Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christ Hidden in Our Schools, While Muhammad Roams the Halls Freely

In the U.S., the media mocks those who make their Christian practices public-such as praying for victims of terrorism or young people committing to abstain from sexual relations until married. Yet that same media attacks those voicing concerns about terrorism's link to Islamic beliefs as being Islamophobic.
In America, we see a nation so intimidated by political correctness that people in positions of responsibility make illogical decisions concerning the observation of a Christian holiday.

Recently, Eujin Jaela Kim, a new principal at Public School (PS) 169 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York, decided to prohibit the use of the word "Christmas" or displays of anything related to it including Santa, angels, gift-giving, a star, etc. Not only was Christmas taboo, Kim also mandated the Pledge of Allegiance be eliminated along with references to Thanksgiving Day.

Fortunately, when this story broke last week, Kim's boss, School Superintendent Anita Skop, took immediate action. While the Pledge had not been heard since the beginning of the school year at PS 169, it was recited loud and clear a few days after the story was published over the school's public address system by two fifth graders. The Christmas and Thanksgiving bans were also lifted.
Kim is not the only person in the school system trying to drum Jesus Christ out of it by eliminating any celebration of His birth.

After the ACLU took legal action, Concord Community schools in Indiana were prohibited by court order from including any historical account of Christ's birth during its annual Christmas program.

A preliminary injunction was issued, justified on the basis the program "conveys a message of endorsement of religion, or that a particular religious belief is favored or preferred."

Meanwhile, Blaine, Minnesota school officials instruct students to sing a song in their Christmas program saluting the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. The words "Allahu Akbar" are included in the song-words attesting to the greatness of Allah.

Ramadan is a Muslim holiday occurring many months earlier with no connection in timing to Christmas. Clearly, school administrators-who defended their actions on the basis of voluntary participation-lacked knowledge about Islam but nonetheless felt political correctness compelled them to recognize a Muslim celebration of some sort.

School officials at Riverbeds High School in Virginia instructed students, as part of an assignment on learning calligraphy, to write the "shahada"-Islam's statement of faith. One of Islam's five pillars, the shahada declares, "There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."

While a teacher justified this assignment as an opportunity to learn calligraphy, it did not explain why female students were also invited to wear the "hijab" or headscarf.

In Massachusetts, schools have been guilty of undertaking field trips to mega-mosques where students are subjected to Islamic propaganda. This included the false assertion Muslim women were given the right to vote before women in the West were (Muslim women today either have no such right or very limited rights as recently demonstrated in Saudi Arabia). Male students visiting the mosques had to prostrate themselves before Allah alongside Muslim male worshippers.

In a Chicago, Illinois high school, an event dubbed "Walk a Mile in Her Hijab Day" was held ostensibly to give non-Muslim girls a "better understanding of the Muslim faith."

This event was sponsored by the Muslim Student Association (MSA)-which is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a group banned in several Muslim countries as a terrorist organization. Additionally, MSA has also been declared by the U.S. justice system as "an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terror-financing trial ever held on U.S. soil."

A former Muslim in Iran and now a Christian pastor, Shahram Hadian, asks the obvious about this group, " is MSA now getting access to our high schools? is that not the state promoting a religion?" Another question arising is where is the ACLU?

Daniel Akbari, also a former Iranian Muslim, is an expert in sharia. He says the hijab is a clear symbol of Islamic law and in no way does wearing it promote humanity. What it does represent, he says, is "support for a hard-line ideology that leads to sharia, honor violence and honor killings."

Outside U.S. borders, Christ is on the run as well. In Iraq-a country that has hosted a Christian population for two thousands years-the religion is doomed.

Meanwhile, Christians living in other Muslim countries run risks attempting to celebrate Christmas.

In oil-rich Brunei, by virtue of implementing sharia last year, the Sultan-for Christians-has become the Grinch who stole Christmas. One who celebrates Christmas "excessively and openly" today could well end up serving a five-year jail sentence.
Somalia recently imposed a similar ban. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has long had such a prohibition in place-not even allowing churches.

What is it that Muslim governments fear about public celebrations of Christmas or Christians openly practicing their religion.

They fear exposure to other religions might motivate Muslims to leave the nation's official religion of Islam. (Any Muslim leaving Islam would then be subject to death under sharia.)

Under Islam's doctrine of supremacy, it is the dominant religion. Others may only be practiced if non-Muslims pay a special tax known as "jizya" to do so.

The ban in Brunei against Christmas symbols sounds eerily similar to that initially imposed at PS 169 in New York. Fortunately, Principal Kim did not threaten children violating her mandate with jail time.

Many other Muslim countries outlaw Christmas celebrations as well. The heavily Muslim, former-Soviet republic of Tajikistan, bans Christmas trees and gift-giving in its schools.

Situated northeast of Afghanistan, Tajikistan does not even tolerate one festively dressing up as Santa Claus. After a Muslim cleric discouraged his flock to participate in the Christian celebration of the new year, a celebrant who had donned the costume of a Russian Santa was stabbed to death on New Year's Eve in 2011.

Interestingly, while the birthdate of Prophet Muhammad is celebrated on December 12 and 17 by Sunnis and Shiites respectively, in an effort to undermine Christian's celebration of Christ's birth, the UAE has now officially declared December 24 as the day to celebrate Muhammad's birth.

While it is sad enough to see Christian practices outlawed or forced underground in Muslim countries, it is a travesty to see American schools voluntarily doing it. But most disturbing is that educators and political correctness advocates fail to grasp the hypocrisy of eradicating Christian values in our schools while promoting those of Islam.


Bipartisan Achievements: Bigger Government, Worse Schools

"This is an early Christmas present."  That is what a very merry Barack Obama said earlier this month when he signed into law a bill sent to him by the Republican Congress.

The Republicans in Congress entitled it "The Every Student Succeeds Act." They wrote it to replace the "No Child Left Behind Act" - which was sponsored 14 years ago by then-Rep. John Boehner, a future Republican House speaker, and signed by George W. Bush, the last Republican president.

The Every Student Succeeds Act now serves the same function as its predecessor: perpetuating federal involvement in primary and secondary education. Like No Child Left Behind, it also demonstrates that big government is a bipartisan endeavor in Washington, D.C.

In fiscal 2002, when No Child Left Behind became law, the federal government spent $47.036 billion on the Department of Education. That equals $62.053 billion in 2015 dollars. In fiscal 2015, the federal government spent $90.031 billion on the Department of Education.

In the No Child Left Behind era, real annual federal education spending increased 45 percent.  At the same time, achievement scores in reading and math flatlined.

In 2002, public school eighth graders scored an average of 263 out of 500 on the National Assessment of Educational Progress reading test. In 2015, they scored an average of 264 out of 500. In 2002, only 31 percent of American public school eighth graders scored "at or above proficient" in reading, according to the Department of Education. In 2015, only 33 percent did.

In mathematics, public school eighth graders averaged 276 out of 500 in 2003. In 2015, they averaged 281. In 2003, only 27 percent were at or above proficient in math. In 2015, it was only 32 percent.

In the 2001-2002 school year, when No Child Left Behind became law, current expenditures per pupil in the nation's public elementary and secondary schools was $10,890 in constant 2013-2014 dollars. In 2011-2012, it was $11,732.

America's public schools are not failing for lack of money.

But federal involvement in the public schools is also increasing the moral hazard Americans face when they send their children there.

The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights issued a "guidance" last year declaring that Title IX, the federal law banning sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding, also bars discrimination against students who claim a "gender identity" different from their biological sex.

Pursuing this principle, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice told the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in a brief filed this fall that: "[T]he Department of Education - the agency with primary enforcement authority over Title IX - has concluded that, although recipients may provide separate restrooms for boys and girls, when a school does so, it must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity.

Doing so is the only way to ensure that the school's provision of sex-segregated restrooms complies with Title IX mandated not to subject any student to discrimination on the basis of sex."

Meanwhile, the new bipartisan education law that President Barack Obama happily declared a "Christmas present" authorizes increased federal involvement in preschool.

"Title IX would house a new federal preschool program authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act and establish annual funding at $250 million," Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation wrote in the Daily Signal. "The new preschool program would be housed at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and jointly administered by the Department of Education.

"The funding would be made available to states to help coordinate existing government preschool programs, such as those operated by the states and Head Start, and to establish new preschool programs," says Burke. "Although some funding has been appropriated for the preschool program for the past two years, the new Every Student Succeeds Act would codify the new $250-million federal preschool program, creating mission creep in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act."

America does not need the federal government involved in preschools; it needs parents in total control of where their children go to school.

The federal Department of Education should be abolished. At the local level, local governments should take the same amount of money they now spend per pupil in their public schools and give it in the form of a voucher to every parent with a school-age child.

Parents should be permitted to redeem those vouchers at any school they like, period. 


Myth: Individuals learn best when taught in their preferred learning style

It is a myth is that individuals learn best when they are taught in the way they prefer to learn. A verbal learner, for example, supposedly learns best through oral instructions, whereas a visual learner absorbs information most effectively through graphics and other diagrams.

There are two truths at the core of this myth: many people have a preference for how they receive information, and evidence suggests that teachers achieve the best educational outcomes when they present information in multiple sensory modes. Couple that with people's desire to learn and be considered unique, and conditions are ripe for myth-making.

“Learning styles has got it all going for it: a seed of fact, emotional biases and wishful thinking,” says Howard-Jones. Yet just like sugar, pornography and television, “what you prefer is not always good for you or right for you,” says Paul Kirschner, an educational psychologist at the Open University of the Netherlands.

In 2008, four cognitive neuroscientists reviewed the scientific evidence for and against learning styles. Only a few studies had rigorously put the ideas to the test and most of those that did showed that teaching in a person's preferred style had no beneficial effect on his or her learning. “The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing,” the authors of one study wrote.

That hasn't stopped a lucrative industry from pumping out books and tests for some 71 proposed learning styles. Scientists, too, perpetuate the myth, citing learning styles in more than 360 papers during the past 5 years. “There are groups of researchers who still adhere to the idea, especially folks who developed questionnaires and surveys for categorizing people. They have a strong vested interest,” says Richard Mayer, an educational psychologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In the past few decades, research into educational techniques has started to show that there are interventions that do improve learning, including getting students to summarize or explain concepts to themselves. And it seems almost all individuals, barring those with learning disabilities, learn best from a mixture of words and graphics, rather than either alone.

Yet the learning-styles myth makes it difficult to get these evidence-backed concepts into classrooms. When Howard-Jones speaks to teachers to dispel the learning-styles myth, for example, they often don't like to hear what he has to say. “They have disillusioned faces. Teachers invested hope, time and effort in these ideas,” he says. “After that, they lose interest in the idea that science can support learning and teaching.”


American textbook writers demonizing Japan

The article “50 Japanese scholars fire back in McGraw-Hill sex slave row” in the Dec. 12 issue about professor Eiji Yamashita’s well-worded and eminently reasonable rebuttal to the American academics’ year-long histrionics over the “comfort women” makes a nice capstone to this disheartening affair.

Throughout this past year, some of the most highly respected professors in Japan have consistently called for a revision of a badly flawed American textbook, and an open and honest public debate on the actual historical facts at issue. In return, they have gotten the obfuscations, insults, and amateurish politicking of the likes of Alexis Dudden. The Japan Times has, regrettably, slavishly followed the American herd — will no one among the academic and journalistic left take up the challenge and respond to the Japanese professors’ enumerated points with sincerity?

Professor Dudden’s latest broadside, in which she likens the Japanese government during the Pacific War to the barbarians in Boko Haram, should put paid to the idea that she has ever been interested in having a real debate.

For those who still think Dudden is an unbiased watchdog willing to call a spade a spade, wherever she finds it, let us wait for her response to South Korea’s recent indictment of Park Yu-ha, whose scholarly, balanced and well-researched book on the comfort women may very well earn her a prison sentence in the same country that also arrested a Japanese journalist just one year ago.

The frustration that the Americans feel over their failure to find even one-sixtieth the amount of evidence for Japanese “war crimes” as for Nazi atrocities is very real. What it really reveals, though, is that the Americans have accused and convicted the Japanese long before they bothered to start looking for the evidence. A professional scholar would have started with an open mind first, and seen what the documentary evidence had to say. But this is not what Dudden has done.


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