“Put down that sausage, pepperoni, and extra cheese, son, and no one will get hurt.” Words to that effect were spoken to 10-year-old Nicholas Taylor, a student at David Youree Elementary School in Smyrna, Tennessee, when he committed the unpardonable offense of pretending that a half-eaten slice of pizza was a gun and, in the words of school district spokesman James Evans, “threatening” other students with it.
Fortunately, the boy complied rather than mowing down his classmates in a hail of anchovies, and the danger was averted. And for so recklessly endangering the lives of his fellow students, he was punished with six days of eating lunch at the “silent table” and a lecture on pizza — er, gun — safety.
The incident is the latest — and perhaps the most ludicrous, though the competition is fierce — example of public schools’ zero-tolerance policies with regard to firearms. Students have previously been disciplined for such grave infractions as doodling a picture of a gun and possessing a pen with the logo of a gun manufacturer. Now, it seems, the time-honored tradition of playing with one’s food can land a kid in the principal’s office if he imagines that food is a deadly weapon.
Employers across the country are facing new concerns related to federal oversight in hiring, as a letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) warns that requiring a high-school diploma from a job applicant might infringe on the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). The revelation has some employment analysts concerned that the commission’s guidance will generate an educational backlash by shackling the incentive for students to graduate from high school, as well as subjecting employers to frivolous lawsuits and spawning a new industry for lawyers.
In an "informal discussion letter" posted on the commission’s website on December 2, EEOC Office of Legal Counsel staff members asserted that under ADA standards, a qualification test or other selection criterion, such as a high-school diploma requirement, that "screens out an individual or a class of individuals on the basis of a disability must be job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity." A qualification standard, the letter notes, is "job-related" or "consistent with business necessity" if it accurately measures the applicant’s ability to perform the job’s fundamental duties. Thus, the letter reads:
There have been some mentions of “education” in the Republican debates and by candidates in general. Some of the Republicans have even advocated getting rid of the Department of Education. That’s a good start, but virtually nothing has been said about the reading problem, or the deliberate dumbing down of our children. Nothing has been said about how our public schools are deliberately destroying the brain power of millions of young Americans.
JBS CEO Art Thompson's weekly video news update for December 26, 2011-January 1, 2012.
Nearly half of America’s public schools failed to meet federal standards under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law in school year 2010-2011. The Center on Education Policy (CEP) issued a report showing that more than 43,000 schools, or 48 percent, did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) this year, tallying an 11-percent increase over the 39 percent of schools that did not make AYP in 2010 and the sharpest drop in educational achievement since the law took effect a decade ago.
In 35 states, the percentage of schools failing to meet AYP standards reached a six-year high, according to an analysis of trends running from 2006 through 2011. In 24 states and the District of Columbia, at least half of the public schools did not make AYP, and in five states (Missouri, Florida, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and South Carolina) plus D.C., at least 75 percent of schools did not meet the federal requirements.
"The fact that half of American schools are considered ‘failing’ under NCLB shows how crudely the law measures the quality of a school," said CEP President Jack Jennings. "NCLB needs to be changed, and since Congress is hamstrung, the Obama administration is right to move ahead with waivers of NCLB provisions."
The White House unveiled its new domestic terror-war strategy, announcing that the federal government would be involving local schools and community-based officials in its efforts to identify and neutralize extremists. Critics in Congress blasted the Obama administration for omitting any mention of radical Islam, but there has been very little criticism so far of involving school children in the so-called “war.”
The new plan was outlined in a 23-page document posted on the White House website entitled "Strategic Implementation Plan for Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States." Among the cabinet departments involved in deliberations and approval of the strategy were the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, Labor, Commerce, and more.
The Government Equalities Office of the Home Office of the United Kingdom announced Thursday a "plan for action" to advance transgender equality. Transgender is defined as those who have had sex-change operations and those with both male and female sex organs. According to the plan, there has been a 14-percent increase in "hate crimes" committed against transgender individuals. The law of the United Kingdom, the plan proposes, must be altered in order to protect this segment of the realm.
In the ongoing effort by concerned parents and disillusioned educators to find ways of improving education for today’s youngsters, there’s a new kid on the block. And, from all appearances, one that is already making a mark on the learning landscape.
FreedomProjectEducation (FPE), based in Appleton, Wisconsin, opened its online doors to high-school students for the first time in September. Your reporter (despite being considered an adult in some circles) decided to take advantage of the program’s offerings and further her knowledge base. So I enrolled in an FPE class.
American Opinion Foundation established FPE to provide an education in the classical tradition of America’s Founders, according to the institution’s website. The heritage of classical education is one almost non-existent in America today, but one I believe to be superior. It is certainly what appealed to me in the first place. Course offerings include Latin, Logic, English Grammar and Composition, Spelling and Vocabulary, and one of my favorites, the Bible as Culture. The courses in English and Literature require students to have a thorough comprehension of works ranging from Shakespeare to C.S. Lewis, and are designed to strengthen writing skills as well. And listen to this description of the 11th grade Chemistry course: “Taught from the perspective that modern chemistry is the direct result of natural laws instituted by the Creator God, the course covers significant figures in chemistry, units, classification, the mole concept, stoichiometry, thermochemistry, acids and bases, solutions, atomic structure and more.” Not only is it demanding and interesting, but is designed in keeping with FPE’s mission to honor and promote America’s Judeo-Christian foundation.
Economist and conservative commentator Don Boudreaux attended the opening of the Institute for Justice (IJ) on September 10, 1991, and thought to himself at that time that “it sounded like a good idea.” Looking back at what IJ has accomplished since then, Boudreaux says, “IJ’s success over the past two decades is nothing short of phenomenal.”
At the ceremony marking the beginning of IJ, co-founder Clint Bolick spelled out exactly what they intended to do, and recognized the enormous changes in the way of their doing it. IJ is going to be focused, he said, on “removing barriers to opportunity and helping low-income people earn their share of the American Dream.” For instance:
Little Devon Williams, who was able to escape the cesspool of the Milwaukee Public Schools and instead get a good education in an excellent neighborhood private school, thanks to the nation's first real parental choice program. I tell you, the inspiration, the look of joy and optimism on their faces, speak volumes to the fact that we are right, and that we must persevere in these efforts that are only barely begun….
Each of us possesses fundamental rights that no government may take away. If any of us loses our rights, we all lose our rights. And if [anyone] does not have liberty, then none of us has liberty. We have so much work to do.
Does God Exist? I recently came across a very interesting debate on YouTube on the subject of “Does God Exist?” The debaters were Christopher Hitchins, the Anglo-American author of God Is Not Great, who took the side of atheism, and Prof. William Lane Craig of Biola University who argued in favor of creationism. You can actually watch the whole debate, which turned out to be a fascinating exchange between two highly intelligent men on a subject that will be debated forever.
Of course, I favor the creationist point of view. A cursory examination of just one’s own human body must convince one that there is a creator. The whole process of birth, starting from conception to the emergence of a complete human being in only nine months, is to me a miracle, which is performed millions of times a day all over the world. Just consider the different body fluids we all have: blood, sweat, tears, saliva, digestive juices, insulin, urine — all produced in just the right amounts at the proper times, each with its own distinctive purpose. How could any of this be the result of accident?
But all of these obvious manifestations of creationism that surround us have not stopped educators and judges from objecting to the teaching of Intelligent Design in the public schools. Why? Because it infers the existence of God. If creationism is the means whereby reality came into being, then God does exist. Yet, you would think that the most famous 19th-century advocate of evolution would be on the side of today’s atheist educators. But such is not the case.