Posts Tagged ‘English’

Book Review: The Great City Academy Fraud – Part 3

July 13, 2016

Academy Fraud Pic

Francis Beckett (London: Continuum 2007)

Academies and the Curriculum

There are also major concerns about what academies actually teach. Beckett writes from a secular viewpoint, and is very sceptical about the involvement of the churches and evangelical groups in running schools. He states that there may be a democratic argument to be put forward in favour of handing schools over to religious organisations, but this has not been made. Instead, he cites quotes from Peter Vardy and the Roman Catholic spokesman for education in Scotland, McGrath, who regret that the churches have relinquished schools to the state. He shows how the churches, including the Church of England, are trying to get into education with the aim of indoctrinating a new generation of believers. Beckett isn’t entirely opposed to religious involvement in schooling. He has nothing against the traditional compromise, in which schools offered religious education and an act of daily worship, but were otherwise left to get on with things. But the religious character of some of these schools does become a problem, such as their refusal to employ staff of a different faith, or when most of their pupils are non-Christians, such as Muslims. Or when the Christian ethos is expected to get down into lessons like pottery. Peter Vardy and his organisation are a matter of considerable concern, because of Vardy’s determination to teach Creationism as an acceptable scientific theory, which has been criticised by the Royal Society, amongst others.

It is not just the religious organisations that present problems with the subjects taught at academies. Sponsors are also able to set the curriculum, and so this reflects the particular interests of the businessman or organisation sponsoring the academy. In academies run by particular firms, the emphasis may be on those skills the firm requires, even though several of them have denied that they are in fact doing so. Beckett makes the point that these firms are effectively training ‘the worker bees of industry’ for tomorrow. Where the sponsor is a sports club, the academy, naturally enough, specialises in sport. The result is that subjects like technology and business are favourite subjects with sponsors, but ordinary, valuable subjects like English, Maths and languages, for which there is also a need, are much less well represented.

Driving Down Other Schools

Beckett also describes how academies also work to drive down the other schools in their areas. Academies may received massive funding from government – like £37 million – while something like £2 – £6 million may be granted to maintain the other state schools in the area. Academies thus may become the favoured choice for parents. They are also highly selective. There is evidence that very many of the academies expel difficult pupils, thus passing them on to the conventional state sector. Many of them also opt to select 10 per cent of their intake according to ability. Or they may choose to take them by banding. In this instance, children are divided into three bands of above average, average, and below average educational performance/ capacity. Schools following this method of selection take equal numbers of all the above bands. However, as academies were designed to raise standards in areas where there may be considerable deprivation, the lowest bands may fill up very rapidly, because of the way poverty brings down educational performance and expectations. So the new academy doesn’t take on all the ‘failing’ pupils in its deprived areas. Several of the academies in deprived inner cities targeted not local parents, but those further out in the leafy suburbs, who could be expected to be more affluent and send brighter, more capable pupils to their schools.

The Poorer Performing Schools Doing well In Spite of Disadvantages

And some of the schools that were declared ‘failing’, and slated to be turned into academies, actually were performing very well under circumstances over which they had no control. One of these schools, for example, was in an area where there was a large number of refugee children, none of whom were fluent in English. This school, however, had high staff morale, and provided value for money in the considerable improvement it made on these children’s grades from a very low base. This was before ‘value’ was taken into consideration, however, and Blair and his minions decided that the school wasn’t performing well enough.

No Improvement over State Schools

It is also very unclear whether academies provide any value for money or improvement over conventional state schools. Beckett presents a number of stats, which show that at one time, 11 out of 14 academies were in the bottom 200 schools. Where they did improve, it was quite often through transferring the less academically able pupils from GCSEs to GNVQs, which count as four GCSEs in the stats. When this is accounted for, the supposed superior performance of academies simply vanishes. And some of the improvements are simply achieved because vast sums of money were thrown at a failing school. Any school would have improved under these circumstances, and it’s a good question whether these schools would have improved more, if they had been under proper LEA control.

Academies and Cash for Honours (and Tony)

One of the book’s chapters is on the individuals, that Tony Blair took on board to sponsor the academies. As with so much of Blairite New Labour, there was more than a whiff of corruption about this. Money changed hands, so that sponsors could get a seat in the House of Lords or some other honour. One member of the department dealing with setting up the academies found the full force of the law, when he was caught in a sting operation by the Sunday Times. He had supposedly offered a lady journalist, posing as potential sponsor, the possibility of various honours. He was then arrested at 7.30 in the morning, and flung in jail on potential corruption charges, his career in government at an end. Meanwhile, the Blairite spin machine went into overdrive, with various Blairites, including David Miliband, declaring that no such sale was taking place. But politics was deeply involved, as many of those sponsoring academies had made generous donations and loans to the Labour party. Several of these were under investigation by the rozzers.

Advertisements

US State Department Supporting Fascism and Puppet Government in Ukraine

April 8, 2016

I’ve put up several articles recently discussing and critiquing the rise of various Fascist movements in eastern Europe, such as Poland, the Czech and Slovak Republics, and the Ukraine. None of the peoples in these countries should have anything to do with these squalid movements, and their equally grotty leaders. The Nazis when they invaded these countries and the former USSR in World War II came to enslave and annihilate them, not to free them from Communist tyranny. After they had finished murdering the Jews and Gypsies, the Nazis intended killing 30 million Poles, Ukrainians, Russians and Belorussians, in an area extending across these nations as far as Lviv/ Lvov. This was to be reserved for colonisations by Germans and other Teutonic peoples, including the English. Its indigenous people were either to be deported or exterminated. The remaining population of this part of eastern Europe, including Czechoslovakia, were to become peasant farmers and slave labourers, denied access to any form of higher education, whose purpose was to provide the agricultural produce to support the new German colonists.

The Nazis openly compared the Slavonic peoples of these nations to Black Africans under western European colonialism. The head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, declared: Eastern Europe is our Africa, and the Slavs are our Negroes. And the Nazis carried out this policy with great brutality. Seven million people from eastern Europe were forced to serve the Nazis in their own nations. A further seven million were deported to Germany to work as slave labourers for the factories in the Reich itself. And 3.7 million Russians died of starvation and horrific maltreatment in Nazi prisoner of war camps.

I’m writing about all this, not because I want to stir up old nationalist hatreds or resentment against the Germans, who are now some of the most genuinely anti-racist people in Europe. I’m doing so as I want to make it clear just what Nazism stood for. The people, who goose-step around in Nazi-inspired or blatantly Nazi uniform, shouting ‘Sieg Heil’, and showing off their SS tattoos ain’t patriots. They’re traitors. They’re the people the true patriots of these countries – those who joined resistance cells – fought against.

And what is now even more revolting and disturbing is that the US government has been supporting a coalition, which includes these thugs, in Ukraine.

Michelle, one of the commenters on this blog, sent me this link to a compilation of videos which another blogger, Dragan Stankovic, who also blogs on various left-wing and global issues, had put up on his Facebook page: https://plus.google.com/116332978520282633934/posts/TpEV2cpfcsv
It’s an hour-long collection of pieces from different news sources, including the Beeb, CNN, Faux News, and RT. Several of the pieces, including the first video, have been made by a peace group, St. Pete’s for Peace.

Many may not find this easy viewing. The footage in these documentaries includes scenes of brutal violence by members of the Ukrainian neo-Nazi far Right as they shoot and beat their opponents. It does, however, show them exactly as they are: not pacifists trying to lead a peaceful revolution in their nation, but as violent and brutal thugs.

The first video concentrates on Svoboda and its leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, one of the various far-Right groups and organisations within the Pravy Sektor, or ‘Right Sector’ grouping of such parties. The word Svoboda simply means ‘freedom’, which is innocuous enough. It was, however, previously known as the ‘Social Nationalist Movement’, which was directly modelled on the monicker of the National Socialists. They weren’t the only neo-Fascist movement to describe themselves as ‘social’. The main Italian neo-Fascist organisation, before it split with one section reforming itself as the centre right Alleanza Nazionale, was the Movimiento Sociale Italiano – the Italian Social Movement. These were full-blown Fascists, standing for the Corporate state and authoritarian rule. They were involved in attacks on Socialists, trade unionists, left-wingers generally, and immigrants. Svoboda’s name change was merely cosmetic. At various points in the compilation, leaders of Svoboda and other neo-Nazi outfits now lowering the tone in the country of Gogol, Moussorgsky and Vladimir the Great, try to claim that they aren’t really Nazis, and don’t worship Adolf Hitler. One says that they don’t want Nazism in Ukraine. Not for any good reason. He goes on to say that he doesn’t want it, because it wouldn’t work there, but it did work in Germany. The storm troopers in these groups sport tattoos with numbers ’88’. That’s a notorious design used by the goose-steppers across Europe. The ‘8’ stands for the eighth letter of the alphabet, and the two together stand for ‘Heil Hitler’. Others have the number ’18’ tattooed on them, which stands for ‘Adolf Hitler’. One of the groups shown in the video is ‘C18’, whose name recalls ‘Combat 18’, a notorious neo-Nazi outfit over here, who were set up by the American Nazi and Klansman, Harold Covington. And some of them don’t even bother to hide their Nazi sympathies. There’s a scene in one of the news reports of funeral of one of the extreme Rightists in the far west of the country. The mourners gather in their national dress, and a company of re-enactors in World War II Nazi uniform fire their rifles over the grave in salute.

And then there’s the abuse of various ethnic groups Svoboda, C18 and the like consider their enemies. There are several scenes of them screaming, or raising toasts, to the killing of Russians, Poles, Communists, and, of course, the Jews. A few of them in the interviews are rather cagey about talking about their anti-Semitic beliefs. A few start by saying that they are just against certain ethnic groups. When pressed, they then start to explain that they’re against the above peoples. At one point, one of the storm troopers says that the Jews don’t control Ukraine; they control the banks, which control Ukraine. So we’re back to the ‘international Jewish banking conspiracy’ of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Adolf Hitler, Arnold Leese and the Britons, and bonkers American Nazis. The practical effects of this have been attacks on synagogues. A couple of rabbis are interview, talking about Nazi attacks on their places of worship. One Nazi tried to burn down one with Molotov cocktails. Another suffered some damage, and abusive graffiti, which translated into English, reads ‘Jews Get Out’. Except that it used a particularly ugly term for them instead.

And if the neo-Nazi iconography wasn’t bad enough, the Ukrainian super-patriots have been importing other far-Right symbols from the USSR. One of the documentaries discusses the use by Ukrainian Nazis at a demonstration of the Confederate Flag. RT interviews a Black American activist about this, who is understandable shocked at the flag’s continued appearance and use by Nazi groups. This particular gentleman makes it clear that to him and his people, it represents slavery, and he’s trying to educate the people of Ukraine about what it really means.

What is perhaps most interesting, and deeply sinister, is the fact that the Coalition, of which Svoboda was a part, was bank-rolled and at least partly controlled by the US State Department. The first documentary plays part of a leaked phone call between Victoria Nuland, the Department’s head, and one of her aides, about how she doesn’t want the former boxer-turned-politico, Sergei Klitchko, to serve in the Coalition under Tiahnybok. This documentary states that when the recording was released, most newspapers concentrated on Nuland’s use of the ‘F’ word to express her feelings about Europe. This was a diversion from the real news, which was that Nuland and her colleague, John McCain, were effectively running the Ukraine from behind the scenes, with the Coalition merely a puppet regime.

That part of the report opens with the way the American newspapers failed to mention the true identity of the snipers, who fired on protestors during the mass demonstrations that initially overthrew the government. The papers initially reported that they came Yanukovych’s side. The supporters of the ousted president were not, however, responsible. The shots instead came from Svoboda on the Coalition side. The documentary plays part of a conversation between Urmas Paet, the Estonian Foreign Minister, and Cathy Ashton, the head of the EU foreign ministry, discussing this and how the news has been suppressed.

Several of the documentaries are extremely biased in their turn. There are several from RT – Russia Today, which is the official Russian news agency. This takes the line that Russia is the innocent victim in this, the maligned subject of the machinations of the US and its partners. It doesn’t really need to be said that Putin’s own domestic regime is hardly whiter than white itself, and has perpetrated its share of human rights abuses. But despite their bias, and some of the very extreme claims RT makes, such as that Medecins Sans Frontieres and Amnesty International are now CIA penetrated US front organisations, it does seem that they’re basically accurate. The overthrow of Yanukovych’s regime does seem to have been orchestrated by the US and its western allies as part of geo-political strategy to weaken Russia internationally, and this has involved collaboration with neo-Nazi groups as constituent elements of the puppet regime.