Saturday, November 08, 2008

Prominent UC Professor May Lose Salary for Refusing 'Sham' Sexual Harassment Training

A prominent biologist at the University of California, Irvine could be placed on unpaid leave because he refuses to take sexual harassment prevention training. Alexander McPherson, 64, calls the mandatory training a "sham" and considers his refusal an act of "civil disobedience." He has already been relieved of his duties supervising other scientists in the lab where he studies proteins. McPherson has generated about $20 million in research money since he joined the university in 1997, and has had his experiments aboard the space shuttle and the international space station.

He can attend a training course by November 12 and regain his standing but said he won't, even if it means suspension from his job that pays $148,740 a year. "I have consistently refused to take such training on the grounds that the adoption of the requirement was a naked political act by the state that offended my sensibilities, violated my rights as a tenured professor, impugned my character and cast a shadow of suspicion on my reputation and career," McPherson told the Orange County Register. "I even offered to go to jail if the university persisted in persecuting me for my refusal. We Scots are very stubborn in matters of this sort."

A state law passed in 2004 requires supervisors to undergo sexual harassment training at businesses that regularly employ 50 or more people. McPherson's department chairman declined comment. A university spokeswoman would not comment directly on McPherson, but said 97 percent of the school's faculty have completed the training.


Britain offers high school qualifications in in how to read a tram timetable

Headmistress says drive to make lessons fun is 'cheating our children'

Thousands of students taking English are being asked to study tram timetables as part of dumbed down A-level exams, an adviser to Prince Charles warns today. Bernice McCabe, who is also a leading headmistress, said the drive to make lessons 'relevant' and 'fun' is leaving a generation of children intellectually impoverished. She warned that standards have degenerated so far that the current A-level English syllabus offered by the country's biggest exam board requires the study of a Manchester Metrolink tram timetable. Examiners propose in future to include a bus pass.

In a keynote speech today to the Prince's Teaching Institute, Mrs McCabe will warn that traditional subjects and bodies of knowledge are being sidelined in favour of 'woolly' teaching theories promoted by Government curriculum advisers. Pupils are being robbed of their cultural heritage, and denied opportunities to study great literature and history, because schools are increasingly expected to teach vague 'skills' and make lessons 'accessible'. In fact, pupils enjoy being challenged and often relish problem-solving, she will say.

Mrs McCabe, who is head of North London Collegiate School, a girls' private school which regularly tops exam league tables, will single out an English language and literature AS-level syllabus drawn up by the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance exam board. It is accompanied by an anthology of study materials which includes a Manchester Metrolink tram guide, a British passport and a holiday postcard. Pupils are asked to draw on the anthology to answer questions on 'travel, transport and locomotion' in an A-level unit worth up to a quarter of the marks. One contributor to an online teachers' forum said: 'Only just got a copy on Friday and would welcome some ideas. Don't let the Daily Mail see it, huh?'

Mrs McCabe, who was approached by St James Palace in 2001 to help set up summer schools for teachers, said: 'By far the most serious consequence of this emphasis on functionality in education policy is that it may lead to the cultural and intellectual impoverishment of a generation of school children.' She said subject teachers were being 'thwarted' and 'frustrated' by a 'pervasive philosophy' championed by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. 'The aim, they state, is to create "successful learners, confident individuals and responsible citizens",' she said. 'It is hard to quarrel with any aspect of these aspirations except the most important one: their woolliness. They say nothing at all about what children should be learning.'

Mrs McCabe's concerns are known to be shared by the Prince of Wales, who set up the teaching institute to promote effective subject teaching. An AQA spokesman said: 'The purpose of the unit is to allow candidates to study a range of thematically-linked texts. 'The texts cover the three major literary genres and a range of non-literary texts. The tram guide is just one of the non-literary texts and amongst the literary texts are pieces by Samuel Johnson, Joseph Conrad, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.'


Friday, November 07, 2008

A middle-school education in shelf-filling in Britain

I guess it's an improvement on learning how wonderful homosexuality is

Sainsbury's supermarket will offer a qualification in shelf-stacking and stock-taking as well as a GCSE in literacy and numeracy, it will announce today. On-the-job training, open to all staff, will count towards a final NVQ, worth five good (graded A-C) GCSEs, in the retail skills of stock control, merchandising and health and safety.

The company, which has 150,000 employees, is the first retailer to be granted "awarding body" status, allowing it to confer nationally accredited certificates. It is also offering staff the chance to improve their English and maths up to grade D equivalent at GCSE, which they can take without their colleagues' or immediate bosses' knowledge. The first 2,000 will get a $100 voucher.

Rebecca Hales, 25, who works at the branch in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, has already started maths under a pilot version of the scheme. Illness had prevented her doing as well as she would have liked at school, she said. "I've got an online tutor who rings me up to check on me and give me new activities every week," she said. "I know all about fractions and denominators and numerators now. It's a great confidence boost."

The company believes that 25 per cent of its workforce will get one of the new qualifications, endorsed by the awarding body EDI, in the next five years. Justin King, the chief executive, said: "Every one of our colleagues can improve their skills, which not only benefits our customers but also supports our colleagues, to achieve their full potential."

In January McDonald's, Network Rail and Flybe were given powers to award qualifications up to PhD level as part of the Government's drive to improve employer-based training. Critics questioned the worth of "McGCSEs", and said that they could devalue academic qualifications. Professor Alan Smithers, the director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at the University of Buckingham, said: "Employees may find they are locked into that business because these awards don't have credibility outside the company." However educational experts believe that it will become increasingly common for private institutions to award qualifications.

John Denham, the Skills Secretary, congratulated Sainsbury's on the move. "We know that those companies that invest in skills are best equipped to weather tough economic times, and are also best placed to capitalise on opportunities for growth," he said. Richard Wainer, head of education and skills at the CBI, said of the initiative: "It shows how employers can play a valuable role creating opportunities for people."


A Tale of Two Activists

Thanks to Stanley Kurtz, most of us are aware now that, as chair of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), Barack Obama had little interest in the educational success of young Chicago area schoolchildren. Funds intended for school reform efforts in Chicago were in some cases diverted to liberationist causes such as the Arab American Action Network, ACORN, and Reverend Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church.

Indeed, in two reports totaling well over 100 pages, The Chicago Annenberg Challenge: The First Three Years (1999) and The Chicago Annenberg Challenge: Successes, Failures, and Lessons for the Future (2003), very little is mentioned about the fortunes of specific academic programs but quite a bit of ink is devoted to "making learning environments more intimate" and "reducing school isolation from communities." School communities are encouraged to "think boldly" in order to "further development" with respect to educational variables such as "time, size, and isolation." One Chicago area business leader criticized CAC's goals as "abstract to the point of irrelevancy."

Furthermore, the 1999 report "examines the development of the CAC's theory of action." Among the five educational methodologies considered in the report one was cryptically entitled "Redistributing Resources." Supporters of this theory identified "economic and racial inequality" as the central problem in American public school education. Their "action plan" includes fostering "dialogue about underlying causes of inequality." They mention that the "key resources" at their disposal include "public spirited media, political bully pulpits, and Federal and State government entities." The "impediments" to the implementation of their action plan include "resistance from the currently privileged."

In short, CAC money was spent examining how to use the media, bully pulpits, and electoral office to shame Americans into thinking that the "currently privileged" were responsible for the nation's failing schools. Indeed, the CAC report analysts seem to lament the shift in focus from the kids to the activists when they conclude the following:

The development of the CAC into an activist foundation seeking to achieve policy influence while remaining faithful to its initial vision, should it succeed, may ultimately restrain its long-term reform legacy to one less deep and thorough than it might have hoped.

We know that the chief proponent of the "Redistributing Resources" faction of the CAC, Barack Obama, has had astonishing success of late using "public spirited media, political bully pulpits and Federal and State government entities" to advance a class warfare theory of education. But he was an abject failure when it came to actually helping kids in Chicago develop a passion for learning. For Americans about to vote on Tuesday this is a telling and profound sign: had Barack Obama and his colleague Bill Ayers been genuine about their commitment to children the CAC would have been a model of success rather than a 50 million dollar failure.

While the "Messiah" was busy in Chicago softening the rough edges of Marxist educational theory, another African-American activist was working quietly in San Antonio, Texas, improving the lives of children one at a time. His name is David Robinson, former NBA champion center for the San Antonio Spurs and Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year. Robinson's nickname "The Admiral" is a byproduct of his stellar performance as a student-athlete at the United States Naval Academy, the prestigious institution he entered with a 1320 SAT score in 1983.

Back in 2001, a couple of years before he retired from the NBA, Robinson, and his wife Valerie, provided the inspiration and financial support to create the kind of school kids in Chicago can only dream about. It's named the Carver Academy after George Washington Carver, the man Time Magazine dubbed in 1941 the "Black Leonardo" because of his genius in science, education, botany and many other fields. Carver also had little patience with whiners ("Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses"). This is why Carver, who endured plenty of discrimination in his life, has never been embraced by our "diversity" engineers. His name, therefore, is a fitting moniker for one of our nation's more successful private schools.

When parents click on "Curriculum Overview" at the Carver Academy website they won't find hundreds of pages of Ed School jargon regarding structural inequality and racism. They will find a couple of short paragraphs describing the "skills mastery approach" to education and how that encompasses science, math, literature, history and languages. Clicking on "Foreign Languages" reveals one sentence telling prospective parents that "all students, pre-kindergarten through 6th grade, take three different foreign language classes. All students attend Spanish, German and Japanese each week." The "Music/Band" link consists of just two paragraphs describing the benefits of music education in other fields of study and that "every Carver Academy student learns to read and write music" as well as "has an opportunity to be in the band."

Parents should know that anyone with a sincere interest in child development is going to keep a healthy distance from an ideologue like Barack Obama. While academics and educrats thrill over the theoretical intricacies of competing learning methodologies, kid-friendly activists like David Robinson believe that education is about young people learning the skills to master their own lives. Simply put, to Obama, kids seem to be abstractions - grist for some personal philosophical vision.

The magnificent English writer Samuel Johnson once penned a penetrating analysis of what he called "self-deception." One of the chief signs, according to Johnson, of a self-deceiver is his tendency to "confound the praise of goodness with the practice." These are people who think they are "mild and moderate, charitable and faithful, because they have exerted their eloquence in commendation of mildness, fidelity, and other virtues." This kind of self-deception says Johnson is "almost universal among those who converse with dependents."

Since Barack Obama has spent most of his life as a professor, community organizer, and politician "conversing with dependents" we must take seriously Johnson's warning that these people will "rate themselves by their opinions" rather than by their good works. The tragedy of the CAC was that the entire project was organized by a gaggle of intellectuals who, according to Johnson, tend to "show their virtue in their talk rather than in their actions." How else does one explain hundreds of pages of analysis and little in the way of results?


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Struggling British schools to be spared taking disruptive pupils

Why ANY schools have to take disruptive pupils is the mystery. They should be sent to special classes specifically designed to handle them. What is going to happen now is that good schools are going to be destroyed by having to take young thugs. But reducing everyone to the lowest common denominator is classic Leftism

Poorly performing schools are to receive extra funding and will be spared having to take disruptive pupils, Ed Balls said yesterday. Secondary moderns in particular will benefit from the announcement. The non-selective schools, in local authority areas where grammar schools remain, can apply for the money if they are deemed to be doing badly. It is meant to provide services and role models so that pupils who did not pass the 11-plus do not feel like failures.

The Schools Secretary said he had written to selective local authorities with the highest number of low-attaining secondary modern schools, including Plymouth, Kent, Wirral, Medway, Buckinghamshire and Lincolnshire. His letter acknowledged that some schools had "substantial difficulties" in raising and maintaining attainment because students lacked confidence.

Mr Balls has named more than 600 schools, where fewer than 30 per cent of pupils achieve five good GCSEs including maths and English, as being on his National Challenge register. The schools have been warned that they face closure or being turned into academies if results do not improve. He said some would benefit from 1 million pounds to support gifted and talented pupils. This will be spent over three years in up to 50 schools.

Secondary moderns on the register can apply for up to 1 million pounds of extra funding, compared with 750,000 in nonselective areas. In a further eye-catching initiative, the lowest-performing schools on the register - those with 20 per cent or fewer pupils achieving five good GCSEs including English and maths - will no longer have to take children with behaviour problems midway through the year. Currently all schools must take their share of excluded children.

Mr Balls said: "It's really important that all schools cooperate to tackle the issue of excluded pupils. That's why Sir Alan Steer [who conducted a review into pupil behaviour] recommended that all schools should be part of behaviour partnerships. However, we want to allow schools in the most challenging circumstances to focus fully on raising results."

The Department for Children, Schools and Families said most local authorities with schools on the register had appointed experts to hasten their improvement. Mr Balls said: "We want to support selected National Challenge [sink] schools to develop an expertise that will help them to attract parents and pupils as they grow stronger. "Non-selective pupils frequently have a perception of having `failed' the 11-plus [because they did], and it is especially important to provide excellent role models and to raise aspirations."


Australia: "Free" government education not so free

PARENTS at a state primary school have been hit with unexpected "mandatory" fees to fund basic classroom equipment and resources. Robina State School on the Gold Coast last week wrote to parents demanding up to $120 per student for ink, work sheets and computer software. The first page of the 2009 Resource Scheme Years 1-7 Contract Form demanded parents participate in the scheme or have their child's access to equipment and resources cut off. The second page gave a choice for parents who opted out to pay for and secure themselves the resources and services, including technology licences and classroom readers.

According to the Education Act 2006, state education is to be free. Section 56 allows principals to ask parents for "voluntary" financial contributions. And it demands there be no negative consequences for those who do not pay.

This case has outraged parents, who say it is a mockery of so-called free education.

Education Queensland is unaware how many Queensland schools have made similar demands, citing a lack of data. Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Associations president Margaret Black believed it was the first time a school had omitted the word "voluntary" and issued the request as a contract. She urged parents to "make sure the word voluntary is included". Only after The Courier-Mail asked about the legality of the contract did Education Queensland instruct the Robina school to change its tune. "The principal has been asked to clarify the statements in the letter to rectify any misunderstanding it may have caused," a department spokeswoman said.

McCullough Robertson Lawyers partner Malcolm McBratney said the school's Resource Scheme appeared to be compulsory. "It's a legally enforceable contract," he said. "It doesn't seem you've got much choice."

Angry parents said the letter was deceptive. "The letter basically aims to blackmail parents into paying the voluntary annual state school contributions," the parents said. "We send our kids to a public school because we cannot afford a private school and the fees. "The school is trying to force parents and caregivers to pay voluntary contributions by sneakily ... calling it the 'resource scheme' and saying there's 'membership' to be had."

Ms Black will seek an explanation from the Assistant Director General for Education. "I'll ask, 'When did voluntary contributions become signed contracts?'," she said. Primary and high schools often send letters to parents in October and November seeking money to shore up resource budgets for the following year.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Batty Britain again: Unruly school pupils will be punished with... a foot massage

Pupils who create mayhem in the classroom are to face a punishment that will make them quake in their shoes. They will be asked to slip off their socks before being given a foot massage designed to control their unruly behaviour. Medical experts say there is little evidence that such treatment can improve the behaviour of young tearaways.

Yet Labour-run Lambeth Council in South London is to spend 90,000 pounds next year sending reflexologists into its schools to practise their soothing art. The team, from a company known as Bud-Umbrella, will work in 60 primary and 14 secondary schools, with children under 13 deemed to be badly behaved. The firm is run out of a flat [apartment] in Brixton and its website claims reflexology 'releases energy blockages', 'can calm aggressive feelings, improve listening skills, concentration and focus' and 'relieves headaches and sinus problems'.

Tory MP John Penrose is unimpressed. 'The idea that a foot massage is going to keep a hoodie happy is laughable,' said the member for Weston-super-Mare. 'Experienced teachers have a range of ways of dealing with badly-behaved pupils and stroking their feet is not one of them. 'Dealing with bad behaviour should not look like a reward to those who misbehave. Discipline should be brought back into schools.'

Mark Wallace, spokesman for the TaxPayers' Alliance campaign group, said: 'How on earth is the education system going to succeed if there are luxuries given out for naughty children and nothing at all given to those who work hard and do well? 'With everyone struggling in the financial crisis, this is crazy money being paid out on a crazy scheme.'

Despite Lambeth's enthusiasm for foot massage in schools, reflexology sessions are not provided for the wider public by the local primary care trust. The traditional healing art dates from the ancient Egyptians and Chinese. It involves manipulation of pressure points in the hands and feet and is often used to ease period pain, headaches, sinus and back problems as well as the effects of chemotherapy. By massaging different points on the feet, therapists claim they can unblock energy pathways and help the body regain its natural balance and heal itself. Reflexology is not a regulated therapy and medical authorities have raised concerns that qualifications are not needed to perform the massages.

However Lambeth Labour councillor Paul McGlone said the council was right to provide the alternative treatment. 'It's incredibly important that we address young people's behavioural problems and we make no apologies for using different and innovative methods but this obviously won't replace more traditional ways of dealing with anti-social behaviour. 'We need to deal with the root causes of young people's behavioural problems and nip them in the bud - prevention is better than cure.'



When it comes to radical trends including anti-Zionism, Australian campuses are like most other Western universities, only even more extreme. The ubiquity of left-wing politics in Australian academia means that writing about campus Israel-phobia requires discrimination since the range of subjects is so large. The focus here will be on just a few of Australia's most egregious academic anti-Zionists.

Evan Jones

The most virulent is the University of Sydney's Evan Jones. Although his field is economics, he maintains a political web-log called Alert and Alarmed.[1] Its name is a play on the slogan of an Australian government public awareness campaign on terrorism-"alert, but not alarmed." Jones detests the Bush administration and the Australian government of John Howard. His hostility toward Israel runs so deep as to apparently render him unaware of the anti-Semitic overtones of his rhetoric.

For example, Jones often claims that the Jews dominate press coverage on issues relating to Israel. In a blog posting called "The Wall and `topographical considerations,'" he asserted: "All university programs in politics should have a compulsory unit on propaganda, and all such units should include a compulsory component on Israeli propaganda. The Israeli propaganda machine makes the Nazi apparatus under Geobels [sic] look like amateur hour."[2]

The Israelis are not very skilled at public relations. The opinion pages of Australia's newspapers regularly feature leftist critics of Israel. ABC, the country's main publicly funded broadcast network, models itself on the BBC, with predictable results in its Middle East coverage.

Nevertheless, Prof. Jones upholds the idea that pro-Israeli Jews dominate journalism. He refers to the "reactionary war-mongering Zionist Wall Street Journal."[3] The British writer of a pro-Israeli letter to the editor of TheIndependent is nothing more than a "lobotomised Zionist."[4] ....

Jones also constantly equates Zionism with Nazism. In his view, Israel was established through conscious collaboration with Hitler's Germany. In support, Jones cites an assertion by the radical Israeli anti-Zionist Uri Davis: "Zionist leaders made themselves accomplices by default, and sometimes by deliberate design, to the mass murder of Jews by the Nazi annihilation machinery."[7]

Amin Saikal

Other academics cloak their animus toward Israel in a pseudosophistication that facilitates their access to the media as commentators. One such anti-Zionist op-ed contributor is Amin Saikal, who heads the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (CAIS) at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. Founded in 1994 as the Centre for Middle East and Central Asian Studies, CAIS assumed its current name six years later. This reflected a radical shift in orientation that stemmed from an influx of funding from various Middle Eastern sources.

In December 2000, the Centre announced the receipt of an A$2.5 million donation from Sheik Hamdan bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Emir of Dubai and brother of the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates.[10] This sum not only purchased the name change but also the creation of a Chair of Arab and Islamic Studies that was eponymous with the Centre's new title. The government of Iran contributed another US$350,000,[11] which underwrote the establishment of the Centre's perpetual foundation in Persian Language and Iranian Studies. In both these cases, the ANU's Endowment in Excellence provided matching funds for these foreign donations, bringing the total amount generated in support of the CAIS to almost A$6 million.[12]

Centre director Amin Saikal's view of both U.S. and Israeli policies is profoundly negative. But if the Americans can at times be excused for their folly because of naivety, Israel receives no such leniency. Saikal takes a "less is more" approach that is more pernicious because it seems reasonable on the surface. At first glance he appears simply to be deploring the violence that plagues the Middle East. But a closer look reveals that his regrets are selectively applied to serve his anti-Zionist views.

This reticence to condemn Palestinian violence against Israelis is so deeply ingrained in Saikal's worldview that it infuses his vocabulary. Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, he accused Israel of using disproportionate force "to contain what it calls terrorism, including suicide bombing."[14]

Saikal demonstrates ignorance of simple geostrategic matters. Again in the Sydney Morning Herald, he asserted that the Israeli navy has deployed "nuclear-powered submarines" to launch preemptive strikes against Iran.[15] The Israeli submarine fleet, however, consists of three German-built Dolphin-class diesel boats. Although the Germans' submarines are world-class, their own navy does not possess nuclear vessels.

Saikal also praises the Islamic Republic of Iran as "a sort of democracy which may not accord with Western ideals, but provides for a degree of mass participation, political pluralism and assurance of certain human rights and freedoms which do not exist in most of the Middle East."[16] He has nothing to say about the reign of terror that is inflicted on political opponents, and the many other human rights abuses.....

Scott Burchill

In Melbourne, as in other venues of Australian academia, there are many anti-Zionist academics. A notable example is Scott Burchill, who teaches international relations theory at Deakin University. In the wake of 9-11, Burchill argued in the Sydney Morning Herald that any American military reaction would constitute a "myopic and undemocratic" exercise of extrajudicial injustice.[25] Moreover, he claimed in the Australian Financial Review that these were "not irrational, cowardly or random attacks"; instead, "the rational logic of cause and effect" made 9-11 an understandable response to "US aggression."[26]

In October 2003, The Age published Burchill's thoughts on the first anniversary of the Bali bombing, which killed eighty-eight Australian tourists among others. It was, he wrote, an inevitable reaction to "Washington's support for Israel's brutal occupation of Palestine," and to a "Western collective of terror whose leaders had bombed Islamic states such as Afghanistan and Iraq."[27]

Yet, however profound Burchill's hostility toward the United States, he does not challenge the legitimacy of its existence. He does, however, in the case of Israel. Burchill describes the Palestinians as a "looted people" who justly refuse to "reconcile themselves to occupation and humiliation, regardless of the odds stacked against them."[28] Israel, then, is a "thief" who must return the "stolen property" of Palestine to its rightful Arab owners.[29] ....

Andrew Vincent

A final example is Prof. Andrew Vincent, who heads the Centre for Middle East and North African Studies at Sydney's Macquarie University. Last year in the Macquarie University News, he put forward a viewpoint that: "the Israelis quite possibly murdered Yasser Arafat."

Typically, in the wake of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, Vincent wrote an apology for this aggression in Melbourne's Herald newspaper. Citing Iraq's small coastline and Kuwait's historic association with Baghdad, Vincent argued that Saddam's expansionism was legitimate.[34] More recently, Vincent invited blogger Antony Loewenstein - a far-Left freelance writer - to join the board of the Centre that he heads.

Antony Loewenstein

It was "bigotry, hatred and intolerance," Loewenstein suggested, that motivated Jewish opposition to Palestinian spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi's receipt of the Sydney Peace Prize in 2003.[35] He apparently could not conceive of honest opposition based on Ashrawi's statements and deeds. In Loewenstein's view, Israel is a nation of "apartheid-like policies."[36] This author, after publishing an article in The Australian on the impact of Ariel Sharon's stroke, was characterized by Loewenstein as one of the "dutiful Zionists who are already lining up to praise the unindicted war criminal."[37]

Loewenstein's superficial knowledge of the Middle East was evident last December when he referred to a senior female Israeli cabinet minister as a man. In an article for the leftist online magazine New Matilda, he wrote:
Yet more evidence of Israel speaking the language of "peace" but acting entirely differently came from a senior ally of Sharon, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. He [sic] told a legal conference in early December that, despite years of Israeli denials, Sharon himself imagines the 425-mile separation barrier as the future border between Israel and a potential Palestinian state.

As one commentator on his blog pointed out: "if Loewenstein can't even get the gender of an Israeli cabinet minister right, then what does it say about the quality of his analysis of the Israeli political scene? Nothing good." When confronted with evidence of his gaffe, Lowenstein pleaded that he was "rushed" and that "mistakes do happen."[39]


In their anti-Zionism, Evan Jones, Amin Saikal, Scott Burchill, and Andrew Vincent[42] are some examples among many in Australian academia where radical Leftist ideology is monolithically predominant. A core element of the far-Left doctrine is a relentless hostility to Jewish national self-determination. With Australia's youth being exposed to this outlook during their university years, it remains to be seen how this will affect the next generation of Australian leaders.

More here

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Erratic "ethics" in the NYC school system

Not the best way to motivate your teachers -- and NYC sure does need motivated teachers

The story is relatively fresh but reading it leaves a bitter aftertaste and foul whiff that is vintage Chancellor Klein.

The New York Times on October 22 reported that a librarian at Brooklyn Tech High School, a veteran of 39 years as an educator, was fined $500 by the city's Conflict of Interests Board because he had violated the city's ethics code. The damning evidence, developed by the sticky gumshoes at the Department of Investigation, was the librarian's admitted inclusion of a new edition of "Macbeth" on a display table of literature he recommends. In a sparsely circulated newsletter he also cited it as "best new book."

The violation stemmed from the fact that the librarian's daughter is the book's co-illustrator. No assignments or extra credits were involved and there would be no royalties or other financial reward. The book stands on its merits; the link between artistic achievement and father's pride was fortuitous. The book was pulled from the shelves, expunged from the catalogue and removed from the library.

Actually the librarian was lucky, because the Conflict of Interest Board reduced the penalty from one of spectacular injustice to one of merely grotesque injustice. Originally they had sought a $1,000 fine and warned him that he might lose his job and teaching license. Only the unthinkable is plausible with the DOE and its surrogates.

The Conflict of Interest Board also has a soft touch now and then. Recently it ruled that it was peachy keen for the City Council to extend or abolish term limits to give CPR to their careers, regardless of the contrary wishes of voters as expressed in two referendums.

The librarian certainly wasn't looking for trouble and neither was I when a few years ago I was found guilty for identifying, upon a student's persistent request, a highly respected educational website that had once included me among its legion of contributors. I didn't promote or advertise it and got or had no potential to get any personal profit from it, but that made no difference to them. They had to produce numbers to justify their post-retirement gig with the city.

But they too have their empathies, make no mistake about it. The principal of a Queens high school is the author of a textbook that was in mandatory use by students at his school at least as of a few years ago. I'm not sure whether the students were required to purchase a copy but I suspect so. In a blaze of indifference the investigators found no fault.

A principal could walk out of a school with a piano on his back and not be questioned.But woe to the teacher who absconds with a #2 pencil after an Extended Day nightmare and there will follow an interrogation that the KGB would envy. They will be over his shoulder, in his hair, under his skin and at his throat.

Chancellor Klein clearly feels that teachers are far more prone to corruption than are other folks and can be assumed to put their souls on market for a silk tie and thus must be protected from their impulses. That was the reason that a few years ago, during the holiday season, he ruled that teachers may not accept gifts worth more than 5 dollars. He extended the definition of contraband to include tokens of love, gratitude and cheer that exceeded 5 dollars retail.

The chancellor, unlike the commissioners of police and fire and other agencies, despises his workforce and assumes the worst of them. That is his calling card and that is why a book is missing like a prophet from the stacks at Brooklyn Tech.


'All whites are racist' indoctrination won't die

'Thought reform' dropped in 2008, but 3 times proposed for 2009

Leaders for The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education say they are continuing to monitor the University of Delaware, which last year was imposing mandatory "all whites are racist" indoctrination on students in residential halls, because there have been multiple attempts to revive the teachings. In was a year ago when WND reported on work by FIRE to shut down Delaware's required student training with the stated goals of converting incoming students into "change" agents and providing "treatment" for those who failed. School officials first defended the program, but later confirmed they were dropping the teachings in light of their apparent conflict with constitutional rights.

Even though school officials assured questioners a year ago that the indoctrination would be halted, officials with the university's residential life department remain "entirely unrepentant" even to this day, according to today's report from FIRE. "Three times ResLife proposed essentially the same program for 2008-2009, and three times a faculty committee rejected it," stated the report by FIRE's Adam Kissel. "No one has apologized to the students for the pressure and shame, the invasion of privacy, or the other assaults on students' freedom of conscience."

It was just a few months ago when FIRE expressed concern that the teachings, required a year ago for all residential hall students and stated as fact, "all whites racist," were being revived. FIRE's concerns, expressed in letters to President Patrick Harker, had been whether, "somehow, the University of Delaware seems terrifyingly unaware that a state-sponsored institution of higher education
in the United States does not have the legal right to engage in a program of systematic thought reform."

Now a new detailed report from FIRE is being published in its new journal, called "The Lantern: The Journal of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education," because of the egregious nature of the program. It was described as "mandatory activities to coerce students to change their thoughts, values, attitudes, beliefs, and habits to conform to a highly specified social, environmental, and political agenda." "The case continues to have a nationwide impact," according to Kissel.

The report said as the 2009 year was beginning, residential program officials at Delaware "accepted a cosmetic amendment to the proposal - simply inserting the word 'environmental' before each instance of 'sustainability' - without actually changing any of the activities in the program. "With promises that the program was actually 'traditional' (false), 'optional' (highly suspect), and under new, strict oversight (despite the fact that all the leading ResLife administrators kept their jobs), the Faculty Senate and then the Trustees let the proposal pass," the FIRE report said.

That's one reason for continuing to watch the situation, officials said. The other is clear: "FIRE has never encountered a more systematic assault upon the individual liberty, dignity, privacy, and autonomy of university students than the University of Delaware's 'treatment' program," the report said.

The report showed in the aftermath of the disastrous program, residential assistants in dorms were "mandated" to speak out against FIRE. "One refused and was told by Residence Life staff that he would lose his job and the university would not consider him a student anymore. I asked him if he [the RA] would be expelled and he said that was 100 percent correct," the report said.

But even Delaware professors Jan Blits and Linda Gottfredson reported their experiences with a type of thuggery on campus. "We read ResLife's online materials (most of which were later removed) and were appalled. ResLife was engaging students in mandatory activities designed to change students' thoughts, values, attitudes, beliefs, and habits to conform to a specific, highly politicized set of 'citizenship values' that had been pre-selected as the marks of responsible citizens. Anything deemed remotely 'oppressive' by anyone was to be stamped out, and resident assistants were being taught that '[a] racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality,'" the FIRE report quoted them saying.

The treatment of a female freshman class student was typical of the school's indoctrination, the program said. "A female freshman arrives for her mandatory one-on-one session in her male RA's dorm room. It is 8:00 p.m. Classes have been in session for about a week. The resident assistant hands her a questionnaire. He tells her it is 'a little questionnaire to help [you] and all the other residents relate to the curriculum.' He adds that they will 'go through every question together and discuss them,'" according to the report.

When the student is asked, "When did you discover your sexual identity?" she responds, "That is none of your d*** business." Because she did not respond correctly, the residence assistant "becomes so appalled by her resistance that he writes up an incident report and reports her to his superiors," the report said.

The mandatory "reprogramming sessions" even had the trappings of a cult, it said. "After an investigation showed that males demonstrated 'a higher degree of resistance to educational efforts,' one dorm chose to hire 'strong male RAs.' Each such RA 'combats male residents' concepts of traditional male identity' in order to 'ensure the delivery of the curriculum at the same level as in the female floors,'" the report said.

While FIRE reported that new students taking part in residence hall programs this year report they appear to be voluntary, the monitoring must stay, the report said. "Rather than repudiate the racist teachings and invasive methods of the program, some University of Delaware faculty even worked with the Office of Residence Life to reinstate the agenda," the report said.

When some students did manage to assemble revolts to the original brainwashing, the response from a residence assistant was clear: "I just wanted to remind you all that floor meetings ARE mandatory. While I am a very understanding person, there is NO WAY that HALF of you weren't able to make it last night. Also, NONE of you e-mailed me about prior commitments...The content is IMPORTANT! Here at the University of Delaware, living in the residence halls is a Living-Learning Experience, meaning that you'll learn just as much, if not MORE, in the residence halls. Like it or not, you all are the future Leaders, and the world is Diverse, so learning to Embrace and Appreciate that diversity is ESSENTIAL," the report cited a residence assistance telling students.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Another Idiot Teacher Alert: Vampire Drawing Gets Kid Called `Gang Member'

But Why Does The AP Report Ignore Key Part of Story?

Remember when you were a young school kid and you drew a vampire during the week of Halloween? Remember how the blood was always dripping down from his menacing, pearly white teeth? Remember how it was all in good Halloween fun? Well, you can just forget THAT mister, at least if you are a 5th-Grader in the Savannah-Chatham school system in Georgia. In Georgia, if you draw a vampire you get called a gang member - even when you were assigned to make the drawing - and then you get sent to "psychological evaluation" as if you are some mentally disturbed monster. Then they kick you out of school. for a Halloween drawing. Really.

The Savannah Morning News gives us the gruesome story of another touchy-feelie teacher gone stupid and another poor little kid lost in "zero-tolerance" hell this Halloween week.

When Jordan Hood was assigned the task of drawing a "scary Halloween mask," he innocently drew a scary vampire. His art teacher even helped him out with a few of the details. But then came home-room teacher Melissa Pevey (amusingly, even her name sounds pent up) who decided that, far from Halloween fun, little 5th-grader Jordan was obviously a violence prone, mentally disturbed, gang member. So in a harrowing Halloween experience that had no fun in it at all, Pevey had him paraded down to the principal's office where he was confronted by the police and assigned "psychological evaluation" as a punishment for his artistry.

Naturally, the school explained it all away and backed up this fool of a teacher. They said she was primed to "watch for gang signs" and that teacher Pevey thought that the blood drops looked like the sort of gang signs that the L.A. gang The Bloods use to denote their presence. Needless to say, Jordan's Mother was not amused.
Jordan's mother, LaKisha Hood, was shocked to find that her son's art lesson had evolved into a gang investigation. "They told me the droplets could actually be a gang symbol for the number of people he killed," she said.

OK, let's not underestimate the infiltration of gangs into our kid's lives. But, come on. When are these people going to use a little common sense? A nail file or set of clippers are NOT "deadly weapons." A kid having an aspirin is not the same as having "illegal drugs." A drawing of a gun is NOT evidence of a "mass murderer." And a crude drawing of a Halloween vampire is NOT proof of "gang activity!"

Now, this story is bad enough without the Associated Press misreporting it and making it almost sound plausible that this overwrought teacher was right to be worried. The most important aspect of this story, the part that pretty much proves that the kid is the innocent victim of an overweening feminism in our schools, is the part where the vampire drawing was actually assigned to poor Jordan Hood by his art teacher. Yet, for some reason, the AP decided to exclude that salient point of the story. Instead, the AP gives full hearing to the school system's absurd act of invoking gang worries in this case, it fully fleshes out the teacher's fears, yet never once mentions that this 5th-grader was assigned to draw the picture by another teacher.

Perhaps teacher Pevey might have legitimately had something to worry about if this kid was drawing these blood "tears" unbidden. But he wasn't. It was a class room assignment, one that his art teacher helped him with.

So, why did the AP exclude the one aspect of the story that tends to prove that the school acted stupidly here? Your guess is as good as mine. It looks to me like an editorial decision to side with the school's untenable position and not the kid's logical grievance.

Sadly, this situation could have been easily solved without involving police, without punishing the kid with the stigma of "psychological evaluation" and then being kicked out of school. All these foolish, emasculated school administrators had to do was ask the art teacher what was going on. That teacher would have had a ready explanation and there you have it. No police, mental exams, or expulsion was needed.

If this isn't further evidence that we need more men in our schools (and not of the Birkenstock wearing, ponytailed, softhanded, bike riding kind either), what is? Having nothing but females running our schools is turning them into thoroughly feminized institutions where everyone has gelatinized spines and all turn to a fear wracked lump of quivering flesh at the slightest evidence of anything rambunctious, gross, tough, loud, or . well. MALE. In the words of Sgt. Hulka, "lighten up, Francis."


Quick march to school success

Ex-servicemen are helping to turn around unruly pupils in Britain

Keith Green isn't rattled when a boy kicks a door or swears and hurls a book. He even kept his cool during a seven-mile march with a group of teenagers when one of them staged a sit-down protest and said he wasn't budging. Nor does Green betray any emotion if one of his pupils elbows another in the face, starting a fight in the classroom. A former soldier with the Royal Highland Fusiliers, he has dealt with far worse. Nine years in the army, including four tours of duty in Iraq, has effectively inured him to teenage tantrums.

"Iraq was extremely hot, extremely tough, extremely dangerous," says Green, 32, who spent 11 months in Basra. "The riskiest incident was when we drove over a bomb and set it off. Everyone was safe but although we weren't sure if we were a target or not we had to get our drills out under threat of attack and fix the vehicle."

Living through such experiences, he thinks, gives former soldiers special skills when it comes to dealing with truculent teenagers. "Army instructors can be much more tolerant of bad behaviour than main-stream teachers," he says. "And there's a sense of humour that comes from being in the forces. It's very rare that you'll see one of us yell: `Get out of my class'." Green, who leads a team of nine ex-servicemen and women working with teenagers in eight comprehensives in North Lanarkshire, is one of hundreds of former soldiers square bashing in schools - with remarkable results.

Under the scheme, launched eight years ago, former military staff spend one day a week for two years teaching children everything from first aid and team work to how to fill in a curriculum vitae or excel at sport. Since Skill Force started it has grown to 41 teams working with 9,000 children a year - as far afield as Bath, inner city London and the Scottish Highlands. By the end of the courses the proportion of participants who are at risk of being expelled is cut from 36% to 6%, according to Jonny Gritt, the programme's leader.

One of Gritt's biggest success stories is Keri-Anne Payne, who won a silver medal at this year's Olympics in Beijing. She has said that her life was transformed by the two-year programme. When she arrived in Britain from South Africa as a teenager Payne's school suggested that she join the programme to help settle in. Although she was never badly behaved the programme gave her confidence during a time of upheaval.

The Tories are so impressed with Skill Force that they want to expand it fivefold, sending more ex-servicemen like Green into classrooms to become role models for bored, disaffected and shy children. "These men are heroes," said Michael Gove, the shadow schools secretary, announcing the party's plans this year.

So why does the scheme work? Green says that it's all down to the military approach. "All the way through an army career you learn how to motivate people, which buttons to press to get the best out of them," he says. " The army philosophy is to look after your guys, the people in your charge. That instinct makes our instructors bond with the kids and gives them the feeling that we're going to get through this together. "We don't take any lack of respect. We try to find out why a child is acting up and get him to understand the impact his action has on others. The military brings self-discipline - the best form of discipline - and that's what we try to show them."

The instructors delve into the backgrounds of their charges, says Green. "Children might be from a home where Mum doesn't get up in the morning or make breakfast. We build up the picture." He is proud of the many success stories. "There was one kid who was very quiet in the classroom - yet when he went on a Duke of Edinburgh trip with us he came to life. It showed him what he was capable of, and he's gone on to look at joining the marines."

Another teenager, 16-year-old Peter Hamilton, a pupil at Graeme high school in Falkirk, is enthusiastic about the course - and says it has transformed him. "I was like a bad boy when I was 14 - backchatting teachers, not paying attention in class," he says. "The course made me a better person." Instead of abandoning his education at 16 he now has his sights set on going to college and embarking on a career in sports coaching. "The instructors were much better at dealing with our class than ordinary teachers," he says. "You could talk to them about anything." He liked the way they rewarded good behaviour, giving points that could be collected and swapped for treats. "Ten points and you could go on a trip," says Fraser. "It worked for me."

Yet not everyone is happy with the arrival of soldiers in schools. Green says that when his team visits pupils' homes to deliver awards or certificates, the reception is sometimes frosty. "There is suspicion from some families, yes," he admits. "It may be that one of their worries is that we might try to recruit their son into the army."

Earlier this year the army came under attack from the National Union of Teachers, which accused it of targeting pupils in deprived areas. The union said it would back any teacher who boycotted armed forces material in schools, claiming it was based on "misleading propaganda".

Green notes that many of the children in his charge come from coastal villages where career options are limited because of the decline in the deep-sea fishing industry, so a small number do join the forces. But more opt for what he calls "the uniformed services" - the police, the fire brigade and nursing. "We don't talk to the kids about the military," says Green. "I think the army is a fantastic organisation, and I would never discourage them from joining up - but I am careful about what I say about it in the first place."

Of course, for the servicemen, too, the move into schools reaps rewards. With a recession looming and 7,000 soldiers leaving the forces every year it can be tough to find jobs. Gritt wants his instructors to be able to take a one-year teaching certificate course - a move supported by the Tories, who would give 9,000 pound bursaries to ex-servicemen who are graduates to train as teachers. They have also proposed the introduction of a British "GI bill", which would pay for soldiers to take a degree after discharge.

"I do think it would be good if more people from the forces came into schools," says Green. "Our instructors come from the same backgrounds as many of these children and speak the same language. Some teenagers can't identify with teachers who are straight A-grade students and went from school straight to university. [Our] guys have been a success outside academia - they show the kids what can be achieved."


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Britain: Dumbing down outcry as one in five high school pupils thinks the Sun orbits the Earth

More evidence of the conspicuous failure of Leftist education ideas

One in five pupils who took the basic science GCSE this year believes the Sun orbits the Earth, it can be revealed today. And one in ten of those taking the same exam did not know that a rechargeable battery could be used more than once. The level of ignorance, despite the 'laughably easy' questions, was exposed in the 2008 Examiners' Report by exam board Edexcel, which has been seen by the Tories. It sheds new light on what MPs say are falling standards and led to a condemnation of the 'national scandal' of dumbing down in schools.

Conservative schools spokesman Michael Gove, who saw the Edexcel report, also released sample questions from the same board's new GCSE science tests, which were introduced this year. He said they were proof that exams are now much easier than 20 or 30 years ago. Among the questions proposed was one that asked if a nurse should stay clear of X-rays 'to avoid melting her mobile phone'.

Mr Gove said: 'It's not as though these questions are rigorous tests of scientific knowledge. One exam board asks if we look at the stars through telescopes or microscopes.' He added: 'There is a desperate need to assert the importance of rigour and excellence in education if we are to avert further decline, but almost every step the Government takes is in the opposite direction.'

Nick Seaton of the Campaign for Real Education said: 'It's a national scandal. When you get laughably easy questions like this which may help politicians to reach targets but mean businesses and employers can't rely on the standards then obviously the system is not fit for purpose.'

The Tories claim standards have been lowered to inflate the pass rate as part of the Government's drive to meet its targets. The system of single, double or triple science GCSEs, for which separate physics, chemistry and biology papers were set, was scrapped this year. Instead pupils chose science or, for the more competent, additional science. They could also choose the degree of difficulty. The lowest level available, the 'foundation tier', is so basic that even if candidates answer all questions correctly the highest grade they can hope for is a C.

Last summer 537,606 pupils sat the new science GCSE, with 59.3 per cent scoring grade C or higher. And 433,468 took additional science, with 63.2 achieving C or higher. The new GCSE was dismissed as 'fit for the pub', not the classroom, by scientist Baroness Warnock.

Earlier this year pupils who sat chemistry O-level questions from the 1960s achieved an average mark of 16 per cent. Last year in GCSE chemistry 90.9 per cent of candidates achieved at least a C.


Is UCLA Cheating?

Californians amended their constitution in 1996 via Prop. 209, which provided that
The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

As I have discussed here many times (such as Prof Charges UCLA Admissions Cheating, Resigns From Committee), there is a great deal of suggestive evidence that UCLA has honored this constitutional command primarily by exploring different methods of getting around it. See, for example, here, and here I quoted, among other sources, these findings reported in the UCLA Daily Bruin:
In fall 2006, before UCLA switched to holistic admissions, black and Latino applicants' average SAT scores were 255 and 246 points lower than the average for their white and Asian counterparts. That gap seemed largely unaffected by holistic review - in fall 2007, black applicants' SAT scores were on average 293 points lower than those of white and Asian students, and Latino applicants' scores came up 249 points short.

I'm not sure that average black SAT scores falling from 255 to 293 points below the white/Asian average means they were "largely unaffected" by the move to "holistic review," but perhaps, thanks to the Pacific Legal Foundation, now we can find out.
In an effort to determine whether UCLA is obeying the state Constitution's ban on race- and sex-based discrimination and preferences in undergraduate admissions, Pacific Legal Foundation today submitted a California Public Records Act request for relevant documents from UCLA's applications process.... Among the documents sought by PLF's Public Records Act Request:

Undergraduate applications, including essays - with all personal identifying information redacted - from applicants to the classes of 2005 through 2008.

The identities of all applications readers, the scores they gave each application, and documents revealing why they decided to admit or reject each candidate.

All handbooks and other documents designed to guide application readers.

"UCLA asks for personal essays, which by definition have to be graded somewhat subjectively," said [PLF Attorney Joshua] Thompson. "We're asking for these essays - and evidence of how they're scored and weighted - to make sure that admissions officials aren't using these subjective evaluations as a way to bias the process in violation of Proposition 209."

The PLF's request to UCLA emphasizes that "all personal identifying information may be redacted," and stated it is "willing and eager to work with UCLA to safeguard individual identities." Maybe now we can find out how willing UCLA has been to comply with the prohibition against preferential treatment.

Source (See the original for links)