Sunday, September 25, 2016

Muslim teacher quits her job after she was told she had to shake hands with male members of staff at Swedish school

A Muslim teacher has quit her job at a school in Sweden after being told she would have to shake hands with male members of staff.

Fardous El-Sakka had been working as a substitute teacher at the Kunskapsskolan school in Helsingborg, when she was asked to shake hands with a male teacher.

But the 20-year-old refused as her religion forbids her from touching any member of the opposite sex who is not related to her.

The man then reported Miss El Sakka to the school's principal, who told her that if she wanted to work there, she would have to abide by the institution's values of shaking hands.

However, she decided to quit rather than go against her religious beliefs and has now referred her case to the Swedish trade union Unionen.

She told the Local that it was the first time a man had taken offence at her refusal to shake his hand and that she can't see herself working at the school again.

Miss El-Sakka added: 'I haven’t received a reply from the union yet, they’re still looking at my case, so I don’t want to say too much until I’ve got some kind of information from them about what will happen with it.

'It's a special school for me because I was a student there. But I don’t think I can see a way back there now.'

Meanwhile the school put out a statement clarifying they did not sack the teacher and that she chose to leave.

They added: 'We would also like to carefully point out that the issue was not her religious beliefs, but rather it is about choosing to treat men and women differently by shaking the hands of women but not men.'

The case mirrors several similar cases around Europe, where Muslim boys in schools have also refused to shake hands with women.

Earlier this week, it was ruled a 15-year-old Muslim schoolboy will have to shake hands with his female teachers after he refused to do so because of his religious beliefs.

Amer Salhani lost his appeal on Monday after his school in Switzerland rejected his argument that the Swiss tradition of handshake greetings went against Islam.

The teenager and his older brother sparked a fiery debate earlier this year when they said they could not shake their teacher's hand because their religion forbids physical contact with a member of the opposite sex - unless they are family.


Black Education Leaders Fight NAACP on Charter Schools

A group of 160 black education and community leaders from across the country are pushing back against an attempt by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to halt all future charter school growth.

The coalition, organized by the Black Alliance for Educational Options and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, sent a letter to NAACP board members on behalf of “700,000 black families choosing to send their children to charter public schools, and the tens of thousands more who are still on waiting lists.”

The letter came in response to a resolution drafted by the NAACP that calls for a “moratorium on the proliferation of privately managed charter schools,” arguing that charter schools have “weak oversight” and put schools in low-income communities “at great risk.”

A NAACP staffer provided a copy of the proposed resolution but was unable to comment.

In the response letter, dated Sept. 21, the coalition of 160 black education and community leaders wrote:

A substantial number of black parents want to have the option of enrolling their children in high-quality charter schools. For many urban black families, charter schools are making it possible to do what affluent families have long been able to do: rescue their children from failing schools. The NAACP should not support efforts to take that option away from low-income and working-class black families.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools that are required to follow state standards such as Common Core. They do not charge tuition but instead of being run by the government, charter schools are operated by private nonprofit or for-profit organizations.

Typically, local and state school boards are in charge of granting private or nonprofit organizations the ability to launch a new charter school. If charter schools do not meet strict achievement standards, the organization’s charter is revoked and given to a new organization to operate.

In exchange for that responsibility, charter schools generally have more autonomy over their daily operations, including hiring, firing, budgeting, and instruction decisions.

The NAACP’s proposed resolution accuses charter school operators of “targeting low-income areas and communities of color,” and said their privately-appointed school boards “do not represent the public.” They also compared charter school expansions in low-income communities to “predatory lending practices.”

The response letter from the group of 160 education leaders, clergy, and public servants addressed many of the NAACP’s “cherry picked” and “debunked” claims, arguing that charter schools have been particularly beneficial to black and low-income families. They wrote:

The notion of dedicated charter school founders and educators acting like predatory subprime mortgage lenders—a comparison the resolution explicitly makes—is a far cry from the truth. In reality, charter schools generally receive less per-pupil funding than traditional district public schools and often receive little or no funding to purchase buildings or maintain classrooms. Despite these hurdles, charter schools are helping students achieve at higher levels than traditional district schools.

The coalition also cited a study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University:

According to the most thorough and respected study of charter school results, conducted by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, black students learn more when they attend charter schools. Black students in charter schools gained the equivalent of 14 extra days of learning in reading and 14 extra days of learning in math per year compared with their black peers in traditional district schools. For low-income black students attending charter schools, the learning gains were even more dramatic—the equivalent of 29 extra learning days in reading and 36 extra learning days in math.

The NAACP’s resolution will not be made final until board members meet mid-October. The 160 co-signers of the pro-charter school letter are hopeful to convince the board to change its mind, requesting a meeting to “discuss the very serious implications the proposed resolution will have for black families who want and deserve high-quality educational options for their children.”


What Obama’s Education Secretary Got Wrong About Homeschoolers

Homeschooling has been growing in popularity in recent years, and now accounts for about 3.4 percent of the school-age population. That’s more than double the percentage (1.7 percent) of homeschooling families in 1999.

That’s great news for families who have chosen to give a customized, tailor-made education to their children, and for the millions of families across the country whose children are thriving as a result of choosing to homeschool.

Yet, in remarks Wednesday to reporters at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor, Education Secretary John King—although he conceded that there are homeschooling families who are doing well—told the audience he worries that homeschooled students aren’t “getting the range of options that are good for all kids.” According to Politico:

King said he worries that ‘students who are homeschooled are not getting kind of the rapid instructional experience they would get in school’—unless parents are “very intentional about it”.

King said the school experience includes building relationships with peers, teachers and mentors—elements which are difficult to achieve in homeschooling, he said, unless parents focus on it.

King’s statement that he is concerned that homeschooled students are not getting the “rapid instructional experience they would get in school” is problematic on several fronts.

First, it assumes homeschooled students are not in school. As Milton Friedman famously quipped in “Free to Choose,” “not all ‘schooling’ is education and not all ‘education’ is schooling.”

Many homeschooled students attend some of the most rigorous and intellectually challenging schooling there is. Many families pursue a rigorous classical curriculum. Others choose to homeschool because their children wanted more challenging options than their assigned public school provided.

Research suggests homeschooled students are better prepared for college. Colleges likes Hillsdale and Grove City have become renowned for their rigor and high proportion of homeschooled matriculates. Contrary to King’s analysis, homeschooled students are in “school,” and they’re doing great.

Second, let’s examine what King refers to as the “rapid instructional experience” students receive in the aggregate in K-12 education today.

According to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, just one-third of all eighth-graders in public schools can read proficiently. Roughly two out of 10 students don’t graduate high school at all. The United States ranks in the middle of the pack on international assessments such as the Program for International Student Assessment. In short: There is significant room for improvement in the traditional public education system.

Third, homeschooling families have amazing networks to ensure children build relationships with peers and mentors—another concern of King’s.

Homeschooling co-ops and sports leagues are just a few examples. And homeschool networking is becoming more sophisticated.

Former quarterback Tim Tebow was able to play football as a homeschooled student in Florida because the state allows homeschooled students to play on public school sports teams. Tebow went on to become the first homeschooled student to win the coveted Heisman Trophy.

The ubiquity of the internet means parents who homeschool have a wide world of academic content available at their fingertips, including everything from online college prep courses to computer coding academies, as well as a means of connecting with other homeschooling families.

One of the catalysts behind the growth in homeschooling is a sense among many parents that public education is not meeting the needs of their children.

Recent federal efforts to establish national standards and tests through Common Core have heightened concerns among many parents that they no longer have a seat at the table when it comes to what is taught in their child’s public school. And math and English language arts scholars have repeatedly voiced concerns that Common Core fails to prepare students for college.

Government education bureaucrats are right to worry about homeschooling—but not for the reasons King set forth. It is more likely they are worried that parents—whether empowered to homeschool or to select from the some 59 education choice programs now in place—will choose something other than a government education provider.


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