Wednesday, September 05, 2012

'Distinguished’ Denver Teachers Encourage Students to Diss American Culture

What happens when progressives run government schools? They judge teachers based upon their own socio-political values.

They don’t care if Billy or Suzie can read or write very well. But they want to make sure the kids are aware of all the social injustice plaguing the United States of America.

That’s the only possible explanation for Denver Public Schools’ new teacher evaluation system .

The system will rate teachers as “distinguished” – the highest rating – when they (among other things):
    Encourage students to “challenge and question the dominant culture.”

    Encourage students to take social action to change/ improve society or work for social justice.

    Use Visuals and artifacts to represent various cultures/world groups.

“What exactly does this language mean?” said Pam Benigno, director of the Independence Institute’s Education Policy Center, in a news release “Will 4th graders be taking field trips to Occupy Denver for extra credit?”

Perhaps not “extra credit.” That may be their main assignment for the semester.

This is not the first time such an ideological litmus test has been placed on government school teachers.

The University of Minnesota College of Education took a lot of heat a few years ago, when it was revealed that students had to demonstrate they had “cultural competence” in order to receive their teaching degree.

That meant prospective teachers were required to “accept theories of white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression’ develop a positive sense of racial/cultural identity, and recognize that schools are socially constructed systems that are susceptible to racism … but are also critical sites for social and cultural transformation.”

And what do these types of policies lead to? Check out the following story from

“A month or so ago, Sarah Skahan let herself get knocked off her game by a 10-year-old boy.

“The boy, who is African-American, spends time with Skahan, the speech language pathologist at Westview Elementary in Apple Valley, to get support for his learning disability.

“On this particular day he was shading in parts of a map, finishing a geography assignment.

“’Man, I’m never going there,” he snorted as he started coloring Florida.

“Skahan stopped what she was doing and asked him what he knew about Trayvon Martin. Quite a lot, as it turned out. The shooting was a topic of frequent conversation in the boy’s home.

“The two spent time every day for the rest of the week working on a letter to Florida’s attorney general, urging him to prosecute Martin’s killer. When George Zimmerman was taken into custody, the student came to tell Skahan.”

Never mind that Florida’s attorney general is a woman. How does this language pathologist have the right to suggest to a student that a defendant in a criminal case is innocent or guilty? Shouldn’t an educator encourage an interested student to look closely at the case and carefully form an intelligent opinion, instead of clinging to a heated, kneejerk response?

But of course most extreme leftists convicted Zimmerman in their minds within minutes of the shooting, purely based on racial considerations. An alarming number of government school teachers are quite liberal, and they’re becoming a lot less shy about sharing their views with students.

But why should they be shy, when they are encouraged by their employers (and official evaluation systems) to push their views on students?

Who’s willing to bet that Skahan has been evaluated and determined to be a “distinguished” educator?


California community colleges stop offering federal loans

Another good example of "unintended" effects of meddlesome legislation.  The sanctions that have the Community Colleges worried were crafted to hit "for profit" schools

A small but growing number of California community colleges have stopped participating in the federal loan program, cutting off these borrowing options for students out of fear that rising student loan default rates could lead to sanctions.

Some 16 colleges have stopped disbursing the loans, and at least one more school – Bakersfield College – is considering ending its participation in the program. That makes California home to more students without access to federal loans than any other state, according to data collected by the Institute for College Access and Success, an Oakland-based nonprofit.

College officials say they stopped participating in federal loans because they were worried that an increase in student loan defaults would jeopardize their ability to offer federal grants. Colleges where students default on federal loans at high rates for several years in a row stand to lose eligibility for federal grants under sanctions issued by the U.S. Department of Education.

But some advocacy groups and student loan experts say the colleges are exaggerating the risk of sanctions and are unnecessarily pushing students toward more expensive and riskier borrowing options. They say colleges should work to improve their default rates rather than cut off federal loans for students.

“The community colleges in California are at virtually no risk to losing access to Pell grants due to default rates,” said Debbie Cochrane, research director for the Institute for College Access and Success. “Colleges often overstate the risk of being sanctioned due to default rates because they don’t understand that there are protections to avoid those sanctions.”

Sandy Baum, senior fellow at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at George Washington University, said students who can’t borrow federal loans will use their credit cards or go to private loan markets, where interest rates are higher and the consequences of default are more severe.

“If their default rates are too high, they should figure out why and do something about that, but depriving students of access to those loans is not the best solution,” said Baum, who is also an independent higher education policy analyst.

Two of the three colleges in the Kern Community College District in the southern Central Valley – Porterville College and Cerro Coso Community College – already have pulled out of the federal loan program. The district's board of trustees is considering the same move at its third campus, Bakersfield College.

Of the 1,200 students who borrowed using federal loans at Bakersfield College and started repaying them in 2009, some 28 percent defaulted on those loans within three years, according to district spokeswoman Amber Chiang.

That figure concerned trustees because colleges could lose access to federal grants and loans if that rate hits 30 percent for three years in a row beginning in 2014.

“So many of our students are reliant on free federal aid that we don’t want to make it a gamble,” Chiang said.

But under the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act, colleges where only a small percentage of students borrow with federal loans can successfully appeal these sanctions. Most community colleges have low borrowing rates and would successfully escape the sanctions, according to an April 2011 report [PDF] by the Institute for College Access and Success.

“That organization says, 'You offer so few loans, you won’t be sanctioned,' and our response is: Why would we risk it?” Chiang said.


Student hi-jinks at Oxbridge too

Rather refreshing in the frantically "correct" atmosphere of Britain

For 800 years Oxford and Cambridge have been bywords for academic excellence. Now a dossier of student misdemeanours obtained by The Daily Telegraph suggests their undergraduates take an equally vigorous approach to high jinks.

It charts hundreds of incidents of drunken bad behaviour in the past two years, including dozens of episodes where police and paramedics were called to usually cerebral colleges.

In one instance, a college boat club was banned from drinking at future dinners after parading their newly elected captain naked around a city centre supermarket. Others were giving tickings off for throwing curry and beer in a restaurant, urinating and vomiting "copiously".

The incidents are disclosed in dozens of discipline reports since 2010 released by 15 of the universities’ colleges under Freedom of Information legislation.

They form a colourful account of life at the elite institutions that have moulded 41 prime ministers, including David Cameron.

Students were fined more than £14,000 and made to complete hundreds of hours of community service for the transgressions. College authorities also issued more creative punishments such as banning students from the rugby team and preventing them wearing society insignia.

Cambridge’s Sidney Sussex appeared to have the most outlandish students, or at least the most assiduous record keepers.

Their records charted 44 instances of indiscipline over the period, including students setting off fireworks at 4am and “pennying”, a game played in gowns at a formal dinner that requires undergraduates to down their drink when a coin is thrown into the glass.

The 500-year-old college, which has schooled Oliver Cromwell, Lord Owen and former Countdown presenter Carol Vorderman, also investigated complaints a student had drunkenly assaulted and been “aggressively rude” to a member of staff.

The college’s boat club was a recurrent scourge of the authorities. Last year students were reported to the dean after “general drunken behaviour” at the society’s dinner led to a member collapsing into his own vomit.

The next year the society was asked to draw up a code of conduct after “parading” their captain naked around a branch of Sainsbury’s, ignoring complaints from the college porter and a security guard.

The college’s rugby team also behaved “inexcusably”, after a dozen members stood on tables in a city restaurant, chanting abuse and hurling curry and naan at other customers, “it being a rugby outing”.

They also threw drink at the walls and ceiling before making a hurried exit when they felt “our time in the restaurant was up”.

The party ran back to college where they were questioned by police officers. The college later investigated accusations they threw a bottle of cider at a waiter.

“It apparently never occurred to students that there was something fundamentally wrong with their behaviour,” the report noted.

In other incidents, police were called after two students broke a table in a fight in the college bar, while students were asked to write a letter of apology after being accused of urinating in another college master’s garden.

And an unfortunate student was sent to hospital after impaling his foot on a spike trying to clamber back into the college at 1am in his first week at the university.

At St John’s, Cambridge, 14 students were drunk “to incapacity” in a single year, with three dealt with by paramedics. One was found urinating on the wall outside while police were called at 4.15am when another abused ambulance staff after “vomiting copiously”.

Oxford’s Merton College also suffered “alcohol-induced bad behaviour” including an incident involving the Myrmidons, a notorious dining society founded in 1865, that led officials to ban their summer garden party.

An Oxford University spokeswoman said: “Oxford and Cambridge between them account for tens of thousands of young people, so it is not entirely surprising that incidents of stupid and inappropriate behaviour do come up. When they go too far, they face the consequences.”


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