percent are eligible for free or reduced-price meals.

Chuck Barber, who also offers boys’ drum corps at Vernon and Faubion schools in Northeast Portland, approached Gutierrez last year to start up a lunch-time drum class for black and Latino boys once a week. This year, it’ll expand to two classes a week, to accommodate new boys as well as those with experience.

At least one parent has a problem with the the class, saying it amounts to “blatant discrimination and equity of women, Asians, whites and Native Americans.”

“This ‘club’ was approved by the administration, and any girls who complained were brushed off and it was not addressed,” the parent wrote anonymously.

Gutierrez denies that any students were turned away from the drum corps, and vehemently rejects any suggestion that it is discrimination to offer a club catering to minority boys.

“When white people do it, it is not a problem, but if it’s for kids of color, then it’s a problem?” says Gutierrez, 40, an El Paso, Texas, native whose parents were Mexican immigrants. “Break it down for me. That’s your white privilege, and your whiteness.”

Like many if not all of PPS’ leaders, Gutierrez has gone through California-based consultant Glenn Singleton’s “Coaching for Educational Equity,” a weeklong seminar on race and how it affects life; she’s also become an “affiliate,” certified to teach the equity curriculum; and she serves on the district’s administrative committee to address systematic racism, a group that meets every other week.

“Our focus school and our Superintendent’s mandate that we improve education for students of color, particularly Black and Brown boys, will provide us with many opportunities to use the protocols of Courageous Conversations in data teams, team meetings, staff meetings, and conversations amongst one another,” Guitierrez’ letter to staff reads.


British  teacher fired for grabbing abusive boy, 16, who hurled a banana milkshake over him

A teacher has been sacked for grabbing a pupil who hurled a banana milkshake at him -  despite neither the student or his parents complaining.

Robert Cox held the 16-year-old boy's arms and pinned him to his chair after being soaked by the drink and suffering a torrent of abuse from the student.

Mr Cox said he feared the boy was about to throw the chair at him. After he let the teenager go, the pupil did pick up a chair and threw it, although not at Mr Cox.

The drama at Bemrose School in Derby was captured on CCTV and governors sacked Mr Cox.

At a tribunal hearing in Nottingham yesterday the 59-year-old said he had now been left 'unemployable' and has twice attempted suicide. He also said he feared youngsters' behaviour was getting 'out of control'.

Mr Cox, who claims he was unfairly dismissed, was sacked in response to the way he acted in the incident on March 4 last year, the tribunal heard.

Married Mr Cox's 13-year teaching career has been ended by the episode.

He said: 'It has had a huge impact on me. I can't get another job now and our financial situation is dire, to say the least.

'In all other public buildings you see posters saying abusive language and behaviour will not be tolerated.

'That is not the case at Bemrose.  'Instead, if you act within the school guidelines to protect yourself, to protect other students and to prevent an escalation of the situation, you are penalised.

'Senior management at Bemrose don't support staff in general at all.

'Just before this incident, a meeting to discuss pupil behaviour and workload was called by the unions and we didn't get past the topic of pupil behaviour because it is considered by the staff to be so bad.

'I worry for my colleagues still there because the message this sends out is that if pupils threaten their teacher, the teacher is likely to be dismissed.'

Mr Cox said the pupil involved in abusing him was excluded for four days.

Governors ruled that he had used excessive force and had escalated rather than calmed the situation.

It was following a commotion in the school canteen when some boys were 'acting up' in front of another teacher.

Mr Cox told one of them, a year 11 pupil, to sit down, at which point the teenager launched into a tirade of verbal abuse and then threw his banana milkshake over him.

Mr Cox, who said he had never witnessed such an outburst before, held the boy by the arms and sat him in the seat.

He did that repeatedly every time the boy stood up because he said he feared the teenager was about to grab a chair and throw it at fellow pupils or a teacher if he did not restrain him.

When the school canteen emptied, the teenager did pick up a chair and threw it at an empty table.

Mr Cox, from Woodville, Derbyshire was suspended and, following a disciplinary hearing, was sacked after the panel concluded his actions had been inappropriate.

They did not believe the boy was about to throw a chair, having watched CCTV footage, and thought Mr Cox's actions and words escalated, rather than calmed, the situation.

Mr Cox said: 'The grainy CCTV footage from 50ft away did not show what I could see, I could see the look in the boy's face and I thought he was going to grab a chair.'

Another member of staff who came to the canteen during the incident said Mr Cox was 'fuming'.

Representing the school's governing body, at the tribunal, Kathryn Duff said Mr Cox had 'manhandled' the boy and that the reason the teenager had thrown the chair was because he was 'frustrated' with the way Mr Cox had treated him.

The tribunal judge, who said he had sympathy with Mr Cox's situation, is due to deliver his decision in writing in about two weeks.

Jo Ward, head teacher at Bemrose School, rejected Mr Cox's allegations about poor pupil behaviour and a lack of involvement from senior managers.

She said: 'The senior staff are very experienced and get involved with the children and we have got a very secure understanding of the school.

'I would point you to the increase in our examination results. Children don't perform like that if they are misbehaving - they can't.'

She said a system was also in place to support staff who may be having problems in a classroom.


Failed, failed, failed: Blair said his priorities were education, education, education. But Labour billions did nothing to raise standards, says report

Billions of pounds poured into education under Labour resulted in ‘no improvements’ in standards, a major report revealed yesterday.

Despite Tony Blair declaring his priorities as ‘education, education, education’ when he swept to power in 1997, a huge increase in spending on schools led to ‘no improvement in student learning outcomes’, the report found.

In fact, the UK’s teenagers have slipped down world league tables in crucial subjects while the country’s schools have become among the most socially segregated across the world.

Britain’s immigrant children are clustered in the most disadvantaged schools, the report found.

Eighty per cent of students with an immigrant background attend schools with a ‘high concentration’ of children from similar families. Only Mexico, Estonia and Finland have higher levels, a study of 34 countries by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found.

Primary school class sizes are bigger only in Turkey, Korea, Japan, Israel and Chile and rising numbers of young people have become Neets, ‘not in education, employment or training’.

The findings are a damning indictment of the former Labour government, suggesting their education policies have had little impact and taxpayers have failed to get value for money.

They come just a day after the National Union of Teachers and the NASUWT announced a ‘work to rule’, with staff sticking rigidly to six-and-a-half hour days, refusing all non-teaching duties and threatening strikes.

The OECD study – Education at a Glance – found that expenditure on UK primary and secondary schools and colleges as a percentage of GDP increased from 3.6 per cent in 1995 to 4.5 per cent in 2009, higher than the OECD average of 4.0 per cent.

At the same time, there has been ‘no improvement in student learning outcomes’, the report says.

Andreas Schleicher, deputy director for education at the OECD, said: ‘Spending in the UK has gone up really a lot and has not been reflected in changes to [exam] scores. You have seen huge effort on the part of Government and at the same time outcomes have been flat.’

Separate figures released by the Office for National Statistics have shown that Labour’s spending on education rose from £35.3billion in 2000 to £63.9billion in 2009.

The OECD monitors standards by administering its own tests in reading, maths and science for hundreds of thousands of 15-year-olds in up to 70 countries every three years.

The most recent results in 2010 revealed that the UK fell from 24th to 28th position in maths, 14th to 16th in science and 17th to 25th in reading.

The average class size in primary schools in 2010 was 25.8 pupils – above the OECD average of 21.3.

Meanwhile, the social make-up of UK schools poses ‘significant challenges’ for immigrant students and those from disadvantaged backgrounds, according to the OECD.

Some 79.8 per cent of immigrant students whose mothers are poorly educated – not achieving any qualifications beyond GCSE level – are concentrated in disadvantaged schools.

This is a higher proportion than any other OECD country. The average level is 55.9 per cent.

However, the situation is not limited to children with poorly educated mothers.

Some 42.5 per cent of immigrant students born to highly educated mothers – those who have a degree – are in disadvantaged schools.

This is also a higher proportion than any other country examined by researchers, with the average being 26.1 per cent. These figures relate to 2009.

Tory MP Chris Skidmore said yesterday: ‘Labour’s answer to falling educational standards was to throw more and more money at the problem.

‘This evidence demolishes that approach once and for all. It’s not how much you spend that counts, but what you spend it on.'


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