Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lesbian Teen Denied Access to Prom with Date

A Mississippi School chose to cancel the prom rather than risk having a lesbian teen dressed in a tuxedo attend prom with her female sophomore date. Is this within a school district’s authority or is this discrimination? The ACLU, now representing the teen, Constance McMillen, is suing the Mississippi school, requesting that the prom be reinstated and all students be allowed to attend. According to the school board her request violated the school rule against same sex dates at school activities. In another statement by the same board, the order to cancel the prom was "due to the distractions to the educational process caused by recent events." In December when Constance spoke to the principal he told her it had to do with the tickets and something about it being cheaper to attend as dates, and they were trying to prevent that. The article notes that the prom was not actually canceled until the ACLU got involved. Based on information in the article, it appears that whatever Constance expected the school board to do, canceling the prom was not it. Now she is concerned about her peers being angry. She also indicated however, that she wants others to know that the ACLU is there for you and you do not have to put up with discrimination. According to the article, apparently the school canceled the prom to prevent interference of the educational process. I believe this has backfired, as Itawamba County Agricultural High School now has national recognition. The following is a link to Constance McMillen’s interview by CBS.

The article does not address any positive responses from peers or others which are easily accessible on her facebook and elsewhere online. There is also no mention of the fact that the student have been offered an alternative place to hold the prom. Constance father and aunt indicates support, however, one must wonder how the parents of her sophomore date feel about the publicity.

Atheist Group trying to form chapter at ASU

An Atheist Group is trying to form a chapter at ASU in Jonesboro. According to the article, the Atheist Community of Jonesboro was started last January to provide a social and community service outlet for more worldly individuals. Now, their plan is to expand by starting a student chapter at Arkansas State University. The article quotes John Langston, the President of the Atheist Community of Jonesboro. “We Kind of wanted to take that word (atheist) and the problem it represents for us and meet the challenge of changing its meaning head on.” The article goes on to explain that Langston says the chapter was contacted by the secular student alliance in response to a news story that ran in our local university’s newspaper, the Herald. Langston states, “They saw that we wanted to start up this group and we can help you out with that.” As a result, it seems the Atheist group began posting fliers to find out if the interest was there on campus. However, according to Langston, the fliers are being torn down. “There will always be people who want to criticize the way we choose to live and the choices that we make,” says Langston.

In fairness to both sides of the issue, the article goes on to quote the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at ASU, Lonnie Williams. “The signs could have been posted in an area where signs had to be pre-approved or they could have been torn down for the views that they expressed.” According to Williams the university has a non-discriminatory policy, and they are just as welcome as any other student organization. “If they have interest and people of like mind as other students on campus, we are trying to create an environment where everyone strives. Generally you strive and are retaining if there are things on campus that interest you,” says Williams.

The article gave equal opportunity for both sides to speak. It would be interesting to hear a quote from two students from both sides of the spectrum who are actually on campus seeing and feeling what is really occurring as a result of this attempt. It seems a secular student alliance on campus already exists however, adding in the word Atheist may bring more negative connotations than other students are willing to tolerate at this time. In my opinion, Langston has his work cut out for him if he plans to change Christian views of the word Atheist. It is what it is.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The "N" Word in the 21st Century

After being met by the St. Clair Saints with racial slurs during the January 22nd basketball game, Mount Clemens High School is hesitant about the next game scheduled for February 23rd. Met with racial slurs as they stepped onto the court, a public address announcer reportedly asked the audience not to use foul language. According Mount Clemens head basketball coach, things escalated after halftime when St. Clair Saints were losing by 20 points. The “N” word, which was not visible upon arrival, was written over a locker door. Mount Clemens was the only African Americans down there playing ball at the time. Eleven of their twelve players are black.

St. Clair athletic director issued a statement indicating their concern and that the matter was under investigation. He also indicated St. Clair did not tolerate inappropriate behavior, particularly written or spoken comments. No formal complaints have been filed. However, in an unrelated incident, Mount Clemens canceled a game against the Clintondale High School Dragons after officials requested to play at a neutral site and requested a list of names of people attending the game.

Local 4 appears to have a least attempted to provide information from both sides, as St. Clair issued a statement printed in the article. However, reasons for Clintondale High School requesting a neutral site to play ball is not addressed. By adding this information (even though it is indicated to be unrelated) to the end of this article one might infer the relationship to be related in some way. Is there concern on the part of Clintondale of an encounter? Or is the concern that insinuations will ensue whether there is an encounter or not? Nonetheless, why request a list of names of people attending the game if not looking for trouble? The article is written to insinuate a connection, thus the connection is placed there by the media.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Removing Dictionaries from School

Removing Dictionaries from School in Menifee  resulted in questions about censorship and book banning by several concerned parents. School officials banned the Merriam Webster’s’ 10th Edition Dictionary from all Menifee Elementary Schools, Riverside County, in California. . It seems a student located the term “oral sex” in the dictionary prompting a call from the parents. Some parents are questioning the move, citing the fact that the words murder, kill, and rape can also be found in a dictionary and it is the job of the parent to explain things to their children as they arise. One parent suggested that if the dictionary was to be banned then every book students had access to, might also need to be reviewed for content. A district spokesperson, Betty Cadmus, said this is the first time a book has ever been removed from the classroom and that further review of the dictionary would take place. She indicated that the term simply was not appropriate at this age. Some school board members questioned why they were not consulted prior to the removal; however, one board member and father of four, indicated he supported the temporary ban until further review.

This is a school dealing with censorship possibly for the first time. Have they handled it appropriately? Due to the publicity, they probably over reacted. After reviewing comments from parents I discovered the dictionary is the collegiate edition which could easily explain the problem. As one parent indicated, why aren’t they using the elementary edition? There was also question about school officials censoring books without going through the school board which represents the parents. First Amendment Rights are at risk. This matter only became news worthy because the dictionaries were removed without going through the appropriate channels. Really it is not age appropriate material, but the situation was caused by placing the wrong dictionary, 9000 of them, in the classrooms to begin with. Someone did not do their homework and the media loves it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Trouble with Textbooks

Fox News presented a documentary in 2009 interviewing authors, board members, parents, teachers on their views of biased textbooks in American Classrooms. The main focus of this documentary, The Trouble with Textbooks: Distorting History and Religion published in 2008, exams the saturation of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in elementary and secondary school’s educational material. The books was co-authored by Gary A. Tobin and Dennis Ybarra, both from the Institute for Jewish and Community Research. Gary Tobin is now deceased. Ybarra is the research associate and research manager of the initiative on anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in America’s K-12 education systems. Based on their positions, one might consider their viewpoints prone to bias.

After analyzing 28 textbooks, a number of historical errors were found, as well as, errors reflecting bias toward one religion. One must decide for themselves whether these are honest errors or intentional bias. The fact that the book companies refused an interview is a little disturbing and definitely makes one wonder.

The interview with the mother of the two girls I found unconvincing. Since she had previously placed her girls in a private school, then returned them to a private school after concerns of bias and too much tolerance, I felt she might already harbor a negative attitude toward public schools. I fail to see how providing Islamic children a room for fasting during lunch affects anyone’s education. More parental interviews, especially of children attending the public school, would have provided a more convincing argument toward bias within the schools.

The African American father from California expressed a good argument, probably because he has faced discrimination and so have his children. In face of his own discrimination and that of his children, he still felt overwhelming concerns over LGBT. He, like many parents at the meeting, felt it was not the schools place to teach his children about gays. There was also the point that no data exists proving bully in the K-7 schools. This would need to be verified and the method for reporting bullying in elementary school might also be researched.

Fact: American high school students are performing below basic in history. Is this because of bias and faulty facts in our text books? Is it because the texts have been destroyed by censorship to the point of being horridly boring and irrelevant to our American students? These are questions that need answered by teachers, parents, and students, not groups with an agenda, or chosen, trained review panels.

Baptists Group Arrested for Child Trafficking in Haiti

Does it matter that their heart was in the right place? Can the legal system see it from that point of view? Bob Allen of The Associated Baptist Press insists they were only trying to help. The group of ten felt compelled by God for this mission trip. A mission team from two Southern Baptist churches in Idaho was arrested January 29th as they were attempting to bus 33 children across the border into the Dominican Republic.

There intention: to help children suffering from the aftermath of the January 12th earthquake that devastated Port-au-Prince. News articles and news broadcasts verify this intent. These children were being taken to a temporary orphanage in the Dominican Republic. What the article fails to mention is the fact that the orphanage has not yet been built. Before leaving for Haiti, the team rented a 45 room hotel in Cab arĂȘte, a beach resort in the Dominican Republic, near the location of the planned orphanage. The article also fails to mention that twenty-one of these thirty three children had a least one living parent or close relative in the village from which the team took the children. Television interviews with parents indicated the group promised the children a better life, food, clothing, education, and a swimming pool. Quoting Shirley Thompson, mother and grandmother of two team members, “They had no intention, of course, of trafficking children or even making them available for adoption. They were there simply to rescue and care for them.” However, an itinerary of the mission trip posted on the Eastside Baptist Church website indicated the team was working with New Life Children’s Refuge, a non profit Christian ministry. The ministry’s stated purpose is to rescue and care for impoverished and abandoned orphans in Haiti and the Dominican Republic and to provide “opportunities for adoption into a loving Christian family.”

Out of the hundreds of true orphans in Haiti, why choose children with parents? Yes, they were impoverished, but not abandoned. How, as a Christian, or just as a decent human being, can you turn your back on these parents? Some of these children were as old as twelve. Are they expected to just forget their “impoverished” family in Haiti? This group has the financial means to help this village. Instead of taking their children, why, in God’s name, didn’t they help the entire village?

Update from CBCNEWS: “In interviews with The Associated Press, parents of many of the children acknowledged they handed them over out of desperation, unable to care for them after an earthquake devastated their village on Jan. 12.”

A note for the Politically Correct Agenda: Unfortunately for this group, there seems to be some confusion in the United States over the terminology, American Baptist. American Baptist Churches, USA would like everyone to know that these ten individuals are not members of their group. But, they are American and they are Baptists.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Child Slavery in Haiti

Poverty has pushed more than 225,000 young girls and boys in Haiti into slavery. According to the latest survey, poverty has pushed more than 225,000 Haitian children into becoming Restavecs, better known as slaves. These children suffer from psychological, physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. They begin work early each morning, work all day while other children are at school, and continue working until bedtime. The poorest of families in Haiti may have as many as 10, 12, 14 children. Unable to care for them all, they give or sell children to families sometimes not much better off than them. It has even been found that some families hosting (as it is referred to in Haiti) a Restavec child may have one of their own children hosted out to another family. The plight of these children is widely know, though denied by the government, and a great source of shame for this Caribbean nation founded by a successful slave revolt more than 200 years ago. How does a nation that fought so hard for freedom turn around and place their children, descendents of those who fought for this freedom, back into bondage? If poverty is the reason, financial assistance is obviously the answer. According to this article, researchers conducted surveys in late 2007 early 2008 funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. UNICEF conducted a survey in 2002 to discover approximately 172,000 children as Restavecs. Haitian officials were asked to conduct a national survey. Would money not be better spent providing for these destitute children than on another survey? Pan American Development Foundation report recommended Haiti’s government and donors focus on educating the poor and expanding social services such as homes for young girls who make up more than 2/3 of the child slavery population.

As I watched the video on YouTube, this mother was explaining that she had too many children and was unable to care for them, thus she was giving two or three of them away to other families. The children had no reaction. This may be where the education needs to begin. A father stood with his children indicating he absolutely would not place his children in other homes even though there were times when the food was not sufficient. Placed as a Restavec himself, he could not inflict the same shame upon his own children.

There is ample documentation to verify slavery exists in Haiti. It is also obvious that the world needs to be educated to the living conditions of these children and their needs. Most Americans live in their own little world oblivious to the fact that slavery does still exist today.