Opinion: Promise of universal public education unfulfilled for students with special needs

Today, public schools enrol students who 75 years ago rarely attended school. Children who were deaf, blind, or who had developmental disabilities did not typically attend public schools. If they were educated, their education took place at home, in specialized schools or in institutions.

Surveying its history, the promise of universal public education — an idea of the mid-19th century — has taken more than 150 years to achieve. But, when I look at the data about the performance of students with special needs, I don’t think that promise has been fulfilled. Students with special needs do not achieve the same standards of performance or graduation as peers without such needs. The gap is wide.

Some might argue that the expectation of equivalent performance and graduation is unreasonable precisely because of the distinction between students with and without special needs. It is the case that a minority of students with special needs are students with significant physical and health impairments, developmental disorders, brain injuries, and other conditions that will prevent them from achieving at the same standard as students who do not have such severe conditions. But the majority of students with special needs have challenges that are less severe. Eighty per cent or more are students with communication and attention challenges, learning disabilities, behaviour disorders, emotional problems and mild intellectual disabilities.

The nature and number of conditions that result in being identified as a student with special needs have expanded over time as a consequence of a suite of factors. We are increasingly sophisticated in identifying conditions that were previously undetected, and parents concerned about the welfare of their struggling child put pressure on the system to produce a diagnosis that will call attention to the child’s needs. In most jurisdictions, students with special needs attract additional resources to the school board …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun

Berlin exhibition highlights how the Nazis exploited Martin Luther’s legacy

BERLIN — Martin Luther is such a towering figure in German history that it’s no surprise Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich exploited his name whenever it could.

Most visitors to events in Germany marking this year’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation, however, probably didn’t expect to find an exhibition setting out just how extensively the Nazis used Luther to justify their anti-Semitism and nationalism.

To dramatize the connection, the exhibition “Luther’s words are everywhere … ” is located in the Topography of Terror, a central Berlin museum about Nazi repression methods that was built where the headquarters of the Gestapo secret police and SS paramilitary force once stood.

The caption under a portrait of Luther in the Nazi propaganda weekly Der Stürmer, reproduced on a panel at the exhibition, comes right to the point. Calling him a “fighter against the Jewish spirit in the Christian Church,” it says: “Dr. Luther is one of the greatest anti-Semites in German history.”

Another panel shows a poster urging Berlin Lutherans to vote for the pro-Nazi “German Christians” in local church elections in July 1933, only months after Hitler came to power. At the top are both the Christian cross and the swastika, which is called the “hooked cross” (Hakenkreuz) in German.

“We merge Christ’s cross with the hooked cross,” it declares. Dripping with Nazi terminology, it says Christianity should have nothing to do with anything opposed to the German people and their race.

The title of the exhibition comes from a 1937 quote by the Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Luther’s words are everywhere, but twisted from truth into self-deception.” Bonhoeffer was executed as an anti-Nazi conspirator one month before World War II ended in 1945.

Kurt Hendel, professor emeritus of Reformation history at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, said the Nazis saw Luther as a hero because of his …read more

Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News

Canadian Cities Vie For Amazon’s New North American Headquarters

Amazon is expecting at least 100 different bids from cities across North America.

Would you fight a bear for love?

We all do crazy things when we’re trying to catch someone’s attention. Like apple-picking. No one willing does that. So that’s why you might cringe watching Canadian cities bend over backward to catch Amazon’s attention.

Canadian cities are pulling out all the stops to try and convince Amazon to bring its new North American headquarters to the Great White North.

To fit the bill for Amazon, the city needs a metropolitan centre with public transit, an international airport and enough space to build its pricey US$5-billion building.

The Seattle company announced in September that it was searching for a place to build its second headquarters. Proposals were due Thursday, and the winning city could net up to 50,000 new jobs.

Among the expected 100 bids is plenty of Canadian interest.

Calgarians are offering to change their city’s name and even fight a bear if it comes to that.

The city of #Calgary is going all-in with their effort to host @Amazon’s #HQ2. (Via @TheSeattleTimes & @JasonRantz) https://t.co/ZsWJg0asfEpic.twitter.com/9pP3aQamUm

— KIRO Radio 97.3 FM🎙 (@KIRORadio) October 19, 2017

A bear brawl may prove unnecessary, as one data analysis found that Calgary would be the best option for Amazon. The city’s recent light rail expansion, growing pool of tech workers, abundance of available office space and obviously — breathtaking mountains — make it an attractive option.

Ottawa doesn’t care how desperate it looks.

On Tuesday, the jumbotron at a hockey game between the Senators and the Vancouver Canucks egged the audience to “make some noise for Amazon.”

We are currently cheering for Amazon to set up shop in Ottawa during a TV timeout. I’m not making this up. #Canucks#Senspic.twitter.com/0OuIVQ4S3d

— Jyrki21 (@Jyrki21) October 18, 2017

What? No kiss-cam with …read more

Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada

Fumano: Church’s 3,100 per cent tax hike highlights ‘absurdity’ of Vancouver system, expert says

Vancouver councillors expressed sympathy Thursday for a $275,000 property-tax increase that will make it harder for a West End church to run children’s camps and feed the hungry, then unanimously voted against the church’s appeal for a break on the bill.

Representatives of Vancouver’s First Baptist Church were at city hall seeking relief from a shocking 3,100 per cent, one-year tax jump for a parking lot behind the church at 969 Burrard St.

The circumstances of the church’s situation were unique, and property tax appeal hearings like Thursday’s are rare. But the story of how the parking lot’s taxes skyrocketed to $284,000 this year from about $9,000 last year — and how the church was unable to catch a break because of an error by B.C.’s assessment authority — highlight the “absurdity” of a Vancouver tax system that hurts all kinds of independent local businesses, said Paul Sullivan, a property tax expert who has been working with the city and province to make reforms.

In July, council approved a rezoning application for the church to build a 57-storey condo tower on church lands in a partnership with developer Westbank.

But the extraordinary increase in the assessed value of the parking lot has nothing to do that rezoning, according to B.C. Assessment. Instead, the increase is because of a change in city land use policy, said Paul Borgo, B.C. Assessment’s acting assessor for Greater Vancouver. The church parking lot falls within the area of the recently implemented West End Community Plan, Borgo said, which “allows a significantly greater density through rezoning.”

The plan, Borgo said, led to many West End properties getting “significant increases in value.”

Indeed, the assessed value of the First Baptist parking lot was $2.5 million in 2014, $2.7 million in 2015, then soared …read more

Source:: Vancouver Sun