Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wisconsin School Refused Veterans Day Ceremony Over Firearms

 For the first year, a local veterans group will not be holding a Veterans Day program at the Eau Claire area school district, the decision was because of a disagreement over firearms.

The Patriotic Council says it will not be able to teach younger generations about the sacrifices veterans have made this year because the organization isn't able to properly do so.

There are several different reasons cited, but one of the main concerns focuses around firearms on school grounds.

Vice President of the Patriotic Council, Kaye Olsen says, “Now as the last few years have gone on, with the school shootings and everything, it's getting harder to do our veterans programs like we want to.”

Olsen says with the recent school shootings, guns on school grounds have become an issue, but that also means hurting what she says is a meaningful tradition.

“It's really hard to tell the veterans they're not allowed to bring those rifles in,” says Olsen. “Which, the only purpose is, to honor our flag and our country and to teach the kids.”

The Eau Claire school district says while it wishes to honor the memory and sacrifice of veterans on Veterans Day, it's become more difficult to do so.

"We like to honor the veterans; we bring them in on a regular basis,” says Tim Libham, the Executive Director of Administration with the district. “There are just some conditions that we have to adhere to and the shooting of guns, even with blanks, is something we don't feel is appropriate given society, and the concerns that we have and that the community has, on school premises.”

Leibham says the district wants to accommodate the programs but has to keep the well-being of the students and their families in mind as well

Leibham says, “We'd had family and students that were uneasy, even with blanks being fired on school premise.”

But, Olsen says when it comes to firing the 21-gun salute during the program, there shouldn't be limitations. She says, “I was hoping maybe we could find a compromise, but when it comes to the weapons, there was no compromise.”

Olsen says the Patriotic Council will hold a Veterans Day program at the west side Burger King instead of at an area school on Veterans Day

She says there will be a wreath laying, taps and a 21-gun salute starting around 10:30am


UK: School governor told to resign 'because he had joined Ukip'

A school’s head of governors has claimed he was told to step down by the headteacher after she discovered he had joined Ukip.

Mike Ward has alleged Sue Whelan demanded that he resign from his role at Eskdale School in Whitby, North Yorkshire, because his new party's policies were against the ethos of the school.

Nigel Farage, Ukip leader, has called for a full public inquiry into his claims, suggesting the school is guilty of “discrimination, pure and simple”.

In a letter to his local newspaper, the Scarborough councillor said he was invited to a meeting with Mrs Whelan after his switch to Ukip was reported in local media.

At the meeting, the headteacher allegedly demanded his resignation, saying Mr Ward's political beliefs meant he could not continue to lead the school’s governing body.

Mr Ward, who has been a governor at Eksdale for eight years, said: “I was astonished as politics had never played a part in my time as a Governor but after some soul searching over the weekend and not wishing to cause the school any further issues I tendered my resignation which she accepted.

The councillor claimed he was informed of the school's views two days after switching sides at Scarborough Town Hall, where he had previously sat as an independent.

He said: "I am neither extremist or racist. I have always been independent, strongly advocating change.

"Ukip is fully committed to putting residents, their wishes and needs, first."

Adding he doesn't "want to make any political gains", Mr Ward said the "pupils must come first" at the school, which Ofsted inspectors said earlier this year requires improvement, having previously ruled it outstanding.

The school, which caters for pupils aged from 11 to 14, is now understood to have launched an internal investigation after a complaint was raised by a member of the public.

Nigel Farage, Ukip party leader, called for Mr Ward to be reinstated, despite his resignation.

He said: "It’s atrocious that Cllr Mike Ward a long standing, conscientious and dedicated School Governor has been forced to resign as a Governor of Eskdale School, a school he deeply cares for, just because he is a member of Ukip.

"Mike is a decent and honourable man who has always had the interests of the school and the wider community at the forefront of his mind and it is absolutely disgraceful that he has been treated in this way.

"This is discrimination pure and simple and I find it astounding that the head teacher has taken it upon herself to oust him. Questions need to be asked about why this has happened.

"In the meantime I stand with Mike and I can only hope the school sees sense and reinstates him."

Mr Ward has been a school governor at Eskdale for eight years and chairman for the last five. He also taught for two years at a school in nearby Filey.

Headteacher Sue Whelan has declined to comment, but a school spokesman said a statement would be released on Monday.

A spokesman for North Yorkshire County Council said: "We understand that the governing body is taking this complaint seriously and will respond to the complainant."


'British values' drive in schools undermines Christianity, says Church

Nicky Morgan’s drive to promote British values in schools undermines Christian teaching and is potentially dangerous, divisive and undemocratic, the Church of England has warned.

The Education Secretary was accused of adopting a ‘narrow’ set of values following the Trojan Horse scandal, ignoring Christian concepts such as ‘loving one’s neighbour’.

The Church, which is responsible for teaching about one million English children, fears Mrs Morgan’s definition of Britishness could be used too narrowly to test whether individuals are ‘safe’ and ‘loyal’ citizens.

It also criticised the use of Ofsted inspectors to ‘police’ the teaching of equality and diversity.

The comments come in response to rules, drawn up by former education secretary Michael Gove, intended to prevent Muslim extremism in schools, following claims of a plot to take over governing bodies in Birmingham.

Schools must ‘actively promote’ British values such as democracy, tolerance, mutual respect, individual liberty and the rule of law.

But complaints have been made that, in efforts to prevent religious extremism, the rules are having ‘disturbing consequences’ for moderate faith schools.

It emerged last month that a small Christian primary school in Reading was warned it could face closure for failing to invite imams and other religious leaders to take assemblies.

Trinity Christian School was told by Ofsted it was not adequately ensuring the ‘spiritual, moral, social and cultural development’ of pupils.

Its governors claim the school’s aims are being undermined and that it will be prevented in future from ‘teaching in accordance with our Christian foundation’.

The Church has accused Mrs Morgan of giving herself and her successors ‘very wide powers’ and ‘closing down’ public debate.

In what is likely to be seen as a reference to developments such as new gay marriage laws, it said rapid changes in society had been ‘unsettling’ for many.

The Church’s chief education officer, the Rev Nigel Genders, warned against ‘rejecting all forms of religion from our schools’.

He said, in an online essay this week, Church schools had never ‘been about indoctrination or recruitment’ but that extremism thrived if religion was ‘banished to dark corners’.

‘We wholeheartedly support the idea of schools being required to promote the values of tolerance and respect for those coming at things from a different perspective,’ Mr Genders wrote.

‘However, “British values” cannot be allowed to become a test … of whether somebody in a community is “safe” or “loyal”.’ He said changes in ‘equality and diversity’ in recent years remain ‘in many ways unresolved’ and some groups had found them ‘unsettling’.

Mr Genders added that policing the changes with ‘an ever increasing inspection regime’ would not increase public confidence in them.

In the Church’s response to the rules, it said the Coalition’s definition of British values was too narrow, ignoring Christian themes.

‘We are concerned that British values should emanate from a broad public conversation and not from the Secretary of State,’ the document warned.

‘By assuming the power to decide what reasonable or unreasonable behaviour is … [Mrs Morgan] would be taking very wide powers for herself and her successors and closing down the broader public debate.’

It described the ‘British values test’ as a ‘negative and divisive’ way define national identity.


Virginia High School Reverses Decision, Allows Pro-Life Club to Start Immediately

After nearly two months of debate, confusion and legal pressure, a Virginia high school student finally won the right to start a pro-life club at her school, effective immediately.

Courtland High School granted Madison Sutherland, a senior, the right to start the club after initially banning the group for a host of reasons, including an alleged incomplete application and the club’s lack of a relationship to the school’s curriculum, according to a news release from Students for Life of America.

After the school’s principal, Larry Marks, repeatedly hindered Sutherland’s efforts to start the club, the high school student enlisted the help of the Thomas More Society, a national public interest law firm, previously reported. The law firm sent Marks a demand letter last week requesting he reverse his initial decision and allow Sutherland to start her club.

Marks eventually agreed to allow the group, but not until next year – well after Sutherland and her fellow pro-life senior students would have graduated. But on Friday, Marks appeared to rethink the decision and requested that the Spotsylvania County School Board grant Sutherland permission to begin meeting with her fellow pro-life students immediately.

Citing “unique circumstances” in their official response, the school board agreed to allow the club.

“I am so excited that the school granted my request to start the pro-life club immediately,” Sutherland said in the news release, adding she plans to use the club “to educate my peers on alternatives to abortion, attend the March for Life rally in Washington, D.C., and support expectant mothers through a local pregnancy resource center.”

Students for Life of America called the school’s decision a “huge win” for Sutherland and the pro-life movement.

“This is a huge victory for Maddie and should encourage any pro-life student to fight for the right to start a pro-life club at their school,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America.

“High school pro-life clubs are often where the first fires of pro-life activism are lit and Maddie will have the opportunity now to educate her peers on the pro-life position on abortion. Maddie is a great example of courage for standing up for her pro-life beliefs and fighting to protect the rights of the preborn.”

“Just as students don’t lose their constitutional rights when they enter the schoolhouse gates, high school seniors don’t lose their First Amendment rights simply because they’re in their last year of school,” said Jocelyn Floyd, an attorney with the Thomas More Society.

“While we’re saddened that it took legal intervention to get the school to act, we’re thrilled that the school has now explicitly acknowledged their commitment to free speech ideals and protected Maddie and her fellow seniors’ core First Amendment rights to speak about life on campus at Courtland High School,” Floyd added.


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