Archives for category: Ignorance

SB 167 in the Indiana Legislature received national attention when its chief sponsor, Republican Scott Baldwin, proclaimed that teachers must not take sides when discussing Nazism, fascism, or Marxism. He later apologized for the statement but not until after he became a subject of ridicule on national news. Now it is dead, although a similar bill is moving in the House.

The Indiana bill that sparked national outrage will not move forward, Senate leadership confirmed on Friday. 

Members of the Senate continued to work on Senate Bill 167, but have determined there is no path forward for it and it will not be considered,” Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, said in a statement. 

Less clear is the fate of a similar bill moving through the Indiana House. That bill was passed out of committee, 8-5, and heads to the full House floor next. Should it pass the House, it will be sent to the Senate.

A spokesperson for Bray said Senate Republicans would review the bill, if it passes out of the House.

More on bill:Indiana Senate bill that spurred Nazism remarks stalls; similar proposal advances

Senate Bill 167 was originally scheduled for a vote in the Senate’s education committee Wednesday but was pulled from the calendar, IndyStar previously reported, signaling it faced a rocky path forward. Earlier in the week, Bray said it was so lawmakers could address concerns raised during public testimony on the bill the previous week. 

An exchange during that testimony between the bill’s author, Sen. Scott Baldwin, R-Noblesville, and a history teacher from Fishers set off a viral firestorm after Baldwin said it would require teachers to remain impartial, even when discussing concepts such as Marxism, Nazism and fascism. 

“Of course, we’re neutral on political issues of the day,” teacher Matt Bockenfeld said at the committee hearing Jan. 5. “We don’t stand up and say who we voted for or anything like that. But we’re not neutral on Nazism. We take a stand in the classroom against it, and it matters that we do.”

Baldwin responded that may be going too far and that teachers need to be impartial and stick to the facts. He later walked back the comments in a statement to IndyStar and condemned those ideologies.Your stories live here

More:Find out what’s in controversial 2022 education bills, read full text

A similar bill has continued to move through the House. House Bill 1134 contains the same ban on “divisive concepts,” but was amended this week to clarify that teachers may condemn Nazism and other concepts that run counter to the U.S. Constitution. 

Catherine Truitt, the Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction in North Carolina sneered at critical thinking, as she put forth her own definition of what education is for.

North Carolina teacher Stuart Egan wrote:

A Little Soma Made in 1984 Cooked At F451 Degrees For You? Why Every Teacher Should Be Insulted By State Superintendent Truitt’s Words

“Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.”

– FAHRENHEIT 451

“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which [leaders] control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.”

– ALDOUS HUXLEY, AUTHOR OF BRAVE NEW WORLD

“The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering—a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons—a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting—three hundred million people all with the same face.”

– 1984

“We’ve got to redefine what the purpose of K-12 education is. Some would say it’s to produce critical thinkers. But my team and I believe that the purpose of a public K-12 education is to prepare students for post-secondary plans of their choice so that they can be a functioning member of the workforce.”

– STATE SUPERINTENDENT CATHERINE TRUITT, JANUARY 6TH, 2022

That last statement is a hell of a statement from the top ranking official for public education in the state – especially that part about free thinking.

In her short tenure as state super, Truitt has said many things to insult teachers, demean advocacy for public schools, and belittle the profession.

This is the most insulting – not just because as a teacher my job is to help students become critical thinkers, but as a parent of young lady who has graduated from public schools and a son about to enter high school, I don’t want the person who makes the biggest decisions about our schools to think of my children (and others’ children) as “functional members of the workforce.”

It’s almost like saying that our job as public school teachers is to create good workers for those who can profit from them.

Writing in “PoliticsNC,” Alexander H. Jones was incredulous. He wrote:

In my years of following state politics, I have heard North Carolina Republicans say stupid, outrageous, incomprehensible and otherwise foolish things. Pat McCrory said Caitlin Jenner would have to use the men’s shower if she ran track at UNC-Chapel Hill. Larry Pittman and others declared that the State of North Carolina has a right to nullify U.S. Supreme Court decisions within its borders. And so forth. But nothing I have heard echoing out of right-wing avenue was more utterly discrediting to a public servant than what DPI leader Catherine Truitt recently said about the purpose of K-12 education. Read on, if you can stomach it.

““We’ve got to redefine what the purpose of K-12 education is,” she declared. “Some would say it’s to produce critical thinkers. But my team and I believe that the purpose of a public K-12 education is to prepare students for the post-secondary plans of their choice so that they can be a functioning member of the workforce.” In one quick stroke, the leader of public education in North Carolina discounted and disparaged critical thinking, the foundation of an enlightened citizenry. In saying this she definitively sided with the forces of political authoritarianism and capitalist plunder, the two great foes of the American experiment that have always fought against liberal education.

Open the link and read the rest of his post.

Jack Hassard, retired teacher of science teachers, pays close attention to facts and science.

Here he presents the facts about who is getting infected with COVID.

He writes:

Here are two charts from the CDC that we can use to answer that question. Unvaccinated people are 5 – 10 times more likely to get infected than vaccinated people. They are also 14 – 20 times more likely to die from COVID.

Open the post to see the charts.

I sometimes get comments from people who claim that they are waiting for evidence that the vaccines work. The other day I read a news story about a married couple who died of COVID on the same day. They were unvaccinated. The husband said before he died that he was ”doing research” about the vaccines.

The two charts in this post should end the hesitancy of anti-vaxxers. But it won’t..

Blogger Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT) explains the competition between Donald Trump and Florida Ron DeSantis for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024 (both want to turn the clock back to 1924!)

Trump made DeSantis by endorsing him for Governor when he was an o score Congressman. Trump does not like ingratitude.

GOT describes DeSantis’ passion to ban mandates for masking in the schools.

How does Ron do it? One way is throwing raw meat, bloody and dripping, to the party’s base. Meat like convening a special legislative session to bar local school boards from implementing mask mandates as a public health measure during a pandemic….

The rallying cry these days for tearing apart public education and dividing the spoils among … edupreneurs, hedge fund investors, and TFA champions who signed up to spend two years in a classroom because they hadn’t figured out what to do with their lives and realized that they had staked out a claim to a gold mine.

DeSantis defends parents’ rights, among them the right for parents to spread sickness and disease to other people’s children.

It’s no surprise to GOT that he has had several children home in quarantine during November. It’s no surprise that he is receiving daily emails from students that they will not be in school. If they don’t say they have Covid, they say they don’t feel well, are running a fever, or having other symptoms.

Some mention a diagnosis of strep throat. It’s not only Covid that’s now running through the bodies of children. But we have discarded the lessons of the pandemic, that a simple mask and common sense regarding classroom practices go far to keep children healthy….

No masks, no vaccine, DeSantis is the cancerous version of that Vegas cliche: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

He wants to be president. If that doesn’t frighten you, this should: he would likely bring Richard Corcoran to Washington to be his Secretary of Education. Trust GOT, that would make you nostalgic for the days of Devos.

Yes, you read that right. The astroturf Koch-funded “Moms for Liberty” is offering a $500 reward to anyone who catches a teacher teaching “divisive concepts,” which is against state law. What is a divisive concept? Maybe teaching about the First Amendment is one. Teaching about the horrors of war is another. Teaching about the effects of climate change, for sure. Teaching that vaccines save lives is another so don’t talk about polio or other diseases, certainly not coronavirus.

Randi Weingarten spoke out:

For Immediate Release
Nov. 18, 2021

Contact:
Janet Bass
                            jbass@aft.org
                            301-502-5222


Statement by AFT President Randi Weingarten on
Bounties on Heads of NH Teachers

WASHINGTON—Statement by American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten on a $500 bounty offered by Moms for Liberty to someone who alleges a New Hampshire teacher is teaching so-called divisive concepts and breaking the New Hampshire law called Right to Freedom from Discrimination in Public Workplaces and Education:

“Putting bounties on the heads of New Hampshire teachers, much like the controversial vigilante bounties envisioned by Texas law to thwart the legal right to reproductive choice, is offensive and chilling in any context. The New Hampshire bounty effort is a result of a state law that bans something that doesn’t happen in New Hampshire or anywhere else—teaching that any group is inherently superior or inferior to another. We teach honest history and respect for all. Culture warriors offering bounties for a teacher supposedly violating the law are doing this at a time when we all need to work together. The stakes are high—unjustified accusations against teachers could cost them their teaching licenses. The clear intent is to undermine public education and scare teachers. 
 
“State Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut even set up a webpage to facilitate complaints against teachers. Perhaps Edelblut’s judgment should lead him to a different line of work. We need school leadership that believes in safe and welcoming environments, not one of fear and division. This is distracting from teachers’ focus on helping our kids thrive and excel. Teachers shouldn’t have to worry that history, literature, science or art lessons can be misconstrued and lead to a public flogging or worse. The overwhelming majority of parents support and trust their children’s teachers, value their neighborhood public school as the center of the community and are astounded by this brazen attempt to stifle learning. 

“Parents and teachers are partners in supporting children. Teachers work very hard to help our children through tough times like the pandemic and now to get them back on track. We should do everything we can to support them, not put a price on their head.”

# # #

Governor Gregg Abbott wants to win the competition to be the most immoral, dishonest, loathsome, and extremist Governor in the nation.

Pastor Charles Foster Johnson, leader of Pastors for Texas Children, called out Abbott for his latest, most disgusting ploy.

Pastor Johnson writes:

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued not one but two letters this month calling for Texas public schools to “ensure no child is exposed to pornography or other inappropriate content.”

The first letter on Nov. 1 to the Texas Association of School Boards stated that “Texas public schools should not provide or promote pornographic or obscene materials to students,” and that “the organization’s members have an obligation to determine the extent to which such materials exist or are used in our schools and to remove any such content.”

Dan Troxel, executive director of the Texas Association of School Boards, responded in a Nov. 3 letter reminding the governor that his organization “has no regulatory authority over school districts and does not set the standards for instructional materials, including library books. Rather, we are a private, nonprofit membership organization focused on supporting school governance and providing cost-effective services to school districts.”

Charles Foster Johnson

Furthermore, Troxel took the opportunity to give the governor a civics lesson, informing him that the responsibility for the review of schoolbooks and materials belongs to the State Board of Education and the Texas Education Association — two organizations over which the governor himself has responsibility and authority. Both organizations are led by individuals appointed by Greg Abbott.

Presumably now embarrassed, but not to be outdone, Abbott then issued a second letter to the two bodies his appointees oversee, instructing them “to immediately develop statewide standards to prevent the presence of pornography and other obscene content in Texas public schools, including in school libraries.”

Instead of apologizing for his error in misidentifying the role of the Texas Association of School Boards, the governordoubled down on his attack on them, saying “Instead of addressing the concerns of parents and shielding Texas children from pornography in public schools, the Texas Association of School Boards has attempted to wash its hands clean of the issue by abdicating any and all responsibility in the matter. Given this negligence, the State of Texas now calls on you to do what the Texas Association of School Boards refuses to do.”

What is going on here? Why, after seven years of gubernatorial tenure, is Greg Abbott now launching a crusade against public school books? If the governor believed our Texas public schools were teaching objectionable material, why didn’t he address the issue years ago? Why is he only now concerned about it?

Here’s why: Greg Abbott knows it is open season on public schools in our current political climate, and he is cynical enough to capitalize on every single misconception of it.

“Greg Abbott knows it is open season on public schools in our current political climate, and he is cynical enough to capitalize on every single misconception of it.”

Abbott faces not one but two opponents in the upcoming primary elections next spring, former State Sen. Don Huffines of Dallas and former U.S. Congressman and state Republican Party chairman Allen West of Garland. Both are rightwing firebrands who constantly question Abbott’s conservative credentials and bona fides. And his own lieutenant governor, Dan Patrick, continues to pressure Abbott from the far right.

Nothing like a good old-fashioned book ban to throw some red meat to his right flank.

With the rampant COVID chaos afflicting our nation at this time came opportunity for well-funded forces of confusion to wreak their havoc on our most cherished institutions, including medicine, science and education

In September 2020, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, right, listens to Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, left, during a news conference where they provided an update to Texas’ response to COVID-19. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

This is what spawned the national meltdown over so-called Critical Race Theory alleged to be taught in our public schools. When cooler heads finally prevailed, one could hardly find a K-12 public educator who knew what Critical Race Theory was, much less committed to teach it. But that didn’t prevent national fringe organizations from funding the disinformation campaign against our public schools on the basis of it.

What resulted was trumped up legislation all over the country, including Texas, that was designed to put a chilling effect on any content or curriculum that addressed complex issues of race and our country’s sordid history surrounding it. Abbott and his counterpart, Lt. Gov. Patrick, pushed such a bogus bill in Texas, and it passed.

But with the 2022 election season upon us, and with chaos and confusion on the winning ticket, why let clarity and calm prevail? Having wielded the ruse of reverse racism so effectively, Abbott reached into the demagogue’s favorite bag of tricks again and found — voila! — that old saw of adolescent sexuality as his next contraption of chaos.

“Abbott reached into the demagogue’s favorite bag of tricks again and found — voila! — that old saw of adolescent sexuality as his next contraption of chaos.”

Anyone with a lick of sense knows we have long-established and effective safeguards to prevent inappropriate content in local public schools. With such content readily available on the world wide web, child protection is one of the main responsibilities of our public educators, and they discharge this moral duty with astonishing distinction.

Pastors for Texas Children sees through this stunt. We are not amused.

To imply that our public schools are centers of pornography and our educators purveyors of smut is a devil’s lie. Greg Abbott knows it. And does it anyway.

Here is the real moral crisis: The highest office in our land advancing his political ambition on the backs of dedicated, deeply moral public school teachers, who work hard all day at low pay in the work of love for our children, most of whom are poor. It is beyond cynical. It is morally reprehensible.

The de rigueur political attack on public education is based on lies. Our children suffer from it. We must find the moral courage to stop it now.

Charles Foster Johnson is founder and executive director of Pastors for Children.

The heated debate over “critical race theory,” “indoctrination” and “socialism” in the schools, and attacks on teachers for teaching books like Beloved has unleashed the native fascism that usually hides under a rock.

We saw it in Virginia, where the Republican winner in the election played on these issues in his campaign and vowed that he would pass a law to allow parents to opt their children out of reading stuff that made them “uncomfortable.”

A Texas legislator aims to be on the front lines of book banning. Rep. Matt Krause assembled a list of 850 books that he thinks should be removed from the schools. The books must go “because they might cause students to feel “discomfort.”The list is heavily weighted towards titles about gender, sexuality, racism, and other topics that he thinks should not be taught or read about in school. He probably would ban them for college too if he could.

My guess is that these books were chosen simply by their title, not because Rep. Krause read them.

Here is the list of 850 books that he wants to eliminate from the schools. Krause has no idea whether any of them are taught in the schools.

In the age of the Internet, when teens can see anything and everything mentioned in these books, this crude censorship is ridiculous.

I can’t tell whether the odor in the air is the burning of books or is the stench of McCarthyism.

What do you think?

Our blog poet reverses the state motto of New Hampshire (“Live Free or Die”).

“Die Free or Live” They made their bed
And there they lie
May soon be dead
But free they’ll die

The following appeared in The Writer’s Almanac:

On this day in 1692 eight citizens of the colony of Massachusetts were hanged for their supposed connections to witchcraft. Theirs were the last of the deaths caused by the Salem Witch Trials, preceded by 11 other hangings, plus five who died in prison, and one who was crushed to death for refusing to enter a plea.

A period that roughly spanned the spring and summer of 1692, the Salem Witch Trials started when two young girls began displaying bizarre behaviors — convulsing, shouting blasphemy, and generally acting like they were possessed. The girls were the daughter and niece of Samuel Parris, a minister relatively new to town but already divisive. He’d moved from Boston where an account of young children who were supposedly “bewitched” by a laundress was published. Parris had insisted on a higher salary and certain perks as the village reverend and insinuated in his sermons that those who opposed him were in cahoots with the Devil.

After the girls’ behavior gained attention and was pronounced the result of an evil spell, several other girls in town began acting strangely too … and began naming individuals in town as the cause. The town was whipped into a frenzy and soon dozens of people — women, men, and children — were accused of and often jailed for practicing or supporting witchcraft. Many of the accusations seemed to fall along the lines of existing feuds or were directed at people who were — because they were poor, not upstanding members of the church, or marginalized in some way — not likely to mount a convincing defense.

By the time the final eight people were hanged on September 22 word about the trials was spreading throughout the state. Within weeks the governor of Massachusetts declared “spectral evidence,” or visions of a person’s spirit doing evil when in fact their physical body was elsewhere, was inadmissible. Soon after he barred any further arrests, disbanded the local court, and released many of the accused. It wasn’t until the following spring that he finally pardoned those who remained in jail. A full decade passed before the trials of 1692 were officially declared illegal, another nine before the names of the accused were cleared from all wrongdoing and their heirs given a restitution, and 265 years before the state of Massachusetts apologized for the events of that most infamous witch hunt.

As you know, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order barring school districts from adopting mask mandates. Every family should make it’s own decision, he has said. As schools open, the disastrous results of this reckless policy are becoming clear.

AFT President Randi Weingarten tweeted yesterday:

“Just heard….nearly 5600 Hillsborough County students in quarantine…. As a result, Hillsborough is calling an Emergency School Board meeting on Wed. This is the result of the recklessness by DeSantis….why is he banning mass mandates in schools?”

In Tampa Bay, hundreds of cases of coronavirus were reported in the first week of school.


Even though classes just started last week, schools in the greater Tampa Bay region have already seen hundreds of students and staff test positive for coronavirus, and thousands of people are isolating due to exposure or illness.

The numbers were generally between 10 times to 20 higher than the cases that were counted in the first week of school last year, and in Sarasota, school board chair Shirley Brown said the numbers reflected on district dashboards are far below the actual case count.

“It’s actually worse than what our dashboard shows because we are having trouble keeping up with data entry,” Brown said in an email to WUSF Sunday night.

By Sunday, 261 students in Sarasota County schools had tested positive in the first week. According to the school district’s COVID dashboard, 194 students were in isolation on Sunday.

A case count of 261 is already more than 20 times higher than last year, in a district that contains about 45,000 students. The Sarasota Herald Tribune reported there were just 10 cases of COVID in the county’s schools the first two weeks last year. But Brown said that’s not even the full picture

The Florida Education Association is tracking cases statewide, and said 4,148 Florida Pre-K-12 students and staff have tested positive for coronavirus since Aug. 1.

Three children in Florida and 15 educations have died from COVID-19 since July, according to the Southeast’s largest labor union.

The families of those who died should sue those responsible for making it illegal to enact scientifically-based mitigation measures, including masks and vaccinations.