Wednesday, July 04, 2018

School Bans Parents From Viewing LGBT Videos Shown to Kids

For four days last April students at Emmaus High School in Pennsylvania were forced to watch videos selected by the “student-led” Gay-Straight Alliance.

The videos ranged from “9 Questions Gay People Have About Straight People” to a compilation of clips celebrating “marriage equality.” There was also a video educating students about gender fluidity — the idea there is no such thing as male or female.

“My son expressed to me that he felt bullied by the administration for being a heterosexual man and being forced to listen to LGBT advocacy on a daily basis,” one parent wrote in a letter to the school district.

The East Penn School District claimed the videos, shown during daily announcements, were about anti-bullying and the LGBT movement. But parents argue it was more about indoctrination. And when they asked to see the videos, the school district refused.

“This is a gross violation of parental rights,” Liberty Counsel attorney Richard Mast wrote in a June 22 letter to Supt. Michael Schilder.

Liberty Counsel, a law firm that specializes in First Amendment and religious liberty issues, is calling on the district to immediately release what it called “four pro-homosexuality” videos shown as part of the district’s “Unity Week” and “Day of Silence” activities.

“It does not pass the straight face test for the District to claim it need not provide parents with the actual video links, although the District required more than 2,800 students to view these videos, with no prior notice to parents, and no opportunity to opt-out,” Mast wrote.

Parents took their concerns to the school district — but they were rebuffed.

“Since when does a public school in the United States of America have the right to block a parent and tell them they will not allow them to see the controversial partisan programming they are requiring their children to watch?” another parent asked in a letter to the district. “We have every right to expect that our children are not being subjected to partisan indoctrination in our public schools.”

Supt. Michael Schilder said the video presentations were compiled by the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance as part of a student project and are therefore off limits to parents.

“Student work and student expression must always be protected,” he told The Morning Call. “A parent or member of the public has no right to view or access a student’s term paper, speech, or multimedia project just because he or she objects to the topic.”

Parents said they were told they had absolutely no say in what their children were being exposed to at the school house.

“I was told by the superintendent [that] parents have no right to view these videos,” one person said. “I would appreciate knowing why I was not afforded the opportunity to opt my son out of this targeted, planned, social engineering.”

LGBT activists have accused the moms and dads of being homophobic and anti-gay. However, parents say the core issue is about whether parents have the right to know what their children are being taught.

“For the record, neither Liberty Counsel nor parents who have contacted us object to the District promoting kindness amongst students or fighting actual bullying where it exists or promoting a ‘Unity Week’ that does not delve into matters of sexuality,” Mast wrote in his letter to the superintendent.

However, forced participation in an event sponsored by the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network is not right, Mast wrote. “GLSEN is a political activist organization and seeks to co-opt good people’s opposition to bullying and name-calling.”

Liberty Counsel is threatening legal action unless the school district provides the videos to parents.

“The law is clear that parents, not agents of the state, including teachers, and certainly not GLSEN or its teacher or student affiliates with the GSA, have the right to direct the upbringing and associations of minor children,” Mast wrote.

It does make you wonder why the school district does not want parents to know what was shown to the children. Why the secrecy?


Congressional committee Discusses the Power of Charter Schools

Today, the Committee on Education and the Workforce, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), held a hearing to examine the value of charter schools.

“Every student is different, and families should be empowered to choose whatever school best suits their child’s strengths, rather than being forced into a one-size-fits-all approach. For many, charter schools are the best option for their student to hone his or her individual abilities and build a successful life,” Chairwoman Foxx said in her opening statement. 

Having first opened just over 25 years ago, charter schools have proven a popular option for millions of families. Presently, there are 7,000 charter schools serving nearly 3.2 million students nationwide, while surveys show another five million students would enroll in a charter school if given the chance.

“[I]f we truly want all children in America to get a good education, then we need a system of education that is diverse and contains many paths,” said Greg Richmond, President and CEO of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. “Charter schools are an important part of that diverse system, now serving 3 million students and growing. More importantly, students who have traditionally been underserved are benefiting: studies show Black, Hispanic, low-income, and special education students at charter schools all show positive gains in math and reading compared to their peers at traditional schools.”

Students in underserved areas often face reduced access to educational opportunities, and thus experience more barriers to building a successful life. Charter schools can be pivotal in helping more students from all income brackets achieve lifelong success. Citing research from his home state of Massachusetts, Dr. Martin West, Associate Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, described the positive outcomes that students are achieving in urban charter schools. 

“In our urban centers, each year of attendance at an oversubscribed charter middle school increases students’ achievement by 15 percent of a standard deviation in reading and 32 percent of a standard deviation in math. These effects are among the largest on record for an educational intervention implemented at scale, and large enough in math to close the entire black-white achievement gap while students are enrolled in middle school,” West told members.

As well as providing students and families with greater educational opportunities, charter schools are also held to a high level of accountability. Charter schools not only must comply with the same federal accountability requirements as all other public schools, but they must also maintain the trust of students’ parents.

“Accountability is a central value of charter schools, and the National Alliance has taken a leadership role in promoting quality throughout the sector and improving shortcomings where they exist. We know that for public school choice to be truly meaningful, public school choices must be high-quality. In addition to being answerable to policymakers and authorizers, charter schools are also held accountable to parents. As schools of choice, charter schools must continuously earn the confidence of parents and caregivers who want the best for their children,” said Nina Rees, President and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Charter schools present families with choices and give students the opportunity to receive an education that challenges and inspires. The Committee on Education and the Workforce remains committed to strengthening access to these innovative institutions so that more students from all walks of life have a shot at building a prosperous life.


Australia: No-nonsense principal of elite $30,000-a-year private school receives an outpouring of support after calling out 'bully' parents for treating teachers like their 'servants'

An elite private school principal has received an outpouring of support after a scathing letter to parents telling them that they need to 'chill' and stop treating teachers like their servants.

Dr John Collier, principal of Sydney's St Andrew's Cathedral School, started a national conversation after calling out  'agitated' parents in a recent newsletter. 

He has since received a mass of support for standing up to 'bully' parents, who he threatened to ban from entering school grounds if they continued to verbally abuse his staff.

'Well done Dr Collier for speaking out and supporting his teachers. As a former student under his leadership Dr Collier is an exceptional man and his views should be respected,' one former student wrote online.

'If the parents behave like that towards the teachers, how do the parents expect their children to behave? Sad behaviour,' another wrote. 'We love our principal,' someone else commented. 'You sir are a legend,' addded another.

Other users, including teachers at other schools, praised Dr Collier for his position - revealing public school teachers were forced to deal with the same behaviour. 'It's not just at elite schools! Public schools also see this arrogance from parents!' one woman wrote.

'What happened to building resilience in children instead of having to fight every battle for them? Seriously parents are not doing any favours for their children!'

'This type of behaviour is rife in independent and private schools. I've seen aggressive and passive-aggressive behaviours, manipulations, disrespect, yelling and swearing, intimidation, name-calling, defamation, undermining of teachers are home…and social media parent groups are the latest form of bullying teachers now deal with. Schooling should be a partnership between parents and teachers,' another wrote.

Dr Collier's St Andrew's College is a prestigious K-12 school in Sydney's CBD, and charges fees upwards of $30,000 a year for its students.

'I am aware some parents, because they are paying fees, see the relationship with teachers as a master/servant relationship, such that they are entitled to make extravagant demands,' Dr Collier wrote in the newsletter dated June 5 2018. 

He said he had noticed a considerable increase in parental anxiety this year, compared to when he began his role as the head of the school 28 years ago. 'I am having to interact with too many parents who have verbally abused, physically threatened or shouted at a staff member.

'People who do this should engage in some role reversal: if someone behaved in this way towards you, would it be helpful and would it motivate you to assist them?'

Dr Collier asked parents to consider if their expectations of the school and consequent reactions were reasonable.

'A couple of years ago, a middle school parent said to me that he knew the 13 staff members who had observed his daughter committing an offence were all lying, as his daughter said she was innocent. It is very hard to make progress with this level of unreality,' he wrote.

'Recently, a middle school parent said to me that as her daughter had done poorly in her test, her life was actually over! Actually, it wasn't.

'Often, frustratingly to parents, children do not peak until Senior College. Some really don't get going until tertiary study. We need to avoid living vicariously through our children.'

Dr Collier said, in some cases, students march to the beat of their own drum, and parents need to be accepting and welcoming in support of their children.

Dr Collier said he felt as though the newsletter was the best place to bring the matter to the attention of parents, as the 'unrestrained behaviour appears to be increasing'.

He said he accepted some parents might feel inclined to challenge his policies by taking their children elsewhere, but said ultimately the student will be the one to suffer.

St Andrew's Cathedral School teaches students from kindergarten to Year 12 It is located in the heart of the Sydney CBD. It has a roll of about 1,200 students. Founded in 1885, the school was boys-only until 1999 when it became co-educational

'My experience is that some parents who are highly stressed and highly accusative eventually leave the school, seeking greener pastures. 'In fact, in such cases, there is clearly not going to be any school which will ever satisfy them or meet their extravagant expectations.

'Unfortunately some will follow the pattern of moving every year or two, unreasonably dissatisfied, searching for perfection they will never find, and actually, in uprooting their children, impeding their school performance.'

Dr Collier also said he would instruct teachers to stop answering emails and phone calls from agitated parents if he felt it necessary and would not rule out banning parents from school grounds.


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