Fox News host Megyn Kelly made news last week when she said that “Santa Claus is white.” Kelly later claimed she was using tongue-in-cheek humor for the Santa-believing toddlers who watch Fox News.
While Kelly skated by with her flimsy excuse, a teacher in Albuquerque, N.M., who told a black student that “Santa Claus is white” has been disciplined, notes Mediaite.com (video below).
The unidentified teacher at Cleveland High School made the remark after a black ninth-grader, Christopher Rougier, wore a Santa hat and beard to school on a Christmas-themed costume day.
“Don’t you know Santa Clause is white?” the teacher asked Rougier. “Why are you wearing that?”
“The remark was inappropriate and should not have been made,” school district spokeswoman Kim Vesely told the Associated Press. “The teacher feels very badly about what occurred. He self-reported the incident to the principal and has apologized to the student and to the student’s parent. Appropriate disciplinary action has been taken.”
“There’s no room for that in the classroom,” said Rougier’s father. “Whether this teacher felt Christopher may have been wearing this out of context, there’s no room for it. There’s just no room for it.”
Hampshire College allegedly canceled a Halloween performance by the band Shokazoba because they were "too white" to play African music and the lead singer was not "black enough."
Apparently, the lead singer is black, but the rest of Shokazoba is white. Part of the band appears in this picture (right).
The school's Hype Committee reportedly wrote on Facebook: "We held community dialogue to hear what individuals had to say. As a result of the dialogue, and discomfort expressed by members of the community in person as well as by email, Facebook, and other means, we have removed Shokazoba from the lineup for Hampshire Halloween."
"Hampshire’s justification for the cancellation and censorship has morphed over the past two weeks," wrote American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts official William Newman in a letter to Hampshire College.
"The genesis of the decision, as you know rested on the accusation that this afro-funk band had insufficient representation of people of color," added Newman. “Comments posted on the event Facebook page, maintained and monitored by the college, stated that the African-American lead singer was not black enough."
According to MassLive.com, the university had already paid Shokazoba before pulling the band out of a concert on the Amherst, Mass. campus.
Newman also called on Hampshire College officials to apologize, but the school has not responded.
"At issue here are very different understandings of what occurred by the band and by the students who organized the event," Elaine Thomas, Hampshire College's director of communications, told Campus Reform in an email. "Our dean of students, who is the individual working on this, has reached out to the band and asked to meet with them."
Blogger Jonny Scarmanga, who describes himself as a "former Christian fundamentalist," recently wrote about some of the dumber questions in Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) home schooling courses.
Scarmanga wrote on his blog that fourth-graders were given this sentence: “Children played happily in the water spout.”
They were then asked to pick the best answer for a water spout: “A stream of water,” “Two dry ducks” or “Playground.”
Another sentence states: “Elisabeth Howard sat and listened carefully.” The question asks if Elisabeth Howard is “a kind of airplane” or “a missionary.”
Seventh-graders are asked to choose who “can touch the lives of their students” and are given the choices "Sports Coaches," "Piano Tuners" or "Librarians."
“The correct answer, for those puzzled, is piano tutors,” wrote Scaramanga. “It’s not that ACE doesn’t believe that sports coaches or librarians can touch students’ lives. The point is that the exact sentence, ‘Piano tutors can touch the lives of their students,’ has previously appeared in [an ACE packet], and the student is expected to remember this. Verbatim regurgitation of previously seen material is the entire point of the ACE system.”
12th graders were asked to identify the main characters in the play "Macbeth." The choices are “Three Weird Sisters,” “Malcolm or Donalbain,” “Shakespeare and the Groundlings,” or “Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.”
ACE is accredited by the Middle States Associations on Elementary and Secondary Schools and by voucher programs in 11 states.
The Guardian notes that ACE also includes political and religious views in questions.
Science courses emphasize young Earth creationism (the earth is only a few thousand years old). In math, students calculate the dimensions and size of Noah's ark. In economics, Keynesian ideas are wrong while Adam Smith's right wing conservative views are correct.
In geography, ACE claims: "God blessed the United States, and it became the strongest and most prosperous nation on Earth."
In history, students are taught that Jesus commanded people to make a profit, giving away "handouts to citizens" is contrary to the founding fathers and non-taxpayers should not vote.
The biology courses teach: "When you have successfully completed this [course], you should be able... to tell why abortion is wrong."
Johnny Jones, 10, was reportedly suspended from South Eastern Middle School in Fawn Grove, Pa. for “shooting” an imaginary arrow at a classmate.
The Rutherford Institute, which is defending Jones, claims the fifth grader was told he violated the school’s zero tolerance policy on weapons when he drew back the strings of an imaginary bow and “shot” an imaginary arrow at a buddy.
That’s when an unidentified girl in the class told the teacher, who referred the incident to the principal, claiming that “firearms” had been involved.
Jones was allegedly suspended for one day and threatened with expulsion for “making a threat” to another student using a “replica or representation of a firearm."
The Rutherford Institute sent a letter to the school on Dec. 4, which states in part: “We request that you rescind the suspension and immediately remove all reference to it from Johnny’s permanent school record.”
“There is no reason that Johnny should be stigmatized and branded a miscreant due to the school’s unreasonable application of its zero tolerance policy against him,” states the letter.
Rutherford Institute President John W. Whitehead claims the school’s response is an effort to “criminalize childish behavior and punish all offenses severely, no matter how minor or non-threatening the so-called infraction may have been.”
“We all want to keep the schools safe, but I’d far prefer to see something credible done about actual threats, rather than this ongoing, senseless targeting of imaginary horseplay,” said Whitehead.
According CNSNews.com, the Rutherford Institute has given Rona Kaufmann, Superintendent of the South Eastern School District, until Dec. 13, 2013 to respond to their letter.
There has not been a statement from the school or Kaufmann.
America’s education system is surely embattled. Yet, the increasing popularity of statewide “read-or-flunk” laws have drawn criticism despite the laws’ good intentions. According to some excellent reporting by Bridge Michigan, a “two-bill package [Michigan State] House Bill 5111 and House Bill 5144, is similar to legislation in other states, combines intervention efforts to identify and work with struggling students as early as kindergarten, with a third-grade line in the sand: Score at a ‘proficient’ level or above in reading on a standardized test, or expect to stay in third grade.”
Had the laws already been in effect last year, it’s estimated that 35 percent of third-graders in the state would have been retained, approximately 39,000. Under the current system, only 1000 students had been held back. However, the bills only allow for state funding for pilot programs, which, if successful, leaves the cost of implementation to the individual school districts. In fact, the increased cost of educating the students retained is the main sticking point for those who reject these bills—about $7000 per student.
Yet proponents of the bill say the cost is worth it if results in more literate students. Yet, there are those who don’t think that will be the case either. Critics of the law believe that “flunking” a student will do little to encourage him or her. According to the Bridge report, a number of “academic studies have found that students who are retained in early grades are much more likely to drop out of school before graduation.”
Such as it is, neither option seems ideal. Passing students unable to effectively comprehend their own textbooks is certainly not a good idea. However, flunking students may only exacerbate the problem. If the students aren’t able to pass a reading test because there are no consequences for failure, then perhaps the added fear of failure might be a sufficient motivator. Yet, if it is in fact the system itself that is failing the students, flunking them could serve to drive them away from the practice of learning altogether.
Earlier this year, the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), a conservative law firm based in California, pushed people, especially Christians, to sign an online petition to put California’s new transgender law (School Success & Opportunity Act) up for a statewide vote in Nov. 2014.
As part of this campaign, the PJI spread a false story about a Colorado transgender teen harassing other students, noted Salon.com.
According to The Washington Blade, 504,760 signatures were required get the law on the ballot and 613,120 were turned in.
However, only 75 percent of those signatures are verifying as authentic, so it is likely the petition will not make the 504,760 requirement.
The PJI apparently has a back-up plan in case the petition fails, which is seeking out victims of transgender students, reports TransAdvocate.com.
Ironically, Brad Dacus, of the PJI, had claimed for months there would be numerous victims of this transgender law, but apparently there are so few that Dacus is taking to radio (audio below) to find students who feel harassed by transgender students.
"Perhaps you’re listening to us, and your son or daughter knows that there’s at least one child in their school that claims to be a transgender," said Dacus. "They claim that inside they have these feelings that they are the opposite sex."
"If that child can validate that this transgender has expressed their intention to use the opposite sex’s bathroom or locker room or showers, and they’re willing to come along side to be a plaintiff at our action, and if their child, and we’ll give anonymity, we’ll protect their identity, if they can do that," added Dacus.
"Then they should contact us because that gives us standing to be able to have a preemptive action and to get this matter, to get injunction against this enforcement as a violation of the U.S. constitution’s right to privacy that it guarantees to all of us, including to young adolescents and other children," stated Dacus.
Gwen Pope, a math teacher at Fayette High School in Fayette, Mo., reportedly led Christian devotional prayers in her classroom every Friday morning, which is illegal in public schools, unless it is student-led or after normal school hours.
The prayers sessions were announced over the loudspeaker, encouraging students to attend. Pope's husband would also attend.
Pope allegedly told her math students that “God will punish them if they are not good” and had religious literature on her desk.
Back in May, the American Humanist Association (AHA) sent the Western District of Missouri a warning letter, which was apparently ignored, so the AHA filed a lawsuit against the school district last week, reports Patheos.com.
However, Fox News did a spin on the story, casting the Christian teacher as the "victim" of mean atheists.
FoxNews.com started with this headline: "American Humanist Association sues teacher who prayed for sick student."
In the article, Fox News' Todd Starnes mocked the apparent violation of church and state by Pope:
This over-the-top attack on Christianity is just unbelievable. Then again, what do you expect from a bunch of humanists who don’t believe in anything that really matters?
They alleged that Mrs. Pope and the students were seen reading Bible verses and (again, brace yourself) praying for the ill.
“When a student was sick or injured, Pope frequently asked the students in attendance to pray for the afflicted student and joined the attending students in prayer by bowing her head, closing her eyes and saying amen,” the lawsuit alleged.
Mrs. Pope allegedly encouraged the students to pray for the young man. The lawsuit describes in great detail the aftermath of that request.
“She then bowed her head and closed her eyes,” the lawsuit states. “At the end of the prayer, Pope joined the students in saying aloud, ‘Amen.’”
Can you believe a public school would tolerate such diabolical behavior?
However, in reality, the AHA wants a court to end teacher-led praying during school hours.
The Western District of Missouri has said it would "vigorously defend against any claim that the district has taken actions which violate any person's First Amendment rights."
Sources: Patheos.com and FoxNews.com
SkyView Academy, located in Douglas County, Colo. and East Point Academy in West Columbia, S.C. have severed their ties with Rev. Franklin Graham's "Operation Christmas Child" project.
"Operation Christmas Child" is a yearly program of Rev. Graham's evangelical organization Samaritan's Purse.
According to The Christian Post, both schools were allowing students to collect donations for "Operation Christmas Child" and assemble shoe boxes filled with hygiene items, gifts and a pamphlet on Christianity, which urged children to become Christians.
The American Humanist Association sent letters to both public schools, warning them that "Operation Christmas Child" is run by a Christian organization and their participation would be violating the separation of church and state.
"[The gift boxes were] essentially a bribe, expressly used to pressure desperately poor children living in developing countries to convert to Christianity," wrote the American Humanist Association in its letters.
No other religions are included in the shoe boxes and nor is any other religion benefiting from free work by the students.
SkyView Academy sent an email to parents last week announcing that it chose to stop participating in the program to avoid any legal fees and media attention.
"Our school has never endorsed any particular religious view," the email stated. "This decision is based on the importance of protecting our school's program, resources, and reputation, which would be at risk if we chose to engage in this national argument."
Parents of some students at SkyView Academy are now raising funds for "Operation Christmas Child" independently. The parents also held a "Religious Rights Rally" outside of school last Wednesday, notes 9 News (video below).
"We felt shocked and disappointed," Lorrie Grove, SkyView Academy board president, told The Denver Post. "It was hard to believe we were receiving a threatening letter based on the good intentions of our students."
However, it was not the intentions that were in question, counters Kimberly Saviano, president of the Humanists of Colorado, a local chapter of American Humanist Association.
"I love the idea of the gifts to children, but there are certain proprieties tied with something like this, and that is when they go off the rails," stated Saviano.
Some parents of SkyView Academy children are threatening a lawsuit against the American Humanist Association because of what they call bullying, even though the American Humanist Association has not made any physical threats.
"It's the definition of bullying," parent Kendal Unruh told The Denver Post. "They know where these toys are going, and this effects innocent children all over the country."
According to TheBlaze.com, South Carolina's East Point Academy wrote in an email to its students' parents: "In an abundance of caution because we do not want to expend school financial resources defending a lawsuit, we are not going to accept Operation Christmas Child boxes. If you and your child had planned to donate a shoebox of supplies, you are encouraged to find a charity of your choice for the gift."
A Texas Board of Education meeting went late into the night Thursday as members debated the approval of new science textbooks. The board will not accept a new biology textbook until supposed “errors” in evolutionary theory are analyzed by a panel of experts.
The board waited until midnight to vote on the textbook, and then put off approval pending the expert review.
The biology books, which could be used throughout the state for nearly a decade, are causing controversy among creationists who have trouble accepting evolution as fact. When going over options from various publishers earlier this year, one board member wanted biblical creationism to be included. Other members were upset that books taught climate change, arguing that the scientific community has still not settled the matter — even though, according to NASA, 97 percent of scientists agree that climate change is real.
Less conservative members of the board expressed discontent that the Thursday meeting ran so late, complaining that their colleagues had dragged things out in an attempt to push their own religious agenda.
"To ask me — a business degree major from Texas Tech University — to distinguish whether the Earth cooled 4 billion years ago or 4.2 billion years ago for purposes of approving a textbook at 10:15 on a Thursday night is laughable," said Thomas Ratliff, a Republican.
"I believe this process is being hijacked, this book is being held hostage to make political changes," he also said.
The refusal of creationists to accept modern science has been a major concern for people like Dr. Eugenie C. Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education.
Scott works to help ensure that science, not ideology, makes it into United States science textbooks, and she sometimes fights an uphill battle.
Scott told the New York Times that up to 25 percent of biology teachers in the country believe in creationism.
“Working with local groups, we have stopped a lot of really bad resolutions and policies at the state level,” she said. “We need to do a lot more, but textbooks all have evolution now. They don’t qualify it with, ‘Some scientists believe. ...’ ”
High school student Jacob Green claims to be a victim of a hate crime and says that his free speech rights are being violated because of the Confederate flag that he flies from his truck.
Green, who attends Millennium High School in Goodyear, Ariz., seems shocked that anyone could possibly be offended by the flag, which represented Confederate soldiers who fought for the South and slavery in the Civil War.
The flag disappeared from public view after the Civil War, but surfaced again in 1956 as a protest against school desegregation. In more recent times, the Confederate flag has been flown by white supremacist groups.
Green claims that a classmate recently confronted him about the flag and both boys ended up in a fight. They were each suspended for five days (video below).
Millennium High School also banned Green from flying the flag on his truck while on school grounds to preserve student safety.
“I’ve done nothing wrong,” Green told My Fox Phoenix. “I’ve flown a flag on my truck, somebody fought me because of it. I didn’t fight him. I was walking around like a normal person, he confronted me. He hit me first, I was defending myself.”
According to Green, the Confederate flag "means basically more independence, less government. It didn’t mean racism, it didn’t mean slavery, it didn’t mean any of that. It basically meant what they were fighting for was their right to be independent and not have the government control them."
Green did not offer any historical proof of his claims or any empathy for black people who would be offended.
“Open display [of the Confederate flag], bringing it in, it has been proven to be patently offensive to certain groups, and the courts recognize that,” said Dennis Runyan, the superintendent of Agua Fria Unified School District.
“Obviously there was some event that took place, it was related to reaction to the flag, and it did create an environment where it was disruptive,” added Runyan.
Jacob's parents believe he was was attacked by the other student, call it a hate crime, but have not yet filed a police report.