Category Archives: Education

Is Political Correctness Hampering ‘Free Speech’ In UK Universities?

Is Your Child a Terrorist? U.S. Government Questionnaire Rates Families at Risk for Extremism

Murtaza Hussain, Cora Currier, and Jana Winter report for The Intercept:

Are you, your family or your community at risk of turning to violent extremism? That’s the premise behind a rating system devised by the National Counterterrorism Center, according to a document marked For Official Use Only and obtained by The Intercept.

The document–and the rating system–is part of a wider strategy for Countering Violent Extremism, which calls for local community and religious leaders to work together with law enforcement and other government agencies. The White House has made this approach a centerpiece of its response to terrorist attacks around the world and in the wake of the Paris attacks, announced plans to host an international summit on Countering Violent Extremism on February 18th.’

READ MORE…

Why We Need to Abolish Competition and Embrace Arguments: Interview with Margaret Heffernan

Abby Martin interviews Margaret Heffernan, author of ‘Willful Blindness’ and ‘A Bigger Prize’, about the destructive impact of competition and alternative models of incentivizing people to work together for the greater good.’ (Breaking the Set)

Majority of U.S. public school students are in poverty

Lyndsey Layton reports for The Washington Post:

‘For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.

The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.’

READ MORE…

UK government anti-terror plan to spy on toddlers ‘is heavy-handed’

Robert Mendick, and Robert Verkaik report for The Telegraph:

‘Nursery school staff and registered childminders must report toddlers at risk of becoming terrorists, under counter-terrorism measures proposed by the Government.

The directive is contained in a 39-page consultation document issued by the Home Office in a bid to bolster its Prevent anti-terrorism plan.

Critics said the idea was “unworkable” and “heavy-handed”, and accused the Government of treating teachers and carers as “spies”.

The document accompanies the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill, currently before parliament. It identifies nurseries and early years childcare providers, along with schools and universities, as having a duty “to prevent people being drawn into terrorism”.’

READ MORE…

China’s Xi calls for tighter ideological control in universities

Reuters reports:

Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for greater “ideological guidance” in China’s universities and urged the study of Marxism, state media reported on Monday, as the country tightens control on Western ideology.

Xi’s comments are the latest sign of his politically conservative agenda and come amid a ratcheting up of controls over the media, dissidents and the internet.

China’s Communist Party has signaled that it will not embark on political reform, despite hopes that Xi, the son of a former liberal-minded vice premier, may loosen up.’

READ MORE…

Irony 101: Study Ethics with Legal Ace Who Sanctioned NSA Wiretapping, CIA Torture

Ken Silverstein writes for The Intercept:

Waterboarding: Yes or no? It’s OK to selectively violate the Geneva Convention, right? Spying on Americans is illegal, but aren’t rules made to be broken?

The world is a confusing place and it’s hard for young people to answer complicated questions like these on their own. Fortunately, students at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, have Professor Robert Deitz to help them navigate the contemporary moral morass. “All of us are familiar with basic ethical notions,” he writes in the syllabus for his Spring 2015 course, Ethical Challenges in Public Policy. “We learn from childhood the idea that some conduct is right and other conduct is not right.”

How’d Deitz get so smart about ethics? He’s magna cum laude from Harvard (like President Obama) and then spent eights years as General Counsel at the National Security Agency, serving as the official Yes Man for General Michael Hayden, and after that three years as his Senior Councillor at the Central Intelligence Agency until 2009. At the former post Deitz rubber-stamped NSA surveillance. At the latter, he sought to derail an independent investigation by then-CIA Inspector General John Helgerson into the agency’s torture and rendition of terrorism suspects.’

READ MORE…

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz (Documentary)

Why We Must Fight for Free Information: Aaron Swartz’s Legacy

Abby Martin discusses computer prodigy and activist, Aaron Swartz, and what his legacy means for everyone that uses the internet.’ (Breaking the Set)

Noam Chomsky: The Other Side of Technology

For More Teens, Arrests by Police Replace School Discipline

Gary Fields and John R. Emshwiller report for The Wall Street Journal:

‘[…] Over the past 20 years, prompted by changing police tactics and a zero-tolerance attitude toward small crimes, authorities have made more than a quarter of a billion arrests, the Federal Bureau of Investigation estimates. Nearly one out of every three American adults are on file in the FBI’s master criminal database.

This arrest wave, in many ways, starts at school. Concern by parents and school officials over drug use and a spate of shootings prompted a rapid buildup of police officers on campus and led to school administrators referring minor infractions to local authorities. That has turned traditional school discipline, memorialized in Hollywood coming-of-age movies such as “The Breakfast Club,” into something that looks more like the adult criminal-justice system.’

READ MORE…

Building a super-prison for children is a terrible idea

Frances Crook writes for The Guardian:

‘The Ministry of Justice has come up with the idea of building a super-prison for children as young as 12, at the core of which will be a regime of punishment and physical restraint. The jail will house around 300 boys and a handful of girls, and includes a planned unit for babies in case the girls get pregnant.

No one, but no one, supports this bizarre proposal, except for the companies that would profit from building the £85m complex. The government has refused to publish the rules or any details about what it is euphemistically calling a “secure college”. Next week the House of Lords will scrutinise the legislation and consider an amendment suggesting the whole idea be put on hold until more details are published.’

READ MORE…

 

How The NSA Plans To Recruit Your Teenagers

Andrew Jerell Jones reports for The Intercept:

Featured photo - How The NSA Plans To Recruit Your Teenagers‘Kids across America no longer have to wait until college to plan on being a part of the National Security Agency. In fact, they could start preparing for their NSA careers as early as age 13.

The NSA has begun sponsoring cybersecurity camps for middle and high school students, agency recruiter Steven LaFountain told CNBC’s Eamon Javers in a recent interview. Six prototype camps launched this past summer, and the NSA hopes to eventually have a presence in schools in all 50 states.’

READ MORE…

One in ten world leaders studied in the UK

Pan European Networks reports:

‘One in ten current world leaders have studied in the UK, according to research by the British Council.

The analysis found that of heads of state who have studied at universities abroad, the proportion of UK alumni rises even higher to 31% – a close second to those who’ve studied in the USA (34%). But when measured as a proportion of total students in each country, analysis suggests that the UK is ten times more likely to produce a world leader than the USA – UK universities produces one world leader per 50,000 graduates, whereas the US produces one per 500,000.’

READ MORE…

Alabama high schools secretly monitoring students’ social media accounts ‘after tip-off from the NSA?

Annabel Grossman reports for The Daily Mail:

student1.jpg‘A secret surveillance program has been running in an Alabama high schools after a phone call from the National Security Agency alerted the district to a ‘violent threat’. School officials claim the system began monitoring students’ social media accounts in Huntsville City Schools 18 months ago, when the NSA tipped them off that a student was making violent threats on Facebook

The schools began scanning Facebook and other sites for signs of gang activity, watching for photos of guns, photos of gang signs and threats of violence, as part of a program called SAFe, or Students Against Fear. Internal documents explaining the program were obtained by AL.com, showing four different students – three males and one female – posing on Facebook with handguns.’

READ MORE…

Rise of Islamic education system unnerves secular Turks

Dilay Gundogan and Emmanuelle Baillon report for AFP:

‘When Turkish pupils received their school entry exam results after the end of last term, textile worker and father Halil Ibrahim Beyhan received an unpleasant surprise His daughter had been assigned to a religious high school, like thousands of other students under a new system that caught many parents off guard.

Parents, educators and civil society groups have decried the move as another attack on Turkey’s secular principles by the Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) co-founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accusing the government of imposing religion on students.’

READ MORE…

Plymouth University under fire for spending £150,000 on 7 designer chairs

Sarah Cassidy reports for The Independent:

‘A scandal-hit university which has already seen its vice chancellor suspended and its chairman of governors stand aside as part of a bitter boardroom feud, has spent £150,000 on seven designer chairs. Plymouth University has commissioned the award-winning furniture designer John Makepeace to make seven handcrafted chairs to be used at graduation ceremonies.

The news follows revelations earlier this month that the university had spent more than £24,000 on sending six members of staff to a conference in Miami earlier this year. This was despite threatened job losses which have prompted a series of protests by lecturers at the Plymouth University campus this summer.’

READ MORE…

Occupy Movement Buys & Forgives $4 Million In Student Loan Debt

Koch foundation proposal to college: Teach our curriculum, get millions

Dave Levinthal reports for The Center for Public Integrity:

‘In 2007, when the Charles Koch Foundation considered giving millions of dollars to Florida State University’s economics department, the offer came with strings attached.

First, the curriculum it funded must align with the libertarian, deregulatory economic philosophy of Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist and Republican political bankroller.

Second, the Charles Koch Foundation would at least partially control which faculty members Florida State University hired.

And third, Bruce Benson, a prominent libertarian economic theorist and Florida State University economics department chairman, must stay on another three years as department chairman — even though he told his wife he’d step down in 2009 after one three-year term.’

READ MORE…

U.S. Justice Department sides with 14-year-old girl raped while serving as ‘bait’ in middle school sting

Challen Stephens reports for AL.com:

‘The federal government today sided with the guardian of a teenage girl who was raped during a botched sting operation in the boy’s bathroom, arguing the Madison County School system was liable under federal law to investigate harassment and protect female students.

“A school board cannot avoid summary judgment as a matter of law when a school administrator willfully ignores a plan to use a 14-year-old special needs student as bait to catch a student with a known history of sexual and violent misconduct, and as a result, the student is sodomized,” reads the federal brief filed in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals late today.

The U.S. Department of Justice argues administrators at Sparkman Middle School near Huntsville knew the boy was dangerous and showed “deliberate indifference.”‘

READ MORE…

Jerusalem teachers warn of increase in racism after Gaza war

Yarden Skop reports for Haaretz:

‘Teachers in Jerusalem say they are concerned about facing more racism than ever before in the capital’s schools, especially following Operation Protective Edge. As the school year opens, the Education Ministry has published lesson plans on racism to be taught during the first two weeks, but many teachers say that is not enough.’

READ MORE…

In Bosnia’s schools, three different people learn three different histories

Kristen Chick reports for The Christian Science Monitor:

‘Two decades after Bosnia’s brutal civil war ended, reconciliation is still a dream, one the education system is pushing further away from reality. Bosnia Serbs, Bosniak Muslims and Croats typically study in schools with curricula tailored to their ethnic biases. World War II is hardly the only period that receives wildly different treatments depending on the school.

READ MORE…

Study concludes that Britain is “deeply elitist” with a “closed shop at the top”

Andrew Sparrow reports for The Guardian:

An establishment acrostic‘Britain is “deeply elitist” because people educated at public school and Oxbridge have in effect created a “closed shop at the top”, according to a government report published on Thursday.

The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission said its study of the social background of those “running Britain” was the most detailed of its kind ever undertaken and showed that elitism was so embedded in Britain “that it could be called ‘social engineering'”.

[…] The commission’s 76-page report mostly focuses on analysis, but it does include recommendations, saying government, schools, universities, employers and even parents all need to play their part in promoting social diversity.

Looking at the background of more than 4,000 people filling jobs at the top of government, the civil service, the judiciary, the media, business and the creative industries, the commission investigated where they went to school, on the grounds that going to a private school is reasonably indicative of a wealthy background.’

READ MORE…

The Government-Industry Conspiracy that Promotes Crap Food in School

Michele Simon writes for Al Jazeera America:

‘People often ask me, “How does lobbying work?” Last week it was with fat and sugar, when the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) hosted its 32nd annual Capitol Hill Ice Cream Party. Some 6,000 bowls of ice cream were served up to Sen.Tom Harkin, Reps. Pete Sessions, Robert Aderholt, Jeff Denham, John Shimkus, Ron Kind and Lamar Smith, among others, according to Politico.

Dairy lobbyists are ever present in Washington, and their efforts usually pay off. For example, last year when the IDFA implored the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to give dairy foods a pass in the new snack food guidelines for schools, the agency capitulated, opening school doors to even more junk food, such as YoCrunch Lowfat Yogurt with M&Ms.

This is just one of many examples I uncovered in a report I published last month, “Whitewashed: How Industry and Government Promote Dairy Junk Foods” (PDF). The dairy industry, propped up by government, has convinced us of the health benefits of milk and other dairy products. The assumption that eating dairy is essential to the diet has obstructed our ability to criticize federal government support for unhealthy dairy products, of which there are many.

One of the most important forms of government support is the federally mandated collection of industry fees for checkoff programs that promote milk and dairy.’

READ MORE…

Isaac Asimov: “Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is”

Teenagers from wealthy backgrounds still dominate top universities

Richard Garner reports for The Independent:

Piles of £10 notesTeenagers from wealthy backgrounds are still around 10 times more likely to get into top universities than those from poorer homes. Efforts to revive social mobility in Britain by widening access to the best universities have stalled, research indicates.

The report from an independent commission set up to examine the impact of higher university fees also reveals that the gender gap in university admissions is growing with you men from disadvantaged backgrounds the least likely to obtain a university place.

Will Hutton, who chairs the Independent Commission on Fees, said the findings showed “serious gaps in access to university remain. Young men from disadvantaged backgrounds are particularly badly affected and remain under-represented in applications to all universities.”’

READ MORE…

GCHQ targets the ‘Xbox generation’ with cyber security university degrees

James Vincent reports for The Independent:

‘Intelligence agency GCHQ has partnered with six universities in the UK to offer specialized degrees in internet security. The BBC reports that the accredited master’s degrees are part of the UK’s 2011 cyber security strategy, with the aim being “to expand the pool of experts with in-depth knowledge of cyber” in the country.

The degrees will target the so-called ‘Xbox generation’ said one official, who have social media and gaming skills but no formal computer education. Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said that the program was a “crucial part” of the government’s long-term plans for the British economy and would help make the “UK one of the safest places in the world to do business online”.’

READ MORE…

New Zealand school plans microchip bracelets to encourage “good behaviour”

Fairfax Media reports:

‘A North Canterbury school’s plan to fit students with microchip bracelets to track their behaviour has prompted concern among parents.

Swannanoa School wants to use silicon bracelets as part of a scheme to reward good behaviour, minutes from a Parent Teacher Association meeting show. Teachers would use portable scanners to add points to a student’s online good behaviour chart with a reward when a certain amount of points was accumulated.

The school says the scheme would cost $7000 to set up. The proposal has been opposed by some parents. The Ministry of Education said it did not recommend the bracelets and would expect broad parent support before it was adopted by the school.’

READ MORE…

Are Students Who Protest Against the Cuts ‘Extremists’?

Josh Allen writes for Vice:

‘Letters to parents requesting a meeting to discuss “concerns that have been raised” usually only happen at school to the parents of kids with the foresight to realise that smoking while your lungs are still developing is totally badass. When you’re an adult, you don’t have to worry about your parents finding out what you get up to, unless you’re stupid enough to get duped into taking a free holiday by BBC3.

So you can imagine the surprise University of Birmingham Politics student Pat Grady’s parents felt when a letter from counter terrorism police, landed on their doormat inviting them “into the local police station” to “discuss concerns” that their son “[might] be involved with domestic extremism”.’

READ MORE…

OECD: England’s teachers overworked and ‘not valued by society’

Graeme Paton reports for The Telegraph:

A teacher helps a boy in red school sweater working at a laptopTeachers in England are working longer hours than those in most other developed nations despite being badly paid and feeling “undervalued” by society, according to international research.

A study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that just a third of teachers – 35 per cent – believe they are appreciated by the general public.

The study, which was based on an analysis of 106,000 teachers in 34 countries, found that the profession in England generally performed well across most indicators.’

READ MORE…