Category archives: Education

Back to School with President Obama

by Tony Perkins

September 6, 2009

In his inaugural speech in 1961 President John F. Kennedy delivered this memorable line

[“Ask not…” clip]

Fast forward nearly 50 years and President Barack Obama was poised to ask the nations elementary school students not what they could do for their country but what they could do for their President.

The White House announced that the President would be speaking live to the nations K-6th graders. The Department of Education had prepared a work sheet to accompany the speech in which the children were instructed to engage in several exercises including writing a letter about how they could help the president.

After a fire storm of opposition erupted the White House changed lesson plans and now the youngsters will be asked to consider how they can help themselves achieve their educational goals. Certainly a more appropriate question, but one that is probably more suited for middle and high school students.

However, parents remain concerned. Some are keeping their kids home from school on the day of the speech. Over 95% of parents who responded to an FRC survey said the President should not be speaking to children during classroom hours.

Some in the media have decried the parental opposition as partisan. But it is really?

Consider that this speech is being made during one of the most controversial public policy debates in years in which the president has been steadily losing public support for his health care plan.

But even if the speech does not interject policy into the class room of 6 & 7 year old children, when parents consider the agenda of this administration as represented by the presidents appointments to the education department parents have a right to be concerned.

The Secretary of the department, Arne Duncan, has promoted some pretty controversial ideas, like special schools for homosexual students when he was head of the Chicago school system. Even more concerning is Kevin Jennings who is supposedly in charge of the Safe and Drug Free School Program for the Department of Education.

Jennings is the founder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Educational Network, an organization that promotes homosexuality in the public schools, he also wrote the forward to a book entitled Queering Elementary Education.

This Administration has given parents plenty of reason to be concern over what is piped into the classroom. For more visit FRC.org

Spurred on to Service: The Roger Mason Story

by Robert Morrison

September 3, 2009

Heres a story we need to see. Roger Mason, Jr., a star shooting guard for the San Antonio Spurs, is shown in the Washington Times recently giving high fives to a group of boys at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Northwest D.C. Mason formerly played for the Washington Wizards, but left to join the Spurs last summer.

Despite moving more than a thousand miles away, Roger Mason has not forgotten his roots. His Roger Mason Foundation is a partner with the local charter school, and Roger is playing a part in the lives of area children. Fifty local students will attend Movie Night with Mase this week. They were selected on the basis of essays they wrote. Many of the kids wrote about Roger Mason and how he is an inspirational figure to them. That means more to me than anything, Mason told The Washington Times sports writer, Tom Knott, thats the cool part. Thats the type of thing thats special to me.

I am especially grateful to Tom Knott for giving us this wonderful story. Too often, the media highlight the lurid, the weird, the criminal. But Roger Mason is not just quiet, steady, dependable Mason, the guy behind the guy but ever capable. Roger is a star.

Roger Mason was a classmate of my children. He graduated from Calvary Lutheran School in Silver Spring, Maryland in the ‘90s. He was a standout athleteeven in fourth grade! And he was quiet, modest and ever capable, even then.

Calvary Lutheran did beautiful things. All 123 children in that school read on grade level.

That is something few schools can boast. Teachers at Calvary had to teach for twenty-three years before they earned as much as an entry-level teacher in Montgomery County Public Schools. The amazing thing is that we had four teachers who were at that level.

I sometimes get ribbed by liberal friends about sending my children to Christian schools.

Oh, joining the white flight, eh? Well, we did join the whiteand blackflight to Calvary, where 85 percent of the students were minority students. But we didnt pay attention to that back then. Instead, we were drawn to those words engraved in stone above the entrance to Calvary: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

I thank God for Calvary Lutheran School, what it has meant to my family, and what it meant to Roger Mason. He continues to bless this community, San Antonio, and any other community that is fortunate enough to know him. Oh, and E.L. Haynes Public Charter School? Its right down the street from Calvary.

Save School Choice in Washington, D.C.

by Krystle Gabele

May 7, 2009

Today, I had the opportunity to attend the “Save Our D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Rally” at Freedom Plaza. Students from several Charter and private schools were in attendance chanting, “Put Kids First,” as well as parents, who were very concerned about the loss of funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships, which allow students to attend private schools, instead of lower performing public schools throughout the District.

The crowd heard from many speakers, including Former Mayor Anthony Williams, Council member Marion Barry, School Choice advocate, Virginia Walden Ford, and many others, who were concerned about the education system in Washington, D.C. While there were many parents who spoke on behalf of the scholarships, the real impact came from two young men who talked about the education that they are able to achieve at the private schools where they are attending, compared to the public schools they used to attend. Both of these young men are brilliant, and there is no doubt that they will be able to achieve whatever career path they choose to pursue. Here is the video of their speech:

Why President Obama would want to end their dreams by eliminating these scholarships is puzzling. Obama was a product of a quality private education, and he has chosen the same education for his daughters, Sasha and Malia. Why would he deny the same opportunity for students in the District?

Who’s the Real Bully?

by Robert Morrison

March 18, 2009

President Obama’s omnibus spending bill contains many odd line items. Here’s one: $1.2 billion for what the bill calls “anti-bullying” curricula. One may wonder when it became the federal government’s responsibility to protect our children from the schoolyard bullies. In my long ago high school, the Boys’ Leaders Club stopped bullies from even getting started. And if they didn’t succeed, there was always Mr. Martinell’s “board of education,” firmly applied to the seat of the pants.

Ever since the horror of Columbine High School in 1999, and the mass murders on campus at Virginia Tech several years ago, worried parents have been trying to find answers to why some students “snap” and attack their classmates with murderous violence.

 

In some cases, it may be because they’ve been taunted, teased, bullied. But what has been a perennial parental concern about schoolyard violence has now been hijacked by the gay lobby. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the huge Washington, D.C.-based gay lobbying outfit has initiated a campaign to have our public schools declare themselves Welcoming Schools. In the pursuit of this warm welcome, HRC wants all schools in America to affirm the gay lifestyle.

Part of the “anti-bullying” curriculum HRC is touting nationwide has been the assignment of such books as “Sissy Duckling” and “King and King.” “Sissy Duckling” is described as a book whose “characters challenge gender norms.” “King and King” features one young prince charming who fails to find an eligible princess and pledges his troth instead to another man.

A column by Katherine Kersten in The Minneapolis Star-Tribune exposes the real agenda behind these so-called anti-bullying curricula. Mrs. Kersten points out that the Welcoming Schools program hardly addresses the traditional targets of schoolyard bullies-kids of a different race or ethnicity, kids who are undersized, overfed, and that staple of child antagonism, kids who wear glasses. Instead, the curriculum is heavily weighted on the subjects of anti-gay, anti-lesbian stereotypes

There should not even be a bullying problem in Minneapolis. Don’t these kids listen to Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion? Whatever became of “Minnesota Nice?”

Mrs. Kersten quotes a parent from Minneapolis’ Hale (elementary) School. Arbuc Flomo is with the Coalition for Parents’ Rights. Mr. Flomo says the curriculum is “a direct slap in parents’ faces.” Flomo cites examples of the curriculum’s typical style of instruction: “I used to think, but now I know…” Every “now I know” statement rejects what parents teach and affirms the new politically correct lessons. Mr. Flomo sees the curriculum as an assault on the parents’ moral code.

In one rigged “exercise,” first graders are instructed to put together a puzzle to form families. Except they can’t form traditional units of Mom, Dad, and children. They are forced to form families with same-sex adults and their children. “Students will find that they must create some families with adults of the same gender.”

Notice the must. This is not education. It’s heavy-handed indoctrination. The Hale School principal, Bob Brancale, said the Welcoming Schools curriculum would be implemented “regardless of the personal issues of parents or staff.” Remember when we learned that principal was spelled with an “a” because the school principal was your pal? Whatever became of school administrators as public servants?

These impressionable little children are supposed to repeat the received wisdom from their anti-bullying instructors. And what if they resist? Is there a better definition of bullying than this? Here we see paid agents of the state forcing kids to regurgitate the approved liberal line on homosexuality. The kids are in that classroom by force of law. Mandatory attendance laws govern their presence in those classrooms unless their parents can afford private schools or unless they have the courage, determination, and the time to home school.

Barack and Michelle Obama have just placed their darling girls in Sidwell Friends, a very tony private school in Washington, D.C. At the same time he sends his girls to school in a 10-car caravan with Secret Service protection, the President is allowing Congress to cut the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships-vouchers—that have allowed some 1,700 Washington poor kids to attend private schools in the nation’s capital. But don’t worry, when two of those poor kids have to leave Sidwell Friends, they’ll have a nice, welcoming, gay-indoctrinating public school to attend instead. And if they still have to worry about real schoolyard bullies, maybe the Obamas will invite their children’s former classmates over to play on the new White House playground.

Abstinence Day on the Hill

by Krystle Gabele

March 13, 2009

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Yesterday, nearly 500 students from across the country visited the U.S. Capitol to lobby their legislators on retaining abstinence funding. Many of these students have directly been impacted by abstinence education programs and come from areas that have extremely high teenage pregnancy rates. These eager and enthusiastic teens listened to FRC’s own David Christensen and Valerie Huber, Executive Director of the National Abstinence Education Assocation. Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska also stopped by the event and added his own remarks. He urged the students to enjoy their time in Washington, D.C. and briefed them about the impact that they are making by visiting their legislators to discuss retaining abstinence funding.

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Jihad in the Classroom

by Robert Morrison

March 11, 2009

Islam is very much in the news these days. Even before 9/11, Americans had become aware of a powerful presence that had never really gone away. The 45-year Cold War between the U.S. and the USSR seemed to submerge Islamic identity in an East-West struggle. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, a resurgent Islam often intruded into the headlines of Western newspapers. Even before the terror attacks on New York and Washington, Americans had been targeted by Islamist radicals for murder -at the World Trade Center in 1993, Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, the U.S. Embassies in East Africa in 1998, and aboard the USS Cole in 2000. Then, however, we seemed to be in a decade-long “holiday from history.”

It’s normal to expect that American history and world history textbooks would take a few years to catch up with world events. Textbook production is not an overnight process. The headlines, however, don’t wait. And the headlines all have some lessons to teach us about those regions where Islam predominates.

Here’s lesson one: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met recently at Sharm-el-Sheikh, the Egyptian resort, with dozens of Arab leaders. She pledged U.S. monies to rebuild structures damaged in the recent Israeli incursion into Gaza. American taxpayers will be required to fork over $900 million to restore the homes and schools where local residents danced and handed out sweets to children to celebrate the attacks of 9/11. Mrs. Clinton assures us that the UN will carefully monitor where the funds go, to make sure that none of these monies get “into the wrong hands.” For many of us who remember the UN’s “Oil for Food” scandal, the UN’s hands are the wrong hands. In this case, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has already designated a Syrian-based bank as a receiver of funds. Problem: the U.S.government has identified that Syrian bank as a money launderer for Hamas, the Gaza terrorist organization.

Lesson two: In The Washington Post, we recently read of a seven-year-old Kurdish girl 100 miles north of Baghdad whimpering as village women approach her. They hold her legs apart as a midwife uses a razor blade to cut off part of the little child’s genitals. “I do this in the name of Allah,” the midwife cries. The screaming little girl is hustled away to her home. “We don’t know why we do it, but we will never stop because Islam and our elders require it,” says the girl’s mother. Tens of thousands of little girls are routinely so mutilated, The Post reports.

Lesson three: An Iranian freighter approaches the Chesapeake Bay, outside U.S. territorial waters. It launches a Shahab 3 missile with a nuclear warhead that explodes 300 miles above Des Moines, Iowa. The ship’s crew of jihadist “martyrs” blows the ship up, leaving no trace of attackers. But the Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) created by the single nuclear weapon “fries” all the electronic circuits in North America, blacking out our communications, neutralizing our emergency response units, shutting down power grids, and throwing 300 million Americans back to the dawn of the industrial era. This is not a headline-yet. But it’s what the Claremont Institute’s Brian Kennedy writes could happen. It may be what Iran’s Ahmadinejad means when he says he can foresee a world without the United States. It is to this man that our new President extends his open hand.

None of these lessons-continued U.S. subsidies to America-hating Palestinians, genital mutilation of tens of thousands of Muslim girls, or the threat of an attack from a nuclear Iran—are in our kids’ textbooks. But the issues they describe have been with us for decades.

In a recent report by the American Textbook Council, educator Gil Sewall notes that textbook publishers have caved in to noisy lobbies that howl whenever painful facts are taught. Sewall’s group says these Islamic organizations are succeeding in “adjusting the definitions of jihad and sharia or remove these words from lessons to avoid inconvenient truths that the editors fear activists will contest.” In a public school system increasingly hostile to teaching about Christianity, the Teacher’s Curriculum Institute of California includes this Muslim prayer from the Koran:

Recite-in the name of thy Lord!
Who created man from blood coagulated.
Recite! Thy Lord is wondrous kind,
Who by the pen has taught mankind things they knew not.

The Council’s report on textbooks currently in classroom use charges that “the editorial caution that marks coverage of Christian and Jewish beliefs vanishes in presenting Islam’s foundations.” A Holt textbook extols Islam in glowing terms: “Helping and caring for others is important in Islam.” Muhammed “taught equality,” the text goes on.

Islam in the 700s does not conquer with fire and sword, according to these texts. Instead, it simply “sweeps” out of Arabia. With brooms?

More than 20 years ago, I was the liaison officer at the U.S. Department of Education for Dr. Paul Vitz. Dr. Vitz was an NYU psychologist whose careful study of basal readers and elementary social studies books showed that references to God and religion were being systematically “swept” away by American textbook publishers.

At the press conference at which Dr. Vitz presented his findings, many educators and reporters were skeptical of this study. But the curriculum coordinator for Montgomery County, Maryland Public Schools stood to say he agreed with Dr. Vitz’ findings. And to counter that trend, his very liberal school district would make sure that all students had a chance to see the real impact of religion in our world: The youngsters would see the traveling exhibit of Suleiman the Magnificent. Suleiman was the Sultan, or emperor, of the Ottoman Turks! He was a Muslim ruler.

I thought of that day when I read about John Walker Lindh. He was captured in the opening days of the Afghanistan War in 2001. Lindh is serving a prison sentence as “the American Taliban.”

In the mid-80s, Lindh would likely have been one of those elementary school children introduced to Suleiman’s magnificence by his very politically correct Montgomery County educators. His family then lived in a trendy Washington suburb that local wags call “the People’s Republic of Takoma Park.”

We cannot prove that his public schooling made John Walker Lindh a jihadist, but fair questions should be asked: Based solely on what he learned in school, would this young man or any others learn why America should be loved? Why she deserves our loyalty? Why she deserves to be defended? Would they learn to question the truth claims of Islamists?

Once this was a particular problem for ultra-liberal enclaves like Montgomery County and California’s “Marvelous Marin,” but these textbooks show that the problem is nationwide. We are all indebted to Gil Sewall and the American Textbook Council for their courage and their commitment to the truth.

School Choice is Key to Parental Involvement in Education, not Punishment

by Peter Sprigg

February 21, 2009

A Kentucky state legislator, Rep. Adam Koenig, has introduced a bill that would impose fines on parents who don’t attend parent-teacher conferences. [Source]

Rep. Koenig is certainly right that parental involvement in their children’s education is important, but this hardly seems the right way of encouraging it.

It might be better to use a carrot, rather than a stick. Instead of imposing on parents we should be empowering them, by expanding school choice. That could include magnet schools, charter schools, vouchers, tax breaks for private schools, and support for homeschooling. Giving parents real choices about their children’s education would be more effective that just forcing them to show up for a meeting.

A law like this (if adopted) would seem to be a case of the government punishing people simply for not being very good parents. We should be wary of any policy that involves the government interfering with the autonomy of the family in that way-by deciding what it thinks a “good” parent is, and punishing people who don’t live up to the government’s standard.

Obviously, government has to intervene when parents abuse their children, by beating them, for instance, or neglect them by failing to feed and clothe them. But missing a parent-teacher conference hardly seems to rise to that level. Koenig reportedly compared the fines to those imposed on parents who fail to insure that their children attend school. But we shouldn’t be treating parents like children by making the parents go to school.

On a practical level, it should be noted that face-to-face parent-teacher conferences are not the only means of communication available between parents and the school. They can use the phone, email, or even handwritten notes to and from the teacher. For families with two working parents or with younger children at home, or for single parents, it may be very difficult to find time to go in for a parent-teacher conference, yet they may still be very involved in their children’s education. We simply shouldn’t impose a one-size-fits-all solution.

From Crayons to Condoms:” Another Glimpse into America’s failing Public Schools

by Krystle Gabele

January 7, 2009

Over the Christmas break, there were several books waiting for my attention. Among the books, I chose to read was “From Crayons to Condoms: The Ugly Truth about America’s Public Schools.” This book definitely looked like it would provide some insights on what is being taught in public education. However, upon reading the book, I was appalled to read the stories from parents, students and teachers about the curriculum being taught in schools across the country, which seemed to provide a barrage of sex, promiscuity, lessons on being gay or lesbian, grotesque violence and talking about feelings.

As a public school graduate, I received a quality education that provided a strong background for college preparation without hearing any liberal propaganda being taught by my teachers. However, there are students all over America who subject to the leftist curriculum by either reading pornographic material or listening to an openly gay couple describe the discrimination they face because of their full-blown AIDS.

The book, which featured open accounts from concerned parents, students and teachers, also featured a section about what parents can do to improve the current state of public education. Suggestions include: reviewing what your child is reading for class, not signing any permission forms, and checking out the curriculum.

From Crayons to Condoms” was written by Steve Baldwin, a former California state legislator and Karen Holgate, who is an advocate for education reform. I strongly urge every parent, who has a student in public schools, to read this book and to become active in their child’s education. In a society where education is crucial, it is better for a student to learn in an environment that is not infiltrated with liberal propaganda.

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