Thursday, November 19, 2015

Obscene British Primary school BANS blind seven-year-old girl from using walking cane 'because it could trip up teachers'

Typical British bureaucrsats.  Give them an ounce of authority and they will find ways to hurt people with it.  They're wavering under publicity, however

A primary school has banned a blind seven-year-old girl from using her walking cane at school for 'health and safety' reasons - in case she trips up teachers and pupils.

Lily-Grace Hooper, from North Bristol, suffered a stroke when she was just four days old. It caused the little girl to lose her 3D vision, become blind in her right eye, and to only be able to see lights and colours in her left. Earlier this year a charity donated her a fibre-glass walking cane after she started using cardboard tubes to guide herself at home.

But now Hambrook Primary School has said it posed a high risk to others around her after a safety assessment. Lily-Grace has been told she cannot use it and should instead have full adult support at all times - and has to 'walk carefully'.

The decision by Hambrook Primary School and the Sensory Support Service - which does assessments for schools - has infuriated Lily-Grace's mother, Kristy.

Kristy, 38, said: 'When the school told me she can no longer bring her cane into school, I just thought this must be health and safety gone mad.

'She hasn't had any problems with any of the other students, and none of the parents have complained about it - in fact, they have all been very supportive. 'I don't understand where the school is coming from.

'Lily-Grace has taken to the cane very quickly, and she needs it as she travels to school, walks to the playground, or just being in school.

'I am absolutely livid. What about the health and safety of my girl? I like the school, they are a good school, but this really is very poor advice.

'It's just ridiculous. If you took a walking cane away from a blind adult, you would say that was discrimination. It's the same here.'

But a risk assessment by the Sensory Support Service on behalf of the school said the cane caused high risk to people around her.

The risk assessment said Lily-Grace should use hand rails to get about and she has also has been asked to 'walk carefully over all surfaces'.

The report added she should use a shortened cane, something her parents say is not suitable because the long and light stick has been specifically designed to suit her needs.

Ms Hooper is now worried her daughter will become dependent on having someone show her around, and a helper would set her daughter apart from the rest of her class.

She added: 'It is a disability, but I want to celebrate it and make sure she can become independent.'

Sarah Murray, founder of Common Sense Canes, who donated a stick to Lily-Grace, said the treatment of the school girl was 'absolute nonsense'.

She added: 'I've heard about this health and safety reasons, and I just cannot fathom what the school is thinking. Why are they taking a cane away from a little girl?'

Charity for vision-impaired children, Blind Children UK, said it was imperative a child learned independence from a young age. A spokesman said: 'Using a cane teaches a child to keep themselves safe and can help them to become less reliant on others.

School head Jo Dent said they would discuss the situation with the family. She said: 'The school's mobility officer raised health and safety issues around the new cane following a recent risk assessment.

'We have to consider all of our pupils, so it is important that we have an opportunity to discuss the situation before we make any decisions. 'We are very keen to resolve this issue as soon as possible and have been actively seeking to engage with the parent to bring this to an agreeable conclusion.

'The pupil has not been banned from bringing in their cane, we have simply asked them to not use it around school as a temporary measure until we have the chance to meet with the parent and discuss the situation.


Education Disaster

By Walter E. Williams

The 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress report, also known as The Nation's Report Card, shows that U.S. educational achievement, to put it nicely, leaves much to be desired.

When it comes to reading and math skills, just 34 percent and 33 percent, respectively, of U.S. eighth-grade students tested proficient or above — that is, performed at grade level or above. Recent test scores show poor achievement levels in other academic areas. Only 18 percent of eighth-graders are proficient in U.S. history. It's 27 percent in geography and 23 percent in civics.

The story is not much better when it comes to high schoolers. According to 2010 and 2013 NAEP test scores, only 38 percent of 12th-graders were proficient in reading. It was 26 percent in math, 12 percent in history, 20 percent in geography and 24 percent in civics (

Many of these poorly performing youngsters gain college admission. The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education reports, "Every year in the United States, nearly 60 percent of first-year college students discover that, despite being fully eligible to attend college, they are not ready for postsecondary studies."

That means colleges spend billions of dollars on remedial education. Many of the students who enroll in those classes never graduate from college. The fact that many students are not college-ready takes on even greater significance when we consider that many college courses have been dumbed down.

Richard Vedder, emeritus professor of economics at Ohio University, argues that there has been a shocking decline in college academic standards. Grade inflation is rampant. A seminal study, "Academically Adrift," by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa, argues that very little improvement in critical reasoning skills occurs in college. Adult literacy is falling among college graduates. Large proportions of college graduates do not know simple facts, such as the half-century in which the Civil War occurred. Vedder says that at the college level, ideological conformity is increasingly valued over free expression and empirical inquiry.

While educational achievement among whites is nothing to write home about, that for blacks is no less than a disaster. Only 13 percent of black eighth-graders score proficient or above in math, and only 16 percent do in reading. In 2013, only 7 percent of black 12th-graders scored proficient in math, and only 16 percent did in reading. The full magnitude of the black education tragedy is seen by the statistics on the other end of the achievement continuum. "Below basic" is the score given when a student is unable to demonstrate even partial mastery of knowledge and skills fundamental for proficient work at his grade level. In 2013, 62 percent of black 12th-graders scored below basic in math, and 44 percent scored below basic in reading.

Dr. Thomas Sowell has written volumes on black education. The magnitude of today's black education tragedy is entirely new. He demonstrates this in "Education: Assumptions Versus History," a 1985 collection of papers. Paul Laurence Dunbar High School is a black public school in Washington, D.C. As early as 1899, its students scored higher on citywide tests than any of the city's white schools. From its founding in 1870 to 1955, most of its graduates went off to college. Dunbar's distinguished alumni included U.S. Sen. Ed Brooke, physician Charles Drew and, during World War II, nearly a score of majors, nine colonels and lieutenant colonels, and a brigadier general.

Baltimore's Frederick Douglass High School also produced distinguished alumni, such as Thurgood Marshall and Cab Calloway, as well as several judges, congressmen and civil rights leaders. Douglass High was second in the nation in black Ph.D.s among its alumni.

The stories of the excellent predominantly black schools of yesteryear found in Sowell's study refute the notion of "experts" that more money is needed to improve black education. Today's Paul Laurence Dunbar and Frederick Douglass high schools have resources that would have been unimaginable to their predecessors. Those resources have meant absolutely nothing in terms of academic achievement.


Divestment: an illiberal, anti-academic movement

A new report exposes the campaign to turn students against fossil fuels

The University of Oxford hit the headlines earlier this year when it ruled out investing in coal and tar sands. Oxford’s own press releases paraded this ‘divestment’ as a victory for environmental campaigners. Less trumpeted was the fact that Oxford had no investments in coal or tar sands from which to divest. Nothing had changed. The announcements were simply intended to send a message to the world that ‘Oxford University is a world leader in the battle against climate change’.

That Oxford’s declaration rang hollow has not stopped it becoming a much vaunted success story in a campaign to get universities to divest from fossil fuels. The divestment movement, seemingly student-led and hugely popular, has rapidly become a growing force on campuses around the world. Now, the origins and practices of this campaign have been uncovered and meticulously detailed by the National Association of Scholars (NAS). Its latest report, Inside Divestment: The Illiberal Movement to Turn a Generation Against Fossil Fuels, sets out the reality behind the virtue-signalling headlines.

Inside Divestment explains how ‘the fossil-fuel-divestment movement emerged from a single campaign at Swarthmore College in fall 2010, and has grown into an international movement’. But, as the NAS report shows, such apparent global influence is not the whole story. The divestment movement, a collection of local campaigning groups, might be fronted by students, but ‘many are run by small numbers of full-time organisers’ who are ‘orchestrated by Bill McKibben’s activist group’. With relatively few student activists, the divestment movement ‘makes up in boasts what it may lack in grassroots support’.

Despite much publicity, then, only 44 higher-education institutions have actually divested from fossil fuels. This figure represents just 0.24 per cent of colleges and universities in the world and 0.62 per cent of those in the US. Few of the ‘divested’ institutions are large or prestigious and, as at Oxford, some ‘have sold no investments at all since their divestment decisions’. However, as Inside Divestment explains, such figures mean little to a movement whose own advocates acknowledge that, even if successful, it ‘will not decrease the share price of fossil-fuel companies or appreciably shrink their profits or access to capital’. The movement’s claims that divestment can stop global warming and improve the environment are also exposed as bogus: ‘It can do neither.’

This practical impotency does not matter to the divestment movement, which, as the NAS report repeatedly demonstrates, is not a political campaign aimed at winning people over to particular arguments, but a moral crusade. Oxford is not alone in its grandstanding. By self-consciously eschewing debate in favour of moral declarations and emotional demonstrations, the divestment campaigners betray the principles of free inquiry that higher education should be defending.

The divestment movement has been able to garner such widespread but passive support in higher education because values have already trumped the pursuit of truth. As Inside Divestment notes, ‘the divestment movement is itself a spin-off from the larger campus-sustainability movement’. Universities have legitimised a blurring of the boundaries between scholarship and political activism. Two campaigns took root when ‘professors gave college credit to students who worked on a fossil-fuel-divestment campaign’, while another started at a university that ‘assigned every freshman a summer reading – Eaarth, by Bill McKibben’.

Faculty involvement lends weight to the unashamed moral crusading of the divestment movement. The NAS report notes that ‘small numbers of students run vociferous campaigns focused on publicly shaming those who disagree’. The aim is not to give students access to facts for them to make up their own minds; rather, it’s to present them with moral certainties and polarise opposition. It gives students a cause that channels feelings of both anger and moral superiority. Those questioning divestment are presented as uncaring oppressors: ‘Anything besides full agreement counts as immorality.’ The divestment movement’s strategy is ‘to intimidate the uncommitted into joining, or at least not opposing, divestment’.

The moral certainty of the divestment campaigners sits particularly uncomfortably within universities, whose whole reason for existence should be underpinned by critical thinking and the questioning of absolutes. The divestment movement’s conviction that when it comes to climate change, ‘the time for rational debate is over’, makes it a campaign that cannot permit dissent. The desire to bypass the public, or students, comes from McKibben, who ‘argued that needed a new strategy that was not reliant on going “through the political system”’. It is not surprising, then, that, ‘only a handful of colleges have held actual debates about fossil-fuel divestment’. But the argument that the science is now settled is undercut by the facts: ‘[D]ata show us to be in the midst of more than 18 years during which there has been no appreciable global warming.’

The moral imperative of the campus climate crusaders to ignore facts, bypass arguments and prevent debate places the divestment campaign in opposition to academic freedom. Inside Divestment reveals the extent to which the movement ‘scorns discourse as needless delay’. Campaigners decry debate as ‘a hopeless waste of time’ and ‘unproductive’. Fearmongering means ‘divestment activists commonly argue that the time for civil discourse is over. Talk is only a means of delay that the earth cannot afford.’ Such arguments are made most crudely by activist students. One Swarthmore student published an article on her campus blog with the subheading, ‘Fuck your constructive dialogue’. In it she argued that ‘those who stood for “constructive dialogue” about “facts and reason” rather than “hyperbole and emotion” were just putting up smokescreens to block their “elitist” intentions.’ Such students only echo the views of the movement’s leaders, who favour conflict over dialogue, arguing: ‘“Open conflict” could “correct a bias”, such as Swarthmore’s “bias toward cognitive linearity”, that is, logic-driven debate.’

With its disregard for truth, logic, debate and academic freedom, the divestment movement represents an assault on the principles that have underpinned higher education for over a century. Universities are transformed from places of intellectual inquiry into sites for political campaigning. Divestment campaigners further exacerbate the trend for higher education to be more concerned with the promotion of particular predetermined values than with the pursuit of knowledge. The New School in New York announced its divestment from fossil fuels, along with the creation of a climate-change curriculum intended to form students into ‘climate citizens’. In contrast, the NAS’s Inside Divestment is a clarion call to debate. It provides the badly needed, dispassionate, detailed and rational account of the divestment movement that, to its shame, has failed to emerge from within academia.


Fourth grader threatened with sexual harassment charges for writing his classmate a love letter saying her 'eyes are like diamonds'

What started as an innocent love letter passed from a nine-year-old boy to the girl he likes in class has caused something of a scandal at a small Florida elementary school.

The fourth grader is now being threatened with charges of sexual harassment because of the note - only he doesn't know what sexual harassment is.

The letter describes the girl as 'pretty' and 'cute' and says she has 'eyes like diamonds', but other kids in the class started making fun of the boy and said that he wanted to see the girl naked.

That's when the principal was notified, and an investigation was launched at the Hillsborough district school in Tampa.

The boy's mother, who asked not to be named, is outraged over how her son has been treated.

'That's when the principal proceeded to tell me that it wasn't appropriate that he was writing the note and that if he writes another note, they are going to file sexual harassment charges on my nine-year-old,' the mom told ABC Action News.

The school district said that because the boy sent more than one letter the situation qualifies as harassment. 

The district also said it discourages children passing notes because it is a distraction.

However the boy's mother said it was a harmless gesture.

'He's nine - what little kid doesn't write love notes?' the mom said.  The mother added: 'My son doesn't even know what sexual harassment means.'

A psychologist told the network that she doesn't believe the incident can be classed as harassment.  However she encouraged parents to talk to their children about boundaries.

The school has so far not commented on the letters.


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