Let’s face it. News from Scotland hardly ever makes it across the Atlantic. Probably the last event you remember from there was the failed referendum to secede from Great Britain several months ago. But one might say that being out of the limelight gives social engineers just the cover they need to perfect a new form of government oversight that will hardly stay confined to the Scottish borders.
Just a year ago, the Scottish Parliament passed the Children and Young People Bill by a vote of 103-0, with 15 abstentions. It lays out a plan to assign a government worker — otherwise known as a “named person” — to oversee the life of every child from the cradle to age 18. As the implementation deadline in 2016 approaches, officials are trying to decide exactly how this will work. Now, it seems they want to move beyond their statutory limits to a wider net following the so-called P-20 model. The P stands for prenatal, and the 20 for the average age during which many enter the workforce.
Newly published guidelines call for the named person to be picked for each child around the seventh month of pregnancy. Each expectant mom then gets to meet with this person and a midwife in the family home. The document states, “Where additional wellbeing needs are anticipated at birth the prospective Named Person should be involved in planning and providing supports to eliminate, reduce or mitigate risks to wellbeing.” Although all details have not been finalized, it appears the initial named person would be a health care worker who would be succeeded by a teacher around the time the child starts school.
A number of teachers are leery of taking on the extra work load. According to Liz Hunter of the Scottish Secondary Teacher’s Association: “Our concerns with it would be the time it would take the teachers to compile the work to support the child properly. It would be the time for task. The named person would be the coordinator for the children’s plan. In that plan they would have to speak to the parents, they would have to speak to the child, they have to speak to, if they had one, a social worker or a healthcare professional or an educational psychologist or a speech and language therapist.”
The Scottish government claims the initiative was started as a geographically limited pilot project after parents requested a “single point of contact” for help or advice. If so, there are undoubtedly many more parents who don’t want these state guardians breathing down their necks. They realize they are the persons named to watch over their children by an authority wiser than any parliament. A more likely motivation for the social experiment is to accommodate the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child. That means after the Scots iron out the kinks, it will be trotted out as a model for other countries.
ELYRIA — Stacie Starr says mandated state testing is pushing her away from teaching.
The veteran Elyria Schools educator said Monday she plans to resign at the end of the school year.
Gasps of disbelief followed the announcement made during an education forum aimed at unraveling for parents the intricacies of the standardized testing system. Starr was at the podium, delivering a talk on how special education students are suffering under the new system based on Common Core standards and more rigorous assessments. She said as a veteran intervention specialist at Elyria High School, she could no longer watch silently from within the confines of a structured school day.
Instead, she is leaving education in the traditional sense.
“I am going to teach in a different way,” she proclaimed.
Starr wants to start an after-school mentoring program for at-risk students in hopes of saving them from the school-to-prison pipeline.
Starr garnered a reputation of being a rock star teacher long before “Live with Kelly and Michael” picked her as the winner of the 2014 Top Teacher Search. She has mentored middle school boys, putting books in the hands of at-risk youth and ties on their necks to foster a sense of pride. Handing out high school diplomas to those same students was a highlight of her career, a testament that getting a child to graduation sometimes requires more than just lesson plans and homework.
She has coached football, taken students on field trips to meet authors and adopted a “failure is not an option” approach to some of the hardest-to-reach students. Yet with a stellar 16-year career under her belt, Starr said the new testing culture is killing education.
“I can’t do it anymore, not in this ‘drill ‘em and kill ‘em’ atmosphere,” she said. “I don’t think anyone understands that in this environment if your child cannot quickly grasp material, study like a robot and pass all of these tests, they will not survive.”
The standing-room-only audience at the Elyria Public Library’s West River Road North branch was shocked. Starr fought back tears as she explained her life as a teacher.
The tests are developmentally inappropriate for typical students and torture for those with special needs, she said. And, even an individual education plan is not enough to shield students from the rigors of state expectations.
“I have faith in my students, but my students are reading at sometimes a fourth- and fifth-grade reading level,” she said. “Each and every day, I have to look in my students’ eyes and tell them I can’t help them because the state has decided they have to prove what they know.”
Starr said she is not giving up on kids by leaving the district. Elyria has some of the best educators and students achieve on par with more affluent districts, she said.
“It’s just hard because, as teachers, we are playing a game where the rules keep changing,” she said.
If the crowd in the room was any indication, Starr will not be alone. Other teachers spoke of their desire to leave education or told stories about how colleagues want to walk away.
“I’m like you. I feel like I have to get out,” said Jackie Conrad, a third grade teacher.
Standardized testing, more accurately the soon-to-be administered tests developed by Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), was the target Monday. Despite state legislative action being needed before real change can happen, the fight to reform testing is not letting up locally in Lorain County, especially by the very vocal sponsoring group, Lorain County Parents Supporting our Children and Teachers.
Elyria High School social studies teacher Matt Jablonski said he has seen the arc of testing from the front lines. He started with the district two years before No Child Left Behind was passed. He said if parents thought the Ohio Proficiency Test and Ohio Graduation Test were bad, they are not ready for PARCC.
“We will give the last OGT this year. I don’t know if I’m going to cry when we do, because what we are moving to is unbelievable,” he said.
Thought to be a better way to assess students by determining early if they are ready for school and jobs after high school, PARCC is a wild card despite years of preparation, said Elyria fifth-grade teacher Dawn Neely Randall, who last week called on the Elyria school board to take on the charge of leading reform.
She said Starr’s decision to leave is truly a loss for Elyria Schools.
“It’s time we stand up for our students before we lose more good teachers,” she said.
The Central Intelligence Agency, working with American troops during the occupation of Iraq, repeatedly purchased nerve-agent rockets from a secretive Iraqi seller, part of a previously undisclosed effort to ensure that old chemical weapons remaining in Iraq did not fall into the hands of terrorists or militant groups, according to current and former American officials.
The extraordinary arms purchase plan, known as Operation Avarice, began in 2005 and continued into 2006, and the American military deemed it a nonproliferation success. It led to the United States’ acquiring and destroying at least 400 Borak rockets, one of the internationally condemned chemical weapons that Saddam Hussein’s Baathist government manufactured in the 1980s but that were not accounted for by United Nations inspections mandated after the 1991 Persian Gulf war.
The effort was run out of the C.I.A. station in Baghdad in collaboration with the Army’s 203rd Military Intelligence Battalion and teams of chemical-defense and explosive ordnance disposal troops, officials and veterans of the units said. Many rockets were in poor condition and some were empty or held a nonlethal liquid, the officials said. But others contained the nerve agent sarin, which analysis showed to be purer than the intelligence community had expected given the age of the stock.
A New York Times investigation published in October found that the military had recovered thousands of old chemical warheads and shells inIraq and that Americans and Iraqis had been wounded by them, but the government kept much of this information secret, from the public and troops alike.
These munitions were remnants of an Iraqi special weapons program that was abandoned long before the 2003 invasion, and they turned up sporadically during the American occupation in buried caches, as part of improvised bombs or on black markets.
The potency of sarin samples from the purchases, as well as tightly held assessments about risks the munitions posed, buttresses veterans’ claims that during the war the military did not share important intelligence about battlefield perils with those at risk or maintain an adequate medical system for treating victims of chemical exposure.
The purchases were made from a sole Iraqi source who was eager to sell his stock, officials said. The amount of money that the United States paid for the rockets is not publicly known, and neither are the affiliations of the seller.
Most of the officials and veterans who spoke about the program did so anonymously because, they said, the details remain classified. The C.I.A. declined to comment. The Pentagon, citing continuing secrecy about the effort, did not answer written questions and acknowledged its role only obliquely.
“Without speaking to any specific programs, it is fair to say that together with our coalition partners in Iraq, the U.S. military worked diligently to find and remove weapons that could be used against our troops and the Iraqi people,” Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said in a written statement.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Richard P. Zahner, the top American military intelligence officer in Iraq in 2005 and 2006, said he did not know of any other intelligence program as successful in reducing the chemical weapons that remained in Iraq after the American-led invasion.
Through the C.I.A.’s purchases, General Zahner said, hundreds of weapons with potential use for terrorists were quietly taken off the market. “This was a timely and effective initiative by our national intelligence partners that negated the use of these unique munitions,” he said.
Not long after Operation Avarice had secured its 400th rocket, in 2006, American troops were exposed several times to other chemical weapons. Many of these veterans said that they had not been warned by their units about the risks posed by the chemical weapons and that their medical care and follow-up were substandard, in part because military doctors seemed unaware that chemical munitions remained in Iraq.
Aaron Stein, an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, said the belated acknowledgment of a chemical-rocket purchases, as well as the potentially worrisome laboratory analysis of the related sarin samples, raised questions about the military’s commitment to the well-being of those it sent to war.
“If we were aware of these compounds, and as it became clear over the course of the war that our troops had been exposed to them, why wasn’t more done to protect the guys on the ground?” he said. “It speaks to the broader failure.”
The first purchase under Operation Avarice, according to veterans and officials familiar with the effort, occurred in early September 2005, when an Iraqi man provided a single Borak. The warhead presented intelligence analysts with fresh insight into a longstanding mystery.
During its war against Iran in the 1980s, Iraq had fielded multiple variants of 122-millimeter rockets designed to disperse nerve agents.
The Borak warheads, which are roughly 40 inches long and attach to a motor compatible with the common Grad multiple rocket launcher system, were domestically produced. But no clear picture ever emerged of how many Iraq manufactured or how many it fired during the Iran-Iraq war.
No clear evidence ever surfaced to support Iraq’s claim, which meant that questions about whether Boraks remained were “carried forward as one of the big uncertainties,” said Charles A. Duelfer, a senior United Nationsinspector at the time who later led the C.I.A.’s Iraq Survey Group. There was “a big gap in the information,” he said.
The mystery deepened in 2004 and early 2005, when the United States recovered 17 Boraks. The circumstances of those recoveries are not publicly known. Then came Operation Avarice and its promise of a larger haul. It began when the Iraqi seller delivered his first Borak, which the military secretly flew to the United States for examination.
The Iraqi seller would then periodically notify the C.I.A. in Baghdad that he had more for sale, officials said.
The agency worked with the Army intelligence battalion and chemical weapons specialists, who would fly by helicopter to Iraq’s southeast and meet the man for exchanges.
The handoffs varied in size, including one of more than 150 warheads. American ordnance disposal technicians promptly destroyed most of them by detonation, the officials said, but some were taken to Camp Slayer, by Baghdad’s airport, for further testing.
One veteran familiar with the program said warheads were tested by putting them in “an old cast-iron bathtub” and drilling through their metal exteriors to extract the liquid sarin within.
The analysis of sarin samples from 2005 found that the purity level reached 13 percent — higher than expected given the relatively low quality and instability of Iraq’s sarin production in the 1980s, officials said. Samples from Boraks recovered in 2004 had contained concentrations no higher than 4 percent.
The new data became grounds for concern. “Borak rockets will be more hazardous than previously assessed,” one internal report noted. It added a warning: the use of a Borak in an improvised bomb “could effectively disperse the sarin nerve agent.”
An internal record from 2006 referred to “agent purity of up to 25 percent for recovered unitary sarin weapons.”
Cheryl Rofer, a retired chemist for the Los Alamos National Laboratory, said such purity levels were plausible, because Iraq’s sarin batches varied in quality and the contents of warheads may have achieved an equilibrium as the contents degraded.
Military officials said that because the seller was a C.I.A. source they did not know his name or whether he was a smuggler, a former or current Iraqi official, a front for Iraq’s government, or something else. But as he continued to provide rockets, his activities drew more interest.
The Americans believed the weapons came from near Amarah, a city not far from Iran. It was not clear, however, if rockets had been retrieved from a former forward firing point used by Iraq’s military during the Iran-Iraq War, or from one of the ammunition depots around the city.
Neither the C.I.A. nor the soldiers persuaded the man to reveal his source of supply, the officials said. “They were pushing to see where did it originate from, was there a mother lode?” General Zahner said.
Eventually, a veteran familiar with the purchases said, “the guy was getting a little cocky.”
At least once he scammed his handlers, selling rockets filled with something other than sarin.
Then in 2006, the veteran said, the Iraqi drove a truckload of warheads to Baghdad and “called the intel guys to tell them he was going to turn them over to the insurgents unless they picked them up.”
Not long after that, the veteran said, the relationship appeared to dry up, ending purchases that had ensured “a lot of chemical weapons were destroyed.”
“Man has forgotten God; that is why this has happened” was Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s response when questioned about the decline of modern culture.
Solzhenitsyn continued: “Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’ Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: ‘Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’”
This echoed another Russian author, Dostoevsky, in whose book, “The Brothers Karamazov,” the character Ivan Karamazov contended that if there is no God, “everything is permitted.”
It is also similar to Nazi leader Hans Frank who remarked during his conviction at the Nuremberg Trials, Aug. 31, 1945: “At the beginning of our way we did not suspect that our turning away from God could have such disastrous deadly consequences and that we would necessarily become more and more deeply involved in guilt. At that time we could not have known that so much loyalty and willingness to sacrifice on the part of the German people could have been so badly directed by us. Thus, by turning away from God, we were overthrown and had to perish. It was not because of technical deficiencies and unfortunate circumstances alone that we lost the war, nor was it misfortune and treason. Before all, God pronounced and executed judgment on Hitler and the system which we served with minds far from God. Therefore, may our people, too, be called back from the road on which Hitler – and we with him –have led them. I beg of our people not to continue in this direction, be it even a single step; because Hitler’s road was the way without God, the way of turning from Christ, and, in the last analysis, the way of political foolishness, the way of disaster, and the way of death. His path became more and more that of a frightful adventurer without conscience or honesty, as I know today at the end of this Trial. We call upon the German people, whose rulers we were, to return from this road which, according to the law and justice of God, had to lead us and our system into disaster and which will lead everyone into disaster who tries to walk on it, or continue on it, everywhere in the whole world.”
In February 1945, Solzhenitsyn was arrested for writing politically incorrect comments against Joseph Stalin. He was imprisoned for eight years, as he described in his autobiographical lecture, printed in the Nobel Foundation’s publication, Les Prix Nobel, 1971: “I was arrested on the grounds of what the censorship had found in my correspondence with a school friend, mainly because of certain disrespectful remarks about Stalin, although we referred to him in disguised terms. A further basis for the ‘charge’ were drafts of stories and reflections which had been found in my map case.”
Stalin said: “Crisis alone permitted the authorities to demand – and obtain – total submission and all the necessary sacrifices from its citizens.”
President Franklin Roosevelt told the Delegates of the American Youth Congress, Feb. 10, 1940: “The Soviet Union … is run by a dictatorship as absolute as any other dictatorship in the world.”
Stalin controlled citizens through “fear and food.”
The people were kept in constant fear that government agencies would falsely accuse them and cart them away in the night, and the people were kept in a continual shortage of food, so they could not have the resources to rebel. Stalin engineered a famine in his war against the kulaks that killed millions.
Richard Pipes commented on the absolute power of Russia’s Josef Stalin in his book, “Communism: A History” (Random House, 2001): “To break the resistance of the peasants in the Ukraine, the North Caucasus, and the Kazakhstan, Stalin inflicted on these areas in 1932-33 an artificial famine, shipping out all the food from entire districts and deploying the army to prevent the starving peasants from migrating in search of nourishment. It is estimated that between 6 and 7 million people perished in this man-made catastrophe.”
Pipes continued: “Stalin’s regime needed another crisis … as Fidel Castro, the leader of Communist Cuba, would explain. … ‘The revolution needs the enemy. … The revolution needs for its development its antithesis.’ … And if enemies were lacking, they had to be fabricated.”
Richard Pipes continued: “In 1934, a prominent Bolshevik, Sergei Kirov, the party boss of Lenningrad, was assassinated under mysterious conditions … evidence points to Stalin. … Kirov was gaining too much popularity in party ranks for Stalin’s comfort. His assassination brought Stalin two advantages: it rid him of a potential rival and provided a rationale for instigating a vast campaign against alleged anti-Soviet conspirators. … Purges of the 1930′s were a terror campaign that in indiscriminate ferocity and number of victims had no parallel in world history. … Authorities … beat them until they confess to their crimes they have not committed.”
Stalin’s terror campaign was similar to the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror, led by Robespierre, head of the “Committee of Public Safety.”
In a speech titled “The Terror Justified,” Robespierre told the National Assembly, Feb. 5, 1794: “Lead … the enemies of the people by terror. … Terror is nothing else than swift, severe, indomitable justice.”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970, but the communist government did not allow him to leave the country to accept it.
Solzhenitsyn began publishing The Gulag Archipelago in 1973, and in response to international pressure, the Soviet Union expelled him on Feb. 13, 1974.
The following year in Washington, D.C., Alexander Solzhenitsyn warned: “I … call upon America to be more careful … because they are trying to weaken you … to disarm your strong and magnificent country in the face of this fearful threat – one that has never been seen before in the history of the world.”
Seventy percent of American males between the ages of 20 and 34 are not married, and many live in a state of “perpetual adolescence” with ominous consequences for the nation’s future, says Janice Shaw Crouse, author of “Marriage Matters.”
“Far too many young men have failed to make a normal progression into adult roles of responsibility and self-sufficiency, roles generally associated with marriage and fatherhood,” Crouse, the former executive director of the Beverly LaHaye Institute, wrote in a recent Washington Times oped.
The high percentage of bachelors means bleak prospects for millions of young women who dream about a wedding day that may never come. “It’s very, very depressing,” Crouse told CNSNews.com. “They’re not understanding how important it is for the culture, for society, for the strength of the nation to have strong families.”
She pointed out that there’s “no data” to back up the common assertion that a lack of jobs during and after the Great Recession is the primary reason so many young men have been reluctant to tie the knot. “The problem with marriage was long before that,” she pointed out.
After decades of feminism, Crouse noted that young men are now the ones who set the parameters for intimate relationships, and those increasingly do not include a wedding ring.
“And I know the feminists just yell and scream if you say anything like this, but time was, girls set the cultural morays, the standards, the parameters for intimate activity. The girls were the ones that set those boundaries. And now it’s the guys who do,” Crouse told CNSNews.com.
“And it’s doubly terrible because the colleges now are predominantly female. So you have some – up to 60 percent of the student bodies are female. And almost all of them are more than 50 percent female. And so the ratio [of] male/female is out of sync.
“And that means the girls have to live by the guys’ demands. And that means less romance. They don’t date. The girls, I have talked to numerous young women, lament the fact that they don’t have the opportunity to dress up and go out for an event.”
Young women who adhere to a moral code and refuse to participate in the “hook up” culture are now considered social misfits, Crouse pointed out. And they face even more daunting odds of finding a husband than their promiscuous sisters.
“It’s really interesting, because Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker wrote their book, “Premarital Sex in America,” what, three, four years ago. And even then, they were very concerned about the fact that young women today are not as likely to get married. And their prospects, if they are not sexually promiscuous, are really low because the guys, if they can sleep around, they’re not interested in going with the girls who don’t put out.
“The ones who are very serious get married early. And that leaves the majority of the girls, then, by the time they’re 25 and into their first jobs, the pickings are very, very slim for them. And Mark Regnerus was very, very clear that the quote ‘good girls’ are the ones who are at risk now in terms of not being able to get married.”
According to 2014 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 7.9 million opposite sex couples in the U.S. live together but are not married. A 2014 study by Johns Hopkins University also found that 57 percent of children born to women aged 26 to 31 are out of wedlock.
Crouse says the decline in marriage and a corresponding rise in cohabitation is happening despite at least a decade of research demonstrating the societal benefits of two-parent families.
“Even researchers from the left are coming out very strongly for the family and for marriage, and saying the two-parent family is necessary for children to do their best,” she told CNSNews.com. “It’s not just good for them, it’s the very best. It’s the gold standard. It’s essential for children to reach their potential. And that has to be communicated in the popular culture.”
According to “projections based on census data, when today’s young adults reach their mid-40s to mid-50s, a record high share (25%) is likely to have never been married,” Pew Research noted in a 2014 study documenting the decline of marriage in the U.S.
But men are not entirely to blame for the steep decline in marriage, Crouse pointed out. “A lot of women fear marriage. While feminism is a spent force, the ultimate consequences of that philosophy is a whole generation of women who don’t want any man to tell them what to do, and don’t really understand the give and take that is necessary for a marriage relationship.”
However, the box office success of movies like American Sniper, which features a very masculine Navy SEAL, is an indication that women still respond to strong men, she said.
CNSNews.com asked Crouse if that means the cultural pendulum has finally swung back in the male direction after decades of feminism.
“That’s not certain yet,” she replied. “There’ still a lot of anti-male stuff out there.”
Feminism has largely achieved its goal of equality in the workplace, so the movement has “lost relevance” for young women who are now earning more college and professional degrees than men, she pointed out. However, feminism’s effects on the culture – including the historically low marriage rate – will linger for some time to come, she noted.
“Feminism was supposed to bring women happiness,” Crouse said. “But the research shows that women today are much more unhappy then they have been in the past. They’ve ended up with far more opportunities, but their personal happiness is way down.”
In U.S. Territory Puerto Rico on Monday, legislators proposed a bill that would fine parents if their children are obese.
The fines, up to $800, would not be immediate, but would be assessed if the parents fail to successfully follow recommendations. The process would go like this:
Education officials would officially notify parents if their child is obese.
Health officials would work with parents to identify the cause and create a plan to help the child to lose weight.
A series of monthly follow-ups and assessments would occur.
If after 6 months a determination is made that the parents were not following the plan or if sufficient weight loss has not occurred, the case would be referred to child services for potential fines up to $800.
The sponsoring legislators assert that the obesity epidemic is growing, parents need to be enabled to make better health decisions, and that curbing childhood obesity is “necessary for society” due to its costs.
Compared to the U.S., Puerto Rico’s obesity rate is high: 30 percent of the island’s children are considered obese compared to 18% on the mainland. Only 12 U.S. states had a higher rate of adults who were either obese or overweight in 2013, according to the CDC.
Over the last few decades, childhood obesity has definitely become a big issue:
Trends in Child and Adolescent Overweight
The proposal is not without its critics, as one could imagine. Some nutritionists argue that genetics are a major contributing cause while others say it’s not the role of the government to interfere in child raising to such an extent. The phrase “nanny state” immediately comes to mind.
On the other hand, given the increased role the government has in providing healthcare and that its costs are now borne the collective population, it certainly can be argued that the state has an interest. It will certainly be worth watching to see how the legislators in Puerto Rico decide this issue, because such a proposal made here in the 50 states would certainly have some reception legislatively.
A Wisconsin mother claims her 16-year-old son’s classroom assignment last week described Republicans as opposed to helping the poor because “it’s a waste of money.”
The woman said her son, a junior at Nathan Hale High School in West Allis, Wisc., was asked, along with other students, to complete an assignment about different views on the political spectrum while in a U.S. government and politics class on Thursday.
The assignment listed a series of quotes and required students to identify which party affiliation best represented each statement.
The first quote read, “We should not help the poor, it’s a waste of money.”
The mother, who asked only to be identified as “Heather” to protect her son’s privacy, said he chose option “E” for “Fascist” because he “didn’t know what else could be the answer.”
When the assignment was returned, the answer was marked as incorrect and the teacher wrote in option “D” for “Conservative/Republican” instead, his mother told FoxNews.com.
“I picked my son up from school on Thursday and asked him what was wrong and he brought up that quote,” she said. “He asked, ‘Mom, where would you say this went on the political spectrum?'”
“I said, ‘Nowhere. I don’t know any political party that espouses not helping the poor,'” she told FoxNews.com. “Once we got home, I looked at the work sheet and saw that his answer was marked wrong. The teacher had put the correct answer in the margin and marked it conservative.”
“I was shocked and then I was very angry,” she said, claiming she called the superintendent of West Allis-West Milwaukee School District Friday morning to inquire about the assignment.
The school district issued a press release late Monday saying students were “required to take a political spectrum quiz, which is not a quiz in the traditional sense with right or wrong answers; instead, the quiz asks survey questions. The answers to the questions place students on the political spectrum. While the survey is completed online, no personal information is entered, including name, login, and student number.”
The district also said the spectrum quiz would not be used again in the future.
The assignment, which was first reported on by the conservative education blogEAGnews.org, was not meant to survey students’ political beliefs. The bottom portion of the quiz, however, instructed students to visit a website – gotoquiz.com – to “find out where they stood on the political spectrum,” the woman said.
Teenagers at a California high school were publicly shamed for disagreeing with speakers allowed to push an LGBT agenda during an English class, according to several upset parents.
The Queer Straight Alliance at Acalanes High School, in Lafayette, lectured students in several ninth-grade English classes on Jan. 29 about LGBT issues, according to Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, which is representing the parents.
During the class, the students, ages 14 and 15, were instructed to stand in a circle. Then, they were grilled about their personal beliefs and their parents’ beliefs on homosexuality, PJI alleges.
“The QSA had students step forward to demonstrate whether they believed that being gay was a choice and whether their parents would be accepting if they came out as gay,” PJI attorney Matthew McReynolds said. “Students who did not step forward were ridiculed and humiliated.”
PJI is a law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases. They are representing several families who had children in the freshman classes — some of whom also are angry because there was no parental notification of the LGBT lecture.
“Singling out students for ridicule based on their moral or political beliefs is a Marxist tactic that should have no place in the United States of America,” Dacus said.
During the lecture, the Queer Student Alliance provided students with the names of the gay and lesbian teachers at the high school. They also had students line up to demonstrate where they fell on the “gender spectrum.”
“It was an exercise in gender fluidity,” the parent of one child told me. “They told the students that one day they could come to school feeling like a boy and the next day they could come to school feeling like a girl.”
Students were given a handout with LGBT terminology – including words like pan-sexual, demi-boy and gray gender.
Demi-boy/girl is defined as someone who only partially identifies as a man or woman. Gray gender defines someone who feels as though they sort of fit inside the gender binary, but that their gender is more hazy and undefined.
“Acalanes High School and the district have defied common sense, ignored the law and broken parents’ trust,” McReynolds said in a prepared statement. “These administrators are acting like schoolyard bullies. If they think intimidation is going to work on us or these parents, they are greatly mistaken.”
“It was a public outing,” one parent told me. “My child is being raised in a family with conservative values. We are a Christian family. What bothers me the most is the school is being dishonest and secretive about what’s happening. My son’s value system and our belief system is not being respected on a many levels.”
And from a very practical point – she wants to know why the Queer Student Alliance was allowed to take over an English class.
“There’s no other club at the high school that gets face time in front of freshman English classes for an entire period,” the parent said.
So why is Acalanes High School outing students who may not agree with every facet of the LGBT agenda?
Superintendent John Nickerson tells me it’s all about tolerance.
“The classroom instruction in question was part of a tolerance workshop led by peer educators under the supervision of teachers,” Nickerson wrote to me in an email.
That’s all well and good – but were the teenagers academically qualified to teach a class on issues like “gender fluidity”? Why weren’t the teachers teaching the class? And what about the allegations that students were bullied by the Queer Student Alliance?
“We are aware of the concerns and allegations raised by two parents and the Pacific Justice Institute,” he wrote. “We are investigating the situation, learning activities and classroom environment.”
The parent I spoke to bristled at the notion the LGBT class was about tolerance.
“They are tolerant of everyone except people who have Christian values,” she told me.
PJI sent a letter to the school district demanding an explanation of what happened. They believe the classroom lecture violated the privacy rights of the students.
“It should be self-evident that, as a fundamental privacy right, students cannot be ‘outed’ during class time by being made to declare their beliefs and feelings about sensitive sexual matters, any more than a student could be required to announce their sexual orientation,” PJI wrote in their letter to the school district.
Has it really come to this, America – forcing students to declare their allegiance to the LGBT agenda? Maybe they should just stick to teaching English in English class.
MILWAUKEE, Wisc., February 5, 2015—Disregarding freedom of speech, academic freedom, and its own policies, Marquette University will attempt to revoke Professor John McAdams’s tenure and fire him.
Marquette is taking action against McAdams, a political conservative and frequent critic of the administration, supposedly in response to his online criticism of a graduate student instructor who told a student not to oppose same-sex marriage in her class. Marquette had previously suspended McAdams without due process, treated him as though he presented a violent threat, and cancelled his current semester’s classes.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has called for McAdams’s reinstatement in light of Marquette’s egregious violations of his rights.
“If Marquette can fire a tenured professor for criticizing a fellow teacher on a blog, then tenure at Marquette is worthless, as are freedom of speech and academic freedom,” said FIRE Executive Director Robert Shibley. “While this is more than likely just an excuse to get rid of McAdams, the fact that McAdams’s supposed offense was criticizing a teacher for squelching dissenting opinions in class only makes Marquette’s utter contempt for dissenters more obvious.”
On November 9, 2014, McAdams, a tenured associate professor of political science, posted an entry on his Marquette Warrior blog describing a recorded conversation between an undergraduate student and the instructor for his “Theory of Ethics” philosophy course. The instructor, Cheryl Abbate, was also a doctoral student in Marquette’s philosophy department. Abbate was recorded telling the student that the expression of certain opinions in class was inappropriate because those opinions may be considered offensive to other listeners. Abbate specifically cited the student’s stated opposition to same-sex marriage as a problem. McAdams’s post received widespread attention, with various commenters defending or criticizing his and Abbate’s arguments.
On December 16, Richard C. Holz, dean of Marquette’s Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, suspended McAdams. The suspension letter stated that Marquette was “continuing to review [McAdams’s] conduct” and ordered him not to enter the Marquette campus except with advance permission from the university. Holz did not inform McAdams of any alleged policy violations justifying the suspension, as Marquette’s faculty policies require. Marquette later claimed in public statements that McAdams was “under review” and had not been suspended, claiming that its “definition of suspension is without pay”—a falsehood refuted by Marquette policies governing faculty suspension. On December 18, Marquette cancelled McAdams’s spring semester classes.
In a January 2 letter, Holz told McAdams that he “had no justification to put [the] graduate student’s name in [his] internet posts” and informed him that as a result of his doing so, Abbate had received harassing and threatening letters and emails and had decided to transfer to another doctoral program. Marquette publicly justified McAdams’s continued suspension and ban from campus by claiming that “[t]he safety of [Marquette’s] students and campus community is [its] top priority.” Though it had not charged McAdams with any conduct violations, Marquette further stated that it “does not tolerate harassment and will not stand for faculty members subjecting students to any form of abuse, putting them in harm’s way.”
In a January 30 letter calling for McAdams’s immediate reinstatement, FIRE cautioned Marquette that unilaterally suspending McAdams for the opinions expressed on his blog violated his freedom of speech and academic freedom. FIRE also pointed out Marquette’s multiple violations of faculty policies, noted its public insinuations that McAdams constituted a threat to campus safety, and highlighted the severe threat to free speech posed by Marquette’s claim that McAdams was directly culpable for the actions of unknown individuals who allegedly harassed or threatened Abbate after reading his blog.
“A fundamental principle of our society is that you aren’t responsible for how unrelated and possibly unhinged third parties react to your speech,” said FIRE’s Shibley. “Marquette’s disgraceful argument is no different in principle from saying that the Charlie Hebdocartoonists were somehow to blame for their own deaths.”
Despite FIRE’s repeatedcriticisms, as well as criticism from organizations including theAmerican Association of University Professors, Marquette informed McAdams on January 30 that it intended to revoke his tenure and fire him. Marquette claimed that McAdams’s actions amounted to “serious instances of … dishonorable, irresponsible, or incompetent conduct” justifying his termination. Marquette also continued to blame McAdams for threats and harassment made by third parties over whom he had no control, stating that he “knew or should have known that [his] Internet story would result in vulgar, vile, and threatening communications.”
Astoundingly, Marquette President Michael R. Lovell claimed in a statement Wednesday evening that the university’s efforts to revoke McAdams’s tenure have “have everything to do with … guiding values and expectations of conduct toward each other” and “nothing to do” with academic freedom or freedom of speech.
“It’s madness to claim that Marquette’s case against McAdams has ‘nothing to do’ with his academic freedom and free speech rights. You could hardly have a more direct attack on both freedoms than the one Marquette is mounting,” said Peter Bonilla, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program. “If a professor can be fired for being less civil in pedagogical debates than administrators would prefer, freedom in the academy is simply nonexistent.”
FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, freedom of expression, academic freedom, due process, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty on campuses across America can be viewed at thefire.org.