Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Secondary education: learning Latin for literacy

I heartily agree with this.  The time I spent learning Latin in High School was certainly well spent  -- JR

At a time when the OECD report has ranked the UK as 23rd out of 65 countries for reading, perhaps it is time to rethink our attitudes towards education. If the classicists are to be believed, learning Latin can improve literacy levels.

Given that England is the only country in the developed world in which 55-65 year olds out perform 16 – 24 year olds in literacy and numeracy, a return to teaching the classics could provide part of the solution.

Classicists are often called upon to defend their subject, but it has been proved that the benefits extend to other subjects as well. However, despite this, Latin is only taught in 13 per cent of state schools and just 12,000 take Latin GCSE each year. But should Classics be the preserve of the elite?

Studying Latin and Greek offers numerous rewards, improving analytical skills and logical reasoning – but, perhaps most importantly, access to great literature.

Peter Jones is often asked how he finds inspiration for his Spectator column, Ancient & Modern. “It’s easy,” he says, “when I can tap into a wealth of Classical literature.”

Having studied both Latin and English literature for my degree, I can attest to the benefits of a Classical background in understanding English literature.

I was able to study Latin at university, as I had previously enrolled on a gifted and talented evening scheme – my state school didn't, at that stage, offer it.

Jones stressed the employability factor, quoting a YouGov survey in which 83 per cent of those asked supported the classical languages being taught in secondary schools, while 28 per cent said that Classics should be included on the curriculum.

Furthermore, 51 per cent of those responsible for staff, said the study of Classics was either useful or very useful.

Classics for All, a charitable scheme into its third year, funds teaching and resources in state schools.

At a funding event, 'Classics in the City', I spoke to David Hogg, from Kelmscott School in Walthamstow, who completed his GCSE in Latin and taught it through the scheme; he intends to stay ahead of his pupils, who are currently a few steps behind.

He suggested the literature added a whole new layer of teaching to English Literature: “It’s a revelation,” he says. “Atticus suddenly became a shining light projecting his philosophy onto Maycomb.”

“I’ve been teaching these books for years; suddenly I’m seeing them in a whole new light. It’s made me a better teacher of my own subject.”

“I’m very annoyed it isn’t taught to all children – even though I’m an English teacher, those with Classics can reference Byron and Keats better.”

Reading these texts in translation, simply doesn’t have the same potency. The nuances of the language, the word play and the effect of metre cannot be translated. It's a shame most students should be deprived of this.

Historian, Bettany Hughes, says she studied Latin and Greek “not because I went to a posh school but because I had a wonderful teacher.” She is currently a patron of Classics For All, along with Boris Johnson and Mary Beard.

Bettany said the benefits of studying these languages are manifold, not least because, as a historian looking at Syria and similar situations, this learning “gives us a much firmer understanding of contemporary politics”.

“What we’re speaking now is Greco-Roman," she says. "It comes from the greatest literature ever written. When you read it, you feel humility looking at things over time and space”

Trustee, Nicolas Barber, argues that “the national scandal at the moment is literacy.” He says that teaching Latin is a good way to tackle literacy rates as studies done abroad suggest that learning Latin can actually help improve literacy levels of young people.

Jules Mann, Executive Director of the charity highlighted the inclusivity of the scheme, not aimed solely at students who wanted to study Classics further. She stressed that one of the organisation's most important messages was that the scheme could have a huge impact in schools with "so little" funding.

She highlighted Kelmscott School in Walthamstow as a case in point: "Kelmscott received £5,000 in funded tutoring. They are now teaching Latin in school and other teachers are coming forward wanting to be involved." She added: "We need to raise well over £100,000 p.a. to provide classes in 100 schools a year".


High School Sex Ed Indoctrination Reaching Dangerous Levels

I was astonished recently when one of my stepdaughters arrived home from public high school in Washington state with a red ribbon painted on her cheek. Sex education in the schools – which conservatives have tried to limit to abstinence-only – has now gone well beyond simple education. Today's students are being coerced into promoting and acting out the politically correct views taught them. It is being done so sneakily, using the authoritative stamp of approval by the public schools, that even my conservatively raised children were cajoled into participating.

There was no way to pull your child out of the day-long event. The entire school “celebrated” HIV/AIDs Awareness.” A student group formed to educate other students about AIDs was responsible for putting on the event, and took over the front part of the school with tables and displays. On the tables were baskets of mint-flavored condoms, and students working the tables encouraged others passing by to take them.

Every few seconds, a loud gong would sound and someone would announce, “Every 12 seconds, someone is infected with AIDs, and every 16 seconds, someone dies from AIDs.” The windows throughout the school were covered with HIV/AIDs awareness messages and posters were plastered on the walls. Almost every light throughout the hallways was turned off for further dramatic effect. The main staircase inside the school was covered with red ribbons. There was a giant wheel that students were encouraged to spin in order to see what disease they would contract. Students were lured into spinning it with the promise of a prize.

Students were encouraged to wear a slick-looking pin featuring a red ribbon.They were given hip-looking little educational pamphlets that contained a free music download from There were two pages of very graphic instructions inside on how to put on a condom.

There was absolutely nothing in the pamphlet about homosexuality. This is dishonest considering HIV/AIDs affects homosexual men disproportionately. The website reports, “Although men who have sex with other men (MSM) represent about 4% of the male population in the United States, in 2010, MSM accounted for 78% of new HIV infections among males and 63% of all new infections.” Instead of warning men that homosexual activity puts them at high risk for HIV and AIDs, which would perhaps save some lives and prevent some misery down the road, the politically correct teaching method would rather pretend that everyone is the same in order not to offend anyone.

The student advocacy group was allowed to take over an entire class period of the ninth graders. They handed out cups with “fluids” in them, and instructed the students to choose another student to exchange fluids with. There was no option to choose abstinence as a teenager and not exchange fluids. Then, members of the advocacy group dropped some liquid in the cup. If it turned the liquid pink, that meant the student contracted AIDs. If it stayed white, the student didn’t contract AIDs.

Each student was given a paper clover and told to write down three goals, one on each leaf. The students who supposedly contracted AIDs were told to rip off one of their leaves, since contracting AIDs had made that goal no longer obtainable, and explain how they felt. Students were given candy for raising their hand and participating, and encouraged to join the advocacy group when they become sophomores or juniors.

A man with the AIDs virus spoke to the class. He said he had contracted AIDs by sleeping around with women. Again, this was a subtle maneuver done to further create the impression that AIDs affects everyone. He told the students that condoms are 99 percent effective. In reality, the failure rate from condoms is probably closer to 17 percent.

There was nothing in the pamphlet about the failure rate of condoms, or advising kids that they would be safer simply by abstaining from sexual conduct. The Centers for Disease Control, no bastion of conservatism, warns on its website, “Latex condoms can only protect against transmission when the ulcers or infections are in genital areas that are covered or protected by the condom.” Additionally, the herpes simplex virus, which is frequently found in the genital area, is transmitted by merely skin-to-skin contact so would likely not be blocked by a condom.

There was nothing about pregnancy whatsoever. Approximately 15 percent of women who use condoms become pregnant.

This kind of indoctrination continues to grow every year, crammed down our children’s throats. Where will it stop? The number of AIDs/HIV awareness days is staggering. There are now 11 of these days each year, listed at

Encouraging kids to use condoms goes against the advice of the experts. Dr. Harold Jaffee, chief of epidemiology at the National Centers for Disease Control, said, "You just can’t tell people it’s all right to do whatever you want as long as you wear a condom. It (AIDS) is just too dangerous a disease to say that." Dr. Robert Renfield, chief of retro-viral research at the Walter Reed Army Institute, has said, "Simply put, condoms fail. And condoms fail at a rate unacceptable for me as a physician to endorse them as a strategy to be promoted as meaningful AIDS protection."

Forcing children to go along with politically correct behavior contrary to their values and religion does not belong in school. Education is for reading, writing, arithmetic and similar subjects. High school students do not “spin a wheel” to determine whether or not they acquire an STD. They can consciously choose not to engage in premarital, underage sex, which will give them a zero chance of contracting an STD or having a baby.

My eldest stepdaughter observed after undergoing that day at school, “The school prides itself on being a top school. If so, then why are they encouraging kids to go out and sleep around, which will hurt their ability to be successful?”


School Board Posts 17 Legal Talking Points for Limiting Religious Liberty

Last week, CNSNews reported that a Georgia school in Bulloch County decided to confiscate the Christmas cards that were posted along the hallways over the Thanksgiving break.  Traditionally, the school always had Christmas cards posted, but school administrators decided to un-deck the halls.

The Bulloch County Board of Education has even posted on its website under "Press Releases" (12/3/13) seventeen "Case Law Talking Points" on why it has the power to ruin the holidays by banning free speech:

1.      With regards to the issue or religion, the First Amendment provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...." The provisions of the First Amendment are also applicable to state and local entities, including local school districts. Santa Fe Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Doe, 530 U.S. 290, 301, 120 S. Ct. 2266, 2275, 147 L. Ed. 2d 295 (2000).

2.      The part of the First Amendment which prevents the establishment of religion by a governmental entity is often referred to as the Establishment Clause.

3.      As a practical matter, the requirement that a governmental entity refrain from establishing religion or inhibiting the free exercise of religion is a requirement that such entity adopt a position of neutrality as to religion.

4.      If a governmental entity acts with the purpose of advancing religion, it violates the Establishment Clause in that the entity is no longer acting in a neutral capacity. McCreary County, Kentucky v. Am. Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, 545 U.S. 844, 125 S. Ct. 2722, 162 L. Ed. 2d 729 (2005).

5.      As a local school district cannot speak for itself, it communicates and interacts with the public through its elected board of education, superintendent, teacher and other employees.

6.      Given their responsibility to educate students and the inherent authority that accompanies this task, in many situations a teacher's speech can be taken as directly and deliberately representative of the school. Bishop v. Aronov, 926 F.2d 1066 (11th Cir. 1991).

7.      Accordingly, religious speech by a teacher in his or her official capacity can pose a potential Establishment Clause issue for a local school district, the result of which can be a lawsuit brought by a third party to address the alleged Establishment Clause violation.

8.      Although a teacher does not give up all of his or her rights to free exercise of religion as a condition of employment, Courts have repeatedly emphasized that the rights of teachers in the public schools are not automatically coextensive with the rights of adults in other settings. Roberts v. Madigan, 921 F.2d 1047, 1056 (10th Cir. 1990).

9.      In contrast, student initiated and student led religious speech, in the absence of governmental involvement, is private speech that is protected by the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. Chandler v. Siegelman, 230 F.3d 1313 (11th Cir. 2000).

10.  The reason for the differing treatment of student speech and the speech of a school district employee during the course of his or her employment is inherent distinction between government speech endorsing religion, which the Establishment Clause forbids, and private speech endorsing religion, which the Free Speech and Free Exercise Clauses protect. Board of Education of Westside Community Schools v. Mergens, 496 U.S. 226, 250, 110 S. Ct. 2356 (1990).

11.  A local school district, together with its employees, is not permitted to do indirectly what it cannot do directly, by requesting or recruiting other individuals or entities to pray or deliver religious messages at school events. Under such circumstances, the actions of the local school district would most likely be viewed as support and promotion of the religious communications. County of Allegheny v. American Civil Liberties Union Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, 492 U.S. 573, 600, 109 S. Ct. 3086 (1989).

12.  If the free exercise rights of a school district employee come into conflict with the prohibitions of the Establishment Clause, the Establishment Clause concerns of the local school district take precedence. Berger v. Rensselaer Cent. Sch. Corp., 982 F.2d 1160 (7th Cir. 1993); Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577, 587, 112 S. Ct. 2649 (1992).

13.  Although private student religious speech is protected by the First Amendment, this protection does not extend to student speech that is sponsored by the school district. Student speech is deemed to be school sponsored when students, parents or members of the public can reasonably believe that the speech has the approval of the school district. Bannon v. School District of Palm Beach County, 387 F.3d 1208. (11th Cir. 2004); Holloman ex rel. Holloman v. Harland, 370 F.3d 1252 (11th Cir. 2004).

14.  In reviewing student religious speech, Courts will attempt to determine if the school encouraged, facilitated or in any way conducted the speech. In order to avoid the appearance of school district support, student religious speech must be without district involvement and be subject only to the same reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions as all other student speech in school. Holloman ex rel.Holloman v. Harland, 370 F.3d 1252 (11th Cir. 2004).

15.  When acting in their official capacities as representatives of a local school district, teachers, school administrators, and other school employees are prohibited by the Establishment Clause from encouraging or discouraging prayer, and from actively participating in such activity with students. Grossman v. South Shore Public School District, 507 F.3d. 1097 (7th Cir. 2007).

16.  In analyzing a situation to determine if conduct by a school district or its employee constitutes an impermissible endorsement of religion, Courts will typically attempt to determine how a reasonable person with knowledge of the past conduct of the school district would view the situation. The Court will not focus on the intention of the school district in taking the action in question but will instead focus upon how the action is perceived by a reasonable person witnessing the action or speech. Borden v. Sch. Dist. of Twp. of E. Brunswick, 523 F.3d 153 (3d Cir. 2008).

17.  One of the recent issues that has confronted the Bulloch County School District involves teacher e-mail accounts and the propriety of including and religious messages or scriptures is the signature lines of e-mails emanating from these accounts. Although teachers are assigned e-mail accounts that include some portion of the teacher's name or initials, these accounts are provided by and remain the property of the Bulloch County School District. The Bulloch County School District Employee Handbook states on page 48 that "ALL electronic communication from staff to student or parent should be written as a professional representing BCS. This includes word choices, tone, grammar and subject matter that model the standards and integrity of a BCS professional." The employee handbook explicitly states that, with regards to all electronic communications between an employee and a student or parent, the employee is representing the District in his or her professional capacity. Given the District ownership of the e-mail account and the policies of the District, it would be difficult to assert that e-mails from employees with religious messages do not constitute an endorsement of religion or at least entangle the District in the subject.

Talk about overkill.


No comments: