Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

A closer look at the Islamization of schools in the UK

Here is a story from the UK Telegraph that should concern us all. (H/T Dennis Prager)

The news story:

The Birmingham school at the centre of an alleged campaign of “Islamisation” by Muslim radicals is to be placed in “special measures” by the Government’s education watchdog in a move that could see its head teacher and governors removed.

Park View, previously rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, will be downgraded to “inadequate”, the lowest possible score, in the category of leadership and management, senior education sources said.

This enables Ofsted to place the school in special measures, allowing the watchdog, if it wishes, to remove the school’s entire leadership.

The move, described as “seismic” by senior educational sources, follows a highly unusual two Ofsted inspections in the past three weeks at the school, the alleged victim of a campaign by Islamists called a “Trojan Horse” to remove secular head teachers and install Islamic practices in Birmingham state schools.

So why does the government have to step in?

Here’s why:

The disclosure comes as parents and school governors and staff describe in detail how the campaign has destabilised and undermined successful schools.

In extensive interviews with The Sunday Telegraph, more than a dozen sources disclosed how children at one supposedly non-religious primary school, Oldknow, were led in anti-Christian chanting by one of their teachers at assembly.

The school also conducts weekly Friday prayers, has organised at least three school trips to Mecca subsidised from public funds, and requires all pupils to learn Arabic — almost unheard of at a primary school.

It also runs its own madrassah, or religious school. Oldknow’s highly successful non-Muslim head teacher has been driven from her post for resisting this “Islamising agenda”, this newspaper has learnt.

The head of another successful primary school, Springfield, received death threats, had his car tyres slashed and is under “non-stop attack” by radical governors, according to parents, other governors and staff at the school.

And more:

Last year Mr da Costa recruited a new deputy head, Jahangir Akbar, from a Muslim faith school in Leicester. Soon afterwards, Jahangir’s younger brother, Khalil, was recruited as assistant head. No other candidates were interviewed for either position and the assistant headship was not even advertised, staff said. Jahangir Akbar is another colleague of Tahir Alam’s and has worked with him in the Association of Muslim Schools, of which Mr Alam is vice-chairman.

“Oldknow’s pupils are mostly but not entirely Muslim and it was always an equal-opportunity school,” said one former member of staff. “But then all of a sudden there were Jummah [Friday] prayers, and going to Saudi Arabia on government money, and the Arabic, and blatant belittling of Christianity.”

Hardline teachers were recruited who would “sow the seed of religion in every lesson,” said one source. “Some of the teachers told pupils that music was sinful in Islam and the children started to refuse to do music, even though it is compulsory in the National Curriculum. It is incredibly difficult when your own colleagues undermine your efforts to give the children a balanced education.”

Matters came to a head, three separate sources said, last December when all the normal Christmas activity, including a tree, cards and the pantomime, was cancelled because it was considered un-Islamic, and the school’s Arabic teacher, Asif Khan, delivered an assembly “ridiculing” Christian beliefs. “It was like a rally,” said one person present. “He was leading them in chants of, ‘Do we believe in Christmas? No! Do we give out Christmas cards? No! The seven days of Christmas, they [Christians] can’t even count!’

The UK was under Labour Party rule for a long time, and under the Labour Party, huge numbers of unskilled immigrants from Muslim countries were let into the country in the name of multiculturalism. The Labour Party is gone from office now, but the damage is still being felt today. Under Labour rule, the country seems to have taken a turn towards moral relativism and radical feminism, so that people seem to be terrified of making moral judgments or standing up to a centralized, powerful government. Even many Christians in the UK seem to struggle with holding to conservative morality and theology, and they even vote for the Labour Party and worse, the Liberal Democrats. There just seems to be a suspicion of individual liberty and personal responsibility that has weakened the country so that it is a shadow of its former self.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Catholic school being pressured by government to teach that all religions are equal

Christian Post reports on a story out of Quebec, the most liberal province in Canada. (H/T Reasonable Faith)

Excerpt:

The Canadian Supreme Court is set to decide whether teachers at private religious schools in the province of Quebec will be allowed to share their faith with students, in a case concerning a Catholic high school that is being forced to teach students in an ethics and religious course that all religions are the same.

“It is the same thought process that has been the genesis for prohibitions on blasphemy in other jurisdictions. The whole idea behind blasphemy laws in some parts of the world is that you don’t want to offend different religions, and so what they (the Quebec government) do is argue that they promote tolerance and understanding, but rather they want to control what is said,” Gerald Chipeur, Q.C., of the Canadian firm Miller Thompson LLP, told The Christian Post in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Chipeur is one of 2,300 attorneys allied with Alliance Defending Freedom, a nonprofit legal organization that filed a brief on Monday with the Canadian Supreme Court in defense of Loyola High School, the Jesuit Roman Catholic school in question.

The Catholic high school has argued that it does not object to teaching the 2008 government-mandated ethics and religion course, which is required to be taught in all private and public schools, but asked to be allowed to teach the course in good conscience. The problem they found with the course was that it insisted that all religions, including Wicca and pagan rites, are equally valid. The government has also prohibited teachers from expressing preference for any one faith.

That’s why Christians need to take an interest in politics, and push for the policies that work for Christian families. I know several excellent Christian parents who do send their kids to public schools, and you never know when that might be your only option financially. It doesn’t make sense to think that things will always be as good as they are now for Christians. You need to understand that there are groups out there who are not happy with the things we tell our kids, not happy with the way we spend family money, not happy with the fact that married families do better than single mothers. They have their own agenda, and we should have one of our own, too.

Filed under: News, , , ,

Democrats in California want to pass laws to penalize Asians

Basically, the Democrats in California want to pass an affirmative action bill, which would penalize overachievers. Asians tend to outperform other races in academics, so they are always the losers when academic criteria are minimized in favor of racial criteria for college admissions.

Here’s an article from National Review, sent to me by Letitia.

Excerpt:

The California state legislature was on the verge of approving a referendum to restore the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions to state universities.

[...]What both sides of the bimodal Asian immigration population have in common is that their children do uncommonly well in school. They are represented in California’s much-admired universities in far larger numbers than their share of the population would suggest: Asians compose 14 percent of California’s population but 37 percent of the undergraduates at its state universities. They make up about 40 percent of the students at UCLA, 43 percent of the students at Berkeley, half the students at UC San Diego, and more than half of the students at UC Irvine. A relatively small minority, they compose the largest single ethnic group on California university campuses (at least as California defines “ethnic group”).

[...]Liberals talk a great deal of mindless rot about what they like to call “privilege,” the supposedly omnipresent advantages that accrue to the white, the male, the heterosexual, those whose sense of self is more or less congruent with their biological genitals, etc. But it is worth keeping in mind that progressive social-engineering programs such as the use of racial criteria in university admissions do not hurt only hurt well-off white people sporting penises. (Not that we should shortchange the interests of well-off white penis-sporters.) They also hurt poor people and immigrants, in this case a group of immigrants that we as a country should count ourselves lucky to have. It is important to remember why race-based admissions are such an important issue for progressives: The Left lives in the public schools, which do a terrible job of teaching black, Hispanic, and poor students, who consequently show up in embarrassingly small proportions at elite institutions. Asian students, on the other hand, do a tremendous amount of work outside of school, spending ten times as much time as non-Asian students do on organized non-school activities ranging from music lessons to tutoring to test-preparation courses. That is true across the economic spectrum: Working-class Asian immigrant families in Queens send their children to tutoring sessions and piano lessons at a much higher rate than does the non-Asian population, even though the relative financial sacrifices necessary for them to do so are heavy.

For that, California’s professional race hustlers, and their allies across the country, would see them punished.

So, here is another case where the party that talks a lot about racism and race is actually the one that is opposed to Asians getting ahead. My view is that if Asians have the strong families that produce high achievers, then let them be 40% of the students at the university. Maybe then people of other races will get the message that they need to focus more on raising children who can compete. Follow the rules and you won’t be poor: finish high school, get jobs, get married, have children, don’t get divorced. If you follow those rules, you will not be poor, and your children will outperform you.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Is there any science in the new “Cosmos” series, or is it all naturalistic religion?

I noticed a couple of reviews of this television series, produced by an atheist producer of cartoons.

The first review comes from J. W. Wartick.

Multiverse:

The universe is actually so huge that we can’t actually observe the entire thing because there is more beyond what we can see. But “many… suspect” that our universe is but one in an extremely huge number of actual individual universes (here shown as little bubbles spreading out continually over the screen).

Origin of life:

The origin of life “evolved” through biochemical evolution.

J.W. comments:

The depiction of the multiverse with little-to-no qualification was alarming, for there is much debate over whether there even is such a multiverse, and if there is, to what extent it may be called a multiverse. The portrayal within this episode was essentially a fictitious account being passed off without qualification as something a lot of people believe. The wording used was that “many… suspect” there is such a universe. Well yes, that may be true, but to what extent can we test for these other universes? What models predict them and why? I am uninterested in how many people hold to a belief; I am interested in whether that belief is true.

[...][T]he brief snippet used to explore the origin of life: “biochemical evolution” was astonishingly insufficient. I’m sure we’ll get into that in the next episode, but the origin of life is one of the great unsolved mysteries within science and to just hand wave and say “biochemical evolution” is, well, notable to say the least.

I agree with Wartick. What I am looking for is the story of how scientists experimented, observed and tested in order to find out about the universe. I’m not interested in people working theoretical physics who presupposed naturalism at age 14 because their Sunday School teacher was mean to them. Presupposing a philosophy of naturalism is just religion. I want to see the science. Here are my responses to the multiverse speculation and the origin of life speculation.

The series quote Carl Sagan at the beginning, but he a person who let his religion of naturalism lead him away from the scientific evidence for a beginning. Instead of accepting the standard Big Bang model, which implies a transcendent Creator, Sagan chose to embrace a faith-based eternal oscillating model of the universe, which tries to avoid a Creator. I wrote about the problems with Sagan’s naturalistic speculative cosmology in this post.

Now let’s see Casey Luskin’s review on Evolution News.

Excerpt:

During the first episode, Tyson devotes lengthy segments to promoting the old tale that religion is at war science, and strongly promotes the idea that religion opposes intellectual advancement. He tells the story of the 16th-century astronomer cultist philosopher Giordano Bruno, who he says lived in a time without “freedom of speech” or “separation of church and state,” and thus fell into the clutches of the “thought police” of the Inquisition for disagreeing with the church’s geocentric views. Never mind that his show made it appear that President Obama endorsed Sagan-style materialism, but I digress… Of course the main religious authority of that time was the Catholic Church, and the program shows angry priests with evil-sounding British accents dressed in full religious garb throwing Bruno out on the street, and eventually burning him at the stake.

Just to make sure that other Christians who aren’t Catholic also understand their religions too hinder scientific progress, Tyson goes out of his way to point out that Bruno was opposed by “Calvinists in Switzerland,” and “Lutherans in Germany,” including the great protestant reformer Martin Luther himself. He never mentions that Protestants aren’t the ones who burned Bruno at the stake, nor does he ever mention that most of the founders of modern science were Christians. But I digress…

It’s a lengthy scene, all to highlight some of the darkest chapters of Christianity in Europe. But the entire retelling of Bruno’s fate lasts a good portion of the first episode’s hour. Why make the religious persecution of scientists some four hundred years ago a major focus of a widely publicized television series that is ostensibly about promoting science?

Luskin took issue with the idea that religious people hold science back. On the contrary, religious Christians were largely responsible for the birth of modern science. Luskin also reports on over a dozen cases where naturalists have suppressed critical thinking about whether science disproves the religion of naturalism.

Here’s are a few:

A congressional subcommittee staff investigation found that biologist Richard Sternberg experienced retaliation by his co-workers and superiors at the Smithsonian, including transfer to a hostile supervisor, removal of his name placard from his door, deprivation of workspace, subjection to work requirements not imposed on others, restriction of specimen access, and loss of his keys, because he allowed a pro-ID article to be published in a biology journal.

In 2005, over 120 faculty members at Iowa State University (ISU) signed a petition denouncing ID and calling on “all faculty members to … reject efforts to portray Intelligent Design as science.” These efforts were significant not just because they opposed academic freedom by demanding conformity among faculty to reject ID, but because they focused on creating a hostile environment for pro-ID astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, co-author of The Privileged Planet, who was denied tenure at ISU in 2006 due to his support for ID. Both public and private statements exposed through public records requests revealed that members of ISU’s department in physics and astronomy voted against Gonzalez’s tenure due to his support for ID.

In 1993, San Francisco State University biology professor Dean Kenyon was forced to stop teaching introductory biology because he was informing students that scientists had doubts about materialist theories of the origin of life.

In 2005, pro-ID adjunct biology professor Caroline Crocker lost her job at George Mason University after teaching students about both the evidence for and against evolution in the classroom, and mentioning ID as a possible alternative to Darwinism. While her former employer maintains that it simply chose not to renew her contract, she was specifically told she would be “disciplined” for teaching students about the scientific controversy over evolution.

In 2013, Ball State University (BSU) President Jo Ann Gora issued a speech codedeclaring that “intelligent design is not appropriate content for science courses” at BSU, after atheist activists from the Freedom from Religion Foundation charged that a “Boundaries of Science” course taught by a well-liked physics professor (Eric Hedin) was violating the Constitution by favorably discussing intelligent design.

You can read more about the problems with Carl Sagan’s religion-driven rejection of experimental science in this post by Phillip E. Johnson. For a better take on cosmology with more evidence and less religion, check out this lecture by particle physicist Michael Strauss. I think you’ll find that science is better when it’s done by a practicing experimental scientist, and not by the creator of cartoons like “Family Guy”.

UPDATE: On the Christian Apologetics Alliance blog, Dr. Tim McGrew wrote that the portrayal of Bruno had even more inaccuracies. Isn’t it amazing that that a cartoonist can get something filled with myths and misrepresentations to be televised? And many people will believe it, too, just like many people accepted the (now-discredited) oscillating model of Carl Sagan. I still have atheists proposing this to me when I present the standard model to them. That’s the hazard of having a TV-driven worldview, I guess. A worldview based on Star Trek.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thomas Sowell: is the political left really concerned about helping minorities?

Economist Thomas Sowell

Economist Thomas Sowell

Do people who talk about race the most actually favor policies to help minorities? Thomas Sowell writes about it in Investors Business Daily.

Excerpt:

If anyone wanted to pick a time and place where the political left’s avowed concern for minorities was definitively exposed as a fraud, it would be now — and the place would be New York City, where far left Mayor Bill de Blasio has launched an attack on charter schools, cutting their funding, among other things.

These schools have given thousands of low-income minority children their only shot at a decent education, which often means their only shot at a decent life. Last year 82% of the students at a charter school called Success Academy passed citywide mathematics exams, compared to 30% of the students in the city as a whole.

Why would anybody who has any concern at all about minority young people — or even common decency — want to destroy what progress has already been made?

One big reason, of course, is the teachers’ union, one of de Blasio’s biggest supporters.

But it may be more than that. For many of the true believers on the left, their ideology overrides any concern about the actual fate of flesh-and-blood human beings.

Something similar happened on the West Coast last year. The American Indian Model Schools in Oakland have been ranked among the top schools in the nation, based on their students’ test scores.

This is, again, a special achievement for minority students who need all the help they can get.

But, last spring, the California State Board of Education announced plans to shut this school down!

Why? The excuse given was that there had been suspicious financial dealings by the former — repeat, former — head of the institution. If this was the real reason, then all they had to do was indict the former head and let a court decide if he was guilty or innocent.

There was no reason to make anyone else suffer, much less the students. But the education establishment’s decision was to refuse to let the school open last fall. Fortunately a court stopped this hasty shutdown.

These are not just isolated local incidents. The Obama administration has cut spending for charter schools in the District of Columbia and its Justice Department has intervened to try to stop the state of Louisiana from expanding its charter schools.

Why such hostility to schools that have succeeded in educating minority students, where so many others have failed?

Some of the opposition to charter schools has been sheer crass politics. The teachers’ unions see charter schools as a threat to their members’ jobs, and politicians respond to the money and the votes that teachers’ unions can provide.

The net result is that public schools are often run as if their main function is to provide jobs to teachers. Whether the children get a decent education is secondary, at best.

In various parts of the country, educators who have succeeded in raising the educational level of minority children to the national average — or above — have faced hostility, harassment or have even been driven out of their schools.

Not all charter schools are successful, of course, but the ones that are completely undermine the excuses for failure in the public school system as a whole. That is why teachers’ unions hate them, as a threat not only to their members’ jobs but a threat to the whole range of frauds and fetishes in the educational system.

The autonomy of charter schools is also a threat to the powers that be, who want to impose their own vision on the schools, regardless of what the parents want.

This story reminds me of another story of people on the left blocking poor minority children from better schools, in order to protect the jobs of underperforming unionized teachers.

The Heritage Foundation explains how the Department of Justice, in a Democrat administration, hurts the poorest minority students.

Excerpt:

On August 22, 2013, the United States Department of Justice filed a motion in federal court to stop Louisiana from issuing school vouchers to low-income children in numerous school districts. DOJ is basing the suit on decades-old desegregation orders that treat Louisiana as if it were the same state it was nearly 40 years ago—something that the United States Supreme Court recently rejected in the case of Shelby County v. Holder. Ironically, DOJ’s action will prevent low-income and minority students from accessing the successful Louisiana school choice program, which empowers children, underserved in their assigned public schools, to attend schools of choice that match their learning needs. Vague, open-ended, and stale court orders should not be used to prevent educational innovation and opportunity.

Vouchers are a way of helping poor, minority students to get a quality education by letting them choose to attend better schools – any school the parents choose. But school choice is a thorn in the side of the public school unions who support the political left, because it allows poor, minority child to escape underperforming schools. Poor, minority students don’t help Democrats to get elected, but public school teachers do. And that’s why the administration sides with them against the children. On the other side of the aisle, it’s the conservatives who push for more school choice, and better education for poor and minority students.

But education policy is only one area where minorities are harmed by leftist policies.  Minimum wage is another obvious choice.

Let’s take a look at the data and see how minorities are affected by leftist policies.

Excerpt:

Battles are brewing in New York, California, Minnesota and the nation’s capital over hiking minimum wages, with Democrats having the votes to ram through hikes in all four cases.

These politicians are claiming the moral high ground, saying it will help the poorest in our communities. Don’t be fooled.

Hiking the minimum wage hurts — not helps — the lowest-paid workers, especially young black men. A 10% hike in the minimum wage causes a 2.5% drop in employment among young white men without a high school diploma and a staggering 6.5% drop among young black men without that degree.

Young black males get clobbered three times as hard because they tend to work in the fast-food and restaurant industries, where any increase in labor costs produces layoffs.

[...]Only 5% of American workers earn the federal minimum, according to the latest government data, compared with 13% in 1979. Minimum wage workers are largely first-time workers. They are learning what all of us learn on our first job: to be prompt, dress appropriately, do what the boss asks and be reliable.

First-time workers face the biggest risk of being priced out of the job market by a minimum wage hike. They aren’t worth much to an employer when they start working. They don’t have the skills.

When the government increases the minimum wage, it’s more expensive to hire first-timers. According to David Neumark and J.M. Salas, University of California economists, and William Wascher of the Federal Reserve Board, “minimum wages tend to reduce employment among teenagers.”

[...]All teens are harmed, but black male teenagers are hit hardest by minimum wage hikes, according to a 2011 study by labor economists David Macpherson and William Evans. Unemployment among young black males is currently 29%, double the rate for young white males.

Macpherson and Evans found the reason is that one out of three young black men without a high school diploma works in the restaurant/fast-food industry, where profit margins are thin. Any labor-cost hikes compel these businesses to cut their workforce.

The truth of the matter is that the real minimum wage is zero. In order to help minority young people find jobs, we should strengthen the institution of marriage, encourage people to get married and stay married, lower taxes on businesses, lower regulations on businesses, and so on. But strangely, the people who talk the most about helping the poor and poor minorities in particular are all opposed to that. The Democrats won’t even build the Keystone XL pipeline or expedite other energy development initiatives to create good paying jobs. So don’t believe that people who talk the most about poverty actually have the right answers about how to solve it. After all, the Obama administration talked a lot about health care, but clearly the people who lost their doctors, lost their health care, or are paying more for less health care, do not now believe that Obamacare was the answer to the health care problem.

If you’re looking for a good recent study on the minimum wage and minority youth, take a look at this study from the Employment Policies Institute. More studies here in a previous post on this blog.

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