Friday, June 23, 2017

This School District Partners With LGBT Advocacy Group to Impose Transgender Policy

HOPEWELL, N.J.—Freshmen football players, changing in their high school locker room at the beginning of the school year, were startled to encounter a girl who said she identifies as a boy.

The  father of one of the players wrote to the school’s principal and athletic director to express concern about the “young lady” and the “comfort” of the boys, most of whom were 14 at the time and “wondering what was going on.”

“I think you are doing a disservice to the kids by not having at least a casual conversation with them regarding their comfort in the locker as well as treating others with the same respect they want while changing clothes,” the player’s father said in an email to Tana Smith, principal at Hopewell Valley Central High School, and Tripp Becker, the athletic director.

The father asked whether the high school’s football coach and district administrators had planned to provide the team with a “heads up” about the school district’s new transgender policy, adopted three months earlier by the Hopewell Valley Regional Board of Education, and were ready to field questions or concerns.

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The answer was no.

David Machin, coach of Hopewell Valley’s freshman football team, emailed team parents Sept. 20, 2016, to say there would be no public announcement clarifying school rules on gender. Machin wrote team parents:

I believe the district policy (which follows federal law) is that any student may use whatever locker room/bathroom that he/she identifies with. I believe that there is no requirement for a public announcement regarding this type of situation or even a ‘heads up,’ so to speak.

The reason for the silence, Hopewell parents who spoke with The Daily Signal said, is that a LGBT advocacy group appears to exercise significant influence on school board members and administrators in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District, especially Superintendent Thomas Smith.

Garden State Equality, headquartered in Asbury Park, New Jersey, describes itself as “a statewide advocacy and education organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.”

The Hopewell Valley school board adopted the transgender policy June 20, 2016, one year ago Tuesday.

The action came five weeks after the Obama administration warned local school districts to spell out transgender students’ access to the rest room and locker room facilities of their choice, or risk loss of federal dollars.

The incident in Hopewell Valley Central High’s locker room occurred just a few days after the 2016-2017 school year opened. It set off a chain of email communications, copies of which The Daily Signal has obtained through New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act.

Parents across the state should be concerned about how much influence Garden State Equality exerts over “key decision-makers” in local school districts at the expense of sound policy, Len Deo, executive director of the New Jersey Family Policy Council, told The Daily Signal in an interview.

While opposing sides should be heard in public forums, Deo said, he sees a danger that some transgender policies will infringe free speech:

Some of these policies have gender identity pronoun requirements, and we have to ask what the ramifications are if someone does not comply for reasons of conscience. Who is the authority and what are the ramifications? What does this mean for free speech? If a school district suddenly says that gender is fluid and it’s one thing today and another tomorrow, this leads to all kinds of confusion and different interpretations.

While it’s fine to accept input from advocacy groups, the onus is on school board members and superintendents to look out for the public interest instead of advancing narrow special interests, Deo told The Daily Signal

“Let’s not forget who is paying the taxes for these school districts,” he said, adding:

The parents are paying the taxes and they deserve to be heard instead of being silenced. I think one difference between us and Garden State Equality is we are not trying to manipulate school boards and superintendents. We are trying to give parents a voice.

The Hopewell Valley district serves about 4,000 students from preschool through 12th grade in suburban Mercer County about 10 miles south of Princeton.

The Hopewell Valley player’s father, who asked not to be identified, says he decided to press his point because taxpayers should be heard.

“I also went to meet with the principal and the athletic director to express my concerns,” the father said in an interview with The Daily Signal. “They insisted this student was not actually changing in the locker room, and I told them that they were wrong, because all of the kids told me otherwise. Instead of having an intelligent conversation where we can all address the concerns of students and parents, they just want to stonewall.”

He added:

"I’ve coached baseball for 14 years now, and I’m someone who understands kids. We are talking about something that’s occurring during their formative years, and it’s understandable that they would have questions. Honestly, I think they’ve been a lot more mature about this than our own school administrators, who are pushing their own policy agenda. [The administrators] seem to only be concerned with making one student comfortable in a locker room and not the rest. But I think there are ways to make everyone comfortable."

Hopewell Valley’s nine-member school board approved the policy on “Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students” at its regular meeting one year ago, on June 20, 2016.

School Board President Lisa Wolff joined six other members to OK the policy, while one member abstained and another was absent. The vote occurred little more than a month after the Obama administration mandated such policies for schools that wanted to keep getting federal dollars.

The Hopewell Valley policy says students are responsible for determining their own gender identity, except  “in the case of young students not yet able to advocate for themselves”—and then a parent or guardian will make that determination. The policy doesn’t specify any ages.

So long as administrators determine that a student is sincere, the school should accept that student’s “asserted gender identity,” the policy says.

Werner Graf, a former school board member with two daughters in the school system, was the only resident who showed up at the meeting last June to speak out against the transgender policy and the manner in which the system implemented it.

“I took the three minutes the board allotted me to make points about legal liability, privacy, and safety, and suggested the policy be sent back to a larger committee for review,” Graf recalled in an interview with The Daily Signal.  “It wasn’t a radical request, especially since the debate thus far was apparently void of any input from concerned parents.”

During time set aside for public comment, Graf warned the school board of the “bad optics” of the LGBT advocacy group’s involvement,  given that the school board is supposed to be nonpartisan:

You’ve allowed this Garden State Equality group to come in, and Garden State Equality is clearly a partisan organization. They are a self-described advocacy group for a set of people.

The board gave Garden State Equality “preferential treatment” that “sets a very bad precedent” for how public policy decisions are made in the school district, Graf added.

More HERE 

Our Public School System Isn’t Producing Education Equality

And it never will.  No education system ever does

All across America, preparations are underway for high school graduation. It’s a glorious time, representing both a milestone and a gateway to adulthood.

But missing from this year’s ceremonies are more than one million kids who dropped out and will not be attending graduation day.

The future those high school dropouts face is chilling. They will have a much harder time getting a job and will earn much less than those who did graduate. They’re also more likely to commit a crime and more likely to be the victim of one.

In short, many of them face a life that will be so much more difficult—all because they could not or chose not to finish high school.

The consequences of this crisis are especially evident in my community. Today, more than half of all African-American students in many large U.S. cities don’t graduate from high school. Think about that.

And those kids aren’t just dropping out—they’re escaping.

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, schools that serve majority-minority communities have the worst performance, the highest crime rates, and the largest achievement gaps.

In cities like Detroit, more than nine in 10 black students can’t even read or do math at grade level.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

In 1954, the Supreme Court issued its landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, ruling that school segregation is unconstitutional. “Massive Resistance” soon followed as many states launched an all-out effort to block integration.

My home state of Virginia was one of them, and anti-reform forces there mobilized to prevent black students from going to whites-only schools. They succeeded for a while but, in 1960, the first contingent of brave black students changed all that.

I was a member of the second contingent and, in 1961, was one of 26 black students assigned to integrate John Chandler Middle School in Richmond.

As the first day of school approached, we heard ominous threats of “blood flowing in gutters.” Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Instead, the only blood I saw was mine.

For the first month at Chandler, I never made it through the packed hallways between classes without at least one white student pricking me with a pin.

Sometimes, I was stuck so many times I had to press my dress against my body to keep the red streams from dripping down my legs.

It was awful, but it was worth it. In my own little way, I knew I was fighting for our equal right to get a great education.

Little did I know that more than half a century later, other girls and boys would still be fighting for education equality. Many of those kids are African-American like me, and the families many of them come from are poor and broken, like mine was.

But I was able to attend a better school, and they aren’t. Instead, anti-reform forces are blocking them from going to better-performing public charter and private schools.

Today, the nemesis isn’t the old Massive Resistance crowd, but a similarly determined cartel of unions, bureaucrats, and politicians. They make a great deal of money from the current system in the form of union dues, salaries, and political contributions.

As a result, they view education equality as a threat and anyone seeking it as their enemy.

Just ask Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Appearing before Congress recently, DeVos testified that her goal is “ensuring that every student has an equal opportunity to receive a great education.”

But rather than be hailed for seeking the equality promised decades ago, she’s being attacked by those who want things to stay just as they are.

But the secretary isn’t just right—she’s echoing the Supreme Court’s 1954 ruling which declared education to be “a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.”

Today in America, that right is conditional. If you are wealthy, white, connected, or elected, your child probably goes to or graduated from a great school.

But if you are African-American or Latino and living in a poor urban neighborhood, your child is much more likely to go to a failing school, a school where more than half of all students can’t read or write well, have low math scores, face the daily threat of bullying and violence, and won’t graduate.

Do these sound like “equal terms” to you?

In place of the equality mandated by the Supreme Court, we have disparities that are so shocking they defy belief.

Right now, America’s public school system includes outstanding institutions where students get an excellent education, use the best academic, athletic, and cultural facilities tax dollars can buy, and go on to college and promising lives.

And the same school system also includes failure factories where students don’t learn, spend their days in dilapidated and crime-infested buildings, fall further and further behind, and often drop out.

Now, which of these schools do you think is most often found in poor minority neighborhoods?

The reality, as House Speaker Paul Ryan has put it, is that the current system is effectively quarantining poor and minority children in failure factories.

For the sake of all those high school dropouts who will miss out on this month’s graduations, our nation needs the proponents of education equality to prevail.

Every single child—no matter their race, income, gender, or address—has the equal right to receive an excellent education. And every day in which that right isn’t a reality is a day in which we are losing more of these precious children.


A New Twist on Teaching Economics

Walter E. Williams

Greg Caskey is a 27-year-old Abington, Pennsylvania, native who is a social sciences teacher at Delaware Military Academy. The academy is a thriving charter high school in Wilmington, Delaware, that was founded in 2003 by two retired military officers, Charles Baldwin and Jack Wintermantel. Students from all socio-economic backgrounds attend the school, which is doing a stellar job of teaching reading, writing and arithmetic and, just as importantly, moral character and self-discipline.

Mr. Caskey is one of the school's standout teachers. He has developed an innovative way of teaching the principles of economics to the school's students — a curriculum that he calls "HipHoponomics," in which he uses original rap music as the basis for his lesson plans. His favorite rap artists are Nas, Eminem, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.

Being in my 82nd year of life, I don't generally find hip-hop music or its lyrics that attractive. Part of the reason for my distaste is that it's difficult for me to decipher what the performers are saying, not to mention the constant annoying boom boom. I've been told that I benefit from not understanding what they are saying. But given my background in economics, Caskey's HipHoponomics music is largely decipherable to me. But much more importantly, it appears to be an excellent technique to excite and enlighten younger people, who may have alien and hostile minds to learning free market economic principles. That's vital, given all of the anti-freedom indoctrination that so many of our young people receive.

Caskey, who likes to refer to himself as M.C. Caskey, is in the process of making his work available for all to see and hear on his website, at, and SoundCloud. He's developed an album centered around the 18th-century Scottish philosopher Adam Smith, who is known as the "Father of Economics." Smith is much-maligned. People often see him as an advocate for selfishness. But to the contrary, Smith saw laissez-faire as a moral agenda and free markets as a tool to protect the rights of natural law. So the prelude "Who Was Adam Smith?" starts out with a short discussion by my colleague Dr. Russ Roberts and ends with lyrics highlighting Smith's arguments, all set to a hip-hop beat.

Then there's discussion of what's called the emergent order. It begins with a highly understandable statement by the greatest 20th-century economist, Nobel laureate Milton Friedman. After that, Caskey puts Friedman's ideas to hip-hop music and talk. These ideas serve as the foundation for more HipHoponomics music — on principles such as free trade and comparative advantage, which most economists accept as advantageous to a nation.

Among important economic titles set to Caskey's HipHoponomics music are "Free Enterprise System," "New Deal or Raw Deal?", "What's up with the Fed?", "The 20s Were The Good Dayz" and "Demand & Supply Bars," and more are in the works. He has even set to hip-hop music a title called "Debatin' the Wage," which features yours truly and Bernie Sanders on the minimum wage. I should note that I had zero involvement with it, but I understand that it's pretty good.

Caskey's goals are ambitious and laudable. He is inspiring great interest in economics among young people, who typically have little interest in such a rigorous academic subject. Caskey's goal is to reach the urban student with the relevance of the economic way of thinking. He says, "I want to inspire zeal for the discipline of economics among young people, but particularly among urban young people, a historically underserved population, especially in the educational sense."

By the way, high schoolers are not the only people who can benefit from the lessons of HipHoponomics. I'd recommend it to our political leadership on both sides of the aisle, media people and teachers. What Greg Caskey's put together is a nonthreatening approach to economics for the novice — and for those who believe they are beyond the novice level.


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