Tories Waffle to Prevent Bill against Privatisation of the NHS in Parliament

Beastrabban\'s Weblog

Mike over at Vox Political has put up another important piece reporting a filibuster in parliament to ‘talk out’ a bill by the former leader of the Green party, Caroline Lucas. The four Tories, who waffled and blustered in order to prevent the bill being discussed or passed, were David Nuttall, Phillip Davies, Phillip Hollobone, and Sir Edward Leigh.

Mike writes:

It’s hard to think of Philip Davies without imagining that the people of Shipley were so disillusioned with Parliament that they sent a motion of the bowels to Westminster as a sign of their low esteem.

The sh*t from Shipley was one of four Tory MPs who waffled their way through the time allotted for Caroline Lucas’s Bill to stop the creeping privatisation of the National Health Service.

By their actions it is therefore easy to conclude that Davies, Philip Hollobone, David Nuttall and Sir Edward Leigh want to…

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“One nation under God”? Not when it comes to distributing Gideon Bibles to public schools

Original post from Salon

‘…………Gideon Bibles in hotel rooms? No problem. But public schools were another story, as the Gideon salesmen discovered

"One nation under God"? Not when it comes to distributing Gideon Bibles to public schools (Credit: Alexey Rotanov via Shutterstock)

Excerpted from “One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America”

For the evangelical businessmen who belonged to the Gideons International, Inc., selling God was a second calling, if not their first. Founded by a trio of traveling salesmen at the end of the nineteenth century, the Gideons made a name for themselves in the early twentieth by putting millions of copies of the Holy Bible in hotel and hospital rooms across the nation. During the Second World War, the organization distributed, with the military’s blessing, a specially prepared edition of the King James Version of the New Testament and Book of Psalms to every member of the armed forces. After the conflict, the group created a new paperback version of this “Gideon Bible” (now with the Book of Proverbs as well) for distribution at public and private schools for all students between the fifth and twelfth grades. In the words of W. L. Hardin, an Atlanta contractor and past president of the Gideons, their new ministry would help them meet their long-standing goal “to win men and women for the Lord Jesus Christ” by reaching them earlier in life. “In the days of their youth, before the evil days come,” Hardin said in 1946, “the boys and girls of our public schools may by means of the precious Word of God, come to know Him.”

 In practical terms, the Gideons’ program reflected their roots as salesmen. Their founders originally considered calling the new organization the Christian Traveling Men of the United States of America but abandoned the idea because, as one later noted, “traveling men don’t have time to use such long names.” So they settled for the simpler calling card, a name inspired by an Old Testament judge who led a small band of faithful Israelites to victory over a vastly larger force. But their identity as on-the-road representatives of business never changed. Indeed, in its first four decades, only traveling salesmen could join the Gideons. Even after expanding their ranks to admit a broader range of businessmen in 1937, this spirit of door-to-door salesmanship still prevailed. The postwar program to distribute their abridged Bibles to schoolchildren is perhaps the prime example. In what quickly became a standard script, a Gideon first contacted a local school board or principal to win permission. He then spoke to the entire school at a special assembly, offering an address that an observer characterized as “evangelical in tone and content, on the advan­tages of Bible reading.” After the sales pitch, the Gideons announced that every student–or, in some cases, every student who provided written per­mission from a parent–was welcome to a free paperback version of the New Testament. Moving from school to school, the Gideons distributed 4.2 million of their Bibles in the first three years, with ambitious plans to distribute 25 million in all.

For the Gideons, their drive to distribute Bibles at public schools seemed a natural extension of the larger effort to encourage public religion in the postwar era. While other religious innovations had been relatively uncontroversial at the time of their creation, the Gideons’ ministry to schoolchildren sparked a contentious debate. Religion  in the public schools had long been considered a local concern. Communities dominated by one faith traditionally instituted sectarian prayers or Bible reading in classrooms with little complaint. More diverse locales often tried to avoid the issue of religion entirely, but the Gideons brought long­ simmering tensions to the forefront. Jewish leaders protested any effort to place the New Testament in public schools, while Catholic officials objected because canon law forbade members of their faith from using the King James Version.”Most children will accept anything free,” noted a priest in upstate New York, and thus they would inadvertently sin in taking the gift. In Boston, it became such a widespread problem that the archdiocese instructed priests to order all Catholic children who had accepted Gideon Bibles to return them immediately. Even some liberal Protestants disapproved of the Gideons’ campaign. The editors of the Christian Centuryinsisted that public schools were simply “not the place” to evangelize, arguing that Christians had “a duty to respect separation of church and state in relation to the schools.”

The objections were strongest in religiously diverse cities and suburbs, especially in the Northeast. In the fall of 1951, the school board in suburban Rutherford, New Jersey, inadvertently caused a controversy when it accepted an offer from the Gideons of Passaic and Bergen Counties to distribute their version of the Bible to all students in grades five through twelve in the district. The board printed up permission slips for children to take home, but when scores of parents protested, it found itself on the defensive. At its next meeting, the superintendent of schools, Guy Hilleboe, insisted that “the Gideon Society was not presenting their own version of the Bible but were merely offering a New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs of the King James Version” for families who wanted it. He pointed out that the Gideons had not, in this instance, been allowed to make a special address at school assemblies, and principals had been instructed to send the permission slips home “without comment.” Furthermore, Hilleboe added, the state’s lawyers assured him that the practice was wholly constitutional.

Despite these assurances, religious leaders and parents continued to object. A local priest asserted that, although he believed Rutherford was a “God fearing town” and he supported the general effort to get “God into the schools,” the board had made a mistake. The separation of church and state had to be maintained in schools because the sectarian nature of the Gideons’ work would assuredly “create tensions.” Likewise, Rabbi Herman Schwartz argued that even if principals offered no comment on the program, several teachers had become “salesmen” for the proposal. The permission slips had also been prepared by school officials, he noted, and therefore the entire endeavor bore the formal approval of the district. Parents echoed these concerns. Mrs. E. K. Ingalls, for instance, reminded the board there had been a similar controversy in their high school over the state-mandated practice of Bible reading during morning assemblies. Catholic students there had refused to read from the King James Version and were castigated by the principal. Was it “good teaching,” she asked, for a school to say “you will read the St. James [sic] version or else”? The superintendent recognized “the right of each child in the Public Schools to use the religion of his choice” but maintained that the board had done nothing wrong. The district’s legal counsel double-checked the law andre­ assured school officials that they were in the right. The Gideons, the board decided, could proceed with their evangelism in Rutherford’s schools.

But before they could begin, a pair of parents filed for an injunc­tion. Bernard Tudor  and Ralph Lecoque, Jewish and Catholic, respec­tively, asserted that the Gideon Bible was a “sectarian work of peculiar religious value and significance to the Protestant faith.” Its embrace by the schools therefore amounted to an establishment of sectarian religion. Their complaints quickly drew national attention. The Catholic diocese and the American Jewish Committee rallied behind them. Notably, civil liberties organizations did as well. While they still held that religious invocations at the national level were relatively harmless, in such local manifestations civil libertarians identified individuals who felt personally wronged by new religious policies and, more important, who would serve as plaintiffs in lawsuits against them. In March 1953, a trial judge in Hackensack heard arguments in Tudor v. Board of Education of Ruther­ford and the Gideons International. Leo Pfeffer, a prominent advocate for the separation of church and state, represented the plaintiffs. Bringing forth an array of witnesses with expertise in religion, law, and even child psychology, Pfeffer argued that the school board displayed an “unconsti­tutional preference” for Protestantism by embracing the Gideons and, as a result, infringed on the religious liberties of Catholic and Jewish children. The trial judge disagreed, but the New Jersey Supreme Court reversed his opinion in December, issuing a unanimous decision condemning the school board’s actions as clear “favoritism” of one faith.

For the Gideons, it was a stunning blow. Bewildered by the objections to what they saw as a selfless act of kindness, they were doubly shocked that the New Jersey Supreme Court had sided against them. (Search­ing for an explanation forty years later, the head of the Gideons could only surmise that “Satan has been and still is vigorously opposed to this particular program.”) The organization’s leaders instructed local Gideon camps to hold prayer meetings to determine if they should appeal to the US Supreme Court. The Gideons’ leaders ultimately decided God wanted them to do so, but the justices refused to revisit the case in the fall of 1954. Though disheartened, the Gideons later realized the development had been a “blessing in disguise” because it meant the lower court’s ruling would be limited to New Jersey. And so they continued to distribute their edition of the New Testament in public schools across the country, discovering that legal and educational responses to their work varied considerably. In Pennsylvania, the attorney general ruled that the Gideons’ work was clearly unconstitutional; in Minnesota, his counterpart found nothing wrong. A suburban school board in Connecticut reported it had “successfully resisted” the Gideons’ efforts; in Dade County, Florida, officials believed there was nothing to resist.

By the late 1950s, the Gideons’ campaign provided vivid evidence of the varied legal landscape on issues of church and state. A survey of school systems across the forty-eight states showed that roughly 43 percent of districts allowed the distribution of Gideon Bibles. Small towns were most likely to accept the Gideons’ gifts, with 50 percent of communities with populations under twenty-five hundred doing so. In contrast, larger cities tended to reject the offer, with only 32 percent of districts in areas of twenty-five thousand people or more allowing it. There were regional differences as well. The more rural South and Midwest proved most amenable to the program, with 55 percent and 50 percent of school systems, respectively, allowing it. In the West, 40 percent of districts sanctioned the practice, while in the more urbanized Northeast, only 26 percent did so. Regardless of location, there was always some degree of protest. In districts in the Northeast, West, and Midwest that allowed the Gideons to distribute their literature at schools, 33 percent, 32 percent, and 25 percent, respectively, still reported some form of organized objection. Even in the overwhelmingly Protestant South, 8 percent of school districts with Gideons’ programs faced protests of some kind.

As the controversies made clear, public schools became a contentious site in the postwar rise of religious nationalism. In the eyes of those seeking to link piety and patriotism, schools were the obvious place to begin. Many already employed some type of traditional daily prayers or organized Bible readings, and often both. In the postwar era, new practices—such as the addition of “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance recited by millions of schoolchildren each morning—had been adopted with little objection. But as the religious revival moved from the national level, where vaguely defined ceremonial deism held sway, to individual schools and districts, it necessarily took forms that were at once more concrete and more complicated. Educators at the state and local level required religious programs to be as detailed as the rest of their curricula, and as a result, they soon found themselves involved in controversies that national leaders had managed to avoid. While prominent voices in political and popular culture had encouraged a return to prayer in general, state-level administrators felt the need to choose or compose specific prayers for all schoolchildren to recite as one. Likewise, while religious leaders had urged Americans to turn to the Bible of their choosing, local educators had to pick a particular version, invariably offending one sect or another. And so, as they attempted to channel the “very vague religion” of the Eisenhower era into specific programs, school officials across the country sparked local controversies that, in turn, had national ramifications.The concept of “one nation under God” had seemed a simple, elegant way to bring together the citizens of a broadly religious country, but at the local level, as the Gideons had discovered, Americans were anything but united.

Excerpted with permission from “One Nation Under God: How Corporate America Invented Christian America” by Kevin M. Kruse.  Available from Basic Books, a member of The Perseus Books Group.  Copyright © 2015.  …….’

Special needs child allegedly put in cage-like ‘withdrawal space’ at Canberra school

Original post from ABC



An investigation has been launched after a special needs child was allegedly put in a two-metre by two-metre, cage-like structure made of pool fencing at a Canberra public school.

Education Minister Joy Burch said between March 10 and March 27 the child was placed in a “withdrawal space” inside the classroom.

It is understood the incident involved a 10-year-old boy with autism.

Words could not describe her disappointment and horror at the situation, Ms Burch said.

“This structure could not be deemed acceptable in any way shape or form, in any of our public education schools, hence it was withdrawn,” she said.

“I have initiated an absolute thorough investigation as to the why and where … this structure was allowed to be put in place.

“I have also made assurances through the school executive and through our support teams that the child and the family involved is given the utmost support over this time.”

The school principal has been stood aside, but the name of the school cannot be revealed for privacy reasons.

The issue emerged last week after a complaint was made to the Children and Young People’s Commissioner.

Parents with students at the school have been informed of the incident.

Ms Burch said the student remained at the school and two extra staff had since been assigned.

‘This is not how our students should be treated’

Diane Joseph from the ACT Education Directorate said it was an isolated example of very poor decision making.

“The space was basically a fenced-in structure inside a classroom,” she said.

“It was entirely inappropriate and unacceptable, and the structure has been removed.

“The decision to erect such a structure raises so many questions.

“This is not how our students should be treated.”

The withdrawal space was built for a particular student, but the directorate conceded it did not know if it had been used for other students.

The Minister said an investigation would be conducted in two streams with the first stage expected to be completed within weeks.

It would be led by someone independent of the ACT Education and Training Directorate.

Independent inquiry needed ‘without delay’

Hugh Boulter from the ACT public school Parents and Citizens Association said he was most alarmed at the news and has called for a speedy, independent inquiry.

Hugh Boulter from the ACT P and C Association was alarmed by news of a cage being used at a public school.

“At this stage on behalf of the P and C Council and ACT parents I would call for an independent inquiry to be conducted without delay,” he said.

“I would also ask that it is important not to speculate until the findings of the independent inquiry are handed down and fully evaluated to ensure natural justice.

“I’d also call for the directorate to make inquiries in to non-government schools as well, immediately, to remove any question of systemic performance in the ACT.”

Liberal ACT MLA Steve Doszpot was horrified by what he had heard so far about the case and said many questions remained unanswered.

“Have these sort of situations occurred before? And do we have any other structures like this in other schools? Why has it taken so long for the issue to be escalated?” he said.

“I understand that the Directorate knew about this last Thursday, and it is now a week later.

“So these are questions that remain to be answered and an inquiry is the very least that should happen.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Assistant Social Services Minister Mitch Fifield expressed his concern over the incident on ABC’s Radio National.

“It’s appalling what we’ve heard from the ACT,” he said.

“Regrettably, we do hear of instances around Australia in schools from time to time where there are inappropriate restrictive practices used.

“This is something that we need to look at, not just in schools, but also as we look to the roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) nationwide.”

Senator Fifield said the roll-out of the NDIS would improve safeguards for people with disabilities, and help implement uniform national complaint practices.

Ms Burch has appealed for the media to consider the privacy of the family involved.  …….’

7 Real World Classes You’ll Want Mandatory in NYC Public Schools

Original post from Epoch Times

‘……by | Epoch Times

Schools are not what they used to be. Aren’t schools supposed to teach us to be prepared for our lives? And even though sometimes there’s use for simple math skills and the need for biology, most of what we learn in school is completely useless.

Students need to learn skills they can apply in everyday life situations such as proper manners and basic survival skills. Who knows what else life throws at you?

Here are 7 suggested classes that should be mandatory in all public schools:

 1. Basic Survival Skills Class

Children making fire (Flickr)

Let’s face it, you can probably figure out a new tech gadget faster than figuring out how to start a fire (without Googling). But what if you’re suddenly cut off from all the technology in the world? How will you survive? Not to give extreme cases but many of us in New York felt the same way during Hurricane Sandy.

Useful skills to learn would include: First-response, fire-making, shelter-building, using emergency kits, weather forecast prediction.

 2. First Aid Class

Child performing CPR (Flickr)

Besides learning how to treat wounds in different situations, the class would also cover first-response, safety hazards, and alternative medicine hacks. Learning CPR should be absolutely mandatory for all students taking the course. Following up on the first class, this should be a more in-depth class about how to give assistance in the case of injury.

3. Emotional Intelligence Class

Twins comforting (Flickr)

Emotional intelligence touches upon human emotional health. Students would not only learn about mental and psychological disorders, but they would also learn to be more observant of their surroundings.

The class would teach detecting distress, learning to control emotions, developing empathy, and learning to deal with addiction, drug abuse, and violence.

 4. Etiquette Class

Shaking hands with President Obama (Flickr)

Most of us grow up with a “me” mentality from an early age and polite people are rare to come by. If teachers want to influence future generations they should start teaching appropriate social behavior, common sense, and courtesy. Students are quick to learn morals and, depending on their upbringing, can bring about positive or negative behavior so this is absolutely necessary if we want to produce good people.

5. Home Economics Class

Dishwashing (Flickr)

Who says home economics is for girls? In our generation parents are seldom home, obesity is on the rise, and healthy eating is not regulated. Where can students learn to take care of themselves? Besides learning about nutrition and simple cooking skills, students should learn how to mend clothes and operate the sewing machine.

They can also learn home maintenance such as sealing windows, keeping rooms cool or warm for the seasons, and preventing rodents and pest infestations.

6. Cooking Class

Chopped Minestrone Vegetables (Flickr)

Cooking class is where students can apply their new skills in the kitchen. They can learn to cook simple meals using common kitchen appliances, and apply cooking techniques efficiently.

 7. Finance Management Class

Hundred dollar bills (Flickr)

I don’t recall learning how to manage money until I took economics class during my senior year in high school. Even then, learning how to balance checkbooks and manage bank accounts were covered briefly. Sometimes products you’re buying are highly overpriced and you won’t even know it. So, finding out the worth and value of a product and creating budgets is a necessity that tops learning algebra any time.   …….’