Daniel Taub is Staying Focused on the Facts for Textbooks and Children

Daniel Taub
Daniel Taub

The vast majority of educated people assume that they are getting a relatively unbiased education through their textbook studies. There is no reason to assume that there are biases in elementary school through the textbooks – but most people would be shocked to see just how prevalent such biases really are. Certainly, many textbooks written in the 1950s in America showed gender and racial bias. The math problems included women who were baking and cooking and men who were going off to work. The story lines would include white people who were successful and black people who were in the fields or in other industries of this sort.

But in today’s world, we don’t expect such biases to continue. And they do. Daniel Taub, a former ambassador to the United Kingdom who headed the Israeli side of the Culture of Peace negotiations at the Annapolis Conference in 2007, has written a great deal about these issues. As UNESCO passes resolutions wiping out Jewish history and Judaism’s connection to Jerusalem, Mr. Taub points out some fascinating, and perhaps not well known truths. In an article in The Jerusalem Post he explained that,

“I served as the head of the Israeli side of the Culture of Peace track of negotiations with the Palestinians during this Orwellian rewriting of history. Our negotiation team was charged, among other things, with examining the role played by schoolbooks and education systems in perpetuating the conflict. In examining textbooks, we chose to place particular emphasis on deliberate distortions of history for political ends.”

He continued by explaining that he actually traveled to Northern Ireland with his Palestinian counterpart, Sufian Abu Zaida, where they learned that both sides of the Irish conflict insisted that history be taught honestly to school children.

Returning from their trip, they developed a program for school textbooks to be reviewed by an independent committee of experts, but the program was rejected by the Palestinian leadership when it became public knowledge.

Daniel Taub gives a concrete example when discussing the bias in Palestinian teachings. As he said, “Palestinian text books were actually rewritten to rename the Tomb of Rachel the Mosque of a Moslem prophet.  And the Guide to the Temple Mount published by the Supreme Moslem Council in the 1920’s said that its identity as the site of Solomon’s Temple was ‘beyond dispute’.”

Certainly, around the world textbooks needs to reflect the reality of the history and the current events as they unfold. When quoting late senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Daniel Taub recalled that Senator Moynihan used to say, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”



Puerto Rican Bank Supports Women in Business

ladyartistAll over the world, organizations are working to boost women entrepreneurship and skills. Last year, Puerto Rico-based Doral Bank teamed up with the Municipality of Bayamon to announce a new educational program for 25 women at the Art Workshop. The free, three-month experience is aimed at encouraging and enhancing the artistic abilities and techniques of the participants, and will begin this month.

Ramon Luis Rivera Cruz, mayor of Bayamon, explained:

“The idea is to open up avenues for self-employment for women with artistic interests. Women represent an important but often underutilized force in an economy. In Puerto Rico, where we all are trying to create a stronger economy, women can and should play a vibrant role. Entrepreneurship offers the potential of capital creation and jobs- all of which enhance the well-being of the community. ‘Taller de Arte del Municipio de Bayamon’ is being undertaken to help women realize their economic potential through their artistic capabilities, including the possibility of establishing their own business in a related work field.”

He added that Bayamon will not charge registration taxes for participants with small businesses for one full year, giving them an opportunity to promote their efforts and support the economic development in the city.

Doral Bank’s Jesus Mendez said: “With this unique program, Doral is adding a further important dimension to its community Mujeres d Exito initiative. Doral is committed to encouraging entrepreneurial development among women in the island by providing important business development tools. As women receive more opportunities to become entrepreneurs, Puerto Rico’s economy increases its potential.”

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Charter Schools 101

Everyone seems to be talking about charter schools, but how many people really understand what they are, how they work, and what the goals of charter schools are?

The concept of charter schools is relatively new. University of Massachusetts professor Ray Budde first developed the idea of a charter school as an alternative to, but not a replacement for, traditional public school education. Albert Shanker, then the president of the American Federation of Teachers, embraced the idea of charter schools in 1988 when he described the establishment of “schools of choice,” or “charter schools” as a viable answer to the question of how to improve and reform the public school system at the time.

It is important to understand that although charter schools do not have to adhere to many of the restrictions required of traditional public schools, they are nevertheless considered public schools for the following reasons:

•    Charter schools do not charge tuition, which differentiates them in a significant way from private schools; they are completely open to all students who wish to attend.
•    Charter schools are not permitted to discriminate in any way. They are required to be non-sectarian.
•    Funding for charter schools comes from tax dollars based on the number of students in attendance. This is the same source of support which traditional public schools enjoy.
•    Charter schools are held accountable for the same academic standards which conventional public schools are required by law to adhere to according to federal and individual state guidelines.

Nonetheless charter schools have a degree of independence which traditional public schools find difficult, if not impossible, to pursue. Innovative programing and the ability to meet the needs of their particular student bodies set charter schools apart from traditional public schools. Some ways in which charter schools can meet the individual needs of their students are through:

•    The institution of longer hours if the teachers and/or administrative staff believe that will help improve student outcome.
•    The school’s ability to create curricula which better meet the needs of its particular students.
•    The charter school’s mandate to create a unique academic culture, such as emphasizing arts, science, college prep, or whatever the teachers and/or administration decide should be the school’s focus.
•    The utilization of new, innovative and creative teaching paradigms. Many charter schools have chosen to depart from the traditional method of frontal teaching, exploring alternatives which often better meet the needs of students coming of age in the technological era of the 21st century.

Charter schools are an adjunct to traditional public schools which have dominated the educational landscape in the United States during the past century or more; but it is important to remember that they are not a replacement for them. Learning how charter schools work, what their goals are and how they intend to achieve those goals will help parents make the best possible choice for their children, whether that choice is traditional public schools, or schools within the framework of the charter model.


Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum Prepares New Exhibit

Later this month, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum of South Haven, Michigan will launch its new photo exhibit of the works of ‘America’s Father of Modern Horticulture.’

Liberty Hyde Bailey, Jr. was born in South Haven in 1858. After graduating from the Michigan Agricultural College, now Michigan State University, Bailey became the assistant of Asa Gray, the famous botanist. He later moved to Ithaca with his wife and two daughters, where he founded the College of Agriculture and was elected an Associate Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. President Theodore Roosevelt later appointed Bailey chairman of the National Commission on Country Life.

According to Wikipedia, Bailey “represented an agrarianism that stood in the tradition of Thomas Jefferson, he had a vision of suffusing all higher education, including horticulture, with a spirit of public work and integrating ‘expert knowledge’ into a broader context of democratic community action.”

“Most people don’t know, but should know, the name Liberty Hyde Bailey,” said museum director Mr. John Stempien. “He was an environmentalist, author, teacher, poet and photographer. This exhibit gives us a window into the true American whose vision is timeless.”

The LHBM exhibit will feature more than twenty works by the cofounder of the American Society for Horticultural Science, including studies on plant life, family portraits, the Bailey estate and much more, all from the museum’s assortment of 100 glass-plate negatives. The exhibition will also feature archival materials such as documents, artifacts and books from the family’s library.

The museum is part of the Blue Star Museums project, allowing active-duty military and their families free admission to the exhibits.


The Transit of Venus: Now and Then

Today, June 5th, astronomers and space enthusiasts will be able to experience the transit of Venus, a rare planetary alignment that helped scientists map out our solar system many years ago. The second since 2004, the phenomenon won’t occur again until December 2117.

For centuries, astronomers have studied the transit with the goal of estimating the distance between Earth and the sun. Explorers competed for viewing locations, and watched the Venus crossed the sun over a six hour period.

Modern technology has allowed scientists to reach more accurate readings of the distance between our world and the sun, as well as the other planets in our solar system, but the transit of Venus remains an iconic event in astronomic development. The occurrence also aids astronomers in their search for other planets outside our solar system today.


Morrill Hall Launches “Meteorites and Minerals” Exhibit

Amethyst Cathedral Pair

This past weekend, a new “Meteorites and Minerals” exhibit was launched at Morrill Hall on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln City campus.

The event curator, Professor Robert Joeckel of the School of Natural Resources, explained that the exhibit was inspired by Roger Pabian, a geologist of the Conservation and Survey Division of the school.

Pabian, a dedicated rock, gem and fossil collector, passed away two years ago at the age of 75, and the new exhibit was established in part to commemorate him.

Joeckel said: “When Roger passed away, I felt somewhat obligated to take over.” He added that some of the minerals from the collection have a direct relation to everyday life. “The one that is most prevalent is the mineral fillers that make products what they are,” he explained. “Synthetic rubbers and plastics have a lot of mineral material in them.”

Joeckel continued, explaining his hopes that the exhibit would lead people to consider materials and their effect on daily life. “Our national security and our everyday lives depend on a flow of raw materials from the solid earth.”

Some of the minerals, however, are expensive and rare. One of the exhibit’s new purchases is the “Amethyst Cathedral Pair,’ a meteorite containing a big amethyst crystal.

According to University Museum Associate Director Mark Harris, Morrill Hall has never hosted an exhibit as impressive as this. It took over a year to organize, and the items on display were collected through various means. Some were loaned by private collectors, while others were purchased with the help of a Lancaster Country Visitors Improvement Fund grant.

Harris added that he was ecstatic about the new display. “The sheer beauty will blow people’s minds!” he said.