Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Professor Who Questioned LGBT Class Faced Probe‏

By Todd Starnes

A tenured California college professor was the focus of a four-month investigation after he wrote a letter to the local newspaper critical of the school’s plans for a new degree in homosexual studies.

The letter appeared in the Alameda Journal after the College of Alameda announced it was creating a new degree program in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies. The faculty member raised questions about budget priorities and the appearance of nepotism related to the new degree.

Shortly afterwards, the professor was confronted by an irate co-worker who filed a formal complaint of sexual harassment – stemming from the letter. The investigation took four months. He did not face disciplinary action – but was warned not to discuss the investigation with anyone but his legal counsel.

“This is an egregious violation of his rights under the First Amendment and shows the growing intolerance and one-sided tyranny of community colleges like Alameda,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute and the professor’s legal counsel.

“This action by the community college against this professor – simply for critiquing a new, controversial class on LGBT is a serious violation of the free speech rights of this professor,” he said.

Dacus said they are not releasing the name of the professor over fears he might suffer additional reprisals in the community.

“They treated him like he was some sort of criminal simply because he questioned the merits of the community college spending their limited resources on a class that was purely for the purposes of exploring and discussing controversial sexual lifestyles,” he said.

Messages left with the College of Alameda were not returned.

The college has a history of restricting free speech. Less than 5 years ago, they were the defendants in a federal lawsuit after two students were suspended and threatened with expulsion for praying on campus. That case was later settled.

Dacus said they plan on holding the college accountable after what they did to the professor. He said it’s not unusual for opinions to be stifled in that part of California – near San Francisco.

“That community likes to pride itself on being tolerant,” he said. “But one-way tolerance is not tolerance at all. It’s tyranny.”


The day the British government put rigour back into school exams: Out go GCSEs, in comes the tough new six-subject Baccalaureate

The biggest shake-up in school exams for a generation will see discredited GCSEs scrapped  and replaced with English  Baccalaureate Certificates.

A return to end-of-course exams in traditional academic subjects and the slashing of coursework and resits will ‘restore rigour’ to the education system, Michael Gove said yesterday.

The Education Secretary also announced tough core EBC courses which will be taught from 2015, with the first exams sat two years later.

Students will be awarded a full English Baccalaureate if they succeed in six core subjects: English, maths, two sciences – from physics, biology and chemistry – a language and geography or history.

The GCSE brand could be scrapped altogether in 2016 to make a clean break with a system first introduced in 1988.

A single exam board will preside over each subject, bringing an end to competition which Mr Gove said had encouraged a ‘corrupt effort to massage up pass rates’.

Announcing the reforms in the Commons, he said: ‘It is time for the race to the bottom to end. It is time to tackle grade inflation and dumbing down. It is time to raise aspirations.’

‘After years of drift, decline and dumbing down, at last we are reforming our examination system to compete with the world’s best.’

The aim of Mr Gove’s reforms is to restore O-level-style rigour in a bid to halt the nation’s slide down the international schools league tables. However his ambition to fully replicate the O-level system, in which only the brightest sat the toughest exam, has been shelved following opposition from Nick Clegg.

The Deputy Prime Minister’s intervention also delayed the reforms by a year, raising fears Labour could try to save GCSEs if the party wins the next election. But education sources last night said the reforms were ‘unstoppable’.

Mr Gove also revealed less able pupils would be offered the chance to take the new EBC exams at 17 or 18 instead of 16.

He and Mr Clegg put on a show of unity yesterday with a joint article in which they launched a pre-emptive attack on teaching unions and the Labour Left.

They said: ‘Together we can overcome those forces that have held our children back – the entrenched establishment voices who have become the enemies of promise.’

The proposals will see hundreds of thousands of 11-year-olds, who started secondary school this  term, becoming the new ‘guinea pigs’ of the education system. Exam boards have previously been accused of ‘dumbing down’  GCSEs to attract the multi-million pound business from secondary schools.

But under the reforms, just one will be selected by Ofqual to offer qualifications in each subject in a bid to prevent the ‘race to the bottom’.

GCSEs in other subjects are also being toughened up and are unlikely to keep the ‘GCSE’ title.

Currently, many GCSEs have two tiers so pupils can either be entered for the foundation level – the simpler of the two and the maximum grade achievable is a C – or the higher level, where students can get up to an A*.

Under the shake-up, the foundation and higher level will be scrapped in the EBC subjects, meaning there will be no cap on how well pupils can achieve.

A consultation document by the Department for Education suggests exam boards come up with ‘new and different grading structures’. They will be expected to ‘differentiate’ between top achievers and provide a ‘statement of achievement’ for those who are not entered for EBCs.

The Government’s ‘preferred approach’ is to remove controlled assessment – or coursework done under exam conditions – from all six English Baccalaureate subjects. Other reforms including scrapping bite-sized modules and resits.

The overhaul is expected to result in fewer top achievers. This summer, pupils passed 22.4 per cent of GCSEs at A or A*.

Stephen Twigg MP, Labour’s education spokesman, claimed the changes were ‘totally out of date’ and could be a ‘Trojan horse’ for the introduction of a two-tier system in the future. Teaching unions also condemned the change.  Martin Johnson, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: ‘O-levels were abolished 25 years ago for a very good reason: they just tested memory and essay writing, which are not crucial  skills for the majority of jobs or  life today.’

But business welcomed the move. Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, said: ‘Business leaders want a stronger curriculum and more rigorous exams. These measures are welcome progress towards delivering that.’


Many aspiring Australian teachers are dummies

STUDENTS who struggle with reading, writing and arithmetic are being accepted into university courses to train to become teachers.

A national scorecard has revealed students with university admission ranks well below 50 - low by Australian standards - are gaining entry to teaching courses.

The Good Universities Guide says the standard ranges from as high as 90 for entry into Sydney University to as low as 46.5 for the Melbourne Institute of Technology.

In Queensland, teacher admission ranks range from 56 at the Australian Catholic University in Brisbane to 77.75 in order to enter a primary school teaching course at the University of Queensland.

But some students are gaining entry with even lower scores under special entry schemes that offer "bonus points" for disadvantage, such as living in regional areas.
What do you think? Does the admission rank matter? Tell us in the comments section below.

The national snapshot underlines the shock findings that almost half of aspiring primary school teachers tested in Queensland in a recent trial struggled with literacy and numeracy questions Year 7 students should be able to answer.

Queensland is struggling to lift the performance of its students in literacy and numeracy testing, with latest results released on Friday ranking Queensland students third-last nationally.

The average Queensland student to sit the NAPLAN tests this year scored below the national average in every category.

All states are moving to enforce tougher standards, with the Gillard Government pushing for reforms to ensure only school leavers ranked in the top 30 per cent for literacy and numeracy can apply.

Professor Stephen Dinham, chairman of teacher education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, said while some courses demanded very high standards, others did not.

"If you are not confident in mathematics, you can't teach mathematics," he said. " We've really got to draw teachers from the top quarter of the school-leaving population.

"If you're taking kids with a score of 40, it's a worry. I'd be saying don't go below 75."

However, Australian Catholic University spokesman Julian Leeser said high marks did not necessarily guarantee a good teacher.

"You can have students with very high scores who are not good teachers. They lack empathy. Teaching is about relationship building," he said.


Harvard cheating scandal which could see over 100 students thrown out was uncovered by an alert black professor:  "The Harvard cheating scandal which has rocked the world-famous university and cast doubt on more than 100 students began with a minor typing error, it has been revealed.  125 undergraduates are currently being investigated over allegations they collaborated on a take-home exam paper for a course entitled 'Introduction to Congress'.    And a leaked letter from the professor who uncovered the cheating reveals the similarities between different students' answers which he believes cannot have been the result of coincidence.  The tell-tale signs included obscure political references, phrases repeated word-for-word, and an extra space inserted into the number '22,500'.  He initially cast suspicion on 13 of the 279 students taking the 'Introduction to Congress' course - but when the university looked in to the allegations, they found 125 possible incidents of cheating.  Two of those allegedly implicated are the captains of the university basketball team, one of whom has withdrawn from college for the year while the other is expected to follow suit.  Members of the football team have also been named"

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