Education Briefs

Encouraging state-level news includes Louisiana’s approval of a bill requiring the Ten Commandments to be posted in every classroom throughout the state, and Tennessee’s nod to criminalizing adults who help children access gender transition procedures without their parents’ consent. Local news source reported on May 17 that Louisiana “could be the first state” to enact the Ten Commandments legislation. The Louisiana State Senate approved the bill by a majority vote of 30-8, and Governor Jeff Landry is expected to sign it. Utah lawmakers are reportedly considering similar legislation. In Tennessee, an uproar followed the passage of SB 2782, sponsored by state Sen. Janice Bowling. According to multiple news sources, this bill provides that “any adult found recruiting, harboring, or transporting ‘an unemancipated minor’ in Tennessee for the purpose of receiving a prohibited medical procedure related to gender transition would face criminal penalties.” Violators would be charged with a “Class C felony,” which carries a penalty of 3-15 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. The bill further allows civil action against violators. Phyllis Schlafly Eagles President Ed Martin said: “This is a great law, and we need more laws like this that protect our kids from the terrible leftist insanity and transgender predators.” A companion bill has also been approved that will penalize adults who help minors obtain abortions without parental consent. Its language “mirrors the language in SB 2782.” The only other state to criminalize what some call “abortion trafficking” is Idaho, but pro-life leaders like Martin hope more red states will draft similar bills. In other positive news from Tennessee, Governor Bill Lee has banned public-school employees from keeping secret from parents the information that a child is identifying as a different gender. While his pro-parent, pro-life actions have prompted disgruntled liberals to whine that Governor Lee “will sign anything ... just put it in front of him,” conservatives are applauding his courage.

With all the emphasis on mental health screenings and interventions, one organization has a novel idea for de-stressing schoolchildren and encouraging them to be kids. The Child Mind Institute believes youngsters spend too much time indoors on their electronic devices and social media. Instead, they say, kids need to spend more time in nature. Writer Danielle Cohen points out that recent studies show the benefit—even necessity—of spending time outdoors, both for kids and adults. While there is disagreement among researchers as to what constitutes the best outdoor environment, some studies show that “just a picture of greenery can benefit mental health.” And most studies agree that kids who spend time outdoors “are smarter, happier, more attentive, and less anxious than kids who spend more time indoors.” While it may seem obvious why being outside is more beneficial given that past generations of children spent a good deal of their time outdoors, Cohen specifies some of the benefits: “Nature is good for kids minds,” she writes, because the lack of structural play builds confidence, promotes creativity and fuels the imagination, teaches responsibility for protecting nature, gets kids moving rather than sitting on a couch or at a desk, provides a different type of stimulation, and makes kids think. All these factors can naturally reduce stress and fatigue. Finally, says Cohen, “while screen time is the easier, more popular choice, it’s important to set aside time for outdoor play.”

The Satanic Temple (TST) is vowing to place “chaplains” in Florida's public schools after a new program was signed into law on April 18 by Governor Ron DeSantis allowing volunteer chaplains to act as counselors. HB 931 goes into effect on July 1st, and entitles school districts and charter schools to adopt a policy “to authorize volunteer school chaplains to provide support, services, and programs to students as assigned by the district school board or charter school governing board.” The chaplains must be screened, and students’ parents or legal guardians must provide written consent before a child can receive counseling. While school districts and charter schools aren’t mandated to implement the program, they must provide a list of their volunteer chaplains and include the religious affiliation of each on the school’s website if they decide to participate. Supporters of the law say the chaplains can help students “navigate difficult emotions and situations” and expand available school resources. In lockstep with the governor’s signature was the pledge by TST to provide volunteers, despite DeSantis’s insistence that the Satanists would not be allowed to act as chaplains because “that is not a religion” and does not qualify for participation. The TST disagrees, citing its status with the IRS as “a tax-exempt church.” A similar bill, SB 36, is under consideration in Oklahoma. According to Fox News, when the satanists pledged to place ministers in public schools if SB 36 becomes law, Oklahoma Schools Superintendent Ryan Walters said: “In Oklahoma, we have conservative values. President Joe Biden and the National Education Association want Christianity out of the classroom and are advocating for our kids to have zero morality and faith. Let me be crystal clear: Satanists are not welcome in Oklahoma schools, but they are welcome to go to hell.” More controversy and, potentially, litigation, are almost certain to follow.

A Bill Gates-backed math curriculum called “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction” teaches kids that traditional math education is “White supremacy,” and shows teachers how to become “antiracist math educators.” According to Fox News, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation funded the curriculum through The Education Trust - West, the California arm of a national organization based in Washington, DC called The Education Trust. The curriculum’s teacher workbook, aptly subtitled “Dismantling Racism in Mathematics Instruction,” provides educators with “exercises to reflect on their own biases to transform their instructional practice.” A review of the 82-page document fails to show any guidance to usable math instruction, such as actual problem solving resulting in fact-based answers. Instead, teachers are told they will learn “essential characteristics of antiracist math educators and critical approaches to dismantling white supremacy in math classrooms by making visible the toxic characteristics of white supremacy culture with respect to math.” The workbook asserts that “a focus on getting the ‘right’ answer equals white supremacy” and instead the focus should be on “understanding concepts and reasoning.” How such understanding can happen without ever arriving at a single correct answer in a mathematical problem is not explained. Spokesperson for Parents Defending Education, Nicole Neily, told Fox News that “Gates' funding the math equity programs is perverse, especially given the success he derived from proficiency in the subject. It's awful” she continued.... “I mean, [the part where it says] showing your answer in math class is White supremacy culture.” A sobering and frightening statistic for concerned parents and math educators is that, according to Education Week, about 40 percent of Gates’ K-12 education budget goes into math. In 2022, this translated into more than $1 billion in funding for so-called math education. In reality, this mode of “education” is little more than leftist indoctrination which has as its goal the creation of social justice warriors rather than students who are in any way proficient in math.

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