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.

NEA offers lessons on racial profiling

The National Education Association has released Racial Profiling Curriculum and Resources in response to the death of Michael Brown.

It was developed by a group including the NAACPNot In Our Town/Not in Our SchoolTeaching Tolerance/Southern Poverty Law CenterThe Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under LawAmerican Federation of Teachers (AFT), Human Rights Educators of the USA (HRE-USA) Network and Facing History and Ourselves.

Lesson plans include “tips for youth on how to interact during encounters with law enforcement.”

Racial profiling is defined as “the suspicion of people based on race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, or other immutable characteristics, rather than on evidence-based suspicious behavior.”

. . . in schools, profiling is evidenced by the disproportionate number of Black and Latino students who are suspended and expelled. Frequently, Muslim students and their families are profiled as “terrorists;” and Spanish-speaking students and their families are profiled as “illegals.”

“The NEA and its fellow travelers are presenting a one-sided, propagandistic view of an exceptionally complicated issue,” writes Checker Finn.

The NEA has developed lesson plans on everything from Black History Month to National Popcorn Month, Finn writes. “When they stray into hot-button adult controversies, let the user beware.”

Students protest ‘patriotic’ history

In a Denver suburb, a conservative school board member proposed focusing U.S. history courses on citizenship, patriotism and respect for authority. Naturally, students walked out in protest.

Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School, in Arvada, Colo.  (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Students protest outside of Ralston Valley High School, in Arvada, Colo. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Some students waved American flags and carried signs, such as “There is nothing more patriotic than protest.”

Other carried signs supporting teachers. “The youth protest in the state’s second-largest school district follows a sick-out from teachers that shut down two high schools,” reports AP.

The school board proposal — which has not been voted on — would establish a committee to review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to ensure materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strike or disregard of the law.”

“There are things we may not be proud of as Americans,” board member Julie Williams told Chalkbeat. “But we shouldn’t be encouraging our kids to think that America is a bad place.”

“In South Carolina, conservatives have called on an education oversight committee to ask the College Board, which oversees Advanced Placement courses, to rewrite their framework to make sure there is no ideological bias,” notes AP.

“Politics, propaganda and faith” have distorted history in textbooks written to meet Texas’ standards, historians complain.

Anti-birth propaganda in school

A sign in a public high school exhorts students to use contraception, complains Father John Hollowell, who happened to be visiting Northview High in Indiana.

The math “project” hanging in the hallway reads – “Zero Population Growth…It’s Up To You – No More Than Two”. . . it has one smiley face representing 10 million people…and I mean look at the sign…if people keep having kids the smiley faces won’t fit in the box anymore!  Look how scientific it is (sarcasm). I thought we were separating church and state?

In most developed countries, the population crisis is that too few children are being born, writes the priest on his On This Rock blog.

Birth rates are approaching one child per woman in Hong Kong, Japan, Italy, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Eastern Europe . . .

When I told my parents I’d joined Zero Population Growth, a new high school club, my mother pointed out that they had four children. “Yes,” I said. “But I’m the second.”

Occupy in the classroom

Occupy Oakland wants teachers to teach about the movement, plus “the role of strikes in movement history,” “the systems and issues this movement is protesting against,” “the possibilities for change this movement is part of envisioning” and “what students need to know about how to stay safe during protests.”

For (very sketchy) lesson plans, teachers can turn to Occupy’s site or the New York Times Learning Blog.

Kristen Burzynski, who teaches eighth-grade science at Community Day School, spent a day on Occupy’s message, reports KQED’s Mind/Shift.

. . . she began her lesson by asking students to think about three slogans of the movement: “We are the 99 percent,” “Human need not corporate greed,” and “Save the American dream.”

Her students had heard these phrases before and recognized the images of the Occupy Oakland camp. Burzynski asked her students, “What do the protesters want?” Responses included money, fairness, and jobs. She answered, “You know, Occupy Wall Street has been criticized for NOT having a distinct goal – a lot of people are saying, What are they asking for? I think it’s cool that you guys are able to hit a lot of things they’re asking for without being told about it.”

To explain the 99 percent wealth disparity, Burzynski asked all her students to try a math problem. She told students to imagine that there were one hundred people and one hundred dollars. One person has 40 dollars. The other 99 people have to split the other 60 dollars. How much would each of the 99 people get? Students mulled over this long division problem, before throwing out guesses, “A penny!” “A quarter!”

Perhaps they need more time on math. Or, since it’s a science class, they could study science: What are the health risks of living without running water or toilets?

Teachers who joined Occupy’s strike cost Oakland Unified about $60,000 to cover the cost of substitute teachers, according to the Bay Citizen. That’s tough on the district, which is laying off staff and closing schools.