Category Archives: UNCATEGORIZED

Today is Religious Freedom Day – How Free Are We?


From WallBuilders.com:

Protect the Right of Conscience

Religious Freedom Day is celebrated in America each year on January 16 — the date of the 1786 passage of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. That Virginia statute, like similar ones passed in other states, was designed to give broad protections to religious freedoms, which were subsequently enshrined at the federal level in the First Amendment of the Constitution, which states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

The Founders viewed the First Amendment and the state measures as fully securing the inalienable rights of conscience — the right to hold specific religious beliefs and then act on and behave in accordance with those beliefs. Of all religious rights, they viewed the protection of religious conscience as the most important.

For example, Thomas Jefferson said:

No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprises of the civil authority.

And:

[O]ur rulers can have no authority over such natural rights, only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God.

James Madison similarly declared:

Government is instituted to protect property of every sort . . . Conscience is the most sacred of all property.

Sadly, in the 20th century, the rights of conscience were reduced primarily to the right of religious expression — a significant narrowing of original intent. Thus, protection was accorded to certain religious actions but no longer the motivations behind them. The U. S. Supreme Court established what it called the “Lemon Test” which protected religious expressions as long as there was no religious motivations behind them — that is, religious expressions were permitted only if they served a secular purpose and motivation. Thus the rights of conscience became largely irrelevant.

But in the 21st century, the First Amendment was narrowed even further so that the rights of religious conscience are no longer protected. Thus, if your religious conscience says that you cannot participate in a homosexual wedding, or in the funding and promotion of abortions, or if you hold religious beliefs saying that there is a difference in genders, you can be prosecuted.

So this year on Religious Freedom Day, let’s remember that the foundation of all of our religious liberties is the right of religious conscience. Let’s vigorously defend this right to those around us so that they, too, can recognize and protect the full scope of our religious freedoms.

Artist Poses Nude in Streets of New York to Remember Slavery and the Violence and Racism that ‘Still Scars America’


By Danette Clark:

WARNING: CONTAINS NUDITY

Buck naked (with the exception of a pair of white pumps), Nona Fuastine poses with both hands pushing against one of the two massive columns that frame the front door of City Hall in New York City, as though attempting to topple the massive building. The caption beneath the photo — ‘They Tagged the Land With Trophies and Institutions From Their Conquests.’

According to The Guardian, Faustine posed naked in the streets of New York as a reminder of the vulnerability of the slaves once sold there and “the violence against humanity that still troubles the nation today”.

Faustine

In another photo, Faustine is seen standing nude on a wooden box, reminiscent of an auction block, in the middle of an intersection on Wall Street. This photo caption says ‘From Her Body Came Their Greatest Wealth’.

Admittedly, Faustine’s “White Shoes” series is intended to serve as more than a just a reminder that individual racism exists. It’s a public declaration of her belief that America’s “financial systems are founded in blood“.

These kinds of public statements, this narrative that the American system is inherently and systemically racist, have become increasingly common in recent years. But why?

According to reparation activist Charles Ogletree, this is a narrative that must be, not only introduced to, but incessantly imposed upon society so that the reparations movement, specifically reparations lawsuits, can succeed.

Last week, I wrote about the new Slavery Memorial and Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice at Brown University and how they contribute to the advancement of this narrative.

Specifically, as Charles Ogletree wrote in Tulsa Reparations: The Survivor’s Story, in order to succeed in obtaining reparations for African-Americans, there is a need to “promote the convergence of interests between reparationists and the reluctant majority population by forcing the majority population to confront past and present injustices against African Americans. ” It’s a strategy being used to literally, in the words of Ogletree, “transform the American debate about race” and “re-orient the public’s perception”.

According to Jon Levin at mic.com, Nona Faustine says the white heels she wore in each of her photos symbolize “the white patriarchy that people of color can never escape”.

Levin goes on to suggest that:

Much of that patriarchy can be seen in the practical manifestations of race in America. Slavery and the cruelty of the Jim Crow era left a staggering wealth gap between black Americans and their white counterparts.

Apparently, Levin too got the memo from the reparations movement that says the majority population must see inequality and disparities all around them and then come to believe that those disparities exist as a direct result of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, or else African-Americans won’t get paid.

To read more on the reparations movement in America, start here.

District Handout for Educators: ‘Whiteness is a condition’, Constitution to Blame for Inequality, Whites Only Allow Blacks to Advance in Society When it Benefits Whites


Courageousconversations

By Danette Clark

Whiteness is “a condition” says a Portland Public Schools professional development hand-out, and educators should learn to “interrupt the perpetuation of White Supremacy.”

The 20 page document, SPELLing out Institutional Barriers to Just Schooling: Moving from Compliance to Equity and Excellence,” was created by Pacific Educational Group (PEG) for a seminar that took place in 2013 with Portland educators and some students.

The purpose of the seminar, the packet says, was to integrate PEG’s framework “to analyze a racial equity challenge for focal emergent bilingual/multilingual students in PPS.”

PEG is a California based organization who says its mission is to “transform educational systems into racially conscious and socially just environments.”

As evidenced by most of their professional development print-outs, at the heart of PEG’s framework is critical race theory, which, in a nutshell, is the theory that United States law is racist — that it was created and is still structured to uphold white supremacy.

PEG admits that it targets ‘white culture’ as the source of the problems minority students face, and says “it is critical for educators to address racial issues in order to uncover personal and institutional biases that prevent all students, and especially students of color, from reaching their fullest potential.”

Page 10 of the Portland Public Schools/PEG seminar packet asks educators to engage in “courageous conversations” about race. For example, it says, educators should “know that Whiteness is a condition as well as its aspects or levels, and the purpose of recognizing it for deepening the conversation.”

Page 4 of the packet defines several tenets of critical race theory (CRT), such as “the permanence of racism,” “whiteness as property,” and “interest convergence.”

These tenets are defined as follows:

The Permanence of Racism — The notion that racism is a permanent component of American life. Racism in the USA is pervasive and operates like the air we breathe; it is ubiquitous and omnipresent.

Whiteness as Property — Due to the history of race and racism in the United States and the role that the U.S. jurisprudence has played, whiteness can be considered a property interest in three ways-1.the right to possess 2. the right to use 3. the right to disposition.

Interest Convergence — Civil rights gains for people of color should be interpreted with measured enthusiasm because the first civil rights have been enjoyed by Whites forever because they were basic tenets of U.S. democracy.  

The late Harvard Professor Derrick Bell, friend and mentor to President Obama, is often credited for laying the foundation for CRT. Bell published several articles on ‘interest convergence’, which contends that whites will only promote racial advances for blacks when those advances also promote white self-interest. In other words, only if it is in the best interest of whites — when their interests converge with those of blacks — will blacks be allowed to advance in American society.

For example, in an article published in the Harvard Law Review, Bell challenged the narrative that Brown vs. Board of Education was a turning point for equality in America. According to Bell’s website, ProfessorDerrickBell.com, he instead asserted that the decision was “the result of a convergence of interests.”

Another tenet of CRT found in the Portland schools seminar packet is a theory referred to as “critique of liberalism’, which basically says that liberals have good intentions for minorities, but because of the U.S. Constitution, those intentions cannot come to fruition.

Specifically, critique of liberalism says that there are “three basic notions that have been embraced by liberal legal ideology — the notion of colorblindness; the neutrality of the law; and incremental change.” However, according to a book by PEG founder, Glenn Singleton, More Courageous Conversations About RaceCRT scholars believe that while “these appear to be desirable goals in practice, given the history of racism in the U.S. … the idea that the law is indeed color-blind and neutral is insufficient (and some would say disingenuous) to redress its deleterious effects.”

Earlier this month, EAGnews reported that the St. Paul school district has spent nearly $3 million over the past five years for PEG’s services. Under PEG’s direction, disciplinary changes were made that, according to some St. Paul teachers, have resulted in “chaos throughout the district, with far too many students out of control because they know there are no real consequences for their actions.”

According to the report, PEG rejects the concept of using suspensions or expulsions to discipline black students.

In 2013, EAGnews reported that Portland schools had already paid more than $2.5 million in tax payer dollars over 6 years to PEG, which according to the New York Post, has only resulted in more violence in the district’s schools.

From the New York Post:

After a black high-school boy repeatedly punched his teacher in the face, sending her to the emergency room, the teacher, who is white, was advised by the assistant principal not to press charges. The administrator lectured her about how hard it is for young black men to overcome a criminal record.

Worse, she was told she should examine what role she, “as a white woman” holding unconscious racial biases, played in the attack…

Kindergarten ‘courage’ lesson features whites harassing blacks


TheWrightGrouplessonRubyBridges

From EAGnews.org:

Kindergartners at Richfield Elementary School were given a lesson on “courage” that included pictures of white children shouting at African-Americans and holding signs with hateful messages on them.

A parent contacted WBTV saying she was “disgusted” by the lesson and found it to be “degrading and racist.”

Terry Griffin, Superintendent of Stanly County Schools, told WBTV that the pictures, which show white people holding signs saying “Whites Only,” “No Negroes,” “No Coloreds,” and “I want segregation,” were included on a worksheet given to students as a follow up to a story on “Ruby Bridges,” the first African-American child to attend an all-white school in the south.

While Griffin declined an on camera interview with WBTV, she did defend the lesson, and said that a guidance counselor was teaching the class at the time and used the material to reinforce their character trait of the month: “courage.”

“Any time we have a concern expressed, that’s just part of a procedure we use, certainly, is to go back and reflect on it,” said Griffin, “to see, as in terms of age appropriateness, if it was appropriately aligned with the objective they we’re trying to accomplish there.”

richfield racist lesson

Griffin added, however, that no parent had contacted the school directly to complain about the lesson.

According to WSOC, the worksheets ask students to choose words to describe the emotion the people in the pictures are feeling.

However, when asked by ABC whether the pictures are appropriate for kindergartners, some said definitely not.

 “They are too young to understand,” said one parent.

“Oh dear Lord, that’s too young,” Chris Drye said. “You need to have a sense of history. That’s more of maybe a fifth-grade project.”

Rev. Roosevelt Horne, however, with the local NAACP chapter, told WSOC-TV that he’s not offended by the images. He said he doesn’t think they will sway how a child feels about those of a different race.

“Racism is taught in the home not in the kids,” Horne said. “They play with and love each other. They see no color barrier until they go home.”

But some might argue that lessons like this will create that color barrier at school, especially among children so young.

Stanly County Schools officials say, for now, they are not going to stop using the lesson, but say they will review their material and possibly make changes if they get a written request from a parent.

The lesson on Ruby Bridges was published by The Wright Group, a product of McGraw-Hill Education.

McGraw-Hill is a leading educational assessment partner and curriculum developer of the Common Core State Standards initiative.

Utah High School Showcases State’s First ‘Gender-Neutral’ Bathroom


genderneutralrestroom

EAGnews.org:

Transgender, gender variant, and gender non-conforming students now have their own bathroom at Park City High School.

According to KSL TV, the “gender neutral” restroom, believed to be the first in the State of Utah, was the idea of student council member Adam Snyder.

Snyder says he came up with the idea after reading that some colleges now have gender neutral restrooms for students and thought, “well, transgender students don’t just exist on college campuses.”

With the help of the school’s Gay Straight Alliance, Snyder took the proposal to the Park City School Board.

Park City High Principal Bob O’Connor told KSL that he doesn’t want any student feeling fearful of using a restroom in the school, “so they have a safe place to go.”

According to the news source, a senior at the school, Tori Vipond, who doesn’t identify as male or female, “walks the halls, goes to class, washes up and flushes the toilet just like any other student at the school,” but “choosing which restroom to use has been a challenge.”

“I usually just hold it until I go to the restroom at home,” said Vipond.

While Principal O’Connor says there have been a few critical online comments about the restroom, students and staff appear accepting of the new facility.

In Canada, gender neutral restrooms are in the works for Edmonton, Vancouver, and Calgary Public Schools.

In Vancouver, a motion was passed last June calling for single-stall, gender neutral washrooms in all school buildings “so that a child will not have to tell anyone their gender based on the bathroom that they use.”

According to a report earlier this month from Global News Canada, the move to build the restrooms into the design of all new Calgary public school buildings was spurred by conversations with students from Gay Straight Alliance clubs and from concerns expressed by transgender students.

Gay Straight Alliances (GSAs) were started by GLSEN, the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, an organization founded and led by former Obama safe schools adviser, Kevin Jennings.

Shortly after his appointment in 2009, Jennings resigned after several conservative organizations and 53 lawmakers called for his firing, claiming that Jennings had, “for more than twenty years, almost exclusively focused on promoting the homosexual agenda.”

According to GLSEN, there are more than 4,000 GSAs in America’s middle and high schools today.

Alabama Baptist Convention Calls for Repeal of Common Core


apple exploding 337x244

EAGnews.org exclusive:

Citing data privacy concerns and curricula materials that are “offensive to Christian values and American exceptionalism,” the Alabama Baptist Convention has voted to call on the governor, the state board of education, and the Alabama State Legislature to repeal Common Core.

According to AL.com, “the convention, a gathering of Southern Baptists from across the state, voted overwhelmingly to adopt a resolution, ‘On Parental Authority Through Local and State Control of Education,’ that calls on the state to ‘repeal Common Core and accompanying assessments and replace them with sound, proven practices of educating and testing through local and state control of what is taught and how it is taught for the betterment of all children in the great state of Alabama.’”

The resolution passed with no debate or discussion last week at the state Baptist Convention held at Lakeside Baptist Church in Birmingham.

The convention also addressed Common Core at its 2013 gathering, wherein it passed a resolution to “encourage the Alabama Legislature and the Alabama State Board of Education to carefully study and evaluate Common Core and its effects on our children and the entire educational system.”

The 2013 resolution also urged parents to be involved in the education of their children; to monitor their children’s schools and textbooks, and “when appropriate,” to address their concerns “to school boards, the state department of education, and other educational leadership.”

This year’s resolution calls for a full repeal of Common Core and aligned assessments, and specifically details several of the initiative’s shortcomings.

Below is the 2014 Common Core resolution in its entirety:

 WHEREAS, Alabama Baptists hold fast their obligation before God to train up their own children; and

WHEREAS, Alabama Baptists who place their children in public schools expect to be able to provide meaningful input into their children’s total education experience; and

WHEREAS, The State of Alabama has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education called Plan 2020 which is problematic in the following areas:

* Plan 2020 requires adoption of the Common Core Standards not controlled by Alabamians;

* Plan 2020 requires implementation of assessments not written by Alabamians and that may measure non-cognitive areas such as a student’s attitudes and beliefs;

* Plan 2020 requires curricula aligned with these standards and assessments which contain materials offensive to Christian values and American exceptionalism;

* Plan 2020 requires non-cognitive data collection that violates student and family privacy and allows sharing of that data with third parties;

* Plan 2020 requires assessments that can be used to predetermine career paths rather than to equip students to choose their own future; and

* Plan 2020 requires all students to receive a data-driven counseling program that includes “personal/social development” in its Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Model; and

WHEREAS, Alabama Baptists believe that the God-ordained family is the rightful place for inculcating values and determining career choices, and

WHEREAS, The unproven methodology required by Common Core is resulting in significant frustration and dissatisfaction from many students, parents and teachers; and

WHEREAS, There is little or no evidence that the level of student achievement would be raised by the Common Core Initiative; and

WHEREAS, Any sound methods being applied in Alabama classrooms can be utilized without subservience to a federal mandate; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the messengers to the Alabama Baptist State Convention meeting in Birmingham, Alabama, November 11-12, 2014, stand for proven, superior education curriculum and practice chosen by state officials who will respect parental authority and respond to citizen input; and be it finally

RESOLVED, That we urge the Governor along with the State Board of Education and/or the Alabama Legislature to repeal Common Core and accompanying assessments and replace them with sound, proven practices of educating and testing through local and state control of what is taught and how it is taught for the betterment of all children in the great state of Alabama.

‘Social Justice’ Curriculum Fair Seeks to Embed Radicalism in the Classroom


TSJ social justice fair flyer

EAGnews.org exclusive:

The 13th Annual Teaching for Social Justice Curriculum Fair took place this past weekend in Chicago.

This year’s fair, titled “Democratize Education! Democratize Chicago!”, was sponsored by Teachers for Social Justice Chicago, the Chicago Teachers Union, and Rethinking Schools.

According to Teachers for Social Justice (TSJ), the annual event is an opportunity for educators and organizations to exhibit curriculum, disseminate resources, and present workshops.

Workshops included “curricular innovations about social justice pedagogy,” such as “using multicultural children’s literature to organize for educational justice.”

Current and past fairs exhibit lessons and curriculum resources on various social and political issues, all of which are structured to rally students to organize and take action.

A keynote speaker to this year’s event was Kali Akuno, an organizer for the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and author of Let Your Motto Be Resistance: A Handbook on Organizing New Afrikan and Oppressed Communities for Self-Defense.

Participating in the keynote program was a member of Young Chicago Authors, an organization thatshowcases the work of local authors like Eboo Patel, the former Obama faith advisor who refers to America as an imperialist nation and who co-authored a book with Bill Ayers’ son, Chesa Boudin.

According to the event flier, this year’s workshop sessions included:

* Talking With Youth About the Police: Activities & Resources;

* Equip Students with Social Justice Vocabulary: Identity Webs, The Sneetches & More!; and

* From Chicago to Ayotzinapa: Education as a Site for the Fight Against Neoliberalism and State Repression

The Chicago Teachers Union also led a session on Saturday titled Where’s the Money? Understanding CPS budgets and Fighting for Revenue. The event flier describes the session as follows:

CPS uses “budget problems” to justify closing schools, cutting programs/staff, and increasing class sizes. But does it have to be this way? How can we win the revenue our schools and students need? earn about the CPS “interest rate swap” scandal and other toxic deals from which banks and billionaires have profited, and hear efforts to win money back and make the wealthy pay their fair share to fund education.

Past curriculum fairs have addressed Chicago school closings as well. In fact, TSJ provides a “School Closings” curriculum wherein students are given a list of Chicago schools slated for closure (more than 50 failing schools) and are coached by their teachers on how to organize and protest.

As a result of such curriculum, and as boasted about on TSJ’s website, dozens of high school students participated in a march last year to protest the school closings.

According to DNAinf0.com, the student protesters marched “from Chicago Public Schools headquarters to City Hall to deliver a letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel demanding a moratorium on school closings and a publicly elected Board of Education.” The oversized letter presented to the Mayor referred to the school closings as “racist” and said they would lead to “more violence and more children dying.”

Two days later, a follow-up rally was held and attended by student protesters, teachers, parents, and community members. The photos below from the 2013 rally show that Bill Ayers and Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis were in attendance.

8596455201_8a8ef67f85_z   8597566088_0013bd9d98_z

The Chicago Teachers Union has partnered with Teachers for Social Justice on various initiatives for many years. CTU has co-hosted other TSJ curriculum fairs and Karen Lewis was keynote speaker of the event in 2010.

Examples of TSJ lessons showcased at prior curriculum fairs include “Teaching Trayvon Martin” and “What Young People Should Know Before Joining the Military.”

The Teaching Trayvon Martin curriculum, created by the New York Collective of Radical Educators, involves engaging “teachers in rigorous examinations of white supremacy as a systemic arrangement of power that has privileged the lives and interests of white Americans from this nation’s inception, and that continues to do so despite social and political struggles for racial equality.”

The curriculum includes an MSNBC video of Al Sharpton, Tim Wise and others discussing whether racism was an issue in Trayvon Martin’s death.

Tim Wise is a self proclaimed anti-racism expert. In a fit of anger over the results of the 2010 mid-term elections, Wise wrote a letter that, in part, said this:

In forty years or so, maybe fewer, there won’t be any more white people around who actually remember that Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best, Opie-Taylor-Down-at-the-Fishing Hole cornpone bullshit that you hold so near and dear to your heart…there won’t be any more white folks around who think the 1950s were the good old days…so therefore, we’ll be able to teach about them accurately and honestly…

According to TSJ, What Young People Should Know Before Joining the Military is a unit “primarily designed to get students to understand imperialism by making connections between the Spanish American War and the Iraq War, culminating in a project on military recruitment among CPS students.”

The lesson repeatedly refers to the U.S. as “imperialist” and discusses the “U.S. occupation” of the Phillipines and Cuba.

Resources recommended include a video clip of Bill Moyers giving his take on the Iraq war, communist Howard Zinn’s book, A People’s History of the United States, and a book that refers to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars as U.S. occupations.

On TSJ Chicago’s About page, under “political goals,” the organization quotes a letter written by Marxist educator Paulo Freire. A portion of that quote is below:

We are political militants because we are teachers… Neutrality is not possible. We understand that teaching is a political act.

Teaching for social justice is part of a larger struggle to transform society to make it more just. We see children and youth as critical change agents essential to the struggle for social justice.