Friday, December 19, 2014

Schools show Progressivism as the Religion It Is

The principal arena in the battle for the nation’s soul is once again being co-opted by the American Left. Acalanes High School (AHS) in Lafayette, California, determined that ninth graders should be taught sex-ed – without parents' prior knowledge, no less – by Planned Parenthood.

“They are very concerned,” said Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), a non-profit legal organization assisting outraged parents to whom he referred. “Planned Parenthood is not exactly the best when it comes to putting young people first. They get more grants from the promiscuity of children. The material they have provided was material that mirrored their agenda.”

The most pernicious piece of that material is a chart depicting the so-called “Genderbred Person,” which comes from a book entitled, “The Social Justice Advocate’s Handbook: A Guide to Gender,” written by comedian and social justice advocate Sam Killerman. It is an effort to sow as much sexual confusion as possible in the minds of children by challenging the notion that one’s identity should not be reduced to male or female. Instead, students are told they can mentally identify themselves as “woman, man, two-spirit, genderqueer or genderless,” sexually express themselves as “butch, femme, androgynous, gender neutral, or hyper-masculine,” and biologically identify themselves as “male, female, intersex, female self ID, or male self ID.”

It gets worse. Students were also given a leaflet entitled “Sex Check! Are You Ready for Sex?” It asks students whether they are “ready for sex” and includes a checklist of materials such as condoms and water-based lubricants, and it also prompts them to consider whether they are capable of handling infections or pregnancy. Another worksheet prepares them for giving and getting consent for sex, posing questions such as “Do you want to go back to my place?” and “Is it OK if I take my pants off?”

According to PJI, parents began raising concerns following student reports of disturbing behavior during a sex-ed class. In a press release, the institute said, “Students reported that instructors threw a model of female reproductive organs at a student and that the instruction left them feeling pressured to have sex.”

The school defended its actions, characterizing the instruction as “age appropriate using objective and medically accurate information.” It further defended the worksheet as something that will “set the stage for age appropriate student thought, reflection and discussion regarding the complexity of the decision,” while arguing the Genderbred Person is used “to prompt student thought and engage students in discussion regarding the components of sexual identity.”

Baloney. Last year the American Life League (ALL) submitted ads to The New York Times and The Washington Post to raise public awareness about Planned Parenthood’s sex education curriculum. Those ads featured actual images from that curriculum for children as young as 10. Both papers rejected the images as “too graphic” and “shocking” for adult readers.

Too shocking for adults but OK for young teens?

Dacus spells out the implications. “What is happening in Lafayette should be a wake-up call to parents about what Planned Parenthood and some school districts want to teach our kids,” he contends. “I would challenge anyone to read some of these materials and try to defend their use with 13- and 14-year-olds.”

Parents collected 100 signatures on a petition in an effort raise community awareness about what is going on at AHS, and PJL sent AHS a letter expressing “serious concerns” about the legality of the program. “We firmly believe some of this program is illegal,” Dacus added, “and the district has a lot more explaining to do.”

What is occurring in this case is an integral part of the leftist agenda that has reached the apex of insanity in the Golden State. In 2013, Gov. Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown signed AB1266, allowing transgender students “to participate in sex-segregated programs, activities and facilities” based on their self-perception and regardless of their birth gender.

Hence, one is whoever one wants to be, regardless of biological reality.

Keep this all in mind as we consider the story of Chaplain Joseph Lawhorn, an Army chaplain punished for including religious materials and quoting from the Bible during a suicide-prevention training session with the 5th Ranger Infantry Battalion. “You provided a two-sided handout that listed Army resources on one side and a biblical approach to handling depression on the other side,” Col. David Fivecoat, the commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade at Ft. Benning, Georgia, wrote in an official Letter of Concern. Fivecoat warned Lawhorn to be “careful to avoid any perception you are advocating one system of beliefs over another.”

Now, back to the state of California and AHS, we add to the mix Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry. Writing for The Wall Street Journal, McHugh contends that sex change is “biologically impossible,” and “policy makers and the media are doing no favors either to the public or the transgendered by treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention.”

Some people believe McHugh is spot on. Others believe the Genderbred Person, which posits a diametrically opposed viewpoint, is accurate. Furthermore, according to the Intersex Society of North America, transgendered people are those “who are born with typical male or female anatomies but feel as though they’ve been born into the ‘wrong body.’”

In other words, believing one is transgender requires an act of faith. Faith is an integral part of religion – and the endorsement of religion is prohibited in public schools.

It is time the leftist indoctrination of children that includes a highly debatable tenet of sexuality – along with a host of other propaganda passed along as irrefutable fact – be given the same scrutiny and be subject to the same limitations as leftists subject Christianity. The alternative is what we have now: a viewpoint labeled “secular humanism” completely protected from rebuttal by opposing viewpoints. That’s not education. That’s brainwashing, and it’s time Americans recognized it as such – and put a stop to it.


UK: Are apprenticeships best? Graduates faced with high student debt and poor earning prospects would be better off skipping university, report says

The earning power generated by some university courses is so low and student debt so high that pupils would be better off choosing apprenticeships, new research suggested today(THUR).

Findings showed sharp variations in the graduate earnings premium depending on the university and course chosen.

With student debt now averaging £44,000, industry apprenticeships would be a ‘better deal’ for many pupils than costly degrees, according to the charity behind the study.

The Sutton Trust said some youngsters ‘may be better earning and learning on good apprenticeships than on a degree course with poor prospects’.

The claim came as the trust published a new study showing that students who go to Oxford and Cambridge enjoy starting salaries £7,600 higher than counterparts who go to so-called ‘new’ universities.

The Oxbridge premium drops only marginally to £4,760 when the prior A-level grades of students and their social background are taken into account.

Differences by degree subject were found to be even larger, with medicine and dentistry graduates attracting starting salaries £12,200 higher than those who studied design and creative arts.

Sir Peter Lampl, the trust’s chairman, said the research showed that ‘not all degrees are created equal’.

The figures underlined the ‘importance of choosing the right degree and course’.

He said: ‘It may not surprise anyone that an Oxbridge graduate on average commands a higher salary than someone from a newer university, but a £7,500 (42 per cent) difference which only falls to just under £5,000 allowing for social background and prior attainment is a bigger difference than many might have expected.

And he added: ‘With debts of £44,000 on average, returns from some degrees may mean going into a good apprenticeship offers a better deal for many students.’

Sir Peter went on: ‘We need to look honestly at the extent to which some young people may be better earning and learning on good apprenticeships than on a degree course with poor prospects.’

He called for ‘many more high level apprenticeships for that to be a real option’.

The research used official data to examine the differences in the starting salaries of recent graduates and their earnings three-and-a-half years after finishing their studies.

It found that the average starting salary for a graduate of Oxford or Cambridge was around £25,600 - £7,600 higher than the equivalent wage for students who went to a ‘new’ university created after 1992.

The Oxbridge earnings premium compared with other, more established universities was smaller but still apparent.  Oxbridge graduates earned £3,300 more than their counterparts who attended other highly-selective British universities, it emerged. After allowing for their previous achievement and background, Oxbridge graduates still took home £4,760 more than fellow students who went to new universities – and £2,500 more than graduates of other top institutions.

The subjects with the highest earnings premium emerged as medicine and dentistry, engineering and technology, economics, computer science and education.  The lowest salaries were earned by graduates in psychology, English, design and creative arts, biological sciences and history and philosophy.

In a further finding, more evidence was uncovered of the earnings premium enjoyed by private school pupils.

They earned starting salaries £1,350 higher than counterparts from state schools with the same degree from the same university.

Other than this, university tended to act as a ‘social leveller’. Graduates from different backgrounds tended to do equally well after graduation.

Sir Peter said there was ‘no link’ between the cost of a degree and its later value in the job market.  He added: ‘This new research shows how important it is that we enable low and middle income students with the ability to go to Oxbridge and other elite universities to fulfil their potential.

‘With your chances of going to a top university nearly 10 times higher if you come from a rich rather than a poor neighbourhood, it is vital that we redouble our efforts to improve access to these institutions.’

Under reforms in 2012, maximum tuition fees tripled to £9,000-a-year and the available Government-backed loans rose accordingly.

A real interest rate was also applied for the first time and graduates must start repaying once their annual incomes reach £21,000.

Previous research has shown that 73 per cent of graduates will still be paying back their student loans after 30 years.  They will take so long to repay their university loans they will qualify for their debts to be written off after three decades – when most will be at least 52.


One in five British children refuse free school meals: 300,000 four to seven-year-olds fail to take up free lunch amid concerns over quality

One in five children in some areas are shunning Nick Clegg's free school meals in favour of packed lunches, official figures reveal today.

Almost 300,000 four to seven-year-olds across the country are failing to claim their free meal amid concerns over the quality of lunches at some schools.

Take-up varies across areas and is as low as 81.5 per cent in the south east, according to a census of schools in October being released today.

The survey is the first indication of the impact of the Deputy Prime Minister's cherished £1billion policy of serving free meals to pupils in the first three years of primary school.

Take-up was expected to be 87 per cent but only three out of 10 English regions reached this level – the north east, the north west and inner London.

Across the country, 85 per cent of pupils claimed their free lunch – some 1.64million.  But 285,490 pupils – more than one in seven – preferred to take in their own packed lunch. The figure also includes an unknown number of pupils who were absent on census day.

Take-up was lowest in the south east, followed by the east of England, where 82.8 per cent took a free meal and the east midlands, where the figure was 82.9 per cent.

Ministers recently announced extra funding for kitchen renovations to help more schools cook hot meals on the premises instead of transporting them in.  Documents linked to the announcement reveal that some schools are transporting in at least 250 hot meals every day.

Meanwhile a row broke out in Birmingham earlier this term after reception pupils at some schools were revealed to have been offered just one chicken nugget at lunchtime, while Year One pupils got two.

The take-up figures emerged as Mr Clegg was challenged by academics who analysed the impact of free meals in two areas which ran a trial scheme of universal provision.

Mr Clegg has repeatedly hailed the trials – in Newham and Durham – as evidence that his policy will produce a range of specific benefits.

However the researchers – from the Institute for Fiscal Studies - said he was wrong to claim that healthy hot lunches can be better at raising pupils` results than many literacy and numeracy initiatives.

And they warned against assuming that results from the pilot schemes would be repeated across the country.

Senior Researcher Ellen Greaves said: 'We did find that offering free school meals to all pupils in primary schools lead to higher take-up of school meals, and improvements in…test results.

'On average, pupils in the pilot areas made between four and eight weeks' more progress over the two year pilot than similar pupils in comparison areas. But it is not clear from this evidence that these positive outcomes will be repeated in the roll out of free school meals to all infant pupils across the country.'

She added that the team 'found no evidence of significant differences in behaviour, health or nutrition'.

Steve Higgins, professor of education at Durham University, said the evidence for the scheme was 'very weak'.

But Mr Clegg was bullish yesterday as he visited a school in London to help with Christmas cooking.  'Well over a million and a half infants are enjoying a school meal at lunchtime, giving them a better start to afternoon lessons and a healthy boost for their first years in school,' he said.

'The other good news for families is that this saves them up to £400 per child a year on the cost of a packed lunch.

'The naysayers about this policy can eat their hats, and all the leftover sprouts.'

He insisted that only one per cent of packed lunches meet the nutritional standards that currently apply to school food.


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