Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Principal Apologizes for Muslim Poem Read Over Intercom Instead of Pledge of Allegiance on 9/11

On September 11, students at Concord-Carlisle High School in Concord, Massachusetts had a different morning routine than usual. Instead of reciting the Pledge of Allegiance over the intercom, students were read the poem “My Grandmother Washes Her Feet in the Sink of the Bathroom at Sears,” a poem about an Islamic woman using the sink at a department store as a footbath in accordance with Muslim tradition.

While Principal Peter Badalament defended the poem, claiming the poem was intended to promote “cross-cultural understanding,” he also apologized for the omission of the Pledge of Allegiance, saying it was accidental.

    "Yesterday was the first Wednesday of the school year; we were unaware that our student Pledge reader had an internship commitment on this day," Badalament said in the statement. "This was our responsibility to know. We humbly apologize that this oversight and communication gap occurred."

While there is nothing inherently wrong with “cross-cultural understanding,” the fact remains that Concord-Carlisle High School has approximately 180 school days that are not the anniversary of a terrorist attack committed by Muslims to promote “understanding.” Two of the four planes used in the attack originated in Boston, and one of the victims was a resident of Concord. The school’s actions were incredibly insensitive, and this mistake should not be repeated next year.


British Liberal leader backs teachers who want pupils to remove veils in class

The Deputy Prime Minister said that he can “totally understand” why people say that children should not to be allowed to wear full-face veils during lessons.

Mr Clegg said that teachers “want to be able to make contact” with their pupils.

His comments came after he said that he was “uneasy” about Birmingham Metropolitan College’s decision to ban Muslim students from wearing the niqab, a veil that leaves a slot only for the eyes.

The college has ordered all students, staff and visitors to remove any face coverings so individuals are "easily identifiable at all times".

The move led to claims that Muslim students were being discriminated against.

Speaking during his weekly Call Clegg programme on LBC radio, the Deputy Prime Minister appeared to disagree with the college’s policy.

However, he said that there are “exceptional circumstances” under which women should be made to remove veils.

“I can totally understand, of course, if you’re passing through security checks at airports, say, of course for those reasons you need to make sure that the security staff can do their job,” Mr Clegg said.

“I can totally understand in the classroom, this is more about full veils - that you want to be able to make contact, certainly eye contact and face contact with your pupils.

“But as a general principle other than those rather exceptional circumstances I’m really quite uneasy about anyone being told what they have to wear.”

In 2007 the Labour government issued new guidance allowing schools will be able to ban pupils from wearing full-face veils on security, safety or learning grounds.

Birmingham Metropolitan College’s policy was disclosed to one prospective Muslim student at the start of the new term last week.

The 17-year-old girl, who did not want to be named, said: "It's disgusting. It is a personal choice and I find it absolutely shocking that this has been brought in at a college in Birmingham city centre when the city is so multicultural and so many of the students are Muslim.

"It upsets me that we are being discriminated against.

"I don't think my niqab prevents me from studying or communicating with anyone - I've never had any problems in the city before."

The teenager said she had decided to look for another college place in the city.

Hoodies, hats and caps have also been banned at the college, which was formed in 2009 after the merger of Matthew Boulton and Sutton Colfield colleges.

Mr Clegg added: “Intuitively I would set the bar very high to justify that. One of the things that’s great about our country is that we are diverse, we are tolerant. People do dress differently, people do have different faiths, people do have different convictions and that is reflected in what they wear and how they present themselves.”

Dame Christine Braddock, the college’s principal, said the policy had been in place for some time and had been developed to keep students safe.

She said: "We have a very robust equality, diversity and inclusion policy at Birmingham Metropolitan College but we are committed to ensuring that students are provided with a safe and welcoming learning environment whilst studying with us.

"To ensure that safeguarding is a priority, we have developed our policy alongside student views to ensure we keep them safe.

"This needs individuals to be easily identifiable at all times when they are on college premises and this includes the removal of hoodies, hats, caps and veils so that faces are visible.

"All prospective and progressing students, as well as staff, have been advised of the policy, which will mean everyone allowed on the premises can understand and know each other in a safe environment."

Last month a judge has halted a court case after a Muslim woman refused to lift her face veil and prove her identity.


British schools banned from insisting parents buy expensive school uniform to ease the burden on family finances

Schools are to be banned from forcing pupils to wear expensive uniforms under new rules to cut bills for cash-strapped families.

Headteachers will no longer be allowed to force parents to buy jumpers, ties and blazers from single suppliers to end the monopolies which have driven up prices.

And ministers will tell schools to change their uniform rules to ensure most items can be bought cheaply from supermarkets.

Three quarters of schools impose rules on where uniform can be bought, with many incorporating special design elements on trousers, blazers and jumpers.

Research suggests that the average cost of a uniform for secondary school pupils is £285 and £156 for primary school children.

An investigation by the Office of Fair Trading found being forced to buy from named suppliers instead of supermarkets means parents of school age children lose out on a total of £52 million each year.

Last week Tory Education Secretary Michael Gove argued that people who find themselves unable to buy essentials, including school uniforms, have themselves to blame for being unable ‘to manage their finances’.

But Lib Dem schools minister David Laws will announce today that he is to overhaul guidance to governing bodies cut the costs for parents.

The new rules, unveiled at the Lib Dem conference in Glasgow, will ban using ‘exclusive single supplier contracts’ in all but exceptional circumstances.

The Department for Education will say schools are not allowed to use ‘cash back’ arrangements where they receive money if parents place orders with selected firms.

It also means schools cannot insist that pupils wear expensive items of uniform and must not make frequent changes to uniform specifications.

Schools will also have to select items that can be bought cheaply from supermarkets and budget stores, with compulsory branded items kept to a minimum.

Mr Laws said: ‘Costs at the start of a school term can quickly add up, particularly for families with several school age children.

‘School uniforms can be an important sign of identity and pride, but at a time when many family budgets are squeezed parents should not be forced to spend more than they need to.

‘We will send a strong signal to schools that it is vital to secure value for money for parents before changing or introducing new school uniforms.

‘Parents need to be able to shop around to find the best deal. I want to see fewer schools using single suppliers and branded items, which keep costs unnecessarily high.’


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