Friday, March 28, 2014

British teachers 'intimidated' to take part in national strikes, says union

NASUWT claims its members have been intimidated and threatened by NUT supporters to take part in national walkout, as David Cameron condemns strike action

Teachers have been threatened and intimidated by a union to force them to take part in strikes in which thousands will walk out on Wednesday, leaving hundreds of schools with no option but to close, it has been claimed.

David Cameron warned that strike action being taken by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) would put children’s education at risk.

The NUT is the only union to take part in industrial action, signalling a split with other unions – particularly the NASUWT which has claimed members have been intimidated during an “aggressive” campaign by the NUT.

NASUWT announced last month that it would not be taking part in the strikes.

A leaked internal email apparently sent out by Chris Keates, the general secretary of NASUWT, said that while members should not try to undermine the strike action, it was not their responsibility to make it a success.

The email, circulated on social media, said: “We should not tolerate any threats, insults or attempts to intimidate our members or activists by the NUT. Unfortunately, in some areas, this has been a hallmark of the activity to date.”

The letter also claims the NUT has run “abusive social media campaigns” and made “aggressive accusations” against members of NASUWT.

Thousands of teachers are expected to strike in a dispute over pensions and pay, in what unions say will “certainly” force dozens of primary and secondary schools to close and others to shut some classes.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister said he would urge teachers not to strike as the NUT said the walkout was the “last resort".  “He would call on them not to strike, because it disrupts children's education and children's families,” said the spokesman.

The Department for Education condemned the strikes, saying action disrupted parents’ lives, damaged the reputation of the teaching profession and had an adverse impact on children’s education.

Primary schools are expected to be the worst affected as well as schools in London and Manchester.

Manchester city council said 73 schools would close, 55 would partially close and only 39 would be fully open.

In London, 37 schools in Enfield are expected to be shut – including more than half of primary schools in the borough – and in Newham 33 are expected to be closed to students, the Guardian reported.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said he had written to the unions and offered to extend talks to resolve the dispute.

In the letter, he said he was keen to “tackle any unnecessary bureaucracy” and would work with the unions to study the implications of raising the pension age to 68.

Kevin Courtney, the deputy general secretary of the NUT, said: "Michael Gove's policies are exhausting and demoralising teachers and that's very bad and disruptive for education. Thousands of good people are leaving the profession, we are building up to a teacher shortage and our children deserve energetic and enthusiastic teachers, not demoralised and exhausted ones."

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) also decided not to take part in strikes, but said it feared the ongoing dispute between teachers and the Government could create more permanent problems.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said: “One day of strike action is not the end of the world. But more than the strike action there is the issue of the long-running turmoil that can cause problems.

“Teaching professionals could become more disengaged from additional work and classes, which is what head teachers fear.

“The education system runs on the good will of teachers. It’s been a really tough time for teachers who have had pay cuts and a lot of criticism. We risk foregoing that good will which keeps the education system ticking over.”

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), which is also not taking part in industrial action, said his union knew some schools would “certainly” have to close.

He said that while it was inconvenient for parents, most understood the “enormous pressure” teachers are under.

An NUT spokesman denied that the union had made any public criticism of the NASUWT.

They said: "There has been no national campaign against Nasuwt members regarding strike action and there has been no negative campaigning from the national NUT head quarters. The NUT continues to engage in talks with government alongside the other teacher unions to resolve the very pressing issues that face the teaching profession."

The NASUWT declined to comment on the leaked email.


College Students Fail to Name a Single U.S. Senator

Last week, MRCTV's Dan Joseph went to American University to give the student body a little general knowledge quiz.

When asked if they could name a SINGLE U.S. senator, the students blanked.  Also, very few knew that each state has two senators.  The guesses were all over the map, with some crediting each state with twelve, thirteen, and five senators.

So, when it comes to politics, the students at American University are a little rusty - but, they passed with flying colors when it comes to pop culture.

Almost everyone MRCTV interviewed was able name the Academy Award winner for Best Original Song: "Let It Go" from the movie "Frozen."


Scholars for Peace in the Middle East Congratulate University of Michigan’s CSG on Defeating a BDS Resolution, But is Alarmed at the Virulent Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism Surrounding the Divestment Resolution Debate

After hours of discussion and debate, the Central Student Government (CSG) at the University of Michigan reversed the indefinite postponement of the BDS resolution and subsequently voted to not pass it during a 6-hour March 25th meeting in a 25-9 vote. During the entire process, hundreds of students lined the second floor of the Michigan Union and more than 2,000 viewers watched CSG’s live-stream of the six-hour-long event.

Leading up to the vote, the heated environment on the U Michigan campus reached new levels of expressions of hate speech and discrimination. As the Washington Free Beacon reported, at least one pro-Israel student “received death threats and that others have allegedly been called ‘kikes’ and ‘dirty Jews’ by backers of the virulently anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, which aims to delegitimize the Jewish state through economic means.”

Although campus police were notified of the above, no action was taken, and other than encouraging the student groups to engage in civil debate university administrators have been quiet as well.

It was also revealed in news reports that Michigan student Yazan Kherallah, who serves as the divestment chair for Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE), had posted a picture of himself on Facebook in which his face is covered by a keffiyeh and he posed in a threatening manner while stabbing a pineapple with a large knife. Given the recent debate on the Michigan campus about divestment from companies doing business with Israel, the symbolism and message of the photograph is very clear: it is a blatant threat against the lives of Jewish students who oppose the divestment resolution and support the Jewish state.

SPME calls on the administration of the University of Michigan to address this instance of very clear radicalism and hatred, as well as the related events which led to the anti-Semitic slurs being uttered by Arab students towards Jewish supporters of Israel, in a unambiguous, public, and forceful way, just as universities immediately have done when hate speech or acts of racism or prejudice have been directed at gay students, African-American students, Muslim students, or other minority groups on campus.

“This speech and these actions and behavior have to be seen for what they are,” said Dr. Richard L. Cravatts, president of SPME, “raw anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred. This is not a discussion about how a Palestinian state will evolve, where the future borders will be between this new state and Israel, what will happen to the settlements, or how other issues in the conflict will be resolved for the benefit of both parties. The BDS activity on the Michigan campus, mirroring other BDS radicalism world-wide, is about demonizing and delegitimizing Israel and Jews, with the ultimate purpose of weakening and destroying the Jewish state. To minimize the virulence of this rhetoric and activism is to overlook the lethality of the BDS narrative and the harm it does to academia by parading as scholarly debate and potentially causing a campus climate of intimidation and fear for Jewish students.”

While SPME applauds the defeat of the BDS resolution in Tuesday night’s vote, it is concerned that the true face of the BDS movement, as well as the sentiments of its proponents, is not being taken seriously by university administrators, as well as some faculty and students.

SPME welcomes, and encourages, vigorous scholarly debate on campus about a broad range of topics involving the Middle East; but talk of “kikes” and dirty Jews,” not to mention the brandishing of knives with the threat of the intended murder of Jews, Zionists, or other pro-Israel individuals, is not academic discourse, political discussion, or, as its supporters regularly contest, simply “criticism of Israel.”

Via email

Thursday, March 27, 2014

English taught as a foreign language at a school in Leeds

British school teaches English as a foreign language to all pupils because there are more than 50 nationalities at the community secondary

A comprehensive school where native English speakers are in a minority is to start teaching English as a foreign language to all of its pupils.

Teachers at City of Leeds School, a multi-ethnic secondary plan to teach English as a second language even to its British-born pupils in a radical attempt to improve standards at the 314-pupil secondary judged to 'require improvement' by Ofsted.

Head teacher Georgiana Sale said the school was having to “rethink the way we do things” because less than a quarter of pupils have English as their first language and the majority of the children were new to the country within the past four years.

She said it had been decided to include pupils who have English as a first language in this programme because in the “vast majority” of cases their level of formal English was not good enough to allow them to achieve top grades at GCSE.

Last year, just over a quarter of its pupils achieve the national benchmark of five good GCSEs, including English and maths – one of the lowest scores of any state school in Yorkshire.

However Ms Sale it was unfair to expect the school to reach national averages in English when so many pupils were new to the language. She said it did achieve national targets in both science and maths despite the language barrier being faced by students.

Pupils of Pakistani heritage make up the largest group at City of Leeds School, where 55 different nationalities are represented by the student body, and there are also large numbers of children from Czech, Roma and Traveller backgrounds.

There are also pupils from nations across Africa, Europe, China, and parts of the Middle East and Africa.

She told the Yorkshire Post: “Many of our pupils are not only new to English but they are not even literate in their own language. In some cases we are the first people to put a pen in their hand.”

Ms Sale said that ensuring children could all speak, read and write English was crucial. “Around half of our children are new to the country within four years.

“It is generally thought it takes five years to properly learn a language and that is when you have total immersion it. A lot of our children don’t have that because it is not being spoken at home.

“Imagine being given a few years and then being expected to get a good grade in GCSE geography but having to sit the exam in French – that is what we are dealing with.”

The school is developing the lessons plans itself and the programme is thought to be the first of its kind in the country.

Leeds Metropolitan University and Sheffield University are helping the school to train staff. The lessons would be done in stages not ages, with pupils split into groups based on their ability.

The plan is to introduce them later this year with 50 minutes a week spent teaching very pupil English as an additional language.

Ms Sale said that for pupils with English as a first language the extra lessons would be seen as a way improving the spelling and grammar.

She added: “The demands on the formality of language and the standards of spelling and grammar in GCSE exams are getting higher and higher. The level of language written and talked by the vast majority of our native English speakers would not be high enough to get A grades.”

“I am taking this approach because I have high numbers of children with English as an additional language and secondly Michael Gove has put a lot more emphasis on the quality of written English with specific marks in examinations attributed to spelling, punctuation and grammar.

“I have a complete range of language ability – everything from 15-year-olds who don’t speak a word to those born in the UK whose English is not of sufficient calibre to get them an A and A* grade.

“It won’t be taught like you or I learned French. It’s going to be differentiated according to what they need and a lot of my children need to be taught English as a language.

“We have children from every African country, every European country, and just about anywhere ending in –stan.

“There interesting thing is it has mainly been done for adults but hasn’t been tackled head-on for children. They are given an induction course and then left to pick up the language naturally but that isn’t good enough for me. Leeds is a happening place and I want my kids to join the boom and not be held back by their English.”

“Mr Gove said he wants exams to be written with good spelling, grammar etc and I am very ambitious for all my pupils. Parents want their children to do well and get the top grade. We are hopefully going to become an academy and this initiative is part of that bid.”

In November the Education Secretary, insisted that English courses should encourage students to read “high-quality texts across a range of genres and periods”, making sure they can “read, write and think critically”.

The DfE published new syllabuses in the core GCSE subjects – English literature, English language and mathematics.

The reformed language course places a greater emphasis on using Standard English and employing correct spelling, punctuation and grammar, while the maths GCSE requires pupils to learn formulae by heart – scrapping the existing system in which they are presented with key facts in the exam paper.

New courses will be taught in schools from 2015, with the first exams being sat in 2017. The content of other GCSE subjects will be released in the new year.

Mr Gove said: “I have prioritised English and mathematics because they are both fundamental to facilitating learning in other subjects.

“[International] evidence demonstrates that 15-year-olds in nine other countries are, on average, at least half a year ahead of students in England in both reading and mathematics. Reform of these key subjects is, therefore, a matter of pressing urgency.”


Texas Middle School Principal Loses Job Over Language Issue—Part Of A Much Larger Problem

Texas Middle School Principal Amy Lacey had her heart in the right place, and she had courage - but she was fighting against a tidal wave, a part of a much bigger problem:

The Hempstead school board won't renew the contract of a principal who instructed her students not to speak Spanish, in a rapidly-evolving district where more than half of the students, like many Texas schools, are now Hispanic.

Hempstead Middle School Principal Amy Lacey was placed on paid administrative leave in December after reportedly announcing, via intercom, that students were not to speak Spanish on the school's campus. The Hispanic population of the rural area, roughly 50 miles northwest of Houston, is growing quickly, and Latino advocates say that it's important to allow Spanish in public schools.

I don't know all the ins and outs of this case, and the article is certainly not telling us. Maybe Principal Lacey's solution was not the best solution, but it may have been an act of desperation in a school overwhelmed by Spanish-speaking students. One solution may have been to have an English-only policy in the classroom, and let them speak what they want in their free time. Nowadays, though, even that could get you in trouble.

I know of a private school in Mexico which was so determined that its gradeschool students learn English that its rule was that the students had to speak English even on the playground.

Of course in this case, Hispanic Chauvinist Activists were out in full force:

"When you start banning aspects of ethnicity or cultural identity," says Augustin Pinedo, director of the League of United Latin American Citizens Region 18, "it sends the message that the child is not wanted: 'We don't want your color. We don't want your kind.' They then tend to drop out early."

The LULAC organization used to promote assimilation by Hispanic immigrants. Those days are long gone.

Such fast growth is pervasive in Texas, says Steve Murdock, a professor at Rice University and director of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas. Half of all Texas public-school students are now Hispanic, he notes. "When you look at issues related to education in Texas, to a great extent, you're looking at the education of Hispanic children."

How long until Texas turns blue?

Similar growth patterns, he says, hold true for the rest of the United States: "It's not just Texas."

The whole country is being Hispanicized. It's not just Texas and it's not just the Southwest.

Civil rights advocates say Lacey's suspension may have set off a campaign to intimidate Hispanics, including the district's superintendent, Delma Flores-Smith. They are calling for the Department of Justice and the FBI to investigate possible civil rights violations. An FBI spokesman would not confirm an investigation.

Look at the harassing, bullying mentality - all because a school principal tried to get students speaking the national language of this country.

Flores-Smith reports that she's seen strangers watching her house and taking photos. She says vandals have trashed her yard, and someone has rifled through her garbage. She is worried about her safety.

Last month, school employees found that vandals had damaged the brakes of three Hempstead Independent School District buses and had left behind the bedraggled remains of a dead cat.

So what connection do these things have with Principal Lacey's school language policy? No clear connection whatsoever.

A bus with visibly severed brake lines didn't leave the bus barn that morning. But two other buses, whose air-brake lines had been subtly nicked, carried children to school before the damage was discovered. Police investigated but didn't identify any suspects.
So it's irresponsible to link it to the school language policy.

"A lot of this sounds like Mississippi in the 1950s and '60s," Pinedo said during Monday night's school board meeting, where the decision was made not to renew Lacey's contract.

Oh yes, the old saw of linking immigration issues with "Mississippi in the 1950s and '60s." Haven't we heard enough of that?

Pinedo acknowledged that there's no hard evidence that the incidents are related or that they're hate crimes.

Even this agitator admits it. Of course, it doesn't stop his agitation.  "But when the lives of children are put in danger, that's the bottom line," he said. "We don't know what the reasons are. Rather than guess, we're asking the FBI to step in."

He said LULAC and the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund have asked the Department of Justice to investigate possible civil rights violations.

"The whole world is watching," said Tony Diaz, head of the Houston-based radio show Nuestra Palabra and founder of the advocacy group Librotraficantes. "Banning Spanish is a national issue."  Having English as our official language should be a national issue.

"We got a lot of calls about activity in Hempstead," said Cynthia Coles, who represented the Greater Houston Coalition for Justice. "We came to support this board, this superintendent."

They also note that there's no evidence that speaking Spanish hampers learning English, and note that in most of the rest of the world, it's common to speak two or more languages.
She's bringing up other issues here, which are not directly relevant to the situation.

At the school district's board meeting in January, Pinedo read a list of American Founding Fathers who spoke multiple languages. They included Benjamin Franklin (French) and Thomas Jefferson (French, Italian, Spanish and Latin).

Neither Franklin nor Jefferson, however, were pushing foreign languages to take the place of English in the Thirteen Colonies/independent United States.

...Lacey said the terms of her leave don't allow her to comment.
So she can't defend herself.

Outside the board meeting, Kloecker [a former school board member] said that the problem was Flores-Smith, not issues of culture or race.

"We've been a predominantly Hispanic district for several years now," she said. "But we never had a problem until she came." Flores-Smith started the job in August.

After the vote, Flores-Smith expressed satisfaction. "I'm hoping everything will die down now," she said. "We need to get back to peaceful living. And education."


SC: Nazi-type teacher tries to take salt away from student

A York high school student was arrested after cursing and threatening a teacher who tried to stop him from putting salt on his lunch, citing a federal regulation.

The incident happened March 12 at York One Academy, the district’s alternative school. A York police report states the 19-year-old student tried to sprinkle salt on his lunch but was stopped by a teacher who told him that was against federal guidelines. The student became angry and cursed the teacher and made threats towards her, according to the report.

“Nobody can tell me what to put on my (expletive) food,” the student said, according to the report. “You know what happens to people who mess with me.”

A school resource officer arrested the student and charged him with disturbing school.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Indiana withdrawing from Common Core standards

Indiana on Monday became the first state to formally withdraw from the Common Core education standards in a move that did little to appease critics of the national program, who contend the state is simply stripping the "Common Core" label while largely keeping the benchmarks.

Indiana was among 45 states that in recent years adopted Common Core standards spelling out what students should be learning in math and reading at each grade level. Some conservatives have since criticized the initiative as a top-down takeover of local schools, and in signing legislation Monday to pull Indiana from the program, Republican Gov. Mike Pence trumpeted the move as a victory for state-level action.

"I believe when we reach the end of this process there are going to be many other states around the country that will take a hard look at the way Indiana has taken a step back, designed our own standards and done it in a way where we drew on educators, we drew on citizens, we drew on parents and developed standards that meet the needs of our people," Pence said.

The state began moving away from Common Core last year, when Indiana lawmakers "paused" its implementation. This year, the Republican-controlled Legislature approved a measure requiring the State Board of Education to draft new benchmarks for students.

The draft for those standards, put out for review last month, has already drawn skepticism from Common Core critics, including an analyst hired by Pence to assess the new program. That analyst, retired University of Arkansas professor Sandra Stotsky, says the proposal is just too similar to Common Core.

Stotsky released an internal Indiana Department of Education report that found that more than 70 percent of the standards for sixth through 12th grade are directly from Common Core, and about 20 percent are edited versions of the national standards. About 34 percent of English standards for kindergarten through fifth grade were taken straight from the national standards, and an additional 13 percent were edited.

Stotsky called the proposal a "grand deception." The State Board of Education is scheduled to vote on it on April 28.

"It makes a fool of the governor," Stotsky said. "The governor is being embarrassed by his own Department of Education if the final version is too close to Common Core."

Common Core was developed by the National Governors Association and state education superintendents. Indiana adopted the standards in 2010 under then-Superintendent Tony Bennett, a Republican. But by 2012, tea party anger had engulfed the national education standards and conservative anger over the requirements helped turn Bennett out of office.

Rumblings of dissent have popped up across the country. More than 200 bills on the national standards were introduced this year and about half would slow or halt their implementation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Oklahoma is among states considering implementing different standards. A state Senate panel voted Monday in favor of a measure that would effectively halt the use of Common Core.

The Common Core replaced a patchwork of varying standards from state to state, and supporters say it gives both consistency and academic rigor.

Experts on both sides of the fiery debate have said the Common Core standards are strikingly similar to ones previously used in Indiana — and any program the state adopts as an alternative is unlikely to be much different.

Even the original author of the measure removing Indiana from the national standards, state Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Carmel, pulled his name from the bill at the last minute this month after learning that other lawmakers had altered the measure to require the state to still meet federal requirements so as not to lose federal funding.

"What you're seeing is unsurprisingly pretty closely aligned to the Common Core," said Michael Brickman, national policy director at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank. "The core of the Common Core is still very much in place."


Why pushy parents lower their children's grades

Most research tells us that being involved in your kid’s education is a good thing. And the more you’re involved, so the story goes, the better they do.

But occasionally a study comes along that seems to contradict all the others. A paper by Keith Robinson at the University of Texas finds that the more classic kinds of parental pushiness (helping with homework, volunteering in school, talking to children about their plans for the future) doesn’t make the slightest bit of difference to the child’s grades. In fact, as the pupils go past primary school age, help from parents actually lowers scores.

Time to re-examine some basic assumptions? Yes, perhaps. The study was a large one – taking in 30 years' worth of surveys of parental styles in the US. It took in 63 different types of parental involvement, from meeting with teachers on a regular basis to sitting in on lessons.

The reason behind all this, the scientists thought, is that pushing your child too much makes them anxious.

“Ask them, ‘Do you want to see me volunteering more? Going to school social functions? Is it helpful if I help you with homework?’ ” Robinson told the Atlantic. “We think about informing parents and schools what they need to do, but too often we leave the child out of the conversation.”

Makes sense. So how did “involved parenting” become educational lore? The grade gap between rich and poor has long been blamed on lack of parental support. Is this then nonsense?

Well, no. Parental interference actually does help kids – but only when it’s done in very particular way. Here’s a study I still believe in: a paper by Tucker-Drobb, a twin study which looked at the effects of environment on standardised tests.

It focused on children of around kindergarten age, and found strong evidence that pushy parenting was helpful. In fact, children without an educationally rich home life never quite reached their genetic potential. Pass a certain age and it doesn’t really matter what your parents do – your natural abilities will never get the chance to shine through.

This is in line with a wealth of studies on the subject and in fact with the Texas study: Robinson found that reading aloud to young children did have a positive impact on test results. It was only when parents started interfering in the school life of young teenagers that it actually became damaging.

There is a window, it seems, in which super-involved parenting really helps, and then this dwindles and dwindles until it starts to push into negative numbers, at around 13. Tiger mothering only works on the very young. Teenagers: you can breathe a sigh of relief.


Money Isn't the Problem With Education

Our children's education has been a national concern practically since the nation's founding. In 1788 the Northwest Ordinance decreed that “schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.” Over the last 40 years or so, that encouragement has taken the form of upward spiraling educational spending, much of which was needed to pay for thousands of new school employees.

But according to a recent study by the Cato Institute, that increased spending hasn't produced dramatically improved outcomes. Using a matrix which compares aggregate SAT scores state by state compared with their spending trends, researcher Andrew J. Coulson found that test scores in most states have remained flat or slowly declined. Even in cases with lengthy declines in spending – Coulson cites Alaska, California, Florida and New York as examples – there was a lack of correlation between spending and results.

Granted, the SAT isn't a perfect example of academic prowess. Yet in most states the SAT is usually only taken by college-bound students, whom one would expect to be the best and brightest. Knowing our top academic achievers have a stagnant performance on an important college assessment doesn't bode well for average students.

The problem with this result is that it punches yet another hole in the theory that the cause of our failing education system is the lack of funding. In the last 40 years we have adopted new curricula, shaved the classroom size from about 30 per class to 20 or so and spent billions on new school infrastructure.

Yet none of it seems to produce measurable results. The highest achievers today are the ones taught outside the public school system, whether they're homeschooled or attend alternative parochial or charter schools. Those parents, and others with no children in school, bear the brunt of the additional educational spending. The only ones who seem to be happy about it are the government employees for whom mediocrity is job security.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Victory for Academic Freedom: Jury Rules UNC-Wilmington Retaliated Against Conservative Professor

A jury in North Carolina on Thursday found that the University of North Carolina-Wilmington retaliated against criminology professor Dr. Mike Adams for his political and social views.

Adams, a Townhall columnist, explained last year that despite his track record of success at the university in terms of teaching, research and service, he was denied a promotion to full professor because of the views he advanced in his opinion columns. He described the promotion process as being “replete with procedural irregularities and with direct criticism of [his] columns and [his] beliefs.”

The ACLJ, who represented Adams along with Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Travis Barham, explains further:

 When Dr. Adams submitted his application for full professor, university officials rejected it through the use of a completely-fabricated promotion standard, passed along false and misleading information about his academic record, explicitly considered the content of his protected speech in promotion documents, and – incredibly – allowed a professor who’d filed a false criminal complaint against Dr. Adams to cast a vote against his application.

“[N]o individual loses his ability to speak as a private citizen by virtue of public employment,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit wrote in 2011. “Adams’ columns addressed topics such as academic freedom, civil rights, campus culture, sex, feminism, abortion, homosexuality, religion, and morality. Such topics plainly touched on issues of public, rather than private, concern.”

The university hired Adams, a former atheist, in 1993 as an assistant professor, and promoted him to associate professor in 1998. The “campaign of academic persecution that culminated in his denial of promotion to full professor” began when he converted to Christianity in 2000, which greatly influenced his views on social and political issues.

“We are grateful that the jury today reaffirmed the fundamental principle that universities are a marketplace of ideas, not a place where professors face retaliation for having a different view than university officials,” Barham said.

“The jury saw what we have long known to be true about the wrong done to Dr. Adams,” said Senior Legal Counsel David Hacker. “The verdict is a powerful message for academic freedom and free speech at America’s public universities.”

Update: According to the ACLJ, the verdict was only for liability. The judge will later decide Adams' relief


Virginia Student Gets Suspended for Taking Razor From Kid Who Was Cutting

Note to American tweens: Don't be a Good Samaritan on the state's watch. A sixth grader at a Virginia Beach public school was suspended this week for having a razor blade. She took the blade from another student who was cutting himself with it. Bad move, apparently.

The Bayside Middle School student, Adrionna Harris, said she took a razor blade away from another student because he was using it to cut himself. She threw the blade away and told school officials. Then she was suspended for 10 days, with a recommendation for expulsion, according to Virginia Beach news station WAVY.

Note that Harris didn't even have the razor blade in her possession when she went to school administrators. The only evidence this razor blade existed is Harris' own admission of it, when she told school officials what had happened and that she had already thrown it away.

"I was very shocked that a student would get suspended for saving another child," Rachael Harris, Adrionna’s mother, told WAVY. "The school system over-reached absolutely."

On Wednesday night, Virginia Beach City Public Schools agreed to move Adrionna's suspension hearing, which was scheduled for next week, to Thursday night.


The "Campus Climate" Buzzphrase: Encouraging Kids To Mold Permanently Self-Pitying Identities Around Their Transient Social Discomfort

The University of California has conducted a giant Campus Climate Study to see if students are comfortable. From my experience, the climate on UC campuses is very comfortable. For example, right now at UCLA, it's sunny and 64 degrees. When I got my MBA there in 1980-1982, that was pretty much what it was like year round. Maybe UC Riverside isn't quite so mild, but, hey, even that's not exactly Cornell.

Oh, but actually, the jargon terms campus climate comfort don't have anything to do with the weather anymore. They have to do with how aggrieved aggrieved groups feel about the level of microaggressions and/or nanoaggressions on campus.

As I wrote ten years ago after visiting Claremont Colleges to check out one of those false flag attacks (a liberal feminist professor trashed her car, then told the FBI it was likely committed by her white male students) that are such a commonplace on contemporary campuses:

It was 72 degrees with a gentle breeze blowing, so the climate seemed okay to me, but a flier on Pitzer bulletin boards made the local idée fixe a little clearer: "Diversity and Campus Climate: You are invited to participate in a discussion about campus climate."

Another advertised: "Queer Dreams and Nightmares: What is it like to be a student at the Claremont Colleges? Student panel discussion addressing the current climate at the 5-Cs, both academically and socially."

This was part of a conference entitled, with that profusion of punctuation that is the secret fraternity handshake of post-modern academics, "[Re]Defining a Queer Space at the Claremont Colleges."

The university's main concern appears to be to make students feel "comfortable," a word that reappears constantly in Claremont publications despite the obvious hopelessness of the project. The only way to make 19-year-olds feel comfortable is to wait 30 years while they sag into their well-padded maturities. Right now, they are teenagers and their surging hormones have far more important emotions for them to feel than comfort.

Adults, however, who make careers out of encouraging kids to mold permanently self-pitying identities around their transient social discomforts have much to answer for.

From the San Jose Mercury-News:

University of California challenges highlighted in survey of student, employee experiences

About one-quarter of University of California students and employees responding to a survey said they had experienced intimidating or hostile conduct or felt excluded on campus -- and 9 percent said it was bad enough to affect their work or study, according to a new report released by the university system.
Although the findings were consistent with those of smaller previous surveys, the number of people reporting problems was concerning, said Gibor Basri, UC Berkeley's vice chancellor for Division of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, a position created in 2007.

"We don't like almost a quarter of the population feeling like they're having a negative experience," Basri said. "Maybe that's similar across the country, but that's still not OK."

The findings, mirrored at UC Berkeley, came to light Wednesday as part of a systemwide Campus Climate Study. A popular buzzword, campus climate describes attitudes, behaviors and interactions at schools -- often, as they affect minority group members.

As at many colleges, UC's work to make campuses healthier and more harmonious began after an uproar: In early 2010, students protested a series of acts targeting minority groups on UC campuses, including a swastika carved into the door of a Jewish student's room at UC Davis and an off-campus party at UC San Diego -- the so-called Compton Cookout -- mocking poor African-Americans.
Of course, all this adult attention just encourages students and professors to generate false flag incidents. For example, as I wrote in 2010:

Another Campus Hate Hoax

In the latest Noose News, the University of California at San Diego, that cauldron of white supremacy, where white undergrads make up about 30% of the campus, has been roiled by charges of racism, with the campus administration joining in -- see their official rabble-rousing website: BattleHate.UCSD.Edu.

Not surprisingly, as this Two Weeks Hate against white students built to a climax, a noose was discovered in the library to vast and completely credulous publicity, despite the long history of Hate Hoaxes on campuses.

Also, not surprisingly, the Administration wouldn't reveal the racial identity of the young woman involved. Today, I called a UCSD PR flack, and she confirmed that the student involved with the noose was a minority.


Monday, March 24, 2014

I'm just an ordinary boy who wants more homework... from teachers who turn up to class on time: Pupil who went on strike at school speaks out for the first time

As maths problems go, it’s not a tricky one.  One despairing schoolboy minus one full-time maths teacher plus two flunked GCSE options exams equals a classroom crisis.

When Aaron Parfitt, 14, called a wildcat walkout of pupils to protest about poor standards in maths teaching at his Blackpool high school, he caused a national debate about the prospects for pupils at the 416 British schools in special measures.

Now, in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, he reveals that he felt he had to take a stand after he scored just 16 out of a possible 95 in a double maths exam designed to help him choose his GCSE options.

He called the strike because he actually wanted extra help with his maths, felt he needed more homework to help him get on, and was fed up with the endless run of supply teachers who failed to turn up on time.

‘I am a normal schoolboy, in the middle set for most things and definitely not very good at maths,’ Aaron says. ‘But I have to have a maths pass at GCSE.

This is a pivotal point, you have to knuckle down and get on. I do not want to amble out of school at 16 without decent qualifications.

‘The strike wasn’t about being famous for a few minutes or about making trouble for my school, which I love.

It is about my prospects and the success I want to have in life after I have left.

I do not want to move schools because that defeats the object of the exercise which is to make my school better for everyone. I will move if I have to, but what about the other children there? How does that help them?’

The schoolyard strike at Bispham High in Blackpool on March 12 made Aaron a teen folk hero and garnered headlines around the world.

It also saw him excluded for two days and facing a critical reception from some older pupils when he returned last Tuesday.

But he does not regret his actions – even though they further embarrassed a school where, according to Ofsted in January 2013 ‘standards are low and have declined’.

On Friday, a third interim report concluded it must stay in special measures.

This comes as no surprise to Aaron, whose Year Nine maths lessons lost any rigour when his maths teacher left at Christmas.

‘The teacher who took over from her lasted a fortnight, if that, and then left,’ he says. ‘And that’s when it started to go downhill.  'We were left to do what we wanted; people were eating and drinking in lessons, chatting to friends, not concentrating, just not learning.’

There followed, Aaron estimates, a carousel of six or seven different teachers, some supply, some staff maths teachers drafted in from other classes, before a new teacher was appointed three weeks ago.

Some taught him just once, meaning he rarely got the help, or the homework, he needed.

He lavishly praises the teacher who left. Asked why, he says: ‘She taught us. She was always in class on time, she helped us, acknowledged our effort, she set us homework and marked our books.’

As a result of the shambles, Aaron complained. He approached a staff maths teacher as well as his own head of year and then saw Bispham’s acting head, Deborah Hanlon-Catlow.

When he did not feel he was being taken seriously, he emailed Blackpool Borough Council and Ofsted.

And then, at 12.15pm on March 12, he organised a demonstration outside classroom DO1, his old maths class.

He had invited 20 like-minded pupils, but soon the numbers doubled and Aaron had to direct the crowd out to the school field where they sang We Shall Not Be Moved.

Teachers came running, believing a fight was in progress.

Aaron was ready. ‘I admitted everything. I  had a piece of paper with two bullet points on it. The first point said grades and the second said teaching.

'I didn’t have a plan or a script apart from that – I’d only thought  of it the night before and I hadn’t even confided in my mum.

‘I got the idea of a strike after watching walkouts on the TV. I told my teachers I was sorry but at least I’d got their attention. They said it wasn’t a good kind of attention, that it wasn’t respectful, but I didn’t care. I was glad I finally had some.’

Aaron loves his school, rates  many of his teachers and admires Mrs Hanlon-Catlow, who he says is ‘all about education, very approachable and can get things done’.

Yet he, rather than the creaking superstructure of Bispham High, was blamed for the mutiny and excluded for two days.

‘I was shocked,’ he says. ‘I thought I might get detention but I’m not a serial offender, I don’t fight or cause trouble. I have been criticised by kids who are not in my year but my friends are supportive.’  As are his parents, Janet Monkman, 52, who works in a sandwich shop, and taxi driver Philip Monkman, 64.

Aaron comes from an ordinary family – two hard-working parents who live in a semi and whose budget stretches no further than an annual break in a British holiday camp.

Janet says: ‘Aaron is a lovely boy; he’s kind, well behaved and responsible.  'He is stubborn but in a good way. He won’t back down if  he believes in something. He has achieved what he set out to and we are proud of him for that.’

If you were to give marks for resourcefulness, Aaron would get  an A+. He got himself a role as an extra in Coronation Street last year and works as a reporter for the children’s pages of his local paper.

As for the school, it can’t comment on Aaron, but Mrs Hanlon-Catlow said: ‘This is undoubtedly a challenging time. However, we continue to try to improve teaching standards.’

Bispham’s motto is The Best For All, The Best From All, but despite those bold words, its end-of-term report is still going to read: ‘Could  do better.’


Victory: Stanford Reverses Ruling, Will Fund Conference on Traditional Marriage

Sarah wrote Monday about how Stanford's Graduate Student Council had denied funding to a conference hosted by the school's Anscombe Society, claiming that the conference was "hate speech." The Anscombe Society is a group that supports traditional marriage and sexual integrity. Now, in a victory for free speech and traditional values, the Graduate Student Council has "found" the sufficient funds to pay for the conference and the conference will go on as planned.

In a press release shared on the Love and Fidelity Network's website, the leaders of the Anscombe Society said they were "delighted" by this update and now plan to expand the conference.

"The Stanford Anscombe Society (SAS) is pleased to report that the administration has “found” sufficient funds to subsidize the full cost of security at our upcoming Communicating Values conference."

The news came less than 24 hours after the Stanford Anscombe Society’s submission of a letter to Provost John W. Etchemendy in which the SAS requested that the security fee be removed since it imposed a tax on free speech. Nanci Howe, Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Activities and Leadership (SAL), emailed the Anscombe student leaders with the news: “Hi everyone. Found more funds to subsidize the full cost of the security.”

“We are delighted that Stanford University has demonstrated its continuing commitment to free speech by providing appropriate security for our event, rather than forcing us to pay for our own safety on campus,” said Judy Romea, SAS co-president.

“Since we no longer face this financial burden which had forced us to scale back the conference and cancel some speakers’ sessions, we are considering whether and how to revise the schedule so we can host the conference as originally planned and even open up certain sessions to the entire Stanford community. We are really grateful for the administration’s continuing support as we move forward,” continued Romea.

Let's put this one in the "victory on campus" column.


Suburban Detroit teacher contract gives hiring preference to non-Christians

Quite a find yesterday by Michigan Capitol Confidential, which is a publication of the free-market Mackinac Center for Public Policy. In Ferndale, Michigan, which is directly north of Detroit, the contract between the school district and the teachers union contains a clause that gives hiring preference to members of certain groups - mostly ethnic minorities. But the Ferndale school officials and their union have an interesting way of defining a minority, and if you're a Christian, you might want to look elsewhere for a teaching job:

Should there be two (2) or more of these applicants with equal qualifications for the position and one (1) or more of these applicants with equal qualifications is a current employee, the current employee with the greatest seniority shall be assigned. Special consideration shall be given to women and/or minority defined as: Native American, Asian American, Latino, African American and those of the non-Christian faith. However, in all appointments to vacant positions, the Board's decision shall be final.

As you might expect, neither the school superintendent, nor the board president nor the union leader responded to questions from Michigan CapCon reporter Tom Gantert. The language has been in the contract for quite a few years, and it was recently renewed through 2017 - which is in part a move designed to exempt the contract from Michigan's newly established status as a right-to-work state. Why no one ever noticed the language until now - or at least ever thought it was worthy of being reported on - I have no idea.

(Over on my site today, I take a look at this from a less political and more theological perspective, and what I have to say might surprise you at first but I'm confident that Scripture backs me up.)

Here's what I can tell you about Ferndale. I hail from Royal Oak, which is the next suburb over to the north and these days is known for its proliferation of leather shops and those gay rainbow flags, as well as its association with favorite sons like the late Dr. Jack Kevorkian. With that in mind, Ferndale is where we think the freaks are.

As egregious as this is, it's not hard to imagine the left-wing rationalizations for it. Why, policies banning religious discrimination are really put in place to protect non-Christians, they will insist, since Christians are the "majority" (at least in terms of self-identification, if not necessarily in terms of people's real spiritual condition), and as such they don't need protection. This means that to give hiring preference to non-Christians is exactly the same as having racial hiring quotas. And that, of course, is totally in line with stated anti-discrimination policies because the left wants it to be.

Of course, the law clearly states that it's illegal for school districts to ask job applicants about their religion, meaning this is so egregious on its face - well, it's no wonder Ferndale school officials won't return Gantert's calls. There is nothing they can possibly say to defend this. They're just plain busted.

Michigan CapCon is a well-known Michigan publication but it is hardly the mainstream media. I'm going to be watching today to see if the state's MSM picks this up. You'd think such an egregious violation of the law would get their attention, but they might regard it as a mere "right-wing talking point" and thus not really newsworthy.

In a larger sense, this is the latest evidence that the left has become increasingly shameless in its assault on Christians and on God Himself. Maybe someone should tell them what happens to those foolish enough to start fights with God. But in all likelihood, they won't listen any more than he did.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Pupils walk out of lessons after British school BANS them from wearing bracelets to support classmate with leukaemia

I once told a bureaucrat to stick his policies up his A**.  Sounds like the students below were of a similar mind

A huge group of angry pupils went on strike yesterday after their school banned them from wearing bracelets in support of a classmate with leukaemia.

Police were called in when 100 pupils walked out of lessons at Bilton School in Rugby, Warwickshire, after being told they could only wear 'Team Joel' bracelets on a non-uniform day next month.

Pupils who want to wear the wristbands in support of Joel Smith - a Year 11 pupil who is undergoing hospital treatment - on other days have been warned they will be violating the school's uniform policy.

Joel's family have been making and selling the beaded bracelets to raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust. But yesterday, pupils mounted a protest against the bracelet ban on the school field.

Mother Emma Howell told the Daily Mirror that she would support her daughter Laura's participation in the strike, despite it resulting in her missing a mock examination yesterday.

She said: 'I support my daughter. If she's excluded for five days there will be no punishment at home. She won't be missing out on anything because she's just revising anyway as she's in Year 11.

'The only resolution I can see is if the school back down because the pupils are very passionate about this, and I can’t see them letting it go.’

The school said it had responded several weeks ago to a request from the children to have a non-uniform day for Joel, and he had requested that pupils wear blue and white coloured clothing.

This was planned for April 11, but the school also told pupils that the bracelets could only be sold and worn on that day - a policy which has caused much anger among the children.

A spokesman said: ‘We spoke to students and said that they could show their support by attaching the bracelets to bags or keys but not wear them as bracelets, in order to comply with our policies.

‘This has been the topic of quite extensive social media comment over the last two days, culminating in a call from students and parents for students to strike yesterday.

‘Although this was a largely peaceful event, we called the police who supported us in evaluating the safety of staff and students, which is paramount to us.’

The school added that it then told pupils how it was helping Joel and his family - and the many of them who quickly returned to lessons would make up the lost learning time during detentions.

But the spokesman continued: ‘There were a small minority of students whose actions can only be described as anti-social and potentially dangerous who used this as an opportunity to be disruptive.

‘These students were putting pressure on others not to go back into classrooms and contacted the press. We will be evaluating the actions we will be taking with these students over the next few days.’

The Facebook page 'Spotted: Rugby Town' has been inundated with angry comments since the ban on bracelets was announced.

One comment said: ‘Disgraceful, how must Joel be feeling knowing his own school are not supporting him in the biggest fight of his life? They should be ashamed of themselves.’

And another added: ‘Students should keep wearing them, they can't send the whole school home. Show solidarity against a stupid rule.’

It comes after MailOnline reported last week that a teacher in Essex allegedly ordered a 10-year-old boy to take off his Help for Heroes wristband because it could cause offence.

Tracy Tew was shocked when her son Charlie was put on a report card at Maldon Primary School after he refused to take off the charity rubber bracelet sold to honour injured soldiers.

Charlie wore the wristband - bought at the Colchester Military Festival - in honour of murdered soldier Lee Rigby and service personnel in his family, including his great-granddad and uncle.

Tracy Thornton, the headmistress at that school, insisted wearing wristbands was against the school’s jewellery policy.


British school bans red ink - and tells teachers to mark in green instead

A school has banned teachers from marking in red pen because is it judged a ‘very negative colour’.  Teachers at Mounts Bay Academy near Penzance, Cornwall, have reportedly been told to use green pens instead.

Pupils, meanwhile, are being asked to comment on marking using purple pens.

According to The Cornishman, the new system is designed to encourage dialogue between teachers and students.

‘Switching to the new marking system is certainly not about us going all soft and fuzzy,' vice principal Jennie Hick told the paper.  She said that the system will see teachers make ‘two or three positive comments’ about homework.

It is hoped this will encourage pupils to not just look for their overall marks, but get them to respond with comments of their own.

She told the paper: ‘I think it was felt that red ink was a very negative colour.’

However, Campaign for Real Education chairman Chris McGovern told the paper that, in fact, students prefer red ink because it makes comments easier to read.

He said: ‘A lot of schools seem to have a culture where they don’t like criticising children but actually this helps them.’


Oklahoma Parent Trigger

Oklahoma legislators are considering an education reform that has garnered significant national attention: the Parent Trigger. The legislation, first passed in California, has been considered in approximately 20 other states. A Parent Trigger typically allows a simple majority of parents at a school to “trigger” one of several reform options, including its conversion to a charter, closure, and offering students vouchers with the school’s per-pupil funds. The Oklahoma bill would offer parents the ability to petition the state to replace school staff and leaders at a low-performing public school and to convert it into a charter school.

The Parent Trigger would empower parents and increase competition among schools, thus holding educators and school systems directly accountable for their performance.

Critics charge the measure would turn public schools over to private corporations, removing them from state requirements for public schools and reducing the transparency of how tax dollars are spent. They also say not all parents want the power to control schools and the law would pit parents against each other and teachers.

Proponents say decades of research have shown private enterprises consistently perform services more completely, less expensively, and with better customer satisfaction than government institutions do. Charter schools and private management have a relatively short track record but already have demonstrated better student achievement at lower taxpayer costs than traditional public schools. Given Oklahoma’s poor academic performance, particularly in urban school districts, parents and children need all available tools at their disposal.

Choice proponents also note parental authority over their children’s education puts power in the hands of the people who care most deeply and only about the children involved. The trigger requires these parents to work together, not against each other, and allows them to exercise their rightful authority. The measure also gives them a bargaining chip to make school administrators take their concerns more seriously, making resorting to the trigger less likely.