Thursday, October 09, 2014

Federal Money Funding Anti-Semitism At Some of Our Nation’s Top Schools? Shamefully, the Answer is Yes

Title VI of the Higher Education Act was established to strengthen our nation's security by training future national security professionals and educating the public on international affairs. It currently provides millions of federal dollars to 129 international studies and foreign language centers at universities nationwide. One of the main requirements is that universities must present "diverse perspectives and a wide range of views." However, rather than doing just that and serving American national security interests, recipients often do quite the opposite.

From 2010-2013, the University of California Los Angeles Center for Near East Studies (CNES) was one of those recipients. During that period it received $1.5 million from the Department of Education under Title VI. But at UCLA, the federal dollars funded anti-Israel bias and anti-Semitism.

A recent study, Antisemitic Activity and Anti-Israel Bias at the Center for Near East Studies, University of California at Los Angeles 2010-2013, tracked anti-Semitic discourse and anti-Israel bias in public events sponsored by CNES over the three-year-period. The examination of outreach events during that time demonstrated that 93% of their Israel-related events were anti-Israel, and 75% contained anti-Semitic content. Hardly the "diverse perspectives" called for by the grant.

In addition, CNES had a disproportionate focus on Israel. Of all the public events pertaining to significant Middle East political conflicts, 61% focused on the Arab-Israeli conflict, significantly more than on any other Middle East conflict, including the historic turmoil raging in many countries in the region and the Iranian nuclear crisis. Indeed, despite the fact that CNES held events focusing on 14 Middle East countries, more than ¼ of them pertained to Israel, four times more than any other country except Iran. How can such a myopic focus on Israel serve our national needs and equip scholars to understand a region as complex and significant to our national interests as the Middle East?

To make matters worse, CNES favored speakers who have engaged in anti-Semitic activity. Of the 31 speakers at CNES Israel-related events, 84% had engaged in anti-Semitic activity, including the demonization and delegitimization of Israel, denying Jews the right to self-determination, comparing Israelis to Nazis and condoning terrorism.

Not surprisingly, each of the three CNES directors from 2010 - 2013 has shown egregious anti-Israel bias. Although the Center's federally mandated mission obliges the directors to maintain "linkages with overseas institutes of higher education...that may contribute to the teaching and research of the Center," all three of the directors have signed petitions endorsing the boycott of Israeli universities and scholars. One of the directors is even a founder of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel. In addition, all three directors have publicly opposed the UC Israel Abroad Program, despite touting the Israel Abroad Program as part of the Center's fulfillment of its Title VI funding requirement.

Another disturbing finding of the study is that CNES received a donation of $10,000 - $20,000 from the Saudi government-owned Arabian American Oil Company. A Saudi government website which showcases UCLA's Islamic Studies program also includes openly anti-Israel and anti-Semitic discourse.

It is appalling that UCLA is using taxpayer dollars to promote a one-sided, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic bias to impressionable students. This completely distorts UCLA's scholarly and educational mission and is a clear violation of the Higher Education Act. In addition, the fact that CNES is praised by the government of Saudi Arabia on its official website, and that CNES' anti-Israel bias and anti-Semitic discourse is consistent with the policies of the Saudi government is extremely worrisome.

What's happening at UCLA's CNES is another example of the corrupt way professors are gaming the system and manipulating their access to public funds and vulnerable students in order to promote their own personal political agendas, including their hatred of Israel. Reports suggest UCLA is not unique in this regard.

Congress is poised to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. The study on UCLA's Center for Near East Studies provides important evidence that the Higher Education Act is being dangerously abused. Congress must reform the legislation and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent as they were intended - to contribute to our national security preparedness and protect America's best interests.


Chinese Immigrant Against Common Core

When I was growing up under Mao’s regime in China, we were told to chant everyday in the government run public schools, “Long Live Chairman Mao, Long Live Communist Party.” We were required to write in our dairies every day and turn them in for teachers to review. In the dairies, we were supposed to confess our incorrect thoughts to Mao or do self criticism, or report anything bad we heard or saw from other students, family, and friends. We would memorize Mao’s Quotations and recite them aloud during class. For school fun activities, we would dress up as Chinese minority people in their costumes to sing and dance, thanking Mao and Communist Party from saving them from poverty, or dressed up like soldiers to fight for new China. Mao was like a god to me. I would see him rising from the stove fire or talking to me from the clouds.

We all truly believed in Mao and Communism because we were completely indoctrinated and did not have any other information. We had nationalized curriculum and tests, one of the subjects we had to study was Politics (Communist Party’s history, Karl Marxism, Mao Zedong Thought, etc.). Our teachers had to comply with all the curriculum and testing requirements, or lose their jobs forever. Parents had no choice at all when it came to what we learned in school.

The government used the Household Registration and Personnel File system to keep track of its citizens from birth to death. This old photo of me in Mao’s Red Guard uniform was used in my Middle School Student File which documented everything: age, gender, parents, their jobs and political class, religion, siblings, home address, your grades, awards, punishments, politically incorrect speeches, bad behaviors, etc. Then, this file followed me to my high school, college, my first job, my future jobs, etc. It was shared by all the government agencies and employers.

Before I left for America to pursue a master’s degree, my communist boss made me to sign a paper to promise to return to my job after my graduate study or my file would be returned back to my hometown Chengdu in Sichuan Province. I was a law school assistant professor at Fudan University in Shanghai at that time, which is one of the top Chinese universities. Sending my file back to my hometown meant that I would lose my legal career forever and have a black spot in my file which would make it very hard to get another good job. I had to sign it in order for my employer to release me so I could apply for my passport with their consent papers. Even though I finally broke the tracking of Chinese government of me by coming to America, I still feel, sometimes, that I am haunted by my file. When I did not return, the file went back to my hometown, Chengdu, and is somewhere in a local security or police office today.

I want to use my story as a Chinese immigrant to wake up Americans because this country is the Shining City on the Hill I came here for. From the NSA keeping records on us in massive databases to Common Core nationalization of exams and curriculum; what is happening now is very unlike the America I came to find. The worst, I fear, is that Common Core could be used by the government and corporations to do data collection and data mining on our children. What else could come to take away more of our rights and privacy? Our freedom is very precious and we must fight to keep it. Without freedom, you are just a slave, no matter how much money you have. Trust me to say this because I have lived under tyranny before and will never want to live in it again. I took a long journey from tyranny to liberty. I don’t want to go back into tyranny.


Teachers lose one

It looks like the increased costs created by Obamacare were the last straw

The state panel that oversees Philadelphia’s cash-strapped public schools abruptly canceled a contract with teachers on Monday, despite nearly two years of labor negotiations, and said teachers would have to begin paying for healthcare benefits.

The move, which a labor expert said was likely unprecedented in the United States, would free up $43.8 million for the district this school year. Next year, it is facing a $71 million budget shortfall.

The system’s long-running financial woes have become a full-blown crisis over the past couple years, leading to thousands of layoffs, dozens of shuttered buildings and program cuts.

The move will affect the roughly 16,000 members of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, which represents teachers, assistants, nurses, counselors and others.

“Bringing health benefits in line with those received by other district, city and state employees will drive tens of millions to our classrooms,” the chairman of the School Reform Commission, William Green, said in a statement.

The changes could save nearly $200 million in operating funds and $47 million in federal funds over the next four years, the commission said. Wages, work rules and other economic provisions of the PFT’s bargaining contract were not altered.

Most of Philadelphia’s teachers do not pay anything toward their health insurance. The new plan requires them to contribute between $27 and $71 from each bi-weekly paycheck, depending on salary, and goes into effect on Dec. 15.

Tom Juravich, a University of Massachusetts Amherst labor professor, said that canceling a public employee labor contract in such a manner is rare, if unprecedented.

“This idea of the state panel just simply canceling the teachers agreement, there is very little precedent in doing that,” he said. “This is violating the whole collective bargaining process.

“This is hard bargaining tough politics. You can’t send a stronger message than this,” Juravich said.

The changes are likely to be challenged in court. PFT’s president, Jerry Jordan, said the union would “pursue every legal recourse we have.”

The ability to cancel the existing contract and impose new terms is unique in Pennsylvania to the commission and Philadelphia’s schools, acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq said in a statement.

“This is not an expansion of state authority and will not impact collective bargaining agreements in other school districts,” she said.

Teachers, many of whom have seen their classroom support slashed and have paid for supplies out of their own pockets, have been working under their old contract, which expired in August 2013.

The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, said the move was an “ambush” by Republican Governor Tom Corbett, who is fighting an uphill battle for re-election in November.

Corbett said in a statement that it was time for Philadelphia teachers to “join the thousands of public school employees across the state who already contribute to their health care costs.”

St. Louis labor lawyer Corey Franklin said that the sudden change was “likely a function of limited health insurance options available to the district upon its annual open enrollment.”


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