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January 20, 2013

Texas public schools teaching that black people originated from Noah's cursed, rapist son

This is why we have a first amendment. Joe. My. God.: History Lessons In Texas
-Instructional material in two school districts teach that racial diversity today can be traced back to Noah’s sons, a long-discredited claim that has been a foundational component of some forms of racism. -Religious bias is common, with most courses taught from a Protestant — often a conservative Protestant — perspective. One course, for example, assumes Christians will at some point be “raptured.” Materials include a Venn diagram showing the pros and cons of theories that posit the rapture before the returning Jesus’ 1,000-year reign and those that place it afterward. In many courses, the perspectives of Roman Catholics, Orthodox Christians and Jews are often left out. -Anti-Jewish bias — intentional or not — is not uncommon. Some courses even portray Judaism as a flawed and incomplete religion that has been replaced by Christianity. -Many courses suggest or openly claim that the Bible is literally true. “The Bible is the written word of God,” students are told in one PowerPoint presentation. Some courses go so far as to suggest that the Bible can be used to verify events in history. One district, for example, teaches students that the Bible’s historical claims are largely beyond question by listing biblical events side by side with historical developments from around the globe. -Course materials in numerous classes are designed to evangelize rather than provide an objective study of the Bible’s influence. A book in one district makes its purpose clear in the preface: “May this study be of value to you. May you fully come to believe that ‘Jesus is the Christ, the son of God.’ And may you have ‘life in His name.’” -A number of courses teach students that the Bible proves Earth is just 6,000 years old.Students are taught that the United States is a Christian nation founded on the Christian biblical principles taught in their classrooms. -Academic rigor is so poor that many courses rely mostly on memorization of Bible verses and factoids from Bible stories rather than teaching students how to analyze what they are studying. One district relies heavily on Bible cartoons from Hanna-Barbera for its high school class. Students in another district spend two days watching what lesson plans describe a “the historic documentary Ancient Aliens,” which presents “a new interpretation of angelic beings described as extraterrestrials.”

January 18, 2013

Michigan college holds food drive, to feed their faculty

As Part-Time Faculty Wait for Payday, Peers Help Out With a Food Drive - Faculty - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Faculty members at Kalamazoo Valley Community College are gathering nonperishable food items, gift cards, and cash donations in one of the lounges on the campus. But the collection isn't for a local charity; it's for their colleagues. The college's part-time employees will not receive their first checks of the year until February 1, and many are struggling to make ends meet until then. Classes for the spring term began on January 7, and full-time faculty members were paid on January 15. Kelly O'Leary, a part-time instructor and co-president of the college's Federation of Teachers, a union that represents part-time workers, helped organize the drive for her struggling co-workers. "People let us know they were in dire trouble," she said. When the drive began last week, they first distributed aid to employees who had the greatest needs. "There was someone who has diabetes and won't get through the month without insulin," she said. "She got a gift card."

This emergency manager fired all the teachers and wonders why his schools are failing

Muskegeon Heights is one of the school districts in Michigan that has had the democratically elected school board tossed out and replaced with a private for-profit management company by the state's governor. The managers fired nearly every teacher and replaced them with low-paid fresh faces. Low-paid fresh faces that nearly all quit before their first semester was over. Michigan is proving to be a laboratory for conservative education reformers like Michelle Rhee and Bill Gates. And the experiments are, to a school, failing. And the students are bearing the brunt of the disaster. "I couldn't accept that." Why Muskegon Heights teachers quit and how it impacts students | Michigan Radio
At least one in four teachers at the new Muskegon Heights school district have already quit the charter school this year. That’s after an emergency manager laid off all the former public school teachers in Muskegon Heights because he didn’t have enough money to open school in the fall. That means there have been a lot of new, adult faces in the district. Students say the high teacher turnover has affected them and top school administrators say it has held back academic achievement this school year. Students: teacher turnover causing issues in the classroom 17-year old Muskegon Heights senior Deaisha Cooper says many of her friends transferred out of Muskegon Heights schools over the summer. Then homecoming got canceled because of fights. It took a couple of weeks to get her class schedule right. “It’s not like what your senior year is supposed to be,” Cooper frowned. Now she’s upset the only teacher left at the high school who worked for the old public school district, one of her favorites, Ms. Fisher, just left for a new job at Grand Rapids Public Schools. She says Ms. Fisher took care of the senior class, made sure they “were all right.” “When she left it just seemed like everything just fell downhill and it seemed like the school was just running by day by day and they don’t know what they’re actually doing,” Cooper said.