VIDEO: Critical Race Theory Collusion Exposed In Virginia!

Loudoun County in Virginia is the center of the storm on Critical Race Theory. School district officials there are obsessed with pushing, often dishonestly, the CRT agenda.

We learned this from 3,597 pages of records we received from the county. They reveal a coordinated effort to advance CRT initiatives despite widespread public opposition.

We received the records after two Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA) requests to Loudoun County Public Schools. In March and April 2021 requests, we asked for communications between Loudoun County Superintendents Eric Williams and/or Scott Ziegler with school board members, teachers and parents regarding anti-racism initiatives, including a proposed speech code.

Here’s what we learned.

On March 27 at 2:19 a.m., Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee (MSAAC) Chair Keaira Jennings writes to former Director of Equity Lottie Spurlock and others that she tweeted “we will silence the opposition … without realizing the firestorm my words would cause … My intention was and is to have the voices in support of equity in education be heard and supported, and I was actually thinking ‘hopefully those voice will eventually ring louder and drown out those against equity.’”

On March 29, 2021, Jennings writes about distributing a MSAAC a “call to action” in hopes the Loudoun NAACP will join in taking steps against the “false narratives” of “the opposition:”

As you are aware there is a lot of negativity and false narratives being circulated in the community and news regarding equity within LCPS. I think it best to not engage the opposition but rather counter them and drown out their hateful rhetoric. I am attaching a copy of the call to action that MSAAC put out this morning in hopes that the NAACP will join us in taking these or similar steps. Later this afternoon, I plan to also submit a letter formally to the school board asking that they take specific actions items, recognizing that the censure of [School Board Member] John Beatty is not legal for them currently.

On January 11, 2021, Loudoun County School Board Member Atoosa Reaser writes Ziegler an email about legislation moving in the Virginia legislature under the subject line, “Bill Tracking> HB1904 > 2021 session” (H.B. 1904 passed and was signed into law by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. The new law requires cultural competency for teacher licenses.):

This is the bill that’s going to encompass one of our program’s asks. It will be carried by someone outside of Loudoun, and is more comprehensive. I believe it encompasses what we were asking for and am OK with that path forward. Please let me know this morning if you have other thoughts.

Ziegler responds:

That looks good. Once the bill is passed, it will be interesting to see how the training and rubrics are built and promulgated around the [cultural competency] requirement. That will be where the real work starts.

On March 18, 2021, the African American Superintendent’s Advisory Council issued “Recommendations on Equity,” which includes among numerous other recommendations:

Establishment [of] a single indicator or composite score related to school climate that includes indicators related to antiracism and culturally responsive and inclusive learning environments
[A] requirement for educator preparation programs to include programs of study and experiences that prepare teachers to be culturally responsive educators.

Karen Dawson, executive assistant to the superintendent’s office asks a several public school officials to distribute the recommendations to their staff members.

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Ashley F. Ellis responds: “We already have a head start with so many of these things.”

Ziegler responds to Slevin and Director of Communications and Community Engagement Joan Sahgren: “I wonder if and how this information can be included in our communications.”

On December 7, 2020, in an email chain regarding a memorandum of understanding between the school board and the sheriff’s office, Spurlock writes to school and law enforcement officials about an upcoming panel discussion regarding “rules of engagement for the community conversation.”

On December 11, Katrecia Nolen, principal and owner of KAPAX Solutions, a management and IT consulting services company, writes:

Data shows that our children are disproportionately referred to law enforcement in Loudoun County and these factors should inform the MOU [memorandum of understanding] review process.
I understand that there were a number of community comments and questions submitted, when will we have access to this community-derived information?

In a March 19, 2021, message to the public school community Ziegler attempts to address concerns regarding “Rumors Concerning LCPS Equity Work” by attempting to draw a distinction between Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT):

The professional development offered to LCPS employees explores issues that have traditionally been ignored in professional development. It asks employees to examine their own personal biases and how they might affect student instruction and interactions with the community. Concepts such as white supremacy and systemic racism are discussed during professional development. LCPS has not adopted Critical Race Theory as a framework for staff to adhere to.

On March 23, Ellis writes about Ziegler’s distinction between Critical Race Theory and Culturally Responsive Teaching:

As we’ve stated in committee meetings and messages to the community, LCPS is not teaching CRT (Critical Race Theory), nor have our staff been trained in Critical Race Theory …


Information related to countywide training for equity was shared with the LCPS School board on September 22…. Additionally, the Department of Instruction has created a frequently-asked-questions document related to Equity and Culturally Responsive Instruction.
The acronym “CRT” might sometimes be confused with Culturally Responsive Teaching.  As you know from C&I meetings this year, we do have a Culturally Responsive Framework that was developed this past year and is being utilized in our schools. Again, this is not Critical Race Theory.

In a March 2, 2021, email, Ziegler invites senior staff to a Zoom meeting facilitated by Virginia Commonwealth University: “Topic: Equity and Culturally Responsive Leadership: Racial Equity: What’s Race Got to Do With It? Dr. Cole and Dr Stanley.” Drs. Cole and Stanley work in the Office of Strategic Engagement for VCU.

In early April 2021, Public Information Officer Wayde B. Byard engages in a conversation with Loudoun Now editor Norman Styer, whom Byard characterizes in an April 5 email to Zeigler, Ellis and Spurlock as “friendly.” Byard writes, “This editor has been friendly to us in the past. In our phone conversation, he said he wanted to ‘cut through the crazy’ and give an honest account of what LCPS is doing.”

In a January 26, 2020, email, Beth Barts writes to then-Superintendent Williams and other school officials informing them about a closed meeting by the Equity Committee, after it was leaked the Committee was considering a rule that would require parents to take equity training before they would be allowed to access their child’s “parentvue,” a mobile application designed to help parents monitor their child’s academic activity. Barts writes:

I would lie [sic] to draw your attention to the social media rumors that the equity committee is going to require parents to take equity training before they are allowed to access their child’s parentvue. There is some outrage building.
I realize this is not exactly accurate and was just a suggestion, but I wanted to make sure you all were aware.

Loudon County parents are not alone in confronting CRT abuse of their children.

We recently made public a training document it received from a whistleblower in the Westerly School District of Rhode Island, which details how Westerly Public Schools are using teachers to push critical race theory in classrooms. The training course was assembled by the left-leaning Highlander Institute and cites quotes from Bettina Love, from whom the Biden administration distanced itself publicly after her statements equating “whiteness” to oppression.

In May, we obtained heavily redacted records from Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) including documents related to their “Anti-racist system audit” and critical race theory classes. The documents, obtained under the Maryland Public Information Act, reveal that students of “Maryland’s Largest School District” who attended Thomas Pyle Middle School’s social justice class were taught that the phrase “Make America Great Again” was an example of “covert white supremacy.” The phrase is ranked on a pyramid just below “lynching,” “hate crimes,” “the N-word” and “racial slurs.” They were also taught that “white privilege” means being favored by school authorities and having a positive relationship with the police.

In June, we uncovered records from Wellesley Public Schools in Massachusetts that confirm the use of “affinity spaces” that divided students and staff based on race as a priority and objective of the school district’s “diversity, equity and inclusion” plan. The school district also admitted that between September 1, 2020 and May 17, 2021, it created “five distinct” segregated spaces.

CRT is the true pandemic in our schools and Judicial Watch is doing its best to combat it!

Judicial Watch Sues Asheville Over Racially Discriminatory Scholarship Program

Oxymoronic anti-racist racism is the new agenda for the extremist Left.  As part of our effort to combat this assault on the rule of law, Judicial Watch filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of a North Carolina citizens group whose members include high school students ineligible for a City of Asheville-funded scholarship only because they are not black.

The plaintiff, WNC Citizens for Equality, Inc., is suing the City of Asheville, City Manager Debra Campbell, and the Asheville City Schools Foundation (ACSF) and its director regarding the city’s establishment of a racially discriminatory scholarship program.

(The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina (WNC Citizens for Equality, Inc., v. City of Asheville et al. (No. 1:21-cv-00310))).

On May 5, 2021, the City of Asheville entered into an agreement with Asheville City Schools Foundation to establish and administer the City of Asheville Scholarship Fund. According to the agreement, the City of Asheville Scholarship is “awarded in perpetuity to Black high school students within Asheville City Schools, with special consideration given for Black students pursuing a career in education.”

Our lawsuit argues that the scholarship is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and a violation of the members of WNC Citizens for Equality’s rights to equal protection under the law and freedom from racial discrimination under the North Carolina Constitution.

The funds provided by the City of Asheville for the City of Asheville Scholarship came from the settlement of an unrelated lawsuit. On April 13, 2021, the Asheville City Council directed City Manager Debra Campbell and City Attorney Brad Branham to effectuate a “donation” of $474,592.56 to ACSF. The City Council stated that it expected the funds would be used “in such a way as to provide the public benefit of advancing racial equity within the community.” A later, smaller donation also was made by the City of Asheville to ACSF for the same purpose.

According to ACSF’s website, the first City of Asheville Scholarship was awarded in May 2021. ACSF will begin accepting applications on November 1, 2021, and through January 31, 2022, for the next City of Asheville Scholarship to be awarded.

Our lawsuit asks the court to declare the discriminatory scholarship scheme is in violation of both the U.S. Constitution and the North Carolina Constitution.

It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race and setting up a ‘blacks only’ scholarship is wildly unconstitutional. This civil rights lawsuit seeks to ensure that no student in Asheville is denied educational scholarship opportunities on account of race.

Federal Agencies Unveil Plans to Combat “Anti-Voter Burdens” of People of Color

The Biden administration has engaged in a thinly-disguised “get out the vote” operation – using your tax dollars. Our Corruption Chronicles blog has the latest details:

In response to President Joe Biden’s government-wide directive to eliminate “anti-voter burdens” and “significant obstacles” that prevent people of color from voting, more than a dozen federal agencies have announced unprecedented initiatives that could conveniently result in more votes for Democrats. The agencies concocted their unconventional voter outreach plan after Biden issued an Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting in early March. It directs the federal government to leverage its vast resources to increase access to voter registration services and information about voting. Under the mandate all agencies must submit a strategic plan outlining ways to promote voter registration and participation to White House Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice, who served as National Security Advisor and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under Barack Obama.
“The right to vote is the foundation of American democracy,” Biden’s March executive order states. “Free and fair elections that reflect the will of the American people must be protected and defended. But many Americans, especially people of color, confront significant obstacles to exercising that fundamental right. These obstacles include difficulties with voter registration, lack of election information, and barriers to access at polling places. For generations, Black voters and other voters of color have faced discriminatory policies and other obstacles that disproportionally affect their communities. These voters remain more likely to face long lines at the polls and are disproportionately burdened by voter identification laws and limited opportunities to vote by mail. Limited access to language assistance remains a barrier for many voters.” The order also mentions barriers faced by people with disabilities who are denied legally required accommodations and military personnel serving overseas.
In a preview of what is coming, 14 agencies recently disclosed the steps they are taking in response to the president’s call for “an all-of-government action to promote voting access and to further the ability of all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy.” In a lengthy announcement, the White House claims the “strategic plans” are just the beginning of each agency’s commitment and that the agencies will further build out their capacity to help voters better understand “opportunities for engagement” as well as “facilitate participation in the electoral process” in the months to come. Much of the planning will center on the findings of Vice President Kamala Harris’ months-long engagement with voting populations “that have been historically marginalized” as well as civil and voting rights advocacy groups. The administration has also partnered with civil rights organizations, according to the White House release, and has appointed “strong civil rights leadership at the Department of Justice.”
Here is a preview of the preliminary steps government agencies are taking to combat so-called “anti-voter burdens.” The Department of Justice will provide voting information and facilitate voting for federal inmates and educate ex-cons before reentry about voting rules and rights in their state. The Department of Housing and Urban Development will furnish voter registration information and services to around 1.2 million public housing units nationwide and improve voting registration and voting access to the homeless. The Department of Labor plans to designate thousands of employment training centers in every state as voter registration agencies and require the centers to enroll voters and serve as polling precincts. The Education Department is going to prepare a tool kit of resources and strategies for civic engagement for the nation’s elementary and high schools as well as colleges so more than 67 million students and their families learn about “civic opportunities and responsibilities.” The Treasury Department will include voter registration and participation materials in direct deposit campaigns for Americans who receive federal benefits such as Social Security. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service is having its offices, borrowers and guaranteed lenders push voter information. Federal transportation officials want to place voter registration materials in high-transit stations and the Department of Defense (DOD) is going to develop voting materials in “additional languages.” This is just the beginning.

Critical Race Theory Roils Virginia Governor Race

Micah Morrison, our chief investigative reporter, provides a look at CRT battles which are coming to a head in Virginia in our Investigative Bulletin:

Virginia is shaping up as ground zero in the battle over schools and Critical Race Theory. The “theory” is pure poison, a hard-edged identity politics from the radical Left teaching that America is an irredeemably racist country suffused by white supremacy. Students must—must—acknowledge this, or pay the price. Dissent will not be tolerated. Parents are in an uproar, particularly in Virginia, where CRT has become a major issue in the gubernatorial contest between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin. Polls show a tight race.
The CRT fight in Virginia has been brewing all year. “Perhaps nowhere  has the debate over critical race theory grown so heated as in Loudoun County” in Northern Virginia, the Washington Post reported in May. Loudoun put nearly half a million dollars into a consulting firm for teacher training and raising “racial consciousness.” Parents grew alarmed and tensions increased. CRT “is teaching kids to see other kids through a strictly identity group lens as opposed to seeing each other as individuals with their own stories to tell that are not dependent on their skin color or their ethnicity,” a Loudoun County parent told the Post.
In July, in Fairfax County’s Thomas Jefferson High School—rated as one of the top public schools in the nation—newly elected anti-CRT members of the parent-teacher association were threatened with removal of their charter by the state’s governing PTA association. In September, chaos broke out at a Prince William County School Board Meeting when parents started shouting at each other. Cops had to clear the room.
Sparked by parent passions, CRT appears to be gaining traction with Virginia voters. A recent Emerson Poll showed that a big majority of Virginians, 86%, were familiar with the CRT debate. 47% said they would support a state ban on teaching CRT in the schools.
Youngkin, the GOP candidate, says he will ban CRT in the schools “on day one” of his administration. He has made CRT a top issue in the race and hammers McAuliffe on it at “Parents Matter” events around the state. CRT “teaches our children to view everything through a lens of race to divide our children up into buckets and then pit them against one another and steal their dreams,” Youngkin told a Parents Matter rally last week.
McAuliffe has stumbled over CRT and education. “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” McAuliffe said at a September debate—a remark that immediately went viral. He dismisses concerns over CRT as “racist” and a “dog whistle.” On the campaign trail, McAuliffe’s education pitch focuses on a $2 billion proposal to raise teacher pay, improve online access, and expand preschool programs.
Judicial Watch has been a national leader in the CRT fight and we’ll be watching Virginia closely. Read more from us on the background of CRT here; on CRT in Maryland here; on CRT at West Point here; on CRT in Rhode Island here. And if you’re interested in using the Freedom of Information Act and public records requests to explore CRT in your community, this episode of JW TV will tell you everything you need to know.

Are Your Children or Grandchildren Being Brainwashed?

In many school districts that prohibit teaching critical race theory (CRT), some progressive teachers in schools with a like-minded principal will circumvent the prohibition by quietly slipping CRT ideology into classroom instruction. That’s why parents should find out from their child what’s being said by their child’s teacher.

Critical race indoctrination is not limited to public schools—the administrators of many of our nation’s top private schools openly embrace the teaching of CRT and other profoundly anti-American propaganda.

Below is my latest article about the furious fight over the proper role of K-12 schools.

Protesting Parents Are Not ‘Domestic Terrorists’ And Will Not Be Intimidated

Earlier this month, Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered the FBI to expand its political witch hunt for “domestic terrorists” by targeting parents protesting the promotion of critical race theory (CRT) and transgenderism in public schools. Garland’s dirty decision was based on what he referred to as “a disturbing spike in harrassment, intimidation, and threates of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers and staff.”

To the extent educators are the object of illegal acts, the perpetrators should be prosecuted to the fullest extent allowed by law, a task local law enforcement officials are fully capable of carrying out without help from the FBI. The Biden Administration’s brazen insertion of one of the federal government’s most feared agencies into local school board disputes smacks of a Soviet-style attempt to frighten and intimidate parents exercising their Constitutional right to petition government for a redress of grievances.

In response to the nationwide race riots during the Summer of 2020, high profile Democrats at all levels of government gave a wink and a nod as Black Lives Matter broke federal, state and local laws for months on end, destroying $2 billion of public and private property and killing or seriously injuring hundreds of law enforcement officers. While those of us who strongly object to political brainwashing of the nation’s school children must never condone violence, we also must not back down in the face of government tyranny. If we do, every freedom we have will be methodically stripped away as the tyrants laugh in our face.

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

Thus far, parents have taken the lead in confronting arrogant Democrat-dominated school boards that are teaching impressionable young children to hate their country. It’s time for the rest of us to join those parents, whether or not we have school-age children. To drive back the radical indoctrination being pushed in K-12 classrooms, the number of school board protesters must swell from the modest levels at present to thousands of parents and other patriotic Americans whose presence would make it clear they will not stand by in silence as the minds of our nation’s children are poisoned by progressive propaganda. Strength in numbers.

PARENTS HAVE RIGHTS

Parents have every right to expect that political and religious values taught at home should never be supplanted by those of their child’s teacher, and to therefore object in the strongest terms to their child being brainwashed with CRT, white privilege, The 1619 Project, Black Lives Matter, wokeness, multiculturalism, intersectionality, toxic masculinity, political correctness, cancel culture, identity politics and other victim vs. oppressor political themes that are used to induce white children to hate themselves, black children to hate white people, and children of all races to hate America. Those who sanction CRT in K-12 schools are tyrants who tolerate no dissent, aiming to destroy anyone who stands in their way. In Loudoun County, Virginia, parents who spoke out against CRT reportedly were targeted for revenge by Democrat members of the school board.

Parents have a right to be concerned that CRT indoctrination may cause lasting psychological damage to their child, just as they have a right to make it known they will not tolerate their child being made to feel unworthy due to inherited traits, such as skin color, over which no human being has control.

Parents have a right to have their child report to them what goes on in the classroom, and to put school officials on notice that if retaliation of any kind is taken against their child, they will aggressively pursue damages to the fullest extent allowed by law.

Parents have a right to partner with No Left Turn in EducationParents Defending EducationSpeak Up For Education and other parent groups committed to reclaiming our public schools from radicalized teachers and administrators who indoctrinate impressionable young children to hate western civilization, capitalism, Christianity, the Constitution and every white person who doesn’t vote Democrat.

Parents also have a right to object to public schools being used as transmission belts for anything-goes progressive sexual mores, such as transgenderism, pedophilia, pornography, and men having sex with little boys. On Sept. 23, an outraged mother in Fairfax County, Virginia confronted school board officials with passages from two school library books that vividly describe grown men having sex with pre-teen boys—watch video.

Elsewhere in Virginia, a biologically male student at a high school in Loudoun County was arrested last July on one count of forcible anal sodomy and one count of forcible fellatio allegedly committed in a school bathroom against a ninth grade female student. The “gender fluid” defendant, who was allegedly wearing a skirt on the day the alleged attack occurred, entered the girl’s bathroom in accordance with a school board policy that allows boys who claim to be a girl to use bathrooms once reserved for biologically female students. In an exclusive update, The Daily Wire reported last week that Loudoun Country Schools tried to conceal the alleged sexual assault to avoid a new round of controversy over its highly unpopular transgender bathroom policy.

PARENTS WILL NOT BACK DOWN!

In a recent article, Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist, wrote that conservatives must be bold and defiant even if it costs them. In the 1960s, courageous civil rights marchers were bold and defiant, and it cost them: many were arrested by police doing the dirty bidding of high level Democrats, such as segregationist governors George Wallace (AL), Lester Maddox (GA) and Ross Barnett (MS). By not backing down, civil rights marchers eventually prevailed over the high level Democrat evil-doers that targeted them.

Recently, another high level Democrat—the current Attorney General of the United States—announced plans to intimidate protesters engaged in another just cause: the right of parents to address their grievances to hyper-politicized school boards. That high level Democrat has tasked the Federal Bureau of Investigation with looking for a pretext to prosecute protesting parents as “domestic terrorists.” Like civil rights marchers did, those parents will not back down even if it costs them.

On Nov. 2, Virginia voters will elect the state’s next governor, an election that will likely turn on CRT and other radical policies being forced on public schools by Democrat-dominated school boards. On the campaign trail, Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe made two shocking statements about the state’s education of school children: (1) that parents should have no say in what their children are taught, and (2) that critical race theory is not being taught in Virginia public schools, which is a flat-out lie. If you have friends or family in Virginia, please consider forwarding this email to them.

©John Brownbill. All rights reserved.

RELATED TWEET:

VIDEO: DeSantis Discusses School Boards

It was great to have Governor Ron DeSantis visit Sarasota to address the 700+ patriots who attended the Sarasota GOP Statesman of the Year dinner this past week.

At the event, Governor DeSantis expressed his commitment to focusing on School Board races in 2022, and then he took a moment to recognize my favorite Conservative School Board Member – Bridget Ziegler – during his speech in response to her efforts to focus on parents & students.

Governor Ron DeSantis: “We can’t elect left-wing people to these School Boards. You need [School Board Members] like Bridget Ziegler. We should have her in every county.

We gotta do a better job on these School Board races. We gotta make sure that the people that are elected are putting the students and the parents first, and that they aren’t buckling to the union or to these other exterior interests. We are going to work hard to make sure we get that done.

And you look at CRT and all this other stuff, and you figure – How could we come to this in our country? Or how are we even at this point? And I think one of the biggest reasons is that we have one of the most corrupt and partisan corporate media establishments anywhere in the world.”

©Christian Ziegler. All rights reserved.

White House Unveils Plan To Vaccinate 28 Million Kids Ages 5-11

President Joe Biden’s White House unveiled plans to vaccinate 28 million children ages 5-11 Wednesday, before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has offered approval for vaccinating the age group.

The plan comes in anticipation of the FDA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine for young children. The Pfizer vaccine could receive approval for the age range as soon as early November following independent panel votes from the FDA and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Oct. 26 and Nov. 3 respectively.

“The Administration has procured enough vaccine to support vaccination for the country’s 28 million children ages 5-11 years old. If authorized by the FDA and recommended by the CDC, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 5-11 year olds will be a dose and formula specifically for this age group,” the White House wrote in a fact sheet provided to the Daily Caller.

“Millions of adolescents ages 12-17 have been safely vaccinated, and we know vaccines work. Fully vaccinated individuals are 10 times less likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and have a high degree of protection, including against the Delta variant,” the White House added.

The FDA cleared the Pfizer vaccine for children as young as 12 in May. As of Oct. 13, 513 children ages 0-17 have died from COVID-19 throughout the entirety of the pandemic, according to Statista.

The White House plan will make vaccines available for children at tens of thousands of primary care clinics and pharmacies, as well as hundreds of children’s hospitals and rural health clinics across the country.

The administration has a choppy record of preparing vaccine distribution plans prior to receiving FDA or CDC approval. The White House mobilized a similar push for COVID-19 vaccine boosters in August, only for the CDC to kneecap the effort by recommending the booster shots only for those over the age of 65 and those employed in high-risk industries.

The independent CDC panel had initially left off the recommendation for high-risk workers, but Biden-appointed CDC Director Rochelle Walensky overruled the panel.

“This updated interim guidance from CDC allows for millions of Americans who are at highest risk for COVID-19 to receive a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster shot to help increase their protection,” the CDC said in a statement at the time.

COLUMN BY

ANDERS HAGSTROM

White House correspondent.

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EXCLUSIVE: House Republicans Send Letter To Secretary Cardona Calling Against Federal Vaccine Mandate For Public School …

FDA Approves Booster Shots For Moderna, Johnson & Johnson

EDITORS NOTE: This The Daily Caller column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Keeping Kids Off Porn

Protect, prepare and empower.


Children’s exposure to porn is one of the top concerns mentioned by parents on the 130,000-plus member parenting and tech Facebook group I recently joined. With a 10-year-old son begging for more gaming time and a 16-year-old daughter hoping to join Instagram, I needed the feedback and support from other parents on the page, who exchange information daily on navigating screens and encourage one another against the “digital empire” that threatens to consume our children.

A recent discussion topic was the Wall Street Journal’s undercover investigation of TikTok, which revealed the popular app pushes hundreds of sexually explicit ads to teen users as young as age 13, including links to sites depicting hard core porn. While some parents seemed surprised by the news, most acknowledged that porn is readily available on popular apps like TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and others.

Unfortunately, many of the parents report that their child was first exposed to porn in elementary school via a phone, laptop, or gaming device. The stories include: children shown porn on a classmate’s phone while riding bus or standing in the car pool line; an 8 year-old looking up information on hamsters who accidently clicked the wrong link; tween boys caught looking at a porn site during class; a 10-year-old who accessed a porn site through Discord; an 11 year-old whose parents believe is already addicted to porn—the examples go on and on.

And it’s not just parents who are dealing with these issues.

In a social media post that went viral in 2020, middle school principal, Chris Cochran shared:

In situations where I have to search a student’s cell phone, I often get sick to my stomach at what I find (highly inappropriate photos, videos, messages, social media usage, etc). The things our students are willing to try and be a part of at such a young age gets worse and worse every year.

None of this surprises clinical social worker, Erica Komisar, who works with children and their parents in New York. “In my practice,” she told me, “I have seen an increase in children on the younger side who are able to access pornography online without adult supervision.”

And what kids are seeing should worry every parent.

“Young people [today] are dealing with the challenges of pornography and a hyper-sexualized culture like no other generation in the history of the world,” Clay Olsen, co-founder of Fight the New Drug, wrote in an email to IFS. “Not only is pornography more prevalent and accessible than any other time in history, but the very nature of the content has also evolved to be more aggressive and extreme.”

So how can we protect our children in an online world where pornography is pushed at them at every turn? And how do we help them grow into young men and women who are able to recognize and reject the dangerous messages porn teaches about sex and relationships?

I asked a few experts for some advice, and what they told me is best summed up in three words: protect, prepare, and empower.

1. Protect—guard their innocence for as long as possible by delaying screens and taking advantage of protective technology

Research shows that the earlier children are exposed to sexually explicit content, the more long-term harm it can do to their understanding of sex, women, and relationships, as well as to their own sexual behaviour. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 in 5 children have been seen unwanted sexually explicit content online with some experts putting the age of first exposure for most boys around age 10 and a few years later for girls.

That’s why delaying children’s private access to screens is the top piece of advice I heard from experts.

Australian-based author and parenting expert, Dr. Justin Coulson, likes to use a model developed by Dr. Laura Walker at Brigham Young University that begins with “cocooning.”

“When children are young, they are likely to do best when we cocoon them,” Coulson explained. “In the context of sexually explicit content, this means we keep them away from it completely, and we don’t even explain its existence.”

One of the best ways to cocoon children is to delay the introduction of private screens, especially the smartphone until at least after middle school, as groups like Wait Until 8th advocate. In addition to delaying the smartphone, restricting all screen use—including gaming devices, laptops, and televisions—to public areas of the home is also key to delaying potential exposure to sexually explicit content.

“All screens should be in a public area, not in a child’s room,” according to Dr. Lori Langdon, a paediatrician in North Carolina and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “[Sexual] images witnessed stay in a child’s brain and can’t be deleted. Parents need to know what a child is viewing.”

Moreover, protecting children online requires doing whatever we can to block harmful content. As the middle school principal wisely advised parents in his Facebook post: “get in your kids’ way at all times, because the Internet is by far the most dangerous place our students go every day.”

The good news is that it is easier than ever to get in between our children and harmful online content. We have at our fingertips a wide variety of monitoring, blocking, and filtering tools to help us. This includes: the built-in parental controls available on phones, computers, and gaming devices, as well as programs/apps like DisneyCircle or Canopy, which enable parents to control their child’s devices; filtering software, like NetNannyProtect Young Eyes, or CleanRouter; and monitoring apps, like Bark, which alerts parents to inappropriate content and messages. Because there are so many choices, there are a number of excellent digital training resources available to help overwhelmed parents navigate using these tools.

2. Prepare—educate kids early and often about the dangers of porn

Of course, we can’t cocoon our children forever, especially when many kids are exposed to sexually explicit content on another child’s device. Rather than allowing the porn industry to miseducate our children about sex, the experts I spoke to urged parents to provide age-appropriate information on porn as early as possible.

Dr. Coulson describes this as “pre-arming” our children and explained: “as they mature, this means parents explain to a child at a developmentally appropriate time that, ‘There is something called pornography’ and asks, ‘Have you heard of it?’”

Deciding what is developmentally appropriate should depend on the child’s age, curiosity, and level of screen access, he said, emphasizing that: “Parents have the opportunity to provide clear teaching to their child, instructing them on how they would like to see their child behave if pornographic content appeared in their browser or was shown to them by a peer. This pre-arming ideally occurs prior to exposure but can still be helpful after.”

Clay Olsen agrees, stressing that, “Open, shame, and judgement-free conversations” should be parents’ top strategy. “The more natural the conversations are, the easier they’ll be for you or your child to instigate later on,” he said. “This should be an ongoing, age-appropriate conversation that starts sooner than you think and [continues] on into their adulthood.”

A great resource for this first conversation is the book, Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, which introduces a family discussion about pornography in an age-appropriate way, including how to be safe online and what to do when sexually explicit content is encountered, such as “look away and shut down the device,” think about something good and beautiful, and immediately tell a parent. There are also a number of free online safety education resources for children and parents to watch together.

Older kids especially need to understand why porn is so harmful.

Dr. Komisar notes that porn “impacts kids in terms of their perception of sexual relationships for the future,” and children “also may have difficulty handling the aggressive and perverse nature of pornography. This can easily overwhelm them emotionally.”

One of the greatest harms is what pornography teaches about sex and relationships. As a Harvard report explained, pornography is: ‘steeped in misogyny and reinforces all sorts of pernicious ideas about sex—that women want what men think they want, that seeking to dominate is a sign of strength rather than fragility, and that women enjoy domination and degradation, and that real intimacy is unerotic.’

Porn use during adolescence has been linked to more sexually aggressive behaviour in boys and the sexual victimization of girls, as well as more sexual risk taking and sexting. And recent articles describe how widespread porn is harming girls in particular, who report that they are expected to act like porn stars and whose bodies are damaged from being pressured to engage in degrading and harmful sexual acts popularized in pornographic content online. Another, more recent, long-term harm is the outright rejection of sex by young people who have grown up with porn as their main sex educator.

Then there is the potential for addiction.

“Adolescents are more susceptible to the stimulation of sexual content because their ventral striatum, or the reward centre of the brain, is more active from ages 9 to 25, and the prefrontal cortex, or the emotional regulation part of the brain, lags behind in development,” explained Dr. Komisar. “There are few checks and balances on the pleasure centres of the brain during these years, which means they are more vulnerable to addictions of all kinds.”

3. Empower children and teens to reject porn when they encounter it

Preventing our children from becoming the porn industry’s next addicts also involves equipping them to reject porn when they encounter it, which starts with pointing them to something better, and then helping them to make wise decisions alone.

Even as we warn them away from harmful content, we should introduce children to the beauty and purpose of healthy sexuality, relationships, and marriage early and often, so they can identify the fraudulent messages of pornography.

“Teach them the good before you warn them against the bad,” Olsen said. “They need to know that sex with the right person at the right time can be beautiful and is nothing to be ashamed of.”

Through our families, faith communities, and schools, we can infuse our children’s minds with beautiful and rich depictions of friendship, love, marriage, and family life from Scripture, good books, movies, music, art, and even social media. Teaching our kids to dwell on the edifying and beautiful things in this world—and how to seek out that content wherever they look—can help them reject harmful content.

Additionally, children and teens should have a rich life outside of the Internet. Along these lines, principal Chris Cochran advised parents to “create opportunities for them to have experiences” so they can see, do, and learn new things. “This not only strengthens their brain development, emotional development and builds resiliency in kids,” he wrote, “but it also strengthens your relationship with them.”

Ultimately, we want to raise our children to become wise and responsible young men and women who recognize the harms of pornography and have the power to reject it. To that end, Dr. Coulson advises parents to use an “autonomy-supportive approach that empowers a child to work through responses to challenging circumstances in a safe, conversational environment before encountering it alone.”

This means we: “defer to the child in a reasoned way, saying something like, ’We’ve talked about explicit content before. You know what pornography is. And by now you’re at an age where your peers are engaging with it. How do you feel about it? What do you see as the best way to deal with explicit content in your environment?’”

When he spoke with me a few years ago about his book, The Tech-Wise Family, Andy Crouch made a similar point, underscoring the power of close, healthy family relationships and accountability. Our goal as parents, he said, should be to: “create an environment where the default is, we’re connected to each other, we know what’s going on in each other’s lives and on each other’s phones. So, we have kind of the relationships that support us when we encounter things that we shouldn’t, that kind of help bring us back to health and sanity.”

Preserving our children’s innocence in a world where violent and degrading sexual content is promoted to them at younger and younger ages can feel like an insurmountable problem. But as Clay Olsen assured me, every step we take as parents to protect, prepare, and empower our children can benefit them over the long term.

“Parents are the tip of the spear,” Olsen said. “Take courage in knowing that even small efforts can have significant influence on your child. I love this quote by Edward Everett Hale, ‘I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.’”

Republished with permission from the Institute for Family Studies blog. 

COLUMN BY

Alysse ElHage

Alysse ElHage is Editor of the IFS Blog, Family Studies, and a freelance writer. Prior to joining the Institute for Family Studies, she served as associate director of research at the North Carolina Family… More by Alysse ElHage

RELATED ARTICLE: Should French priests break the seal of confession to disclose sexual abuse?

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

FASCISM: Universities Deputize Students As Mask Police To Snitch On Peers

Democrats following their Nazi predecessors. In the past American students would never have worked with thr government to snitch on their peers. But that was before the left destroyed our education system.

Universities Deputize Students As Mask Police To Snitch On Peers For Money

Colleges have begun hiring student hall monitors to enforce mask and distancing restrictions, a move that has given students authority over their peers for their obedience to the state’s COVID diktats.

By: Spencer Lindquist, The Federalist, October 18, 2021

Colleges have begun hiring student hall monitors to enforce mask and distancing restrictions, a move that has given students authority over their peers for their obedience to the state’s COVID diktats.

How much would you have to be paid to commit social suicide? What if a paycheck wasn’t the only perk, but it also entitled you to a sickening sense of self-righteousness and an air of superiority?

This appears to be the tradeoff many college students have made this semester as universities’ “Student Health Ambassadors,” paid adult hall monitors whose job is to patrol their campuses and enforce mask policies and distancing regulations. Several different institutions have opened this position, each one slightly different but all giving students authority over their peers in the name of public health.

One of the most egregious examples comes from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where student Covid commissars have been given the authority to “break up social gatherings” and to check students’ “clearance certificates.” Students who violate COVID policies can face suspension and expulsion. The enforcers, who are paid $15 an hour, even don vests and T-shirts emblazoned with the health ambassador logo.

Other universities have taken similar approaches. The school that I attend, Pepperdine University, has launched a program to “train and deploy” students to “monitor” their peers for “COVID-19 policy compliance,” a gig that conveniently comes with a high visibility bright blue T-shirt. Pepperdine has also decided to use the carrot instead of just the stick, now giving out raffle tickets to those who are wearing masks.

Similar “health ambassador” positions have opened up at various universities, including at the University of Rochester, the University of California at DavisNew York UniversityPenn State, and the Washington University in St. Louis, where the student workers wear yellow shirts bearing the phrase “If you can read this, you’re too close” and an elite division has been dispatched to be “cubby monitors” who monitor private study rooms.

Sycophancy As Virtue

Although these paid roles are new, they formalize a preexisting social dynamic in which average citizens have been taught that fear is a virtue and sycophancy makes them morally superior to their peers. Accordingly, they’ve been given authority over the super-spreading, science-denying troglodytes they find.

That this misguided sense of superiority has been institutionalized at various places of higher education only feeds the existing narrative that compliance is a virtue, regardless of whether it makes any sense, and that righteousness can be attained through obedience to even the most absurd diktats.

The fact that it is other students who are enforcing mask and distancing policies makes the situation far worse. Not only are adults getting paid to be professional hall monitors, an embarrassing proposition in and of itself, but peers are being elevated above one another, ascending a hierarchy through dutiful compliance to asinine regulations.

Performative Pandemic Protection 

It’s worth pointing out that students taking on this role may genuinely believe what they’re doing will contribute to the public’s health. But even if masks do work, a proposition that has by no means been conclusively confirmed and deserves a healthy degree of skepticism, the realities of college life, coupled with the contradictions within the regulations, render the mask policies that these “health ambassadors” are enforcing little more than petty, performative exercises in compliance.

After roughly a year and a half apart from our friends, “social” distancing has been entirely discarded as college students desperately attempt to make up for lost time. Anyone who believes that mask policies in libraries and classrooms, no matter how meticulously enforced, will have virtually any beneficial effect on transmission in light of all of college’s parties, social gatherings, bar-hopping, and even just the day-to-day unmasked interaction that happens as soon as the library is left, is kidding himself.

Those in a social gathering that UCLA Covid commissars are paid to break up will by all likelihood find themselves packed shoulder to shoulder sharing drinks in a frat house or a Santa Monica bar by the end of the week.

But even granted perfect enforcement and compliance with the regulations, such policies still won’t work on account of being utterly absurd and increasingly amorphous. It’s insulting that we’re expected to pretend the lone students behind closed doors in study rooms who are frequently pestered by the blue shirts pose a risk to campus safety. Equally laughable is the assumption that there’s a legitimate reason we’re only allowed to drink water when sitting down, not standing up.

It’s all theater, but refusing to believe in this cult of paranoia makes it all the more important that people are pressured into outward displays of obedience. The more absurd the rules get the more they require frequent social reaffirmation through unquestioning obedience.

The fragile trust that does remain is only dampened by the ever-changing goalposts. We were told by Joe Biden that the choice was “vaxxed or masked,” but now those with the jab are still being told to keep muzzled, and regardless of any antisocial distancing.

Weaponized Neuroticism

It also cannot be denied that a very particular type of person is attracted to such a role. In an August article titled “America’s Elites Want To Control You More Than They Want To Control COVID,” I detailed an experience on the DC metro when a double-masked passenger got up from her seat, came within six feet of me, and told me to put on a mask. When I declined, she began filming me.

This amalgamation of neuroticism, self-righteous condescension, paranoia, and a desperate need for authority is no doubt present among those who willingly sign up to be campus mask enforcers.

Defenders of the health ambassador program will point out that these restrictions, at least in the case of the schools in Los Angeles County, aren’t put in place by these universities. Such institutions are merely upholding policies they have no control over. Set aside the university’s ability to just say no on behalf of their students, or to even try to use their negotiating power with local authorities. The fact that students have become an enforcement wing of the state carries dangerous implications.

We are hurtling towards a future where neighbors, coworkers, and even friends are turned on each other and the power of the state is diffused through the civilian population. In some ways we’re already there, with the existence of these paid, formal roles showcasing the encroachment of such a paradigm. Just like how the Soviets clung to control, with average citizens becoming informants for the state, the deputization of college students against one another creates a culture of social distrust.

This sad state of affairs disproves the old libertarian talking point that “it’s not right versus left, it’s the people against the state.” Real cultural battles are much messier than that, particularly when the state has contracted out its work to college students, among others. This diffusion of power necessitates a newfound understanding of the threats to conservatism.

But this decentralization can also be demoralizing. When threats to the right are coming from the government, the corporate media, the entertainment industry, woke capital, and even student COVID commissars, it can be overwhelming to discern where to even begin pushing back.

The best place to start, perhaps, is to simply mock that which deserves to be mocked. Our opposition’s humorlessness is just as much a sign of their paranoia as it is a marker of their insecurity. As their grip over our minds slips, physical manifestations of their control become all the more important.

But all except for the most dedicated “science-trusters” realize how absurd and condescending it is to tell lone students sitting alone behind closed doors to put a mask on or to “break up social gatherings” at a university. Humor, derision, satire, and the occasional act of malicious compliance are the only appropriate responses.

It’s so self-evident that it hardly has to be argued, it just needs to be mocked. Only by supplementing intellectual takedowns with mockery and humor can the system’s self-indulgent totalitarianism be fully exposed — and eventually overcome.

RELATED ARTICLE: October 18th: Biden’s America and the Conservative Resistance

EDITORS NOTE: This Geller Report column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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Woke California Prof Claims Jihad Terrorism Is (What Else?) All Our Fault

My latest in PJ Media:

The propaganda is all so drearily predictable. The establishment media seems to have made it a foremost priority to do everything it can to absolve Islam of all responsibility for crimes done in its name and in accord with its teachings. And so it came as no surprise when Yahoo News on Sunday ran a piece by Mark Fathi Massoud, a professor of politics and legal studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz titled “Don’t blame Sharia for Islamic extremism — blame colonialism.” Of course. Really, by now we all know that everything bad in the world is the responsibility of white males. We just need Yahoo News and its colleagues to fill in the details once in a while.

Meanwhile, would Yahoo News ever dare to run a piece explaining how Sharia, across all Islamic sects and schools of jurisprudence, teaches the necessity for the Islamic community to wage war against unbelievers and subjugate them under the hegemony of Islamic law? Come on, man! Yahoo News wonks wouldn’t dream of publishing something that “Islamophobic”! But they have no bar against presentations such as Massoud’s that amplify their narrative, no matter how howlingly absurd they may be.

Yahoo helpfully supplies a map to go along with Massoud’s article, showing the rapacious reach of European colonialists into the hitherto pure, innocent, unsullied Islamic world. The map is a bit confusing in itself, because its color for Spanish colonies is quite similar to the color it uses for countries that were never colonized at all, and the latter are not marked as such. So at first glance, you might get the idea that Spain conquered all of Europe, as well as Iran, Afghanistan, Arabia, and more, but once you get past that, the map has more serious flaws. It shows, for example, that Iran and Saudi Arabia were never colonized by the West. But if colonialism is the cause of “Islamic extremism,” what, then, explains the Islamic Republic, which finances jihad terror groups such as Hizballah and Hamas? What explains the fact that 15 of the 19 9/11 jihad attackers were Saudis?

What explains jihad activity that went on for centuries before colonialism? The History of Jihad shows that beginning in the mid-seventh century, Arab armies poured out of Arabia and, with astonishing force, rapidly conquered the Middle East, North Africa, and Iran. By a hundred years after the date Islamic tradition states as the death of Muhammad, the Arab empire stretched from Spain to India. Was all this because of the Western colonialism that was not to dawn upon the world until centuries later? When the Ottomans came West from central Asia and waged jihad for centuries against the Christian Byzantine Empire, steadily diminishing its holdings and eradicating it altogether in 1453, was this because of the colonialism of Western powers that was still several centuries away?

There is more. Read the rest here.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Panorama: Hawaii DoE Paying Zuckerberg Company to Collect Data on Students

The Hawaii Department of Education is funneling student data to a company financed by Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg.

Under a $478K annual contract with Hawaii Department of Education, Panorama Education, is building a permanent database of socio-political opinions, attendance, academic performance, and disciplinary infractions committed by Hawaii K-12 students.  Panorama’s ‘ Social Emotional Learning Survey’ is a veritable roadmap to manipulate their minds via social media.

Panorama’s CEO states the firm contracts with school districts nationwide comprising about 25% of US K-12 students.

According to Hawaii DoE, the Panorama survey is completed during Grade 3-12 homerooms and imported onto Panorama’s servers. For younger K-2 students, teachers are surveyed about their impressions of each student so your child will have a data profile in Silicon Valley even before he knows how to log on.

Nobody at DoE is mentioning Zuckerberg’s funding of the scheme.  His involvement is of course empirical proof that the data is being misused. And, yes, the DoE is actually paying Panorama to take the data.

Juvenile criminal transcripts are automatically sealed on the perpetrator’s 18th birthday — but what Hawaii DoE refers to as ‘Panorama’s National Dataset’ will continue into adulthood where it could be used to identify political supporters for a future Donald Trump-style campaign, just as Facebook data was used to help Trump in 2016.

Fairfax County Virginia schools, one of the largest districts served by Panorama, explains Panorama measures “how children and adults learn to understand and manage emotions, set goals, show empathy for others, establish positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”

A Hawaii DoE handout titled: “ Social Emotional Learning Survey: Fall 2020” cites Panorama program goals including, “Leverage social and emotional data to deepen the focus on key outcomes….”

Sold to school districts as a convenient way to collate student input, Panorama’s on-line survey system was well-positioned to see  expanded use during COVID-mandated ‘distance learning’ semesters. 

The data from a  June, 2020 Panorama survey was then used to bolster arguments against continuing distance learning, much to the chagrin of HSTA leadership.

Panorama CEO Aaron Feuer, quoted on  TechCrunch, September 2, 2021, explains: “Since March 2020, Panorama has added 700 school districts to its customer base, nearly doubling the 800 it served just 18 months prior.”  Feuer told Tech Crunch Panorama now serves 13 million students in 23,000 schools across the United States–25% of American students.

The  Washington Examiner reports. Alexander “Xan” Tanner,  co-founder  and president of Panorama Education, is married to the daughter of Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland.

To paraphrase Ben Franklin, “Those who would give up Privacy, to purchase a little temporary Convenience, deserve neither Privacy nor Convenience.”

Zuckerberg’s financial backing begins with Panorama’s ‘Round A’ in 2013 which garnered $4M from investors including the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.  Zuckerberg was back in  2017 for ‘Round B’  which deposited $16M into Panorama’s coffers.  Buoyed by its COVID success, Panorama came back for  ‘Round C’ raising $60M from yet another Zuckerberg-led consortium in September, 2021.

Linking Panorama to Google, Apple, and beyond, other investors include:  Owl Ventures Emerson Collective (Steve Jobs widow),  Uncork Capital Spark Capital , and  Tao Capital Partners.

TechCrunch reports: “Notably, Panorama had not raised capital in a couple of years simply because, according to Feuer, it did not need the money.”

That’s what happens when school districts pay Big Data to take big data.

COLUMN BY

Andrew Walden

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EDITORS NOTE: This Hawaii Free Press column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Cities Lead the Way in (Another) Massive Fall Exodus from US Public Schools

Many parents pulled their children out of school last year for homeschooling and other private options, as schools remained shuttered due to the coronavirus response. Nationwide, homeschooling numbers tripled last year from their pre-pandemic levels, driven largely by black families who left district schools for homeschooling at the highest rate of any demographic group and are now over-represented in the homeschooling population compared to K-12 public schools. With most schools open for full-time, in-person learning this year, it seemed reasonable to assume that parents would eagerly re-enroll their children in their local district school, tabling last year’s alternative education plans.

That doesn’t seem to be the case. In fact, some school districts, such as Los Angeles, have seen a larger public school enrollment drop this fall compared to last fall. L.A. public school enrollment declined by 4.76 percent in the 2020/2021 academic year, while new data show that enrollment is down another 27,000 students this fall compared to last year, or a drop of nearly 6 percent.

The enrollment decline for L.A. public schools was captured as of September 17, which was the fifth Friday of the new school year, or the day the district annually counts student enrollment. This was just after the Los Angeles school board mandated the COVID-19 vaccine for all eligible public school students, and before California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that all students in the state would be required to be injected with the new vaccine.

As I wrote last month, these COVID-19 vaccine mandates for children and adolescents will likely lead to more parents fleeing public schools for private learning models, particularly as new data emerges about the link between the COVID-19 vaccine and higher rates of myocarditis in teenage boys and young men.

“Boys between 16 and 19 years of age had the highest incidence of myocarditis after the second dose,” The New York Times reported last week, so it’s understandable that many parents may be reluctant to have their children get the COVID shot. “The risk of heart problems in boys of that age was about nine times higher than in unvaccinated boys of the same age,” added the Times.

With 20-30% of Los Angeles teachers and staff currently not on track to meet the district’s October 15 vaccination deadline, fewer students may alleviate some of the pending staffing shortages resulting from those who are terminated for not getting vaccinated. The district is already contending with 2,000 unfilled positions and a dearth of applicants.

L.A. isn’t the only large school district seeing dwindling numbers of students. New Chicago data reveal that district enrollment is down by 10,000 students this year, on top of the 14,500 students the school system lost last year.

According to Chicago NPR: “The reasons for the declines are many, experts say, including demographic changes in the city as well as the pandemic and the upheaval it caused, which may have motivated some parents to pull their children from the school district.”

More Chicago parents are continuing to homeschool their children, and local Catholic schools and other private schools are experiencing enrollment boosts, NPR reported.

Last year, public school enrollment dropped an average of 3 percent nationwide, as parents turned to homeschooling and private schools, or delayed kindergarten entry. Most districts were given an enrollment reprieve, freezing school funding at 2019/2020 spending levels in the wake of the pandemic response. But this year, headcount matters. In Detroit, “count day” occurred last Wednesday and will determine how many students are currently attending the city’s public schools and how much funding they will get. District officials resorted to bribery, offering Detroit Pistons basketball tickets to students to make sure they were in attendance so as to secure higher funding levels.

Last year, Detroit district enrollment fell 3 percent, while statewide public school enrollment declined more than 4 percent. According to a new National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) working paper, which analyzed 2020 student enrollment trends in Michigan, the majority of families who left public schools last year chose homeschooling while most of the remaining families selected private schools. The researchers also found that low-income households and families of color were more likely to flee district schooling.

“At a high level, our main results are in line with a growing set of reports that the pandemic caused an unprecedented shift away from the public education sector, particularly for Black, low-income and kindergarten students,” researchers concluded.

In Seattle, the 1,300 fewer students enrolled in the district this fall will likely cost the public schools approximately $28 million in state funding. Smaller school districts are also experiencing enrollment declines along with a corresponding dip in funding. In West Virginia, Marion County student enrollment is down 230 students this year and the district is set to lose $1 million in school funding as a result. Many students in the district shifted to homeschooling, which has grown to 730 students from about 500 students in a typical year.

The NBER researchers suggest that the pandemic-induced shift away from public schooling is likely to be long-lasting and will have enduring effects on funding.

“These enrollment changes also have clear longer-term fiscal implications for the public school sector and educational consequences for students. To the extent that a large percentage of students remain enrolled in alternative sectors, public school systems will face unprecedented drops in funding,” the researchers conclude.

This is an ideal time for state legislatures to implement school choice policies, such as education savings accounts, vouchers, and tax-credit scholarship programs, to enable education dollars to follow students instead of funding bureaucratic school systems. Indeed, nearly three-quarters of US taxpayers now support education choice policies, and it has been a banner year for school choice, with many states introducing or strengthening choice policies.

These policies make it easier for parents to access the best education option for their children, extending learning choices beyond a district school assignment.

Some commentators look upon the current public schooling exodus with dread and criticize the ongoing privatization of education. This sense of doom is misguided. We don’t have government-run grocery stores assigned to families by their zip code, and food is even more important than education from a survival standpoint.

What we do have is a wide assortment of private grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and other private, commercial spaces from which consumers choose to buy food. For families in need, taxpayers fund food stamps and similar food-assistance programs that enable consumers to use taxpayer dollars in the form of vouchers to purchase food at the private market of their choice. This is a widely accepted model as it relates to food, but is somehow excoriated when applied to education.

The current momentum away from government-run schools and toward private education options should be welcomed and embraced. Weakening the government’s monopoly position on education and enabling a flourishing free market of learning opportunities will expand choices for families in much the same way as it does in all other areas of our lives. We don’t have government-run car dealerships, or hair salons, or shoe stores, and yet we are able to buy a car, get our hair cut, and purchase shoes that meet our preferences thanks to a vibrant free market.

As FEE’s founder Leonard Read wrote in his 1964 essay, a truly free market in education would unleash creativity, possibility, and efficiency, just as it has in all other sectors. According to Read: “Creative thought on education would manifest itself in millions of individuals. Such genius as we potentially and compositely pos­sess would assert itself and take the place of deadening restraints. Any person who understands the free market knows, without any qualification whatsoever, that there would be more education and bet­ter education. And a person with a faith in free men is confident that the costs per unit of learning accomplished would be far less.”

Far from being worrying, the current exodus from public schools is a positive educational change that is good for families, students, and taxpayers alike. As the government’s grip on education loosens, entrepreneurs are stepping in to create new learning models and schooling alternatives that provide the personalization, flexibility, and variety that we expect in all other parts of our lives. Prompted by the pandemic response that exposed the glaring inadequacies of government schooling, more parents now demand more education choices. Buoyed by an expanding free market in education, these parents and their children will enjoy an abundance of educational solutions in the years to come.

COLUMN BY

Kerry McDonald

Kerry McDonald is a Senior Education Fellow at FEE and author of Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom (Chicago Review Press, 2019). She is also an adjunct scholar at The Cato Institute and a regular Forbes contributor. Kerry has a B.A. in economics from Bowdoin College and an M.Ed. in education policy from Harvard University. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with her husband and four children. You can sign up for her weekly newsletter on parenting and education here.

EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

The Primary Stakeholder in Schools: Parents or Educrats?

Someone I know from California told me recently that he has decided to pull his child out of public school and enroll him instead into a private, Christian school.

Why? Because during some of the Zoom instruction during the coronavirus pandemic, this concerned parent discovered some of the lessons they were trying to foist on his child. In this case, it was the anti-American historical revisionism that disgusted this parent.

Multiply this story many times over, and we are seeing a very important development right now—many parents are finding better ways to educate their children, including homeschool and home-school co-ops, than the failing public schools.

But the left is pushing back. Perhaps the most galling thing about this debate is the arrogance of the educrats who think they are the ones who should be responsible for the education of the children—not the parents.

Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe let the cat out of the bag. The Democrat is currently running for governor again, and he said in a recent debate: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

Unfortunately, McAuliffe is not alone in these sentiments.

Writing in wnd.com (10/3/21), Art Moore points out that parents are supposedly “not the ‘primary stakeholder’ in their children’s education”—even though they are “important stakeholders.” Who says this? Some leftwing nut job on a TicTok video? No, Joe Biden’s education secretary Michael Cordona said this.

What’s more, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) asked the Biden administration to treat concerned parents at school board meetings as essentially domestic terrorists. They write, “Now, we ask that the federal government investigate, intercept, and prevent the current threats and acts of violence against our public school officials through existing statutes, executive authority…to preserve public school infrastructure and campuses.”

They add: “Further, this increasing violence is a clear and present danger to civic participation.”

Apparently, President Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland agrees. He is now claiming that concerned parents protesting at school board meetings are guilty of “domestic terrorism.”

In his End of Day Report (10/5/21), Gary Bauer of American Values responds, “So, let’s get this straight: The radical forces indoctrinating your children are trying to shut you up by utilizing the same agency, the FBI, that the left used to smear Donald Trump with the fake Russia collusion hoax.” He observes that the Biden administration is “turning the FBI loose on soccer moms.”

Critics note that Garland has a conflict of interest here. Bauer says: “His son-in-law is the president of a consulting firm that makes millions of dollars contracting with school boards to push the left’s radical agenda.”

If you look at the videos of the unruly school board meetings, what you see are parents visibly upset that their children are being taught a bunch of lies. They are not resorting to “violence.”

The most prominent areas of curriculum conflict include:

  • Critical race theory (CRT), where by definition whites are oppressors and blacks are the oppressed. Little children who have done nothing wrong are being vilified for the color of their skin.
  • Historical revisionism, which turns American history on its head. The settlers and founders of America were far from perfect. But they created a nation with unparalleled freedom and prosperity. Now political correctness has turned America’s founders into villains. One can only wonder why those would-be American immigrants trekking through Central America are currently risking their lives to come to this supposedly evil country.
  • The dogmatic LGBTQ agenda. Many children (mostly girls) are questioning if they were born in the correct gender. Because of this fad that is sweeping through many of the schools and is being promoted by teachers and the school administrators, many young people are undergoing “irreversible damage” as puberty blockers and even surgery are administered to try and resolve a conflict that usually resolves itself in puberty. The fallout is horrible. Journalist Abigail Shrier wrote a book documenting this dangerous trend—Irreversible Damage.

The schools and teachers unions are acting as if they own the children. They do not. Children are on loan by God to the parents. Indeed, who is responsible for children’s education? Parents or educrats?

Who knows better than the parents what is in the children’s best interest? To whom have the children been given? Hasn’t God given the parents the responsibility of teaching their children, even if they delegate that teaching to others? Traditionally, teachers have been described as “in loco parentis”—acting on behalf of the parents, not against them.

Our current education crisis could actually prove to be a good thing—if we handle it correctly. This could be the time when many Americans seek to rescue their children from leftist and false indoctrination promoted by too many of our public schools.

©Jerry Newcombe. All rights reserved.

RELATED TWEET:

Boys are falling farther and farther behind their sisters: should we care?

There is a growing gender gap in higher education. According to the latest figures from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center: as of spring 2021, women accounted for 59.5% of students attending colleges and universities nationwide. Among four-year private colleges, women now account for 61% of all students. Both figures represent new records. Douglas Shapiro, executive director of research at the National Student Clearinghouse, told The Wall Street Journal earlier this month that if current trends continue, within a few years there will be two women graduating from college for every one man.

Well, so what? In 1970, men accounted for 58% of students attending colleges and universities, and there was no great outcry back then about the gender imbalance. Why should we be concerned now that the pendulum has swung in the other direction?

I think there are good reasons for concern, which can be summed up in three words: “educational assortative mating.” Educational assortative mating means that if a woman has earned a four-year degree and she is looking for a husband, she will usually choose a man whose educational achievement is equal to or greater than her own. Fifty years ago, if a man earned a four-year degree and was looking for a woman to marry, he might have many qualifications in mind for his future wife; but educational attainment was not one of them. In that era, college-educated men were happy to marry women who had never attended college. In our era, college-educated women are hoping to marry college-educated men. And there are not enough college-educated men to go around.

This problem is not confined to the college educated. I am a family doctor. A young woman in my own practice, let’s call her Linda, has two small children. She has never been married. She has never attended college. I bumped into the father of her two children. He told me how much he loves Linda. He told me that he has proposed marriage, twice, and both times Linda turned him down. I asked Linda, as gently as I could, why she did not want to marry the father of her two children. She answered: “Dr. Sax, I already have two babies at home. I don’t need a third!”

At every level, not just among the college educated, young women seeking a man to marry are looking for men who are at least as competent and hard-working as they are. But ever since the 1980s, boys’ academic achievement in high school has declined relative to girls, not primarily because girls are doing better but because boys are doing worse.

Marriage rates in the United States peaked at 16.4 per 1,000 per year in 1946. As recently as 1990, marriage rates were still 9.8 per 1,000. Right now, the marriage rate is 6.1 per 1,000: that’s the lowest on record, going back to the 1880s. Although many factors have contributed to the decline in marriage, scholars agree that one major factor driving the decline is the reality that many women want their husbands to earn more than they do. American women have always tended to prefer husbands who can earn more than they do, but the growing phenomenon of underachieving young men means that there are not enough successful men to go around.

Nevertheless, many women still want to have children. What is a woman to do, if she wants a child but she can’t find a suitable husband? Among women who have earned a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree, about one in four women age 32 to 38 weren’t married when they had their first babies, according to the latest survey published earlier this month, which the author, Andrew Cherlin, discussed on this blog. That is more than a sixfold increase from 1996, when the share of unmarried women in that group was just 4%.

What is driving the rise in the numbers of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men? And what can we do about it? In my book Boys Adrift, I identify multiple factors that have combined to disengage boys and young men from hard work and academic achievement. The bad news is that these factors are pervasive. The good news is that parents who understand these challenges can arm their sons with the tools those boys need in order to fulfill their potential.

One major factor is the collapse of our culture’s construction of masculinity. A generation ago, Sam Cooke had a #1 hit song in which he admitted that he didn’t know much about history. “Now I don’t claim to be an A student / but I’m trying to be / cause maybe by being an A student baby / I can win your love for me.” That song was characteristic of American popular culture in the 1960s and 1970s. That was an era in which the Beach Boys could advise young men to “be true to your school.” It’s impossible to imagine contemporary male singer-celebrities such as Bruno Mars or Drake singing about trying to earn better grades in school or about being true to their school. In place of Sam Cooke humbly admitting that he “don’t know much about history” but vowing to do better, we have Lil Nas X boasting in his Grammy Award-winning hit song that “can’t nobody tell me nothing / you can’t tell me nothing.”

That means that parents have to find positive male role models for their sons. That man might be a teacher, a coach, a pastor, or a family friend. If you’re lucky, the boy’s father can also be a role model. I also advise parents to immerse their sons in the stories of good men—men who embody the values we want our sons to learn. In Boys Adrift, I suggested the stories of the martyred Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and the Civil War abolitionist hero Joshua Chamberlain, among others.

In Boys Adrift, I also presented evidence that schools bear some of the blame for the disengagement of boys from education. American schools, with a few exceptions, have become unfriendly to boys. Boys doing things that boys have always done—such as pointing fingers at each other saying “bang bang you’re dead”, or doodling a sketch of a sword—now often get into trouble at school. But reprimanding an elementary-school boy for chewing his pastry into the shape of a gun does not change that boy into a flower child who wants to talk about his feelings. More often, such discipline results in a boy who says “school is stupid. I’m gonna go home and play Grand Theft Auto, where I get rewarded for killing people.”

Parents need to find schools where teachers and administrators know how to create an environment that is friendly to boys without being unfriendly to girls. (For those interested, I offer workshops on how to do just that, based on my visits to more than 460 schools over the past 20 years.) Here are some tips on identifying a boy-friendly school:

  • A boy-friendly elementary school offers at least three recesses per day, and kids are allowed to play Tag during recess.
  • At high school: look at the list of students earning academic honours. Look for a roughly 50/50 girl/boy split. If 80% of the students on the honour roll are girls, year after year, then it’s likely that most boys at that school regard academic achievement as un-masculine.
  • At successful high schools, the boy who is captain of the football team is often a top scholar as well. That’s no longer common in the United States, but it still happens. I have seen it. When it happens, it is no accident. The school leaders have mindfully created a school culture where it’s cool for a boy to be a gentleman and a scholar.

Finding a school that is a better fit for your child may require moving from one state to another—as my wife and I did.

Most women want husbands who are their equals: in motivation, work ethic, and achievement. Our culture now largely fails to motivate boys to work as hard as their sisters. That means that parents need to step in and do the work that the culture once did.

That’s a lot to ask. But it can be done.

Republished with permission from the Institute for Family Studies.

COLUMN BY

Leonard Sax

Dr. Leonard Sax MD PhD attended public schools in Shaker Heights Ohio from kindergarten through grade 12. He enrolled in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge Massachusetts in the… More by Leonard Sax

EDITORS NOTE: This MercatorNet column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

SCHOOL INDOCTRINATION: HOW CUBANS AVOIDED IT

To gaze idly at a crime is to commit it.” – José Martí.


AUTHOR’s COMMENT:

“Common Core” is the same educational system the communist regime of Fidel Castro imposed in Cuba in the early 1960s.  It is the norm in all totalitarian communist regimes.  Each child will have a file from birth to death with all his information, including his conduct, his friends and his parents.  Based on that information depends what he would be studying, what kind of job he will be assigned, where he will be allowed to live and what food and clothes he will be allowed to have.  To avoid that situation, Cuban desperate parents did the unthinkable and sent 14,048 unaccompanied children to the U.S. between 1960 and October 1962.  It was known as Operation Peter Pan.  Most Americans have not been told about it. 

According to the Code of Youth of the Cuban Communist Constitution, only the state have the right to educate the children.  Parents do not have any input at all and they can be sent to jail if they teach their children something that contradict the state dogma.


Soon after Castro’s Marxist Communist-Socialist type government took hold of Cuba in 1959, it became clear that Cuban parents where losing the right to make decisions about educating and raising their children.

Their main concern was the political indoctrination tenor of the new curriculum as is happening in the U.S. now in 2021.

Early on, the final signs were when Castro sent his 12-year-old son “Fidelito” to be educated in the Soviet Union, The international Boy Scouts were outlawed and converted into the Soviet-style “Young Communist Pioneers” for elementary school children and the “Young Communist Association” for teenagers. Cuban parent’s fears were confirmed.

All private schools were targeted and soon confiscated by Castro’s government. And many children were sent to distant places on the island to be indoctrinated.

Thus began the destruction of the Cuban family.

Some parents became fearful of their own children and didn’t talk openly in their homes worried of being denounced to the government as the indoctrination demanded. The future looked bleak for the very close Cuban families.

As painful and unthinkable as it was, many parents made the decision to send their children to be educated in the U.S. That was the beginning of a clandestine operation with the cooperation of the U.S. government and Catholic Charities.

In October 1960, the first unaccompanied child arrived in Miami. It had to be done this way because Castro didn’t allow family members to leave his island together. Most parents they thought they would be able to leave Cuba soon to reunite with their children.

In the U.S. the children were sent to live with relatives, foster parents or to orphanages. From 1960 to October 22, 1962, 14,048 unaccompanied children between 6 and 18 years old were able to leave Cuba under “Operation Peter Pan”.

Many children were eventually reunited with their parents but others never saw them again because many were jailed or died in Cuba.

This clandestine operation was the biggest exodus of unaccompanied children in the Western Hemisphere.

Some of these children ended up on the opposite side from their freedom and American-loving parents after passing through the educational system in the U.S., increasingly controlled by Marxist professors and infiltrators since the 1960s.

Of course now the situation has changed in the U.S. and in today’s world there is no place to go to escape indoctrination. It has to be stopped before more harm is done to the new generation.

COLUMN BY

 Agustin Blazquez with the collaboration of Jaums Sutton, 2021

©Agustin Blazquez. All rights reserved.


INDOCTRINATION OF CHILDREN  IN CUBA AND OPERATION PETER PAN

Common Core” is the same educational system the communist regime of Fidel Castro imposed in Cuba in the early 1960s.  It is the norm in all totalitarian communist regimes.  Each child will have a file from birth to death with all his information, including his conduct, his friends and his parents.  Based on that information depends what he would be studying, what kind of job he will be assigned, where he will be allowed to live and what food and clothes he will be allowed to have.  To avoid that situation, Cuban desperate parents did the unthinkable and sent 14,048 unaccompanied children to the U.S. between 1960 and October 1962.  It was known as Operation Peter Pan.  Most Americans have not been told about it. 

Cuban Kids from the 60s Exodus

The Largest Exodus of Children in the Western Hemisphere

Of the thousands of stories of the Cuban exodus, this one must be told.  It’s the story of the biggest exodus of children ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, but is largely unknown.  From December 26, 1960 through October 22, 1962, 14,048 unaccompanied children between 6 and 18 years old left Cuba for the US.  There were many valiant and dedicated people in Cuba and in the US working for the success of this secret operation.  It was coded:  Operation Peter Pan.

In the 1930s, 7,482 Jewish children were smuggled out of Nazi Germany to England and other countries and in the communist take over of Spain that lead to a civil war, thousands of children were evacuated to France, Belgium and England.  When the communists in Spain were heading for defeat, it is said that 5,000 children were sent to the Soviet Union.  In 1940, during the Battle of Britain, about 1,000 British children were sent to the US for safety.  And at the end of the war, about 5,000 orphans were brought from Europe to the US for adoption.

Before Castro, people used to immigrate to Cuba.  But after Castro, the biggest exodus in this hemisphere began.  The first to arrive into the US in January 1959 came with their money and belongings but later, as Castro added  more and more restrictions, people were forced to leave with nothing.  This created a terrible burden on the relatives and friends who arrived earlier and were supporting and helping the newcomers.  Later, the burden fell to private charities and the US government.  By 1960 some 4,000 had arrived and by December 1961, 12,000 with 200 arriving in Miami each day.  By 1971, 261,000 were established in Miami and almost as many elsewhere in the US.  During the 1980 Mariél exodus 125,000 left but 2 million more who requested to leave were stranded in Cuba when that door was closed.  In 1997 there are 2 to 3 million Cuban exiles all over the world and their numbers would have been greater if leaving Cuba had been easier.

In opposition to general beliefs resulting from 38 years of Castro’s propaganda echoed by the press and the liberal establishment, Castro’s revolution affected Cubans from all walks of life and the brutality of his repression was felt since January 1959.  From the beginning, when people realized that he was moving toward a communist dictatorship, the opposition began, even from the people who previously fought at his side against Batista.  Many Cubans, as the situation worsened during 1959 and 1960, thought that Castro would be overthrown.  As his control grew and his cronies became entrenched in civilian and government positions, Cubans became concerned that unseating Castro would lead to a bloody civil war, as in Spain in the 1930s.

On May 1, 1960, Castro launched his slogan “Cuba sí, Yankees no!” and ordered the creation of communist indoctrination schools while publicly denying he was a communist.  In July, he began to confiscate properties owned by Americans, Spaniards and Jews.  In October, he created the neighborhood committees (fashioned after 1930s Nazi Germany) to spy on and control each city block.

The radicalism of Castro’s revolution spread toward the educational field raising parents’ concern.  Circulating rumors that he was planning to confiscate the over 1,000 secular and religious private schools (which did materialize later) made parents fearful about their children’s future.  Some private schools began closing – temporarily, they thought – because of the increasing pressures from Castro’s regime to change to Marxist textbooks to indoctrinate the children.  After private schools closed, many parents kept their children home instead of sending them to public schools where communist indoctrination had already begun.

Many Cuban parents remembered the stories of the end of the civil war in Spain where 5,000 children were sent to the Soviet Union for indoctrination and others were held as hostages.  They were fearful that the same thing would happen in Cuba.  Many parents did not want to leave Cuba because they thought that Castro would be overthrown in a matter of months.  Or because they could not abandon an old or sick family member, or a spouse or a brother who had become a political prisoner.  Others because they were involved in the anti-Castro movement.  They couldn’t leave but they wanted their children to be saved.

In the fall of 1960, rumors circulating in Cuba and in Miami exile circles added to the fears of parents in Cuba.  The main concern was the prospect of losing the “patria potestad,” which meant that parents would lose the right to make the decisions about raising their children.  Instead, the government would decide such things as where each child would live, each child’s school and curriculum, etc.  This did materialize later on.

The departure from Cuba of Castro’s 12-year-old son, Fidelito, to be educated in the Soviet Union seemed to confirm this rumor.  Then, the creation of the Young Communist Pioneers – replacing the Boy Scouts – and the Association of Young Communists added panic to the situation.  Some of the children already absorbed into these mass organizations began to show the effects of the indoctrination:  parroting Castro’s slogans and using communist jargon, and becoming informants.  In some instances, parents became fearful of their own children and self-censored what they said in front of them to avoid being denounced to the authorities.  The future didn’t look promising for families under Castro. Painful as it was, many parents thought that it was time to get their children out of Cuba even if they had to leave unescorted.

In October 1960, the first unaccompanied Cuban child arrived in Miami.  He was sent by his parents who thought that their relatives and friends would take care of him temporarily until Castro was overthrown.  They had no way of knowing that their relatives were almost destitute.  Since no one was willing or able to take responsibility for his welfare, the 15-year-old boy was being passed from one family to another on a daily basis.  This psychologically affected the boy.  He was scared and hungry and had lost 20 pounds when someone took him to the Catholic Welfare Bureau in Miami on November 15, 1960.  The man who brought him in pleaded for a foster home or a boarding school for the boy.  The boy’s name was Pedro (Peter).  Later on, the organized effort to get the unaccompanied children safely out of Cuba and properly cared for in the US would be named for him:  Operation Peter Pan.

Father Bryan O. Walsh, Executive Director of the bureau, made temporary arrangements for the care of Pedro.  Father Walsh, born in Port Arlington, Ireland in 1930, was ordained as a priest in St. Augustine, Florida in 1954.  He was a dedicated and compassionate Spanish-speaking priest who had been in Miami since 1957.  He was aware of the impending influx of Cuban children through a sister agency, the Hispanic Catholic Center in Miami.  He realized that Pedro was the first child of many that would come as the situation deteriorated in Cuba.  And he sought federal help to cope with the emergency situation that was developing.

Father Walsh also turned to the Welfare Planning Council for help.  They arranged a meeting for the third week of November 1960 with representatives of the Dade County Welfare Department, Florida State Department of Public Welfare, Florida Children’s Home Society, Children Service Bureau and Jewish Family and Children’s Service.  President Eisenhower, aware of the emergency refugee situation in Miami, had just appointed Mr. Tracy Voorhees to look into the matter.  As a result of the meeting at the offices of the Welfare Planning Council and with the recommendation of Mr. Voorhees, one million dollars was allocated by the Eisenhower administration on December 2, 1960.

Also in November 1960, a Cuban mother flew to Key West bringing her two children.  She feared that because of her and her husband’s anti-Castro activities, her children would be sent to the Soviet Union.  Since she did not have family or friends in the US, she brought her two children to the Key West Juvenile Court.  She begged the Judge of that court to find a home for them.  The Judge assumed jurisdiction and placed her children in foster care.  The mother returned to Cuba to join her husband in the fight against Castro.  In addition to Pedro, now there were two more children, without their parents but safe from Castro.

James Baker was the Headmaster of Ruston Academy, an American school in Havana, catering to US residents on the island and upper middle class Cuban families.  As a resident of Cuba, Mr. Baker was very well aware of the tenor of Castro’s regime and the increasing opposition.  Cuban parents concerned about the communist indoctrination and welfare of their children approached him for a way out for their sons and daughters.  In November 1960, he sent one of his teachers to Miami and Washington to look over the situation.  As a result of that visit, they decided to open a boarding school in Miami to help the fearful parents get their children out.

For the purpose of finding a suitable building for the boarding school, Mr. Baker traveled to Miami in the second week of December 1960.  In Miami, he heard about Father Walsh and the plans of the Catholic Welfare Bureau to provide care for unaccompanied Cuban refugee children.  On December 12 he paid a visit to Father Walsh, who pointed out to him that the boarding school would be only a partial solution and that the legalities of custody would eventually surface if separation from their parents became lengthy.  Father Walsh thought that the best way to handle the situation was through a social agency, and said, “specially the younger ones, belonged in foster families, not institutions.”  Also, there was the concern that Jewish and Protestant children would be coming and assurance must be made to their parents that their religious heritage would be respected.

Mr. Baker determined that the best way to handle the situation was to work together with Father Walsh.  He estimated that 200 unaccompanied children would be coming.  He would arrange to get them out of Cuba and Father Walsh would be responsible for receiving them upon arrival at Miami’s airport and provide them with proper care until Castro was overthrown and they could return to their parents in Cuba.  Thus the yet to be named Operation Peter Pan was created.

To help Mr. Baker raise the funds for this operation were a group of members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Havana whose properties were confiscated by Castro.  Among them were Kenneth Campbell and Bob O’Farrell of Esso Standard Oil Company and Richard Colligan of Freeport Sulfur Company.  They were in Miami in a wait and see mode watching the developments in Cuba.  Judging by Castro’s brutality and violations of human rights and the increasing opposition, they agreed that it was a temporary situation until Cubans would gain the democratic change they wanted.  These businessmen wanted to help spare the Cuban children from a possibly bloody struggle.

Mr. Baker returned to Havana on December 13 and the group of businessmen began to obtain donations from US companies (and one British, the Shell Oil Company, which had done business previously in Cuba).  But, they had to prevent Castro from tracing the sources of the funds, otherwise he might stop the operation.  The first donations were paid to the Catholic Welfare Bureau.  They in turn issued checks to a series of Americans living in Miami, who in turn, issued personal checks for the airfare of the children via the W. Henry Smith Agency, a travel agency in Havana, owned and operated by H. Gilbert Smith.  This complicated process was necessary because, in order to get US currency, Castro had already forbidden the purchase of airline tickets using Cuban pesos.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Havana issued student visas to each child.  The Catholic Welfare Bureau gave a letter to Mr. Baker stating that they would be responsible for any child referred by him.  To keep Castro out of it, all communications concerning this operation were handled via the US diplomatic pouch, thanks to the cooperation of Mr. Culver Gidden of the US State Department Reception Center in Miami and the Charge d’Affairs at the US Embassy in Havana, Mr. Daniel Braddock.

On December 15, 1960, several of the American businessmen in Miami took a letter from Mr. Baker in Havana that had arrived that morning in the diplomatic pouch, to Father Walsh.  The letter contained a list of the first 125 children that would be coming.  Immediately he looked for housing for the children.  The County Welfare Department had a group of vacant buildings known as the Kendall complex that had been used to house delinquent children and offered them to Father Walsh.  There, 60 children could be housed but 125 were coming!  Father Walsh found that the St. Joseph Villa, a small group home for children run by nuns, had nine empty beds.  He found that the Assumption Academy, a private girls’ boarding school, also run by nuns, would be empty because of the Christmas holidays and they could temporarily accommodate 200!  He stopped by and asked the Mother Superior for her help.  She agreed with the condition that the children had to leave by January 6, 1961.

On December 24, 1960, Father Walsh received the news that the first children would be arriving in Miami the next day.  On Christmas Day, the only person he was able to locate to go with him to the airport to receive the children was Mrs. Louis Cooper, a Catholic Welfare Bureau social worker.  There were two flights from Cuba that afternoon:  Pan American’s 422 and National’s 452.  To their surprise, no children came on flight 422.  They waited with anxiety for the second flight.  Flight 452 finally arrived also with no children.  They were disappointed and concerned.  What had gone wrong?  What had happened to the children?

As Father Walsh anxiously awaited the flow of what would be the largest influx of unaccompanied refugee children in history, the situation that was causing the influx worsened.  Fidel Castro’s January 1960 death penalty decree for joining or even helping the revolt against him weighed heavily on everyone’s mind.  Masses were apprehended and thrown in jail without trial and summary executions were rampant.  The neighborhood committees spying on each city block were terrorizing people.  Peasants were in open revolt and fighting in the Escambray Mountains.  Students and workers were joining them and other anti-Castro rebels all over the island.  Rebel groups in the countryside were as close as 36 kilometers from Havana.  The organized anti-Castro resistance in Havana and other cities was growing.  The number of people involved in the resistance against Castro was to far exceed the number that had struggled against Batista.  The brutality of Castro’s repression was something never experienced before.  Castro was waging an all out war against the will of his people.

Many parents were panicking at the approaching second anniversary of Castro’s revolution, January 1st, 1961, with the prospect that children may no longer be allowed to leave Cuba.  The government was taking control of more and more aspects of daily life – including the raising of children.  A desperate plan to get them out was under way.  In Havana, James Baker and others willing to take great risks formed a clandestine network.  In Miami, on safer ground, Father Walsh and other dedicated Americans, prepared to accept an awesome responsibility.  The goal was to create the means to get as many children as possible out before January 1st, 1961.

December 26, 1960:  Sixto, 12 and Vivian, 14, brother and sister, the first two children to leave in this underground operation were in Havana’s José Martí International Airport. As required in Castro’s Cuba, they would wait for hours to find out if they would actually be permitted to board their plane to freedom.  Unexpectedly, their mother was allowed in the waiting room with them, a room that came to be known as “the fish tank,” because it normally separated with glass those hoping to leave from their relatives watching from the outside.

Their father, watching in silence, felt deep sorrow and fear on the other side of the cold glass.  He felt impotent in the situation that made him and his wife take a drastic step, not knowing when they would see their children again.  He consoled himself by thinking that at least in Miami his children would be safe from the unpredictable nightmare of Castro’s regime.

For Sixto and Vivian, this was the first time they were going to be separated from their parents.  They were going to the unknown; to a country with a different language, culture and environment.  They were afraid and sad to be leaving their parents, relatives and friends, their familiar home and their country, but as youngsters, they also felt a sense of adventure.  Each one was carrying a small suitcase with the few belongings that Castro’s regime allowed them to take, and of course, no money.  Before, with their parents around, that was not a problem.  But now they were on their own, not knowing who was going to take care of them.

Because their mother was permitted to wait with them, the situation was not as intimidating for them as it was for the others inside “the fish tank.”  Castro’s political police at the airport interrogated the other passengers.  They had to be very careful with their answers and appear calm and confident at all times.  The most minimal suspicious behavior or inconsistency could prevent their departure.  Their suitcases would be carefully checked and anything deemed to be of value would be confiscated “for the revolution,” meaning it would be kept by the inspectors.  This was what Cuba had become since Castro, and until the very last second on that island, while they have you under their control, you are living in uncertainty and fear.  Finally, after four agonizing hours inside “the fish tank,” the police shouted that children were allowed to board the plane.  A last hug and kiss from their mother and a last look at their father on the other side of the glass, a last silent goodbye.

On the “other side of the world” in Miami, Mrs. Cooper went again to the airport to continue the vigil to see if any children would arrive today.  The wait was excruciating.  The first flight from Havana arrived without children.  At about 7:30 pm the second flight arrived.  All the passengers arriving showed an extraordinary sense of relief as they descended and touched the ground in Miami.  Suddenly a boy, holding the hand of a girl emerged and descended the stairs to the tarmac.  There were alone.  They appeared very worried.  There were no relatives or friends waiting for them outside the doors of Customs.  Fear controlled their faces.  “Good God, our children!” exclaimed the relieved Mrs. Cooper.

Sixto and Vivian were very much relieved to see the friendly, smiling face of Mrs. Cooper.  They didn’t know it, but they were the first in a line of 14,048 children that would be arriving during the next 23 months.

Mrs. Cooper took them to St. Joseph’s Villa where they would to live for the next two months until they went to live at the home of their mother’s cousin in Hialeah, Florida.  Their mother came from Cuba five months later and their father about six months after her.  The family was reunited after 11 long months.

The daily vigil for unaccompanied children from Cuba at the Miami airport continued.  Two came on December 28th, six on the 30th and 12 on the 31st.  January 1st, 1961 arrived and Castro did not forbid the exodus of children.  However, he demanded that the US Embassy in Havana reduce its staff from 120 to 15.  This brought a strong reaction from the Eisenhower administration and on January 3, 1961, the US broke diplomatic relations with the Castro regime.  So, the US visas for the coming children would be very difficult.  Father Walsh thought that it was the end of the operation.  No children arrived on January 1st, 2nd or 3rd.  However, four arrived on the 4th!

With the closing of the US Embassy in Havana and the Consulate in Santiago de Cuba, most of the US citizens living in Cuba began to leave.  James Baker, his wife Sybil and their children arrived in Miami on January 5.  Mr. Baker was able to explain in person to the Catholic Welfare Bureau the delays that they were experiencing in getting visas for the children and the increasing number of requests.  Castro’s secret police surrounded the US Embassy while the staff was burning documents – as is customary when closing an embassy.  In the last minutes, the US embassy officials allowed him to stamp 25 extra visas.

Before leaving Cuba, Mr. Baker, with the approval of the State Department, left Miss Penny Powers, a British citizen, in charge of the exodus of the children.  She had been a nurse who was instrumental in the escape of 10,000 Jewish children from Nazi Germany, and years later in Cuba became one of the teachers at Ruston Academy in Havana.

For Father Walsh, Miss Powers and the others involved in this operation, the breaking of relations between the US and Cuba posed an additional challenge, since no more visas for the children could be issued in Havana.  Another source would have to be found in order to get the children out.

Since communication and the free flow of information were among the earliest casualties after Castro, it became very difficult to know what was really going on inside Cuba.  Everything became politically sensitive and a security matter to the regime.  Telephone conversations were monitored and letters were opened by the authorities, so Cubans began communicating by passing information from person to person in a confidential manner.  Everyone became extremely careful, because seemingly anything could bring an accusation of “counterrevolutionary,” or “CIA agent” resulting in jail.  It was known through the grapevine that Castro’s henchmen would select at random from those in jail, who was going to be executed.  Also through this grapevine, desperate Cuban parents learned about the facilities Father Walsh was creating for Cuban children in Miami.  But the problem was, how to obtain the US visa, now that the US Embassy in Havana was closed.

In Miami, Father Walsh continued making arrangements for receiving the estimated 200 children.  James and Sybil Baker, after their arrival from Cuba, were appointed the first houseparents at the newly created Cuban Boys Home at 175 S.E. 15 Road in Miami.  This house was donated by Maurice Ferré, a Puerto Rican industrialist in Miami whose parents were from Cuba.  It was the first home for Cuban teen-aged boys in the city of Miami.  The Bakers made daily trips to the airport to pick up newly arriving children.  They also assigned a Cuban couple, Angel and Nina Carrion, as permanent residents of the house, which eventually became known as “Casa Carrion.”

At the Kendall facility, far from the city, Father Walsh appointed as houseparents, another Cuban couple, Mr. and Mrs. Fernando Pruna.  He also had to hire cooks, janitors, social workers, clerks, typists and a bookkeeper.  James Baker couldn’t forget his friends stranded in Cuba and in coordination with Penny Powers and other trustworthy friends in Havana, a plan was developed with the cooperation of the British government, to get the rest of the children out via Kingston, Jamaica.  The British Embassy in Havana would issue visas to the children.  After the children arrived in Kingston, the US Consul there would give them US visas and they would be able to continue to Miami.  However, the children would need a place to stay in Kingston overnight.

Meanwhile, on January 6, 1961, seven more children arrived at Miami’s airport; two on the 7th and two more on the 8th.  The children were leaving in such a small numbers to minimize suspicions.  On January 8, Father Walsh flew to Washington, D.C., to meet with Frank Auerbach, his contact for the operation at the State Department, to talk about the Jamaica plan.  Although it was Sunday, Mr. Auerbach made arrangements to meet at 2 pm at one of the building’s side doors.

Father Walsh:  “It was a bright, cold winter afternoon, and the streets around the State Department were completely deserted.  Somehow the weather, the day, the time, the happenings of the past weeks all combined to create an atmosphere of intrigue and conspiracy.  Promptly at 2, Mr. Auerbach drove up and we met for the first time.  We entered the building and walked along deserted corridors to the office of Mr. Robert F. Hale, Director of the Visa Office, who was waiting for us.  We spent about three hours discussing the possibility of bringing the children out via Jamaica on the two KLM flights a week among other possibilities.  It was then that I heard for the first time the words ‘visa waiver’.”

At that meeting the possibility that the State Department would grant visa waivers to the children in Cuba, that would allow them to come directly to the US, was discussed.  But consultation with the Justice Department the following Monday morning was necessary.  Father Walsh stayed in his hotel room waiting for word.  On Monday afternoon, the call was received giving the O.K. to both proposals.  So now, the children could leave both ways, coming directly from Havana to Miami and through Jamaica with the visa waiver formula.  The visa waiver applied only to children from 6 to 16.  For those from 16 to 18, names had to be submitted for security clearances.  The operation was on its feet again, for as long as Castro did not discover it.

On January 10, 1960, Father Walsh and Rachel Erwin, his Supervisor of Child Welfare, boarded a flight for Kingston with the list of the coming children to make arrangements for their arrival.  They were met at the airport by Father William A. Connolly, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Kingston who took them to lunch at the Bishop’s house.  At the meeting it was arranged that the boys would stay at St. George College and the girls at Immaculate Conception College.  Father Walsh stayed that evening because next morning he would meet with the US Consul and the managers of Pan American and KLM airlines to secure their cooperation.  On January 11, Father Walsh returned to Miami while Miss Erwin stayed behind to receive the children.  But no children arrived that day in Kingston.

Back in Miami, 50 children were being cared for at three locations:  The Cuban Boys Home, St. Joseph Villa and Kendall.  But no new children were leaving Cuba.  Father Walsh, called Miss Erwin in Kingston.  She said that according to KLM, the first children would arrive on January 17.  However, on Monday, January 16, two children arrived at Miami’s airport.  During this impasse, Father Walsh and Mr. Baker were involved in organizing an education program for the children.  Although everyone thought this was a temporary situation and the children would soon be returning to Cuba when Castro was overthrown, they did not want them to miss their schooling.  Word was sent to Havana to have the children bring their textbooks, if possible.

In Havana, through the grapevine, word of the visa waiver had reached the parents and on January 17 the first seven children were able to leave for Jamaica and on the 18th, two arrived directly from Havana.  In addition to Penny Powers, a clandestine network was established in Cuba for the distribution of the visa waivers.  A group of very dedicated people were risking their lives for the sake of getting these children out to freedom. Among them was the wealthy socialite, Sara del Toro de Odio, Albertina O’Fárril, Teté Pachéz (secretary at the W. Henry Smith Travel Agency in Havana), Gilbert Smith (son of the owner), Adelaida Everhart, Petit Esnart, Laureano Dominguez, Hilda Feo, Emilio Fernandez (Pan American Airlines in Cuba), Pancho Finlay (KLM Airlines in Cuba) and others.  Many of them eventually served time in jail for their “anti-Castro Activities.”  But their incarceration did not stop Operation Peter Pan.  Other people continued their work.

To obtain the visa waiver necessary to send their children to the US, parents had to get to the houses of the people distributing them in Havana.  They had to do so very carefully, due to the increasing surveillance.  There were the dreaded block committees, the network of informants and the secret police.  The people distributing the visas also had to be extremely careful, because the people knocking at their doors could be informants or secret police.  There were enormous risks both ways.  Surviving inside a totalitarian society had become very complicated.

The wealthy Sara del Toro de Odio and her husband Amador had spent time in jail for their prior anti-Batista activities.  They knew Castro personally.  When he took over, they believed and supported his government until they began to realize the communist direction the revolution was taking.  They learned about the summary executions and brutality against the increasing opposition.  They knew Batista’s jails and his treatment of political prisoners from first hand experience.  Castro himself had been treated very well during his 20-month stay at the Isle of Pines Prison.  They were appalled by what was going on now, under Castro.  That wasn’t what they and others had fought for:  democracy.  If there was something that the economically prosperous Cuba didn’t need, it was a totalitarian communist regime.

As they had fought against Batista, Sara and Amador decided to fight against Castro.  But because of Castro’s violent and revengeful nature, they thought it would take a bloody struggle of dimensions never seen before.  They worried that Castro might use their children as hostages and decided to take three of them to safety.  Sara went alone to the US in January 1961 with her son and two daughters.  Before she returned to Cuba to join her husband in the struggle against Castro, she met Father Walsh who gave her visa waivers to distribute in Cuba.  Back in Havana, she and her husband decided to move from their city home to their recreational farm outside the city to be out of sight of the block committees and secret police.

Concerned parents all over the island learned about Sara through the grapevine.  Sara and Amador’s farm was one of the places where the parents could go to get the visa waiver.  Extreme care was necessary to avoid being followed.  The trip was an ordeal for many.  One by one, people from all over the island showed up at the farm.  Some were from poor and far away places who supposedly were the beneficiaries of Castro’s revolution, however, they didn’t want their children indoctrinated.  Many did not have the means to send their children to the US.  In those cases, Sara and Amador provided the US dollars for the trip.

Parents were also knocking at the doors of Bertha and Esther de la Portilla, Laureano Fernandez, Rev. Hernandez, Rev. Maximiliano, Bishop Muller, Serafina Hikel, Beatriz Morton, Israel Padilla, Alicia Thomas and others who also participated at great personal risk.

Through Jamaica and Miami, the number of children arriving was growing and more places were needed to house them.  On Tuesday, January 31, 1961, Father Walsh stressed the need for keeping the operation secret, avoiding all publicity that could jeopardize the children’s safe exit out of Cuba.  The US press was already suspecting what was going on, but in a spirit of cooperation, they did not say anything.  They were the ones who baptized the secret exodus “Operation Peter Pan.”  This name was in honor of the first boy Father Walsh took under his care on November 15, 1960, Pedro (Peter) Menendez.

Father Walsh wrote on February 1, 1961, “As of today 174 children came in (from Cuba).  Of these, 53 have been and are being cared for by relatives and friends, the rest by the Catholic Welfare Bureau except for two by the Jewish Family Service.  In addition, 20 have been sent to the Catholic Children Bureau, in Philadelphia.”  As the numbers grew, children were sent to orphanages and foster homes in 35 states.

The Cuban children were mainly from white middle class families, including some Jewish.  There were also children from black and Chinese families.  The Cuban children, not accustomed to segregation, were shocked by it in Florida.  When black Cuban children were not allowed to enter some places, the others, in a show of solidarity, refused to enter.

The sudden separation from their parents, culture and environment, had a strong effect on many younger children who could not understand why their lives changed so drastically.

On April 17, 1961, the Bay of Pigs invasion took place.  This was the opportunity that the anti-Castro underground resistance movement was waiting for to create a general strike and massive civil disobedience throughout Cuba.  But the long awaited invasion went wrong from the beginning.  First, US officials changed the landing place to a swampy area against the advice of Cubans with expert knowledge of their territory.  Second, President Kennedy reneged on his promise to back up the landing with US air power (waiting and ready to fly).  In the early hours of April 17, Castro ordered the massive detention of 250,000 people suspected of being unsympathetic to his cause, effectively preventing any civilian back up of the invasion.  The detainees were housed in stadiums, theaters and prisons.  Many were executed or remained in prison.

Cubans, after the invasion fiasco, disenchanted with what was perceived as the betrayal of President Kennedy by not helping them to get rid of the communist regime they never wanted, realized that there wasn’t much that they could do alone on that isolated island with a omnipotent leader who would stop at nothing to maintain power.  Kennedy seemed more interested in fighting communism in far away Vietnam than in his own neighborhood.  They also realized that the separation from their children was not going to be temporary, and many started to leave in any way they could in order to be reunited with their children.

My father’s brother and his wife made the “impossible” decision to send their two children to the US.  Their son, Jorge, was 13 and their daughter, Ileana, was 11.  They left on July 8, 1962.  At their arrival in Miami, they were separated.  Jorge was sent to live in a tent in a camp called Matecumbe in Miami.  Ileana was sent to a girls refuge called Florida City.  After a few months, they were adopted by Merlin and Peggy Blair in Pensacola, Florida.  After two years, Jorge was sent to Bay San Luis Catholic Seminary in Mississippi and Ileana went to a Catholic orphanage in Mobile, Alabama.  Later, Jorge was also transferred to an orphanage in Mobile, Alabama.

In Cuba, Sara and Amador were apprehended.  One of their farm workers turned out to be an informant.  They went to jail for anti-Castro activities.  But in spite of the brutality and torture they endured, they never gave the names of the others.  Their properties were confiscated and their farm was converted to a women’s jail were Sara was forced to serve the last six years of her incarceration.  After Amador was freed, they were able to leave for Miami where they reunited with their children.  Amador died some years later.

For 16 months, Operation Peter Pan was proceeding in secret until March 9, 1962.  Father Walsh remembers, “the Cleveland Plain Dealer decided to break the spirit of cooperation and prepared a story for publication.  When all efforts to suppress the story failed, we agreed to a press release giving the basic story but omitting all references to what was being done within Cuba.”

In Cuba, Albertina O’Farril was already in jail with Sara del Toro de Odio.  But after the Bay of Pigs invasion and the massive arrests of April 17, 1961, others began distributing the visa waivers.  During those times Ramón Grau and his sister Polita – relatives of the former constitutionally elected President of Cuba, Ramón Grau San Martin, 1944-48 – became involved in the distribution of visa waivers and the children continued to come.

Then the Cuban Missile Crisis erupted in October 1962, putting the world at the brink of a nuclear holocaust.  With the confrontation between the US and the Soviet Union, the last commercial flight from Havana to Miami departed Cuba on October 22, 1962.  On that flight were the last children of Operation Peter Pan.  There were 50,000 more children with their visa waivers left stranded in Cuba; 14,048 were safely out.

Of that total, 7,464 were cared for by the efforts of the 465 people who worked in this operation at the Catholic Welfare Bureau in Miami.  The children were housed at their facilities in the Miami area and orphanages and foster homes in 35 states.  The rest of the children were living with relatives, friends and with their parents as they were able to leave Cuba.

After the suspension of the direct flights from Cuba, parents began leaving through Spain and Mexico, although the transit visa through Mexico was extremely difficult to obtain.  In some instances bribes had to be paid to Mexican officials by relatives and friends abroad on behalf of the parents.  Their exiled relatives and friends were paying the money for the parents’ trip and stay in the transit country.

In early 1965, Castro’s secret police arrested Ramón Grau.  He was brutally tortured for three months at the infamous Villa Marista, the headquarters of the G2 political police.  He was placed in solitary confinement inside a 6×6 tomb-like cell 12 feet underground full of roaches and rats, where he couldn’t even stand erect.  He was subjected to a variety of psychological tortures in an effort force him to sign a confession.  He never did and was tried for anti-Castro activities and sentenced to death – later commuted to 23 years.  His sister, Polita Grau, who was the director of a women’s anti-Castro underground organization called Rescate (Rescue), also spent long years as a political prisoner.

To reunite the families, President Johnson created the Freedom Flights, which began on December 1, 1965.  The parents of Operation Peter Pan children were given first priority.  Within the first six months of the Freedom Flights, about 5,000 children were reunited with their parents.  These flights lasted until April 1973 and brought 260,561 Cubans to the US.

My uncle’s son and daughter remained in separate orphanages in Mobile, Alabama until their parents were allowed to leave Cuba on the Freedom Flights on May 8, 1966.  They were finally reunited after four years and settled in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Both of my cousins have since married and have children and grandchildren.

For most families, reunification brought forth unexpected difficulties that had to be overcome.  Many, including my cousin Ileana, could not communicate with their parents until they could relearn Spanish.  Others remembered their parents as they looked in Cuba when they were younger and in happier times.  The suffering, and for some, incarceration endured by the parents in Cuba, made some parents appear so much older and different that their own children didn’t recognize them.  Some children denied that they were their real parents.  In other instances, parents found their children so changed by the different culture, that reunification became a long-term trauma.

For some, death of one of the parents, either by natural causes or by being executed during the separation period, made the reunion very painful.  Other parents, because one or both were sent to jail or a concentration camp, were unable to reunite, so their children remained in orphanages or living with relatives or friends.  By 1971, 165 children remained under the care of the Catholic Welfare Bureau’s Cuban Children’s Program.  The last of the Cuban children left in 1976, 26 years later!  It is estimated that because of Operation Peter Pan, 150,000 additional people were able to come to the US.  There are enough stories involved with this exodus to fill many compelling volumes.

Sara del Toro de Odio still lives in Miami.  Albertina O’Farril, after 14 years in jail is in exile in Miami.  Ramón and Polita Grau, after their release from jail also came to Miami.  Penny Powers, now in her eighties, still lives in Cuba and was Knighted by the Queen of England.  James Baker, whose wife, Sybil, died, lives near Daytona Beach.  Father Bryan O. Walsh, 69, now Monsignor, as a result of his experience with the Cuban children, is developing a Children’s Village in Miami, where needy children can live in a family like atmosphere.

The children from Operation Peter Pan have grown up to be doctors, lawyers, technicians, musicians, entertainers, etc.  Among the most well known musicians is Willy Chirino.  He married the popular singer Lisette Alvarez, also a Peter Pan child whose parents were the famous 1950s’ Cuban radio and television performers Olga Chorens and Tony Alvarez.  And singer/songwriter Marisela Verena and musician Carlos Oliva.  Santiago Rodriquez has become internationally known as a classical piano virtuoso and Professor at Maryland University – he was 8 when he came to the US.

Sixto Aquino, the first official Peter Pan child who arrived in Miami on November 26, 1960, obtained an degree in Economics in 1969 from Georgetown University and is Division Chief for the Andean Countries at the Inter-American Development Bank and has two children.  His sister, Vivian, graduated from high school in 1963, went to the University of Maryland, married in 1967 and has three children.  She lives in Miami where she and her husband export software to Latin America.

Every Peter Pan child has an important story to tell. Margarita Prats, now Margarita Lora, who came when she was 8 with her sister Lola, 6 and brothers José, 9 and Benito, 7, has three children and is a Research Medical Technologist at NIH and lives in Maryland, while Lola became a Clinical Medical Technologist and has two children.  Her brother, José, is a Communications Entrepreneur in Virginia with two children.  Benito is an Aerospace Engineer in California with four children.  Family reunions are very important for the Prats family and their parents have a series of photos lined up on the wall of their kitchen to prove it.

Mayda Rodriguez, now Mayda Riopedre, who came at 15 with her sister Lina, was a Research Librarian at the Smithsonian Institution and now lives in Miami.  Her sister, Lina, has two children and is a Restaurant Manager in West Palm Beach.  Psychologist Ana Cristina Gardano, PH.D., who came with her brother Enrique, is in private practice in Chevy Chase, Maryland.  And the list goes on.  There are grown Peter Pan children all over the US.

Since time has healed most of the traumas of the experience, most of the Peter Pan children thank their parents for having the courage to send them to freedom which they now fully enjoy and appreciate.  Would they be able to do the same for their own children?  Perhaps, for some, if the circumstances demanded it.  But not for others, still suffering from the separation trauma.  Some have chosen not to have children, others are very close and protective of them and are glad that their children live with freedom, something that can easily be taken for granted when you haven’t lived in a communist totalitarian society.  In general, they are grateful that Operation Peter Pan gave them the opportunity to fly as Peter did.

© 1997 & 2003 ABIP

Sources:

Monsignor Bryan O. Walsh, CUBAN REFUGEE CHILDREN

Margarita Lora, B.S.

Mayda Riopedre, M.A.

Dr. Ana Cristina Gardano, PH.D.

Santiago Rodriguez

Natalia Rodriguez

Alfonso García

Sixto Aquino

René Blázquez

Ileana Kiefer

Dr. Benito Prats, M.D.

Aleida Duran, INTERVIEW WITH WILLY CHIRINO

Helga Silva, THE CHILDREN OF MARIEL

and other historical and statistical sources

Agustin Blazquez, Producer/director of the documentaries

COVERING CUBA, CUBA: The Pearl of the Antilles, COVERING CUBA 2: The Next Generation & COVERING CUBA 3: Elian presented at the 2003 Miami Latin Film Festival.

Author with Carlos Wotzkow of the book COVERING AND DISCOVERING and translator with Jaums Sutton of the book by Luis Grave de Peralta Morell THE MAFIA OF HAVANA: The Cuban Cosa Nostra.

For a preview and information on the documentary and books click here: ABIP

Parents’ Push for School Transparency Met With Delay Tactics!

“Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit.” – Molière


Today’s blog was written by Robert Montoya out of the Lone Star State writing for the Texas Score Card. With everything that is happening with the DOJ trying to make concerned parents into domestic terrorists ( for actually having an interest in their children’s education ) under this extreme radical Biden administration, I thought that this was a great article for my readers! I have as always placed the link to this original article below.


“When administrators, teachers, and staff are doing something that they shouldn’t do, it’s all hidden.”

While a parent-led transparency movement in public schools continues growing statewide, an education conference last month in Dallas shared tools school districts can use. Providing records more quickly wasn’t discussed, but North Texas citizens told us how important transparency is in school districts.

The Texas Public Information Act (PIA) recognizes a citizen’s right to “inspect or copy” state and local government records. Since last year, an increasing number of Texans have been using the PIA to expose what is happening in their local school districts.

In North Texas, for example, open records requests (ORRs) from citizens revealed communications that led to the indictment of two Carroll Independent School District board trustees for violating state law. ORRs also exposed that the district applied for state taxpayer funds meant for abuse victims to help fund a leftist Cultural Competence Action Plan.

These and other actions led to the following question being asked of school board members and administrators at a Texas education panel last month entitled “Uncivil Discourse: Managing Disruptive Comments and Complaints in a Time of Unrest.”

“How many of you are just getting inundated with Public Information Act requests?” asked panelist James Whitton of the Fort Worth law firm Brackett & Ellis, P.C. “That’s not necessarily new, it’s just getting worse. People have learned to use the PIA as a weapon.”

The setting was txEDCON21, the annual conference of the Texas Association of School Administrators and Texas Association of School Boards. The conference was held at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and Omni Hotel in Dallas this September. A number of attendees were photographed unmasked.

Other panel participants were Janet Bubert of the Underwood Law Firm; Joy Baskindirector of TASB Legal Services; and Daniel StocktonFrisco ISD’s executive director of Government and Legal Affairs. One of the topics was how to handle open records requests from citizens.

Whitton discussed the 10 business days in which PIA requires officials to respond to an ORR. “Oftentimes, you’re not going to be able to produce all the requested documents within 10 school business days, and you just let the requestor know it’s going take us [this] long to get it,” he said, adding the delay “has to be reasonable in length.”

Bubert agreed. “The Attorney General’s Office confirmed that there is not an expectation that your staff members stop everything else that they’re doing in order to fulfill that request.” She said the estimate shouldn’t be “two years,” but school district staff shouldn’t “feel pressure” to halt “other responsibilities” to respond to ORRs.

Whitton mentioned another tool that school administrators and board members can use. “Don’t forget the power of requesting clarification,” he said, adding that people often “have no idea that their request is going to trigger a production of 10,000 pages of documents.”

“I think a lot of times when we read public information requests, if you think it’s really clear what they’re asking for, we don’t think to ask for clarification,” Daniel Stockton said.

Fighting for Transparency

“Open record requests are the best way for parents to see for themselves exactly what goes on in the schools from an administrative standpoint,” Ashley McCurry, a Carroll ISD parent, told Texas Scorecard. “It also helps us to pinpoint red flags on issues. For example, if a district takes a long time to provide documents or charges an exorbitant amount to fulfill the ORR, it tells me we need to keep digging. There is something there.”

If a school district is taking more than 10 days to fulfill an [open records request], I believe that there are deep-rooted, underlying problems.

Mitch Stacey, another Carroll ISD parent, responded as well. “If they needed an additional five business days or 10 business days, that seems like it would be appropriate,” he said. “When administrators, teachers, and staff are doing something that they shouldn’t do, it’s all hidden.”

COLUMN BY

Robert Montoya

A former filmmaker, University of North Texas graduate, and one-time Assistant Language Teacher, Robert Montoya misses Japan and the 1980’s. He is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard.

©All rights reserved.

Critical Race Theory Activist Appointed to U.S. Department of Education

Despite growing nationwide outrage from parents angry about schoolchildren being indoctrinated with the racist ideology of Critical Race Theory (CRT), a CRT activist and racial radical has appointed to the position of Special Assistant in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Communications and Outreach.

Precious McKesson, Chair of the Nebraska Democrat Black Caucus, recently co-wrote an op-ed for the Lincoln Journal Star to oppose a measure to ban Critical Race Theory from being taught at the University of Nebraska. According to McKesson, it is such attempts to stop the dissemination of the CRT lies that “create[s] a wedge between white communities and communities of color, making us the villain.”

Fact check: CRT activists are villains.

“Denying our factual history as communities of color is like denying we existed,” McKesson and her comrades blathered.

Republican Study Committee Chair Rep. Jim Banks said of McKesson’s appointment, “The Biden administration claims CRT doesn’t exist, then appoints a CRT activist to the Department of Education and sics the FBI on parents who oppose their poisonous ideology.”


Critical Race Theory

5 Known Connections

Critical race theory holds that because racism is so deeply ingrained in the American character, classical liberal ideals such as meritocracy, equal opportunity, and colorblind justice are essentially nothing more than empty slogans that fail to properly combat—or to even acknowledge the existence of—the immense structural inequities that pervade American society and work against black people. Thus, according to critical race theorists, racial preferences (favoring blacks) in employment and higher education are not only permissible but necessary as a means of countering the permanent bigotry of white people who, as Bell put it, seek to “achieve a measure of social stability through their unspoken pact to keep blacks on the bottom.”

To learn more about Critical Race Theory, click here.

RELATED ARTICLE:  AG Merrick Garland’s Daughter Married To Co-Founder of Critical Race Theory Propaganda

EDITORS NOTE: This Discover the Networks column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Rhode Island School District Is Training Teachers in Critical Race Theory

As the Justice Department and FBI targets innocent parents concerned about critical race theory, Judicial Watch just received a 53-page training document from a whistleblower which details how public schools are using teachers to push critical race theory in classrooms.

The training course for the Westerly School District in Rhode Island was assembled by the left-leaning Highlander Institute and cites quotes from Bettina Love, from whom the Biden administration distanced itself publicly after her statements equating “whiteness” to oppression.

The document reveals the following:

  • The training course for teachers, entitled “Culturally Responsive & Sustaining Pedagogy” is taught by Vera De Jesus and Michaela Comella, partners at the Highlander Institute, which has an about section on their website that describes itself as:
Highlander Institute partners with communities to imagine and create more equitable, relevant, and effective schools.
Highlander Institute is named after the Highlander Folk School, a social justice leadership training school and cultural center located in New Market, Tennessee known for its role during the Civil Rights Movement.
  • The training course claims that there are “unfortunate truths” about the history of Rhode Island and the United States.
  • The training course notes that there is “systemic inequity” that must be overcome in the school system.
  • The training course asks teachers “How does systemic racism manifest itself in the education experience for students?”
  • The training course links to a video called “Systemic Racism Explained” from Act.TV, a far-left YouTube channel.
  • The course instructs teachers to ask themselves, “How do I challenge systemic inequity as an educator?”
  • The course goals are to “foster and sustain cultural pluralism, ultimately for the purpose of social transformation.” Further, its stated goal is to, “disrupt the impact of educational inequity and empower students to transform their own lives, their communities, and society.”
  • The course highlights “A Framework for Culturally Responsive & Sustaining Pegagogy” which includes:
    • “Awareness” that “we all operate within an inequitable system
    • “Cognitive Development” where teachers “leverage students’ identities and interests …” and “scaffold and develop students’ thinking skills”
    • “Critical Consciousness” where the goal is that students are motivated to “critical action so they can transform their lives, communities, and society.”
  • The course teaches that teachers should focus on collectivism over individualism.
  • In order to promote collectivism, it states that teachers may have to “gather information about students’ identities …” in order to have them reflect. These activities link to a journaling activity where students are prompted to write about the demographics of their neighborhood.
What this document shows is that yet another school district, under the rubric of critical race theory, wants to use teachers to abuse their positions to turn children into Marxist agitators. Rather than threatening parents, the Justice Department should be investigating this rampant racism being pushed by leftist extremists in schools across America.
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