Archives for category: Bias

In the past few years, we have seen the rise of something called the “parental rights” movement. This movement consists of angry white parents, mostly women, like “Moms for Liberty” and “Parents Defending Freedom,” who insist that they as parents have the “right” to decide what their children are taught in school and what books they read. They strenuously object to teaching about race and racism, which they say makes their children “uncomfortable.” They believe that teachers are “grooming” their children to be gay or transgender by teaching them about gender or sexuality. Of course, if the last were true, almost everyone would now be transgender, since most students have taken a sex-ed course at some point, focused mainly on health.

In response to the outcry from these groups, a number of states, led by Florida and Virginia, have passed laws they describe as “parental rights” laws, which ban the teaching of “divisive concepts” because they make students “uncomfortable.” The most “divisive” concept of all is “critical race theory,” which states ban. Since legislators don’t know what critical race theory is, their laws are meant to remove any teaching about race and racism from the curriculum.

Bottom line: only white parents have parental rights.

But what about Black parents? Do they have rights? Apparently not.

What about other parents who do not identify with angry white parents? Don’t their children have the right to learn an accurate history of the state, the U.S., and the world?

Why do Moms for Liberty get to define what all parents want?

Shouldn’t Black children learn about the history of race and racism?

Why shouldn’t all students learn accurate history, even if it makes them “uncomfortable”?

Why should a small subset of far-right fringe white parents get the power to censor what everyone else is taught and is allowed to read?

These “parental rights” laws are a paper-thin veneer for censorship, gag orders, lies and propaganda. They are the product of arrogant racists who can’t be bothered to hide their venomous racism.

They prefer ignorance to knowledge. They should not be allowed to impose their hateful ideology on others.

Mercedes Schneider writes here about the decision by Willie Carver, Kentucky’s 2022 Teacher of the Year, to resign.

Carver testified before Congress and described the indignities he endured because he is gay. Carver is a highly qualified, highly experienced teacher. He loves teaching. But he is afraid to return to the classroom because of the state-sponsored bigotry that threatens teachers and students like him.

Carver told members of Congress (in part, open the link):

Identity is rarely discussed by direct means. No teachers come out as straight. They are married to opposite sex spouses whose pictures sit on their desks or whose names come up in stories about vacations or weekend trips to the grocery store.

LGBTQ teachers and students will not be afforded this freedom. They will be required to deny their existence and edit the most basic aspects of their stories, unlike their classmates and colleagues.
Few LGBTQ teachers will survive this current storm. Politicizing our existence has already darkened our schools.

I’m made invisible. When we lost our textbooks during lockdown, I co-wrote two free textbooks
with a university professor, made them free to anyone who wanted them, and found sponsors to print them. I wasn’t allowed to share them at my school. Other schools in Kentucky celebrate similar work by teachers, but my name is a liability.

I’m from the small town of Mt. Sterling, KY and I was invited to meet the President of the United States. It was not advertised to my students and colleagues. My school didn’t even mention it in an email or morning announcement.

This invisibility extends to all newly politicized identities. Our administrators’ new directive about books and lessons is “nothing racial.”

We all know how to interpret this.

Works by white people living lives as white people are never called racial.

Works by Black and brown people living lives as Black and brown people are always called racial.

The politicization of identity erases their identities.

Parents now demand alternative assignments when authors of texts or materials are Black or LGBTQ; we teachers are told to accommodate them, but I cannot ethically erase Black or queer voices.

We ban materials by marginalized authors, ignoring official processes. One parent complaint removes all students’ books overnight.

Endangered educators

My Gay Straight Alliance (GSA), a campus group dedicated to discussing and helping make schools safe for LGBTQ students, couldn’t share an optional campus climate survey with classmates. I was told it might make straight students uncomfortable.

Students now use anti-LGBTQ or racist slurs without consequence. Hatred is politically protected now.

When my GSA’s posters were torn from walls, my principal’s response was that people think LGBTQ advocacy is “being shoved down their throats.”

Inclusive teachers are thrown under the bus by the people driving it.

During a national teacher shortage crisis, I know gay educators with perfect records dismissed this year.

A Kentucky teacher’s whiteboard message of “You are free to be yourself with me. You matter” with pride flags resulted in wild accusations and violent threats. During this madness, his superintendent wrote to a parent, “This incident … is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.” The situation became unimaginably unsafe. He resigned.

Last month, a parent’s dangerous, false allegations that my GSA was “grooming” students were shared 65 times on Facebook. I felt my students and I were unsafe. Multiple parents and I asked the school to defend us. One father wrote simply, “Please do something!” The school refused to support us.

There are 10,000 people in my town; one fringe parent doesn’t represent most parents, who trust us.

Student suicides

School is traumatic; LGBTQ students are trying to survive it. They often don’t. Year after year, I receive suicidal goodbye texts from students at night. We’ve always saved them, but now I panic when my phone goes off after 10:00.

Meryl, a gentle trans girl from Owen County High, took her life in 2020. She always wanted a GSA. Her friends tried to establish one, but the teachers who wanted to help were afraid to sponsor it. Meryl’s mother Rachelle runs an unofficial GSA, PRISM, from the local library.

45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide this year. We chip away at their dignity and spaces to exist. The systems meant to protect them won’t even acknowledge them.

I recently attended Becky Oglesby’s TED Talk. She described surviving a tornado with first graders, how they huddled, her arms around them, as their school walls lifted into the darkness.

I sobbed uncontrollably. I realized that for fifteen years, I have huddled around students, protecting them from the winds, and now the tornado’s here. As the walls rip away, I feel I’m abandoning them.

But I’m tired. I’ve been fighting since my first day in a classroom. Fighting for kids to feel human. Fighting for kids to be safe. Fighting to stop the fear by changing hearts and minds.

I’m tired. I don’t know how much longer I can do it.

It is not safe to be gay in Kentucky or Florida or most states in the South and Midwest. Nor is it safe to be Black or Brown in the many states that have banned teaching about the history of racism.

Willie Carver has accepted a position at the University of Kentucky where he will work in student services.

Censorship and harassment does eliminate homosexuality. Nor does it turn all students white.

Lying about history doesn’t change history. It just spreads ignorance.

Samuel Abrams, Director of the National Center for the Study of Privatization, noticed a curious omission in the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that required Maine to fund two evangelical religious schools. There was no mention of what other nations do. Some European nations fully fund religious schools. But they regulate them! Choice zealots here want religious schools to get public funds without any public oversight. None.

He writes:

In tandem with its reversal of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court stands to substantially alter everyday life in America with its recent decisions of ­Carson v. Makin, amplifying its support for public funding of religious schools, and Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, allowing prayer in public schools.

The significance of Kennedy is blunt. With the Court ruling 6-3 along party lines that the dismissal of a football coach at a public high school in the state of Washington for holding post-game prayer meetings violated his First Amendment right to free exercise of religion, we can expect similar meetings as well as Bible study sessions, nativity pageants, and the like in public schools across the country. Such events will surely lead some students to feel coerced into participating for fear of disappointing peers and authority figures. In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor indeed noted that a lower court had determined that some players said they joined the coach’s prayer meetings “because they felt social pressure to follow their coach and teammates.”

The significance of Carson is more subtle but equally profound. In Carson, the same justices ruled 6-3—as forecasted on this site following oral arguments in December—that Maine’s exclusion of religious schools from partaking in its Town Tuitioning Program likewise violated the right to free exercise of religion. This program covers all or part of the cost for students in rural districts without high schools to attend either public or nonsectarian private high schools in nearby districts or beyond (if the school is public, the total cost is covered; if it is private, coverage is pegged to per-pupil statewide average spending). With this decision, we can expect religious groups in considerably rural states across the country to lobby legislators to create programs similar to Maine’s.

But there’s another dimension to Carson, which derives as much from what it did not say as from what it did. To grasp the wider implications of Carson requires understanding what is missing from the decision.

While many countries—such as Belgium, France, and the Netherlands—have for many years allowed a considerable portion of their students to attend religious schools with public funding, the Court did not cite such foreign practice. In the Netherlands, in fact, 55 percent of students attend religious schools with public funding.

Why then didn’t the Court cite foreign practice? This indifference to foreign practice holds, as well, for the majority opinions in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris in 2002, validating the provision of government-funded vouchers to cover tuition at religious schools in Cleveland, and Espinoza et al. v. Montana Department of Revenue in 2020, mandating that if a state permits students to attend private schools with scholarships funded by a tuition tax-credit program, it cannot bar religious schools from participation.

American jurisprudence does tend to stick to domestic precedent, but that custom cannot explain this disregard for education policy abroad. After all, former Justice Anthony Kennedy, who voted with the majority in Zelman, was a prominent champion of deference to foreign practice and inspired others to follow in his path. In authoring the majority opinion in Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, Kennedy famously drew on British legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights to overturn state laws criminalizing homosexual relations. Two years later, Kennedy made use of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child in writing the majority opinion in Roper v. Simmons to nullify the constitutionality of the death penalty for juvenile offenders.

The answer to this question is crucial. To have invoked foreign practice would have been to invite trouble. Publicly funded religious schools in such countries as Belgium, France, and the Netherlands are regulated to a degree that American proponents of religious schools would find unacceptable.

In Carson, Chief Justice John Roberts conceded in this light that while Maine public schools must adhere to specific standards for instruction in a range of subjects, that is not so for nonsectarian and religious private schools. Though accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), such schools, wrote Chief Justice Roberts, “are exempt from these requirements, and instead subject only to general ‘standards and indicators’ governing the implementation of their own chosen curriculum.”

As Justice Stephen Breyer pointed out in his dissent, one of the two schools at the heart of Carson, both of which are accredited by NEASC, considers academic and religious education “completely intertwined,” so much so that “in science class, students learn that atmospheric layers ‘are evidence of God’s good design.’”

At religious as well as nonsectarian private schools funded with public money in such countries as Belgium, France, and the Netherlands, curricula must comport with national standards (meaning, for example, no attribution to divine design for atmospheric composition). In addition, teachers must be certified and guaranteed access to union membership while members of the LGBTQ community cannot be barred from either enrollment or employment.

The parameters of NEASC and other independent school organizations across the United States do not come close to such expectations, as Justice Breyer’s point about science education indicates. Indeed, many religious schools, such as the two defining Carson, refuse to hire gay or lesbian teachers.

While Maine passed an amendment to its human rights act to bar schools from receiving public money if they discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity, that does not mean other states motivated by Carson to create similar programs will enact such protections; nor does it mean that Maine’s amendment will go unchallenged on the grounds that it interferes with an institution’s right to free exercise of religion.

In a guest essay in The New York Times, Aaron Tang, a professor of law at the University of California, Davis, cited this amendment as a model for deflecting the impact of decisions like Carson, but he neither acknowledged that other states implementing town tuitioning programs might not take such action nor recognized that Maine’s amendment might not last.

Setting aside whether public funding of any form of religious schooling poses a threat to democratic values by fostering societal division and conflict, as Justice Breyer claimed in his dissent, there can be no doubt that public funding of lightly regulated religious schooling poses precisely such a threat.

Policymakers abroad have understood this. And it is basic to our own tradition. The Supreme Court made this clear in 1925 in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, ruling unanimously that Oregon could not, as decided by a statewide referendum in 1922, bar private schools from operating but that it was empowered to carefully regulate them.

“No question is raised concerning the power of the State reasonably to regulate all schools,” the Court declared in Pierce, “to inspect, supervise and examine them, their teachers and pupils; to require that all children of proper age attend some school, that teachers shall be of good moral character and patriotic disposition, that certain studies plainly essential to good citizenship must be taught, and that nothing be taught which is manifestly inimical to the public welfare.”

With Carson building on Zelman and Espinoza, public funding of religious schooling appears irreversible. But that does not mean the message of Pierce and the lessons from abroad cannot be heeded. With Kennedy, the public school as neutral common ground is over.

Samuel E. Abrams
Director, NCSPE
June 30, 2022

Published Thursday, Jun 30, 2022

The gubernatorial election is approaching in Maine, and to everyone’s surprise, former Governor Paul LePage is running again.

LePage was an enthusiastic member of the Tea Party. He called himself “Trump before Trump.” He insulted immigrants, gays, anyone other that straight white people. He took his cues on education from Jeb Bush.

He was a xenophobic disaster. Keep your eye on Maine.

I am tired of rightwing politicians distorting our language to suit their bigoted ideology.

They have the nerve, for example, to quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he spoke at the March on Washington in 1963 and said he hoped for the day when his children would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Dr. King was projecting a vision of a world without racism, when people would see each other as friends, neighbors, and fellow human beings.

But rightwing politicians twist his words to insist that we should ignore racism right now, stop teaching about it, and pretend it does not exist. They use his words to justify prohibitions on teaching about or discussing the racism in the here and now. They use his appeal for an unrealized future to blind us to a cruel present.

I propose that we make a conscientious effort to reclaim the plain meaning of words.

One of the hot-button words that has been appropriated by rightwing politicians is “woke.” They are trying to turn it into a shameful word. I looked up the definition of WOKE. It means being aware of injustice and inequality, specifically when referring to racism. I strive to be aware of injustice and inequality and racial discrimination and to do whatever I can to change things for the better. Shouldn’t we all do that?

My acronym for WOKE is “Wide Open to Knowledge and Enlightenment.”

What would you say about someone who is not WOKE? They are “asleep,” “unconscious,” “indifferent.” They are “Mind Closed, Mouth Open.”

Yes, I am WOKE. I want Dr. King’s dream someday to be true. It is not true now.

Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida believes it is terrible to be woke. He demeans those he says are woke. He claims that the woke are politically correct and are intimidated by organized efforts to reduce racism in schools and the workplace. He thinks that being woke is so dreadful that it must be made illegal.

He urged the Florida legislature to pass “anti-woke” legislation in March. And they did. The so-called STOP WOKE” Act means “Stop the Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees Act.”

This legislation is intended specifically to silence discussions and study of racism. It bans the teaching of critical race theory in schools and colleges and bans diversity training in the workplace.

Governor DeSantis doesn’t want people to be opposed to injustice and inequality. He doesn’t want them to be opposed to racism. Such awareness makes some people feel uncomfortable, he says. We should teach nothing that makes anyone uncomfortable.

Who is uncomfortable when racism is discussed? In my experience, the people who don’t want any discussion of racism are either racist or are embarrassed by their acts of racism in the past.

To protect the tender sensibilities of white people, we must avoid any discussion that makes them or their children uncomfortable. We must not take the risk that they or their children might feel uncomfortable for terrible things that happened long ago. So don’t talk about them. Don’t read books that discuss slavery, the Ku Klux Klan, lynchings, or segregation. Don’t mention the distant past or the wrongs of the present. Don’t dare to talk about discrimination against black people, or the passage of laws that impair their right to vote, or the persistence of racially segregated schools.

Not only is it wrong to be woke, in the eyes of those who prefer to stifle all recognition of racial discrimination, it is absolutely forbidden for teachers or professors to examine the causes of racism and its persistence today in our laws and policies. Making a conscientious effort to understand the causes of racism and to seek remedies is called “critical race theory” (CRT).

The attacks on critical race theory are intended to intimidate teachers and to prevent students from learning about racism, past or present.

In states that have banned the teaching of critical race theory, the legislators can’t define CRT, so they make it illegal to teach “divisive concepts” or anything that makes some students “uncomfortable.”

When a white supremacist massacred ten Black people in Buffalo, New York, teachers in anti-CRT states were not sure if they were allowed to teach about what happened. Would they lose their jobs if they taught the truth?

The states that prohibit the teaching of critical race theory are banning the teaching of honest history, for fear that someone might be uncomfortable when they learn the facts about what was done to Black people in our history. Some states have explicitly banned Nikole Hannah-Jones’ “The 1619 Project,” because it might make some white people uncomfortable. I may be wrong, but I can’t recall a state that ever passed a law censoring a single book. This book is obviously very powerful and very frightening to those who feel the need to ban it. It cannot be refuted by the DeSantis faction so it must be banned.

The same states that want to ban honest teaching about racism are also banning books about gender identity and sexuality. The legislatures in Republican states think that the schools are filled with pedophiles. The rightwing zealots claim that teachers are “grooming” their students to become gay or transgender. They pass laws like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bans teaching about gender identity and sexuality in grades K-3 (where gender identity and sexuality are not taught) and tolerate only “age-appropriate” discussion of gender identity and sexuality in other grades.

Like the STOP WOKE law, the “Don’t Say Gay” law is vague, which makes teachers fearful of teaching anything related to gender or sexuality. If schools can’t teach about gender identity, then they cannot teach about married couples of any gender. If you take them literally, you should not refer to Moms and Dads, men and women. Dare we teach young children about heterosexuality? Apparently not, if you follow the letter of the law.

The groups that are behind these attacks are familiar to us. They are Moms for Liberty, Moms for America, Parents Defending Freedom, and a bevy of other groups funded by rightwing billionaires.

Not coincidentally, these are the same groups that are fighting to pass funding for charter schools and vouchers.

What is their motive? They want to destroy not only freedom of thought but public schools.

Recently, I watched the far-right provocateur Chris Rufo give a speech at Hillsdale College. He called on his audience to act in a speech titled “Laying Siege to the Institutions.” (Please watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8Hh0GqoJcE). Rufo claims credit for making CRT a national issue. He boasts that a few years ago, CRT had virtually no public recognition. Thanks to his lies and distortions, most people have heard of it and some think it is a radical, Marxist plot to destroy America by turning race against race. Because he says so.

This is absurd.

For the past four decades, CRT was known as a law school study of the origins of systemic racism and the extent to which it is embedded in our laws and institutions. Its founder was Derrick Bell of Harvard Law School. He was a friend of mine. He was not a Marxist or a radical. He was a great American who wanted America to live up to its promises. Unlike Rufo, he didn’t believe in gag orders and bans. He believed in study, scholarship, debate and discussion.

Chris Rufo offers one solution to all the problems he sees: school choice.

To him, the public school is the most dangerous of all institutions, because it teaches equality, justice, and critical thinking. It teaches students to respect others. It teaches them to abhor racism and other forms of bigotry. It teaches students about American history without censoring the unpleasant and horrifying parts. The laws passed to ban CRT and to gag teachers have one purpose: Teach lies, not honest history.

Here is what I suggest.

Fight censorship.

Fight privatization of our public assets.

Read without fear.

Read “The 1619 Project,” which will open your minds. Read critiques of “The 1619 Project” by reputable scholars, not by rightwing ideologues.

Think about it. Discuss and debate the issues.

Say gay.

Stand up to the craven politicians who attack your freedoms.

Vote against them when you have the chance.

Fearlessly defend the freedom to read, the freedom to teach, and the freedom to learn.

Work towards the day when we treat each other with respect.

Wake up.

Christopher Hooks wrote in The Texas Monthly about the boundless hypocrisy and moral vacuousness of Texas’ elected leaders.

In the run-up to the 2022 primaries and election, they made a big show of “protecting the children.”

They obsessed about the danger of transgender children, even insisting on criminalizing parents’ efforts to get medical help for their children. They obsessed about teachers allegedly “grooming” children for lives of deviant sexual behavior. They obsessed about “obscene” books that might normalize sexual behavior they—these men of high righteousness— deplored. They obsessed about “critical race theory” and demanded the banning of books that taught children about racism, whether past or present, or anything about human sexuality.

Yes, the children of Texas would be protected from any teaching about race or sexuality.

But they would not be physically protected. They would not be protected from an 18-year-old with two AR15s.

When the bad man with a powerful weapon came into their classroom, the children were left to fend for themselves while 19 police officers stood in the hallway. The bad man killed their teachers. He killed children. Little girls called 911 and begged for help. One said 8 or 9 children were still alive. But the police remained in the hallway.

The parents in the schoolyard pleaded with the police to save their children, but the police had their instructions: keep the parents away.

Almost an hour passed before the police broke into the classroom and shot the murderer.

The Governor called a press conference , where he commended the police for their courage and bravery. He commended the men who waited in the hallway for almost an hour, while the children were dying, one after another.

Hooks writes:

Texas, a friend used to say, is hard on women and little things. That would come to mind over the years when reporting seemed to bear it out. In 2015, I watched a foster mother testify in court, via telephone from her daughter’s hospital bedside, that state cuts to the Medicaid acute therapy program were having disastrous consequences for her child’s incurable, debilitating genetic disorder. In 2021, an eleven-year-old boy in Conroe suffocated from carbon monoxide poisoning after seeing snow for the first time, as his family tried to keep their home warm after the collapse of a horribly mismanaged electrical grid. And then there were the perennial horror stories from the state’s spike-pit child welfare system—a three-year-old found dead, bleeding from the ears, after his day care repeatedly warned state agents about signs of abuse by his foster parents; a teenage girl who killed herself the moment she could despite orders that she was never to be left alone; and countless others who survive through the heavy prescription of psychotropic meds before being kicked out to the streets at the age of eighteen.

Each revelation of new misery brings a new wave of revulsion, but—I hate to say this—as you learn more about how the social safety net works in Texas, the revulsion starts to fade, and it becomes a dull undercurrent to an awareness of the world instead of something sharp that pokes through. As it fades, so comes the realization that it has faded in the same way for those in power—and that nothing gets fixed because leaders have been immunized from caring to an even greater degree. The grid remains unsteady; children in foster care still get abused. Legislators make a show of passing partial, temporary fixes and resist looking at problems head-on. The Texas Legislature, with all its self-regard and jocularity and pride in itself as an institution, turns out to be suffused with a very dull and banal kind of evil.

On Tuesday, though, something poked through. For me, it wasn’t the knowledge that there had been another school shooting. Who could be surprised by that? Every detail was familiar. A once-bullied eighteen-year-old, two AR-15s, 22 dead, and 19 injured. The thing that shocked was the pictures of the dead when they lived. They were so little! Do you remember what it was like to have a body that small? A round fired by an AR-15 at close range enters the human body at three times the speed as those fired by a handgun, disintegrating and liquefying bones and organs around it. “It’s like a grenade goes off in there,” one trauma surgeon told Wired. Parents had to submit DNA samples so their kids could be accurately identified.

This spectacular violence, it sometimes feels, has not left much of us. At his initial press conference, Governor Greg Abbott wore his traditional white disaster-response shirt and offered details of the massacre as if reading a weather report. At a press conference the next day, where the governor sat alongside Texas senator Ted Cruz and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Abbott told Texans that the disaster “could have been worse,” and the primary flash of anger shown by elected officials came when Beto O’Rourke, who appeared in the crowd, tried to talk over them.

Appearing on Newsmax TV the day of the shooting, state attorney general Ken Paxton suggested that more armed guards at schools would help, “because it’s not going to be the last time.” Can you believe that, as a response from one of the most powerful elected officials in the state to a massacre of fourth graders? “It’s not going to be the last time.” There used to be at least a perfunctory mourning period, some hugs given in front of cameras, before those in power turned to one another other and shrugged. But in truth, leaders are only handling this the way they think about the foster care system they oversee, and every other death trap run by the state. The revulsion dulls, the novelty fades, and it becomes normal.


The shooting took place on the day of the Texas primary runoff. The composition of the Legislature and the rest of state government for the next two and a half years was set that night, barring extraordinary circumstances, by the conclusion of the Republican primary, which in Texas is more influential than the general election. Paxton, who had shrugged off the Uvalde shooting on Newsmax while wearing a campaign T-shirt, won renomination and almost certainly a third term in office.

It is a grotesque and cruel irony that the Republican primary this year, and several years of political activity before it, have been dominated by an all-consuming and comically misdirected argument about the “protection” of children and by a war on public schools. There was essentially no policy contested in the GOP primary that could affect the practical and economic circumstances of all Texans. (There rarely is.) There was, however, ceaseless argument about the well-being of children, their morals, their internal lives.

The most acute panic was over transgender children. In February, Paxton’s office issued a formal opinion holding that the prescription of puberty blockers to transgender children represented “child abuse.” Shortly after, Abbott tasked the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, an overworked and underfunded agency he had overseen for close to eight years, with investigating the families of transgender children for child abuse.

The more widespread crisis concerned books. The panic was conjured by parents and elected officials in equal measure. The first target was books with “divisive” material about race. Then, elected officials began to panicabout “pornography” in schools, a category that mostly included literature featuring queer characters and sexuality. Lawmakers proposed lists of books to be banned. In November, Abbott ordered the Texas Education Agency to investigate cases of “obscene material” in public schools and prosecute those responsible “to the fullest extent of the law,” because, as he wrote, it had to be a top priority to “protect” Texas students.

Public school teachers and children’s librarians—two professions that offer a strongly beneficial service to society for little pay—became villains for parents and candidates alike. They were called “groomers” and pedophiles on social media. In a press release, Abbott called for criminal charges to be brought if librarians were found to have put “pornography” in front of children. In Granbury, southwest of Fort Worth, half a year later, one woman lodged a criminal complaint against the librarians of Hood County ISD, prompting a police investigation. At a subsequent school board meeting, she condemned the fact that a committee brought together to review troublesome books had “too many” librarians instead of “people with good moral standards.”

The deterioration spread. A record number of public school teachers, already weary from the pandemic and now faced with a sort of siege, started quitting en masse—and forfeiting their licenses, indicating they probably wouldn’t come back. “I’m tired of getting punched. It shouldn’t be like this,” ninth grade math teacher Gloria Ogboaloh told Texas Monthly. As more teachers left, the quality of life for remaining educators got worse. Then, just four months after ordering that libraries be investigated, Abbott ordered the TEA to create a task force to investigate why so many teachers were quitting.

Hooks goes on to describe politicians who are liars, braggarts, cruel, indifferent to the safety of children, callous. How long can they continue to fool people with their charade and their fake concern? They don’t care about thechildren

Ever since Governor Ron DeSantis punished the Disney Corporation for opposing his “Don’t Say Gay” law, I’ve been wishing that the Magic Kingdom would pull up stakes and move to another state. It’s one of Florida’s biggest employers and attracts millions of tourists every year. Surely it would be welcome in any other state, especially one that does not insult and humiliate any of its employees.

Turns out that Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank had the same idea.

He wrote:

Mickey Mouse needs a sanctuary city.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Hades) got his state legislature this week to abolish the favorable tax arrangement that brought Disney World to Orlando and kept it there for 55 years. It’s the latest salvo against corporate America from the Trump right, which has already threatened Twitter, Facebook, Citigroup and Delta Air Lines. But now they’re canceling Mickey and Minnie? That’s just Goofy…

Suddenly, sad times are upon the Happiest Place on Earth. Jared Polis, the Democratic governor of Colorado, has promised to “grant Mickey and Minnie full asylum in Colorado” and offered Disney a “Mountain Disneyland” retreat from “Florida’s authoritarian socialist attacks on the private sector.” Many Disney fans online are urging Disney World to leave Florida.

Of course, you can’t just put a resort with six theme parks and two dozen or so hotels on a magic carpet ride to, say, New Jersey. (As it is, central Floridians could be stuck with more than $1 billion in debt and a massive property-tax increase because of DeSantis’s anti-Disney vendetta.) But Disney is the place where dreams come true, and mine is that the whole of Disney World, which employs roughly 80,000 Floridians and attracts tens of millions of tourists every year, will take the second star to the right and straight on till morning — and abandon Florida entirely.
DeSantis would be left with a 25,000-acre house of horrors in Orlando: an abandoned resort in a state nobody wants to visit, thanks to Ron’s Runaway Railway.

His “don’t say gay” legislation makes Florida unwelcoming to LGBTQ people. His voter-suppression laws and race-baiting attacks on teaching history and race make Florida hostile to Black, Latino and Asian Americans. Rising antisemitism (Florida’s most famous resident just had a film screening at Mar-a-Lago characterized by antisemitic swipes at Mark Zuckerberg) gives Jews pause about the state. DeSantis’s MAGA-signaling anti-immigrant and antiabortion laws repel more large swaths of the population. His banning of math textbooks should send educated Floridians packing. His opposition to Medicaid expansion and Florida’s excessive covid-19 death rate over the past year have sent many Floridians to the morgue.


Soon, there won’t be much of a constituency left. As J.D. Vance, a Republican Senate candidate from Ohio, put it in a just-released private message from 2016, “We are, whether we like it or not, the party of lower-income, lower-education white people, and I have been saying for a long time that we need to offer those people SOMETHING.” So offer them a theme park! Rename Disney World’s ruins DeSanty World.

DeSanty World would make the Carousel of Progress turn in reverse, reimagining the Disney classics to suit its growing audience of Snow White nationalists. Pinocchio would dream of becoming not a “real boy” but a Proud Boy. Lady Tremaine, the wicked stepmother, would become the heroine of Cinderella, championing parental rights. Bambi would be seen from the hunters’ point of view. Aladdin’s new soundtrack would warn of “A Whole New World Order,” and Mulan would be reviled for spreading the coronavirus. Brave Frollo would fight valiantly to free France of minority groups and the disabled. And all would cheer for QAnon’s own Captain Hook as he battles to prevent villainous Peter Pan from grooming the Lost Boys.

Some attractions would require only minor changes. The Barnstormer roller coaster (“a staggering series of stupendous stunts”) would be dedicated to DeSantis instead of Goofy. The Mad Tea Party and Festival of Fantasy Parade could pretty much stay as they are, and the Hall of Presidents would just be dispossessed of its 46th inductee. DeSanty World would build a wall around the Alien Swirling Saucers. And, because of the park’s new open-carry gun policy, the whole thing would become a Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade.

DeSanty World would surely sack the China Pavilion at Epcot and its planned film “Wondrous China.” This would be replaced by a Covid Theater (no masks allowed!). A new 101 Dalmatians Dog Whistle attraction would feature DeSantis, who said, when he had a Black opponent in 2018, “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up.” The existing Under the Sea Journey of the Little Mermaid would be repurposed to promote offshore oil. The Frozen Ever After boat ride would refute the climate change hoax. Splash Mountain, already getting re-themed around “The Princess and the Frog,” would now swap the evil voodoo practitioner Dr. Facilier with the more evil Dr. Fauci.

A thoroughly remodeled Tower of Terror would have the MAGA faithful screaming as Ursula lures them into gender reassignment surgery, Maleficent tries to enchant them with universal health care, and the demons Pain and Panic attempt to vaccinate them.

Then, after all but the QAnon faithful had self-deported from DeSanty World, the few remaining stragglers would sing as one: It’s a small world after all.

Allie Pitchon of The Miami Herald reported that state officials told some publishers of math textbooks why the state would not buy their books. The initial announcement said that some math books were too “woke,” contained “critical race theory,” or included concepts from Common Core, which Governor Ron DeSantis turned against because former President Obama endorsed it. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, the conservative education guru, also championed Common Core, but that did not mollify DeSantis’s rejection of it.

Publishers were left in the dark about why their math books offended DeSantis, and yesterday the state provided some details. The state informed publishers what had to make changed to get on the state approved list and gave them two weeks to resubmit.

The state posted a few examples on its website.

One example: A colored bar chart showing how levels of racial bias can vary by age group. It is part of a mathematical brain teaser involving polynomial models and is nestled on the bottom right-hand corner of page 56 in a pre-calculus online textbook consisting of more than 1,000 pages. The book is not identified on the state’s website

Two other examples that originated with public complaints make reference to Social Emotional Learning (SEL), a methodology wherein students try to get in touch with their emotions and demonstrate empathy for others.

Here is the woke bar graph:

Publishers were well aware, the Department of Education said, that their books would be rejected if they had even a trace of “critical race theory” or “social-emotional learning” or Common Core.

The press release provided a withering quote from Gov. Ron DeSantis: “It seems some publishers attempted to slap a coat of paint on an old house built on the foundation of Common Core, and indoctrinating concepts like race essentialism, especially, bizarrely, for elementary school students.”

Education Secretary Richard Corcoran chimed in, stating Florida was “focusing on providing … children with a world-class education without the fear of indoctrination or exposure to dangerous and divisive concepts in our classrooms.”

In a tweet, Christina Pushaw, the governor’s press secretary, went further, while addressing those who take issue with “book banning”: “The state declining to purchase certain textbooks isn’t banning them. If you want to teach your kid Woke Math, where “2+2=4” is white supremacy, you’re free to buy any CRT math textbook you want. You just cannot force Florida taxpayers to subsidize this indoctrination.” She’s right that local school districts can allocate at least part of their book buying budget toward textbooks not on the state’s approved list.

Read more at: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article260639257.html#storylink=cpy

Thanks to reader Kathyirwin1 for bringing this article to my attention. Egged on by Governor Gregg Abbott and legislator Matt Krause (who circulated a list of 850 books that should be removed from public school libraries, most because they deal with race, sexuality or inequality), critics are now targeting the books in the public libraries.

The public library in Llano County closed for three days while librarians reviewed their holdings. Libraries in other counties saw challenges to books that conservatives want removed from shelves.

Local public libraries in Texas, including those in Victoria, Irving and Tyler, are fielding a flurry of book challenges from local residents. While book challenges are nothing new, there has been a growing number of complaints about books for libraries in recent months. And the fact that the numbers are rising after questions are being raised about school library content seems more than coincidental, according to the Texas Library Association.

“I think it definitely ramped it up,” said Wendy Woodland, the TLA’s director of advocacy and communication, of the late October investigation into school library reading materials launched by state Rep. Matt Krause in his role as chair of the House Committee on General Investigating.

In response to Krause’s inquiry, Gov. Greg Abbott tapped the Texas Education Agency to investigate the availability of “pornographic books” in schools. In the weeks since, school districts across the state have launched reviews of their book collections, and state officials have begun investigating student access to inappropriate content…

In Victoria, about 100 miles southeast of San Antonio, Dayna Williams-Capone says the number of complaints about books is the most she’s seen in her nearly 13 years working at the Victoria Public Library.

In August, Williams-Capone, the director of library services in Victoria, said her office received about 40 formal requests for review of books, primarily books for children and young adults that touch on topics of same-sex relationships, sexuality and race.

After Williams-Capone and her staff reviewed the requests, they decided to keep the books in the library. Residents who filed the complaints pushed forward, appealing the decision to the library’s advisory board for about half of the books, Williams-Capone said.

Last Wednesday, the library’s board voted not to remove the books from library shelves.

Most of the complaints are directed at books that feature same-sex relationships.

Wendy Woodland of the Texas Library Association said that:

“These efforts to mute or censor diverse voices in books is part of the just overall extreme divisiveness in our country that was really just exacerbated by the pandemic, [and] the actions taken by Rep. Krause and others have added fuel to that,” Woodland said.

She understands there will be those who may not like all of the books in a library. That’s not the point of a public library, she said.

“No book is right for everyone, but one book can make a big difference in one person’s life,” she said. “That’s what libraries are about — providing those windows and doors and mirrors to the community.”

In 1996, a group of Black and Hispanic teachers sued the City of New York for requiring them to pass tests that were, they said, racially discriminatory and not relevant to their work. The city will be required to pay nearly $600 million to the 350 plaintiffs, a sum that might rise to nearly $2 billion. The state was dropped from the lawsuit in 2006, even though it imposed the tests as requirements on the city.

A massive decades-long lawsuit against New York City over the use of two teaching certification tests is winding to a conclusion, with nearly $660 million and pension benefits in damages awarded to plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit claiming the tests were discriminatory against Black and Latino teachers and prevented them from achieving full seniority, pay and benefits.

The city could be further liable for hundreds of millions of dollars more in damages yet to be determined, with an estimated maximum payout of about $1.8 billion for the 4,700 plaintiffs in the Gulino v Board of Education class action suit — in what city officials say is the highest amount of damages that New York City has ever paid.

In 1996, three teachers filed the lawsuit against the city and state education departments, claiming that the mandated certification tests—the National Teacher Examination (NTE) and its successor the Liberal Arts & Sciences Test (LAST)—had a “disparate impact on African-American and Latino test takers.”

White test-takers passed the tests 83.7% of the time while Black test takers passed at 43.9% and Latino test takers passed at 40.3% of the time, according to the complaint.

No matter what subject a New York City teacher taught—whether it was preschool, special education, or athletics—they were required to pass these certification tests, which have been described as covering “scientific, mathematical, and technological processes; historical and social scientific awareness; artistic expression and the humanities; communication and research skills; and written analysis and expression.”

“The test obviously didn’t test anything relevant to the jobs that people were doing or being hired to do. But the city used it in many cases to demote people,” said Joshua Sohn, the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer.

Teachers who didn’t pass were paid less, denied full pension, and many were relegated to substitute status, according to a court brief filed with the Second Circuit of Appeals in 2007: “Even though they never achieved a passing score on the LAST, many teachers continued teaching full-time in the City’s schools for many years, albeit at salaries well below that of their certified colleagues. And those teachers who ultimately achieved a passing score, remained at a salary step level far below that of their colleagues with equivalent seniority in the City school system. In practice then, the City and State used the LAST not to determine whether teachers should be allowed to teach, but rather to determine their level of compensation and benefits.”