Sunday, December 16, 2018

Public Schools Barred From Christmas Play Over Reference to Jesus
A Louisiana school district will not allow grade schoolers to attend a Christmas play that mentions Jesus during school hours because it might violate a federal court order barring the district from promoting religion at school.

For the past several years the Minden Junior Service League has performed a free Christmas production during school hours at the local high school.

This year’s half-hour production featured a “Toy Story” theme along with a brief reference to the Baby Jesus.

“Several in attendance felt that it was necessary to report us for the mention of the reason for the season — Jesus,” a Junior Service League spokesperson said in a powerful and emotional Facebook video.

After the first performance, the Webster Parish School District reached out to the service organization and urged them to remove the reference to Jesus.

The ladies in the Junior Service League flat-out rejected the request — even though it meant that their own children would not be permitted to see the performance.

“When this request was rejected, the school district had no other alternative than to withdraw from participation in the event or otherwise face contempt of court,” the district said in a statement.

Now, the local school officials are not the bad guys here, folks. It’s the American Civil Liberties Union and the federal court.

Earlier this year the school district was slapped with a federal court order “regulating religious activities in schools.”

That order specifically prohibits the school board and its employees from promoting religion at school — and the order also covers events hosted by third parties.

“The Junior Service League of Minden fell victim to the politics of the public school system and the religious debate that is abundantly present in their path,” the spokesperson said on Facebook.

The district feared that allowing children to attend the Christmas production would’ve violated the court order and subjected the district to a contempt of court citation.

“Because of the totality of the circumstances that we are now in, a newfound spotlight is shining upon the Webster Parish School System. No longer is there a gray area associated with this matter in our school system. This federal court order clearly spells out what is allowable and what is not,” Supt. Johnny Rowland, Jr. said.

The Junior Service League tearfully apologized to the many boys and girls who will not be able to see the performance. “We are so very sorry,” the spokesperson said. “You are the reason we do this. You are why we do this play.”

What happened to the Minden Junior Service League should appall and disgust every freedom-loving American. May God bless those dear, sweet ladies.

We must stand up to the anti-Christian mafia and reject their hatred. We must stand up to the bullies — even if they wear judicial robes.

We must be civil in our fight, but we must not be silent.

Now you understand why President Trump’s most important assignment is to fill our federal courts with strict constitutionalists.


Mass.: Some Newton teachers will miss school to respond to critics’ records requests

Antisemitic history lessons at issue

Thirteen history teachers in the Newton Public Schools are expected to miss some class time this week in order to gather documents for a public records request filed by an advocacy organization that has accused the district of anti-Israel bias in its high-school world history curriculum.

The Watertown nonprofit Americans for Peace and Tolerance has submitted 16 public records requests to the school system so far in 2018, but this is the first time that teachers will need to step away from the classroom to assemble records, said Superintendent David Fleishman.

The documents sought by the group include materials used to teach students about the Holocaust and the rise of Nazi Germany at the city’s two high schools and all teaching materials used since the autumn of 2016 by David Bedar, a Newton North High School history teacher who has been singled out for criticism, school records show.

Bedar teaches a senior elective called “Middle East, Asia and Latin America,” US history, and American studies courses.

Fleishman said most teachers will need one 55- or 75-minute “block” to compile the requested materials, though Bedar is expected to miss three days of teaching beginning on Monday.

City high schools don’t use substitute teachers so most students will miss a history class and parents will be notified, Fleishman said. Most younger students will attend study hall and older ones will have free time.

The district plans to comply with the state public records law, he said, and provide the documents promptly.

“This is not the way our educators want to spend their time. They want to spend their time addressing the academic and emotional needs of the students in front of them,” Fleishman said Saturday.

Charles Jacobs, president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, said in an e-mail that the group seeks the records because Newton schools have “failed to vet hateful and false teaching materials.”

“It is unfortunate that the teachers have to spend time away from their students, but teachers wouldn’t have had to miss a minute teaching if Superintendent Fleishman had adopted a policy of transparency,” Jacobs said. “It’s his refusal to do so that is resulting in the teachers being away from the classroom; otherwise, we would not have had to waste time and money.”

Americans for Peace and Tolerance and another group, Education Without Indoctrination, have been engaged in a lengthy fight with the school system over allegations of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in high-school history courses.

Among their complaints are accusations that the history curriculum includes a doctored version of the Hamas charter, maps produced by the Palestine Liberation Organization, and texts written by authors with anti-Israel views.

Newton school officials, who have the support of the School Committee and Mayor Ruthanne Fuller , have strenuously denied the allegations, saying the groups distort the teaching materials and take them out of context. The dispute has endured for about seven years.

Last month, people on both sides of the debate assembled at Newton South High School for a public hearing during which the School Committee deliberated on a citizen petition to revamp the curriculum and fire Fleishman. The petition, organized by Education Without Indoctrination, failed as the panel voted either to reject the proposals or take no action. Fleishman kept his job.

Americans for Peace and Tolerance responded with an ad published in the Friday edition of The Jewish Advocate that accused the School Committee of keeping the curriculum secret, turning the public hearing into a “pep rally,” and using “anti-Semitic dog whistles about Zionism to dismiss Jewish community concerns.”

In his e-mail, Jacobs said school system supporters refused to address the issues that he and other critics raised. “We were simply ignored,” he said.

Last summer, the Anti-Defamation League in New England and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston raised concerns about the screening of a film from the Boston Palestine Film Festival at a Newton North High School event. The event didn’t include an “outside speaker” to present Israeli perspectives, the groups wrote in a July letter to Fleishman.

The organizations have offered to help Newton schools develop a bias-free Middle East curriculum, while keeping their distance from Americans for Peace and Tolerance.

In December 2017, the Jewish Community Relations Council and Massachusetts Board of Rabbis issued a statement calling Jacobs and his organization “purveyors of hatred and division” after they said Americans for Peace and Tolerance defamed a rabbi whose temple hosted an interfaith event where Muslims were invited to speak.

In 2013, state education officials investigated a complaint from a Newton parent who claimed the history curriculum included anti-Semitic and anti-Israel materials. The investigation found the curriculum complied with the law.

Still some changes have been made to the materials used to teach students about the Middle East.

The district stopped using the “Arab World Studies Notebook” in 2012 after a parent complained of bias and school officials concluded the material was outdated, the Globe has reported. An online resource was also removed after parents complained, officials said in 2013.

Michael Zilles, president of the Newton Teachers Association, said responding to public records requests filed by Americans for Peace and Tolerance has become a burden for teachers.

“People are very conscientious when they do it and it takes time,” he said. “Kids are losing out. That’s what ends up happening here. Kids are losing out.”

In August, Ilya Feoktistov, the executive director of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, wrote a story for “The Federalist” that accused Bedar and another history teacher, Isongesit Ibokette, of bias against President Trump. The story relied on e-mails written by Bedar and Ibokette and obtained by Feoktistov through a public records request.

At last month’s hearing, Bedar defended his teaching and described the allegations of anti-Semitism as a “personal affront.”


Australian Aboriginal woman to graduate with a medical degree

I have been present when Aboriginals have been awarded professional qualifications which I knew to be unearned.  And like the lady below they went on to use their defective skills in the service of other Aborigines. So the upshot of the do-gooding is inferior services for Aborigines. That is kind??  Aborigines should have to jump through the same hoops as everyone else

The first doctor from Deakin University Medical School’s Indigenous entry scheme will graduate this week.

Laura English, a proud Yamatji woman with strong ties to the Wathaurong community in her hometown of Geelong, will be among 1100 students graduating from Deakin at the University’s Geelong Waterfront Campus on Thursday and Friday.

“I want to use what I’ve learnt at Deakin to give back to my community, whether that’s my community here in Geelong, or the wider community,” Laura said.

“Indigenous health and closing the gap is such a huge area, and we desperately need more doctors, nurses and health professionals from our community.”

Deakin Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander AO said nurturing and encouraging students to make a difference in their communities was a fundamental goal of the University.

“We especially recognise that as places of learning, universities are powerful agents for social change and have a key role to play in promoting social justice and human rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples,” Professor den Hollander said.

“Currently there are fewer than 300 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander doctors working in Australia. That means medical schools like ours must meet the challenge of building greater representation, by recruiting and retaining more Indigenous students.

“Our alumni are our most effective ambassadors and the best evidence of our success, making an ongoing contribution to the intellectual, social and economic life of the communities we serve.”

The medical school’s Indigenous entry scheme began in 2015, setting aside five per cent of domestic places in Deakin's Doctor of Medicine course for Indigenous Australian applicants, with a special application and interview process and extra support available throughout the course.

Laura, who will graduate at Thursday afternoon’s ceremony, said it was a surreal feeling to be Deakin’s first Indigenous doctor.

“I always wanted to work in health and had medicine in the back of my mind, but never thought I could get there,” she said.

Laura first studied nursing at Deakin’s Institute of Koorie Education, graduating in 2012. She worked as nurse for two years before her parents encouraged her to apply for the medical school’s Indigenous entry scheme.

The scheme began in 2015, setting aside five per cent of domestic places in Deakin's Doctor of Medicine course for Indigenous Australian applicants, with a special application and interview process and extra support available throughout the course. There are now nine students studying at Deakin as part of this group.

“It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, it’s been an absolute emotional rollercoaster, but it was definitely worth it standing here and looking back,” Laura said.

As part of her studies Laura also completed a six-week placement with the Wathaurong Aboriginal Co-Operative, working with the doctors and health practitioners there, developing a particular interest in women’s health.

Media release: Contact: Elise Snashall-Woodhams. E:

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