Sunday, June 17, 2012

Education Ain't What It Should Be (Part 3)

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Homosexuals and the elite private school sex scandal
Horace Mann School in the Bronx, New York
Daniel Wiseman   
Monday, June 25, 2012
The sex scandal is ever with us: Catholic priests; Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker; Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky; Coach Sandusky and Penn State. The list could and does go on and on. In America, sex sells beer, cars, deodorant, and everything else. We have become a highly-sexualized society compared to our Puritan and Pilgrim roots.
A particularly new fascination, though, is teacher-student sex in high schools. One high school in New York where this type of behavior is prevalent has been renamed “Horndog High” by one tabloid newspaper. Along these lines, the New York Times recently reported that during the late 1970s and early 1980s, students, primarily male students, were sexually abused by male faculty and administrators at the prestigious Horace Mann School in the Bronx, New York. Horace Mann for better or for worse is considered an “elite” private high school with tuition reportedly more than $37,000 per school year. Today it is ranked as one of the top private high schools in the United States.
According to the lengthy Times Sunday Magazine piece, there were incidents of improper sexual touching and maybe up to and including homosexual rape as well as attempts by faculty and staff to seduce pubescent boys by secluding them from parental supervision either on school trips or by taking them to restaurants and even offering them alcoholic drinks in the headmaster’s home, as the headmaster at that time is one of the accused of improper conduct by the still as-of-yet unnamed alleged victims.
Normally, this would be the kind of event to ignore to protect one’s own personal spiritual well-being. Except in this instance, we can see some pernicious acts associated with the breakdown of society at that time. In addition, in this particular case, I was a student at Horace Mann at that time, and I am personally familiar with the alleged perpetrators. These revelatory remembrances have created a virtual firestorm among my classmates and generations of alumni who are wondering how this could have happened at our “noble Horace Mann,” as it is called in the alma mater.
Horace Mann sits atop a hill in the dignified Riverdale neighborhood in the otherwise hardscrabble Bronx. The multi-acre, two-campus site includes an upper division and an elementary school. Teen-agers and children travel by car or bus or by public transportation from Manhattan as well as from prosperous suburbs in New Jersey and Westchester. In recent years, more Chinese and Indians have matriculated as they have climbed the ladder of success in the United States. Horace Mann remains a school of choice for secular Jews who do not send their children to Jewish-oriented day schools. The Horace Mann ethos, as one person wrote recently on Facebook, is to “separate the winners from the losers.” Knowledge and achievement are worshiped as is getting into Ivy League schools or equally elite private, liberal arts colleges. It’s a preparatory school for children of parents who are not inclined to send their progeny to New England’s elite boarding schools.
Nevertheless, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, the “Times Were A Changin’” when all-boy Horace Mann allowed girls to enter in the early 1970s. In my first year in the upper division, six veteran faculty members passed away and a new generation of educators was arriving. The newcomers included R. Inslee Clark, Jr., the flamboyant headmaster, who as another HM graduate described him: a bachelor, baseball coach of a very successful team, dressed in bright pants and sports coat looking like he had just left a yacht party hosted by the Kennedy clan. For good measure,Clark drove a bright orange, late-model Cadillac convertible.
The article alleges that Clark and (quirky) history teacher Stanley Kops made plays for high school boys, including in the headmaster’s residence, where Kops was sitting, swirling a drink when the boys arrived and then allegedly asking them if they wanted an alcoholic beverage, too, in order to relax. A third individual, Mark Wright, who was black and a football coach as well as an art instructor, and who similar to Kops was an HM graduate, allegedly invited another student to a drawing studio, where the boy allegedly stripped to his skivvies thinking he was going to be taking part in a nude modeling session, but later learned that he would be the subject of apparently unwanted sex play by the charismatic Wright.
The final bad actor at Horace Mann, according to the report, was Mr. Johannes Somary, the head of the music department, who allegedly had his boy favorite each year handpicked for special company on Glee Club trips that traveled the world. Interestingly, Messrs. Clark, Kops, Wright and Somary are now all deceased. Mr. Kops killed himself after being discovered of his unwanted touching, which included him rubbing the shoulders of boys in class, which I personally witnessed. At least one other openly gay teacher is believed to have placed another student in compromising clothing and taking photographs of him. In a separate story printed by the Times in the last few days, that now 88-year-old teacher admitted to having sexual relations with at least three or four high school boys.
What to do about these shenanigans or more than 30 years ago has spilled into social media. This being Horace Mann, there are lengthy essays on Facebook elaborating upon the nature of Western Civilization, Greek Tragedy, and even Pauline Christianity. Some alumni said they event felt this would not have happened had homosexuals been allowed to marry and come “out of the closet.” Others want HM to conduct a full investigation and to pay restitution to any alleged victims. Interest groups are being assembled, therapy is being recommended, and people are “lawyering up.” Incredibly, some of these people point to President Nixon and Vietnam and Kent State as somehow leading to this morass of woe. For these liberals, it’s forever 1968 and all about the Movement.
My reaction is this: these incidents happened at a low point in American history. Jimmy Carter was president. It was the time of disco at Studio 54, streaking, rampant drug use, the near fiscal bankruptcy of New York City, the Iran hostage crisis, inflation, interest rates in high double digits, and the ignominy of defeat in Vietnam, which was basically won on the ground, but lost in the court of public opinion. In academia, Leftist teachers were destroying traditional curriculum, eradicating Latin language instruction and standards. Sexual experimentation was everywhere including the first reports of wife-swapping. Birth control pills created non-consequential sex and the later ravages of the sexually-transmitted disease epidemic and then ultimately AIDS.
It’s wrong for teachers to have sex with students. However, everybody knows that a significant portion of teen-agers wouldn’t mind having sex with one of their teachers, and probably even fantasize about it. For those people who believe and assert that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle, isn’t it possible there was some degree of consent between these school personnel and students, as long as it was not a brutal instance of sodomy? Let’s state the obvious: the barriers crossed were by teachers having homosexual contact with students. Several of these alleged sex acts took place within a context of artistic expression and wouldn’t we agree that on average people in the Arts have different standards of morality compared to straights when it comes to sex?
Think of it this way: If a 14 or 15 year old boy, heterosexual by all accounts, were propositioned by his (good-looking) woman teacher, isn’t it at least 80 to 90 percent likely that those male students would have willingly acquiesced? Hence the idea for the case of consent, even though I concede that the students were legally minors. What apparently happened at Horace Mann was homosexuals practicing their lifestyle, which includes breaking boundaries such as gay activists taking pictures of themselves giving the finger to a portrait of Ronald Reagan at the White House.
I am neither defending nor denying anything, especially when discussing what Horace Mann should do or not do about all this. Already New York prosecutors have established a “tip line” for other alleged victims to phone and name more names or to make more allegations. Horace Mann is a private school and as I am not among the mega-wealthy on its board of trustees, nor an influential alumnus, nor a current parent, my opinions concerning its governance are fairly irrelevant. A Horace Mann education today is beyond my financial means even if I wanted to send my children there which I don’t. However, a lesson learned or at least a question worth asking is what can we do in this country to make a Horace Mann-type education available to more children? The answer is of course, obvious: give parents more resources to send their children to the schools of their choice. Tax dollars should be distributed to families like mine so that I can transfer it to the private school that I choose for my children, which indeed struggles financially. To my mind, this would be justice, rather than ruminating on sketchy happenings of more than 30 years ago allegedly perpetrated by people who are no longer alive to defend their reputations much less their actions.
Daniel Wiseman is an independent political commentator, who focuses on national and international affairs. He spent nine years as a professional journalist in Wyoming before working in fund-raising, non-profit management, and is now working in New York City. Wiseman focuses his writing on how to bring the United States back to its Constitutional moorings.  He writes exclusively for Canada Free Press.
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Drugs & Prostitution Rampant in US High Schools
by Nathan Patrick Henry
(henrymakow.com)
(The author was a high school teacher for 18 years.)
June 16, 2012
Sex and drugs proliferate at many US high schools, says a veteran teacher.
Sexual activity at public schools campuses is more common than thought.
Our young people are so inundated by it, many consider sexual acts in the same category as handshakes. They do it openly in classrooms and cafeterias, using smart-phones to share the experience.
For drugs, "little boys and girls" will do nearly anything. Prostitution has become a big money maker.
Prostitution is safe for a couple of reasons. While selling drugs is a crime, prostitution is difficult to prove.
School administrators especially will not touch homosexual prostitution with a ten foot pole. To criticize homosexuality in any way is the new anathema.
A male teacher complained about abusive behavior from a homosexual boy. The principal threatened the teacher to shut him up.
Where I worked, at an inner city school in Houston, boys and girls were pimped to students and adults. Any sexual flavor was available. Rendezvous were arranged just off campus for predators who wanted to abuse kids.
One pimp on our campus arranged for a girl to orally service a boy in the restroom. He also charged spectators to watch. This incident was caught by a teacher, but this pimp's business continued to thrive.
A disgusting cross-dressing homosexual has been repeatedly caught in the act. He carries a straight razor and threatens everyone knowing he is "untouchable" under the shield of political correctness. In one week an Assistant Principal caught eight sex acts on the campus and did nothing of consequence.
Faculty
Many school faculty members are immoral as well. Sex between faculty and students is more frequent than people believe. Young teachers are only a few years older than their students and many have no qualms about having sex with them.
My school terminated four teachers for this in one year and covered it up. My principal was a sexual predator who was forced to retire. He had already done the same thing at two schools. Was it criminal to hire him a third time?
Just recently, a 27 year old teacher was caught in a relationship with her 16- year-old student in Washington State. We hear about this over and over again. I would estimate that for every incident that is reported the schools cover up about four or five.
Drugs
The police estimated that an average $30K of drugs were sold each month.
Everything from pot to heroine was available. The recent trend is the pharmaceuticals like "bars," and hydrocodone. More recently the "legal" but lethal substances like "spice" and "bath soaps" are being used. Kids sit in class in zombie states on these drugs.
Drugs inundate our student populations, even among our advanced-placement kids. Young people are hard pressed to find friends not involved.
Teachers are buying drugs from students. How can a disciplined educational relationship between teachers and students exist?
I had a student confide that he got stoned every day, went to math class, and fell asleep. He passed with flying colors. No child left behind? This practice is widespread. We produce what the welfare state needs. This is hardly an accident.
Conclusion
Some of the finest young teachers I have known did not last two years in the field.
They could see no value in fighting a morally bankrupt system that rewards evil.
With a few exceptions the teachers who last are the ones who are incapable of independent thought.
My career has suffered for my refusal to participate in the annihilation our kids' souls. If Vladimir Lenin could see our schools he could verify that we have perfected the educational system that John Dewey borrowed from him.
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The Technocratization of Public Education Subverting educational practices
By Prof. James F. Tracy
Global Research, June 14, 2012
URL of this article: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=31422
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is directing $1.1 million to fit students in seven US pubic school districts with “galvanic skin response” bracelets. The devices are designed to measure students' receptivity to teachers’ lessons through biometric technology that reads and records “skin conductance, a form of electrodermal activity that grows higher during states such as boredom or relaxation.” [1, 2].
The funding is part of the Gates Foundation’s $49.5 million Measures of Effective Teachers project that is presently experimenting with teacher evaluation systems. As Melinda Gates put it on the PBS NewsHour, “What the Foundation feels our job is to do is to make sure we create a system where we can have an effective teacher in every single classroom across the United States.” [3]
The effort of extraordinarily wealthy elites to further subvert educational practices through “neuromarketing” techniques is the latest example in a long sequence of educational reforms dating to the early 1900s. Indeed, the Gates Foundation’s fixation on stimulus-response measurement and data collection is a fitting chapter of this history.
State sanctioned education in the United States has become a type of task-oriented training, quite apart from what education once involved--the cultivation of the human will and intellect. Children in most public schools today receive this type of conditioning, while the more affluent often send their offspring to private institutions or home school. What passes for education today is to a significant degree the legacy of late-nineteenth-to-early-twentieth century German psychologist Wilhelm Wundt and the Rockefeller family's philanthropic project.
A professor at University of Leipzig, Wundt was the originator of what he termed a “new” or “experimental” psychology that stripped psychology of any of its potential philosophical concerns with the soul, will, or self-determination of the individual. In Wundt’s reconfiguration of psychology the mind is merely an apparatus that responds to given stimuli, and through the measurement and recording of the stimuli and responses of the subject the psychologist in the laboratory (subsequently the teacher—and now the students—in the classroom) can determine the effectiveness of one stimulus-response method over another, as well as the functional capacities of the student.
For Wundt and his followers the human being is the sum total of her experiences; devoid of character and essence that might interfere with the ends of the collective unit. This view of the human psyche set the stage for the establishment of eugenics, psychiatry, and the social engineering carried out in public school classrooms.
Wundt exerted tremendous influence through his American doctoral students who studied at Leipzig and returned to transform US education. One of the most influential of these adherents was G. Stanley Hall, who after studying at Leipzig came back to the US in 1883 to teach at Johns Hopkins, begin the American Journal of Psychology, and mentor American intellectual and educational icon John Dewey. Others include James McKeen Cattell, who returned in 1887 and took a faculty position in psychology at Columbia in 1891 where he minted 344 doctoral students. James Earl Russell, another of Wundt’s students, became director of Columbia’s Teachers College in 1897 and remained in the position until the late 1920s [4]
For the next thirty years Cattell, Russell, and Dewey, who ended a ten year stint at University of Chicago and joined his fellow Wundtians in 1904, played substantial roles in transforming public education along the lines that would firmly establish Wundt’s ideas and approaches in American public education. At the same time, Columbia Teachers College became the largest teacher training institution in the world. By the early 1950s roughly one-third of all deans and presidents of accredited teaching schools in the US were graduates of the Columbia program.
While Wundt’s apostles were well positioned to wreak havoc on US education, their mission was greatly aided through funding from the Rockefeller Foundation. John D. Rockefeller saw education as a rewarding object of patronage, pointing to the $45 million he used to establish the University of Chicago in 1890 as the investment that fused the Rockefeller name with liberal philanthropy. He and his handlers, which included his son John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Frederick Taylor Gates (no relation to Bill Gates), concluded that education paid off especially well in terms of burnishing the family’s image.
As John Junior became more involved in the family's philanthropic efforts he devised new avenues for Rockefeller money, founding the General Education Board--what became known informally as Rockefeller’s “education trust.” The Board channeled especially sizable funds in to reshaping elementary education in the American South through the application of Wundtian experimental psychology approaches.
Gates remarked famously on the General Education Board’s ambitions for the many deprived public schools in the South, where the trust would play a substantial role in educational reform. “We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning, or men of science," Gates announced.
"The task we set before ourselves is very simple, as well as a very beautiful one, to train these people as we find them to a perfectly ideal life just where they are. So we will organize our children and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way, in the homes, in the shops and on the farm.” [5]
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In 1916 the General Education Board proposed establishing a school with a new curriculum that excluded Latin, Greek, English grammar, and classical literature, while emphasizing different teaching methods for history and literature. In 1920 the Lincoln School was established and became the laboratory school for Columbia’s Teachers College. Until its closure in 1946 Rockefeller spent $5 million on the institution and thousands of burgeoning educators who visited or trained there were reminded how the program was something they should emulate in their own communities. [6]
As American education was being overhauled, and with it the consequent diminished possibilities for an informed public opinion, the view of popular democracy among elites following World War One also grew dim. For example, Walter Lippmann, a founding member of the Council on Foreign Relations and proponent of Anglo-American accord throughout the 1920s and 1930s, maintained in his writings that decisions of substance cannot be left to the man in the mass who lacks proper expertise in domestic or foreign affairs, but must rather be the province of trained experts.
Indeed, the theme of qualified expertise was similarly emphasized by public relations pioneer Edward Bernays, who advised his clients to use expert figures the public held in high regard, such as scientists or medical doctors, to gain the public’s acquiescence on a topic or to promote a trend or product. Overall, the use of experts to manage and mobilize public opinion emerges relatively alongside an educational system that had come to understand and treat the student as a stimulus-response mechanism.
Most professional educators at the college or university level regularly encounter the legacy of Wundtian psychology and the Rockefellers’ educational undertakings. Students often exhibit an inability to think logically and independently either aloud or in writing because formative educational experiences—combined with the lifelong instruction of mass media—recognize and address the individual not as a full human being capable of profound acknowledgment and understanding, but rather as a sensory apparatus upon which stimuli is targeted and a response prompted and measured (i.e. the correct answer or product purchase).
Thus the common responses when the student is asked to reflect on and discuss course content are unsurprising: “What do you want?” “How much should we write?” “Will this be on the exam?”
In such an educational and cultural environment where the recognition and cultivation of individual will is discouraged and the deferral to expert opinion is all but obligatory, the result is a combination of skepticism and cynicism. Erich Fromm recognized this phenomenon in the 1940s by pointing out how the perception among individuals that only trained experts could address complex problems—and then only in their own specific specializations—discourages people from using their own minds to seriously think about and address concerns facing themselves or society as a whole. “The result of this kind of influence is a two-fold one,” Fromm wrote in 1941.
“One is a skepticism and cynicism toward everything which is said or printed, while the other is a childish belief in anything that a person is told with authority. This combination of cynicism and naiveté is very typical of the modern individual. Its essential result is to discourage him from doing his own thinking and deciding.” [7]
This very type of apathetic malaise acts to short circuit political engagement as much as to lessen the exercise of simple common sense in everyday decisions. On cable and broadcast television, for example, where most Americans still rely on heavily to form a view of the world, one will encounter an endless sequence of experts wheeled before the camera to provide an opinion for the viewer.
The technocratic application of neuromarketing to what passes for education today is a fitting outcome in a society that has become almost completely controlled by a scientific elite. As was the case one hundred years ago this technocracy is funded and directed by the super wealthy, and trained to refine and implement what they see as most efficient practices for sculpting and managing the collective mind. This self-selected class and its overseers also recognize how such a brave new world operates at optimal efficiency when the bulk of the population has been effectively zombified through stultifying stimulus-response rituals --a process that after many generations has come close to complete fruition.
Notes
1. Valerie Strauss, "$1.1 Million Plus Gates Grants: “Galvanic” Bracelets that Measure Student Engagement," Washington Post, 11 June 2012, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/11-million-plus-gates-grants-galvanic-bracelets-that-measure-student-engagement/2012/06/10/gJQAgAUbTV_blog.html
2. Diane Ravitch, "Just When You Thought It Couldn’t Get Crazier,” dianeravitch.net, 9 June 2012, http://dianeravitch.net/2012/06/09/just-when-you-thought-it-couldnt-get-crazier/
3. PBS NewsHour, "Melinda Gates on the Importance of Evaluations in Shaping Effective Teachers," 4 June, 2012, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/education/jan-june12/melindagates_06-04.html
4. Paolo Lioni, The Leipzig Connection (Sheridan, OR: Heron Books, 1993).
5. General Education Board, Occasional Papers, Issues 1-9, New York, 1913, 6, http://books.google.com/books?id=QzhDAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false
6. Lioni.
7. Erich Fromm, Escape From Freedom (New York: Avon, 1969 [1941]), 276.
James F. Tracy is Associate Professor of Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University. He is an affiliate of Project Censored and blogs at memorygap.org.
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Members of Virginia street gang charged with running high school prositution ring
Published March 29, 2012
Associated Press
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Five alleged members of a street gang based in wealthy Fairfax County have been charged with running a prostitution ring that recruited high school girls who were threatened if they refused to participate.
The five -- including the accused leader 26-year-old Justin Strom of Lorton -- were charged in papers unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. According to an FBI affidavit, the defendants are members of a Fairfax-based offshoot of the Crips street gang known as the Underground Gangster Crips.
Court documents state that the gang members recruited attractive teenage girls to participate either through Facebook or by approaching them on the street or at school. At least two of the girls were allegedly either beaten or cut with a knife by Strom when they tried to quit or expressed reluctance about participating.
Since the investigation began in November, authorities identified at least 10 high school girls between the ages of 16 and 18 as potential victims. Some participated voluntarily; others were threatened or plied with illegal drugs, and still others were beaten after they tried to quit.
Many of the girls were required to have sex with Strom, who used the aliases "Jae Dee" and "J-dirt," and other gang members as part of a tryout or initiation, according to court documents.
In some instances, gang members took girls door-to-door in apartment complexes in Arlington to solicit work. Girls were told that apartment buildings with multiple males would minimize walking out in the open and maximize profits.
Girls were paid $20 to $100 to engage in sex acts, and were supposed to be allowed to keep half of the money, according to the affidavit.
The others charged are Michael Tavon Jefferies, 21, of Woodbridge; Donyel Dove, 27, of Alexandria; Henock Ghile, 23, of Springfield; and Christopher Sylvia, 22, of Springfield.
U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil MacBride and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli are expected to discuss the case at an afternoon press conference. The U.S. Attorney's Office says it has now charged 11 gang members with sex trafficking since 2011 as a result of multiple investigations.
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Ontario students to protest high tuition Wednesday
Louise Brown, Education Reporter
Tue Jan 31 2012
“Tens of thousands of students” angry that Ontario has the highest tuition fees in Canada are expected to protest Wednesday across the province, said the head of the Canadian Federation of Students–Ontario.
They’re especially upset the McGuinty government broke what they say was a campaign promise to slash all undergraduate tuition by 30 per cent, insisted federation chairperson Sandy Hudson.
By excluding mature and part-time students and those whose family income exceeds $160,000 a year, the scope of the government’s new $430 million tuition rebate “turned out to be nothing more than political spin,” Hudson charged Tuesday at a news conference announcing Ontario’s role in a nation-wide campus Day of Action against the high cost of higher learning.
“The Liberals were handing out pamphlets on campus during the election that promised 30 per cent off undergraduate tuition — $1,600 for university students and $730 for college — with no mention of any exceptions,” said Hudson.
In their written campaign platform, the Ontario Liberals promised a 30 per cent across-the-board postsecondary undergraduate tuition grant to help middle-class families, but “the idea that this was a blanket tuition policy is incorrect,” said Ralph Benmergui, director of communications for MPP Glen Murray, minister of training, colleges and universities.
Ontario professors are supporting the day of action — Ryerson’s collaborative nursing program won’t penalize students who miss their clinical work to join the rally — because they know how high fees drive many students to take paying jobs, which squeeze out time for studies and campus activities, noted Graeme Stewart, communications and government relations manager for the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations.
“We’ve seen the province’s per-student funding decline by about 25 per cent since 1990, in dollars adjusted for inflation, even though enrolment has gone up by 53 per cent since 2001,” said Stewart. “It’s created acute underfunding that has led to the worst student-faculty ratio in the country: 27 to 1, compared to the national average of 19 to 1.”
Harvey Bishof, vice-president of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation, said his members often witness the anxiety teenagers experience about the high cost of post-secondary education. His union supports the day of action, he said, “because we share the fear that post-secondary education is growing increasingly out of reach.”
A handful of York University students has been camping out for a week on the snowy campus lawn to draw attention to tuition concerns.
“We didn’t set up the tents properly at first, so we got a bit wet, but we want to show that Ontario students are being left out in the cold by high tuition,” quipped political science major Alastair Woods, 22, president of advocacy for the York Federation of Students.
His organization, which belongs to the larger Canadian Federation of Students, which has organized the day of protest, has offered two tickets to a Toronto Raptors basketball game for the student who comes up with the best tweet about the protest.
The average annual undergraduate tuition in Ontario is now $6,640, according to Statistics Canada, compared with the national average of $5,366.
Moreover, many students are disappointed they don’t qualify for the McGuinty government’s new tuition rebate plan.
“We’ve had so many calls about this from frustrated students; we want to see the government take the $430 million they’re spending on the rebate program and all the advertising and administration it involves, and use it to reduce everyone’s fees starting this fall,” said Nora Loreto, communications and government relations coordinator for the Canadian Federation of Students-Ontario.
Ryerson University student Melissa Palermo is one of several who planned to camp outside Ryerson’s student centre at 55 Gould St. Tuesday night — in rented winter tents — to draw attention to the protest.
“Ontario’s tuition is the highest in the country and it’s been going up 5 per cent a year for six years — which has outpaced the rate of inflation,” said Palermo, 20, vice-president of education for the Ryerson Student Union. “The reality is, most students can’t earn their tuition over the summer any more and many graduate with a debt load of $37,000.”
The Ryerson student group will provide free breakfast outside its student centre Wednesday before heading over to the University of Toronto’s King’s College Circle at 1 p.m. to gather with students from nearby campuses. They will then march on the nearby Legislature at 3 p.m.
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When it comes to sex ed, the kids aren't all right
Siri Agrell and André Picard
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Apr. 23 2010
Melanie Frost was in the grocery store in Hines Creek, Alta., with her daughter, Janet, when a pregnant woman walked down the aisle toward them.
“The baby's going to come out of her vagina,” the four-year-old announced.
The mother of five has grown accustomed to her children (the oldest is now 11) filling her in on the sexual and reproductive realities of the world around them.
So she was surprised by the debate that flared up in Ontario this week over a revamped school curriculum that was to introduce sexual education at an earlier age, and by Premier Dalton McGuinty's abrupt reaction of postponing it indefinitely.
“Kids know way more than most people give them credit for,” says Ms. Frost, 33. “I think some parents feel control is being taken from them, but I also think some parents are a bit outdated on how quickly children are maturing these days.”
Criticism of Ontario's proposed curriculum focused on the discussion of sexual orientation and masturbation with kids in Grade 3.
Across the country, other attempts to modernize provincial sex-ed classes have been met with similar opposition, as a vocal population of parents resists any change to what children learn and when – even though the proposed new curriculum in Ontario was the process of two years of consultation with 700 students, 70 organizations and more than 2,400 people.
The last time the Ontario sex-ed curriculum was updated was 12 years ago. Sex-education professionals say the very notion of what is age-appropriate has shifted dramatically – both biologically, as kids continue to reach puberty faster, and culturally, as the Internet opens up a filthy new world of information at the press of a Google search button.
Critics of the Ontario proposals regard this as a kind of capitulation to the current culture of sexualization. “There's no doubt that children are exposed to hostile sexual material more than we even dreamt of in our youth,” says Charles McVety, president of Canada Christian College in Toronto. “But that doesn't mean our teachers should be the exposers.”
Advocates say sex education is not introducing young children to sexuality, but simply contextualizing information to which most already have been exposed.
Elizabeth Saewyc, a professor of adolescent medicine at the University of British Columbia, says that as the age at which boys and girls enter puberty has declined, many girls now enter the first stages of puberty at the age of 8. Practically, that means they need to learn about pubertal development – “what's going on down there” – in primary school.
She adds that preparing children for such a big change requires talking about more than just plumbing: Children must also understand the fundamentals of healthy relationships, how to avoid the pressure to have sex and the dangers of sexual assault and exploitation.
“We need to have those conversations by age 11 or 12,” Dr. Saewyc says. “If you want to hear explicit, listen in to the conversations in the schoolyard and online. There isn't anything explicit or shocking in the curriculum.”
At least nothing that isn't already being discussed.
Kids ask explicit questions
Lyba Spring, who works in sexual-health promotion with Toronto Public Health, often fields anonymous questions submitted by elementary-school classrooms. “The questions they ask are very explicit,” she says. “Is oral sex okay? Can you get pregnant with oral sex? They'll ask about HIV and anal sex.”
Three decades ago, this knowledge would have been gleaned from pornographic videos, magazines or the overheard whispers of older siblings. Now, much of it is coming from the Internet.
Ms. Spring will ask children if they have ever seen a graphic image on the computer that they didn't understand. In every Grade 5 classroom, at least two-thirds of students raise their hands. “Kids have always had access to sexual images, but now they have more access,” she says.
And it is this access that has prompted provinces across the country to reassess what they are teaching and when. Mary-Lou Donnelly, president of the Canadian Teachers' Federation, says topics that would have once been raised in junior high are now regularly discussed by students in elementary school. “The curriculum that has been developed” in Ontario, she says, “ is age-appropriate for our times.”
Of course, parents should play a role in effective sex education. Ms. Spring says that by the time children are in Grade 3, they should already know what to call their genitals and that it is socially inappropriate to touch them in public.
“The hope is that parents are talking to their kids about this from the word go,” she says. “The reality is that some parents do and some don't.”
And young children must be prepared for certain realities, she adds, even if their parents aren't comfortable discussing them.
Some religious communities were upset that same-sex orientation would have been introduced in the proposed Ontario curriculum in Grade 3, but teaching children to understand and accept diversity does not mean that teachers are offering a “how-to guide,” Ms. Spring says.
Likewise, oral sex is introduced in the discussion of safe sex, not because the curriculum is promoting it as an after-school activity. (Young people need to learn, for example, that new cases of genital herpes in Canada are largely caused by HSV-1, which comes from cold sores.)
When sex education is handled properly, Ms. Spring says, children handle it maturely. That doesn't mean kids don't laugh when she talks about sex, but they certainly listen. Concerns that introducing sex ed at an early age will result in earlier experimentation, she says, are misguided.
“The World Health Organization is very clear about that. The research is done,” she says. “When children get comprehensive sexual-health education from an early age, they are more likely to postpone the higher-risk activities.”
Indeed, while puberty is happening to them younger, teenagers across Canada have not responded by having sex at earlier ages.
The B.C. Adolescent Health Survey, a research project that has been funded by the McCreary Centre Society since 1992, shows that while the most common age for first sexual intercourse is 15, by the end of Grade 12 fewer than half of Canadian teens have had sexual intercourse even once.
The teen-pregnancy rate has been falling steadily for a couple of decades and is at an all-time low.
It’s never too early’
In the Netherlands, for example, sex ed is introduced to children as young as 5. The average age of first intercourse there is nearly 17.
“People's biggest fear is that sexual education will stimulate children's sexual behaviour too early, but that is absolutely not the case,” says Sanderijn van der Doef, a Dutch child psychologist. In the past 20 years, she has published six books on sexuality for kids aged 3 to 11, and is considered a pioneer of sex education in her country.
“It's never too early,” she says of sex ed. “Research has shown sexual development starts from birth.”
On the cover of Ms. van der Doef's book for five-year-olds, two toddlers kiss on the lips. Inside, children can read about how sperm travels inside the body and why humans lie on top of each other during sex, but animals do it from behind. The book for 11-year-olds describes the birth control pill and menstruation, and includes an illustration of a young girl looking at her genitals in a mirror.
When Ms. van der Doef reads these books to audiences of four- and five-year-olds, she says, they stare up at her with big eyes, hanging on her every word. A sense of embarrassment about sex develops only later, she says, when children are 7 or 8. At that age, they will often laugh when she talks about same-sex relationships.
“I explain that it's nothing to laugh about, it's normal,” she says. “I'm very convinced that if you start talking about it early, that you normalize homosexuality for children.”
This, of course, is the problem for some parents. As Mr. McVety puts it, “I doubt you could get 10 parents in a room that would agree to teach their eight-year-old ‘gender identity.' There's no way the majority of parents in this province are going to agree.”
But Ms. van der Doef said religious objections toward same-sex relationships have been addressed in the Netherlands at a legislative level. “You tell children that in our country we have a very important law, and that law says you can't discriminate against people on the basis of their sexual identity,” she says. “You don't have to agree with it personally, but you have to respect it in your behaviour.”
In 2009, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) introduced international guidelines for sexual education that recommended children learn about sexual health and identity beginning at the age of 5, and receive more detailed information starting at 9.
“When they published these guidelines, they got so much protest and resistance, especially about explaining masturbation to young children,” Ms. van der Doef says. “But they kept it in.”
Alex McKay, research co-ordinator for the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada, believes it is better to use the word “masturbation” than to rely on euphemisms. “Masturbation is very common during puberty. I'm not sure there's any benefit in pretending it doesn't occur,” he says. “Knowledge is preferable to ignorance.”
This is the attitude Melanie Frost has applied to her kids' sexual education.
Her eldest daughter, 11-year-old Sara, began her first real sex-ed course this week in her Grade 4 classroom and has already learned about anatomy, reproduction and safe sex.
“I feel much better knowing that the kids will have the facts,” Ms. Frost says. “The sooner they start learning, the better.”
So what did she say when her four-year-old informed the grocery store where babies emerge?
“I told her she was right.”
And it is this access that has prompted provinces across the country to reassess what they are teaching and when. Mary-Lou Donnelly, president of the Canadian Teachers' Federation, says topics that would have once been raised in junior high are now regularly discussed by students in elementary school. “The curriculum that has been developed” in Ontario, she says, “ is age-appropriate for our times.”
Of course, parents should play a role in effective sex education. Ms. Spring says that by the time children are in Grade 3, they should already know what to call their genitals and that it is socially inappropriate to touch them in public.
“The hope is that parents are talking to their kids about this from the word go,” she says. “The reality is that some parents do and some don't.”
And young children must be prepared for certain realities, she adds, even if their parents aren't comfortable discussing them.
Some religious communities were upset that same-sex orientation would have been introduced in the proposed Ontario curriculum in Grade 3, but teaching children to understand and accept diversity does not mean that teachers are offering a “how-to guide,” Ms. Spring says.
Likewise, oral sex is introduced in the discussion of safe sex, not because the curriculum is promoting it as an after-school activity. (Young people need to learn, for example, that new cases of genital herpes in Canada are largely caused by HSV-1, which comes from cold sores.)
When sex education is handled properly, Ms. Spring says, children handle it maturely. That doesn't mean kids don't laugh when she talks about sex, but they certainly listen. Concerns that introducing sex ed at an early age will result in earlier experimentation, she says, are misguided.
“The World Health Organization is very clear about that. The research is done,” she says. “When children get comprehensive sexual-health education from an early age, they are more likely to postpone the higher-risk activities.”
Indeed, while puberty is happening to them younger, teenagers across Canada have not responded by having sex at earlier ages.
The B.C. Adolescent Health Survey, a research project that has been funded by the McCreary Centre Society since 1992, shows that while the most common age for first sexual intercourse is 15, by the end of Grade 12 fewer than half of Canadian teens have had sexual intercourse even once.
The teen-pregnancy rate has been falling steadily for a couple of decades and is at an all-time low.
*******
Also See:
Education Ain't What It Should Be
(Part 1)
21 April 2008
 http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2008/04/education-aint-what-it-should-be.html
and
(Part 2)
12 June 2011
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2011/06/education-aint-what-it-should-be-part-2.html
and
Corporal Punishment in Schools!
29 January 2012
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2012/01/corporal-punishment-in-schools.html
and
Agenda 21! The Death Knell of Liberty!
(Part 1)
02 March 2011
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2011/03/agenda-21-and-death-knell-of-liberty.html
and
(Part 2)
22 January 2012
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2012/01/agenda-21-death-knell-of-liberty-part-2.html
and
Socialism is Not Disappearing!
15 November 2011
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2011/11/socialism-is-not-disappearing.html
and
Should We Have Prayer in Schools?
06 July 2011
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2011/07/should-we-have-prayer-in-schools.html
and
Don't Blame the Teachers! Blame the Parents!
18 March 2011
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2011/03/dont-blame-teachers.html
and
Parents! What do You Know about Whole Child Education?
13 August 2010
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2010/08/parents-what-do-you-know-about-whole.html
and
Sex Education in Ontario Elementary Schools is Going Too Far!!
24 June 2010
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2010/06/sex-education-in-ontario-elementary.html
and
Teaching Propaganda or American History?
25 April 2010
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2010/04/teaching-propaganda-or-american-history.html
and
What Happened to Education?
30 August 2009
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2009/08/what-happened-to-education.html
and
Homeschooling - What About It?
18 June 2009
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2009/06/homeschooling-what-about-it.html
and
Who Writes History?
23 July 2007
http://arcticcompass.blogspot.ca/2007/07/what-about-history.html
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