Category archives: Education

On School Bathrooms and Bullying

by Daniel Hart

February 27, 2017

In a White House press conference last Thursday, a reporter stated that “82 percent of transgender children report feeling unsafe at school.” She then asserted that by rolling back Obama’s May 2016 school transgender bathroom guidance, the Trump administration was leaving transgender children “open to being bullied at school.” She followed this up by saying: “Transgender children say that their experiences [of] not being able to use the bathroom that they feel comfortable using makes them vulnerable to bullying.”

Just to be clear: It is tragic to know that such a high percentage of students who identify as transgendered feel unsafe at school. It goes without saying that bullying must be fought by any and every reasonable means at educators’ disposal. Anti-bullying policies and laws that are currently in place in all 50 states play an important part in this. But even more important is the education of children at home, where parents need to instill in their kids Christ’s golden rule from Matthew 7:12: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.” This underscores the Christian principle that every human being, no matter what sexual identity they present, is a precious creation of God that deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

With that being said, do single-sex bathroom policies contribute to an “unsafe” environment for students who identify as transgendered, as the reporter asserts? The Obama administration’s solution to this perceived problem was to require schools to implement the following policy for restrooms and locker rooms: “A school may provide separate facilities on the basis of sex, but must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity.”

It remains unclear how this policy would have achieved its goal of mitigating bullying. For example, if a biological male who identifies as a female felt uncomfortable going into the boy’s restroom because of the potential bullying he would receive from other boys, how could he reasonably expect to feel safer if he were instead to go into the girl’s restroom? In the latter situation, the girls already in the restroom may feel (at the very least) uncomfortable or possibly threatened, which would lead to a less safe situation for everyone involved. How is this in any way a desirable outcome?

A common-sense solution to this situation is for schools to provide a third gender-neutral bathroom option. This solution is endorsed by the National Association of School Psychologists in a study entitled “Safe School Environments for Transgender Students.” In the study, students at a school near Chicago who identified as transgendered gave positive feedback on gender-neutral facilities: “Students revealed that having more gender-neutral facilities eliminated tardiness and having to go to an opposite area of the building to use the bathroom during classes. Students also said that the private locker room felt safer than having to share it with nontransgender students…”

To be clear, all schools were free to implement the bathroom policies that they deemed appropriate for the needs of their students, including gender-neutral options, before the Obama bathroom directive was handed down last year. There was never a need for this kind of “top-down” approach that infringes on the effectiveness of solving problems at the local level. By rolling back this misguided policy, the Trump administration is leaving states and school districts free to craft the policies that best protect their particular students’ needs.

Loudoun Schools Say No to Sex Experiment

by Cathy Ruse

January 13, 2017

(EDITOR’S NOTE: A correction was made on 1/19/17 to the original post on 1/13/17)

Tuesday night in a 5-4 midnight vote, the Loudoun County School Board rejected a proposal to create a new identity category for transgenderism in its school system.

This is a big win in the “School Board Wars.” Loudoun is the second largest school district in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Its proximity to Washington is also important.

The proposal was to add “gender identity” to the policy against harassment and discrimination. This is the genius of the latest wave of LGBT activism: when you wrap your agenda in the cloak of “nondiscrimination,” you win easy votes from those not paying attention, and gain a powerful rhetorical rejoinder. Anyone against you is, by definition, a bigot.

But these so-called “nondiscrimination” measures, cropping up everywhere, go well beyond preventing harassment. And that is by design.

In the case of Loudoun, they would have opened girls’ locker rooms, showers, and sports teams to biological males. Because denying the use of the girls’ shower to a boy who identifies as a girl can be said to be “discriminatory.”

In Fairfax County, which has adopted this new identity category, concerned parents dominate the citizen speaker slots at every bi-monthly board meeting. Sports moms speak of the physical danger their petite daughters now face, with the prospect of facing off against larger, heavier, stronger biological males on the sports field. Religious minorities tell tearful stories of pulling their children out of school. Women who have been victims of sexual assault speak of the trauma their younger counterparts will face as they are forced to share intimate spaces with biological males.

Adopting the new identity category of “gender identity” provides the legal club to beat all students and teachers into compliance with the broader transgender movement agenda—even to the point of silencing dissent and forcing unwanted speech.

What if kids want to start a “Male and Female He Created Them” club? What are the penalties for a Muslim child who addresses his biologically male teacher, “Sir”? Can a student’s Facebook post on the anti-science stance of the transgender movement get him in trouble? In Fairfax it can, according to one school board member.

In Fairfax, the school board is dominated by hardcore leftists. Loudoun County is different. Loudoun has several conservatives, a blue dog Democrat, apparently even a “reasonable” liberal.  

On Tuesday night, 500 people filled the Loudoun County School Board meeting room. A dozen police officers kept another 300 outside.

There were television cameras. And lots of young people with angry faces holding rainbows.

Most of the people were there for the Principal Brewer issue, involving the Dominion High School principal’s handling of a former band leader accused of sexually assaulting male teen students. 

Over 200 people spoke; each was allotted one minute.

When the matter was first sprung on the public in December, speakers in favor of the policy change outnumbered those against it by a margin of 10-1. But on Tuesday night things were different.

While about a dozen people argued for the nullification of male and female in Loudoun schools, a dozen others rose in opposition: A pastor, a priest, and a bunch of moms and dads. 

The Loudoun School Board forbids audible reactions from the audience. Only “silent applause” is allowed, which looks like a bunch of people wiggling “Jazz Hands” in the air. The new Chairman, Jeff Morse, reminding the audience of the rules, actually called it “Jazz Hands.”

There is no silent disapproval symbol. At least not one announced from the dais. (The obvious one is likely not permitted.)

The pastor speaking against the transgender measure got hissed. Which, technically, is not silent.

Since the December surprise, nearly 600 people had signed a petition against the policy change, generating 600 individual email letters to each board member urging a no vote. 

In addition, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington had alerted its Loudoun County parishes through flyers and emails.

All of this made a difference, and in the end, the measure failed by the smallest of margins.

But it failed.

Male” and “Female” live on in Loudoun County. For now.

Parents Fight Back in Fairfax County

by Cathy Ruse

August 31, 2016

If only the parents would keep quiet and get out of the way, then the LGBT activists and their friends in government could do what they want with our schools and our children.

That is the attitude confronting parents in Fairfax County, Va., one of the largest school systems in the country with 187,000 students. And the chief force aligned against parents and children is their own elected school board.

The Fairfax County School Board has been controlled by liberals for decades, by outsize margins. The School Board has grown so accustomed to ignoring the appeals made by those outside their political party that today they feel quite free to make policy changes without any pretext of compromise and with no respect for the views of parents.

Lately they have pushed controversial gender identity politics into every corner of the public school experience in Fairfax County: re-writing the Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook, changing the sex ed curriculum, changing categories of discrimination, pushing inappropriate sex surveys for kids, etc.

Well, Fairfax parents have had enough.

A large and well-organized group of parent activists have come together to fight the Board. They’ve created a resource designed to inform and empower parents about the Gender Identity policies facing Fairfax families as children return to school.

By completing five simple actions, parents in Fairfax County can add their voices to the chorus to promote common sense, safety, and privacy.

Specifically, the resource presents step-by-step instructions to:

  1. Decline to Sign the Student Rights and Responsibilities (SR&R) Handbook (forcing acceptance of gender identity politics).
  2. Protect children from Guidance, Health, and other lessons that include Gender Identity instruction by demanding an opt out.
  3. Opt children out of the newly revised, needlessly explicit, and age inappropriate Family Life Education (FLE) program.
  4. Opt children out of the Youth/Sex Survey that educational bureaucrats use to justify the inclusion of explicit content in curricula for younger and younger grades.
  5. Voice opposition to the controversial, nontransparent transgender Policy 1450.

The LGBT school agenda will reach your system sooner or later, so this resource is important for all parents.

Schooled by Students

by Bethany Demmin

August 16, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes I feel myself go a bit numb where this world and her troubles are concerned. Each day, the news is clogged with terror attacks, riots, posturing dictators, refugee crises, genocide, and deadly natural disasters. Taken together with an advancing culture of death, unmitigated sexual license, and growing hostility toward Christians, it’s enough to make me despair. But I’m reminded of Chuck Colson’s often-repeated admonition: despair is a sin that denies the sovereignty of God. He was right. The truth is, one of the ways believers experience the continual work of the Gospel is in knowing that our trust and hope can and should be located outside this world.

That’s not to say I take no hope from what I see around me. On the contrary, working with interns here at FRC means I spend about 9 months of the year interacting with passionate, purposeful, committed young people who not only love the Lord but also love this nation. They come here ready to take on the world, their heads full of knowledge and their hearts full of fervor. Now, it’s not surprising that many of them also arrive without a full understanding of how to defend or articulate their beliefs, but that is why we set aside time to have important, difficult discussions about the issues of our day. The goal is that our students will leave FRC better equipped—professionally, mentally, and spiritually—than when they came. As a result of the time and effort we devote to training in Christian worldview, I get a front row seat to watch interns grow in confidence, thoughtfulness, humility, and coherence. They feel it too, so much so that our interns often cite our weekly worldview training as the highlight of the program.

I’m humbled to be part of such important work, helping form the next generation of Christian leaders. I am also grateful to have had so many opportunities to share about these exceptional students; to let others know that there is reason to be optimistic. Of course, we place our hope first and foremost in the person of Jesus, but the very good news is that there are others coming up behind us who claim and live in response to the very same hope.

Are you interested in more information about FRC’s internship program? Click here to learn more and to download an application.

Washington, D.C. Internship Applications: Do’s and Don’ts

by Bethany Demmin

August 11, 2016

There’s never a dull moment when you run an internship program in Washington, D.C. During the semester, the office is a little louder, buzzing with activity, and more often than not, just plain fun. When students head back to school or off to their new jobs, the office gets quieter and I go into preparation mode, fueled by anticipation for the coming semester.

Assembling the class can be nerve-wracking as I go through at least a couple iterations of intern departmental assignments, taking into consideration student interest and background, and the needs of our very busy organization. Once in a while, I have to make difficult decisions, usually based on our housing or program capacity, which inevitably leads to some self-doubt. I suppose a healthy amount of insecurity about these decisions makes sense, most of all because the three months-long contentment of not only our students, but also many of my colleagues is in my hands.

Sometimes I don’t know whether I have made the right decision until our students arrive, but there are a few situations in which I know for sure I have made the right call. If you or a student you know are interested in internships at FRC, or more generally any internship in Washington, D.C., here’s a little bit of free advice on what will make you stick out as an applicant, in the form of a good old “do’s and don’ts” list:

The Experience Collector

Do: Acknowledge your resume, especially if it looks as though you’re wandering a bit. If you have bounced from internship to internship, detail your goals and why specifically you believe an internship here will help you achieve them. That will make me much more likely to consider you.

Don’t: Act like your professional past is of no consequence. If your application features a bachelor’s and master’s degree and four internships both on and off the Hill, my first reaction is to assume you’ve grown to like being an intern a little more than you should. In that case, I am likely to thank you for your interest and nicely tell you that it’s time for you to get a job.

The Creative Writer

Do: Use your application essays to tell me why you are passionate about the issues FRC specifically focuses on, and by all means, find a connection between your interests and our mission, however unrelated they may seem. If that requires a bit of creativity, do the work. I love it when we are able to bring students from all different backgrounds to experience a semester with us.

Don’t: Send well-written essays about your interests that don’t actually answer the writing prompts. If it’s obvious to me that you sent an essay you wrote for another program, your application will most likely be rejected. The same goes for writing essays that show you aren’t actually very familiar with our work. Even if you just learned about FRC, it only takes a little bit of time on our website to learn what you should in order to convince me you are genuinely interested.

The Over-Familiar Communicator

Do: Refer to the intern coordinator with a professional salutation (e.g. Mr., Ms.), and then respond in kind if/when he or she signs off differently. Most communication will be through e-mail, so for instance, when I sign off using my first name, then it is appropriate for you to call me by it in the future.

Don’t: Send demanding, one- or two-sentence e-mails to check on your application status. From my perspective, it’s hard to recover from this, and I am unlikely to consider you if you treat me and this opportunity with anything but respect. Additionally, overuse of exclamation points and question marks is ALWAYS unprofessional.

The Silent Type

Do: Acknowledge e-mails received, even if it’s just a “Got it. Thank you!” Over-communication is preferable in these cases as it shows me you are invested.

Don’t: Ignore an e-mail, even if it is a rejection letter. You never know what contacts you may have need of in the future, and this makes me a lot less likely to lend a hand later. I would be very willing to give a recommendation on an applicant’s behalf, provided he or she treats me with respect and gratitude for the opportunity to be considered for our program. It’s just bad form to not respond with at least a short “thank you” in these cases.

The Retractor

Do: Follow through on your commitment once you have accepted an offer. There isn’t much else to say on this.

Don’t: Come back a week (or two months!) after accepting an offer to join us for an internship and say you won’t be able to come because you got another offer you really wanted. This is a great way to burn a bridge, and it would be nearly impossible to recover from if you ever want to be considered in the future. We expect our students to be men and women of their word, even and especially when it is difficult. That starts before you even arrive.

The Social Butterfly

Do: Feel free to use social media to share your views (and your pics, status updates, etc.) with your friends and family.

Don’t: Post things you’ll regret the next day, or when the coordinator of an internship you applied to views your account.

Some of those items may seem like common sense, but there is a reason why I mentioned each and every one. Like I said, I sometimes struggle with self-doubt while processing applications, but on day one of each of three semesters during which we offer our program, that apprehension typically gives way to confidence that the right students were selected and excitement about what’s in store over the coming months. I am happy to say that when we host students whose conduct reflects this “do’s and don’ts” list, they and we end up loving every minute of their time here.

Are you interested in more information about FRC’s internship program? Click here to learn more and to download an application.

Elections Offer Chance to Restore the Rule of Sanity in Fairfax Schools

by Peter Sprigg

October 27, 2015

A decade or two ago, the homosexual movement began its long march through the public schools of the United States. Now, the transgender movement has begun to follow the same path. The issue exploded like a bombshell last May in the Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools, the nation’s tenth largest school district. That was when parents and taxpayers first learned of plans to add “gender identity” to the school system’s “non-discrimination” policy — meaning that “transgender” students of any age would be able to choose whether to use the boys’ or girls’ restrooms and locker rooms and which sex’s sports teams to play on.

Hundreds of angry citizens turned out at a School Board meeting to protest, but their complaints fell mostly on deaf ears, as the Board voted 10-1 with one abstention to approve the radical new policy. Then, within days, they also adopted a new curriculum to teach about transgender issues in the classroom (the timing was a coincidence, the Board claimed).

The Board passed the buck for the unpopular policies to the Department of Education, which has threatened school districts with a loss of federal funds ($42 million annually to the Fairfax Schools) unless they treat the statutory prohibition on sex discrimination to include “gender identity.” Soon, however, Board members will answer to a higher authority — the voters. A number of candidates opposed to the new transgender policies are challenging incumbents in the Fairfax County School Board elections next week. It’s crucial for pro-family voters to turn out and send a message that they do not want to be governed by sexual radicals and federal bureaucrats.

Last night, FRC Senior Vice-President Rob Schwarzwalder joined FCPS Board Member Elizabeth Schultz at a forum discussing the biblical view of parents and education (Schwarzwalder) and the stakes involved in the upcoming election (Schultz).  Watch their presentations here.

Students Are Flying High with the SOAR Act

by Tabitha Walter

October 23, 2015

According to a 2013 Census Bureau report, DC schools are among the top three states or state-equivalents that spend the most money per student. One would think that DC’s robust culture and accessibility to educational venues would provide the perfect atmosphere in which a student would thrive. Unfortunately, last year, DC schools ranked last in the nation for education. This goes to show that something is terribly wrong with the educational system. Congress continues to work on a solution for this problem.

In 2011, Congress passed H.R. 471, the Scholarships for Opportunity and Results Act (SOAR) sponsored by Speaker Boehner, which provides funding for vouchers and public schools. This program allows for low-income families to choose a different school, including qualified private and parochial schools, while public schools improve. Since the enactment of this program, DC students have significantly improved their math and reading scores. Those who have participated in the program have had higher graduation rates compared to those in DC public schools. This proves that parents and families are more qualified to select the best place of education for their student and that placing a child in a school based on their zip code is an antiquated method.

Even though the SOAR Act expires at the end of the fiscal year of 2016, Speaker Boehner has put the legislation back on the table to ensure its reauthorization for an additional five years. Despite opposition from the left, this legislation has passed the House and is moving forward in the Senate. Another five years of this program could be a game-changer for DC students.

Common Sense versus Common Core

by Robert Morrison

June 9, 2015

Bill Gates is the well-respected genius behind Microsoft. But he didn’t do everything right. He recently told a computer journal that he had made a mistake in developing the Crtl-Alt-Delete series of keystrokes for his program. Now, the achievements that have made Bill Gates one of the world’s wealthiest men are not negated by this single and candid admission of error. But one has to wonder: When will Bill Gates acknowledge that his support for (and lavish spending on) Common Core has also been a mistake?

Many of us who oppose Common Core are confronted with a list of good things that are said to be a part of Common Core. Yes. Sure. We do have alphabet instruction as part of Common Core and it does go from A to Z. No argument there.

But opponents of Common Core can rebound and ask their own questions. If, as you say, friendly advocate, Common Core is so good, is there a single school district in the country that does not have access to computers and the World Wide Web? If Massachusetts or Iowa have really good state standards, what is to stop any school district from accessing these good standards online? Then, they could adopt, adapt, and implement those parts that are really helpful and eschew the parts that aren’t.

Why is it necessary to prod, prompt, and press the states into compliance? Why is it necessary to force state and local education authorities to shackle themselves with the Common Core curriculum?

With many leading American executives, Mr. Gates wants a workforce primed for the challenges of the 21st century.  However, a top-down program that intrudes upon local and state educational systems is neither wise nor effective.  Unless, of course, the real motive is Control. Well, then we need an Alt (ernative) to Common Core. 

And we should Del(ete) anything that threatens freedom, undermines local authority, and denies parents’ choice.

This Man Won’t Be Bullied: Bravo Archbishop Cordileone!

by Cathy Ruse

February 25, 2015

It’s not easy swimming against the tide. I am sorry to admit that “pro-life activist” is not always my first response to the cocktail party question.

And standing by your belief in man-woman marriage sometimes feels like holding up a “punch me” sign.

But San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has shown again and again that he is made of the strongest stuff.

Here’s the tick-tock on his latest battle to protect Catholic teaching in Catholic schools:

February 3: The Archdiocese of San Francisco announces proposed changes in teacher contracts telling applicants that if they’d like a job teaching children at one of their schools, they will be expected to uphold and not publicly contradict Catholic moral teaching. In the view of the Archdiocese, this simply codifies the long-established expectation for school employees.

February 17: A group of legislators, all Democrats, writes a letter to Cordileone urging him to stand down, arguing that his plan would discriminate against the teachers and violate their civil rights to “choose who to love and marry, how to plan a family, and what causes or beliefs to support.”

February 19: The archbishop replies. Here is the meat of his letter:

First of all, I always believe that it is important, before making a judgment on a situation or anyone’s action, that one first obtain as complete and accurate information as possible. To this end, a number of documents and videos giving accurate and more complete information about this contentious issue are available on the website of our Archdiocese. I would encourage you to avail yourselves of these resources, as they will help to clear up a lot of misinformation being circulated about it (such as, for example, the falsehood that the morality clauses apply to the teachers’ private life).

The next thing I would like to mention is actually a question: would you hire a campaign manager who advocates policies contrary to those that you stand for, and who shows disrespect toward you and the Democratic Party in general? On the other hand, if you knew a brilliant campaign manager who, although a Republican, was willing to work for you and not speak or act in public contrary to you or your party — would you hire such a person? If your answer to the first question is “no,” and to the second question is “yes,” then we are actually in agreement on the principal point in debate here.

Now let’s say that this campaign manager you hired, despite promises to the contrary, starts speaking critically of your party and favorably of your running opponent, and so you decide to fire the person. Would you have done this because you hate all Republicans outright, or because this individual, who happens to be a Republican, violated the trust given to you and acted contrary to your mission? If the latter, then we are again in agreement on this principle.

My point is: I respect your right to employ or not employ whomever you wish to advance your mission. I simply ask the same respect from you.

This is how you do it. Bravo Archbishop Cordileone!

As the Archdiocesan announcement said: “Catholic schools exist to affirm and proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” Amen. Let them take their best shot at that goal, and complaining legislators stand aside.

HT: LifeSiteNews

Does Obama’s Middle-Class Economics “Work”?

by Christina J. Daniels

February 19, 2015

In the 2015 State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama made the argument that middle-class economics “works.” He defined middle-class economics as, “the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.” But does middle-class economics “work?”

Historically, the idea of a fair chance combined with hard work is at the core of the American Dream. Opportunity, integrity, diligence and effort have combined to make America extraordinarily prosperous. Yet what does Mr. Obama mean by “fair share?”

Apparently he believes this share should include taking money from one segment of the population and transferring it to another – specifically, to those who wish to attend community college. It’s to this end that the President says he wants to make attending community college cost-free.

Yet education funded by redistribution cannot meet the requirements of the real-world job market. In 2009, Time Magazine equated a college degree to a driver’s license, due to its availability. CNN noted that “41% of college graduates from the last two years are stuck in jobs that don’t require a degree.” In March 2014, the liberal news source ThinkProgess also noted that “half a Million People with college degrees are working for (the) minimum wage.” The Huffington Post wrote an article giving seven reasons not to go to college and stated, “The people who sent us down the path of higher education clearly don’t understand basic economics and the law of supply and demand.” Currently, jobs that were once for low-skilled workers are crowded with college students.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 19% of high school graduates cannot read, 14% of Americans cannot read and 21% of Americans read below a 5th grade level. By proposing policies such as free community college, the President is ignoring facts in favor of untenable proposals. As the Huffington Post notes, “The U.S. Illiteracy Rate Hasn’t changed in 10 Years:”

According to the Department of Justice, the link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure.” The stats back up this claim: 85 percent of all juveniles who interface with the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, and over 70 percent of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.

In addition, Begin to Read compiled statistics showing, “two out of three children that do not learn to read by the fourth grade will end up in jail or on welfare”. The article further stated, “Penal institution records show that inmates have a 16% chance of returning to prison if they receive literacy help, as opposed to 70% who receive no help.” Illiteracy and prison rates plague the poor and are factors which, as Dr. Patrick Fagan of Marriage and Religion Research Institute documents, further heighten the problem of fatherlessness in America.

So, it’s clear that middle-class economics, as defined by the President, do not “work.” Providing free community college will further devalue education and hurt the poor. When disadvantaged individuals are locked out of society, they do not have a “fair shot,” they cannot do their “fair share,” and they are not playing by the “same set of rules.” To ensure that disadvantaged families have a “fair shot,” liberal politicians must address our nation’s illiteracy problem and its roots – fatherlessness and family breakdown. We should be focusing on helping children that fail kindergarten, families that are locked in multigenerational illiteracy and government dependency and college students struggling to read.

The use of school choice and reforming public housing policy are steps toward making change possible. Giving parents the freedom to choose the school and neighborhood they desire will help alleviate the negative impact of centralized poverty. In high poverty areas, schools and neighborhoods are disproportionately filled with single mothers and peers from less educated households.[i] As Star Parker from the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE) states, we must “bust up” the “ghettos” that public schools and government housing have created. With education and housing choice, we can be sure that everyone is playing by the “same rules” and receives a “fair shot.”

And there is no substitute for a strong, two-parent family in which a mom and a dad get married, stay married, and worship weekly with their children. No community college can ever provide that kind of security, opportunity or love.



[i] Fram, M. S., J. E. Miller-Cribbs, and L. Van Horn. “Poverty, Race, and the Contexts of Achievement: Examining Educational Experiences of Children in the U.S. South.” Social Work 52, no. 4 (2007): 309-19.South

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