Friday, March 28, 2014

British teachers 'intimidated' to take part in national strikes, says union

NASUWT claims its members have been intimidated and threatened by NUT supporters to take part in national walkout, as David Cameron condemns strike action

Teachers have been threatened and intimidated by a union to force them to take part in strikes in which thousands will walk out on Wednesday, leaving hundreds of schools with no option but to close, it has been claimed.

David Cameron warned that strike action being taken by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) would put children’s education at risk.

The NUT is the only union to take part in industrial action, signalling a split with other unions – particularly the NASUWT which has claimed members have been intimidated during an “aggressive” campaign by the NUT.

NASUWT announced last month that it would not be taking part in the strikes.

A leaked internal email apparently sent out by Chris Keates, the general secretary of NASUWT, said that while members should not try to undermine the strike action, it was not their responsibility to make it a success.

The email, circulated on social media, said: “We should not tolerate any threats, insults or attempts to intimidate our members or activists by the NUT. Unfortunately, in some areas, this has been a hallmark of the activity to date.”

The letter also claims the NUT has run “abusive social media campaigns” and made “aggressive accusations” against members of NASUWT.

Thousands of teachers are expected to strike in a dispute over pensions and pay, in what unions say will “certainly” force dozens of primary and secondary schools to close and others to shut some classes.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said he would urge teachers not to strike as the NUT said the walkout was the “last resort".  “He would call on them not to strike, because it disrupts children's education and children's families,” said the spokesman.

The Department for Education condemned the strikes, saying action disrupted parents’ lives, damaged the reputation of the teaching profession and had an adverse impact on children’s education.

Primary schools are expected to be the worst affected as well as schools in London and Manchester.

Manchester city council said 73 schools would close, 55 would partially close and only 39 would be fully open.

In London, 37 schools in Enfield are expected to be shut – including more than half of primary schools in the borough – and in Newham 33 are expected to be closed to students, the Guardian reported.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said he had written to the unions and offered to extend talks to resolve the dispute.

In the letter, he said he was keen to “tackle any unnecessary bureaucracy” and would work with the unions to study the implications of raising the pension age to 68.

Kevin Courtney, the deputy general secretary of the NUT, said: "Michael Gove's policies are exhausting and demoralising teachers and that's very bad and disruptive for education. Thousands of good people are leaving the profession, we are building up to a teacher shortage and our children deserve energetic and enthusiastic teachers, not demoralised and exhausted ones."

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) also decided not to take part in strikes, but said it feared the ongoing dispute between teachers and the Government could create more permanent problems.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said: “One day of strike action is not the end of the world. But more than the strike action there is the issue of the long-running turmoil that can cause problems.

“Teaching professionals could become more disengaged from additional work and classes, which is what head teachers fear.

“The education system runs on the good will of teachers. It’s been a really tough time for teachers who have had pay cuts and a lot of criticism. We risk foregoing that good will which keeps the education system ticking over.”

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which is also not taking part in industrial action, said his union knew some schools would “certainly” have to close.

He said that while it was inconvenient for parents, most understood the “enormous pressure” teachers are under.

An NUT spokesman denied that the union had made any public criticism of the NASUWT.

They said: "There has been no national campaign against Nasuwt members regarding strike action and there has been no negative campaigning from the national NUT head quarters. The NUT continues to engage in talks with government alongside the other teacher unions to resolve the very pressing issues that face the teaching profession."

The NASUWT declined to comment on the leaked email.


College Students Fail to Name a Single U.S. Senator

Last week, MRCTV's Dan Joseph went to American University to give the student body a little general knowledge quiz.

When asked if they could name a SINGLE U.S. senator, the students blanked.  Also, very few knew that each state has two senators.  The guesses were all over the map, with some crediting each state with twelve, thirteen, and five senators.

So, when it comes to politics, the students at American University are a little rusty - but, they passed with flying colors when it comes to pop culture.

Almost everyone MRCTV interviewed was able name the Academy Award winner for Best Original Song: "Let It Go" from the movie "Frozen."


Scholars for Peace in the Middle East Congratulate University of Michigan’s CSG on Defeating a BDS Resolution, But is Alarmed at the Virulent Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism Surrounding the Divestment Resolution Debate

After hours of discussion and debate, the Central Student Government (CSG) at the University of Michigan reversed the indefinite postponement of the BDS resolution and subsequently voted to not pass it during a 6-hour March 25th meeting in a 25-9 vote. During the entire process, hundreds of students lined the second floor of the Michigan Union and more than 2,000 viewers watched CSG’s live-stream of the six-hour-long event.

Leading up to the vote, the heated environment on the U Michigan campus reached new levels of expressions of hate speech and discrimination. As the Washington Free Beacon reported, at least one pro-Israel student “received death threats and that others have allegedly been called ‘kikes’ and ‘dirty Jews’ by backers of the virulently anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which aims to delegitimize the Jewish state through economic means.”

Although campus police were notified of the above, no action was taken, and other than encouraging the student groups to engage in civil debate university administrators have been quiet as well.

It was also revealed in news reports that Michigan student Yazan Kherallah, who serves as the divestment chair for Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE), had posted a picture of himself on Facebook in which his face is covered by a keffiyeh and he posed in a threatening manner while stabbing a pineapple with a large knife. Given the recent debate on the Michigan campus about divestment from companies doing business with Israel, the symbolism and message of the photograph is very clear: it is a blatant threat against the lives of Jewish students who oppose the divestment resolution and support the Jewish state.

SPME calls on the administration of the University of Michigan to address this instance of very clear radicalism and hatred, as well as the related events which led to the anti-Semitic slurs being uttered by Arab students towards Jewish supporters of Israel, in a unambiguous, public, and forceful way, just as universities immediately have done when hate speech or acts of racism or prejudice have been directed at gay students, African-American students, Muslim students, or other minority groups on campus.

“This speech and these actions and behavior have to be seen for what they are,” said Dr. Richard L. Cravatts, president of SPME, “raw anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred. This is not a discussion about how a Palestinian state will evolve, where the future borders will be between this new state and Israel, what will happen to the settlements, or how other issues in the conflict will be resolved for the benefit of both parties. The BDS activity on the Michigan campus, mirroring other BDS radicalism world-wide, is about demonizing and delegitimizing Israel and Jews, with the ultimate purpose of weakening and destroying the Jewish state. To minimize the virulence of this rhetoric and activism is to overlook the lethality of the BDS narrative and the harm it does to academia by parading as scholarly debate and potentially causing a campus climate of intimidation and fear for Jewish students.”

While SPME applauds the defeat of the BDS resolution in Tuesday night’s vote, it is concerned that the true face of the BDS movement, as well as the sentiments of its proponents, is not being taken seriously by university administrators, as well as some faculty and students.

SPME welcomes, and encourages, vigorous scholarly debate on campus about a broad range of topics involving the Middle East; but talk of “kikes” and dirty Jews,” not to mention the brandishing of knives with the threat of the intended murder of Jews, Zionists, or other pro-Israel individuals, is not academic discourse, political discussion, or, as its supporters regularly contest, simply “criticism of Israel.”

Via email

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