Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mrs. O Wants Textbooks to ‘Swap Cupcakes for Apples’ in Math Problems

That kids might be more enthused by cupcakes is ignored.  It's not about the kids.  It's about Leftist control of everything

 First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative is praising textbook publishers for “swapping out cupcakes for apples in math problems,” in a campaign to incorporate health information into the learning resources for kids.

“Today at the White House, we celebrated a group of educational publishers on their development of voluntary guidance to incorporate health information into textbooks and other learning materials,” Let’s Move! said in a blog post entitled, “Cookies 2 Carrots,” on Wednesday.

“Publishers are making simple changes, like swapping out cupcakes for apples in math problems,” the anti-obesity initiative noted. “They are also finding ways to include physical activity in lesson plans – discussing the history of little league baseball and using sports in word problems.”

Let’s Move! – a government initiative started by Mrs. Obama – aims to curb the obesity rate among children in the U.S. Mrs. Obama has recently expanded her campaign to museums and zoos asking them to change their menus, and also wants to “impact the nature of food in grocery stores.”

The first lady now wants textbook companies to join the cause.

Mrs. Obama praised several publishers that are “voluntarily coming together to support the health of our nation’s children,” Let’s Move! said.

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO); the Association of American Publishers (AAP), a trade association that represents 300 book publishing companies; the Association of Educational Publishers (AEP); and the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) were celebrated at the White House on Wednesday.

“Just as these publishing companies came together thirty years ago to incorporate greater diversity into textbooks, they are now using their platform to have a positive impact on children’s health,” Let’s Move! said. “We congratulate them on their exciting leadership.”


British government  cracks down on universities after claims that alleged Woolwich killers were radicalised at Greenwich University's Islamic Society

Universities were under pressure tonight to crack down on Islamic extremists who spout hatred on campuses. 

An investigation has been launched into claims that a series of radical speakers were invited to events and distributed leaflets to students at the University where both killers are thought to have studied.  The probe will consider whether Greenwich University’s Islamic society had any role in radicalising Michael Adebolajo, 28 and Michael Adebowale, 22.

Home Secretary Theresa May yesterday pledged to look at introducing new powers to tackle Al Qaeda sympathisers who try to recruit impressionable students at colleges.

She has criticised universities for being ‘complacent’ in tackling the risk of radicalisation.

One of Drummer Lee Rigby’s killers, Michael Adebolajo, 28, converted to Islam in 2003 at the same time that he studied at the University of Greenwich.  He was radicalised by the banned group Al-Muhajiroun.

His accomplice in the gruesome murder outside Woolwich Barracks, Michael Adebowale, 22, is also said to have been an undergraduate there and studied on a business course.

The announcement of the investigation came amid claims that a pamphlet written by a preacher who was banned from entering Britain by the Home Secretary in 2010 was distributed during a freshers’ fair at Greenwich University in 2011.

Dr Zakir Naik, the author, said in the booklet: 'Every Muslim should be a terrorist,’ it was alleged.

Dr Naik had been banned from entering Britain the previous year by Theresa May after she ruled that his presence was 'not conducive to the public good'.

Other figures known for their extreme views are said to have appeared in person at the university, including Dr Khalid Fikry, who has supported convicted terrorists.

The society has also promoted videos by another radical preacher, Abu Usamah, on its Facebook page.

Abu Usamah, a Birmingham based imam, featured on the Channel 4 Dispatches programme Undercover Mosque in which he expressed support for Osama bin Laden and said homosexuals were 'perverted, filthy dogs who should be murdered'.

He has been banned from several academic institutions for his extreme views.

Professor David Maguire, vice-chancellor of the university, confirmed that Adebolajo had been a student there for two years but had been thrown out because his ‘academic progress was unsatisfactory’.

He said: ‘The university takes its responsibilities very seriously in terms of preventing extremism.  ‘We are committed to ensuring that the university is a safe and secure place of study and debate within the confines of the law.  'We have diverse communities on campus and these include a range of different faiths.

‘Given the seriousness of issues raised, the university is setting up an investigation into the association of these two individuals with the university, to assess whether there is any evidence of extremism in the university (past or present) and whether we need to update our policies and practices.’

Professor Maguire said the university had ‘no record’ of Adebowale being a student at Greenwich.

Mrs May is determined to stop extremist clerics using schools, colleges and universities - as well as prisons and mosques - to spread their ‘poison’.  She said: ‘We need to look across institutions like universities, whether there is more work we can be doing in prisons.’

Universities UK, which represents higher education institutions, is drawing up guidelines on how to handle preachers who have a track record of inciting hatred.

It has launched a new campaign to show students, unions and academics what they can do to constrain controversial preachers.

The last Labour government introduced its Prevent strategy in a bid to stop young people becoming involved with extremist groups but ministers acknowledged this has stalled.

Rupert Sutton, from Student Rights, an organisation aimed at preventing extremism at universities, said he hoped chancellors would draw up lists of speakers liable to preach hatred or violence.

He said: ‘There is a problem with Prevent at many universities, partly because it comes from government and partly because it is seen as anti-Muslim.

'It needs to be refocused much more clearly as being opposed to extremism of both right and left.’

In January it was revealed that Islamic extremists preached at more than 200 university events last year raising fresh fears over radicalisation on campus.

A dozen events featured speakers with links to the fanatical group Hizb ut Tahrir – a controversial organisation banned by the National Union of Students.

A study by Student Rights warned Islamic extremists were using social networking sites to radicalise students.

Videos of armed insurgents and hate-filled speeches from Al Qaeda figures had been posted on websites linked to Islamic societies at several leading universities.

In 2011, Mrs May said universities were not taking the issue of radicalisation seriously enough and that it was too easy for Muslim extremists to form groups on campuses ‘without anyone knowing’.


Every school could do with a little bit of Eton

Eton's plans to transplant a boarding ethos to the state sector have huge appeal

Eton College was set up by Henry VI, not for oligarchs or little Lord Fauntleroys but as a free school for poor, clever boys. Still, today, at the heart of the most famous public school in the world – and one of the most expensive, at £32,067 a year – that free school survives. College, the scholars’ house, provides a free education for any boy who passes the scholarship exam and can’t afford the fees.

Most of Britain’s ancient public schools were founded on these altruistic lines. It’s only as the schools proved to be so good at educating poor boys for free that rich parents started paying for the privilege. Today, at Eton, there are only 70 King’s Scholars in a school of more than 1,300 boys, with the vast majority still paying their way to the best education on earth. Now, 573 years after Henry VI did his bit for educational equality, Eton’s headmaster, Tony Little, is having another go.

Next year, Eton will open its own state-funded school nearby, at Holyport, near Maidenhead, Berkshire. Tuition fees will be paid for by the taxpayer, and families will pay around £11,000 a year for accommodation and living costs.

Eton will share its playing fields – the ones where the Battle of Waterloo were won – and its guest speakers with Holyport. It will also export its educational ethos – of a free-thinking yet rigorously intellectual kind. Most strikingly of all, Holyport, like Eton, will be a boarding school.

My friend and colleague, Damian Thompson, wrote an intriguing piece on these pages at the weekend on the fading charms of private schools. Now that they’re so expensive, and their not too popular alumni are running the country, they’re losing their charm, he wrote.

But what if you strip away the class and financial aspects from private schools, and reduce them to their elite educational bare bones: what’s not to like? The reason why Eton, and other historic public schools, still dominate the higher reaches of the league tables is not because their pupils speak posh or wear funny clothes – it’s because they’re so brilliantly educated.

Most parents would lap up the intellectual side of public school if it were transplanted to the state sector at a vastly reduced cost – but what about the boarding bit? Haven’t we moved away from Dotheboys Hall, from fagging and being roasted over Big Fire by a new generation of state-educated Flashmans?

In fact, boarding schools have moved on. One of the reasons they cost so much more now is that parents expect more comfort for their little darlings – and individual bedrooms, like all the boys have at Eton, are increasingly the norm.

Even the state sector is beginning to appreciate that boarding – far from being an outdated, brutal relic – can, in and of itself, be a progressive, educational bonus. There are now 34 established state boarding schools, and the Department for Education is opening or planning another 25. Other public schools are emulating Eton’s example, too; Wellington College, in Crowthorne, Berkshire, already sponsors a part-boarding academy.

There’s a very good argument for saying that boarding is in fact much better suited to underprivileged children than rich ones. Well-off children can go home in the evening to their book-lined homes and their professional parents, and do their homework in their quiet bedrooms. As a part-time Latin tutor, I have never worked so hard as when I’ve taught prep‑school children over the kitchen table, with their banker mothers looking over my shoulder to check I know my passives from my subjunctives.

But what if you don’t have that stable, bookish world on tap waiting for you in the evening? If there isn’t even a table for you to do your homework on, let alone a tiger mum to cram optatives down your throat?

Boarding extends the stability and intellectual atmosphere of a good school beyond the bell at 4 o’clock. I was a day boy at Westminster School, but the fact that it also took boarders seeped into its ethos, even for me.

There wasn’t a sudden rush for the exit after the last lesson. Sport, music – and detention – stretched into the evening and Saturday afternoon. There was a feeling of settled, rooted permanence – the same feeling you get from home. One friend – from a broken home, in fact – had to be ordered to go home by the deputy headmaster on a regular basis, because he so loved playing football in Little Dean’s Yard late into the night on long summer evenings.

Boarding isn’t for everyone. It isn’t, like streaming or rigorous teaching, an unalloyed good. I still meet bankers and lawyers in their forties who would do anything rather than send their children to their old boarding school, Eton included. But that’s an emotional, not an intellectual, decision for parents to make. The sort of children who like school will tend to like boarding school. School‑haters won’t want more of it.

Half a century after the comprehensive experiment began, the gulf between state and private schools has never been so wide. No one could conceivably say that comprehensives have beaten the public schools. Isn’t it time they joined them?


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