BREAKING: Teachers’ strike in Highland, Illinois has ended, will start back up tomorrow
There will be school for Highland students Friday. #STL— FOX2now (@FOX2now) September 18, 2014
#BREAKING Highland, Ill. teachers approve new 3-year contract, end strike.— KSDK NewsChannel 5 (@ksdknews) September 18, 2014
#Highland teachers vote 150-2 to accept offer from district. Classes resume Friday.— jessicabock (@jessicabock) September 18, 2014
On his radio program yesterday, Georgia GOP U.S. House nominee Jody Hice blamed court decisions barring school-sponsored prayer and the display of religious texts in public buildings for a “downward slide” in America, including low test scores, gang violence, drugs, teenage pregnancy and “promiscuity.”
“[A]s we have removed prayer and Bible and our Christian heritage from our public school, what has been the counter consequence?” he asked. “Has behavior increased or decreased? Has education gotten better or worse? Have our overall citizenship, our citizenry, have we become a better place to live or a worse place to live? Is there more drugs or less? More gang violence or less? More teenage pregnancy or less? More promiscuity or less?”
“Folks, across the board we have suffered,” he concluded.
In fact, teen pregnancy rates have been falling steadily over the past two decades as has the rate of sexual activity among teens, and in 2011 violent crime in the U.S. fell to the lowest rate in 40 years, a trend that has persisted. But somehow we don’t think Hice meant to credit the separation of church and state for these positive trends.
So we had in 1952 a clear understanding of the role of religion in our public life, even in our schools. Then shortly thereafter we had the beginning of a reinterpretation of the First Amendment, a reinterpretation of separation of church and state as it applies to the public school system.
And wow, have we been on a downward slide ever since. Removing prayer, then removing the Bible, then removing religious documents such as the Ten Commandments, which of course has led to the removal of other symbols and so forth, and then removal of benedictions and invocations at any kind of school event or activity.
And I just want to ask you, what kind of behavior, as we have removed prayer and Bible and our Christian heritage from our public school, what has been the counter consequence? Has behavior increased or decreased? Has education gotten better or worse? Have our overall citizenship, our citizenry, have we become a better place to live or a worse place to live? Is there more drugs or less? More gang violence or less? More teenage pregnancy or less? More promiscuity or less? What has happened in our society as we have removed our religious heritage from being taught, from even being allowed in our public schools?
Folks, across the board we have suffered. Education scores have gone down, violence and crime has gone up and we are witnessing more and more of the consequence of those decisions.
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
The law prohibits you from spanking your boss, your employee, your spouse, your best friend, or a stranger you walk past on the street.
GETTING SPANKED AS A CHILD MAKES PEOPLE MORE LIKELY TO SUFFER FROM MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS AS ADULTS
But in the United States, it’s still perfectly legal to spank your own children.
This is because state laws only define physical abuse as any “unreasonably” violent actions that leave a mark on a child. Spanking and other less severe types of physical punishment generally don’t count — and as a result, about 90 percent of American parents resort to spanking at one time or another.
Research, though, tells us that getting spanked as a child can leave a discernible mark on people: it makes people more likely to suffer from addiction, depression, and other mental health problems as adults. This is one reason why 37 countries have explicitly banned all physical punishment of children — even by parents — since 1979.
Even our own existing state laws generally define child abuse as “endangering a child’s physical or emotional health and development.” By this standard — and given what we’ve recently learned from research — any form of physical punishment violates children’s rights, whether it’s done by a teacher or parents.
Over the past century, we’ve gradually expanded the legal rights of children to protect against physical abuse, with the state recognizing a responsibility to curtail parents’ rights in this area. Here’s the case for why we should extend this to ban all forms of physical punishment, including spanking.
Spanking isn’t effective
There’s a reason why the American Academy of Pediatrics — along with most leading psychologists — strongly recommend that parents do not spank their children: research shows it’s an especially ineffective form of punishment.
MOST PSYCHOLOGISTS STRONGLY RECOMMEND AGAINST SPANKING
Spanking may temporarily force a child to stop doing something wrong, but it’s not a long term solution. “Hitting a child only results in fear and obedience,” says Karin Österman, a developmental psychologist who’s conducted research into the effects of physical punishment. “It does not enhance the child’s understanding of why a certain behavior is undesirable.”
It also communicates that violence is an appropriate way of dealing with a problem. As a result, research shows,children that are spanked become more likely to get into fights with peers and engage in antisocial behavior.
Of course, just because a punishment isn’t effective doesn’t mean that it should be outlawed. But other recent research provides a compelling reason why it should:
Spanking causes real, long-term damage
Researchers have long known that more severe child abuse leads to long-term mental problems. Obviously, the physical pain kids experience immediately makes abuse unacceptable, but the way it makes them more likely to suffer from depression, PTSD, addiction problems, and other mental disorders as adults is equally troubling.
Spanking may not cause the same sort of instant physical harm — but research increasingly indicates it leads to the same type of long-term mental damage.
PEOPLE WHO ARE SPANKED ARE MORE LIKELY TO COMMIT CRIMES, ABUSE THEIR SPOUSES, AND ATTEMPT SUICIDE AS ADULTS
There’s evidence that when children are spanked, their cognitive development slows. Later on, as adults, they’re more prone to suffering from mood disorders and addiction problems and more likely to commit crimes or abuse their spouses or children. They’re more likely to attempt suicide.
All this might come as a surprise, but it makes sense in the context of physical child abuse as a whole. The longest-lasting problems caused by abuse are generally mental, not physical.
The difference between severe beatings and spanking isn’t one of kind, but one of degree. This is true both for how the punishment is carried out, but also how it affects the developing brain.
“The link between child abuse and negative health effects in adulthood has long been known,” says Österman, who recently studied the long-term effects of Finland’s 1983 spanking ban. “Our study shows that adults who were victims of physical punishment during childhood suffer the same types of symptoms in adulthood.”
Her study was especially interesting because it compared kids who’d grown up before and after the ban went into place. The law was found to reduce spanking across all socioeconomic groups, but the strong link between spanking and long-term negative mental health remained in place — reducing the chance that it was a random correlation caused by unrelated socioeconomic factors.
Banning spanking is part of the broader development of laws that protect children
The idea of a law against spanking might seem like a sudden government intrusion on the rights of parents. But the truth is that parents’ and adults’ supposed “rights” have steadily been giving way to children’s actual rights for some time now — and that the US is actually behind much of the world in this area.
FOR MOST OF HUMAN HISTORY, CHILDREN HAD NO RIGHTS AGAINST PHYSICAL ABUSE AT ALL
For most of human history, children had no rights against physical abuse at all: in most societies, a parent was free to beat them however they saw fit. In the US, during the early and mid 20th century, laws were gradually passed that protected children from physical and sexual abuse, along with neglect.
Most recently, 37 nations have banned all forms of physical punishment, including spanking. The earliest laws came in 1979, but the movement has been accelerating as of late — 29 countries have enacted bans since 2000.
Countries with laws that ban all physical punishment of children
In the US, some states have recognized that spanking is abuse — but only when it comes at the hand of someone other than a parent. 30 states have banned all sorts of physical punishment in schools.
States that ban all forms of physical punishment in school (shown in blue):
For comparison, in addition to the 24 nations in Europe that have banned physical punishment entirely, every single European country has banned it in school.
International law has also moved in the direction of banning all forms of physical punishment of children — including spanking. 194 countries have signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that commits them to “protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence.” In 2007, the UN committee explicitly interpreted this as forbidding physical all punishment. There are three UN states, though, that still haven’t ratified it: Somalia, South Sudan and the US.
It’s time to ban spanking in the US too
Laws that ban spanking — and explicitly define all physical punishment as abuse — have been proposed in the Massachusetts and California state legislatures in recent years. Both were controversial, though, and were ultimately voted down.
Support for anti-spanking laws is is high among child psychologists, researchers, and other experts. Still, about 81 percent of American adults feel spanking is sometimes necessary to properly discipline a child. The most common argument for spanking usually goes “I got spanked as a child, and I turned out fine.”
But the link between spanking and long-term mental problems doesn’t mean everyone who gets spanked will suffer them — just that they increase the chance of them as a whole. Given that physical punishment also doesn’t work in the short term, it makes sense to err on the side of the child.
WHETHER PUNISHMENT LEAVES A MARK ON THE SKIN OR IN THE BRAIN IS UNIMPORTANT
The other main argument is that the state shouldn’t be in the business of policing parents. Banning spanking might make for more effective parenting, the argument goes, but so would forcing parents to read to their children every night. Ultimately, it’s up to parents to determine how to raise their children.
That’s a stance that makes sense for many aspects of child-raising — but one that we don’t take when it comes to matters of basic well-being and abuse. Over the 20th century, public opinion shifted as we came to accept that the state had a responsibility to prevent parents from beating their children.
Until now, we’ve made a strange distinction: recognizing this responsibility for punishment that leaves broken bones, bruises, or other physical signs of pain, but permitting less severe forms of physical punishment that do not, like spanking. New research, however, is telling us that these so-called “reasonable” forms of physical punishment still make an indelible mark on a child’s brain, increasing the chance of depression, addiction, and other mental disorders down the road.
The discussion here shouldn’t be about parents’ rights, but children’s. Physical punishment as a whole should be banned. Whether the mark it leaves is on the skin or inside the brain is unimportant.
The five students are the grandchildren of Cliven Bundy, a rancher who has previously engaged in armed clashes with the U.S. government over the use of federal land. The incident that sparked the removal involved Bundy’s 15-year-old granddaughter whose school refused to allow her to bring a pocketknife to school, according to television station KSNV.
Her father, Ryan Bundy, disagreed with the school’s labeling of the knife as a weapon and, per KSNV, said he has inculcated in his children the need to always carry a knife. His children affirmed his stance, saying that they utilize knives for chores but don’t wield them as weapons.
"They’re trying to make my child a criminal – and any other child a criminal – for simply having something, and that is not right," Bundy said.
Bundy said he hopes the administration will allow the pocketknives on campus so that the issue can be resolved, a sentiment his daughter echoes.
"I hope that somehow (sic) figures this out because I still would like to go to this school," she said. "I really don’t want to be homeschooled."
h/t: Ahiza Garcia at TPM
Opposition to the educational standards known as Common Core has come from an array of Tea Party groups, conservative think-tanks, Glenn Beck, and the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity — and a few voices on the left as well. But one of the most active sources of opposition has been an unlikely group: a Christian conservative organization that works to defend the rights of homeschooling parents.
Homeschoolers are not actually covered by the educational standards. Still, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has spent tens of thousands of dollars in opposition to the Core State Standards Initiative, including federal lobbying, a microsite, and even a fully produced 39-minute documentary. According to a press release, “HSLDA has been opposing Common Core since 2009 and, as public concern over the standards grew, HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris decided that creating a film about the standards would be the best way to make information about Common Core widely available.” While HSLDA has tried to present these public school standards as an “immediate threat” to homeschooling families, critics from inside and outside of the homeschool movement wonder if it is part of a pattern of fear-mongering by an organization eager to maintain its membership base.
‘Jerry Falwell’s Lieutenant’
In 2009, the governors and state education commissioners from 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands joined together to establish a set of standards for K-12 English-language arts and math education. But while that Common Core was initially embraced by governors of both parties, growing opposition from conservatives has pushed some Republican governors and legislators to drop the benchmarks.
Among its most fervent opponents are the Home School Legal Defense Association and its founder Michael Farris. An attorney and ordained Baptist minister, Farris joined with J. Michael Smith in 1983 to establish an organization to provide advocacy and legal representation for parents who chose to educate their children at home. Farris was a already veteran of the Christian Right movement, having worked against the Equal Rights Amendment under anti-feminist legend Phyllis Schlafly in the 1970s, as head of the legal department at Concerned Women for America, and as a state director for Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority in the early 1980s. Today, HSLDA estimates its current membership as about 82,000 families. The organization, based in Purcellville, VA, reported in 2013 that its annual budget is more than $10 million.
A self-described “Christian organization,” HSLDA came to prominence as a growing number of conservative Christians, fed up with secular public schools, decided to educate their children in their own preferred way. Farris, in a video on the organization’s site explains, “Homeschooling has given us a way to obey God’s command to teach our children to love God as we go through the day… the only way to make that practical, to implement the command about teaching kids to love God, in the way that he prescribed, that I’ve figured out, is homeschooling.” Milton Gaither, a homeschooling historian and an associate professor of education at Messiah College, told ThinkProgress that as homeschooling became “an increasingly popular option for conservative Christians” in the 1980s, HSLDA created mailing lists, magazines, and an organizational structure to organize them. “HSLDA was able to corner the market,” Gaither said, “and by 1990 they were running the show and were pretty much the face of homeschooling.” In 1993, HSLDA reached a major milestone: homeschooling was legal in all 50 states.
Some homeschooling advocates were not thrilled that the movement’s most visible organization was and remains a religious one. Mark Hegener, publisher of Home Education Magazine, told ThinkProgress that Farris’ “approach is a narrow religious agenda, and homeschooling is just his shtick.” While the movement had been initially diverse and inclusive in its early days in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Heneger thinks HSLDA made homeschoolers seem like a homogeneous community of Bible “thumpers.” While he acknowledges the Christian homeschoolers represented by Farris and his organization have a right to be exclusive, Hegener does not believe they have a “right to be exclusive and speak for everybody.” Still, he said, while more inclusive homeschoolers attempted to band together to create a counterweight, the more individualist homeschooling families were not interested in a “top-down” centralized national organization and efforts were largely unsuccessful.
As head of HSDLA, Farris became a national spokesman for the homeschooling movement and one of the country’s most vocal critics of public schools. A 1993 Washington Post profile noted that, in his 1990 book Home Schooling and the Law, Farris argued that “Christian beliefs have been thoroughly eradicated from public schools,” and those schools are a “multi-billion-dollar inculcation machine” to push “secular humanism and new age religions.” It also quoted Farris as describing public schools as “godless” promoters of “evolution, hedonism and one-world government.”
While Farris was making a name for himself in the homeschooling world, he was also dipping his toes into politics. Relying on his prominence within the burgeoning Christian Right movement, Farris won the 1993 Republican nomination to be Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. Ron Faucheux of Campaigns & Elections called the general election contest “one of the nastiest campaigns ever waged for a statewide office.” His campaign energized religious conservatives and received the strong support of Christian Coalition founder and televangelist Pat Robertson. But his ideology and previous statements proved problematic. His Democratic opponent attacked him as “Jerry Falwell’s lieutenant,” called him “rigid and extreme” and highlighted Farris’ previous work in trying to get books he believed promoted “Secular Humanism” removed from public schools. Quotes, like one from his 1992 book opining that “wives have a duty to be a loving and submissive aid to their husbands,” proved controversial, even for many within his own party. Though Farris repudiated some of his earlier writings, saying that did “not accurately represent” his views, even the state’s Republican U.S. Senator John Warner refused to back him and Farris lost by nearly 9 points (as the Republican nominee for governor won by a more than 17-point landslide).
CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
After the loss, Farris changed his sights from politics to higher education. In 1999, he broke ground on Patrick Henry College, a place for homeschooled students and others to prepare for political leadership. The college, also located in Purcellville, VA, was designed to be a Christian college to train students to work “for Christ and for Liberty.” Students at Patrick Henry must agree to a strict religious covenant, must promise to refrain from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, to attend religious services regularly, and to abstain from premarital sex and dating (which Farris has called “serial infidelity.”) Farris has frequently expressed his dream that alumni will go on to win Academy Awards and the White House.
While the school is not legally affiliated with the homeschooling association, HSLDA helped found Patrick Henry College, continues to helps fund it, and shares the same land. Working an estimated 50 hours a week between his dual roles as chancellor of Patrick Henry College and chairman of HSLDA, Farris receives an annual compensation package of nearly $400,000 as he continues to work toward advancing his mission: combining God and the classroom under one roof.
‘Trampling the Constitution and education freedom’
Though opponents have tried to convince parents that the Common Core is a massive federal plot to usurp state and local control of education with a national curriculum — some even labeling it “Obamacore” — it is not actually even a federal program, nor a curriculum.
National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) devised the set of standards, which lay out what public school students should be expected to know and understand by the time the graduate high school. All 50 states already had state standards in place, and the plan included “an explicit agreement that no state would lower its standards.” The goals were devised in 2009 by a panel of education experts, including representatives from standardized testing providers like ACT and College Board. Through their membership in the NGA, the elected governors of nearly every state agreed to set these goals, though they did not “define how the standards should be taught or which materials should be used to support students.” These goals, generally speaking, apply only to public school students.
Education reform advocates, including the Center for American Progress, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Education Association have embraced the Common Core standards, while encouraging an implementation that provides adequate support to the teachers and schools who will be tasked with helping students meet its goals. (The Center for American Progress has received grant funding for its work on Common Core implementation.)
While no state is required to participate in the Common Core standards, the Department of Education has offered some carrots to encourage adoption of high state standards, in general. These included grants via the Race to the Top portion of the 2009 stimulus law and waivers allowing states to opt-out of some No Child Left Behind requirements if they have switched to college and career ready standards. But adopting Common Core was not a requirement for either.
One of the Common Core’s strongest supporters has been a conservative educational think-tank called the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Michael Brickman, the organization’s national policy director, told ThinkProgress that while the federal government was not involved in crafting the standards, the federal incentives “painted a false impression that the federal government was behind” Common Core and led to opposition by groups like HSLDA. “I don’t think we’d be having this conversation if the federal government hadn’t incentivized states to adopt these standards — a very small portion of an optional grant program.”
This claim of a federal takeover is one of a series of objections Michael Farris and his Home School Legal Defense Association have cited in their massive anti-Common Core campaign. In 2013, on his Home School Heartbeat two-minute daily radio program, Farris did a series of segments with Estrada, outlining their opposition to the Common Core. In one segment, Estrada said, “We are seeing nothing less than the federal government pressuring states to adopt the Common Core and change their curriculum.” Farris responded that this was “one more example of the federal government trampling the Constitution and educational freedom.”
The most expensive part of the group’s campaign against Common Core was its 2014 documentary, Building the Machine. Farris described the film as “presented in a way that shows both sides arguing their case — but when you watch it, the opposition to the Common Core is so much more sensible than those that are promoting it, there’s no doubt left behind.” It would convince, Farris predicted, “people that are in the middle that this is a dangerous program.” (Farris told Tea Party activists in the same speech that Common Core is “the worst of the lot” of federal education programs, is an “evil idea,” and that his broader goal is “chopping off head of the snake entirely” by amending the constitution to ensure the federal government will no longer be able to use the “general welfare” clause of the constitution to interfere with education.)
CREDIT: HSLDA’S YOUTUBE ACCOUNT
The movie features an array of attacks on Common Core. A Cato Institute scholar suggests that it was not the “will” of people because they don’t vote for governors based on what they will do at the National Governors Association. Two members of the Common Core’s validation committee who did not back the final standards express their disappointment with what their former colleagues adopted. A journalism teacher objects to having standards and testing at all as a formula for a society where everyone is “mushed out to be the same.” A researcher from the Heartland Institute makes the odd claim that “we have no track record and the track record we have points against Common Core.” Farris himself appears to decry “systemization, and centralization, and data collection.” The Fordham Institute put out a point-by-point refutation of what it called “spurious accusations” in the documentary.
Almost no mention of homeschoolers is made in the film.
Protecting homeschoolers from birth control and same-sex marriage
One common attack on HSLDA has been that its work often extends to topics that are not directly connected to the rights of homeschoolers. So far this year, its federal lobbyists have worked to stop ratification of treaties, including U.N. Conventions on the Rights of the Child, the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as passage of a bill to prevent corporations from denying birth control coverage in their healthcare benefits. HSLDA’s Estrada told ThinkProgess that the organization is concerned that the treaties include language protecting the “best interest of the child,” which could directly impact parents who disagree with the United Nation’s interpretation of that standard, and that the bill would undermine free speech and religious liberty.
In 2006, the group even lobbied for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. A statement on the group’s website explained that because “Same-sex marriage attacks the traditions of the family in western civilization,” it thus constitutes an “attack on parental rights.” Estrada said that the group no longer lobbies on this issue and that he did not know why it had done so then.
Ryan Stollar, executive director of Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (a group of former homeschoolers who work within the movement to protect the rights of current homeschool kids), told ThinkProgress that he believes the issues the leaders of HSLDA “have chosen and continue to choose to focus on are not necessarily that issues that are in the best interest of the homeschooling movement,” and may be “actively jeopardizing” it. He cites “right-wing extremism,” positing that “making opposition to same-sex marriage a homeschooling issue is shooting [themselves] in the foot” in their attempt to represent the broader movement. “It alienates so many people,” he said, and the group’s thus-far successful work to block the disability treaty, for example, is “not connected” to homeschooling and “atrocious.”
Robert Kunzman, an expert on homeschooling and professor at the Indiana University Bloomington, told ThinkProgress, “To the extent that they believe it to be a threat, you can’t fault them for deciding that’s where to put their energies. But some of the issues they’re taking on are pretty far afield from homeschooling.” Among these questionably-related issues, he observed, is the Common Core.
‘Selling peace of mind to members’
HSLDA is not a typical advocacy organization. Rather than simply collecting donations, it offers members an informal insurance policy for $120 annually, serving as a legal team for parents who homeschool their kids and might face any interference from the government. HSLDA says that while it “cannot guarantee representation in every case,” it comes “to the aid of our members and many nonmembers whenever possible.”
HSLDA is “selling peace of mind to members,” Rachel Coleman, a homeschooling alum who leads the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, observed. But, she told ThinkProgress, “to convince people that they should be members, [HSLDA must] convince those parents that there is a reason for that. It’s helpful to them to present every little thing as a threat to homeschooling.”It’s helpful to them to present every little thing as a threat to homeschooling.
Over the years, this “fear-mongering” charge has been one of the most frequent knocks on HSLDA. Gaither of Messiah College said the organization uses a “constant, steady stream of alarmist rhetoric of ‘what the federal government is doing is a threat,” with Farris spreading “constant fear that the federal government is getting bigger and bigger, more and more secular, [and is] destroying the creation of our forefathers.”
Kunzman concurred, telling ThinkProgress that he has frequently heard people in homeschool community criticize HSLDA as a group that “only survives financially by continuing to manufacture crises. That’s how they fundraise. Threats to homeschool freedom get the base riled up, so people contributing believe they need legal protection and political advocacy.” This victimization narrative has proven beneficial to the organization in good times and bad, he suggested: “If they win something, it’s great promotion of their services. If they lose, it’s ‘the threat is real and you’d better support us.’”
HSLDA dismissed these criticisms. Will Estrada, the organization’s director of federal relations, told ThinkProgress in a telephone interview that the group hears from some who think they “blow things up” out of proportion and others who think their tactics are not reactive enough. “Some of these people are a little too naïve. We see on a daily basis attempts to restrict homeschool freedom,” he said, noting that while the group does its best to share “the truth from our legal experience of 30 years, you can’t make everyone happy.”
Gaither also observed that while “Jesus in the Gospel says you can’t serve God and money,” some critics believe the organization’s leadership wants to be pure, but also to be well paid. Estrada also rejected any suggestion that Farris and the eight other HSLDA employees making upwards of $110,000 annually are unduly profiting from an organization that calls itself a Christian organization. “[Michael] Farris hasn’t had a vacation in years,” said Estrada, and “a lot of these people could be making way more than they are making” if they went to a K Street law firm.
Will the Common Core impact homeschooling?
An article in HSLDA’s quarterly Home School Court Report magazine entitled “Common Core testing affects homeschoolers this year,” warns that a small number of Tennessee homeschoolers who affiliate with local school districts instead of church schools could be forced to take a test based on the Common Core Standards. The same article also notes that even those families “have a good legal argument to avoid it.”
CREDIT: HSLDA’S COMMON CORE MICROSITE
For a full explanation of why HSLDA opted to get involved in Common Core, one must turn to the group’s anti-Common Core website. It spells out three major arguments as to how the Common Core represents a threat to homeschooling: data tracking, college admission standards, and standardized testing.
HSLDA says that “perhaps the most immediate threat to homeschool and private school students is the expansion of statewide longitudinal databases,” citing an Oklahoma official who proposed including homeschoolers in the data collection process. “In light of the growing revelations that the government is engaging in massive invasion of privacy in spheres other than education,” the group warns, “it is utterly impossible to believe that these databases will not be mined and misused to serve the ulterior purposes of a centralized government intent on growing its own power.”
Estrada told ThinkProgress that while he is not aware of any evidence that data-collection harms homeschooled children or impedes parents, he said he sees no reason that the federal government, states, or businesses need “all this information on kids.” “Whether data held by outside entities will make it so kids can’t homeschool isn’t really the question,” he suggested, “The question is why do they have it and should they have it.”
The other major concern is that if states have common standards for the public schools, standardized tests like SAT, ACT, and GED will be aligned to the Common Core and homeschooling parents who opt not to use Common Core curricula will see their kids do poorly and not get into college. Warning that kids taking these examinations might “soon encounter progressive ideologies including social engineering and alternative lifestyles,” HSLDA claims on its website, homeschool students who “are not adherents to the Common Core” could “find themselves at a significant disadvantage come test time.” Additionally, it claims that colleges and universities are “being pressured to adapt their standards for college readiness to the Common Core standards.”Students taking the redesigned SAT, ACT, or the Iowa Tests could soon encounter progressive ideologies including social engineering and alternative lifestyles.
ThinkProgress contacted ACT Inc. (the non-profit company behind the ACT test), GED Testing Service(the public-private partnership behind the GED test), and College Board (the non-profit behind the SAT and AP tests) to see whether such a re-alignment was imminent. Ed Colby, director of public relations for ACT Inc. explained that in fact the opposite was true: “The ACT is already aligned with the Common Core standards,” he said, because the company “helped develop those standards” and was “at the table” when they were designed. CT Turner, senior director of public affairs for GED Testing Service said that it updates its tests based on “what people need to succeed,” not Common Core — and that its recent realignment “started happening before the Common Core standards came.” Carly Lindauer, senior director of external communications at College Board, said that the newly redesigned SAT “measures the skills and knowledge that evidence shows are essential for college and career success” and “is not aligned to any single set of standards.”
ThinkProgress also spoke with a psychometrician with expertise in how these standardized tests and the admissions processes work: Wisconsin Center for Education Research associate scientist H. Gary Cook. He noted that “a lot of what’s on [existing standardized tests already] are in these standards, as ACT said.” Moreover, he noted, the tests are a tool mainly for colleges and universities to determine who will likely succeed in their first year. While the “indirect customers” for these tests are “the people who take them,” the “primary customer of ACT and SAT are universities,” he explained, “If these didn’t work, universities wouldn’t use them.” As such, he said, he does not “see ACT or SAT” being coerced to adapt their core assessments to fit Common Core.
Estrada conceded that this concern has not proven an issue so far and said that HSLDA is in the process of updating that part of the site. “We’re watching very closely, it’s something we’re concerned about. But at this point it doesn’t look like the effect is going to be where we thought two to three years ago.” He suggested that this may be, in part, that with states like Texas not adopting Common Core, it became harder to create a nationalized curriculum. Either way, he said, homeschoolers continue to do well on the tests: “I love being proven wrong by homeschoolers when they’ve done so well and their education is so good, they come back and ace these tests even though they’ve never really been prepared for them.”
In his book Write These Laws On Your Children, homeschooling expert Robert Kunzman quoted Farris expressing concern that standardized testing is not going to be a fair measurement because content validity can’t be attained for so many different homeschooling experiences: “The problem is that all of this is entirely subjective. There is no such thing as an objective standard. A test is fair, according to due process standards, only if it measure the content of what you’ve been taught… you’d have to write an individualized, content-valid standardized test for every child that’s being homeschooled in America. You just can’t do that.” But despite his stated concern that homeschoolers might be disadvantaged by standardized tests, the school he founded and leads, Patrick Henry College, requires applicants to submit an SAT or ACT score. ThinkProgress was unable to talk with Farris nor another Patrick Henry College spokesman about his concerns about standardized testing and the college’s admissions policies.
Luis A. Huerta, an associate professor and coordinator of the education and policy program at Columbia University’s Teachers College, told ThinkProgress that he thinks HSLDA and homeschoolers have some reason to be cautious of Common Core. “If [Common Core affects] external metrics that are the gateway to college, this potential hurts the content of instruction they engage in as private homeschoolers,” he explained, adding, “I think they’re against this because it has the potential to change a lot of things.” At the same time, he said, this campaign could be yet another wedge issue that will boost HSLDA membership: “If they publicize potential ills, might this be the force that brings [lapsed members] back home to HSLDA?”
Messiah University’s Gaither observed that while he does see a lot of concern about Common Core homeschool online chat rooms, it is most often from people who do not seem to understand what the standards are. For HSLDA, he suspects, Common Core is another attempt to scare parents into thinking it’s a threat “so people will give money,” at a time when membership growth has slowed (its official membership total was about 3,000 families higher at the time of Kunzman’s 2009 book).Parents and teachers are saying ‘We’re tired of all of these top-down mandates. To heck with it, we’re gonna homeschool.’
Whether this is part of the intent of the effort or not, HSLDA’s Estrada noted one other apparent impact of the campaign against Common Core: more homeschoolers. “I talk to families on an almost daily basis who are frustrated, not so much with Common Core, but who see it as the last straw. Parents and teachers are saying ‘We’re tired of all of these top-down mandates. To heck with it, we’re gonna homeschool.’” While he doesn’t know if it will be massive, “anecdotally, we see a lot of it.” He said they have not made a “concerted campaign” to recruit people based on their fear of having their kids in public schools aligned to the standards, but noted, “I’ve said, once or twice, on panels, ‘If you’re concerned about the Common Core, now’s a great time to homeschool!’”
Still, so far, Estrada admitted, Common Core has not actually affected homeschoolers. “But homeschoolers have seen what happens [when there are] centralized, standardized policies in place that affect all kids in education. We were founded in 1983 when most states criminalized homeschooling.” The Home School Legal Defense Association, he said, is fighting it now “before people say ‘all 50 states have Common Core. Why are those homeschool kids not getting the same education?’”
ThinkProgress intern Shannon Greenwood contributed to this report.
ThinkProgress is an editorially independent project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
For the past three nights, Shaila Evans has packed her book bag and set it by the front door hoping to go to school the next day. And every morning she has been disappointed.
The Ferguson-Florissant School District was supposed to begin classes Thursday, August 14. Owing to the protests and riots, the district postponed the beginning of the school year to the following Monday, August 18, but then canceled classes for the entire week altogether.
"She’s really anxious to start school," says her mother, Janeatha Evans. "She loves school, and she’s been saying how she wants to start learning and making new friends."
Shaila used to attend Griffith Elementary but will start third grade at New Halls Ferry Elementary this year.
Teachers at Walnut Grove Elementary are just as anxious.
At 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, a couple of Walnut Grove teachers and other volunteers stood outside the Ferguson Public Library, a few blocks north of the Ferguson Police Department, waving signs that read “Teachers Here to Teach” and “Students Welcome.”Photo by Mitch RyalsOutside the Ferguson Public Library where teachers and volunteers spend the day with students after the first day of school was pushed back again.
Carrie Pace — sometimes called Mrs. Paste by the students because she’s an art teacher at Walnut Grove — spearheaded the collaboration with the Ferguson Public Library to provide students with a place to learn despite school being canceled.
"We’re trying to provide a positive and productive place for students," she says. "A place for them to come and do something educational and meet up with other students."
A meeting room in the back of the cozy library buzzes with schoollike chatter. One teacher reads a book aloud to a group of kids while another helps students draw and make posters. One poster reads: “Stop the violence. Let kids go back to school.” Another table is dedicated to science lessons and one to math.
Shaila and Janeatha have fun with the glue. Janeatha writes each of their names in glue on colored construction paper. Then she mixes food coloring with sugar and sprinkles it on the glue.
"It’s nice to see this to take the kids’ minds off riots and war zones," Janeatha says. "[Shaila] understands the situation and the protests, but she doesn’t get the violence and destroying property."
About 30 kids filtered in and out by midafternoon, and Pace expected more to come before the teachers and volunteers left at 4 p.m. They’ll be at the library again today from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., but Pace is uncertain about Thursday and Friday. The staff is required to attend a professional development session that will address crisis-management counseling on those days.
"I’m hoping we can get enough parents and retired teachers and other volunteers so we can keep this going Thursday and Friday as well," she said. "I’m hopeful it will happen Thursday and Friday."
The Ferguson-Florissant School District is scheduled to resume classes Monday, August 25. The nearby Jennings and Riverview districts also canceled school yesterday, but they resumed today.
WASHINGTON — Though the network of conservative groups funded by billionaires Charles and David Koch are better known for spending millions on top-tier Senate and gubernatorial races, they may be having a more durable impact at the local level.
A report released Thursday by the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund compiles example after example of how Americans for Prosperity is mobilizing supporters to campaign against local tax increases and mass transit systems and for like-minded candidates running for school and county boards. Americans for Prosperity is a key player in the Koch-affiliated universe, with chapters in 35 states.
Among the local targets cited was a proposed tax increase to provide a permanent source of funding for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. After Americans for Prosperity’s Ohio chapter mailed fliers, made calls, ran radio ads and knocked on thousands of doors, the proposal was defeated.
"There is no issue we won’t get involved in if you’re going to raise taxes," Eli Miller, director of the Ohio chapter, told a local NPR affiliate in April.
The CAP Action Fund report suggests that the Ohio effort was aimed less at protecting local pocketbooks and more at protecting Koch-affiliated business interests in Columbus. Georgia-Pacific Chemicals, a Koch Industries subsidiary, would have seen its property taxes go up at one facility if the levy had passed.
Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D), who leads the action fund, said that the Kochs are interfering with the ability of local communities to “determine what’s right” for them.
"The local business community was largely supportive of the zoo levy," Strickland told The Huffington Post. "It’s kind of ironic, because some of the people who in the past have perhaps been cheerleaders for the Kochs, as they have attempted to use their wealth in order to get conservative candidates elected to office, are now perhaps a little unhappy that the Kochs are behaving in ways that are not consistent with their goals — and that was certainly true with what happened in Columbus with regards to the zoo levy. They’re willing to spend whatever they need to cripple and limit government."
The report also highlights a fight over a proposed mass transit system in Nashville. The Amp, a 7.1-mile rapid transit bus project, never received the go-ahead after Americans for Prosperity’s Tennessee affiliate encouraged state senators to introduce a measure aimed at preventing cities from establishing rapid transit systems that would use separate road lanes. Though a coalition of business and community groups were in favor of the proposal, it fizzled.
The report argues that in the Nashville example, the Koch network was motivated by a belief that public transit would threaten the brothers’ oil and gas interests.
Almost no issue appears to be too small for the Kochs’ activists. Americans for Prosperity jumped into an Iron County board of supervisors election in northern Wisconsin to attack candidates opposed to an iron ore mine. The group also flexed its organizing muscle over a 1.75 percent food and beverage tax in Fremont, Nebraska, to fund emergency capital improvement projects and a 1 percent tax increase in Gahanna, Ohio, to prevent cuts to the local police force.
"What does David Koch know about the city of Gahanna?" Strickland asked.
The Kochs, he argued, “are willing to spend vast sums of unreported money to interfere with the decisions that should rightfully be made by local communities. If you look across the country, they are using their wealth to try to control what happens at the local level, to the detriment of schools, teachers, firefighters and infrastructure development. If they are successful, if they achieve their goals, it will be detrimental to the country because the decision-making is coming from the top down.”
Local education issues are another area arousing Koch interest. The network has worked to roll back efforts aimed at integrating schools in North Carolina and promoted school board candidates in Douglas County, Colorado, who supported abolishing teacher tenure, benching teachers’ unions, implementing voucher programs and paying teachers based on the subject and grade they instruct.
The CAP Action Fund report also flags a Huffington Post story about the Youth Entrepreneurs nonprofit, funded primarily by Charles Koch, which pays public school students to take courses espousing lower taxes and fewer regulations and deploring higher minimum wages and social welfare programs.
Strickland framed his group’s report as an effort at raising public awareness about the “selfish” motivations of the Kochs’ political involvement.
"I think there are many people, even in the communities affected by these efforts, who are largely unaware that these wealthy outside interests are having an impact on what happens there," he said. "The Koch brothers are looking out for themselves and their own economic interests, but they cloak that in a kind of political and economic philosophy that allows them to pretend to be high-minded in their motivations. Their motivations are selfish and people need to know that. Once people understand the threat to the democratic process and understand the source of that threat, we will be better able to help local communities protect themselves from these efforts."
Americans for Prosperity has a different take. It sees its local campaigns as a way to reach voters who wouldn’t otherwise show up for a federal election and bring them into the network.
"It’s a little frustrating when someone says, ‘Oh, this is a political effort about the U.S. Senate,’" Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips told National Journal in June. “They don’t look at the totality of what Americans for Prosperity is doing.”
"We’re genuinely a long-term effort," he added. "We’re not about some election cycle."
Another day, another example of the Religious Right’s persecution complex. On today’s edition of “Sandy Rios in the Morning,” listeners heard the sad tale of Laurie Higgins, a cultural analyst at the American Family Association-affiliated Illinois Family Institute, who spoke of the “liberal intolerance” and “persecution” she encountered in her previous work as a high school administrator.
Higgins described how she was demoted and shunned by her colleagues because she spoke out against “pro-homosexual resources,” like “Angels in America,” being available to students in the school library. She was also frustrated by the school’s “complete unwillingness” to include resources on LGBT issues that offered “opposing views.”
Rios and Higgins were shocked that no parents, teachers, or pastors came out in support of her or “dared to stand up for their own faith” in fear of the “authoritarian regime” of the school system.
“The halcyon days of being Christian in America are over,” warned Higgins.
In anticipation of the oppression ahead, Higgins advised: “Churches need to do a better job of preparing Christians to endure persecution, because it’s coming.” In her view, if parents and pastors aren’t actively driving LGBT books out of every school library, they “aren’t willing to suffer for Christ.”
Right-Wing Christians Tell Kids 'Convert or Go to Hell,' Then Accuse Liberals of Indoctrinating Christian Kids
For the masochists among us who tune into right-wing media, you soon learn that the all-time favorite fear pundits and preachers love to trot out is that “they” are coming for your children.
Whether it’s liberal college professors supposedly turning kids to Marxism or gay people who are accused of recruiting, over and over you hear the claim that the children of conservatives are in serious danger of being talked into everything from voting for Democrats to getting gay-married.
It’s a peculiar thing to obsess over, and not just because it suggests conservatives have an unhealthy unwillingness to allow their children to grow up and think for themselves. It’s because the imagined conspiracies of liberals trying to “indoctrinate” kids are total phantoms. A little digging shows that accusations of indoctrination are usually aimed at attempts to educate or simply offer support and acceptance. While there are always a few rigid ideologues who are out to recruit, by and large liberals are, well, liberal: More interested in arguing and engaging than trying to mold young people into unthinking automatons.
But I think I know where conservatives get the idea that other people are sneaking around trying to indoctrinate children into unthinking ideologies. It’s because they themselves are totally guilty of it, both in terms of trying to recruit other people’s children and trying to frighten their own children about the dangers of exploring thoughts outside of the ones approved by their own rigid ideologies.
Parents in Portland, Oregon were alarmed to hear that a group calling itself the Child Evangelism Fellowship’s Good News Club has been targeting children as young as five for conversion to their form of Christianity. The group pretends to be similar to more liberal and open-minded groups, claiming they are just trying to teach their beliefs but aren’t trying to be coercive. However, it’s hard to believe, in no small part because they admit they run around scaring children by telling them they are “sinners” who are hellbound unless they convert and start trying to convert others.
One mother, Mia Marceau, told the Associated Press about her 8-year-old son’s encounter with the group. “Within a few hours, however, she didn’t like what the group was telling her 8-year-old son and his friends: They were headed to hell, needed to convert their friends and were duty-bound to raise money for the organization.” Those kinds of tactics aren’t about encouraging free discourse, but about creating a cult-like mentality that discourages questions and free thought.
Accusing liberals of “indoctrination” of children does serve one very valuable purpose for conservatives: It gives them cover to launch initiatives to actually indoctrinate children into rigidly Christian or right-wing views.
Nowhere is this more evident than when it comes to the issue of evolution vs. creationism. Evolutionary theory is not an ideology or a belief system. It’s part of science, a world where asking smart questions and looking at evidence and questioning what you think you know is a big part of the equation. But creationists claim that they are the skeptics who are asking hard questions and portray evolutionary biologists as the rigid ideologues who are taking their beliefs on faith. By doing so, they hope to confuse people enough about which is the science and which is the faith system so they can smuggle their beliefs into the classroom where they hope to actually indoctrinate children.
It’s easy enough to see this is true if you understand how the concept of “evidence” works. All of the “questions” creationists claim to have about evolution have all been answered by scientists. That creationists hear these answers and ignore them, preferring to pretend instead that scientists have not answered the questions, shows that creationists are the rigid ideologues in the game.
Meanwhile, creationist arguments fall apart under even the most cursory examination, and unlike scientists, creationists aren’t able to answer the questions people ask them. One reason creationists struggle to get their indoctrination attempts past the courts is that once you actually bother to look at the debate in any depth, it’s clear who is teaching people how to think and who is pushing unquestioning obedience to an ideology.
You’re starting to see the same tactic used when it comes to right-wing attacks on Common Core, a set of national standards for schools endorsed by the White House. Now, there’s plenty of reason for people who are fans of critical thinking to object to Common Core, which feeds into the same “teach the test” mentality and attempts to turn our children into worker bees that have long plagued our public school system. But right-wing complaints about it have nothing to do with that. Instead they stem from a series of fanciful claims that it’s some kind of underhanded way to indoctrinate your children into liberalism.
(Indeed, in a bit of right-wing paradoxical thinking, teaching critical thinking itself is viewed as a form of indoctrination, even though it is, by definition, the exact opposite of indoctrination. If Common Core actually promoted more critical thinking, the right’s claims that it’s “indoctrination” would probably get louder.)
But the whole scare over Common Core doesn’t actually have much to do with the realities of Common Core at all. Most of the conservative claims are a bunch of recycled scare tactic used to scare parents into believing that education itself is the enemy and that kids should be kept at home or within strictly controlled Christian right environments geared to shut down critical thinking and encourage ideological rigidity.
That was made quite clear in Nona Willis Aronowitz’s piece for NBC News where she followed a group of Christian conservatives who hit the road trying to scare people about Common Core in Texas. Never mind that Texas doesn’t use Common Core. Scaring people about a thing they call “Common Core” that is merely a stand-in for fears kids might actually get educated if they go to school is what the entire snow job they’re pulling is all about. By raising fears that kids who get a public education are being brainwashed by some nefarious liberal agenda, these activists can justify their actual desire to, well, try to brainwash kids into unblinking acceptance of whatever authority figures in their life tell them to believe.
One mother said she was protesting the current state of public education because she opposed “deeper, rigorous thinking” for her kids and wanted them to learn “that there are absolutes, that there are right and wrong answers,” even though, in reality, there really is a lot of gray between the black and white. No matter how much conservatives wish otherwise, teaching people to think for themselves is not “indoctrination” and trying to foist a rigidly unthinking right-wing ideology on them is not protecting them.
Bill O'Reilly Hosts Anti-Choice Extremist Lila Rose To Discuss Kink Allegedly Promoted By Planned Parenthood
As the product of a 50’s Catholic education, Bill O’Reilly was taught (as was your humble correspondent) that “dirty” thoughts were a one-way ticket to Satansville and that sex was strictly for reproduction. But somehow Bill strayed off the straight and narrow and onto the road to perdition. According to a sexual harassment suit, filed by his former producer, not only did Bill have dirty thoughts about her; but he was so into sex toys that he urged her to get a vibrator and name it! But kink (not that there’s anything wrong with it) is mainstream - so much so that Lila Rose’s “Live Action” (LOL) sting video crew is using it as a pretext to sting Planned Parenthood in an effort to bring about its defunding. Not surprisingly, anti-choice zealot Bill O’Reilly loves the sweet and virginal Lila who, last night, discussed nasty kink stuff being told to clean teens. O’Reilly was all ears?
Lila Rose, a protege of James O’Keefe, hasn’t gotten any traction on her plethora of attempted stings of Planned Parenthood which is now onto Rose’s modus operandi, one of which involved an actress posing as a 15 year old girl, with a non-existent older boyfriend, who was seeking an abortion. The subsequent video attempted to prove that Planned Parenthood was ignoring cases of sex trafficking, child abuse, or parental notification laws. Despite her best efforts, Planned Parenthood still hasn’t been brought up on either state or federal criminal charges as a result of Lila’s carefully edited, not so shocking exposés.
So now, Lila is off in another direction - one that, due to its prurient subtext, has gotten attention from the sexually skewed right wing and its media mouthpiece Fox News. Her latest tactic is to have that “15 year old” go to a Planned Parenthood and engage the counselor in talk about alternative sexual practices. Last week, she appeared on Hannity to discuss, OMG, her video which purported to show the Colorado Planned Parenthood worker encouraging the teen to engage in “sadistic” practices. Hannity was chagrined and appalled. Last night, she made yet another appearance on The Factor where she and Bill discussed her latest kink based sting at an Oregon Planned Parenthood.
O’Reilly began by citing how Planned Parenthood gets tax money. He described how Live Action “staged an undercover sting operation…and the results are shocking.” O’Reilly was visibly agitated as he described how the video shows a discussion of "controversial sex practices." He issued a “strong viewer warning” because “what we are about to show you is ultra disturbing.” (Don’t want gramps to go into cardiac arrest!)
He showed video of the “15 year old” asking about role play. The counselor merely responded to the “girl’s” questions with accurate information. Included in the talk was the importance of communication and setting limits. While the counselor mentioned “pornos,” she added that the girl was under age. Nothing to see here move along - but that’s because Bill “didn’t run the explicit stuff about bondage and sadomasochistic stuff that the woman there” told the alleged patient.
Lovely Lila talked about how she has lots more videos “showing Planned Parenthood and their very destructive, dangerous sex counseling of who they think are underage girls." (Thank you Fox for showing the counselor who is probably getting "pro-life" death threats as we speak!) Father Bill opined that the conversation "was totally inappropriate." Bill prompted her to talk about how Planned Parenthood is encouraging underage girls to "access" sex shops and how the clinics are promoting "sadomasochism, bondage and discipline, destructive sexual practices, porn sites." She brayed about statutory rape and how Planned Parenthood has been investigated for years (with NO results) because they "don’t take child/adult relationship seriously" and "don’t report sexual abuse.” (they do.)
Both O’Reilly and Rose cited federal and “Obamacare” money going to Planned Parenthood” under, according to Bill, "the guise of education and this is the kind of education they’re giving 15 year old girls." Lila brayed about the taxpayer money going to "killing children in the womb" and worked in one more "destructive sexual practices” reference. She urged parents to urge schools “to kick Planned Parenthood out.” Bill: “Absolutely.”
So, uh, if a girl has questions about sexual practices, she should be told to STFU and go see her parish priest about her sinful thoughts? Seriously, if a kid is old enough to ask these questions, shouldn’t they get respectful and factually accurate information? Lord knows that Bill O’Reilly’s viewers don’t!
In his continued crusade against the Common Core education standards, Glenn Beck encouraged people across the country to boycott tests associated with Common Core, later declaring, “The day we’re all willing to peacefully go to jail like Martin Luther King, we will win.”
In a live broadcast to nearly 700 theaters nationwide, Beck and his fellow anti-Common Core “warriors” joined forces Tuesday night to “make Common Core history" (emphasis original) in a two-hour live movie titled We Will Not Conform. Those “warriors” included conservative commentator and notorious Common Core misinformer Michelle Malkin, hosts Dana Loesch and Pat Gray from Beck’s TheBlaze, “self-proclaimed historian” David Barton, Townhall columnist Terrence Moore, Jay Spencer of Liberty University (a sponsor of the event), and representatives from state-based groups waging war on Common Core.
The participants also included Matt Kibbe and Ellen Wheeler from FreedomWorks, a group which ”started out as the Koch-funded Citizens for a Sound Economy” and came under scrutiny last year “due to bizarre internal feuding and questions about its finances.” Former FreedomWorks chairman Dick Armey told Media Matters at the time that “the group wasted money by paying Glenn Beck $1 million … to fundraise for the organization.”
This live event is just the latest salvo in Beck’s campaign against the state-based education standards, which were originally adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. Beck and co-author Kyle Olson released a book in May called Conform, which, in addition to baselessly attacking teachers and public schools for 222 pages, argued that Common Core helps progressives remove parents from their children’s lives. The day before the event, Beck compared Common Core to slavery.
We Will Not Conform was structured around five “working groups,” each tasked with formulating strategies for the different types of tools viewers could use to help defeat Common Core in their states: research and resources, politics, messaging, grassroots organizing, and alternatives to public schools. Many of the right-wingmedia’sfavoritemyths about Common Core were featured in these working groups, including accusations of the standards as a “national program” and “takeover of education,” of being “top-down” and “control-usurping,” and wanting to “cash in on your children.”
Some of the most egregious rhetoric from the evening included:
- Glenn Beck equating the fight against Common Core to "David versus Goliath," and saying that "The day we’re all willing to peacefully go to jail like Martin Luther King, we will win."
- Michelle Malkin asserting that Common Core turns kids into experimental “guinea pigs,” and declaring,"We’re locked and loaded."
- Terrence Moore claiming that "progressive education is trying to take away the great stories" of American education, which is not what “Thomas Jefferson” would have wanted.
- The Blaze’s Buck Sexton interviewing six parents and their children about their experiences with Common Core, asking the children questions like, "How many of you think Common Core is confusing, for no reason?" and "Big thumbs down for Common Core, huh?"
These attacks come as a few states are pulling out of Common Core. Coincidentally, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory (R), “previously a Common Core supporter,” signed legislation ”designed to replace the controversial Common Core academic standards” the same night as Beck’s event. States’ moves to repeal the standards come on the heels of extreme right-wing rhetoric from the likes of Beck, Malkin, and others.
At the end of the night, Beck encouraged viewers to “stand up” and “stay the course” because “our children’s future is at stake” and they “will thank you for it.” He also announced that a post-event action plan to “stop Common Core’s federal takeover of education” would be made available online.
h/t: Hilary Tone at MMFA
Richard Land, the former head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s policy arm, is sick and tired of liberal public school propaganda about slavery in colonial America and the early United States. Subbing for Family Research Council president Tony Perkins on yesterday’s “Washington Watch” radio show, Land told listeners that Americans “ended slavery, we didn’t bring slavery to North America.”
He added that Native Americans were “enslaving each other before we got there.” While it is the case that some Native American groups did engage in various forms of slavery, there is no parallel between that and the vast scale of the American slavocracy.
Land, who left his position at the SBC after making (plagiarized) racial comments regarding the Trayvon Martin case, said that people should watch Dinesh D’Souza’s new movie rather than believe their public school education.Movies and books like Dinesh D’Souza’s book ‘America’ are so important because if you are younger than forty and you’ve been taught in the public schools, you have not learned the real story of America. You have been taught a lie about America as a colonial power, as a rapacious power. As Dinesh points out, we ended slavery, we didn’t bring slavery to North America. Slavery was there, the Native Americans were enslaving each other before we got here. Eventually, we ended slavery. We have been a civilizing influence in the world.
H/T: Brian Tashman at RWW
Teachers are increasingly ready to fight back against the sustained assault they face. On Friday, delegates at the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly passed a resolution calling on Education Secretary Arne Duncan to resign:The business item passed said it was necessary to call for Duncan’s resignation because of the “department’s failed education agenda focused on more high-stakes testing, grading and pitting public school students against each other based on test scores, and for continuing to promote policies and decisions that undermine public schools and colleges, the teaching education professionals, and education unions.”Really, resignation is too good for Duncan, but it would be a start.
Similar measures failed in past years, but clearly anger is growing, with Duncan earning the ire of teachers and other supporters of public education by his recent support for attacks on due process, in addition to his longstanding crusade for high-stakes testing. This may be an area where the NEA’s members are out in front of its leadership; the union’s outgoing president, Dennis Van Roekel, downplayed the business item to reporters, and the stream of press releases from the Representative Assembly does not appear to include one on this rather newsworthy item.
The NEA is, however, trumpeting another measure combating the drive for corporate education reform, taking aim at “toxic testing”:The measure approves the use of NEA resources to launch a national campaign to end the high stakes use of standardized tests, to sharply reduce the amount of student and instructional time consumed by tests, and to implement more effective forms of assessment and accountability. The impact of excessive testing is particularly harmful to many poor, minority, and special needs students.The NEA also elected a new president, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, who told the delegates “We know what is at stake and it is why we are who we are. It is why we are fearless and why we will not be silent when people who for their own profit and political posture subvert words like ‘reform’ or ‘accountability.’”
“The sad truth is that test-based accountability has not closed the opportunity gaps between affluent and poor schools and students,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel. “It has not driven funding and support to the students from historically underfunded communities who need it most. Poverty and social inequities have far too long stood in the way of progress for all students.”… at a White House press briefing Monday, during which Duncan outlined a plan to ensure all students have access to highly effective teachers, Duncan said he was “trying to stay out of local union politics.”
“We’ve had a very good working relationship with NEA in the past,” he said and congratulated President-elect Lily Eskelsen García on her win.
Arne Duncan should resign.
It’s being heralded as a triumph for science.
The news: Teaching students that creationism is an evidence-based theory is now banned in all public schools across the United Kingdom, according to new documents from the British government. Here are the new standards, which institute a:
…requirement for every academy and free school to provide a broad and balanced curriculum in any case prevents the teaching of creationism as evidence based theory in any academy or free school.
According to io9, this means any “academy or free school” in the U.K. which teaches creationism to students would be breaking its funding agreement with the government. Academies are roughly equivalent to charter schools in the U.S., while “free schools” are nonprofit independent schools funded by taxpayer dollars, which can be organized by parents, teachers, charities and businesses. The new language updates a 2012 rule which required all future free schools that teach the theory of natural selection alone to include academies and all existing free schools.
This means that the U.K. is on track to more or less completely end the practice of teaching creationism in publicly funded schools. However, it does permit creationism and other beliefs about the origin of the Earth and life to be taught in classes on religion, so long as they are not presented as valid alternatives to scientific theory. While there are further reforms needed in other educational sectors across the U.K., it looks like the biggest step toward getting religion out of taxpayer-funded science classes has just been accomplished.
Contrast that to the U.S.: In the U.S., some $1 billion in taxpayer funding across 14 states goes to private schools. Earlier this year, Politico reported that those private schools included “hundreds of religious schools that teach Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve strolled the garden with dinosaurs and much of modern biology, geology and cosmology is a web of lies.”
In the U.S., just the states of Louisiana and Tennessee currently permit creationism and its offshoot, intelligent design, to be taught as alternatives to evolution in public schools. But across much of the South and Midwest, private schools that teach creationism are able to accept millions of dollars in public funding. Slate has a relatively up-to-date, comprehensive map of such schools here. There really are hundreds of them.
Map of schools teaching creationism. Image Credit: Slate
From Politico’s report:
… many of these faith-based schools go beyond teaching the biblical story of the six days of creation as literal fact. Their course materials nurture disdain of the secularworld, distrust of momentous discoveries and hostility toward mainstream scientists. They often distort basic facts about the scientific method — teaching, for instance, that theories such as evolution are by definition highly speculative because they haven’t been elevated to the status of “scientific law.”
One set of books popular in Christian schools calls evolution “a wicked and vain philosophy.” Another derides “modern math theorists” who fail to view mathematics as absolute laws ordained by God. The publisher notes that its textbooks shun “modern” breakthroughs — even those, like set theory, developed back in the 19th century.
In the U.S., the settled science of evolution is still pretty touchy. Missouri, for example, is considering a bill that would "alert" parents to any discussion of natural evolution in schools. And a 2013 Pew poll found that just 6 in 10 Americans believe that life evolved over time (including via the guidance of a supreme being), compared to 87% of scientists.
Why you should care: Pew found that Americans widely disagree with scientists on a variety of issues, including embryonic stem cell research, the use of animals in laboratory testing, nuclear power, childhood vaccinations and the causes and scale of global warming. At a time when the economy increasingly values education in highly technical STEM fields and large-scale scientific projects are more important than ever before, it would be nice if taxpayer dollars funded secular, scientific education instead of religious dogma.
Source: Tom McKay for Policy Mic
Notorious misinformer Glenn Beck appeared on Fox News to push various myths about the Common Core education standards while promoting his upcoming live movie We Will Not Conform.
On June 12, Fox’s Sean Hannity hosted Beck, a former Fox host and founder of The Blaze network, to discuss the Common Core State Standards, which were adopted in 2010 by 45 states and the District of Columbia. “Political turbulence” surrounding the standards, however, has led a few states to opt out of Common Core, following months-long smear campaigns from right-wing media figures, including Beck andFox. Beck even wrote an “angry and ignorant" book titled Conform, which spent 222 pages lobbing ridiculous attacks against the standards and public education in general.
On Hannity, Beck plugged his July 22 live movie, which will also feature fellow Common Core misinformer and conservative columnist Michelle Malkin. After Hannity explained that Beck was “going to show in this movie how to defeat Common Core,” Beck claimed that Common Core opponents are “winning on this.” He then propagated a series of myths about the standards, including that Common Core is about “control, manipulation, [and] propaganda” and that it takes away freedom from teachers, despite polls showing that teachers support it. Beck even likened Common Core to education in China because it “use[s] propaganda in the classroom” to “shape these minds to get them to be good little boys and girls for the state.”
Given that he launched his campaign against Common Core by stating, “We will not save our country unless we save it first from this attack,” Beck’s live movie promises to be yet another absurd ruse in his constant, fact-free crusade again Common Core.
h/t: Hilary Tone at MMFA