Thursday, March 20, 2014

Northeastern University suspends pro-BDS group Students for Justice in Palestine‏

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) applaud Northeastern University’s decision to suspend Students for Justice in Palestine

In a series of three videos, the APT documented its investigation into Islamic extremism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Zionism at Northeastern University. Professors and members of the Spiritual Life Office are shown abusing their classes and Northeastern Holocaust Remembrance Week to promote an anti-Israel and, at times, anti-Semitic agenda.

Students for Justice in Palestine leaders are seen vandalizing the campus with anti-Semitic messages, glorifying terrorist groups, and chanting for the destruction of Israel. All videos can be seen at

For the first time since these videos were released, NEU has taken some serious steps to deal with this insidious behavior. On March 7, 2014 members of Northeastern University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) were informed by the school’s Center for Student Involvement that their chapter had been suspended for at least a year.

NEU’s Director of the Center for Student Involvement, Jason Campbell-Foster, offered a litany of charges against SJP, including their distribution of fake eviction notices across Northeastern campuses - a tactic used to demonize IDF policies regarding terrorist safe houses.

Campbell-Foster wrote, “You have not shown a concerted effort to improve your practices and educate your members on how to properly operate your organization within the boundaries of university policy,”

Additionally, before SJP members would be considered for reinstatement they must participate in civility and tolerance workshops led by university administrators.

SPME President Richard Cravatts said, "Students for Justice in Palestine have a long history of bringing a corrosive and radical activism to campuses when the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is debated. While SPME welcomes vigorous scholarly debate about a broad range of topics involving the Middle East, SJP's tactics have included libels against Israel, vituperative attacks on the Jewish state, the demonizing of Zionism and Jews, and other extremist rhetoric which is not part of a civil dialogue about contemporary political issues."

APT director Charles Jacobs said: “Years of anti-Semitic vandalism, glorification of terrorist groups, calls for the destruction of Israel, and other actions by Northeastern’s SJP documented by our organization have created a hostile learning environment for Jewish pro-Israel students on campus.

Sadly, these days the only hatred tolerated on campus is the one directed at Israel and its supporters, and so administrations at dozens of other colleges continue to turn a blind eye to SJP bigotry. Hopefully, NU SJP’s justified suspension becomes a wakeup call for those schools as well.”

Via email

Choosing to Learn

Increasing compliance to the state reduces accountability to parents

Americans face a choice between two paths that will guide education in this nation for generations: self-government and central planning. Which we choose will depend in large measure on how well we understand accountability.

To some, accountability means government-imposed standards and testing, like the Common Core State Standards, which advocates believe will ensure that every child receives at least a minimally acceptable education. Although well-intentioned, their faith is misplaced and their prescription is inimical to the most promising development in American education: parental choice.

True accountability comes not from top-down regulations but from parents financially empowered to exit schools that fail to meet their child’s needs. Parental choice, coupled with freedom for educators, creates the incentives and opportunities that spur quality. The compelled conformity fostered by centralized standards and tests stifles the very diversity that gives consumer choice its value.

Most low- and middle-income families today have no viable alternative to their zoned public school. Absent any alternatives, the school is not directly accountable to them, so policymakers try to approximate real accountability through one-size-fits-all regulations.
But distant bureaucrats cannot know the individual needs and preferences of every family. Nor do they share the local knowledge enjoyed by educators. Nevertheless, some policymakers and education experts have come to view top-down regulations as synonymous with “accountability” rather than as a pale imitation. They therefore mistakenly view parent-driven choice programs as “unaccountable,” confusing regulation with accountability.

In recent days, some have even argued that states should impose the Common Core tests on all school-choice programs. Yet there is no compelling body of evidence that top-down regulation improves student outcomes in schools that are already directly accountable to parents. By contrast, there is much evidence that direct accountability to parents yields results superior to those that are defined by bureaucratic red tape.

A global review of the scientific research comparing different types of education systems reveals that the most market-like, least regulated systems consistently outperform more centralized and regulated ones — by a ratio of 15 statistically significant findings to one, across seven different measures of educational outcomes.

In the United States alone, eleven of twelve randomized-controlled trials — the gold standard of social-science research — have found that school-choice programs improve student outcomes, from academic achievement to graduation rates and college matriculation. School-choice students outperform their public peers even though public schools, which are already heavily regulated, generally spend more than twice as much per pupil.

Moreover, as the education marketplace grows, all students benefit. In 22 of 23 empirical studies, academic performance of public-school students improved in response to increased competition. The only study to show no statistically significant difference was the voucher program in Washington, D.C., where public schools were intentionally shielded from competition. The gains from competition in the other studies tended to be modest, but so were the sizes of the choice programs. As in other sectors, greater competition will bring greater gains.

As educational choice expands, parents and schools will adapt. They already do. Many independent schools voluntarily measure their students’ performance with one of numerous nationally norm-referenced tests and publish the results to attract parents. Meanwhile, most parents talk with one another, visit schools, and otherwise do their homework before selecting a school — and even the least active choosers benefit from the decisions of their more active and informed peers.

Educational choice has also been repeatedly shown to produce far higher levels of parental satisfaction than does centrally planned schooling. That’s because choice empowers parents to find the best education for their children, and test scores are not their only consideration. Research shows that many parents care more about safety and discipline, graduation and college acceptance rates, and moral values.

Dictating uniform standards and tests threatens those other valued features by redirecting educators’ focus from serving families to catering to bureaucrats. It also contributes to a culture of “teaching to the test” that has already resulted in several large-scale public-school cheating scandals.

Children are not interchangeable widgets that can be beneficially fed through their education on the same conveyor belt. Even within a single family, children often learn different subjects at different speeds. Myriad new options are arising in response to that reality that allow students to learn at their own pace in every subject, helping all to fulfill their individual potential — the very antithesis of uniform government mandates.

Instead of imposing ineffective bureaucratic “accountability” on schools, our education system should ensure choice to all students so that every school is held truly and directly accountable to families. Policymakers then can dispense with rigid testing mandates, and all schools, public and private, will be free to serve their most important clients: families.


UK: Teachers’ rants at mother who hit out at four-letter words in lessons: Complained about her 14-year-old daughter studying a play containing 400 swear words

A mother who complained about her 14-year-old daughter studying  a play containing 400 swear words has suffered a torrent of foul-mouthed abuse – from teachers.

Gerardine Stockford expressed dismay on Mumsnet after finding her daughter Anna was studying the gritty drama Mogadishu – which contains 218 uses of the F-word and ten of the C-word – as part of her GCSE drama course.

Mrs Stockford, 52, a former social worker, is running a petition to get the Government to put age controls on exposing pupils to swearing as her daughter had felt uncomfortable in classes at Teddington School in Richmond, West London. Former  pupils there include actors Keira Knightley and Sean Pertwee.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has said he shares her concerns.

But one Mumsnet user, who claimed to be a teacher, responded: ‘Censorship – that’s what you want. So you can impose your middle- England, white, middle-class values on a world that no longer exists.

‘As a teacher, I will say very bluntly how sick and f****** tired  I am of parents like you who think they are experts on all f****** areas of the curriculum.’

Another said: ‘This really, really p***** me off .  .  . I teach and have had half-***ed complaints from parents on occasion .  .  . What really boils my p*** is people having opinions about things they haven’t even read and certainly don’t understand.’

Mrs Stockford was so upset by the ‘vile’ abuse she removed the thread from Mumsnet. She said she was ‘no prude’, but was shocked by the language of the play, written by former teacher Vivienne Franzmann, about racism in a tough secondary school.

She said: ‘This would not have been deemed suitable for under 18-year-olds if it was shown in a cinema, so it should not be studied by under-16s in school.’

Mr Gove said in a letter to Mrs Stockford’s MP, Vince Cable, that teachers should be trusted to decide what to teach but, ‘as a father’ he was worried about the use of a play ‘littered with extreme language and explicit references’.

The Department for Education said: ‘We expect schools to alert parents before a text of this nature is taught and to give parents the option of withdrawing their children from these classes.’

Teddington School said students were invited to withdraw if they felt uncomfortable, but none did so.


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