Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Holocaust curriculum not blocked in U.N. refugee agency schools  -- because there never was such a curriculum

Just Brownie points for the Palis:

Contrary to what you reported in “Palestinians vow to prevent Holocaust education in UNRWA-run schools” (March 2), there is not and has never been a plan for a Holocaust curriculum in any UNRWA school.

When this story first surfaced, almost a year ago, our agency explored every level of the PA’s Ministry of Education, since local UNRWA schools follow the curriculum and use the textbooks of the host entity, as they do in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan.

We also examined all levels of the UNRWA education department. Michael Kingsley-Nyinah, director of the executive office of UNRWA, replied to our query: “I am writing to clarify that there is no ‘Holocaust curriculum’ as such in UNRWA schools and there are no plans to introduce one.”

There is, however, one aspect of the Palestinian educational system in UNRWA schools that does relate to the Holocaust. In every Palestinian school library, students have easy access to the doctoral thesis written by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas 26 years ago titled “The Other Side: The Secret Relations between Nazism and the Leadership of the Zionist Movement.”

What UNRWA spokespeople have gained by spreading the false notion that they are planning to initiate Holocaust education in their schools is new support and credibility with Jewish groups across the globe.


Union Boss: What’s the Rush on Increasing Teacher Quality?

When American Federation of Teachers President Rhonda “Randi” Weingarten proposed a “bar exam” of sorts for teacher prospects, it was hailed as a step forward in improving teacher quality, EAGnews.org reported.

But some of Weingarten’s underlings don’t know what all the fuss is about. She either didn’t run the idea past her deputies, or they didn’t approve and she trotted it out anyway.

Norwalk Federation of Teachers President Bruce Mellion said if teachers would be subjected to such a test, they better get a pay raise.

"What we're doing is testing, testing, testing, testing. At some point we need to run schools with quality administrators, Central Office and let teachers teach in classrooms and stop making them crazy. It's over-evaluation. It's paralysis by analysis," Mellion was quoted as saying by The Hour.

He also said the process of testing an evaluation should be “slowed down.”

Weingarten’s proposal seems reasonable on its face. The concept certainly has merit. But it could only likely be administered by the federal Department of Education, furthering a national power grab over what should be a state and local responsibility.

A 2009 McKinsey and Company study quoted former AFT President Sandra Feldman as saying, “You have in the schools right now, among the teachers who are going to be retiring, very smart people. We’re not getting in now the same kinds of people. It’s disastrous. We’ve been saying for years now that we’re attracting from the bottom third” of their graduating class.

But there’s little urgency from some union bosses like Mellion, a leader of a school district that received a “4 out of 10” rating from GreatSchools.org.

GreatSchools.org also reported only 68 percent of third-graders and 73 percent of eighth-graders are proficient in reading.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that the Norwalk School District has a 13.52 student-to-teacher ratio, well below the national average. Apparently class sizes aren’t the problem. Norwalk spends over $19,000 per student as well, so money isn’t an issue, either.

But to Mellion, teacher quality is definitely not the culprit. Then what is?

Teacher quality is indeed a major issue that must be addressed. But that process will be painfully slow as long as there are union leaders who fight accountability every step of the way.


British government faces war with equality activists as they  axe Labour's PC curriculum that dropped greatest figures from history lessons

Some of the greatest figures in Britain’s past are to be restored to their rightful place in history, thanks to an overhaul of the school curriculum.

The likes of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Nelson and Winston Churchill had been dropped from history lessons under the last Labour Government in a move critics said was driven by ‘political correctness’.

But under a new ‘back-to-basics’ shake-up, pupils will again have  to study these traditional historic  figures – and not social reformers such as Jamaican-born nurse Mary Seacole and former black slave Olaudah Equiano, who were introduced into the 2007 curriculum.

The revisions, spearheaded by Tory Education Secretary Michael Gove, are certain to anger equality activists who believe history lessons are too skewed towards white British men.
They're history...

But they have been welcomed by traditionalists such as Conservative MP Philip Davies, who said: ‘The curriculum has to specify figures like Nelson and Wellington.

‘Far too often we are apologising for things in our past, but actually we have so much in our history to be proud of. It is essential that children learn why they should be proud of their country.’

And former Government history adviser Anthony Freeman said teachers needed guidelines to teach about the key figures who shaped our past, saying: ‘Many teachers are more concerned to promote politically correct social themes than to present a narrative.’

Leaked drafts of the new history curriculum, to be published in the New Year, show that schools will be required to cover the Norman Conquest, Henry II and his conflict with the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket, and King John and his power struggles with the Barons that resulted in the Magna Carta.

Episodes such as the Black Death, the Wars of the Roses, the growth of the British Empire and the trial and execution of Charles I will also be included, as will the Acts of Union – which will become the subject of scrutiny as Scotland holds a referendum on independence in 2014.

But out go figures including social reformers Robert Owen and  Elizabeth Fry, aviator Amy Johnson, nurse Florence Nightingale, and Equiano and his fellow anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce.

However, pupils will still have to learn about social changes such as the abolition of slavery and the suffragettes. In addition, references to cultural, ethnic and religious diversity have been cut, although they will still be taught about immigration.

The changes have been drawn up amid great secrecy by Government advisers, including television historian Simon Schama. Mr Gove said a year ago that too many children were leaving school ignorant about Britain’s past because syllabuses had been stripped of core content.

He pointed to a survey which found a sixth of 18- to 24-year-olds believed Cromwell, rather than Nelson, led the British fleet at Trafalgar.

Mr Gove said: ‘I am genuinely worried that – despite the best efforts of brilliant history teachers, gifted academics and the television and publishing executives who’ve helped to popularise history – our curriculum and examinations system mean that children thirsting to know more about our past leave school woefully undernourished.’

Mr Gove has also criticised the existing curriculum for focusing on certain periods such as the Tudors and the world wars while missing out large chunks of the past.

The national curriculum sets out the minimum that should be taught in schools, but it does not prevent teachers adding any material they wish to flesh out lessons – including events and individuals that have been cut out of the new version. However, they will have to ensure they first cover all the areas specified in the new curriculum.

The national curriculum is compulsory only in maintained state schools; academies and free schools can create their own versions.

The Department for Education said: ‘We do not comment on leaks.’


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