Monday, May 22, 2023

In Case You Missed It – May 22, 2023

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

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"Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should 'make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,' thus building a wall of separation between church and State." -- Thomas Jefferson


Florida: DeSantis Continues His War Against Academic Freedom

Formerly "small government" Republicans are now using the government to prohibit certain "academic speech."

From Diane Ravitch
Ron DeSantis signed three bills into law today that tighten his control over higher education and restrict the curriculum to conform to his ideology. If a professor does not agree with DeSantis’ views on race, gender, culture, and history, he or she must change what they teach or find a job in another state.

There are two major contradictions in DeSantis’ approach:

1. He claims that state control over acceptable and intolerable views equates to “freedom.” If you share his views, you are free to teach them. If you don’t, your freedom is extinguished. Freedom for some is not freedom.

2. He claims that Florida intends to focus on “the classical mission of what a university is supposed to be.” But at the same time, he wants the state’s colleges and universities to become “number one for workforce education.” Is that the “classical mission” of universities? Those who know more about higher education than DeSantis would say that “the classical mission” of the university is to teach and deepen students’ knowledge of great literature, history, science, foreign languages, mathematics, philosophy, and the arts. These are not workforce studies; they do not provide “employable” skills. They are probably what DeSantis sneers at as “zombie studies.”

The Miami Herald reports...


Resistance to The Brown Decision Launched the Voucher Movement

The history of vouchers is part of the history of segregation and discrimination.

From Diane Ravitch
...The present movement for vouchers, which is strongest in Republican-dominated states, will not move us closer to the egalitarian goals of the Brown Decision. Vouchers are inherently a divisive concept. They encourage people to congregate with people just like themselves. Heightened segregation along lines of race, religion, social class, and ethnicity are a predictable result of vouchers.

The voucher movement began as a hostile response to the Brown decision, led by racist governors, members of Congress, legislatures, White Citizens Councils, parents who did not want their children to attend schools with Black children, and white supremacists who wanted to protect their “way of life.” They refused to comply with the Supreme Court decision. They called Earl Warren a Communist. They engaged in “massive resistance.” They quickly figured out that they could fund private academies for whites only, and some Southern states did. And they figured out that they could offer “vouchers” or “scholarships” to white students to attend white private and religious schools.


The Fight to Save Public Education: Lessons from the Field

Join the Alliance to Reclaim our Schools for a discussion on June 1, 2023.

From the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS)
Join us for an exciting discussion on the fight to save public education, and the importance of vibrant public schools for a multiracial democracy. We'll hear from the educators and community organizers in Chicago who won big in the recent elections, as well as Tennessee organizers on the front lines of the fight against both privatization and censorship. This event is co-hosted by the NEA Strategic Campaign Institute for Community Schools, the AFT Powerful Partnerships Institute, HEAL Together, Race Forward, and the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS).

When - June 1st, 4:00-5:30 PM PST, 7:00-8:30 PM EST

Where - Zoom - register to receieve the link!


After School Satan Clubs Are Teaching Public School Districts an Important Lesson in Free Speech

When you tear down the wall separating church and state you get threats of violence. The Founders understood the importance of keeping the government out of religion, which is why the First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."

From Gadfly on the Wall Blog
Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it.

That seems to be the lesson public school districts across the country are being forced to learn from an unlikely source – Satan.

Thousands of districts in the US allow religious organizations and clubs to operate on public school property, especially after classes are over.

So The Satanic Temple (TST) – an organization that’s not really Satanic or a temple – goes around proposing After-School Satan Clubs at the same districts – and all Hell breaks loose.

Keep in mind none of these districts need open their grounds to religious organizations. They could simply cite the Separation of Church and State and be done with it.

The first clause in the Bill of Rights states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” This has been interpreted to mean that the government shall neither support nor prohibit religious expression.

Our right-leaning Supreme Court has chipped away at this notion allowing all kinds of government support – however logic and consistency still mean something.

Districts apparently CAN ignore the Church/State conundrumBUT – if a district is going to violate this tenant for one organization, it has to be willing to do so for all.

And that is why TST is making this point.

Unlike the Church of Satan, a religious institution founded in the 1960s that literally worships the Biblical devil, TST is a non-theistic organization which uses hyperbole and humor to protest the Religious Right and authoritarianism. The organization says it strives to “provide a safe and inclusive alternative” to Christian-based groups that may seek to “convert school children to their belief system.”


Southwest Allen County Schools seeks coach as it builds 'a better community'

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The Southwest Allen County Schools board should decide next month whether the district will work with a national nonprofit to address diversity and inclusion efforts, an issue students pushed to prominence with demonstrations in February.

If approved June 6, the district’s work with Rise would begin next academic year, Superintendent Park Ginder said after Tuesday’s board meeting, during which the potential partnership was discussed.

“In our case, they’re going to come in and walk alongside us and coach us as we build a better community,” Ginder said.

The 7,800-student district is seeking outside guidance as it navigates diversity, equity and inclusion concerns that escalated Feb. 9 in demonstrations and discussions that disrupted classes at Homestead High School.

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information, go to [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

Note: NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It is posted by the end of the day every Monday except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.


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