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Archive for May, 2005

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

THE WOULD-BE COMMISSARS OF YOUR LOCAL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

How comfortable would you feel if you knew that in the future, the teacher in your child’s classroom had been pre-selected on the basis of adherence to an extremist ideology or that to graduate college they had to parrot these beliefs whether they agreed or not ? Or that the accreditation of your child’s public school or university was going to ride on the school’s administration, teachers or professors demonstrating loyalty to this agenda in their classrooms to the satisfaction of unknown, unelected, unaccountable but zealously committed bureaucrats ?

Well, brace yourself because it’s already here. The new teachers fully ” educated” in this vein should be hitting the job market in most, though not all, states by 2007 or 2008 at the latest.

Accreditation agencies operate mostly out of the public or legislative spotlight and hand out what amounts to good housekeeping seals of approval on various university programs to indicate that a Law or Medical School does indeed dispense knowledge that will allow graduates to function as lawyers and doctors. High Schools have their own accreditation agencies and a similar program of certification. Essentially the process is supposed to be a review to ensure that fraudulent diploma mills do not operate on par with Harvard or legitimate state universities or schools.

Unfortunately, it seems that the American hard Left, envious of the neo-Stalinist conformity of some foreign Teacher’s Unions like those in South Korea and dismayed at the success of civil libertarians in attacking campus P.C. speech codes and overt indoctrination tactics, have spent the last few years infiltrating accreditation agencies to impose their values through the accreditation process. It is a strategic initiative of breathtaking scope and one quite likely to succeed.

Universities are now going to have to certify prospective teaching candidate’s commitment to ” social justice” in order to win accreditation for their Colleges of Education. For teachers that means providing evidence in their lesson plans to their university program supervisors of following the multicultural left’s Afrocentric-Radical crit interpretation of American society as a bastion of oppression. Candidates who hold other views will not be allowed to graduate and become teachers:

Brooklyn College’s School of Education, which is the only academic unit at the college with the status of school, is among dozens of education schools across the country that incorporate the notion of “social justice” in their guiding principles. At Brooklyn, “social justice” is one of the four main principles in its conceptual framework. The school’s conceptual framework states that it develops in its students “a deeper understanding of the quest for social justice.” In its explanation of that mission, the school states: “We educate teacher candidates and other school personnel about issues of social injustice such as institutionalized racism, sexism, classism, and heterosexism.”

Critics of the dispositions standard contend that the idea of “social justice,” a term frequently employed in left-wing circles, is open to politicization.

“It’s political correctness that has insinuated into the criteria for accreditation of teacher education institutions,” a noted education theorist in New York, Diane Ravitch, said. “Once that becomes the criteria for institutions as a whole, it gives free rein to those who want to impose it in their classrooms,” she said. Ms. Ravitch is the author of “The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn.”

A case in point, as Mr. Johnson of Brooklyn College has pointed out, is the way in which the term was incorporated into Ms. Parmar’s course, called Language Literacy in Secondary Education, which students said is required of all Brooklyn College education candidates who aspire to become secondary-school teachers. In the fall semester, Ms. Parmar was the only instructor who taught the course, according to students.

The course, which instructs students on how to develop lesson plans that teach literacy, is built around themes of “social justice,” according to the syllabus, which was obtained by The New York Sun. One such theme is the idea that standard English is the language of oppressors while Ebonics, a term educators use to denote a dialect used by African-Americans, is the language of the oppressed.

A preface to the listed course requirements includes a quotation from a South African scholar, Njabulo Ndebele: “The need to maintain control over English by its native speakers has given birth to a policy of manipulative open-mindedness in which it is held that English belongs to all who use it provided that it is used correctly. This is the art of giving away the bride while insisting that she still belongs to you.”

Among the complaints cited by students in letters they delivered in December to the dean of the School of Education, Deborah Shanley, is Ms. Parmar’s alleged disapporval of students who defended the ability to speak grammatically correct English.

Speaking of Ms. Parmar, one student, Evan Goldwyn, wrote: “She repeatedly referred to English as a language of oppressors and in particular denounced white people as the oppressors. When offended students raised their hands to challenge Professor Parmar’s assertion, they were ignored. Those students that disagreed with her were altogether denied the opportunity to speak.”

Students also complained that Ms. Parmar dedicated a class period to the screening of an anti-Bush documentary by Michael Moore, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” a week before last November’s presidential election, and required students to attend the class even if they had already seen the film. Students said Ms. Parmar described “Fahrenheit 9/11″ as an important film to see before they voted in the election.

“Most troubling of all,” Mr. Goldwyn wrote, “she has insinuated that people who disagree with her views on issues such as Ebonics or Fahrenheit 911 should not become teachers.”
Students who filed complaints with the dean said they have received no response from the college administration. Instead, they said, the administration and Ms. Parmar have retaliated against them, accusing Mr. Goldwyn and another student of plagiarism in January after the semester ended.

Ms. Parmar referred a reporter’s inquiries to a spokeswoman for Brooklyn College. Linden Alschuler & Kaplan, Inc., a New York City public relations firm representing the CUNY school, later responded. The firm’s Colleen Roche told the Sun that Ms. Shanley, dean of the education school, spoke with students about their complaints December 21.

Though students said Ms. Parmar did not inform them about the new dispositions assessment policy, an e-mail obtained by the Sun from one of Ms. Parmar’s colleagues, Barbara Winslow, suggests that the aspiring teachers were in the process of being evaluated by the new standard.
Writing to three history professors, including Mr. Johnson, who had Mr. Goldwyn as their student, Ms. Winslow said the School of Education had “serious concerns about his disruptive behavior in the SOE classroom as well as aggressive and bullying behavior toward his professor outside the class.”

She wrote: “The School of Ed is trying to be more systematic in looking at what educators call ‘dispositions,’ that is behaviors necessary for being a successful teacher in the public schools. Being able to do excellent academic work, does not always translate into being a thoughtful, self-reflective and effective teacher for youngsters.”

KC Johnson, a noted rising star historian ( and no conservative either), was one of the first to shine a light on this under-the -radar attempt at the politicization of American public school classrooms by multicultural leftists, now effective for 37 States. But he doesn’t have to be the last.

Write your legislators. Write to the Bush administration.Political agendas do not belong in our children’s classrooms. It’s time to change how schools and universities are accreditated if political indoctrination by wingnuts is going to be the litmus test.

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

THE DECLINE OF THE MIGHTY MSM

Bruce Kesler explains why reporting from Iraq remains schizophrenic, scattered, scanty, obtuse and negative:

” A correspondent in Mosul, Iraq, Michael Yon, recently wrote: “Finding or generating news can be costly … the media squeezes news cheaply from Iraq.” Yon describes, step-by-step, how actual news dispatches are created. Yon points out that with rare exception, the media condenses military action reports into collections of one-line U.S. casualty lists ending with the latest cumulative death count. Yon observes, “a consequence of these media releases is that they allow the press to appear omnipresent on the battlefield, when in fact they usually stay close to the Green Zone in Baghdad.” Yon continues: “The math is easy: Send a dozen journalists to Iraq, or hire one cheaply to live in Baghdad. The media gets a bargain rate on instant credibility from their ‘embedded journalist in the heart of the Sunni Triangle,’ who spends a few minutes a day paraphrasing media releases, then heads downstairs for a beer at the hotel bar.

….The declining market of the leading media is rooted in the twin niche-ditch digging of alienating its customers by being so markedly more liberal in political and social viewpoints and from resulting corporate cost-saving providing a shabby product. It is difficult to see working harder at coordination with society’s other most liberal constituency in academia as meeting the most pressing challenges for journalism’s successful reform. In the ’70s, General Motors kept its engineers in Detroit, while Nissan attracted engineers to Southern California. Today, GM has half the market share it once had, and Nissan’s innovative designs increased its market share. “

Go read the whole thing.

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

RUN FOR THE BORDER’S

Picked up a couple of books yesterday at Border’s. The much hyped Freakonomics which I have yet to open and George Lakoff”s don’t think of an elephant: Know your Values and Frame the Debate, which I read through last night at one sitting ( including time for highlighting and writing marginalia) and you can too.

Don’t think of an elephant is Lakoff’s pamphleteering version of his more serious and substantive Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, which he published to help passionate but not terribly bright progressives become more articulate parrots when commenting in internet chat rooms. Snarkiness aside, Lakoff managed to convince me of several things:

a) He’s a smart man and it’s worth my time to go read his real book.

b) Like all linguistics guys, Lakoff overdoes the language as perception as reality thing.

True enough, he cautions periodically that cognitive frames require actual conceptual chains of reasoning behind them and that these must be common enough to function as a cultural reference point in order to possess political resonance but Lakoff oversetimates the effect. The whole ” Strict Father- Nurturant parent” paradigm ( which,by the way, originated with Jude Wanniski decades ago) works far better on social issues than on economic ones which actually have measurable intrinsic merits worth debating and not just normative preferences.

It also occurs to me that the whole Lakoff ” Strict Father” connection to conservative politics is merely correlative to the United States and a few other countries with the Weberian ” Protestant work ethic”. Patriarchal systems prevail in most of the societies of the world and most nations have accepted the Anglo-American capitalist model to the minimum degree possible and that only in recent decades. Some super- ” Strict Father” regimes reject it vociferously in favor of collectivist-communitarian traditional socioeconomics.

Nevertheless cognitive frames remain a useful tool to be mastered and used.

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING

Marc Schulman of The American Future has posted his long-awaited next installment of ” The EU and The Arabs “ Part V. Here’s a snippet:

While I’m fully aware of the inherent dangers of a post hoc, ergo propter hoc (“after this, therefore because of this”) analysis, there’s little doubt that the EU (led by France), by its enthusiasm for moving closer to the Arab world through the creation of the EAD and the PAEAC, lent legitimacy to a terrorist organization (the PLO) and instigated the demonization of Israel. These were the results of the EU’s policy of appeasement that took form during the 1973-1974 energy crisis. For the French, the policy served a double purpose: in addition to appeasing the Arabs, it sustained their influence in the Middle East by countering Washington’s pro-Israeli policies. Had Kojeve still been alive, he would have applauded France’s policies. “

Dr. Von takes up the gauntlet on cognition and insight where I left it lying and adds some incisive analysis and speculation on the nature of pathbreaking creativity and its subsequent decline:

It becomes, generally speaking, more difficult to make significant, creative contributions to a field as one ages, and there are several reasons for this. Perhaps most significant is the amount of bias one develops over time. It becomes more difficult to see outside the box and remain as open-minded as in younger days, since experience creates biases. Normally as you age, more responsibilities are placed on you, whether it is family and children or requests for lectures or performances of previous works, and there are more distractions, which can take away time for isolation. And many creative figures in certain fields may develop interests in other fields, or simply experience ‘burnout.’ “

The esteemed Pundita is her usual, soft-spoken, self on North Korea policy:

“Remove Christopher R. Hill from his assignment as head of the US delegation to the Six-Party Talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. Mr. Hill does not speak Korean, Japanese, or any Chinese dialect. He speaks Polish, Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian, and Albanian. Not speaking the lingo is not automatic disqualification for such a sensitive job but Mr. Hill is also an idiot. He’s also an advocate of the Nanny School of foreign policy. This is where you lecture countries to try to get along, after you’ve put them together in an untenable position.”

On the strong recommendation of Dave Schuler, I give you the interestingly named ” Duck of Minerva” on the EU ” Non” vote in France:

The far right seemed to frame the issue along purely nationalistic lines; i.e. we should not allow some supranational body to determine our fate, policies, interests. This argument is not just about economic issues specifically, but rather encompasses a purely parochial notion of identity and the need to maintain sovereignty lest some distrustful other in Brussels becomes empowered.

But those on the left, especially the over 60% socialist voters who came out against the constitution, seemed to be more interested in their economic identities rather than their national identities. What this means is that the left objected because of the economic elements in the constitution which they viewed as Anglo-Saxon and ultraliberal–not simply for the fact that France may loose some sovereignty to Brussels. For the left, they were defining themselves as workers to some extent, a group that is likely to be harmed by such a constitution even though it might benefit the EU overall (i.e. by making labor markets more productive and increasing productivity–two things most commentators believe is crucial for EU economy). It seems to me they weren’t rejecting those outside of France per se, but rather the symbol of the EU as an entity which represents ultra-liberal, market values rather than socialist values. It could be argued that those on the left weren’t simply thinking of the damage to the French left but to workers, period, across Europe. But more data is needed to validate that assertion.”

And Chirol of Coming Anarchy puts his pinch of salt in Chirac’s wound as well.

That’s it.

Monday, May 30th, 2005

THEY SERVED SO THAT WE SHOULD LIVE FREELY Posted by Hello

No words are adequate. Rest in peace.

Thank you, American veterans, for all your service and sacrifices on this Memorial Day.


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