Wednesday, August 08, 2007

British Columbia Government Releases Overview of Controversial Pro-Gay School Curriculum

A new course that defends homosexuality and teaches students about the evils of discrimination based on sexual orientation is being piloted in BC high schools this fall. The course, a draft overview of which was released today, is part of a comprehensive pro-gay revamp of the entire BC curriculum. In response to a case filed with the Human Rights Tribunal in 1999 by gay couple Murray and Peter Corren, the BC government decided last year to introduce new curricula from Kindergarten to Grade 12 that would be "inclusive" and homosexual-friendly. The pro-gay courses may become mandatory with provisions for barring parents from opting out or opting for an alternative course (see here).

Today, the BC Ministry of Education released the draft overview for the new Grade 12 Social Justice pilot course, which is the first course to come out of the agreement with Murray and Peter Corren. In Prescribed Learning Outcomes, students are required to recognize and analyze injustice in various areas, including, "sex, age, mental ability, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation." Students will also have to analyze specific examples of injustice that have occurred in Canada relating to protected minorities, including those with differing sexual orientations. This will include "discrimination, prejudice, stereotyping, oppressions, and/or hate crimes."

The curriculum also states that as a suggested achievement indicator, students should "examine their own attitudes, behaviors, values, and beliefs," by responding to certain questions. Among the list of questions students should ask themselves, is "How do my personal experiences and circumstances (e.g., age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, family, socioeconomic status) affect my perceptions?" Students should also give examples of how the Criminal Code of Canada has addressed hate crimes. The course draft then gives only two examples of hate-crime - "holocaust deniers" and "gay bashers".

The course is intended to help students develop a "personal definition of social justice" and analyze how the law "reflects (or fails to reflect) societal values." Among the list of terms that a successful student must understand are "hate crime", "hegemony," "prejudice," "sexism," "stereotyping", "heterosexism" and "homophobia."

Similarly, in another proposed Family Studies course for Grades 10 to 12, also part of the gay-friendly curricula, successful students must be able to describe a variety of family structures-including same-sex families. They will also have to analyze the "the legal and financial implications of ending a committed relationship, including heterosexual and same-sex marriage, common-law, sponsored spouse, engagement, and long-term dating."

Ministry of Education representative Adrienne Gnidec told that the course is only being introduced as an elective into seven classrooms in seven different BC districts this fall. It will not be finalized until next September. The BC Ministry of Health did not reply with comments prior to press time.


This is what the British Left wants to boycott

It's never a pleasant experience to go into hospital. It's one of my least favourite things to do. But, when you've got to go, you've got to go. And so, I was dragged, kicking and screaming, to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv for an operation I had tried to put off for too long. The operation wasn't too bad. The Israeli medical service is excellent and the care is wonderful. As I was wheeled from the recovery room to my ward I was still in that euphoric state that only a trained anesthetist can induce. The Trauma Ward on the fifth floor of Ichilov Hospital is a spacious and modern complex. I was wheeled into a room where I was to be parked until my release the following day.

In the next bed to me was an Arab boy, attended to by his mother dressed in traditional Arab dress of what could be described as moderate Muslim attire. We were gracious and pleasant with each other, and they offered me orange juice, figs, and nuts. When I was sufficiently out of la-la land and back into the land of the living I began to hear their story. Sarim Shahub is twenty one years old, and from Gaza. In May, he was shot in the face and arm and had been in intensive care at Ichilov Hospital. He was now sufficiently well to move around in the Trauma Ward while receiving treatment for his face wound. One bullet had entered through his left cheek and exited through the side of his mouth. The Israeli surgeons had put a breathing tube in his throat, and he was temporarily unable to speak. His mother told me that he had been caught up in the fighting between Hamas and Fatah. This may be true. It could also be true that he had been fighting for one of the factions.

The following day, when I felt strong enough to crawl around the ward, I noticed that other rooms were taken up by Palestinians. I was told that all had gunshot or shrapnel wounds inflicted in the Palestinian in-fighting in Gaza. One room was out of bounds. Either the patients were in intensive care, or they were people of significance, and therefore kept isolated.

As I lay in bed next to Sarim I read an article about the intended British boycott of Israeli academic institutions. I looked across at Sarim as he lay in his hi-tech Evolution hospital bed. Here was a Palestinian from Gaza receiving the finest medical care and attention from Israeli doctors and nurses, all trained in Israeli academic institutions. These are the very institutions that British academics wish to boycott. His treatment will consider for some time until he is healthy enough to return home to Gaza.

I do not know what his fate will be. I only know that his immediate past was damaged by corrupt and violent Palestinian leadership who continue to reject creating a state of their own alongside the Jewish state of Israel, and by the lawlessness and violence that is today's Palestinian society. I do know that Sarim has been given another chance of life by the dedication and professionalism of the Israeli medical profession. Will somebody please tell me how a British boycott of Israeli academics and learning institutions will have helped Sarim, and others like him, in his moment of crisis?


Putnam's attempt to escape his own findings on the bad effects of ethnic diversity

IT HAS BECOME increasingly popular to speak of racial and ethnic diversity as a civic strength. From multicultural festivals to pronouncements from political leaders, the message is the same: our differences make us stronger.

But a massive new study, based on detailed interviews of nearly 30,000 people across America, has concluded just the opposite. Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam -- famous for "Bowling Alone," his 2000 book on declining civic engagement -- has found that the greater the diversity in a community, the fewer people vote and the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity and work on community projects. In the most diverse communities, neighbors trust one another about half as much as they do in the most homogenous settings. The study, the largest ever on civic engagement in America, found that virtually all measures of civic health are lower in more diverse settings. "The extent of the effect is shocking," says Scott Page, a University of Michigan political scientist.

The study comes at a time when the future of the American melting pot is the focus of intense political debate, from immigration to race-based admissions to schools, and it poses challenges to advocates on all sides of the issues. The study is already being cited by some conservatives as proof of the harm large-scale immigration causes to the nation's social fabric. But with demographic trends already pushing the nation inexorably toward greater diversity, the real question may yet lie ahead: how to handle the unsettling social changes that Putnam's research predicts.....

His findings on the downsides of diversity have also posed a challenge for Putnam, a liberal academic whose own values put him squarely in the pro-diversity camp. Suddenly finding himself the bearer of bad news, Putnam has struggled with how to present his work. He gathered the initial raw data in 2000 and issued a press release the following year outlining the results. He then spent several years testing other possible explanations.

When he finally published a detailed scholarly analysis in June in the journal Scandinavian Political Studies, he faced criticism for straying from data into advocacy. His paper argues strongly that the negative effects of diversity can be remedied, and says history suggests that ethnic diversity may eventually fade as a sharp line of social demarcation. "Having aligned himself with the central planners intent on sustaining such social engineering, Putnam concludes the facts with a stern pep talk," wrote conservative commentator Ilana Mercer, in a recent Orange County Register op-ed titled "Greater diversity equals more misery."

Putnam has long staked out ground as both a researcher and a civic player, someone willing to describe social problems and then have a hand in addressing them. He says social science should be "simultaneously rigorous and relevant," meeting high research standards while also "speaking to concerns of our fellow citizens." But on a topic as charged as ethnicity and race, Putnam worries that many people hear only what they want to. "It would be unfortunate if a politically correct progressivism were to deny the reality of the challenge to social solidarity posed by diversity," he writes in the new report. "It would be equally unfortunate if an ahistorical and ethnocentric conservatism were to deny that addressing that challenge is both feasible and desirable."

Putnam is the nation's premier guru of civic engagement. After studying civic life in Italy in the 1970s and 1980s, Putnam turned his attention to the US, publishing an influential journal article on civic engagement in 1995 that he expanded five years later into the best-selling "Bowling Alone." The book sounded a national wake-up call on what Putnam called a sharp drop in civic connections among Americans. It won him audiences with presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and made him one of the country's best known social scientists.

Putnam claims the US has experienced a pronounced decline in "social capital," a term he helped popularize. Social capital refers to the social networks -- whether friendships or religious congregations or neighborhood associations -- that he says are key indicators of civic well-being. When social capital is high, says Putnam, communities are better places to live. Neighborhoods are safer; people are healthier; and more citizens vote.

The results of his new study come from a survey Putnam directed among residents in 41 US communities, including Boston. Residents were sorted into the four principal categories used by the US Census: black, white, Hispanic, and Asian. They were asked how much they trusted their neighbors and those of each racial category, and questioned about a long list of civic attitudes and practices, including their views on local government, their involvement in community projects, and their friendships. What emerged in more diverse communities was a bleak picture of civic desolation, affecting everything from political engagement to the state of social ties.

Putnam knew he had provocative findings on his hands. He worried about coming under some of the same liberal attacks that greeted Daniel Patrick Moynihan's landmark 1965 report on the social costs associated with the breakdown of the black family. There is always the risk of being pilloried as the bearer of "an inconvenient truth," says Putnam.

After releasing the initial results in 2001, Putnam says he spent time "kicking the tires really hard" to be sure the study had it right. Putnam realized, for instance, that more diverse communities tended to be larger, have greater income ranges, higher crime rates, and more mobility among their residents -- all factors that could depress social capital independent of any impact ethnic diversity might have. "People would say, 'I bet you forgot about X,'" Putnam says of the string of suggestions from colleagues. "There were 20 or 30 X's."

But even after statistically taking them all into account, the connection remained strong: Higher diversity meant lower social capital. In his findings, Putnam writes that those in more diverse communities tend to "distrust their neighbors, regardless of the color of their skin, to withdraw even from close friends, to expect the worst from their community and its leaders, to volunteer less, give less to charity and work on community projects less often, to register to vote less, to agitate for social reform more but have less faith that they can actually make a difference, and to huddle unhappily in front of the television." "People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to 'hunker down' -- that is, to pull in like a turtle," Putnam writes.

In documenting that hunkering down, Putnam challenged the two dominant schools of thought on ethnic and racial diversity, the "contact" theory and the "conflict" theory. Under the contact theory, more time spent with those of other backgrounds leads to greater understanding and harmony between groups. Under the conflict theory, that proximity produces tension and discord.

Putnam's findings reject both theories. In more diverse communities, he says, there were neither great bonds formed across group lines nor heightened ethnic tensions, but a general civic malaise. And in perhaps the most surprising result of all, levels of trust were not only lower between groups in more diverse settings, but even among members of the same group. "Diversity, at least in the short run," he writes, "seems to bring out the turtle in all of us."

The overall findings may be jarring during a time when it's become commonplace to sing the praises of diverse communities, but researchers in the field say they shouldn't be. "It's an important addition to a growing body of evidence on the challenges created by diversity," says Harvard economist Edward Glaeser. In a recent study, Glaeser and colleague Alberto Alesina demonstrated that roughly half the difference in social welfare spending between the US and Europe -- Europe spends far more -- can be attributed to the greater ethnic diversity of the US population. Glaeser says lower national social welfare spending in the US is a "macro" version of the decreased civic engagement Putnam found in more diverse communities within the country.

Economists Matthew Kahn of UCLA and Dora Costa of MIT reviewed 15 recent studies in a 2003 paper, all of which linked diversity with lower levels of social capital. Greater ethnic diversity was linked, for example, to lower school funding, census response rates, and trust in others. Kahn and Costa's own research documented higher desertion rates in the Civil War among Union Army soldiers serving in companies whose soldiers varied more by age, occupation, and birthplace. Birds of different feathers may sometimes flock together, but they are also less likely to look out for one another. "Everyone is a little self-conscious that this is not politically correct stuff," says Kahn.

So how to explain New York, London, Rio de Janiero, Los Angeles -- the great melting-pot cities that drive the world's creative and financial economies? [Maybe they would do even better WITHOUT "diversity"?] The image of civic lassitude dragging down more diverse communities is at odds with the vigor often associated with urban centers, where ethnic diversity is greatest. It turns out there is a flip side to the discomfort diversity can cause. If ethnic diversity, at least in the short run, is a liability for social connectedness, a parallel line of emerging research suggests it can be a big asset when it comes to driving productivity and innovation. [Theory to the rescue!] In high-skill workplace settings, says Scott Page, the University of Michigan political scientist, the different ways of thinking among people from different cultures can be a boon. "Because they see the world and think about the world differently than you, that's challenging," says Page, author of "The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies." "But by hanging out with people different than you, you're likely to get more insights. Diverse teams tend to be more productive."

In other words, those in more diverse communities may do more bowling alone, but the creative tensions unleashed by those differences in the workplace may vault those same places to the cutting edge of the economy and of creative culture. Page calls it the "diversity paradox." He thinks the contrasting positive and negative effects of diversity can coexist in communities, but "there's got to be a limit." If civic engagement falls off too far, he says, it's easy to imagine the positive effects of diversity beginning to wane as well. "That's what's unsettling about his findings," Page says of Putnam's new work.

Meanwhile, by drawing a portrait of civic engagement in which more homogeneous communities seem much healthier, some of Putnam's worst fears about how his results could be used have been realized. A stream of conservative commentary has begun -- from places like the Manhattan Institute and "The American Conservative" -- highlighting the harm the study suggests will come from large-scale immigration. But Putnam says he's also received hundreds of complimentary emails laced with bigoted language. "It certainly is not pleasant when David Duke's website hails me as the guy who found out racism is good," he says.

In the final quarter of his paper, Putnam puts the diversity challenge in a broader context by describing how social identity can change over time. Experience shows that social divisions can eventually give way to "more encompassing identities" that create a "new, more capacious sense of 'we,'" he writes. [That happened in some cases -- in part because of pressures to assimilate. And it has failed signally in the case of blacks. It would be foolish to expect it to happen now with very different immigrant groups and multiculturalism being the prevailing religion]

Growing up in the 1950s in small Midwestern town, Putnam knew the religion of virtually every member of his high school graduating class because, he says, such information was crucial to the question of "who was a possible mate or date." The importance of marrying within one's faith, he says, has largely faded since then, at least among many mainline Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. While acknowledging that racial and ethnic divisions may prove more stubborn, Putnam argues that such examples bode well for the long-term prospects for social capital in a multiethnic America.

In his paper, Putnam cites the work done by Page and others, and uses it to help frame his conclusion that increasing diversity in America is not only inevitable, but ultimately valuable and enriching. As for smoothing over the divisions that hinder civic engagement, Putnam argues that Americans can help that process along through targeted efforts. He suggests expanding support for English-language instruction and investing in community centers and other places that allow for "meaningful interaction across ethnic lines."

Some critics have found his prescriptions underwhelming. And in offering ideas for mitigating his findings, Putnam has drawn scorn for stepping out of the role of dispassionate researcher. "You're just supposed to tell your peers what you found," says John Leo, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. "I don't expect academics to fret about these matters." But fretting about the state of American civic health is exactly what Putnam has spent more than a decade doing. While continuing to research questions involving social capital, he has directed the Saguaro Seminar, a project he started at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government that promotes efforts throughout the country to increase civic connections in communities. "Social scientists are both scientists and citizens," says Alan Wolfe, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, who sees nothing wrong in Putnam's efforts to affect some of the phenomena he studies.

Wolfe says what is unusual is that Putnam has published findings as a social scientist that are not the ones he would have wished for as a civic leader. There are plenty of social scientists, says Wolfe, who never produce research results at odds with their own worldview. "The problem too often," says Wolfe, "is people are never uncomfortable about their findings."


Australia: Right to tribal law scrapped

Multiculti loses out

ABORIGINAL offenders in the Northern Territory will no longer be able to use customary law to get softer sentences for serious crimes, under the Howard Government's radical intervention into Aboriginal communities. And federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Mal Brough revealed yesterday that the "just terms" compensation to be offered to Aboriginal traditional owners who have their land taken from them for five years could be provided in many forms, not only in cash. Mr Brough said "rent and improvements", including infrastructure programs, could count as compensation. And he conceded some traditional owners might have to wait a long time until they received any compensation. "What I'm saying is that traditional owners will discuss with the Government, and if ... a particular group ... can't come up with a decision, then there is recourse to the courts," he said.

Mr Brough said the Government would introduce the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Bill into parliament today, with plans to have the legislation passed by the end of the week.

Labor held a special briefing last night with Kevin Rudd and a caucus sub-committee that included the two Labor MPs from the Territory who have opposed elements of the Howard Government's intervention. The issue has been sensitive in Labor ranks, with the Left opposing crucial elements of the Howard package. The Australian understands that Labor is likely to support the legislation while still articulating the view that the abolition of the permit system for entry to communities is unnecessary. Labor will decide at this morning's caucus meeting how it will respond to thebill.

Mr Brough said the Government's intervention would cost $587 million in the first 12 months, as revealed in The Australian yesterday. Of this, $64.7 million will be spent on policing alcohol bans and pornography, $83.1 million on health checks for indigenous children, $205.8 million on welfare changes and employment initiatives, and $32.8 million on enhanced child protection services and more safe houses, an expansion of alcohol diversionary services for youth and additional childcare.

Mr Brough said the customary law changes were included because the Territory Government had failed to change its laws. "COAG agreed in 2006 that no customary law or cultural practice excuses violence or sexual abuse," he said. "Jurisdictions agreed to amend their laws to reflect this decision. The Australian Government has amended commonwealth law. The NT has so far failed to do so."

The Howard Government's plan contains legislation authorising alcohol bans, the takeover of remote community land under five-year leases and audits of public computers for pornography. Other bills will provide for welfare changes, both in the Territory and nationwide, and the removal of the permit system for Aboriginal land, which restricts access to communities.

The Territory Government said it opposed some of the measures, including the land acquisitions and the removal of the permit system. Territory Chief Minister Clare Martin said her Government only supported measures that would directly result in the protection of children. "Providing unrestricted access to communities by removing permit requirements, leasing land for five years and compulsorily acquiring town camps does not meet these criteria and does not have the support of the (NT) Government," Ms Martin said.

The Howard Government also announced that for the duration of the five-year intervention, all native title land claims would be suspended.

Indigenous people who have their welfare money quarantined by at least 50per cent for wasting their payments on alcohol, drugs or gambling, or failing to send their children to school, will not have the right to appeal against the decision. If they fail to send their children to school, all their welfare payments could be quarantined. Other Australians who face welfare controls will be able to appeal.

Mr Brough yesterday admitted that not all Aboriginal children were turning up to health checks. His office said they had offered a visiting delegation of Territory Aboriginal leaders opposed to the intervention a meeting yesterday afternoon but they had refused the time offered to them.

In other changes to the law, people who try to smuggle alcohol into remote Territory indigenous communities will risk up to 18 months' imprisonment and a $75,000 fine. Those caught with alcohol for personal use will face a fine of $110 for first offences and double that for any subsequent offences. Anyone caught in prescribed areas with more than the equivalent of 1350ml of alcohol will be presumed to have an intent to supply and the maximum penalty will be up to 18 months' jail and $74,800 in fines.

Mr Brough defended the initial $587 million cost of the plan, saying anyone who criticised the expenditure was "either not a parent or doesn't have a soul". "What price do you put on ... a baby of six months of age with gonorrhoea?" Mr Brough said. "Let's say it as it is: that is the price that we're willing to pay to try and prevent that from occurring, to ensure that children actually do have a future."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


No comments: