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One Florida Mosque’s History of Close Ties to Terrorists

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Islamic Society of Sarasota and Bradenton logo.

Few Floridians know the history behind the Islamic Society of Sarasota and Bradenton mosque located at 4350 N. Lockwood Ridge Road in Sarasota, Florida.

Florida investigator Bill Warner reported in August of 2011:

[T]he Sarasota Fl area was the base of operations for 9/11 Al-Qaeda Hijack Pilots Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, they had a support network entrenched in the area when Al-Qaeda linked Imam Muneer Arafat shows up at the Sarasota-Bradenton Islamic Center (Mosque) in March 2000 just 3 months before the Hijackers show up in the Sarasota area in June of 2000.

See Jan 20, 2003 article about Sarasota Imam Muneer Arafat in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, below, just after he was arrested on Immigration charges by ICE agents in November 2002. Sarasota Imam Muneer Arafat had been the roommate of Al-Qaeda procurement terrorist Ziyad Sadaqa aka Ziyad Khaleel.

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Fast forward to today and we find sheikh Monzer Taleb, someone with links to the terrorist group HAMAS, sitting with Islamic Society of Sarasota and Bradenton mosque leaders for a fundraiser in support of the organization Helping Hand for Relief and Development (HHRD). The Islamic Society of Sarasota published the attendees list for the event. The list included: Speaker Ali Syed, Speaker Monzer Talilb, Speaker Suleiman Salem, Speaker Tariq AbuKhdeir and Poetry by Remi Kanazi.

Watch the video, below, and you will see Taleb sitting to the left of the imam giving the Eid prayer at the HHRD orphan aide event in Sarasota:

According to the Counter Jihad Report:

Monzer Taleb was an unindicted Co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation Trial, identified by Federal prosecutors as a member of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee, a covert U.S. MB organization with a responsibility for supporting and financing Hamas. Taleb was identified in a captured Palestine Committee document as a member of organization.As a member of the Al Sakhra Band, Taleb helped to raise funds for Hamas at fundraisers thrown by the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and the Islamic Association for Palestine. (IAP), two organizations created by the Palestine Committee to support Hamas, according to evidence provided by the federal government.

[ … ]

Monzer Taleb appears to remain active in the fundraising business, raising funds for Helping Hands for Relief and Development (HHRD), a charity accused of having close ties to a Pakistani organization known to have financed Hamas. Taleb is additionally listed as a member of HHRD-Jordan. Taleb also fundraises for the Islamic Association of North Texas (IANT), which runs Dallas Central Mosque, which was closely associated with the Holy Land Foundation, and has long been identified as having ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. [Emphasis added]

Read the full article.

On September 11th, 2016 there were thousands of 9/11 memorial and remembrance event. None was more powerful than those held in Sarasota, Florida where Mohammed Atta and two of his terrorist cohorts learned to fly planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

It is important to understand that Islam is evil. Evil is raising money under the banner of orphan relief, much like was done with the Holyland Foundation.

Sadly, the money never went to help orphans, rather it went to fund terrorism.

RELATED ARTICLE: Sarasota Herald Tribune Never Reported Local Imam Muneer Arafat’s Arrest and Links to Al-Qaeda That Was Front Page News at St. Louis Post-Dispatch So I Will

Florida Company Launches First Artificial Intelligence Digital Assistant for Realtors [Video]

SARASOTA, Fla. /PRNewswire/ — Offrs.com, the leader in Smart Data and Marketing for real estate, launched the first artificial intelligence driven system for real estate brokerages – ROOFAI.com. The official launch event took place at the historic Ritz Theater in Austin, Texas on August 9th, as part during the annual Keller Williams Mega Camp.

The launch party also unveiled, “Raia,” an automated, artificial intelligence assistant that provides marketing automation for real estate brokerages and the agents they serve helping them create the Real estate Office Of the Future (ROOF).

“The genesis of ROOF started with predictive analytics and our ability to marry big data with marketing for real estate agents, but today we are excited to launch the first artificially intelligent real estate assistant for brokers – RAIA. She will help brokerages own the future of Real Estate,” said Offrs.com Co-founder, Rich Swier.

Artificial Intelligence has begun to surface in applications in many industries, but this will be the first artificially intelligent assistant for real estate agents and brokers that will help them execute important tasks need to grow their business. RAIA will be help increase production, improve marketing and be the primary driver for the real estate office of the future.

“We believe we’re solving an enormous business challenge for brokerages by providing data and metric driven business solutions specifically designed to transform our clients into real estate offices of the future. The bleeding edge of technology is where Offrs.com is positioned and the opportunity is here for brokerages, now,” said Offrs.com Co-founder, Mark Dickson.

The ROOF program combines predictive analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to help brokerages identify, target and touch prospective sellers. In addition to providing Smart Data and a robust prospecting platform, the ROOF program also provides automated services that create a systematic approach to lead generation.

“Imagine having a digital assistant leveraging artificial intelligence to enhance fully automated outreach each and every day for a brokerage. We are not just predicting the future, we will be building the future for our customers. The ROOF program is going to ‘wow’ brokerage owners,” said offrs.com VP National Business Development, Frank Chimento.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT ROOFAI.com and talk with RAIA

ABOUT OFFRS.COM

Since 2012, Offrs.com has been a leading provider of Smart Data and Marketing products and services for real estate agents and brokerages. With flagship programs like R.O.O.F. (Real Estate Office of the Future) Offrs.com leverages artificial intelligence to automate lead generation for real estate brokerages and agents.  Offrs.com serves thousands of real estate professionals from all major national franchise brands and large independent real estate brokerages.

DISCLAIMER: One of the principles of ROOFAI.com is the son of the publisher of this e-Magazine.

Florida High School students given worksheets that focus on rape and adultery

I recently received an email from a concerned citizen about worksheets used in a Florida high school that talked about the rape of a girl named Suzy and about a Mrs. Smith who has a baby named Tyra. Mrs Smith, who is married, believes one of two men can be the father of her child.

Question 3 asks:

Mrs. Smith has a baby named Tyra. She believes one of two men can be the father of her child. A paternity test is done and the results are shown above. Which of the 2 men are baby Tyra’s father?

Question 5 asks:

Suzy was assaulted in an alley and is a victim of rape. The police collected a sample of sperm that was left at the crime scene and now have 3 suspects in custody. Which of the suspects raped Suzy?

Question 6 asks:

The millionaire, Mr. Big, has just died. He has left behind a wife, daughter and a large inheritance. The news of his death has brought forth 2 men who claim to be the long lost son of Mr. & Mrs. Big. Before Mr. & Mrs. Big were married they had an illegitimate child and had placed him up for adoption. They had tried to find him after they became wealthy but had no luck in locating him. A DNA sample was taken from Mrs. Big, the Big daughter and the two men who claim to be the long lost son. Which, if any, of the men are telling the truth?

The full worksheets in PDF format many be reviewed here. NOTE: The questions are poorly worded.

From the questions it appears the worksheets promote the ideas of: rape (question 5), adultery (questions 3 and 6)  and anti-Capitalism (i.e. the use of the pejorative “Mr. Big” in question 6).

The worksheets were used in science/biology classes at Venice High School (VHS) in Venice, Florida.

According to Sarasota County Schools Communications Specialist Scott Ferguson:

The worksheets… were downloaded by teachers from the Internet as practice sheets keyed to concepts of biology (specifically DNA). The worksheets are not part of any textbooks, tests or official curriculum materials used in Sarasota County schools. Students were not graded on their answers. The worksheets have been used in a total of five courses at Venice High School since December 2015 but are no longer being used. [Emphasis added]

Ferguson states, “We estimate that about 275 students have used the worksheets. Three biology teachers at VHS used the worksheets: Debra Bowen, Christopher Lorenz,  Brenda Randazzese. To our knowledge it is not being used at other high schools in the district.”

Parents and citizens are concerned that materials are being used by teachers taken from the internet. Ferguson notes that even he could not determine who created the worksheets.

Are these worksheets academically sound? Are they being used in other Florida public schools? Shouldn’t teachers use approved, scientifically based materials in the classroom?

It appears that the initial concerns by a citizen are well founded. The question is what will the Sarasota County School Board, the Superintendent, the Florida Department of Education do to insure only properly researched and approved materials are used?

Those are the questions.

Florida: A Day in Court for Marise London, an Elderly Jewish Woman

Marise London

Marise London

It was much better than a breath of fresh air or a refreshing swim in the sea; for I could see real jurisprudence.  Dissecting the word into its meaningful units, “juris” means judging, and “prudence” means with wisdom; but how often are the two actually combined into one?

Today, sitting in a Sarasota County, FL court as a spectator and an elder advocate for a lonely Jewish woman locked in guardianship in Florida year after year without due process that it rightfully due to her, I heard her new Probate judge press and press the battling lawyers in her case, drumming up thousands of dollars per hour in legal fees, to put her fate into perspective.  While the lawyers, at least seven of them in the courtroom on August 6, 2015, were preoccupied with rules and laws, the presiding judge kept a keen eye on the greater purpose of the hearing, that being what best serves the needs of Marise London, artist, mother, and beloved elder to so many advocates who stand with her in her ardent quest for dignity and freedom from the human bondage of guardianship.

What else could you call a system in which precious human beings are deprived of their most basic rights in life and to life?  A Ward of the State of Florida, where guardianship has become a major asset to the State and a tragic liability to the lives of its elders, is mentally, physically, and emotionally trapped in a network of professionals loyal to their livelihoods often more so than to the lives they are sworn to protect.

Guardianship is, in many respects, human trafficking, in which an elder is most commonly isolated from family and deprived of her rights to move and communicate freely according to her own choices.  She cannot marry or write a check.  She cannot contract or decide where she wants to live.  She cannot select her doctor or refuse a specific medical treatment, psychotropic, or narcotic.  She lives in isolation, subject to the will of her guardian, not of herself.

In a courtroom packed with Marise’s supporters, some of whom traveled hundreds of miles to advocate for her with their feet, a patient judge listened to lengthy proclamations of law for over an hour and then rightfully turned the entire focus of the hearing to Mrs. London, asking three crucial questions, the only ones that really matter: “Does Marise really need a guardian at all?” “Is there a less restrictive circumstance instead of guardianship that will meet Marise’s needs?” “Is there a better guardian available for Marise’s needs than the one she has had for years?”

The questions repeated by the judge a number of times were songs in my head because they were judging the fate of Marise prudently that she may face her future as the free woman she so truly deserves to be.

Collectivism in SW Florida

Ayn Rand wrote a short nineteen page paper asking: What is the basic issue facing the world today? Rand, in her paper makes the case that, “The basic issue in the world today is between two principles: Individualism and Collectivism.” Rand defines these two principles as follows:

  • Individualism – Each man exists by his own right and for his own sake, not for the sake of the group.
  • Collectivism – Each man exists only by the permission of the group and for the sake of the group.

The idea of collectivism is alive and well not just in Washington, D.C. but also in SW Florida. Specifically, in the Englewood Water District, which has decided to forsake the individual and vote in favor of the collective. Government at every level has a propensity to expand, and with that expansion it takes power from the poor in the name of the “greater good”.

According to the Englewood Water District website:

A small group of members from the Englewood Chamber of Commerce formed a “water committee” in 1955 to look into the water “situation.” During the next 4 years they had the perseverance, determination, and dedication to make the Englewood Water District a reality. They fought the odds, and the obstacles, because they saw the need to develop a high-quality, clean water system that would provide for the present and future Englewood. As they moved forward in their efforts, they learned the water and sanitary system could be owned and managed by the people of Englewood and not an outside source. They realized not only would residents’ health conditions be jeopardized without a water and sanitary system, but also the Lemon Bay environment. [Emphasis added]

So what is it that this “water committee” is proposing that has residents of the V9C District of Englewood, FL and others so agitated? The Englewood Water District has decided that for the “greater good” a group of citizens living in the V9C District of Englewood who currently use septic tanks must now pay (read imposed tax) to hook up to the city sewer system, whether they want to or not. Data shows there is no threat to the existing water quality or health conditions of those living in Englewood.

The bottom line: The 314 families living in Englewood’s V9C District are being forced to do something that they do not want to do, nor need to do.

Kathy Bolam, member of the Board of the South Venice Civic Association and the Governmental Affairs Committee, at a Sarasota Board of County Commission meeting testified:

Government was formed by the people to protect our rights and defend us from enemies whether foreign or domestic. That’s why we are asking your voice to be added to ours, because Englewood Water District in a bill passed by the Florida legislature in 2004, called their Enabling Act took away all property rights from the people living in the V9C district. The people in this district never were told about this bill, didn’t get the chance to read it or respond. As a result the EWD board of Supervisors feel empowered to expand their sewer program whether there is a public health or environmental need and whether the people want it or can afford it.

The results of their program will result in several families losing their homes. The area is mostly made up of retirees on fixed incomes and working single mothers, and small families. Those who cannot make the full payment when invoiced of $8,666.94 will then have $834.99 added to their property tax bill for 15 years. If they do not pay those taxes, the tax lien will be sold, and they will lose their home. One lady’s current tax bill is less than $500.00 and she stated that after paying her mortgage, etc. she has barely enough money to eat. Instead of decreasing the amount of homeless people, this action by EWD will increase it. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren said in a speech on Jan 7, 2015 quote “Since 1980, guess how much of the growth in income the 90% got? Nothing. None. Zero. In fact, it’s worse than that. The average family not in the top 10% makes less money than a generation ago.” Close quote. People just cannot afford to pay for something, they don’t need and don’t want just because a government body assumes they have the authority and power.

According to the Florida Constitution at Article 1 Section 1, it states that “All political power is inherent in the people.” Therefore, the voice of the people supercedes the goals of the EWD Board of Supervisors. Therefore, we ask you to send a fax, e-mail to that Board requesting that they be true to their Oath of the U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution and not violate the “voice of the people.”

According to Bolam, “Jerry Paul who was the local state representative for this area will be at the meeting talking about funding. He was the state representative in 2004 and was responsible for the Enabling Act.  He currently is a lobbyist (Capitol Energy Florida) for EWD and for Key Agency (EWD co-chair Mr. Fogo is financially connected to Key Agency). EWD renewed their insurance coverage with Key Agency.”

The Englewood Water District is moving forward and a final vote on taking the property of these families will occur on Thursday, June 4th, 2015 at 8:00 a.m. Citizens may call the Englewood Water District at 941-474-3217 to voice their opinions on this issue or attend the meeting at 201 Selma Ave, Englewood, FL.

The Annual Female Veteran Retreat Is Quietly Approaching — Again by G. Alfano-Cronk

Last September, something quietly happened in our area that was not preceded by any big gala, covered in the society pages of our local newspapers, or really had any sort of hoopla connected to it at all.  There were no grant monies garnered for it and certainly none of the big named corporations came forward to volunteer to sponsor this event.  And by the opening day, there were still no anonymous donors who had mailed in donations to make this “great event” happen.  But what did happen; here in our own bustling and robust Sarasota community, was that a group of female veterans stepped up and took action themselves.  They decided that they needed to have their own issues addressed and their concerns shared with other female veterans, and rightfully so.  And so they quietly made it all happen…But will they have to do this again, on their own this year?  Or will you help them flourish?

At this point, you may be asking yourselves what action did these female veterans take and what happened here locally that you possibly missed out on last year.

Last September, “fifteen elite women warriors” came together to share 4 days and 3 nights of intense retreat activities.  Some people may not even know what a retreat is or what the purpose of it is:  A “retreat” is….www.femaleveteransunite.com and it denotes a much different definition than that of a “conference”.

The reason why this retreat was so very rewarding, for all of those in attendance, was that the fifteen female veteran participants ranged in ages from 29 – 92.  We all know that whenever you have a wide age span, in a group of women, you will also have a variety of interesting life experiences that accompanies age.  And that was certainly the case during this retreat.

Our Women Warriors offered each other many suggestions that they found helpful in dealing with their own day to day activities; specifically noting what has worked for them and what has ultimately created distress in their lives.  All of the ladies enjoyed the group interaction, yet everyone expressed their thoughts and feelings with the utmost respect for each other.

So why is this article being written almost 8 months after the first retreat?  Because our community needs to know that our 2nd Annual Female Veteran’s Retreat will happen this year on September 10th through September 13th, at the Day Spring Retreat Center in Parrish.  And this year, we are all hoping that it will not happen quite “as quietly” as it did last year.

WHY?  Because Goodwill/Manasota has come on board as the “Platinum Circle Sponsors” and they are very dedicated to helping our veterans to succeed in our communities.  Our sincerest thanks go out to C.J. Bannister, Heather Hopewell, Mr. Bob Rosinsky, and all of his staff, for coming on board to assist us in making this another successful retreat.  But Goodwill was not the only community organization that reached out to us and wanted to get involved with our female veterans.  We are also privileged to have on board, our very own Southwest Blue Star Mothers, Chapter FL4 and Susan Chandler-Caruso as part of our retreat’s planning committee.   Who better than mothers; who bore our veterans and then nurtured their minds, bodies and souls, would understand what makes their own sons and/or daughters tick?  These are our role models (mothers) who have filled each veteran’s hearts with enough “ love & patriotism” to make them want to take an oath to serve this Country.

Who, but mothers; would know the real trials and tribulations that their child (a military veteran) faces on a daily basis?  These dear women have committed to being our “Gold Circle Sponsors.” They know how very overwhelming the transitioning process can be for a veteran, (moving from military life back into the civilian world), and they are making themselves available to help us out in any way that they can.

We are hoping that you too will show your support for the well being of our Women Warriors…Please take this opportunity to sponsor a female veteran or to make a donation to support this retreat. The cost to sponsor one female veteran is $400.00, but any amount of money will be gladly accepted, to include marketing merchandise to be placed in each one of the ladies’ tote bags.  The $400.00 fee covers all of the retreat costs, per veteran, for this wonderful 4 day and 3 night event.

The Home Depot store, on Cattleman Road, will have their Assistant Support Department Supervisor, (female veteran Ms. Patty Maybray) hosting another “project night” for the women. Ms. Maybray will supervise and instruct the veterans with a DIY project that is worked on simultaneously while the women engage in group discussion on a specific topic.  At the completion of this session, each veteran will get to take home a beautifully completed project, compliments of Home Depot.

Dr. Marguerite Barnett (Owner of the Mandala Med Spa, a local reconstructive surgeon, and herself a female veteran) will facilitate a segment of the retreat on “self-esteem” and then she will demonstrate and teach the ladies a form of powerful self-expression through dance!

The Committee knows that it has made a great difference in the lives of the 15 female veterans who attended last year’s retreat, and hopefully it will do the same for 25 more women warriors this year.

Georgie Alfano-Cronk (Retreat Coordinator) and Rebecca Ludwick (Retired Army Lt.) says that “There is a great degree of confidentiality that must be maintained during the course of our retreat activities, but the ladies are allowing us to share with you the comments that they provided us with on their final surveys.  The comments ranged from, “I felt very special because I actually took ME time in order to address just MY needs”.  “I cannot believe that there are other women who went through the exact same stuff as I did”. “I have been living in a hell for over 20 years and the VA just doesn’t seem to have the proper staff to deal with my problems”.  “No woman should have to have her body abused and violated in order to serve her country or anywhere else”.  And the less emotionally charged comments were… “It gave me time to get away from the daily routines of life”.  “I loved the comradery of my sisters”.  “We need to make this retreat a National one for women veterans”.  “Can we do this more frequently”?

women veterans

Our youngest veteran (29) and our oldest veteran (92) in attendance at last year’s retreat.

When our military female veterans speak out, we need to ask each one of you; who is really listening to them?  Who would (or should) care more about a female veteran than another female veteran?  And that is why we, (the Sarasota County Women’s Veteran Committee), decided that; FEMALE VETERANS NEED TO HAVE THEIR VOICES HEARD TOO and that is exactly what we advocate for our Women Warriors to do!  Speak out and feel no shame!

During our retreat time, we will spend countless hours together in a group setting, supporting each other as we discuss topics such as: military sexual trauma (MST), traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress (PTS), how does one navigate the VA health care system, where can jobs be found, how important is furthering one’s education, how does one acquire balance in their lives, how to manage anger and depression, and how to have more healthy relationships.

One of the platforms that we utilize for many of our discussions is provided to us by NO MORE.ORG.  If you are not aware of this wonderful organization, please check them out.  Our military veterans have gotten on board with them to say, “We will tolerate No More sexual assaults.  No More domestic violence.

So during those three days in September (the 10-13th), please remember to pray (or to just think) of our women warriors.  Our mission is to continue to flourish in our civilian lives.  We want to grow ever more confident and remain focused enough so that we may continue to be devoted parents, caregivers, lovers and friends.  But we  would also like to stress, that whenever you see a couple at a military function, please “do not assume” that it was the man who took the oath to serve his Country.  Ask the woman, “By any chance, did you serve in the military”?  And don’t be surprised when she answers, “Yes, I did”.

Donations are now being accepted for this retreat.  Please send your check to: Goodwill – Manasota, P.O. Box 5403, Sarasota, FL 34277-5403 and every donation is tax deductible.  There is also a Go Fund Me page for donations at: http://www.gofundme.com/female-vet-retreat. The Women’s Veteran Committee may be reached at:  femaleveteransunite@gmail.com if you have any questions or concerns.  And to be considered for this 2nd Annual Female Veteran Retreat, please go to our website:  www.femaleveteransunite.com, fill out an application and mail it back into us prior to July 31st.

Thank you and God bless our veterans who have sacrificed so very much for our country.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ms. Georgie Alfano-Cronk is the Chairwoman of the Women’s Veteran Committee for the Sarasota County Veterans Commission.  She was Sarasota County’s 2010 Female Veteran of the Year and is an advocate for ALL of our female veterans. Georgie will also be one of 4 veterans who will be honored at the JFCS Tribute Luncheon for Military Veterans on May 29th, 2015, at Michael’s On East.

Florida: Time for the Sarasota County School Board to Operate in the Sunshine

One Sarasota County School Board member has been pushing to have all meetings televised and open to the public. Her name is Bridgette Ziegler.

In November we wrote about Sarasota Herald-Tribune Opinion Editor Tom Tryon’s concern that Ziegler was bringing discord to the Sarasota School Board. We wrote:

Tryon is concerned that  in the local community there is “a palpable sense of hostility, enmity and animus.” Tryon wants to be the “can’t we all just get along” Rodney King of Sarasota, Florida. You know, think alike, be alike, don’t stand out from the crowd for your ideas and ideals. Perhaps Tryon should write a letter to President Obama on his enmity toward Republicans, rather than picking on a working mother who is doing her civic duty [Ziegler].

[ … ]

He wants this school board member [Ziegler] to embrace government secrecy and behind closed door “workshop” meetings in the name of being nice.

Well it appears others agree with Ziegler on operating in the sunshine, especially when it comes to the “closed door workshops” to select a new superintendent.

Sarasota Herald-Tribune reporter Shelby Webb recently reported:

The Sarasota County School Board will dip its toe into the search for Superintendent Lori White’s replacement during a monthly work session on Tuesday, but one local nonprofit has already cried foul.

Joe Hembree, president of the Argus Foundation, wrote a letter to the School Board asking that Tuesday’s monthly work session be televised.

He said agenda items referring to the superintendent search and the financial advisory committee are “very significant items of public interest” that should be easily accessible to parents, teachers, students and other stake-holders.

“Any discussions on these items, whether informative in nature or preliminary, are important ones and we feel strongly that the public should be informed and have easy access to view,” Hembree wrote.

Gee, is it not in the best interest for all to see the discussion on choosing a new superintendent? Does this not deserve the sunshine?

Ziegler has been vindicated. Time to give her credit where it is due.

As we wrote in November, “Abandon your principles, says Tryon, and you will be loved. Tryon has one thing right, the 2014 mid-term election is over. But the bad policies of the school board continue… Enmity is a good thing. Marching in lockstep is a bad thing, just as it is in Washington, D.C. and at Sarasota school board meetings. Different ideas must be heard, discussed in a civil manner and then voted on. That is the Constitutional Republican way.”

Does Florida want ‘Rubber Stamp’ School Boards?

Diverse views are needed on every board or committee, not one opinion to the exclusion of all others. Political discourse is healthy. One mindedness is dangerous and is called tyranny.

The Sarasota County School Board supports diversity, the exception being if one talks about diverse positions on school board matters. Recently this came to light when school board members went to Tallahassee to lobby the state legislature on matters of importance to students and parents. One of the issues of importance is vouchers for students provided by businesses.

Supporters of public charter schools, school voucher programs, equal funding for charter schools and home schooling are persona non grata to the Florida School Board Association, Florida Association of District School Superintendents, Florida’s teachers unions and Florida Democrats and some Republicans. Anyone who opposes the government public school monopoly is immediately classified as a “rival.” This is particularly true of school board members who support programs to give parents and students choices as to where they would like children to get an education.

Diversity and choice are one way streets to some elected officials and school bureaucrats. Going down the wrong road is considered blasphemy and creates discord. This discord must be stamped out at all cost.

Well there is a light of hope in the sunshine state from those who truly support diversity and choice in education. 

Zac Anderson and Shelby Webb from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported, “Sarasota County’s five School Board members used the school district’s spring break this week to lobby legislators and talk education policy in the state capital. But they weren’t all always working from the same playbook.” Question for Zac and Shelly: Since when are school board members required to work from any playbook? Aren’t school board members elected to represent the best interest’s of children and parents?

Anderson and Webb go on to report on “rival” school board organizations. The Florida School Board Association (FSBA) is presently suing the state of Florida to stop a voucher program to help students go to a school of their choice. The other organization is pro-choice and wants to stop the strangle hold of the FSBA on public education in general and school choice in particular.

Anderson and Webb wrote:

Another school board member from Escambia County, Jeff Bergosh, said he considers himself a “real threat to the status quo” and is intending to introduce a motion at his next board meeting asking the district not pay his portion of the $21,766 in dues owed to the Florida School Board Association.

“I’m tired of sending my money every year to an organization that’s working against school choice and suing the governor and Legislature,” Bergosh said.

Why would any school board member support using taxpayer money to fund an organization that does not have the best interests of students and parents in mind? 

Another issue raised by one school board member was “bias” in the current professional development opportunities offered to school board members. School board members, like students under Common Core, are being told what to think, not how to think, about public education.

sarasota school board logo with zuckerFor some school board members like Carolyn Zucker, president-elect of FSBA, it is all about the money, not the student. Zucker is worried about “…[Florida] House legislation that would allow certain businesses to solicit and collect contributions for the construction and maintenance of public education facilities. Zucker worries, “[I]t means the legislators will decrease capital funds going to districts and will instead rely on private contributions.”

Sheldon Richman in “Can the Free Market Provide Public Education?” writes:

The short answer, of course, is: yes, look around. Right now, private enterprise and nonprofit organizations provide all manner of education—from comprehensive schools with classes in the traditional academic subjects, to specialized schools that teach everything from the fine arts to the martial arts, from dancing to dieting, from scuba diving to scrutinizing one’s inner self.

[ … ]

The free market—and I include here both for-profit and nonprofit organizations—would provide even more education than it does now but for the “unfair competition” from government. Since government has a resource that private organizations lack—the taxpayers—it’s able to offer its services for “free.” They’re not really free, of course; in the government context, “free” means that everyone pays whether he wants the service or not. Clearly, as long as government can tax its citizens and then provide educational services to them at a marginal price of zero, much private education will never come into being. How ironic that government vigilantly looks for predatory pricing in the private sector when it is the major offender.

Richaman concludes, “Thus it is not only the case that the free market can provide education. We may conclude further that only the free market should provide education.”

Now that is divergent thinking.

America is based upon an educated public. The public education monopoly is another matter all together.

Can Sarasota School Board candidate Ken Marsh be ‘Trusted’?

Ken Marsh is a life long public school bureaucrat who has worked for two school districts, most recently for 25 years in Sarasota County. The corner stone of his campaign is the slogan “Trusted Education Leader”. But can Ken Marsh be trusted?

Dictionary.com defines trusted as “reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence.”

What if a person repeatedly violates school board policy during their campaign? Can you trust such a person?

marsh at booker middle school

Photo from the Ken Marsh for School Board Facebook page. Photo courtesy of Ken Marsh. For a larger view click on the image.

Let’s look at the facts. Sarasota School District policy 9.40 — Advertising in Schools states:

School facilities shall not be used for advertising or otherwise promoting the interests of any commercial, political, or other non-school agency; or individual organization; nor shall School Board employees or students be employed in such a manner.

Here is what we know about Ken Marsh, those supporting him and his campaign:

  1. Ken Marsh’s Campaign Facebook page shows a photo (upper right) of Marsh sitting on the steps of the Booker Middle School Amphitheater, in violation of SB Policy 9.40.
  2. A Ken Marsh for School Board campaign flyer (below) uses images of five public schools, also in violation of SB Policy 9.40
  3. A Ken Marsh for School Board absentee ballot mailer uses an image of the Marsh photo on school board property in violation of SB Policy 9.40
  4. Ken Marsh and his campaign have benefited from individual’s using the district email system for political purposes in violation of the Sarasota County Schools Information Technology Guidelines and Procedures.
  5. Ken Marsh and his campaign have benefited from individuals using the district email system to endorse him for school board.
  6. Ken Marsh and his campaign have benefited from the District Director of Communications Gary Leatherman receiving, reviewing, editing and returning a Ken Marsh campaign flyer, for which Leatherman was reprimanded by the District Superintendent Lori White.
  7. Ken Marsh and his campaign have benefited from School Board member Shirley Brown’s email inviting Austin Jambor, a financial adviser at Morgan Stanley, to a Ken Marsh “reception” she is hosting “on Oct 1 in Prestancia” using the district email system.
  8. Ms. Brown notified the Ken Marsh campaign of a homosexual marriage event hosted by Equality Florida. Brown suggests that Ken Marsh and others from his campaign attend the event.

Is this the kind of behavior that demonstrates Marsh is a man of “integrity”, a man who can be trusted?

To date Ken Marsh has not denounced any of these violations of school board policy. To our knowledge Marsh has not asked any of his supporters or campaign staff to stop violating school board policies.  Marsh should know that each of the above is a violation of multiple School Board policies. He was a director in the school district and, as he points out in his website, is a bureaucrat with “35 years of public education experience.”

Would a man of integrity stay silent? Can you trust a man who sees wrongdoing and takes no action?

As Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote, “Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Perhaps Mr. Marsh does not believe in his own campaign’s rhetoric?

Ken Marsh is asking people to call him directly at 941.586.9526. If you would like to call Mr. Marsh perhaps you can ask: Ken, are you aware that your campaign is violating Chapter 9.40 of School Board policy by using images of schools in your political mailers?

KEN MARSH FLYER:

Marsh Mailer 1 (1)

Ken Marsh campaign flyer. For a larger view click on the flyer.

KEN MARSH ABSENTEE BALLOT MAILER

Ken Marsh Mailer

Ken Marsh absentee ballot mailer with photo of Marsh on his campaign Facebook page. For a larger view click on the image.

Ebola comes to Sarasota, Florida? Local hospital does not test patient for the virus! [+Video]

Multiple media sources are reporting on the case of a man who was placed in isolation at Sarasota Memorial Hospital on Friday, October 3rd. ABC Action News Channel 7, in the below video, reports, “Doctors say a patient who arrived Friday at Sarasota Memorial Hospital [and who recently returned from a trip to West Africa] with symptoms similar to Ebola is ‘highly unlikely’ to have the deadly virus, according to a statement from the hospital.”

Sarasota Memorial Hospital (SMH) states “[H]e does not meet the CDC criteria for Ebola testing.”

Question: Why wasn’t this patient tested for the Ebola virus?

None of the media has asked this simple but important question. Is it not better to be safe than sorry? Just because the patient does not meet the CDC criteria for Ebola testing does not mean that the test shouldn’t be given so both the patient and community can know for sure the results.

According to the Washington Post, “Since July, hospitals around the country have reported more than 100 cases involving Ebola-like symptoms to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, officials there said. Only one patient so far — Thomas Duncan in Dallas — has been diagnosed with Ebola.” Reuters reports, “Ten people deemed to have been at the highest risk of exposure to an Ebola patient in Dallas are now under isolation while they are being closely monitored, local officials said on Friday.”

We spoke with a former emergency room doctor and he said that “the CDC criteria are merely guidelines.” He belives the doctors at SMH can, and in his opinion, “should have immediately tested the man for Ebola.” The doctor said that “Ebola is airborne and that the public is being misinformed about the threat of the Ebola virus pandemic.” He points out that the Ebola case is Texas was badly mishandled with the patient initially not diagnosed with the virus. That patient subsequently was released by the local hospital and later returned and confirmed to have the Ebola virus.

The doctor also noted that U. S. hospitals are seeing other diseases, like tuberculosis and polio, which have been previously eradicated. He attributes this rise of infected people to the lack of a proper screening of all illegals coming into the country particularly those from areas such as the Middle East and Africa.

The results of the test would have been back by now and if negative no further action is needed. But we don’t know what we don’t know. Not doing the test raises questions that do not need to be raised. If the test is positive then major issues need addressing such as: what flight was this man on, who did he come in contact with after his arrival and who may have been exposed while the man was at the SMH emergency room.

ABC News further reports:

As a precaution, officials say the hospital activated the appropriate infection control protocols, including placing the patient in isolation and reporting the case to Florida Department of Health officials. Supervisors at the health department confirmed the patient did not meet the risk criteria for Ebola testing.

The CDC website states the following about testing for Ebola:

Diagnosing Ebola in an person who has been infected for only a few days is difficult, because the early symptoms, such as fever, are nonspecific to Ebola infection and are seen often in patients with more commonly occurring diseases, such as malaria and typhoid fever.

However, if a person has the early symptoms of Ebola and has had contact with the blood or body fluids of a person sick with Ebola, contact with objects that have been contaminated with the blood or body fluids of a person sick with Ebola, or contact with infected animals, they should be isolated and public health professionals notified. Samples from the patient can then be collected and tested to confirm infection. [Emphasis added]

Read more.

CDC Questions and Answers on Ebola: How do I protect myself against Ebola?

UPDATE:

Governor Scott released the following statement today announcing further state preparedness actions while the Department of Health works with the CDC to test a patient for Ebola in Miami:

“Florida’s Department of Health is working with the federal CDC to test a patient at a local Miami hospital who was screened today for Ebola. It’s important to point out that this patient did not meet the CDC case definition for Ebola, but the test is being conducted out of an abundance of caution and health officials expect the test to rule out Ebola. We are in close communication with Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez, and other local officials and health leaders in Miami-Dade.

“As we announced after our health briefing yesterday, Florida still does not have any confirmed cases of Ebola, and we hope we never do, but we are taking every preparedness step possible to keep our citizens and our visitors safe.

“We know from our experience in responding to hurricanes that we must prepare for the worst even as we hope for the best. As part of those preparedness efforts, Florida’s Department of Health today requested 30 additional Ebola testing kits from the CDC. This number of kits ensures that all of Florida’s 30 public hospitals have the ability to test patients who county health officials and the CDC believe need to be tested for Ebola. Additionally, the Department of Health requested 100 units of additional high-level personal protective equipment to ensure the state is ready to backfill any county whose medical personnel develop a future need for these supplies.

“We know Florida’s hospitals and county health offices are prepared to identify and treat patients who may have Ebola. While they are prepared on the local level, the state is requesting increased federal resources out of an abundance of caution for the unlikely event that we may have an extended response that warrants additional resources.

“In order to keep Floridians best informed about the Miami patient and any future developments, I have also asked the Division of Emergency Management to activate the state’s Joint Information Center tomorrow, Monday, at 9AM. Our first priority is to keep Florida’s residents and visitors safe and a big part of this effort will be to share accurate, timely information with the public.”

RELATED ARTICLES:

Time for a New Ellis Island?

CDC Warning: Immigrant Children Could Be Spreading This New Mystery Virus In Public Schools

Deadly Marburg hemorrhagic fever breaks out in Uganda – China.org.cn

UPDATE: Hospital Says Dallas Ebola Patient in Critical Condition

CDC Warning: Immigrant Children Could Be Spreading This New Mystery Virus In Public Schools

Ebola Going Viral? Two Patients with the Disease’s Symptoms are Hospitalized on East Coast

Thousands from Ebola Nations Allowed to Enter U.S. Without Additional Screening

EDITORS NOTE: The featured video is courtesy of ABC 7 News.

Florida High School promotes Godlessness in the name of ‘Diversity’

Dena Sturm

Dena Sturm, IB Program Adviser, Spanish teacher Riverview HS.

Riverview High School in Sarasota, Florida has an International Baccalaureate (IB) program. Under the Riverview High School IB program is a category titled “Service Organizations.” One of these organizations is the Coexistence Club. Dena Sturm is listed as the Docent Program Adviser for the IB Program Coexistence Club.

According to EmbracingOurDifferences.org:

The Embracing Our Differences partnership with Riverview High School’s International Baccalaureate (IB) Program continues to be the jewel in our crown.

Under our Docent Program, IB students and members of the Coexistence Club serve as docents and mentors to other students participating in our education program. Our student docents work in the parks daily leading groups and inspiring youngsters to recognize the messages delivered through the art and quotes. With their guided questions and planted seeds of inquiry, our young visitors are led to make realizations of their own about diversity and acceptance of others, including those different from themselves. [Emphasis added]

Learn more about Embracing Our Differences.

andrea rankin

Student Andrea Rankin the creator of Life’s Library.

What are the ” inspiring messages” being planted like seeds into the minds of youngsters at Riverview High School?

Perhaps a large 30’x30′ banner titled “Life’s Library” by Andrea Rankin can give us a clue. The banner hangs prominently on the wall at the entrance of the high school directly across from the school’s administrative offices. The banner is in full color and sponsored by the Coexistence Club Riverview High School.

Rankin, a student at the Sarasota Technical Institute, created the “Life’s Library” based upon “her own experiences.” Rankin’s Life’s Library won the Best-in-Show and People’s Choice Award at the Embracing Our Differences 2012 art exhibit.

The “Life’s Library” book titles are solely Rankin’s view of the world. It is her view that is being viewed daily by Riverview High School students, faculty, staff and visitors.

photo (7)

The titles of the books in Rankin’s Life’s Library show exactly what is being promoted in the name of “diversity” by the Coexistence Club. Here are just some of the book titles:

  • Divorce was the best thing for my son.
  • I have two mommies.
  • I am not the 99% and it makes me feel guilty.
  • My brother is now my sister and I still love her.
  • People say I am skinny but I hate my body.
  • Sober 3 years, two months and 3 days.
  • Born this way (with gay flags).
  • I Love My Bubber with Star of David (a bubber is a wino or junkie)
  • I am not sure who God is or if there even is a God.
  • Being Muslim in America is hard.
  • Human – everything else is irrelevant.
  • Every tattoo has a deep personal meaning.
  • My tribe was the original homeland security.
  • My piercings make me pretty.

Diversity now means embracing an anything goes mentality when it comes to family, marriage, sexual behavior, tattoos, body piercing,  science and God. Rankin’s titles confuse nature’s gender differences with unnatural sexual behaviors. It compares real differences based on ethnicity and applies them to human behaviors. It creates cognitive dissonance in the young and impressionable by mixing metaphors. It equates Muslim life in America without addressing Muslim life in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq or Afghanistan. Rankin takes morality and turns it on its head in the name of coexistence.

Perhaps the Sarasota County School Board should look into what exactly the Riverview High Coexistence Club is pedaling to the Riverview High School students?

The absurdities listed on this poster are quickly becoming the norm in our public schools, much to the detriment of our community. That is the reality. Our public schools, with the support of the Sarasota County School Board, are creating a generation of Godless children, who have no moral basis upon which to make life’s critical decisions. The only thing being embraced is Rankin’s view of the world, but then again she is a product of our Sarasota County School system.

As Ronald Reagan said, “Without God there is no virtue because there is no prompting of the conscience…without God there is a coarsening of the society; without God democracy will not and cannot long endure… If we ever forget that we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a Nation gone under… Government should uphold–and not undermine–those institutions which are custodians of the very values upon which civilization is founded: religion, education and, above all, family.”

Perhaps the “jeweled crown” of diversity needs to be replaced with one made from the vines of a thorn bush and placed upon the head of a Nazarene who was crucified by a people who embraced many of the ideals displayed on this banner.

You see, there is one book you can judge by its cover – The Holy Bible – for it is the library for life. Its lessons are conspicuously absent from Rankin’s Life Library.

EDITORS NOTE: Below is the original “Life’s Library” by Andrea Rankin.

Print

Dr. Rich Swier endorses Caragiulo for Sarasota County Commission

paul caragiulo with family

Paul Caragiulo with wife Nikki and daughters Sophie and Caroline.

It is rare that men of character run for public office. One man of great character is running for the Sarasota County Commission. His name is Paul Caragiulo.

Paul is a family man, first and foremost. He is a son, husband, father and the youngest of six siblings who was raised in Sarasota County. His father, a baker who immigrated from Italy to the United States in 1958, and mother, a homemaker, have made their home in Sarasota for more than two decades.

Paul is a fighter for individual property rights and empowering the people not government bureaucrats or special interests. Paul is a small business owner. He has been the victim of government overreach. Paul understands that the business of government is small business. Paul wants prosperity for his family, his two daughters and every resident of Sarasota County. Paul understands that the greatest threat to prosperity is central planning. Paul learned from the 2008 housing market meltdown that government is not the answer because it was government at every level that created the problem.

Paul has served as a City of Sarasota Commissioner since 2011 and brings that wealth of experience with him to the County Commission. He understands neighborhood issues, small business issues and most importantly human issues. Paul understands that his role as an elected official is to represent all of the people not any special interest.

I fully support and endorse Paul Caragiulo in District 2 Republican primary.

I ask that you support Paul in any way that you can, contribute to his campaign and most importantly vote for him on August 26th.

To learn more about Paul Caragiulo click here.

Sarasota School Board member Shirley Brown got a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood: Is she pro-abortion or pro-life?

Shirley Brown WEB

Shirley Brown.

The Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates (FAPPA) in 1998 rated Florida elected officials. The issues each elected official was rated on were abortion and reproduction. On that 1998 list is current School Board member Shirley Brown. At the time of the FAPPA rating Mrs. Brown was a state legislator and only one of eight who received a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood.

Shirley Brown’s campaign website states she is, “The mother of two children – including one who grew up to be a teacher herself – Shirley also has 3 grandchildren. She attends Church of the Palms with her husband Jack, daughter Angie, and granddaughter.”

Oxymoron is defined as a “figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction.” An oxymoron is using  the words Planned Parenthood in conjunction with mother and grandmother. Shirley should be grateful that her mother did not abort her. Shirley’s two children should be grateful that they were not aborted. Shirley’s three grandchildren should also be grateful they were not aborted.

It is ironic that all those who are pro-abortion have already been born.

Aren’t school board members all about protecting the children? Since its establishment, Planned Parenthood has aborted over 55 million children who would have gone to our schools, perhaps onto college, gotten jobs, married, raised their own children and would now be productive citizens in America. All paying taxes to keep our public schools funded.

Perhaps Mrs. Brown should watch this video of supermodel Kathy Ireland explaining why she became pro-life:

Or this video by 22-year old Taylor Hyatt:

The church Mrs. Brown attends has this graphic on its website:

church of palms mission statement

For a larger view click on the image.

Mrs. Brown has been equipped to be a disciple for the service of Jesus Christ. Perhaps Mrs. Brown has aligned herself more with Jesus Christ?

Question: Mrs. Brown are you pro-life now?

RELATED ARTICLES:

Must Watch: Planned Parenthood Caught on Camera Helping Sex Traffickers Get Abortions for Child Sex Slaves

Is Planned Parenthood Abusing Tax Dollars?

Florida Senate Passes Textbook Review Legislation

Aya Sewell, Sarasota Citizen Activist in 2010 Protests Houghton Mifflin textbook World History: Patterns of Interaction

textbooks

Click on image for a larger view.

In Tallahassee, on April 11, 2014, the Republican controlled  Florida Senate passed SB 864 sponsored by Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) by a narrow vote of 21 to 19. The measure would eliminate State Department of Education control over selection of textbooks returning that role to Florida’s 67 school districts, requiring open public hearing on texts used in courses.  The bill reflected in part concerns of conservative Groups over the Common Core Curriculum State Standards, sponsored by the National Association of Governors and Council of Chief State School Officers  seeking to impose national standards. Despite that criticism the Common Core has been adopted in Forty-four states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA).

However, SB 864 was largely prompted by a different issue; objections of parental groups in several Florida counties in about the treatment of Islam and Muslim culture in world history textbooks on the Florida State Department of Education list of approved texts.  A companion bill (HB 921) is working its way  through the Florida House sponsored by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton.  That version would provide a local option to districts to review texts; however, the selections must still meet state standards. Gaetz was quoted in a News Herald editorial saying: “I think there’s an increasing frustration by parents in our state, that they don’t have a lot of say regarding the content and materials their children use in the classroom.”

Local advocates here in Florida drew attention to misrepresentations of Islam in protests in Volusia, Brevard and Sarasota Counties. Our Iconoclast post on the subject, “Sarasota, Florida’s biased Islam textbook problem”,  highlighted the relentless efforts of citizen activist Aya Sewell. Ms. Sewell is of Iraqi Jewish  heritage, members of her family were  subject to a 1941 pogrom against the Jewish population in Baghdad, the Farhud.  Sewell led a campaign against such texts locally in Sarasota, as well as before the Florida Department of Education.  Elsewhere in the US, Tennessee parents have also raised objections to similar course material extolling Palestinian suicide bombers. Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) in Boston accused the Newton, Massachusetts school board and superintendent for permitting use of texts and course materials that engage in promoting false information regarding both Islam and demonization of Israel.  APT undertook content and bias analysis and promoted their findings that included placing ads in local area media and a petition campaign.

An article in the current edition of Education Week noted the debate over the pending Florida textbook legislation:

[Sen. ]Hays said the legislation was needed so that school board members will be accountable to parents and voters. He said school board members have blamed the state for the textbooks they picked.

“This bill imposes on the local school board members the responsibility and accountability to their citizens,” Hays said.

Opponents complained it would cost districts money to review textbooks. Sen. Geraldine Thompson, D-Orlando, said she was worried that some districts would wind up censoring some books, while other senators raised questions about whether districts would pick textbooks aligned to the state’s current standards.

Even Florida Education Commissioner Pam Stewart questioned Hays’ bill.

“From a practical standpoint it lifts a burden from us,” Stewart said. “But we heard loud and clear from districts that they rely on (the state review). They need that. They don’t have the resources to be able to do that.”

Following the Florida Senate vote on SB 864, CAIR-Florida unleashed an ad hominem campaign against Sen. Hays.  CAIR  undertook  an Action Campaign sending  Florida  Legislators an inflammatory Daily Beast  opinion column by Dean Obeidallah, that headlined, “Islamophobic Florida Republican Would Legalize Textbook Censorship”. Obeidallah  (which  means “little servant of God in Arabic”) is a former  lawyer,  self-styled Arab American stand up comic,  son of a Palestinian father and mother of Sicilian ancestry who grew up in Paramus, New Jersey.  Self proclaimed Muslim Obeidallah has been involved in several controversial issues including an apology to the Romney family.  CAIR, a Muslim Brotherhood front group, was listed as one of several unindicted co-conspirators in the 2008 Federal Dallas Holy Land Foundation Trial involving funneling tens of millions to Hamas, an MB affiliate.

This latest action by CAIR-Florida  followed earlier criticism of  SB 386, also sponsored by Sen. Hays,  on the acceptance of foreign laws in certain cases by Florida’ s court system as “bullying  legislation against Muslims and other minorities”.  Both  SB 386  and companion house  version (HB903) are currently pending floor votes in both the Senate and  House prior to the end of the 2014 Legislative session on May 2nd in Tallahassee.

To illustrate the concerns of  Floridians that prompted  Sen. Hays  and Rep. Gaetz  to sponsor SB 864 and HB 921, we  investigated  an assessment  performed  by  Jacksonville-based Verity Educate  (VE) of  one the texts on the approved list of the Florida State Department of Education. It was  Houghton Mifflin  Harcourt, Holt McDougal high school  text book called World History: Patterns of Interaction.  VE is a non-partisan, independent organization that uses scholars to examine and provide thorough reports on content accuracy and objectivity in textbooks and curricular material.   VE has performed such assessments at the request of parental groups in Massachusetts, Tennessee and Texas.

A letter we requested from the executive director of VE, Dr. Ellen R. Wald, noted the scope of their investigation of the Houghton Mifflin high school textbook:

Verify Educate examined the 2012 Tennessee edition of  World History: Patterns of Interaction. Verify Educate’s analysis concerned only the sections of the book dealing with the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as other related topics, including certain events in India, Spain, the United States, and the region around the Black Sea. This was done at the request of parents who specifically felt that their backgrounds were insufficient to examine these topics.

VE’s findings from its analysis  are:

The reviewed sections of this textbook exhibit regular flaws of factual inaccuracy, dishonesty, and bias. The primary concern with this textbook is the desire to make arguments and instill opinions in the students. These arguments come at the expense of instilling a fluency in the material (a knowledge of the language and facts). An additional effect of the focus on arguments is the lost opportunity for students to practice and develop critical thinking skills.

The most prevalent flaws in this textbook include the following:

  • The text presents religious texts and tradition as historical evidence even absent independent corroboration. The text regularly uses the Koran and other religious writings to relate events as history and fails to mention when no independent corroboration from sources outside the religion exists. In most cases the text fails to differentiate between history and religious tradition.
  • The text portrays religion as the defining characteristic of the Middle East and Central Asia throughout history, such that essentially all accomplishments and events are based on religion. Among the detrimental effects of this argument are lost opportunities for students to engage in critical thinking, distorted views of history, and the denigration of the inhabitants of this region. Limiting the basis for the history of the Middle East and Central Asia to a narrow focus on religion disparages and demeans the people, politics, geography, and historical events that occurred, particularly when religion is not highlighted in other regions.
  • The text repeatedly asserts that the religion of Islam dictates “tolerance” of non Muslims and that Muslim rulers have historically practiced “tolerance” towards the non-Muslim populations under their rule. This argument is promoted at the expense of examining historical facts honestly and fostering critical thinking. Students are presented with a conclusion and historical facts are often manipulated or stripped of nuance to convince students, even in cases when this conclusion is false. The focus on religious “tolerance” is unique to the sections of the text discussing Islam, and it  borders on obsession and bias.
  • The text depicts the depth and breadth of “Muslim contributions” as unique in history and as the result of Islam. In this regard, the text consistently attributes the successes of diverse societies to religion alone, even when these societies are geographically dispersed and chronologically distant. For example, the text connects the mathematical advances of a 9th century Spanish mathematician to the architectural exploits of a 17th century Mughal emperor in India based solely on their religion. The diverse Muslim populations over a 1500-year period do not constitute one society. In addition, the attention devoted to “Muslim contributions” far surpasses the attention given to any other society’s accomplishments.

That leads to the question of who wrote such misleading entries about Islam that the VE analysis  uncovered in the Houghton Mifflin publication.

One of those groups relied on by major textbook publishers is the Council on Islamic Education  known as the Institute on Religious and Civic Values (IRCV). Its founder, Shabbir Mansuri, is listed as an academic reviewer on a textbook used in Brevard County.

In 2001 the OC Weekly newspaper in California interviewed Mansuri about comments Lynne Cheney made lamenting the amount of time schools were spending teaching cultures that were not American. Mansuri took her comments as a personal attack.

“For the past 11 years, Mansuri has waged what he calls a ‘bloodless’ revolution: promoting an increased emphasis on world cultures and faiths – including Islam – inside American junior high and high school campuses,” the newspaper reported.

The IRCV had Saudi funding to pay Muslim scholars writing those chapters in the Prentice Hall, Pearson, Houghton Mifflin and other world history text  books.

Back in 2002,  this writer  ran interference for the American Jewish Committee chapter in Connecticut in an episode involving federal funding of a Da’wa program on Islam run with Muslim instructors as a summer program for public high school teachers at a state university.   During that episode we made the acquaintance of Stanley Kurtz  of the Hoover Institute at the time on this issue. Kurtz wrote a series of investigative articles for the NRO about the Title VI USDOE Higher Education Act grants for Middle East Studies programs dominated by Islam and Palestinian apologists. Universities, as Kurtz pointed out who benefitted from US Higher Education Act Title VI grants were engaged in preparation of work books for teachers in K-12 that engaged in role playing for fourth graders costumed as Arabs.

That effort led us to the forensic reviews –Islam in the Classroom – conducted by Dr. Gilbert T. Sewall of the American Textbook Council (ATC) on world history texts produced by the four major US textbook publishers.  Sewall  found those treatments biased   and in some cases prepared by the Saudi-financed and California based  IRVC. We later found out that effort had begun in the “image studies” funded by American oil partners of ARAMCO  in the early 1970’s objected to in the mid 1980’s  by a  study conducted by a school district in Tucson, Arizona.   The latest edition of the continuing ATC review of  Islam in the Classroom What the Texts Tell us by Dr. Sewall  was published in 2008.  Its conclusions corroborate the findings  of  Dr. Wald’s analysis in the VE report. To wit:

  • Many political and religious groups try to use the textbook process to their advantage, but the deficiencies in Islam-related lessons are uniquely disturbing. History textbooks present an incomplete and conflicted view of Islam that misrepresents its foundations and challenges to international security.
  • Misinformation about Islam is more pronounced in junior high school textbooks than high school textbooks.
  • Outright textbook errors about Islam are not the main problem. The more serious failure is the presence of disputed definitions and claims that are presented as established facts.
  • Deficiencies about Islam in textbooks copyrighted before 2001 persist and in some cases have grown  worse. Instead of making corrections or adjusting contested facts, publishers and editors defend misinformation and content evasions against the record. Biases persist. Silences are profound and intentional.
  • Islamic activists use multiculturalism and ready-made American political movements, especially  those on  campus,  to  advance and  justify  the makeover of Islam-related textbook content.
  • Particular fault  rests  with  the publishing  corporations,  boards  of  directors,  and executives who decide what editorial policies their companies will pursue.

Publishers have developed new world and U.S. history textbooks at three different grade levels. Errors about Islam that occurred in older textbooks have not been corrected but reiterated. Publishers have learned of contested facts and have had the time to correct imbalances. But instead of making changes, they have sustained errors or, in deliberate acts of self censorship, have removed controversial material.

In an interview, Dr. Wald of VE analyzed the effects of  Florida Senate Bill SB 864 :

While SB 864 leaves all of the Florida state standards intact, and even highlights further standards to ensure fairness to all ethnic, religious, and diversity groups, the bill provides for parents and communities to have a greater say in the local education system.  Given that the standards are maintained, I can’t see how this bill could engender any more censorship than would come out of the current state review process.  In fact, the bill has the potential to severely decrease censorship.  Whereas now the state board can reject material for the entire state, under this bill, each community would make its own decision, and a rejection would only impact that community.

We commend Florida Sen. Alan Hays and Rep. Matt Gaetz for their sponsorship of  SB 864 and HB 921. Given the analyses of Drs. Wald of Verity Educate and Dr. Sewall of American Textbook Council  Florida may lead the nation to reign in the misleading depiction of Islam in World History texts. By devolving reviews of leading publishers to local school districts in the Sunshine State that may allow concerned parents  to sponsors such studies forcing publishers to finally correct  errors of both omission and commission.

We look forward to the reconciliation of the Senate and House versions leading to passage and ultimate enactment into law.

RELATED STORY: Canada: Criticism of Islam forbidden by Toronto District School Board

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Classical Academy comes to Sarasota, Florida

Josh and Harmony, two teachers with children, have made it their mission to start a classical academy serving the Sarasota County area. At first they applied to become a charter school but thought better of it and decided on the private school model. Because of their efforts the Classical Academy of Sarasota (TCA) is now registering students for the 2014-2015 school year.

TCA will host an Open House and informational meeting on Thursday, January 16, 2014 from 6:30pm to 8:00pm at their campus at 8751 Fruitville Road (Faith Baptist Church). In an email TCA states, “Come see our beautiful campus and learn what classical education looks like in the classroom, from kindergarten to high school. Applications will be available that evening and TCA leadership will be on hand to answer all questions.” To learn more visit www.tcasarasota.com or email info@tcasarasota.com.

According to their website:

The mission of The Classical Academy of Sarasota is to develop the academic potential of each student through a rigorous, content-rich, classical liberal arts education while building in them a virtuous character.

Our purpose is to develop graduates who are logical thinkers, coherent writers, confident speakers, thoughtful leaders and responsible virtuous citizens.

Classical education has had a resurgence across America, and Sarasota is finally getting a classical liberal arts school the fall of 2014 The Classical Academy of Sarasota (TCA) will open its doors as a Pre-K to 9th grade school, adding a grade every year, graduating the first senior class in 2017.

Classical education is a balanced education that attends to advancing the student’s intellect while instructing their moral character. Students have, at their command, a large body of factual knowledge, a logical frame of mind that allows them to organize and analyze facts, and the ability to put forward reasoned and persuasive arguments in what they say and write.

Classically educated students are:

  • logical thinkers
  • coherent writers
  • confident eloquent speakers
  • thoughtful leaders
  • responsible virtuous citizens

TCA’s founders spent a year and a half consulting with Hillsdale College in the creation of the school. Their input into academic philosophy and curriculum has helped establish the strong foundation which TCA will build upon in the coming years.

TCA will open as a private school in order to provide greater competition in the free-market to the public school system. TCA will be a school free from the Common Core, free from test driven curriculum, and free to educate the next generation of self-governing citizens who truly understand the rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As a private school we want ALL kids to have access and therefore we need the help of people who understand the value of providing an education that focuses on individual achievement and producing leaders and entrepreneurs. The words of Reagan remind us that, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

If you are interested in finding out more about The Classical Academy of Sarasota or to support its mission please visit the website at www.tcasarasota.com.