Republican-led state legislatures have stirred more school choice debates this year than ever before, as Republicans seek to reform state budgets and rekindle student achievement. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states have introduced bills this year which would use government funding to send poor and special needs children to private schools. Nine voucher bills were proposed in 2010, of which the sole survivor was a special needs voucher program in Oklahoma. Six states have passed some form of school choice program this year, including both voucher and tax credit legislation. Progress in educational reform has developed largely in the aftermath of the 2010 elections. "I think that there’s long been an interest among Republican legislators, but this year is the first time they’ve gained so many seats in so many states and gained majorities," asserted Josh Cunningham, a member of the state legislatures group. "There was a window of opportunity to get these bills passed. It was kind of the perfect timing."
Pro-homosexual groups have targeted a Minnesota school district just outside of Minneapolis for its unwillingness to discuss homosexuality in the classroom. The groups point to seven suicides within two years at the school district as proof that the subject should be addressed by the schools, since parents and friends say that four of those students were either "gay," perceived to be "gay," or questioning their own sexuality. A number of groups have filed a lawsuit against the school district, and the federal government has indicated it will perform a formal investigation into the district’s policy.
In 2009, the Anoka-Hennepin School District adopted a policy that indicates staff must “remain neutral on matters regarding sexual orientation” and that “such matters are best addressed within individual family homes, churches, or community organizations.”
American education has seen one “reform” movement after another. The most recent incarnation, “Race to the Top,” was initiated in 2009 by the Obama Administration. It is structured around a serious-sounding program called the “Common Core of State Standards Initiative Project,” or CCS for short, which is set for implementation in 46 states, at last count, in 2012.
Most people alive today actually remember “reform” measures that date only from around 1970, even though many of these originated much earlier, sometimes reappearing under new names: the Effective Schools Movement; Mastery Learning, revived around 1980; America 2000 in 1992; Goals 2000, built around a program called Outcome-Based Education in 1993; and No Child Left Behind in 2002, which, in turn, promoted a curricular program called the International Baccalaureate, which people mistook for its pre-War European counterpart.
During a July 20 Department of Education event in Washington, D.C. — the third of its kind this summer — area schoolchildren were given access to free books, two of which featured Nickelodean's cartoon icons Spongebob and Dora the Explorer pushing an environmentalist agenda and encouraging children to accept the widely debunked notion of man-made global warming.
The books are part of Nickelodeon’s “Big Green Help Series,” a campaign launched by the network in order to teach children to help protect the Earth.
As noted by CNS News, however, one of the books takes a particularly controversial position, purporting not only that global warming exists, but that it is in fact a man-made phenomenon, and can only be solved if humans change their behavior:
Semester after semester, I continue to encounter students for whom the proposition that science alone is the embodiment of unimpeded Reason is axiomatic. But it isn’t just my college students who think thus; most adults seem to be just as mistaken on this score. That this notion of science pervades not just the popular culture but academia as well can be gotten from the readiness with which specialists in a variety of non-scientific disciplines seek to impose a scientific character on their work. Considering the image of science that they affirm — an image according to which science is, if not necessarily the exclusive means by which to secure the Truth, certainly the most legitimate of such means — this should come as no surprise. And if the Intellect reaches its glorious culmination in the practice of science, this is only because the scientist alone among the mortals that walk the earth has succeeded in bracketing his prejudices in order to attain an “objective” and “impartial” perspective on the world. The scientist has liberated himself from all preconceptions; he is concerned with the brute “facts” and only these.
On July 27, Education Secretary Arne Duncan reiterated an earlier request for a 13.3-percent budget increase over 2011, which would bring Education Department spending to one-fifth higher than 2010 levels. Amid congressional arguments over reducing the nation’s debt and raising the debt ceiling, Duncan justified his stance by explaining: “You can’t sacrifice the future to pay for the present.”
He said the additional funding would allow the department to fund more Pell grants; to place increased emphasis on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) initiative; to continue most aspects of President George W. Bush’s decade-old No Child Left Behind law, which even liberals have admitted is a disappointment; and to push the Obama administration’s new toddler initiatives, such as the Early Learning Challenge (ELC), described earlier this week as part of the President’s “Race to the Top” boondoggle.
North Dakotans who love the fierce Indian mascot of their state university are circling the wagons to battle an attack from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The governing body of American collegiate sport, which critics say was seized by political correctness many moons ago, no longer allows its members to use ”offensive” Indian names. So the Fighting Sioux of the University of North Dakota might have to ride off to the Happy Hunting Ground. (Fighting Sioux logo pictured.)
The name is supposed to be phased out by Aug. 15. If it isn’t, that could mean heap big trouble for UND. The Associated Press reports that the university could be “blacklisted” by other teams if it keeps the proud name and logo of the warrior Sioux. Retaining the name would also invite “scorn,” it noted.
The Obama administration is seducing states with $500 million grants to get them to enroll kids into accredited, pre-kindergarten programs. The Early Learning Challenge (ELC) is yet another bribe under Obama’s “Race to the Top,” the $4.35 billion incarnation of an endless stream of education “reform” projects implemented since President Dwight D. Eisenhower catapulted education to national prominence in 1957 following Russia’s launch of Sputnik.
ELC is run jointly by the U.S. Departments of Education (DoE) and Health and Human Services (HHS). All grants will have been awarded by year’s end. While at least two states have already received windfalls for signing on ($700 million for New York and Florida), some 14 states’ education agencies are still dithering. They know only too well that carrots come with strings, many of them turning out to be unfunded mandates. State Departments of Education are virtual clones of the federal parent, typically referred to as a State Education Agency (SEA); they receive pass-through money from the U.S. DoE plus revenues from state taxes. Every time an SEA takes federal bait, it loses more of its autonomy through federal oversight, although at this point it’s hard to imagine how much more state and local agencies have to lose. ELC follows a textbook oversight scenario, typical of federal agencies providing grant monies to states:
When Barack Obama’s autobiography Dreams from My Father was published in 1995, which he began writing while at Harvard and later finished in Chicago, it was greatly praised by the critics as a wonderful story of one man’s coming to grips with racism. Charlayne Hunter-Gault wrote: “One of the most powerful books of self-discovery I’ve ever read…It is also beautifully written, skillfully layered, and paced like a novel.”
No one questioned the ability of this novice writer to produce such a “lyrical” and “compelling” memoir at the age of 34.
Meanwhile, questions about its authorship began circulating in the conservative underground, hinting that Bill Ayers might have had a hand in helping Obama write this acclaimed book. But it wasn’t until Donald Trump brought up the subject of authorship in an interview by Laura Ingraham that it finally gained traction in the media.
Since California passed its controversial law requiring public schools to include a social studies curriculum that included the contributions of gays and lesbians, opponents have organized in an attempt to overturn the law. On Tuesday, those opponents moved one step closer to their goal when California’s Secretary of State cleared them to begin collecting signatures for a ballot referendum.
The law adds gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people, as well as those with disabilities, to a list of groups that schools must include in the lessons, and prohibits the inclusion of any material which may present homosexuality negatively. It leaves up to local school districts to decide what to include in the lessons and in what grade students would receive them.
The controversial law was proposed by Democratic Senator Mark Leno, who dismissed critics’ claims that the bill pushed a sexual agenda, asserting that it was “beneficial to share with students the broad diversity of the human experience.”