Monday, February 01, 2016

Tennessee Common Core Teaches One Nation Under Allah

The perils of one-size-fits all top-down government-controlled education reared its ugly head once again with the news that TN Core, Tennessee’s version of the national Common Core, middle school students in the Maury County School District were required to recite and write, “Allah is the only god,” as part of a history project, as Breitbart News reported:

In the Maury County School District, students were assigned a Five Pillars of Islam project that included the translation of the pillar of “Shahada” as being, “There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is his prophet.”

Joy Ellis, the mother of a seventh-grader at Spring Hill Middle School, said that Christian children should not be instructed to write the Shahada.

“This is a seventh grade state standard, and will be on the TCAP,” Ellis said. “I didn’t have a problem with the history of Islam being taught, but to go so far as to make my child write the Shahada, is unacceptable.”

TCAP is the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program which evaluates the performance of students under TN Core and how well they’ve learned these standardized lessons. But judging from what is and is not being taught, TACP and TN Core seem to have as a goal, no child left unindoctrinated.

Another Tennessee middle school parent, Brandee Porterfield, appeared on “Fox and Friends” and objected to the fact that no other religion was being taught in this way, requiring the recitation of a central creed, such as the Lord’s Prayer or the Beatitudes:

"They did this assignment where they wrote out the Five Pillars of Islam, including having the children learn and write the Shahada, which is the Islamic conversion creed," she explained.

Porterfield said she spoke with the Spring Hill Middle School teacher and principal, who said there would not be similar lessons on Christianity and Judaism…

"They don't study any other religions to this extent... It is the state sponsoring religion in schools. They're not going over anything else. For the students to have to memorize this prayer, it does seem like it's indoctrination," said Porterfield.

Teaching about religions in a historical context is one thing. Actually teaching the tenets of a religion are quite another, certainly when liberals constantly reminding us of the separation of church and state -- which appears nowhere in the U.S. Constitution -- and objecting to things like a moment of silence to start the school day or reciting “one nation under God” as part of the Pledge of Allegiance.

Lesson plans developed under the auspices of Common Core have been developed to indoctrinate children on many ideological fronts, including one lesson plan Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) pointed out in 2013 painted President Barack Obama as nothing short of a Messiah himself:

A language-arts lesson plan for third-, fourth- and fifth-graders has been developed around the book "Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope," in which the author, Nikki Grimes, paints the 44th president as nothing short of a messianic figure. The description of the associated lesson plan by Sherece Bennett boasts that it is officially "aligned" with the Common Core State Standards Initiative, an attempt to standardize various K-12 curricula around the country that has drawn national opposition...

The book notes Obama's struggle with his identity and uses it to slip in a biblical reference, one that would violate the left's definition of the separation of church and state. Late in the book, Obama dramatically changes his name from Barry to Barack.

"One morning, he slipped on the name he'd been born with. The name of his father, Barack. For the first time in his life, he wore it proudly -- like a coat of many colors," the story goes, an obvious reference to Genesis 37:3, in which Joseph, the favorite son of Jacob, receives a "coat of many colors."

Worksheets that were developed by Common Core for its national English Standards asked students to rewrite sentences that IBD noted contained “subliminal messages”:

…subliminal messages in a worksheet that asks students to rewrite sentences to make them "less wordy." Sentences like, "The commands of government officials must be obeyed by all."

The worksheets, published by New Jersey-based Pearson Education, ask fifth-graders to edit such sentences as "(The president) makes sure the laws of the country are fair," and "The wants of an individual are less important than the well-being of the nation."

That last sentence sounds suspiciously like the old Marxist axiom "From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

The TN Core middle school requirement to learn the teachings of Islam is just the latest examples of how the nation that achieved greatness with the proverbial “little red schoolhouse” as the norm has allowed its schools to be transformed into liberal reeducation camps where children are taught what to read, not how to read, and even what to think.

This is why we need school choice and vouchers, so that students don’t have to check their beliefs with someone standing in the schoolhouse door and forcibly be indoctrinated as to what to believe by agents of the state. You can teach the three Rs without using schools as tools for social engineering.


British schools regulator tells school leaders a return to the grammar system would be ‘economic suicide’ for England

His ideal of excellence for all has been in vogue for decades now.  It has been an acknowledged failure.  What makes Wilshaw still think it can work?  He's dreaming

The chief inspector of schools has said a return to the grammar school system in England would be 'economic suicide'.

Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw told a conference of Catholic school leaders in London that dividing students by academic ability was not what the country needs anymore.

Grammar schools were a key part of the education system in this country in the 1960s and 1970s which gave an education to the most academically gifted 20-25 per cent of pupils.

According to the Guardian, Sir Michael said: 'What we need – because the economy is now so different from when I started teaching – is for more young people to do better than ever before.

'I’m a big supporter of comprehensive education. It can work, one size does not have to fit all – if schools have great leadership it can work.'

Speaking at the Catholic Association of Teachers Schools and Colleges annual conference, he added: 'Unless we raise the performance of disadvantaged pupils in general, and the white working class in particular, we stand little chance of becoming a more economically productive nation or a more socially cohesive one.'

It comes after a grammar school in Kent was granted permission by the government to open a selective satellite school in Sevenoaks last October.

The move could open the door for a new wave of grammars, and at least eight more regions are preparing applications for extensions at local schools, according to The Daily Telegraph.

Labour passed a law in 1998 banning the creation of new grammar schools, but an existing school can expand if it can prove there is sufficient demand.

Sir Michael also moved to reassure faith schools that they have 'nothing to fear' from Ofsted's new plans to inspect how a school is preparing pupils for life in modern Britain.

As reported, he said society is becoming increasingly 'secular and materialistic', with 'seemingly ever greater intolerance of other people's beliefs'.

Young people can easily 'have their heads turned and lose sight of what really matters' while in other parts of the world, such as the Middle East, Christians are suffering 'brutal persecution' simply for 'what they believe', he argued.

But schools can help to instill good morals and values such as tolerance and compassion, the Ofsted chief suggested.

Sir Michael was brought up in a Roman Catholic household in south London in the 1950s and was headteacher of St Bonaventure's Catholic Comprehensive School in Forest Gate, East London, before becoming executive principal of Mossbourne Community Academy in nearby Hackney.


Statue of Cecil Rhodes will remain at Oxford University's Oriel College

Campaigners calling for a statue of 'racist' Cecil Rhodes to be pulled down have vowed to fight on after Oxford University's Oriel College decided not to remove it amid fears it could lose £100million in donations.

The governing body of the college has ruled out taking the controversial statue down, after it was claimed that £1.5 million of gifts had already been cancelled and Oriel could miss out on more money if it bowed to the campaign to remove it.

Furious organisers of the Rhodes Must Fall student campaign today vowed to fight the 'outrageous' decision to keep the statue in place, as the college maintained the decision was not down to financial reasons.

Oriel said it received an 'enormous amount of input' when it consulted on whether to keep the statue, including the Rhodes Must Fall petition, signed by more than 2,000 people.

A small but vocal group of protesters led by Ntokozo Qwabe, who himself benefited from the Rhodes scholarship, argued that the statue should be toppled because the imperialist was a racist.

Reacting to the announcement that the statue would stay, Rhodes Must Fall said in a statement: 'This recent move is outrageous, dishonest, and cynical.

'This is not over. We will be redoubling our efforts and meeting over the weekend to discuss our next actions.' The group added: 'The struggle continues.'

Mr Qwabe wrote on his Facebook page: 'The decision by Oriel College to unilaterally reverse its public commitments on Rhodes, without any consultation, basically reminds us that black lives are cheap at Oxford.  'Oriel has basically said: f*** all the black people. Who cares about black lives & the concerns of BME (black and minority ethnic) Oxford students anyways?' 

According to the Daily Telegraph, had the Rhodes Must Fall movement been successful it could have left the college - which is a charity and needs donations to help balance the books - in financial ruin.

The paper reported that the money under threat comes from the will of a single donor – it is understood that donors were astonished that the college was considering launching a six-month consultation over whether the statue of the college’s biggest benefactor should be taken down.

But Oriel College denied that money fears were behind the decision, and a spokesman said the college 'does not depend on donations to fund its operations'.  'The financial implications were absolutely not the overriding consideration - not even a major factor in the decision that was made,' he said.

In a statement to the Telegraph, the spokesman said: ‘Following careful consideration, the College’s governing body has decided that the statue should remain in place.'  The college added: 'The overwhelming message we have received has been in support of the statue remaining in place, for a variety of reasons.

'The college's governing body has decided that the statue should remain in place and that the college will seek to provide a clear historical context to explain why it is there.'

However, it was claimed that after months of indecision the college was forced into a corner by the financial might of its modern-day benefactors, but the delay has already cost them over £1million.

The governing body was reportedly told that since the start of the campaign, ‘at least one major donation of £500,000’ that was expected this year has been cancelled.

A ‘potential £750,000 donor’ was also said to have stopped responding to messages from the college, and several alumni have written to Oriel to say ‘they are disinheriting the college from their wills’.

The row has also triggered a wider row about free speech in universities and whether students need to be protected from offence.

Significantly, one donor who was said to be ‘furious with the college’ is believed to have a legacy worth in excess of £100million.

The Telegraph also reported last night that the cuts in donations is already having an impact as the college prepares to make redundancies among its staff because of the collapse in donations.

And it has cancelled an annual fundraising drive that should have taken place in April - it could now make an operating loss of around £200,000 this year.

Sean Power, Oriel’s development director who is in charge of fundraising, wrote in a report to the governors: ‘The overall reaction has been significant, much more than any in the College predicted. 'It has also been overwhelmingly negative of the College’s position and its actions.

‘The likely long-term impact on development and fundraising, assuming our current course of action regarding the statue, is potentially extremely damaging…our alumni do not need many excuses not to give, and for many this will be such an excuse for years to come.

‘The current situation is generating a media storm that is right at the limits of what the University can deal with, and support us in.’

Paul Yowell, the University’s Associate Professor of Law, told the governing body that it was unlikely they could obtain legal permission to remove the statue.

He added that as a charity the college is obliged to ‘avoid undertaking activities that might place the charity’s endowment, funds, assets or reputation at undue risk’.

A descendant of Alfred Mosley, who in 1906 erected a plaque stating where Cecil Rhodes had lived said he ‘does not believe it is ours to remove’, a confidential memo to the governing body said.  It warns that ‘it is possible she will become involved in the application to have the plaque listed’. 

Rhodes served as prime minister of the British Empire's Cape Colony, including South Africa, in the early 1890s and has been linked to apartheid-style policies.

But it had been argued that taking the statue down would be an attempt to rewrite history. 

South Africa's last white president, F.W. de Klerk, wrote to The Times last month calling the plan 'folly' and adding: 'If the political correctness of today were applied consistently, very few of Oxford's great figures would pass scrutiny.'

And in a speech earlier this month, Oxford's chancellor, Chris Patten, said: 'Our history is not a blank page on which we can write our own version of what it should have been.'

The college spokesman said the presence of the statue was 'an important reminder of the complexity of history and of the legacies of colonialism still felt today'.

Oriel College leaders said they would seek expert opinion on how to give context to the statue and a nearby plaque to Rhodes, which they will also keep in place.

But they admitted the campaign had raised the issue of discrimination on the campus.

The spokesman added: 'The campaign to remove Oriel's statue of Rhodes has highlighted other challenges in relation to the experience and representation of black and minority ethnic students and staff at Oxford. Oriel takes these very seriously and, as previously announced, is taking substantive steps to address them.'

Rhodes was a student at Oxford and a member of Oriel College in the 1870s. He left money to the college on his death in 1902.

A scholarship programme in his name has so far been awarded to more than 8,000 overseas students.

But the college has distanced itself from his views, saying in a statement last month: 'Rhodes was also a 19th-century colonialist whose values and world view stand in absolute contrast to the ethos of the Scholarship programme today, and to the values of a modern university.'

The decision comes after the University of Cape Town last year decided to remove a similar statue of the man, following a student protest.

Asked whether Oxford graduate David Cameron backed Oriel's decision, a Downing Street spokesman said: 'I think he would welcome the fact that this was the university making a decision.

'It is for them to make a decision. It is for them to have a debate and a discussion and then make that decision.'


Australia: Is it time to turn your back on university?

This seems to be becoming a widespread view -- not before time

ACCESS to higher education used to be considered one of the things that made Australia great, but as demand drops and degrees become less valued, it seems that era is well and truly over.

University enrolment numbers have flatlined, graduate employment last year hit an all time low and employers are going cold on degrees.

Combine this with climbing first year drop out rates and uncertainty over university fee reforms thanks to a stalling government, it seems like there’s never been a better time to turn your back on university.

The Australian Department of Education and Training’s selected higher education statistics, released earlier this week, showed the overall number of new university increased by only 0.1 per cent.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said the results had been "anticipated", indicating growth had plateaued, evened out following a surge of "unmet demand".

In interviews, Ms Robinson suggested the Rudd-Gillard government’s university funding scheme had pushed demand for universities beyond their capacities, and that the current government’s campaign around $100,000 degrees may have helped to reduce demand.

It’s not just students that are backing away from university degrees. Earlier this month, international publishing house Penguin Random House joined the ranks of major consulting firms Ernst and Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers, dropping degrees as a requirement for job applicants.

In Australia, some smaller employers are shifting away from hiring graduates or university students altogether, believing kids are coming out of university with "no real skills" or simply being taught the wrong things.

In an earlier interview with Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer Kate Carnell said employers found 20-somethings were more qualified than ever before. Graduates were showing up to work with degrees from universities that were "disconnected with the workforce", she said.

"A number of our members consistently tell us they’re seeing students come out of university or training programs and they might have the academic or theoretical skills, but no skills to work at all. It makes them really hard to employ," she said.

And just as employers are being turned off graduates, students are seeing very little incentives to complete their studies with university graduate salaries going down.

The shift in demand for university education is sending a message to institutions and heralding change for career-seekers and employers.

In an interview with ABC radio, deputy vice chancellor of Deakin University and fellow of the Australian Learning and Teaching Council, Beverley Oliver, said tertiary education providers were getting the message, and adjusting their courses to meet new expectations from students and the changing workforce.

"I think the sector has made great changes over the last 15 years, particularly making sure the degree is a signifier of more than just marks and grades," she said.

"I don’t think it’s an indictment, I think it’s a signal and we should use it to improve what we do. We can always improve what we do and of course employers can as well."

Advocates of alternative educational pathways like apprenticeships and workplace learning are cheering at the apparent shift away from reliance on universities.

For those who are continuing to pursue a university education, the federal education minister has a word of advice.

"Australians must think carefully about the courses they enrol in to ensure they are entering a course that they are not only passionate about but that has a job at the end," senator Simon Birmingham said.

While encouraging new figures show those who found work four months out of university had grown slightly on last year’s, about one-third of graduates did not immediately find a job.


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