Tag Archives: education

Mizzou Diversity Director Tells Protesters To Grow Up, Stop Making Insane Demands

By Blake Neff – The chief diversity officer at the University of Missouri (MU) has authored a letter sharply reprimanding the school’s black activist movement, urging it to stop relying on threats and impossible demands.

“If you sincerely want better relationships, the time for demands, threats and arbitrary deadlines is over — you don’t need them,” said Chuck Henson, who was appointed as MU’s interim vice chancellor for inclusion, diversity and equity following massive campus protests last fall. The letter, written Thursday, was obtained and released by the Columbia Missourian Friday night.

Last week, Concerned Student 1950, the activist group that helped force out MU president Timothy Wolfe last fall, released a new set of demands, which largely reiterates previous commands that have gone unmet. Some of the demands that were emphasized included a call for an “academic bankruptcy program” (essentially letting students void the results of an entire term), an expansion in the number of black faculty and the erection of a statue of 1930s civil rights activist Lloyd Gaines on campus. Many of the demands have explicit deadlines, and the group has emphasized that the school will be made to fulfill them “by any means necessary.”

But according to Henson, the group is presenting its demands in a flatly unacceptable manner. Not only that, but many of them are impossible.

“[T]here are things, like hiring faculty or staff, or admitting students based on protected characteristics to meet a numerical target, [that] will not and cannot be done,” he said. “It is against state and federal law. It also is a bad model for a sustainable community.” Similarly, he said demands that course curricula be changed was purely the responsibility of faculty, and could not be meddled with by administrators without quashing academic freedom.

Henson also faulted activists for apparently avoiding a face-to-face meeting with school administrators.

“For my part, I have been seeking you out. I have invited you to come see me,” Henson said in the letter. “However, as yet we haven’t met. Had you accepted my invitation to meet face-to-face, you would already know the answers to most of the issues raised in your recent communication.”

The diversity director suggested that activists try attending meetings of The Working Group, a body created by MU’s administration in order to transparently reform the school following mass protests last fall. Despite its intention of changing MU with student input, few people seem to have attended Working Group meetings.

At the least, Concerned Student 1950 can’t accuse Henson of flaunting his white privilege, as Henson himself is a black man.

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Did U.S. Marshals Really Arrest a Houston Man for Unpaid Student Loans?

On February 15, Paul Aker appeared on Fox 26 Houston detailing his arrest at the hands of seven U.S. Marshals armed with automatic firearms. Aker told Fox 26 that he was arrested for not paying a $1,500 student loan he received in 1987 from Prairie View A&M University.

The arrest took place on February 18 at Aker’s home in Houston. “They grabbed me, they threw me down,” Aker told the NY Daily News. “Local PD is just standing there.”

Aker was arrested and taken to a federal court in downtown Houston where he said he was faced with a judge, a prosecutor, and a county clerk. Aker told Fox 26 that the prosecutor ended up being a debt collection lawyer.

Aker said he received a “lecture” from the judge about “stealing from the U.S. government.” When Aker asked why the Marshals came in combat gear with weapons drawn, he said he was told it was because he owns firearms.

“It was because they knew I was a registered gun owner. It’s out of control. Out of control. What if they had seen a gun on me? They would have shot me for $1,500 bucks.”

[RELATED: U.S. Students Participate in ‘Million Student March’ Over Debt, Free College]

The Daily News reported that Aker was ordered to pay $5,700 for the loan, including interest. He was also ordered to pay nearly $1,300 to cover the cost of his own arrest. Aker has until March 1, he said, or he would be arrested again.

Isiah Carey of Fox 26 also stated that the U.S. Marshals are planning to serve up to 1,500 warrants to Houstonians who have not repaid their loans.

Aker’s arrest became a viral story on Tuesday afternoon and left many people wondering why the federal government was using armed raids to collect on student debt. Although Aker told the NY Daily News and Fox 26 that he was not contacted once in 29 years about the loan, Yahoo Finance has discovered some discrepancies in his story. 

According to documents obtained by Yahoo, Aker was sued in November 2007 by the federal government for failing to pay more than $2,600 in unpaid federal student loan debt. Records from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas show that Aker, listed as Winford P. Aker in the complaint, failed to appear in court, leading the judge to rule against him and order him to pay the entire balance by April 17, 2007.

Yahoo reported that a statement from the U.S. Marshals Service claims that Aker repeatedly refused to show up in court after being contacted several times. Aker reportedly told the Marshals he would not appear in court. A few months later, a judge issued a warrant for his arrest and the U.S. Marshals carried it out.

Yahoo wrote, “So, yes, Aker was arrested, but not just because he owed a little student loan debt. He was arrested for disobeying a court order.”

If the Marshals did attempt to contact Aker, they may have been unable to do so because the court record shows a different address than the listing for a “Winford P. Aker” that Yahoo Finance found in the Houston area. The U.S. Marshals Service told Yahoo they made every effort to track him down, “including searching at numerous known addresses.”

Ultimately, the arrest was not made specifically for the failure to pay the student loan but for the failure to appear in court. Still, it seems troubling that a $1,500 debt could lead to an armed raid on one’s home. It’s highly troubling that the U.S. Marshals chose to come with guns simply because Aker was a registered gun owner.

What are your thoughts? At what point does a debt warrant an arrest? Is owning a firearm reason enough to bring armed federal agents to collect a debt?

Mike Rowe Defends Trade Jobs, College Alternatives in Response to Bernie Sanders Tweet

A Bernie Sanders tweet issued Monday inspired actor and television host Mike Rowe, best known as the former host of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs and the current host of CNN’s Somebody’s Gotta Do It, to write an open post directed at Sanders on Facebook defending trade jobs and alternatives to college.

Sanders’ above-embedded tweet, aimed at justifying the cost of his plan to provide government-subsidized college tuition for all Americans, struck Rowe as implicitly equivocating the failure to go to college with a pipeline to jail.

I wonder sometimes, if the best way to question the increasingly dangerous idea that a college education is the best path for the most people, is to stop fighting the sentiment directly, and simply shine a light on the knuckleheads who continue to perpetuate this nonsense. This latest tweet from Bernie Sanders is a prime example. In less than 140 characters, he’s managed to imply that a path to prison is the most likely alternative to a path to college. Pardon my acronym, but…WTF!?” said Rowe in a Facebook post.

[RELATED: Rand Paul Challenges Bernie Sanders To Hour-Long Debate On Socialism vs. Capitalism]

Rowe added, “The implicit suggestion, reinforced daily by a generation of well-intended guidance counselors and misguided parents, is always the same – get yourself a four-year degree, or accept one of the many ‘vocational consolation prizes’ that result from all other forms of ‘lesser knowledge.’ But now, as people are slowly starting to understand the obscenity of 1.3 trillion dollars in student loans, along with the abundance of opportunity for those with the proper training, it seems the proponents of ‘college for all’ need something even more frightening than the prospect of a career in the trades to frighten the next class into signing on the dotted line. According to Senator Sanders, that ‘something,’ is a path to jail.

According to Lifehacker, college graduates only make $90,000 more on average over a 30-year period when compared to trade school graduates, with the average bachelor’s degree costing $127,000 and taking at least four years to complete. Vocational training costs an average of $33,000 and can be completed in as little time as 2 years. A SimplyHired.com estimate puts the average income earned by a trade school graduate at around $42,000 per year. Two extra years of income at $42,000 per year leaves the average college graduate only $6,000 richer than the average trade school graduate over a 30-year period. Meanwhile, the college graduate faces risky student loan debt and the possibility that changes to the economy could render some degree specializations worthless after such a significant investment of time and money.

[RELATED: Bernie Sanders Introduces Bill to End Federal Marijuana Prohibition]

This is the first time I’ve seen an elected official support the hyper-inflated cost of a diploma by juxtaposing it with the hyper-inflated cost of incarceration. Honestly, I’m not sure what to make of it,” Rowe continued in his post. “Is it possible that Senator Sanders doesn’t realize the number of college graduates with criminal records? Is he unaware of the millions of successful tradespeople and entrepreneurs who didn’t pay for a sheepskin, but somehow managed to stay of the clink? Does he not recognize that comments like his will encourage more kids who are better suited for an alternative path to borrow vast sums of money they’ll never be able to pay back in order to pay for a degree that won’t get them a job?

For more election coverage, click here.

Obama Signs ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’

After approval from the United States House of Representatives, the Senate passed the Every Student Succeeds Act on Wednesday, a federal education bill that would replace No Child Left Behind. President Obama signed the bill Thursday.

The bill, which was introduced on April 30, is described as “an Act to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to ensure that every child achieves.”

The Department of Education presented the bill as one that in addition to providing “federal grants to state educational agencies to improve the quality of elementary and secondary education,” would also offer “grants to districts serving low-income students, federal grants for text and library books,” and would create special education centers and scholarships for low-income college students.

This bill, consisting of 1,061 pages, would replace “No Child Left Behind,” which was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002, and looked to close “achievement gaps” by mandating standardized testing.

ESSA is supposed to repeal annual federal progress reports, replacing them with a individual statewide accountability system that prohibits federal interference.

At the state level, ESSA will still require statewide assessments in reading and math for students in the 3rd to the 8th grades and once in high school, along with science tests given three times between the 3rd and the 12th grade.

In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan on Dec. 2, Republican Georgia State Sen. William Ligon questioned “why we need a 1061-page federal bill dealing with education policy.”

[pull_quote_center]I have been told by a member of our congressional delegation that bill’s length was needed to repeal many existing federal laws dealing with education. Unfortunately, a review of the bill reveals not much in the way of repeal but that once again the federal government is driving education policy in every State in the Union through grants and waivers.[/pull_quote_center]

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised the bill, calling it “another bipartisan achievement for our country.”

While he did not vote on Wednesday, GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) released a statement saying that he does not support the bill.

Cruz said the bill “unfortunately continues to propagate the large and ever-growing role of the federal government in our education system,” which is the “same federal government that sold us failed top-down standards like Common Core.”

[pull_quote_center]We should be empowering parents and local school districts instead of perpetuating the same tired approach that continues to fail our nation’s children. In many ways, the conference report was worse than the original Senate bill—removing the few good provisions from the House bill that would have allowed some Title I portability for low-income students as well as a parental opt-out from onerous federal accountability standards.[/pull_quote_center]

Presidential candidates Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also did not vote on the bill. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) voted against it.

Illinois GOP Rep.: Let Chicago Public Schools Go Bankrupt

By Eric Owens

A member of the Illinois General Assembly has proposed a bill that would allow Chicago’s deeply troubled public school system to solve its massive projected budget deficit of $1.1 billion by declaring bankruptcy.

The House member is Ron Sandack, a Republican from the pleasant Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, according to WLS-TV.

“This knee jerk reaction to always say ‘let’s just raise taxes,” Sandack told the ABC affiliate. “That’s where a bankruptcy can actually be helpful.”

Sandack’s matter-of-fact recommendation comes as Chicago Public Schools, the third-largest taxpayer-funded school system in the nation, faces a grave and immediate financial crisis.

The bulk of the $1.1 billion deficit is a mammoth $634 million pension payment which will come due on June 30.

Chicago Public Schools doesn’t have enough money to make the payment. It also has no reserve fund.

Sandack’s legislation would allow Chicago Public Schools and other cash-strapped school districts across Illinois to seek Chapter Nine bankruptcy protection. Federal bankruptcy judges could then order debt restructuring, which could include partial or full release from pension obligations.

“We can’t tax our way out of this problem,” Sandack told WLS. “We need additional, broader relief.”

“Some restructuring of that obligation I believe can occur at the federal level under a Chapter Nine construct,” the GOP state congressman added.

Chicago’s powerful teachers union opposes Sandack’s bill.

“Financial crisis is no reason to go back on what basically was a promise made to people who taught the last generation of school children,” Chicago Teachers Union vice president Jesse Sharkey told the station. (RELATED: Chicago Teachers Union Chief Faults ‘Rich White People’ For City’s Education Mess)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is also against the massive national embarrassment that would surely result from the bankruptcy his city’s public school system.

“We should not allow the finances to undermine all the educational progress our principals and teachers are making,” Emanuel told WLS. “Because what you don’t want to do is put the system into a process that could actually distract away from the educational things.” (RELATED: Mayor Rahm Was A SHIRTLESS BADASS Who Took On The Nazis In The Summer Of ’78)

The fate of Sandack’s bill awaits a decision by a House committee.

Meanwhile, early Tuesday evening, a couple thousand Chicago Teachers Union members took to the downtown streets of the Windy City — as they frequently do — shouting, hoisting signs and snarling traffic in an effort to get their way in their latest contract dispute. (RELATED: Chicago Teachers Union Blasts Mass Firings Dictated By Post-Strike Contract)

“You have to remember that what you’re fighting for is not just a fair contract, it is the history of fair contracts,” teachers union president Karen Lewis told protesters outside the hideous, 1970s-spaceship-looking Thompson Center,according to the Chicago Tribune. “And if we have a chance, this is it. This is the time where you have to stand up and tell ’em all ‘No, we’re not going to take that.’” (RELATED: Karen Lewis: Improving Failed Schools Full Of Black Kids Is RACIST)

“There’s a lot of money on LaSalle Street, and Chicago claims to be broke,” union delegate and elementary school teacher Adam Geisler told the newspaper, alluding to the banking and legal offices lining the street.

The rally showcased the Chicago Teachers Union’s new slogan: “CPS: Broke on purpose.”

Chants included: “Education is our right. That is why we fight!”

In May 2012, members of the Chicago Teachers Union authorized a strike which occurred in the fall of that year, forcing the city’s children to miss seven days of school.

The bond rating of the Chicago Public Schools has steadily deteriorated over the last decade. For example, while Standard & Poor’s gave CPS an A+ rating in 2006, that rating is now A-. Moody’s Investor Services gave the district an A2 rating in 2006 but the Moody’s rating is now Ba3.

This Moody’s rating of Ba3 means investing in Chicago’s public schools is “speculative” and “subject to substantial credit risk.”

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Special Ed Teacher Arrested For Sticking Autistic Boy Head First In Trash Can

By Eric Owens

A special education teacher at a Georgia elementary school was arrested on Monday for allegedly sticking a young autistic boy in a trash can — head first.

The incident occurred on April 30 at Mount Bethel Elementary School in the suburban sprawl north of Atlanta.

The unidentified second-grade boy was participating in an after-school program at the taxpayer-funded school at the time, local Fox affiliate WAGA-TV reports.

According to an arrest warrant for the teacher, Mary Katherine Pursley, the boy had come in from outside “screaming” about a second boy hassling him in some way. He “wouldn’t calm down.”

Pursley, whose actual teaching role that day is not clear, appeared and told the boy he could end up like Oscar the Grouch.

“If he had trashy behavior like Oscar, he’d go to the trash can,” Pursley explained to the autistic boy, according to the warrant.

[bctt tweet=”“If he had trashy behavior like Oscar, he’d go to the trash can,””]

The boy’s behavior presumably did not change because, next, police say, Pursley picked the boy up by the legs and slowly dropped him into the trash can, until he was in up to his shoulders, despite the boy’s pleas that she stop.

As an aside, Oscar the Grouch is a green, ill-tempered Sesame Street character who lives in a trash can and enjoys trash immensely. Of critical importance, however, Oscar rises head up from his trash can residence. The Muppet’s feet are very rarely seen, however, and no one ever dangles them over a trash can.

Three school employees witnessed Pursley’s actions, police believe.

The single count against the 21-year-veteran teacher is cruelty to a child. It’s a first-degree felony.

After her arrest, she paid a $5,000 bond and was released from custody.

A school district spokeswoman, Jennifer Gates, provided a lengthy comment explaining that the district had no comment.

“It is a personnel matter and no comment can be given,” Gates told The Marietta Daily Journal.

“Safety and security of Cobb students continues to be our No. 1 priority,” she added. “Our attention is on making every remaining day of school for our students safe, healthy, engaging, meaningful and focused on academic excellence.”

Meanwhile, school officials have placed Pursley on administrative leave. With pay.

She makes $68,230 annually.

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As Standardized Testing Opt Out Movement Grows in SC, Students Disciplined For Refusing Test

A school district in South Carolina disciplined at least 12 students who, at the request of their parents, refused to take new standardized ACT tests.

According to local news, some students reportedly felt bullied by the school administration to take the test, which was given last week across the entire state.

The students were removed from their classrooms and asked by the principal to agree to take the test despite initial refusal. When the children again refused, they were sent to the school’s office and received a discipline referral marked “refusal to obey,” according to The Greenville News.

This refusal is part of a national backlash towards standardized tests, as many parents don’t believe the assessments actually help their children learn.

In many states, parents can “opt-out” of the tests, but not in South Carolina. According to the South Carolina Department of Education, districts were told that state law doesn’t have an opt-out provision, and that schools must give tests to everyone.

Instead of “opting out,” concerned parents are “refusing” to allow their children to be tested.

But that didn’t sit well with administration. Read more here.

More African Americans are Abandoning State-Run Schools and opting for Homeschool

According to National Home Education Research Institute, approximately 220,000 African American students are being homeschooled. Black families are one of the fastest growing home school demographic.

A 2012 report published in the Journal of Black Studies found that most black families chose to educate their children at home to avoid school-related racism.

According to The Atlantic, there is a rise in homeschooling for African American families.

“We have all heard that the American education system is not the best and is falling behind in terms of international standards,” Temple University faculty member Ama Mazama said. “But this is compounded for black children, who are treated as though they are not as intelligent and cannot perform as well, and therefore the standards for them should be lower.”

Listen to Ben Swann’s interview with Dr. Ron Paul about the homeschooling revolution and why more and more families are leaving the failed public school system and choosing homeschooling for their children.


South Korea to teach anti-ISIS classes in schools

The government of South Korea is in the works to present a curriculum to elementary, middle, and high school students which is meant to inform and prevent students from joining the terrorist organization ISIS.

This new curriculum comes as a Korean teenager, whose surname is Kim, crossed the border from Turkey to Syria in order to join ISIS last month. Kim reportedly learned about ISIS through their various ISIS propaganda campaigns online and through people he contacted about the group.

According to the Korea Times, Kim, 18, was on a trip to Turkey when he met an unidentified man in the town of Besiriye near the Syrian border. The man in question is believed to be a member of ISIS.

“We are introducing the lessons because ISIS uses social networking services (SNS) to conduct propaganda activities and attract people to join it,” said a Ministry of Education official. “Kim’s case showed that Koreans are no longer safe from the ISIS activities… Elementary, middle and high school students will learn the truth about ISIS.”

This official also said material about ISIS has been in development by the ministry and would be completed and distributed to schools soon.

Government officials are worried however that presenting their students with too much information on ISIS would only pique some student’s interest. Because of this, the lessons would not only inform the students about the terrorist group, but also discuss in detail the dangers of joining such groups.

The government has also said they will strengthen monitoring programs of internet activity with the hopes of deterring discussions online about ISIS.

Gov. Cuomo Condemns NY Teacher Unions: “Don’t Say You Represent The Students”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized New York’s teacher unions last week following his State of the State Address, claiming that the unions become overly self-serving and their purpose has been “flipped.”

Speaking with the New York Daily News Editorial Board last Thursday, Cuomo called teacher unions an “industry” that is supposed to be working to improve the educational system but has instead prioritized preserving the rights of its own members. Cuomo told the board about a disagreement he said that he had with a teacher union member who’d stated he was protecting his students.

Cuomo said that he told the teacher “You represent the teachers. Teacher salaries, teacher pensions, teacher tenure, teacher vacation rights. I respect that. But don’t say you represent the students.”

“Somewhere along the way, I believe we flipped the purpose of this,” Cuomo said. “This was never a teacher employment program and this was never an industry to hire superintendents and teachers.”

Cuomo said that the public must be made aware of the problems in the state’s education system. “If (the public) understood what was happening with education to their children, there would be an outrage in this city,” Cuomo said. “I’m telling you, they would take City Hall down brick by brick.”

“It’s only because it’s complicated that people don’t get it,” Cuomo said. He added that “Education reform will come when people understand the story of education fully.”

Cuomo’s remarks to the editorial board followed his State of the State Address last Wednesday, where he had noted plans to reform the state’s education system as part of his $141.6 billion 2015-16 budget proposal. Included in those education reform proposals:

  • Granting more power to the state to fix failing schools
  • Expanding charter schools
  • Creating new standards that incoming teachers must meet; Cuomo said that almost a third of incoming teachers were not reading at a high school senior level.
  • A $20 million “Teacher Excellence Fund” in which teachers deemed highly effective would be eligible for a $20,000 bonus
  • “Expeditiously but fairly” firing ineffective teachers by streamlining the current discipline and termination system
  • Changing teacher tenure policy that currently grants tenure to teachers after 3 years to a new standard that “proposes that a teacher must receive five consecutive annual ratings of effective or highly effective before tenure is granted.”

Cuomo also placed the state DREAM ACT, which would provide state financial assistance to college students who are the children of undocumented immigrants, alongside an education tax credit for those who donate money to public or private schools in his budget bill.

“I understand there’s going to be political problems for people on both sides of the aisle,” Cuomo said last Wednesday. “And they will be besieged by lobbyists.”

Cuomo’s proposals for education reform were rebuked by United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew. “What the Governor’s clearly saying, that he’s going to fix education by attacking the people who work in the school buildings,” Mulgrew said.

New legislation could erase Common Core standards

As more and more states begin to reject and propose bills against Common Core standards, new legislation has been released which could cause an end to the controversial education system.

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is the new chairman of the Senate’s education committee, and he has released two options to replace the education system. One replacement plan would have standardized requirements for math and reading between grades 3-8, while the other option offers states the choice to test annually or every three years to see how they are performing.

The second option, according to the Times-Picayune, would allow each state to choose which standardized test to administer to their students. Whether or not the state chooses to move forward with the Common Core standards would therefore be left up to the state.

Alexander also took time on Tuesday, while speaking on the House floor, to say he believes President Obama’s Education Department has overstepped its authority. He said he thinks the Education Department should not hold each state to a specific set of standards, but should allow each state to set their own standards. “The department has become, in effect, a national school board,” said Alexander.

While many believe a new proposed education bill is likely to succeed now that Republicans have control of Congress, not everyone is totally convinced it is the right choice.

Andrew Rotherham, one of the founders of the education consultancy Bellwether Education Partners, has said, according to the Washington Post, the point of Common Core was to make sure all children across state-lines were getting an equal opportunity to learn and achieve.

“This is basically a way,” says Rotherham on the legislation, “to make sure we don’t have a common definition. Some kids are going to get a really challenging and ambitious set of standards, and other kids are going to fall through the cracks.”

Tom Loveless, a scholar with the Brookings Institution, found students in states which have a more rigorous academic curriculum do not necessarily perform any better on standardize tests than their peers. Loveless argues the changes should not be made at the state level, rather individual school systems within the state need to be changed.

A study published by the Brookings Institution found, “students from wealthier families score significantly higher on [standardized tests] than students from poorer families,” within the same state.

Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a member of the Senate Education Committee, agrees with Alexander in saying changes are needed in the education system, but says annual testing is needed to make sure schools are meeting some sort of standard.

“We know if we don’t have ways to measure students’ progress, and if we don’t hold our states accountable, the victims will invariably be the kids from poor neighborhoods, children of color and students with disabilities,” said Murray. “These are the students who too often fall through the cracks, and that is not fair…This is a civil rights issue, plain and simple.”

Common Core: Tenn. introduces legislation prompting State to dismantle program

NASHVILLE, November 19, 2014– On Wednesday, according to a press release, Tennessee State Representative Andy Holt (R-Dresden) introduced a resolution in the Tennessee House of Representatives that seeks to clarify Tennessee’s position on Common Core and dismantle the de facto federal education program.

“A few weeks back, I asked my constituents what issues were most pressing to them. A full repeal of Common Core landed inside the top five. This resolution is a direct response to those calls for action,” says Holt. “Our parents and local school boards know what is best for our children, not federal bureaucrats that have never stepped foot in Tennessee’s 76th House District.”

The resolution commends activists and parents in Indiana, Missouri, South Carolina, Oklahoma and North Carolina for successfully fighting off Common Core’s implementation, and parents in other states like Tennessee that are entangled in a battle paralleling that of “David and Goliath”.

“I want to ensure parents and activists in Tennessee know that I hear them loud and clear, and I want them to know how appreciated they are. This is for each and every one of them,” says Holt.

The resolution cites the Republican National Committee’s (RNC) move to repudiate Common Core.

“Even the RNC is coming out strongly against Common Core by encouraging legislators to immediately dismantle the program,” cites Holt.

The resolution (full text below) reads, in part:

“The Tennessee General Assembly, in conjunction with the governor and the department of education, should be the next such state to remove the Common Core standards from implementation.”

Holt is running a petition in order to engage residents inside of his District. 

“So far, in the last three weeks alone, more than 500 people have signed the petition to help us stop Common Core. This is a crucial step in ensuring that Tennessee has official direction with regard to where we stand on Common Core, and I’m going to ensure their voices are a part of this resolution.”

Follow Michael Lotfi on Facebook & Twitter.

Rep. Andy Holt: Tennessee Resolution To Dismantle Common Core by BFCLLC

LOTFI: Education commissioner resigns amid Common Core investigation

NASHVILLE, November 17, 2014- Last week, Tennessee Commissioner of Education Kevin Huffman resigned his post. Because of Huffman’s ties to the Obama Administration, many Tennesseans were unhappy with his appointment from the start.

“I wish Commissioner Huffman well in his next endeavor, but I am undoubtedly pleased to see him moving on from the Tennessee Department of Education. I think I’ve made it abundantly clear in previous statements, but Commissioner Huffman’s absence does not immediately resolve other issues that have been and are still currently restricting teachers from teaching and our students are suffering the consequences,” says State Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden). 

Last Summer, 16 Republican legislators called for Huffman’s resignation after performing what many considered to be illegal maneuvers to cover-up Tennessee’s poor Common Core results.

“In the past three years we have required compliance, transparency and excellence from our teachers and school systems. We expect our government officials to set the example and be held to the same level of accountability. We are Tennessee, not Washington DC. Commissioner Huffman has lost the integrity to be able to lead education efforts in our state,” said State Rep. Sheila Butt (R- Columbia) last Summer.

Local media has covered the resignation extensively. However, not a single media source felt it was necessary to report one critical detail. The fact that State Rep. Billy Spivey (R-Lewisburg) and State Sen. Janice Bowling (R-Tullahoma) launched a legal formal investigation into Huffman’s maneuvers has been omitted from every report.

The status of that investigation is unknown.

Follow Michael Lotfi on Facebook & Twitter.

California could release up to 10,000 nonviolent offenders

As part of a proposition California passed on Tuesday, the state could see up to 10,000 incarcerated people eligible for early release.

Proposition 47, known in California as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, will reclassify various offenses which were previously felonies, as misdemeanors.  Some of these offenses include personal illicit drug use, shoplifting, and theft under $950.

Analysts have said they think with this proposition in place, California will hand out 40,000 less felonies each year, and the state would also save up to $150 million dollars.

The Urban Institute’s Justice Policy Center wrote, according to Common Dreams, “The current sentencing and correctional system in California is costly and inefficient and voters would prefer their tax dollars to be spent on education and health care rather than incarceration.”

Other uses for the saved money include supporting victim services, mental health programs, and drug treatment programs.  Marc Mauer from the Sentencing Project, said, “This historic vote demonstrates support to advance a public safety strategy beyond incarceration to include treatment and prevention.”

The proposition will also apply to people currently being held in the California prison system, which is how those incarcerated people could apply for early release.

Similar legislature has been enacted in other states in the past few years.

Georgia, for example passed a law in 2012 which, according to FiveThirtyEight, allowed alternative sentencing for low-level, nonviolent offenders.  The state’s prison population dropped by about 14 percent by the end of 2013 and the crime rate dropped by about 4 percent as well.  The state also saved approximately $20 million in the first year of enacting the new law.

Other states have enacted similar legislature in the past few years, but the laws were enacted to recently to offer any significant data.

Father Gets Banned From Daughter’s School Over Islam

LA PLATA, Maryland, October 31, 2014 – In Maryland this week, a former Marine and father of a La Plata High School student was banned from school grounds after a dispute arose between the man and the school concerning the teaching of Islam in his daughter’s World History class.

Kevin Wood, a former corporal with the U.S. Marine Corps who served in Iraq, noticed on Wednesday evening that his daughter’s homework assignment was on Islam. The assignment included a three page essay on the five pillars of Islam, Mecca and Mohammad.

Wood objected to the religion of Islam being taught to his daughter, a junior at the La Plata High School, and approached the school to request a different assignment be issued in the original assignment’s place.

Wood stated, ““I don’t agree with it. You can’t study God or Christianity in school. You’ve got atheists suing schools for saying ‘God’ in the pledge and not being able to say prayers before football games, but we can force-feed our kids Islam.”

The school denied the father’s request however, and later issued a ban barring Wood from the school’s property entirely claiming he threatened to cause a “possible disruption“.

However, Melissa Wood, the mother of the student said that her husband never made any threats and that the situation has been blown “entirely out of proportion,” in an interview.

A spokesperson for the school, Katie O’Malley-Simpson stated, “We’re not teaching religion, we’re teaching world history,” in defense of the school’s decision to not issue a different assignment to the student.

The homework assignment reportedly contained questions such as, “How did Muslim conquerors treat those they conquered?” A copy of the homework acquired by MyFoxDC.com showed the correct answer for this question was, “With tolerance, kindness and respect.”

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LOTFI: Sen. Lamar Alexander must apologize for lying about opposing federal education

NASHVILLE, July 23, 2014– U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R) is facing a tough primary challenge from State Rep. Joe Carr (R). Carr’s momentum has built over the months and Lamar is sweating bullets underneath his red flannel shirt. More than 20 state legislators have endorsed Carr over Alexander.  They join more than 60 conservative Tennessee organizations, vice presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin, the National Association for Gun Rights and more. In natural form, Alexander is placing his bets on misleading the Volunteer state on just where his record stands on the issues. Most insulting of all is Alexander’s attempt to prey upon low information voters when it comes to federal education and Common Core.

Alexander’s campaign has been blasting out ads that declare he is against a “national school board”. Lucky for Alexander, no such de jure national school board technically exists. It’s easy to say you’re against something that doesn’t exist in law. Unlucky for Alexander, a de facto national school board does exist. Not only does a de facto national school board exist, but it also has a curriculum. Oh, Alexander has been the superintendent for decades.

What is this de facto national school board? It’s called the U.S. Department of Education and the Senate Education Committee. Its current curriculum? Common Core.

Today, Alexander’s ads insinuate he opposes federal education. This is a blatant lie. No campaign ad will scrub the internet of Alexander’s past. Alexander was the head of the United States Department of Education from 1991-1993. In addition, Alexander leads the Senate’s National Education Committee with Senator Tom Harkin (D- Iowa). Furthermore, Alexander is a staunch proponent of Common Core. While the most conservative members of Tennessee’s legislature have been trying to block Common Core’s national curriculum from within the state, Alexander has been heavily lobbying them to accept it and give up the fight.

Ronald Reagan famously tried to abolish the U.S. Department of Education due to it being blatantly unconstitutional. Alexander’s ad states he worked with Reagan to end the Department of Education. How so? Years after Reagan left office, Alexander was more than happy to take a post leading this unconstitutional creature of the federal government that stripped parents and local governments from the right to educate their children. Now, he works hand-in-hand with Washington elites to force parents and local school districts to surrender their last ounce of control over their children to the federal government.

The Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center has fought against the U.S. Department of Education, the Senate Education Committee and Common Core with multiple state legislators in an attempt to restore parental and local government control when it comes to the education of Tennessee’s youth. Alexander has blocked these efforts every step of the way, and he owes the Volunteer state an apology for purposefully misleading them.

Kansas sees Republican moderates fight back

The GOP in Kansas has turned against itself as Republican Moderates from the state have turned their support away from the current Republican governor, Sam Brownback, and have instead endorsed the Democratic challenger Paul Davis.

More than 100 Republicans, including current and past officeholders according to Politico, are said to be showing support of Davis in the upcoming November election.  These supporters have given Davis, what is being called a “surprisingly strong shot,” in the election.

Some of the supporters for Davis include former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, former president of the Kansas Senate Dick Bond, and former legislator Steve Morris.  “It’s a big step for every one of us,” says Bond, “and a major departure from our Republican roots.”

Former state Representative Charlie Roth is also supporting Davis, saying he has “nothing but positive things to say,” about Davis.  Roth continues his support by saying, “I found him to be thoughtful, smart, and always open to suggestions. He is a natural leader and will bring Kansans together. He will be a tremendous governor.”

Many thought the state’s strict abortion laws would come under fire from Davis, but the up-and-coming challenger said he had no intention of changing the abortion laws and would leave them in place.

Davis has said he wants to implement planned tax cuts and use funds to improve the education system in the state, according to Newsmax.

According to a press release from the Davis campaign website, Davis for Kansas, many say the Republicans left Brownback because of the “experimental” tax plan he had put in place, which saw severe cuts to the education system, as well as “fiscally irresponsible budgeting.”

“All of us are proud Republicans,” reads another endorsement from former GOP lawmaker Wint Winter.  “We came together because of our common love of Kansas, our commitment to Kansas families, and our belief in moderate, commonsense leadership.”

Video: School’s Lack of Respect For Child Who Committed Suicide Sparks Protest, Arrest

On April 2nd, more than 200 students gathered after lunch at Lake Central High School in Indiana to protest the fact that a child who had recently committed suicide was not allowed a moment of silence. The student was not currently enrolled. However, the other students felt that the child should be given a moment of silence anyway.

An unidentified person shouted “One moment of silence, for my [inaudible], over the intercom, that is all was are asking for from the school.”

Principal Robin Tobias then replies “Can you sit down now? You are not in charge here. I am.”

“We should be given a chance to grieve as a school,” sophomore Natalia Kuzbiel said.

After feeling the faculty had lost control of the peaceful demonstration they called the St. John police. Several officers arrived.

Tobias is heard saying on the video,  “You are sitting here for what you think is a good cause,” then went on to say some students think that it is a joke. Tobias stated that he was disappointed in the students. That is when a student spoke up and said that he was disappointed in Tobias. Police wasted no time and dragged the student by the arms and arrested him.

A moment of silence was finally given at 1:30pm. However, the moment of silence was not a schoolwide event. It was confined to those who were protesting.

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Mother Tries To Help Sick Child At School, Gets Arrested

Niakea Williams, a Missouri mother of a son with Asperger’s syndrome, is outraged after she was arrested for trying to help her special needs son at school.

Williams received a call from the school notifying her that her son was having a medical episode. “I was lying in bed when I received a frantic phone call from the teacher, Michael was panicking,” said Williams.  She rushed to the school where school officials buzzed her into the building.

“I saw a teacher and she said Ms. Williams what is wrong? I said something is wrong with Mikey and proceeded to go straight to my son,” Williams told KMOV.

Williams then proceeded to help her child, calming him down from his episode. Then things took a turn for the worse.

The principal entered the classroom and informed Williams that she had violated the school policy by not signing the guestbook. Indeed, Williams was in a rush to help her child and did not sign the guestbook, so she told the principal that she was willing to sign the guestbook. But that didn’t satisfy the principal.

“I didn’t sign the book, but I had to check on my son. You can bring me the book, she said oh no, I’ve already called the police. You called what,” said Williams.  The school was then put in lockdown for 12 minutes.

Police arrived and told Williams that she had not be authorized to enter the building, even though she was let in by school officials. The officers then arrested her and brought her to the Calverton Park Police station.

 “Four officers told me to turn around and put my hands behind my back, I was under arrest.” Williams said. “I feel like today I got arrested for being a concerned parent of my child.”

The school has also sent home a letter to all the parents explaining what happened.