Sunday, November 10, 2013

To Each According to His Disability

Mike Adams

I'm probably too young to have so many pet peeves. The list seems to get longer every year. So, naturally, the longer I teach, the longer my list of class rules seems to get. In addition to rules of class conduct, I also have to develop rules concerning over-disclosure of information in emails and office visits. Such over-disclosure is always geared towards one goal for the student: transforming personal deficiencies into legitimate disabilities in an effort to attenuate workload expectations.

Whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed by these excuses, I take time out in class to reiterate the rules concerning over-disclosure. Note that I always go over these rules at the beginning of the semester but I have to repeat the exercise at least twice during the semester. My two basic rules follow:

1. If you believe you have some kind of disability then go to disability services and let them decide if you are right. If this requires anything of me, they will let me know and I'll make whatever accommodations they require. No need to share the details concerning what your disability is or how it came to be. All I need is an official form with clear instructions.

2. If you experience other life difficulties that are temporary then there's no need to worry. I'll allow one week of absences and one make-up exam. No need to explain your emergency. Just use your week of free absences as you see fit. Again, there is no need for details. If one week is not enough then these are not really emergencies. In all likelihood your life is one long emergency and failing my class won't really matter in the grand scheme of things.

Before the first half of the semester is over, I always get bombarded with demands for extra emergency time. Even after I reiterate the rules, I still have some who feel the need to challenge my overarching principle of keeping private (usual medical) information private. Here are some examples of challenges I have received in recent semesters:

- One student came by and began his plea by saying "I know you told us that if we had a disability, you don't need to hear the details. But I have two disabilities." Now this kid will make a great lawyer, won't he? I told students not to talk about a disability (singular). But technically I really didn't say anything about disabilities (plural). Clearly, this kid was born to litigate.

- Just one day after I demanded that students stop disclosing unnecessary medical information, I had a student send an email loaded with such information. But it wasn't his. Instead, it was his girlfriend's medical information. His argument was threefold: 1. She had a psychological disorder and couldn't drive. 2. He needed to drive her everywhere. 3. He needed extra absences. I’ve got to hand it to him. He found another loophole. I didn't say anything about disclosing other people's medical information. And victimhood should transfer from one person to the next, right? Clearly, this kid wants to be a lawyer, too.

- Slightly more than one hour after I told another class to lay off the unnecessary personal disclosure a student came to the office with a special plea. He claimed he lost his health insurance and could not afford his medication. So, in his eyes, he should be given a special exception. I mean, other people could just take their medication and shut up. But he couldn't do so if he didn't have health insurance, right? Wrong. I told him he shouldn't have voted for Obama and tossed him out of my office.

- Another student began to tell me about his disability right after he failed the first exam. Note that this was in a class where students took three book tests. I interrupted him and told him I understood that disabilities could slow reading but that the disability services office was in a better position to help him. He then informed me that he didn't actually read the book that was the subject of the last book test. In other words, the student wasn't even trying to link his disability to actual test performance. He was just talking about the disability in the hopes of getting generalized sympathy.

Weird isn't it? What makes it even weirder is that all four of the above requests were from male students. Our university student population is about 70% female and 30% male. But it seems that 70% of these disability victimhood pleas come from male students while about 30% come from females. So the question becomes twofold: 1) Where do people get the idea that they have some sort of a right to claim (and endlessly discuss) a disability? 2) Why has this idea become so contagious among young males?

The first question is easy to answer. For sixty years, the Marxist worldview has been dominant on our college campuses. And Marxists know only one way of restoring equality. It has nothing to do with teaching people who have nothing how to pull themselves up. They only teach how to take people who actually have something and bring them down via “redistribution.” In the context of economic redistribution, they force people to work for others rather than themselves. Human nature doesn't work like this. And so the standard of living for everyone plummets right along with so-called inequality.

This is the disability culture in a nutshell. Forget about raising yourself to a higher standard. Instead, claim a disability and pull the standard down to you. We've destroyed academic standards but at least there isn't any more inequality. Eventually, we all become average.

The second question is also easy to answer. It has everything to do with the feminization of the classroom. In recent decades, women have come to dominate the realm of primary and secondary education. Consequently, between the ages of 6 and 18, males are spending considerable time with women who are more inclined to allow them to indulge their weaknesses, rather than their strengths. Female teachers have a different view of boys’ competitive tendencies compared to the male teachers who used to supervise them. No one could seriously expect that spending twelve years under the daily authority of women would have no real impact on our young boys.

But despite the wishful thinking of Marxists, human nature never really goes away. Boys will still be boys. Even when they are taught that they have weaknesses and disabilities they will still try to compete. That is why I have to listen to so many "my disability is bigger than yours" stories. They seem to have replaced the spitting and urinating contests of the days of old.

Marxism may be an old and failed idea. But its subtle variations are robbing our children of the chance to excel by facing the prospect of failure. Ironically, when everyone becomes mediocre there won’t be any diversity left to celebrate


Ambitious [British] parents are sending their children to fee-paying prep schools before parachuting them into [free]  grammar schools, a report claims

Going to high-performing independent schools until the age of 11 gives youngsters an advantage with entrance tests and interviews.

It also means that a few years’ investment in their education helps them to qualify for up to seven years of free schooling at some of the best state secondaries in England.

But the practice is taking places from bright children from poor families, according to research by the Sutton Trust, which campaigns to improve social mobility through education.

It recommended measures including poorer pupils being given priority at selective schools, similar to a system in place at some universities that critics have branded ‘social engineering’.

Around 22,000 children started at grammar schools between 2009 and 2011.

The trust found 2.7 per cent, or just over 600, were entitled to free school meals at their previous state school - indicating a low-income background - despite 16 per cent of all pupils being eligible for the benefit in the sector.

This compares to 12.7 per cent, or 2,800, who came from outside the state sector, even though only six per cent of children attend private schools.

Last month the Daily Mail revealed how grammar schools dominated the top ten in A-level and GCSE results at state schools this year - despite there being just 164 throughout England.

New grammar schools are not allowed to open but some have been able to expand to take more pupils under a relaxation of rules. They currently educate around 30,000 pupils.

Tory MP Graham Brady, a supporter of selective education, said having more grammar schools would help correct the imbalance caused by better-off parents taking action to maximise their child’s change of winning a place.

‘The figures from Northern Ireland show that where selection is universally available, the percentage of children in grammar schools on free school meals is significantly closer to the community at large,’ he added.

The research, led by Anna Vignoles, a professor of education at Cambridge University, also found parents from disadvantaged backgrounds were likely to associate grammar schools with tradition, middle class values and elitism, creating a social as well as an educational barrier.

The Sutton Trust said all children entitled to a pupil premium - extra funding handed to schools for disadvantaged youngsters - should be given preference over wealthier applicants to grammar schools.

Universities that charge tuition fees over £6,000 are obliged to produce plans showing how they are increasing their intake of students from deprived backgrounds.

Other suggestions include changing entry tests to make them less coachable and giving at least ten hours of free or subsidised test preparation to all applicants to ‘provide a more level playing field’.

Robert McCartney, of the National Grammar Schools Association, insisted social engineering would not solve the problem of high demand.

‘Social engineering should have no place in post-primary education,’ he said. ‘The purpose of school is to educate, not to drive a social or political or ideological agenda.’

Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl added: ‘The big challenge, particularly in those areas where a selective system prevails, remains how to ensure that those grammar schools are open to all and are not simply the preserve of better-off families who can afford private tutors or prep school fees.


Australia:  Queensland Government has plan for schools to use funding for chaplains instead of education

SCHOOLS could use funding for chaplains instead of education programs or support staff under a controversial move being considered by the State Government.

The move would give Independent Public School principals the power to boost school chaplaincy hours at the expense of literacy and numeracy programs, or other staff including guidance counsellors and psychologists.

The Queensland Teachers Union and Australian Secular Lobby are against the plan, arguing that the mainly Christian chaplains have no place in state schools.

Most chaplains in state schools are employed by Scripture Union Queensland, which says its chaplains are trained to provide important social, emotional and spiritual support to all students - and not to evangelise kids.

A document obtained under Right to Information reveals the state's 80 Independent Public Schools could soon use discretionary funds - currently used for literacy and numeracy programs, support staff or professional development - to pay for chaplains instead.

"Currently the Chaplaincy Services in Queensland State Schools procedure states that school funds provided by the Queensland Government for educational purposes cannot be used for chaplaincy services," states a briefing note to Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek. "The flexible use of discretionary schools funds to support chaplaincy/student welfare services can be explored further as part of the review of the chaplaincy procedure."

Mr Langbroek confirmed the move was part of the review, which was expected to be finalised for 2014.

The State Government already provides up to $11,000 a year for school chaplains, while the Federal Government also provides funding.

Secular Lobby spokesman Hugh Wilson said state schools should be free from religion. Mr Wilson said the move would be "absolutely disgraceful".

Scripture Union Queensland CEO Peter James said chaplains were trained in youth work and pastoral care, which complemented psychologists and guidance counsellors.

ASL spokesman Hugh Wilson said state schools should be secular and warned the move to boost chaplaincy services with discretionary funding would be "absolutely disgraceful".

"There's little enough money given over for Education Queensland schools, that is why P & Cs raise money for motor mowers and janitor's utes and playground equipment," he said.

QTU president Kevin Bates said state education should be "free, public and secular" and student welfare services should be delivered through fully trained and accredited school counsellors, guidance officers, psychologists and social workers, not chaplains.

Scripture Union Qld CEO Peter James said they approached the State Government for increased funding for chaplains after the Bundaberg floods, because more students needed their help.

He said chaplains were trained in youth work and pastoral care, which complemented psychologists and guidance counsellors.

"A chaplain is in the playground and at the school gate," Mr James said.  "There is a lot of time that is needed to just chat and unpack that stuff, that isn't necessarily counselling."


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