Friday, August 15, 2014

Back to School

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Maybe it's the fact that both my parents were teachers when I was growing up, or that I was a studious, serious child, but I've always loved going back to school in the fall.

My mother was a high school math teacher, and my father taught at West Georgia College, now called the University of West Georgia. Going back to school meant a chance to start over, to get organized, to get into a routine and to create a plan to be successful in the year ahead.

My earliest memory of school is being dropped off in front of Carrollton Kindergarten under the metal awning on the circular driveway. Children's footprints had been painted on the ground where students were to be dropped off. Looking down at the footprints and stepping out onto the asphalt, matching my feet to the painted prints provided me with a feeling of accomplishment.

One day, a neighbor missed the mark, dropping me off a bit before or a bit after the footprints -- I can't remember which -- and taking away the feeling of accomplishment I had gotten by landing on the feet. I was terribly upset that day with not being dropped off at the proper location.

The start of school not only meant a fresh start for academic achievement, but also signified the beginning of the social season in the small town where I grew up: Carrollton, Georgia. This booming town, which today houses many commuters from Atlanta, was a smaller community when I was young. Social activities were created around high school football and church. Football games were not only attended at home but also on the road. We often travelled for hours to watch our team, the Trojans, play.

During my college years, fall meant the return to campus, catching up with friends and joining in the whirlwind of social activities (rush, anyone?). From an academic perspective, the start of a new semester provided a chance at a new beginning. No grades had been earned, no first impressions made; there was a clean slate, and anything was possible.

Books and supplies, purchased with high hopes, were organized and laid out carefully in anticipation of the work to come. The first day of classes provided an opportunity to make a first impression, not only with teacher, but with other students.

The fresh start was put into motion once a copy of the teacher's syllabus was in hand. This marked the path from the start of the term to where I would be at the end. It included the topics to be covered, the objectives of the class, the homework that would be assigned, the tests that would be taken and the weight of each in the calculation of the final grades.

The individual teachers' preferences and plans for grading would weigh heavily in my planning for the term ahead. Should I focus on class participation, tests, projects or exams? Was there a way to earn extra credit? I marked the test dates on the calendar and they, as well as projects, gave me a sense of structure for the coming term.

After graduate school, I moved into the workforce in corporate financial planning, which provided me with a similar structure. I created annual budgets through a clear planning process, with specific due dates. Monthly reports provided me with ongoing feedback to measure how I was progressing toward my goals. Every year provided a new opportunity to create a new plan to be measured against.

And the cycle continues. This coming week marks the beginning of the school year for our children and reminds me that plans are important to provide structure and focus in our lives. All their school supplies are purchased and ready; their schoolbooks are on their desks; their calendars are beginning to fill up with games and other activities.

And while we know that plans always change as they materialize into reality, the planning process itself allows us to reconsider and review to ensure that what is most important in our lives -- family, community, career and faith -- are reflected in where our time is spent.

The lessons I learned in preparing for school are ones I expect to carry through life. This fall, dear reader, you too may wish to set aside a bit of time for yourself to consider your priorities, reflect them in your plan and create a structure of time that will set yourself up for success.

SOURCE Defines Homeschooling as "Lame Propaganda"

Homeschooling parents have a few choice words for this week. While the online vocabulary tool can often be a helpful resource, users now realize it can also be pretty insulting. Just take a look at the example sentences the website chose for "homeschooling"

This incensed Twitter user was one of many homeschooling parents to let know just what they thought of their definitions.

While may deem homeschooling as backwards, statistics show that home schooled children often fare better than their peers. For instance, a study from 2009 revealed that homeschooled children scored 86 percent higher than students in public schools.

Here are just a few other homeschooling merits outlined on

    Control what your children learn and when they learn it.

    Show your children that learning is not boring, but exciting.

    Build intimate and meaningful relationships with your children.

    Tailor your teaching to fit your children's dominant learning styles.

    Give your children in-depth, personal attention in any subject with which they struggle or excel.

These details weren't anywhere to be found on In response to so many angry internet users, the online vocabulary resource has seemingly deleted its poorly chosen example sentences and replaced them with these safe, generic ones:

    "The kits are also available through school and homeschool suppliers, and toy and gift catalogs."

    So this year, along with our other homeschool subjects, we've been doing a unit on food.

The website's word of the day today is "brusque," which means "abrupt in manner," "blunt" and "rough." As in,'s use of "homeschooling" was met with brusque criticism from peeved parents.


UK: Students from affluent areas ten times more likely to win place at leading university: Prospects of poorer pupils barely change despite multi-million pound initiatives

Pupils from the most affluent areas are nearly 10 times more likely to win a place at a leading university than those from the poorest, a new study has revealed.

The prospects of disadvantaged youngsters have barely changed since 2010 despite a series of multi-million pound initiatives aimed at easing their path to the most academically selective universities.

The research also highlighted concerns over low numbers of working-class men going to university and a sharp drop in older ‘second-chance’ applicants’ who missed out on university as teenagers.

The study, from the Independent Commission on Fees, was designed to assess the impact of Coalition university funding reforms including £9,000-a-year tuition fees.

Universities wishing to charge the maximum fee must agree targets and funding to encourage the poorest pupils to apply.

The study found that youngsters from the most advantaged fifth of areas in England – those where high numbers of residents already have a university education – were 9.5 times more likely than those from the least advantaged fifth to have won a place at a top university in 2013.

This was barely an improvement on 2010, when rich pupils were 9.8 times more likely to go to a prestigious university. The study looked at entry to the 13 most academically selective universities in the country.

‘The gap in application and entry rates between advantaged and disadvantaged students has narrowed slightly, but remains unacceptably large - particularly for the most selective universities,’ the study said.

The research – commissioned by the Sutton Trust education charity - also examined sex differences and found that in 2013, 21 per cent more 18-year-old women entered university than men of the same age.

It warns that the divide is largest among the poorest university applicants, with disadvantaged boys particularly under-represented.

While application rates among 18-year-olds have recovered following a dip triggered by the introduction in 2012 of higher fees, the picture for mature and part-time students is ‘much bleaker’.

Will Hutton, chair of the Commission, said: ‘Whilst we welcome the recovery in the proportion of 18-year-olds taking up places at university after the introduction of higher fees in 2012, serious gaps in access to university remain.

‘Our research shows that advantaged students are nearly 10 times more likely to attend a top university than their disadvantaged peers. Young men from disadvantaged areas are particularly badly affected and remain under-represented in applications to all universities.

‘Mature student numbers also appear to be disproportionately affected by the student fee changes with their numbers remaining below 2010 levels. The number of students on part-time courses has fallen dramatically.

‘Since many mature and part-time students come from less advantaged backgrounds this is an issue we must address if we are to ensure fair access to university for all.’

Meanwhile a poll showed some support for the idea of students from disadvantaged homes being charged lower tuition fees.

A Business Department spokesman said: ‘It is encouraging that applications to higher education from 18-year-olds are at an all-time high - including the applications rates for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

‘Prospective students recognise the lifelong value of a university degree, but we are not complacent and there is still more to do - particularly by some of the higher tariff institutions.’


Thursday, August 14, 2014


The Department of Education released a fact sheet Monday about the availability of public school education for undocumented immigrant children — specifically the tens of thousands unaccompanied minors who have recently entered the U.S. illegally.

“We have begun to receive inquiries regarding educational services for a specific group of immigrant children who have been in the news – children from Central America who have recently crossed the U.S. - Mexico border,” the Department of Education explains.

“This new fact sheet provides information to help education leaders better understand the responsibilities of States and local educational agencies (LEAs) in connection with such students, and the existing resources available to help educate all immigrant students – including children who recently arrived in the United States,” it adds. 

The fact sheet lays out the basics about the undocumented immigrant children’s rights and what communities can do to help with enrollment.

“All children in the United States are entitled to equal access to a public elementary and secondary education, regardless of their or their parents' actual or perceived national origin, citizenship, or immigration status,” the fact sheet explains. “This includes recently arrived unaccompanied children, who are in immigration proceedings while residing in local communities with a parent, family member, or other appropriate adult sponsor.”

Since October more than 62,900 unaccompanied minors have been detained illegally entering the U.S., the vast majority of who have been from Central America. As the fact sheet explains, the unaccompanied, undocumented minors are placed in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) where HHS offers “educational services.”

HHS then releases the children into the United States into the custody of a family member or other “sponsor,” while in their care the undocumented immigrant children “have a right” to attend public school.

“While residing with a sponsor, these children have a right under federal law to enroll in public elementary and secondary schools in their local communities and to benefit from educational services, as do all children in the U.S.,” the sheet explains.


How badly do we teach our children?

There are many occasions when I’ve been ashamed of my parenting skills. Homework is a particularly contentious issue. Trying to get an eight-year-old to sit still and focus when she’d prefer to waft around the room, talking and doing anything else, is beyond frustrating. lf she would but just concentrate for five minutes, she’d get it done – and my finely tuned evening routine of putting children to bed, while preparing for an early-morning start for the Today programme, would not be disturbed. Now they are older, my girls tell me: “You used to get really stressy.”

According to Professor John Hattie, I needn’t have. Homework in primary school adds little or nothing to a child’s education, and the only reason it is given is to satisfy pushy parents.

I spoke to Prof Hattie as part of a new BBC Radio 4 series called The Educators. Over the coming eight weeks, I shall be interviewing eight people on the front line of education, at home and abroad, who are influencing current thinking.

Prof Hattie, from the University of Melbourne, has reviewed thousands of international research papers on every aspect of teaching from class size and uniform, to projects, class discussions and school type. By making the findings directly comparable, he has produced what amounts to a league table of “teaching interventions”. The results are astonishing.

Forget class size, or grouping by ability, or whether the school is state or private. While parents may get worked up about such things, these factors don’t really have an impact on academic outcome. What matters most is what happens in the classroom between the teacher and the pupil, the interaction. And, as I write that, I realise that it shouldn’t be that surprising.

Top of Prof Hattie’s league table – what makes the biggest difference to outcomes – is what he calls “student expectations”. This is when pupils are asked to predict what grade they think they will get. It ensures they are more active in their own learning, and if they beat their own prediction, it boosts confidence and they aim higher still. Teacher credibility – whether they give effective feedback to students, and how much classroom discussion they encourage – is also a factor.

Prof Hattie lists 140 such important interventions and says almost all can make a small positive difference to how a child does.

Another of my Educators, Sir Ken Robinson, an international adviser on education in the arts, says the focus on testing in our efforts to try to prove we are as good as, if not better, than other countries in maths and literacy is a “catastrophe” for our children’s education.

Not everyone likes what he has to say, but his 2006 online TED lecture How Schools Kill Creativity has been viewed 27 million times – more than any other TED talk.

I met him at his old school in Liverpool, the Margaret Beavan School for the Physically Handicapped. He was sent there in the Fifties because he had had polio. As we walked round the derelict building, he remembered it fondly, describing how he and his friends, with their various disabilities, must have looked,“like the bar-room scene from Star Wars”. And yet he recalled how each was only interested in what the others could do – not what they couldn’t.

That observation seemed to sum up his whole argument, which is that almost everyone has a passion and aptitude for something. Yet our system of schooling – designed for an industrial age – will often crush that talent rather than nurture it.

In Sir Ken’s ideal school, there would be no hierarchy of subjects in the curriculum and classes would not be grouped by age. Dance would be as important as maths, and children would feel free to do what they wanted, even get up and wander around in lessons. All of his ideas are peppered with amusing anecdotes, but he couldn’t be more serious about the message, and it’s one that’s reaching governments around the world.

Someone with very different ideas, who has had the ear of this Government, is Daisy Christodoulou, author of Seven Myths about Education. Not yet 30, she seems as surprised as anyone at how her ideas have struck a chord.

When she was training to teach, she observed that the lessons she thought were most powerful would not have passed an Ofsted inspection. The schools inspector wanted to see children learning by themselves, through discovery, rather than being explicitly told by a teacher. That emphasis on skills rather than facts seems in keeping with an age when everyone has Google at their fingertips. But Christodoulou thinks that a generation of children are being let down by this approach, and they would be better served by teachers telling them more facts, to build up a greater bedrock of knowledge.

When she wrote as much, first in a blog, then in her book, she created quite a stir. She’s been described as Right-wing, not least because the former education secretary Michael Gove appeared to agree with her. Such political labels, she says, are wrong–headed. And she’s clearly frustrated at how education has become so politicised.

Tony Little, on the other hand, is acutely aware of the politics that comes with his job. Little is headmaster of probably the most famous school in the world, but one he admits some people can only think of as a four-letter word: Eton. He agrees that there is a stigma associated with attending the school, but thinks it may be good for his students and make them more aware of how privileged they are. Even its detractors would recognise its success: 19 of Britain’s prime ministers were educated within its walls.

As I stood with a be-gowned Little in a classroom that dates from the 15th century, and on whose benches Walpole and Shelley had gouged their names, he said the history of the place must rub off on the pupils. The implicit question asked of them, he says, is, “if they’ve done it, why not you?”

He puts the success of the school down to what happens outside the classroom as much as in it; like Sir Ken Robinson, he emphasises the importance of allowing each boy to find his own passion, whether it is academic or not. It’s one of the reasons he would get rid of almost all school exams, suggesting that in chasing certificates we “over-school” and “under-educate”.

Little himself went to Eton, having won a scholarship there in the Sixties. He was the first male in his family to be educated beyond the age of 14. He feels the school has a “moral imperative” to ensure its success is spread more widely and is not just confined to the wealthiest. Today, 263 of the 1,300 boys do not pay the full £32,000 in fees, but the school’s stated ambition is that ultimately it will be “needs blind”, deciding who goes there entirely on their ability, rather than their parents’ capacity to pay.

When exactly they can realise that aim will depend on when they have a big enough pot of money in their endowment. One prospective parent offered Little ''millions’’ if the school took his less-than-bright son.

“It must have been tempting,” I asked.

“Hundreds of millions, then I might have been tempted,” he quipped.

Perhaps the most striking image of where we may be headed comes from the psychologist and neuroscience expert Dr Paul Howard-Jones. He can see a day in the not too distant future when children will put on a cap that passes an electrical current over the scalp and stimulates the brain to think and learn quicker. It’s called transcranial electrical stimulation, and is already being tested.

Now that’s something I’d like to have access to. Not only might it solve the stress of homework, it would come in rather handy in the Today studio, too.


Trojan Horse purge 'threat to Christmas': Independent schools and academies could be forced to drop celebrations under new rules to tackle extremists

Independent schools and academies may be forced to drop Christmas celebrations under rules designed to tackle extremists, critics warned yesterday.

They say 6,000 private schools will be compelled to adopt political correctness.

Following the Trojan Horse scandal, in which Birmingham schools came under the sway of Islamic extremists, the Education Department proposed that independent schools must ‘actively promote’ British values – said to include respect for legally ‘protected characteristics’.

Critics warn the rules will bring a series of unintended consequences, including preventing teachers from using words like husband or wife when discussing marriage; making teachers inflate the reputation of politicians in their lessons, and dictating the curriculum and exams schools must use.

They also accuse the Department for Education of setting too tight a timetable when it set up a consultation among schools over the rules. Responses to the key proposals had to be returned last week – a month before the end of the school holidays and at a time when heads are likely to be on the beach rather than answering Whitehall questionnaires.

The Independent School Standards consultation was begun in late June at the height of the Trojan Horse affair, in which a group of schools in Birmingham were found to have fallen under the sway of Islamic extremists. An inquiry found the schools segregated boys and girls, disparaged British soldiers, promoted hatred of homosexuals, and taught scepticism about responsibility for the murder of soldier Lee Rigby and the Boston bombings.

The resulting Education Department proposals say that independent schools must ‘actively promote’ British values, which are said to include respect for legally ‘protected characteristics’ such as homosexuality, religion, gender change, disability, race and marital status. They also require improved teaching standards from schools with the lowest levels of attainment.

The rules will apply to academies and free schools as well as the long-established independent sector.

A consultation paper reveals this would allow Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to take ‘regulatory action’ in cases such as where girls are ‘disadvantaged’ on grounds of gender, ‘failure to address homophobia’, or where prejudice against other faiths is ‘encouraged or not adequately challenged’.

The Christian Institute (CI) warned this may rule out Christmas events if other religions’ festivals are not celebrated to the same degree. It also fears teachers may have to avoid the words ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ when discussing marriage, so as not to discriminate against same-sex couples.

The CI’s Colin Hart said: ‘They mistakenly advance the principle that political correctness equal British values. Accordingly they could be used to punish any school in the independent sector which has a religious ethos, a set of traditional beliefs, or which does not promote every minority group’s world view.’

The Institute said Christmas celebrations in schools and use of words like ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ in discussions of marriage could be barred under the proposals.

Mr Hart added: ‘Under the plans, private schools, academies and free schools would have much less control over their ethos than ordinary state schools. There was clearly a managerial problem in the schools in Birmingham, but is forcing more than 6,000 schools and nearly three million pupils to the submit themselves to every whim of the PC brigade really the best way to tackle it? It makes no sense.’

A reply to the Education Department from the Independent Schools Council, which represents 1,200 schools, said that forcing schools to accept common standards means they will be ‘subject to political interference’ and that the proposals ‘risk dictating to independent schools which curriculum to follow.’

The Council’s objections also say that ‘there is a major risk of unintended consequences’, that standards in high-achieving schools will be forced down, and ‘time will be wasted considering how schools actively promote these values.’

It added: ‘Explicitly requiring schools to encourage respect for the basis on which the law is made in England comes close to requiring schools actively promote respect for politicians as lawmakers.’

The Association of School and College Leaders, which represents over 18,000 heads and senior staff, said the proposals had been made in undue haste and to such a short timetable that many heads would find out what was happening only after consultation deadlines had passed. A submission from the Association said: ‘This can only undermine respect for democracy and the rule of law as practised in Britain.’

Mrs Morgan now faces a High Court judicial review brought by the Christian Institute over the attempt to impose the rules on independent schools without giving proper time to listen to their views.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Ex-UMass student sues over expulsion in sex assault case

A former University of Massachusetts Amherst student who said he was expelled last fall over allegations he sexually assaulted a female student is suing the school, saying administrators unfairly and mistakenly found him responsible and discriminated against him because he is a man.

The suit, filed Thursday in US District Court in Springfield, said the university violated Title IX, a federal law banning gender discrimination on college campuses, when the student “was met with overall hostility, dismissal and pre-judgment as ‘guilty’ before the decision was even rendered.” The suit was filed under the pseudonym John Doe to protect the student’s identity.

“The university displayed a distressing lack of due process and rush to judgment, undermining the most basic tenets of our judicial system,” the student’s lawyer, Andrew T. Miltenberg, said in an e-mail.

The suit demands that the student be paid damages “in an amount to be determined at trial” and that the university reverse its decision and expunge his disciplinary record.

UMass Amherst declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing a university policy to not speak about specific cases in litigation.

“The university does take allegations of sexual assault seriously and conducts reviews through a detailed procedure specified in the Code of Student Conduct,” a statement from campus spokesman Edward Blaguszewski said.

Amid a rise in reports of sexual assaults at colleges, a growing number of alleged assailants — including at Amherst College, Brandeis University, and Brown University — have pushed back recently, appealing the school’s disciplinary rulings and filing lawsuits saying they have been falsely and unfairly accused.

UMass Amherst is one of more than 70 colleges under investigation by the US Department of Education about whether administrators have properly handled reports of sexual assaults.

The recent lawsuit against UMass Amherst contends that the male student, a Connecticut native and a sophomore at the time, met the female student, identified in the suit as Jane Doe, at a party in a friend’s dorm room.

During a night of drinking, playing card games, and dancing with friends, the two students became friendly and flirted, and she later invited him to her room to have sex, the lawsuit said. They had consensual sex, and the female student at no point showed signs of intoxication, according to the suit.

The next day, the female student could not remember what had happened, according to the lawsuit. At her roommate’s urging, the female student went to the campus health center for an evaluation. The following day, she filed a complaint with the dean of students’ office.

In her written complaint, she never called what happened harassment, assault, or rape, according to the lawsuit.

Three days later, the university told the male student he was under investigation for threatening behavior, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and violating community living standards, the lawsuit said. He was immediately ordered to move off campus and was barred from the premises except to attend classes, the lawsuit said.

Two months later, the university held a disciplinary hearing, the lawsuit said. But the male student had not been given copies of case documents beforehand, key pieces of evidence were not presented during the hearing, the male student was repeatedly interrupted, and questions he had were ignored, the suit said.

Two days later, the student was told he had been found “responsible” for three violations: “sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and community living standards,” and he would be expelled.

The student’s appeal was denied.

The suit said the student’s academic career is ruined and “his overall economic future is completely compromised.” He has suffered adverse health effects as a result of stress about the case, the lawsuit said.



California debates 'yes means yes' sex assault law

College students have heard a similar refrain for years in campaigns to stop sexual assault: No means no.

Now, as universities around the country that are facing pressure over the handling of rape allegations adopt policies to define consensual sex, California is poised to take it a step further. Lawmakers are considering what would be the first-in-the-nation measure requiring all colleges that receive public funds to set a standard for when "yes means yes."

Defining consensual sex is a growing trend by universities in an effort to do more to protect victims. From the University of California system to Yale, schools have been adopting standards to distinguish when consent was given for a sexual activity and when it was not.

Legislation passed by California's state Senate in May and coming before the Assembly this month would require all schools that receive public funds for student financial assistance to set a so-called "affirmative consent standard" that could be used in investigating and adjudicating sexual assault allegations. That would be defined as "an affirmative, unambiguous and conscious decision" by each party to engage in sexual activity.

Silence or lack of resistance does not constitute consent. The legislation says it's also not consent if the person is drunk, drugged, unconscious or asleep.

Lawmakers say consent can be nonverbal, and universities with similar policies have outlined examples as maybe a nod of the head or moving in closer to the person.

Several state legislatures, including Maryland, Texas and Connecticut, introduced bills in the past year to push colleges to do more after a White House task force reported that 1 in 5 female college students is a victim of sexual assault. The U.S. Education Department also took the unprecedented step of releasing the names of schools facing federal investigation for the way they handle sexual abuse allegations.

But no state legislation has gone as far as California's bill in requiring a consent standard.

Critics say the state is overstepping its bounds. The Los Angeles Times in an editorial after the bill passed the state Senate 27-4 wrote that it raises questions as to whether it is "reasonable" or "enforceable." The legislation is based on the White House task force's recommendations.

"It seems extremely difficult and extraordinarily intrusive to micromanage sex so closely as to tell young people what steps they must take in the privacy of their own dorm rooms," the newspaper said.

Some fear navigating the murky waters of consent spells trouble for universities.

"Frequently these cases involve two individuals, both of whom maybe were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and it can be very tricky to ascertain whether consent was obtained," said Ada Meloy, general counsel of the American Council on Education, which represents college presidents.

She said schools need to guarantee a safe environment for students, while law enforcement is best suited for handling more serious sexual assault cases.

John F. Banzhaf III, a George Washington University's Law School professor, believes having university disciplinary panels interpret vague cues and body language will open the door for more lawsuits.

The legal definition of rape in most states means the perpetrator used force or the threat of force against the victim, but the California legislation could set the stage in which both parties could accuse each other of sexual assault, he said.

"This bill would very, very radically change the definition of rape," he said.

University of California at Berkeley student Meghan Warner, 20, said that's a good thing. She said she was sexually assaulted during her freshman year by two men at a fraternity but didn't report it because she believed "that unless it was a stranger at night with a weapon who attacked you when you were walking home, that it wasn't rape. It's just a crappy thing that happened." She now runs campus workshops to teach students what constitutes consent.

"Most students don't know what consent is," she said. "I've asked at the workshops how many people think if a girl is blacked out drunk that it's OK to have sex with her. The amount of people who raised their hands was just startling."

Defining consent may be easy to do on paper, said Laura Nguyen, a 21-year-old San Diego State University senior, but "we're talking about college students out at night and the reality is there's not just 'yes' or 'no.' There is a lot of in between. I really think it depends on the situation."

The legislation initially stated that "if there is confusion as to whether a person has consented or continues to consent to sexual activity, it is essential that the participants stop the activity until the confusion can be clearly resolved."

After some interpreted that as asking people to stop after each kiss to get a verbal agreement before going to the next level, the bill was amended to say consent must be "ongoing" and "can be revoked at any time."

"California needs to provide our students with education, resources, consistent policies and justice so that the system is not stacked against survivors," state Sen. Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles Democrat, said in promoting the bill.

Supporters say investigators would have to determine whether consent had been given by both parties instead of focusing on whether the complainant resisted or said no.

Denice Labertew of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault said the bill fosters a cultural change: "There's a lot of criticism around affirmative consent because it requires us to change the way we normally think about this."


Trojan Horse: new rules ‘could curtail teaching of Christianity’, warns Christian group

Teachers could be restricted from teaching traditional Christian values in independent schools because of new rules designed to combat Islamic extremism, it has been claimed.

The Christian Institute is preparing a legal challenge to proposed new regulations issued following the so-called Trojan Horse scandal involving hard-line Muslim groups attempting to take control of schools in Birmingham.

It argues that “completely ambiguous language” in the new guidelines could be used to clamp down on schools teaching anything deemed politically incorrect on issues such as marriage.

Under plans unveiled by Michael Gove, the former Education Secretary, in June, more than 20,000 schools in England will be forced to promote “British values” such as democracy, individual liberty and tolerance.

It followed a series of damning inspection reports warning of a “culture of fear and intimidation” in schools, with governors exerting “inappropriate influence” over how they are being run.

Lawyers for the Institute are considering bringing judicial review proceedings to challenge a consultation on the new guidelines, arguing that it was unfair as it took place during the school summer holidays.

The group fears that the wording of the updated regulations could be seized upon by political campaign groups in an attempt to stamp out the teaching of anything deemed traditionalist for fear of causing offence.

Under the updated guidelines children’s progress must be assessed in line with “national norms” rather than “the school’s own aims”, which were permitted under the previous regulations.

The Institute believes that the clause could be used to force schools to introduce gender neutral terminology rather than phrases such as “mother” and “father” or even to limit teaching about Christmas for fear of upsetting followers of other faiths.

“This is a classic case of the Government over reacting to a perceived problem.,” said Colin Hart, chief executive of the Christian institute.

“They are shocking in their breadth and range and would destroy the independent sector.  “They mistakenly advance the principle that political correctness equal British values.

“Accordingly they could be used to punish any school in the independent sector which has a religious ethos, a set of traditional beliefs, or who don’t over promote every minority groups world view.”

He added: “The problem occurs when completely ambiguous language is used to impose a new set of values on millions of children.

“The term ‘national norms’ does not actually mean anything.

“It will be interpreted by every school inspector and used by a handful of aggressive campaign groups to challenge schools with traditional views and values.

“In some cases this could mean attacks on gender specific terms like mother and father, or attacking those institutions with a clear religious ethos and set of values. Christian school that celebrate Christmas and Easter could well be early targets.”

But a spokeswoman for the Department for Education said: “The Independent School Standards are designed to ensure every school prepares children for life in modern Britain.  “We make no apology for demanding high standards and the promotion of tolerance and respect of all faiths and cultures.

“It is simply untrue to say that the proposed changes – which received 1,400 responses in the last six weeks – would prevent teachers using gender-specific terms or require schools to downgrade Christian festivals.

“We have received a letter from the Christian Institute’s legal representatives and are considering our response.”


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fired Texas Principal Speaks Out: ‘It Would Be Best to Speak English in Classrooms’

On November 12, 2013, Amy Lacey, the principal of Texas’ Hempstead Middle School, was placed on administrative leave and subsequently fired when she made a simple request to students: speak English.

Now that the gag order has expired, Lacey is speaking out about what happened that day, dispelling rumors that she banned Spanish from the school’s campus.

“I informed students it would be best to speak English in the classrooms to the extent possible, in order to help prepare them for [state] tests,” she wrote in a letter to the Houston Chronicle explaining her side of the story. “It is important to note that I did not ban the use of Spanish anywhere in the school or at any time, even though teachers had reported to me that they had experienced instances in which students had been asked to stop talking during instruction, and they responded that it was their right to speak Spanish — ignoring the fact that they shouldn’t have been speaking [in any language] during class without permission. The perception of the teachers was that students were being disrespectful and disrupting learning, and they believed they could get away with it by claiming racism.”

By telling students to speak English, Lacey was not being racist, she was merely pointing out that the academic language in Texas is, by law, English.

“Even so, I did not suggest that there would be any adverse consequences for any student speaking Spanish at any time. I merely encouraged students to speak English in classrooms by advising them that it would be to their advantage to do so especially with regard to state testing,” she continued. “English language immersion is an accepted best-practice teaching strategy, and Hempstead ISD board policy provides for its practice.”

She ended the letter thanking those who supported her “even when true facts were never given to the media” because she and others were not allowed to publicly defend her position.

“I think the public needs to know that in public education there are only one or two district personnel designated to talk to media,” she wrote in closing, “so any teachers that would have liked to speak on my behalf were not allowed without risking their job status.”


Jindal Admin: Common Core Is Illegal Federal ‘Scheme’

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, locked in multiple legal battles with his own school board over Common Core education standards, has has made a new, ambitious legal claim.

Common Core, he says, is not merely bad policy, but a violation of federal law. It's an allegation that could encourage lawsuits against the standards in other states currently implementing the standards.

In a brief submitted Wednesday as part of a lawsuit against Louisiana's Board for Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), Jindal's attorneys claim that a consortium used to create multistate standardized tests aligned with Common Core was transformed into a cudgel to force states to obey federal edicts on education.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a consortium of more than a dozen states who are working together to create common assessments built around Common Core. Louisiana was an early member of the consortium, and until two months ago was preparing to use PARCC materials for the state's 2015 standardized tests.

Such plans collapsed into chaos, though, when Jindal issued a set of executive orders declaring that the state's contract with PARCC violated state law and required the creation of a brand new contract to craft standardized tests, which Jindal said should not be aligned with Common Core. BESE has alleged that Jindal's actions are illegal, and has vowed to continue forward with Common Core-derived tests while joining a lawsuit against the governor.

"Simply put, PARCC is the implementation platform for a carefully orchestrated federal scheme to supervise, direct and control educational curriculum, programs of instruction and instructional materials in direct violation of federal law," the report argues.

PARCC's creation, as well as the creation of the Smarter Balanced consortium (which serves the same purpose but has different members), was enabled through grants by the federal government through the Race to the Top program. That federal involvement, Jindal's team argues, irretrievably taints the organization as well as Common Core more broadly, even though the government was not directly involved with the standards' creation. The Department of Education Organization Act (DOEA) and other federal laws, they say, explicitly bar the Department of Education from taking actions that increase federal control over education.


Australia: Children who miss school days are hugely disadvantaged

How alarming then that so many Aussie kids are missing school. The average public school student in NSW is absent for almost three weeks each year. Three weeks! That’s not just a few silent letters, but whole tracts of maths and the entire periodic table.

High school students are worse — an OECD survey in 2012 revealed almost a third of Australian 15-year-olds (32 per cent) said they’d skipped at least one day of school in the previous two weeks. Compare that with the UK (18 per cent), New Zealand (17 per cent) and Japan and Korea (less than two per cent) and it becomes clear we’re raising a generation of slackers.

Until recently, it was the disadvantaged in the firing line. Hence Tony Abbott’s new policy to get indigenous students back in the classroom by docking their parents’ welfare payments if they don’t attend. A similar scheme was trialled in disadvantaged areas in Queensland, but abandoned in 2012 after only a 4 per cent increase in attendance rates.

So far, so predictable. Except it’s not. Because as the authors of a study have found, the new truants are just as likely to come from middle class households where mum and dad think nothing of taking young Toby out of class for a month to go to Europe. Or for a spontaneous week skiing. You don’t need to be able to spell hypocrisy to know that’s what this is.

Absenteeism is no longer a socio-economic issue, but a cultural one, and it’s poised to make dummies out of all of us. This week, the first major study linking poor attendance to lower NAPLAN results found that even a single absence can lead to a decline in academic performance.

“A 10-day period of unauthorised absence in a year is sufficient to drop a child about a band in the NAPLAN testing,” says the report’s co-author, Stephen Zubrick, from the University of Western Australia.

I’ve argued vociferously against the likes of Mark Latham, who says we should look to Asia for our education model. No one wants our happy-go-lucky, sand-and-surf kids to be stuck in learning gulags with small pillows strapped to their wrists so they can snatch sleep between round-the-clock lessons.

But if we’re to increase productivity, hone our intellectual capital and compete globally, we have to get serious about education and, at heart, that means recognising that school is a child’s job. Whether they’re a barefoot kid in the Kimberley or a private school girl a la Ja’mie, their role is to learn. That means grammar and algebra, not the tapas bars of Barcelona, because it’s convenient to tag a month in Europe onto Dad’s business trip to Spain.

Childhood is not one long Cheezel party. Yet increasingly, it seems the same parents who are over-invested in their child’s schooling — complaining about teachers, questioning results — are under-committed when it comes to their child actually attending. This, too, is the first generation raised by parents who constantly offer choice. “Oh you don’t want to go to school? OK.”


Monday, August 11, 2014

UK: Toddlers at risk of extremism, warns Education Secretary

Nurseries are at risk of being taken over by religious extremists, the Education Secretary will warn as she announces that toddlers are to be taught “fundamental British values”.

In her first major policy announcement, Nicky Morgan will say that local authorities will be obliged to use new powers to strip nurseries of their funding if they are found to “promote extremist views”.

She will also say that toddlers should be taught “fundamental British values in an age-appropriate way” as part of a drive to protect children from religious radicals.

Nurseries that teach creationism as scientific fact will be ineligible for taxpayer funding, under the new rules.

Mrs Morgan’s announcement comes in the wake of the “Trojan Horse” plot by Islamist radicals to take over state schools in Birmingham.

The scandal involved primary and secondary schools, but this is the first time the Government has warned that children as young as two could require protection from extremists.

Mrs Morgan is understood to be concerned about the risks posed to children by nurseries linked to radical mosques or run by Islamic hardliners.

There are also concerns within the Government that councils need greater powers to react when allegations of extremist values are raised. At present, local authorities provide funding to nurseries that meet basic Ofsted requirements, but there is no explicit statement that they must not support providers — such as churches, mosques or charities — with extremist views.

There are fears that loopholes leave councils feeling powerless to cut off financing for organisations which they have concerns about. “After Birmingham, we feel it is important to be proactive,” a government source said.

However, sources added that there is no concrete intelligence about individual nurseries that demands immediate action.

Ministers were prompted to act after a consultation into early education funding received 450 responses from individuals and organisations expressing concerns about funding going to organisations that promote extremist views.

A report by Peter Clarke, a former counter-terrorism chief at the Metropolitan Police, into the Birmingham schools scandal highlighted that the education system needed to be able to respond swiftly if concerns are raised.

Mrs Morgan, who replaced Michael Gove as Education Secretary in last month’s Cabinet reshuffle, strongly believes that any institution that fails to prepare children for life in modern  Britain cannot be sustained with public funding.

Proposals by Mr Gove to oblige schools to promote “fundamental British values” will be extended to children as young as two, Mrs Morgan will say. For toddlers, the teaching of such values is likely to include learning right from wrong, learning to take turns and share, and “challenging negative attitudes and stereotypes”, it is understood.

The rules on creationism will bring nurseries into line with state-funded schools. A government source said: “We are absolutely not saying, 'You can’t teach Bible stories’.”

Ofsted, the education watchdog, will use the new guidelines in its inspections of nurseries. A consultation will take place in September and Mrs Morgan hopes the rules will come into force in the New Year.

In July, Mr Clarke concluded there was a “co-ordinated” campaign by Islamist hardliners to oust state school head teachers and impose an “aggressive Islamic ethos” on pupils in Birmingham.

Council officials were aware of the plot for two years but “failed to intervene appropriately” as they feared offending Muslims. Mr Clarke said teachers used a secret instant messaging group on which they called for the “eradication” of homosexuality and claimed the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby was “staged”.

Dozens of children were said to have been tasked to act as “religious police” to report on staff and pupils who spoke “out of turn” or wore “inappropriate dress”.

Mrs Morgan described the findings as “disturbing” and said in future teachers would be sacked without appeal if they exposed children to extremism.


Academics against knowledge

"The Imperial University, Academic Repression and Scholarly Dissent", Piya Chatterjee and Sunaina Maira (eds), is published by University of Minnesota Press. Review below  by Joanna Wiliams

Two words recur throughout The Imperial University, with the regularity of a verbal tic: neoliberal (shorthand for all that’s bad) and Palestine (representing the good, the oppressed, and all that’s worthy of solidarity). The starting point of every contribution to this edited volume is that ‘higher education is firmly embedded in global structures of repression, militarism and neoliberalism’, and as such, ‘the US academy is an “imperial university”’. So convinced are the authors that ‘police in riot gear do not signal something exceptional; rather, their presence unmasks the codes of “the normal” in academic discourse and practice’ that readers may be forgiven for thinking universities have been turned into prisons, and scholars have become tragic victims. Each chapter recounts the restrictions placed upon those who teach about global injustices based upon gender, race, class and sexuality, or engage in scholarship that is critical of ‘the geopolitics of US imperialism across historical time and space’.

It is undoubtedly true that many US universities (just as in the UK) were founded upon the profits of empire. And post-9/11 there have been increased checks upon academic freedom. However, the authors of this volume do themselves no favours in making these arguments. They persistently over-dramatise the problems: we’re told, for example, that students who challenge neoliberalism ‘can quickly be removed from their positions of privilege and rendered part of the “criminal class”’ (‘rendered’ having particular connotations in the context of the ‘war on terror’). They elide different issues. ‘The rise in tuition and indebtedness within the context of the academic crisis simply is the militarisation of campus; they are one and the same’ (emphasis in original). Worst of all, the solutions they propose would denigrate academic freedom, knowledge and the very idea of a university.

Against knowledge

For the academics contributing to this book, knowledge, it seems, is hugely problematic. Its production is ‘central to the imperial project’ and as such, ‘no piece of scholarship has ever been non-aligned’. Attempts at objectivity are derided as mere ‘methodological foolishness’. They argue that in disciplines such as anthropology, knowledge is used to ‘other’ ‘indigenous and minoritised communities’, providing ‘both information and “intelligence” for the subjugation and administration’ of such groups. In science disciplines, knowledge is considered tainted by the development of the atom bomb and it is said still to serve the interests of America as a global and military power. In all areas of the university, knowledge is seen as simply ‘a valuable commodity’, ‘marketed through books, articles and conferences as well as patents and governmental contracts’ in the neoliberal economy.

There’s an important point in here: scholars and universities should not align themselves with either state projects or commercial interests. To do so jeopardises both objectivity and the exercise of academic freedom. Unfortunately, this is again lost in the hyperbole of the arguments and the proposed solutions. Instead of making the case for more objective, or better, knowledge, the authors argue: ‘We ultimately fail to dismantle the academic-military-prison-industrial complex if we address it only through the production of more knowledge. Since knowledge is a commodity… the production of “better”, more progressive or counter-carceral knowledge can also be co-opted and put to work by the academic-MPIC.’

When research is seen as simply contributing to the neoliberal state, and teaching is considered one of the primary ‘colonising tactics of indoctrinating Western “civility”’, readers are left asking why the contributors to this volume carry on working in the academy they loathe so much. Some seek to carve out ‘alternative’ space in the interdisciplinary terrain of area studies, ethnic studies and women’s studies. Others reject individual scholarship and engage in a ‘collective process of knowledge production’. But most often, what’s argued for is a rejection of academic work in favour of political campaigning; the authors ‘embrace the idea of teacher-scholar activism’.

One author describes how, having attended a conference about Palestine, ‘I felt it would be a disservice to my political awakening not to figure out ways to integrate these debates into my classroom’. The inherent narcissism in such a statement underscores a bigger problem: the rejection of disciplinary knowledge leaves the academics-turned-campaigners without any basis to challenge the ideas they deride. Without knowledge, the racism and sexism the writers identify is met by assertion and emotion. Their students are denied the knowledge that may help them not only to make sense of the world, but perhaps also to transform it.

Redefining academic freedom

A further problem with giving up on objective knowledge as the goal of higher education is that the exercise of academic freedom becomes meaningless. New ideas are merely a different perspective rather than a fundamental challenge to what has gone before. Indeed, many of the authors of The Imperial University are scathing of ‘“academic freedom”’ (their scare quotes) and reject it outright as ‘one of the pillars upon which academic liberalism builds its edifice’. They mock Cary Nelson’s statement that ‘academic freedom thus embodies Enlightenment commitments to the pursuit of knowledge’ for its elitism and naivety. ‘Academic freedom’, it is argued, emerged as a way to deal with dissenters within the academy, containing and tolerating knowledge that might threaten the status quo on the basis that people have the right to free expression while at the same time preventing such knowledge from being acted upon. By the same token, they argue that John Stuart Mill’s view that academic freedom allows for the checking of truths in a marketplace of ideas means that the ‘campus radical’ is tolerated as ‘a foil for the correctness of liberal precepts and as long as he or she does not indulge in any attempt to move a transformative political agenda [into] the campus culture’.

Having rejected the liberal concept of academic freedom, then, contributors to The Imperial University posit a redefinition – one that is based upon a broader concept of equity and social justice. They argue that building a ‘progressive ethos’ into the concept of academic freedom necessitates thinking about freedom in a ‘deeper way’ that encompasses ‘the question of affordability of higher education’ and ‘genuine campus democracy’, as well as commitment to affirmative action and a ‘social force that would allow our ideas to have cultural valence’. Readers can only surmise what is meant by ‘genuine’ democracy and to whom the ‘our’ refers – presumably it refers to the authors, their like-minded colleagues, and the society they would like to live in. Academics are unelected and they do not have a special right to determine the values that have weight in society, however much they may believe they have justice on their side. Ironically, exposing ideas to critical scrutiny – exactly the liberal project academic freedom supports and which these writers seek to do away with – does allow for some ideas to be discredited and better ideas to win out. Circumventing this intellectual process prevents both freedom and justice.

The authors of this volume deride as ‘sanctimonious liberals’ those who ‘invoke high-minded principles such as “academic freedom” when it suits them’. They argue that the university has been ‘tainted by Enlightenment-based projects of knowledge production and structuration that perform heteropatriracialities’, and that it must instead be ‘imagined as a site of solidarity with those engaged in struggles against neoliberal capitalism’. Call me a sanctimonious liberal, but this sounds to me like sour grapes from those unable to make a convincing case based on the intellectual merit of their arguments.


Outrageous history curriculum in Common core

We have all heard the horrors associated with the common core agenda; how these teaching methods take math problems and make them harder to understand for no reason at all. Science classes are pushing global warming theories and we have heard rumors of a complete overhaul of the history and civics programs.

Well, I am here to tell you that it is far worse than we ever expected… The rumors were true.

The College Board – the organization that runs High School Advanced Placement (AP) tests and controls course lesson plans – has announced dramatic changes to its U.S. history curriculum.

It is important to note that College Board is not run by a government entity, however it has tremendous power over school curriculum because students want to take as many Advanced Placement tests as possible in order to gain college credit. The non-profit organization is also run by David Coleman, one of the architects behind the common core movement.

The brightest students High School take these AP tests. An estimated 450,000 students will take the AP U.S. History exam this coming year and I was SHOCKED to learn about the changes made to High School history curriculum this year!

The entire U.S. History curriculum has taken a dramatic leftist turn.

James Madison (the author of the Constitution), Thomas Jefferson (the author of the Declaration of Independence), Benjamin Franklin, Alexis de Tocqueville, Abraham Lincoln and countless other founders and historical figures have been removed from the curriculum.

Instead of teaching students about these forward-thinking individuals, the curriculum will instead focus on America’s shortcomings. These are the men who gave the world modern representative government, and instead of showing how influential they were, the new curriculum will only focus on their shortcomings!

Instead of focusing on how Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence, you can expect High School students to focus on how Jefferson allegedly fathered children with his slaves!

Instead of focusing on the early Americans’ accomplishments, the new framework teaches that the colonists brought “widespread deadly epidemics,” a “caste system,” and slavery. The Europeans’ “belief in white superiority” was used, the curriculum declares, “to justify

Students will no longer be taught that America was created as a shining “city on a hill.” Instead, the framework will focus on the fact that British colonists created a racial hierarchy.

There is a concerted effort within government and the textbook publishers to change the way high school students are taught about America. Our kids are being taught that America is evil when they should be taught that we are exceptional!

The kids are the future and instead of being taught America’s greatness, they are being taught just the opposite.

The College Board contends that teachers aren’t required to stick to their curriculum… they are free to teach their own material as well. However, only the approved material will be on the final exams!

Larry Krieger, a teacher who has taught U.S. history for 35 years and written many widely used AP exam prep books, said that when he first saw the new material, he was shocked and dismayed.  “It’s relentless left-wing indoctrination,” he said, calling it “antithetical to everything that I believe about teaching and our country’s history.”

The response from history teachers has been huge. However, they have been threatened with losing their AP teaching license if they leak any of the teaching guides.

That, however, hasn’t stopped a number of teachers from commenting on the changes.

We are witnessing a coordinated, two-pronged effort to federalize our school curriculum and shift it dramatically to the left. Common core was introduced and implemented before many American parents knew what was going on. The fight against common core is just starting to break, but there is still a long battle ahead because the curriculum has already been implemented.

Our kids should be taught of America’s greatness and the fact that we live in a country built around protected human rights.

Instead, teachers will now be forced to teach that America is one of the most genocidal regimes ever to exist!

Our children should be taught that the United States is unique because it facilitates individual achievement and allows citizens to meet their potential.

Instead, teachers will focus on inequality and push a social justice agenda on our kids!

The solution is simple: this new curriculum is nothing short of liberal brainwashing. It is nothing but an attempt to spread propaganda and create a new generation of American liberals.

The Left expects you to just take this sitting down. Liberals expect for you to just pay no attention to what children are being taught today in our schools.

Just as common core was established before most American parents, lawmakers, and school districts even knew it existed, the new AP U.S. History Exam solidify a contentious and politicized national school curriculum without proper notice or debate.  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexis de Tocqueville, and a full understanding of our founding principles are being removed from the curriculum. Ethnicity, race, and gender are on the way in! This is a clear violation of the Constitution’s guarantee that education remains in control of the states!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

UK: Teacher jailed for hitting a seven-year-old boy when he made mistakes during reading lessons at mosque

Beating is normal in madrassas

A teacher has been jailed for hitting a young boy when he made mistakes during reading lessons at a mosque.

Arfaq Hussain, 36, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, used his knuckles to rap the seven-year-old around the knee in what the judge described as 'unforgiveable conduct'.

The offence came to light in December 2012 when another pupil told a teacher that he did not want to do PE classes at the Jame Masjid Mosque in Batley, West Yorkshire, because his legs were sore.

Leeds Crown Court heard how social services spoke to both boys about the allegations. A medical examination then found six blue-coloured bruises to the side of the seven-year-old's knee.

The court heard that, when the boy was questioned, he said his teacher would hit him if he made mistakes.  He said he would be told: 'You’re not reading what you are supposed to be reading.'

Hussain, who has been suspended from teaching, admitted cruelty and was jailed for 26 weeks.  He admitted he kept an eye on the children and reported them to the main teacher if they were naughty.

Rebecca Young, defending, said it was a 'momentary lapse of control by an otherwise caring father and teacher'.

She said he had not intended to cause any injured and was 'mortified' by the shame he had brought on his family and mosque.

Miss Young added that a jail sentence would be difficult for his family, for whom he was the sole provider.

Judge Tom Bayliss QC accepted it was a one-off offence but said his parents had trusted their son would not be harmed at the mosque.  He said: 'They were entitled and the public is entitled to know that those who care for our children in whatever capacity, voluntary or paid, will not abuse them, will not injure them.

'You did injure him. It may have been only once but it was unforgiveable conduct towards a young and vulnerable child.'


'Skim-read, socialize, and don't be neurotic': The 1980s letter to MBA students that is still being shared with elite candidates today

A letter which was written by a Stanford School of Business graduate and handed down to first-year students as a frank survival guide for 25 years has been unearthed.

The candid six-page confessional was written at some point during the late 80s by Shirzad Bozorgchami - now a California-based author and CEO - and offers MBA students the sort of sage advice that is applicable to many walks of life.

'You don’t need to be in a study group, you don’t need to turn in every homework, you don’t have to appear bubbly and social all the time,' the letter states. 'You don’t have to interview with investment banks and consultants, you don’t need to be conservative and safe in class discussions.'

Mr Bozorgchami, who grew up in a turbulent, emotionally abusive home in Iran and was highly intimidated when he first joined the esteemed Stanford GSB, penned the letter to reassure and encourage his fellow students.  'This note reflects my personal thoughts, feelings and suggestions for a more fulfilling GSB life,' he wrote.

Top of the list was Mr Bozorgchami's suggestion to embrace moderation when it came to studying. 'I could never understand why some people would spend hours on putting the finishing touches on a report, when the act involved very little additional learning.

'Neurotic perfectionism at its worst,' he wrote, adding that the sooner this habit is broken 'the happier you'll be.'

He also advised that rather than 'carefully reading an article,' students would do better to 'skim-read' three of them, and socialize a little with the time saved poring over books.

'You often only need to know about half the material covered,' he revealed.

'If you work hard because... you are afraid of not passing, because an ugly monster in your nightmares keeps reminding you that the world will come to an end if you don't pass, you can easily resent the experience and find it painful.'

The illuminating letter also placed a strong emphasis on getting to know classmates, avoiding the harsh judgement of others, and generally being a pleasant human being; which Mr Bozorgchami points out is far more likely to lead to later success than getting the best grades.

'By actively judging people positively, you are exposing yourself to being hurt a little by a jerk,' he conceded. 'But that is a small price to pay to get to know many more wonderful people that you wouldn't otherwise take the chance on.

'We really are a bunch of very nice people here, only most of us are afraid to show it openly.'

Following the letter, Mr Bozorgchami has since claimed he received an unexpected flood of thank-you responses from students who were helped or comforted by his words.

It thus unwittingly became something of a manifesto, and is allegedly still in circulation among new students at Stanford GSB, and other schools around the country.

Four years after he first wrote the letter, Mr Bozorgchami followed it up with an epilogue, stating: 'I am deeply moved that this letter has become a traditional gift from the second year class to the first years in the weekend before midterms.'

Written in 1991, it included lessons he had further learned since leaving GSB - 'a very unusual place, with extremely high standards' - and joined the real business world.

'No one has once asked me about my grades since graduation,' he wrote.

'The more lasting impact of the GSB for me... has been the soft rather than hard skills of management and the resulting relationships.'

Mr Bozorgchami, who published a motivational book called Positive Intelligence in 2012, concluded his wisdom-packed manuscript with one last kernel of advice.

'Not one on his/her deathbed has been known to say "I wish I had calculated a few more NPVs [Net Present Values]."

'Some have been known to wish they had taken a few more chances, loved a few more people, touched a few more lives, fought for a few more causes, caused a few more smiles.'


Australia: Jewish schools in lockdown after Bondi race hate bus attack

ARMED guards, police patrols and traffic escorts greeted Jewish families yesterday as an unprecedented security crackdown was imposed across the eastern suburbs in the wake of the anti- ­Semitic attack which left a city shocked and shaken.

Jewish colleges across Sydney were placed on high alert in the wake of Wednesday’s terrifying attack by six drunken teenagers which left a busload of Moriah and Mount Sinai schoolchildren traumatised.

The gravity of the distant Gaza conflict shattered what should have been just another day for children as young as six and seven at the Jewish eastern suburb schools.

They were confronted by uniformed police officers on their buses and armed security guards clad in bulletproof vests at the schoolgates.

Police have so far made three arrests in relation to the incident involving six teenagers, aged between 14 and 17. They allegedly boarded the 660 school bus and hurled anti-Semitic abuse and threatened to cut the throats of its young passengers. Police are hunting three more people.

The six teenagers who allegedly boarded the school bus and began chanting “heil Hitler”, “kill the Jews” and “Palestine, Palestine” will be dealt with under the Young Offenders Act if charged, which means they will avoid jail and criminal convictions.

It is understood all six youths live around Sydney’s eastern suburbs and attend public schools.

A Moriah College student told The Daily Telegraph last night the incident was being widely discussed and condemned by the school ­community.

“We’re all shocked that something like this could happen in Australia,” he said. “Teachers were telling us it’s something you’d expect to see in Europe.”

He said his school bus was escorted by security personnel yesterday morning and an increased security presence — including armed members of the Board of Deputies’ Community Security Group — was visible throughout Moriah.

The school’s principal John Hamey, in a letter sent home to parents, described the attack as “random”

He said steps were being taken to ensure students wouldn’t be exposed to such abuse again.

“The college, in conjunction with the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and CSG, has already commenced discussions with the (State Transit Authority) to minimise the possibility of a recurrence of this sort in the future,” he wrote.

Mr Roberts also personally escorted schoolchildren to and from buses yesterday.

Police nabbed five drunken youths following a separate incident in Rose Bay around 3.30am yesterday morning and learned that three of those teens had been involved in the anti-Semitic tirade.

CCTV footage from the bus provided by the State Transit Authority was forming part of the police investigation.

The driver of the 660 bus at the time followed protocol and will not be suspended, an STA spokesman said.

Jacqui Blackburn, whose 12-year-old daughter pleaded with the driver to kick the six youths off the bus, said the 25 children on-board were still traumatised by the ordeal.

Police said last night there was no evidence of any physical violence.

The alleged victims were yesterday being interview by police in the presence of guardians.