Sunday, March 26, 2017

New ‘Safe Space’ Guidelines at University of Arizona Treat Students Like Preschoolers

The University of Arizona is encouraging college students to cry "ouch!" when they hear something offensive, make artwork about race relations, have story time, play four corners, and take a "time out" if they feel uncomfortable.

A new guide for faculty on "Diversity and Inclusion in the Classroom" offers tips for "inclusiveness" and how to establish a "safe space" in the classroom. The guidelines are voluntary for faculty and were first reported by the College Fix.

The guidelines offer "Strategies for Engaging Students," which include the "One Diva, One Mic" rule and allowing 20-year-olds to yell "ouch" and "oops" in class.

"Creating a safe space for students for engaging in dialogue about challenging topics is vital in promoting positive intergroup interactions," wrote Jesús Treviño, the author of the guide and vice provost for "inclusive excellence" at the university.

Ground rules for "personal and group affirmation" include "One Diva, One Mic," which stipulates that college students should not interrupt each other.

The guide also suggests the "Oops/ouch" rule. "If a student feels hurt or offended by another student's comment, the hurt student can say ‘ouch,'" the university said. "In acknowledgment, the student who made the hurtful comment says ‘oops.'"

"Ground rules help students feel comfortable being honest," the university said. "Students should be affirmed for being open, honest, and vulnerable about their perspectives and experiences."

The guidebook suggests games for students like "Four Corners," where students are split into each corner of the room based on how much they talk in class.

University faculty are encouraged to engage in storytelling so students can "learn to bond and understand each other."

"The objective of storytelling is for students to gain a deeper understanding of the different groups to which their peers belong," the guide states. "Stories are interesting and convey emotion, history, pain, joy, spirituality, friendship, forgiveness, and other ideas."

In addition to telling stories, professors should have students make "collages" and "art work," participate in "reflection sessions," and keep a journal about their feelings.

"Collages and other forms of art tap into students' creative and visual side," the guide states. "Here students might be asked to create a collage depicting intergroup relations or intergroup concepts and ideas."

Another tool is the "fish bowl discussion," where students sit in a circle in the classroom and talk about issues like diversity.

The university guide also explains what a metaphor is to faculty.

"A metaphor [is] ‘a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them' (Webster's Dictionary)," the guide states.

The university encourages professors to use metaphors to explain race relations in America.

"Someone might provide the following metaphor: ‘Race relations in America remind me of the relationship between the earth and the sky. The earth represents ethnic/racial minorities, which sends water (e.g., diverse cultures, perspectives, opinions) to the clouds through the process of evaporation, making the sky look beautiful. For their part, clouds (which remind me of Whites) return the water back to the earth and enrich it. Both the earth and the clouds are equally important and need each other in order to live and make life interesting.'"

The guide is meant to serve as a resource for "difficult or challenging topics in the classroom" and is not required.

The guide includes examples of "tension" that could occur in class, including a hypothetical where a straight religious student claims that "LGBTQIA+ individuals do not have the right to exist."

The university argues "inclusiveness matters," saying all classroom discussions should be done in a "safe, caring, and respectful atmosphere."

"Discourage the devaluation of emotions and feelings," the university tells professors. "We may laugh and cry together, share pain, joy, fear and anger."

An example of the guidelines in practice includes students and professors taking "time outs" during class.

"If you feel uncomfortable, you may need to take time out, but let the facilitator know," the guide states.

The guidelines teach about "microinsults" and "microinvalidations" in addition to the standard "microaggressions."

The university defines "microinsults" as "[b]ehaviors, actions, or verbal remarks that convey rudeness, insensitivity, or demean a person's group or social identity or heritage."

"Microinvalidations" are "[a]ctions that exclude, negate, or nullify the psychological thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of people who represent different groups."

The university provides examples of microaggressions that faculty should avoid, like announcing a student's name—"Jesús Quintanilla"—wrong, "assigning class projects that are heterosexist, sexist, racist, or promote other oppressions," or using "heterosexist" language in class.

Professors also are encouraged to respect student's preferred pronouns in order to avoid committing a microaggression.

For instance, a professor should not say, "Alex, you use ‘they/them' pronouns. No, that's too confusing. They is plural. I'm going to use him for you."

Professors are told to stop "problematic behavior," such as "microaggressions," in the classroom immediately.

If "someone makes a joke that is racist, sexist, homophobic, etc.," the guide recommends that professors respond, "I didn't think this was funny. I'd like you to stop."

Nevertheless, the guidebook states it is "okay to use humor in class."

"However, make sure that it is appropriate humor that does not target or degrade any student in the class or group of people overall," the university said.


Warning over segregation in England's schools

Thousands of state schools across England are segregated along ethnic or social grounds, according to research. More than a quarter of primary and four in 10 secondary schools are ethnically divided, the social integration charity, The Challenge, found.

It says almost a third of primary and a quarter of secondary schools are segregated along socio-economic lines.

The Department for Education says all schools are expected to promote social integration and British values.

Researchers from The Challenge - working with the iCoCo Foundation and SchoolDash - measured how segregated a school was by comparing its numbers of white British pupils and those eligible for free school meals with those of the 10 schools closest to them.  They used official statistics for the years 2011 to 2016, examining more than 20,000 state schools.

Areas singled out for particular concern were:

   * Kirklees in West Yorkshire
   * Lancashire as a whole, but especially Blackburn with Darwen
   * Rochdale in Greater Manchester
   * Birmingham

The researchers regarded a school to be "segregated" if the proportion of ethnic minority pupils or pupils on free school meals was very different to the proportions at the neighbouring schools.

They found secondary schools were more likely to be segregated by ethnicity than socio-economic status, while primary schools were more likely to be segregated along socio-economic lines.

Primary faith schools were more ethnically segregated than those of no faith (29% against 25%) when compared with neighbouring schools, the study found.

Faith-based primary schools were also more likely to have a wealthier student population, with over one in four (27%) having significantly fewer pupils from more disadvantaged homes than other nearby schools; this compared with 17% of non-faith primaries.

Grammar schools - which Theresa May's government wants to expand - were heavily segregated by social background, the research found.

Some 98% of these selective schools had low numbers of poorer pupils, compared with their local schools, and none had pupil populations with high numbers of children eligible for free school meals.

The study also suggested that in some areas the situation was worsening - with primaries becoming more ethnically segregated over the past five years in more than half of the 150 areas examined.

'Anxiety and prejudice'

Jon Yates, director of The Challenge, said: "At a local and national level, government needs to commit to doing much more to reduce school segregation.

"We know that when communities live separately, anxiety and prejudice flourish, whereas when people from different backgrounds mix, it leads to more trusting and cohesive communities and opens up opportunities for social mobility.

"We urge local authorities, faith schools and academy chains to consider the impact admissions policies have upon neighbouring schools and put policies in place that encourage better school and community integration."

Responding to the findings, a Department for Education spokesman said: "We expect all schools to promote social integration and the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect for different faiths and beliefs.

"Our free schools programme already encourages applications for free schools which aim to bring together pupils from different ethnic or faith groups, and our consultation, Schools That Work For Everyone, includes faith schools setting up twinning arrangements with others not of their religion so that pupils mix with children from different communities and backgrounds.

"But we know there is more to do. The Casey Review highlighted a number of issues around levels of ethnic segregation in school intakes in some areas of the country. The government is considering the review and its recommendations and will respond in due course."


Good gravy for teachers in CA

Californians pay the highest state personal income taxes in the nation, but if state Senators Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton) and Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park) have their way, teachers will be off the hook. Galgiani and Stern’s Senate Bill 807 would provide teachers with tax credits for college tuition, certification expenses and other costs. If they remain in the classroom for five years, they gain complete exemption from state income tax.

The bill is supposed to remedy a teacher shortage, but taxpayers should not be fooled.

The tax exemption amounts to a pay raise of four to six percent for the state’s teachers, whose average salary is $69,324, by some accounts $84,489, highest in the nation, and much higher than California’s $61,818 median household income. California teachers are not underpaid and not overworked. The school year is 180 days, in some districts 175 days, so teachers in effect work only half the year. The benefits are all gold-plated and firing a teacher is nearly impossible, whatever the gravity of the offense.

Teachers also received another bonus in the form of the Local Control Funding Formula. The billions for “at risk” students and English learners is being spent on salary increases, and Governor Jerry Brown is okay with it, in the name of “subsidiarity.” It’s his payoff to the teacher unions and educrats who helped extend the “temporary” tax hikes of 2012.

Like the governor, legislators who want to exempt teachers from state income tax remain unwilling to lower taxes across the board, for every taxpayer. A single worker earning $51,530 pays a rate of 9.3 percent. Many of the top earners, who pay the highest rate of 13.3 percent, are high-tech entrepreneurs who generate jobs and revenue. As Senator Stern sees it, however, “teachers are the original job creators” and thus more deserving of a tax break. Stern and Galgiani’s Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act of 2017 would be more accurately titled the Separate and Unequal Tax Exemption Act.


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