Thursday, May 19, 2016

Rep. Black: Administration ‘Now Directly Responsible for Endangering Our Students’

Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) reacted to guidance issued Friday by the Obama administration that public schools must allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their “gender identity” - not their biological sex - if they expect to receive federal funding.

Black called the Dear Colleague letter from the Department of Education and Department of Justice an “attempt to bully our local schools into submission to the Obama Administration’s agenda” and added that she believed “the Obama Administration is now directly responsible for endangering our students.”

“This attempt to bully our local schools into submission to the Obama Administration’s agenda is shameful and a gross abuse of the federal government’s power,” Black said in a statement. “It has nothing to do with compassion for minority student populations and everything to do with political opportunism for the next election.

“We all agree on the rights of students to be treated with dignity and respect,” Black emphasized, “but that right must also exist alongside the rights of students to maintain their privacy and safety in their own schools.”

Black added that as a grandmother of young girls, she believes “the Obama Administration is now directly responsible for endangering our students.”

“It is worth noting that this directive does not carry the force of law and I would encourage Tennessee school officials to continue following their consciences,” she said.

“When our appropriations bills come to the House floor,” Black concluded, “I plan to introduce an amendment barring the Department of Education from withholding funds from states that pass commonsense legislation protecting our children from sharing a bathroom with students of the opposite sex.”

Black was joined by many of her Republican colleagues in the House in criticizing the new guidance.

"I oppose that piece of policy. I think ... it is an executive overreach," Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” on Friday, adding that “it's a topic we're likely to bring up in a future hearing before the task force that I chair,” referring to the House Task Force on Executive Overreach.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), an outspoken critic of the Department of Education, also issued a statement condemning the DOE guidance, calling it “another example of how they have continued to create law out of thin air with Dear Colleague letters, threats and intimidation.”

“The proposal in today's guidance is so significant and groundbreaking, it should only be considered by legislation, preferably at the local level, instead of through a Department of Education guidance letter,” Lankford said.

“Even though the Department will say that guidance does not have the force of law, every school district in the country will be terrified of going against a federal agenda. This is threatening and intimidating and has no place in our government,” he said.

Lankford said that the proposal “has many unintended consequences for safety and gender fairness, which are completely being ignored in this conversation.”

“This type of policy change has major implications for safety, the use of school locker rooms, and participation of sports teams in school,” Lankford added. “No student should feel unwelcome at school, but we cannot ignore the fact that this policy will make the majority of American families unwelcome in their own school.

“The people of Oklahoma are welcoming to all, but they deserve the right to make their own choices on how to honor and protect each child," he added.


Former English teacher admits she FAILED British grade school exam

A children's author and former English teacher has divided opinion with a Facebook post telling youngsters not to worry about their SATs scores.

Scottish writer Abi Elphinstone posted an image of herself holding up a sign explaining she'd tested herself with current SATs papers and failed, adding: 'Kids, you don't need to know what a modal verb or a subordinating conjunctive is to get where you want to go in life.'

Her post received 166,000 likes and was praised by parents of children who are currently feeling stressed about their exams - but others felt she was sending out the wrong message.

The full text on Abi's sign read: 'I just took the 2016 SATs tests. I faliled. 25 per cent in maths. 40 per cent in English.

'Kids, you don't need to know what a modal verb or a subordinating conjunctive is to get where you want to go in life.

'You need ideas and passion - so go on adventures, dream BIG and don't worry about your SATs scores.'

She posted the picture along with an explanation of her past, saying that she used to be an English teacher and now visits school every week in her capacity as an author. 

'I talk to the kids about resilience, determination and grit, not just in regards to exams but in regards to life, too,' she explained.

'I'm dyslexic and I had 96 rejections from literary agents on my previous unpublished books so I know a fair bit about courage and perseverance.

'I'm very much on side with telling kids to work hard. But I am not on side with the English SATs test.

'It contains irrelevant and obscure information that does little to enrich a child's learning. Kids need to know the basic parts of speech - nouns, verbs, adjectives etc - to talk about a text analytically at GCSE.

'But time spent ramming modal verbs & subordinating conjunctives down their throats in Year 6 is time wasted.

'We run the risk of re-creating Dickens' Gradgrindian education system and a system that champions modal verbs over creativity and imaginative flair will never be a system that I can get behind.'

Her comments won praise from many of her Facebook followers, especially parents of children currently struggling with exam stress.

Jane Pritchard shared comments from her 11-year-old daughter Emily who she'd shown Abi's message to.

'I came home today really upset because I found my maths papers so hard,' she said. 'I cried at school because I felt that i hadn't done well enough. 'When I got home my mum showed me your post and it made me much happier and confident about my future.  'So thank you for the lovely message! I am sure that it helped other children too.'

Christina Stainton said she was going to show Abi's post to her 11-year-old who has been stressed and not sleeping because she feels under so much pressure to do well in her tests.

'Children can only do what they are capable of and no more. I told my daughter not to worry, just to do her best,' she explained.

'Childhood is too short to worry about exams. Not every child wants to be a doctor, lawyer, banker etc.

'Some kids want to have a home and family, part time job on a checkout, care assistant, or filling supermarket shelves. 'It's a job, it's money, and we need these people to keep our shops etc going.' 

'Hundreds of successful, happy adults have achieved great things without having a clue what a subordinating conjunctive is. We have managed, so why do we think it is essential for 11 year olds to know this?'

Lara Jayne Busby shared her story explaining that she went to university and has built a successful career, despite not having a GCSE in English.

Lee Layton posted a strongly worded comment saying Abi's message was 'dangerous' and that children should learn toughen up
Lee Layton posted a strongly worded comment saying Abi's message was 'dangerous' and that children should learn to toughen up

'I feel for the kids that are like me who aren't good at taking tests and struggle with pressure of it all,' she said.

'Don't get me wrong tests are a way of seeing where kids need to improve as such but it shouldn't be the only thing schools use to measure children's ability because what a mark says on a test paper can be very different to a childs participation in class.

However, not everyone was impressed by Abi's message including Thomas Beesley who commented: 'Teach kids to not care about exams and school? Great idea.'  He added that he agreed that passion and imagination are important, but added: 'I also think that working hard at school should be supported and when supported in the right way the "evil" SATs can become less scary.'

Lee Layton was even more passionate in his opposition saying Abi's advice was 'dangerous'. 'You are now promoting a generation of dumb crying babies. It was tough, you get over it. Crying over a f****** test - get a grip, telling them it doesn't matter.


Texas Can’t Afford to Miss Out on School Choice

Jim DeMint

Last week I had the good fortune to be in Texas discussing conservative policy solutions with hundreds of dedicated men and women in San Antonio, Austin, and Houston.

One of the big topics of conversation was freedom in education: How can we offer young Americans the best education possible, while ensuring that each family can freely choose and afford the schooling that fits its needs?

This gives families flexibility, and saves tax dollars for other projects—or just keeps them in our wallets. It’s a win-win.

Publicly funded education savings accounts provide a promising path forward. Through an education savings account, parents would receive 90 percent of the state per-pupil funds that would have been spent on their child in the public school system. They can then use those funds to pay for private school tuition, online learning, special education services and therapies, textbooks, curricula, and a host of other education-related services, products, and providers.

This gives families flexibility, and saves tax dollars for other projects—or just keeps them in our wallets. It’s a win-win.

As one of our panelists in Houston explained, Texas can’t afford not to embrace education savings accounts.

Matthew Ladner, of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, explained that by the year 2030, the population of K-12 students in Texas schools will grow from about 4.7 million students to nearly 6.4 million, while at the same time, the population of Texas residents aged 65 and older will boom from 2.5 million individuals to over 5 million people.

These populations are less likely to be in the workforce (because they may either be in school or retired), and are more likely to use services (such as the K-12 education system). This could be a major strain on the Texas budget, and only hastens the need to find ways to make K-12 dollars work better for students.

Importantly, parents can even roll over unused funds from year-to-year, and can save for college.

That’s what the Ashtons were able to do for their son Max. The Ashtons live in Arizona, which pioneered the concept of publicly funded education savings accounts in 2011. Max is legally blind, and was able to use his education savings account to pay for private school tuition, and also purchase all his braille materials, his talking computer, and all of his other assistive technology.

The Ashtons were even able to save thousands of dollars a year, and roll those unused funds into a college savings account that they use to pay Max’s tuition at Loyola Marymount University. For 90 percent of what the state was spending on Max, he was able to attend Brophy College Preparatory, purchase all the assistive technologies he needed to be successful, and still have money left over to pay his college tuition.

This is what’s possible when we fund the student instead of the system, and allow education dollars to be completely portable. Education savings accounts are the way forward, and the citizens of Texas should be eager for their state to be the next to adopt publicly funded education savings accounts. And they should make them universally available to every student in the Lone Star State.

Most of the Texans I spoke to agreed. They look forward to setting an example to the rest of the nation, and joining the growing number of states that put students and families first.


Black Albany Students Booted for Hate Crime Hoax

Two fewer students are enrolled at the University at Albany following an investigation of an attack earlier this year in which three young black women claimed they were racially targeted. Last week, the institution kicked out two of the girls and gave another a two-year suspension because, as it turns out, they are actually the ones at fault.

As Fox News recounts, “The women, all 20 years old, claimed they were attacked early on the morning of Jan. 30 while riding a bus. They claimed they were called racial slurs and were physically attacked while bystanders looked on. Investigators say a review of multiple videos of the incident showed no evidence the women were victims of a crime or subjected to racial slurs. In fact, police said the women were the aggressors, assaulting a 19-year-old white woman.” Moreover, “The white men [they] claimed assaulted them were actually trying to break up the fight.”

But that’s not the least of their worries. The women who were expelled “were charged with misdemeanor assault and falsely reporting an incident,” while the other “was charged with misdemeanor assault,” according to Fox.

This isn’t just an embarrassment for these young women, but also for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. In February, referring specifically to the University at Albany incident, Clinton tweeted, “There is no excuse for racism and violence on a college campus.” There is also no excuse for conjuring up lies. Is this what Obama means when he says blacks' success in life is based on luck?


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