Archive for October 24, 2013

Public ed is only a right for the compliant

The powerful and wealthy in our country pay to send their children to schools that are not testing factories, but for those who can’t afford this luxury, children are used, abused, chewed up and spit out of the system if they are not compliant. Even if it means they will get hurt or sick.

It’s sort of like one of those alien movies where those in power feel they have the right to run these tests on aliens because they are sub-human. But this is not a movie and our children aren’t aliens.
This story played out recently when 12-year-old Anthony Hererra’s mother, Gretchen, followed doctors orders which she shared with the school and allowed her son to opt out of the test. As reported in Education Week, what came next was a letter waiting for her from the charter school her son attends. The letter said Anthony was no longer welcome because by opting out he violated his learning contract so he was being withdrawn from the school, effective immediately.

Upset, that her son was being forced to comply to school rules that would harm him, or get kicked out, Gretchen responded to the school director with a letter asking her to reconsider her decision and show compassion for her son who would be harmed by the tests she wanted to perform on him. Here’s an excerpt:
“My son is a 12 year old little boy with Aspergers and a brittle diabetic. I presented Cherry Daniels and Donna Strom with a letter from his diabetes team stating my son should NOT take the test. It stated clearly that he would have a dramatic reaction in his health, but still he took the first part.
My son’s blood sugar spiked over 200 points in 30 minutes!
I had sent ANOTHER letter in as well to his homeroom teacher stating that not only did his blood sugar go up, but while there was all of this turmoil, after I refused to let him get ill AGAIN by finishing the PASS tests, his overall blood sugar (A1C) was dangerously high! All of the stress he went through over will he or won’t he be allowed to come back because he didn’t return to a situation that made him physically and dangerously ill caused his A1C to reach 9.0 from a 7.0! That is documented.
Your school ignored the letter from his endocrinology team and subsequently caused him to be in a very harmful situation with his health.”
Young Anthony’s health did not matter to the school. All that mattered were his test scores. What was equally alarming is that many other parents at the school shared that when it comes to kids, the government, not the parents, should have final say and that if she wanted her son in school Gretchen should just comply and follow their orders even if it was against doctors orders and would make him extremely ill. It’s become a case of what Author of Instead of Medicating and Punishing and an Unschooling Coach Laurie A. Couture refers to as the Stockholm Syndrome which is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy, sympathy and have positive feelings towards their captors, sometimes to the point of defending them.

As Gretchen was spending her time researching schools that would be a good fit for Anthony she noticed something interesting. Her little boy started thriving. During the time she thought she and her son were just hanging out, her son had started taking up IT and computer programming and today at 13 knows enough to land him a job starting at 48k per year. While the system and others were calling Anthony a loser for leaving, Anthony discovered he was finally able to learn. Not only that, but the articles that appeared in places like Ed Week and various blogs became an inspiration to him and led to what his mother calls “his recovery.” As more time passed away from school Anthony developed a greater sense of self and no longer had depression and suicidal tendencies that were the side effects of his time in school.

Now there is no turning back. The Hererra’s learned that, for Anthony, the best school is no school. Anthony couldn’t be happier and in fact has agreed to write a follow up on how he is doing to share with the world and he predicts it will go viral and “be bigger than the ‘butt spider’ everyone is posting about on Facebook.”

I hope he’s right 🙂


BBC Dyslexia Series: Inside Dyslexia

The documentary My Dyslexic Mind aims to put you in the shoes of the children featured in the film and the interactive experience, Try Being Me, is designed to give you a better idea of what it’s like living with dyslexia.

My Dyslexic Mind

Presented by 12-year-old Ben, who has dyslexia himself, My Dyslexic Mind explores what it means to be dyslexic and the problems that children face growing up. In this engaging video Ben investigates how dyslexia affects the brain, and even travels to Oxford University to meet with a dyslexia specialist to explore how dyslexia affects the brain. Ben also meets Zach and Khalya, two other dyslexic children, to discuss their experiences of negotiating dyslexia in the classroom, the methods that they have learnt to cope with any problems and how they excel in other fields. This upbeat idea of dyslexia as not being something that should hold you back is reflected in the light-hearted cartoons that complement the footage.

The documentary culminates with Ben chatting to Dom Wood who has become a well-loved CBBC presenter and is a fellow sufferer of dyslexia. Dom’s message is hopeful as he points out that thousands of jobs don’t require academia, as shown by his own success story. He also says that if it wasn’t for dyslexia he wouldn’t be where he is today. Overall the video is great to get a better understanding of what it’s like to live with dyslexia and how it doesn’t have to hold you back from success.

Try Being me

Try Being Me is an interactive experience to accompany, ‘My Dyslexic Mind’, which allows you to appreciate what living with dyslexia is like for each of the children featured in the documentary. This is great because you can explore the different ways that dyslexia can affect people, for example how it affects the way you recognise the sounds that groups of letters make . It is also fantastic for understanding the special techniques that people learn to help them cope with dyslexia.

More Newsround Resources

In general, the Newsround website is a fantastic resource for children trying to understand what dyslexia exactly entails. It’s presented in a really easy to read format with simple explanations of the key issues related to dyslexia, such as the causes and its symptoms. For example ‘what’s it like for someone who has dyslexia?’ and ‘how many people have dyslexia?’

Want to know more?

More Arabic Daily Strength

Arabic Daily Strength For Life. Direct Quranic Quotes.


They have certainly disbelieved who say, ” God is the Messiah, the son of Mary” while the Messiah has said, “O Children of Israel, worship God , my Lord and your Lord.” Indeed, he who associates others with Allah – Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers.

Language injustice and exclusion in Palestine.

Materials about cultural events and health services, and even street signs, are often written in Hebrew and English only, ignoring the 20 percent of Israel’s citizens who are native Arabic speakers. ‘It shouldn’t be this way; Palestinians, as an indigenous national minority, should feel at home in the state that was established on the land we have called home for centuries.’

By Khalil Mari

Last week I attended a concert in Acre of Andalusian music performed by a group from Ashkelon. The concert itself was enjoyable but the whole experience left a sour taste in the collective mouth of many Palestinian residents of Akko and the surrounding area who were in attendance. While the concert featured exquisite musical compositions in Hebrew and Arabic, the event was advertised solely in Hebrew.

A reminder: Acre, Akko in Hebrew and Akka in Arabic, is one of the country’s five mixed cities. Thirty percent of its residents are Palestinian Arabs. Yet the vast majority of cultural events are advertised in Hebrew only – completely ignoring the fact that 15,000 Palestinians call this ancient Mediterranean city home. Sadly, this is highly typical of the treatment that Palestinians receive in Israel by the authorities, and only the tip of the iceberg.

Many of the Palestinians in attendance at the concert shared their collective frustration at the fact that the ads placed in their mailboxes by the city were entirely in Hebrew. Many of them nearly dismissed the ads as junk mail and were about to throw them out (because they have become accustomed over the years to being excluded from such events) when the word Andalusian caught their eye. Upon inspection they realized what was being advertised and decided to attend.

The feeling of being ignored by one’s own city, state and ruling majority group can scarcely be put into words. Frustration and anger do not begin to convey the explosive emotional reaction to being sidelined, marginalized and treated as completely transparent. The message that our existence is not worthy of recognition is an extremely dangerous one in the best of circumstances – and we live in a political and social reality that is far from normal.

However, this reality permeates every level of Israeli society: most services are offered in Hebrew, Russian and English – but no Arabic. The website of Egged (the national bus carrier) boasts options in Hebrew, English and Russian, but not Arabic. Israel Railroads calls out the stations in Hebrew and English – but not Arabic. Even road signs boast Hebrew and English in large and legible script while Arabic is crammed in between and in such small script as if it were an afterthought or something embarrassing. Once again, the message that tourists are more worthy of recognition and attention than 20 percent of the country’s population is highly discriminatory, humiliating and quite dangerous.

Even a city like Haifa, which is the self-proclaimed seat of co-existence in Israel and takes every opportunity to boast its uniquely harmonious fabric of Jewish and Palestinian populations living side by side in peace, is guilty of negligence despite the pains it takes to be more inclusive than others. Haifa’s children’s theater festival has for many years been advertised in Hebrew only. When Sikkuy (an organization for the advancement of civic equality in Israel) approached the city through Sikkuy’s Shared Public Space Project regarding advertising the festival in Arabic also, the response was a very ignorant: “But the Arabs don’t come anyway.”

The city’s leadership actually needed to be told that if they wanted Palestinian children to attend they might try reaching out to them in their own language. This, it turns out, was a revolutionary idea, and this from a city that really does make an effort to be inclusive – at least more than others.

The fact that Arabic is (still) an official language in Israel doesn’t even need to be mentioned; I do mention it because we Palestinians often use this argument as we feel it is our last recourse. The state makes it clear that we are not wanted here and the only argument at our disposal, so many of us feel, is the legal one. It shouldn’t be this way; Palestinians, as an indigenous national minority, should feel at home in the state that was established on the land we have called home for centuries. Yet the state continuously makes us feel unwanted. A long list of discriminatory laws makes this feeling inevitable and unavoidable; the latest amendment to the Governance Lawand the continued attempts to disqualify Arabic as an official language of the state are only the most recent examples.

My assertion that this trend is dangerous entails no threats. It is simply the expression of the honest fear that continued discrimination and marginalization cannot end well. It requires no genius or sociological scholarship to conclude that long term frustration is a dangerous mechanism – with the potential to make losers of all of us, Jews and Palestinians alike. Absurdly, it seems that many Jews with settler and right-wing affiliations would consider this loss a twisted victory of sorts.

Khalil Mari of Sikkuy: The Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality, is a co-director of the “Equality Zones” project advancing Arab-Jewish municipal cooperation on a regional scale in Israel.

Source: published August 23, 2013. Entitled Who speaks Arabic anyway. 

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