Commentary: Parent and School Board Tensions Could Be Eased by School Choice

Young girl in pink long sleeve writing

Public education has been under the microscope lately, especially since many states shut down in-person learning last year during the COVID-19 pandemic. With children learning from home via technology, many parents had the chance to hear what their children’s teachers were saying—and they didn’t always like it. In fact, many were downright disturbed by what public schools were teaching their children.

Parents should not be forced to sit by and watch as their children get indoctrinated with progressive ideas they don’t agree with. Assuming it is legitimate for the government—that is, the taxpayers—to fund education, the government should distribute those funds directly to parents in the form of vouchers and allow them to choose where to educate their children. Not only would this allow for more choice in schools, but it would also reduce much of the conflict we are seeing today between parents and school boards across the country.

A common response to voucher proposals is that they would allow parents to use taxpayer dollars to send their children to private religious schools, thus violating separation of church and state. In other words, atheists and progressives argue that they should not have to financially support schools that teach students religious worldviews.

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Arizona Lawmaker Calls for Scottsdale School Board President’s Resignation, Prosecution Over Alleged ‘Enemies List’ Database 

On the heels of the exposure of an extensive database of personal and derogatory information local parents say was collected by Scottsdale School Board President Jann-Michael Greenburg, Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) told The Arizona Sun-Times that Greenburg needs to resign.

“Parents in Scottsdale and across the state are mad as hell over this situation, and rightfully so,” he said. “These allegations are gravely concerning and should be investigated to the fullest extent. If true, Scottsdale Board President Jann-Michael Greenburg should resign in disgrace and be prosecuted for abuse of power. It is unacceptable and anti-American to compile dossiers on your political enemies, especially when those so-called enemies are the very people you were elected to serve.”

Parents of children in the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) discovered that the president of the school district’s school board, Jann-Michael Greenburg, has a Google Drive database containing personal information about some of the parents he’d had conflicts with. Greenburg (who is shown to have edit permissions for the Drive) and his father, Mark (who is listed as the owner of the Drive) told The Scottsdale Independent they had no involvement or knowledge of the database.

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Commentary: America’s Students Deserve a History and Civics Education Free of Political Agendas

Across the political spectrum, Americans are recognizing the importance not just of school choice but of what students actually learn in schools. Elected representatives have finally taken notice as well. In Michigan, the state legislature has proposed two bills that seek to address how American history and civics are taught.

Unfortunately, some want teachers to tell students that they should understand American history primarily by looking for racism, injustice, and oppression. The phrase “critical race theory” (CRT) has been used mainly in academia to describe this filter on history and civic instruction.

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Analysis: Woke Teaching Programs Create K-12 ‘Social Justice Educators’

Integrating activism in the K-12 classroom is the trickle-down of liberal bias in higher education. The results are seen as educators mirror anti-racist trainings and social justice workshops, which evolved from college campuses.

For instance, University of California, Los Angeles’ Teacher Education Program (TEP), trains “social justice educators” and follows an “anti-racist and social justice agenda.”

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Commentary: New Group Equips Parents with Seven Tools to Combat Wokeness in K-12 Education

Captured in a metropolitan Atlanta, Georgia primary school, seated amongst his classmates, this photograph depicts a young Asian-American school boy, who was in the process of creating a drawing, and was choosing from a box of crayons, the colors he’d use in order to bring his ideas to life. It is important to know that these objects are known as fomites, and can act as transmitters of illnesses.

It’s no secret that the far left has infiltrated higher education with its radical ideas. But now, woke ideology has come for K-12 classrooms across the country. 

“As parents, we send our kids to school to learn to think critically, to figure out how to solve problems, and to respectfully discuss and resolve differences of opinion,” Ashley Jacobs, executive director of Parents Unite, said Friday during the new organization’s first conference. 

“But,” Jacobs said, “our educational systems are not enabling these skills, and in some cases, [they are] stifling them.” 

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School District Reportedly Hired a Consultant to Teach the ‘Privilege Pie’ Chart and a ‘Pyramid of White Supremacy’

A Washington state school allegedly required teachers to complete a training where teachers discussed their privilege based on particular attributes, according to an anonymous teacher.

One exercise in the Tumwater, Washington, school district’s “privilege” training included “The Privilege Pie,” where participants were told to color in sections prevalent to them, the teacher told advocacy group Parents Defending Education. The privileged identities included being white, a cisgender male, having an upper/middle class social status, Christian beliefs and a heterosexual sexual orientation.

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Commentary: The Other Back to School Story

Back to school stories this year will focus, naturally, on the Covid-19 pandemic’s toll on students and families and on remedying these difficulties.

But another story is being shortchanged: it’s about how parents sought new options for their children like homeschooling, small learning pods, and micro-schools, with civic entrepreneurs and their partners creating new organizations or expanding existing ones to meet this demand.

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Demand for Gov. Ducey’s School Vouchers to Leave Arizona Schools That Mandate Masks or Require Unvaccinated Students to Quarantine Exceeds Funds

Doug Ducey

Just three weeks after Gov. Doug Ducey announced that school districts issuing mask mandates or requiring vaccinated students to quarantine would be penalized by diverting money to students to use as school vouchers to attend elsewhere, demand has exceeded the $20 million he allotted by twice the amount. Ducey announced on August 17 that money the state received from the federal government through the pandemic-generated American Rescue Plan to boost per-pupil spending would not go to any of those schools.

Ducey made the announcement immediately following a demand on August 11 from Republican state legislators to take action regarding those school districts. They suggested that Ducey could withhold federal funds and offer vouchers, which he did, but he did not go so far as following their recommendation of suing the school districts.

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City of Tucson Joins Two Lawsuits Against Arizona Legislature over Masks, Vaccines, CRT, Police Review Boards, and a Ballot Audit Committee

Tucson City Hall

The City of Tucson is joining two lawsuits against the Arizona Legislature with amicus curiae briefs. The first is a lawsuit filed on August 12 by the Arizona School Boards Association, the Arizona Education Association and other education organizations and activists over HB 2898, SB 1824, and SB 1825, which prohibit mask and vaccine mandates, ban Critical Race Theory, and establish a legislative committee to review the findings of the state Senate review of the November 2020 election results in Maricopa County.

The second is a lawsuit filed by the City of Phoenix over HB 2893, which sets the qualifications for members of civilian review boards including requiring training. It also allows a legislator to submit a request to the Arizona Attorney General for an investigation of “any written policy, written rule or written regulation adopted by any agency, department or other entity of the county, city or town.”

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Biden Commends Phoenix School District That Violated Ban on Mask Requirements

Biden Commends Phoenix School District

President Joe Biden called the head of Phoenix Union High School District after the district implemented mask requirements that may be contrary to state law, praising Superintendent Chad Geston for the move. In a statement, Biden said he told Geston during his Friday phone call that he “did the right thing.” 

The issue is currently under litigation in Maricopa County Superior Court. Numerous state legislators asked Governor Doug Ducey a few days ago to take action against the school districts in violation, and Ducey responded on Tuesday with a directive financially penalizing the districts. They will not receive any of the $163 million that the state got through the American Rescue Plan to boost per-pupil funding. Students in those districts will receive vouchers to attend schools elsewhere.

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Arizona Republican State Legislators Ask Governor to Take Action Regarding School Districts Violating Law on Mask Mandates

Doug Ducey and Jake Hoffman

Twenty-six Republican members of the Arizona Legislature signed onto a letter drafted by Rep. Jake Hoffman (R-Queen Creek) asking Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to take four steps of action in regards to several school districts that appear to be violating state law by imposing mask mandates in schools. A high school biology teacher recently filed a lawsuit over the mandate implemented by Phoenix Union High School District. The school districts contend that the law, A.R.S. 15-342.05, doesn’t apply yet since bills do not go into effect until 90 days after the end of the legislative session, but the bill contains a retroactive clause. 

“It borders on anarchy and destabilizes the very foundation of our society to have local governments effectively refusing to comply with the law. It must not be allowed to stand,” the legislators said. “Any local government that willfully and intentionally flaunts state law must be held accountable.”

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Michigan University Among Universities Training Future Teachers to Push Critical Race Theory and Social Justice

School bus with "use your voice" on the windshield

As the controversy over Critical Race Theory rages across the country, several prominent teacher preparation programs are training future teachers to use Critical Race Theory in the classroom.  Several of the nation’s largest teacher preparation programs are training future teachers to use Critical Race Theory in the classroom.

Campus Reform reviewed course descriptions for upcoming classes in college teacher training programs at several major universities. Many intentionally prepare students to use progressive ideology in their own classrooms. Several use Critical Race Theory and social justice as a starting point for learning how to teach.

Among those courses are the University of North Carolina education department’s class, “”Critical Race Theory: History, Research, and Practice.” The course will cover how Critical Race Theory connects to “LatCrit Theory, AsianCrit, QueerCrit, TribalCrit, and Critical Race Feminism,” those terms being more recent areas of study that draw heavily from Critical Race Theory.

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Court to Hear Clash over Phoenix School District’s Mask Mandate That Defies New State Law

Representative Joseph Chaplik - LD 23

A judge is expected to hear arguments on August 13 in a lawsuit filed by a teacher in the Phoenix Union High School district over its revived mandatory mask policy. Governor Doug Ducey signed SB 1826 in June, the education budget bill, which includes an amendment prohibiting schools from requiring masks. 

Biology teacher Douglas Hester filed the lawsuit against the school district, its governing board and superintendent Chad Gestson, citing the conflict with state law. The school contends that the law isn’t scheduled to go into effect until 90 days after the legislature adjourns, September 28. However, A.R.S. 15-342.05 includes a clause making it retroactive to June 30.

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Michigan’s New Diversity and Inclusion Director Receives $130,800 Salary

Rané Garcia

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is paying Rané Garcia $130,801 per year for a new position to lead the agency’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiative.

MDE reported Garcia’s salary in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by The Center Square.

in her new position, Garcia “will be responsible for developing and supporting internal and external efforts and strategies that foster greater fairness and inclusion in the state’s public schools.”

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Study Used by CDC to Support New Mask Mandates Based on a Non-American Vaccine, Rejected by Peer Review

Woman holding orange umbrella, wearing a mask

It has been determined that one of the studies used by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to justify the strict new mask mandates was not only rejected by peer review, but was also based on a vaccine that is currently not authorized for use in the United States, the Daily Caller reports.

The controversial study came from India, where scientists there studied “breakthrough infections” in over 100 healthcare workers who had received a vaccine but still caught the coronavirus, determining that the COVID-19 India variant, also known as the “Delta” variant, produces a higher viral load than other strains of the coronavirus. This was one of the pieces of evidence used by the CDC to claim that even vaccinated individuals should wear masks, since the India variant is allegedly capable of being transmitted by vaccinated individuals to unvaccinated individuals.

Despite admitting that the study in question involved a vaccine that has not been approved in the United States, the CDC’s report said that such studies “have noted relatively high viral loads and larger cluster sizes associated with infections with Delta, regardless of vaccination status. These early data suggest that breakthrough Delta infections are transmissible.”

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Commentary: Hillsdale College’s 1776 Curriculum

Hand underneath American flag

On July 19, Hillsdale College released the 1776 Curriculum, a package of American history and civics materials for students in kindergarten through 12th grade. The curriculum offers students and teachers a more traditional and patriotic approach to American history than the critical alternatives now prevalent in the nation’s primary and secondary schools.

At nearly 2,500 pages, the 1776 Curriculum is a mammoth collection of teaching materials, offering grade-specific guidance for teachers, assignments and exams for students, and a trove of primary sources from the American founding and beyond. In a press release, Hillsdale’s assistant provost for K-12 education Dr. Katherine O’Toole contrasted what she described as Hillsdale’s “truly American” curriculum with its “partisan” competitors.

“Our curriculum was created by teachers and professors – not activists, not journalists, not bureaucrats,” O’Toole said. “It comes from years of studying America, its history, and its founding principles, not some slap-dash journalistic scheme to achieve a partisan political end through students. It is a truly American education.”

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In a Reversal, Gov. Ducey Tells Two School Districts Their Quarantine Policy for Unvaccinated Students is Illegal

An advisor for Governor Doug Ducey sent letters Wednesday to two Arizona school superintendents letting them know their policies of requiring unvaccinated students exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine is illegal. Education policy advisor Kairlin Harrier told the superintendents of Peoria Unified School District and Catalina Foothills School District their policies violate a new law, HB 2898, which states, “A school district or charter school may not require a student or teacher to receive a vaccine for covid-19 or to wear a face covering to participate in in-person instruction.” 

Harrier went on, “The policy must be rescinded immediately.” She pointed out that children under age 12 haven’t even received approval from the federal government to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Children ages 12-15 only received approval for the vaccine in May.

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Commentary: Reorienting the Purpose and Practice of Academic Assessment

Person filling in exam answers

Our K-12 schools are organized more like a swim meet than a swim lesson. The emphasis is on student placement results rather than on ensuring all students learn. Students move on to the next lesson, concept, or skill regardless of whether mastery was achieved at the previous level.

Donald P. Nielsen explains this analogy in Every School: One Citizen’s Guide to Transforming Education:

In a swimming meet, the purpose is to determine who is the fastest swimmer. In public schools we spend a lot of time grading students on what they have learned and then ranking them, rather than ensuring that every child has learned. What we need, however, is a public school system that is organized like a swimming lesson. In a swimming lesson, the instructor’s goal is different. The goal is to make sure all students, even the slowest, learn how to swim. Swimming meets can be a result of swimming lessons, and grading can be a result of learning, but ranking students by ability should not be the primary goal of teachers or of the system as a whole.

In swimming, as in any other athletic or artistic endeavor, classes are grouped based upon the current achievement level of the students, not based on age. A swimming coach would never consider putting advanced swimmers and beginning swimmers in the same class, even if they were of the same age. Similarly, a music teacher would not put an advanced piano player in a class with beginners…. Age is not a relevant factor in either swimming or piano lessons, but it is the overriding factor in our schools. No other major learning activity is strictly age-based. Our schools shouldn’t be either.

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Commentary: Twenty Billion Reasons to Take Homeschooling More Seriously

Boy in gray shirt on laptop at home

American public education is so hard to reform because of its great size. The economy of K-12 education here is bigger than some countries, and we’re not talking rinky-dink countries either.

“Federal, state, and local governments spend $720.9 billion, or $14,840 per pupil, to fund K-12 public education,” reports the website Education Data.

By contrast, the annual gross domestic product of oil giant Saudi Arabia in 2017 was only $687 billion, according to World Bank statistics. That same year, Switzerland, with its banks, watches, cheese, and army knives, raked in only $679 billion.

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1776 Commission Urges States: Oppose Biden Funding for ‘Teaching of Racial Discrimination’ in K-12

Girl at school desk with bow in hair, writing

A Trump administration commission tasked with promoting “patriotic education” is calling on the Biden administration to withdraw a proposal to fund history and civics programs informed by critical race theory (CRT).

The 1776 Commission met in D.C. Monday despite being disbanded by President Biden on his first day in office. It published its final report just two days before the presidential transfer of power.

The proposed federal rule would prioritize funding for history and civics curricula that consider “systemic marginalization, biases, inequities, and discriminatory policy and practice in American history” and incorporate “racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives.” It favorably cites Boston University professor Ibram Kendi, the foremost popularizer of “anti-racism,” and the New York Times’ 1619 Project.

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Tennessee House Passes Bill Banning Critical Race Theory from K-12 Schools

On Tuesday, the Tennessee House passed a bill effectively banning critical race theory (CRT) in K-12 schools. The bill doesn’t mention CRT explicitly, but it does prohibits CRT’s main tenets – such as the belief that America is fundamentally and systemically racist, and that an individual can be inherently privileged, racist, sexist, or oppressive based on their race or sex. The amended version of the bill will now head to the Senate for review. During the third and final hearing before the House, State Representative John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge) gave a lengthy speech expounding on the fundamental founding principles of our country.

“[I]t is time that we support educating our children in fixing what is wrong with America with what is right with America,” said Ragan. “We must create an educational climate where every student is an individual, not just part of some group. Moreover, that educational climate must teach students that they can realize their own unique dreams through hard work and meritorious achievement.”

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Crom Carmichael on the Demise of American Values Through a Lack of Basic Fundamental Principles in K-12 Schools

Wednesday morning on the Tennessee Star Report, host Michael Patrick Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Crom Carmichael to the studio to examine K-12 education and the decay of American values.

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Social Justice Favorites Including LGBT+, Climate Change Take a Prominent Role in the New Draft of Social Studies Standards in Minnesota

Minnesota’s newly proposed social studies standards for public schools place significant emphasis on race, gender, climate change and LGBT issues.

Under the first draft of the proposed standards, students will be asked to “develop a respectful awareness about how ideas and norms about gender have changed over time,” accept that “some forms of slavery continued even after emancipation” and learn how the “fight for social justice” continues today.

Students will also be asked to “analyze how resistance movements in the U.S. have organized and responded to oppression,” and “imagine and work toward an equitable and caring future” in keeping with the social justice model.

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Ohio Moves Up School Employees for Vaccines to Get Students Back in Classrooms

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine plans to offer vaccines to all schools in the state that want it by mid-January in an effort to get children back to in-person learning in districts that want to return.

At his regular news conference Wednesday, DeWine announced new phases of vaccine distribution that included adults in school districts, those 64 years old and older, along with those with severe medical conditions.

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Governor Lee Grants $5 Million to Charter Schools Based on ‘Significant Academic Growth’

Governor Bill Lee announced Wednesday a $5 million grant for charter schools that had exhibited academic growth. The governor’s Emergency Relief Fund (GEER) will source the funds.

These grant will be referred to as “Charter School Support Grants.” Lee’s decision marked the first grant for charter schools during COVID-19.

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Principal Rachael Bradley: Thales Academy of Franklin Is Now Offering FREE Online Learning Courses for Local K-5 Kids

Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcasting live from Music Row on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Leahy was joined on the newsmakers line by Thales Academy-Franklin’s principal Rachael Bradley.

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Commentary: Coronavirus Exposes Just How Antiquated and Unworkable the Michigan Education System Really Is

The coronavirus has thrown our entire society in disarray, and no less poignant an example exists than our K-12 public schools. The closure of schools across the country has stopped the normal learning process dead in its tracks.  In a valiant attempt to continue, many districts have sought to leverage long distance learning. Unfortunately, weaknesses in the law, technological infrastructure, and teacher preparation, as well as inequities among students, are barriers to success. For example, the Michigan Department of Education has announced that under the law, virtual learning will not count for funding purposes as “seat time.”

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Divide and Conquer: Lipscomb Academy K-12 Propoganda Allegedly Promoting a Race Based Agenda

Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – Leahy was joined in studio by all-star panelist Dr. Carol Swain to discuss Lipscomb Academy’s current K-12 diversity training for students.

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Leahy and Benson: Seattle’s New Math Curriculum Tied to Ethnic Studies Citing Origin, Identity, and Agency

Live from music row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Leahy was joined on the newsmakers line by former public education teacher and author of Can America’s Schools Be Saved, Edwin Benson to discuss Seattle’s current public school curriculum which somehow manages to correlate ethnic studies with mathematics. 

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Commentary: Now That School Security is a Multi-Billion Dollar Industry, is There a Better Way to Protect Children?

by Kerry McDonald   U.S. taxpayers spend nearly $700 billion each year on K-12 public schooling and that eye-popping sum shows no sign of slowing. In fact, as more non-academic programs get adopted in schools across the country, the price-tag for mass schooling continues to swell even as achievement lags.…

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