Friday, February 22, 2013

Wolfe Cries Fox

 Mike Adams

Last week, after returning from an interview on a network that makes liberals cringe, I came home to an inbox full of emails. Usually, when I come home to a full inbox, it’s because a professor has done something stupid and people want me to write about it. This was no exception. A professor at West Liberty University had banned Fox News as a source and told her students that the "biased" station makes her "cringe." That kind of thinking is common among professors. But few professors are stupid enough to reveal it in a syllabus.

Stephanie Wolfe, a visiting assistant professor at West Liberty, made her own bias clear when she told her students orally that they could not cite the news station in any of their work for the semester. The problem was that she also put the following in her syllabus: "The tagline 'Fox News' makes me cringe. Please do not subject me to this biased news station. I would almost rather you print off an article from the Onion (sic)."

For those who did not miss the irony, "bias" occurs when someone allows an emotional inclination to interfere with the ability to process information. So the good professor banned Fox for being "biased" one sentence after she admitted that her emotional inclination impedes her ability to process information presented by Fox. Why not ban herself as a biased source of information?

Of course, putting this in her syllabus was stupid. But it brought about a good result. Students were able to share the information with others, including Fox News. That resulted in a rare national television appearance by a university president willing to express his concerns about academic freedom. In fact, President Capehart handled the situation perfectly by registering a concern that Wolfe's exercise of academic freedom was infringing on the academic freedom of her students to "gather information and look at as many different sources as possible on any side, before you reach your opinion."

Shortly after these remarks were made, Professor Wolfe reversed the ban and recognized her students' legitimate interest in examining different points of view - even those that do not comport with those of the professor. For this reason, I plan to contact the university using this link. It will be a rare opportunity to thank a university administration for doing the right thing. Even if you don't have time to write West Liberty, you've learned two things by taking the time to read this column:

1. Administrative support is needed to enable rogue faculty members. For years, leftist faculty members have relied on administrative support from Deans, Provosts, and Presidents. Whenever these administrators intervene with vague statements about "academic freedom" a signal is sent to the rogue faculty member. That signal is that they may do whatever they want without suffering repercussions in the workplace. But as soon as an administrator speaks about his concerns over balancing the freedom of different parties, the professor knows she is in trouble. Anything less than full administrative support will cause the professor to capitulate.

2. Justice often follows when we obtain written admissions. One reason the president responded in such a positive way was evidentiary. This was no mere accusation. Wolfe carelessly put her remarks in writing. So there could be no denying that a problem existed. The evidence forced Capehart to make a decision. And he made the right one.

Most professors spew their bias in the classroom without recording it on the syllabus. Therefore, students have to be vigilant. When, for example, your professor tells the class (in class) to refrain from using Fox as a source, you should seek clarification via email. Something like the following will suffice:

"Dear Professor Doe: I light of your ban on using Fox News as a source, I was wondering whether using MSNBC or Al Jazeera would also be unacceptable?"

Professors are often so arrogant that they will use the classroom to pressure students into accepting their beliefs. And they are often so careless that they will repeat their errors in writing when pressed. As you will see in my next column, it can be quite embarrassing when such coercion is exposed.


Georgia Elementary School Verse: ‘Obama Ran So Our Children Could Fly’

It’s no secret government schools have put President Obama on a pedestal unlike any other national leader.

Schools have been named after him long before his retirement or death, which is rather unprecedented. Students have been led in organized chants of his honored name. There are lesson plans comparing him to Abraham Lincoln.

But sometimes school employees take the rhetoric a bit too far and wind up in propaganda territory. The latest example comes from DeKalb County, Georgia.

For Black History Month, Livsey Elementary School created a cute display with the lines:

Rosa sat…so Martin could walk.
Martin walked…so Obama could run.
Obama ran…so our children could fly.

The jingle obviously refers to Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and the display features their pictures. There’s no questions their actions forged a pathway for many black Americans to have decent lives, and for first-term Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to run for – and win – the presidency of the United States.

But Americans shouldn’t teach children that they need politicians of any stripe to be successful in life. In fact, they should know that President Obama’s is about to hand them - and successive generations – an astronomical national debt that they will have to deal with someday.

This deifying of Obama is unhealthy for our students because we’re teaching them to look to an individual – or government in general - for life solutions. If anything, today’s kids need to be reprogrammed to remember that they are the masters of their own destinies, and they themselves make the decisions that will ultimately determine the course of their lives.

As President John Adams said, we have “a government of laws, and not of men.” The unhealthy tendency to worship the people that temporarily fill government positions is a distraction for young people who should be focused on their own efforts to find their way in life.

Students need responsible parents and high quality teachers and educational options to be prepared for life, not pandering politicians or a nanny state that tells them what to eat for lunch, makes excuses for failing schools and defends subpar teachers.


Michael Gove: free school applicants 'subjected to death threats'

Teachers and parents who support the Coalition’s flagship free schools are being subjected to personal attacks and even death threats, according to Michael Gove.

Organisations seeking to open their own schools under the Government’s education reforms have been repeatedly intimidated by groups ideologically opposed to the programme, the Education Secretary warned.

In some cases, existing teachers who support the scheme are being hounded out of their jobs, it was claimed.

The comments were made as the Department for Education was forced to release details of all organisations applying to open free schools.

Data released after a long-running battle shows that 517 separate bids have been made for new schools, which are taxpayer-funded institutions run completely independent of local council control, in the last two years.

Of those, around a quarter of applications were by faith-based organisations, including those named as Muslim, Plymouth Brethren, Orthodox Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Greek Orthodox.

The DfE had opposed a Freedom of Information request for the data, claiming that naming applicants before bids were provisionally approved would deter future organisations from coming forward.

Free schools have proved hugely unpopular with teaching unions and left-wing pressure groups who claim they are undemocratic and may pull pupils away from existing schools – placing them under threat of closure.

But Mr Gove claimed that opposition to the scheme had “gone further than normal healthy debate”, with at least one applicant facing death threats and others losing their jobs.

He also suggested that the release of the latest information – ordered by the Information Commissioner – may subject future applicants to similar treatment.

In a letter to Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, he said: “We are aware of personal attacks on individuals who simply want to improve educational standards and choice locally.

“Organisations opposed to free schools have run hostile publicity campaigns. In some cases these have become highly personal, vilifying individuals involved in opening a free school.

“We have been told of instances where teachers have lost their jobs simply by virtue of their association with a free school application.

“One proposer has even told us that they have been the subject of a death threat.

“It is because we wanted to protect public-spirited volunteers from intimidation that we fought against the ruling.”

The British Humanist Association originally submitted an FOI request for data about the religious affiliations of organisations seeking to open free schools. The request was turned down by the DfE but subsequently overturned by the Information Commissioner.

Free schools have been opposed by teaching unions such as the National Union of Teachers and the NASUWT. They have also been attacked by the Social Workers Party.

Toby Young, the writer, who was behind a successful bid to open a free school in west London in 2011, said he had been subjected to intimidation over the move.

“The NUT shop steward in my part of west London circulated a document to the local council on NUT-headed paper falsely accusing me of, among other things, sleeping with prostitutes,” he said.

Richy Thompson, BHA faith schools campaigner, welcomed the release of the data but insisted it underestimated the involvement of faith groups.

“We believe the true number of religious schools is likely to be a third to 50% higher than what the data implies,” he said. “This is because it only shows schools with a formally designated religious character, and not those with a ‘faith ethos’. Academies and free schools can be religious without formally designating as ‘faith’ schools.”


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