Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Evils of Public Schools

I have not spoken poorly and with contempt for the government-run, tax-funded “public schools” for a while (except for those “affirming” the hurt of their little snowflakes over the recent election), so it is time to take a whack at these institutions of tyranny again.

And the Blaze provides the perfect opportunity. An 11-year-old girl, after sharing some fruit with a friend, has been suspended for violating the idiot school’s policy of “zero tolerance” for weapons. Not only that, but the schools turned the case over to the local police department (in some enclave from reality in Florida) who have in turn turned it over to the State’s Attorney to prosecute her for this hideous act of terrorism. Her crime? She used the butter knife (as admitted by the school in writing) from her cherished set of tableware (a knife, fork, and spoon with thick toddler handles and decorated with cartoon animal prints) to cut a peach in half so that she could share the peach with her friend.

I suppose she is fortunate that they did not also seize the fork with its FOUR (count’em FOUR) sharp points, and that it was not a peanut she was cutting in half to share. And I suppose she and her classmates are also fortunate that the idiots on the police force did not decide this incident required intervention by a SWAT team assaulting through the plate-glass windows of the cafeteria.

I fail to see how someone like the administration of this school, the “leadership” of this police force, and the decision makers in the attorney’s office can be STUPID enough to behave like this and STILL be able to tie their shoes and find their way to work in the morning. And I also fail to see how the so-called citizens – the voters and the parents – of this school district are so cowed and uncaring that they have not descended on the school to dismantle the building brick by brick, before tarring and feathering the faculty and administration and riding them on a rail to dump them into the ocean.

BUT this is America today, the Fifty States, in which someone writing the name of the next president of the United States with chalk on a sidewalk on a university campus can trigger a lock-down and cause a score of “safe spaces” to open their doors for business to coddle and comfort the frightened egos of a couple of hundred little snowflakes. Or where people can be praised for calling someone a rapist with NO proof or evidence, but at the same time condemn that man and those who support him as racists and sexists merely for voting for him.

And it is a land where a man arrested for “secret” charges (rumored to be related to weapons) by a sheriff, within hours of arrest and incarceration, and LONG before a trial is scheduled, let alone a verdict reached!, can have it assumed that he is fired from his job, his health insurance canceled and the process begun to take away his retirement. Yet I’ve seen it happen – in the reddest of red states in one of the most rural of its counties. Or how a man can be accused of wife and child abuse and have a permanent restraining order issued by a magistrate after hearing all of 15 minutes of testimony to support the claims of alleged abuse.

As long as government is involved in ANY way with schools, and especially with funding them, this kind of stupidity will be present and increase over time – even if it is temporarily rolled back by some congressional or executive action. The only way we will have schools that truly educate us (and our children and grandchildren) will be if those schools are completely separated from government – especially federal and state level, but even LOCAL government. Enough is enough.


UK: 'Cash for places’: leading private schools accept six-figure sums from rich overseas parents desperate to get their child admitted

One of Britain’s leading private schools is exposed for being prepared to accept vast donations to secure places for the children of overseas parents.

David Fletcher, the registrar at Stowe until this week, was filmed saying a six-figure payment would be helpful when there was a “marginal decision” over whether a pupil should be admitted.

Mr Fletcher, 60, told an undercover reporter that one overseas family had recently given £100,000 towards a project at the school, in order to help secure a place for their child.

Stowe, whose alumni include Sir Richard Branson, David Niven and two of Prince Harry’s former girlfriends, said that Mr Fletcher had now resigned, having made “inaccurate and inappropriate statements”.

The disclosure will raise questions about whether some public schools are willing to bend admissions rules for wealthy foreign parents, as well as the potential for other pupils to be denied places in favour of families who can afford to make generous donations.

Almost one in 10 public school pupils are from overseas, with the number from China trebling in the past decade amid rising fees.

The Telegraph investigation also found that educational consultants were prepared to facilitate payments of up to £5 million to high-profile public schools on behalf of families hoping to win places for overseas children.

Two agents in London said donations would help to secure places.  One suggested that any link between a payment and an offer of a school place could be downplayed by ensuring that the money was not donated until after the child had started.

He named one high-profile school where “if there is an opening to be exploited I know those guys, they’re ruthless and they will push for five [million pounds]”.

After receiving information that specific schools and agencies were taking money from wealthy foreign parents to secure places for their children, Telegraph reporters posed as representatives of a Russian businessman who wanted his son to study in England.

Over a number of months, reporters met several education consultants and school representatives, including Mr Fletcher.

The female reporter asked if her firm’s clients could “guarantee” places.

Mr Fletcher said they had to be “very careful” and that children always “have to be able to pass [the entrance exams]”, but payments would be looked upon favourably.

Separately, William Petty, a director of Bonas MacFarlane consultants, said it might be difficult to find a place because many schools were full. When the reporter asked if there were other “avenues”, Mr Petty said that while London schools would not let admissions be affected by donations, other institutions could be open to payments.

Mr Petty, whose consultancy charges £10,000 for each child who is found a place at a school, said that although there were rules, it might be possible for them to be “seriously bent”.

One high-profile school named by Mr Petty admitted that 19 families introduced to the institution by one consultancy firm since 2009 had made donations. In seven of these cases, the children won places, while two others were placed on the waiting list.

However, the school said it had clear rules and that any claim that places were secured using donations “is untrue”.

A second agent, Ekaterina Ametistova, a partner at Bruton Lloyd, told reporters she was aware of pupils being placed at top public schools in exchange for donations of at least £1 million.

She added: “But the boy has to be good. It has to be both.”

Alan Smithers, of the centre for education research at Buckingham University, said: “Our private schools have the reputation that they do because they offer places on merit. By admitting students on this basis they risk damaging their reputation which is vital to them in ensuring that parents come forward and are willing to pay the high fees that are in place in any case.”

Anthony Wallersteiner, headmaster at Stowe, said he was “shocked” by the suggestion a donation would have any influence, while Mr Petty said his firm worked “in accordance with legal obligations”.

Ms Ametistova said she never “placed pupils at top British independent schools in exchange for donations”.


Canadian  teacher fired for having the wrong opinion

A  B.C. case may be the first time a Canadian teacher has been fired not amid allegations of impropriety, but for having the wrong opinion.

A teacher at a posh private school in British Columbia was fired last month after making an innocuous comment about abortion to his Grade 12 law class.

Though there is no way of knowing, since discipline matters are shrouded in secrecy, it may be the first time a Canadian teacher has been fired not amid allegations of impropriety, but for having the wrong opinion.

Certainly,  Lori Foote,  a spokesperson for the 60,000-member-strong Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, said Wednesday that no one at the association is “aware of anyone being fired” in Ontario in comparable circumstances.

The 44-year-old teacher, who has asked that he not be identified to protect what’s left of his career, was teaching “the criminal law unit, a lesson on vice, ethics, morality and the law” to his small class in the Vancouver-area school in late November.

“I was working my way through examples of how some people’s sense of personal ethics was more liberal than the letter of the law,” he said in an email.

For example, he told them, many people might roll through a stop sign on a deserted country road, deeming it morally acceptable, even if unlawful.

Such is the cost of a small misstep in a crushingly politically correct world.

In other words, he said, in a pluralistic democracy, there’s often “a difference between people’s private morality and the law.

“I find abortion to be wrong,” he said, as another illustration of this gap, “but the law is often different from our personal opinions.”

That was it, the teacher said. “It was just a quick exemplar, nothing more. And we moved on.”

A little later, the class had a five-minute break, and when it resumed, several students didn’t return, among them a popular young woman who had gone to an administrator to complain that what the teacher said had “triggered” her such that she felt “unsafe” and that, in any case, he had no right to an opinion on the subject of abortion because he was a man.

The school, for the record, is a witheringly progressive one.

Before classes even started last fall, teachers underwent serious “gender training” given by QMUNITY, an organization for LGBTQQ2S (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning and two-spirit) people. Teachers were told in no uncertain terms, for instance, that “no one is 100-per-cent male or female” and that everyone is somewhere on the “gender spectrum.”

Unsurprisingly, students at the school, where $30,000-a-year tuition buys small classes, regularly say “I’m so triggered” and are allowed to walk out of class.

What happened to the teacher over the ensuing few days sounds like something out of the Cultural Revolution in Mao’s China, where people were subjected to what were known as ideological struggle sessions, forced to “confess” to various imagined sins before large crowds, and roundly denounced.

Immediately after the student complained to the administrator, the teenager came, with a teacher at her side as support, to confront him in a public area of the school.

She pressed for an apology, but the teacher resisted, because, he said, it would set a dangerous precedent for a teacher to be reamed out in the presence of a colleague.

“When I didn’t show contrition,” he said, “I was summoned upstairs and grilled by two administrators who told me my job was on the line.”

Now panicking — he has a family to support and had just recently returned to teaching after several years in business with a relative — he apologized profusely and promised to apologize the next day to the offended student.

Instead, the school had an administrator take over the class for a day, whereupon, he was told, they would all discuss what went wrong in his absence. He would be invited back to “hear the grievances and offer an apology. It was clear I must do this successfully or I would be terminated.”

He repeatedly asked what he’d done wrong or if there was an allegation of misconduct.

“The answer I got back was that I was recognized as an outstanding teacher, but student ‘safety’ was the school’s primary concern.”

With the discussion now scheduled for the following day, the teacher, near to melting down with apprehension and disbelief, went to a walk-in clinic and asked for tranquillizers.

The discussion was postponed another day, and after “white-knuckling” it through his other classes, it came time for the law class.

It was exactly the horror show he’d imagined: His boss sat among a crowd of students, ran through a list of what had gone wrong and “what I needed to do to change.” While most students appeared to be on his side, the offended girl was still furious.

He apologized specifically to her, but then made what was apparently a fatal error: He said he liked her, that she was a bright and engaging student, and said he’d told her father just that at a recent parent-teacher night.

She stormed out of the class in tears, and he was again castigated by his superiors, this time for having been “too personal” in his apologia.

On Nov. 30, he showed up at the school, was retrieved by an administrator and taken to the “head” of school, the private school equivalent of a principal.

He was told he “could no longer continue in the classroom,” and was offered a short-term medical disability top-up for employment insurance.

He was then escorted down the hall and off the premises.

“Such is the cost of a small misstep in a crushingly politically correct world,” he said sorrowfully.

Postmedia is not identifying the school at the teacher’s request.

“They torched me,” he said, “but I’m reluctant to damage the brand … So many kids who would otherwise fall through the cracks … are valued and helped here,” he said.

So still a good teacher, then, after all that.


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