Friday, November 30, 2018

Israel-hatred at a Massachusetts school

And the parents support it.  Leftists have been antisemitic since Karl Marx 

Newton teachers say they’ve never taught students anti-Semitic material, despite years-long criticism from outside groups that have accused the school system of anti-Israel bias in its high school world-history curriculum.

On Tuesday night, the dispute erupted anew, as hundreds of teachers came out to support the administration and its curriculum during a hearing at Newton South High School that was called to consider a petition to overhaul the curriculum and oust Superintendent David Fleishman.

The committee voted 9-0 to reject the request to fire Fleishman. On the curriculum-related requests, the board either cast unanimous votes against the proposals, or voted to take no action on the grounds that the issues were outside the panel’s authority.

Committee members said the history curriculum was developed from guidelines set by the state, and the learning program isn’t biased.

David Bedar, a history teacher at Newton North High School who has been singled out for criticism, said the campaign against the curriculum is “an attack on free thought.”

“The allegations of anti-Semitism — they are a personal affront to me as a professional educator, as a Newton resident, and as a Jewish person myself, and a lot of people feel this way,” he said.

At the conclusion of his remarks, Bedar asked people who supported the teachers to rise. A majority of the crowd rose and then left the auditorium, drawing jeers from people on the other side of the dispute.

Education Without Indoctrination, a nonprofit group led by residents of Brookline and Concord, said on its website that it organized the petition.

The hearing lasted four hours as the School Committee heard testimony from people on both sides of the debate and then deliberated.

Charles Jacobs, president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, which backed the petition, said his group isn’t backing down.

“It’s bureaucrats circling the wagons,” he said. “I think they don’t get it. I think they really don’t get that when you treat Israel differently than you would treat any other state, that’s the new anti-Semitism.”

The School Committee scheduled the public hearing after about 200 city residents signed the petition. Such hearings are triggered by petitions signed by at least 50 certified voters, the city said.

Teachers and their supporters wore red stickers that read “Support Newton Values.” On the other side of the debate, demonstrators displayed signs that read “Educate Yes. Indoctrinate No.”

Margot Einstein, a Newton resident who signed the petition, said she became concerned seven years ago when she learned a student received a pamphlet that claimed Israelis were jailing and killing Palestinian women.

The student’s father brought his concerns to school officials, she said, but he was rebuffed.

“There’s propaganda and bias in the schools. It’s anti-Christian, anti-American. It whitewashes Islam. It’s anti-Semitic material,” she said.

The curriculum dispute goes back to 2011 and has been marked by a series of actions by Americans for Peace and Tolerance, a nonprofit in Watertown, which has demonstrated against the district and placed ads accusing the system of using materials that “demonize Israel” and glorify Islam.

In August, one of the organization’s leaders, Ilya Feoktistov, wrote a story for “The Federalist,” a right-wing online magazine, in which he accused two Newton North High School history teachers of bias against President Trump.

The story relied on e-mails written by Bedar and another teacher, Isongesit Ibokette, after Trump’s inauguration last year and obtained by Feoktistov under a public records request. The Fox News program “Fox & Friends” later aired a segment about the story.

The petition asked the School Committee to fire both teachers, but the panel said it won’t address the request because it doesn’t have the authority to fire faculty members.

The teachers have been defended by the Newton Teachers Association and Fleishman, who assailed claims about the history curriculum as “misleading” and decried tactics that singled out individual educators.

“This is a wake-up call for people. It’s chilling when individual teachers are targeted and harassed for what they’re doing,” Fleishman said Tuesday evening. “Teachers have told me that they’re actually worried about what they’re doing now and thinking more about. I worry that they won’t teach controversial topics and they’ll shy away.”

More than 400 graduates of Newton North High School signed a letter signaling their support for the “curriculum that promotes critical thinking” and asserting their opposition to Americans for Peace and Tolerance.

The curriculum “has not taught us what to think, but how to think critically and cross-reference with independent sources,” the letter said. “In today’s increasingly polarized and sensationalized discourse, such skills are particularly empowering and simply necessary.”

In 2013, a Newton parent complained to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education about Newton’s high school history curriculum. The parent alleged that the curriculum violated the separation of church and state by spending an “inordinate” amount of time on Islam, and at too high a level of detail.

It also alleged that class materials contained anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, racist, and false information, and pointed specifically to passages from “A Muslim Primer,” “The Arab World Studies Notebook,” and a website called Flashpoints.

State education officials disagreed. In a letter to the parent, the agency said it found that “no violation of education law, regulation or policy has occurred with regard to the specific concern(s) you have raised.”

Some revisions have been made to the history curriculum.

The “Arab World Studies Notebook” was removed from the curriculum in 2012 after a parent complained in 2011 of bias and the district decided the material was outdated, school officials said. Flashpoints had been linked to the Newton North High School library website and was removed after parents complained, officials said in 2013.

The district is in the process of revising its high school history curriculum to conform with state guidelines, which were recently updated, Fleishman said.

That effort has nothing to do with the concerns raised by the outside groups, he said.


UCB Professor accuses his students of bias

They may have more sense than him. He would not even consider  that blacks and females actually are on average worse teachers

A University of California, Berkeley professor suggested scrapping end-of-semester student evaluations for hiring, promotion, and tenure decisions after claiming that the grades and evaluations are biased against female instructors and people of color.

“Over the next few weeks, students will get the chance to evaluate their professors and TAs. They’re going to get it wrong,” UC Berkeley history professor Brian DeLay tweeted on Sunday. “They’ll be harder on women and people of color than on white men. Tenured white male faculty, in particular, should help their students understand this.”

He goes on to reference a study conducted by UC Berkeley statistics professor Philip B. Stark.

The study, first published in January of 2016, addressed the effectiveness of student evaluations of teaching (SETs). DeLay asserted in his tweet that the study revealed a bias toward gender and grade expectations, such as how quickly an assignment is graded and returned with feedback, rather than a review of the professor’s educational effectiveness.

“Instructor race is also associated with SET…” DeLay said in a follow-up tweet, referencing the study’s finding that minority professors tend to receive, on average, “significantly lower” scores than their white, male counterparts. He goes on to mention the study’s claim that “age, charisma, and physical attractiveness” also factor into evaluations.

DeLay suggests that student evaluations should not be used as a standard for promotion or tenure decisions, or for hiring practices.

"[G]iven the well-documented shortcomings of SETs, we shouldn't be using them for hiring, tenure, or promotion decisions," DeLay tweeted. “In the meantime, tenured faculty - especially tenured white men - should explain this stuff to our students before each evaluation season."

"Help them understand why evals matter to peoples’ careers, & how implicit bias affects the results. They’ll listen," he added.


Australia: Where you live is determining your school's final achievement score

Rubbish! Where you live is just another effect of the real cause of educational success. The real cause is that rich people tend to have smarter kids and also tend to live in more salubrious suburbs.  And there's nothing you can do about that

If you live in Sydney's west or south-west, your child's school is almost certain to be scoring below the national average on NAPLAN.

But if you live on the north shore, northern beaches, eastern suburbs or inner-west almost every school is achieving above the national average, whether it is public or private.

In a new analysis, Macquarie University researchers have found that the area in which a student goes to school is one of the clearest predictors of year 5 NAPLAN reading scores, painting a stark picture of Australia's socioeducational divide.

"The results are confronting," said Crichton Smith, the study's lead author and a PhD candidate at Macquarie University.

"Virtually no schools in any city's advantaged suburbs are below the national average, and almost no schools in disadvantaged areas are above average."

In Sydney "you can literally draw a line” between schools with above-average results and below-average results, Smith said.

North of Sydney's "latte line", 173 schools achieved above the national average in year 5 reading, 13 were close to average and only seven schools achieved below average.

But in the city's south-west, 104 schools were below average, while only 10 were ranked above average and 32 were at average.

And the polarisation is getting worse. The study found the disparity between results in Sydney’s north and east compared to those in the city's west and south-west became more pronounced between 2008 and 2016.

“If you look at the 2008 maps you can see there were some schools below average in the North Shore and Eastern Suburbs but they have basically disappeared," said Smith.

“It is a very stark map,” he said. “In Sydney we don’t have many schools close to the national average - most are either above or below.”

Also, the "spatial polarisation" in Sydney was worse that other big cities. Smith said it had the “clearest delineation” of above average and below average NAPLAN results of all the state capitals.

“I would have thought that would be a concern for anyone involved in education,” he said.

The study found a clear divide in educational achievement based on a school's location within every major city in Australia and between regional and metropolitan areas.

"The fact that socioeconomic disadvantage plays out in such a geographic way shows how socially stratified our cities, and particularly Sydney, are," the Grattan Institute's schools expert Peter Goss said.

"It could be to do with schools and teaching practices or it could be to do with changes in the make-up of the city where house prices are meaning it's very difficult to trade up as it were, and that dynamic may be reinforcing the divide.

"This geographic comparison will be picking up both disadvantage at the family level and at the peer group level. If your peer group is educationally advantaged, you'll typically do better."

The Macquarie University study also suggests that school choice does not make a difference to NAPLAN scores, with both public and private schools performing according to the location-based trend.

"Unfortunately the location-based divide has increased since NAPLAN began," said Smith.

"With 10 years of NAPLAN results now available, it is difficult to see a policy solution to bridge a gap that is so wide, and growing."

A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said it is working to improve achievement through its literacy and numeracy strategy, which includes targeted support for "low performing and low SES students".

"All NSW schools receive needs-based funding [and] schools with low socio-economic rankings receive greater resources and more funding to support students," the spokesman said.

However, Dr Goss said that disadvantaged schools in Australia remain relatively underfunded according to the target set by the needs-based school resourcing standard.

"Despite the rhetoric, disadvantaged schools are underfunded relative to targets whereas most advantaged schools typically are close to their target," Dr Goss said.

Some of the state's most advantaged private schools were overfunded by $160 million in state allocations this year, while NSW public schools got $470 million less from the state government than their entitlement under the needs-based formula, a recent report found.


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