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H/T: Shannon Greenwood at Think Progress Justice

thepoliticalfreakshow:

The news: Teaching students that creationism is an evidence-based theory is now banned in all public schools across the United Kingdom, according to new documents from the British government. Here are the new standards, which institute a:

requirement for every academy and free school to provide a broad and balanced curriculum in any case prevents the teaching of creationism as evidence based theory in any academy or free school.

According to io9, this means any “academy or free school” in the U.K. which teaches creationism to students would be breaking its funding agreement with the government. Academies are roughly equivalent to charter schools in the U.S., while “free schools” are nonprofit independent schools funded by taxpayer dollars, which can be organized by parents, teachers, charities and businesses. The new language updates a 2012 rule which required all future free schools that teach the theory of natural selection alone to include academies and all existing free schools.

This means that the U.K. is on track to more or less completely end the practice of teaching creationism in publicly funded schools. However, it does permit creationism and other beliefs about the origin of the Earth and life to be taught in classes on religion, so long as they are not presented as valid alternatives to scientific theory. While there are further reforms needed in other educational sectors across the U.K., it looks like the biggest step toward getting religion out of taxpayer-funded science classes has just been accomplished.

Contrast that to the U.S.: In the U.S., some $1 billion in taxpayer funding across 14 states goes to private schools. Earlier this year, Politico reported that those private schools included “hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies.”

In the U.S., just the states of Louisiana and Tennessee currently permit creationism and its offshoot, intelligent design, to be taught as alternatives to evolution in public schools. But across much of the South and Midwest, private schools that teach creationism are able to accept millions of dollars in public funding. Slate has a relatively up-to-date, comprehensive map of such schools here. There really are hundreds of them.

image

Map of schools teaching creationism. Image Credit: Slate

From Politico’s report:

… many of these faith-based schools go beyond teaching the biblical story of the six days of creation as literal fact. Their course materials nurture disdain of the secularworld, distrust of momentous discoveries and hostility toward mainstream scientists. They often distort basic facts about the scientific method — teaching, for instance, that theories such as evolution are by definition highly speculative because they haven’t been elevated to the status of “scientific law.”

One set of books popular in Christian schools calls evolution “a wicked and vain philosophy.” Another derides “modern math theorists” who fail to view mathematics as absolute laws ordained by God. The publisher notes that its textbooks shun “modern” breakthroughs — even those, like set theory, developed back in the 19th century.

In the U.S., the settled science of evolution is still pretty touchy. Missouri, for example, is considering a bill that would "alert" parents to any discussion of natural evolution in schools. And a 2013 Pew poll found that just 6 in 10 Americans believe that life evolved over time (including via the guidance of a supreme being), compared to 87% of scientists.

Why you should care: Pew found that Americans widely disagree with scientists on a variety of issues, including embryonic stem cell research, the use of animals in laboratory testing, nuclear power, childhood vaccinations and the causes and scale of global warming. At a time when the economy increasingly values education in highly technical STEM fields and large-scale scientific projects are more important than ever before, it would be nice if taxpayer dollars funded secular, scientific education instead of religious dogma.

Source: Tom McKay for Policy Mic

Notorious misinformer Glenn Beck appeared on Fox News to push various myths about the Common Core education standards while promoting his upcoming live movie We Will Not Conform.

On June 12, Fox’s Sean Hannity hosted Beck, a former Fox host and founder of The Blaze network, to discuss the Common Core State Standards, which were adopted in 2010 by 45 states and the District of Columbia. “Political turbulence” surrounding the standards, however, has led a few states to opt out of Common Core, following months-long smear campaigns from right-wing media figures, including Beck andFox. Beck even wrote an “angry and ignorant" book titled Conform, which spent 222 pages lobbing ridiculous attacks against the standards and public education in general.

On Hannity, Beck plugged his July 22 live movie, which will also feature fellow Common Core misinformer and conservative columnist Michelle Malkin. After Hannity explained that Beck was “going to show in this movie how to defeat Common Core,” Beck claimed that Common Core opponents are “winning on this.” He then propagated a series of myths about the standards, including that Common Core is about “control, manipulation, [and] propaganda” and that it takes away freedom from teachers, despite polls showing that teachers support it. Beck even likened Common Core to education in China because it “use[s] propaganda in the classroom” to “shape these minds to get them to be good little boys and girls for the state.”

Given that he launched his campaign against Common Core by stating, “We will not save our country unless we save it first from this attack,” Beck’s live movie promises to be yet another absurd ruse in his constant, fact-free crusade again Common Core.

h/t: Hilary Tone at MMFA 

mediamattersforamerica

thepoliticalfreakshow:

A leading Iowa Republican candidate is championing a nefarious proposal in his bid for Congress: banning undocumented children from receiving public education.

Brad Zaun, vying to represent the third congressional district in southwest Iowa, was a guest on Mickelson in the Morning, a local conservative radio program hosted by Jan Mickelson, late last week. When the conversation turned to immigration, Mickelson wondered why the state of Iowa spent money educating the children of undocumented immigrants. He dismissed the Supreme Court ruling 32 years ago that it’s illegal to deny undocumented children public education and asked Zaun whether it’s time to revisit the matter.

“Absolutely,” Zaun, currently a state senator, said. “I can tell you that we’ve had a lot of attempts to make some changes.” He blamed fellow lawmakers for a “lack of courage” in deciding not to strip undocumented children of an education.

MICKELSON: The state of Iowa spends millions and millions and millions of dollars every single year trying to educate people whose parents aren’t even here legally. About $200 million. And we have been doing this for years. And our governor says, “well that’s the law of the land. That’s Plyler. The Supreme Court says we have to.” I say that’s bullhockey. Even if that court case has some merit, and I don’t think it does, it ought to be challenged, and it should not be automatically applied here in Iowa, because we ain’t Texas! What do you think ought to be done? Is it time to challenge Plyler here in the state of Iowa?

ZAUN: Absolutely. I can tell you that we’ve had a lot of attempts to make some changes. The problem is we’ve got a Democratic-controlled Senate. It’s just been frustrating. […] There’s lack of courage to do that. I’m just being honest with you.

Listen to it:

This is not a merely academic issue. Hundreds of school districts across the country have been unconstitutionally inquiring about students’ immigration statusprompting the Department of Justice and Department of Education to send out guidelines reminding school officials that they must enroll every child.

In addition, though Mickelson claims immigrant children are leeching off taxpayers, he never acknowledges the fact that undocumented immigrantspay billions in taxes. In 2010 alone, the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy found that undocumented immigrants paid $10.6 billion in state and local taxes.

Zaun is currently considered a frontrunner for the Republican nomination. The primary election is held Tuesday.

Source: Scott Keyes for ThinkProgress

HB 5707, a bill aimed at curbing school bullying in the state, is now waiting for Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature.

The legislation, sponsored by lesbian state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, passed the Senate May 29 with 37 votes in favor after being amended, and proceeded to pass the house with 75 votes in favor of concurrence.

"Bullying in our schools has dramatic impacts on the victims and disrupts the educational process as a whole" Cassidy said in a statement. "The effects are devastating and well documented: victims have reduced academic achievement, lower involvement and are often forced out of school. Our schools must be safe and welcoming for all students, and this bill is a significant step towards that goal."

The bill lays out a clear bullying policy for schools as well as responsive measures. It also directs that schools compile and report data on bullying incidents.

"What I hear from [families of bullied children] so often, when they speak with schools or police, is that they are often told, ‘You are the first ones this has happened to’—that opens the door to blaming the victim," Cassidy told Windy City Times shortly after the bill passed out of committee in March. "With this, you can go back and verify that something else happened on a particular date."

An anti-bullying measure failed in the Senate in 2012 by just one vote. Cassidy has said the new measure is stronger and includes some facets that had to be deleted before.

"A comprehensive approach is needed to solve this issue," Cassidy said in the May 29 statement. "By giving school districts the tools to combat bullying, with an emphasis on restorative practices and accountability through data, we can help ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for children and schools."

h/t: Matt Simonette at Windy City Times

thepoliticalfreakshow:

First Lady Michelle Obama is, in many ways, a more attractive target for conservatives than her Free-World-Leading husband, and this week, House Republicans took aim at the First Lady’s signature initiative. In their proposed fiscal year 2015 agriculture spending bill, the House GOP included a provision that would gut nutritional requirements in school lunches. The White House responded by saying that Mrs. Obama will continue to put the health of our children ahead of politics.

President Obama may, indeed, be the subject of a greater volume of conservative derangement than anyone in history, but Michelle Obama strikes just as nasty a chord with the base, with little or no effort, unless you include trying to get kids to eat healthier. There’s just something about her that riles up a certain portion of the culturally conservative Republican base, but hell if I can figure out what it is.

It’s no surprise, then, that House Republicans would make it their personal mission to gut the school lunch nutritional requirements that Michelle Obama has championed, which include the inclusion of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and a reduction in sodium content. That sodium reduction, by the way, would bring school lunches to almost exactly a third of the current recommended adult daily allowance for sodium by 2017. The provision would allow any school to opt out of the requirements completely if they could show their school lunch program is losing money:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, not later than 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Agriculture shall establish a process by which a State shall grant a waiver from compliance with the final regulations published by the Department of Agriculture in the Federal Register on January 26, 2012 (77 Fed. Reg. 4088 et seq.) for the 2014-15 school year to any school food authority located in the State that verifies a net loss from operating a food service program for a period of at least 6 months that begins on or after July 1, 2013.

Notwithstanding the dubious logic that if a school is losing money on lunches, it must be because they’re not poisoning our kids, why not propose letting those schools apply for additional funding to defray the losses, if they can prove they were related to the nutritional requirements? In what universe does it make sense to solve the problem by feeding our kids shit? By this reasoning, the states should grant licenses to sell crack if your school’s losing money. Forget Taco Tuesdays, say hello to Meth Mondays!

The First Lady responded by holding an off-the-record conference call (that wasn’t all that off-the-record) to rally opposition to the GOP measure. Perhaps sensing an opportunity to harness resentment for the First Lady, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, whose previous reporting includes keeping tabs on FLOTUS’ vacation expenses, asked White House Press Secretary Jay Carney about the showdown this week. “How active do we expect the First Lady will be in fighting this legislation?” he asked.

Carney pointed out that the nutrition standards have already been implemented by 90 percent of schools. and repeatedly suggested that Republicans are putting politics ahead of children’s health. “The First Lady and this administration believe that every decision we make should be guided by sound science and hard evidence, not politics or special interests, particularly when it comes to the health of our children,” Carney said, later adding that “she’ll continue to work very hard on those and make clear where our priorities should be, which is on our kids’ health and not on politics.”

Normally, Carney would refer this sort of question to the East Wing, but clearly, this is a fight that the White House is eager to join. Republicans may be able to rile up their Michelle-hating Dittohead base with this sort of garbage, but Michelle Obama isimmensely popular with normal people, and healthy kids are even more popular.

Source: Tommy Christopher for The Daily Banter

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Michelle Obama is about as open to rolling back the healthy school lunch policies she championed as kids are to eating their vegetables. After the GOP introduced a House bill last week that would ease the rules, Obama said Tuesday that the effort was “unacceptable” to her, both as the first lady and as a mother.“We have to be willing to fight the hard fight now,” she said during a meeting with five school nutrition leaders, according to Politico. “Rolling things back is not the answer.” 

Obama was a big supporter of the Healthy and Hunger-Free Kids Act, which created new, whole-grain and vegetable-heavy dietary restrictions on school lunches. Kids have complained about low calorie counts and being forced to take vegetables they end up throwing away. Conservatives have called it a government takeover of public school lunches, and school nutrition authorities have argued that in some places they’re seeing lower sales. The House bill would waive the nutrition requirements if schools are losing money under the mandates. 

The House bill has the support of the School Nutrition Association, a large trade group, which supports increased flexibility argues that plate waste is a huge problem. However, reports from the Associated Press and the Government Accountability Office have found that some schools are managing the new requirements well and kids are eating the healthier food. Also, 90 percent of school districts are meeting the standards, according to the Department of Agriculture. The bigger concern for schools is the next waive of requirements, which increases the whole grain requirement and lowers the sodium limit. The GOP bill waiver would also excuse schools from those requirements. 

Despite support from people who’d like to see more salt and less grain in cafeterias, the bill has also raised eyebrows over additional funds for a new summer lunch pilot program that would only benefit rural low-income students. But then, maybe urban kids should be happy — the House doesn’t want to invest more money in forcing them to eat fruits and vegetables.

Source: Arit John for The Wire

More GOP failure at work.

Glenn Beck released a new book last week on everything that is supposedly wrong with education in America. The title, Conform: Exposing the Truth about Common Core and Public Education, gives most of it away.

Most people know Glenn Beck from his previous stint on Fox News or from the various media outlets associated with Conform Book Coverhis networkThe Blaze. His co-author Kyle Olson, on the other hand, appears to be up-and-coming in the right-wing media sphere. Currently, he is the publisher, founder, and CEO of EAGnews.org, a “news service dedicated to education reform and school spending research, reporting, analysis and commentary.” He is also a contributor to Townhall, and just last week launched a new conservative website called Progressives Today with “Dumbest Man on the Internet” Jim Hoft.

In Conform, Beck and Olson take on everything from teachers unions’ to the Common Core State Standards to school lunches to abortion in a book characterized by anecdotal evidence, sweeping generalizations, and quotes from anonymous bloggers. The focus of their ire is what they call the “controllists,” defined as “the teachers’ unions and their progressive friends in the media and the state legislatures.” In 222 pages, Beck and Olson lob a number of outlandish attacks against the various evils they perceive in public education, relying on such conservative actors as Michelle Malkin, the Heritage FoundationNational ReviewThe Wall Street Journal, and the Heartland Institute to do so.

Here are the eight most ridiculous attacks from Conform:

1. Longer School Days Help Teachers Encourage “Teen Sexual Activity.”

Beck and Olson seem convinced that teachers are not only “promot[ing] sexual activity among children,” but would use longer school days to “encourage teen sexual activity,” among other radical ideas (emphasis added):

Educators back then knew that some parents were too shy or awkward to broach the subject, so schools made sure kids would have basic knowledge to build on as they grew and developed their own points of view.

Today the trend seems to be to promote sexual activity among children, rather than gradually preparing kids for the facts of adult life.

[…]

There’s also the issue of what our kids would learn with even more hours at school. Many of these educators would relish the opportunity to spend more time feeding students a steady stream of radical, anti-American political ideas, encouraging teen sexual activity, and deemphasizing the importance of traditional values and religion. [Conform, pgs. 126 & 138]

2. “Most Teachers Get A Raise For Not Dying Over The Summer.”

In Chapter 3, which purports to counter the myth that “Public Schools Are Underfunded,” Beck and Olson take issue with teacher compensation:

In most school districts across the nation, all teachers are given automatic, annual raises every year based on years of service and number of graduate classes completed. To put it bluntly, most teachers get a raise for not dying over the summer— their classroom performance, or lack thereof, has nothing to do with it. [Conform, pg. 15]

3.  Teachers Don’t Need Tenure Because “Parents Will Hold [Principals] Accountable.”

Chapter 6 asserts that teachers don’t need tenure because if a good teacher is fired, parents will take care of that:

What should protect teachers is what protects anyone who must continually justify their job: success. Good teachers continue working, bad ones go away. And if a good teacher is fired without cause or because of some political grudge or ideological difference with a principal, you can be sure that parents will hold that principal accountable. [Conform, pg. 34]

4. Teachers’ Colleges Are "Not Very Hard" To Get Into And Are "Marxist Brainwashing Factories."

Beck and Olson have numerous thoughts on teaching colleges in Chapter 8, among them that teaching colleges are “not very hard at all to get accepted into,” and that they are “Marxist brainwashing factories” (emphasis added):

On the flip side, it’s not very hard at all to get accepted into our nation’s teaching collegesOnce you’re in, you don’t have to do extremely well to graduate and gain certification to teach in a K- 12 school. As the Wall Street Journal put it, “entrance requirements to most colleges of education are too lax, and the requirements for graduation are too low.”

[…]

Newly minted teachers emerge from college with few English skills, little respect for the discipline, and heads filled with ideas about the fundamental unfairness of America and how capitalism and individualism are terrible things.

[…]

Meanwhile, reformers keep pushing for the expansion of alternate teaching certification so that at least some prospective educators can find jobs and help kids learn without having to first be processed through Marxist brainwashing factories. [Conform, pgs. 49, 50, 52, & 56]

5. “Radical Educators” Use Civil Rights To “Further Their Marxist Agenda.”

Continuing on the “Marxism” train, Chapter 9 opens with the allegation that “America’s historic civil rights movement is being hijacked by radical educators” who use “racial inequities” “to further their Marxist agenda” (emphasis added):

America’s historic civil rights movement is being hijacked by radical educators.

It’s all part of their effort to take control over what our children learn and think with the hope that future generations will be more accommodating to efforts to dismantle our nation’s capitalistic economic system and impose state control and socialism.

Radical educators are very clever to use civil rights, and the racial inequities that have plagued our society for centuries, as a tool to further their Marxist agenda.That’s because few Americans disagree with the fundamental arguments of the original civil rights movement— that barriers needed to be removed so that people of all races can have an equal chance to achieve the American dream. [Conform, pgs. 59 & 60]

6. Common Core Helps Progressives Remove Parents From Their Children’s Lives.

Beck doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to Common Core. Indeed, he has been one of the most vocal right-wing media figures leading the charge against the state-led, voluntary education standards.Conform, however, makes the new, bizarre assertion that the Common Core State Standards somehow lead to a removal of parents from their children’s lives (emphasis added):

Since most parents don’t understand the Common Core techniques, students are becoming more dependent on their schools and teachers for their education, and less on help from their parents. This is like a dream come true for progressives who hope to continue to minimize the role of parents in the lives of their children.

[…]

Do these really sound like “rigorous” changes to you? Or does it sound more like a systematic approach to dumb down our kids and further remove parents from the process so that students will be easier to indoctrinate and control? [Conform, pgs. 93 & 95]

7. “Controllists” Want To Serve School Meals So That Kids Will Be In School More And To Teach Kids That Everything Is Free.

In one of their odder arguments, Beck and Olson claim that “controllists” use the school meals program to “make the case that kids must be in school more” and that school meals will teach kids “the concept of ‘free’ public handouts”:

By serving one or two meals a day to students, schools and controllists can begin to make the case that kids must be in school more so that they can eat properly.

[…]

All this fits perfectly with the controllists’ strategy of teaching children that all good things originate with the state. Once kids learn that their parents are not responsible for providing any meals because the government covers that cost for everyone, it’s not hard to take the next step and teach them the concept of “free” public handouts for everything, including education, health care, and housing. [Conform, pg. 136]

8. Former President George W. Bush and Governor Chris Christie Are “Progressives.”

Amidst their criticism of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and the idea of kids staying at school later in the day, Beck and Olson assert that former President George W. Bush and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) are “progressives”:

NCLB was the brainchild of George W. Bush and Ted Kennedy, both big-government progressives.

[…]

Some progressives are seeing the opportunity this gives them and are pushing this concept beyond school hours. In New Jersey, Governor Chris Christies [sic] has started a pilot program to provide free “after school dinner” for kids in six Camden schools. [Conform, pgs. 75 & 136]

Researcher Connor Land contributed to this review.

h/t: Hilary Tone at MMFA

mediamattersforamerica:

Emily Linden, a victim of sexual bullying, and the founder of the UnSlut Project, called out Fox psychiatrist Keith Ablow for his claim that teenage girls “provoked” sexual harassment by wearing leggings. 

Ablow: “I don’t know that we can restrain boys from being boys. So the long stare, the offhand comment, you have to — what do you do, excuse it? Because it was certainly provoked. And I think girls put themselves in the line of fire that way.”

Linden has appeared on the Katie Couric Show to discuss her experiences, and also gave a TedXYouth talk on how kids could use their confidence to battle bullying.

Fox News’ ”Medical A-Team” member Dr. Keith Ablow claimed that girls can “certainly provoke” harassment by wearing leggings to school.

On the May 9 edition of Fox’s Outnumbered, Ablow and his fellow co-hosts discussed a school that is allegedly telling its female students that wearing leggings to school is inappropriate and distracting to the male students. Ablow said any harassment the girls might experience while wearing leggings “was certainly provoked” (emphasis added):

ABLOW: You cannot come in with leggings. Because my son wants to learn and the truth is it is distracting. And it is kind of inappropriate because when did we decide as a culture that tights would become an overgarment instead of an undergarment. The reason we’re doing that is because girls are in a panic to be more and more sexual because we’ve taken all the restraint away from femininity. We’ve made girls into boys.

[…]

ABLOW: I don’t know that we can restrain boys from being boys. So the long stare, the offhand comment, you have to — what do you do, excuse it? Because it was certainly provoked. And I think girls put themselves in the line of fire that way.

Ablow has a history of wildly sexist remarks on Fox News. He has previously said that allowing women to serve in combat roles is “narcissism,” that a parent who bought dolls for her son was “nuts” for “gender-bending,” and that Newt Gingrich’s three marriages would make him a strong president.

h/t: Olivia Marshall at MMFA

“These claims may sound outlandish – and they are – but the fact is, millions of Americans are absorbing this extremist propaganda, and it’s having a very real impact,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. “These lies are being repeated in churches, legislative hearings and town hall meetings across the country.”

The reportPublic Schools in the Crosshairs: Far-Right Propaganda and the Common Core State Standards, was researched by the Intelligence Project and the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance program.

Many Christian Right activists claim the Common Core will indoctrinate young children into “the homosexual lifestyle” and instill anti-American, anti-Christian values. Their fight has been joined by radical antigovernment groups like the John Birch Society, which claims the standards are part of a global conspiracy to create a totalitarian “New World Order.” Glenn Beck, meanwhile, describes the Common Core as “evil” and “communism.” U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has called it “dangerous.”

What’s more, it’s clear that some of the opponents, including national groups associated with the billionaire Koch brothers, are exploiting the Common Core in their broader fight against the public education system in an effort to promote school privatization measures.

“The 50 million children in our nation’s public schools, and the dedicated educators who serve them, deserve better than a debate that focuses on falsehoods and demonizes the very idea of public education,” said Teaching Tolerance Director Maureen Costello. “There are legitimate concerns about the Common Core, but those very real issues are being obscured and distorted by the claims of extremists.”

Despite the claims of many critics, the standards do not mandate the use of any particular book or course of study. Those decisions remain with individual teachers and school systems.

The standards were developed under the auspices of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Forty-five states initially adopted the Common Core, but Indiana in March became the first state to withdraw.

h/t: Randy Turner at The Turner Report

thepoliticalfreakshow:

Though James Dent could watch Central High School’s homecoming parade from the porch of his faded white bungalow, it had been years since he’d bothered. But last fall, Dent’s oldest granddaughter, D’Leisha, was vying for homecoming queen, and he knew she’d be poking up through the sunroof of her mother’s car, hand cupped in a beauty-pageant wave, looking for him.

So, at about 4:30 in the afternoon on October 18, Dent, age 64, made his way off the porch and to the curb along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in the West End of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Soon he could hear the first rumblings of the band.

There was a time, little more than a decade ago, when the Central High School homecoming parade brought out the city. The parade started in the former state capital’s lively downtown and seemed to go on for miles. The horns of one of the state’s largest marching bands, some 150 members strong, would bounce off the antebellum mansions along the streets. Revelers—young and old, black and white, old money and no money—crowded the sidewalks to watch the elaborate floats and cheer a football team feared across the region.

Central was not just a renowned local high school. It was one of the South’s signature integration success stories. In 1979, a federal judge had ordered the merger of the city’s two largely segregated high schools into one. The move was clumsy and unpopular, but its consequences were profound. Within a few years, Central emerged as a powerhouse that snatched up National Merit Scholarships and math-competition victories just as readily as it won trophies in football, track, golf. James Dent’s daughter Melissa graduated from Central in 1988, during its heyday, and went on to become the first in her family to graduate from college.

But on that sunlit day last October, as Dent searched for Melissa’s daughter in the procession coming into view, he saw little to remind him of that era. More caravan than parade, Central’s homecoming pageant consisted of a wobbly group of about 30 band members, some marching children from the nearby black elementary schools, and a dozen or so cars with handwritten signs attached to their sides. The route began in the predominantly black West End and ended a few blocks later, just short of the railroad tracks that divide that community from the rest of the city.

The reason for the decline of Central’s homecoming parade is no secret. In 2000, another federal judge released Tuscaloosa City Schools from the court-ordered desegregation mandate that had governed it for a single generation. Central had successfully achieved integration, the district had argued—it could be trusted to manage that success going forward.

Freed from court oversight, Tuscaloosa’s schools have seemed to move backwards in time. The citywide integrated high school is gone, replaced by three smaller schools. Central retains the name of the old powerhouse, but nothing more. A struggling school serving the city’s poorest part of town, it is 99 percent black. D’Leisha, an honors student since middle school, has only marginal college prospects. Predominantly white neighborhoods adjacent to Central have been gerrymandered into the attendance zones of other, whiter schools.

Tuscaloosa’s schools today are not as starkly segregated as they were in 1954, the year the Supreme Court declared an end to separate and unequal education in America. No all-white schools exist anymore—the city’s white students generally attend schools with significant numbers of black students. But while segregation as it is practiced today may be different than it was 60 years ago, it is no less pernicious: in Tuscaloosa and elsewhere, it involves the removal and isolation of poor black and Latino students, in particular, from everyone else. In Tuscaloosa today, nearly one in three black students attends a school that looks as if Brown v. Board of Education never happened.

Tuscaloosa’s school resegregation—among the most extensive in the country—is a story of city financial interests, secret meetings, and angry public votes. It is a story shaped by racial politics and a consuming fear of white flight. It was facilitated, to some extent, by the city’s black elites. And it was blessed by a U.S. Department of Justice no longer committed to fighting for the civil-rights aims it had once championed.

Certainly what happened in Tuscaloosa was no accident. Nor was it isolated. Schools in the South, once the most segregated in the country, had by the 1970s become the most integrated, largely as a result of federal court orders. But since 2000, judges have released hundreds of school districts, from Mississippi to Virginia, from court-enforced integration, and many of these districts have followed the same path as Tuscaloosa’s—back toward segregation. Black children across the South now attend majority-black schools at levels not seen in four decades. Nationally, the achievement gap between black and white students, which greatly narrowed during the era in which schools grew more integrated, widened as they became less so.

In recent years, a new term, apartheid schools—meaning schools whose white population is 1 percent or less, schools like Central—has entered the scholarly lexicon. While most of these schools are in the Northeast and Midwest, some 12 percent of black students in the South and nearly a quarter in Alabama now attend such schools—a figure likely to rise as court oversight continues to wane. In 1972, due to strong federal enforcement, only about 25 percent of black students in the South attended intensely segregated schools in which at least nine out of 10 students were racial minorities. In districts released from desegregation orders between 1990 and 2011, 53 percent of black students now attend such schools, according to an analysis by ProPublica.

The Dent family, from grandfather to granddaughter, has lived out integration’s fleeting wonder, a fact that hardened James Dent’s face as he stood on that Tuscaloosa curb last October. The parade—just 15 minutes old, and yet almost over—quickly brought D’Leisha before him. Nene, as her family calls her, beamed and waved. Dent waved back and looked around to share the moment. But besides his wife and his stepson, no one else was there.

In the hours after the parade, James Dent sat back in a worn wingback chair in the cramped but tidy house he and his wife rent in the West End. As dusk brought out the whirring of cicadas, he quietly flipped through a photo album devoted to D’Leisha’s many accomplishments. She’s the class president, a member of the mayor’s youth council, a state champion in track and field. Later that night, she would be named homecoming queen as well.

Dent never went to college. One of 13 children born into the waning days of Jim Crow, he took his place in the earliest of integrated American institutions: the military. He served four years in the Air Force, including a year in Vietnam, before returning to the West End to spend the next 40 mixing cement for a living. The work was steady, but the pay meager.

Thin, with chestnut skin, and seldom seen without a Vietnam-vet cap, Dent is a reserved man, not prone to soapboxes. But after a long silence, he gently suggested that maybe his granddaughter deserved a little more than a 12-car salute at a brief and sparsely attended parade. When D’Leisha graduates this spring, she will have spent her entire public education in segregated schools. Just like he had.

“I think about it all the time, and ain’t nothing I can do about it,” he said. “It ain’t going to get no better.” He said he just hoped she was learning as much as the city’s white students were, then grew quiet again. If integration was going to prove so brief, what, he wondered, had all the fighting been for?

To read the full long-read article, including a timeline, click here. (Or at the link on the top of this post.)

Fox News host: ‘Feminism is to blame’ when boys do poorly in school (via Raw Story )

Fox New host Andrea Tantaros on Wednesday asserted that “feminism is to blame” for the recent news that boys were not performing well in school. Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that the Washington research group Third Way had found…



 

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Heartbreaking Simpsons Moments 1/∞: Bart Gets an F

I never understood why it’s an F if he gets more than half out of 100? Unless it’s more than 100. If you get more than half the answers right how is it an F?

You must not be from America. Here, grading is fucked up.

Average American Grading Scale:
A+- 97-100
A - 94-96
A- - 90-93
B- 80-89
C- 70-79
D- 60-69
F- 59 and under

And in some places in America it goes by a 7 point scale, so it’d be
A - 100-93
B - 92-85
C - 84-78
D - 77-70
F - 69 and below

Now you understand why American kid’s feel like there’s no point to school. If you have a 100 question text, and get 79 of them correct, that’s a C. That mean’s your Average Intelligence on this particular subject. And it get’s even worse when you have only like… a 10 question quiz. If you get two wrong? that’s a B. 80 fucking %. Now tell me again why American school’s are easier? 

No wait but whats the grading system in other countries?

UK Grading Scale

100-70: A

69-60: B

59-50: C

49-40: D

Below 40: F

next time you try to tell americans that we’re stupid

i’m gonna remind you

that our “average” is your “A”

Yep I was shocked when I heard this in a different post but a Google search pulls up a ton of sites backing this up.
Shit son I woulda passed College Algebra with an A in the UK. And I spent the end of the semester in perpetual fear that I would fail and have to retake the class.

And basically as an American you’re expected to get 80 or higher. Technically 70s are considered ‘average’ but there is such a level of pressure to get a B or higher, that Cs have become equal to Ds. Basically anything under 60 you might as well gotten a 0, and anything between 60-80 is considered practically failing. So basically schools have to be designed to make sure majority of students are getting 80s or higher on specific topics, which means you’re spending all your time going over a few choice facts a billion times and there is very little room to teach anything else. Which explains why American schools are of such low quality. The insane demand on the students ends up wrecking their education. Not only do you not have time to teach them anything, but they end up hating learning. Even outside of school your life is dedicated to memorizing these few dumb facts because your homework ends up taking hours of your time. A teacher from one subject says they expect you to spend 2 hours every night on their homework. And if you’re studying 5 subjects and they all demand that 2 hours? Good fucking luck, because if you don’t have straight all 80s or higher you’re not getting into a good college and college degrees have somehow become the minimum requirement for getting jobs.

I spent most of my junior year of high school in a state of constant panic that I was going to get a C in Honors Physics much less fail the class. If I got a C on my report card, I was grounded until the next one. I lost count of the times I’d wake up at five in the morning to take the early bus to go in for zero hour before school actually started for the day

File this under the exact reason so many Americans detest going to school.

(via iammyfather)