Saturday, October 08, 2011

Making Martyrs of Muslim thugs at UC Irvine

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas pushed back last week against critics of his successful prosecution of 10 students who tried to shut down a speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren last year at the University of California, Irvine.

Since a jury convicted the 10 who stood trial on two misdemeanor counts Sept. 23, Islamist groups and their allies have decried the case as an assault on the First Amendment sure to chill political speech. The students were charged criminally solely because they are Muslims, the argument goes, and because they dared challenge an Israeli official.

Rackauckas' response? Bunk. In a column published by the Orange County Register, he said the case stands in defense of free speech, no matter how hard critics spin.

"History tells us of the dire consequences when one group is allowed to shout down and intimidate another or a group of people so as to not allow them to have opinions or be heard. History requires us to draw a line in the sand against this sort of organized thuggery."

One man's organized thuggery apparently is another man's basic right.

The verdict is "a sad day for democracy when nonviolent protestors are criminalized by their government and are found guilty for exercising a constitutional right," said Muslim Public Affairs Council President Salam Al-Marayati. "You can heckle the President, you can heckle high ranking government officials, but if you heckle an Israeli diplomat you will be prosecuted.

These are Americans exercising their freedoms. This is a democracy not a dictatorship."

"I believe the heart of America has died today," said Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California.

The Islamic Circle of North America echoed that sentiment, calling the verdict "a blow to the civil rights of Americans across the country." In a statement, it said, "the guilty verdict undermines the very foundation of non-violent protest, which has been an integral part of America's history and is continually promoted by America across the globe."

"The censorship of dissident voices cannot be accepted in the United States, yet today we witnessed just that. This case was a selective application of justice, and this verdict is a blow to the civil rights of Americans across the country."

Hyperbole aside, California has a specific statute which makes it a crime for anyone who "willfully disturbs or breaks up any assembly or meeting that is not unlawful in its character." If your state doesn't have a similar law, a copycat protest is less likely to end up in criminal court.

Nevertheless, Hussam Ayloush, who runs the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Los Angeles office, called the students "true American heroes" in the tradition of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. "They peacefully and courageously stood up against injustice, and they defended our collective freedom of speech. No topic should be off limits and no public official or country should be above criticism."

Rosa Parks famously refused to get out of a bus seat. She never tried to silence anyone. Martin Luther King never got 10 friends together to shout down Bull Connor. The Civil Rights movement used non-violent, often passive acts of civil disobedience. What's more heroic – orchestrating a plot to disrupt a speech or knowingly risking savage beatings and incarceration to showcase the fundamental injustice of Jim Crow segregation? But that martyrdom narrative has been embraced by the media and the American Civil Liberties Union.

"If allowed to stand, this will undoubtedly intimidate students in Orange County and across the state and discourage them from engaging in any controversial speech or protest for fear of criminal charges," said Hector Villagra, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

The Orange County Register editorialized that the state was correct that a "heckler's veto" stifles speech. But it was still wrong to prosecute the students because it amounted to selective prosecution.

"We wonder if the same group of UC Irvine students had interrupted a campus lecture on chemistry or biophysics, would the District Attorney's Office have filed criminal charges?"

That is the point. No one orchestrates a campaign to stop someone from speaking about chemistry, or biophysics, or even other hot-button issues of the day. The selectivity is by the students from the UC Irvine Muslim Student Union (MSU), in deciding that anything Oren had to say was null and void and should not be heard.

"[O]ur goal should be that he knows that he cant (sic) just go to a campus and say whatever he wants," MSU meeting minutes show. Members were advised to "push the envelope," in order to "realize our role as the MSU of UCIrvine."

Those internal minutes and emails, first exposed by the Investigative Project on Terrorism last year, show that the students rejected more traditional forms of protest and made silencing the ambassador their goal. In addition, and this is something their allies ignore, the students agreed to lie about the role the Muslim Student Union played in orchestrating the plot.

Even though MSU officials devised the plan, wrote the script for what protesters would say and identified who would participate, one email entered into evidence instructed MSU members to deny the organization's involvement.

For their deception, they are lauded as heroes.

More than 200 people attended a town hall meeting Sept. 25 at the Islamic Institute of Orange County in Anaheim. The audience heard from the students themselves and a series of speakers who heaped praise on them.

Host Shakeel Syed, a member of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, asked for a standing ovation, saying "we honor the 10 young men of the United States of America who made history in U.S. Irvine 18 months ago."

Yet Muslim community leaders have said they are willing to silence speakers they disagree with, regardless of the consequences.

Taher Herzallah, one of the convicted students, is the national campus coordinator of American Muslims for Palestine. "I feel no shame in what I did,"Herzallah said in an interview published last week. "On the contrary, I feel I was performing my civic duty by speaking truth to power and would be willing to do it again in a heartbeat if given the opportunity."

Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said during a sermon on Friday that as Muslims "we will remain committed to speaking the truth no matter what the price may be."

At the town hall meeting, Ameena Qazi, deputy executive director of CAIR's Los Angeles office, blasted the prosecution as inherently corrupt. "I don't know how else to describe what they did. If it's not corrupt to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on two misdemeanor offenses, I don't know what corruption is," she said. "If it's not corrupt to suppress free speech for these students, our community because they oppose inhumane Israeli practices, I don't know what corruption is."

It is unclear what Qazi based her multimillion dollar prosecution price tag on, or what message it sends students to encourage their attempted cover-up.

After the verdict, Qazi lamented its effect. "Already at UCI there's an intense level of anti-Muslim sentiment," she told Reuters, "and this verdict chills free speech and activism and sends a message around the country that Muslim students are going to be treated differently from other students who protest."

But the verdict does no such thing. Students still have the right to protest, provided they do not violate the rights of others in doing so. They can picket. They can engage in silent protest or ask speakers they don't like the most challenging questions they can devise.

"The successful prosecution of the 'Irvine 10' will not 'chill' free speech rights of hecklers," wrote Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. "No one should or would be prosecuted for simply booing the content of a speech, leafleting a speaker, holding up signs in the back of the auditorium, conducting a counter event or demonstration. It was these young criminals who were trying to chill, indeed freeze, the constitutional rights of the speaker and those who came to hear him. They should not be treated as heroes by anyone who loves freedom and supports the First Amendment."


Ignorant products of British schools

Some schoolchildren believe Winston Churchill is an animated dog from a TV ad rather than one of Britain's greatest wartime leaders.

Other pupils even struggle to differentiate between France and Paris thanks to falling classroom standards and a shift towards creative learning, according to outspoken former deputy headteacher Katherine Birbalsingh.

She says teaching basic knowledge, facts and figures is disappearing from classrooms as it is considered 'old fashioned'.

Miss Birbalsingh, who delivered this week's Sir John Cass's Foundation Lecture at Cass Business School in London, said: 'We no longer value the importance of teaching knowledge for children to do something with.

'The problem is that we underestimate the knowledge that we have and use everyday. 'Try to read any article in the newspaper and you'll find that there is an assumption of background knowledge. 'Recently, I read an article about Carla Bruni. To understand just the title and subtitle, one would have to know who she was: that she is married to Nicolas Sarkozy, that he is the president of France, and what being a president means. 'Indeed you would have to know what France is - is it a city? Is it a country? Is it in Europe?

'You may laugh, but I have, as a teacher, had conversations with 14-year-olds where they simply don't understand the difference between France and Paris. 'For them, it is all the same. I can't tell you the number of times I've had conversations with kids about Winston Churchill where they think he's "that dog" off the insurance advert from TV.'

Her comments come a year after she grabbed the headlines at the 2010 Conservative Party conference with a damning speech on the state of England's schools.

She also claimed the public does not realise how little some children know, adding: 'What we also forget is that the very thing that got us to where we are now was the kind of education that we had - our teachers teaching us knowledge, so that we know the difference between Paris and France, even if it sometimes meant being bored in lessons and learning the discipline to struggle through.'

Education today focuses too much on 'soft' skills, she said.

Miss Birbalsingh added: 'In the last 30 years, the concept of teaching knowledge in our classrooms has nearly disappeared altogether. Teaching historical facts or lists of vocab which rely on memory skills is considered old-fashioned.

'Instead, we think it better to inspire children to be creative through group discussion and project work. But background knowledge is absolutely essential to enable children to absorb new ideas.'

Miss Birbalsingh left St Michael's and All Angels Church of England Academy in South London, where she was a deputy head teacher, a few weeks after her speech to the Tory Party conference.

She is currently attempting to set up a free school in Lambeth, South London.


More queer folk needed at Australian universities?

GAYS, lesbians and transsexuals have been named as a new equity sub-group that universities must track for their progress in enrolment and retention.

The federal Education Department has asked universities to report back on improvements in rates of under-representation, even though there is no data to suggest this group participates in higher education at lower rates than the rest of the community.

"In fact, general surveys of gays and lesbians show high levels of educational attainment," said Andrew Norton, higher education director with think tank The Grattan Institute.

The document also asks universities to report on their work with people from non-English speaking backgrounds, although recent research has confirmed that this group, on average, has higher levels of participation and success than Australian-born students.

While universities are striving to meet the government-set equity target of 20 per cent of disadvantaged people holding a degree by 2020, the inclusion of these new equity indicators has raised eyebrows.

"Lots of universities have programs to improve inclusiveness, but sexuality is not an under-representation issue, its a social justice issue," said the Queensland University of Technology's equity director, Mary Kelly.

Ms Kelly said universities did not collect data on sexual orientation -- and would probably create a public outrage if they tried to. The only required areas were indigenous background, country of birth and disability. She said she thought the move was probably a result of ill-informed goodwill on the part of a federal bureaucrat rather than government direction.

The manager of student access and equity at Deakin University in Victoria, Jennifer Oriel, described using sexual orientation as an indicator of equity as "a nonsense". "My opinion is that disadvantage has to be produced by poor educational participation or outcomes," she said. "We need to keep in mind that higher education equity is about improving the outcomes from structurally disadvantaged backgrounds."

Included in the document, under the sub-heading "Gender", are women in engineering and computing and men in education and nursing.

Ms Kelly said while women in non-traditional areas was a hot topic, the debate on men in certain disciplines had been "won and lost" some time ago. "Men are not going into nursing and teaching because they are in other professions and the trades and they don't want to go into underpaid jobs."


Friday, October 07, 2011

President’s third edujobs stimulus more opiates for addicts

The proposed $60 billion in education funds in President Barack Obama’s $450 billion jobs plan offers schools and teachers false hope and will cause them yet again to structure spending around fantasy. This will devastate schools far beyond the current cries over recession-era education cuts.

This proposal is at least the third federal schools Christmas since 2009, when Congress designated $115 billion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (aka “the stimulus”) for education. In 2010, Obama signed a $10 billion “edujobs” bill. The current proposal designates $30 billion to stop layoffs or pay for existing teachers, $25 billion to remodel schools, and $5 billion for community college renovations.

The statistics show teacher jobs don’t need another taxpayer boost. The Census Bureau’s latest education statistics compilation, released in May 2011 using 2009 data, demonstrates a marked increase in public school teacher hiring while student enrollment has been flat. Full-time teacher employment increased 2.3 percent, by 137,175 jobs, in the 2008–2009 school year over 2007–2009.

Student enrollment increased a cumulative 0.7 percent from 2004 to 2009, while the K–12 teacher workforce increased 6.5 percent. Per-pupil spending increased 12.5 percent in that period, after adjusting for inflation, and spending on education employee salaries and benefits increased 27.5 percent.

All this happened while states and the federal government spent themselves into a severe fiscal crisis that will persist for the foreseeable future. If the discarded terror alert system applied to government budgets, we would all hide in our basements with water and radios for the next decade. Three trillion dollars in unfunded state pension liabilities is only the beginning. Those and other fiscal pressures – such as the spiraling, $15 trillion national debt and plunging property tax revenues due to the recession – mean education budgets will be strained for at least the next five years, says a 2010 American Enterprise Institute report. Yet the president’s bill requires recipient states to keep education spending at current or increased levels until 2013, apparently to ensure states commit suicide by budget bloat.

“Under current policies, the federal budget is quickly heading into territory that is unfamiliar to the United States and to most other developed countries as well,” said Douglas Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, in a statement to legislators this week.

Continuing to stuff educators with money when neither taxpayers nor our governments have it is like pumping them full of cocaine. They might feel over the moon for a while, but the crash landing, hangover, and subsequent addiction will bring nothing but misery.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan testified before Congress in 2010 that $69 billion in ARRA money had saved 400,000 education jobs. That’s a grand total of $172,500 per job, which doesn’t sound much like savings. The president’s current bill allows schools to use funds they receive for any employee compensation, so there’s no reason these funds won’t displace schools’ current salary pools, allowing them to spike funds elsewhere, prudent or not. Large school districts across the country kept the 2010 edujobs funds in reserve to prevent later layoffs instead of immediately rehiring, The New York Times reported.

What schools, teachers, and taxpayers need now is a sobering look at reality so we can pull together to stop the insanity and make necessary, tough spending decisions we can no longer avoid. By encouraging schools and districts to continue shooting up, the president’s education jobs stimulus will only push them into further recklessness.


Big upset now British pupils are not allowed to cheat

In a report published today, Ofqual warned that the introduction of “controlled assessments” in England had led to a drop in the amount of teaching time and reduction in the number of school trips.

The watchdog said the new system had also led to “widespread concerns” among teachers who reported problems finding classroom space, equipment and chasing down absent pupils.

The conclusions come two years after coursework was axed in most GCSE subjects. Some 600,000 children a year are now banned from writing up assignments at home to stop them asking parents for help and using the internet to cheat.

They are required to complete projects in class under “controlled” exam-style conditions, supervised by teachers and with limited access to websites and books.

But Ofqual said that more than four-in-10 secondary school teachers found the changes difficult to implement, particularly those teaching French, geography and history.

“The amount of time taken up in each subject by controlled assessment, meant a narrowing of teaching, and fewer opportunities for activities such as off-site trips that deepen students’ understanding and interest,” the study said. “In several subjects the loss of teaching and learning time was the single biggest drawback to controlled assessment.”

Controlled assessment was introduced in September 2009 in subjects including business studies, classical subjects, economics, English literature, geography, history, modern foreign languages, religious studies and social sciences. Maths coursework was axed two years earlier.

As part of the move, assignments are set by examination boards rather than teachers to ensure tasks are more rigorous.

In today’s report, Ofqual surveyed more than 800 teachers and staged in-depth interviews with senior education officials. Although the move has led to a dramatic reduction in cheating, some one-in-five teachers complained that the change had coincided with a loss of teaching time in the final year of school.

The report also said the system had a “negative impact on pupil well-being” as it meant children were forced to sit additional exam-based assessments. Some schools now spread work over two years instead of one to reduce the workload.

Many teachers also cited logistical difficulties, the study said, with foreign language assessments proving particularly problematic because students were forced to prepare for oral French exams in silence.

The lack of clear guidance in how to deal with pupils who are absent on the day of assessments “threatens to undermine the reliability of the new assessment”, said Ofqual.

The report added: “The most commonly mentioned problem was limited resources and finding classroom space. Many teachers prefer students to write up their tasks using computers, which creates pressure on school ICT resources, and requires careful timetabling.”

Controlled assessment was introduced by Labour.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “In the longer term, we will review the proportion of controlled assessment within GCSEs. “We recognise the value of such assessment in certain subjects but will make sure we have the right balance between controlled assessments and external exams in each subject.”

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT union, said: “Ofqual’s evaluation of controlled assessment practice reveals further worrying evidence of unsustainable assessment practices in schools which must now be taken seriously by the Coalition Government.

“The report by Ofqual is right to point to the concerns that Controlled Assessments has reduced teaching and learning time in our schools and increased the burdens on teachers in ways which could seriously jeopardise pupils’ learning and educational progress.


Australian teachers forced to act like police after court ruling

Stupid f*ckwit female judge perverts the course of justice

TEACHERS could be forced to warn students as young as 10 about their legal rights before counselling them after a remarkable court decision.

A 14-year-old boy who confessed to his teacher that he robbed a service station and stabbed the attendant with a knife, has been acquitted after the District Court refused to allow the teacher's statement into evidence because he had not "cautioned" the boy.

The Daily Telegraph reported it could change the way teachers and students relate to each other. NSW Teachers Federation President Bob Lips combe said: "This is potentially very serious for teachers".

"Teachers are expected to provide advice, assistance and counselling to young people on a daily basis and during the course of that, many things are disclosed to teachers. Most are fairly insignificant but often there are matters disclosed that are quite significant and in such cases teachers have never been advised that they can only act on information if they have previously cautioned the student," Mr Lipscombe said.

The federation was taking urgent legal advice, he said. "No teacher in the course of their work would caution students in the way this case states," he said. "Clearly this teacher did think he was doing the right thing and acting responsibly."

The history teacher, who cannot be named because it may identify the 14-year-old student, was also the boy's year adviser.

Soon after the boy enrolled at the high school mid-term last year, the teacher asked him how his previous day had gone and whether he would be returning this year. The boy said that it depended on the outcome of his upcoming court appearance. "I held up a servo and stabbed the attendant ... but the police have nothing on me," the boy said, according to Judge Helen Murrell.

The teacher spoke to the principal who urged him to talk to the Juvenile Justice officer who had helped the boy get a place at the school. The police were told and the teacher made a statement.

The boy's lawyers argued that he "was not issued with a caution" and that telling police was a breach of trust by the school.

Judge Murrell said that from the teacher's perspective, there was no confidentiality when students disclosed criminal matters, however this teacher usually forewarned them that if they disclosed crimes, he might have to take it further because he wanted them to feel confident about talking to him.

In this case he hadn't done so because he had no idea what the student was going to say, she said. She found the admission, while voluntary, had been obtained "unfairly" and refused to admit the statement into the boy's trial, held two weeks ago in Queanbeyan.


Thursday, October 06, 2011

Graduate Student's Lawsuit Against College Pits School Policy Vs. Religious Beliefs

The First Amendment should trump all the other flim-flam

An attorney for a graduate student claiming she was wrongfully dismissed from her counseling job at a Michigan college because she refused to counsel gay and bisexual clients on their relationships argued in federal court Tuesday that his client was discriminated against because of her religious beliefs -- while the school insists her actions violated school policy.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati heard arguments in the case involving Julea Ward, a Detroit-area public school teacher. In July 2010, a federal judge dismissed Ward's lawsuit against Eastern Michigan University (EMU) after the school successfully contended she violated school policy and the American Counseling Association's code of ethics, which forbids counselors from discrimination in clinical practice.

Following Tuesday's hearing, Jeremy Tedesco, an attorney for the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, said he believes the Appeals Court will overturn the ruling because it violated Ward’s First Amendment rights. "Ultimately, the university has a really tough battle here," Tedesco told "The bottom line to us is that this is very clear violation of her First Amendment rights in a couple of different contexts."

Tedesco argued that Ward's rights were violated when she was required to enter a remediation program to change her beliefs toward homosexuality. He said EMU officials violated the U.S. Constitution when they refused to accommodate Ward's sincerely held beliefs by not allowing her to refer her client to another qualified candidate.

"Rather than allow Julea to refer a potential client to another qualified counselor -- a common, professional practice to best serve clients -- EMU attacked and questioned Julea's religious beliefs and ultimately expelled her from the program because of them," Tedesco said in a statement. He said there is no timetable for the appellate court's decision.

According to ADF attorneys, Ward was assigned a potential client seeking assistance regarding a homosexual relationship shortly after she enrolled in the counseling program in January 2009. Realizing she could not affirm the client's relationship without violating her own religious beliefs, Ward then asked a supervisor for assistance. After being advised to reassign the potential client, EMU officials informed Ward she would need to undergo a "remediation" program in order to stay in the counseling program, the attorneys claim.

Ward was later dismissed from the program, and EMU officials denied her appeal.

"Julea followed accepted professional practice and the advice of her supervising professor when she referred the potential client to someone who had no conscience issue with the subject to be discussed," Tedesco's statement continued. "She would have gladly counseled the client herself had the topic focused on any other matter. Julea was punished for acting professionally and ethically in this situation."

In a statement to, university officials said they are confident the July 2010 ruling will be upheld.

"This case has never been about religion or religious discrimination," read a statement issued by Walter Kraft, vice president for communications at EMU. "It is not about homosexuality or sexual orientation. This case is about what is in the best interest of a client who is in need of counseling, and following the curricular requirements of our highly-respected and nationally-accredited counseling program ... This case is important to Eastern Michigan, it also is important to universities across the country, as well as to the several universities in Michigan that have filed briefs in support of our position in this case."

In February, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Michigan filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting EMU.

"Students seeking counseling must be able to trust that they will receive the help they need, free from discrimination," ACLU Deputy Legal Director Louise Melling said in a statement.

"Counselors are entitled to their own religious beliefs, but they do not have a right to discriminate as part of their professional training at a public university."

Michael Steinberg, legal director of the ACLU of Michigan, said public school counselors should not be "able to close the door" to homosexual students looking for guidance.

In a 48-page opinion, U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh dismissed Ward's lawsuit in July, citing the university's rational basis for adopting the American Counseling Association's code of ethics.

"Furthermore, the university had a rational basis for requiring students to counsel clients without imposing their personal values," Steeh wrote. "In the case of Ms. Ward, the university determined that she would never change her behavior and would consistently refuse to counsel clients on matters with which she was personally opposed due to her religious beliefs -- including homosexual relationships."


Final British High School exams no longer trusted says A.C Grayling, who can’t tell the difference between A and A*

A-levels and GCSEs are of such poor quality that they are no longer a reliable way of selecting university candidates, a leading academic has warned. Professor A C Grayling said that students with a string of top grades are ‘no brighter’ than those who look ‘less brilliant’ on paper.

The popular philosopher, president of a new private university, the New College of the Humanities, made the comments during a scathing attack on the exam system. He said that he and his colleagues will have to interview every single candidate because grades do not give a fair reflection of ability.

Professor Grayling, speaking at the annual meeting of 250 leading private school heads, said he made the discovery while interviewing youngsters for the first intake, in 2012. He remarked that a female pupil with two As and a B at A-level was more ‘interesting, lively and thoughtful’ than one with three A*s and two As. He has offered places to both.

He blamed the failings on the ‘tyranny of testing’, saying pupils are taught to the test, rather than taught to think.

‘We intend to interview personally every plausible-looking candidate because we can’t really rely as much as we would like to be able to on A-level and GCSE results,’ he said.

Professor Grayling told delegates at the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference annual meeting at St Andrews, in Fife, Scotland: ‘We are subjecting our young people to exams every single year, from GCSEs through to when they leave university.

‘GCSEs, AS, A-levels, first-year module exams, second-year module exams, third-year module exams – this is a tyranny and distorts the education process. ‘They are so focused on getting an A* or getting a first in their first-year modules that they lose the point of what they are doing.’

The £18,000-a-year NCH, which is opening in Bloomsbury, Central London, had said it would only accept the brightest pupils with straight A grades.

Professor Grayling’s comments are likely to prompt claims that the NCH is being forced to accept less able students to fill its places, even though it is only seeking to recruit 180 in its first year. A spokesman for the college said it had received 1,300 inquiries from potential applicants.

However, it has only had firm applications from a handful of students who got their A-levels this summer and are taking a gap year.


Several Australian universities get into the world top 200

There are various ranking systems and they all have a degree of arbitrariness about them but it is pleasing to see Australian universities doing well again. America alone has around 7,000 such institutions so getting into the top 200 does mean something. I am personally pleased to see that three out of the four universities from which I have obtained qualifications are on the list. And given that my son is at ANU, their placing (38th worldwide) is pleasing too -- JR

SEVEN Australian universities have been named among a list of the world's top 200 higher education institutions.

The University of Melbourne is the highest placed Australian facility, in 37th place on the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Leading the rankings is the California Institute of Technology, followed by fellow United States institutions Harvard University and Stanford University in equal second.

In an overall ranking of universities by country, Australia was placed seventh. A separate scale comparing universities relative to GDP sees Australia in 11th place and New Zealand 10th

Australia's second highest rating institution is the Australian National University (ANU) in equal 38th place, with the University of Sydney (58), University of Queensland (74), Monash University (equal 117), University of NSW (equal 173), and the University of Western Australia (equal 189).

New Zealand's University of Auckland gets a mention in equal 173th place.

Criteria such as teaching, research, innovation and international outlook were considered by researchers Thomson Reuters in compiling the 2011-2012 rankings. Each institution was ranked using a point-scoring system.


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Solar energy School Propaganda 101

The Obama administration's crony green subsidy scandal is erupting like a solar flare in Washington. But do you know what your kids are learning in their environmental education classes about this red-hot taxpayer eco-scam? Chances are: not much. Instead, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Democratic apparatchiks at the National Education Association are disseminating solar power propaganda masquerading as math and science curricula.

Titled "Solar Power and Me: The Inherent Advantages," the lesson plan for middle-school and high-school students directs them to "take note of how solar energy is incorporated into the infrastructure of various cities nationwide and write a short essay about how they would encourage solar energy use in their own town."

A worksheet labeled "All About Solar!" makes the blanket assertion that solar technologies are "a sound economical choice as they can reduce or eliminate exposure to rising electricity rates, or even eliminate one's need to pay an electrical bill! In addition, solar panels can be a smart long-term investment, with many solar vendors offering 20-30 year warranties on their products."

The only warranties worth anything from bankrupt, half-billion-dollar solar company Solyndra Inc. are the warranties on the Disney whistling robots and saunas that adorned its Taj Mahal headquarters. But I digress.

Another worksheet cheerleads the "financial savings" of "solar power and me" and coaches students to "imagine you live in amazing and sunny Anaheim, CA, where the combination of local and federal rebates covers 74 percent of your total cost of a solar panel system!" The exercise then entices the student to take out a 20-year loan on a new solar panel system to produce even greater illusory savings.

Yet another question-and-answer key reads: "How would switching to solar energy affect energy use at your home and school?" Answer: "In general, switching to solar energy would lower your home's electrical costs and reduce your emissions, thus saving money and improving the environment."

But as Brian McGraw of the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute points out: "There might be a small niche market, but solar energy is still largely incapable of producing reliable electricity at rates that are even in the ballpark of cost competitiveness compared to coal or natural gas." Energy Secretary Steven Chu, the force behind billions of dollars' worth of rushed green energy loans overseen by deep-pocketed Obama bundlers, himself acknowledged that solar tech will need to improve five-fold before it even begins to have a cost-competitive shot.

After examining decades' worth of failed subsidized solar efforts at home and around the world, the Institute for Energy Research concludes: "Although stand-alone solar power has a certain free-market niche and does not need government favor, using solar power for grid electricity has been and will be an economic loser for ratepayers and a burden to taxpayers."

The DOE/NEA curriculum encourages students to pressure politicians to pour more money into supposedly underfunded green energy schemes. But the House Budget Committee reported last week: "The president's stimulus law alone included tens of billions in new government subsidies for politically favored renewable-energy interests: $6 billion in loan guarantees for renewable energy investments; $17 billion for the Department of Energy's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs; $2 billion for energy-efficient battery manufacturing; and billions more on other 'clean-energy' programs for a total of $80 billion. Two years later, the president's promise of millions of jobs stands in stark contrast with reality."

A more useful homework assignment would be to have these future taxpayers calculate how much their moms and dads are spending to prop up Obama's green jobs industry and its elite Democratic campaign finance donors/investors. The White House projected 65,000 new jobs from nearly $40 billion in green job stimulus spending. Instead, fewer than 3,600 jobs were created. Get out your calculators, kids: That's $4.85 million per job. Investor's Business Daily crunches the numbers further on the taxpayers' return on its DOE green loan guarantee "investments" and finds that the program will cost a whopping $23 million per job.

A separate NEA solar energy lesson plan marketed with Dow Corning teaches 5th- through 8th-graders "how solar panels work." A more apt, real-world lesson would teach them how they don't work. The myth that this alternative energy source "pays for itself" is busted with just a cursory glance at the Denver Museum of Science and Nature.

President Obama staged a photo-op on the facility's solar panel roof in 2009 when he signed the green jobs goodie-stuffed stimulus law. The museum refused to disclose electric bills before and after installation of the solar array. But after digging into the lavishly taxpayer-funded project, the Colorado-based Independence Institute discovered that the panels -- which only last 25 years -- wouldn't "pay for themselves" until the year 2118, more than a century from now.

It's elementary. The government shouldn't be in the business of picking any eco-winners or losers. "Too Green To Fail" redistributes wealth from viable private projects to pipe dreams, forces higher taxes and energy costs on everyone, and rewards partisan funders at public expense. Teach your children well. They're inheriting the bill.


London's ghettoes 'are sleepwalking towards a schools apartheid'

London has become divided into ethnic ghettoes that are ‘sleepwalking towards Johannesburg’ under apartheid, according to a leading independent school head teacher.

David Levin, head of City of London School for boys, has spoken of his ‘increasing alarm’ at the way communities in London are split along race lines, with youngsters of different ethnicity rarely or never mixing and the inevitable tensions that causes.

At one school, Stepney Green Maths and Computing College, in Tower Hamlets, East London, 97 per cent of pupils are Bangladeshi. And at another, in Peckham, South London, pupils are ‘overwhelmingly’ West African.

South African Mr Levin, whose school routinely tops GCSE and A-level league tables, suggested the worsening situation could lead to racial tension as people ‘fear those they do not know’. He said: ‘I think London is sleepwalking towards Johannesburg – the ghettoisation of the community. It means they are not mixing with people from other faiths, different races and different socio-economic backgrounds.

‘One of the things I have learned pre and post – particularly post – apartheid is that your imagination is much stronger than the reality. ‘You may not like someone, but if you know them then you do not fear them.’

He claimed there are parts of London where ethnic minority youngsters never leave their council estate let alone their borough. He called on private schools to send mentors and teachers into the ‘ghettoes’ to ensure that disadvantaged pupils mix with youngsters of ‘different races and socio-economic backgrounds’.

Mr Levin, whose school has pupils from 41 countries, has set up outreach projects with some schools, such as Stepney Green, to teach maths and science. City of London also offers scholarships to talented pupils.

Children from white families are in the minority in both Birmingham and Leicester, as well as most London boroughs.

Stepney Green, a boys’ school, has almost 900 pupils aged 11 to 16. It was rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted this year. Despite being in a deprived part of London, some 82 per cent of its pupils got A* to C in English and maths GCSE in 2010.

Mr Levin, who is vice-chairman of the association of leading independent schools, the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, was speaking yesterday at its annual conference. He is leading an initiative to encourage private primary schools to help sponsor academies [charters].


Australian private schools say Leftist education "Review" wrong, prejudiced

THE private school sector has criticised the quality and assumptions of the key research projects commissioned by the Gonski review of education, while questioning the independence and accuracy of the work.

In their final submissions to the review of school funding, the Independent Schools Council of Australia, the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia, the NSW Parents Council and the Independent Education Union all rounded on work released last month by the Gonski review.

The NSW Parents Council criticised what it termed a "shameful attempt to develop class war debate". Instead of recognising that parents make radical financial decisions in order to choose schools that support their philosophical approach to raising their children, the tenor of the reports was that they chose to go private merely because they "are blessed with greater, wealth, income, power or possessions".

Allowing only one month to respond to 700 pages of commissioned research was "disgraceful", the Parents Council said.

Responding to calls for accountability in the use of taxpayer funds, the council also said non-government school parents are subsidising parents of children in government schools and are entitled to greater insights into the "inefficient allocation and deployment of government funding for schools".

The funding review, headed by David Gonski, is scheduled to report to the federal government by the end of the year. Apart from releasing four commissioned reports - which it did not endorse - it has given little insight into its thoughts and directions.

But the private school lobby has seen enough to be on its guard about what the Independent Schools Council terms a "high stakes" funding review. "A number of reports strongly reflect an inherent bias against non-government schools," the council submitted.

"That these reports were allowed to be released without these overt and covert biases being addressed undermines the credibility of the research informing the Panel's deliberations," it said. The council accused the authors of the Nous Group report of making "inflammatory and inaccurate statements" and relying on opinion not research.

A key proposal in a report by Allen Consulting is for the establishment of an education resource standard, the amount of money needed for a student to reach minimum educational benchmarks.

It is a proposal that concerns the independent schools sector, which said the data on which it would be built is inadequate.

The report also provided no details about how it might be implemented making it impossible to assess the impact on individual independent schools.

The independent teachers union is also worried about the data, particularly an apparent reliance on Naplan test results, an approach it said "is seriously flawed". "Overseas experience clearly points to evidence of test coaching, widespread cheating or fraudulent behaviour when school funding or resourcing is tied to high-stakes literacy and numeracy tests," it wrote.

Independent school principals are also worried by the lack of detail about how such a standard might work in practice, as well as how other funding ideas scoped by the reports might function.

"AHISA would be concerned if the Review panel were to recommend any of these proposals without further intensive consultation with school sector representatives," it said. And the headmasters' association repeats the accusation of prejudice.

"The inherent bias against non-government schooling evident in the research papers shows that non-government schools, particularly independent schools, are still struggling to be deemed legitimate providers of school education in Australia," it submitted.


Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Fla. School Districts Refuse to Distribute Constitution Booklets Donated by 9/12 Project

Two Florida school districts won’t be handing out pocket-sized Constitutions to their eighth graders because they were donated by the local 9/12 Project, prompting concerns from school officials about the “opinions and viewpoints” the booklets contain.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, the Nature Coast 9/12 Project gave thousands of copies of the Constitution to the Hernando and Citrus school districts in central Florida in August. But because of certain handouts and forewords that accompanied some of the booklets, along with the organization’s name and website, officials decided not to pass them out.

“It doesn’t matter what group it is,” Hernando superintendent Bryan Blavatt said. “The question is, are we giving out resources that are primary sources … or is it subject to opinions and viewpoints and selective choice of materials?”

The St. Petersburg Times reported:
Some booklets donated to Hernando were published by the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, whose website describes its mission as serving communities through “fellowship, compassion, and dedication to God, family and country.”

These booklets contained other primary texts such as the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln‘s Gettysburg Address and Patrick Henry’s Call to Arms. A foreword to the booklet reads: “Unless Americans remember and preserve our rich heritage of liberty, a new Dark Age of tyranny could lock the majority of mankind into the harsh chains of totalitarian slavery.”

Some booklets donated to Hernando were accompanied by a one-page sheet from the Cato Institute, a conservative think tank, with the heading “Constitutional Authority.” The sheet asserts that the Constitution has been misinterpreted, leading to “a government that’s effectively unlimited … and increasingly unaffordable.”

Booklets donated to the Citrus district refers the reader to books published by the National Center for Constitutional Studies, a conservative, religious-themed organization formed by Mormon political writer Cleon Skousen, who argued that the founding of the United States was a divine miracle. One of Skousen’s books referenced in the booklet, The 5,000 Year Leap, is often cited by political commentator and 912 Project founder Glenn Beck, who wrote a foreword for a later edition.

Citrus officials plan to return the booklets because the school board said the additional material conflicts with the district’s policy of not passing out political material; in Hernando, principals were told to give them out to any student who wanted one, but not to pass them out to every student.

“When you add all of those things together, it’s not just a simple Constitution,” said Mike Mullen, assistant superintendent for Citrus schools. “You‘ve got to be real careful when you’re passing out information to the kids.”

Nature Coast 9/12 Project organizer Maureen Arrigale said her group reached out to school officials last year about donating booklets and submitted samples for review, which were approved.

“The booklets they have are the same booklets we sent them,” she told the Times. “We’re not promoting any kind of agenda or politics whatsoever. Our name just happens to be on the book.”

Mullen acknowledged staff members reviewed the booklets, but said they didn’t research the National Center for Constitutional Studies or the 9/12 Project itself at the time. He also said the sample booklets received did not contain the 9/12 Project name and website.

“I know they claim they’re not a political group, but they have direct links from their website that do take you to partisan political websites,” Mullen said.

But the Nature Coast 9/12 Project donated money to a local Tea Party group to purchase Constitution booklets for schools in another Florida district this year without any problem, Arrigale said. Those booklets were stamped with the Tea Party’s name, which a district spokeswoman told the Times was fine — “[a]s long as it’s not included with any sort of political message.”

For the 9/12 Project, the controversy is just the latest setback in an attempt to get schools to teach U.S. history taught in a complete, unbiased way.

“What we’re out to do is educate people that things in the Bill of Rights are being taken away from us and are being misconstrued,” Nature Coast 9/12 member Annette Weeks said.


British children should be able to leave school at 14 so they can learn a trade, says ex-Ofsted head

The school leaving age should be cut to 14 so that less academic teenagers can learn a trade, according to the former head of Ofsted. Sir Chris Woodhead said he believes that once a child has got the grasp of basic literacy and numeracy they should be given the chance to look at alternative career paths.

He added that it was a 'recipe for disaster' to make young people study English and maths up to the age of 18, and said it was a mistake to make vocational education 'quasi-academic'.

'If a child at 14 has mastered basic literacy and numeracy, I would be very happy for that child to leave school and to go into a combination of apprenticeship and further education training and a practical, hands-on, craft-based training that takes them through into a job,' he told the Times.

Speaking about the riots across England he said: 'Does anybody seriously think these kids who are truanting at 13, 14 are going to stay in school in a purposeful, meaningful way through to 18? 'It just seems to me the triumph of ideological hope over reality.'

He backed Government plans to use synthetic phonics to boost reading in primary schools, saying 95 per cent of children should reach the literacy target at 11.

But Sir Chris, who is now chairman of not-for-profit schools company Cognita, criticised David Cameron's call for independent schools to sponsor academies, calling it 'morally wrong'. 'The more that the science facilities or the playing fields are used by non fee-paying children, the less they are available for the parents of children who do pay the fees,' he said.

Sir Chris was chief inspector of Ofsted from 1994 to 2000.

The need to engage youngsters with work that inspires them at an earlier age appears to be underlined by the experiences some bosses have of school leavers.

Last month, garden centre owner Richard Haddock, 54, said he despaired of the school leavers that he was sent. As a result he is now concentrating on recruiting older people and workers from abroad. He said: 'I have had youngsters sent here from the Jobcentre and most aren’t interested in working at all. They just want their form signed to show they came for the interview.

'When we have employed school leavers they have generally been unsuited for the world of work. They turn up late, half asleep or with hangovers and spend half their time checking their mobile phones.

'They know they should not wear nail varnish because they are handling food but they turn up wearing it anyway. If you try to discipline them or help them, they throw it back in your face.'


British School bans children from putting up their hands in class - and tells pupils to do a 'Fonz' thumbs up instead

Schoolchildren have been banned from putting their hands up in class - and told to do a 'Fonz' thumbs up instead.

Parents blasted the rule as 'daft' and said the pupils at Burlington Junior School in East Yorkshire would look as though they were imitating Happy Days character The Fonz.

Helpful posters at the school show a raised arm with a thick red cross next to it and a picture of a child doing a thumbs up.

Father-of-three Dave Campleman, 44, who has two children at the Bridlington school, said: 'I thought it was a joke at first. It's daft. I can't see the logic in it. 'Fair enough if it was across the board, but I've not heard of any other schools doing it.'

The driving instructor added: 'I think it's a bit pointless, it's not benefiting their education - they could focus on other things. 'Kids are used to putting their hands up, it is natural for them. Being told to do something different just confuses them. 'I am just bemused by it. I think they should go back to the old way of putting your hand up in class.'

Headteacher Cheryle Adams insisted that the more positive hand signal had a 'calming' effect on the eight- and nine-year-old children.

But another parent, who has a son in the class but did not want to be named, said: 'It is going to make the class look like they are all imitating the Fonz from Happy Days. 'On a serious note, when these kids go up to secondary school next year they could be a laughing stock because all the other children will be putting up their hands.

'I think there should have been more consultation from the school with the parents over this and perhaps a trial first before an outright ban. 'I can't really see it making the classroom more relaxed - they are young, excitable kids and putting up your thumb instead of your arm isn't going to change that.'

The school has previously tried out other 'progressive' teaching methods, including a lucky-dip lollipop-stick system to choose pupils to answer questions. It now plans to roll out the changes into its infant school - for children aged four and five.

Ms Adams said that the non-traditional teaching approach has worked since it was introduced at the start of this term at the 360-pupil school. She said: 'It seems to be something all the children have accepted. It is to stop the pupils waving arms about, which can be distracting. It has calmed the pupils down.

'Staff have noticed a positive difference in the amount of people answering questions.

'I don't think this approach to answering questions is a big deal. There is also no issue of children at the back of the classroom being missed or ignored.'

She added: 'At a training day we discussed all sorts of ideas as we have found some children put their hands up, while others won't, even if they know the answers.

'We have looked at different options. This included a lollipop stick method in which children write their names on the sticks. We pick one out and the pupil whose stick is chosen answers the question. 'With this technique we found everybody would listen in case their name was called out.

'All these ideas help make the classroom environment calmer as well as encouraging the quieter pupils to share their ideas.'


Monday, October 03, 2011

Brits call up the 'Sergeant Major' to fix lawless schools -- as boss of education watchdog

The tough-talking head of an inner city comprehensive is expected to become the new boss of the education watchdog. Sir Michael Wilshaw, known as ‘the Sergeant Major’ for his unashamedly traditional and disciplinarian approach to education, is likely to be appointed as chief inspector at Ofsted this month.

It is understood that Michael Gove has been trying to persuade him to take on the role for months to help him tackle lawless classrooms. The Education Secretary has long been an admirer of Sir Michael and once described him as ‘my hero’ for turning round an East London comprehensive.

Since becoming the head of Mossbourne Community Academy when it was launched in 2004 to replace the failed Hackney Downs School, Sir Michael has insisted on a strict code of discipline. His traditionalist views could make him as unpopular with unions and the education establishment as Sir Chris Woodhead, the head of Ofsted from 1994 to 2000.

Sir Chris’s tenure was marked by clashes after he claimed there were 15,000 incompetent teachers who should be sacked.

A source said Sir Michael had finally decided to take the job, but only after great hesitation, partly because of his age – he was 65 in August. Another said that, while contracts had not been signed, no significant obstacles remained.


Seton Hall Cuts Cost For High Achievers

Seton Hall University will radically restructure its tuition for next year, slashing costs by more than 60% for all incoming students who have achieved a set of academic standards in high school, officials announced on Wednesday.

Some national education experts expressed concerns that the plan could accelerate a national trend: a shift in the focus of financial aid toward merit-based scholarships rather than awards based on need.

"There's only so much money, and at the end of the day every college needs to make decisions about who they'll subsidize," said Patrick Callan, the president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education.

Seton Hall officials said their primary aim was simply to clarify a daunting process studded with multiple—and often mystifying—forms, and to provide deserving students with "a private education at a public school price," said Alyssa McCloud, the university's vice president for enrollment management.

Seton Hall's tuition is $31,440 annually; next year, eligible students will pay $10,104, matching the tuition charged by Rutgers University, a public school in New Jersey. The award doesn't affect the approximately $13,000 required for fees and room and board at both schools.

Rutgers couldn't be reached for comment. Columbia, New York University and Fordham declined to comment on the policy change and whether they would consider something similar.

Under the program, all students who graduate in the top 10% of their high-school class and achieve a combined 1200 score on the reading and math portions of the SAT (with no score less than 550) or have a composite ACT score of 27 or higher will automatically receive the reduced rate when they enroll at Seton Hall.

Students who maintain at least a 3.0 GPA in college classes will continue to receive the discount for the duration of their time at school, officials said.

About 16% of students admitted to Seton Hall "traditionally fall into this category," Ms. McCloud said. The program, a one-year pilot that will be reevaluated at the end of the year, is different from other merit-based scholarships, officials insisted.

"This isn't a scholarship—it's a guaranteed tuition rate," Ms. McCloud said. "There's no competition, there's no variability—the stress is taken out."

Students must apply by Dec. 15 to be eligible—though they don't need to file an early action application. Tuition will rise each year at the same rate for all students, generally 3% to 5% a year, Ms. McCloud said.

The proposal raised concerns among some education experts, who said that schools are moving further away from the original intent behind subsidizing higher education: to help people attend college who couldn't afford it otherwise.

"When you just flat out across the board knock the price down for high-achieving students, you're going to be subsidizing a lot of students who don't really need the money," said Mr. Callan.

This form of subsidization "tends to help the institution attract the freshman class that it wants to raise the academic profile, raise the U.S. News rating," he said. "It doesn't have much to do with providing opportunity to people who wouldn't have it."

The allure of awards also diminishes as more schools follow suit, others noted.

"It becomes, from a budget point of view, a race to the bottom," said Jerome Sullivan, the executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. "Someone else will do the same thing only they'll do it $50 better. And then someone else will do it $100 better."

The ultimate result, he said, is that "the budget gets ravished because revenue begins to disappear and in the end it's low-income families as well as the institution that lose out."

Ms. McCloud denied that the program was designed to make Seton Hall more academically competitive and noted that she expected the school's $60 million financial-aid budget (which includes merit and athletic scholarships) to remain intact next year. Students who qualify for the merit-based discount can apply for additional aid.

"The real motivation behind the program is that we recognize that these are very difficult times economically and we also know there's been a lot of discussion amongst students and families about the fact that education costs so much," she said. "We wanted to be more transparent and try to have families get more peace of mind by knowing more upfront."


The Paradox of School Prayer and the Tyranny of Silence

A paradox is a seeming truth that leads to a contradiction in defiance of truth. It seems to me that our Federal government has boxed its self into a paradox – actually a real contradiction - with its laws forbidding teacher-led, State-sanctioned school prayer. After studying our Constitution’s enumerated powers in Article I, Section 8; and the 1st, 10th and 14th Amendments; I’m now fairly sure of it.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." Amendment I, Bill of Rights, U.S. Constitution

“No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States…nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Amendment XIV, U. S. Constitution

Federal laws prohibiting school prayer - led by teachers or students - are unconstitutional. The power to establish national religion or atheism - or prohibit the free exercise thereof - are not enumerated powers for federal government in our Constitution. Our 1st amendment forbids Federal law from establishing religion or atheism - or prohibiting the free exercise of non-subversive religion (prayer) or non-subversive atheism (moment of silence) by anyone - including principals, teachers, coaches, students, parents or visitors. Our 14th amendment forbids Federal or State law from favoring religion over atheism - or atheism over religion.

Since Federal government currently taxes for and funds public education a case could be made for unconstitutional Federal establishment of religion via prohibition of moments of silence and sanction of school prayer. A case can be made for unconstitutional Federal establishment of atheism via prohibition of school prayer and sanctioning moments of silence at school. The first paradox here is that Federal taxation for and funding of education is its self unconstitutional because, as mentioned earlier, the power to educate our children is not an enumerated power for Federal government in our Constitution – so how can Federal government rightly complain about an unconstitutional establishment of religion when Federal government was first at fault in its violation of our Constitution? The second paradox is that having unconstitutionally taxed for and funded public education, in violation of Article I, Section 8and the 10th amendment, Federal government has limited its subsequent choices to one of these two:

1 - Unconstitutional establishment of religion by sanctioning school prayer - and forbidding the free exercise of atheist moments of silence - in violation of the 1st and 14th amendments (they didn’t choose that one).

2 - Unconstitutional establishment of atheism by sanctioning moments of silence at school – and forbidding the free exercise of school prayer - in violation of the 1st and 14th amendments (that’s the one they chose).

In addition to these paradoxes (actually direct contradictions) we can see that Federal outlawing of public school prayer is tyranny. Thomas Jefferson said: "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others."

It follows that tyranny is obstructed action (forbidding school prayer) according to someone else's will (Federal government) within limits drawn around us by the superior rights of others (sanctioning atheist moments of silence).The solution to these contradictions, and this tyranny, is self-evident - Federal government must be forbidden to unconstitutionally tax for and fund the education of our children. If the initial Federal violation of our Constitution is corrected first (taxing for and funding public education), correction of the second violation (Unconstitutional establishment of atheism by sanctioning moments of silence at school - and forbidding the free exercise of school prayer) automatically follows. Once our Federal government is no longer empowered to tax for and fund public education they will be confined within the firewalls of our Constitution - which was rightly intended to limit its power – Federal government will thereby become extricated from the tyranny and the paradoxical Catch-22 in which it is now ensnared.
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." Amendment X, Bill of Rights, U.S. Constitution

Under our 10th amendment States would possess a power to establish religion or atheism, but such establishment would be subversive of all who adhere to the non-chosen faith - because they would be taxed to support the chosen faith - in violation of equal liberty and pursuit of happiness – in violation of our Declaration of Independence - and in violation of the equal protection of law under our 14th amendment. State establishment of religion or atheism, as in the Federal case, is therefore unacceptable. Neither Federal nor State government may establish religion or atheism, but school prayer alternating with moments of silence would not establish religion over atheism, or atheism over religion. Under our 10th amendment each State would be free to authorize alternating school prayer and moments of silence in proportion to student demographics - that would be in compliance with our Declaration of Independence and 14th amendment.

States are empowered to educate children (and so are the parents) because that is a power “not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states.” Under our 10th amendment States also possess power to prohibit the free exercise of subversive religion or subversive atheism. State power to prohibit the free exercise of religion or atheism subversive of equal rights to life, liberty and fruit of labor in pursuit of happiness would be in defense of our Declaration of Independence (equal rights) and 14th amendment (equal law). Federal government prohibition of the free exercise of non-subversive religion or non-subversive atheism is proscribed by our 1st amendment; however, since Federal prohibition of subversive religion or subversive atheism defends the Declaration of Independence and 14th amendment, it is acceptable - so there is no paradox or contradiction here. There is only one rational and moral justification for prohibition of the free exercise of religion or atheism – that is when religion or atheism become radicalized – when either become destructive (subversive) of man’s equal God-given unalienable rights to life, liberty and fruit of labor in pursuit of happiness (Declaration of Independence) – and subversive of the laws (Constitution and Bill of Rights) which secure those sacred individual rights.
“In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practiced, and, both by precept and example, inculcated on mankind. And it is now generally agreed among Christians that this spirit of toleration…is the chief characteristical mark of the Church. Insomuch that Mr. Locke has asserted and proved, beyond the possibility of contradiction on any solid ground, that such toleration ought to be extended to all whose doctrines are not subversive of society. The only sects which he thinks ought to be, and which by all wise laws are excluded from such toleration, are those who teach doctrines subversive of the civil government under which they live

[Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and Constitution].” Samuel Adams

As discussed, neither Federal nor State law should establish religion or atheism, but it will likely become necessary for Federal and/or State governments to outlaw subversive elements within religion such as Theocratic Christianity or Islamic Sharia Law (Theocratic Islam) – or subversive elements within atheism such as Marxism– because they contain (or contained) legal/political systems which are hostile to the equal rights of American citizens to their life, liberty and fruit of labor in pursuit of happiness - and our equality before law.


Sunday, October 02, 2011

Left-Wing University of Wisconsin Administrators Silence Dissent and Criticism

Wisconsin college administrators attacked the First Amendment this week, both by censoring a professor’s poster and criticism of fascism, and by inciting a flash mob to shut down a conference organized by a critic of the University of Wisconsin’s affirmative action policy, which allegedly violates the Constitution and federal laws against racial discrimination. National Review describes one of the incidents:
Earlier this week, campus police showed up at the office of theater professor James Miller to take down a poster he had displayed on his office door. The poster featured a quote from the short-lived television show Firefly, Joss Whedon’s libertarian cult classic that is part throwback Western, part space fiction, and features characters (ironically) who battle an authoritarian government. The poster on Miller’s door featured the following quote, from a character named “Mal” Reynolds, explaining why he could be trusted not to kill another character in his sleep: “You don’t know me, son, so let me explain this to you once. If I ever kill you, you’ll be awake. You’ll be facing me. And you’ll be armed.” Reaction from the UW–Stout administration was typically hysterical . . . saying they could not allow the poster, as it represented a threat of violence. UW–Stout police chief Lisa Walter e-mailed Miller, saying the poster “depicts violence and mentions violence and death” and that the campus’s threat-assessment team agreed the poster could be “constituted as a threat.”

As Christian Schneider notes at National Review, it was idiotic for college officials to equate something that merely “mentions violence and death” with a violent threat. Under that reasoning, professors would be forbidden to “post a copy of the Gettysburg Address,” since in it Lincoln pleaded that “these dead shall not have died in vain.” It would also be a “threat” for a historian to recite Patrick Henry’s plea to “give me liberty or give me death.” As Schneider notes, administrators’ suddenly expansive definition of “threats” is ironic, since “if you stroll through any faculty lounge at the UW–Madison campus, you’re bound to find implicit threats against Gov. Scott Walker posted everywhere.”

In response to this censorship, the professor “placed a new poster on his office door,” which University Police Chief Walter then censored as well. “The poster read ‘Warning: Fascism’ and mocked, ‘Fascism can cause blunt head trauma and/or violent death. Keep fascism away from children and pets.’ Astoundingly, Walter escalated the absurdity. On September 20, she wrote that this poster, too, had been censored because it ‘depicts violence and mentions violence and death’ and was expected to ‘be constituted as a threat.’”

Colleges can’t define speech as forbidden “threats” or “violence” merely because it mentions (or even glamorizes) violence, as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit noted in Bauer v. Sampson (2001), which held that a college professor’s caricatures of a college president and satirical yearning for his death were protected by the First Amendment.

In another attack on free speech this week, the University of Wisconsin’s Vice President Provost for Diversity incited a flash mob to shut down an event run by Roger Clegg, a former high-ranking Justice Department lawyer who argues that the University of Wisconsin’s affirmative action policy violates the Supreme Court’s Gratz and Bakke decisions.

As Peter Wood notes at the Chronicle of Higher Education,
On Tuesday, September 13, a mob of University of Wisconsin students overpowered the staff and swarmed into a room at the Madison Doubletree Hotel where Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, was giving a press conference on the release of two new reports from his organization. . .The immediate occasion was the release of CEO’s two reports, Racial and Ethnic Preferences in Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. . .The mob poured into the room, and Clegg, accompanied by University of Wisconsin Professor Lee Hansen and two members of the hotel staff, struggled through it to the exit, and, accompanied by protestors, to the hotel elevator. Several of the protestors prevented the elevator doors from closing until the two hotel staff members pushed them back. . .

The general manager of the Doubletree Hotel, Rom Ziarnk, issued his own press statement describing what had happened:

Unfortunately, when escorting meeting attendees out of the hotel through a private entrance, staff were then rushed by a mob of protestors, throwing employees to the ground. The mob became increasingly physically violent when forcing themselves into the meeting room where the press conference had already ended, filling it over fire-code capacity. Madison police arrived on the scene after the protestors had stormed the hotel.

The invasion of the news conference was a planned event, egged on by University of Wisconsin Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate Damon Williams. . .“a crowd of more than 150 students” responded to Williams’s “ominous message” by showing up at the Red Gym, where they were met by Williams and Dean of Students Lori Berquam. They characterized the CEO reports as a “coordinated attack” against the campus. According to the reporter, Williams urged the students to mobilize and told them, “Don’t wait for us to show the way.”. . .After the students had taken over the conference room . . . Williams tweeted his praise of the protesters from his official university account.

The leading liberal blog Think Progress exulted over the shutting down of the event. In a blog post entitled “Wisconsin Students Shut Down Right-Wing Press Conference Attacking University’s Affirmative Action Policy,” the Center for American Progress’s Tanya Somanader approvingly noted that “forty-five minutes into the conference, over 100 university students stormed the room chanting ‘power to the people’ and ‘we’re more than our scores,’ effectively shutting down the conference.” She also noted without any trace of concern that “three DoubleTree employees reported getting pushed or knocked down” in the shut-down. (The Center for American Progress is one of America’s wealthiest liberal advocacy groups, and has been described as “Obama’s Idea Factory” by Time magazine). Collateral damage doesn’t matter to leftists when they are pushing their ideological agenda.

This university-orchestrated harassment was unconstitutional. When government officials, like state college administrators, engineer the harassment of dissenters, that violates the First Amendment, even when the harassment is ultimately carried out by private individuals (like students). (That principle is illustrated by the appeals court ruling in Dwares v. City of New York (1992)).

The civil liberties group FIRE decries Wisconsin’s censorship here and here. (By contrast, the ACLU, which believes that racial preferences should be required by U.S. and international law, has not said or done anything about the censorship; earlier, the ACLU defended a California hate-speech gag, and filed amici briefs in support of racial preferences that were later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the Seattle and Gratz cases.)


Will Obama Destroy Franciscan University of Steubenville?

The Obama administration is ... attempting to crush The Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio. Mr. Obama’s HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, is trying to force Steubenville to dispense abortion-producing drugs and pay for sterilizations. This is a Roman Catholic institution. Such things are strictly proscribed by the Catholic faith.

Sec. Sebelius may be aware that Catholic institutions are required by faith and fidelity to their mission to uphold these principles. It is an indispensable part of their mission and their reason for being. To force a Catholic institution to violate the consciences of its faculty, students and alumni in this fashion is like forcing a Yeshiva to serve pork to Orthodox Jewish students.

This attempt to crush The Franciscan University of Steubenville is, tragically, not an isolated example. From the first days of the Obama administration, there has been a kulturkampf (culture clash) against Catholic institutions not seen since the days of the Iron Chancellor of Germany, Otto von Bismarck. It was Bismarck who attempted to put all churches and universities in Prussia under his hobnailed boot.

Writer Charlotte Allen wrote of the “Persecution of Belmont Abbey” by the Obama administration in 2009. There, too, liberal zealots were demanding that the Catholic school, founded in 1876, provide contraception, abortifacients, and sterilizations or face federal sanctions. This, according to the institution’s president, could lead to closing down the historic little college.

Chai Feldblum is a tenured professor at Georgetown University Law School. This is the oldest Catholic university in the country. Ironically, Feldblum, is also a homosexual legal activist. She was Barack Obama’s choice for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She told a panel at Family Research Council that if it came to a clash between what she calls gay rights and religious liberty, religious liberty must give way. In other words: “Be Amish, or be quiet.”

We have already seen this as the most anti-Israel administration in U.S. history. Never before has an American president and secretary of state stooped to counting Jews in Jerusalem.

The Obama administration is also the most anti-Catholic administration in American history. Never before have tens of millions of Catholic Americans been forced to subsidize the killing of unborn children with their taxes—as they are under ObamaCare. But now they are also forcing Catholic institutions to take part in the destruction of innocent human lives and the maiming of others by paying for abortifacients and sterilizations.

As Americans, we must defend our religious liberties--while we still have them. Steubenville is a little college, but there are those who love it!


The Government must stop bullying British universities

Imposing a quota system on elite universities undermines the principle of selection by merit

The Government is very cross with the top universities. Why? Because most of them are failing to admit a sufficient number of applicants from low-income families. More than 40 per cent of students at school are from such families, but only 12 per cent of Cambridge undergraduates. The new Office for Fair Access – nicknamed “Offtoff” – insists that unless elite universities increase the proportion of students from “under-represented groups”, they will be fined, or prevented from charging the highest fees.

David Willetts, the universities minister, is going to triple Offtoff’s resources. He says that the best universities need to make “real progress in fair access”, implying that they prefer privately educated toffs to bright pupils from poor homes. All of the top universities emphatically deny this charge and insist there is no evidence to support it – although the view that university admissions are based on social snobbery is depressingly widespread. You’d expect it from Labour and the Lib Dems, but it now seems to be Conservative orthodoxy.

The universities say they have made zealous efforts to broaden access – but they also say they’re determined not to compromise the principle of admitting students on their academic merit alone. Forcing them to take more candidates from low‑income families will, they insist, mean replacing merit with some other criterion, and that will undermine their adherence to academic excellence.

Indeed, the Government’s emphasis on increasing the proportion of under-represented groups at top universities is puzzling, because the group that is actually most under-represented is those of average or lower than average intelligence. This will always be the case so long as academic merit is the sole criterion for deciding who should be given a place. Why, you might argue, shouldn’t less intelligent people be given a chance to study at top-quality universities?

This is not as outlandish a viewpoint as it may seen. In 1970, when America was committed to “affirmative action” – the replacement of academic merit by other qualifications, such as belonging to a particular race, as the basis for university admission – one senator suggested replacing merit with other criteria when it came to appointing a judge to the Supreme Court. Roman Hruska recommended the appointment of G Harrold Carswell, a candidate universally recognised to be very mediocre at best, on the grounds that “mediocre people are entitled to a little representation [on the Supreme Court]”.

Is replacing academic merit as the basis for university admission so very different from Hruska’s idea? Supporters of Offtoff will say it is not the same thing, because Offtoff isn’t going to replace academic merit with something else. But if they are actually to have an effect on merit-based admissions policies, quotas have to do precisely that.

The system Offtoff advocates – under which the proportion of students at a university from particular social backgrounds mirrors the proportions of the population as a whole – is getting uncomfortably close to the sort of thinking that led to the “informal” quotas that US medical schools operated from the Thirties to the Fifties. They found that students from Jewish families were over-represented: in some schools, they made up 40 per cent of the intake. So Cornell medical school, for instance, reduced the number of Jews to ensure that they reflected their proportion of the US population as a whole, which was less than 4 per cent.

Offtoff’s quota system for students from lower-income families won’t get rid of unfairness in university admissions. It will simply replace one injustice – the rejection of able pupils who go to lousy state schools and come from families who don’t value education and therefore do not do well enough to get into Oxbridge – with another: the rejection of able pupils from families who value education, go to good schools and get exceptional results. It is not easy to see that as an improvement.