Sunday, September 12, 2004


Now if she had been a Muslim .....

"A music specialist employed by the Idaho Falls School District #91 is suing the district for refusing to accept graduate credits and cutting her pay after she voiced personal religious objections to teaching rap and rock music. Kay Bannister, who recently began her 36th year as an educator, teaches music to approximately 2,400 students in Idaho Falls each year. However, problems between Bannister and the district began to surface four years ago when she was transferred from junior high band director to elementary music specialist. As band director, she was allowed to choose the music she taught. As music specialist, most of the music is chosen for her, specifically in regards to the annual fifth-grade musical performed for thousands of Idaho Falls residents......

During the 2001-2002 school year, as part of the selected school musical based on an American history curriculum, Bannister was instructed to teach "The Pledge of Allegiance" set to rap music and a Negro spiritual titled "Good News," set to a similar beat.

Because of her strong religious objections to this type of music, she voiced her concerns to the administration. As a result, "I was verbally reprimanded and told to teach this music. I refused as kindly as I knew how. I received an official letter commanding me to teach and conduct the music. I again refused quietly and kindly."

Within a month of her complaint and refusal, Bannister's credits from Bob Jones University, a non-denominational university lacking national accreditation, were called into question and soon deemed as unacceptable credits for furthering her advancement on the pay scale. The district also cut her pay at that time. "The pay cut happened directly during their struggle to get me to teach music I objected to," Bannister said. "They had been paying me for every credit I had submitted to them from BJU since the day I was hired in August of 1997."

"In effect, they have frozen my pay for years to come. It took seven years and thousands of dollars to gain the 36 credits and [master's] degree I received from BJU. This has a significant effect on my retirement pay. My stand is small, but I will be heard," Bannister said

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Fat wins!

"For the next 12 months, Diane Inch will be preaching the gospel of healthy eating. But whether anyone will listen to her remains to be seen - since she herself tips the scales at 19 stone and admits to a liking for crisps and sugary drinks. The 40-year-old Liberal Democrat councillor will also lecture children and adults in the Cheshire borough of Halton about the benefits of sporting activity, even though she is clinically obese and doesn't play any herself. 'I don't have the time to exercise,' she said as she prepared to launch her campaign yesterday. 'I just pick through the day because of my fast-track life.'

She admits she is a 'prime example' of the obesity epidemic but doesn't think this will put anyone off taking her advice. Miss Inch, a childminder from Runcorn, came up with the idea for a 'Healthy Eating Scrutiny task group' after discussions with other councillors. She will carry out surveys of eating habits and be on hand to 'educate people' about healthy lifestyles for the next 12 months.....

On a typical day Miss Inch, who has a son, says she tucks into a healthy breakfast of fruit and yoghurt, a sandwich for lunch and a salad for evening meal. She does, however, admit treating herself to the occasional takeaway or bar of chocolate.

Between 1995 and 2002, obesity levels among children rose by 25 per cent, with junk food and lack of exercise largely to blame. Experts warn that, without prompt action, diseases associated with obesity will cost the NHS o3.6billion a year by 2010.

Nutritionist and author Natalie Savona said: 'There are different ways at looking how to inspire people to follow best practice whether it is to do with obesity or smoking - scare tactics for example. 'Councillor Inch might be good if she walks around and tells people, "Give up or look like me" but a better approach would be to have someone who not only talks the talk but someone who walks the walk too.'

But Halton council issued a statement saying: 'Members of the health scrutiny group are chosen purely on merit and we are disappointed at the suggestion that personal issues such as this are considered to be relevant.'"

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