Activist Judges Scrub Bathroom Complaint

If you think it’s tough speaking up as an adult in today’s culture, try being a kid. Christian teenagers are swimming against a strong tide these days, but that hasn’t stopped Alexis Lightcap. The Boyertown student wants every classmate to feel safe — even if it means fighting school leaders to guarantee it.

Going to the bathroom at school shouldn’t be a life-changing experience – but that’s exactly what it became for Alexis the day she walked into girls’ restroom and saw a man’s face in the mirror. “My body went into immediate shock,” Lightcap writes in her new op-ed. “My first thought was to get out.” So she did. She raced down the hall to a teacher and didn’t look back.

“The teacher told me to tell the principal, so I did. And the principal did nothing.” Instead of listening to her concerns she said, “they made me feel like I was the problem for feeling uncomfortable, unsafe, and vulnerable with a boy in the bathroom.” Alexis couldn’t believe it. Neither could her parents — who, like most Boyertown families — had no idea the policy was in effect. The Lightcaps’ attorney, Alliance Defending Freedom’s Christiana Holcomb, explained that the only ones that did seem to know were a couple of students who identified as the opposite sex.

“It felt like a specific group of people were protected while the rest of the population was not,” Alexis said. And thinking about her little sister having the same experience made her realize: if the school didn’t care, she had to make them. “You have a say in this world, and you need to speak up,” she remembered her adoptive parents telling her. “In that moment, I knew I had to do something.”

That “something” was joining a high-profile lawsuit against the school. Months earlier, a male classmate – known only as Joel Doe — had taken Boyertown to court. He was just as horrified as Alexis had been when he walked into the boys’ locker room and saw a biological girl in a sports bra and shorts. The administrator he talked to told him to “tolerate it” — to “make it as natural as possible.” Did they really think everyone would enjoy the surprise and just embrace this idea, Alexis asked? “No one prepared us, warned us, counseled us,” she wrote.

According to the people on the blogs and at the microphones, those of us who object to finding ourselves in private spaces with people of the opposite sex must be bigots, or religious extremists, to deny our peers who identify with the opposite sex their choice of restroom. I guess it’s always easier to label people than to think about where they’re coming from.

Alexis could have fought the policy anonymously. Instead, she decided, “I have a chance to speak up. I’m a representative for all those people who don’t have a voice.” No other girl, she vowed, should have to go through what she did. “It’s common sense that boys shouldn’t be in girls’ locker rooms, restrooms, and shower areas. Every student matters and schools should put our privacy, safety, and dignity first.”

Unfortunately for Alexis and the other 1,649 kids in Berks County, the courts don’t agree. This week, her case with Joel Doe made it all the way to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, where, to everyone’s amazement, a three-judge panel ruled unanimously that Alexis and Joel didn’t prove that school was infringing on their “bodily privacy.” In an unusual move — rare enough that every newspaper covering the story seemed to notice — the court took less than an hour to rule. A stunned ACLU attorney on the other side told reporters, “We were not expecting a decision when we walked in the door today.”

Thanks to our friends at ADF, it may not be the last one. Although Alexis and her co-plaintiff are weighing their options, odds are the group will appeal to the full Third Circuit court. “The school administrators failed her,” Holcomb said. “She reported her concerns. She brought it to the adults in the room — the adults who should have been protecting her — and they ignored her.” One of the biggest problems in districts like Boyertown, she explains, “is that the policies are tailored to a small group of students at the expense of every other student at the school.” What families want are policies that protect everyone’s privacy, everyone’s dignity.

Meanwhile, if you want to know why President Trump’s judicial confirmations matter, kids like Alexis are exhibit A. Back in November of last year, the Senate sent reinforcements to the Third Circuit in the form of Judge Stephanos Bibas, the first White House pick to fill a vacancy on that bench. Two more are waiting in the wings — Paul Matey and David Porter, both strict constructionists who are waiting for their turn on the fast track of Senator Chuck Grassley’s (R-Iowa) committee. Once they make it through the process (which, given the lightning-quick pace of this Senate’s confirmations, could be any day) maybe they can help inject some common sense into Alexis’s case.

In the meantime, we applaud ADF and these courageous students, who may be half the school administration’s age, but they sure have twice the wisdom!


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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‘Party Like It’s 1776’ Theme Too Offensive for New Jersey School Prom

A New Jersey high school principal apologized Friday for a “Party Like It’s 1776” theme at prom.

Dennis Perry, principal of Cherry Hill High School East, posted on his Twitter feed an apology for the theme printed on prom tickets, calling the decision “insensitive and irresponsible,” reported Fox News.

dcnf-logo

“I especially apologize to our African-American students, who I have let down by not initially recognizing the inappropriateness of this wording,” Perry wrote in a statement.

To make up for what he deemed an indiscretion, the principal said students would not need to bring their prom tickets in order to get into the event—they would instead only need to state their names to be matched up with a list of who bought tickets. Cherry Hill High School would also give every student attendee a “commemorative” ticket displaying a new design at the prom. Perry stated that a “diverse group of people” would review information distributed by the school prior to its dissemination in the future.

Lloyd Henderson, president of the Camden County NAACP East Chapter, saw the incident indicative of a school culture “where African-American students’ needs are not considered along with the rest of the school,” but mentioned that he appreciated Perry’s speedy response.

Cherry Hill High School made headlines in February when it suspended social studies teacher Timothy Locke after Locke told students to remember him if he died defending them during a school shooting.

COMMENTARY BY

Rob Shimshock

Rob Shimshock is a reporter for The Daily Caller News Foundation. Twitter: @ShimshockAndAwe.

RELATED ARTICLE: Only in America’s Schools Could ‘Partying Like It’s 1776’ Be Offensive

EDITORS NOTE: Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities for this original content, email licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org. The featured image is by debbiehelbing/Getty Images.

Santa Fe, the Human Heart, and the Need for God

It was one of the last pictures ever taken of Christian Garcia. With the sun on his face, the Santa Fe teenager leaned his head on the wooden slats that would one day be his bedroom. On the framing of the house he’ll never live in, Christian had taken a sharpie and written Psalm 46:10: “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.”Today, those words echo across a Texas town in desperate need of the reminder that God is still there. For the 10 families who never dreamed they were saying their last goodbyes Friday morning, the pain of another school shooting is a raw and profound reminder of how desperately our world needs the Savior. Wrapped in a grief familiar to too many communities, a heartbroken Santa Fe turned, as it always has, to faith. Moments after the first shots rang out, phones started buzzing. “Please pray,” came one text after another. Cars started to pour into church parking lots; prayer chains sprang into action. In a city that just survived the worst of Hurricane Harvey, everyone knew what direction to look in tragedy — up.Now, as the first bodies of those eight students and two teachers are laid to rest, America returns to the question burned on everyone’s mind: why? Angry outsiders demand gun control. Others lay the blame at the feet of the NRA. And while the rest of the country debates what our country could have done differently, Texas’s top officials try to return the conversation back to the heart of the problem — the heart. “We have devalued life in this country,” Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said plainly. “We threw God out of school… We have families that are broken apart, no fathers at home. We have incredible heinous violence as a game, two hours a day in front of their eyes. And we stand here and we wonder why this happens to certain students.”

In Sunday services across Texas, teary parents seemed to have the same response. At Arcadia First Baptist Church, one grandmother’s eyes welled up just thinking about her grandson, who was supposed to be in the art room where the shooting started. “We need God back in our schools,” she said. For Santa Fe, where students still pray before football games and some teachers still hold lunchtime Bible studies, “thoughts and prayers” aren’t throwaway words when heartbreak strikes. They’re a way of life. “This is not,” Patrick insisted, “about guns. This is about us, as a culture and a nation. Who are we?”

Who we are is a broken country in dire need of the God we keep pushing away. “The world has never been a nice place,” Matt Walsh pointed out the Daily Wire, “but it got quite a bit meaner when we abandoned religion. That is no coincidence.” It’s human nature to want to blame something, but the problem has never been guns. Are there policies we could strengthen? Absolutely. But mankind has had instruments of destruction dating back to Cain and Abel. The real crisis is the moral vacuum left behind when society kicked religion — and with it, morality — out of the public space. Violence, relativism, promiscuity, and suicide didn’t get their start when God was expelled from school. But they’ve certainly been given a culture in which to thrive now that we’ve removed the Judeo-Christian foundation that anchored the country. Walsh warned:

“The nightmare we have lived since the turn of the previous century has been the direct result of the world’s rejection of God. We fled from His embrace and what we found out here in the wilderness, in our ‘freedom,’ is evil and despair on an unimaginable scale. We have become an empty country, an empty generation, an empty world. ‘They withdrew from me, went after emptiness, and became empty themselves,’ God says through the Prophet Jeremiah. He speaks as much to us as He spoke to the people of Jeremiah’s time.”

Of course, some liberals don’t want to have a discussion about the underlying problem, because it would mean acknowledging the fallen nature of man. That, not stricter gun laws, is what’s keeping us from finding real solutions as a nation. We can talk about limiting access to guns, but if we’re truly concerned about violence, let’s also talk about expanding access to God. Until we’re willing to address both — the instrument and the motivation – nothing will change. A spiritually sick society that embraces violence instead of values needs God.

Maybe a community as deeply sincere about their faith as Santa Fe can help the nation understand that. Looking across the rows of empty school chairs, they know better than anyone — Guns don’t steer men wrong, hearts do.


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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St. Ambrose College’s Segregated Muslim Prayer Room Is A Chilling Reality

That St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa has opened a sex-segregated prayer room for Muslim students requires an explanation. On the surface, it seems totally bizarre. Why exactly do Muslims want to go to an explicitly Catholic college and why is that now-progressive Catholic college proudly violating normative standards of equal treatment for men and women?

The answer is found in why feminists have turned into crickets on select overt sexism when they howl outrages over only perceived slights against women. Muslims, feminists and most American progressives have a common enemy: America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, which they have been working to dismantle for generations.

This is the only way to make sense of the otherwise head-scratching alliance of religiously antagonistic progressives, feminists and devout Muslims. Their stated beliefs and goals should make them natural foes — and they are in Muslim run countries. But they are not in America. However, if you identify a common enemy, the reason for their alliance comes into focus. It also explains why these groups are so disdainful of American exceptionalism, of America’s heritage and specifically of the founding fathers and the Constitution they produced.

The hrumphing at this proposition will be loud. But it is undeniably a part of today’s Islam around the world. It is pretty easily a part of modern feminism that focuses on the demon of the patriarchy, denies differences in the genders and celebrates whatever the Bible decries. And it is patently manifest in pretty much all of the actions of modern progressives.

Judeo-Christian America is what modern feminism and progressives find to be an archaic, backward, gun-toting, Bible-clinging threat to the march of civilization — as they perceive it. And the Muslim march of civilization is basically all Muslim.

And what this decision by St. Ambrose College shows is that the college makes policy based on being progressive before being Catholic. That, it would seem, is unarguable.

Just listen to the very-pleased-with-himself college senior who designed the prayer room, in conjunction with the Saudi Student Association — because every Catholic college needs to have an association of the women-crushing, hand-cleaving, civil-rights-denying ruling House of Saud.

“It’s uniquely Ambrosian, and it just sort of shows our commitment to all different faiths,” Matt Mahoney said of the sex-segregated worship room he designed. “It is really outstanding.”

What might the early church father St. Ambrose think of this “commitment to all different faiths” — which rather sounds like a commitment to no faiths? Let’s look at who Ambrose was.

“A zealous preacher and valiant defender of the Christian Faith, Saint Ambrose received particular renown as a Church writer. In dogmatic compositions he set forth the Orthodox teaching about the Holy Trinity, the Sacraments, and Repentance,” according to Orthodox Church in America. “Saint Ambrose, defending the unity of the Church, energetically opposed the spread of heresy.” [Emphasis added.]

Ambrose converted many pagans to Christianity, from Germany to Persia (he lived before Mohammed founded Islam) and most famously, he showed a wayward young man named Augustine the way to God through Christ. Ambrose would most certainly have considered Muslims as pagans in need of conversion — not celebration.

It’s safe to say that Ambrose would be aghast at what was being done at a college named after him. And it’s further safe to say that when the young man said the sex-segregated Muslim prayer room is “uniquely Ambrosian” he was not referring to Ambrose the man, but the culture of the progressive college that appears to have turned its back on the legacy of St. Ambrose — and made alliance with those who actively seek to destroy the actual legacy of Ambrose.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Revolutionary Act.

Muted Reaction to Student Presenting Thesis in Her Underwear Shows Corruption of Our Colleges

The most remarkable thing about the title of this column [“Cornell Student Presents Thesis in Her Underwear”] is that not one reader will think it’s a joke. That, my friends, is further proof of the low esteem in which most Americans hold our universities.

The left has rendered our universities, in the description of Harvard professor Steven Pinker, laughingstocks.

Letitia Chai

As reported in The Cornell Daily Sun and then around the world, this is what actually happened last week at Cornell University, one of our “Ivy League” universities: Senior Letitia Chai presented a trial run of her scholar senior thesis wearing a blue button-down shirt and cutoff jean shorts. Her professor, Rebekah Maggor, asked her, “is that really what you would wear?”

The professor went on to say that Chai’s shorts were “too short”—that as a speaker she was making a “statement” with her clothes. As reported in the newspaper, “The class does not have a formalized dress code, but asks students to ‘dress appropriately for the persona [they] will present.’”

Offended and hurt by the professor’s suggestion, Chai decided that she would present her thesis in even less clothing. She appeared before her fellow students in her shirt and shorts and then removed them. As she stripped down to a bra and panties, she explained:

I am more than Asian. I am more than a woman. I am more than Letitia Chai. I am a human being, and I ask you to take this leap of faith, to take this next step—or rather, this next strip—in our movement and to join me in revealing to each other and to seeing each other for who we truly are: members of the human race. … We are so triumphant, but most importantly, we are equals.

Twenty-eight of the 44 audience members followed suit, stripping down.

Chai’s presentation was livestreamed. It can still be seen on Facebook.

Eleven students who were present wrote a long statement defending both the professor—who apologized profusely—and Chai. It read:

As students who firmly believe in the tenants [that Cornell students do not know the word is ‘tenets,’ not ‘tenants,’ is not surprising] of justice and the commitment to fair representation, we feel that it is our duty to make the following statement. We support Letitia’s commitment to the cause of women’s rights. … We strongly support and identify with Letitia’s fight for equality in the treatment of all people, regardless of race, gender, color, creed, sexuality, or appearance. The majority of us are students of color, from multiethnic backgrounds, who very much relate to Letitia’s frustration with systemic oppression that is part of the fabric of this country. … Our recollection of that day is as follows:

Letitia stood up to give her speech. Before she began, our professor asked Letitia if she would wear ‘those shorts’ to her actual presentation on Saturday. Our professor regularly asks all of the students, male and female, such questions to clarify appropriate attire for public speaking. Our professor went on to say that what you wear and how you present yourself make a statement. She noted that if you were to wear jean shorts to your thesis presentation, that is a statement. Her focus on attire was a means of noting the importance of professionalism in certain public speaking situations. … Throughout the semester … We have also had several meaningful dialogues on privilege, discussed how to avoid [white] savior narratives. … Our professor … often illustrates the ways to us in which society can institute a socialized behavior (for females, acting apologetic for opinions) due to systematic oppression.

It’s hard to know which aspect of this story is the most ludicrous and the most disturbing. Is it the students stripping down to their underwear? That delivering a senior thesis in one’s underwear before fellow students, most of whom also stripped down, is acceptable—even honored—at Cornell University tells you just about all you need to know to understand the degraded state of Cornell and most other American universities. And if delivering a senior thesis in one’s underwear is a blow for women’s equality, why wear underwear? Why not deliver the thesis naked?

Is it the pervasive assumption of America’s “systemic oppression” of women and ethnic minorities? If there are luckier young women in the world than those who attend Cornell and other American universities, it is hard to imagine who they might be. Yet they have been so effectively indoctrinated by their left-wing instructors in elementary school, high school, and college they walk around thinking of themselves as victims of “systemic oppression” in what is probably the freest and most opportunity-giving society in human history.

Or is it the apparent absence of any criticism of Chai by even one of the 1,650 faculty members of Cornell University? It is inconceivable that even at Cornell, there is not one faculty member who found this young woman’s behavior an insult to Cornell and the once-exalted field of higher education. Yet they so fear their left-wing colleagues and left-wing students that they have said nothing.

This story reconfirms what I regularly tell parents: Sending your child to college is playing Russian roulette with their values.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Dennis Prager

Dennis Prager is a columnist for The Daily Signal, nationally syndicated radio host, and creator of PragerU. Twitter: .

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of the Cornell University campus is by Kickstand/Getty Images.

More Pay for Unionized Teachers Is the Wrong Solution to the Wrong Problem

Daniel J. Mitchell The real issue at hand is why more and more money never produces better outcomes.

by Daniel J. Mitchell

Education spending and teacher pay have become big issues in certain states.

Unfortunately, not for the right reason. In an ideal world, taxpayers would be demanding systemic reform because government schools are getting record amounts of money (higher than any other nation on a per-student basis) while producing sub-par results.

Instead, we live in a surreal parallel universe where teacher unions are pushing a narrative that taxpayers should cough up more money because teachers supposedly are underpaid.

 

Let’s look at the data.

An article in City Journal debunks the claim that teachers are underpaid.

…protests across the country have reinforced the perception that public school teachers are dramatically underpaid. They’re not: the average teacher already enjoys market-level wages plus retirement benefits vastly exceeding those of private-sector workers. Across-the-board salary increases, such as those enacted in Arizona, West Virginia, and Kentucky, are the wrong solution to a non-problem. …At the lowest skill levels—a GS-6 on the federal scale—teachers earn salaries about 26 percent higher than similar white-collar workers. …The average public school teaching position rated an 8.8 on the federal GS scale. After adjustment to reflect the time that teachers work outside the formal school day, the BLS data show that public school teachers on average receive salaries about 8 percent above similar private-sector jobs. …Data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation show that teachers who change to non-teaching jobs take an average salary cut of about 3 percent. Studies using administrative records in Florida, Missouri, Georgia, and Montana showed similar results. …public-employee retirement and health benefits are bleeding dry state and local budgets. Neither the public nor teachers fully appreciates the costs of these programs. We forget the value of benefits when considering how teacher pay compares with private-sector work.”

And keep in mind those lavish pensions are woefully underfunded, so taxpayers are paying too much now and they’ll have to pay even more in the future.

But I think the key factoid from the above article is that teachers take a pay cut, on average, when they leave the profession. Along with the “JOLTS” data, that’s real-world evidence that teachers are getting paid more than counterparts in the economy’s productive sector.

Allysia Finley of the Wall Street Journal also punctures the false claims of the union bosses.

Teachers unions… They’re using misleading statistics… They conflate school funding and state education spending. In Oklahoma, unions proclaimed that per pupil school spending fell by 28.2% over the past decade. That refers to the inflation-adjusted state’s general funding formula. But total per pupil outlays increased by 16% in nominal terms between 2006 and 2016… They use elevated spending baselines. Teachers unions nearly always compare school spending and teacher salaries today with peak levels before the great recession, which were inflated like housing prices. Between 2000 and 2009, average per pupil spending across the country increased 52%…per pupil spending ticked up by 7.5% between 2012 and 2015. School spending growth…increased faster than the consumer price index. …They don’t account for other forms of compensation. Since 2000, per pupil spending on employee benefits has doubled. …pensions and health benefits are the fastest-growing expenses for many school districts, and most of the money goes to retired teachers. …the unions are lying with statistics.”

In a column for the Denver Post, a parent showed that his state’s teachers are getting above-average compensation.

Teachers are…mostly paid via a union “salary schedule,” meaning they get pay raises based on only two factors: the number of college degrees and certificates they earn, and how many years they’ve been on the job. That makes a pretty lousy incentive structure… We keep hearing Colorado is 49th in the country for educational spending. That lie is repeated so often it becomes legend. Funding for Colorado schools are split between the local school district and the state. So, if you compare only the state funding part to states that have no local match, yep, ours looks low. But when you look at total funding, which can be counted in different ways, the picture doesn’t look so dire. …According to the Colorado Department of Education, the average salary for teachers here is $52,728. But that’s only one piece of the compensation. The school year is about 180 days, or 36 weeks. So, the pay is $1,465 for every week a teacher is teaching. Vacation time? Well, 52 weeks in a year, minus 36 weeks in the classroom, that’s 16 weeks off, roughly 4 months! Compare that to someone who only gets 2 weeks off but still gets paid $1,465 a week when working, that’s the equivalent of $73,233. And let’s count the present-cost value of their retirement benefits. …Not bad for a system where you can retire at 58.”

Let’s close with some excerpts from Jason Riley’s column in the Wall Street Journal.

The nation’s K-12 schools are…turning into hotbeds of political activism. …teachers are demanding higher pay, better benefits and more education funding overall. …The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have thousands of state and local affiliates. They are among the richest and best-organized pressure groups in the country. And they are on a roll. That’s good news for their members but not necessarily for children, parents and taxpayers. …Teachers unions support work rules that prevent the most capable teachers from being sent to low-performing schools, that shield teachers from meaningful evaluations, and that require instructors to be laid off based on seniority instead of performance. …those rules do nothing to address the needs of students. …politicians love to highlight education outlays. It helps them win votes and ward off union agitators. But the connection between school spending and educational outcomes is tenuous. …total spending per pupil at the state level rose, on average, by an inflation-adjusted 18%. During this period, it fell in Arizona… Yet on 2015 federal standardized exams, Arizona made more progress than any other state. New York, by contrast, boasts the highest spending per pupil and teacher pay in the country, but you wouldn’t know it from the test results.”

For what it’s worth, the final few sentences in the above excerpt should be the main issue being discussed in state capitals. Lawmakers should be asking why more and more money never produces better outcomes.

But that’s really not the problem. It’s the symptom of the problem.

Our primary challenge in education is that we rely on government monopolies that are captured by special interests. We need school choice so that competitive forces can be unleashed to generate better results. There’s strong evidence that choice produces good outcomes in the limited instances where it is allowed in the United States.

And in that kind of system, we may actually wind up with better teachers that are paid just as much. Or maybe even more.

P.S. There’s also strong evidence for school choice from nations such as SwedenChile, and the Netherlands.

P.P.S. Needless to say, eliminating the Department of Education is part of the solution.

Reprinted from International Liberty.

Podcast: The Influence Netflix, Other TV Has on Kids

Joining us today is Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council. Winter explains how Netflix and other new media technologies have made it harder than ever for parents to monitor their kids’ media consumption. Yet now media is promoting, in addition to sex and violence, suicide, making it crucial for parents to be involved. Plus: President Trump floats the idea of taking away the media’s credentials.

PODCAST BY

Portrait of Katrina Trinko

Katrina Trinko

Katrina Trinko is managing editor of The Daily Signal and co-host of The Daily Signal podcast. She is also a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors. Send an email to Katrina. Twitter: @KatrinaTrinko.

Portrait of Daniel Davis

Daniel Davis

Daniel Davis is the commentary editor of The Daily Signal and co-host of The Daily Signal podcastSend an email to Daniel. Twitter: @JDaniel_Davis.

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of the Netflix show, “13 Reasons Why,” which has been accused of romanticizing suicide. (Photo: Mike Blake/Reuters/Newscom)

VIDEO: Alleged Child Molester Paid Off in Michigan Teachers Union Negotiation

Project Veritas has released undercover footage and documents obtained from the American Federation of Teachers Michigan affiliate office in Lake City, which reveals that the union protected a teacher after accusations of sexual misconduct with a seven- or eight-year-old girl arose.

This long-awaited release comes after a federal judge ruled in favor of Project Veritas and the First Amendment after Michigan AFT tried twice – and failed twice – to halt the release of the video.

Despite the damning evidence against him, Project Veritas decided to redact the identity of the now former teacher because he was never charged or arrested.

Undercover footage of AFT Union Representative, Johnny Mickles, reveals how AFT and the Lake City Michigan school district defended the alleged child molesting teacher. Redacted documents from the AFT office, available here, corroborate the events.

The alleged charges against the teacher, as memorialized in a Lake City Area Schools document, read:

“It is alleged that [REDACTED] engaged in a course of inappropriate conduct with one of the District’s female students. (Jane Doe) who was aged 7 or 8 at the time…”

According to the police report, the incident occurred some time in 2006, but was not reported until 2013 when the alleged victim happened to become a student of the teacher. Mickles, who represented the teacher, corroborates this in a meeting with a Project Veritas undercover journalist:

“When the student got to his class… apparently all these memories she had suppressed came out… And she went to the superintendent and basically spilled her guts and the superintendent terminated the teacher.”

According to Mickles, the superintendent wanted to terminate the teacher, but the union negotiated a resignation with the district which allowed him to keep his teaching certificate, and included six weeks’ pay and $50,000:

“He was terminated but we negotiated a resignation for him… he didn’t lose his [teaching] certification.”

“… he got to be on leave until they drew up the settlement and then he got, like, the rest of the school year’s pay out… He got about six weeks of pay I think… and then he got a $50,000 pay out.”

In conversations with a separate undercover journalist, the former teacher admitted to the validity of the accusations and the union’s help:

“There was a situation where somebody accused me of something that I didn’t do… So I finally said, you know what, I’m just going to retire…There were no charges. Nothing ever came of it.”

“There was an incident, they said there was a gal that I had dated and she had a daughter and there was an accusation that had something to do with her daughter which wasn’t true.”

The former teacher also explains his experience in dealing with the union’s attorney:

“I mean the attorney told me, ‘hey, in situations where somebody accuses you of something, you might as well- you know what? Chances are they’ll find a way to make it convenient for you to leave.’ That’s what he said.”

James O’Keefe, founder and President of Project Veritas said of the investigation:

“For the record, this former teacher was never charged and never arrested in this case. All we know is that the union, AFT Michigan, and the Lake City Area schools had a problem: A teacher was accused of a serious crime and the solution they came up with was to pay the teacher a bucket of money so he would just go away. If he wanted to go teach somewhere else, so be it. It would be someone else’s problem, and the parent’s would be none the wiser.”

This video comes after the release of two undercover videos of NJEA officials which led to the suspensions of Dr. David Perry, President of the Hamilton Township Education Association and Kathleen Valencia, President of the Union City Education Association. NJ State Democrats including Governor Phil Murphy have called for hearings to investigate the practices of the NJEA.

View the new video HERE.

NY Times Bites off More than It Can Skew

Fake news is alive and well — and thriving on the pages of America’s biggest newspapers. No wonder more people are tuning out the media. They don’t trust it. And outlets like the New York Times aren’t giving them any reason to try.At some point, the Times’s editorial board must have gotten together and decided to reprint every lie ever told about abstinence education. The result was Saturday’s work of fiction, a breathtakingly dishonest, 602-word crime scene of journalism that justifies America’s growing distrust of the press. About the only thing that was accurate about the column was its placement: on the opinion page, where it can’t be passed off as legitimate news.

Still, the editors’ agenda was obvious – discrediting a sex-ed approach that’s popular, effective, and grossly underfunded. They barely got the byline in before the absurdities began, starting with the Times’s insistence that HHS is somehow “advancing an anti-science, ideological agenda” by trying to level the funding field for abstinence. “The department last year prematurely ended grants to some teen pregnancy prevention programs, claiming weak evidence of success. More recently, it set new funding rules that favor an abstinence-only approach,” they complain.

If anyone’s ignoring science, it’s the Times. Barack Obama’s own HHS admitted outright that his contraception-first strategy was a billion-dollar failure. More than 80 percent of the students in his programs fared either worse or no better than their peers. Hardly the stuff of “weak evidence.” According to the last administration, Obama’s approach was a disaster — resulting in more pregnancies, more sexual initiation, and more oral sex1.

Not surprisingly, the Trump administration doesn’t think programs that encourage pregnancy are the wisest use of federal funds. So it rewrote the rules, shifting a very modest amount of money (10 cents of every sex-ed dollar) to the strategy the CDC agrees is working. But even now, HHS’s investment in abstinence isn’t close to what the Times’s preferred programs are getting. Liberal sex-ed still rakes in about $980 million, compared to $100 million for sexual risk avoidance (SRA). Even with the president’s changes, that’s still about a 10:1 ratio in favor of programs that taxpayers don’t want – and more importantly, don’t work!

The editors claim that “The administration’s approach defies all common sense. There is no good evidence that abstinence-only education prevents or delays young people from having sex, leads them to have fewer sexual partners, or reduces rates of teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections.” Did the Times fire all of its fact-checkers? The CDC blew that myth to bits in 2016, explaining that not only does the abstinence message work — it positively affects every area of kids’ lives. “High school students who are virgins rate significantly and consistently better in nearly all health-related behaviors and measures than their sexually active peers.” That includes everything from “bike helmet and seat belt use to substance abuse, diet, doctor’s visits, exercise, and even tanning bed use.” Abstinence education is like one-stop shopping for healthier behavior.

Unfortunately, the Left is too beholden to its culture of permissiveness to listen. For some of them, it’s self-indulgence at all costs — so much so that they’re willing to help kids off a cliff that leads to teen pregnancy and everything that comes with it: financial hardshipschool failure, and depression. They refuse to treat sex like every other risk behavior and discourage it. And ironically, that’s what teenagers want.

In a survey of 18- and 19-year-olds, the Barna Group found that what kids care about is learning how to “understand healthy and unhealthy relationships (65 percent), avoiding sexual assault (64 percent), how alcohol impairs judgment (61 percent), and how to say ‘no’ to sex without losing a relationship (57 percent).” They’re relationship-driven, not sex obsessed. Most of them agree that today’s curriculum pressures them too much to have sex. And those who’ve given in regret it. They don’t think lessons on sexual pleasuring (26 percent) are nearly as important as having the skills to say “no” (63 percent).

That’s another thing the editors misjudge: teenagers’ desire to wait. “[G]iven that almost all Americans engage in premarital sex,” they argue, “this vision of an abstinent-outside-of-marriage world simply at odds with reality.” That’s ridiculous. All Americans don’t engage in premarital sex – and certainly all teenagers don’t. Even the Washington Post points out just how sharply teen sex is declining. Would you believe that about 60 percent of teens haven’t had sex? Most Americans are surprised to hear it – thanks in part to the misinformation campaigns of newspapers like this one. Once they know, Republicans, Democrats, and everyone in between agree: it’s time to teach abstinence.

And the Trump administration is listening. They’re pursuing a bipartisan, evidence-based approach — which is more than I can say for the New York Times.

REFERENCE:

[1] Office of Adolescent Health (2016), Summary of Findings from the TPP Program Grantees (FY2010-2014). Washington, D.C.: HHS. Special issue of American Journal of Public Health, September 2016. 106 (S1):29-S15.


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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Same Policies That Failed to Stop Florida Shooter Exist in School Districts Nationwide

Critics of President Donald Trump said his response to the Florida school shooting earlier this year was ill-conceived and a failure.

Yet a new startling revelation from school district officials in Broward County, Florida, shows the White House’s response was indeed appropriate—more than even the Trump administration knew.

On Feb. 14, Nikolas Cruz, a student with a long history of problems in and out of school, allegedly opened fire and claimed the lives of 17 students and adults at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Following the shooting, the Trump administration created a new school safety commission. One of the commission’s assignments is to consider the repeal of student discipline guidelines that the Obama administration issued in 2014.

Cue the negative spin: “Yet again, the Trump administration, faced with a domestic crisis, has responded by creating a commission to study an unrelated issue,” the NAACP told The New York Times.

Broward County Superintendent Robert Runcie also dismissed the move, telling Politico, “It goes with the whole narrative that anything under the Obama administration is no good and we have to get rid of it.”

Critics denied that there was a connection between the Parkland shooting, the district’s student discipline policies (called the “PROMISE” program), and federal student discipline guidelines. Cruz was never referred to PROMISE, officials said, so PROMISE couldn’t be to blame.

Runcie said at a press conference, “[Cruz] was never a participant in the PROMISE program” and “[there’s] no connection between Cruz and the district’s PROMISE program.”

As recently as a few weeks ago, Runcie said, “Let me reiterate this point: Nikolas Cruz, the shooter that was involved in this horrific accident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, had no connection to the PROMISE program.”

But last Sunday, Broward officials admitted Cruz had in fact been referred to PROMISE. To make matters worse, school officials cannot say whether Cruz actually attended the required sessions or if anyone tried to account for his absence.

The school district should clarify whether officials referred Cruz again to PROMISE based on his behavior in high school, and if not, why.

Cruz’s first referral was for vandalizing a bathroom in middle school, but The Washington Post reports that Cruz continued to display troubling behavior in high school. He made a threat and committed assault while a student at Stoneman Douglas—both offenses that would make him eligible for PROMISE.

The news that Cruz had been referred to PROMISE is critical because the PROMISE program and the Obama administration’s 2014 federal guidelines were announced with much fanfare and take similar approaches to dealing with student behavior.

At the PROMISE launch, Education Week reports, “Community members lauded the board and Runcie for their work, and its passage received a standing ovation.” NPR said, “Civil rights and education activists say the policy can be a model for the nation.”

Central to both documents is the idea that school personnel and law enforcement should limit student interaction with the justice system. Both documents also say school personnel and law enforcement should use exclusionary discipline such as suspensions and expulsions as a last resort.

Earlier this year, my research documented these and other philosophical and practical similarities between the 2014 federal guidelines and PROMISE.

Runcie went as far as to say that PROMISE inspired the federal guidelines in the first place. In a 2014 interview, he said, “Some of my staff joke that the Obama administration might have taken our policies and framework and developed them into national guidelines.”

Runcie was later featured at a 2015 White House event on school discipline.

Broward County officials must now explain to grieving families that the school discipline strategy they called “the most comprehensive thinking available to address socially unacceptable or illegal behavior” failed to stop a school shooting.

Meanwhile, dozens of school systems around the country are following the federal guidelines. This widespread adoption and the terrifying failure of PROMISE makes the White House’s call to rescind federal guidelines that mirror PROMISE a timely and fitting response to Parkland.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Jonathan Butcher

Jonathan Butcher is a senior policy analyst in The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Education Policy and a senior fellow for the Goldwater Institute and the Beacon Center of Tennessee. Twitter: .

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Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Broward County Sheriff Steve Israel speaking before the start of a CNN town hall meeting on Feb. 21, 2018. (Photo: Michael Laughlin/TNS/Newscom)

On an Illiberal Education: Where each color only sees its own color.

James V. Schall, S.J. on the decline of open inquiry on college campuses. A recent example: Reed College, where each color only sees its own color.

Wall Street Journal editorial (April 20) commented on Reed College’s capitulation to student “bullies,” as it called them: “This (campus protest)) is about blocking the study of core texts of Western civilization. That Reed would agree to this, and, especially under political pressure, is an insult to the meaning of a liberal arts degree.”

The situation recalls Allan Bloom, Walter Berns, and others leaving Cornell in the 1960s for much the same reasons – administration/faculty fecklessness, intolerant students.

In universities today, a student can find more classes in Buddhism, Islam, or African tribal culture than he can find courses on Plato, Cicero, St. Paul, or Boethius – let alone Aristotle, Aquinas, and Augustine. It is not just that classic and Christian texts have a central place in a “liberal” education. No liberal education is possible without them.

The tired objection that the classical writers are not men of “color” implies the very illiberal principle that only men of one color can understand men of the same color. On these premises, all men are evidently not created equal. They are created so differently that they cannot understand each other.

In effect, we can talk to no one but our color-mates. The corollary of this view is that men of color, because of their color, cannot understand the classical writers. The classical writers, because of their color, supposedly had no clue about what the men of other colors were talking about.

Today’s protesting undergraduate students, even with a semester or two of classics classes, have really read little themselves either of the classics or of the philosophic literature of other lands.

Likewise, if a white man cannot understand a man of color, men of various other hues – yellow, brown, red – cannot understand each other either. The great intellectual enterprise of knowing what man is – and is about – collapses at the bar of color, which determines what we can think.

I was once in Kenya where I came across a paper that maintained that Plato and Aristotle were really Africans, or, at least, that they pirated their knowledge from African sources. If somehow it were proved that Plato and Aristotle were in fact Africans (like Augustine), would we stop reading them? Hardly. Logically, if Plato and Aristotle were themselves men of color, it would follow, on this hypothesis, that the Greeks back home could not understand them on account of their color.

The word “liberal” in “liberal education” refers the habits and self-discipline necessary to control our passions and prejudices in such a way that we can see the truth of something when we examine it. Of course, if our color – white, black, yellow, red – leads us to conclude that no truth can be found anywhere, then we are “free” to do whatever we want, whatever our color. But if we can do whatever we want, we do not need much of an education except a Machiavellian one that teaches us how to live among scoundrels.

Josef Pieper, in his many discussions about leisure, was bold enough to tell us that education for utility or pleasure, worthy occupations, was not what a liberal education was about. Newman made the same point in The Idea of a University. They both touched the perplexing question of whether everyone can handle a liberal education.

The protests at Reed sound more like the complaints of those who do not understand what it is all about. If we turn to Chinese or Indian culture, it becomes quickly evident that the intellectual classes, for better or worse, often separate themselves from the great mass of their citizens.

The American notion that anyone can be learned in any area, that everyone has a “right” to a doctoral degree or two, does not correspond to the reality. Some basic things everyone can and should know. But a liberal society will have places, once called universities, where the learned can spend their whole lives on issues well beyond the comprehension of most others. It is part of the common good that such scholars also exist and flourish. They are, we hope, also liberally educated specialists.

An illiberal education seems to be the kind of education that most graduates of most colleges, including now Reed, receive. And a “liberal” education does not mean merely reading the classic authors. The classic authors often contradict themselves. We must, then, have also an education that recognizes that we can know the truth of things.

We read Plato and Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas, because they deal with truths necessary to become human beings who understand what our existence is for, whatever be our color or era. We can choose not to know what is, but it is not a virtue. It is indeed an illiberal education that closes us off from what we are. When we choose not to know, we end up, not surprisingly, not knowing.

James V. Schall, S.J.

James V. Schall, S.J.

James V. Schall, S.J., who served as a professor at Georgetown University for thirty-five years, is one of the most prolific Catholic writers in America. Among his recent books are The Mind That Is CatholicThe Modern AgePolitical Philosophy and Revelation: A Catholic ReadingReasonable PleasuresDocilitas: On Teaching and Being Taught, and Catholicism and Intelligence.

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EDITORS NOTE: © 2018 The Catholic Thing. All rights reserved. For reprint rights, write to: info@frinstitute.orgThe Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

No, Teachers Are Not Underpaid

Salaries lag in some states, but nationally, wages and benefits outpace the private sector.

by Andrew BiggsJason Richwine


Recent protests across the country have reinforced the perception that public school teachers are dramatically underpaid. They’re not: the average teacher already enjoys market-level wages plus retirement benefits vastly exceeding those of private-sector workers. Across-the-board salary increases, such as those enacted in Arizona, West Virginia, and Kentucky, are the wrong solution to a non-problem.

Comparing Salaries

Most commentary on teacher pay begins and ends with the observation that public school teachers earn lower salaries than the average college graduate. This is true, but in what other context do we assume that every occupation requiring a college degree should get paid the same? Engineers make about 25 percent more than accountants, but “underpaid” accountants are not demonstrating in the streets.

Teachers rally outside the state Capitol on the second day of a teacher walkout to demand higher pay and more funding for education in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, April 3, 2018. Reuters

Wages are not determined by years of schooling but by the supply and demand for skills. These skills vary by field of study. About half of teachers major in education, among the least-rigorous fields at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Incoming education majors have lower SAT or GRE scores than candidates in other fields, but—thanks to grade inflation—they enjoy the highest GPAs. Data from the Collegiate Learning Assessment indicate that students majoring in social science, humanities, and STEM fields not only start college with greater skills than education majors but also learn more along the way.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) analyzes the skill requirements of different jobs, assigning each a pay grade based on the federal government’s General Schedule (GS). At the lowest skill levels—a GS-6 on the federal scale—teachers earn salaries about 26 percent higher than similar white-collar workers. At GS-11, the highest skill level, teaching pays 17 percent less than other white-collar jobs. This explains how shortages can exist for specialized positions teaching STEM, languages, or students with disabilities, while elementary education postings may receive dozens of applications per job opening.

Contrary to myth, teachers are generally not foregoing higher salaries by staying in the classroom.

The average public school teaching position rated an 8.8 on the federal GS scale. After adjustment to reflect the time that teachers work outside the formal school day, the BLS data show that public school teachers on average receive salaries about 8 percent above similar private-sector jobs.

Contrary to myth, teachers are generally not foregoing higher salaries by staying in the classroom. Data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation show that teachers who change to non-teaching jobs take an average salary cut of about 3 percent. Studies using administrative records in Florida, Missouri, Georgia, and Montana showed similar results; the Georgia study found “strong evidence that very few of those who leave teaching take jobs that pay more than their salary as teachers.”

It’s Not Just Wages

It’s true that teacher salaries in several states are lagging. Teachers in Arizona, West Virginia, and Oklahoma have good reason to be dissatisfied: their salaries rank near the bottom nationally, even after controlling for cost of living. Even in these seemingly underpaying states, though, pensions can more than make up the difference.

Oklahoma teachers accrue new pension benefits each year, with a present value equal to 30 percent of their annual salaries. Subtract Oklahoma teachers’ own contribution of 7 percent, and employer-paid retirement benefits are worth 23 percent of annual salaries. By contrast, the typical private-sector employer contribution to a 401k plan amounts only to about 3 percent of employee pay.

Many teachers also qualify for retiree health coverage, now practically extinct in the private sector. In some states, retiree health care is modest: Oklahoma teachers get an insurance supplement of about $100 per month. But for teachers in Illinois, future retiree health benefits are worth an additional 8 percent of annual pay, while in North Carolina, retiree health benefits are worth an additional 12.5 percent.

As the New York Times recently reported, public-employee retirement and health benefits are bleeding dry state and local budgets. Neither the public nor teachers fully appreciate the costs of these programs. We forget the value of benefits when considering how teacher pay compares with private-sector work. And research suggests that teachers value deferred compensation less than upfront salary.

Possible Reforms

This opens the possibility of a constructive reform. States could offer newly hired teachers higher pay, coupled with switching those teachers to a generous, well-designed 401(k)-type retirement plan. In Oklahoma, for instance, the state could give new teachers an 11 percent raise—costless to the taxpayer—by providing a 401(k) plan with an employer contribution, which would still be four times greater than private-sector levels.

Research has found that better pay has only a modest impact on teacher quality.

For areas with legitimate teaching shortages—such as in STEM fields or special education—districts could offer targeted salary increases. A strategic approach to filling teacher shortages is particularly important to poorer states such as West Virginia and Oklahoma, where resources are limited.

Across-the-board pay increases, by contrast, are expensive and inefficient. Arizona governor Doug Ducey’s promised 20 percent teacher salary increase will cost $400 million annually before a single new teacher is hired. Such efforts create no incentive for prospective teachers to specialize in areas where shortages exist. And if the salary boost winds up reducing teacher retirements, fewer spots will open up for better-qualified new teachers. Research has found that better pay has only a modest impact on teacher quality.

Teachers enjoy widespread public favor, and their desire for higher pay is understandable. But no nationwide crisis of teacher compensation exists. Most teachers receive market-level salaries and generous retirement benefits. Local hiring problems can and should be addressed without granting windfall benefits to teachers whose compensation is already better than adequate.

Reprinted from the American Enterprise Institute.

Andrew Biggs

Jason Richwine

Jason Richwine

Jason Richwine is a public policy analyst in Washington, D.C.

RELATED ARTICLE: The Myth of Institutionalized Learning

High Public School Spending in D.C. Hasn’t Produced Desired Outcomes

Spending by Washington, D.C., public schools can be difficult to pin down.

Estimates suggest spending is somewhere between $27,000 and $29,000 per child per year, which is roughly double the national average. Assuming $27,000 per student per year, D.C. taxpayers spend about $350,000 on a student from kindergarten through graduation.

One could be forgiven for expecting good educational outcomes for such breathtaking sums. Yet educational outcomes in the District of Columbia are one of the clearest examples of the disconnect between spending and academic achievement.

Recently released National Assessment of Educational Progress scores make that clear.

Although the District has made considerable progress on the national assessment—often referred to as “the nation’s report card”—over the past two decades, the city’s scores for eighth-graders still fall short of the national average by nearly 20 points—approximately two grade levels of learning.

In eighth-grade math, for example, D.C. students scored 16 points below the national average. In reading, D.C. students were 19 points behind their peers across the country.

Proficiency levels in reading and math also leave much to be desired. Among fourth-graders, 32 percent scored proficient or better in math, and 29 percent scored proficient in reading. Just 20 percent of eighth-graders tested proficient or better in reading, and just 21 percent in math.

That’s right: Just two out of 10 eighth-graders in D.C. public schools can read or do math proficiently.

In addition to lackluster academic outcomes, achievement gaps persist among students. If future performance replicates the past 20 years, the reading achievement gap between children from low-income families trail three grade levels behind their more affluent classmates in math.

“Expert-driven” reforms in the District have failed to produce notable improvements. As the Manhattan Institute’s Max Eden and I note:

Education reformers used to celebrate D.C.’s dramatic decline in school suspensions. Then a Washington Post investigation revealed that it was fake; administrators had merely taken suspensions off the books.

The same reformers used to celebrate D.C.’s sharp increase in high-school graduations. Then an NPR investigation revealed that it, too, was fake; almost half of students who missed more than half the year graduated.

There have, however, been some bright spots in the nation’s capital. Although charter schools scored only eight points higher than noncharter schools in eighth-grade math, charters deserve recognition, having achieved better results at significantly lower cost.

And as education scholar Matthew Ladner noted, the charter schools are at a disadvantage, since transfer students often “experience a temporary academic setback.” Consequently, as charter schools become more established with more stable student bodies, they can “improve with age.”

Overall, the scores on “the nation’s report card” illustrate the District of Columbia’s acute need for improved education performance.

The past 20 years illustrate some progress, especially at the fourth-grade level, where students are within one grade level of the national average. However, the slow momentum gained with the fourth-graders does not persist at the eighth-grade level, where students struggle to improve, trailing the national average by 16 to 19 points in math and reading.

In 2003, the city laid the groundwork for what has been the brightest spot in education in the District—namely, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.

The D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program—a school voucher program open to students from low-income families—has produced excellent academic attainment results.

Beyond other reasons to applaud the school choice option, such as happier parents and safer students, an experimental evaluation commissioned by the Department of Education found that students who used a scholarship graduated at a rate 21 percentage points higher than their peers who were awarded a voucher but did not use it.

D.C. would be well-served by expanding access to the Opportunity Scholarship Program and by formula-funding the program so that parents can rely on it to be there in the future.

Expanding school choice in D.C. will enhance education at all grade levels because parents will be able to match their children with educational options that are the right fit. Instead of having limited options based largely on where they live, parents empowered by choice can find the school that best fits the academic and social needs of their children.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress scores show that D.C. children remain in dire need of access to better education options. Expanding school choice can make that a reality.

COMMENTARY BY

Jude Schwalbach is a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation.

Portrait of Lindsey Burke

Lindsey M. Burke researches and writes on federal and state education issues as the Will Skillman fellow in education policy at The Heritage Foundation. Read her research. Twitter: .

Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is by Weedezign/Getty Images.

Sex Ed Subtracts from Subjects like Math

America’s test scores are falling like a brick, Terry Jeffrey writes in a new CNSNews.com column. According to the latest National Assessments, a whopping 65 percent of eighth graders weren’t proficient in reading in 2017, and another 67 percent weren’t competent in math. But does that honestly surprise anyone, considering what our kids are really studying in school? Maybe if we put as much emphasis on reading as we put on sex, students might actually learn something!Just last week, parents in Albemarle County, Virginia were furious to hear that their ninth graders were watching a sexual how-to video that would have qualified as adult entertainment. The P.E. teacher responsible, Frank Lawson, was put on administrative leave once school officials learned that a group of 14-year-old girls had been exposed to a Laci Green lesson. Green, who calls herself a “sex educator,” is a proud partner of Planned Parenthood who mocks abstinence and spends most minutes of her instruction covering topics that most grown-ups would find disgusting. (If you want to know exactly how graphic Green’s content is, check out LifeSite news’s coverage. But, brace yourself.)

When girls told their parents what they’d seen, a firestorm erupted across the town. Local news outlets streamed into Western Albemarle High School, trying to determine who was responsible. Principal Darah Bonham told NBC29 that the video hadn’t been screened. “What we did not do was vet that [material] as we should have. We just assumed that what was provided was the same” as past lessons, she said. “I’m embarrassed that this occurred,” she went on. “I’m upset about it and I know it’s been the same way for our kids and for our families.”

Kate Acuff, chairwoman of the Albemarle County School Board sent an email to families in the district, insisting the video “was highly offensive, entirely inappropriate for a student audience” and promised that school administrators had called each family on April 13 to apologize for its use. “The video was not previously screened by the school, which was a violation of our standard practice.” Unfortunately for the district, the damage had already been done. And while the apology was the right response, it may not be enough. Attorneys at Liberty Counsel say Albemarle may be in more hot water, since this kind of perversity “could be considered ‘predatory grooming'” under state law.

“The law is clear that parents, not agents of the state like teachers, and not outside radical groups, have the right to direct the upbringing and associations of their children,” Liberty Counsel lawyers argued. A local agency replied that the lesson on various sex acts was part of its “bystander intervention curriculum” but won’t be used anymore. That’s a positive first step, but a better one would have been to not partner with extremists like Green and Planned Parenthood to begin with. Let’s hope more school districts get the message parents have been trying to send with protests like the Sex Ed Sit Out: stick to educating and leave the child-rearing to us! If your children are in the public schools, make sure you know what they’re being taught, who’s doing the teaching, and what organizations produced the curriculum.


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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Parkland Teacher Called Pro-Second Amendment Jewish Student ‘The Hitler Type’

Kyle Kashuv said: “I find it utterly vile that he’d call a Jew the next Hitler. It’s also quite telling that he doesn’t know that Hitler took the people’s weaponry and I want more law-abiding citizens to have firearms.”

Kashuv is right. The left is unhinged, and it is clear that Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, like colleges and universities all over the country, as well as most other high schools, is no longer a center of learning, but merely an indoctrination center for the hard left. After what happened there, for teachers to be defaming Jewish students and calling for a disarmed populace is monstrous. Gregory Pittman and the school administrators owe Kyle Kashuv an apology. But will he get one? That’s doubtful.

“Parkland Teacher Allegedly Called Pro-Gun Jewish Student ‘The Hitler Type,’” by Rob Shimshock, Daily Caller News Foundation, April 28, 2018 (thanks to Todd):

A Parkland, Fla., history teacher allegedly called a pro-Second Amendment Jewish student “the Hitler type” and “dangerous,” according to a Friday report.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teacher Gregory Pittman allegedly made the remarks about junior Kyle Kashuv in class when a student mentioned a Twitter dispute between Pittman and Kashuv, reported Fox News.

“I find it utterly vile that he’d call a Jew the next Hitler,” Kashuv told Fox. The student’s family moved from Israel to the U.S. in the 1990s. “It’s also quite telling that he doesn’t know that Hitler took the people’s weaponry and I want more law-abiding citizens to have firearms.”

Pittman allegedly made the comments during a class in which Kashuv was not enrolled. At least three students told the junior that the teacher said he was the “next Hitler,” according to the Sun Sentinel. The Twitter dispute precipitating the alleged remarks started when Kashuv posted a video and photo documenting his first gun shooting experience with his father, an Israel Defense Forces vet.

Security officers questioned Kashuv about with whom he visited the gun range and what weapons he used. One officer allegedly said, “Don’t get snappy with me, do you not remember what happened here a few months ago?”…

RELATED: Nazi Firearms Law and the Disarming of the German Jews

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Geller Report. Pamela Geller’s shocking new book, “FATWA: HUNTED IN AMERICA” is now available on Amazon. It’s Geller’s tell all, her story – and it’s every story – it’s what happens when you stand for freedom today. Buy it. Now. Here.