Friday, March 04, 2016

Minnesota Kindergarten Students Forced to Confront Gender Identity

On Oct. 14, 2015, the elementary school principal of a Minnesota charter school informed parents that in the coming days, the school would be taking steps to “support a student who is gender nonconforming.”

Their 5- and 6-year-old children, parents were told in an email, “will listen to various books that celebrate differences and will be teaching children about the beauty of being themselves.”

One of those books, the principal noted, would be “My Princess Boy,” a story that centers on a boy who sometimes likes to do traditional girl things like wear dresses.

In the email, the principal encouraged parents of kindergarten children to “have conversations at home about the appropriateness of comments or teasing relating to all protected classes,” specifically pertaining to gender identity.

Details regarding the gender non-conforming student at the school, Nova Classical Academy in St. Paul, Minn., were kept confidential. But shortly after that initial email went out, parents at Nova Classical Academy learned that the child was also in kindergarten.

Immediately, some parents raised concern about the issue of gender identity being introduced to their 5- and 6-year old children. The concept, they believed, is too complicated for kindergartners to grasp.

And although the school hadn’t yet announced any new restroom policies, parents were concerned about their children using bathrooms with students of the opposite sex.

In their attempt to push back, parents grew frustrated with the school’s response. At least 10 students, The Daily Signal learned, transferred to another school.

One mother, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her daughter’s identity, said she transferred her child because the classmate was having a “traumatic” effect on her daughter.

“Our daughter—because she is a normal kindergartner who was raised in a family where we had some social norms regarding biological gender and sex—now she’s asking questions like, ‘How does a boy become a girl when they’re born with a penis?’ She has two brothers, so she’s wondering, how is this possible, as the boy is wearing a jumper and has ribbons and ponytails in his hair,” her mother said.

Another mother, whose daughter is still in the same class as the gender nonconforming child, described a similar effect. That mother also requested to remain anonymous.

Similar to how the debate over transgender rights has caused a culture war in states such as Washington and South Dakota, the situation at Nova Classical Academy also caused a rift in the tight-knit community.

The school is a competitive public charter school that consistently ranks high in school ratings. When it was granted its charter, Nova Classical Academy requested a waiver so that a majority of its school board members would be parents instead of educators. One goal of doing so, parents told The Daily Signal, was to foster parental involvement and oversight of curriculum.

“We as a school community go through processes that are very lengthy, but in the end it always ends up being a conversation and a win-win situation,” one mother said. “And this situation, this is not what happened.”

For example, this mother explained, deciding when to begin the gender and sex curriculum required “a  long, painful process.”

Eventually, parents and educators agreed the program would begin in fifth grade, and address the topic of being transgender in 10th grade. But now, they thought, that decision was being flipped on its head, and the school was bypassing parental input to introduce these topics starting at a younger age.

Parents were divided—many fully supported the reading of “My Princess Boy” and the curriculum that would go along with it. Some of those supporters launched a petition drive in which they and others—some from outside communities—could speak out.

“I am in favor of using materials such as this as part of the curriculum,” wrote Stephanie Schweser. “Teaching and promoting tolerance, understanding, and inclusion will better our school community and our community beyond.”

“I fully support the reading of ‘My Princess Boy’ or another book that specifically addresses gender nonconformity,” added Josephine Chung on the same petition. “A book is a useful and necessary tool for educating our children.”

Those who objected were particularly concerned because Nova Classical Academy is a K-12 school. Although the school had not yet addressed bathroom policies, their 5- and 6-year-old children, some parents feared, might now be forced to share a bathroom with a senior of the opposite sex.

“We are in a K-12 school, and that bothers me—there are some bathrooms that are shared. So I could have my daughter in the bathroom and a senior,” the mother whose kindergartner still attends the school told The Daily Signal, adding:

    "If we start to desensitize our children at a young age that it’s fine—and right now, I’m not worried that something bad is going to happen to her in her elementary school, but that she would get used to this. And eventually she could get put in a situation where she could be in harm’s way, because she’s innocently in the bathroom with someone who intends to cause harm"

Two months ago, Dave and Hannah Edwards, the parents of the gender nonconforming student at Nova Classical Academy, went public with their story in an interview with radio host Jack Rice.

During that interview, Hannah Edwards attempted to explain her son’s identity. “[W]hen we ask him what he prefers, he says, ‘I’m a boy and in my heart I’m a girl.’ And sometimes he’ll say he’s half and half, which is something you put in your coffee, but I say OK, that’s great.”

Hannah Edwards said the change began around the age 2 after her son, Holden, watched Beyoncé perform at the 2012 Super Bowl halftime show:

    "I kind of think of it as life before and after Beyoncé. Pretty soon it turned into an everyday occurrence, wanting to watch this 10-minute halftime show. And he started tying his blankets on his head, and dancing like her, and watching his reflection in the fireplace glass. That was, I think, the first time I noticed. It started becoming less of ‘he thinks this is interesting’ and more of ‘I am being Beyoncé; I am being a girl.’"

The Daily Signal attempted to speak with Gender Justice, a group that is working with the Edwards family. They did not respond to a request for comment.

In the radio interview, the Edwardses suggested Holden had been subject to bullying in the classroom, and thus, the gender curriculum was necessary. But the real problem, they said, stems from parents who objectied to the school’s handling of their child.

“I would say his teacher has been pretty integral in stopping the bullying, at least in the classroom. I know that he comes to school now in the jumper, and that’s within the last month,” Holden’s father, Dave Edwards, said during the interview. He added:

    "I feel comfortable with what’s happening in his small, little classroom world. It’s these other parents coming in and objecting or starting petitions. And I think that really comes from a place of fear and ignorance on their part".

Eric Williams, the school’s executive director, confirmed to The Daily Signal that in December, Nova Classical Academy invited the president of the National Association of School Psychologists, Todd Savage, “to educate the staff and community about gender nonconforming and transgender students.”

Parents who attended the event and spoke with The Daily Signal said they thought the session came from, in one parent’s words, ” a very progressive perspective.”


Fear and Trembling in Phoenix: A Common Core Cautionary Tale

Arizona is widely hailed as the national leader in school choice. It is also one of a growing number of states turning against Common Core. But you wouldn’t know it from what’s going on inside the Capitol these days.

Proposed legislation affirming parents’ basic rights over their children’s education is being held or amended within an inch of its life in the House and Senate Education Committees—all in spite of an existing explicit statutory Parents’ Bill of Rights affirming their inalienable liberty over their children’s education and upbringing (see here and here).

As more states fight back against federal contamination of classrooms, Arizona offers an important lesson about extinguishing Common Core for good—so it doesn’t keep rising from the dead in one infectious form or another.

About a year ago Arizona Governor Doug Ducey urged a “review and revise” placebo instead of a “repeal and replace” antidote for Common Core. Last fall at the urging of the state’s elected pro-parental choice/anti-Common Core Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas, a majority of the State Board of Education voted to sever ties with it—but the board left the Common Core-influenced standards and the reviled AzMERIT state assessment in place.

This course of action hasn’t cured a thing, but it is exposing how some lawmakers are willing to protect parents’ inalienable rights only up to a point. In other words, parental choice ends once they’ve exercised school choice.

Once inside, students are creatures of the state. They can be given the Common Core-influenced statewide assessment, have their personal information collected via that assessment, and have their personal information shared with state and federal government entities as well as third-parties. All this without prior notice, review, or informed written consent from their parents.

Consider just some of the examples of the pernicious, lingering effects Common Core can have—because if they can happen in the school-choice leader state, they can happen just about anywhere.

Proposed opt-out legislation that would have allowed parents to exempt their children from the Common Core-influenced state assessment was inexplicably held by House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Boyer—even though he originally co-sponsored it.

The proposed legislation was revived by another original co-sponsor, Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Sylvia Allen—a longstanding supporter of school choice—and parents statewide rejoiced.

That is, until they learned she subsequently amended away parents’ right to opt out their children from the state assessment, and replaced it with a compromise to let parents “opt in” to another statewide test. Viola! Choice—but not over what matters most to parents.

There is legitimate and growing concern that statewide assessments—pick whichever one you like—are now (or are on their way to becoming) more about data mining, not measuring academic performance.

As of this writing, parents are still hopeful that Sen. Allen will restore the opt-out provision. But any lawmaker who supports parents will likely take a lot of heat from the Common Core establishment—including affiliates of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which vowed last year to apply “political pressure around the clock,” according to Breitbart News.

Other proposed legislation would have required prior written notice from schools and parents’ informed consent before their children were assessed to protect students’ privacy. That requirement was recently gutted by an amendment from the House Education Committee Vice Chairman, Rep. Jay Lawrence.

Thankfully, legislation sponsored by Sen. Judy Burges and other lawmakers, including Sen. Allen and Rep. Lawrence, requiring prior notice, parental informed consent, and stiff penalties for collecting and sharing students’ personally identifiable information hasn’t been amended to death. But stayed tuned: it expressly prohibits the adoption or administration of any state or national test that collects non-academic personal information, so it will likely become a target.

So Common Core can’t in any meaningful sense be “contained,” and it’s already infecting far too many lawmakers. After all, if they are willing to compromise on parents’ rights, what won’t they compromise on later on?

To truly kill Common Core and protect parents’ rights, states have to cut the pathogen’s pathway between them and its source.

In fact, Arizona used to do this to stay infection-free and protect inalienable rights.

Nearly 60 years ago Arizona was the only state (p. III-4) that didn’t accept federal K-12 funds through the National Defense Education Act because it had twelve mandates—a regulatory pittance by twenty-first-century standards.

Back then Arizonans refused to be bribed with their own money because, as U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater predicted, “federal aid to education invariably means federal control of education” (p. 76, emphasis original).

We all would be better off today had we heeded Goldwater’s warning, but it’s not too late if we follow the Constitution, not Common Core.


Bitter fight brewing over Mass. charter school expansion

The antagonists in a bitter feud over lifting the state’s cap on charter schools appear to be careening toward a winner-take-all contest at the ballot box in November, with both sides skeptical of the Legislature’s attempt to craft a compromise before then.

The push for a compromise is playing out in private meetings in the Senate president’s office, where four senators gather on Wednesday afternoons to write legislation acceptable to foes and advocates of charter schools.

If they succeed, voters won’t see the charter expansion question on their November ballot, and the state will have avoided perhaps the most costly and divisive ballot fight in state history.

But even the senators involved seem unsure that they can craft a bill that will mollify both sides, and make its way through a deeply divided Legislature. “It’s not a question of whether we can thread the needle,” said Senator Daniel A. Wolf, a Harwich Democrat. “It’s a question of whether this needle even has an eye in it.”

Advocates on both sides are looking ahead to — even hoping for — a November ballot fight, in part because each side is confident it will win at the polls.

The proposed ballot measure would allow for the creation or expansion of 12 charter schools per year, with a preference for proposals in the lowest-performing districts, adding significantly to the state’s existing stock of 81 charters.

Proponents, who have pledged to spend up to $12 million on a ballot campaign, have the financial backing of some of the wealthiest business leaders in New England, including Fidelity Investments chief executive Abigail Johnson and New England Patriots president Jonathan Kraft.

They also have the support of Governor Charlie Baker, who is popular with voters. And they say their internal polling shows the public backing charter expansion by a wide margin.

Opponents say their polling shows the ballot measure is on shaky ground. And the leadership of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, a prime mover in the opposition, also is pledging heavy spending.  “We want to go to the ballot box, that’s what our poll numbers are telling us,” said Barbara Madeloni, president of the union. “I really think the narrative about charter schools is shifting.”

Charter schools have long been controversial because they have a freer hand with curriculum and budgets than traditional public schools and most are not unionized.

Critics — including the teachers union — say they worry about the impact of charter schools on local school budgets because students who go to charters take with them thousands of dollars in state aid that would otherwise go to their hometown districts; the Boston Public Schools will lose an estimated $119 million this year.

Proponents point to research showing that Massachusetts charter schools are some of the strongest in the nation. And with 34,000 students on charter school waiting lists — many of them in poor, urban areas — they call expanded access a matter of civil rights.

The two sides, however far apart, have come to accommodations in the past.

In 1993, the Legislature approved the state’s first charter schools even as it poured hundreds of millions of dollars into public schools of all kinds — part of a sweeping education reform law credited with making Massachusetts schools the best performing in the country.

And in 2010, at the end of the Great Recession, lawmakers raised the cap on charter schools as part of a successful bid to win $250 million in federal education funds through President Obama’s “Race to the Top” grant competition.

Now, though, the urgency of the recession has receded, federal grants are no more, and the debate is more narrowly focused on charter schools, allowing for less of the horse-trading typical of big education bills.  “It’s the pure charter play this time,” said Martha “Marty” Walz, a management and public affairs consultant who helped usher the 2010 bill into law as cochairwoman of the Legislature’s education committee.

Baker has offered a small sweetener for school districts leery of charter school expansion.

Under current law, districts that lose students to charter schools are entitled to temporary reimbursements from the state to cushion the financial blow. And the governor, in his budget proposal for the coming fiscal year, has called for a $20 million increase in the pot of money available for those reimbursements.

But it does not look like enough to mollify charter school critics and head off the ballot fight.

Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg has offered more enticements.  The Senate, he says, will look not just at expanding the number of charter schools allowed in the state, but at a wide range of issues that reflect critics’ concerns about charters — from financing, to governance, to admission and retention of hard-to-educate populations, like special needs students and English language learners.

The approach does not sit well with charter school supporters.

“We have the highest-performing public charter school sector in the nation,” said Mary Jo Meisner, executive vice president of communications at the Boston Foundation, which has been a strong charter advocate. “Opening that up to radical change is a scary thought.”

Charter school advocates point to data showing that the schools have made substantial progress on recruiting and retaining hard-to-educate students in recent years. And they say some of the critics’ proposals — like making charter school funding a separate line item in the budget, subject to whims of legislators — would be “poison pills” they could not accept in a Senate bill.

Senator Patricia D. Jehlen, a Somerville Democrat and charter school critic who serves on the four-member working group attempting to forge a compromise, says the Senate should not be subject to the dictates of charter advocates — even if those advocates are threatening to spend up to $6 million on the legislative battle and $12 million on the ballot fight. The precedent, she argues, would be a bad one.

“If a bully comes and asks for your lunch money one day and you give it to him, does that keep him from coming back the next day?” Jehlen said.

Charter school advocates insist they are open to some give-and-take. And with a charter-friendly House of Representatives and governor, they have not given up all hope of a legislative compromise.

But if they refuse to bend on some of the critics’ central demands and push the fight to the ballot, they will be taking a risk. Failure at the polls, they acknowledge, would effectively kill the push to raise the state cap on charter schools for years to come.

Opponents keyed on a ballot fight face some risk as well. Stepping back from legislative negotiations means forfeiting a chance to win some of the changes in charter school law critics have long sought.

“It’s a real gamble for both sides [to take the issue to the ballot],” said Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, a Jamaica Plain Democrat who is cochairwoman of the Legislature’s education committee and serves on the working group trying to hash out a compromise. “And more importantly, it’s a real gamble for the Commonwealth and for kids.”


Thursday, March 03, 2016

The U.S. Government’s Student Loan Racket

It’s not often that we’re surprised by a government spending statistic, but what Breitbart News‘ Mike Flynn reported over the past weekend about one particular line item within the U.S. Treasury Department’s annual financial report for the U.S. government floored us.

    Tucked away in the report, however, was a surprising fact. Student loans now make up 37 percent of the total assets of the U.S. government. In some ways, a major business of the U.S. government now is getting students to take out loans to pay for college.

    The total value of assets held by the federal government is $3.2 trillion. The government’s assets include its cash, gold reserves, property, and the value of land, equipment, and inventories. The lion’s share of the government’s assets, though, is the value of loans it has issued. The total value of government-issued loans is over $1.2 trillion, almost 40 percent of its total assets.

    By far the largest loan program run by the feds is the student loan program. Last year, the federal government held as assets almost $1.1 trillion in student loans. This is up almost 10 percent from 2014. The federal government earned almost $1 billion on these loans last year.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government’s total liabilities is over $21 trillion, putting its official net worth at roughly minus $18 trillion.

Among those liabilities is the over $1 trillion worth of national debt that has been incurred because the U.S. government borrows the money it uses to make student loans. Approximately one out of every ten dollars that the U.S. government has borrowed since Barack Obama became the U.S. President has been for the purpose of sustaining its student loan “business”.

And with an annual revenue of $1 billion, the U.S. government is getting a return on its “investment” of something on the order of 0.1%. When you consider that one in four of the student loans issued by the U.S. government are delinquent, it is highly likely that the U.S. government is actually losing money on its student loan business.


Profane hatred blossoms on campus

by PETE HOEKSTRA (Pete Hoekstra represented Michigan for 18 years in Congress, including as chairman of the U.S. House Intelligence Committee)

Accepting Syrian refugees into the United States is an emotional issue.

People are suffering and dying in Syria and throughout the broader Middle East. The grotesque nature of the situation is very real. Innocent Christians, Jews, women, homosexuals and children are being killed, sold as sex slaves and brutalized. Nobody in America wants that.

Nor, however, does anybody in America want ISIS and other radical Islamist groups to exploit the refugee crisis to export their savagery to Europe and North America. ISIS has stated that it intends to infiltrate the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing the barbaric ISIS terrorists using their families as cover. The FBI director and director of National Intelligence said that U.S. intelligence and law enforcement cannot thoroughly vet the backgrounds of the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees the president has vowed to bring to the United States.

This week I was invited to participate in a press conference at the Rhode Island state capital where we requested that Gov. Gina Raimondo rescind her open invitation to Syrian refugees. Organizers wanted to first know how the federal government would ensure that the individuals and families who are permitted to enter the country will not threaten the safety and security of U.S. citizens.

It is a simple, straightforward concern that is as much about ensuring basic national security as it is compassion.

It soon became apparent that the press conference would not proceed cordially, with one side expressing its opinion followed by a competing press conference offering a different point of view.

I cannot broadly characterize the group I encountered in Rhode Island - organized by the United Council of Churches and students from Brown University - as anything other than ill-mannered and hate-filled. Rather than opening themselves to a polite discussion or allowing one side to present its facts and opinions, we were treated in a most uncivilized manner.

The type of behavior that occurred this week unfortunately is not unique. Earlier in February, protesters shouted down a conversation on Jewish identity led by actor Michael Douglas and human rights activist Natan Sharansky on the campus of Brown University. Anti-Israel hecklers delayed a lecture by Hebrew University professor Moshe Halbertal at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis in November.

Also in November, faculty at the University of Missouri confronted a photographer and called for "muscle" to prevent him from covering an event held in a public space.

Some 30 campus groups objected to a speech at Yale University by Somali-born women's rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali in 2014. It happened within a few months of Brandeis University rescinding an invitation for her to speak following an outcry by a vocal campus minority.

I'm not OK with clergy, students and those of different opinions chanting and swearing, but it is their constitutional right. I'm not OK with clergy, students and those of different opinions screaming and hollering to silence the free speech of others. I'm not OK with clergy, students and those of different opinions ensuring that they don't listen or learn from others.

I'm not OK with clergy, students and those of different opinions lying and expressing hateful speech in the name of love, but again it is their constitutional right. I'm not OK with their conduct, but in America we tolerate it, as obnoxious and spiteful as it may be.

I'm not OK with any of that adolescent behavior. I have never known it to solve problems or heal divisions.

The ugly demonstration at the press conference was a wonderful experience in how not to accomplish anything. I'm sure that those who disagreed with us felt that they had a good day. They were louder than everybody else. Congratulations, but what exactly did they achieve?

They did not succeed in reaching a consensus or fostering ideas on how to balance national security with welcoming those seeking to escape horrific circumstances.

Let's hope that someday those who proudly wore their clerical garb, those who identified as open-minded college students and those who were simply there to express a different opinion will learn that dialogue is better than swearing, that listening is better than screaming and that passion is good but it needs to be balanced with reason.

A version of this piece previously appeared on Washington Times


Campus Jihad?

New York's CUNY University system has a rich history. City affiliated universities produced Jonas Salk, who created the polio vaccine; Comedian Jerry Seinfeld, and a who's who of CEO's, politicians, and authors. But these days, it seems to be only producing one thing: virulent anti-semitism.

Throughout the CUNY system, Jewish students are reporting rampant instances of harassment and intimidation. Via the NY Post:

    Among the incidents cited by the group:

    At John Jay College, which specializes in criminal justice, Jewish students have been the target of so many slurs that at lease three have transferred. One John Jay administrator responded to a Jewish student's concerns by saying, “What are these white kids complaining about?”

    On Nov. 12 at Hunter College, during a demonstration for free tuition, Jewish students were denounced as “racist sons of bitches,” “fascists” and “Nazis” and were greeted with comments such as “Jews out of CUNY.” One student tweeted at the time, “Full-blown anti-Semitism allowed at my college . . . I witnessed this and froze in fear.”

    At Brooklyn College, the pro-Palestinian group disrupted a faculty meeting last week and called a professor wearing a yarmulka a “Zionist pig.” Brooklyn College slammed the “hateful” comments and the disruption.

    At The College of Staten Island, a pro-Palestinian demonstrator told a Jewish student last November, “I don't hug murderers.” Swastikas also defaced the college's desks and walls.

This is utterly and completely appalling. It's clear that Islamists and those who sympathize with them are willing to stand up and defend their culture. As Americans, we need to do the same. America is the unique product of the marriage of European Enlightenment ideals and Judeo Christian heritage. It's time we stopped apologizing for it and stood up to these hate mongers.


Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Louisiana Shows Why 'Free' College Education Doesn't Work

“Free” college education sounds easy enough. A few dollars shuffled here, a few tax raises there, and — voilà! — you're set to earn a college degree without the burden of student loans. This mentality explains much of Bernie Sanders' appeal, particularly among young Americans. On the Socialist's own website is a section called “It's Time to Make College Tuition Free and Debt Free,” in which he spells out a six-step plan to eliminate tuition costs. After all, he writes, “The University of California system offered free tuition at its schools until the 1980s,” and many foreign nations do so today; why not implement it full-scale in America?

Perhaps he never stopped to ponder why California made reforms. A 1982 New York Times article noted, “In hindsight, many educators say, the system was allowed to grow too large in the 1960's and is now having difficulty adapting to the falling birth rate, a state fiscal crisis and changing demands from students.” But California isn't the only state whose experiment with the idea has gone awry. In a new Daily Signal article, Norbert Michel outlines the problems that plague Louisiana's tuition-free plan — Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS).

What began as a program to subsidize state residents with low income in the 1980s went entirely mainstream in 1997, when income caps were nixed entirely. All students had to do was maintain a C average. But while college participation rose, so did the financial problems. “A person receiving ‘free' tuition may not see it (or even care), but subsides actually raise the total cost of an education,” writes Michel. “The core problem is that they remove the paying customer — in this case the student — from the equation. Without the subsidy, the paying customer receives the direct benefit for the service and bears the direct cost. If that person doesn't think the cost is worth it, they don't pay.” The other problem? “When the influx of students hits … it strains universities' existing resources. So the transfer of money has the natural tendency to lead to expanded facilities, faculty, and staff. But these increases call for a permanently higher level of funding, and all of these effects tend to reinforce each other. That is, school officials have a built in reason to ask for larger transfers, and politicians have a built in excuse to raise taxes.” Sound anything like ObamaCare?

It all has a compound effect. State budget shortfalls affect school finances. And in Louisiana's case, it's small institutions along with out-of-state and non-TOPS eligible students that get particularly hammered. Sanders posits that tuition-free systems work both here and abroad. They don't. And the evidence is there for anyone willing to to do a little homework and familiarize themselves with Econ 101.


UK: Hope Not Hate: devoured by its own censorious logic

Campus censorship continues to eat itself. Nick Lowles, head of anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate, took to social media today to decry the fact that NUS Black Students is pushing to have him removed from an upcoming panel on anti-racism. All because, the little pillocks claim, he is ‘Islamophobic'.

‘Never mind all the work HOPE not hate [sic] has done challenging anti-Muslim hatred', Lowles fumed in a Facebook post. ‘It seems that some ultra-left activists believe I'm Islamophobic because I have repeatedly spoken out against grooming and dared condemn Islamist extremism.'

Lowles dubbed the move ‘lunacy', and, on the surface, it's hard to disagree. Alongside the attempts to No Platform anti-Islamist campaigner Maryam Namazie, the call to ban Lowles speaks to the mania of the Islamophobia industry, which has been readily taken up by so-called campus radicals. In this blinkered worldview, any criticism of Islamism is taken as an act of mini-imperialism, an expression of racial hatred.

Many have taken to Twitter to mock the move. ‘Not long now before Muslims are No Platformed by the NUS for being Islamophobic', jibed writer Sunny Hundal. Commentator Dan Hodges was similarly unimpressed: ‘Okay, we've now reached peak lunacy.' But while these bemused onlookers continue to furrow their brows, one little detail has been missed: it was Hope Not Hate that helped popularise No Platform in the first place.

Since it was founded, Hope Not Hate has maintained that the only way to oppose the British far right is to block them from speaking. Along with Unite Against Fascism, Hope Not Hate has long supported the NUS's No Platform policy. Though Lowles suggested in an interview a few years back that, in the internet age, No Platform was becoming ‘outdated', he remains a staunch supporter of it in certain instances.

So the attempt to ban Lowles now isn't really lunacy at all – rather, it's a vindication of the most basic argument against censorship. As Thomas Paine put it more than 200 years ago: ‘He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression: for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach unto himself.' This is a lesson that Lowles is finally learning.


Australia: Safe Schools activist Roz Ward is a Commo

The architect behind a contentious sexual diversity program set to become mandatory across all Victorian schools is an outspoken hard-left warrior who has publicly denounced Immigration Minister Peter Dutton as a “sexist prick”.

Safe Schools Coalition ­Vic­toria co-founder Roz Ward has also conceded the Safe Schools Coalition program is part of a broader Marxist strategy to change society.

Ms Ward is a La Trobe University academic who moonlights as a writer for Red Flag, the publication of the Socialist Alternative, a Trotskyite self-des­cribed Marxist organisation that has become a dominant force among university radicals and the broad-left ­activist movement.

Ms Ward’s recent contributions include an article published in January, titled “Sexist text messages are the least of Peter Dutton’s crimes”, in which she accuses the minister of being ­responsible for instances of sexual abuse being experienced by refugees at the Nauru processing centre.

“Dutton is responsible for these horrors,” she writes. “Sure, call out casual sexism, but we should rage longer and harder against his ongoing crimes against refugees.”

In another article, Ms Ward accused the former Victorian Liberal government of turning train stations into prisons after the ­introduction of a safety policy in 2012 of manning platforms with armed guards. She denounced the guards, known as “protective services officers”, as “uniformed thugs”.

The program has recently been linked with an improved public perception of safety.

A prominent campaigner on gay, lesbian and transgender ­issues, including marriage equal­ity, Ms Ward has repeatedly claimed that the Safe Schools ­Coalition was derived out of a bid to stamp out homophobia within schools.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino, who posed for photographs with Ms Ward at the recent Pride March, declined a request for an interview yesterday.

However in a statement, his spokesman said that the “scare campaign” being run by opponents of Safe Schools Coalition has been “nothing short of disgraceful”.

“The comments from federal MPs like Cory Bernardi and George Christensen are perfect examples of the kind of attitudes that we need to change,” he said.

The Victorian government was the first to provide public funds to the cause. Former Labor education minister Bronwyn Pike, who has an openly gay son, announced $80,000 in seed funding in October 2010. A year later, the newly elected Coalition government announced further funding of $416,000 and the federal Labor government then lent its support in 2013 when Senator Penny Wong, who is gay, unveiled $8 million over four years to “help stop homophobia and create more inclusive school communities”.

The Safe Schools Coalition program has since been rolled out to more than 500 schools and has the backing of the Australian Secondary Principals Association and the Australian Education Union.

Despite the program’s stated aims, its politically correct approach to sex education — under which teachers are counselled that it is “heterosexist” to refer to students as “girls and boys” and children are instructed to role-play gay teenagers — has outraged religious groups and conservative politicians.

Many have questioned whether it is appropriate for schools to be teaching children as young as 11 the meaning of terms such as “queer”, “pansexual”, “sister girl” and “trans guy”.

The Coalition’s website also lists more than 40 primary schools or P-12 colleges that have registered.

One of those, St Kilda Primary School in Melbourne, took part in the Midsumma Festival’s annual Pride March in January alongside the Safe Schools Coalition.

Ms Ward, who manages the program in Victoria, wrote about the landmark occasion on the coalition’s website: “For the first time ever we marched with a primary school as well as more than a dozen secondary schools, which just really shows the progress that has been made.”

St Kilda Primary School principal Sue Higgins confirmed that the school had taken part, but did not respond to further questions via email, including whether students had taken part.

West Australian Education Minister Peter Collier has raised concerns, describing aspects of it as “almost offensive”.

A former high school teacher, he said it could hurt the children it aimed to protect, although it had the hallmarks of an effective bullying strategy.  “I cannot see or fathom any situation where drawing attention to a particular set of students is going to necessarily assist that child,” Mr Collier said.

“I feel as soon as you start to identify or isolate very discrete elements of student cohorts, inevitably you’re going to draw attention to those students and if anything it could work in reverse.”

He said only 16 of the state’s 800 public schools had registered for the program.


Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Campaigners blast 'educational anarchy' as new British syllabus tells teachers to inform pupils about Islamic civilisation and Mayan culture but not important events in British history

History pupils must be taught about Islamic civilisation, Mayan culture or Benin in West Africa - but they need not study British kings and queens, education campaigners have claimed.

The teaching of landmark events such as the Battle of Waterloo is now 'non-statutory' under the new national curriculum for history, according to the Campaign for Real Education.

While teachers are not obliged to cover the World Wars, Winston Churchill or Elizabeth I, they must tell history students about some foreign cultures and civilisations, the group claims.

The organisation's chairman Chris McGovern described the situation as 'educational anarchy', the Sunday Express reports.

He wrote: 'No landmark event in British history has to be taught. Magna Carta, the two world wars and Winston Churchill, for example, are included in the curriculum as non-statutory examples of what teachers "could include". Previously teaching of the world wars was compulsory.

'Trafalgar, Waterloo, Nelson and Wellington are ignored. There is no requirement to teach about any specific British monarch, prime minister, act of parliament, battle or individual.

'In contrast, certain topics are placed on prescribed lists, for example either early Islamic or Mayan civilisation or Benin must be taught.'

The campaign group based its research on data from The Times Educational Supplement (TES) Resources website of model lessons for teachers, according to the Yorkshire Post.

Mr McGovern added: 'What we have is a Sex Pistols history, anything goes, including educational anarchy.'

A Department for Education spokesman told the Sunday Express: 'We’ve moved away from the old narrow and prescriptive curriculum to give teachers the freedom to deliver lessons that will excite and inspire their pupils.'


Free College Turns a Degree into an Expensive Participation Medal

This election cycle, young voters are enamored with the concept of “free college.” That’s right, “free.” I am assuming those same students aspiring to higher education took a basic science class along the way and learned that matter can neither be created nor destroyed. The same principle applies to tuition. What you are not paying for, someone else is.

A common talking point for those of the free college camp is mentioning countries like Finland and France that finance the tertiary schooling of their youth. But where is the money coming from to cover costs? And what is the quality of education being received? Most free college advocates cannot answer those questions.

In Germany, school funding comes entirely from the taxpayers. This social state also has the second highest income tax burden of the thirty-four countries in the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In 2011, the highest tax wedge in Germany was single workers without children, also known as recent college grads, paying 49.8 percent. In order to delay the government stealing half of their income from them, students prolong graduation; it’s not their own resources they’re wasting. This is such a prevalent problem that there is even a German word for it; “dauerstudenten” translates into “eternal students.”

The amount of higher education demanded increases when it is subsidized, and in turn, taxes have to increase to pay for it. We are already seeing this in the United States when we look at the divide of public and private colleges. Sixty percent of American students attend public colleges, which are generally less expensive thanks to government funding. Half of those students take longer than four years to graduate. Consider private school students paying much more for their education: 80 percent finish in four years. Paying for your own education is incentive to efficiently achieve a degree.

Furthermore, when a product is free it usually lacks quality. Those refrigerators with a “free” sign attached to them on the sidewalks of suburbia are free for a reason: they don’t work. Just as we are facing a shortage of physicians in the wake of ObamaCare bringing 30 million people into the healthcare market, we will see a shortage of professors if universal higher education is instituted. When that happens and students seek a better education they will end up paying significantly more for private colleges with superior academics on top of the major tax hike that made college “free” in the first place.

College should not be free simply because it cannot be free. Shifting the burden of tuition onto the taxpayers is not a solution. The United States cannot afford another free social program.


Stupid school bullying policy in Australia

Self-defence not allowed!

JAMIESON Reid is a quiet, nine-year-old who keeps to himself and loves to bury his head in books.

On Tuesday he was involved in a shocking and unexpected incident while he was waiting in the school pick-up queue at Musgrave Hills State School in Queensland.

"This week I saw my small-for-his-age, book-loving nine-year-old son attacked by a much larger child," Jamieson’s mother Jessie told Kidspot. "The attacker quickly progressed from jostling to grabbing my son around the throat and holding his bag, stopping him from leaving to get in the car."

"As my husband and I watched in horror from our Tarago in the school pickup line, I saw my son yell ‘Let me go!’ – striking the attacker in an attempt to get away."

"And then I watched in absolute terror as my tiny son was punched in the head three times before a staff member removed the much larger boy."

The next day Jessie got a call from the school to say that her son, along with the other child involved in the altercation, had been suspended for two days.

The distraught mother says her son was the victim and doesn’t deserve to be treated this way. She says it’s proof that the blanket bullying policy in schools is making matters worse for the victims.

"When this ‘zero tolerance’ approach is applied as a blanket policy it is no longer a useful deterrent or a tool against bullying," she says. "It has crossed the line in victim blaming. It’s gone too far and our children are suffering because of school policy," she says.

But a Department of Education and Training spokesperson says the matter was dealt with according to the policy which clearly sets out expectations of student behaviour, and the consequences for students when these expectations are not met.

"The Musgrave Hill State School principal thoroughly investigated this matter. Consequently, the students involved were suspended in line with the school’s Responsible Behaviour Plan for Students," the spokesperson said in a statement to Kidspot.

Oscar Yildiz, from Bully Zero Foundation Australia, also supports the policy stating that zero tolerance is the only way to go.  "If someone is hitting a child, they should move away immediately and get themselves out of danger," he tells Kidspot.

Jessie disagrees says ‘moving away’ wasn’t an option for her son. The older boy, she says, was holding him down. Blanket approaches like this, she says, "allows victims to be beaten if cornered."

The government’s very own Bullying No Way! website agrees with Jessie that a zero-tolerance approach to bullying is not necessarily effective.

One of many points stipulated under the heading "What we know doesn’t work" is – any form of zero tolerance and ‘get tough’ suspensions and exclusions.

Although Jamieson was told that he was not allowed to go to school for two days, his parents still decided to send him yesterday.

"The principal told us three times to pick him up but we said we wouldn’t pick him up because he wants to be at school," Jessie says.

"I shared my frustration and outright anger with my friends and discovered that this is a very common situation," Jessie says.

"One friend [whose child got in an altercation at school] said her son was told he shouldn’t have defended himself because his home life was more stable than his attackers," she says.

Jessie says that another friend pulled her children out of school and now teaches them at home because they were being reprimanded and punished when attacked by others.

She claims victim-blaming is rife at schools as she has gathered anecdotes from all over the country echoing similar experiences.

Jessie says the policy is teaching kids the wrong message.  "Teaching children that defending themselves when they have no other option is wrong and that doing so results in a severe punishment has far reaching implications," she says.

"We don’t teach sexual assault victims that defending themselves is wrong – in fact it is encouraged, why should victims of non-sexual assault be any different?

Jessie is calling on all parents to take a stand on behalf of their children about the blanket policy.

"Zero Tolerance needs re-examining. It doesn’t work in practice in our schools and our kids are suffering as a result. Is this happening at your school? Speak up," she implores.

"Tell the principal this is not OK. Tell the Education Department. Tell the Education Minister. Our kids are worth it."


Monday, February 29, 2016

African studies

As I am sure most readers here will be acutely aware, many American universities and colleges now have schools of African studies.  And at the core of such studies are claims that the role of Africans in history has been largely ignored or underestimated.  And by recounting little-known stories of achievements by blacks in the past they certainly do no harm and may right a real imbalance in conventional history.  Depending on the teacher, however,  students may also  be told that just about everything invented by whites was in fact invented by blacks. 

I thought it was time for me to say something about that type of  claim  so I spent a little time looking at the writings of a man who was prominent in the creation of black studies and who made such claims, Dr. John Henrik Clarke.  The child of sharecroppers, he was clearly a rather clever man and some of his aphorisms are good.  I was rather taken with this one: "A good teacher, like a good entertainer first must hold his audience's attention, then he can teach his lesson".  That certainly holds true of a classroom full of black students but less so of my experiences in teaching white High School students.

There is surprisingly little of his writings available online but his essay here would appear to summarize most of his contentions.  It starts out on a very strange note.  He says: "Africa and its people are the most written about and the least understood of all of the world's people".  Africans are more written about than the Jews, the Greeks or the Romans? It's clearly not true but Clarke gives neither reasoning nor reference for the statement.  And it is a statement he repeated often so he clearly takes the claim very seriously.

And the rest of his essay is of that kind:  A string of questionable assertions unsupported by any recitation of detailed facts or references to sources for each statement.  So the essay is very unscholarly.  More than that, I am sure that I am not the only psychologist who would recognize it as the ramblings of a paranoid schizophrenic.  Paranoids do in general sound reasonable and even persuasive in their delusions -- until you check what they say and find that what they say happened did not happen or was grossly misinterpreted.  Clarke is just imagining things.

But paranoid delusions are not random.  They do have inspiration from somewhere.  And Clarke does tell us his inspirations.  He says that he and his ilk "are using neglected documents by radical White Scholars who are generally neglected by the White academic community".  He is inspired by the distorted writings of hate-filled far Left historians.  It is clear that their writings would suit him but, as with Leftists generally, they only tell half the story in arriving at their conclusions.  Leftists have a very shaky relationship with the truth.

The thing that most clearly shows most of black history as fantasy is its lack of specificity.  When an invention or discovery is mentioned in conventional history you usually get some details:  The name and historical era of the inventor/discoverer, the year of the invention/discovery and some details of what led up to the invention/discovery. And you can normally find plenty of corroboration of those details and further details from multiple sources.  When it is claimed that the claimed inventor/discoverer of something was not whom we are usually told but rather some black man, most of those details are missing.  You are lucky if you even get a name for the alleged black man.  So it is clearly wishful thinking, not fact.

So black studies contain a lot of pseudo scholarship.

Nothing that I have said does of course take anything away from those blacks who have made genuine contributions to knowledge, science and technology -- such as the remarkable George Washington Carver and Madam C. J. Walker, whose contributions are recognized in conventional history.

Harvard University removes the word master from its academic titles after protests over slavery and considers changing its official seal

Harvard University has confirmed they will abolish the word master from academic titles due to its racist connotations and links to slavery and are considering changing their official seal.

College Dean Rakesh Khurana announced in an email to students that House leaders decided to change the title 'to reflect the current realities of the role' and it had been approved by the Massachusetts university president.

It comes as the school also debates whether to scrap their seal which features the crest of the former slaveholding Royall family.

Isaac Royall, born in 1719 in Antigua, was the son of wealthy sugar plantation and the owner of many slaves. 

House masters are the heads of the 12 halls of residence and are responsible for overseeing the pastoral care of undergraduates.

Ivy League institutions adopted the term from British schools, notably Oxford and Cambridge, where 'master' is short for 'schoolmaster'.

However, in the American context, it has been criticized for its associations for slavery.

And in an email, seen by the Washington Post, Mr Khurana said: 'I write on behalf of myself and my fellow residential House leaders to let you know that the House Masters have unanimously expressed desire to change their title.

'In the coming weeks, the College will launch a process in which members of the House leaders' docket committee, working with senior College team members and the House leadership community as a whole, will suggest a new title that reflects the current realities of the role.'

The decision came after Mr Khurana previously told students that a committee ‘will suggest a new title that reflects the current realities of the role' over the coming weeks.

‘I have not felt comfortable personally with the title,' he told the college newspaper, The Harvard Crimson.

‘The recommendation to change the title has been a thoughtful one, rooted in a broad effort to ensure that the College's rhetoric, expectations and practices around our historically unique roles reflects and serves the 21st century needs of residential student life.'

A Facebook page describing itself as a ‘union' of white Harvard students then emerged at the university, prompting outrage among students.

Critics denounced the group as racist, and the discovery sparked an investigation into how the group came about.

The page includes a description which claims that it was formed to ‘defend the inherent rights of White Europeans'.

There are also links to the website of the American Renaissance, a group listed as a White Nationalist extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Protests concerning the issue of race are sweeping through universities across the nation.

Supporters believe that the protesters' demands for greater racial awareness is a sign of progress. But others complain the demands are interfering with colleges and universities as places of education.

Princeton University has also made changes to reflect growing racial awareness.

It announced that it would be changing the title ‘master of the residential college' to ‘head of the college', on November 18.

The administration at Princeton is still deciding whether to remove references to President Woodrow Wilson, who led the university from 1902 to 1910, but who many students claim was a racist.

Yale's president Peter Salovey also said that he had been discussing whether to make a change to remove the word ‘master' from titles since the beginning of the school year.


British private pupils are two years ahead of state rivals by the age of 16 and would out perform the best European nations, study finds

Pupils at private schools are two years ahead of their rivals in the state system by the age of 16, a study suggests.

Children in the independent sector are more successful at GCSE in all subjects – by up to two exam grades.

Compared with teenagers internationally, those at British paid-for schools would out-perform the best European nations and match rigorously-taught pupils in Japan and South Korea.

The study, commissioned by the Independent Schools Council (ISC), will cast doubt on recent claims that state schools are catching up with their private counterparts.

Julie Robinson, of the ISC, said it proved private pupils still enjoy relatively higher returns for their schooling. She added that the report gives ‘us solid ground to say that based on academic results, independent schools are worth paying for'.

The research by the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring at Durham University examined the differences in attainment between pupils in the two sectors from junior or prep school through to GCSE.

It tried to assess only differences which could be credited to attendance at independent schools alone, without factors such as prior ability and family background being considered.

With these factors taken into account, the researchers noted ‘the evidence from this study suggests similar students achieve more in independent schools than in state schools'.

The research found pupils in the independent sector have an advantage over their peers at all ages, beginning at four.

The difference between independent and state schools in the average of best eight GCSEs was just under two grades.

However, when prior academic ability, deprivation and gender were taken into account, the difference was 0.64 exam grades. The report authors admitted there may be some factors they had not accounted for.

But they said: ‘This difference equates to a gain of about two years' progress and suggests attending an independent school is associated with the equivalent of two additional years of schooling by 16.' The greatest differences were in French, history and geography while the smallest were in chemistry, physics and biology.

Researchers said that compared internationally, UK private school pupils as a group would outperform those in Finland, Switzerland and the Netherlands – Europe's highest-achieving nations. They would be on a par with rivals in Japan and Korea.

Professor Robert Coe, who contributed to the study, said: ‘It is always difficult to unpick the causes of any differences, and we think it is unlikely to be purely an effect of better teaching, but we find a clear and significant difference in the GCSEs achieved that is not explained by any of the factors we can account for.'


A very grim report card for Muslim schools management in Australia

Something rotten is happening at our Muslim schools. Over the past six years, hand-wringing bureaucrats, politicians and a media scared of the label “Islamophobic” have allowed the parasite of institutional corruption to slowly take over its host.

It's a state of affairs that in two months could prompt chaos: a major high school forced to shut, with the education of its 2400 students thrown into turmoil.

Muslim schools are big business and they are booming. Islamic colleges are the fastest growing schools, with enrolments increasing at a clip nine times faster than their mainstream counterparts. Between 2009 and 2014, Muslim students surged from 15,503 at 32 schools to 28,267 attending 39 schools — an increase of 82 per cent. In contrast, enrolments at all schools grew by just 6 per cent over the same period, to 3.7 million.

There are six schools controlled by Australian Federation of Islamic Councils. They received $42 million from taxpayers in 2013, plus $21.5m for new buildings and other capital works between 2009 and 2013. In 2014 and 2015 this will be at least $45m.

The largest is Malek Fahd Islamic School based in Greenacre in Sydney's southwest, with 2400 students across three campuses.

The school was due to receive $20m in commonwealth funding this year. But it won't. Federal education minister Simon Birmingham has ordered funding cut off in April following an audit report from Deloitte, which found serious issues of financial management and governance of all AFIC schools.

Two weeks ago the minister said the excuses from Malek Fahd simply weren't good enough. Last week the board was forced to resign and the school is in limbo.

Despite the school reassuring parents this week that it has enough funds to remain open, senior education department figures tell The Australian that, without commonwealth funding, Malek Fahd cannot last much longer than a week. As to what happens to its pupils, at this stage nobody can say.

Professional educator Rafaat El-Hajje was principal at Malek Fahd. The nuclear physics PhD lasted six months before he quit in disgust.

“These people have no idea about what governance was or any idea about professional education,” El-Hajje says. “There were about three people who ran the show, and now they're all fighting among themselves again. But it's the kids who miss out, it's the parents and the teachers.”

When he resigned in February 2013 El-Hajje wrote to NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli begging that he freeze its funding until the board was replaced. El-Hajje is highly critical of both state and federal governments: they took too long to act, they didn't ensure the board was replaced after numerous warnings.

“The government just never pulled the cord on them. They were supposed to pay $9m back and they didn't. I brought it to their attention, a Queensland principal brought it to their attention. They just didn't act.”

In its defence the NSW education department says it is monitoring the situation.

El-Hajje blames political and bureaucratic intransigence for failing to act on the corruption that The Australian has documented for six years. “The minister said it wasn't his problem, the NSW education department said it was board of studies problem, the commonwealth department said it was someone else's problem. It just got shuffled around. Maybe if they had acted sooner the school wouldn't be in this position.”

El-Hajje is sceptical of the intentions of some at the school, who might see a closure as a get out of jail free card. “There will be people who think that if the school closes there will be no more investigations into where the money went so maybe they don't mind.”

The six AFIC schools have 5481 students, a 53 per cent rise in five years. Usually, these schools receive the highest possible funding from governments as they are populated by students from poorer and non-English speaking backgrounds.

Back in 2011 The Australian reported that the AFIC had siphoned off $5.2m worth of funds from the Malek Fahd Islamic School in Sydney.

The day after the report a media release was put out by then AFIC president Ikebal Patel decrying its inaccuracies. It also implied it was driven by an anti-Muslim agenda and demanded an apology and retraction (neither was ever given).

All six AFIC schools have been subjects of media reports and government funding freezes in the past few years. At one point the NSW government even demanded it repay $9m of state funds; a directive the school promptly ignored and challenged in court. Now, it is even contemplating a legal challenge to the withdrawal of the $20m.

Parents like Fazel Qayum and children like his two daughters, both enrolled at Malek Fahd, are paying the price for the behaviour of the school board and the inaction of education authorities. Qayum, a Stanhope Garden local, drives his daughters, Sabah and Sana Qayum, in Years 11 and 4, to MFIS two hours each way because of its “academic reputation”.

“It's not the children's fault. The people who misused funds, they're the ones who should be held responsible. The school belongs to the kids, not the principal,” he says.

“I want the school to run. We live in a society of law and order ... the board should be taken to court. (But) the children should not pay”

His daughter, Sabah Qayum, is in Year 11. “All the students are devastated. I'm in my second last year, the HSC is just (around) the corner)”

To add to the stress of her Higher School Certificate exams is the likelihood she'll have to find a new school. “Everyone's worried about not being accepted (into schools)”.

The Australian has obtained the Deloitte report to the government which paints a disturbing picture of what was taking place at Malek Fahd.

Under Australian law, schools must not operate for profit to be considered viable for commonwealth funding.

The Deloitte report confirmed previous reports in The Australian that millions of dollars was siphoned out of the school into AFIC via unexplained “project management” and “accounting and salary services” — seemingly for services that never existed.

There was also evidence of millions in inflated rent for the school land paid to AFIC.

The government's findings following the Deloitte report were a clear indictment of AFIC and the school board, who were often one and the same.

“Money has not been applied for the purposes of the school or for the function of the authority (Malek Fahd Islamic School Limited), and money has also been distributed (whether directly or indirectly) to an owner of the authority, or any other person,” department of education official Michael Crowther wrote.

“I also consider that the quality of the policies and practices in place for MFISL are inconsistent with the basic requirement for MFISL to be not-for-profit.”

The audit found that over $500,000 was paid by the school to a company Casifarm Pty Ltd, run by school board member and one-time AFIC spokesman Amjad Mehboob. Services it provided could not be clearly identified.

Last year Mehbood and former “business manager” Agim Garana were sacked from the school amid the commonwealth probe in an attempt by AFIC president and school board chairman Hafez Kassem to demonstrate he was cleaning up the school.

In an almost humorous twist, Mehboob appeared on ABC television the same day the funding cut was announced demanding Hafez Kassem step down, seemingly oblivious that his own behaviour included in the Deloitte report that led in part to the commonwealth decision.

Look around the country and the story at other AFIC run schools is no better. Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth and Melbourne are beset by governance problems.

The federal minister has recommended the tens of millions in annual commonwealth funding to all other schools be cut if they can't show cause to be kept open.

At the Islamic College of Brisbane, the audit report found that millions of dollars in loans between AFIC and the school were unaccounted for. The Brisbane school is subject to a Queensland state department and police investigation.

Deloitte found numerous governance failings at the Canberra school, evidence of millions of dollars in unaccounted for loans to AFIC and found the school was barely financially viable.

The Melbourne school is accused of hardline religious teaching and allegedly threatened to send home children who missed morning prayer and Koran recital. Following the audit the commonwealth found the school was not operating as a non-for-profit.

The Islamic College of South Australia is beset with problems, including allegations of inappropriate payments to AFIC. The government found the school failed the “fit and proper person” test as well as the not-for-profit requirements.

Someone who knows all about the nature of the brutal infighting at AFIC is its former president, lawyer Haset Sali. Sali was a founding AFIC president 40 years ago and served as a legal adviser to the Muslim body before the current cabal kicked him out in 2006.

Sali describes the culture at AFIC as “toxic” and AFIC-managed Muslim schools as “tragic”. “These people have exploited the situation to their own advantage while taking advantage of the mainly poorer people who tried to get their children what used to be a good education.”

He says the boards should be sacked, professional administrators appointed and reforms made to mirror more professional independent networks like the Catholic school system.

The qualifications for running a Muslim school are woefully low. Pretty much anyone with a property and desire to set shop can make millions. “Muslim schools do not have that centralisation or professionalism. AFIC schools could contribute but they need to be run properly,” Sali says.

Sali has greater concerns: the way the toxin of corruption can leave a void of ethical Muslim leaders, which can lead young people towards Islamic extremism. “These people have just been taking, giving nothing back and couldn't care less that we've ended up with an Islamic subculture,” Sali says.

“Unfortunately a lot young people don't know where else to look for guidance, which leads to the rise of unqualified imams and the attraction of groups like IS.”

But come April, the pressing concern will be the education of 2400 students. While the AFIC schools are in the spotlight, at least four other non-AFIC Muslim schools have had their funding frozen in recent years by the NSW department over financial mismanagement, only to have the tap turned on soon after.

El-Hajje takes a dim view of the bulk of the Muslim schools that Malek Fahd students could be forced to go to. “I don't trust any of these other Muslim schools. They're intent on empire building and making money.”


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Texas universities prepare for legal firearms on campuses

And the faculty are paranoid -- but that could be good.  It might make them more careful about spouting Leftist BS

It was the kind of rhetoric that seemed out of place at an institution of higher learning. "Be careful discussing sensitive topics." "Drop certain topics from your curriculum." "DO NOT confront a student."

But such advice was not part of the debates about issues of race, class, and sexuality. At the University of Houston, educators were being warned about triggers — by peers struggling with how to teach when a Texas law takes effect Aug. 1 to allow students who are licensed to carry concealed weapons on campus.

Dispensed in a PowerPoint, eye-raising bullet points advised faculty not to "make provocative statements" or "cute signs" about the campus-carry law, and to "only meet ‘that student' in controlled circumstances." They advised faculty not to ask students about their "CHL" — concealed handgun licensing status — and not to "go there" if they "sense anger."

The bottom line: "It's in your interest and the university's interest to be very guarded and careful about this issue."

The advice came as part of a discussion at the 42,000-student state university organized by the president of the central campus's faculty senate, Jonathan Snow.

"It's a terrible state of affairs," Snow, a professor of isotope geochemistry, told the Chronicle of Higher Education. "It's an invasion of gun culture into campus life. We are worried that we have to change the way we teach to accommodate this minority of potentially dangerous students."

Snow is one of many educators in Texas critical of SB 11, passed last year. In a time when mass shootings are becoming commonplace, the legislation inspired one University of Texas professor to quit his job.

"With a huge group of students my perception is that the risk that a disgruntled student might bring a gun into the classroom and start shooting at me has substantially enhanced by the concealed-carry law," economics professor emeritus Daniel Hamermesh wrote to the university's president last year. "Out of self-protection, I have chosen to spend part of next fall at the University of Sydney, where, among other things, this risk seems lower."

Legislators, however, sought to protect the Second Amendment rights of college students.

"I just feel that the time has come for us to protect the men and women of Texas who are carrying concealed on our campuses," Republican state Representative Allen Fletcher, the bill's House sponsor, said.

The slide show, which the University of Houston told the Chronicle of Higher Education it had not endorsed, came as a working group on the campus-carry law debates how it should be implemented this summer.

"While the university president may not generally prohibit license holders from carrying concealed weapons on the campus, the law gives public universities some discretion to regulate campus carry including designating certain areas on campus where concealed handguns are prohibited," a statement posted by the university's police department reads.

Among the questions in a survey posted by the department: "Should the University provide handgun storage space for individuals who reside on campus?"


Anger as British competition aimed at getting girls interested in science is won ... by a BOY

A science competition aimed at inspiring girls to get involved in science subjects has been won by a boy, sparking fury on social media sites.

EDF Energy's 'Pretty Curious' programme was launched with the intention of attracting young girls to science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

But it has been slammed after the winner of the campaign's competition was revealed to be a 13-year-old boy.

The company defended the decision, claiming the competition was opened up to all 11 to 16-year-olds in 'the interests of fairness'.

However, after extending the competition to both genders, it kept the same website and branding as the all-girls scheme.

'Following last year's #PrettyCurious programme, which aimed to inspire girls about careers in STEM, EDF Energy launched a social media competition open to all children called the #PrettyCuriousChallenge,' the company said in a statement.

'We had a number of girls and boys taking part in the challenge to create a "connected home" product resulting in three female and two male finalists. The winner was selected via a public vote based on the merit of their idea.' 

Twitter users were quick to jump into the fray.

Computer scientist Dr Sue Black OBE, said: 'Congratulations to the winner - but I'd love to hear from EDF how the winning solution meets their stated aim for the competition.'

She added: 'It is taking me a bit of time to work out how this result will change girls' perceptions of Stem.' 

One Twitter user said: 'Imagine giving girls in tech comp a name like #PrettyCurious & that not being the worst thing about it, bc a boy won! Good 1.'

Another said: 'Why on earth have a gender-neutral competition as part of an all-girl STEM campaign? Or that name! #prettycurious.'

A third wrote: 'When they called a tech competition for girls #PrettyCurious, the whole thing should've been set on fire.'

But the reaction to the announcement hasn't been entirely negative, with some commentators arguing it won't discourage girls getting into STEM subjects. 

'To those criticising the idea that a contest to promote females in STEM would have a male winner, I ask: is allowing a girl to win by default really a way to promote girls in STEM?' wrote Ciara Judge, winner of the Google Global Science Fair 2014, on her blog. 

'There is no worse feeling on earth than feeling like your success is because of your gender, or feeling like to token female and I have been in that situation more times than I care to count.'

She added: 'Us girls have more grit and determination than to just give up because we don't win a competition… Please give us more credit than that.'

The 'Pretty Curious' campaign was launched with the aim of 'sparking the imagination of young girls, inspiring them to stay curious about the world around them and continue pursuing science-based subjects in school – and in their careers.'

But it is not the first time the campaign has come under fire, with critics also claiming that it has a 'sexist' name when it launched in October.

'I hate this presumption that STEM stuff needs to be girlified to appeal to female people,' wrote Emily Schoerning PhD, Director of Community Organising and Research at the National Center for Science Education.

'This strategy appears to show interest in girls and women while in fact making sure we wear a nice pink badge at all times, drawing attention to our gender over and above our achievements as human beings.'

She added: 'Do we really need to explicitly extend the objectification of teenage girls into the STEM fields? No.'

Women make up just 14.4 per cent of the Stem workforce – around 1 in 7.


Why Have Universities Been Overtaken by Mob Rule?

Student groups have asserted control of many university campuses across America. Without even resorting to force, they have successfully compelled the resignation of presidents and administrators, the firing and hiring of faculty, and drastic changes to university curricula, among other things.

University after university gives in to these demands, or at least pretends to do so. Only a few university presidents or administrators have spoken in defense of their own institutions or universities in general.

The former rulers of universities cannot defend themselves because they no longer understand the university’s purpose. Rather than ordering young minds, administrators have been ordered to resign. Having become convinced that universities service non-intellectual ends like multiculturalism, social justice, and pre-professionalism, presidents and administrators have little authority outside bookkeeping, job-placing, and safe space-creating.

They have forgotten that among the university’s highest purposes is preserving reason and free inquiry and making this spirit respectable to the public at large in a regime too often disposed to worship the power of public opinion and utility. Where else could this spirit live in our republic? In the mindlessness of popular culture? In fact, presuming that the mind requires protection for free inquiry, the institution of tenure makes sense only in this view. Tenure was not always understood as a sinecure for conference-going and activist data-mining.

Intolerance for free speech among student groups reveals their disregard for reason. Any opposition to or skepticism of their cause is met with anger, threats, and possibly physical harm. This is because free speech honors man’s rational faculty, presuming it is the genuine commonality among human beings. But if one considers oneself as primarily belonging to an aggrieved group, one shares feelings with that group alone, and of course common enemies.

Looking to Europe, one sees how free speech can decline. There, the power of the law is leveraged in favor of the loudest, angriest factions against those speaking freely. In America, for now, free speech is controlled by public opinion only through shame, rather than force.

The Progressive pieties connected to social justice have contributed to the current anarchy. Progressivism has undermined the universities because it doesn’t believe in liberal education. Liberal education’s ends are independence, freedom, and self-rule, while progressivism points toward learning what properly to hate and overcoming it. Most universities do not question the puzzling formulation “social justice”—they teach the methods and the temperament to bring it about.

As such, progressive pieties often foreclose respect for humility, decency, and honest inquiry. Rather than persuading the mind, they command and shame it. Liberal education to the contrary requires a spirit of reverence aiming to liberate the mind from prejudice—the prejudices of birth, public opinion, one’s own distorted and inflated opinions of oneself—in preparation for citizenship.

The societal implications of these doctrines are great, for our regime’s justification is rational. We cannot know about natural rights through feeling. We cannot understand the Constitution through feeling. We cannot understand the necessary habits of character to sustain regime through feeling.

If the standard of reason is denied, how then does one judge justice other than by succumbing to the loudest, angriest voice? Justice judged by intensity of feeling means the angriest have the highest claim to rule, a standard unbecoming of a civilized nation.

Moreover, these doctrines undermine the very thing that created the conditions for their existence. By constantly flirting with the idea that free speech should be silenced, the factions behind these doctrines are prepared to take away rights from others. What therefore happens to individuals if, goaded on by these own doctrines, a new barbarism emerges that cares little about freedom of speech and therefore about protecting universities, which are in effect their safe spaces?

The perspective of anger is incapable of understanding our nation’s needs and its common good. Neither is it capable of creating productivity, decency, self-respect, or political freedom. A public whose passions are its sole animating feature is unsuited for rule by laws.


Australian PM calls snap review of Safe Schools LGBTI program

Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi says the partyroom shares concerns of parents who want schools to teach their children ‘reading, writing and arithmetic'.

Malcolm Turnbull has ordered a snap review of the $8 million ­taxpayer-funded program aimed at teaching schoolkids about sexual orientation and transgender issues to avert a split in Coa­lition ranks erupting in parliament.

The independent review, which will report in March, was condemned by Labor, the Greens and the Australian Education Union as a “capitulation” to the Coalition's conservative wing.

Several government MPs were yesterday mounting a campaign to kill off the Safe Schools program being run in 495 schools, but The Australian understands a Senate motion demanding the Prime Minister withdraw the ­remaining $2m in funding was pulled after agreement was reached between Education Minister Simon Birm­ingham and the Nationals Barry O'Sullivan.

Senator Birmingham, who has defended the program, said: “It is essential that all material is age appropriate and that parents have confidence in any resources used in a school to support the right of all students, staff and families to feel safe.”

He has written to education ministers asking them to confirm parents are being consulted prior to schools introducing the scheme.

Last night, no decision had been made on who would conduct the Turnbull review.

The controversial teaching manual, All of Us, includes a role-playing exercise in which children as young as 11 are encouraged to imagine how it would feel to live in a same-sex relationship.

In one lesson, on transgender experi­ences, children are asked to ­imagine losing their genitalia.

The AEU's federal president, Correna Haythorpe, said the program was working well.

“A majority of young LGBTI people report bullying and 80 per cent of those say that it happens at school,” she said. “All young people should be able to feel safe and supported at school.”

The Greens spokesman on LGBTI and marriage equality, Robert Simms, said opposition to the program was based on the “absurd idea that simply by talking about differences in sexuality or gender identity you're going to recruit people”.

Coalition sources told The Australian severalMPs expressed concern in the partyroom about the scheme, including senators O'Sullivan and Cory Bernardi as well as Andrew Nikolic, George Christensen, David Fawcett and Jo Lindgren.

The key Coalition champion for same-sex marriage, Warren Entsch, told The Australian there were problems with the program that should be addressed.

He backs extra support for gay and transgender schoolkids, however, “some of the terminology and the references there should be avoided. I can understand why people have raised concerns”.

Mr Nikolic said he believed parents needed to approve of the material before it was taught to their children.

“Young kids are being told their gender is not ­defined by their genitalia and only they will know if they are a boy or a girl," he said.

Senator Bernardi said the Coa­lition partyroom shared concerns of parents who wanted schools to teach their children “reading, writing and arithmetic” rather than “indoctrinating them with a radi­cal political and social agenda”.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said while former prime minister Tony Abbott had sacked Senator Bernardi for “offensive comments” Mr Turnbull was now indulging him with a review.

Senator Bernardi presented a petition to the Senate with 9499 signatures calling on the government to remove funding for the program.