Harvard serves up ‘social justice’ mats

Harvard has laid an egg with “holiday placemats for social justice,” with talking points for students to use on their families on winter break.

The Office for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion distributed the mats at dining halls “to provide a framework to help first-year students with potentially difficult conversations during their first visits back home.”

For example, if Mom or Dad asks why black students are complaining about racism on campus, the placemat suggests: “I hear young people uplifting a situation that I may not experience. If non-Black students get the privilege of that safe environment, I believe that same privilege should be given to all students.”

Pajama Boy is back

Pajama Boy is back

Except for the section on Syrian refugees and “Islamaphobia,” the content was taken “word-for-word” from a holiday placemat by Showing Up for Racial Justice, pointed out Idrees M. Kahloon in the Harvard Crimson.

Giving students “poorly written, straw man questions followed by seemingly official and definitive ‘responses’” stifles debate, argued Kahloon.

In response to complaints, two deans apologized for the mat’s suggestion that “there is only one point of view” on these issues.

Harvard “has the First Amendment right to try to politically indoctrinate students, and to indoctrinate them in how to politically indoctrinate others,”  responds Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor.  “But that doesn’t make political indoctrination a good idea, at a university ostensibly committed to teaching students how to think for themselves.”

Oberlin students are complaining that the Asian food isn’t authentic — General Tso’s chicken is steamed rather than fried, sushi rice is undercooked — and is therefore culturally appropriative.

Black students want fried chicken on the menu every Sunday night at Afrikan Heritage House, an on-campus dorm. They also want more vegan and vegetarian options.

Kids copy: ‘There is no god but Allah’

In Virginia, a World Geography teacher told students to practice Arabic calligraphy by copying script that said: “There is no god but Allah. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.”

The Muslim statement of faith “was not translated for students, said the district in a statement. The copying assignment was meant to teach the “artistic complexity” of written Arabic.

I think copying Arabic is a waste of time — kids can tell it’s artsy by looking — but if it’s worth doing, there’s no need to use a religious statement. (Why not “Death to America!”? Just kidding.)

The teacher showed students a Koran, but didn’t provide a Bible because she believed they’d all read or seen one, parents said on The Schilling Show.

Female students were also encouraged to wear a hijab, parents said. School officials said girls were invited to try on a scarf as “part of an interactive lesson about the Islamic concept of modest dress.”

The district closed its schools today because of the outcry. Which is nuts.

In rural Tennessee, where nearly everyone is Christian and few have met a Muslim, parents and school board members are worried about Islamic indoctrination writes Emma Green in The Atlantic.

Seventh graders in the state study world geography and history, including a unit on “the Islamic world” up to 1500.

Beth Burgos, a school board member in Williamson County, questioned why textbook ignore jihad and portray Islam as a fundamentally peaceful religion.

In White County, Citizens Against Islamic Indoctrination advertised a meeting with an anti-tolerance graphic.

It’s not just Tennessee, writes Green. Last spring, parents complained when a history teacher in Union Grove, Wisconsin, assigned her students to write from the perspective of an American Muslim, giving examples of “what you do daily for your religion and any struggles you face.”

“This assignment is problematic because it required the students to adopt and adhere to Islamic religious activity and viewpoints,” argued the American Center for Law and Justice in a letter to the principal.

Teachers as ‘social justice warriors’

Teachers have no right to indoctrinate students, writes Darren on Right on the Left Coast.

If he’s asked his opinion, he’ll answer — if it doesn’t get in the way of a math lesson.

But teachers who think they should turn their students into “agents of change” or some similar term, that seems a bridge too far for me.  Should teachers be requiring students to write letters to legislators or executives  about specific proposals?  In most cases I’d probably say no.  Teaching kids that they should work for change in their communities–why, exactly?  You may think the community needs changing, plenty may not.

“With the election season in full swing, expect a tide of union-led anti-reform, anti-choice and anti-Republican politicking in our kids’ classrooms,” warns Larry Sand, a retired teacher. At the recent National Education Association convention, Sand notes, Executive Director John Stocks told NEA members they should become “social justice warriors.”

cantbeallyoucanbe.jpgA West Point graduate, Darren has his alma mater’s posters and pennants from the other service academies hanging in his classroom, as well as pictures of President Reagan, President Bush and Queen Elizabeth II. He was horrified by another teacher’s anti-military poster, he writes.

The poster showed gravestones with the text: “You can’t be all you can be if you’re dead.”

“Imagine how you’d feel if, upon walking into a classroom, you saw one of those aborted/dismembered fetus posters that some pro-life protesters display,” he writes. “I’m sickened by this poster.”

Readers, what do you think? Is the anti-military poster out of line? What about a picture of President Reagan — or Obama?

6th-graders told to compare Hitler, Bush

homework_s877x1372 Washington, D.C. sixth graders were told to compare George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler for a homework assignment.

“Now that we have read about two men of power who abused their power in various ways, we will compare and contrast them and their actions,” the assignment reads. “Please refer to your texts, ‘Fighting Hitler – A Holocaust Story’ and ‘Bush: Iraq War Justified Despite No WMD’ to compare and contrast former President George W. Bush and Hitler.”

Parents complained. “In a written statement, D.C. Public Schools said that the teacher acknowledged poor judgment and will apologize to students,” reports USA Today.

Core-aligned lesson: Obey government

In the rush to align curriculum to the Common Core, Pearson came up with a real doozie: A third-grade lesson tells students that “the commands of government officials must be obeyed by all,” and that “the wants of an individual are less important than the well-being of the nation,” reports EAG News, which links to MinutemenNews.
lady liberty in shock
The unit on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War – “Hold the Flag High” – doubles as an English assignment on possessive nouns. Students are told to make sentences “less wordy by replacing the underlined words with a possessive noun phrase.”

All six sentences are about the president.

It starts: “The job of a president is not easy.”

Students are supposed to write: “The president’s job is not easy.”

Problems start with the fourth sentence: “(The president) makes sure the laws of the country are fair.”

That’s the judicial branch’s job, notes EAG News.

The president – as head of the executive branch of our government – is only charged with administering the laws passed by Congress, the legislative branch.

The Pearson Education lesson leaves students with the mistaken idea that American presidents have king-like powers, a concept our Founding Fathers would find abhorrent.

The indoctrination continues with sentence five: “The commands of government officials must be obeyed by all.”

That’s a chilling concept, one that any constitutional attorney would be quick to take issue with.

Sentence six states: “The wants of an individual are less important than the well-being of the nation.”

Perhaps Mr. Spock would agree, but a constitutional lawyer might wonder what happened to the Bill of Rights.

Report: Textbooks boost Islam

Islam is presented positively — and inaccurately — in U.S. textbooks, charges a report by ACT! for America Education. It’s more “indoctrination than education,” says Brigitte Gabriel, the group’s president.

The report provides happy-think quotes from textbooks:

“The Quran granted women spiritual and social equality with men.”

ACT! responds:  The Quran does not grant “social equality” to women. “Muslim women cannot divorce except in limited circumstance—men can divorce at any time for any reason—and the testimony of one man equals that of two women in legal proceedings.”

“In Medina, Muhammad…fashioned an agreement that joined his own people with the Arabs and Jews…These groups accepted Muhammad as a political leader.”

Response:  The Jews did not accept Muhammad as a leader. He “expelled two of the Jewish tribes and destroyed the third, beheading the men and selling the women and children into slavery.”

“Shari’a law requires Muslim leaders to extend religious tolerance to Christians and Jews.”

Response: “Shari’a law imposes a litany of burdens and restrictions on Christians and Jews, both in their daily lives and in the practice of their religions.”

“In the early eighth century, Islam became popular in the northwestern part of the Indian subcontinent.”

Response: Islam spread through conquest.

In addition, textbooks spend many pages on European slave traders, ignoring the role of Islamic slave traders, the report charges.

Textbook writers hate controversy. I’m sure they accentuate the positive when writing about any religion — but not to this extent.

Kindergarteners chant paean to Obama

As part of a Black History Month program, kindergarteners at Tipps Elemementary School in Houston were sent home with lyrics to a chant lauding Barack Obama, reports The Blaze. It includes “Barack Obama is the man” and “He’s our man, yes we can!” A note to teachers said students would be “required” to learn the chant, though the school claims only some students were chosen for the evening program and parents could refuse to sign a permission  form.

Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, a syndicated radio host, publicized the chant after receiving a complaint from a parent. It’s fine to be proud that Obama is the first black president, but children shouldn’t be forced to “genuflect” before him, the radio host wrote in a letter to the principal.

“The Barack Obama Song,” which prioritizes rhyme over substance, does have a sort of North Korean enthusiasm for every aspect of our president’s life.

Who is our 44th President?
Obama is our 44th President
Who is a DC resident?
Obama is a DC resident
Resident, President

Who’s favorite team is the Chicago White Sox?
Obama’s favorite team is the Chicago White Sox
Who really thinks outside the box?
Obama really thinks outside the box
Outside the box, Chicago White Sox
Resident, President

Who really likes to play basketball?
Obama really likes to play basketball
Who’s gonna answer our every call?
Every Call, Basketball
Outside the box, Chicago White Sox
Resident, President

Who’s famous slogan is Yes we can?
Obams’s famous slogan is Yes we can
Who do we know is the man?
Barack Obama is the man
He’s our man, Yes we can!

And it goes on and on. I wonder how they get little kids to learn all that, even with a teacher doing the first line of every stanza.

In my kindergarten days, we’d never be asked to learn more than four lines. And our parents would have complained about a program in which public school students proclaimed:

We like Ike.
He took Allied Forces on a European hike.
He likes to play golf, but doesn’t bike.
Ike, hike, bike
We like Ike.

We did learn: “If your Mommy is a Commie, then you gotta turn her in,” but not in class.

Teaching students to argue about politics

Students should learn how to discuss controversial political ideas in class, says Diana Hess, a teacher turned University of Wisconsin education professor, in Discussions That Drive Democracy.

“A lot of parents want schools to reflect their own ideological views,” Hess tells The Cap Times.

“I argue that parents shouldn’t want that. If they do, they need to rethink why they have their kids in school.”

. . . “It’s not to suggest schools should be working against parents’ values,” she continues, “but we want schools to be ideologically diverse places. That’s how we educate citizens.”

“Many teachers I have watched are good at getting kids to listen to viewpoints that are different from theirs, and that’s a good thing,” she says. Young people tend to be open to new ideas.

Will teachers develop students’ minds? Or indoctrinate students in liberal ideology? asks Ann Althouse, a UW law professor.

. . .  it was specifically teachers who were at the core of the Wisconsin protests, vilifying conservatives.

And as for parents needing “to rethink why they have their kids in school.” Let’s be clear: Schooling is compulsory. . . . Teachers should never forget that they have their students trapped in their classroom by the force of law.

We want students to learn how to discuss “controversial issues, support their arguments, and listen to divergent opinions respectfully and critically,” Althouse concedes.

But it takes a certain level of trust — which is in short supply.

Backlash

“We have to destroy education in order to save it,” writes Zombie on PJ Media after attending a San Francisco rally in which teachers and their students demanded more funding.  (Yes, it was a school day.) Update: But the rally didn’t start till 4 pm.

He includes photos of the Los Angeles protest by Ringo of Ringo’s Pictures.

• As you can see in the many photos illustrating this essay, their demands for more money were accompanied by many ancillary leftist slogans like “Tax the Rich!” and “Workers’ Power!” and “Cutting Education Is Class War” and so on. So this wasn’t just about requesting more funding for education: The content of the rally itself revealed that increasing school funding is just a component of a larger leftist agenda — school funding is being used as a lever to penalize the rich, increase power for unions, and so forth.

Teachers aren’t supposed to be indoctrinators, Zombie writes.

United Teachers of Los Angeles carried signs with green Che Guevera stickers.

Parents get annoyed when teachers co-opt students for political campaigns, even if it’s presented as supporting education. Throw in Che Guevera and they get very annoyed.

Dressed as zombies, coincidentally, University of Wisconsin students protesting budget cuts disrupted an event for Special Olympians because Gov. Scott Walker was speaking. Bad manners and really bad PR, writes Ann Althouse.

Teacher ed: Dump the American dream

Future teachers will be required to repudiate the American dream — “the idea that in this country, hardworking people of every race, color and creed can get ahead on their own merits” == at University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus, writes Katherine Kersten in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

According to a task force’s proposal, American dreamers will not be recommended for licensure on the grounds they lack “cultural competence” to teach non-white students.

The report advocates making race, class and gender politics the “overarching framework” for all teaching courses at the U.

. . . The first step toward “cultural competence,” says the task group, is for future teachers to recognize — and confess — their own bigotry.

The task group recommends requiring prospective teachers to prepare a report on their prejudices and stereotypes with points for admitting to bias.

The goal of these exercises, in the task group’s words, is to ensure that “future teachers will be able to discuss their own histories and current thinking drawing on notions of white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression.”

. . . In particular, aspiring teachers must be able “to explain how institutional racism works in schools.”

Finally, future teachers would be required to analyze the “myth of meritocracy in the United States,” the “history of demands for assimilation to white, middle-class, Christian meanings and values, [and] history of white racism, with special focus on current colorblind ideology.”

Those who resist would be subject to a “remediation plan.”

I envision prospective teachers who think students of all colors, creeds, classes and sexual orientations are capable of learning, if they’re taught well and do the work. But the time they might have spent learning how to teach reading, writing, math, science or history has been devoted to faddish drivel.

In a letter to the university president, FIRE argues the plan — which includes denying admission to applicants with the wrong beliefs — is unconstitutional, “a severe affront to liberty and a disservice to the very ideal of a liberating education.” Here’s FIRE’s analysis.