Wednesday, October 10, 2012

School Lets Dems Register Students to Vote, But Not GOP

Florida Republicans are outraged after a school district allowed a pro-Obama organization to conduct student voter registration drives and deliver speeches to classes - but denied the Romney campaign similar opportunities.

Pasco County Schools confirmed to Fox News that volunteers from Organizing For America were given access to as many as a half dozen high school and middle school campuses.  "They did register students to vote," spokesman John Mann told Fox News. "We don't know how many children were registered - (but) we have an ongoing investigation."

According to email correspondence obtained by Fox News, volunteers tried to infiltrate at least three other school campuses - but on-campus officials rebuffed those efforts.

In addition to voter registration, a former teacher was allowed to deliver Obama speeches to a number of senior high school students.   "She got into six classrooms and gave pro-Obama speeches - like way off to the left," said James Mathieu, general counsel for the Pasco County Republican Party. "That got out to parents and parents complained."

Matthieu told Fox News he has filed a complained with the Florida Division of Elections and also contacted the Florida Attorney General's office.  "We have a liberal culture in our school system and we know that," he told Fox News. "The problem is someone has used false credentials, false pretenses and there is a security issue."

Mathieu said that some of the Organizing for America volunteers identified themselves to school officials as being with the local elections office.  "These people have used false pretense to get into the high schools and all they're giving us is whitewash and lip service," he said.

But Mann told Fox News that to his knowledge none of the volunteers misrepresented themselves.  "They identified themselves as being with Organizing For America," he said.

However, according to an email obtained by Fox News - school officials acknowledged there may have been some deceit.  "In at least one case, those individuals said they were from the Pasco Supervisor of Elections Office," wrote staff member Paula Lesko. "Unfortunately the SOE said that is not the case."

So why did school officials allow a partisan organization to mingle with students?


High school students suspended for possession of energy mints‏

A group of high school students in Pekin, Ill., were suspended last week after school officials suspected the mints they were eating were actually illegal drugs.

Jason McMichael, the father of one of the students, told the Journal Star that his 17-year-old son Eric was suspended for two days from Pekin Community High School and not allowed to attend the school's homecoming festivities after staffers found four students eating energy mint tablets that are marketed like caffeine energy drinks.

McMichael said he received a phone call from the dean's office informing him of his son's suspension and that the teen was being monitored by the school nurse for an elevated heart rate—though McMichael doesn't believe it was due to the energy mints.

"He's never been in trouble," McMichael said. "He was probably just nervous."

Eric McMichael said he and three others were eating Revive tablets—touted as "nature's energy mints"—in the school cafeteria when they were disciplined.

"People bring energy drinks to school every day," the teen told Central Illinois' WMBD-TV. "I see this every day and we get in trouble for energy mints?"

According to, each mint contains 101 milligrams of caffeine along with guarana, green tea, ginseng, acai, mangosteen and goji. The Revive brand is endorsed by several MMA fighters and fitness pageant contestants.

McMichael's father said school officials later admitted they did not know if the chewable, unmarked mints were, in fact, illegal drugs but upheld the suspensions anyway, saying the teens displayed "gross misconduct for taking an unknown product."

"Now they know nothing illegal happened," McMichael said on Friday, "but they're still pursuing the suspension."

Superintendent Paula Davis told the paper that while she was not able to discuss the incident, school officials would have been within their rights to discipline the students if they were seen "ingesting things that look like unmarked pills."


British education boss attacks 'bigotry' of teaching unions

Teachers should “go the extra mile” by running after-school clubs and working on Saturdays to raise standards, Michael Gove said today as he launched an extraordinary attack on trade union "bigotry".

The Education Secretary suggested that all schools should replicate tactics adopted by the best performers, which expect staff to stay behind in the evenings and at weekends to provide catch-up classes.

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, he also said that top schools achieved success by creating an “atmosphere of strict discipline” – ensuring unruly pupils cannot get in the way of other children’s education.

Schools will fail to close the gap between rich and poor pupils without making high expectations of every child and adopting a “no excuses” culture, he said.

But Mr Gove warned that too many children were being held back by the “soft bigotry and low expectations” of teaching unions.

In an outspoken attack, he singled out the National Union of Teachers and the NASUWT, which recently launched work-to-rule action as part of a long-running dispute over cuts to pay and pensions.

The unions – collectively representing around nine-in-10 teachers in England and Wales – have told members to refuse to supervise pupils over lunchtime, cover for absent colleagues, invigilate in exams, attend unscheduled after-school meetings or provide more than one formal report for parents each year.

Addressing Tory activists in Birmingham, Mr Gove said that teaching was the "noblest profession, the highest calling".

But he added: "At the moment the general secretaries of some of their unions are making it very difficult. The general secretaries are ordering - ordering - their members not to cover classes where another teacher might be ill or away at a relative's funeral."

He said: "I have a simple message to those union general secretaries: don't let your ideology hold back our children."

Mr Gove quoted statistics showing that just one child in 80 who was eligible for free school meals currently went on to a selective university.

The Education Secretary called for more pupils to be given the chance to strive for higher education, insisting the best schools placed “no artificial cap on aspiration”.

He said top schools were staffed by “noble, inspirational people who will go the extra mile; who will stay after the conventional school day ends in order to provide homework or after-school clubs to stretch the mind and also, in some cases, stretch the body; who will also ensure that, for those children who need it, they will be there on a Saturday for catch-up classes”.

Some of the Government’s flagship academies and free schools have already taken advantage of powers to shake up the academic year by axing traditional holidays and staging booster lessons outside the normal timetable.

One school in Norwich is open for six days a week – 51 weeks of the year.

Mr Gove said he had named leading schools in the past while addressing teaching conferences only to be told by union leaders: “Please don’t single out these very successful schools – it makes the others feel uncomfortable.”

“How can we succeed as a country when every time we find success and celebrate it there are those who say 'no, someone might feel uncomfortable'?” he said.

"What I feel uncomfortable about is the soft bigotry of low expectations that lead so many to believe that so many schools can't be as good as the best schools and I am determined to fight that bigotry wherever I encounter it."

The comments provoked fury among union leaders.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "Michael Gove appears to want to return schools to a past where teachers spent their days standing at photocopiers or undertaking bureaucratic form filling, rather than concentrating on teaching and learning.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, said: “The teaching profession has never come under such sustained criticism and attack.”

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: “Mr Gove continually displays his ignorance about education which derives from his unwillingness to listen to professional advice from both within and outside his department.”

*Less than one in four teachers are in favour of the Government's plans to scrap GCSEs and replace them with a new English Baccalaureate Certificate, a poll suggests.

The YouGov Teacher Track survey, based on a sample of almost 1,000 UK teachers, found that only 23 per cent backed the reforms. However, it emerged that 76 per cent were in favour of other proposals to scrap competition between exam boards.


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