Arizona Implements Universal School Choice; Washington Should Follow Suit

A few weeks back, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed legislation making his state the first in the nation to codify universal school choice into law. The new law expands the state’s “Empowerment Scholarship Accounts,” which were established 2011 and originally applied only to children with special needs.

The traditional education model redirects taxpayer money to government schools. State schools and districts then decide how best to use the money. Instead of maintaining the failing status quo, Arizona will be allowing parents to take control of their money so that it may be used for the education that best meets their family’s needs.

The scholarship money can be spent on private education, online learning programs, tutoring, homeschool curricula, testing fees, and more. The average amount provided per student without disabilities is $5,700. That number increases to $19,000 for children with disabilities.

The enormity of this victory for Arizona students and families cannot be overstated. School choice is the single most important reform needed to improve primary education because, as we have discovered, the problem with education is not a shortage of money. From 1970 to 2010, federal education spending per student increased 375%. Over that same period, student achievement has remained entirely stagnant. Increasing funding will not fix the systemic inefficiencies and backward incentive structures that have led to failing schools across the country.

The traditional method of funding education, which entails transferring funds from government treasuries to government schools, does not work. Throwing money at the problem simply cements this deeply flawed structure into place. The systemic inefficiency and corruption has metastasized to the point that the system desperately needs to be reset. (For great investigative reporting on education system and teachers union corruption, watch the documentary The Cartel.)

Low-income students are most harmed by the current education system. Well-to-do families can afford to send their kids to private schools if their local public school isn’t up-to-par, but those without the necessary funds have no choice but to send their kid to a failing institution.

Not only does the quality of education suffer without competition, but the content is souring as public educators become bolder pushing leftist ideology on students. Secular humanism and progressive politics pervade every academic subject, and many parents with traditional values are worried their children’s schools are promoting values at odds with their family’s beliefs.

The answer to both the quality and content problems is very simple: Give education funding to families. Make schools compete for students by giving parents control over where education funding goes. Give the districts no choice but to increase the quality of the education and provide a balanced worldview. As parents use education money in ways that best serve their children, schools that don’t provide quality education will either improve or be replaced by schools that do.

In many areas of the country, including parts of Washington, students are locked into the school that serves their community. If the local public school is terrible, too bad. Unless you’re able to pay out-of-pocket for private school education, your kid will have to settle for a subpar government education and be left behind his or her peers attending better schools in other zip codes.

Giving parents the ability to customize their child’s education to the individual needs of their child should be a slam dunk bipartisan reform for the divided houses in Olympia. There’s no reason for the current top-down, one-size-fits-all education system to continue. Families should be allowed to use their own tax dollars to decide how their child gets educated and tailor that education to their child’s needs.

Forcing them to settle for whatever education the government provides, however terrible that education may be, is not only detrimental to both family and society but also deeply immoral. We cannot allow those opposing reforms to continue robbing students, especially low-income students in failing school districts, of their potential and of the quality education they deserve.

 

James Silberman is a guest contributor to the FPIW Blog. He is a pro-life activist from Gig Harbor, WA, and a student at Whitworth University.

New York’s War on Parents

Americans have traditionally understood that parents, not the state, have been delegated the responsibility to raise their children. But government officials in the Big Apple state are not afraid of running roughshod over parental rights, especially when it comes to a parent’s decisions about their children’s education.

Last week, the story of Kiarre Harris gained national attention. Harris, a single mother, felt her two children weren’t experiencing success in the Buffalo Public Schools they attended. Like many parents concerned about their children’s education, she decided to exercise her right to homeschool.

Harris filed paperwork to unenroll her children from public school, complying with the notoriously burdensome rules governing homeschooling families in New York. Working with a homeschool coordinator, Harris successfully completed the process on December 7, 2016.

A week after obtaining confirmation that she had successfully withdrawn her kids from public school, Harris received a phone call from a Child Protective Services representative, demanding to know why her children had been absent from school. She informed the CPS official that her children were now being homeschooled and offered to furnish copies of the paperwork that had been filed with the school district.

Harris thought the issue had been resolved – that is, until one month later, when CPS officials and police came to her home with a court order to remove her children, accusing her of “educational neglect.” When she refused to comply, police arrested her for obstruction. She was jailed and has been unable to see her children, who are now in foster care, for weeks.

Harris blames Buffalo Public Schools for not properly processing the paperwork unenrolling her children.

Buffalo Public Schools denies Harris’ claim. The district alleges that Harris had an encounter with CPS before making the decision to homeschool her kids. Their statement also implies that Harris did not have full custody of her kids, which is a requirement for parents making the decision to homeschool, but Harris contends that she does in fact have full legal custody.

“As we learn more, we realize [what has happened to Harris and her children] is happening a lot more than we realized,” said Samuel L. Radford, president of the District Parents Coordinating Council.

Unfortunately, Radford’s analysis seems to be right. According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, New York has earned a reputation for “their systematic mistreatment of homeschooling families.”

HSLDA is a non-profit advocacy organization that provides homeschooling families with legal services. It is suing New York City on behalf of Tanya Acevedo, a homeschooling mom. Like Harris, Acevedo was accused of “educational neglect” and was subjected to an invasive CPS investigation after New York City failed to properly process her paperwork withdrawing her son from his public school.

Jim Mason, HSLDA’s Vice President of Litigation, worked with Tanya as she battled CPS and New York City to exercise her right to homeschool her child. He published the following statement on December 5, 2016:

“After Tanya [Acevedo’s] situation was resolved, I asked other NYC homeschooling families for their stories. What I found appalled me.

“Family after family have found themselves in legal limbo because [New York City’s Central Office of Homeschooling] simply cannot or will not follow the timelines in the regulation. More than one homeschooling family told me they had been turned over to CPS because of the office’s delayed handling of the homeschooling paperwork.

“The injustice against homeschooling families in New York City can no longer be tolerated. On December 5, HSLDA filed a civil rights lawsuit against New York City public schools over their systematic mistreatment of homeschooling families. We are asking for money damages and for a court to order the New York City bureaucracy to simply follow New York’s homeschooling regulation.”

Harris and Acevedo’s regrettable experiences shed light on the difficulties homeschooling families face. Despite the Supreme Court’s recognition that parents have a fundamental right to “establish a home and bring up children” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 1923), some elitist bureaucrats feel they can make better decisions than parents about what is best for children .

The family is society’s first and most important institution, and the parent-child relationship is sacrosanct. Parents are ultimately responsible for the education and well-being of their children. As long as parents comply with reasonable expectations, government shouldn’t interfere with this sacred relationship unless the child’s health or safety is at risk.

At present, Harris’ kids are still in foster care. New York officials should wise up, realize they aren’t the parents, and stop violating the rights of those who are.

 

Blaine Conzatti is a columnist and a research fellow for FPIW. He can be reached at Blaine@FPIW.org.

A Teacher’s Perspective on School Choice (It’s Parental Choice)

The liberal media pounced on Betsy DeVos after her confirmation hearing last week, alleging that Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education is a radical Christian who supports “dismantling” public schools.

I teach at one of those private, for-profit, Christian schools that Democrats and their allies in the media are vilifying as one of the greatest threats to our nation’s youth and education system.

Although those opposed to DeVos’ nomination would like to convince you that private and charter schools are designed to serve only affluent whites, in reality, my school’s student body is majority-minority. Many of these kids come from broken homes on the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum.

This isn’t as rare as the media would lead you to believe. Scholarships and voucher programs, whether privately or publicly funded, allow children to succeed in schools their families would otherwise have been unable to afford. In fact, empirical evidence overwhelmingly indicates that voucher programs improve racial integration in schools.

Many of my students were unable to achieve their full potential in their neighborhood public schools. Their parents were growing frustrated with what their schools were teaching, and were growing worried about their school’s culture of drugs, promiscuity, and insubordination.

In my experience, low-income and minority families who are given the opportunity to attend schools like the one where I teach are so thankful their kids are able to receive a quality education in a safe and edifying environment.

Some of my students have shared with me their experiences attending local public schools. One of my black students carried a gun with him to school as an early teenager to keep himself safe from gang activity. Drug dogs sweep the halls of local public high schools, which also sometimes use metal detectors to check students for weapons.

Apart from concerns about their children’s safety, many families also feel uneasy about the content of their children’s education. In Washington State, for example, schools are now teaching elementary school children that they can choose their gender. Sexual education curricula teach students to use methods of birth control many parents find morally objectionable. And some teachers, schools, and educational standards distort history and science to promote their pet political agendas.

Many of the most vocal critics of DeVos and the educational philosophy she represents contend that the very existence of private schools with different educational philosophies threatens public schools and our social order. These critics oppose any system of school choice that allows parents to choose the school they want to educate their children.

Contrary to the baseless claims of her critics, Betsy DeVos has never supported “dismantling” the public school system. Instead, she is simply working to ensure that those low- and middle-income families who find their local public school insufficient can have the same opportunities as wealthier families that are able pursue other means of education.

Providing more alternatives to public schools wouldn’t necessarily cause an exodus of children from public to private schools, nor would it require that public schools be “dismantled.”

If, in fact, most public schools offer an education superior to that of comparable private schools, families will decide to leave their kids in the public school to which they’ve been assigned. On the other hand, families who worry about their son or daughter attending public school would be able to move him or her to a school that better meets their needs and reflects their values.

No school or educational philosophy is perfect, and a one-size-fits-all system doesn’t really fit all families and students. That’s why choice is so necessary and important.

I’m especially thankful schools like the one at which I teach exist to provide families with an alternative to unsafe, failing schools that teach an educational philosophy antithetical to traditional Judeo-Christian values. Voucher programs like those supported by Betsy DeVos enable families to pursue whatever means of education works best for their children – and that’s something we should all celebrate.

 

Blaine Conzatti is a columnist and research fellow at the Family Policy Institute of Washington. He can be reached at Blaine@FPIW.org.

Satanic Temple Infiltrates Tacoma Public School

The Satanic Temple’s efforts to infiltrate public schools seem to be making headway.

Point Defiance Elementary School, a public school in the Tacoma School District, has approved the Satanic Temple of Seattle’s request to start an “After School Satan Club” at the school. An informational meeting about the club will be held for parents, students, and teachers on December 14.

Point Defiance Elementary School’s decision to approve the “After School Satan Club” comes as Centennial Elementary School, a public school in Mount Vernon, WA, tries to decide how to respond to the Satanic Temple’s request to open a chapter at their school.

I’ve written before about the Satanic Temple’s attacks on “Good News Clubs,” an evangelical after school club that offers a forum for students who voluntarily want to learn about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Satanic Temple contends that it is unconstitutional for a school club to promote any religious belief. Responding to the success of “Good News Clubs” in schools across the country, the Satanic Temple has been targeting any school that allows a chapter of the evangelical club to meet after school by requesting that these schools also permit Satanic after school clubs. The implication, of course, is that schools open themselves up to legal liability if they refuse the request.

Obviously, the Satanic Temple’s argument is bunk. The constitutional framers and authors of the First Amendment wanted Christian morality to be taught in public schools. Moreover, in no way can the First Amendment be construed to prohibit voluntary after school clubs with a religious basis from operating in public schools.

The First Amendment does not give religious protections to secular political advocacy organizations like the Satanic Temple (Cavanaugh v. Bartelt, 2016). In the last several years, the Satanic Temple has garnered headlines for engaging in political stunts like distributing Satanic coloring books to elementary students, displaying Satanic nativity scenes on several state capitol grounds, and organizing “porn rooms.”

And while the Satanic Temple claims that it doesn’t literally worship Satan, its philosophy is permeated with radical self-exaltation and moral relativism, ideas usually associated with traditional Satanic thought. Its adherents, who rename themselves after demons and take part in nude rituals with overtly Satanic imagery, openly mock organized religion and attack the religious foundations of the American system of law in their effort to supplant our Judeo-Christian national heritage.

Schools shouldn’t be concerned about the Satanic Temple’s threats of litigation. Liberty Counsel, a religious liberty law firm, says it will provide pro-bono legal counsel to public schools that refuse the Satanic Temple’s request to start Satanic after school clubs. “School administrators do not have to tolerate groups that disrupt the school and target other legitimate clubs,” said Mat Staver, president of Liberty Counsel.

On the other hand, parents should be very concerned about the recent development that a local public school has given the green light to a Satanic club. Even most reasonable parents that don’t consider themselves overly religious would find the Satanic Temple’s promotion of promiscuity, self-exaltation, and rebellion against authority utterly distasteful. Parents of students in the Tacoma and Mount Vernon school districts should call and email their school officials and ask them to deny the Satanic Temple’s requests to open these clubs.

Blaine Conzatti is a columnist and 2016 Research Fellow at the Family Policy Institute of Washington. He can be reached at Blaine@FPIW.org.

Take action by sharing your concerns with your school and school district:

Point Defiance Elementary School

Phone: 253-571-6900

Email: lboyd2@tacoma.k12.wa.us

Tacoma Public School District

Phone: 253-571-1000

Email: info@tacoma.k12.wa.us

Centennial Elementary School

Phone: 360-428-6138

Email: tjensen@mvsd320.org

Mount Vernon School District

Phone: 360-428-6110

Email: cbruner@mv.k12.wa.us

Gender Warriors Advocating Forced Genital Amputation of Children

by Silence*

Trigger warning: Zack Ford

Zack Ford’s recent post at Think Progress, where he comes out strongly in favor of sterilizing and/or amputating the genitals of minor children in response to the American College of Pediatricians, is so reflexively contrarian, I worry about what would happen if the ACP released a statement opposing jumping off cliffs.

Ford is the LGBT Editor at ThinkProgress.org, affiliated with the highly influential Center for American Progress. Think Progress is shared widely on Capitol Hill, and is a commonly-read news source for anyone working on the political left. Whether you’ve heard of the site or not, when an editor at Think Progress feels comfortable promoting chemical castration for misfit children, you can be sure that they’re speaking from within the political comfort zone of the highest ranks of the Democrat Party and its allies.

Putting aside the uncommon phrases and words you may see in stories about so-called ‘transgender children’, a large number of gender warriors ignore the fact that a common side effect of putting a young child on “reversible” puberty blockers, and then giving them high doses of cross-sex hormones throughout their adolescent development window, is lifetime sterility. That’s before anyone goes under the knife, though cosmetic genital surgery is being pushed at ever-earlier ages as well.

Transitioning teens are even being chemically sterilized in front of an adoring nation on YouTube and on reality TV. It’s a spectacle of depravity for entertainment unparalleled since the castrati sang to packed opera houses in Europe. In cruelty, it matches the British government’s chemical castration of gay WWII codebreaker, Alan Turing.

When you watch these “heartwarming” transgender child stories — the ones where the kids look like they’re 11 at the age of 14 because they’ve been on hormone blockers for years — of parents giving their children cross-sex hormones, you’re watching the likely chemical sterilization of a child as an entertainment. If you like to think of yourself as a nice liberal, you probably watch these videos to feel good about your own broadmindedness.

It’s as if Toddlers and Tiaras was co-ed and gave the pageant winner a free tubal ligation or vasectomy. Pass the popcorn!

Meanwhile, Zack Ford and the transgender activist movement seem to be suggesting that all the weird little kids need to be encouraged to have their gonads destroyed before they’re old enough to even try them out.

Here’s a seven-year-old who seems to be transitioning because he wanted a Hello Kitty backpack and had a history of liking the colors pink and purple. This sounds like punishing children’s fashion tastes with castration.

Here’s a six-year-old boy who likes Barbie and wearing dresses. Because no one wants to hurt his self-esteem by telling him that what he’s wearing is wrong, they’re prepping him for body modification as if his entire body is wrong. Why are clothing choices a medical problem?

Here’s a teenager who seems to be transitioning because she wanted to get out of shaving her legs. Why does she have to shave her legs? Why is the better option a possible lifetime of hormone therapy that makes the doctors for the former East Germany’s Olympics team look like hobbyists?

There’s a four-year-old being socially transitioned and prepared for medicalized sex alteration in Australia because … why? They are four years old. Who is standing up for this child to say that their guardians and doctors need to respect their bodily integrity?

Ford acknowledges the issue of permanent sterility but seems unworried by it because these children might otherwise look “wrong” when they grow up. This is a reason both sinister and shallow. Ford says that no families are consenting to irreversible procedures. This is wrong, but it isn’t as though he seems to care. He dismisses the question this way:

“ACP wants to force trans kids to go through the wrong puberty, which would guarantee changes that could intensify their gender dysphoria, to avoid the risk of one possible side effect if they don’t. It’s actually proof of the double standard that Serano outlined — that it’s okay for a transgender kid to go through the wrong puberty, but not a cisgender kid.”

The “wrong puberty,” in this case, means not attaining reproductive maturity at all. This is serious, where Ford and his compatriots seem utterly dismissive. It should be frightening to parents, educators, and medical professionals, who might have thought that surely no one would be cavalier about minors being denied the possibility of ever having their own children. To Ford, this is just “one possible side effect.”

So it’s worth thinking about what Ford means when he refers to transgender kids. Many people react to this term as though we’re talking about a newly discovered sex of person, or as though the word transgender meant a different species. If there were such a physical classification, there would be a lab test for it. There isn’t one, unless children’s self-reported dissatisfaction with the prospect of growing up now counts as a modern scientific revelation.

Instead, the majority of children who go through what has been classed as gender dysphoria, somewhere between 60 to 90 percent of them, once stopped identifying as the opposite sex. But according to the study Zack Ford quotes, the “best outcomes” for children with gender dysphoria, or extreme unhappiness with their expected social roles, come from hormone treatments and surgical sexual transition. In other words, he mainly means to class these children as transsexuals.

Yes, Zack Ford is pushing the idea that there are transsexual children who urgently require what are known as sex changes because they are otherwise doomed to unhappiness. Instead of suggesting treatment for what sounds like depression, transgender ideologues want kids on hormones. Though cross-sex hormones won’t give a person an alternate reproductive system, and “sex change” or “gender confirmation” surgeries can’t change sex. These treatments can damage or remove your gonads, but not give you new ones. Surgeons can remove your genitals, but replacing them is a work in progress.

I was a weird little kid once. So was Rupert Everett, and here’s what he said about that, “I really wanted to be a girl. Thank God the world of now wasn’t then, because I’d be on hormones and I’d be a woman. After I was 15 I never wanted to be a woman again.”

Statistically, Rupert Everett represents the most likely outcome for children with gender dysphoria: they grow out of it. The majority of them used to grow up to be as satisfied with their bodies as anyone else, before they began to be socially transitioned and put on treatments that block the adolescent hormone surges that act to mature the brain as well as the body.

Or too frequently, transitioning children have a condition on the autism spectrum, and they are often girls whose social delays and sensory integration problems make them feel like they’re failures at performing feminine social roles. Sometimes these young people are told lies in their so-called support groups, like that taking testosterone can grow male genitalia for biological females. When you fit in as badly at school as many autistic young people do, I can see wanting to believe that someone can give you a treatment that will fix it.

Now the misfit kids are too often being recruited and groomed at school and over social media to seek genital amputation and sterilization. Some of them are being recruited and groomed by therapists and other medical professionals. A child may end up surrounded by adults who are now forbidden by law to try to help them overcome discomfort with social expectations or their bodies, forbidden to oppose anyone encouraging them down a path of transsexual medicalization.

After an amputation or extraction of the gonads, someone who’s had a full course of transsexual medical treatment is likely to need a lifetime of urgent medical intervention.

Zack Ford writes of avoiding extreme medical intervention as “privileging” one type of person over another, as if it were discriminatory to allow puberty to take its normal, healthy course.

These children aren’t a new sex, they are girls and boys who are often being neutered, if not, groomed from a young age to seek medical de-sexing. How long will the manufacture of new labels for these children hide that from view?


*Silence is the pseudonym of a radical, progressive feminist.

“For reasons of personal safety and livelihood, I cannot disclose my real identity. But I can tell you this much: I’m a progressive feminist who has spent years working on the front lines of the left. I have opposed conservatism my entire political life in the most strident of terms; under other circumstances, I wouldn’t admit to even reading this site.”

Snohomish School District Adopts Radical Changes to Gender Policy, Parental Rights

 

Parental rights and student privacy suffered another setback Wednesday night when the Snohomish School District voted 6-0 to change its policy on how its schools manage student gender identity issues.

The school board voted in favor of opening up all locker rooms, showers, changing facilities, and bathrooms to students of any gender or biological sex.  You can read the entire policy change here.

Furthermore, the district will not be notifying students or their parents about other students’ usage of the facilities, in an effort to protect the privacy of those students.  This means that young girls will not be notified that a biological male plans to use the same showers and changing areas as they do, and parents will be left unaware that biological males may be showering or dressing with their daughters.

As it stands now, the policy requires no medical proof for being “transgender,” nor is there a requirement that a student must observe a trans- identity at all times.

Additionally, “The District will provide all students the opportunity to participate in physical education and athletic programs and opportunities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identities,” according to the policy document adopted by the school board.  The decision comes after students in Alaska voiced their frustration after a biological male won third and fifth place in events at the girls’ state track championships.

This policy change also undermines parental rights.  Though the school district’s procedures allow for contacting and involving a gender transitioning student’s parents when the student permits, or when it is legally necessary to do so, parents may be left out of the process altogether.  A student who begins to identify as the other gender will be given “support” by school officials, with or without the involvement of the student’s parents.

Furthermore, school officials will now use the student’s preferred name and gender, regardless of whether parents are notified or what gender is listed on official documents like birth certificates.  The purpose of these changes, according to the district, is “to maximize the student’s social integration and equal opportunity to participate in social, athletic and academic opportunities, ensure the student’s safety, modesty and comfort, and minimize stigmatization.”

What about the safety, modesty, and comfort of females who will now be unwittingly showering and changing with biological males? By changing their policies to ensure the “comfort” of transgender students, the school district is sacrificing the privacy of the vast majority of students who are uncomfortable with the idea of showering and changing with students of the other biological sex.

What happened yesterday at the Snohomish School District meeting should function as a wake up call to parents throughout the state.  It is time to become involved in your child’s school district by attending school board meetings. Find out whether your local school board intends to adopt similar policies, and if so, raise awareness among other parents and share your feelings with your school board.

If this concerns you, or your children, please contact the Snohomish School District immediately and let them know what you think.  Their next meeting is Wednesday, July 27th, at 6:00pm.

Dr. Bill Mester, School Superintendent | 360-563-7280 | bill.mester@sno.wednet.edu

Scott Peacock, Asst. Superintendent of Leadership & Learning | 360-563-7284 | scott.peacock@sno.wednet.edu

School Board Members

Jay Hagen
School Board President
Director District #5: Cathcart, Little Cedars, Totem Falls, Glacier Peak
Phone 360-668-4635
E-mail Mr. Hagen

Leah Hughes-Anderson
School Board Vice President
Director District #2: Cascade View, Emerson, Centennial
Phone 425-308-1252
E-mail Ms. Hughes-Anderson

Shaunna Ballas
Board Member, Foundation Representative
Director District #1: Riverview, Seattle Hill, Snohomish High School
Phone 206-715-0283
E-mail Ms. Ballas

David Johnston
Board Member, WIAA Representative
Director District #4: Central, Valley View, AIM High
Phone 360-568-0228
E-mail Mr. Johnston

Josh Seek
Board Member, Legislative Representative
Director District #3: Dutch Hill, Machias
Phone 425-377-2466
E-mail Mr. Seek

OSPI Responds to Concerns About New Education Standards

 

It seems that the Office of State Public Instruction’s idea of damage control is using semantics to confuse the parents of students.

Last week, the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) released its health and physical education standards for the 2017-2018 school year.

The document clearly instructs public schools districts to begin teaching students — beginning in Kindergarten — about gender expression, gender identity, gender roles, and sexual orientation.  The state expects this area of education to be completed by the seventh grade, so that students are able to “distinguish between biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.”

OSPI Page 29

Predictably, parents were outraged.

Following the public discovery of these standards last week, OSPI Communications Manager Nathan Olson said that the specific learning outcomes outlined on page 29 of the standards are merely recommendations to local school districts, not requirements, and that all curriculum is determined by the local school districts.

“State learning standards are the required elements of instruction,” said Olson. “Outcomes provide the specificity to support school districts in meeting each standard in each grade level.”

Here is where OSPI is trying to hide: by stating that curricula are determined by the local school districts, which is true, they are deflecting attention from the fact that all public school districts must use OSPI’s standards and outcomes to determine what to teach students.

You can equate OSPI’s use of semantics to Henry Ford stating that you can buy any color car you want, so long as it’s black.

OSPI’s assertion that state education standards are simply recommendations does not comport with Washington state law or the Superintendent’s introduction to the health and physical education standards document. According to Washington law, district curriculum is expected to be aligned with the state’s education standards and outcomes.

According to RCW 28A.655.070,

“The superintendent of public instruction shall develop essential academic learning requirements that identify the knowledge and skills all public school students need to know and be able to do based on the student learning goals in RCW 28A.150.210.”

According to the health and physical education standards (emphasis added),

“The Washington state learning standards are the required elements of instruction and are worded broadly enough to allow for local decision-making.  Outcomes provide the specificity to support school districts in meeting each standard in each grade level. The 2016 health and physical education standards and outcomes provide the guidance to teach, reinforce, and apply all of the state’s learning goals” (Page 2).

“By implementing grade-level outcomes, educators will help students meet the learning standards. All districts, schools, and educators in Washington state are expected to implement the state learning standards and outcomes for all students” (Page 10).

While it is true that state education outcomes leave flexibility for schools to determine the best way to teach the required concepts, OSPI’s main concern is that students understand the concepts enumerated in the standards document.  School districts and local schools must use the state education outcomes to determine whether they are implementing the state learning standards, as they are required by the state to do.

OSPI is using the definitions of standards and outcomes to confuse you.  But make no mistake – come 2017, public schools across the state will be teaching students, beginning in kindergarten, about gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation.  It is foolish and deceptive for OSPI to claim that schools will not be expected to teach these concepts because these requirements are “outcomes” and not “standards,” hiding behind semantics as a means of avoiding public backlash.

OSPI conceded that it does not plan to issue a press release or otherwise inform parents of these radical changes.  By now, they must be aware of their overreach and are preparing for blowback from the parents of students across the state.

Sign the petition, and call OSPI State Superintendent Randy Dorn (360-725-6000) to let him know that you’re not on board with not being notified of these new standards.

Opinion: School Districts Should Kiss Federal Education Funding Goodbye

 

The federal government is threatening to withhold federal education funding from local school districts that disobey the recent Obama administration bathroom directive.

The directive, issued via letter from the Departments of Education and Justice, mandates that public schools affirm a student’s chosen gender identity by allowing the student to use whichever showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms correspond to his or her chosen gender identity, regardless of his or her biological sex.

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has called the federal government’s threat “blackmail,” saying that the president “can keep his 30 pieces of silver,” referring to federal education funding that is sent to states.

Texas and officials from ten other states recently filed a lawsuit against federal agencies and administration officials, asking a federal court to overturn the directive, which was decreed by the executive branch without any congressional vote. The plaintiffs claim that the directive exceeds the executive branch’s authority and violates the tenth and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution.

This lawsuit supplements the existing lawsuit filed by the State of North Carolina against the Department of Justice, and a lawsuit filed by families in North Carolina surrounding the same debate.

As states count the risk of losing federal education funding, it is important to understand how that funding is used.

Here in Washington, just 8 percent of a local school district’s budget comes from the federal government. Most of that money comes in the form of categorical grants that fund programs for disadvantaged students, such as special education, school lunches, Head Start, transportation services, and others.

It is unconscionable that a presidential administration would bully local school districts by threatening to withhold funding for programs aimed at helping low income and disadvantaged students unless they adopt the agenda of social experimentation foisted upon them by federal bureaucrats.  Local school districts should consider using this as an opportunity to finally liberate their budgets from federal education funding and the strings that come with it.

The burdensome mandates that accompany federal funding give federal officials significant control over the affairs of local schools. It is estimated that the regulations that accompany federal education funding saddle states and local school districts with 7.8 million hours of administrative work, costing local schools $235 million annually and converting them into bureaucracies that must do the bidding of the federal government for fear of losing their federal funding.

Federal mandates also hinder innovation and experimentation by creating a one-size-fits-all regulatory scheme. The good news is that states and local school districts can escape many of these obligations by choosing to refuse federal education funding.

Students benefit when local communities – not distant, unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. – retain control over their schools. Maintaining local control over education allows schools to be more responsive to the unique needs of students in their communities. Because of this, Washington schools and students would be in a better position if state and local education officials use this opportunity to rid themselves of federal education funding and the onerous regulations that accompany it.

Blaine Conzatti is a columnist and 2016 Research Fellow at the Family Policy Institute of Washington. He can be reached at Blaine@FPIW.org.

Feds Bully School District to Allow Boy into Girls Locker Room

When the federal government bullies a school district to allow a boy into the girls locker room, that’s when you know the government has gotten too big.

That’s exactly what has happened to the Palatine Township School District in Illinois this week.

A biologically-male student at a district high school was denied access to women’s showers in the locker room due to his biological status as a male.  The school made efforts to create a private shower facility for the student, so that the female students wouldn’t feel uncomfortable in the showers, but that wasn’t good enough for the ACLU, who took the case to the Department of Education claiming discrimination.

After being threatened by the Department of Education (DOE) with the loss of millions of dollars in federal funding, the school district is being required to implement an entirely new set of policies to deal with transgender and opposite-gender-identifying students.  The DOE declared that the district was in violation of Title IX requirements because they held that locker room and bathroom facilities would be made available according to biological gender.

Not only has the school district been saddled with the responsibility of making structural changes to their facilities, but they’re now also being mandated to provide a “support team,” to make sure the transgendered student is happy and feeling included, as well as ensure that all facilities the sports teams visit have adequate space for the biologically-male student to change and shower in the comfort of female-only facilities.

School districts across the country are now being forced to comply with new guidelines to accommodate all transgendered students’ specific requests.  In this case, the Department of Education required the Palatine, Ill. Township School District to:

  • Provide the student with access to the girls’ locker rooms based on the student’s request to change in private changing stations in the girls’ locker rooms.
  • Protect the privacy of its students by installing sufficient privacy curtains within the girls’ locker rooms at the high school to accommodate the transgender student and any students who wish to be assured of privacy.
  • Provide a reasonable alternative for any student requesting additional privacy—beyond the privacy afforded by the privacy curtains—in the girls’ locker rooms. Examples could include use of another private area or assignment of a locker in near proximity to the office of a teacher or coach.
  • Coordinate with hosts of off-campus, district-sponsored activities to arrange for the transgender student to be provided access to facilities for female students.
  • Engage a consultant (who may be a district employee) with expertise in child and adolescent gender identity, including transgender and gender nonconforming youth, to support and assist the district in implementing the resolution agreement.
  • Establish a support team, if requested by the transgender student and her parents, to ensure that she has access and the opportunity to participate in all district programs and activities, and is otherwise protected from gender-based discrimination at school.
  • Adopt and publish a revised notice of nondiscrimination on the basis of sex. And,
  • Provide OCR with a copy or detailed description of all gender-based discrimination or harassment complaints or incidents.

Parents showed up outraged at the most recent School Board meeting, where the Board voted 5-2 to approve changes to the policy to allow any student who identifies as a woman to use the women’s shower facilities, even if they are biologically male.

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Residents React to Unsafe Bathroom Policy, Delay Vote

As reported Wednesday, the Colville School District Board of Directors attempted to quietly pass a policy that would allow boys to enter girls bathrooms, and vice versa, with no questions asked.

That is, until 300 Colville residents showed up at the school board meeting last night to express their concern.

Under intense and likely unexpected public pressure, the board of directors decided to table the new proposed bathroom policy to a later date.  In the meantime, parents, residents, and concerned citizens are encouraged to read this memo from Alliance Defending Freedom, explaining why schools are not legally obligated to allow students to use opposite-sex bathrooms, showers, and locker room facilities.

If you have any questions or would like to get involved in the effort to protect children from this dangerous policy, please email info@fpiw.org.