Friday, December 11, 2015
UK: Easter eggs 'were re-branded at school linked to Trojan Horse Islamist plot to avoid offending Muslim parents'
Easter eggs were re-branded at a school linked to the alleged Trojan Horse plot in order to avoid offending Muslim parents, an employment tribunal has heard.
The sweet treats were referred to as 'chocolate eggs', removing any mention of the Christian religious festival, according to a former teaching assistant at Birmingham's Adderley Primary School.
Another ex-staff member also claimed lists of Muslim pupils, who make up the majority of the school's roll, were drawn up by teachers so they did not get sent to Easter basket-making sessions.
Teaching assistant Hilary Owens, 46, also told Birmingham's Employment Tribunal she and three other members of staff were the victims of faked resignation letters.
Ms Owens, who described herself as a practising Christian, said staff were told of the chocolate treats: 'We must not refer to them as Easter eggs.'
Ms Owens, who is claiming unfair dismissal alongside three other Muslim teaching assistants by the school's governing board, said: 'I don't understand that, because having an Easter egg doesn't make you a Christian.'
But she added: 'Some parents would have been upset if they came home and said 'Mummy, I've got an Easter egg', so we had to be very culturally aware.' She said she did not recall who had told her about re-naming the chocolate eggs.
She and her ex-colleagues are alleging resignation letters they purportedly signed and sent to the headteacher Rizvana Darr at the end of 2012, were forgeries.
Ms Owens, from Solihull, alongside Rehena Khanom, Yasmin Akhtar, Shahnaz Bibi all had formal grievances against the headteacher at the time of the alleged forged resignation letters.
However, the school and its governors have claimed the resignation letters were part of efforts by the four to destabilise Adderley.
Ms Owens said: 'On December 10, 2012, Mrs Rizvana Darr (the headteacher) said she had received my letter of resignation, which she accepted with immediate effect, and that I was on 'garden leave' until January. 'I said I had not resigned and I had written no such letter.
'The next day I wrote to Mrs Darr again saying how shocked I was at the suggestion that I had resigned.
'I then found out three other members of staff were also told by Mrs Darr that she had received their letters of resignation on December 10.
'I know the pigeon hole where the letters of resignation were put were not secure. I can't possibly point the finger at who put them there, but anyone could have put them there.'
Ms Owens told the tribunal: 'I do not consider that the school treating the letter as genuine and the way that they have acted in this matter to be reasonable and therefore consider I have been unfairly dismissed.'
She also flatly denied being part of any 'conspiracy' together with the other claimants against the headteacher, alleged to have been 'on the grounds that Mrs Darr has an allegiance to a different branch of Islam to the other three claimants'.
Ms Owens added: 'I therefore consider it ludicrous for it to be suggested that I would be interested in becoming involved in some form of conspiracy to remove Mrs Darr on the basis of her religion.'
Earlier, Ms Bibi had claimed Muslim children were excluded from Easter basket-making.
Ms Bibi said: 'Each class teacher made a list of children in their class who were Muslim.'
These children then 'stayed in class' while Christian youngsters went to the craft sessions, she added.
The 'Trojan Horse' letter came to light while the four women were proceeding with an employment tribunal against Adderley school, but the hearing was adjourned when West Midlands Police arrested the colleagues on charges of conspiracy to defraud, in April last year. But in May, 2015, the charges against the women were dropped due to 'insufficient evidence'.
Adderley school was mentioned in the four-page 'Trojan Horse' letter, which detailed a supposed plot by hardline Muslims to take over several city schools, later triggering four official investigations.
Among those inquiries, the Department for Education commissioned former Met counter-terrorism commander Peter Clarke, whose final report stated: 'There is a detailed description of a plan by some members of staff at Adderley Primary School to falsely accuse the headteacher of forging their letters of resignation.
He added: 'It is worthy of note that at the time the 'Trojan Horse' letter was received by Birmingham City Council, none of the details of the Adderley Primary allegations were in the public domain, leading to the inevitable conclusion that the author of the letter was someone with detailed knowledge of what was happening at the school.'
Cross-examining Ms Owens, Edward Williams, representing the school, said: 'An expert report says your signature was forged strongly.
'That was an accurate signature, and unless someone was very familiar with your signature they are going to look at that letter and think you have resigned. 'It is not an obvious fake.'
The hearing continues.
Jerry Falwell on Arming Students: 'It's Where All Universities Need to Go'
Jerry Falwell, Jr., the president of Liberty University, is once again urging all of his students, age 21 and older, to arm themselves for self-defense purposes.
"It's where all universities need to go," Falwell told Fox News's Sean Hannity Monday night.
Falwell appeared on the show three days after telling Liberty students, "I've always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walk in and kill us." Falwell was talking about the slaughter of 14 people at the hands of Muslim radicals in San Bernardino, Calif. on Wednesday.
On Monday, Falwell told Hannity he is upset about Democrats' calls for gun control following the attack.
Falwell recalled the "terrible carnage" at nearby Virginia Tech eight years ago: "I remember thinking for years after that, what if just one of those students, one of those faculty members, had had a concealed carry permit? What if they had been able to stop that shooter before he killed 30-plus lives?
"And I just determined after that incident to make sure that Liberty University students were prepared, were able to protect themselves, to have the chance to protect themselves. It's not all students. It's only age 21 and older, faculty and staff. So we don't have a bunch of 18, 19, 20-year- old students running around with handguns.
"But it's a policy that's been in place here for several years, and it's worked well for us, and I'm proud that Liberty was one of the only schools to take that position initially. Now dozens have followed suit. And I think it's common sense. It's where all universities need to go."
Falwell called it sad that most university students cannot return fire if the need ever arisis: "They would not be allowed to protect themselves. They would not be allowed to have a permit. We've got to change that in America."
Falwell also told Hannity that Liberty University is offering scholarships to the children of those killed in San Bernardino:
"We now have all the phone numbers and addresses of every single victim who has children, and we're contacting every one of them to offer assistance to their children, so that no matter what it takes for them to get a college education, they'll be able to do it here.
"And that was the context of my remarks (at a convocation on Friday). And then I went on to say that I just could not believe that our president's answer to something so horrific as that (San Bernardino) is more gun control. That just defies common sense. It defies logic."
Falwell at the convocation on Friday repeated his earlier call for Liberty students to get a concealed carry permit: "We offer a free course," he told the convocation. "And let's teach them a lesson if they ever show up here."
Hillary Clinton, appearing on ABC's "This Week," called Falwell's comments about taking out Muslims "deplorable" and "hateful."
"No, I'll tell you what's deplorable is, Hillary's a liar," Falwell told Hannity on Monday. "That's not what I said. I went on to say those Muslims, before they can come in and kill us, referring specifically, if you listen to the first part of my comment, to the community center incident in California."
Squandered Resources on College Education
By Walter E. Williams
Most college students do not belong in college. I am not by myself in this assessment. Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson said, "It's time to drop the college-for-all crusade," adding that "the college-for-all crusade has outlived its usefulness."
Richard Vedder, professor emeritus of economics at Ohio University, reports that "the U.S. Labor Department says the majority of new American jobs over the next decade do not need a college degree. We have a six-digit number of college-educated janitors in the U.S." Vedder adds that there are "one-third of a million waiters and waitresses with college degrees." More than one-third of currently working college graduates are in jobs that do not require a degree, such as flight attendants, taxi drivers and salesmen. College was not a wise use of these students', their parents' and taxpayer resources.
What goes on at many colleges adds to the argument that college for many is a waste of resources. Some Framingham State University students were upset by an image of a Confederate flag sticker on another student's laptop. They were offered counseling services by the university's chief diversity and inclusion officer.
Campus Reform reports that because of controversial newspaper op-eds, five Brown University students are claiming that freedom of speech does not confer the right to express opinions they find distasteful.
A Harvard University student organization representing women's interests now routinely advises students that they should not feel pressured to attend or participate in class sessions that focus on the law of sexual violence and that might therefore be traumatic. Such students will be useless to rape victims and don't belong in law school.
And some college professors are not fit for college, as suggested by the courses they teach. Here's a short list, and you decide: "Interrogating Gender: Centuries of Dramatic Cross-Dressing," Swarthmore College; "GaGa for Gaga: Sex, Gender, and Identity," University of Virginia; "Oh, Look, a Chicken!" Belmont University; "Getting Dressed," Princeton University; "Philosophy and Star Trek," Georgetown University; "What if Harry Potter Is Real?" Appalachian State University; and "God, Sex, Chocolate: Desire and the Spiritual Path," University of California, San Diego.
The fact that such courses are part of the curricula also says something about administrators who allow such nonsense.
Then there is professorial "wisdom." Professor Mary Margaret Penrose, of the Texas A&M University School of Law, asked, during a panel discussion on gun control, "Why do we keep such an allegiance to a Constitution that was driven by 18th-century concerns?"
Perhaps the newest "intellectual" fad is white privilege. Portland State University professor Rachel Sanders' "White Privilege" course says "whiteness" must be dismantled if racial justice is ever to be achieved. Campus Reform reports on other whiteness issues (http://tinyurl.com/oof9wu3). Harvard's classes on critical race theory combine "progressive political struggles for racial justice with critiques of the conventional legal and scholarly norms which are themselves viewed as part of the illegitimate hierarchies that need to be changed."
Back to those college administrators. Dartmouth College's vice provost for student affairs, Inge-Lise Ameer, said, "There's a whole conservative world out there that's not being very nice." She did, however, issue "an unequivocal apology" for stoking tensions with such a disparaging comment about conservatives to Black Lives Matter protesters.
After a standoff with other Black Lives Matter protesters, Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber acceded to demands that former Princeton President Woodrow Wilson's name be removed from the campus because of his behavior as U.S. president. President Wilson was a progressive and an avowed racist who racially segregated the civil service and delighted in showing D.W. Griffith's racist "The Birth of a Nation" to his White House guests. Professor Thomas DiLorenzo's recent column suggests that a worthier target for Black Lives Matter protesters would be Abraham Lincoln, who he says was "the most publicly outspoken racist and white supremacist of all American presidents" (http://tinyurl.com/jza7ntf).
The bottom line is that George Orwell was absolutely right when he said, "There are notions so foolish that only an intellectual will believe them."
Thursday, December 10, 2015
UK: Christian religious assemblies for children should be scrapped along with segregation of pupils by faith says ex-High Court judge
Stupid old bag
Christian religious assemblies for schoolchildren should be scrapped along with the segregation of pupils by faith, according to an ex-High Court Judge.
The radical changes are proposed by the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, led by Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, and also include an overhaul of the teaching of faith to make it more reflective of multicultural Britain.
Currently all state schools are legally required to provide daily acts of Christian-themed worship, such as assemblies, although past studies have found many schools ignore the rule.
Other areas examined include the role of Christian faith in future coronations, the criminal justice system, politics and the media – with the commission expected to draw up proposals for possible changes that embrace people of all and no faiths.
It is made up of members of all the major religions across the UK and one of its patrons is former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
According to The Observer, it proposes repealing the legal requirement over daily acts of Christian worship and permitting non-Christian schools to choose their own form of worship, because 'The arguments in favour of retaining compulsory Christian worship in UK schools are no longer… convincing'.
Instead there should be new guidelines for inclusive assemblies that are 'appropriate for pupils and staff of all religions and beliefs' that contribute to their overall development.
Calls for reforms have been growing for years, with ex-Education Secretary Charles Clarke stating earlier this year daily worship should be scrapped and such decisions left to school governors, while the Bishop of Oxford, John Pritchard, has said times of 'spiritual reflection' were the way forward.
Meanwhile a ComRes survey in 2011 revealed two-thirds of parents said their children did not attend religious worship at school, while six out of 10 people said the law should not be enforced.
The report also says segregation by faith brings 'negative practical consequences' such as creating tensions while undermining equality of opportunity for all pupils.
Admissions policies should be changed to reduce selection on grounds of religion and a giant recruitment and retraining programme is needed for those teaching religion and belief, according to the recommendations.
Around one third of schools in England are publically funded faith schools, most of which are Christian.
It also says current syllabuses tend to portray religions only in a positive light, and should be extended to show how it has played a part in creating prejudice and reinforcing gender, sexual and racial stereotypes.
A Department of Education spokesman said collective worship played an important role in school but parents had the right to remove their children from assemblies if they wish.
The spokesman said: 'Collective worship plays an important role in schools. It encourages children to reflect on belief, and helps shape fundamental British values of tolerance, respect and understanding for others.
'It is for schools to tailor their provision to suit the needs of their pupils, and parents can choose to withdraw their children from all or any part of collective worship.'
The commission was established by the Woolf Institute, which studies relations between Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and public consultations were held over the past two years to gather research.
As reported previously on Mail Online, last month the High Court ruled in favour of three families and the British Humanist Association after they challenged Education Secretary Nicky Morgan's decision to exclude the teaching of non-religious views in school curriculums.
New schools and homes in Britain must have windows that won't open because fresh air is so polluted
Fresh air in Britain is so polluted that new homes and even school in some areas are having to be built with windows that can’t open.
Once thought to be vital to a healthy lifestyle, fresh air is now thought to be full of toxins that a mechanically-filtered option is preferable.
Developers are now being told that they will only get permission to build on specific sites around the country if they work to stop polluted air getting into the building.
They must also include a mechanical ventilation system in the plans, to filter toxins out of the incoming air.
The new ‘hermetic homes’ policy has been thought up by the Department for Communities and Local Government and is now being forced on councils.
The hope is to transform Britain’s 1,400 square miles of air pollution zones back into land that is suitable for building.
Under the new policy, developers will still be able to build in the land that had previously been abandoned.
One of these sites is right next door to the four-lane A23 Purley Way in Croydon, south London, which is set to house a primary school in the new year.
Critics have slammed the project, claiming the polluted zone is no place for young children.
The same site was even abandoned as unsuitable for young children five years ago, when the previous schools there were closed and moved to a less polluted environment
But Harris Federation, sponsoring academy group, has already issued literature publicising its intention to open on the Purley Way site in September 2016.
The school insists it will be able to protect children with the locked windows and filtered air. The planning application insisted that play areas would be kept to the back of the building, further away from the busy road.
In York, a development of 300 student flats has also been allowed, which will also be sealed with non-opening windows.
York council’s environment spokesman, Andrew Waller, blamed the car industry for the city’s growing pollution problem.
‘This is not a position that we want to be in,’ he told The Sunday Times, insisting that the car industry had failed to cut emissions.
Meanwhile a similar application for student flats next door to the Blackwall Tunnel entrance in Greenwich, southeast London, was rejected as being potentially ‘psychologically damaging’.
But the non-opening windows are not only designed to keep out toxins, but also noise.
A 1,000-home development that has been proposed next to junction 15 of the M1, near Northampton, would be fitted with the windows in order to block out the deafening traffic noises.
Hugh Ellis, head of policy at the Town and Country Planning Association said that the scheme didn’t make sense financially, because it would make residents unhealthier in the long-run and put extra pressure on the NHS.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Communities and Local Government, said: ‘It is important we ensure that new homes reach the highest environmental standards.’
Is This the Only University Standing Up For Freedom?
The San Bernardino terrorist attack was a shock to a news cycle that was previously focused on the feelings of overprivileged, underinformed college students waging war on academic discourse. The threat that someone, somewhere might be offended by a Confederate flag all of a sudden seemed as absurd as it actually was when hateful, savage Islamic terrorists slaughtered innocent Americans.
In light of that attack, one college isn't taking any chances. Instead of issuing decrees that blame America for the attack and decrying gun culture, Liberty University is taking its own approach:
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. urged students, staff and faculty at his Christian school to get a permit to carry a concealed weapon on campus to counter any copycat attack like the deadly rampage in California just days ago.
"Let's teach them a lesson if they ever show up here," Falwell told an estimated 10,000 of the campus community at convocation Friday in Lynchburg. While Falwell's call to arms was applauded, his remarks also seemed to target Muslims.
"I've always thought if more good people had concealed carry permits, then we could end those Muslims before they walked in .," Falwell said. The final words of his statement could not be clearly heard on a videotape of the remarks.
However, Falwell told The Associated Press on Saturday he was specifically referring to Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, the husband and wife who shot and killed 14 people at a holiday party in San Bernardino on Wednesday.
It's nice to see a school that gets it.
Justices look anew at affirmative action in Texas
The Supreme Court is hearing Abigail Fisher’s admissions case for the second time in three years.
The justices Wednesday will take up a case that presages tighter limits on affirmative action in higher education. They will be hearing arguments for the second time in three years in the case of a white Texas woman who was rejected for admission at the University of Texas.
Abigail Fisher did not graduate in the top 10 percent of her high school class, which would have won her a spot at the state’s flagship college in Austin. She also did not get in under the program that looks at race among many factors and through which Texas admits about a quarter of its incoming freshmen.
Lawyers for Fisher say the university has no good reason to consider race at all because the “top 10” plan that the state put in place in 1997 works well to bring in Hispanic and African-American students. Texas says the plan by itself is not enough and it needs the freedom to fill out its incoming classes as it sees fit.
Fisher’s argument did not persuade the conservative-leaning federal appeals court in New Orleans, which has twice upheld the university’s admissions process. The second ruling, last year, followed a Supreme Court order to reconsider Fisher’s case.
Among the many groups urging the justices to leave the Texas program in place are the coaches, including Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and the University of Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma, who said they have firsthand knowledge of the value of diversity on campus. “We are not writing as dilettantes or tourists. We live this life,” the coaches wrote.
The high court has been much more skeptical of the role of race in public programs since Justice Samuel Alito joined the court, replacing Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. In 2003, O’Connor wrote the court’s opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger that allowed colleges and universities to use race in their quest for diverse student bodies.
The conservative majority of which Alito is a part generally is cohesive on issues of race. It stuck together in cases that stripped the Justice Department of its power to approve in advance changes related to elections in all or parts of 16 states with a history of discrimination in voting, and threw out local plans to integrate public schools in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle.
The only break from this pattern was in June, when Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the four liberal justices to preserve a key legal tool in fighting discrimination in housing.
“Every time they take one of these cases, I worry,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Ifill’s worry might be especially apt in Fisher’s case because there is no split among lower courts to attract the justices’ attention. In addition, Fisher herself will not benefit from the ruling because she graduated from Louisiana State University in 2012, and one liberal justice, Elena Kagan, is absent from the case due to her earlier work on it while serving in the Justice Department.
So it seems the conservative justices have more they’d like to say about affirmative action.
The first time Fisher’s case was heard by the court, shortly after her graduation, people on both sides of the issue expected a decision that sharply cut back on or eliminated public universities’ use of race in admissions.
Instead, after sitting on the case for eight months, the justices released an opinion that ordered appellate judges to look anew at Fisher’s complaint to see whether Texas sufficiently explained its need to take account of race in admissions.
The vote was 7 to 1, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in dissent. Kagan sat out the first round, too.
The outcome, in June 2013, concealed tense divisions among the justices, according to author Joan Biskupic’s account in her book “Breaking In” about Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Kennedy initially had written a decision striking down the Texas program that split the conservative and liberal justices, Biskupic wrote. Sotomayor drafted a blistering dissent that eventually caused Kennedy to reconsider, Biskupic said.
Last year, Sotomayor did issue a strong dissent to Kennedy’s majority opinion in a case from Michigan that essentially looked at the flip side of the Texas issue and concluded that Michigan voters could ban racial preferences in university admissions.
Michigan is one of eight states in which race cannot be a factor in public college admissions decisions. The others are Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Washington.
Texas is unique in marrying the top 10 plan to a separate admissions review in which race is one factor considered.
Wednesday, December 09, 2015
All I Want for Christmas Is Christmas
The cancer of political correctness eating away at the foundation of the American university system has reached a new low. At the University of Tennessee, the Office for Diversity and Inclusion has released a list of “suggestions” emphasizing the need to avoid Christmas parties, because those expressing cultural and/or religious preferences run afoul of UT’s commitment to inclusion and diversity. They advise, “Ensure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise.”
“The university does not have an official policy regarding religious and cultural décor and celebration in the workplace,” states an online document entitled “Best Practices for Inclusive Holiday Celebrations in the Workplace.” “However, we are fully committed to a diverse, welcoming, and inclusive environment.” Thus UT bureaucrats have compiled a series of bullet points outlining the “best practices for inclusive holiday celebrations.”
It includes such “insightful” ideas as building upon “workplace relationships and team morale with no emphasis on religion or culture,” giving New Year’s parties that have “décor and food from multiple religions and cultures,” pot-luck parties that “encourage employees to bring food items that reflect their personal religions, cultures, and celebrations,” and serving refreshments “not specific to any religion or culture.”
It gets worse. Supervisors and managers “should not endorse, or be perceived as endorsing, religion generally or a specific religion,” all holiday cards should be “nondenominational” expressions of one’s gratitude, and all religious holidays should only be celebrated “in ways that are respectful and inclusive of our students, your colleagues, and our university.”
Note that even a general endorsement of religion is frowned upon, courtesy of radical leftist ideologues as cultish and demanding as any primitive gaggle of howling moon-worshippers could ever be.
Even games are anathema to these spirit-sapping down-heads. “Holiday parties and celebrations should not play games with religious and cultural themes — for example, ‘Dreidel’ or ‘Secret Santa.’” So, the document advises, “If you want to exchange gifts, then refer to it in a general way, such as a practical joke gift exchange or secret gift exchange.”
As least some people get it. U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan (R-TN) blasted the policy as “extremist,” “ridiculously overboard” and an example of political correctness gone wild. State Rep. Martin Daniel (R-Knoxville), sent UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek a letter supporting diversity in general, noting that higher education would be boring if “all of the student or faculty were of one type or one color.” Yet he rightly noted the university’s diversity efforts go far beyond such basic understandings “and seem to be an unnecessarily aggressive indoctrination of our students with a general liberal ideology. This part of the diversity effort does not seem to be counterbalanced with conservative or moderate opinion.”
That’s because it isn’t, courtesy of the same university that engendered controversy back in August when the director of the UTK Pride Center posted a piece on the Office for Diversity’s website encouraging UT students and professors to use gender-neutral pronouns such as “ze” and “xyr.” That post was ultimately pulled, with UT President Joe DiPietro and Chancellor Cheek stating they would approve future campus-wide practices or policies prior to their publication.
Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville). “Chancellor Cheek made a commitment to our Higher Education Subcommittee to personally approve future posts by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. I took him to be a man of his word and I am dismayed by these recent developments,” he said.
Rep. Duncan added, “They didn’t seem to learn much from that experience.” Both called for Cheek’s resignation.
UT vice chancellor Rickey Hall thought the whole controversy was “ridiculous.” He insisted most other universities had similar practices and “UT is just catching up” in order to prevent the several complaints he purportedly hears each year from Jews or Muslims about holiday workplace parties that actually are Christmas parties. Chancellor Cheek was equally feckless, saying in a statement, “I am disappointed that our efforts to be inclusive have been totally misconstrued.”
Nothing has been “misconstrued.” One either embraces the position of the perpetual grievance-mongers and their brainless collectivism, or one is a trouble-maker.
Yet the real elephant in the room is being ignored: Why in the world should any university have an Office for Diversity and Inclusion? Moreover, why should it be the business of college bureaucrats how students, faculty and university employees celebrate parties? This is nothing more than the continuing attempt to infantilize a college environment that should be the complete antithesis of such puerile nonsense. Parents, students and alumni donors might ask themselves what portion of UT’s annual attendance costs of $27,962 for in-state students, and a whopping $46,152 for out-of-state students, is used to underwrite a radical leftist bureaucracy determined to micromanage every aspect of university behavior.
And not just at Tennessee. As Bloomberg reported in 2012, “At universities nationwide, employment of administrators jumped 60 percent from 1993 to 2009, 10 times the growth rate for tenured faculty.”
Writing about the “diversity ideology” that infests the campuses of the University of California, policy analyst Heather MacDonald notes the consequences of such an explosion. “It’s impossible to overstate the extent to which the diversity ideology has encroached upon UC’s collective psyche and mission,” she writes. “No administrator, no regent, no academic dean or chair can open his mouth for long without professing fealty to diversity.”
That would be diversity as defined by George Orwell. Last week, Americans endured the ultimate example of those wishing to take Christmas out of a Christmas party when two Islamic terrorists killed 14 and wounded 21 in San Bernardino, California. If like-minded people had their way, Christmas itself would be completely eliminated — out of “respect” for their sensibilities. Perhaps some clueless college bureaucrats might ponder the rather curious alignment between those who brook no challenge to Islamist orthodoxy, and those who brook no challenge to progressive orthodoxy.
In the meantime, the moment has come to cut the bureaucratic umbilical cord that turns college campuses into indoctrination camps for political correctness, in all its alternative viewpoint-suppressing glory. No doubt that will be a trauma-inducing development for some delicate flower students and faculty who might be forced to cope with the avalanche of “microaggressions” better known as the free and open exchange of competing ideas. Who knows, they might ultimately learn to enjoy being challenged, or how to enjoy Christmas — just for Christmas' sake.
3 Conservative Goals No Child Left Behind Rewrite Wouldn’t Accomplish
Monday morning, Congress released a proposed reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, currently known as No Child Left Behind.
The proposal, known as the Every Student Succeeds Act, would makes some important changes to No Child Left Behind, such as eliminating Adequate Yearly Progress mandates (standardized testing benchmarks), but would not accomplish conservative policy priorities of:
Allowing funding for Title I (federal funding for low-income children) to be made portable by states
Allowing states to completely opt out of federal programs through the APLUS provision
Cutting programs and spending that have accumulated over the decades
The proposal also creates several major new programs and initiatives, maintaining a “program for every problem” structure. As such, the proposal would likely maintain significant federal intervention in local school policy for years to come.
Reconstituted School Improvement Grant program. In 2009, the Obama administration created the School Improvement Grant program as a stand-alone program funded primarily through more than $3 billion provided through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act, often referred to as the “stimulus” package. The School Improvement Grant program was geared toward turning around the worst-performing schools in a state through specific interventions tied to the stimulus funds.
Under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the structure of the School Improvement Grant program is eliminated, but the existing 4 percent set aside in Title I is increased to 7 percent and is to be used for school improvement activities. Although the School Improvement Grant program is eliminated, states will now be able to use a larger share of Title I funding for the same purpose, with Title I funding itself increasing. So while the School Improvement Grant program disappears in law, funding for the same functions effectively remains intact.
New STEM program. The Every Student Succeeds Act would also include a new STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) Master Teacher program. The STEM Master Teacher Corps program had been introduced as a stand-alone bill by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., in February in an effort to create a network of STEM leaders who would be eligible to receive additional compensation funded through the federal program.
Family Engagement in Education Program. Part E of Title IV would also provide $10 million in federal funding beginning in 2017 and continuing through 2020 to reconstitute the Parental Information and Resources Center (PIRC)—which had not been funded since 2010—into statewide Family Engagement in Education Programs.
As the proposal states, these programs would, among other purposes, “assist the Secretary, State educational agencies, and local educational agencies in the coordination and integration of Federal, State, and local services and programs to engage families in education.” The secretary of education would award grants to statewide organizations to establish family engagement centers to “carry out parent education, and family engagement in education, programs; or provide comprehensive training and technical assistance to State educational agencies, local educational agencies … organizations that support family-school partnerships, and other organizations that carry out such programs.”
New preschool program. Title IX would house a new federal preschool program authorized by the Every Student Succeeds Act and establish annual funding at $250 million. The new preschool program would be housed at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and jointly administered by the Department of Education.
The funding would be made available to states to help coordinate existing government preschool programs, such as those operated by the states and Head Start, and to establish new preschool programs. Although some funding has been appropriated for the preschool program for the past two years, the new Every Student Succeeds Act would codify the new $250-million federal preschool program, creating mission creep in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Additionally, this move would continue the trend of growth in federal programs affecting the youngest Americans at a time when there is more empirical evidence than ever on the shortcomings of government preschool programs.
New civics program. The Every Student Succeeds Act would also establish a new program known as Presidential Academies for the Teaching of American History and Civics, which would provide professional development to improve the teaching of history and civics to between 50 and 300 teachers annually, selected from public and private elementary and secondary schools throughout the country. It would also establish Congressional Academies, a similar initiative geared toward high school juniors and seniors at the recommendation of their principal. All participants in both programs receive a stipend for travel expenses.
Annual Testing and Adequate Yearly Progress Mandates
The Every Student Succeeds Act would end the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) mandates under No Child Left Behind, which require that all students in all states make “adequate” annual progress toward universal proficiency in math and reading or have the state risk federal sanctions.
Yet the Every Student Succeeds Act retains the annual testing requirement that students be tested every year in grades three through eight and again in high school. States promulgate their own tests to assess students in advance of the federally mandated state tests, resulting in students in large districts taking an average of 112 mandated standardized tests by the time they graduate.
The proposal would keep the annual testing structure in place. Regardless of the relative merits of standardized testing, federally mandated annual testing would continue to have a real effect on local school policy.
The Every Student Succeeds Act would also include requirements for the new “state-based” accountability plans. Although less prescriptive than the Adequate Yearly Progress mandates, the proposal is specific about the types and the proportion of accountability options that must be included. Approximately 51 percent of a state’s accountability would be required to be based on quantitative measures such as graduation rates and performance on state tests, and the other 49 percent would be based on other more subjective measures, such as school climate and educator engagement.
Under the new proposal, states would also be required to intervene in the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools, have school-level interventions in schools in which subgroups of students perform poorly, and intervene in schools in which fewer than two-thirds of students graduate.
Overall, the proposal would retain a labyrinth of federal programs, and high levels of federal spending, continuing a trend that has maintained federal intervention in local school policy while failing to improve educational outcomes for children.
British schools can win £30,000 grants if they hire and promote gay and transgender teachers thanks to 'profoundly misguided' scheme
A scheme offering schools £30,000 to hire and promote gay and transgender teachers has been slammed by critics as being 'profoundly misguided'.
The Leadership Equality and Diversity Fund, backed by the Department for Education, will provide training to existing staff, or recruit new staff, in an effort to promote diversity within schools.
Applications are encouraged on the basis of 'protected characteristics', as outlined in the Equality Act 2010, which include age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief and sex.
The category also includes sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity.
Schools with low numbers of staff who are gay, mature or returning to work after having children, are thought to benefit from the grant, which can provide additional training for promotion.
The £900,000 fund accepted applications for the first time this year, following a pilot scheme in 2014/2015.
However, critics say the scheme promotes teachers on the basis of diversity, rather than skill.
The fund, run by the National College for Teaching and Leadership, was also set up to specifically promote black and minority ethnic teachers and women, but the grant has also been used to recruit more male teachers.
David Green, founder of the Civitas think tank, told The Sunday Telegraph that the scheme was flawed and assumes there is discrimination if the above groups are not proportionately represented in leadership roles.
He said: 'It is highly likely that this would include every school in the land.' Mr Green added: 'I would abolish the whole thing.
'I think it's profoundly misguided and the money could be better spent on providing more teachers for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.'
Meanwhile David Nuttall, Conservative MP for Bury North, said the fund is 'absolute nonsense.'
Lucy Powell, Labour shadow education secretary added her concerns about the scheme, saying that the money allocated for the fund could be better spent elsewhere.
In a statement, the Department for Education told MailOnline that it was 'nonsense' to suggest staff are promoted on the basis of diversity rather than skill.
It said: 'This programme encourages able teachers with potential, who might otherwise not have the confidence to compete for such roles without targeted intervention, to move into leadership roles.
'It is absolute nonsense to say that the people involved are promoted on the basis of diversity - all participants who apply for leadership roles must show they are the best person for the job to be successful.
'Participants do not have to be promoted within 12 months, they compete for leadership roles on the same basis as other applicants, and will only succeed where they are the most suitable person for the role.'
Posted by jonjayray at 2:07 AM
Tuesday, December 08, 2015
Taking college classes earlier can change course of students’ lives
The idea that minorities can benefit from college-level courses during their high school years is rather fanciful. Most of them have enough trouble handling normal High School work. Claims that such a system does work must depend on dumbed-down college courses or highly selected students.
Such programs are however helpful to brighter students regardless of background. I sent my son to a major university for mathematics classes during his final High School year, which made his transition to university much easier. He ended up getting a B.Sc. with first class honours in mathematics
School districts in Boston, and in cities across the country, are beginning to rethink the high school experience, turning to the early college model, as well as a variety of others, to address persistent socioeconomic and racial achievement gaps.
Just 40 percent of Boston’s Hispanic and African-American high school graduates go on to earn college degrees, compared with more than 70 percent of its white and Asian students.
Boston has sought to close the achievement gap in recent years with specialized high schools focused on the arts, clean energy, health care, and technology. At least four schools have also launched small early college programs that send a few students to free college classes.
City officials see the approach as one of the most promising ways to prepare poor and minority students academically and socially for college, while saving their parents thousands of dollars in tuition costs.
Students at these schools are more likely to get a high school diploma, go to college, and, just as critically, to stay in college and get a degree, according to the American Institutes for Research, which compared students who enrolled in early colleges with students who sought to enroll but were rejected by a lottery.
More than 280 early college high schools have opened across the country since 2002. Last year, the Obama administration awarded $15 million to start more in South Texas and Denver, calling the schools an “innovative model with a proven record of improving student outcomes and closing achievement gaps for high-need students.”
But even students and teachers who embrace the model say that pushing high school students into college has its hazards.
Students at early college schools say they sometimes struggle with the logistics of scheduling classes at nearby colleges and finding transportation there. Some complain that their long commutes and reading lists leave them with no time for sports and clubs. And the college courses they attend can be large, impersonal lectures, the antithesis of the small, hands-on classes that help teenagers stay focused.
“College teaching, as a rule, is not what I would call centered on student engagement,” said Linda Nathan, a founder of Boston Arts Academy and former codirector of Fenway High School. “It’s often a lot of rote learning. It’s not particularly innovative.”
Bill Rawlinson, who works at the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers in Boston, which is sending 11 students to an English class at Bunker Hill Community College this year, said he sees both the necessity for early college and the potential downsides.
“The drawback may be that we are trying to make kids grow up too fast,” Rawlinson said, “but with the competitive nature of colleges, we almost have to do that.”
Massachusetts provides only a small amount of funding for early college, forcing most participating colleges to waive the students’ tuition. The burden on colleges has made it difficult to expand the programs. Texas, however, pays the full cost of tuition for its early college students.
That has helped Daniel P. King, the superintendent of the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo School District, home to 30,000 students on the US-Mexico border, to launch the nation’s most audacious attempt yet to meld high school and college.
While most early college schools take only the students motivated enough to sign up, King is trying to push all of his 9,000 high schoolers — 90 percent of whom are low-income and more than 98 percent of whom are Hispanic — into early college classes. To qualify, students must pass an exam that tests whether they are ready for college-level work.
This year, 4,300 are taking college courses. Some take a 15-minute bus ride to South Texas College. Most take college-level classes in their high schools with teachers accredited by the college.
Students in a college-level calculus class worked on a formula known as the chain rule. A few doors down, a physics class calculated when two carts moving in the same direction at different speeds would collide. Students in a Spanish class discussed a 16th-century poem while wearing paper hats labeled with literary terms — verse, stanza, and sonnet.
“In the beginning, it’s really hard,” said Eric Garza, a 17-year-old senior originally from Mexico, who wants to go to the University of Pennsylvania next year. “You’re coming out of eighth grade. You’re a child. But I feel it’s helped me, and I feel prepared for any university of any kind.”
The district launched its first early college classes in 2007, along with special high schools for teen mothers and for dropouts ages 18 to 26. The results are drawing nationwide attention.
Since 2007, the dropout rate has plummeted from 19 percent — double the statewide average — to 3 percent, while the rate of students earning a high school diploma has jumped from 62 percent to 90 percent. This summer, 1,000 students took voluntary, free classes at South Texas College.
“When you go around, the number of students talking about their master’s and even their PhDs — these are things that are not typical,” King said. “Whether it’s a student who has really struggled or a student who is doing very well, we’ve seen a lot of positive results from it, and it’s changed the conversation among students in our high schools.”
Students said they appreciate the added responsibility and independence that are central to the early college experience. At one high school in Pharr, students have to get themselves to class on time; there is no bell at the end of class. In Boston, early college students at Bunker Hill Community College are issued college IDs and can use the campus gym and library.
While officials are venturing cautiously toward new models, gathering community input and considering whether a large-scale transformation is advisable, students in early college programs say they have already reimagined high school — and their academic trajectories.
“When I’m here, I feel like I’m a college student,” said Jenel Miller Cairo, a 16-year-old junior at the Community Academy of Science and Health, who is taking English at Bunker Hill. “I don’t even think about high school.”
The Upside Down Campus Protester
By Victor Davis Hanson
One common denominator characterizes almost all unrest on college campuses: the demands to create more “-studies” courses (black, Latino, feminist, gay, etc.) and thus to hire more -studies professors.
An empiricist from Mars might observe that the chief beneficiaries of the protests are -studies academics. They alone will win more jobs and classes, which otherwise few students wish to attend and from which fewer gain any factual knowledge, written and oral speaking skills, or improvement in inductive thinking.
A good leftist would cite conflict of interest: the more -studies professors egg on students to protest for more -studies professors, the more their friends, students, and mentors profit. Or is it more insidious: students also want more -studies courses to ensure more gut classes with easy As to inflate GPAs and free up more time to hit the gym and the local protest? So far there are few demands to make the physics department more diverse or to hire more engineering professors.
If some right-wing nut wished to harm leftist students and wanted to ensure that they stay indebted, leave college poorly prepared, and do not impress future employers, then he would likely advocate for the curtailment of traditional history, language, science, math courses and their faculty, and the expansion of more -studies courses and professors.
Who pays unnecessary administrators—other than students and the federal government that ensures their frequently defaulted loans? Screaming that the Constitution is racist is not the same thing as explaining the 10th Amendment’s Reserve Clause, in the way that damning old white texts does not mean one has first read Plato’s Republic or Augustine’s The City of God and found it unfair.
Forget the Poor?
Another irony. Note how class never really becomes an issue to campus class warriors.
If it were, campus demands would include:
1) Part-time teachers should receive equal pay for equal work, instead of receiving far less compensation for teaching the same class with the same credentials.
2) Stop administrative bloat and return more scarce education dollars for teaching students rather than creating czarist fiefdoms for academic careerists.
3) Spread the wealth among rich and poor campuses: set a cap at $5 billion on tax-free endowments; anything over that amount would be subject to for-profit tax codes regarding donations and spending. Why should Princeton have more tax-free dollars than, say, Morgan State? Are its privileged alumni and donor base to perpetuate their privilege on the public dime? Even professional sports teams treat wealthy franchises one way, and poorer counterparts quite another. Why are campuses more reactionary and adverse to spreading the wealth than Major League Baseball or the NBA?
4) Predicate affirmative action on class considerations. Why would one assume that a multimillionaire kid like Jonathan Butler who led the Missouri hunger strike faces more hardship than does a poor kid from Appalachia or a South Korean immigrant?
5) Stop building pricey bourgeoisie distractions like Club Med heated swimming pools, hipster rock-climbing walls, and 5th Avenue Fitness-style workout stations, when zero-sum money could be far better spent on more Chicano reading rooms, more black safe spaces, and more soup kitchens on campus.
Left Versus Liberal
Student protesters are furious at liberal faculty and administrators. There are few conservative faculty, statistically speaking, on college campuses. Apparently liberal appeasement is what infuriates students.
And why not? Reading an administrator’s cave-in letter elicits the same sort of contempt shown Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain from those each had tried so hard to appease. Hitler said he admired Stalin, who destroyed him far more than Chamberlain (who empowered him).
It is not very brave to sit down in the office of an invertebrate president. The real enemy logically should be at NASCAR races and NRA shows. Why not disrupt the recreation of supposed rednecks to remind them of their racism, sexism, and homophobia? Why not go to Donald Trump rallies en masse to remind the reprobate audiences of their embedded privilege?
Leftists tweaking liberals is kid’s play. The real adult would swarm the entry gate at the Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune, mob the Cody Stampede Rodeo, and shut down a Branson concert in the Ozarks.
Adults or Children?
Students need to decide whether they are ten or twenty. One cannot be both infantile and mature as the situation demands. If one in four women are truly sexually assaulted on campus, then why not end co-ed dorms, the incubator of date rape? Dress codes for both men and women might discourage callous sexuality and cruel hook-ups. In this regard, the treasured Middle Eastern Studies department or the local black Muslim mosque might offer some empirical advice about the separation of the sexes and proper female attire, in a nonjudgmental manner of course.
If African-American students want more segregated black safe spaces and theme houses, then stop blaming administrators, and demand that students be categorized by race and housed in dormitories accordingly. To remove the odor of apartheid and segregation, we could use Orwellian language to expand the idea of “theme” houses: the Africana Row, the European Village, the Asian Neighborhood, and on and on. Do we want “white meditation rooms” or “Asian sanctuary plazas” or “Latino reflection gardens"?
How strange that students damn frat predators on campus and racist attitudes that ignore disparate impact, then head to 1940s-like Saturday football games. Don’t they know that statistically the football and basketball teams commit an inordinate percentage of campus sexual assaults, and hardly reflect proportional representation, while completely ignoring disparate impact?
Georgetown basketball and Missouri football refuse entirely to insist on racially diverse teams, and minority outreach and mentoring (Asian centers, Latino forwards, gay quarterbacks, female placekickers, etc.). Adults who want to change the world are not children who watch football on Saturdays and say nothing about the unapologetic sexism and racism on the field.
Why not forbid bourgeoisie (and infantile) campus distractions that six year olds obsess over—not mature revolutionaries who are changing the universe? Ban videogames on campuses. No real man or woman dresses up in silly preteen Halloween costumes. Only kids chant “I know you are, but what am I?” slogans. Teenagers, not adults, pose for selfies.
And why the agonizing self-confessionals about being traumatized, hurt, marginalized, and depressed by inequality and unfairness? Are they Coward Lions and Straw Scarecrows, or grim pike men in the phalanxes of hope and change?
Students, as gallant revolutionaries, should be prepared for premodern challenges in the manner of Mao’s Long March or Che’s Bolivian ordeals. Changing America is not part-time buzz in between flights back to the cushy basement of mom and dad. The true revolutionaries see nothing “hurtful.” They laugh at the absence of safe spaces. They guffaw at micro-aggressions. And they ignore trigger warnings. Instead, they welcome struggle and enjoy confrontations that toughen them up for the full-time, life-long sacrifices for the masses.
Protestors: get real and grow up—there’s a wide world out there to change!
University: Your Holiday Party Cannot Be a Christmas Party in Disguise
If you plan on having a Christmas party at the University of Tennessee, be sure to leave the Baby Jesus and Santa Claus at home.
The taxpayer-funded university’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion recently released an “unofficial” edict calling for the campus to host holiday parties that do not emphasize religion or culture.
“Ensure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise,” the organization warned in an online document titled, “Best Practices for Inclusive Holiday Celebrations in the Workplace.”
Ah yes — Christmas-neutral. It’s all the rage on college campuses these days.
“Celebrate your religious and cultural holidays in ways that are respectful and inclusive of our students, your colleagues and our university,” the Office for Diversity and Inclusion stated.
Let me pause for just a moment to share a rather frosty note I received from the university’s media relations department.
They say the “Best Practices for Inclusive Holiday Celebrations in the Workplace” is not an official policy.
“It is a list of suggestions for inclusive celebrations,” they stated. “We recognize that our campus community is diverse and its members observe various religious and faiths.”
The statement went on to point out they “honor Christmas as one of the celebrations of the season and the birth of Jesus and the corresponding Christmas observance is one of the Christian holidays on our cultural and religious holidays calendar.”
I wonder if the Office for Diversity and Inclusion is aware that such non-inclusive and non-diverse activities are occurring on campus?
“I am hoping that you will be fair and objective in your reporting and the inferences you make about the piece,” the statement went on to read.
Well, I’m not inferring anything. It’s written in black and white and Tennessee orange — on the university’s official website.
Get a load of some of the nonsense they’re suggesting on Rocky Top:
Holiday cards should be non-denominational. And decorations should not be specific to any religion or culture.
“Refreshment selection should be general, not specific to any religion or culture,” they added.
I reckon that means kids won’t be able to serve jugs of sweet tea — considered the House Wine of Southern Baptists.
And my personal favorite:
Holiday parties should not play games with religious or cultural themes. They singled out “Dreidel” and “Secret Santa” as no-nos.
The recommendations have drawn the ire of alumni, including Rep. John Duncan, (R-Tenn.). “The people I represent are disgusted by this,” he told me. “People from all over the country are sick and tired of all this political correctness.”
Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey echoed the congressman’s concerns about political correctness. “While the advisory makes clear it is not university policy, these ‘suggestions’ call into question what purpose university offices of diversity serve,” he said.
He said students don’t attend college “to have their values and traditions sidelined and undermined.”
Ho, Ho, Ho, America.
Teachers should ban times tables tests to stop children developing a crippling fear of making mistakes, says leading academic
The stupid b*tch seems not to realize that LIFE is stressful and school should help kids to COPE with that, not run away from it
Teachers should ban times tables tests to stop children developing a 'crippling' fear of making mistakes, according to a leading professor.
Jo Boaler, professor of mathematics education at Standard University, said many children develop anxiety when asked to do multiplication tests, which puts them off.
She highlighted that she herself has never learned her times tables, and it 'never held me back'.
And she added that maths is about much more than just memory tests, which only some children are able to master.
She told the Times Educational Supplement: 'What we know now is that when you give things to kids like a timed multiplication test, about a third of them develop anxiety.
'For those kids the working memory which holds maths facts is blocked and they can't access it.
'Governments saying everybody has to memorise their times tables to 12 times 12 is absolutely disastrous. We will be setting up nations of maths-anxious kids – we are doing that now.
'Some kids aren't fast memorisers, and they decide from an early age that they can't do maths because of the timed maths tests. Other kids may be OK but see maths as a shallow subject which is about recall of facts and disengage. So [these cause] huge damage. The US is moving away from them. The UK is moving into them.'
In her book, Mathematical Mindsets, she argues there should be less testing in maths, less worrying about failure, more use of visual representations and more emphasis on group work.
'We need to free your young people from the crippling idea that they must not fail, that they cannot mess up, that only some students can be good at maths and that success should be easy and not involve effort' her book says.
She said that children need to be taught that maths is about more than just giving a right or wrong answer.
She added: 'You want kids to get things right of course, and you don't want them making mistakes all the time. 'But kids will make a mistake and think 'I'm not a maths person, I can't do this.'
'So if you tell them that when you are making mistakes and struggling this is when you are learning, this is a transformative message for them. 'They are allowed to make mistakes.'
Professor Boaler began teaching at Haverstock School in North London before moving into academia with a masters and PhD in mathematics education at King's College London.
She became a professor at Stanford and after a three-year stint back in the UK as the Marie Curie Professor of Mathematics Education at the University of Sussex, she returned to California.
It comes amid a government drive to drive up standards in education by focussing on basic numeracy at an early age.
Former education secretary Michael Gove vowed to overthrow so-called progressive teaching methods in favour of traditional techniques.
Charlie Stripp, director of the National Centre for Teaching Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics, said: 'It is not the learning of times tables that is causing anxiety but rather it is lack of times table knowledge.
'It should be an educational; entitlement that all children are helped to learn their times tables.'
Posted by jonjayray at 1:41 AM
Monday, December 07, 2015
Harvard Law to examine use of crest tied to slave ownership
It has long appeared in nearly every corner of the prestigious school. But now Harvard Law School’s official seal is under heavy scrutiny because it includes elements drawn from a slaveholding family’s crest.
Following an outcry from students, officials from the school are examining the continued use of the seal, in what is the latest controversy over race and historic injustices on US college campuses in recent weeks.
“Symbols are important,” Martha Minow, dean of the law school, said this week. “They become even more important when people care about them and focus on them.”
The seal includes the Harvard motto “Veritas” as well as three bushels of wheat, the coat of arms of the Royall family, which owned and brutally abused slaves. Minow has assembled a special committee to research whether the seal should be discarded. She expects the group to make a recommendation by March.
At Harvard Law, a group of students called Royall Must Fall has spoken out against the seal, which has been used to represent the law school since the shield was first adopted nearly 80 years ago.
Harvard investigating ‘White Student Union’ Facebook page
The school is looking into the authenticity of the group, which pledges to defend “the inherent rights of White Europeans.”
When someone defaced portraits of black law professors hanging in the law school’s Wasserstein Hall using strips of tape in November, an incident that is being investigated as a hate crime, the group’s message took on heightened meaning.
In a statement Tuesday, members of Royall Must Fall said they hoped that the committee would rule in their favor and recommend that the shield be rejected.
“We are pleased that [Harvard Law School] has formed this committee,” the group said. “It is a step in the right direction, and we will continue to push for accountability so that the change takes place.”
Students have said that replacing the seal would not erase the brutal history of the slave trade. “Instead, it would appropriately acknowledge the dark legacy of racism that is presently hidden in plain sight,” the students wrote in a letter to Minow.
Harvard Law, considered one of the best law schools in the country, for generations has launched graduates into positions of power in business and government. Its graduates include President Obama, the nation’s first black president. The White House said Tuesday that it had no comment on the seal controversy.
The special committee tasked with studying, discussing, and making recommendations about the seal will be composed of faculty, students, and an alumnus, according to Harvard officials. The group will review comments and input from the school’s community.
“Through that process, we will gain a better sense of what course of action should be recommended and pursued,” Minow said.
Isaac Royall was a slave owner who left in his will land for Harvard College to sell and establish the first law professorship in his name. Royall’s father “treated his slaves with extreme cruelty, including burning 77 people to death,” according to a statement from the law school.
Although the younger Royall died in 1781, the seal wasn’t designated until 1936, when the university celebrated its 300th anniversary.
The controversy surrounding the seal has recently reached a high pitch, but the seal’s deeper meaning hasn’t gone ignored in the past, according to law school professor Randall Kennedy.
“Has the relationship between the Royall family and the law school been talked about? Yes, it’s been talked about,” Kennedy said. “In the past few years, yes, it’s been more talked about.”
A 2011 study led by Harvard professors and students, called “Harvard and Slavery: Seeking a Forgotten History,” highlighted the role that Royall’s contribution played in helping to establish the law school.
“The labor of slaves underwrote the teaching of law in Cambridge,” the researchers wrote.
The book “On the Battlefield of Merit,” about Harvard Law School’s first century, coauthored by Daniel R. Coquillette and Bruce A. Kimball, and published in October, also addresses the family’s legacy.
“The last thing you want to do is deny that this happened — this did happen,” Coquillette said Tuesday. “I’m very sympathetic with the students — it’s like having the Confederate flag — but I don’t like the idea of sanitizing the past. A school as great as Harvard Law School should confront its past, and deal with it.”
Professor Janet Halley, who currently occupies the Royall Chair of Law, spoke about the chair’s past when she was appointed in 2006.
She said in a telephone interview Tuesday that it is healthy for students to engage with the law school about the Royall family legacy. But Halley, who is on the committee that will review the seal, stopped short of recommending what she believes should happen to it.
“The upside would be that there would be this cathartic moment of saying no to its origins. But the danger would be that it could facilitate a forgetting of its origins,” she said, calling the seal a visible reminder of the impure foundation of big institutions.
“I think it’s a morally compelling thing we ought to really face, and I welcome that we would do so through a discussion. It’s clear that there should be a lot of conversation about this by a lot of people, and we should consider this very thoroughly,” she said.
Hate-filled retired academic hits out at young Israeli teen
An ex-Cambridge academic has refused to answer an inquisitive 13-year-old Israeli girl's questions on horses 'until there is peace and justice for Palestinians'.
Teenager Shachar Rabinovitch emailed Dr Marsha Levine to ask her some basic questions about horses for a school assignment.
But Dr Levine - a former Cambridge academic considered an expert on the history of domestication of horses - responded with a link to the homepage of lobby group Jews for Justice for Palestinians.
In the email exchange, the teenager said she was working a school assessment about horses and it would be 'great' if Dr Levine could help her.
She said: ‘I know you are a very important person and I’ve read your article about horses (Domestication, Breed Diversification and Early History of the Horse).
‘I love horses and it will be an honour if you will answer my questions.’
She then asked four basic questions about ancient horse breeds - including where they lived and what were the most common types.
But Dr Levine's response stated: 'You might be a child, but if you are old enough to write to me, you are old enough to learn about Israeli history and how it has impacted on the lives of Palestinian people.
'Maybe your family has the same views as I do, but I doubt it. So, I suggest that you look at this link.'
She included a link to the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the website of the Jews for Justice for Palestinians - of which she is a member.
The original email, along with Dr Levine's response, was posted on Facebook by Shachar's father Shamir Rabinovitch.
He told Camilla Turner and Raf Sanchez from The Daily Telegraph he was shocked at the academic's reply, and questioned if her response was productive.
Mr Rabinovitch told the paper: 'I think it's OK to have different opinions about Israel and we make a lot of mistakes in this country, like in all countries. But it's not OK to involve children in this stuff.
'How can she make all these assumptions about what we think and who we are?'
In an interview with the Jewish Chronicle, Dr Levine defended her response, claiming that the 'Jews have become the Nazis.'
'Jews are behaving just like the people who treated them. It’s not all Israelis or all Jews. I gave her useful information which might help her for the rest of her life. I have to stand up for what I believe in.'
Shachar’s father, Shamir Rabinovitch, said children should be ‘out of the equation’ when discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The family live in a mixed Jewish and Arab area north of Tel Aviv, near a school for Jews and Arabs.
Mr Rabinovitch said: ‘I was so angry. We live in an area which is very mixed — the claim of racism doesn’t fit us at all. Political arguments should be conducted by adults. It was an apolitical and innocent question from a girl. She’s not responsible for bad things that happen around her.’
Dr Levine told the Mail she had been targeted because of her response to Shachar, adding: ‘I have been getting hate mail.’
Asked if she thought it unfair to bring a child into a political debate she said: ‘Children are the future, children should understand.
‘I think her parents set her up. They would have checked on Facebook and they would have known my position on Israel.
‘It is insane. The real issue isn’t the horribleness of a woman who refuses to talk about horses. The issue is why is Israel, on a daily basis, is trying to destroy Palestinian society.’
A Cambridge spokesman said of Dr Levine: ‘She is no longer part of the McDonald Institute and is not employed by the university. The views expressed are her own.’
Australia's illiterate generation: Teachers don't know grammar either
ENGLISH grammar has bamboozled children through the ages, but now it’s teachers who are admitting they need help.
Just as some of next year’s Year 7 students will start high school with shockingly poor literacy skills, there will be teachers struggling to know how to help them, says Melbourne linguist and author Lyn Stone.
But it’s not the teachers’ fault, she says. Teachers are not being taught how to teach grammar properly. “We have a situation of the blind leading the blind — and they admit that fully. Teachers are my favourite people in the world. They are underpaid and overworked and they don’t mean to not know how to teach grammar, they are just not given the tools to do it.”
Her comments come as Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham prepares to release the results of the first “literacy and numeracy test” of graduate teachers, designed to instil public confidence in teachers.
Ms Stone has written the book on grammar. Picture: Jason Sammon
But Ms Stone said she could wallpaper her house with the examples of grammatical and spelling errors she saw in her Mornington Penisula clinic, such as a 12 year-old who, when asked what help he needed, wrote: “to git thinks rihgt”.
Another 12 year-old wrote: “to no the rells [rules]”.
More than half of her child clients were Year 4 boys struggling with spelling and reading books without pictures.
Ms Stone, who has just written a handbook for teachers called “Language for Life”, said ill-equipped teachers were a key reason people were confused by apostrophes well into adulthood.
“Apostrophes have different meanings, but they are taught at the same time,” she said.
Children would have a better chance of understanding and using apostrophes correctly if teachers stopped “lumping together” those two uses.
Full stops were also problematic.
“Students are loath to use them. They will have massively long sentences with no full stops. They master the grammar of language, and want to make huge, long, wonderful sentences in one breath. The judicious use of a full stop is difficult.
She urged teachers to tell students that verbs were more than just active “doing” words like “kick”, they were also “being” and “having” words, like “is” and “own”.
Mrs Stone said the curriculum was well set out, but said it was teachers lacking the tools and funding for professional development that was a problem.
Sunday, December 06, 2015
Oxbridge dons ‘are afraid to tackle tough subjects due to hate mobs launching online campaigns of intimidation’
Professors at elite universities live in fear of online bullying if they discuss controversial topics with their students, according to an Oxford academic.
Tom Cutterham said teaching is being undermined because lecturers feel vulnerable to being vilified on Facebook and Twitter.
He warned that some view discussing politically sensitive subjects as dangerous as individuals can ‘come after them’ with accusations. Students who disagree with lecturers have huge power because they can orchestrate hate campaigns online, he added.
His colleagues at other universities have complained that they can be bullied by zealots who insist on blanket acceptance of their viewpoint. Dr Cutterham, who teaches at New College, warned that many academics no longer dominate their own classrooms because of the immense power of online hate campaigns. And he said the trend was creating a deepening divide and mistrust between academics and students.
It comes after a growing number of incidents in which controversial but respected academics have been banned from speaking on campuses by student union activists.
Writing in Times Higher Education, Dr Cutterham said: ‘Especially online, professors can feel vulnerable, even bullied.’
He said a Cambridge academic had told him: ‘There is a real danger to opening certain kinds of questions, and raising certain kinds of ideas, because some individuals may come after you personally for that, and accuse you of things you have not done or said, and insist on the blanket acceptance of certain highly moralised – and in many cases, quite seriously under-thought – points of view.’
Dr Cutterham said that in previous decades, the acceptable boundaries of debate were policed only by university authorities.
Now there was a ‘recognition of the shifting balance of power between students and faculty’.
Citing a recent article by a US professor called ‘I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me’, he said it ‘exemplifies the growing sense that academics no longer dominate their own classrooms’.
However, his wide-ranging article stressed that students with a ‘critical sensibility’ who are ‘ready to stand up and fight’ will make a ‘better world’ for future generations.
Dr Cutterham is the Cox Junior Fellow at New College, teaching colonial and revolutionary North America and the early national United States.
His comments follow a string of incidents in which academics have fallen foul of university ‘safe space’ policies which attempt to keep controversial speakers off campus.
Imposed by student unions, the rules are aimed at ensuring that all students feel welcome regardless of gender, race or sexuality.
A growing number of controversial figures have been banned from speaking on campuses. In October, feminist activists attempted to cancel a talk by Germaine Greer at Cardiff University because of her belief that transgender women are not real women.
Historian David Starkey was recently edited out of a Cambridge University fundraising video after students protested over his history of outspoken statements on race and gender.
How Affirmative Action at Colleges Hurts Minority Students
On Dec. 9, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in a case involving the University of Texas at Austin’s use of racial preferences in admissions.
Though the Court has long accepted the practice of state-run schools factoring race and ethnicity into their decisions about whether to admit students, the justices should consider one of the unintended consequences of these affirmative action policies: Students admitted based on their skin color, rather than their merit, may end up “mismatched” with their school, which leads to low grades and high drop-out rates.
The star of the high school basketball team isn’t necessarily ready for the NBA. Kobe Bryant and LeBron James aside, sticking a high school star in a professional basketball league would almost certainly set him up to fail. The skills gap between the professionals and the high school star would soon relegate the talented amateur to the bench. This is the scenario commonly perpetuated by affirmative action policies. Though they may be well-intentioned, these policies put bright, talented students at the bottom of an academic All-Star heap.
Affirmative action-induced low grades are a serious problem—as demonstrated by research over the course of the last decade. For example, in one study of top law schools, more than 50 percent of African-American law students (many of whom had been admitted pursuant to affirmative action policies) were in the bottom 10 percent of their class. And the drop-out rate among African-American students was more than twice that of their white peers (19.3 percent vs. 8.2 percent).
As University of San Diego law professor and U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Gail Heriot details in a Special Report for the Heritage Foundation, there’s a similar drop-out rate among students admitted due to affirmative action policies and white students admitted as “legacies” with entering credentials that match those of students admitted because of a race preference.
This highlights the problem of academic “mismatch,” regardless of skin color. When a student’s entering credentials put him or her at the bottom of the class, it should come as no surprise when he or she switches to an easier major, drops out, or fails out. It’s become increasingly clear that affirmative action is doing more harm than good to the very people it is intended to help.
The problem doesn’t stop there. Because of affirmative action policies, fewer minorities enter careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. This is not due to a lack of talented minority students—of which there are many. As Professor Heriot writes:
[There] are not enough [academically-gifted African-American or Hispanic students] at the very top tiers to satisfy the demand, and efforts to change that have had a pernicious effect on admissions up and down the academic pecking order, creating a serious credentials gap at every competitive level.
Neither is it due to a lack of interest. Study after study shows that minorities tend to be more interested in STEM fields than their white counterparts. But admitting students with lower high school grades and SAT math scores into schools with elite science and math programs is a recipe for disaster. Heriot describes one study conducted by UCLA law professor Richard Sander and UCLA statistician Roger Bolus, which indicated:
[S]tudents with credentials more than one standard deviation below their science peers at college are about half as likely to end up with science bachelor degrees, compared with similar students attending schools where their credentials are much closer to, or above, the mean credentials of their peers.
Thus, students should be encouraged to apply to universities where their credentials are matched with those of their fellow students. Merit-based admissions are a “win-win” situation. Students end up at institutions where they are more likely to graduate and in the field of study they actually want to pursue. A case in point is the race-blind admissions in the University of California system.
California’s Race-Blind Admissions Lead to Higher Grades and Fewer Dropouts
In 1996, the people of California passed an initiative amending the state constitution to bar state schools from “discriminat[ing] against, or grant[ing] preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin.” Before this amendment went into effect, California struggled with affirmative action-induced high failure rates and low grades. Heriot notes that UC-San Diego, a selective institution topped only by flagship institutions like Berkeley, had only one African-American student with a 3.5 GPA or higher after freshman year in 1997.
Failure rates at state schools were also disappointing, with 15 percent of African-American and 17 percent of American-Indian students in academic jeopardy, as compared with 4 percent of white students. The problem was not that there were no minority students capable of making the UC-San Diego Honor Roll—it’s just that those students were going to places like Berkeley and Stanford, where they too were not on the Honor Roll.
After race-blind admissions went into effect, the media broke into pandemonium. Accusations that Berkeley was now “lily-white” were levied. Yet this was not the case. While minority students did drop from 58.6 percent of the student body to 48.7 percent, white students made up a bare majority, and Asian-Americans came in second at 38 percent. What happened to the other minorities?
They went to institutions like UC-San Diego, UC-Riverside, and UC-Santa Cruz. These schools are all part of the prestigious University of California System, attended by only the top 12.5 percent of California high school graduates.
At UC-Riverside, the results were impressive: African-American and Hispanic student admissions skyrocketed by 42 percent and 31 percent, respectively. Failure rates collapsed, and grades improved.
At UC-San Diego, 20 percent of African-American students now made the Honor Roll, and failure rates for African-Americans and American Indians dropped to 6 percent. Under merit-based admissions, grades were higher and dropouts were lower, and between 1997 and 2003, 50 percent more African-Americans and Hispanics graduated with a degree in a STEM field. Sadly, in the midst of these successes, the California schools sought new ways to get around the state constitution’s requirement of race-blind admissions.
The Harms Are Clear
The harms of affirmative action are clear. Academic mismatch perpetuates low grades and high dropout rates for minority students who need a racial preference to gain admission. Basing admissions on race rather than merit also contributes to the dearth of minorities in STEM fields. No person should be disadvantaged by the color of his or her skin, no matter how sincere the intentions of affirmative action proponents.
The justices of the Supreme Court should bear this in mind when they consider Abigail Fisher’s challenge to the University of Texas at Austin’s pernicious use of racial preferences. The Court should heed Chief Justice John Roberts’ advice: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”
Brainwashing of our children: Britain's schools are force-feeding pupils politically correct dogma about sexuality, climate change and British history.
The result will be a nation LESS tolerant than before
'When I get married — whether it’s to a man or a woman...’ my 11-year-old niece told her grandpa the other day. But I don’t think she thinks she’s a budding lesbian (would she even know at that age?).
It’s just the way she has been taught to think at her impeccably right-on school in the People’s Republic of Brighton.
It reminded me queasily of another niece’s experiences — this time at an overwhelmingly white, Christian state school in Worcester. Her dad had wanted to know why when she said ‘Mohammed’, she automatically added the phrase ‘Peace Be Upon Him’.
‘Oh, it’s what we’re taught we have to say in RE,’ my niece replied.
Did the schools ever consult us on whether we wanted our children’s heads to be filled with such politically correct bilge?
After 25 years’ ongoing exposure to this nonsense, I suppose I should be used to it by now. My elder son’s headmaster explaining to me airily how it just wasn’t the modern way to punish children for not doing their homework; my daughter coming home with the news that her primary teacher had advised her to ‘go veggie’ for a week; my younger boy being co-opted into some grisly global sustainability club, so that his school could win more eco-star ratings from an EU-sponsored green scheme.
Such indoctrination never fails to irritate. More than that, though, I am genuinely terrified about the kind of havoc these brainwashed mini-revolutionaries may wreak in the future.
Already we’re getting an indication of a new culture across our universities that brooks no dissent against a politically correct view of history, literature and sexuality.
If even the feminist Germaine Greer can get herself banned from a campus for having suggested that many women think ‘male to female transgender people’ do not ‘look like, sound like or behave like women’, what does that tell us about the warped priorities of this generation?
And it seems to be getting worse. Even our new Children’s Laureate is at it, we learned this week. Chris Riddell (who is also a cartoonist for the Observer) has done the illustrations for a sweet-looking new children’s book called My Little Book Of Big Freedoms.
His pictures might be endearingly cute, but the book’s message definitely isn’t. Published by the Left-leaning campaign group Amnesty International, this is pure propaganda, aimed at preventing the Government from fulfilling its election manifesto promise to scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA).
Never mind horror stories like the Somali rapist who couldn’t be deported because immigration judges, citing the HRA, said it would breach his right to a family life. As Riddell reassures his young readers in his introduction, it’s all OK because ‘these freedoms [in the HRA] were created to protect every one of us, for ever’.
There is nothing innocent or accidental about this. Even if Amnesty and Riddell are unfamiliar with the words of St Francis Xavier of the Jesuits — ‘Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man’ — they’ll certainly be aware of the principle.
Children are very susceptible to what they’re taught at school — either by trusted authority figures (teachers), or, perhaps even more so, by jolly visiting children’s authors on the signing circuit at schools like my niece’s in Brighton.
Whether it is religion or green policies, this is all part of a very deliberate plan by the ‘progressive’ Left to shape the world of tomorrow by capturing the hearts and minds of children today.
But if it is a conspiracy, it’s hardly a secret one. Consider the school in Bewdley, Worcestershire, which, just before the election, was accused of having told its children that Labour ‘is the only party that wants us to live’, and of having asked its ten-year-old pupils to write essays on why people should vote for Ed Miliband.
Or the Gendered Intelligence programme, where a speaker called Jay invites children to question their sexual identity by asking them what it means to be ‘girlish’ and ‘boyish’.
Some of them are as young as four: can you imagine what a shock it is for them when he reveals that he is a ‘trans man’ who happened to have been ‘assigned female at birth’?
Then there’s the nursery school in Turnham Green, West London, where three-year-olds too young to read or write are required to sign an agreement in which they promise to ‘be tolerant of others whatever their race, colour, gender, class, ability, physical challenge, faith, sexual orientation or lifestyle and refrain from using racist or homophobic or transphobic language’.
Of course we don’t want children of any age to be racist of homophobic — but isn’t there something insidious about making a child barely older than a toddler put pen to paper to pledge they won’t be?
Nowhere, perhaps, is the march of the Mind Police more evident than in the way virtually the whole curriculum has been hijacked by environmental issues.
A popular revision guide for GCSE English gives this example of a ‘boring’ sentence that may receive ‘zero marks’: ‘Global warming is a bad thing.’ And this as a ‘much better sentence’: ‘Global warming is a very serious and worrying issue.’
Even foreign languages are not immune. A Heinemann textbook for A-level French invited pupils to study an open letter by a French environmentalist warning schoolchildren that on global warming ‘scientists are unanimous’, and ‘never in the history of humanity have the dangers been so great’.
Then there’s the Climate Cops initiative in schools — sponsored by energy supplier npower — in which children were given police officer-style notebooks so that they could ‘book’ themselves, their friends or family members if they saw them wasting energy or performing ‘climate unfriendly’ acts.
These are the actions of proselytising institutions or individuals who are convinced they just know their world view is the only correct way to think.
‘So many of my colleagues were very vocally left of centre,’ says Will Bickford Smith, founder of the conservative-teachers website, recalling his time teaching politics at a London comprehensive.
‘They’d openly talk in classes about Michael Gove [then Education Secretary] being the enemy and David Cameron being an evil so-and-so.’
‘The rot is absolute,’ says another former state school teacher. ‘I studied at Oxford, but such was the inverted snobbery that I never dared mention it.
‘Geography was about saving rainforests, recycling and instilling guilt about how humans are ruining the Earth. In literacy, there was very little focus on grammar or spelling. For history, we’d use a textbook with made-up quotes from historical figures, telling us how bad the British Empire was.’
The former teacher is referring to a book, aimed at 11 to-14-year-olds and still widely in use, called Minds And Machines, where dead white European men such as British colonialist Cecil Rhodes and the Duke of Wellington are reviled.
Incredibly, Wellington is credited with being partly to blame for the Peterloo massacre — when several people died in Manchester in 1819 after cavalry troops charged crowds calling for government reform — but not with his victory at Waterloo, which saved Europe from Napoleon’s brutal military hegemony.
A teacher who writes an internet blog under the name Joe Baron has written how widespread the problem is. ‘Just last week, I overheard three colleagues discussing the evils of the British Empire.
‘“I despise it,” one snarled. “Me too! Look at Amritsar [where British troops fired on a crowd in India in 1919], what we did to the Native American Indians and our involvement in the Middle East,” another opined, shaking his head. “I really can’t think of anything positive to say about it,” the third lamented.’
Mr Baron says he teaches at an academy school where 80 per cent of the children are Muslim. He argues that his colleagues’ rejection of ‘historical accuracy’ in favour of ‘banal sentimentalism’ and ‘post-colonial guilt’ plays into the hands of extremists like Islamic State by encouraging pupils to loathe Britain’s past.
Of course we don’t want children of any age to be racist of homophobic — but isn’t there something insidious about making a child barely older than a toddler put pen to paper to pledge they won’t be?
‘But we should also be encouraging the children to explore the benign gifts bestowed upon the world by Britain’s 200-year hegemony. The spread of capitalism, parliamentary democracy and the rule of law; the propagation of ideas, literature, technological and medical advances; the abolition of the slave trade and its global enforcement by British naval power during the period known as Pax Britannica; and, finally, its assault upon the forces of fascism and militarism during World War II.
‘Now how can my colleagues not think of any positive consequences of Britain’s imperial domination? They are either grossly ignorant, blinded by their own bias, or being deliberately deceitful.’
He concludes despairingly: ‘How on earth can these individuals ... be allowed to teach our children?’
The driving force behind the Mind Police, of course, is what Michael Gove, when he was Education Secretary, called The Blob.
This was his unaffectionate nickname for the Left-wing Educational Establishment: the teacher training courses, the militant trades unions, the professors of education with trendy progressive theories like ‘child-centred learning’ (where teacher involvement is limited), and, of course, the teachers themselves — most of them instinctively Left-wing.
Who knows whether The Blob can ever be defeated: at present they are winning an ideological war that has been raging for years between two violently opposed camps.
One side believes in discipline, uniforms, intellectual rigour, competitiveness and old-fashioned subjects like Latin — and, most importantly, freedom of expression that eschews political correctness.
The other side sees all this tradition as the enemy of a future where everyone is equal, all shall have prizes and, more cynically, everyone should embrace the glorious new order of the enlightened, progressive Left. If the latter sounds like a form of cultural Marxism, that’s effectively what it is.
Some people might think I am overstating the case. But there is a deadly serious point to all this, and I passionately believe that the way our children are being inculcated should give us all pause for thought.
If every child leaves school believing that Britain’s imperial history is evil, that open-ended human rights must be extended to everyone, including the wicked and the criminal, and that the world is getting catastrophically hotter, then eventually everyone in Britain will hold those views.
And, crucially, anyone who dares to challenge them will be a social outcast. If that happens, with every passing year a country with a long and proud history of liberalism will, ironically enough, become a bastion of intolerance.
Behind the ‘white student unions’ springing up at Australian universities
SO-CALLED white student unions are springing up at universities across Australia, charged with supporting and defending the interests of white students who they say are becoming marginalised from on-campus life and political debate.
At least seven unofficial unions have formed at rapid speed in the past week, claiming to represent students of European descent at the University of Queensland, the University of Southern Queensland, the University of Technology, Sydney, Macquarie University, Western Sydney University, the University of NSW and the University of Western Australia.
However, there are allegations that the movement is in fact an elaborate attempt to troll universities and the media, by the likes of users of online bulletin boards 4chan and 8chan.
If it is a hoax, it is a pretty sophisticated one, with members reaching out to news.com.au to share their views on the need to “advance our interests as white students”.
The proliferation of white student unions follows a similar trend in the US, where groups have built considerable support on social media and many intend to establish an on-campus presence in the new year. However, this has also been dismissed as a hoax.
Australian universities have distanced themselves from these unofficial groups, which are copping backlash on social media by fellow students and others who accuse them of white supremacy and racism. Responses to the groups on social media have ranged from “be proud of your heritage!” to “f*** off Nazis”.
Others have responded with utter incredulity: “This page is satire, right?” one person asked.
But the students behind the unions deny white pride is akin to racism, and argue they have as legitimate a place in university life as any other student group.
‘ALL WE WANT IS EQUALITY’
The White Students Union at the Western Sydney University, which formed over the weekend and is already “into the double digits” of members, is “not out to antagonise anyone”, according its spokesman.
The spokesman, who approached news.com.au to write a story, said he was a 24-year-old journalism student and gave us his name, but we have chosen not to publish it because we could not verify it.
He said the group, which will seek formal registration with the university in 2016 and already has a six-person committee, was designed to “advance our interests as white students and promote a safe space where we can come together as a community and organise”.
“We’re a genuine group, we’re not doing it to troll anyone,” he told news.com.au.
“If you roll up to any university these days you’ll have gay safe spaces, Muslim safe spaces: in the last four or five years it’s become very politically correct.
“That’s great. I’m as PC as they come. We’re staying within the narrative. All we want is equality.”
He said he was “absolutely” expecting a backlash, but wanted to “test the boundaries of what they’re willing to acknowledge”.
“We just thought, why not? Everyone else is doing it, why can’t we do it? Anecdotally we have a lot of support from the ethnic students,” he said.
“Our main antagonists are actually the older, white academics. These people say they’re all about equality. The academics try to build this narrative that nobody supports this stuff, but it’s happening. We’re just using that language ourselves.”
Despite the hoax claims, universities are taking the rise of these unions seriously.
In a statement, a spokesman for Western Sydney University said the group was not an official or authorised student group, adding: “The university prides itself on the diversity of its university community and condemns any action that seeks to undermine this.”
The University of Technology, Sydney, and Macquarie University both said white student unions formed by their students were not official and did not reflect the views of the universities or the majority of their students.
In the “About” section of the Facebook page for the UTS White Student Union, it says the group was “advancing the rights for the people of European descent” and “anyone from any background can join”.
A spokeswoman for Macquarie University said it had publicly contacted the administrators of the page yesterday, requesting that they remove the campus image and refrain from referring to themselves as “a student organisation at Macquarie University”.
“We understand this page is likely to be part of a wider hoax, stemming from North America, nevertheless we are continuing our investigations into the origin of this page,” the spokeswoman told news.com.au.
A spokeswoman for the University of NSW said a Facebook page for the UNSW White Student Union was “in no way related” to UNSW or its student groups. “The university will be asking Facebook to delete the page,” the spokeswoman said.
The University of Queensland went so far as to condemn the University of Queensland White Student Union, which was formed last Tuesday, as a “racist web hoax”.
On its Facebook page, which has 378 likes, the University of Queensland White Student Union group rails against university overcrowding and “rich international students” outbidding white Australian students for rental housing and casual work.
“We’re forced to put up with an overcrowded campus that hosts thousands more students than it was ever designed for. Not enough parking, not enough toilets, not enough computers, not enough study spaces,” a post dated November 24 reads.
“We’re forced to do group work with internationals who can’t speak English, we carry the load and do all the work while our marks are dragged down.
“We’re forced to put up with the anti-social behaviour of a particular group of students who treat study spaces as social spaces and constantly attempt to ‘reserve’ public resources such as computers. Enough is enough.”
The founders of the UQ group asked not to be identified but said they represented white students “who’ve had their voices silenced by political correctness”.
“Individual people can be bullied into submission but as a group we can’t be silenced,” the group told news.com.au
“Political correctness and free speech are issues that are becoming more and more important.”
The group said existing student organisations were “obsessed with catering to minorities” and they planned to establish their own society on campus in 2016.
“We’re very clear on our position that white people have every right to organise themselves and act collectively to further their mutual interests,” they said.
“We don’t think whites are inherently ‘superior’ and definitely don’t think they should ‘rule over’ anybody else.
“We think the ideas and issues we’re raising have become more relevant to students as a new strain of political correctness has swept across the Western word over the past few years promoting ideas like ‘white privilege’. There are all these nasty ideas around now that white people, particularly white men, are always ‘privileged’ regardless of their background and personal circumstances and that if they suffer hardship they deserve it, and that white people are the cause of everything that’s wrong in the world.”
News.com.au asked the spokesman to prove that he was a legitimate student at the university, but he said he thought it was in his best interests to “maintain anonymity” due to death threats the group had received.
Third-year University of Western Australia student Michael (who did not wish to reveal his last name) said he founded the UWA White Student Association on the weekend.
He said ensuring all students and staff spoke fluent English, making sure “the full breadth of white, European holidays and festivities” were celebrated on campus, getting racist attacks on white students recognised as racism, and having the recently dumped European studies major reinstated were among the issues his group intended to lobby for.
“Our basic aims are to represent the interests of white students on campus, as well as do our bit to reverse what we view as the rapid decline of Western civilisation, caused by mass immigration resulting in a clash of values, and the decline of family values,” Michael told news.com.au.
A spokesman for UWA said the university did not endorse “behaviours and actions which are deemed to be racially and culturally intolerant or offensive”.
“UWA has a strong track record on promoting cultural and religious diversity and the university is committed to produce graduates who are intellectually and emotionally comfortable with difference,” the spokesman said.
In response to accusations of racism, Michael says he and the group were not racists and “we never will be”. “Supporting white students doesn’t imply hatred of other races, it’s not a logical accusation,” he said. “We would be happy to work with other ethnic clubs to fulfil mutual goals.
“(Groups that represent ethnic minority groups) are nothing new, and we don’t have an issue with them. What is new is the increasing difficulty white students face in expressing their views, identity, or culture on campus without being shouted down and labelled.
“White students are not a minority, but they are currently being treated worse than most minorities, if they break rank with the left-wing multicultural orthodoxy that is hellbent of persecuting expression of whiteness.”
On its Facebook page, the UWA White Student Association points out that the university already has a Singapore Students Association and an African Student Union, among other groups, so it was “about time white students organised and started working together”.
A RISING TREND
The emergence of white student unions at universities in the US, including Berkeley and Harvard, have been suggested to be a response to a wave of recent anti-racism protests. One such union at the University of Illinois sprung up hours after a black solidarity event was held on campus. Others, however, have been revealed as hoaxes.
Dr Peter Gale from the David Unaipon College of Indigenous Education at the University of South Australia told news.com.au the parallel emergence of such groups in Australia was not the first time mainstream society has attempted to redress what many perceived to be “reverse racism”.
He said it was “not unrelated” to our current political climate.
“We can go back to the late 1990s with the rise of Pauline Hanson and the One Nation Party where there was a backlash from groups within mainstream Australia who even claimed there was reverse racism,” he said.
“Then we had an intensification of what I term as a politics of fear following September 11 so discourse around reverse racism increased following that.
“And unfortunately there’s a perception problem where many people don’t recognise the ongoing inequalities and difficulties that many minority groups within Western countries generally are still experiencing, which contributes to a level of resentment when we have affirmative action programs for those seeking to address disadvantage that’s been experienced by some groups.
“So where we may have a scholarship program for indigenous students, or we may have programs that seek to enhance the experience of international students on campus, and that’s perceived at discrimination, it’s very disappointing when people take that position.”
Dr Gale said it was also disappointing some people who were part of mainstream Australia didn’t “have an appreciation for the privileged position” of being at university.
“They certainly don’t have the experience of many minority groups that have had to overcome many difficulties and inequalities to get to a privileged position of being able to study at a tertiary level,” he said.
“There are many groups within Australian society where there is an ongoing inequality in terms of the participation rates in just getting to university. There's still an ongoing inequality for indigenous people in accessing university.
“We need far more of an emphasis on improving relations between groups within society rather than responses that are going to create further divisions.
“I’d be concerned that there’s an emphasis on what are the benefits for one particular group over another particular group. we should be working together to enhance interculturalism rather than further separation and segregation between groups.”
Posted by jonjayray at 1:56 AM