Florida’s Universal Education Choice Moment

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Friday that the state legislature intends to establish Equal Opportunity Scholarships designed to end the current waiting list on the tax credit scholarship program—a move the Republican chief executive supports.

The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship—which provides scholarships to eligible children to attend a private school of choice, and which is financed through corporate donations—currently has a waitlist of an estimated 13,000 families.

As the Tampa Bay Times reported, DeSantis would like those waiting students to have an immediate school choice option.

“If the taxpayer is paying for education, it’s public education,” regardless of where the student attends, DeSantis said.

He also said:

We have parents who are lining up for a tax credit scholarship. They would not do that if the program was not succeeding. … The question for us now is, should we be satisfied there is a growing waitlist, or should we build off the successes?

He is indeed correct to want to build off the success of the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and end the waitlist. And the announcement follows on the heels of DeSantis’ promise earlier this month to eliminate the waitlist on the state’s education savings account program, which provides those accounts to students with special needs to get a customized education.

DeSantis’ remarks underscore the need to safeguard education choice for those hoping to exercise it; namely, students on the waitlist across the Sunshine State.

Now Florida should take the next step, and make education choice universally available to every student in the state.

Florida policymakers—along with DeSantis and his newly appointed education commissioner, Richard Corcoran (another staunch supporter of school choice)—should establish universal education savings accounts available to all students in the state.

As the Fordham Institute’s Robert Pondiscio explained, Republicans control the governor’s office, the state Senate, and the state House—a “trifecta” bolstered by DeSantis’ appointment of three conservatives to the Florida Supreme Court, shifting the balance on the court from a liberal majority to a conservative-leaning court.

Although Pondiscio notes that some are wary of expanding choice too quickly, “[a]lmost without exception, every state official and school choice advocate I recently met in Florida believes the state will be the first to have ‘universal’ education savings accounts, opening private-school choice options to all who seek them,” he noted.

As Jason Bedrick of EdChoice and I recently explained, Florida’s tax credit scholarship program is benefiting some of the most disadvantaged students in the state, with participating families’ average household income being just 8.2 percent above the federal poverty line (at $25,362).

Participating students scored lower on standardized exams prior to entry into the program than their peers, yet performed up to the national average (and exceeded their demographic peers) after using a scholarship.

Moreover, on Feb. 4, the Urban Institute released an evaluation finding that tax credit scholarship students are more likely to go to college and graduate.

Those are likely a few of the reasons parents are highly satisfied with the school choice option. Ninety-two percent of parents are satisfied with the program, including 89 percent who reported being highly satisfied.

Notably, as we found in this study—currently, the largest survey ever conducted of school choice program participants—parents are seeking out things the public school system cannot or will not provide:

Parents place a high value on their child’s character development. When asked to list the top three factors that influenced their decision to have their child attend their chosen school, the only factors to be selected by a majority of scholarship parents were religious environment/instruction (66 percent) and morals/character/values instruction (52 percent).

These two highly influential factors were followed by a safe environment (36 percent), academic reputation (34 percent), and small classes (31 percent).

The least important factor was standardized test scores, which only 4 percent of parents listed as one of their top three factors.

Parents in Florida want expanded education choice options. There are high levels of satisfaction among families in the current programs, high demand for more options (as evidenced by the waitlist), and the opportunity to go bold.

More than 100,000 children currently attend a school of their choice, thanks to the tax credit scholarship program, and 13,000 remain on the waitlist.

If implemented, Equal Opportunity Scholarships would give immediate school choice access to those students.

Florida should also seize this critical moment in time, as Pondiscio explains, to go bold on school choice:

Now the political stars have aligned to allow Florida Republicans—if they choose—to push the school choice agenda even further.

With the election of Gov. Ron DeSantis, a victory credited by The Wall Street Journal to African-American ‘school choice moms’ voting to protect tax credit scholarships and charter schools, choice proponents are champing at the bit to push school choice into the middle class, even making Florida the first state in the nation with universal choice.

Florida should do just that, providing education savings accounts to every child in the Sunshine State. Such a move would maintain Florida’s status as a leader in education choice, and improve educational opportunity to all families.


Portrait of Lindsey Burke

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: @lindseymburke.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column with images is republished with permission. The featured image is by Pixabay.

VIDEO: Parkland Dad Reflects on Feelings of Loss, Motivation to Make Change

“February 14th—we live it every day. I don’t need February 14th to remind me that my daughter was murdered on that day… But we’ve been [working] non-stop in Broward since this murder.” —Andrew Pollack


Parkland Student Activist, Father of Victim Reflect on a Year Fighting for School Safety

A Year Since Parkland Shooting, Gun Control Activists Still Misdiagnose the Problem

EDITORS NOTE: This NRA-ILA column with video and images is republished with permission.

Florida Gov. DeSantis Issues 1-Year Deadline to Eliminate All ‘Vestiges’ of Common Core

The day before Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced his $91.3 billion budget request for fiscal year 2020, which includes $21.7 billion for education programs, he issued an executive order to do away with “vestiges” of Common Core standards, “streamline” standardized testing, and revise the state’s educational curriculum.

In a Jan. 31 press conference at a Cape Coral High School in Lee County, DeSantis said he had instructed newly appointed Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran—the former House speaker and longtime Common Core critic—to develop new standards for presentation to the Legislature in 2020.

He said among the most frequent issues voters asked him to address during the gubernatorial campaign was their frustration with Common Core academic standards—especially its “confusing” math requirements—and its standardized testing program.

“I’m here to say when you complained about Common Core, I hear you, I told you I’d do something about it, and today we are acting to bring those promises into a reality,” DeSantis said.

The 2010 Common Core State Standards Initiative spells out what K–12 students throughout the U.S. should know in English and mathematics at the conclusion of each school grade.

The initiative was sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers and was an attempt to establish consistent educational standards across all 50 states and territories.

The standards were developed by officials in 48 states and have been adopted by 41 states and the District of Columbia.

From its beginning, Common Core has been vigorously criticized and challenged, especially by Republican voters and elected officials, and especially in Florida.

In 2014, at the direction of then-Gov. Rick Scott, the Florida Board of Education adopted the Florida Standards, which changed some components of Common Core but left “vestiges” intact.

Those “vestiges” mostly relate to Common Core’s rigorous schedule of standardized testing that have drawn widespread criticism not only from lawmakers of both parties, but by educators.

DeSantis said his executive order also calls for Corcoran to “streamline some of the testing” and “identify ways to really make civics education a priority in Florida.”

Corcoran, who also spoke at the press conference, eagerly accepted DeSantis’ directive, claiming Florida has been “stuck with Common Core,” which “needs to be scrutinized.”

In a later tweet, Corcoran called DeSantis “the boldest, #1 education Governor in the nation” and vowed that Florida “will have the best standards, best civics education, and be the most literate state in the nation!”

DeSantis’ plan was lauded by Fedrick Ingram, president of the Florida Education Association, the statewide teachers union, which has rarely agreed with the state’s Republican leaders on educational matters.

“A deliberate look at what students must know is always appropriate, and it’s very encouraging to hear that Gov. DeSantis and Commissioner Corcoran plan to bring teachers and parents to the table as they go about reshaping Florida’s standards,” Ingram said in a statement. “We’re also pleased to hear that the administration will look at streamlining testing. Parents and our members cite time spent on testing—as versus on genuine teaching and learning—as one of their top concerns. If all stakeholders are heard, we have confidence that this effort can improve public education in Florida.”

“What an amazing victory for Florida’s children!” tweeted Chris Quackenbush of Stop Common Core FL.

Florida Stop Common Core Coalition Executive Director Karen Effrem said her group was “thrilled with Governor DeSantis’ great efforts to keep his campaign promise and finally listen to the frustrations of parents.”

But getting rid of Common Core will be easier said than done.

“We also know that he will be up against a very entrenched corporate and political establishment that is very much in favor of keeping these standards. So we look forward to helping him fight that battle,” she wrote.

This article was originally published on Watchdog.org


Portrait of John Haughey

John Haughey

John Haughey is a contributor to Watchdog.org. Twitter: @JFHaughey58.

The Daily Signal depends on the support of readers like you. Donate now

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of Governor Ron DeSantis and his family is from Facebook.

Trump Invites Boy To SOTU — He Was Bullied For Sharing His Last Name

Joshua Trump

Joshua Trump, a 6th grade Delaware student bullied by his fellow students for sharing a last name with President Donald Trump, has been invited by the White House to attend the State of the Union address.

“Unfortunately, Joshua has been bullied in school due to his last name,” read a statement from the office of White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. “He is thankful to the First Lady and the Trump family for their support.”

First lady Melania Trump’s “Be Best” initiative focuses on the physical and mental health of children, including reducing bullying.

The 11-year-old made news in December when he reportedly started going by Joshua Berto, his father’s surname, in an attempt to stave off bullying from classmates.

“They curse at him, they call him an idiot, they call him stupid,” his mother, Megan Trump, told ABC.

At one point, Joshua’s father, Bobby Berto, homeschooled his son for a year because of the bullying.

The Pennsylvania-based group Teach Anti-Bullying awarded Joshua the “Medal of Courage” in December and encouraged him to keep his name.

Joshua Trump will join other notable guests of the president and first lady, including holocaust survivor Judah Samet, freed prisoners Alice Johnson and Matthew Charles, and child cancer survivor Grace Eline.


Scott Morefield

Scott Morefield

Scott Morefield is a freelance reporter at The Daily Caller and a weekly columnist at Townhall. Additionally, Scott’s editorial columns have been featured on National Review, The Federalist, TheBlaze, Breitbart, WND, The Hill, and many other sites. Follow Scott on Twitter.


6 of the Notable Guests Invited to the State of the Union Address

Melania Opens Up About Raising Barron, Anti-Bullying Campaign: ‘Sometimes You Have To Fight Back’

Progressive Nonprofit Refuses To Say If It Fired DC Antifa Leader Joseph Alcoff

Sarah Sanders Previews Trump’s State Of The Union Address

EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Caller column with images is republished with permission.

Responding to Governor Ron DeSantis’ Executive Order Committing to Eliminate Common Core in Florida

Florida’s long Common Core nightmare is coming to an end.

For years students, parents and teachers suffered under the pressure and misguided effects of Common Core. Thanks to Executive Order Number 19-32 issued by Governor DeSantis, Common Core will be eliminated, and the burden lifted from Florida’s students.

By January 1, 2020 the Commissioner of Education must provide recommendations to the Governor that will eliminate Common Core standards, increase the quality of the instructional curriculum and streamline testing.

When we first started fighting to improve K-12 education in Florida, Florida Citizens’ Alliance identified Common Core as standards, curriculum and testing.  Four years ago, we actually were successful in getting a bill filed to address all of these elements. Sadly, many legislators ignored parent concerns and the damage being done by Common Core.

Two years ago, we convinced the legislature to pass and the governor to sign a bill giving parents and residents of Florida a louder voice in the discussion. Now the governor has listened to the people and provided a framework for permanently solving each of these interlocking pieces of the Common Core puzzle.

We commend the governor for his insight and courage in addressing these vital issues. He is actually listening to the people and putting our children first.

We also commend Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran for his contribution and leadership to this bold initiative. Commissioner Corcoran has an established track record of putting Florida’s children first as well. We look forward to supporting his innovative efforts to find solutions that improve student learning.

This is truly a day to celebrate. When we started this fight, no one would listen. Common Core was a toxic topic. Legislators and educators closed ranks and told all of us that they knew what was best for our children. Now our Governor and Commissioner of Education are listening. Now Common Core is evaporating before our eyes.

We at Florida Citizen’s Alliance also want to thank our many partners in this fight all across Florida. You did not grow weary in well doing. You did not give up in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. You did not and would not remain silent when our children needed advocates.

You endured. You persevered. You overcame. You refused to surrender your children to Common Core.

You are the champions for our children. You earned this victory.

There is much work to be done. We will do our part to help carry the load.

There will be many people trying to sidetrack what the governor has started.

Of that there is little doubt.

Let there also be no doubt that Florida Citizens’ Alliance and our partners across Florida will continue to work and, when necessary fight, for our children. We will never quit. Our work will not be finished until every parent in Florida is satisfied with the educational options available for their children. We will press on until every child has every opportunity to achieve his or her highest aspirations.

Today we celebrate and celebrate and celebrate.

Tomorrow we start fresh. Our continuing mission: real solutions that improve student learning. Because Florida Kids Deserve Better!

Executive Order 19-32: https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/EO-19-32.pdf

Feds Bust “pay to stay” Foreign Student Immigration Fraud Network

This story should warm your heart—we are nabbing at least some of the cheaters!

This time it was by setting a trap for them with the creation of a fake university with all the trappings of a real college.

The feds fake University of Farmington was located in this building says the Detroit News

Thanks to the Detroit News for another juicy story.

Feds used fake Michigan university in immigration sting

Federal agents used a fake university in Farmington Hills to lure alleged phony foreign students who were trying to stay in the United States illegally.

The University of Farmington had no staff, no instructors, no curriculum and no classes but was utilized by undercover Homeland Security agents to identify people involved in immigration fraud, according to federal grand jury indictments unsealed Wednesday.

Eight student recruiters were charged with participating in a conspiracy to help at least 600 foreign citizens stay in the U.S. illegally, according to the indictments, which describe a novel investigation that dates to 2015 but intensified one month into President Donald Trump’s tenure as part of a broader crackdown on illegal immigration.

Simultaneously Wednesday, federal agents arrested dozens of University of Farmington students in a nationwide sweep. The students were arrested on immigration violations and face possible deportation, according to a spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Most of the recruiters and students involved are originally from India, according to prosecutors.

“It’s creative and it’s not entrapment,” said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former federal prosecutor. “The government can put out the bait, but it’s up to the defendants to fall for it.”

Those charged include:

• Bharath Kakireddy, 29, of Lake Mary, Florida.
• Aswanth Nune, 26, of Atlanta.
• Suresh Reddy Kandala, 31, of Culpeper, Virginia.
• Phanideep Karnati, 35, of Louisville, Kentucky.
• Prem Kumar Rampeesa, 26, of Charlotte, North Carolina.
• Santosh Reddy Sama, 28, of Fremont, California.
• Avinash Thakkallapally, 28, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
• Naveen Prathipati, 29, of Dallas.


“… the university was being used by foreign citizens as a ‘pay to stay’ scheme which allowed these individuals to stay in the United States as a result of of foreign citizens falsely asserting that they were enrolled as full-time students in an approved educational program and that they were making normal progress toward completion of the course of study,” the indictment reads.

More here.  Please go read it and send traffic to the story because the reporter, Robert Snell, has been doing great work on fraud cases.

Are you thinking about this?  As we focus virtually all mainstream media coverage on the crisis at our southern border (yes, it is important), the national media is keeping us in the dark about some huge stories involving illegal immigrants (and legal ones !) who are ripping us off through fraud and other criminal activity that we must suffer and pay for.

RELATED ARTICLE: Boston Trial of Indian-American Opioid Drug Executive Underway

EDITORS NOTE: This Frauds, Crooks and Criminals column with images is republished with permission. The featured image is by Pixabay.

School Principal from Miami, Florida Appeals to Supreme Court for First Amendment Violations

By Margarita Borgmann

Miami, FL – A school principal has taken his case against the School Board of Miami-Dade County to the Supreme Court.  On January 16, 2019, the plaintiff, Dr. Alberto Fernandez, filed an appeal to the court claiming the board violated his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly when the school district retaliated against him for his involvement in converting a public school to a charter school.

Dr. Fernandez was the principal for 15 years at Neva King Cooper (NKC), a school for students with severe intellectual and physical disabilities, during alleged violations.  In February 2012, NKC’s school advisory council recommended to explore converting NKC to a charter school, in accordance with Florida law. Fernandez supported the idea.

In May 2012, the school district investigated and transferred Fernandez and two other NKC employees for their involvement, claiming that charter school conversion was not part of their job duties.  The district also issued a gag order prohibiting the employees from speaking to the school community. The Florida Department of Education (FDOE) Office of Inspector General (OIG) investigated the district’s actions. In November 2012, the OIG issued a Fact-Finding Report unfavorable to the district.  Subsequently, the Florida Commissioner of Education sent Superintendent Alberto Carvalho a letter notifying him that there was reasonable grounds to believe that “unlawful reprisal” against Fernandez and the other employees had occurred, and that the case would be referred to the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) to conduct a hearing.

Judge Edward Bauer held the hearing from January to February 2014.  The school board contended that Fernandez and the other employees had been investigated and transferred as a result of their role in the charter school conversion.  The judge debunked the board’s investigations and questioned the validity of the district’s reasons for the transfers, which were against board policy.  He recommended that the FDOE enter a final order finding that the school board violated Florida Statute 1002.33 (4) (a), Unlawful Reprisal, with respect to each plaintiff.  The judge’s recommended order also stated that the school board pay plaintiffs’ attorney fees, which totaled over $250,000.  The judge, however, did not recommend that Fernandez and the other plaintiffs be returned to the NKC, as the plaintiffs had already been reassigned to similar positions in accordance with Florida law.  On November 6, 2014, the FDOE entered a final order which restated the judge’s recommended order.*

On May 20, 2015, the plaintiffs filed a case in federal court for violations of their First Amendment rights.  Afterward, the school board filed a motion to dismiss the case, but the judge, Darrin P. Gayles, ruled against the board’s motion and allowed more inquiry. Then, the board filed for a summary judgment (a court’s ruling without a trial).  However, the board changed its original position, claiming that converting NKC to a charter school was part of the plaintiffs’ job duties, thus, not protected by the First Amendment. The judge ruled in favor of one of the employee’s because the employee was not an administrator, but ruled against Fernandez and the other plaintiff.  The judge reasoned that Fernandez and the other employee, who was an administrator, provided “leadership” and, therefore, were acting in their official capacities when speaking about the charter school.  Fernandez appealed to the 11th Circuit, but that court ruled in favor of the board. Fernandez, therefore, appealed to the Supreme Court.**

For more information contact Dr. Thomas Elfers, Esq. (786) 232-8074 or thomaselfers@comcast.com.

*All documents regarding the DOAH hearing can be viewed at www.doah.state.fl.us/ALJ/ (Case no. 13-1492).  The recommended order from the DOAH judge can be viewed at https://www.doah.state.fl.us/ROS/2013/13001492.pdf.  The final order can be obtained from the FDOE, case number 2014-3055.

** The District Circuit Court’s ruling can be found at https://www.flsd.uscourts.gov/ Case no.15-cv-21915-Gayles. The 11th Circuit’s ruling can be found at https://www.flsd.uscourts.gov/ Case No. 17-14319.  For a copy of the petition to the Supreme Court, please contact plaintiff’s attorney, Dr. Thomas Elfers at the number and/or email above.

EDITORS NOTE: This column is republished with permission by the author. The featured image is from Pixabay.

US Bishops, Diocese Throw Covington Catholic Students Under The Bus [+Video]

Students at March for Life become target of fake news, face threats of violence from the Left.

COVINGTON, Ky. (ChurchMilitant.com) – Students at a Catholic school are getting demonized both in the media and by Catholic leaders after a misleading video clip cast them as racists. 

Students at Covington Catholic High School were waiting for their bus at the Lincoln Memorial when Black Hebrew Israelite protestors started shouting insults and slurs at them, using words like “cracker” and “faggot.” The students did school spirit cheers to drown out the insults when a small group of Native American protestors came into the crowd. One Native American, beating a drum and singing, waded into the crowd of high school boys and walked up to one boy wearing a Make America Great Again hat. The man stood face to face with the boy, beating the drum just a few inches from his face.

The man beating the drum, activist Nathan Phillips, told the media that the high schoolers surrounded him, threatened and mocked him and chanted “build the wall.” A short video clip from the encounter was deceptively edited to make it look like all the high school students, including the boy face to face with Phillips, had surrounded Phillips and were all mocking his Native American heritage.

One video clip shows at least one high schooler in the crowd apparently making the “hatchet” hand motion, which is widely considered offensive to Native Americans. Many of the students in the crowd are wearing spirit wear from Covington Catholic High School — a Catholic all-boys school in Northern Kentucky.

The diocese of Covington, Covington Catholic High School and even the U.S. bishops’ conference quickly condemned the high schoolers seen in the edited video clip, accusing them of engaging in “raw partisan activism” and lacking “respect of the human person.”

Now, that teenage boy and his colleagues are facing threats of violence from leftists on social media, even though later video evidence shows that Phillips was the instigator of the encounter, not the high schooler.

In fact, video footage taken by one of the Black Israel activists shows Phillips and the other Native Americans approaching the high schoolers peacefully, and it seems as though their drumming is joining in on the high schoolers’ cheers.

A spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops gave a thinly veiled criticism of the high schoolers on Twitter, writing, “The Pro-Life movement is not merely a political movement and should never be reduced to raw partisan activism. It is an invitation to treat one another, born and unborn, as children of God. Ugly examples to the contrary are unacceptable to the authentic pro-life generation.”

Meanwhile, the diocese of Covington released a joint statement on the incident, along with Covington Catholic High School, condemning the students while also admitting that the incident is still “being investigated.” 

The brief statement reads, “We condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students towards Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general, Jan. 18, after the March for Life, in Washington, D.C. We extend our deepest apologies to Mr. Phillips. This behavior is opposed to the Church’s teachings on the dignity and respect of the human person.” 

It continues, “The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.”

Even the mayor of Covington joined in on the condemnations in an op-ed for local newspaper The Cincinnati Enquirer. Covington, Kentucky is just across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, Ohio.

More recently, some headlines online hinted that the school might be considering a lawsuit against the media for slandering the students. But it is unclear what the sources are for this, and the statement condemning the students remained on the diocese’s website at the time of publication. The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion.Tweet

The boy that Phillips got face to face with later identified himself as Nick Sandmann, a junior at Covington Catholic. He and his family released a statement to the media on Sunday through an attorney and spokesperson. In this statement, Sandmann said, “I never interacted with this protestor. I did not speak to him. I did not make any hand gestures or other aggressive moves. To be honest, I was startled and confused as to why he had approached me.”

He went on, “We had already been yelled at by another group of protestors, and when the second group approached I was worried that a situation was getting out of control where adults were attempting to provoke teenagers.”

“I believed that by remaining motionless and calm,” Sandmann wrote, “I was helping to diffuse the situation. I realized everyone had cameras and that perhaps a group of adults was trying to provoke a group of teenagers into a larger conflict. I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.”

Sandmann added, “I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me — to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence.”I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me.Tweet

Phillips, a lifelong activist, was in the nation’s capital for the Indigenous Peoples’ March.

There is a Change.org petition siding with the boys of Covington Catholic High School and opposing their expulsion from the school. At the time of publication, it had nearly 13,000 signatures.

Another petition calls for all the news outfits who smeared the high schoolers to issue an “immediate apology.” This petition has garnered nearly 9,000 signatures.


The Covington Fiasco Is a Perfect Example of Why the Founders Distrusted Democracy

Yes, MAGA Hats Symbolize Something. But Not Hate.

Podcast: The War on Christians Who Speak Out

EDITORS NOTE: This Church Militant column with videos and images is republished with permission.

Yale students can now select from THREE gender options

  • Yale University will now allow students to select from three gender options.
  • Students can identify as male, female, or non-binary.

Students at Yale University can now change their registered gender status to “non-binary” through the school’s Student Information System.

Yale University announced through an email that students can now register to identify their gender as “non-binary,” as a result of policy changes for the school regarding transgender individuals on campus, according to the Yale Daily News. Students can log on to the school’s Student Information System and choose from three gender choices: “M” for male, “F” for female, or “N” for nonbinary.

The new policy is in response to a petition, launched in November, from Yale’s LGBT community to President Peter Salovey. The petition called on the university to offer more rights for transgender students at Yale. The petition came in the wake of the Department of Health and Human Services’ plans to change the rules of Title IX to refer to gender as an unchangeable trait. 

Including the nonbinary gender option, according to Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun, is being utilized for Yale and the technology at the school “catch up with current understanding and practice of gender,” according to the Yale Daily News. But some  students voiced concerns about not removing any reference to the gender binary. 

“If Yale cared to support [gender nonbinary]/[gender nonconforming] students, they might consider materially divesting from the gender binary, rather than providing an additional category to an already essentialized construction,” student Casey Odesser told the Yale Daily News.

Campus Reform reached out to Yale University for additional comment regarding the new policy, as well as the Yale College Republicans, for their take on the new policy, but did not receive responses in time for publication.


Jesse Stiller

Jesse Stiller

New Jersey Campus Correspondent. Follow the author of this article: Jesse Stiller.


Trans Females in Men’s Spaces

‘Clown world’? WSU now allows student ID name changes

Stanford hosts open house for all-gender locker room

EDITORS NOTE: This Campus Reform column with images is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Paul Green on Unsplash.

Karen Pence: The Teacher and the Religious Test

It was supposed to be a day celebrating religious freedom in America. Instead, liberals decided to show everyone just how much our First Freedom is at risk. For Christians, who’ve tried to warn people that these last several years were about a lot more than marriage, the attacks on Second Lady Karen Pence certainly seem to prove their point. Three years after Obergefell, all of the lies about “love” and “tolerance” have been eclipsed by the court cases, articles, and editorial demonizing people of faith. What Americans see now is the truth: the Left is coming for our freedom. And they have no intention of letting up.

Like Joe Biden’s wife, Karen Pence spent years in the classroom. When Mike was in Congress, she taught art at Immanuel Christian School in Virginia — and no one batted an eye. Of course, that was back in the early 2000s, when the Left’s charm offensive on same-sex marriage was still in full swing. We’ll be accommodating, they said. We just want to co-exist, they said. Our relationships won’t affect you, they said. A handful of years later, “affected” doesn’t begin to describe to what happens to conservatives who think differently than the totalitarian Left.

Of course, the Pences are not strangers to the other side’s viciousness. Every time the media is reminded about the family’s faith, they become hysterical all over again — a scene that played out this week when Karen announced she’d be volunteering at Immanuel Christian this spring. “I am excited to be back in the classroom and doing what I love to do,” she said in a statement. “I have missed teaching art, and it’s great to return to the school where I taught art for 12 years.”

She can’t go back there, LGBT activists raged! They reject homosexuality! Yes, well, that’s what orthodox Christian schools do. (Not to mention Jewish and Muslim ones too.) Would it have been headline news if Jill Biden taught at a Roman Catholic school? Probably not. Yet, the Left and their media chums are hurling profanity at the Pences for something that, even five years ago, wouldn’t have been controversial. Frankly, the only thing that would have been shocking is if Karen worked at a Christian school that didn’t act like a Christian school.

CNN’s Kate Bennett was just one of the talking heads who doesn’t get it. “So, lemme get this straight,” she tweeted, “the second lady of the United States has chosen to work at a school that openly discriminates against LGBT adults and children?” “So, lemme get this straight,” Ben Shapiro fired back. “You’re a reporter but you’ve never heard of religious people before? ‘BREAKING: Pence’s wife is working for a Christian school that requires that Christian students pledge to abide by Christian standards of sin that have not changed in 2,000 years.'”

To be honest, the Left’s real problem isn’t that Mike Pence’s wife is working at an evangelical school — but that evangelical schools exist at all. Since they do, the last thing liberals want is for anyone in public office to be associated with them. And despite what you’ve heard from the forces of intolerance, Immanuel Christian doesn’t “ban” anyone from their school. What they do, Chad Greene, points out, “is require a specific set of behavioral and religious belief standards equally applied to everyone. Many in the Christian world make a distinction regarding LGBT people that the left typically refuses to consider, between a person and his actions.” As Christians, our behavior doesn’t define us — we define our behavior.

Immanuel is in the business of teaching Christianity. What would be the point of a religious school if it didn’t? This “immediate, visceral reaction” shows just how far the Left will go to shame people of faith into silence. Worse, it proves the day they told us was coming is finally here. Back in 2015, during the Obergefell arguments, President Obama’s top lawyer, Donald Verrilli pulled back the curtain on the Left’s real goal in one surprisingly candid moment. When Justice Samuel Alito pressed the solicitor general on whether same-sex marriage would give the government a weapon to threaten Christian schools, Verrilli seemed uncomfortable but admitted, “It’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is — it is going to be an issue.”

We haven’t seen the Left fully implement their plans, because they haven’t had the benefit of another radical president in the White House to build on the liberal legacy of Barack Obama. But we don’t have to guess what they’ll do if they get one. It’s all spelled out in the most recent Democratic National Platform. Religious freedom, as Americans have known it for 233 years, will not be safe in the hands of a movement that is surgically targeting people of faith.

When I talked to the vice president on “Washington Watch” earlier today, he didn’t mince words. “Karen and I have been in and around public life for almost two decades, and so — to be honest — we’re used to the criticism. But the attacks on Christian education by the mainstream media have got to stop. We cherish the freedom of religion in this country. This administration stands four-square for the freedom of religion of people of all faiths. And to see the mainstream media to criticize my wife because she’s choosing to return to the classroom of an elementary Christian school is wrong.”

There used to be a consensus in this country that religious liberty was for everyone. When the Religious Freedom Restoration Act came before Congress, only three members voted against it. Over time, some liberals tried to isolate faith — to churches, Christian schools, or family rooms. You’ve heard me say before that the Left’s hope is to quarantine religion within the four walls of the church. Now, it’s becoming clear — even that won’t satisfy them.

“I have always had a problem with the idea that religion is something we must keep to ourselves,” Matt Walsh writes in the Daily Wire. “Indeed, the Christian faith requires exactly the opposite. But in the case of Karen Pence and her new employer, they are doing exactly what the Left demanded. This school is merely trying to operate by biblical principles within its own walls and on its own property. It is a Christian school simply being a Christian school. It isn’t bothering anyone. It isn’t invading anyone’s home and lecturing them about their sexual behavior. It isn’t preventing anyone from working or living or enjoying their lives. It is just saying, very reasonably, very unobtrusively, ‘We are going to conduct ourselves according to Christian moral tradition. If you don’t want to accept that moral tradition, then by all means go somewhere else.'”

“This is exactly, precisely, the approach that the Left for years endorsed and insisted upon. But suddenly it’s a problem. Suddenly, even Christianity behind closed doors, on private property, in a private school, is a target of outrage and scorn. It was a lie all along. They were never planning to stop outside the walls of our homes and our churches and our schools. That’s just what they said to lull us to sleep.”

“Now the next phase begins.”

Sign the pledge to pray for Karen Pence openly lives her faith by biblical truth.

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


Pelosi’s #SOTU Shutdown Showdown

‘The Light Doesn’t Stop Shining When It Gets Darker

An Elementary Student Claims a Square Root Symbol Looks Like a Gun, Mayhem Ensues

“Why isn’t the student who used his First Amendment right to make a comment about something the Second Amendment protects on every nightly news cycle, being made into a hero? Why haven’t we heard the words ‘square root student’ trending?” —Dana Loesch

RELATED ARTICLE: Gun Phobic: Liberal Media Calls Armed Gunman an ‘Unwanted House Guest’ in News Report

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is from Pinterest.

Transgender Theory Enables Child Abuse

Pope Francis said teaching children about being transgender is a moral problem which he calls “ideological colonisation”. He said explaining gender theory to youngsters is wrong because it can change their “mentality”. The pontiff shared, “A father asked his ten-year-old-son: ‘What do you want to do when you grow older?’ The child replied: ‘A girl’. The father realized that in the school books the gender theory was taught. This is against the natural things.” Pope Francis declared gender theory is part of a “global war against the family”. 

Unexpected voices like renowned feminist professor Camille Paglia are saying well-meaning adults transgendering minors is child abuse. Professor Paglia actually called it “evil” to help troubled kids make permanent decisions for which there is no turning back. As commonsense normal thinking adults, our response to Ms Paglia’s comment is, “Well dah”.

Public radio show host Jesse Thorn identified his two-year-old son as a girl; dressing his son as a girl and calling him a girl name. Ponder that folks, a two-year-old. We all know this is insane child abuse. When comedian Owen Benjamin compassionately said Thorn was abusing his child, LGBTQ enforcers crushed Benjamin’s career. His tours were canceled and he was blacklisted in Hollywood.

Benjamin has a comedy special. Here is the headline of a hit-piece written to end Benjamin’s career. “Why is Amazon promoting this anti-trans alt right troll’s comedy special?” Do you see how this works folks. Benjamin courageously exposed the abuse of a child and he is branded an extreme-right nutcase hater. LGBTQ enforcers seek to shame and destroy anyone who dares to state the obvious truth that gender theory is child abuse hiding in plain sight

American College of Pediatricians president, Dr Michelle Cretella, wrote, “Transgender Ideology Has Infiltrated My Field and Produced Large-Scale Child Abuse.” Dr Cretella said transgender ideology is not rooted in reality. She said sex is hardwired before birth and it cannot change. Dr Cretella continued, “By feeding children and families these lies, children are having their normal psychological development interrupted. They’re being put on puberty blockers which essentially castrates them chemically – followed by surgical mutilation later on. This is child abuse. It’s not health care.”

Dr Cretella said we need to nurture children through natural puberty. “Our job as parents and physicians is to help children embrace their healthy bodies. And when this is done, once they get past puberty to late adolescence, as many as 95% will come to embrace their bodies – and identify with their biological sex.” 

Dr Cretella made this important point. “See, according to most mainstream medical organizations, if you want to cut off a healthy arm or a healthy leg, you’re mentally ill. But if you want to cut off healthy breasts or a penis, you’re transgender. Dr Cretella enraged LGBTQ enforcers by saying, “No one is born transgender.” Dr Cretella is under severe attack.

Folks, can you believe we live in such a crazy evil time in which stating scientific facts and publicly expressing a desire to protect children could cost you your livelihood and even your life (death threats)?

Every time I write about LGBTQ enforcers bullying the masses into submission, my frustrated wife Mary says, “Let people know they are only 3 percent of the population.” 

So this is where we are folks. We instinctively know LGBTQ indoctrination is child abuse. And yet, far too many are afraid to say it out loud. LGBTQ enforcers are using government, corporations, the medical profession, social media and mainstream media to bully the mainstream into allowing the abuse of children. How did such a tiny segment of our population (3%) obtain such dictatorial power?

God will severely judge those who lead new believers and children astray. “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

God instructs parents to loving protect and raise their children. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) God does not want government usurping parental authority over America’s children.

It takes courage to stand in a culture which humiliates and high-tech executes all who refuse to kneel in worship to their god of debauchery. Shouldn’t abusing children be our red line in the sand?

RELATED ARTICLE: Pelosi’s Equality Act Could Lead to More Parents Losing Custody of Kids Who Want Gender ‘Transition’

EDITORS NOTE: This column is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash.

VIDEO: We Will Never Cease To Fight To Protect Our Children’s Lives

“I’d like to see anyone tell me that, when their student’s on a third floor of a building and there’s a killer walking through that school, and there’s no one in between your student—your loved one, your child—and the killer that they’re not going to want that teacher to be trained and be able to protect their children.” —Andrew Pollack, Parkland father and member of Florida Board of Education.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by NRA-ILA is republished with permission.

VIDEO: Vaping in the Classroom

One of the challenges of being a public high school teacher is developing a constant awareness of what is transpiring in my classroom. Even when I conference individually with my student, my eyes and ears are open in a hyper-observant manner that I have cultivated over decades.

Of course, times change, and over those decades, what I’ve needed to pay attention to has evolved– including smoking, it seems.

Now, there’s vaping.

I saw a commercial for vaping in which the advertiser stated that vaping is meant to help smokers who are trying to quit.

Nice try.

As that advertiser was speaking, I was hearing my own high-school-classroom, overlay script:

Vaping makes it easier for teenagers to access nicotine without being detected. Why, they can even vape during class, and many teachers would not even realize it because it would not occur to them to even consider that it could. Oh, yet, and that means we will make a load of money off of teens even as we promote the idea that Smoking Is Bad for Your Health.

Vaping in class– during class! I learned that this was possible only months ago. And part of the problem for many school districts is that they may not have adjusted their smoking policies to include vaping. As any student caught vaping would likely (and quickly) point out, a vape is not a cigarette. That is true. Vaping involves inhaling vaporized nicotine, and the exhale is not nearly as noticeable as that of a cigarette.

Vaping in class. (Youtube, 2016)

What complicates detection is that the vaping instrument may look like a flash drive to the untrained eye. (The vaping device may be longer than a flash drive, but not always, I have learned.)

A Juul brand vape. (Time)
Juul vaping device charging via USB port (looking like an elongated flash drive) (EdWeek)
Juul USB port charger (EdWeek)

One Juul pod has the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes (EdWeek) and lasts for about 200 puffs (TIME)

According to coverage in a March 2018 article on vaping in TIME, the teen appeal was not part of intentional marketing:

Ashley Gould, chief administrative officer at Juul Labs, says that the product was created by two former smokers specifically and solely to help adult smokers quit, and that the company has numerous anti-youth-use initiatives in place because “we really don’t want kids using our product.” Gould also notes that Juul uses age authentication systems to sell only to adults 21 and older online, though most of its sales take place in retail stores, where state laws may allow anyone 18 and older to purchase the devices.

The design, she adds, was not meant to make the device easier to hide.

“It was absolutely not made to look like a USB port. It was absolutely not made to look discreet, for kids to hide them in school,” Gould says. “It was made to not look like a cigarette, because when smokers stop they don’t want to be reminded of cigarettes.” …

Does Juuling help you quit smoking?

It’s not yet clear. Gould acknowledges that Juul doesn’t have great end-user data since its products are mostly sold in retail stores, but she says the company is actively researching the effectiveness of its devices.

Research about the efficacy of nicotine replacement therapy using tools such as e-cigarettes and nicotine gum is relatively inconclusive. A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine even found that smokers trying to quit may actually have less success if they use e-cigarettes.

Even so, both the vape device and the vape action are easy to hide in plain sight in the public school classroom– all the more reason for school admin, teachers, and staff to educate themselves on the issue.

On July 31, 2018, EdWeek published the following video on vaping (also known as “Juuling,” derived from a brand name, Juul):

Regarding the long-term effects of vaping, not much is known yet because vaping is still relatively new. That noted, common sense dictates that vaping is problematic because nicotine is addictive, and the young person vaping is opening the door to chemical addiction by repeatedly inhaling concentrated nicotine and may well be damaging or otherwise impeding healthy growth and development.

Regarding the effects of vaping, the March 2018 TIME article offers the following:

While e-cigarettes contain fewer toxic substances than traditional cigarettes, the CDC warns that vaping may still expose people to cancer-causing chemicals. (Different brands use different formulations, and the CDC’s warning did not mention Juul specifically.)

It’s not clear exactly how e-cigarettes affect health because there’s little long-term data on the topic, says Dr. Michael Ong, an associate professor of general internal medicine and health services at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles. “We just don’t have a lot of information as to what the harms potentially are going to be,” he says. “There likely would be health risks associated with it, though they’re not going to be the same as a traditional cigarette.”

Doctors do know, however, that each Juul pod contains nicotine equivalent to a pack of cigarettes. That’s troubling, because nicotine is “one of the most addicting substances that we know of,” Ong says. “Having access to that is certainly problematic,” Ong adds, because it may get kids hooked, which could potentially lead them to later take up cigarettes.

Juul’s products come in flavors including mango, fruit medley and creme brûlée — and the chemicals used to flavor vaping liquid may also be dangerous, Ong adds. “Even if the manufacturer doesn’t intend it to be something that’s kid-friendly, it’s kid-friendly,” he says. A 2016 study suggested that these flavoring agents may also cause popcorn lung, a respiratory condition first seen in people working in factories that make microwave popcorn.

There we have it teachers: Vape Detection 101.

Watch out for those flash drives.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by deutsch29 is republished with permission. The featured photo is by Cianna Jolie on Unsplash.

7 Reasons to Say Goodbye to Teachers Unions

I stand with teachers—not unions.

Every year, my school district hosts a beginning of the year meeting with every employee in the district. Amidst all the pomp are 15 minutes during which my school district provides a platform for the head of the local teachers union. He doesn’t say much, keeping it vague and general. He says the union works with the school board and other leaders to fight for both teachers and students.

He also spends time in the teachers’ lounge occasionally, handing out pamphlets. A note in defense of unions was left at a table in the lounge recently. It details accomplishments of unions past and the evils of corporations. This note and this speech are a nice review of a high school civics course, but they have one glaring flaw: they focus entirely on the past.

Contexts change. For instance, the necessity of stationed US troops in Germany has shifted since the Cold War. The same goes for unions at large as the US reaches historical levels of prosperity. We can appreciate the accomplishments of the past while still reconsidering the utility of unions in the present. There are of course defenses of unions within a modern context. That said, they are ultimately lacking. Here are seven reasons why we should support the dissolution of teachers unions in 2019.

Two years ago, while I was a first-year teacher, I mistakenly stumbled into a members-only meeting in my school’s library. Before being shooed away and denied a scone with coffee, I saw pamphlets in stacks next to the treats. One column was topped by a glowering Donald Trump over a dark red background like a Sith lord; the other had a smiling Hillary Clinton.

While teachers are stereotypically liberal, a survey done by Education Week found that 43 percent of educators define themselves as moderate, with a near equal number identifying as conservative or liberal. In 2016, 50 percent of teachers voted for Hillary Clinton and 29 percent for Donald Trump. Teachers are a moderate and politically diverse crowd.

That being said, in the past 28 years, teachers unions have given 96 percent of their funding to Democratic candidates. In the agenda from the National Education Association (NEA)’s most recent annual meeting, the business items include a commitment to:

  • Responding to the “heartless, racist, and discriminatory zero-tolerance [immigration] policies of the Trump administration”
  • Supporting Black Lives Matter
  • Opposing arming teachers in schools
  • The removal of Confederate leaders from school monuments
  • Posting a public list of individuals who have refused service to LGBTQ people
  • The postponement of the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh
  • The prohibition of private jails
  • Opposing charter schools and voucher programs
  • Describing and deconstructing “the systemic proliferation of a White supremacy culture and its constituent elements of White privilege and institutional racism”

Regardless of your views on all of these, there is a clear disparity between the agenda of the largest teachers union in the nation and the views of its teachers. Perhaps even more glaring, many of these issues have only a tangential relation to education, if that. While they speak of defending teachers, much of their energy is spent advocating for various, non-educational political initiatives.

Both Republicans and Democrats complain about money in politics. Both sides have their boogeyman: George Soros and the Koch Brothers. And yet, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, the NEA was the second largest contributor to political campaigns of any individual, corporation, or union in 2014. In 2016, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and NEA collectively gave $64 million in political contributions compared to only $11 million and $28 million by the Koch brothers and George Soros, respectively.

Unions fight for increased funding with the intent of raising teacher pay and purchasing better academic materials. Some research shows that it is beneficial. Other papers don’t. An analysis by Johns Hopkins finds a synthesis between the two, arguing that how school achievement is defined and how money is spent determine whether funding correlates with improvement. Until structural reforms are put in place to apply market pressure to the schools, any funding increase will be little more than waste.

At the first school I worked at, the book room had thousands of books, worth thousands of dollars, and I was one of the only teachers in our building who used them. My department had a supply closet filled with toys and gadgets no one used. There are curriculum teams and staff members collectively paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to create a curriculum that is either followed without fidelity or ignored entirely.

Per pupil spending, school achievement, and teacher pay give data to substantiate this claim. In current dollars, school spending has increased by roughly $3,000 per pupil since the early 1990s; yet teacher pay has declined or remained flat in most states, while student achievement on test scores has remained stagnant or even decreased in some states. Money is increasing, but it isn’t creating results.

More generally, teachers unions promote a strict pay scale that rewards any teacher for years taught—be they exceptional or mediocre or lousy—incentivizing longevity, not performance. They also make it nearly impossible to fire teachers, taking up to two years and $200,000 according to Stanford Professor Terry Moe. Social stances, funding, and strict pay scales just won’t do in the face of crumbling urban education.

Unions block the reforms that will structurally change a broken system and in return, promise increased funding, which will, in turn, be drained away by the broken system. Namely, they oppose school choice, merit-based pay, standardized tests, and the Praxis, an entrance exam for teachers.

School choice, while not a panacea, is one reform that has tremendous potential for improving schools. Research shows that the pressure this funding structure places on schools increases student performancesaves money, and improves students’ mental health.

Educational reform has been stymied. Across the board, Republicans have advanced comprehensive reforms from charter schools to more stringent teacher evaluations and merit-based pay. After a blue wave, many fear that the growth it has enacted may be at an end.

I allow my students to set some classroom rules to provide a sense of ownership. One student expressed that he didn’t want a star or candy simply for following directions. It’s condescending, he said, to praise a student for the minimum. That assumes you only expect the minimum.

In my role, I watch many teachers teach, and not everyone necessarily deserves a star. I have heard teachers tell their kids to ask fewer questions. I have seen teachers celebrate over pregnant students. I have heard teachers speak of students using language one would expect from the villain in a Scorsese movie. All the while, teachers denigrate any test that shows stagnant scores or an administrator who questions their efficacy.

The unions tell us that we, the teachers, deserve our jobs and better pay regardless of the success of our students, but in reality, we deserve more money and respect only if we do our job well. To suggest anything else is a disservice to the profession.

I was new to teaching and sat across from the school’s manager of our 403(b) plans. I asked if the school district would match my contribution. They don’t, because the district pays toward our pension. I rolled my eyes, and so did she.

Chad Aldeman, a former analyst at the Department of Education, explains the problem well. He says that “states are paying an average of 12 percent of each teacher’s salary just for debt costs. If states didn’t face these large debts, they could afford to give that money back to teachers in the form of higher salaries—an average of $6,801 for every public school teacher in America.”In education, teachers receive retirement benefits based on a formula, unable to invest any more than the predetermined amount.

Under a 401(k) plan, any employee could choose to be frugal and invest more, as well as receive more from their employer and thereby more from their retirement plan. In education, teachers receive retirement benefits based on a formula, unable to invest any more than the predetermined amount.

That $6,800 dollars could go to much better use. For those of us who choose to save, we would end up with a retirement portfolio that would outdo most teacher pensions. Others may counter that some do not have the disposable income to save for themselves, but even in this case, those teachers should be allowed to keep their money and spend it on whatever medical bill or child care they need.

Factory workers during the Industrial Revolution were expendable. They had no specialized skills or education with which they could bargain in a labor-flooded market. Conversely, teachers are a highly-skilled and educated workforce in a market where they are in short supply.

A friend of mine, one of the best teachers at our school, was falsely accused of hitting a student. Under convoluted district rules, the principal wanted to fire him. This teacher walked into the office with test scores, student testimonials, projects demonstrating mastery by some of our school’s most difficult students, and hallway video records that proved him innocent. We can bargain for ourselves.

As a rule, I try not to stand in opposition to things. It breeds resentment instead of changing minds and casts no vision for a way forward. I’m not against unions. I’m for teachers. For us to flourish financially and professionally, we need the freedom to bargain for ourselves, the respect that comes with accountability, and meaningful reform. Therefore, I stand with teachers—not unions.


Daniel Buck

Daniel Buck is an educator in an urban school in Wisconsin with a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and an editor for the website Lone Conservative.

EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by FEE is republished with permission. Image credit: Max Pixel.