Sunday, November 12, 2017

Furious stepfather refuses to let his stepdaughter, 12, complete her homework after she is asked to pen them a note about becoming a Muslim

A furious stepfather has refused to let his 12-year-old stepdaughter finish her homework after she was asked to write a letter to her family about becoming a Muslim. 

Mark McLachlan, 43, from Houghton-le-Spring, near Sunderland, has slammed the decision by the Kepier School to ask pupils to pen the note.

He has refused to let his stepdaughter, who he has asked not to be named, complete the task after failing to see what the letter would accomplish.

Mr McLachlan said: 'I know as part of the national curriculum they have to learn about all religions.

'I just don't see why they should ask a child to write a letter addressed to their family about converting to another religion. I really just don't see what the letter will gain.

'If they want children to learn about Islam, then go teach them all about it and its history.

'What I don't want is a school asking my stepdaughter to look into reasons for converting to another religion.

'Like every parent, it is our decision on how we raise them and once they are old enough to make decision, then it is there choice.'

Mr McLachlan visited the school to raise his concerns and was told that this was part of the curriculum and was shown example exam questions for Islam, Christianity and Hinduism.

The homework came to light when Mr McLachlan was looking through the youngster's school planner and saw the teacher has written the task to be handed in on November 8.

He added: 'When I saw this assignment in the planner, written by the teacher, you could have knocked me over with a feather. 'I told her she will not be completing it and she is more worried about getting detention. 'We send our kids to school to get a good education and use what they have learnt to have a good career.

'I have no problem with them learning about religions but I feel they should not be asking 12-year-olds writing to their parents about why they are converting. 'I just found the task wholly inappropriate.

'I would like to emphasise how much respect I have for the head of year and deputy head who were very receptive to my complaint and concerns but unfortunately in this instance the national curriculum has failed miserably in my opinion.'

Mr McLachlan took a photo of the assignment and posted it online, where it has been shared hundreds of times.

One user commented: 'Would they go to a Muslim school and ask them to write a letter to their parents about converting to catholic? I doubt it!  'Children should not be made to write letters about converting to any religion for any reason.'

Another user said: 'Isn't part of RE to research, investigate and teach about all religions? 'I feel like this homework is just an exercise about converting to another religion. That's been blown way out of proportion.'


Delaware Considers Letting Students Decide Race, Gender Without Parents’ Permission

“White boys could soon self-identify as black girls in Delaware.” So begins one of the latest columns of Fox News’ Todd Starnes, reporting on what parents probably wish was fake news.

Unfortunately for the families in The First State, reality may soon be optional for kids in Delaware public schools. In one of the more incredible headlines of the year, local officials in the state’s Department of Education are actually debating a regulation that would let students choose their race and their gender.

If it sounds unbelievable, that’s because it is. For the last few years, families have been shocked that they’d have to defend traditional biology in places as sacred as restrooms, showers, locker and changing rooms. Now, the proponents of this government-sponsored make-believe are trying to make everything self-subjective.

It’s the campaign for these “protected characteristics,” local liberals argue, that would give children the ability to redefine their most defining traits. And without ever calling home. Under “Regulation 225 Prohibition of Discrimination,” students can make these determinations without letting their parents know.

“Prior to requesting permission from a parent or legal guardian, the school should consult and work closely with the student to access the degree to which, if any, the parent or legal guardian is aware of the Protected Characteristic and is supportive of the student, and the school shall take into consideration the safety, health, and well-being of the student in deciding whether to request permission from the parent or legal guardian,” the proposal states.

“Literally,” Delaware Family Policy Council President Nicole Theis told Starnes, “if a parent affirms their child’s biological sex, and now race, they are [considered] discriminatory through policies like Regulation 225. These policies are setting parents up as … unsupportive, even abusive, if they affirm their child’s biological realities … ”

Of course, the irony is that someone’s being abusive, according to the American College of Pediatricians—and it isn’t parents. This is exactly the kind of agenda they classify as “child abuse.” Theis is calling on people across the state to get involved in stopping state officials from putting kids in dangerous situations—and keeping parents in the dark about it.

By law, the people of Delaware have 30 days to “comment” about the regulation, but the agency is under no obligation to change it. Hopefully, parents can apply enough pressure to force the governor to back away from the idea. Join Theis and other concerned citizens by pushing back on this madness.


Britain’s universities are under fire from all sides

Right-wingers are on their case over Brexit, liberals fret about free speech, and everyone seems to be sick of fees

THERE are few things in which Britain can still claim to lead the world, but higher education is one. The country’s grandest universities top global league-tables. They attract many of the world’s best researchers, as well as students from every continent. The Department for Education found that income from foreign students and research contracts was worth £12.4bn ($20.6bn) in 2014. Yet, at a time of widening political division, politicians and pundits of all hues are united by a growing scepticism about universities.

From the right, they are under fire for their opposition to Brexit. On October 24th it emerged that Chris Heaton-Harris, an MP and government whip, had written to all university vice-chancellors to ask for the names of professors “who are involved in the teaching of European affairs, with particular reference to Brexit”. Universities interpreted Mr Heaton-Harris’s letter as a threat to academic freedom, and complained angrily. The Daily Mail declared the backlash “a troubling insight” into the academy; “Our Remainer Universities”, roared its front page. Some Tory MPs are troubled by polls showing the left-wing attitudes of academics, says Nick Hillman of the Higher Education Policy Institute, a think-tank. Brexit has stoked such fears.

At the other end of the political spectrum, liberals worry that universities have not done enough to protect free speech. In recent years student activists have tried to block talks by figures such as Germaine Greer, a feminist who was held to be transphobic, and Nick Lowles, an anti-racism campaigner who was accused of being Islamophobic for criticising extremism. Although such attempts rarely succeed, many worry about their suffocating effect, with news reports often exaggerating their impact. The Daily Telegraph recently reported, incorrectly, that the Cambridge student union’s women’s officer was forcing the university to “drop white authors” from the English curriculum.
Voices on the left are also criticising universities over their admissions policies. David Lammy, a Labour MP and former education minister, last month accused Oxford and Cambridge of fostering “social apartheid” after he obtained figures showing that 16 Oxbridge colleges did not admit a single black A-level pupil in 2015.

Perhaps most worrying for universities, however, is the area where left and right seem to be finding common cause: money. Jeremy Corbyn, Labour’s far-left leader, has promised to abolish tuition fees and fund higher education out of general taxation, something that universities fear would choke their budgets. Lord Adonis, a former Labour education minister and one of the architects of the fees system, now tweets incessantly against what he calls the “cartel” of English universities, which he accuses of failing to justify the high fees (of £9,250 a year) that they are allowed to charge, and wasting the cash on extravagant salaries for bureaucrats.

Shake it to the left
The Conservatives, for their part, are spooked by Mr Corbyn’s recent electoral gains, particularly among young voters. Many Tories now want to lower tuition fees, which, as one party aide notes, would at least be easier than solving the housing crisis, the other big millennial complaint.

There was little opposition when Mrs May announced at the Tory party conference last month that she would freeze the cap on tuition fees and would set up a review of the funding regime. Potential successors to Mrs May, including David Davis, have been quick to make clear that they, too, have doubts about the current funding regime. In a sign of the changing political environment, the Centre for Policy Studies, a Thatcherite think-tank, released a paper in October which urged the government to cut fees to avoid a “financial time-bomb” of unpaid loans.

Universities have done a poor job of defending themselves against this concerted criticism. Following Mr Heaton-Harris’s ill-judged letter, hyperbolic comparisons by academics to Soviet Russia and McCarthyite America did little to help their cause. They have struggled to transmit the message that higher fees mean more university places for poor pupils. Although vice-chancellors act as an army of well-connected lobbyists, they are not always effective at shaping public debate. “Universities sometimes give the impression that they only care about finance when it applies to their balance-sheet,” rather than when it affects their students, says Wes Streeting, a Labour MP and former head of the national students’ union. Michael Arthur, the president of University College London, complains that “when it comes to fees we’re portrayed as being a bit greedy.”

The more critical atmosphere has already had an impact. The government is keen to promote its reforms designed to make universities work harder for their fees, including a new teaching ranking and a beefed-up regulator. The freeze on fees may not look like much yet, but it will cause university income to be eroded by inflation every year until it is lifted. Meanwhile Jo Johnson, the universities minister, recently announced vague plans to impose fines on institutions that fail to uphold free speech.

The past two decades have witnessed a big increase in higher-education attendance; it is not surprising that there is more scrutiny of what goes on. That does not make it any more comfortable for universities to be the ones under examination.


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