Sunday, April 07, 2013

‘I Don’t Give a S**t’: Teachers’ Alleged Bullying of Conservative Student Launches School District Investigation‏

A 15-year old student at Appleton North Highschool in Appleton, Wisconsin, is claiming that he was bullied by faculty members for being a conservative. Now, the school district has launched an investigation into Benji Backer’s accusations and are taking the claims “seriously.”

Backer told Fox News that he has had to endure name-calling and harassment as well as watch other students be indoctrinated.

According to Backer, the tensions began to mount when he was 12, during Governor Scott Walker’s battle with the unions and liberals’ unsuccessful re-call bid.  Since then, Backer claims that teachers denigrated Walker and labeled Republicans as racist

“They are harassing and bullying me as well as indoctrinating other students,” Backer told FN.

In an essay first published by FreedomWorks, the student wrote:  “My teachers have always talked about bullying, including bullying homosexuals and how wrong it is,” Backer wrote. “I agree 100 percent. They shouldn’t be bullied, nor should anyone else.”

He then made the correlation that if members of the gay and lesbian community are entitled to equal treatment, so too are people with divergent political views.

“If teachers expect bullying to end with homosexuals, they should want it to end with every type of bullying possible, including political views,” Backer, who served as the Wisconsin co-chair for Young Americans for Mitt Romney, wrote.

Ben Vogel, an assistant superintendent for the Appleton school district, told FN that an investigation into the allegations of harassment has been launched and that they are taking it seriously.

“I’m always going to be concerned when a student comes and shares that they feel they are being treated unfairly in a classroom,” Vogel said. “We want all students to feel like they are safe at their school and in the individual classes.”

Vogel maintained that the district has a strict policy relating to politics in the classroom and that it will pursue those in breach accordingly.

“We have school board policy regarding political activity in the classroom – when it’s appropriate and when it’s not appropriate,” he said. “We will follow up and make sure our teachers are doing what they need to be doing and if they’re not – then we will follow up accordingly.”

Among the incidents Backer claims he endured, was when his English teacher used expletives while castigating students who may have been supportive of Walker.  “He was swearing and saying how wrong it was for anyone to support Scott Walker,” Backer wrote in his essay. “Students were telling him to stop, and he wouldn’t.”

While the thought of a teacher railing against a governor in a classroom setting is unsettling, Backer said the harassment grew worse and soon became personal.  

“He started to talk to me about how much harder he worked compared to my dad, a small business owner,” Backer said of his teacher. “He [the teacher] went on to ask how much my parents made because he wanted to compare it to his salary.”

The incident catalyzed Backer’s parents to meet with the high school’s principal, prompting the teacher to apologize. Oddly, however, the teacher then allegedly backtracked and began cursing at Backer.  “My teacher asked, ‘You know how you went down to the principal’s office?’” Backer recalled. “I said, yes, and he said, ‘I don’t give a s**t.’”

Bruce Backer, Benji’s dad, told FN they were taken aback by the incident.

“We were surprised that politics was being brought into the school during classes that had nothing to do with politics,” the elder Backer said. “We didn’t understand why there was a need to focus on Benjamin’s beliefs.”

Vogel said they were aware of the incident with the English teacher and “are very specifically following up on all the accusations and concerns.”

According to Backer, the bullying and harassment did not stop with his English teacher but trickled down into run-ins with a substitute teacher as well, who allegedly lamented the poor treatment of President Obama due to Republican-driven racism.

Based on reports, Vogel seems to be on the Backer’s side and seemed to acknowledge that faculty members are using tactics of indoctrination during their classes.

“Obviously we want students to be thinking and talking about current events,” he said. “But that needs to be done in a fair and balanced way. That’s not a means for a teacher to share specifically what their views are and try to indoctrinate students in a certain way.”


Massachusetts McDonald's demands bachelors degree and two years' experience for cashiers

It used to be high school drop outs flipping burgers at McDonald's, now the fast-food joint is demanding a bachelors degree.

In a frightening example of how competitive the job market is for young people right now, a McDonald's outpost in Winchedon, Massachusetts, has just posted a call-out for a full time cashier - but insists only college graduates need apply.

And even they must have 1-2 years of cashier experience before they'll be trusted with the Big-Mac-selling responsibility, according to the advert.

'Get a weekly paycheck with a side order of food, folks and fun,' the independent McDonald's franchise boasts.

In the ad, uploaded on, the restaurant says it wants 'friendly people... to smile while serving lots of guests daily,' and declares 'work with your friends or make some new ones!'

While it may be tricky to score the clearly competitive role, it'll be worth it, according to the chain.

Once their feet are under the counter, the successful applicant has the chance to work their way up the company ladder, the ad insists, boating impressive 'advancement opportunities.'

The McDonald's website also lists the full time position in Spanish, but doesn't give a salary.

A management position also listed starts at $10 an hour, with a sign on bonus if the applicant has previously worked at a McDonald's branch.

With colleges churning out more graduates and youth unemployment at 11.5 per cent, youth advocates reckon the unusually high qualifications McDonald's is demanding are a sign of the times.

'Sadly we've taxed-and-spent our way to an economy in which there's intense competition for just about any job... and young people are getting screwed over even worse than the country overall,'  Evan Feinberg, president of the Washington-based youth advocacy group Generation Opportunity, told the Washington Examiner.


British graduate with physics PhD, 31, fell to his death from block of flats after taking job in call centre he was over-qualified for

A victim of credentialism:  There is more higher education than is needed

An academic jumped off scaffolding to his death when he was only able to find a job in a call centre after finishing his doctorate, an inquest heard today.

Dr Philip Elliott, 31, who had recently completed a PhD in physics at Reading University, was seen on the sixth floor of an apartment block in west London just after 11am on January 27 this year.

Police tried to call him down but he fell from the property in Cromwell Street, Kensington, an hour later, the hearing was told.

Westminster Coroner's Court heard Dr Elliott - who was also a qualified engineer and was described as a 'high academic achiever' - had suffered a number of career knock-backs in the weeks leading to his death.

His landlord of seven years Harry Duphnath said the most recent he knew of was in December last year.

In a statement read to the inquest Mr Duphnath said: 'I was aware Philip had started a job with Southern Electric - I think in a call centre - which wasn't what he aspired to.

'He mentioned being frustrated at work and unhappy about being there and had started looking for other jobs and going for interviews.

'The last one was the week before Christmas in 2012.  'I saw him ironing his shirt getting ready for the interview.

'While I was there he checked his emails and he had one which said the interview had been cancelled.  'He was a bit low about that, but he wasn't angry. He said that he would plod on and keep going.'

The landlord said he received a text message from Dr Elliott on January 24, three days before his death, apologising for not doing some tidying up.   It read: 'Sorry. I've had a terrible time the last three weeks. Thanks for your patience. I can't explain how stressful it's been, but I appreciate it's not your fault.'

Mr Duphnath said him and his wife Sonia were 'utterly shocked' to hear Philip had taken his life days later.

Det Con David Gadsby, of the Metropolitan Police, said a resident in the block where Dr Elliott died reported hearing footsteps on the roof at 9.30am that morning, but thought nothing of it and went back to bed.

An hour-and-a-half later a motorist driving past the building called police expressing concern a man might be preparing to jump.

Officers arrived within five minutes but were advised not to talk him down as it was too dangerous to get out onto the scaffolding.

Paramedics who were already on the scene tried to revive him but the science mad graduate was pronounced dead from multiple injuries at 12.10pm.

Westminster Coroner Darren Stewart said he could not be sure beyond reasonable doubt that Dr Elliott meant to take his own life as it could have been a 'cry for help.'

Recording a narrative verdict, he explained: 'It is clear he was a high academic achiever in science, having achieved a PhD from the University of Reading, but he had not been able to get a job for some time.

'He took work which was perhaps not entirely suited to his skill sets in that he was working in a call centre.

'However, it shows Dr Elliot was committed to gaining employment and to progressing in his life.

'What is clear from the evidence is that he received a number of blows to his confidence in terms of jobs he aspired to which were either unsuccessful or withdrawn.

'It is clear that this had an impact on his general morale, and on the 27th of January 2013 Dr Elliott climbed up on to some scaffolding in Cromwell Road, Kensington.

'Officers decided not to try and talk Dr Elliott down as it would have been dangerous to them and to him.

'Sadly, shortly thereafter, Dr Elliott made a gesture with his arms and appeared to dive towards the ground striking the pavement.'

He added: 'Police enquiries revealed no indication Dr Elliott's actions were planned or that he had intended to take his life, nor is there any evidence to suggest Dr Elliott was subject to any mental health care.

'Whilst perhaps disappointed and suffering from a degree of depression due to his lack of work opportunities he was otherwise a fit, intelligent young man who had achieved well at university.

'It makes the outcome of what occurred on January 27 2013 all the sadder due to that.

'I am not satisfied on what has been presented before me as to be certain Dr Elliott intended to take his own. It is entirely possible this could have been a cry for help.'

None of Dr Elliott's family attended the inquest in central London, but they have since set up a remembrance page in his memory.


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