Friday, November 14, 2014

Fat Black Feminist Professor Sued for Altercation With Pro-Life Demonstrators

The Life Legal Defense Foundation (LLDF) filed a civil suit Thursday against the University of California and Professor Mireille Miller-Young seeking “compensation for physical battery, property theft and civil rights violations” following an on-campus altercation in March with pro-life demonstrators.

Miller-Young, an assistant professor in the Feminist Studies Department at the university’s Santa Barbara campus (USCB), was convicted in July of stealing a pro-life sign from the group of demonstrators in a specially designated free speech area on campus and assaulting a teenaged member of the group.

“This is a mature, supposedly educated woman charged by the University of California to convey knowledge, and instead she conveyed discrimination and intolerance. Not only was she out of line in attacking students, but she literally drew blood from a minor,” said Dana Cody, LLDF’s president and executive eirector.

The altercation leading to the lawsuit arose when Miller-Young grabbed a sign from a group of pro-life activists led by 21-year-old Joan Short. She later claimed that she was “triggered” by the images of aborted babies.

Miller-Young then pushed and scratched Joan’s 16-year-old sister, Thrin Short, who caught the incident on video. Miller-Young got away with the sign and later destroyed it in her office.

After the Shorts filed a complaint, the professor told police that she felt she had “a moral right” to steal the sign and that she believed “she set a good example for her students” by encouraging them to help her.

Miller-Young entered a plea of "not guilty" to misdemeanor theft, battery and vandalism charges on April 4th before changing her plea to "no contest" in July. She was sentenced to three years of probation, 108 hours of community service, and 10 hours of anger management classes.

“Miller-Young has not apologized for her physical attack on Thrin Short, nor has the university condemned the criminal actions of its employee, who remains listed in the faculty directory,” LLDF pointed out following the sentencing.

The civil complaint states that instead of an apology, university officials ridiculed Miller-Young’s pro-life victims.

“On March 21, 2014, Michael Young, Vice-Chancellor of UCSB, sent an e-mail to students and faculty warning that the campus was being visited by ‘the most recent generation of true believers, self-proclaimed prophets, and provocateurs,’ including ‘anti-abortion crusaders'," the lawsuit states.

George Foulsham, UCSB's director of news and media relations, told that UCSB was “unaware of the filing of such an action.” sent him a copy of the lawsuit, but he did not reply to repeated requests for further comment.


Educational Fraud

It would be unreasonable to expect a student with the reading, writing and computing abilities of an eighth-grader to do well in college. If such a student were admitted, his retention would require that the college create dumbed-downed or phantom courses.

The University of North Carolina made this accommodation; many athletes were enrolled in phantom courses in the department of African and African-American studies. The discovery and resulting scandal are simply the tip of the iceberg and a symptom of a much larger problem.

A UNC learning specialist hired to help athletes found that during the years 2004 to 2012, 60 percent of 183 members of the football and basketball teams read between fourth- and eighth-grade levels. Eight to 10 percent read below a third-grade level. These were black high-school graduates, and their high-school diplomas were clearly fraudulent.

How cruel is it for UNC to admit students who have little chance of academically competing on the same basis as its other students? Black students so ill-equipped run the risk of ridicule and reinforcing white stereotypes of black mental incompetence. If these students are to retain their athletic eligibility or minimum GPA requirements, universities must engage in academic fraud.

Academic fraud benefits the entire university community except the black students. If universities can maintain the scholar-athlete charade, they earn tens of millions of dollars in sports revenue. Other than as a pretense, academics can be ignored. The university just has to create academic slums, where weak students can "succeed." Stronger academic departments benefit because they do not have to compromise their standards and bear the burden of having to deal with weak students.

Then there's that feather in the diversity hat upon which university administrators are fixated. I guarantee you that academic fraud is by no means unique to UNC. As such, it represents gross dereliction and dishonesty on the parts of university administrators and faculty members.

Unfortunately, and to the detriment of black people, there is broad support among black members of the academic community for practices that lead to academic fraud. In the wake of the UNC scandal, the Carolina Black Caucus — a campus group of administrators, staff and faculty — rushed to the defense of the black athletes and the department of African and African-American studies, claiming an unfair investigation and unfair public and media attack. One campus student group said that the student-athlete fraud scandal is actually a result of "white supremacist, heteropatriarchal capitalism."

Focusing solely on the academic problems of blacks at the college level misses the point. It is virtually impossible to repair 12 years of rotten primary and secondary education in the space of four or five years of college. Proof of that is black student performance on postgraduate tests, such as the GRE, LSAT and MCAT. The black-white achievement gap on those tests is just as wide as it is on the SAT or ACT, which high schoolers take. That's evidence that primary and secondary education deficiencies have not been repaired during undergraduate years.

The academic achievement level for white students is nothing to write home about. Only 25 percent of white high-school graduates taking the 2011 ACT met its benchmarks for college readiness in all subjects for which it tests. Only 4 percent of black students were college-ready in all subjects, according to their scores on the ACT.

The high academic failure rate among blacks means one of two things. Either black students cannot learn; or primary and secondary schools, parental choices, black student attitudes, and cultural values regarding education are not conducive to what young blacks need for academic excellence.

Colleges admitting under-performing black students conceal, foster and perpetuate the educational damages done to these youngsters in their earlier education.


Students are Fleeing Common Core's Sinking Ship

With policies like this, sometimes the only thing left to do is abandon ship.

It is fairly common knowledge by now that most people aren’t happy with the Common Core education standards that state and federal governments are trying to ram down their throats. From needlessly convoluted math problems to anti-American history curricula, Common Core makes education a maddening chore for students, parents, and teachers alike.

But what can parents do? Schooling is compulsory, and most people don’t have the money to pay the expensive tuition at private schools. Even if they did, more private schools are choosing to align with the standards, fearing a lack of preparation for standardized tests will hurt their bottom line. Thus, it would seem that there is no escape for those who want their children to actually learn how to think rather than be subjected to the mindless and rote methodology encouraged by Common Core.

But looks can be deceiving. In fact, parents do have an escape hatch, and one that they are increasingly eager to use: the option to homeschool their children.

In North Carolina, homeschoolers now outnumber children enrolled in private school. Today, more than 150,000 North Carolinians are being educated at home. Compare this to a private school enrollment of about 96,000 and the fact that the largest public school district in the state has 143,000 students, and this is a pretty impressive statistic. It’s also shown significant growth of 14 percent over last year.

Dissatisfaction with Common Core and the state of public education in general is only one of the factors driving increases in homeschooling in North Carolina. The state has relatively relaxed laws about homeschooling, making home education a relatively more attractive option than in states that more actively regulate the process. The interesting point is that when parents are given a choice, without the government throwing barriers in their way, more and more are choosing to opt out of the traditional school system, surely an indication of how broken public schools have become.

The American people have spoken, and are continuing to speak about their distaste for government controls on education. From No Child Left Behind, to Head Start, and now Common Core, federal meddling has never resulted in improved education outcomes, regardless of how many tax dollars are thrown at the problem. As in all other markets, choice and competition yield the best results.

The fact that North Carolinian parents are in open rebellion against the education bureaucracy proves the abject failure of a top-down, one size fits all government program in a field so diverse as the molding of young, individual minds.


Australia: Back to exams rather than university assessment

In my undergraduate years in the early 1980s I once stood up in class and challenged the lecturer for setting a 100 per cent end-of-semester exam. University policy gave students the right to be consulted on how they were evaluated and we lefty students were in favour of continuous assessment – several pieces of work rather than just one big roll of the dice. It seemed fairer. Now, having worked for 25 years as an academic, I have changed my mind.

This is not because I've become a born-again traditionalist - exams can be brutal and are not always the best measure of ability - but because the internet has changed things completely. There seems to be no alternative. Cheating is so easy that even the most credulous academic finds it hard to trust prepared work. This week's revelation of the widespread trade in ghost-written essays simply confirms anecdotal evidence that some students are gaming the system.

We often hear from students that they are pushed for time, that part-time jobs and personal commitments get in the way of essay deadlines. But many find it hard to avoid the temptation to procrastinate, because the laptops on which they research and write are also devices for play and communication. Of these a small number might be tempted to buy essays as a way of crisis managing the consequences of poor time management.

Others cheat because their writing skills are underdeveloped and they are convinced they will fail. This is a particular problem for overseas students from non-English-speaking backgrounds. There have been numerous reports of fraud in English-language testing like IELTS and so it is clear that some are admitted to degree courses without the language skills necessary for academic writing. Nobody enjoys assessing the work of someone who, while probably capable of great lucidity in their first language, has such poor grammar and syntax when writing in English.

The other factor that drives the increased readiness to cheat is that where students pay for their education, and where they believe they are likely to fail, there is a clear material incentive. It may cost a couple of hundred dollars to buy an essay, but the expense is much higher if you have to repeat the course/unit, especially for fee-paying overseas students.

If buying essays is a problem, plagiarism is a bigger one. It can begin at school, where overworked teachers find it difficult to deter lazy cut-and-paste habits, and can continue into post-school education. Much has been written about universities' use of plagiarism detection software, but this is by no means fail-safe. Not all sources are searchable, but more importantly university misconduct processes are so time consuming that many academics would rather avoid them and find other grounds to fail a student's work when they suspect cheating. Many are, like careworn old school cops, frustrated when students evade the rap on appeal, or receive lenient punishment.

So in this age of drag and drop, of online trade in essays, exams are something of a last resort: not ideal but a better way to test ability than the alternatives. They do not suit the students who suffer a form of stage fright under exam conditions but there are things we can do to mitigate this – give them much more time than they should ordinarily need, and even provide them with sample questions beforehand.

Those of us from universities that embrace the "anywhere-anytime" world of blended learning are being encouraged to use online assessment. Why, we are asked, do all students need to be simultaneously in the one place when sitting an exam? Earlier this year for the first time, I set a web-based 30-minute quiz that could be started by students at any time in a 90-minute window in the comfort of their study or bedroom (or on their smartphone in the shopping mall if they wished). This seemed to work reasonably well, but there is really no way for us to prevent collusion unless students are gathered together in a room under conditions of invigilation.

But this is the era of the sovereign educational consumer whose satisfaction is paramount. Those of us who work in universities know that, in a system where funding follows student demand, we have jobs only because they choose to study with us. But is there a tension between student satisfaction and scholarly rigour?

Academic promotion and career prospects depend on students approving of our work. Teaching evaluation surveys are now completely standard, even required in many universities. Obviously those with lively and compelling teaching techniques perform better in these surveys but it is also true that lecturers who lavish praise on their students, evaluate them highly, are themselves more likely to receive higher ratings.

The most damaging thing about the revelations of systematic cheating is that they undermine public confidence in the integrity of universities, suggesting that mediocrity has displaced meritocracy. In the deregulated environment being proposed by Christopher Pyne, this is only likely to get worse. If a degree is primarily a market commodity, and where universities rely more and more on the profits from selling that commodity, then it stands to reason that it will be a struggle to maintain academic standards.

The various scandals from the vocational education sector - where overseas students pay hefty fees for sham courses to fulfil their visa requirements – are salutary. They might provide a taste of what is to come for universities. Maybe the only solution is to get back to basics.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Liberals Are Killing the Liberal Arts

What's happening to freedom of speech at universities is a weird combination of infantilization and Fascism

On campuses across the country, hostility toward unpopular ideas has become so irrational that many students, and some faculty members, now openly oppose freedom of speech. The hypersensitive consider the mere discussion of the topic of censorship to be potentially traumatic. Those who try to protect academic freedom and the ability of the academy to discuss the world as it is are swimming against the current. In such an atmosphere, liberal-arts education can’t survive.

Consider what happened after Smith College held a panel for alumnae titled “Challenging the Ideological Echo Chamber: Free Speech, Civil Discourse and the Liberal Arts.” Moderated by Smith President Kathleen McCartney in late September, the panel was an apparent effort to address the intolerance of diverse opinions that prevails on many campuses.

One panelist was Smith alumna Wendy Kaminer—an author, lawyer, social critic, feminist, First Amendment near-absolutist and former board member of the American Civil Liberties Union. She delivered precisely the spirited challenge to the echo chamber that the panel’s title seemed to invite. But Ms. Kaminer emerged from the discussion of free speech labeled a racist—for defending free speech.

The panel started innocuously enough with Ms. Kaminer criticizing the proliferation of campus speech codes that restrict supposedly offensive language. She urged the audience to defend the free exchange of ideas over parochial notions of “civility.” In response to a question about teaching materials that contain “hate speech,” she raised the example of Mark Twain ’s “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” arguing that students should take it as a whole. The student member of the panel, Jaime Estrada, resisted that notion, saying, “But it has the n-word, and some people are sensitive to that.”

Ms. Kaminer responded: “Well let’s talk about n-words. Let’s talk about the growing lexicon of words that can only be known by their initials. I mean, when I say, ‘n-word’ or when Jaime says ‘n-word,’ what word do you all hear in your head? You hear the word . . . ”

And then Ms. Kaminer crossed the Rubicon of political correctness and uttered the forbidden word, observing that having uttered it, “nothing horrible happened.” She then compared the trend of replacing potentially offensive words with an initial to being “characters in a Harry Potter book who are afraid to say the word ‘Voldemort.’ ” There’s an important difference, she pointed out, between hurling an epithet and uttering a forbidden word during an academic discussion of our attitudes toward language and law.

The event—and Ms. Kaminer’s words—prompted blowback from Smith undergraduates, recent alumnae and some faculty members. One member of the audience posted an audio recording and transcript of the discussion, preceded by what has come to be known in the academic world as a “trigger warning”:

“Trigger/Content Warnings: Racism/racial slurs, abelist slurs, anti-Semitic language, anti-Muslim/Islamophobic language, anti-immigrant language, sexist/misogynistic slurs, references to race-based violence.”

One has to have imbibed this culture of hyper-victimization in order even to understand the lingo. “Ableism,” for example, is described at as “the practices and dominant attitudes in society that devalue and limit the potential of persons with disabilities” and that “assign inferior value (worth) to persons who have developmental, emotional, physical or psychiatric disabilities.”

The contretemps prompted articles in the newspapers of Smith College and neighboring Mount Holyoke College, condemning Ms. Kaminer’s remarks as examples of institutionalized racism. Smith president Ms. McCartney was criticized for not immediately denouncing Ms. Kaminer. In a Sept. 29 letter responding to the Smith community, she apologized to students and faculty who were “hurt” and made to feel “unsafe” by Ms. Kaminer’s comments in defense of free speech.

A rare academic counter-current to the vast censorial wave came from professor of politics Christopher Pyle at Mount Holyoke. He wrote in the Mount Holyoke News that readers of the paper were misled by a report that “a Smith alumna made racist remarks when speaking at an alumnae panel.” He criticized the condemnation of Ms. Kaminer for her willingness to challenge the tyranny of “sanitary euphemisms.”

Smith is not the epicenter of hostility to free speech. On university campuses nationwide we are witnessing an increasing tide of trigger warnings. They are popping up on syllabi, in discussions of public art, and even finding their way into official school policies.

On Oct. 27, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology circulated a survey questionnaire to its entire student body on the issue of sexual assault—a so-called “climate survey” to try to determine and expose the extent of the problem at the school. Remarkably enough, the survey itself came accompanied by, guess what:

“TRIGGER WARNING: Some of the questions in this survey use explicit language, including anatomical names of body parts and specific behaviors to ask about sexual situations. This survey also asks about sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence which may be upsetting. Resources for support will be available on every page of the survey, should you need them.”

Hypersensitivity to the trauma allegedly inflicted by listening to controversial ideas approaches a strange form of derangement—a disorder whose lethal spread in academia grows by the day. What should be the object of derision, a focus for satire, is instead the subject of serious faux academic discussion and precautionary warnings. For this disorder there is no effective quarantine. A whole generation of students soon will have imbibed the warped notions of justice and entitlement now handed down as dogma in the universities.


UK: Parents [mainly Muslim] in revolt over primary school head's war on homophobic bullying: Police called in after heated protest when teacher gave children books on tackling the issue

Parents angrily confronted a head teacher after he gave primary children books about tackling homophobic bullying.  Police were called after the protest, which had been orchestrated by religious campaigners, became heated.

Head teacher Jamie Barry is said to have faced aggression and verbal abuse at the meeting at Welford Primary in Birmingham, one of the schools linked to the ‘Trojan Horse’ scandal earlier this year.

It was one of 21 schools inspected by Ofsted amid claims of a conspiracy by hardliners to impose strict Islamic practices.

While Welford, which has a large Muslim intake, was given a clean bill of health, inspectors reported some children saying they believed it was wrong to be gay.

The protest occurred at a regular parents’ meeting last month.

Mr Barry was expecting about 20 attendees to discuss routine matters, only to find around 100 parents there demanding to know about the introduction of teaching materials called Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools (Chips).

The parents had been encouraged to attend by anti-abortion group the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (Spuc), which shares common ground with conservative Muslims on several issues.

An email obtained by the Daily Mail was sent to some parents by Antonia Tully, who coordinates Spuc’s Safe At School campaign.

She listed 13 questions she asked to be forwarded to as many parents as possible to support Spuc’s view that young children should not be taught about homosexuality.

The email said the head teacher ‘needs to hear the same concerns’– such as ‘teaching children about sexual orientation isn’t making them safe [but] putting ideas into children’s heads’.

As a result, the meeting – involving parents from a variety of religious backgrounds – became heated. Some complaints were ‘very personal and very aggressive’, Mr Barry said.

Staff called the police and the head was advised to leave the room, although he denies police escorted him from the premises for his own safety.

Mrs Tully said she got involved at Welford after being contacted by parents earlier this year. ‘They told me that someone phoned the police which was a very inflammatory reaction. 'They said nothing that happened at the meeting warranted any police involvement,’ she said.

She has helped dozens of parents to complain to Birmingham Council about the school.

Chips, which features a series of story books, is being used in about 35 Birmingham schools.

Mr Barry said he had not been surprised to hear that some pupils had made anti-gay remarks.  ‘We were aware that they might do, because culturally, within the community we serve, we know those views are heard,’ he said.  ‘But it made us think that as a school we need to do a little more in terms of teaching children about diversity and relationships.

‘While we respect everyone’s right to a personal view, same-sex marriage is legal and some same-sex couples adopt or foster.  'Our children will come into contact with these people and we don’t want it to be a shock to the system.’

Rob Kelsall, senior regional officer for the National Association of Head Teachers, said the Government must give its ‘full support’ to heads who deliver the Chips programme.


UK: Student journalists, it’s time to fight back

Student Union meddling has turned student newspapers into little more than PR rags

Universities are supposed to be places of learning; they train us to question, to argue and to listen. But while students are encouraged to think critically in their studies, they are often lambasted by their universities and students’ unions for employing similar scrutiny towards the institution’s activities.

Student journalists have, for many years, unearthed groundbreaking stories and exposed serious impropriety at the highest level of university power structures. As reporters, their job is to be as engaged, as disciplined and as informed in their professional capacity as they would be in their studies.

As a former editor of a student publication, I have always maintained that the role of student journalists should be to hold universities and students’ unions – the institutions that make decisions on behalf of their readers – accountable, in much the same way that national newspapers scrutinise the public spending and policy that affect their audience.

To unearth and expose corruption and malpractice, presented in the frontpage splash we all dream of, requires resilience and tenacity. Standing up to power is not meant to be easy. But the freedoms afforded to student papers, their ability to dig out a contentious story and publish it, is gradually being eroded, leaving us editors feeling like little more than puppets at the helm of a PR rag.

Most student newspapers in the UK are funded by their universities and students’ unions. And, in recent years, these institutions have been trying to stop student journalists from probing into their affairs.

The editor of the University of Plymouth’s student paper, the Knowledge, recently revealed that she was threatened with expulsion, after she revealed alleged overspending by the university and cuts of up to £260,000 to support services, including disabled facilities. Often, newspapers have formal arrangements with their universities regarding final editorial decisions. And this power is being routinely abused.

But students’ unions are often just as guilty as universities themselves. Union reps are often involved in editorial decisions and, in some cases, are the ones who will actually send a publication to print. Last month, Leicester University’s paper, the Ripple, claimed its students’ union was using the university’s media constitution to delay publication of a frontpage splash discussing apathy towards campus elections. ‘It’s pretty disappointing when the very people who are supposed to represent us as students try to hold us back and attempt to censor us in this way’, a spokeswoman for the paper told the Leicester Mercury. After the paper threatened to run a blank frontpage with the words ‘this article has been censored’, the union agreed to the publication of the original piece – in full and unedited.

I only wish that the University of Sussex Students’ Union had been so sage. When I was appointed editor of the Sussex paper, the Badger, we produced a news piece examining exactly the same problem that was then attacked by a union officer for having dared discuss what she demeaned as ‘unsubstantiated concerns’. I and my ‘band of phantom naysayers’ (thanks for that one, we put it on our t-shirts!) were heavily criticised for not having sung the praises of the election process from the rooftop of the university library.

It was one of many clashes between our paper and its proprietors. And, five months later, the union refused to let us print at all, citing a need to clarify ‘editorial oversight’, a step which subsequently saw USSU revoke our discretionary independence. Following that ‘process’, I was told by the union that, among other restrictions, I was no longer permitted to change the size of our font. It felt as though I was being manipulated to mask their covert agenda.

Some attacked the paper for daring to probe into the affairs of the union. They said that the Badger shouldn’t hold the union, a ‘democratic institution’, to the same standards of scrutiny as the university. Safe to say, these were comments from staff within the union.

Yes, universities and students’ unions foot the bill for print and office costs, but if they want to dictate what can and can’t be printed, then they should make this clear to student writers and readers. As long as unions and universities insist on championing campus media outlets as at least semi-editorially independent, they cannot expect editors happily to have story angles dictated to them or their stories spiked when there is a conflict of interest.

Fighting against this kind of censorship can feel lonely. But when I attended a conference last year, which brought together student journalists from Scotland to the Sussex Downs, I was amazed to hear about similar experiences from other editors, who were sick of having to pander to the whims of their proprietors so as to maintain a print-run. They gave me the courage to continue resisting the pressure to simply placate our proprietors. But it worries me that the future of student journalism as a whole has been put under threat by the creep of censorship.

Writing for a student paper is one of the most useful routes into a professional career in journalism. But if student editors are forbidden from fostering curiosity in aspiring reporters, or censored from revealing the results of their investigations, student journalists will never learn how to truly speak truth to power.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Duck Dynasty’s Alan Robertson: Bible Should Be Taught in Public Schools

 Duck Dynasty’s beardless and eldest son, Alan Robertson, said the Bible should be taught in the public schools because it used to be required of earlier generations of students, particularly at even the higher-level Ivy League universities, and because America’s Founders believed society and its laws could function properly only when citizens had a solid “understanding of God’s truth and His Word.”

Al Robertson, who is an ordained minister, also said the “creation narrative” in the Bible should be taught alongside the theory of evolution in the public schools.

Al Robertson and his father Phil Robertson, who are elders at the White’s Ferry Road Church in West Monroe, La., where the Duck Dynasty family attends church, just released The Duck Commander Faith and Family Bible, a study and devotional Bible (New King James Version), for which they served as executive editors.

Concerning the Bible in schools, asked Al Robertson, “You talked about how the Christian message comes through the [Duck Dynasty] program and also in your own preaching and your father’s preaching. Do you think the Bible should be taught in the public schools?”

Al Robertson said, “I do, and for several reasons. One is because it used to be taught in the public school system up until not that many years ago -- it was the gold standard of what was taught alongside other academic pursuits. You go back and look at the history of all of our major universities, including all the Ivy League schools, which are basically founded by preachers and all these spiritual heavyweights of their generation. They saw it as going right alongside [other academic subjects].”

“If you read some of the Founders’ thoughts on it, their idea was that government and what we’re trying to enact in laws will not work unless people are also understanding the Bible and what God says is right and wrong,” said Robertson.  “Several have been quoted, our Founders said it won’t work: Because if people lose the connection to that [God and Bible], why would they care about the laws?”

“In other words,” he said, “the people can’t be rightly governed without some understanding of God’s truth and His Word. Well that alone should be a reason to teach it.”

“Now, I understand the modern argument of, well, what about other religions, what about this – teach about all of it,” said Al Robertson. “I believe the Bible will always come out as the standard it should be. But all these things should be talked about instead of just shunned. In the public education awareness, it’s almost like it almost doesn’t exist.”

The Duck Dynasty star, who is the eldest son of Phil and ‘Miss Kay’ Robertson, said he knows that critics contend the Bible should be taught by the churches. But, he said, “most people don’t go to church anymore” and “even in America, a lot of people claim to be Christian or claim to have some sort of religious experience but very few of them are actively engaged or even know much about the Bible.”

“I think it should be [taught in the schools], I think the creation narrative, certainly, even if you just looked at it as a theory or whatever you want to do,” said Al Robertson.  “To put evolution there, which is a theory by the way, can be taught as the ultimate truth, then you can’t look at any other possibility?  What kind of discipline is that in terms of education? If we went that route, we’d have never taught some of the things now we know to be true that 50 years ago we didn’t even know about.”

I think it’s a little disingenuous, some of the reasons why God has been exorcised out of the public square,” he said.  “Supposedly, it’s been because that’s what the Founders intended. But all you have to do is go back and look at what was practiced and know that’s not true at all.”


UK: High-flying pupils offered £500 'bribe' to enrol at new free school sixth form

A flagship government free school has been accused of wasting public money by offering high-flying students a £500 'incentive' to join a their new sixth-form.

New College Doncaster will hand out the ‘academic scholarship’ to all applicants on course for at least five A grades in their GCSEs.

Yesterday, critics branded the incentive ‘bribery’ and not an ‘ethical’ use of public funds.

It is thought to be the first time a school has sought effectively to pay high-achieving pupils to sign up to attend.

Schools have previously offered money or prizes for good attendance or meeting exam targets. 

Nearby New College Pontefract applied to the Department for Education last month to set up the school, with the opening planned for 2016.

The school will be run as part of the Coalition’s 'free school' programme - which allows teachers, parents and charities to open new educational institutions independent of local council control.

The application said Doncaster ‘needs a new college because its young people are missing out on an outstanding sixth-form experience’.

To open, the college needs signatures from 1,000 parents, which Pauline Hagen, principal at New College Pontefract, in West Yorkshire, says has already been achieved.

It is hoping to open in 2016 with 500 sixth-formers, rising to 1,200 after three years.

The website for the new sixth-form advertises an 'academic scholarship' in which: 'If you are predicted to achieve more than five A grades in your GCSEs, we will offer you the opportunity to receive £500 and a place in our Excellence Academy to support your post-16 education.'

The proposed sum of £500 has been described as an 'incentive', but the college were not able to say how much it would cost in total.

Richard Fletcher, vice principal at New College, told Academies Week all eligible students would be paid the £500, but 'we wouldn't know how many students would receive this until we opened.'


Illinois Educators Can Learn From High-Achieving Nations

With election season in full swing, one of the most widely used political attacks is for candidates to accuse their opponents of wanting or having already committed “cuts to education” resulting in “teacher layoffs.”

For example, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner’s “Remember This” TV ad accuses incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn of cutting school funding by $500 million and causing “teacher layoffs and crowded classrooms.” The Illinois Federation of Teachers, which has unanimously endorsed Quinn, says Rauner is the one who wants to “cut billions out of public education resulting in teacher layoffs [and] larger class sizes.”

Such talking points suggest education spending can only be cut at the expense of teachers, but research from the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice shows cuts can be made without teacher layoffs. From 1992 to 2009, the number of administrative staff in Illinois public schools grew by 36 percent, while the number of students rose by only 14 percent. Had administrative staff growth been restricted to the same rate as students’ growth, Illinois could not only keep all its teachers but it could give every single one a $5,606 annual salary increase.

Administrative bloat is hardly an Illinois-specific phenomenon. Between 1992 and 2008, non-teaching staff in the United States grew 2.7 times faster than the number of students, yet public schools’ reading scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Long-Term Trend exam fell slightly and mathematics scores remained flat, according to Ben Scafidi, professor of economics at Georgia College & State University.

Today, the United States spends more of its operating budget on non-teaching personnel than any other country in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), except Denmark. For all that money, the U.S. scores near the average among OECD nations in reading and science and below average in mathematics, according to the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).

When one Chinese education official was asked how Shanghai students achieved the world’s top ranking, she told CNN they take special measures to recruit high-quality teachers. This included high salaries, but it also included higher standards. Countries such as Brazil, Columbia, and Poland, which dramatically improved their rankings, had each raised their teacher standards, leading to improved teacher quality.

In recent years, 33 U.S. states have taken measures to toughen teacher requirements. Illinois, however, is moving in the opposite direction. Last April, Illinois dropped a basic skills test requirement for admission to a teacher-training program, out of fear it would result in significantly reduced enrollment in education schools, even though the test’s difficulty is mostly regarded to be at the high-school level. Such a decision costs Illinois public school students the high-quality teachers research says are needed to improve student outcomes.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

ISIS cancels all classes except religious studies in Syrian schools because 'even the two-times table shouldn't be taught as all knowledge belongs to the creator'

ISIS extremists have cancelled all classes except religious studies in Syrian schools - with even the two-times table banned in its new curriculum.

Militants have closed all schools in the eastern area of the country pending a religious revision of the syllabus to replace the current 'infidel' education, it has been revealed.

Activists in the area say ISIS has attempted to justify the move by claiming that 'all knowledge belongs to the creator'.

Islamic State has been tightening its rules on civilian life in Deir al-Zor province, which fell under near-complete control ofthe Islamist group this summer.

The government still controls a military air base and other small pockets.

The announcement came after Islamic State held a meeting with school administrators at a local mosque on the outskirts of Deir al-Zor city, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors all sides of the conflict.

'Islamic State informed them that teachers shall undergo a religious instructional course for one month, and that Islamic State officials were currently developing a new curriculum instead of the current 'infidel' education,' the Observatory statement said.

At the start of the academic year in September, Islamic State revised the school curriculum in areas it controls, eliminating physics and chemistry while promoting Islamic teachings.

Their latest move aims to further reduce the school day into several hours of religious learning at the expense of academic subjects, according to local activists.

'They've announced that they will only teach religion and a little bit of mathematics. 'Their rationale is that all knowledge belongs to the creator, so even the multiplication table shouldn't be taught,' said an activist called Abu Hussein al Deiri.

Some locals protested when the school shutdown, according to footage posted online by activists.

It showed two dozen girls and boys appearing to be under 12 years of age marching with a few female teachers clad in black veils as required by Islamic State since the beginning of the academic year.  The children chanted: 'we want school'.

But activist al Deiri said that the protests were muted because most people were 'too afraid to demonstrate'.

Islamic State has detained, crucified, executed and beheaded hundreds in recent months in Deir al-Zor for 'apostasy', a crime of which it accuses anyone who disobeys or opposes Islamic State.


First new grammar school for a generation: Theresa May sends strong message by backing plans to create 'satellite' selective school in her constituency

Theresa May has backed the possibility of a new grammar school in her constituency, despite laws which ban the creation of selective schools.

In a move which could herald a change in the Tory party's education policy, the Home Secretary indicated she would support a study which will look into opening a 'satellite' grammar school in Maidenhead, Berkshire.

The new state-funded selective school - which would be the first for a generation - would be a second 'satellite' campus joined to an existing grammar school in a nearby borough.

Because of that, it would avoid breaching laws which stop new selective schools being created.

It comes after Michael Gove, the former education secretary, ruled out a similar proposal in Sevenoaks, Kent, which would have taken up to 1,300 pupils.

Mr Gove - who was keen to revamp comprehensive schools - allowed a new free school to open on the site, instead.

Ms May's willingness to consider the move sends a strong message about her stance on academic selection - a topic which is still hotly-debated among the Tory party.

A statement on her website says the home secretary 'welcomed proposals to consider establishing a "satellite" grammar school site in Maidenhead', in response to parental demand.

She said: 'Grammar schools attract considerable support from Maidenhead families. If a good school wishes to expand in line with existing legislation then this must be seriously considered.'

One of Ukip's policies is to allow existing schools to apply to become grammar schools. 

The proposal for the satellite campus has come from Windsor and Maidenhead council, which is looking to create more secondary school places in the area. There are currently no grammar schools in the borough, although there are several in neighbouring Buckinghamshire.

The Tory-run council says there will be a shortfall of 100 secondary school places in Maidenhead - which currently has a comprehensive education system - by 2020.

There are currently 164 grammar schools in England after many of them closed in the 1960s and 70s when there was a shift towards comprehensives.

The establishment of any new wholly or partially selective state-funded schools is banned under the the former Labour government's School Standards and Framework Act 1998. However, existing schools are allowed to expand.

At present, some grammar schools admit successful students by ranked order - all candidates are ranked by their 11-plus score.

In other areas, pupils who pass the test are then ranked by admission criteria, which can include the distance they live from the school.

Those opposed to grammar schools argue that by dividing children at the age of 11 through taking an exam is socially divisive, and other schools in the surrounding area suffer, and richer children are more likely to succeed because their parents can afford extra tuition to get them through the test.

However, supporters say that academically bright children do better if they taught together.


Anti-porn group says: “Cancel college sex ed events because they are ‘the root’ of campus rape”

Hard to know who is who these days.  Both feminists and some conservatives seem opposed to porn

A group dedicated to opposing pornography this week encouraged like-minded people to file complaints against Harvard University's "Sex Week" on the grounds that it was encouraging rape. In a statement released earlier this week, the group Morality in Media accused Harvard of "promoting sexual violence while pretending to teach proper sex."

Harvard's annual Sex Week may have received more attention this year thanks to a workshop titled "What What in the Butt: Anal Sex 101."

Sex week also offers workshops on safe sex, virginity and fetishes. According to organizers, the event's goal is to "promote a holistic understanding of sex and sexuality." It is sponsored by the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (OSAPR), the Office of BGLTQ Student Life, the Harvard College Women's Center, and the Center for Wellness.

But Morality in Media Executive Director Dawn Hawkins insisted Sex Week events at all schools should be cancelled because the workshops would lead to more sexual assaults.

"Harvard is clearly not serious about stopping rape and sexual harassment on their campus if they are promoting an environment where porn, torture sex and risky behaviors are encouraged," she said a statement on Monday.

"Harvard's sex week encourages students to participate in acts that resemble or include sexual violence," Hawkins added in an interview with the Christian Post on Wednesday. "Research has shown these sex acts very often employ coercion to gain the participation of one partner."

"Normalizing such actions has a profound effect on the participants, and society in general, by excusing sexual violence as 'kink' rather than seeking for healthy intimate relationships," she insisted. "We encourage parents and students at Harvard and other universities hosting similar sex weeks to file complaints about inappropriate events; contact university officials and administrators directly to voice their concerns; and organize events on campus that teach the truths about pornography, sexual violence and healthy intimacy."

Sex Week organizer Kirin Gupta pointed out that the event has always emphasized consent.

"Each of our events explicitly addresses consent; we work with deeply feminist politics," she said. "And we always work with our feminist organization and the organizations that deal with sexual assault on our campus to hold several events that clearly deal exclusively with consent and anti-violence action and education."


Harvard snooped on everyone in classrooms

Students and faculty were not informed

For several days, the Harvard Crimson's most read article was: "Bol Authorized Study that Photographed Faculty, Students in Class without Notice"

I am not going to be too original in this case but it is creepy. The decision to install cameras in classrooms to monitor attendance by taking photographs – probably with some face recognition software – was approved by a vice-provost (for "advances in learning"), Mr Bol.

Not satisfied with its status of a training camp of extreme left-wing whackos, Harvard became a CIA playground, too.

Most people's reactions are negative or very negative. I can imagine that such a monitoring could become a very useful technology. But I am just not understanding why would someone introduce such a highly problematic policy secretly. If the purpose is to monitor the attendance, shouldn't the Harvard community have been told about the project in advance?

I feel that some laws about privacy must have been violated. Am I wrong? Do the students and faculty have the opportunity to sue Harvard and demand some compensation?

While it's a disturbing story, it shows Harvard's being a leader in new ideas, too. But shouldn't such decisions potentially conflicting with the good taste concerning privacy be tried at less visible places?

If I mention an innocent example, Google Street View: There's almost nothing sensitive over there and if there is anything sensitive, it is being removed. But some countries still prefer to ban this service. Czechia is among the most open-minded ones. You may find almost every Czech street on the Street View.

Wouldn't it be better to try such cutting-edge programs at schools that are least problematic from this viewpoint? And once it turns out to be a success, it could spread elsewhere, with the permission of the university community? But maybe Harvard is the best place to try these 1984-style experiments.

Or was the purpose of the program to keep it secret – and effectively in conflict with the affected people's wishes – forever? Or was there some "extra" purpose of this activity we are not being told about? In that case, it would be worrisome, indeed.

What's even more ironic is that it is not the first time in recent years when similar procedures have been reported at Harvard. Last March, Harvard administrators searched through e-mail inboxes of 16 deans who were accused of a leak related to the investigation of the 100+ students cheating on take-home exams in the course about the Congress.

Is there a pattern here?

SOURCE  (See the original for links)

Monday, November 10, 2014

These 7 Countries Will College Educate You for Free

The cost of college tuition has skyrocketed, with huge increases over the past five years as college aid has been reduced by state budgets. In Arizona, for example, this increase in tuition has been 77 percent. In Georgia, it's 75 percent, and in Washington state, 70 percent.Two-thirds of American college students graduate with college debt, and that debt now tops $1.2 trillion. By every indication, college is now more expensive than it has ever been, out of reach of not only poor Americans, but even middle class ones. While various reforms made in the past few years may have helped slow the growth of college costs, they continue to outpace Americans' ability to pay.

Experts say, is the source of parents' frustration today. A college education seems unaffordable at the worst possible time - when "people are really struggling," says Sandy Baum, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute who has spent much of her career studying trends in college costs.

Although this is happening in the world's richest country, there are many places abroad where college is virtually free. The Washington Post's Rick Noack points out seven places where Americans can study for free or at very low cost - and in English! Students just have to be willing to leave the country, and you wouldn't even have to learn a new language! :

1. Brazil: Brazil's universities charge registration fees, Noack notes, but they do not require regular tuition. Many of them also offer courses in English.

2. Germany: Germany has 900 programs in English, and is eager to attract foreign students to tuition-free universities due to the country's shortage of skilled workers.

3. Finland: Finland doesn't have tuition fees but the government does warn foreigners that they have to cover living expenses. Imagine going to college and only worrying about room and board.

4. France: France does charge tuition - but normally around 200 dollars at public universities. A far cry from what you'd pay in the United States, even in a state school.

5. Norway: Norwegian students, including foreigners studying in the country, do not have to pay any college tuition. Be forewarned, however, of the harsh winters and high cost of living.

6. Slovenia: If Eastern Europe is more your thing, Noack notes that Slovenia has 150 English-language programs, and only charges a registration fee - no tuition.

7. Sweden: Sweden, a country which has so successfully solved so many of its social problems that there are now U.S. Sitcoms about the glories of moving there, has over 300 English-language programs. Although college there is free, cost of living may be pricey for foreigners.

Although Noack's article focuses largely on countries where English speakers can easily gain access to low-cost or no-cost classes, it's worth pointing out that even some of the poorest countries offer tuition-free college when our very-rich society doesn't. In Mexico, public college is nearly free; if a country in the midst of a deadly drug war that has killed thousands of people can still afford to provide an education to its citizens, why can't the United States?


Sen. Tim Scott Calls for a 'Revolution': School Choice

Sen. Tim Scott, the first black Republican elected to a full term in the Senate from South Carolina, says putting more poor students in better schools is a priority for him.

"Why not give more parents choice? That would lead to revolution," he told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Thursday.  "Had it not been for education, I would not be sitting here today," Scott said.

"I think of education as a gateway to the American dream. I want to open that gate wider for kids living in poverty, wider for those folks in middle-income America, who are sandwiched -- think about it -- the folks who are taking care of their parents and their kids, they need access to a better education system that sometimes they cannot afford...I'd love to give parents the tool of choice. When parents have choice in education, I think their kids have a better chance of success."

Scott said Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has done a "great job" of changing things in his state, where 90 percent of students in New Orleans are in charter schools. "I'd love to see that throughout this country," Scott said. "I am a great advocate and champion...on that issue."

He also hailed the District of Columbia's opportunity scholarship program, a voucher system that has produced a much higher percentage of college-bound students than ordinary public schools.

"I want that to be the case for every child," Scott said.

While the American Conservative Union gives Scott a lifetime rating of 97 percent, the NAACP has given him an F on its annual scorecard, but Scott shrugs it off:

He noted that 40 years of Democrats controlling Congress has only produced greater poverty among black Americans. (According to the 2012 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, the poverty rate for all African Americans in 2012 was 28.1 percent, an increase from 25.5 percent in 2005.)

"These are classic examples that the policies of the left have not worked," Scott said on Thursday. "I will tell you that if I have an F on the NAACP scorecard, it's because I believe that progress has to be made, and the government is not the answer for progress."

Scott said he was poor growing up, but he had a mentor at Chick-fil-A who taught him "that the brilliance of the American economy happens through business ownership and entrepreneurial spirit, so whether you own the business or not, success is possible, if you A) have a good education; B) have a strong work ethic. For the average person, can these two key components come together and form a strong foundation. That is the way that you eradicate poverty."

Scott said big-government social programs and various nonprofits, all working on poverty, have only produced more of it.

"The key, it seems like, is individual freedom and economic opportunity. Fusing those together in an agenda that focuses on education seems the way forward."


Arne Duncan: Gov't-Funded Preschool a 'Social Movement' Like Civil Rights, Gay Marriage

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says government funded universal preschool is a “social movement” and compared it to civil rights and gay marriage during a speech in Los Angeles last month.

“At the end of the day for me this is really a social movement,” Duncan said when discussing federally subsidized preschool at the LA Universal Preschool (LAUP) forum on Oct. 21.

“If you look at social movements, we all celebrate what happened in the 1960’s. The civil rights movement was extraordinarily powerful, life transforming, earth shattering. But the question I have is, why didn’t the civil rights movement happen in the 50’s or the 40’s or 30’s or 20’s?” Duncan said.

“If you look at the movement now around gay marriage and marriage equality and gay rights that California is absolutely helping to lead. That’s fantastic it’s happening now, but why didn’t that happen two or three or four or five decades ago?”

“Think how very different so many of our American citizens – how different their lives would have been if they would have had the opportunity to live outside the shadows and to marry who they loved.”

Duncan continued, “So for me, the question- I know that access, universal access to high quality early learning is coming, it is the right thing, it’s a triumph of common sense but I don’t want to be talking about the victory 40 years from now.”


Australia: Courage is needed right now to fix childcare

Peak childcare services body Early Childhood Australia this week released a report claiming that increasing quality standards are "not the only driver" of rising costs in childcare.

The report claims that the quality rating a service receives bears no relation to the fees that service charges. Instead, rent - which is obviously higher in the inner suburbs than on the suburban fringe - plays at least as much of a role in costs. It's doubtful anybody collapsed in shock at that information.

However, what cannot be categorically denied is that the burden of the National Quality Framework on providers' operating costs comes mostly from the increases in mandatory minimum standards.

The quality ratings assessment process, while time-consuming and a bureaucratic burden for many providers, sits on top of mandatory minimum standards. It is complying with these new minimum requirements in the areas of staff-to-child ratios and staff qualifications requirements that has the biggest marginal impact on providers' operating costs.

My new report released this week, Regulating for Quality in Childcare: The Evidence Base, canvasses the available evidence from Australian and overseas studies that specifically examine the links between structural 'inputs' such as staffing arrangements, the quality of service actually being delivered, and children's real outcomes.

It finds that in Australian studies, the only links that exist between structural inputs and child outcomes are for staff-to-child ratios, where smaller groups of children being looked after by a single carer have a small impact on their socio-emotional and behavioural outcomes.

By contrast, neither staff-to-child ratios nor higher staff qualifications had an impact on their socio-emotional, behavioural, or cognitive outcomes. Only one Australian study showed a link between staff qualifications and improved behavioural outcomes for older children (which is more likely to be a preschool effect than a childcare effect).

The overseas evidence is similarly inconsistent. One study suggests that staff-to-child ratios increased the quality of relationships, but only for younger children. Similarly, only a single study suggested higher staff qualifications resulted in improvements. Several other studies showed no statistically significant effects.

This is hardly a rock-solid evidence base on which to build an expensive policy. It certainly does not, as many like to claim, represent an 'investment' that yields clear benefits for all Australian children.

There have been reports that the Productivity Commission has stepped away from its initial recommendations to ease these staffing requirements. This is a mistake. The government should take a long, hard and sceptical look at whether there's evidence of benefits that justify the costs.


Sunday, November 09, 2014

Student Suspended for Slicing Apple During Healthy Snacks Presentation

Da'von Shaw, a Bedford, Ohio high school student, brought apples and raisins to school for a "healthy eating" presentation he was giving to his speech class. He took out a knife to slice an apple, and I'm sure you can all guess what happened next:

“When I took out the knife the teacher then told me that I couldn't use it, so I didn't hesitate I just gave it to her,” said Da'von.

He continued with his other classes, but late in the day was suspended for five days. The suspension letter charged him with having a weapon at school.

His mother Shakila Wilson is angry, saying, “I can take off my belt and use that as a weapon. Pens and pencils can be used as a weapon. You can't take a person with no intentions to harm and put them as a criminal because that's what you normally do.”

She feels the punishment is too much, didn't take the circumstances into account and worries about her son missing classes and assignments.

At least he wasn't actually executed by the Bedford High School zero tolerance squad. But still, a five-day suspension for bringing a "weapon" to school is not inconsequential. Questioned by a reporter at 19 Action News, the superintendent suggested that Da'von's punishment could actually have been much worse: an entire year's suspension. I guess the school was being incredibly lenient when it decided not to put Da'von's life on hold for a year over nothing.

A while back, when we first started hearing about these zero tolerance follies, I might have sputtered something like, "What are we teaching kids when a school refuses to make any distinction between actual danger and normal life?" But now I realize: We are teaching kids precisely what they need to learn in a hyper-terrified society. They need to understand that society today refuses to distinguish between an infinitesimal risk and a huge one. Zero tolerance is perfect training.

Some day, if he doesn't do something crazy like bring a nailclipper to school, Da'von will graduate. Eventually, he will matriculate into American adulthood, where, if he wants an easy time of it, he will not roll his eyes when a TSA agent confiscates his 3.5 oz tube of Pepsodent, and not slam the door when a cop comes to investigate him for letting his son play at the park, unsupervised.

In other words: To get along as he goes along, Da'Von will be expected—required!—to accept safety hysteria as a way of life. As a high school student who sliced an apple without considering the enormous threat this posed to his fellow students, he failed. But after five days at home to reflect on what he did, perhaps he will be ready to become a good, quaking, danger-hallucinating American.


How Eva Moskowitz Outmuscled the Teachers Union

In November 2003, Eva Moskowitz, then a freshman member of the New York City Council, held explosive public hearings about how union contracts imposed inane work rules on public schools. The city's political establishment was astonished.

Mosowitz—a former history professor, public school teacher, and self-proclaimed liberal, whose politics up until that point seemed to resemble those of every other Democratic politician in New York—was sacrificing her political career to take on organized labor. Exposing the consequences of teacher union contracts was a direct affront to the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), which wields enormous influence in New York City elections.

Moskowitz didn't pussyfoot. At one point in the hearings, she even played audio testimony from a whistleblower with a disguised voice. She said that many of her sources declined to appear because they feared union retribution. She also went toe-to-toe with Randi Weingarten, the UFT's confrontational leader.

Two years later, when Moskowitz ran for Manhattan Borough President, Weingarten and the UFT mobilized against her and sunk her candidacy. So Moskowitz left politics for the time being; if she couldn't transform the system from within, she would build an alternative to the public schools.

Today, Moskowitz is the founder and CEO of Success Academy, which is the city's largest and most successful charter school network. With 32 schools around New York City—staffed by a non-union teaching force—Success Academy posted test results last year that astounded education policy experts.

Meanwhile, Moskowitz and her charter school allies started building a powerful coalition to counter the outsized political influence of organized labor. In March, when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) tried to squash Success Academy's expansion plans, Moskowitz bused 11,000 charter school parents and kids up to the state capital in Albany to protest—and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo came out in support. De Blasio retreated. Success Academy could move forward with its expansion plans after all, and state lawmakers quickly passed a bill to protect charter schools from future interference by the mayor.


UK: Vice principal of 'Muslim Eton' who claimed she was sacked and told she would go to hell for opposing rules that told all girls wear veils during lessons loses claim for racial discrimination

The vice principal of a Muslim girls' college who claimed she was sacked for opposing rules telling all pupils to wear veils during lessons has lost her claim for racial discrimination.

Ghazala Khan, 37, alleged she was told she would 'go to hell' and branded a 'stupid outsider' by her boss and barred from certain assemblies at Mohiuddin International Girls College in Burnley, Lancashire.

She lost her job in 2012 claiming it was because she questioned why some teachers refused to teach girls unless they wore veils across their faces. 

But today an employment tribunal in Manchester dismissed her claims and ruled in favour of the college.

The college denied she was vice-principal and said she left the establishment after it was criticised during an inspection. It said staff had received complaints describing Mrs Khan as 'rude and bad-tempered'.

The school which charges £5,500 a year for international students and £4,500 for UK and European pupils, was described as a 'Muslim Eton' for girls when plans were originally put forward in 2009.

Founded in October 2010 the school has around 90 students and is run by the Birmingham-based Mohuiddin Trust under the leadership of Sheikh Hazrat Pir Alaudin Siddiqui Sahib - an Islamic scholar based in Pakistan.

Mrs Khan was appointed as vice principal in 2011 but she said she clashed with the college principal after saying she and some students had some Islamic teachings they disagreed with forced upon them.

She said one fellow teacher refused to speak to her, as she did not wear a veil, and she had challenged the same tutor after he ordered all his female students to wear the niqab in his lessons.

Mrs Khan also said the college principal have warned of the school being 'polluted' because she had 'let a Christian in'.

Speaking about the teacher's conduct, she said: 'There were quite a few times I didn't agree with the way he would make children wear veils across their faces just so he could teach them.

'I said "nowhere in Islam does it say they must wear a veil to come to classes." He said, "you have no knowledge of anything and have no right to talk with somebody not related to you." They said it was necessary to make all girls wear the veil.'

Mrs Khan said she was also banned from assemblies where the girls would gather each evening because she was 'an outsider' and would have to wait outside.

She added: 'There were a few occasions when I wasn't allowed into the assembly because they said I was an outsider.

'But when recitation is going on I am a Muslim and I recite the Qur'an. Mr Bashir made me wait outside. He used to say, "can you wait outside? There are a few things you wouldn't understand. When we have finished you can come in." I used to say, "it's all blessings, why can't I come in?"'

She claimed she was also not respected because she was female and not considered a Muslim 'scholar', despite being an experienced teacher.

Mrs Khan said: 'The only way that we differ is that they say the Sheik, the founder of the college, is going to take them to heaven and everyone who does not believe in him is going to hell.'

Mrs Khan said matters came to a head after an Ofsted-type school inspection for Muslim education called the British School Inspectorate, where the college was criticised in a number of areas.

The hearing was told that a meeting was called with the principal and trust director and she was 'blamed' for their failed inspection, called a 'stupid outsider' and ordered to leave.

She said: 'I was upset, wasn't feeling well, had a lot of stress related issues and didn't want to come to court.  'For two years I waited and thought "maybe they might sort things out for me" but they didn't. I was very stressed. I was going through a lot, I had just lost my job. 'I was very depressed. My doctor said I was maybe going to have a nervous breakdown.

'I had realised I had been wronged. I thought they had been very prejudiced towards me and I thought I had been wronged.'

Mrs Khan - who was representing herself - put questions to 45-year old Mr Bashir, a civil engineer who reacted angrily and was warned by tribunal judge over his conduct.

When it was put to him by Mrs Khan that she had actually employed a Christian teacher, he replied: 'You don't even have a degree. You're not even qualified. I'm 100 per cent absolutely sure she was not employed as a vice-principal.'

Later Mr Bashir's own lawyer Amy Smith asked him: 'You are being accused of telling the business teacher that the claimant was incompetent in her work and she was a stupid outsider.'

He replied: 'I never used the words stupid outsider.'

She added: 'You are accused of making rude jokes because she was an outsider and she was going to hell and if you had it your way you would employ her as a cleaner or tea lady.'

Mr Bashir who is no longer principal at the college replied: 'I never said that.'

Miss Smith also put it to him that he told students Mrs Khan wouldn't understand them because she wasn't 'among them', which he also denied.

He said the school employed Christian teachers so could not be accused of religious prejudice.


Australia:  What makes for good childminding in the early years?

How important are staff numbers and credentials? 

A report by a free market think tank that found little evidence to support improving childcare quality has been rejected by academics and experts.

University of Toronto professor Charles Pascal, who is in Brisbane meeting with childcare experts, said that "good evidence needs to trump ideology" and "junk science".  "The science regarding the social, emotional and cognitive impact of high-quality early learning and care on all children is unassailable."

He was responding to a Centre for Independent Studies report, released on Wednesday, questioning the changes introduced under the Gillard government in 2012 that aimed to improve childcare quality by increasing the number of carers per child and boosting staff qualifications.

Policy analyst Trisha Jha from the think tank said the "jury is out" on whether or not the reforms will improve outcomes for children. After doing a survey of international and Australian studies, Ms Jha said that to date, people have been "too optimistic" with the evidence. She also said it was a potentially inefficient use of the taxpayer funds.

Early Childhood Australia chief executive Samantha Page dismissed the study on Thursday.

She said the Centre for Independent Studies had "not looked at the research evidence regarding the harm children experience in poor-quality programs as a result of heightened stress and the impact this has on family decision-making".

"If Australian families were to lose confidence in the early childhood services sector, the consequences socially and economically would be disastrous."

Ms Page also pointed to a study released by Early Childhood Australia earlier this week, which showed factors other than service delivery were having at least as much, if not more influence on the fees charged by long day care services.

"It's highly unlikely that daily fees would be reduced if the quality reforms were relaxed," she said.

While the quality reforms have bipartisan support, the Coalition has raised concerns they will decrease affordability for families. The Productivity Commission, in its draft report on childcare, also raised the idea of watering down the standards.

The Benevolent Society's chief executive Joanne Toohey said reducing the quality standards would deny vulnerable children access to quality early childhood education.

"One in five children starting school is 'vulnerable' in one or more areas of development. For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children the rate is double this, at 43 per cent," Ms Toohey said.

"We know that early childhood education and care enhances child development and makes a significant difference to children's school readiness and performance in later life, particularly for disadvantaged children, if the services are of a high quality," said Ms Toohey.

The Centre for Independent studies issued a statement on Thursday, saying that critics of its report had either not read or understood it.

"The focus of this particular report was not to argue that quality in childcare does not matter, but to examine whether structural factors – staff-to-child ratios and staff qualifications – have a proven, meaningful and statistically significant impact on childcare quality and child outcomes," Ms Jha said.

"The review of the evidence suggests it does not."