Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wisconsin Education Officials Want Students to Wear ‘White racism armband

Sounds pretty racist!

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction runs several programs that heavily emphasize racial issues in public schools, has been finding.

Some feel that one of those programs – an Americorps operation called VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) – may go a bit overboard by encouraging white students to wear a white wristband "as a reminder about your (white) privilege.”

Geared towards high school students, the program “seeks to build capacity in schools and districts serving low-income families to develop an effective, sustainable, research-based program of family-school-community partnerships,” according to its Facebook page.

That sounds reasonable enough.  But the program’s approach becomes a bit suspect when one reads the Gloria Steinem quote on the top of its webpage: “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”

The webpage also offers a series of suggestions for high schools students to become more racially sensitive. They include:

* Wear a white wristband as a reminder about your privilege, and as a personal commitment to explain why you wear the wristband.

* Set aside sections of the day to critically examine how privilege is working.

* Put a note on your mirror or computer screen as a reminder to think about privilege.

The Wisconsin DPI also sponsors several similar programs, including CREATE Wisconsin, an on-going “cultural sensitivity” teacher training program which focuses largely on “whiteness” and “white privilege.”

EAGnews will be exposing more about that program in a film documentary titled, “RE-CREATING AMERICA: Cultural Sensitivity in Wisconsin Schools,” along with a two-day written series on the same topic, beginning Wednesday.

Will DPI’s obsession with race and “white privilege” actually translate into better educational outcomes for all students? Not likely.

But it will continue to divide the state by race and income status, and allow bureaucrats to make a case for more government funding so they can create a different type of America.

Wisconsin taxpayers really ought to be paying more attention to how their education dollars are spent.


Sex-ed for kindergartners mandated in Chicago

A new sexual health program in the Chicago Public Schools mandates that a set amount of time be spent on sex education in every grade, beginning in kindergarten. The program also will discuss sexual orientation and gender identity for the first time.

Under the new policy, approved by the Chicago Board of Education Feb. 27, kindergarteners and first graders will focus on topics such as anatomy, healthy relationships and personal safety, the Chicago Tribune reported.

In second and third grades, the focus will be on growth and development. Fourth graders will learn about the physical, social and emotional aspects of puberty, along with the causes of HIV transmission, the Tribune reported. After fifth grade, the program will include discussions about human reproduction, healthy decision-making, bullying and contraception.

"They're very much pushing an extreme agenda across the board, both to normalize sex and begin the conversation earlier, and in total the K-12 curricula is explicit and not in the best health interests of the young people," Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, told Baptist Press.

Stephanie Whyte, chief health officer for Chicago Public Schools, told the Tribune the overhaul was motivated by the fact that more students are sexually active.

"Fifty-two percent of our students have had sexual intercourse," Whyte said, referring to the most recent school system data.

The policy also was designed to align with the standards in President Obama's national HIV/AIDS strategy, unveiled in 2010, according to ABC News.

The vision for that strategy states that the "United States will become a place where new HIV infections are rare and when they do occur, every person, regardless of age, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or socioeconomic circumstance, will have unfettered access to high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination."

Parents or guardians of students may opt out of Chicago's new sexual health education program.

Huber said she is "vehemently opposed" to starting sex education in kindergarten.

"I think it really goes back to how we define age appropriate. The groups who are promoting those standards would essentially define age appropriate as anything that can be cognitively understood even though it's not developmentally appropriate," Huber told Baptist Press. "So really there are no limits to what you can share as long as you make the vocabulary elementary enough.

"We think that does not make it age appropriate. It breaks down barriers of modesty. It also opens up topics long before the curiosity and the understanding of the child is there, and we think that if there are specific questions, certainly those should be asked, but they should be asked of parents, not in our kindergarten classrooms," she said.

Nate Adams, executive director of the Illinois Baptist State Association, said it's his view that sex education is best handled in the family.

"I would certainly personally be very cautious about entrusting to the public school system -- especially in a time when the culture's view of sex is so different from the Bible's in so many ways. We would certainly believe that the family is a more appropriate place for that to take place," Adams told Baptist Press.

Chicago has the third-largest public school system in the United States, and Huber said their actions could influence other communities.

"They are not unique, but they are a very large school district in a very large city," she said. "So I think the fact that they are doing this could bring other more reticent communities along the way."

The new Chicago policy comes just weeks after the Massachusetts Department of Education issued a directive saying boys and girls who identify as the opposite sex now are allowed to use whichever school restroom and locker room they prefer.

"There is a coarsening of our culture, obviously, and we've said for a long time that young people are growing up in one of the most highly sexualized times in American history," Huber said. "It's troubling."

The National Abstinence Education Association commissioned a survey of parents late last year that found parents are not supportive of current sex education policy in U.S. schools.

"They are supportive of sexual risk avoidance abstinence education, the way we cover topics, and they want their children to wait until they're married to have sex. They want them to know that there are limitations to condoms and that sex plus a condom doesn't equal safety," Huber said of the parents in the study.

"They want them to know about healthy relationships and all of those sorts of things, and I think that most parents -- and this was Republican, Democrat, black, white, Hispanic parents -- were pretty much in unanimity," she said.

Policymakers in some schools and in some communities, and even at a national level, Huber said, "are totally out of step with what parents want and certainly what's in the best interest of young people, whether they're kindergartners or teenagers.

"I can't look into their minds and know what their motivations are. All I can say is their decisions are wrong-headed," Huber said. "They're out of sync with what research tells us is best for young people, out of sync with what parents want, and it would be interesting to get inside their heads and see because they're terribly off track."

The new sexual health program in Chicago will not be implemented until 2016, so an opportunity exists for parents and concerned citizens to make their opinions known.

"It will be interesting to see this unfold, and I have hope that the parents in the Chicago Public Schools will rise up in defense of the sensibilities of the community and protection of their own children and voice their disapproval before this policy is actually implemented," Huber said.



What Teachers Really Want to Tell Parents

This summer, I met a principal who was recently named as the administrator of the year in her state. She was loved and adored by all, but she told me she was leaving the profession.

I screamed, "You can't leave us," and she quite bluntly replied, "Look, if I get an offer to lead a school system of orphans, I will be all over it, but I just can't deal with parents anymore; they are killing us."

Unfortunately, this sentiment seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list "issues with parents" as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges.

So, what can we do to stem the tide? What do teachers really need parents to understand?

For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don't fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer. I have become used to some parents who just don't want to hear anything negative about their child, but sometimes if you're willing to take early warning advice to heart, it can help you head off an issue that could become much greater in the future.

Trust us. At times when I tell parents that their child has been a behavior problem, I can almost see the hairs rise on their backs. They are ready to fight and defend their child, and it is exhausting. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I tell a mom something her son did and she turns, looks at him and asks, "Is that true?" Well, of course it's true. I just told you. And please don't ask whether a classmate can confirm what happened or whether another teacher might have been present. It only demeans teachers and weakens the partnership between teacher and parent.


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