One Statesman in the Field

In the GOP Presidential debates, one candidate continues to stand out. He stands out because unlike the others, he is a statesman. I know this is a term that can have several meanings, but especially among conservatives one of the definitions from The Free Dictionary is the most popular: “A male political leader regarded as a disinterested promoter of the public good.” That man is Rick Perry.

Rick Perry stands out by being willing to do two things. He admits when he is wrong and he sticks to what he believes is right even when the majority disagree with him.

With regard to the former, he has readily admitted that he should have done things differently with regard to his executive order regarding HPV vaccination. Despite this, Michelle Bachmann continues her attack unabated. She even lies when she attacks him, because she talks about a vaccine being imposed on little girls. The Gardasil vaccination had a parent opt-out provision. No child was forced to be vaccinated. It would have been better to have had a legislative mandate combined with an opt-in policy. Perry openly says this, even if it doesn’t stop his opponents and detractors from ignoring it.

The only other chink in his armor is his support for a law he signed which allowed for non-citizen children domiciled in Texas without immigration documentation to be considered Texas residents for the purposes of paying college tuition. From the boos in the crowds it was apparent that most Republicans nation-wide do not support this. Nonetheless, Perry explains very clearly and carefully why he signed what was a veto proof bill passed with four “no” votes out of 183 Texas legislators, with Republicans in firm control of both chambers.

But here’s what Yankees like Michelle Bachmann, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum don’t get. Texas is not the only state that has done this. New Mexico and California have as well. Not surprisingly, Arizona is the only state with an actual border with Mexico that hasn’t. In addition to Arizona, only three other states prohibit in-state tuition for children with undocumented immigration status. However, in addition to Texas, New Mexico, and California, eight other states specifically allow it. These include Kansas (passed with a Republican supermajority in both houses), Nebraska (non-partisan, but with a supermajority of members who were otherwise Republicans), and Utah (again, with a dual supermajority of Republicans), New York (split control), Oklahoma (Republican House and even split in the Senate), as well as Illinois, Washington, and Wisconsin (Democratic simple majority in both houses).

Now you may be thinking to yourself, if only four states have prohibited state universities from considering undocumented students as residents, and eight have specifically permitted it, what about the other thirty-eight?  They have not legislated on the matter at all. What is not prohibited is allowed.

But back to Perry. He gets the elephant in the room. His opponents – and the debate watchers that were interviewed afterwards – have nothing to contribute to the discussion. They only have a mantra that is isn’t right for all residents of Texas to receive benefits that non-residents of Texas don’t get. Remember that it is Texas legislators who overwhelmingly chose to consider all residents of Texas as residents for the purposes of in-state tuition, at state-funded Texas universities. What his opponents don’t want to discuss is what happens if you prevent Texas residents who are undocumented from getting an education. Rick Perry tells it like it is. His opponents will never address the issue head on. They can’t and they won’t.

Perry understands the concept of a secure border. He can talk about his reasoned views. I agree with him that it is impossible to build a 2000-mile fence, but disagree that the border can be policed with “enough boots on the ground” as he likes to phrase it, making it the heaviest fortified border in the world.  Nonetheless, he also realizes that the oft-repeated sound bite that we have to secure the borders before we deal with the issue of undocumented immigrants already in the country is a bunch of nonsense.

A child who has been brought into the United States and is growing up does not have the leisure to wait for nothing substantive to be done about the border, even before nothing is done about her situation. She is growing up. She will work hard in high school while her parents work hard doing jobs for $3.00/hour that citizens won’t do at any wage. She may very well have to do this at several schools while her parents (who may be part of the 80% of agricultural workers in the U.S. who are undocumented) move around for work. They and she will work hard just to get enough money for in-state tuition – probably not at the University of Texas, like Mitt Romney wants to say – but at a small, cheap, local college. This is the real face of undocumented children. This is the person that Rick Perry’s opponents and those booing in the audience want to keep in the margins of society. Ideally they want to “send her back where she came from” (a country with no effective government run by drug cartels murdering at will in the most gruesome ways), but barring that, at least make sure she makes nothing of herself.

I will say it again (and probably not for the last time): this is the real face of undocumented children. Rick Perry gets it and it willing to talk about it, whether it is popular or not. Rick Perry gets it and Rick Perry gets my vote.

Defrauding the Church

Recently I was looking at the résumé of a famous preacher who was outed as a adulterer some years ago by another famous preacher (who was himself then outted in the same way). I was looking mostly because he calls himself “Dr.” Under his education he lists “Correspondence Courses Continuing Education – Berean School of Bible”, then an honorary MA (who gets an honorary MA?), two honorary doctorates, and what purports to be a Ph.D. in Religion from North Carolina College of Theology. I had never heard of this institution, but you, dear reader, can probably can probably smell the same rat I did. It is just a bit unusual to go from correspondence courses with no certificate, diploma, or not to mention degree, straight to a Ph.D.

How do you get a doctorate from NCCT? Let them tell you how in their course catalog (spelling, capitalization, grammar and punctuation, including random elipses, from the original):

The North Carolina College of Theology does award degrees for LIFE-EARNED EXPERIENCE. The specific requirements for LIFE-EARNED EXPERIENCE Degrees are outlined in this catalog. NCCT DOES NOT sell degrees…Qualified applicants must submit proof of verifiable time in ministry in order to receive the degree for which he or she has applied….All applicants must meet NCCT requirement with approval of the President and Executive Board. Each individual application is assessed with consideration of various jobs and positions in which an applicant has worked within the church or ministerial realm. Many pastors and five-fold ministers are NOW deserving a Doctorate, and should rightfully be awarded. NCCT LIFE-EARNED DEGREES are identical to the degrees that are issued to students who graduate from the Satellite Extension Program or “Individual Study Program”. It is the desire of the NCCT President, Board, Staff, and Faculty to be a blessing to those in the field of ministry and offer confirmation of education to the many deserving men and women of God.

That’s right. If you have been in full-time ministry for ten to fifteen years, and you have $2,750.00 plus $60.00 application fee, plus $100.00 administration fee, plus the $860.00 graduation fee, you deserve a doctorate. They would like you to write a 25,000 word paper, which they even have the gall to call a dissertation, but that can be waived. That will get you a Doctor of Biblical Studies. If you want to have a Ph.D. you need to have been in ministry 20 years, have bought one of the other doctorates, and it will cost an additional$5,500.00, plus all the other fees. Because you deserve it. And because you have a ministry that can afford to spend the $10,290.00 in total from the offerings you have received from other people. The one thing NCCT is very clear about: no money, no degree, and absolutely no refunds if you ever realize that you paid for a worthless piece of paper.

From whence comes this idea that a degree of any kind is deserved? A degree is earned through a demonstration of academic achievement in a field of study.

NCCT will tell you not to worry about the value of your LIFE-EARNED EXPERIENCE degree, because it is accredited. According to the course catalog, NCCT is accredited through Accrediting Commission International, Inc. of Beebe, Arkansas. ACI is run by non-trinitarian Pentecostal preacher “Dr.” John Scheel who is the bishop of the Lighthouse Pentecostal Jesus Name Church of Beebe. “Dr.” Scheel got his Ph.D. from Toledo Bible College and Seminary, which had to be re-branded when it was run out of Ohio by the authorities. ACI is also a rebranding of the International Accrediting Commission (IAC) which was run out of Missouri after a sting operation.

But why have one fake accreditation with four is better? A real college doesn’t need the approval four accrediting agencies, but according to the NCCT website, they are accredited by three other bogus accrediting agencies in addition to ACI.

NCCT likes to keep things tightly controlled. The President is “Dr.” J. L. Cook. The Senior Vice-President is “Dr.” Judy Cook, the wife of J. L. Cook. The Executive Vice-President is “Dr.” Jon Cook, the son of J. L. Cook. The rest of the Executive Board includes “Dr.” W. L. Baltimore with two diploma mills doctorates, including one from NCCT;  “Dr.” Varnie Fullwood, who got his Bachelor’s from diploma mill Zoe University (also accredited by ACI) before getting his Master’s and Ph.D. from NCCT; “Dr.” Stephen Thomas, with two diploma mill doctorates, one from Rhema University (accredited by one of ACI’s competitors and not to be confused with Rhema Bible Training Center, which does not offer degrees) and one from NCCT; and Revs. Dan and Tim Cook, who bears a striking resemblance to the other Cooks and each other.

All of the Cook sons, Baltimore, and Thomas also serve on the Thesis/Dissertation Review Board, though how the two Cook non-doctors serve on a doctoral dissertation review board further boggles the mind. Ever other member of the Thesis/Dissertation Review Board about whom I can find any further information also appears to their doctorates from NCCT or another mill.

NCCT is just one of many purveyors of bogus theological degrees. I just picked them out by chance, due to their association with Marvin Gorman, mentioned in the first paragraph. I’m sure there are others who are making just as much money out of spreading false credibility throughout the Church. But be clear about this: it is fraud and it is rife.

It may be found predominantly, but not exclusively, in Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Baptist circles. Does that mean that there is anything wrong with these groups within the Church? Absolutely not. It does mean that there is a need to be extra vigilant. Does it mean that someone has to have a real doctorate or even a real degree of any kind to minister in the Church? No. God uses all sorts of men from all sorts of backgrounds and all levels of formal and informal education.

It does mean that no one should represent that they possess formal educational achievement that they have not earned. I don’t care what else they want to say about how great their ministry is, or how fruitful it is in whatever way their group acknowledges fruitfulness, they are defrauding the Church.

Intellectual Dishonesty

I have recently discovered how plagued the Church is with deception. I’m not talking about people wandering around in false doctrine, though there is plenty of that about. I’m talking about Christian ministers — some in high profile ministries — in collusion with faux educational institutions, deliberately deceiving others with regard to their academic qualifications. The real scandal is that it is not a scandal.

I just thought it was a bit silly when I saw the late Kenneth Hagin calling himself “Dr. Hagin” after Oral Roberts gave him an honorary doctorate courtesy of ORU. But one preacher, however popular, flaunting his honorary degree does not a scandal make.

Recently I was looking at the websites of various leaders involved in what is known as the “Apostolic-Prophetic” movement. A disproportionate number of them seemed to have doctorates. Cindy Jacobs even has two. It didn’t take long to discover that all of these doctorates were from “schools” of theology started run by their friends. Cindy Jacobs got her honorary first doctorate from Christian International Ministries, run by Bill Hamon. Hamon “earned” his bachelor’s and master’s from his own Christian International School of Theology before allegedly receiving an honorary doctorate from an unnamed university.

Beyond those who are using honorary doctorates to call themselves “Dr.”, there are those who are claiming to have earned doctorates. They have them from organizations like the Wagner Leadership Institute. They get credit for attending each other’s meetings and conferences or watching each other’s videos. They take two-day and three-day courses like “Discovering Your Destiny through the Fivefold Ministry Gifts” and “Apostolic Breakthrough”.  Each of these equates to “training units”. Get enough training units and you get a doctorate. Or as WLI states on their website:

WLI  desires to remain unhindered from traditional higher-level educational requirements and is not an accredited institution. WLI offers three diploma tracks: Bachelor, Master, and Doctor of Practical Ministry. Diplomas do not certify levels of attainment, but rather accumulation of training units.

You can’t get your training units simply by attending a seminar or webcast or listening to a CD or watching a DVD. You have to write a 3-5 page paper. Within 90 days. Unless you bought a CD or DVD, in which case you have one year. The paper should not have anything to do with demonstrating knowledge of the “course” content. It is only a self-evaluation. “Students fail a course only when they neglect to turn in papers on time.” Not academically up to watching a DVD and taking a year to say what you got out of it? “Students may also receive training unit credit for on-going ministry, writing books, mission trips, and pre-approved self-studies.” It is nice that WLI admits that its diplomas are essentially worthless.

However, do those who attended conferences and other meetings and sit under the teaching of these “doctors”, know where their spurious credentials were obtained? Or do they trust that Dr. Chuck Pierce or Dr. Cindy Jacobs or Dr. Bill Hamon or Dr. Rus Jeffrey or Dr. Don Lynch or Dr. Jim Goll or hosts of others have legitimate claims to use the title?

To put oneself forward as having what a reasonable person would expect to be academic credentials in the promotion of Christian ministry, when no such credentials exist, is nothing less than fraud. It is deception. Fraud and deception are not condoned by the apostles and prophets of the Bible, those who claim to be such today notwithstanding.

I wish that the rot in worthless academic credentials ended with this particular infestation, but it runs deeper and wider in the Church. Of this, more later.

Stick a Fork in Me, I’m Done

The summer holidays are finally here! Not that you would know from the November weather.

Rather than usual end of school wind down with wine and leaving speeches, the day ended rather abruptly. We have had torrential rain all day and flooding, so the school shut early and all staff living in affected area were encouraged to make themselves scarce.  That included me.

Some pupils went out of their way to let me know how glad they were to see me leave. Fortunately a few actually let me know they were sad to see me go.

Next year it will be a new school with new responsibilities.

Radio

This week I have been showing most of my classes the same film. Under normal circumstance we don’t just show videos in RE – despite the reputation of the subject in some circles. And theoretically we shouldn’t show them in the last week of the year, as this detracts from the work ’em to the last minute ethic.

I was originally just going to show it to my Year 10s, but I realised that it has a message that all of my year groups could use and with only one lesson left to leave one message in their heads, I chose to show them Radio with Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Ed Harris. I wanted them to realise that they have the chance to make a difference to the world around them. They need to see a positive example of how the way we treat others can change us as well as them. And they can see that even someone who society might otherwise reject can make an impact on the world around them in a positive way.

Unfortunately I wasn’t surprised to learn that many of them cannot even sit and watch a movie without being unbelievably disruptive.  I had to abandon it altogether with one group because I couldn’t even get it started. Because it is longer than the lesson period, I offered to show it at lunch for anyone who wanted to finish it. I had some top set Year 9s take up that offer, but no others.

That doesn’t mean I’ve changed my view of the potential of the film. I’m trying to work it into my schemes of work in my new school. I think it deserves to be shown over two or more lessons, with opportunity for feedback and analysis.

If you are familiar with the film, you might be interesting in the page about James “Radio” Kennedy on the T. L. Hanna High School website, or the official site of Radio and Coach Harold Jones.

New Definition of Failing Education

Some school are labelled failing because pupils aren’t getting an education. There are weaknesses in the quality of teaching or unsatisfactory progress in learning and abysmal exam results. Now they will be failing if they are white, unless they encourage children to mix with other races and religions.

This will be a new legal duty. White schools will have to “twin” with multi-ethnic schools. They will need to create events to brings parents from different ethnic groups together. If they don’t meet these obligations, Ofsted can have their governing bodies taken over by the local council or have the school closed altogether.

It’s multiculturalism and political correctness at any cost.

Keeping Chastity Out of School

Millais School must be an incredibly orderly school with lots of money. I have a hard time getting pupils to take off hoodies and pull up their ties. At Millais, if you are wearing a ring with a Scripture reference on it, they can pull you out of all your GCSE classes to study on your own. Since the school has an obligation to provide an education, I have to assume that they had provision for teaching and supervision in place.

As I mentioned last month, Millais student Lydia Playfoot went to the High Court to challenge the school’s policy, which allows for Muslim and Sikh jewellery and other non-uniform accoutrement. And now Millais need not worry about discriminating against Christians and their dastardly little sliver rings. The High Court has ruled against Lydia.

In response to the ruling, she said it would “mean that slowly, over time, people such as school governors, employers, political organisations and others will be allowed to stop Christians from publicly expressing and practising their faith”.

The headmaster characterised it differently: “Any suggestion that our school is anti-Christian is not correct. We have always respected Lydia’s right to hold and express her views and believe there were many ways in which it was possible for her to do this during her time with us.” It just not possible to do it in the same ways as those of other religions, of course. No one would dare tell them how to practice their faith, but Christians are different. Maybe they aren’t anti-Christian – just pro-Muslim and pro-Sikh. They probably aren’t anti-chastity – just pro-promiscuity and pro-STI.

This isn’t going to affect her personally. She’s taken her GCSEs and left Millais. (It will affect her father, who has been ordered to pay £12,000 in costs to the school.) In the future the school can be a chastity-free zone. If someone wants to express religious ideas of sexual purity, they can wear a hijab.

Five-Minute Education and Five-Day Indoctrination

Any hopes that a Brown Government would stop fiddling with the education system have quickly been deflated. It just gets crazier. Perhaps its down the new departments – with the higher education and adult education split off from schools, the schools minister needs to find things to do with his extra time. So how many ways can he make a bad thing worse?

From yesterday’s Daily Telegraph:

Secondary school pupils will be taught in lessons lasting just five minutes under a radical shake-up of the curriculum that introduces a raft of subjects including Mandarin Chinese and lessons on debt management, it was announced yesterday.

Schools are being encouraged to tear up their timetables and introduce new ways of teaching such as quick bursts of mental arithmetic or spelling and topic-based teaching lasting up to a week. There will be an emphasis on British identity, citizenship and challenges facing the world, such as global warming.

That’s right – five minute lessons. Though still a stretch for the attention span of some, I have to wonder how this will work. So it takes five minutes for them to get to a lesson on the other side of school, five minutes to get them settled, then – oops, lesson over – five minutes to get to the next lesson.

So we have five minutes of mental arithmetic, a bit of Mandarin, and a week of global warming. Am I the only one who thinks this is nuts?

We did a topic-based week last month while the Year 10s were on work experience. In line with the spirit of the age, it was on the environment with enough carbon footprints and anthropogenic global warming to make Al Gore proud. With 2/5 of the school out and only three years of timetable to tear up, it was incredibly difficult, taking hours of cross departmental planning. And that was just for one week.

But that’s what the Government wants. It is much easier to indoctrinate children to a particular agenda if the entire school is tell them the same thing at the same time.

The positive thing about all this is that the Celtic Fringe should be spared. Because Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have a lot of control over their own education systems, it will probably only apply to England.

The Cost of an Education

Apparently getting a university education may contribute to the end of British civilisation as we know it. According to Melanie McDonaghan writing in the The Times, 40% of women graduates do not have a baby by age 35. If the Government succeeds in its goal of getting 50% of the population through university, this only asking for trouble, especially with more women than men now attending university.

A simple mathematics exercise indicates that with 60% of graduates being women (based on the current ratio of intake), 24% of women of childbearing age will be childless. If this is all childlessness by choice, it does not take into account the surge of barrenness that will result from the chlamydia epidemic, which the Health Protection Agency showed has infected 12% of young women 16 to 19 as of last year.

Britain’s birthrate is 1.87 children per couple. This is not a replacement rate and will place a huge tax burden on the tiny workforce to support the pensions of an ageing population that is living longer. However, compared to the rest of Europe this is almost a population boom. The average across the Continent is 1.37 children per couple.

Biblically, children are a blessing and barrenness is a curse. Post-Christian Europe may deny it, but it can’t avoid the consequences.

The Future of Britain

“She doesn’t get detentions,” then with a sneer, “She’s a boffin.”

“When you grow up (assuming you do), do you know who you will be working for? Boffins.”

“I don’t plan on working.”

“Okay, let me rephrase. Do you know who is going to pay taxes to support you while you sit on the couch and watch Trisha?”

“Don’t care.”

Contempt

There are a lot of thankless jobs out there. Many people contribute to society being a better place and never receive any recognition.  However, when it comes to secondary education, I’m hardpressed to think of another profession where the people benefitting from it hold it in such contempt.

All public facing jobs endure a certain amount of abuse. There are plenty of anti-social nasty people out there. This society has bred more than it’s fair share. Police, for example, get a lot of grief from the criminal element, but then that’s not who they are serving, but rather from whom they are protecting others.

NHS staff deal with a lot of nasties, but they now have statutory protection. Abuse a nurse and you can find yourself without treatment. However, even then, they rarely face an entire waiting room of 30 patients showing open contempt and refusing to be treated when called. Nor do they daily face a constant stream of patients who are so disruptive that others can’t receive treatment.

 The Government has left teachers powerless. If someone refuses to leave a room, they cannot be grabbed by the arm and forced out. If someone tries to leave a room where they are supposed to stay, their exit path cannot be blocked.

How can the Government be surprised that crime figures continue to climb (while trying to manipulate the numbers to show that they haven’t) when they have created an environment where children are a law unto themselves? Is it any surprise that more than 50% of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders are violated?

Catholics Avoid Hell

 Five-year-old Max Hell, that is. Max, who has a perfectly fine German surname, was not being allowed to enroll in St Peter Apostle School in Melbourne, Australia unless he used his mother’s maiden name of Wembridge.

You would think Catholics would be keen on the importance of carrying a father’s surname and that using a mother’s maiden name would only raise unnecessary questions.  You would also think they would want to help a child who was bullied because of his name in the state school he attended.

The school has now relented because Max’s father complained to the media.

A* Results While Lacking Basic Skills

I have been saying it for a long time, even though many of my colleagues have denied it. Educational standards have declined to the point that even some of the best students lack basic literacy and numeracy.

The Qualification and Curriculum Authority (QCA) has been running research trials on new functional skills tests to be introduced in 2009 for English and 2010 for maths. These trials have shown that students predicted A* grades in their results next month cannot handle percentages and angles, or full stops (periods) and commas.

As noted in the Sunday Telegraph:

Ministers fear that if the new tests are included in revamped GCSEs, the proportion of pupils gaining good grades in the two subjects, currently about half, will plunge, exposing dire standards – and the genuine achievement level – among schoolchildren.

The newspaper also quote from a letter sent to the schools minister from the QCA chief executive:

Research undertaken during the second phase of the trial indicated that candidates with actual or predicted GCSEs at grade C or above did less well than might be expected in trial assessments for functional skill.

In other words, “Even though we write the National Curriculum and vet all of the national examinations, we were not prepared for just how illiterate and innumerate the brightest pupils have become.”

I know this is true from personal experience. I teach a subject which requires 14 to 16-year-olds to write essay answers. Getting past the problem that many of them have near-illegible handwriting (because that is a skill that has been abandoned for many years here), is it often nigh on impossible to read even after the words have been deciphered. Try reading an essay with only the occasional full stop, when there is no use of capitalisation to figure out where a new sentence might be beginning. Some students have heard of the comma, but appear blissfully unaware that the art of punctuation extends beyond these two marks. Admittedly. some are familiar with the one used for exclamation, because once they have discovered it, they can’t help but use it.

The problem extends beyond punctuation. You may recall I mentioned a few days ago that out of an entire class of middle-ability Year 10s, not one pupil knew what a prefix or a suffix was.

This is the group to whom many in the Government want to extend the right to vote when they reach the age of 16. I can only think their reasoning is that by dumbing down the education system, young voters will choose how to vote because they can read “Labour”, but “Conservative” will be too big a word with too many syllables.

Soon and Very Soon

Just two weeks left.

That’s 30 lessons plus any covers.

Why They’re Not Called Grammar Schools Anymore

Today I was teaching about prejudice and discrimination. I tried to get the class to understand the meaning of the word “prejudice”. I asked them what “pre-” meant. No idea. I asked them what a prefix is. No idea.

Did I mention that this is Year 10 and it isn’t a bottom set?

Leaving the topic for a moment, I probed further. I asked if anyone knew what a suffix is. After a long pause, a girl piped up, “Isn’t that a place, like a county or something?” One boy in the class at least knew more geography that he did grammar: “That’s Sussex, you idiot!”

Mushy Learning

Last week when the Year 10s were on work experience week, we went off timetable with Key Stage 3 kids (that the age equivalent of middle school in the States) and had Environment Week. As a change of pace, it was fun. Even though the party line was the assumption of anthropogenic global warming, I didn’t kick up a fuss and went along with the flow.

Theme-based learning was popular in primary schools until the 1990s. That’s when they found it that while it was entertaining, kids ending up lacking something rather essential: basic skills like reading and ‘riting and ‘rithmetic.  I bet they could make great posters, though.

Now the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), the arm of the Government that tells us what and how we must teach, is pressuring schools to ditch the usual timetable of lessons and switch to theme-based learning. I suppose they’ve given up on basic skills at this point. Indoctrination is much too important to be left to chance.

The curriculum director of the QCA said, “The challenge for schools is to create a nourishing and appetising feast that will sustain learners and meet their needs.” Since you may not speak edu-speak gibberish, let me translate for you. What he said is that schools need to cater to, and rely upon the wisdom of, junk-food-addled iPod-entertained children to determine what they would like to do while they are in school. We must learn to conform to their demands.

In the view of the QCA, the one thing we must never do is tell children to sit down, shut up, and pay attention to what they must learn because we tell them it is what they need to know. If we were to do that, using such antiquated techniques, we might end up with adults who know something and have something to contribute to society.

Teens, Sex, and Consequences

I’m sure it is coincidental that these stories appeared on consecutive days. Yesterday, we learned that teenagers have pushed the abortion rate to a record high in this country and are having a record number of abortions. Today, Department of Health said it had agreed “in principle” that Gardasil should be given to all girls in the first year of secondary school. Most readers will be aware that this is the vaccine against human papilloma virus.

According the Daily Telegraph:

Despite huge Government spending on contraception education, 19-year-olds are now the most likely of any age group to have an abortion, with 35 in every 1,000 having the procedure, according to Department of Health figures.

A total of 40,244 abortions were carried out on girls aged between 15 and 19 years, and 18,691 on girls aged under 18, including 1,042 on under 15-year-olds, 907 on 14-year-olds and 135 on girls under 14.

In total, 3,990 abortions were carried out on girls aged under 16 – the age of consent – last year.

 There were there were 193,737 abortions in England and Wales last year. This is an increase of nearly 4% over 2005.  And over 21% of these were carried out on babies with mothers 19 and under. (I have to disagree with the language used by the Telegraph – its not the mothers who are aborted.) Teens have now ousted the 20- to 24-year-olds as the biggest age group of aborters.

The Government spent £40 million in tax money on contraception education to bring down the abortion rate. Sadly, the one thing they don’t emphasise is that the only way to avoid pregnancy is to avoid sex. But how can they do that when political representatives are fornicators, teachers are fornicators, parents are fornicators, and the Government pays for entertainment programming on television and radio which openly and aggressively promotes fornication? How is any teenager going to keep their legs closed if everyone they know, see, and respect has theirs splayed open?

Now I am all for preventing cancer. Gardasil works best if it is introduced before girls are sexually active and especially before they are exposed to HPV. It is part of the sad commentary on teen sex that they have to get them at 11 in order to make sure they gotten most of them protected.

And I have to say I’ve no doubt it will serve as another green light to the safeness of sex as a game and a toy. That pubescent boys in an amoral society see it like this is no surprise, but that is exactly how it is viewed by many girls by the time they are even in Year 8 (7th grade).  By Year 10 (when the topics I teach include cohabitation, contraception, and abortion) many of them are aggressive about their sexuality and against any suggestion that there is any reason, moral or otherwise, to curb their appetites. It is truly frightening.

Leaving a Mark on Society

If you spank your child hard enough to leave a mark in this country, you can go to prison for five years. That’s the way the law was left in 2004 after an attempt to ban all chastisement whatsoever. But they’re back. The Government has announced a full review of the law.

There will be a public consultation period. It will include polling to assess whether attitudes to smacking – and the limits of state intervention in parenting – have changed in recent years.

A number of well-meaning completely misguided children’s charities favour a complete ban. Colette Marshall, the UK director of Save the Children, said: “Children are vulnerable and are currently treated unequally.”

The key piece of information Ms. Marshall is missing is that children are treated unequally because they are, in fact, unequal. Ms. Marshall is missing the very same information as a number of students I teach. I am sometimes told, “You can’t speak to me like that!” or “If you can this, so can I!” I frequently have to explain that I am an adult and they are a child; that I am a teacher and they are a pupil; that I’m in charge and they are not. This seems to come as a complete surprise to some. They seem incredulous that different rules apply to me than to them.

It is this idiocy – complete barmy lunacy in the face of empirical evidence – on the part of the left that has led to the smacking ban in schools and motivates the same move to ban it in the home. We might as well remove the age limits to buying alcohol and tobacco, for driving, and for voting as well. In fact, we probably put society in less danger by doing this than by furthering the smacking ban.

Putting Beliefs into Action

“We were shopping in Tescos, right, and these foreigners, right, got the last Cokes and put ’em in their trolley. My mum, right, took ’em out of their trolley and put ’em in ours. Why should they get everything? It should be English people first and then foreigners can have whatever’s left.”

There was not a single voice of disapproval in the classroom this morning, other than my own.

The Truth About Migrant Workers

For all of it’s wonderful rural positives, the Shire is a very ethnist (what the papers and the Government would erroneous call “racist”) place. Whenever the subject arises in lessons (and it often does, even when we are not particularly studying racism) large numbers of pupils have been programmed from home to say nasty things about migrant workers.

The other day, one of them said, “My dad said we shouldn’t buy local produce, because that just brings in more illegal immigrants.” When I said, “What illegal immigrants?” She didn’t know what to say. I noted that the Russians and Urkrainians work here under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme and the Poles, Czechs, and Slovaks are free to live and work here like any citizen of any EU country. In fact, because they are from the new A8 countries, they have to work. The French, Spaniards, Germans, and Belgians can show up and loaf about if they want, yet still enjoy all the benefits of the socialist state.

A 2005 study showed that the per capita revenue to the Government generated by immigrants (£7,203) was higher than that for the UK born (£6,861). The study went on to show that government expenditure per capita on immigrants was lower (£7,277) than for the UK born (£7,753). So the pay more taxes and they use fewer services.

According to the Treasury, whilst foreign-born migrants make up 8% of the population, they generate 10% of our Gross Domestic Product. So they produce more that’s worth more. Where exactly is the problem?

They have substantially lowered the age profile in the Shire and in the country, because most migrants are between the ages of 18 and 34. This means there are more workers to pays the taxes that pay the pensions of all the UK born over 34s who will soon become over 65s.

If you go into the Hooterville city centre, you here lots of Russian, Polish, and various other Slavic-sounding languages. Why? Because they are spending money. They are investing in the local economy (or the economy of Tesco, M&S, Woolworths, and other national chains).

People complain because they nick stuff from shops. All the shops have shoplifting warning signs in multiple languages. A third of the shoplifting is reported to be by Eastern Europeans. This means that two-thirds is by UK born people. Of the proportion of prime shoplifting-aged people, this is probably fairly representative of the population. The difference is that of they are Russians or Ukrainians they can be deported. We’re stuck with the locally bred riff raff.

But despite all the positives migrant workers have brought to the community, you don’t have to ask around very much to find plenty of people more than happy to slag them off.

Out for a Drive and Dinner

Another day of blogging missed, but I left school yesterday just after the final bell and we headed for Cheddar to spend one more evening with Mrs H’s in-laws before they flew back to the States. We went out to a pub for dinner and I won’t say what I had to eat, lest I scandalise any of the faithful as I completely forgot about the Apostles’ Fast.

The pub advertises two-for-one dinners. Most places this means a limited lunchtime  menu of microwave meals. At the Stag and Hounds in Churchill, Somerset it applies to the full menu, including the specials. It is little wonder that when we arrived, most of the tables had already been reserved. We got the only unreserved table that seated more than four. The food was good. The only problem was asking three different Russian waitresses for salad dressing, of which there was only one variety, but it was good.

With a two-hour drive down and a similar time in returning, it made for a long evening. The traffic was lighter getting back, but it still took about the same amount of time, because Mrs H missed a motorway junction resulting in an entirely different way home from Bristol. I contributed to the situation by reading funny exam answers as I was marking papers in the car. I had imbibed a pint of cider, thus discharging me of driving duties, but making it easier to understand some of passes for exam answers.

I marked until it go too dark and then dozed off, but I was still too tired to bother with anything but bed when we got in.

Devolution Redefined

In my Year 10 exam, one of the optional questions (which I took from a previous GCSE exam paper) was “‘Christian teachings about family life are not relevant in the 21st century.’ Do you agree? Give reasons to support your answer and show that you have thought about different points of view.”

As I was marking papers I came across one of the most unique answers from someone in one of my top sets. Exactly as it is written:

I do think that Christian teachings about family life are not relevant in the 21st century because people have moved on from doing what people think is right . More and more people are getting into the situation for them to have to abort their babies and more children are forming their own opinions quicker.

Christians whole believe system is based upon God, but now in the 21st century we have theories that we were made from matter and anti-matter and there are theories and evidence that we developed and evolutionerised from apes and monkeys, not from Adam and Eve.

In school, teachers are now teaching us these theories and are showing evidence of fossils, and so the opposition is overwhelming for Christians to teach at this stage in time.

I have to say that I have never before seen the argument that Christian teaching about family life – that husbands and wives should love and respect each other, that children should honour and obey parents, that older family members should be cared for – is irrelevant because of the fossil record and theories about it which suggest that we were “evolutionerised.”

Apart from the bit about being made from matter and anti-matter, I have to say I found this to be a very perceptive answer. When people reject the Creator God and believe they are indistinct from, and merely exist on a continuum with, animals, they have no reason to love and respect. In fact, they end up treating their own worse than many animals would treat theirs.

She is also right that even though I’ve never felt overwhelmed, many students have been brainwashed with the idea that science has somehow disproved the existence of God. I see this on a daily basis. When I attempt to discuss it with the rationally in terms of evidence and argument, they don’t want to know. All they do is shout louder that the world was created by science. (Yes, I know that is nonsensical, even for someone who believes in atheistic evolution, but it is actually what they say.) The few who don’t say this, still operate off the plane of reality by saying that science has explained everything.

Sadly the truth was given many, many years ago: “The fool says in his heart there is no God.”

All Things in Moderation

In the waning days of his premiership, Tony Blair has decided that there aren’t enough moderate Muslims out there. He’s decided to help make more.

British universities are getting a small cash injection to help train moderate, British-born imams. Blair believes mosques are too reliant on foreign imams who may not understand British society or speak good English. They are partly to blame for the radicalisation of some British Muslims.

It’s not that there aren’t already university courses (degree programs) in Islamic Studies. Rather the problem appears to be that the courses only teach certain views of Islamic theology and focus particularly on the Middle East. Thus students on these courses who are energized by what they learn tend to violent radicalism. The money spent would broaden the content of these courses. With more exposure to less militant views, it is hoped that students will be influenced by them.

I think it is a bit of a long shot.

Hands Down

Reading the Mail on Sunday while traversing the English Channel yesterday, I was lead to believe that Education Secretary Alan Johnson said I shouldn’t have students raise their hands to answer questions any more. I looked at the DfES website tonight and – whew! – what a relief – it appears this only applies to primary schools. It appears that the omniscient apparatchiks who feed Johnson the wisdom he’s supposed to share with us still find it okay have pupils raise their hands once they reach age 11.

However, before they arrive at big school, letting children raise their hand and give an answer to a question is damaging. Not so much to the hand-raiser, but to the “invisible children”. This does not refer to a belief in some sort of incorporeal presence of multiple learners – though there are loonies at DfES who might believe in such things – but rather to those who are not as eager to participate in the didactic process.

What the DfESians must not realise that a classroom teacher knows best what works for their groups. Most teachers do spend some of class discussion time calling on those who are less willing to volunteer. However, they shouldn’t take away from those who are more actively involved in the lesson. Otherwise you will just end up with lowest common denominator lessons. But I suppose that is the point of socialism: if you can’t pull everyone up, then drag everyone down. Equality is all that matters.

But it gets worse.

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Odd One Out

Okay, let’s play “Odd One Out” (familiar to those who watch Have I Got News For You) or “One of These Things is not Like the Others” (for those more familiar with Sesame Street):

symbols.jpg

Yes, that’s right. The odd one out is the cross. Headteachers in Croydon schools have been instructed by the council to ban the wearing of crosses in schools.

The only religious items allowed to be worn are (clockwise from the bottom left) a rakhi, the cotton bracelet worn by some Hindus; a taweez, the religious locket worn by some Muslims; and a kara, the Sikh metal bracelet. This is because schools need to be sensitive toward those of other faiths. According to a council statement, crosses are not to be allowed in schools because “it is not compulsory to wear a cross, it is a personal preference and it can be taken off”. A taweez isn’t compulsory either, but no matter.

Once again, the Muslims are on the side of the Christians. The Muslim Council of Britain education spokesman Tahir Alam said, “I support my Christian colleagues on this point. If these items are important to children and have religious significance for them, there should be no issue at all about that.”

What disturbs me further is that these guidelines were issued by the Croydon’s Standing Advisory Committee for Religious Education (SACRE). Every local authority has a SACRE which sets the curriculum for RE in that area. If the SACRE don’t want students in schools wearing crosses, what must they be doing to the RE syllabus? I wonder if Croydon has a real problem with the legislation that requires the RE curriculum to be at least 50% Christianity.

Because they are not exempted from the jewellery ban, it would seems that chastity rings are forbidden as well. There is already a case before the High Court involving a girl at a school in West Sussex who wears a purity ring as a symbol of her religious faith it’s in role in her decision to not follow the lifestyle choices of her peers.

This is no doubt offensive to those who teach that sex is for when you feel ready, not when God says it is appropriate.

How to Create a Memorable School Trip

We were planning Activities Week for Years 7, 8, and9 after school today. This is a great idea that someone came up with to take Key Stage 3 off timetable during the week Year 10s are in work experience (something all Year 10s in the country do for a week in the summer term). I know it’s not practical to do it very often, but I think kids need a occasional change of pace to shake out the cobwebs.

Some of the week involves some school trips. However, no one thought of the idea used during a sixth-grade (same as our Year 7) camping trip to a state park in Tennessee. Some parents were just a little upset that teachers decided to tell the kids there was a gunman shooting in the park and that they had better crawl under tables and keep quiet.

I’m not sure what they teach in teaching certificate classes in Tennessee, but this is not one of the tactics we learned in behaviour management sessions for quieting a class. It was, however undoubtedly quite effective.

To make the situation more realistic, a teacher disguised in a hooded top pulled on a door like he was trying to force his way into the building. Someone slammed open a door in an adjacent room and simulated the sounds of a struggle.

To be fair, some of the kids weren’t surprised, because this same thing had been done on a previous sixth-grade trip. It seems many parents weren’t upset about the incident itself, but only because it happened so soon after the Virginia Tech massacre. I’m not sure what is says about them that they more outraged at the tastelessness due to poor timing than their little darlings soiling in their underpants.

This was not done by some inexperienced young teachers. It was led by the assistant principal of the school. There was even teaching and learning going on, because afterward they discussed what they would have done in a real situation.

Parents at our school need not worry. Our plans for Activities Week will not involve any gunmen, simulated or otherwise.

All About Sex

I hadn’t tag surfed in a while, so I was skimming through and came across some anti-Christian Right stuff.  I’m not really affiliated with the Christian Right anymore, but given my background and the fact that most anti-Christian Right stuff is heavy on the anti-Christian bit, I thought I’d go in a have a poke around.

In the past I have been a critic of some of the Christian history of America material. I think some of it has been poorly research and most of it has been written to an agenda, neither quality I find particularly endearing.  Now I come across the anti-Christian history agenda and it seems to suffer from the same problem.

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Summer Term in Full Swing

Year 7 reports are just finished and now Year 8 full reports are due in four days.

Fortunately I only have two Year 8 sets, so I can probably get this done in time. This makes up for the six year 10 sets I have, with reports due in 35 days. Of course that means that I have six sets worth of Year 10 exams to mark before I write the reports.

Year 11s began study leave today. There was a bit of a spring in everyone’s step knowing they were gone. I have to say that I was sad to see the departure of a few of the Year 11s in my form (we have a house system instead of a year system, so I have a few from each year), because they are really outstanding kids.

May Bank Workday

Holiday? What holiday?

The banks may be closed and most people not employed in retail are off work, but marking must go on. I still have a few more courseworks and a few more Year 7 reports. Then it’s time for lesson planning.

The good news? There’s only 19 lessons until next weekend. This week is Year 9 SATs, but as timetabling would have it, I only lose one and a half lessons.

The Year 11s leave on Friday, which will free up a substantial part of my timetable for revision sessions, marking, and planning for next year. I’m not anticipating heavy attendance at revisions sessions, so perhaps I will have to take less marking home.

Next week is Year 10 exams – but I have yet to see what I’ve drawn in term of missed groups vs. invigilation.  Then its the rush to get exam grading done and produce end of Key Stage 3 levels for the government.

Apart from the insanity of spring fever (which in this country eventually becomes summer fever as get into June and July) when some kids are inspired to do incredibly stupid things or just go wacko from an overload of education, the summer term is the nicest of the year.

Structured Regime

For all of my concerns about teenagers out of control, there is a new school opening in the autumn that scares me.

The Blair Government has been big on the development of city academies built as public-private partnerships. Some of these have done reasonably well. Others have not. The most expensive school ever built is the new £46.4 million Thomas Deacon school in Peterborough. As one of the largest schools in Europe, it will house 2,200 pupils.

I use the term “house” intentionally. It is not a boarding school. It is a bit more like a prison. Even though the children are drawn from the general population, thanks to the closure of three other schools, the regime sounds like a reform school or Borstal.

There is no playground. The company running it say playgrounds do not fit into their concept. But no matter. Who needs a playground when there is no free time? There will be no breaks in the day. This has been designed to prevent bullying and truancy.

The company says pupils should be treated like company employees and therefore do not need unstructured time. I’m not sure where their company is located, because employees in the UK are legally entitled to an hour overall – 30 minutes for lunch and two 15 minutes breaks. Even a prison has an exercise yard.

According to headteacher Alan McMurdo, “We are not intending to have any play time. Pupils won’t need to let off steam because they will not be bored.” And this must be because ever pupil is going to enjoy every subject and they are only going to hire the very best children’s entertainers and call them teachers.

If adults only get 30 minutes for lunch, why should children need any more? During the lunch period pupils will be escorted to the dining room by their teacher. This is to ensure they do not sneak away to play or breathe fresh air.

This also means that teachers will get no breaks in the day, unless they happen to have one of those elusive non-contact periods during which they are not taken for a cover lesson. If it is a day with no free period, it will be a day with no free time whatsoever, even at lunch.

Some of you may have thought I was being melodramatic about the increasingly totalitarian state in the UK. Yes, this is the Government’s vision of the future becoming reality.