Category archives: Education

School Board Rigs System for Transgender Win

by Cathy Ruse

June 30, 2017

The Chairman of the Prince William County School Board didn’t want to leave anything to chance last week when he pushed for the passage of transgender norms in public schools.

Apparently, he stacked the deck before the vote, front-loading citizen speakers in favor of his position, and relegating those opposed to the end of the line, after the vote. 

The transgender policy passed 5-3.

Delegate Bob Marshall (R-13) obtained text messages (below) from Prince William School Board Chair Ryan Sawyers via FOIA request showing that Sawyers hand-picked speakers who favored imposing a new transgender policy in Prince William Schools to speak prior to the School Board vote on that issue at their June 21st meeting.

A Legislative Services attorney advised Marshall that the Prince William School Board’s own regulations (133-1) in sections B and E, provide that persons are to speak in the order in which they have put in their requests to speak. 

Not only did Chairman Sawyers fail to follow the rules, he trampled on the First Amendment rights of Prince William county residents according to attorney Caleb Dalton.

If the transgender agenda is so appealing, why do you need to rig a meeting to get it passed?

Taxpayers and parents in Prince William County deserve better than this.

When Campuses Become Battlefields: Protecting Free Speech in a Hostile Environment

by Ian Frith

June 29, 2017

College campuses have become increasingly hostile grounds for political discourse. Citing safety concerns, student groups all over the country have seen their events cancelled by university administrators worried about violence on college campuses. Speakers who have managed to appear on campuses have found themselves harassed by student protestors, and have even faced violence by opposition groups. Take for example, Charles Murray’s attempt to speak at Middlebury College in Vermont. Not only was Murray shouted down with profanity by an enraged progressive student body, but Middlebury Professor Allison Stanger was physically assaulted for accompanying Murray on campus.

This disturbing trend has drawn national attention, and prompted a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. On Tuesday, June 20th, the committee met to discuss the volatile environment on college campuses in relation to the First Amendment’s protection of free speech. The committee heard from seven witnesses including two students who alleged free speech violations on their campuses, several college professors and administrators who have dealt with controversial events on their campuses, and two lawyers associated with First Amendment and hate speech issues. One of these lawyers was Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Cohen has been criticized for SPLC’s labeling of their political opponents as “hate groups,” a designation various progressive groups on college campuses have exploited to justify threatening the free speech of conservatives.

Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) opened the hearing by citing several particularly grievous violations of freedom of speech, including students who were arrested at Kellogg College for distributing the Constitution outside of the designated “free speech zone.” These outrageous actions were condemned by both Republican and Democratic senators alike. The First Amendment does not exist merely to defend opinions that everyone agrees with, it also protects those opinions which are controversial or offensive. Unfortunately, many on the Left only associate hate speech with conservative groups, and ignore hate speech by progressives. Senator Ted Cruz had it right when he said, “truth is far more powerful than force… if your ideas are right there is no need to muzzle the opposition.” College campuses ought to protect speech, because in doing so they’ll help further thoughtful debate.

A highlight of the hearing was the testimony of Zachary Wood, a student at Williams College and president of the organization Uncomfortable Learning. Although he identifies himself as a progressive liberal, Mr. Wood deliberately sought out conservative speakers to invite them to speak because he wanted to start a dialogue on campus. Wood eloquently defended campus free speech when he said “humanity is not limited to the views and values we admire, it also encompasses the views and values that we resist.” One controversial speaker invited by Wood was conservative commentator John Derbyshire. Predictably, the invitation caused a severe backlash and resulted in the president of the university unilaterally cancelling Derbyshire’s speech. The administration then immediately imposed new regulations for students who wished to invite speakers to campus.                                                                     

Several of the school administrators testified that they have had to deal with violent opposition groups on their campus. UCLA Professor Eugene Volokh stated that groups who are trying to force a “heckler’s veto” must be strongly reprimanded. “Behavior that is rewarded is repeated… these thugs have to learn that their behavior is not acceptable.” While college administrators appearing before the committee were generally in favor of protected free speech, some did acknowledge that there are challenges in striking a balance between campus safety and free speech. Dr. Fanta Aw of American University stated that “freedom of expression is integral to the mission of higher education, however protecting it has become increasingly difficult due to our national climate, as well as changing views by younger students regarding the First Amendment.” With an increasingly polarized political climate, this issue isn’t going away anytime soon. It is essential that these universities and administrators continue protect speech on their campuses.

Not all the senators were as adamant about the defense of free speech. Citing a lack of resources on the part of the Berkeley police department, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) redirected the conversation towards the nature of the violent protestors involved, and away from First Amendment issues. Senator Feinstein’s attempt to pit public safety against free speech are misguided at best, and deceptive at worst. While it is important that college campuses remain safe environments for learning, safety must not be bought at the price of silencing minority views on campus.  Richard Cohen of the SPLC went one step further, blaming much of the atmosphere on college campuses on the national climate post-election, and specifically the actions of the “alt-right” and white nationalism. He also defended an SPLC publication entitled The Battle for Berkeley, which claimed that “in the name of free speech, the alt-right is assaulting the ivory tower.” Attacks on free speech should not be partisan, but Cohen ignored many groups on the Left who have also been responsible for inciting violence both on college campuses and elsewhere. In fact, SPLC’s labeling of conservative organizations as “hate groups” has been connected to violence against conservative groups, including the 2012 FRC shooting by Floyd Lee Corkins II (who cited SPLC’s designation of Family Research Council as a “hate group”), and the most recent shooting in Alexandria involving GOP Majority Whip Steve Scalise.                       

Near the conclusion of the hearing, Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) condemned the President of Williams’ College Adam Falk. Senator Kennedy admonished Falk for treating progressive liberal campus groups and speakers differently than conservative groups and speakers, and called that sort of favoritism “intellectually dishonest.” Mr. Fredrick Lawrence also defended the role of universities hosting controversial speakers saying “[There should always] be a strong presumption in favor of the speech.” He emphasized that limits should be established only based on the intent of the speaker, never the substance or the content. This is an excellent standard that is well established in public policy.   

Despite differing priorities regarding the protection of free speech on college campuses, it was encouraging to see a measure of bipartisanship in support of free speech at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. As a millennial college student, I am glad that there is a concerted effort in Congress to protect my right to free speech. While I was disappointed in the attempts of Senator Feinstein and Richard Cohen to shift blame, I am confident free speech on college campuses proved more persuasive. The right of free speech is a cornerstone in our society, and it must be protected if we are to continue to have meaningful discussion about other policy issues.

The Amish: America’s Fastest Growing Church?

by Peter Witkowski

March 17, 2017

When we think of happening Christian groups, we typically imagine big church conferences, exciting worship concerts, and authentic community groups meeting in local coffee shops. Given this mindset, the following information will probably blow your mind and the minds of most people in your church. In fact, you may need to sit down for this.

The fastest growing sector of the evangelical world right now is the Amish. That is correct—our beard sporting, bonnet wearing, and buggy driving brothers and sisters are expanding at a record pace. Over the past five years, the Amish have grown by 18 percent. Between 2015-2016, they started 66 new congregations. They have even reached out to South America, planting communities in both Bolivia and Argentina. During that same time, the number of people that attend Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) churches declined by 11 percent.

Despite our well-trained SBC clergy, our smooth programming, and our billion dollar budgets, SBC churches are losing out to their brothers and sisters who churn their own butter. What’s more, the Amish have no major outreach campaigns. They typically struggle to reach out to people outside their villages, making their growth even more perplexing to SBC and other evangelical denominations. Yet since 1992, the Amish have been beating our church growth percentages left and right.

When researchers began studying this phenomenon, they discovered that the growth of the Amish movement had little to do with cold calling evangelism and everything to do with birthrate and education.

The latest birthrate statistics for the SBC estimate that each SBC couple has around 2.1 kids, a number that sits below the replacement level. Once death and other things are factored in, SBC churches would slowly die even if every kid born to SBC parents stayed in the church. And unfortunately, they do not. Almost 51 percent of all evangelical kids (including our SBC’ers) will leave the church. Most of those children will not return. For a church to maintain its size, every member (including the single ones) in the church must bring about 1.2 people into the church via birth or evangelism.

The Amish do not have this problem. The average Amish couple has 6.8 kids per family. And 85 percent of their children will choose to remain in the Amish community. When given the chance to freely choose between the modern world and the Amish lifestyle, more than 8 out of 10 Amish children choose to stay. Every Amish couple will add about 5 kids to their local church’s congregation, while the average Baptist couple will add about 1. And when the couples die off, the Amish church will have grown by 150 percent, while the SBC church will have decreased by 50 percent if birthrate is the only factor.

These numbers show that evangelism is not the major failing of our local SBC and evangelical churches. Our problem has everything to do with our view of children and the family. Churches that do not have members having children will not succeed.

Now, every Christian does not have to embrace the “19 Kids and Counting” lifestyle. Christ is still our ultimate goal and not family size. But, we must begin to revive pro-family values in our churches. Being pro-family goes well past having a catchy kids’ program. We need to celebrate birth. We need to praise parents for having big families instead of chastising them with snide comments. We need to come to the point where we value kids more than traveling, nice homes, and our own tranquility. We need to live as if children are a blessing.

And then, we need to commit to training our kids. We need to organize our families around the Gospel. We need to have intentional times of family worship. We must realize that going to church twice a week or twice a month will not provide our kids with an adequate religious framework. We must realize that the world evangelizes our kids 7 days a week. We must do the same. And we must intentionally find ways to protect our kids from the dangerous doctrines of the world and find ways to train them in righteousness. Commenting on Psalm 1, the pastor Voddie Bauchman says,

We must not allow our children to stand, sit and walk with those who deny biblical truth and morality … We can no longer coast along and ignore biblical truth when deciding where and how to educate our children … Do everything in your power to place your child in an educational environment that supplements and facilitates their discipleship.

The Amish have understood this truth and have applied it. As a result of their faithfulness, most of their children remain in their communities and churches. The Baptists and other evangelicals have not grasped this principles. And now, we are losing over half of our kids to the world around us. The realities cannot be denied.

Now admittedly, the Amish have not gotten everything right. I do not think electricity leads to sin. I also think our churches should be more evangelistic than the typical Amish farmer. But the Amish have realized that family is key. They have functionally realized that children under the age of 18 are the population most open to being evangelized and have literally devoted a large portion of their life to reaching this next generation. If we want our SBC and evangelical Bible-believing churches to once again flourish, we too must be pro-family and do a better job of training our children in the faith. Are we willing to make the hard choices and to become a little more Amish?

Peter Witkowski is the Associate Pastor of Preschool and Children at First Baptist Church in Eastman, Ga.

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.

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