Monday, May 16, 2016

Plotting Jihad in the Poconos - Who the Hell is Fethullah Gulen?

Fethullah Gulen is a proponent of stealth jihad. In one of his sermons, the fiery imam said that in order to reach the ideal Muslim society "every method and path is acceptable, [including] lying to people."

In another  he instructed his followers: "You must move in the arteries of the system without anyone noticing your existence until you reach all the power centers ... until the conditions are ripe, they [the followers] must continue like this. If they do something prematurely, the world will crush our heads, and Muslims will suffer everywhere."

His instructions have been well-heeded.  Gulen's tentacles now extend into "all the power centers" of the U. S. government, including the Oval Office.

Dalia Mogahed, President Obama's Muslim advisor, has endorsed the Gulen movement which critics believe seeks to restore the Ottoman Empire and to establish a universal caliphate.

Recently Ms. Mogahed, the first woman to wear a veil in the White House, said: "I think the Gülen movement offers people a model of what is possible if a dedicated group of people work together for the good of the society. I also think that it is an inspiration for other people and Muslims for what they can accomplish."

Asked about the movement's hidden agenda, Ms. Mogahed told Sunday's Zaman, a Turkish newspaper owned by Gulen, that she usually does not attach any importance to such allegations.

Gulen and his millions of minions have helped to topple Turkey's secular government, establish thousands of madrassahs (Muslim religious schools) throughout Central Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, and form a new country known as East Turkistan, a radical Islamic state.

His schools serve to indoctrinate students in Turkish language, culture and religion so that they may take part in the restoration of the Ottoman Empire.

Nurettin Veren, a top administrator of the Gulen schools says: "These schools are like shop windows. Recruitment and Islamization activities are carried out through night classes."

Rachel Sharon-Krespin, MEMRI's chief Turkey analyst, writes: "His (Gulen's) followers target youth in the eighth through twelfth grades, mentor and indoctrinate them in the ışıkevi, educate them in the Fethullah schools, and prepare them for future careers in legal, political, and educational professions in order to create the ruling classes of the future Islamist, Turkish state."

Over 150 Gulen schools have been established throughout the United States - - and all receive full funding from US taxpayers.

The schools are manned, for the most part, by Turkish administrators and teachers who arrive in the US with H1B visas - - visas for individuals who are needed to occupy positions that cannot be filled by domestic workers. In truth, many of these imported educators teach in subject areas, such as elementary education, where unemployed and fully certified American teachers are standing in the unemployment lines.

Most of the imported Turkish educators are expected to kick-back 60% of their salaries to the Gulen movement.

The Gulen schools are so radical in their political and religious objectives that they have been outlawed in Russia and Uzbekistan .  Even the Netherlands, a nation that embraces pluralism and tolerance, has moved to cut funding to the Gulen schools because of their imminent threat to the social order.

Yet the Gulen schools continue to open at the monumental rate of eight to ten a year throughout the U.S. and leading politicians - - both Democratic and Republicans - - regularly appear at Gulen gatherings to offer their endorsement of the militant imam's educational endeavors.

The new spokeswomen for the Cosmos Foundation, a non-profit Gulen enterprise that operates thirty-three charter schools in Texas, is Karen Hughes, who previously served as President George W. Bush's Under-Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy.

Ms. Hughes has declined to state how much money she is receiving for her efforts to further the Gulen schools.

The Texas Education Agency shelled out $68 million in 2010 to the Cosmos Foundation. Few Texas tax-payers have uttered a word of protest.

Thanks, in part, to friends like Senator Bob Casey, the Gulen movement recently has opened several charter schools in Pennsylvania, including the Young Scholars of Central Pennsylvania in State College, the now-failing Truebright Science Academy in Philadelphia, and the Young Scholars of Western Pennsylvania in Pittsburgh.


Isolating political thought in higher education

Immediately upon entering adulthood, students are forced to make the largest decision of their adult life, barely 18-year-old students must decide the higher education institute of their choice, or if they want to go at all. Common considerations include cost, location, and notoriety, but for many a key consideration is far less obvious — the politics of individual schools.

While many colleges tout open-mindedness and diversity, this is done on a superficial level, where diversity is defined by characteristics of race, socioeconomic status, and language. To clarify, these are extremely important margins for ensuring an inclusive educational environment, but what about intellectual diversity?

Often colleges neglect the ideological barriers they themselves are creating. For conservative students, these forms of isolation and lack of opportunity are common.

Harvard University’s own Crimson newspaper embarrassingly had to explain in an Oct. 2015 report, “The Elephant in the Room: Conservatives at Harvard,” that conservative students on campus often feel overwhelmed by the liberal presence of students and faculty. This isolation prevents students from working on political campaigns and silences students in classrooms.

But the effects are significantly more far reaching than this. Self-identifying conservative students are less likely than ever to attend ivy league schools due to the schools’ liberal bias. The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher in the July 2014 piece, “To Hell With Ivy League Schools” tells the story of students who attend years of ivy league college and never understand the deeper value of their experience, because their positions have drove them into silence. One student explains upon visiting an ivy league campus, he realized students were not openly discussing issues and finding common ground as hoped, but instead only reestablishing and pressuring views he did not agree with, fear of alienation pushed him to decide on a school far less notable but significantly more depoliticized.

As conservative students refrain from the elite class of colleges or select schools with less political leaning, the voices of conservatives in academia are consistently silenced. While the easy attack is to say that these students are letting their own fears prevent their success, the reality is much more impactful.

The conservative Leadership Institute tells stories of students given zeros on assignments consistently because they refused to write papers questioning their religious and political views. Or, of students who openly espoused conservative views in classrooms had professors ignore their input or allow a team of liberal students to attack their views-not constructively but oppressively. Fear does not simply come from isolation by other students, but getting bad grades due to political beliefs.

The problem stems from a confusion of open mindedness being inherently linked to contemporary liberal ideals, a fiction that educators often perpetuate. As professor emeritus at State University of New York at New Paltz Mark Sherman elucidated in March 2011 Psychology Today piece, “Does liberal truly mean open-minded?” the common problem with associating “liberal” with “inclusive” is that it immediately discredits the opportunity for conservatives to be seen as inclusive as well, silencing their philosophy as wrong.

Sherman wrote, “if you are a strong believer in both science and social change, it is more than reasonable to be a liberal. But to a good academic, the science — data evidence, and, when possible, experimentation — should come first.” Sherman explained that for liberal professors, such as himself, in an academic setting there is a necessity to provide balance for students.Red_Guards

As the university system pushes for an “open” and “inclusive” campus, but only defines this in a liberal context, they achieve the exact opposite — a campus which isolates and rejects those who do not conform to the liberal mindset. Sherman provides a positive example of how educators can rise above that bias.

Professors take an active role in perpetuating this stigma by pushing conservative students into a singular characteristic, while giving liberal students many points of identification. While liberal students can be seen as “activists” for an array of causes and issues and often have clubs on campus which represent the span of these advocacies, conservatives are limited to having a “Young Republicans Club” and experience strong push back from professors, students, and the university system when an attempt is made to expand past this. Essentially, conservative students are allowed to advocate for one “wrong” view, usually accused as racist and classist, while liberal students can advocate for a range of views, seen as inclusive and scholarly.

A lack of accountability in universities toward professors and school administrators discriminating against conservative students is having a direct impact on educational success and the environment within campuses. By neglecting the position of conservative students, universities are effectively silencing student ideas and preventing their development, the exact opposite of the goals of education and academic inquiry.

Being a conservative should not mean your educational advancement is less significant, and luckily some institutions do work to counter this by supporting conservative clubs, focusing on variety in course options, and hosting events which open the door for political participation. My own university has held student forums and invited presidential candidates to campus from both sides of the aisle; the opportunity for dialogue unites students by allowing students to share viewpoints and gain understanding.

Similarly, these forums force professors to discuss political theory in the context of both conservative and liberal views, because they are unavoidably close to campus. However, despite some clear successes, the compulsory liberalization of the educational system seems to have created the perception that conservatives on campus are less meaningful. Sadly, this impression only silences the goal of open communication in academia, rather than promoting it.


UK: Sexism row as £10,500-a-year private schools introduce uniform rules that make boys wear business suits and girls dress 'like secretaries'

Two £10,500-a-year private schools have been accused of sexism after boys were told to wear pinstriped business suits while girls say they have been forced to dress 'like secretaries'.

Bablake and King Henry VIII schools in Coventry have been criticised after introducing new uniforms for sixth formers that some parents and pupils say promote 'gender stereotyping'.

The new dress code, which will come into force in September and will cost as much as £230, was revealed in a glossy brochure, produced by corporate suit-maker Brook Taverner.

Photographs in the catalogue show men power-dressed in pinstriped suits complete with waistcoats while women model secretarial outfits with many skirts cut above the knee.

There are both trouser and skirt options for girls, but pupils from the schools - run by Coventry School Foundation - have expressed outrage on social media, branding the new uniform policy 'out-dated sexist rubbish.'

Deeps Sinha tweeted: 'This issue with uniforms isn't just us being petulant or anything, we have genuine cause for concern.

'The uniforms seem mainly directed towards girls, as the boys' uniforms are mostly generic and already what they wear.'

Hannah Rose added: 'A school that apparently celebrates diversity, but wants to shun individuality with a sixth form uniform well done.'

Another said: 'So the boys wear business suits straight out of Wall Street while the girls totter about on high heels in secretary skirts. When did Bablake turn into Mad Men?  'A truly shocking example of an out-dated sexist set of gender stereotypes. Rubbish.'

However, pupil Adam Keir defended the policy, and wrote: 'People confusing rights with rules.  'We have the right to education, so many children don't. How's that for oppression of rights? Open your eyes.'

Nick Payne added: 'The reason they're doing this is because for years girls have disobeyed the much more lenient dress code that they had in place.'

Mark Woodward, head of careers at Bablake, tweeted: 'The Bablake I am so proud of encourages free debate and is fiercely supportive of feminism and equality.

Parents have also expressed their anger over the changes.  'I am outraged,' said one. 'They are letting the boys dress like high-flying CEOs while forcing the girls to dress like secretaries.

'Parents pay a not inconsiderable amount of money to send their daughters to this school. The vast majority would certainly not expect the school to tell them to dress like a woman from the 1950s.' Another parent added: 'We paid for our children to go to a progressive school, but this is like the bad old days. 'It seems sexism is still rife amongst the powers that be. It's a disgrace.'

Currently Bablake sixth form pupils are told they have 'flexibility' when it comes to clothing, 'with the expectation that they will exercise this greater freedom responsibly', while it is expected that Henry VIII students will have a 'professional, clean and smart appearance'.

Coventry School Foundation has said the move to review the sixth form dress code is about maintaining standards in both schools, and there are plenty of options to satisfy pupils.

A spokesman for Coventry School Foundation said: 'We have been looking at our sixth form dress code for a while to ensure our standards are maintained.

'Both King Henry VIII and Bablake Schools have either consulted or are in the process of consulting with parents, pupils, staff and governors about the possibility of introducing a selection of standardised suits for both boys and girls rather than the current vaguer interpretation of smart business wear. 'There is quite a range - with several different styles and jackets.

'We have had an external supplier let us have samples, which some pupils within the Foundation have been shown and tried out.'


ACER sees big problems with Australian schools

Comparing Australians with East Asian students is absurd.  East Asians have a known IQ advantage, which is particularly strong in mathematics.  Comparisons with other Caucasian populations alone make sense.  And on the 2013 PISA figures for reading ability (the most recent I could find), Australia in fact scored above most European countries. 

And the idea of raising standards for teachers is also absurd. In Australia's discipline-deprived schools few people with any  alternative would take up teaching.  Teaching is now for dummies.  Raising standards would just lead to a teacher shortage. 

Australian schools are in deep trouble and students will continue to slip behind in reading, maths and science unless there is urgent action from all governments, a new report has warned.

It's a grim picture of the country's education system, where high school students lag behind global standards, there is growing inequity and teaching has become an increasingly unattractive career.

Australia was "drifting backwards", said the author of the report Geoff Masters, chief executive of the Australian Council for Educational Research.

"We ignore these warning signs at our peril ... Unless we can arrest and reverse those trends we will continue to see a decline in the quality and equity of schooling in this country," he said.

The decline in the maths skills of students was particularly alarming, Professor Masters said.

Australia's results in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) – an international survey that pits the world's education systems against each other – has steadily declined over the past decade.

The top 10 per cent of Australian 15-year-olds now perform at about the same level in maths as the top 40 to 50 per cent of students in Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

It coincides with a declining proportion of year 12 students taking up advanced maths and science subjects.

"It means we won't have the supply of people who are highly trained in mathematics and science that we are likely to need in the future," Professor Masters said. 

The report comes at a critical time, with education shaping up as a key election issue. The federal government has promised an extra $1.2 billion for schools and Labor has pledged $4.5 billion.

But the report, which was released on Thursday,  found that increased spending on education had not led to better outcomes. It said funding needed to target "evidence-based strategies".

"A decline in outcomes has often occurred in parallel with increased spending," Professor Masters said.

"Money alone is not the answer, but to turn around current trends we may need more money."

It also raised concerns about the drop in ATARs required for teaching courses.

In 2015, just 42 per cent of Australian students embarking on a teaching course had an ATAR above 70.

It recommended that teaching courses become highly selective, and make the bulk of their offers to students with ATARs above 70.

"The world's highest-performing nations in international achievement studies consistently attract more able people into teaching, resulting in better student outcomes," the report said.

"In some of the world's highest-performing countries, entry to teaching is now as competitive as entry to courses such as engineering, science, law and medicine."

In Victoria, the government is considering a similar model to New South Wales where future teachers are sourced from the top 30 per cent of school leavers.

Professor Masters said federal and state governments needed to agree to a national action plan to halt these "worrying trends".

He also took aim at "passive, reproductive learning" in schools which did not promote creativity.

Federal education minister Simon Birmingham said the report supported the Coalition's approach.

"The Turnbull government's back to basics Student Achievement Plan focuses on what ACER has called for, the better use of resources to target evidence-based initiatives," he said.

"Our once-in-a-generation plan to lift school student achievement provides more money than ever before for Australian schools but most importantly it focuses on measures that improve student results through clear and targeted action."

Victorian government spokesman David McNamara said many government initiatives were addressing concerns raised in this report - including the new Victorian Curriculum which teaches coding.

"The government knows that great teaching is the single most important factor for schools in improving student outcomes. It is always considering ways to ensure we attract and recruit the best teachers, including from among high achieving VCE students."


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