July 24, 2011

From Robert Spencer at Jihadwatch.com

July 23, 2011

Norway's Aftenposten is blaming me, Bat Ye'or and Fjordman for Breivik's mass murders -- as if killing a lot of children aids the defense against the global jihad and Islamic supremacism, or has anything remotely to do with anything we have ever advocated.
For that matter, no one has explained or can explain how this guy's supposed anti-jihad views have anything to do with his murdering children.
Scenario #1:
1. Islamic preachers and texts preach violence and hate.
2. Islamic jihadists kill people.
3. Media and Islamic spokesmen say that only Islamophobes think #1 is even happening, or if it is, that it has anything to do with #2.
Scenario #2:
1. Freedom fighters preach free speech, freedom of conscience and equality of rights for all people, against Sharia and Islamic supremacism that denies those rights, advocating only legal means of protest and dissent.
2. Some nutcase who allegedly expressed allegiance with the freedom fighters kills people, none of whom are preaching Sharia or Islamic supremacism.
3. Media assumes that #1 caused #2 and blames freedom fighters.
SIOA and SIOE declare our sympathy for the victims and relatives of the victims of the heinous mass murders in Norway. We denounce the attacker and reiterate our dedication to the defense of free societies and opposition to all vigilantism and violence. Attempts to link us to these murders on the basis of alleged postings by the murderer mentioning us are absurd and offensive. Our work is and always has been wholly focused upon defending humane values and freedoms. There is no way that any sane person could possibly conclude that committing mass murder of children would advance the principles for which we stand. And if he was not sane, then any imputation of responsibility to us falters on that basis. Islamic jihadists and supremacists routinely invoke Islamic texts and teachings to justify violence, and thus those teachings are and should be rightly held up to scrutiny; by contrast, our record of support for human rights and the dignity of all human beings is consistent and unbroken. This murderer should be punished to the full extent of the law; any attempts to tar freedom fighters with his actions is deplorable.
"SIOE Group barred suspected Norway killer from forum," from Reuters, July 23 (thanks to Pamela Geller):
(Reuters) - A fringe [sic] European anti-Islamist lobby group said on Saturday the man suspected of Norway's gun and bomb massacre had tried to join their Facebook group on the Internet but had been rejected over his apparent neo-Nazi links.
Anders Gravers, founder of Stop Islamisation of Europe (SIOE), said Anders Behring Breivik had made the application around 18 months ago.
Breivik said in an Internet posting in December 2009 (here) he had had discussions with SIOE, but Gravers said his organisation had no record of this.
"He has never been in contact with us and he has never given us any advice," Gravers told Reuters.
But he said it was possible Breivik had attended one of its demonstrations.
He said an SIOE member in the Faroe Islands had checked Breivik's Facebook "friends" on the social media site when he tried to join and discovered one who used a picture of Danish neo-Nazi leader Jonni Hansen as his profile picture.
"He advised us not to allow this guy to join or be able to post on the Facebook wall (message page)," said SIOE co-founder Stephen Gash.
SOIE, which says it has 30,000 followers on Facebook, was founded by Gravers and Gash in 2007 with the aim of "preventing Islam becoming a dominant political force in Europe."
Gash said the organisation is unpolitical and opposes both Islam and Nazism....
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July 18, 2011

Internet Will Reduce Teachers Unions

The Internet Will Reduce Teachers Union Power

Online learning means fewer teachers (and union members) per student.

This has been a horrible year for teachers unions. The latest stunner came in Michigan, where Republicans enacted sweeping reforms last month that require performance-based evaluations of teachers, make it easier to dismiss those who are ineffective, and dramatically limit the scope of collective bargaining. Similar reforms have been adopted in Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana, Tennessee, Idaho and Florida.
But the unions' hegemony is not going to end soon. All of their big political losses have come at the hands of oversized Republican majorities. Eventually Democrats will regain control, and many of the recent reforms may be undone. The financial crisis will pass, too, taking pressure off states and giving Republicans less political cover.
The unions, meantime, are launching recall campaigns to remove offending Republicans, initiative campaigns to reverse legislation, court cases to have the bills annulled, and other efforts to reinstall the status quo ante—some of which are likely to succeed. As of today, they remain the pre-eminent power in American education.
Over the long haul, however, the unions are in grave trouble—for reasons that have little to do with the tribulations of this year.
The first is that they are losing their grip on the Democratic base. With many urban schools abysmally bad and staying that way, advocates for the disadvantaged are demanding real reform and aren't afraid to criticize unions for obstructing it. Moderates and liberals in the media and even in Hollywood regularly excoriate unions for putting job interests ahead of children. Then there's Race to the Top—initiated over union protests by a Democratic president who wants real reform. This ferment within the party will only grow in the future.
Then there's a crucial dynamic outside of politics: the revolution in information technology. This tsunami is only now beginning to swell, and it will hit the American education system with full force over the next few decades. The teachers unions are trying to stop it, but it is much bigger than they are.
Online learning now allows schools to customize coursework to each child, with all kids working at their own pace, receiving instant remedial help, exploring a vast array of courses, and much more. The advantages are huge. Already some 39 states have set up virtual schools or learning initiatives that enroll students statewide, often providing advanced placement courses, remedial courses, and other offerings that students can't get in their local schools.
The national model is the Florida Virtual School, which offers a full academic curriculum, has more than 220,000 course enrollments per year, and is a beacon of innovation. Outside of government, tech entrepreneurs like K12 and Connections Academy are swarming all over the education sector. They are the innovative force behind the rise of virtual charters, which now operate in 27 states, enroll some 200,000 full-time students (who typically do their studying at home), and stand at the cutting edge of technology's advance.
This is just the opening salvo. Most American parents want their kids to actually go to school—to a physical place. So the favored virtual schools of the future will be hybrids of traditional and online learning. There are already impressive examples.
At the high-performing Rocketship schools in San Jose, Calif., for example, students take a portion of their academics online—generating $500,000 in savings per school annually. Schools use that money for higher teacher salaries and one-on-one tutoring.
As the cyber revolution comes to American education, it will bring about a massive and cost-saving substitution of technology for labor. That means far fewer teachers (and union members) per student. It also means teachers will be far less concentrated in geographic districts, as those who work online can be anywhere. It'll thus be far more difficult for unions to organize. There will also be much more diversity in educational offerings, and money and jobs will flow out of the (unionized) regular schools into new (nonunion) providers of online options.
The confluence of these forces—plus the shifting political tides among Democrats—will inexorably weaken the unions, sapping them of members, money and power. It will render them less and less able to block reform. The political doors will increasingly swing open to reforms that simply make good sense for children and for society.
So the unions can weather the Republican attacks of 2011. But the real threats to their power are more subtle, slowly developing—and potent.
Mr. Moe is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor of political science at Stanford University. His latest book is "Special Interest: Teachers Unions and America's Public Schools" (Brookings Institution Press, 2011).