masthead-highres

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Seeing Double: Deneen Borelli on Fox Twice Saturday Morning

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Project 21's Deneen Borelli will appear on Fox and Friends Saturday at 6:15 AM Eastern to discuss health care and the Tea Party Movement.

Deneen also pre-recorded a segment for Good Day New York Street Talk (Fox-5 WNYW in New York) to air Saturday between 6:00 to 6:30 AM discussing the decisions recently made by the Texas State Board of Education regarding textbooks, so for part of the 6 o'clock hour, she'll be competing for air time with herself.

As a bonus for Deneen fans, here's a picture of Deneen today at a rally outside the office of Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY):

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:27 AM

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

What's Happening Now

Penny Starr: Obama pitched health care to young people in audience before his national speech to students.

Rich Noyes: How media covered HillaryCare. Look familiar?

Michael Barone: The convenient fantasies of President Obama.

Prohibition coming back -- but in Britain? (H/T JunkScience.com)

When do the hearings begin? (H/T Devon Carlin)

We were wrong, says Commonwealth Foundation.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:08 PM

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

What's Happening Now

Democrat leaders are exploring using a loophole to get health care reform passed. Others -- like me -- call it cheating.

A picture is worth a thousand words: A metaphor for ObamaCare.

Benjamin Franklin would not have supported government health care.

Will a health care bill pass? Charles Krauthammer's prediction.

Consumer Reports magazine is lobbying for government health care. So much for objectivity!

Government health care may mean waiting in line. You think?

Does a "DUI on a horse" charge mean the rider is drunk - or the horse?

Not all the ignorant kids are American. One in 20 British children believe singer Bob Geldof discovered gravity and that the classic book "Pride and Prejudice" was written by JK Rowling. (H/T Adam Smith blog)

A website now tracks the wit and wisdom of Vice President Joe Biden. (H/T Danny_Glover on Twitter)


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 2:48 AM

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Letter on Obama and Public Charter Schools

Just caught the story about Obama's NAACP speech. It's quite off-the-mark in one respect: The President is a strong supporter of public charter schools. (Check our website, below, for plenty of evidence).

Best..

Nelson Smith
President & CEO
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
1101 15th Street, NW
Suite 1010
Washington, DC 20005
202-289-2700
www.publiccharters.org


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:15 PM

Monday, July 20, 2009

Outrage of the Day: Administration Considering Forcing Men Out of Science, Engineering and Math Classes

The Obama Administration is considering the possibility of applying Title IX of the Civil Rights Act to force colleges and universities to mandate that half of all students taking science, engineering, math and technology classes be female.

Since it is illegal to force women to take these classes, the most practical response to this mandate by colleges would be to limit male enrollment in these courses.

Title IX is the law under which numerous men's college sports programs were closed so that the number of women and men participating in college sports programs could be made equal.

An article in BusinessWeek in 2004, "America's Failure in Science Education" by William C. Symonds, says America already has a shortage of science and technology graduates and explains how this shortage hurts the nation.

I'd suggest that President Obama might want to read it, but as he said at a March 24, 2009 press conference that "if we're not making serious investments in science and technology and our infrastructure, then we won't grow 2.6 percent, we won't grow 2.2 percent. We won't grow," I guess he already knows.

Hat tips: Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal and Walter Olson on Overlawyered.


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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 6:24 AM

Friday, July 17, 2009

Project 21's Massie Critiques Obama NAACP Speech On Tonight's "O'Reilly Factor"

MMassieRoberts805b copy 1Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie is scheduled to appear on the Fox News Channel's "The O'Reilly Factor" program on Friday, July 17 at 8:00 PM eastern. Laura Ingraham is guest-hosting. Also on with Mychal will be Professor Mark Sawyer of UCLA.

Mychal has been invited to discuss President Obama's remarks last night to the NAACP convention in New York City. Along with praising the group on its centennial, Obama specifically promoted his vision for education reform.

Fellow Project 21 member Kevin Martin made the following remarks following the President's remarks to the NAACP:
President Obama may believe his speech before the bobbing heads of the NAACP won him some points in the black community, but the reality is that it is the past and present actions of elected officials such as Obama that are responsible for the current state of education in our community. Obama and his liberal allies on Capitol Hill have sought to crush any alternative to our failed public education system - such as public charter schools, vouchers and increased parental involvement - most likely because it would ultimately make the teacher unions and elected officials have to become more accountable.
Expect Mychal to echo Kevin's feelings as well as discuss how Obama's plan to institute new energy taxes is also against the best interests and will of black Americans.

This post was written by David Almasi, executive director of the National Center for Public Policy Research. Write the author at [email protected]. As we occasionally reprint letters on the blog, please note if you prefer that your correspondence be kept private, or only published anonymously.

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Posted by David W. Almasi at 1:36 PM

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

More Physicists, Fewer Fullbacks: Project 21's Robinson Commentary in The Root Sets a New Mission for Black Colleges

By David Almasi:
This week, the White House is focusing attention on historically-black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with an official week of commemoration and a conference sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

Project 21 member B.B. Robinson, Ph.D. is marking the week by calling on HBCUs to commit more resources to train students in science and technology to meet the growing demand in those fields. This, Robinson believes, will help foster further black prosperity and help equalize employment opportunities.

Since this will obviously drain tight budgets, Robinson offers a suggestion: HBCUs should cut back their athletic programs.

In his commentary on the subject, which was published by The Root - a black-focused web site jointly operated by The Washington Post and Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. of Harvard University - Robinson wrote:
Among black students in particular, there is a distinct technological training deficit. According to Science and Engineering Indicators 2008 from the federal National Science Board, only 8.4 percent of college graduates in 2005 who received degrees in science and engineering were black.

There has been a slow and steady increase of black science and engineering graduates over the surveyed period of 1985 to 2005, but this black progress was nonetheless outpaced by Hispanic and Asian gains.

Compounding the problem of so few blacks receiving science and engineering degrees is that a consistent rate of over 30 percent of incoming black freshmen over the years regularly intend on pursuing such majors while less than a third actually obtain a degree...

Given that their budgets and access to resources are limited, how can HBCUs increase their science and technology focus? They should not "Rob Peter to pay Paul." They should simply take "Peter" out of the equation. The HBCUs' Peter is money-losing athletic programs.

HBCUs should consider converting resources set aside for athletic programs into resources for scientific research and development...

For the future of black America, HBCUs and the nation, it seems appropriate that HBCUs turn their athletic and competitive swords and spears into productive and scientific plowshares and pruning hooks.
To read the full Robinson commentary, click here.
This post was written by National Center for Public Policy Research Executive Director David Almasi. To send comments to the author, write him at [email protected]. Please state if a letter is not for publication or if you prefer that it be published anonymously.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:55 AM

Friday, April 18, 2008

True Emancipation Would Be Something New to Celebrate

From David Almasi:
April 16 is a public holiday unique to the District of Columbia. It's "Emancipation Day" - the commemoration of President Abraham Lincoln's signing of the Compensation Emancipation Act in 1862. The Act freed the approximately 3,100 slaves in the nation's capital months before the Emancipation Proclamation freed them in Confederate states.

Along with the closure of public offices and the government-run schools, parades and performances mix are sometimes mixed with political action. Most notably, the day is often used as a rallying point for efforts to make the federal district a full-fledged state with two senators and a representative.

But how about using Emancipation Day to call for an emancipation from burdensome government, rather than demanding more of it?

As pointed out in a Washington Times commentary by Project 21 member and new National Center Policy Analyst Casey Lartigue, Jr. on April 16:
The focus was - as it is usually is in D.C. - on political power rather than policies to make citizens freer. Not to take away from the oppression of slavery, but Emancipation Day is more than an opportunity to celebrate the end of the oppression of slavery. It also is a good time to note that lawmakers typically look backward at liberty's advances rather than forward to find ways citizens can enjoy more personal freedom.
For example:
It won't be until a week after Emancipation Day that Americans will observe "Tax Freedom Day," the date when people essentially stop working to pay off their tax obligations and begin working for themselves. According to the Tax Foundation, April 23 is the national average. D.C. residents celebrate their particular Tax Freedom Day last - after all 50 states - on May 3...

Wouldn't it be a pleasant surprise today, Emancipation Day, if Mr. Fenty and the D.C. Council announced cuts in government spending or extended the occasional "tax-free" shopping periods?

Another way city leaders could expand freedom is to extend school choice, at a minimum, to every low-income student living in the District. Andrew Coulson of the Cato Institute recently pointed out that when all costs are divided by the number of students, the District of Columbia is spending close to $25,000 per child. The District essentially is providing mediocre public schooling at elite private school prices.
Casey did point out one bright spot on the horizon. Unfortunately, if this happens, this reform will not be by the hands of the District's leadership but rather through a legal mandate from the U.S. Supreme Court:
When D.C. leaders can't be relied on to extend freedom, others may help. The Supreme Court may soon step in to help D.C. residents by ending the city's ban on firearms.

Since 1976, ownership of virtually all firearms in the District has been illegal. The gun ban hasn't curtailed gun-related crimes against D.C. residents, but it robs them of the means of self-defense. The Supreme Court is expected to rule by June on a lower court's rejection of the ban.
To see the full version of Casey's commentary, click here.
To contact author David Almasi directly,
write him at [email protected]

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 5:23 PM

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

DarkStar's "Race Hustling" Response

DarkStar has responded to my comments about the letters in the Washington Post by four presidents of historically-black colleges and universities and by Project 21's Mychal Massie, and the Wall Street Journal op-ed by Abigail Thernstrom and Stephan Thernstrom.

You can read what DarkStar said here.

My response:

1) There does not appear to be a consensus on the definition of the term "race hustling." Based on comments I'm getting, some folks think "exploiting racial divisions" is enough to qualify the term; others think the person doing it must do so with a profit motive of some sort. Possibly, the term simply needs to evolve until a consensus forms. With luck, by the time it does, the word "archiac" will apply.

2) If I read him correctly, DarkStar still believes the Thernstroms were attacking historically-black colleges and universities (HBCUs) because they began their Wall Street Journal op-ed with questions including: "Half a century after Brown v. Board of Education, should we still support an institution of higher education that is less than 1% white?" and "If all educational doors are so wide open to black students and professors, should we really hope that schools such as Fisk survive?" I still contend that asking those questions, but resolving by the end of their op-ed that HBCUs are valuable, means the Thernstroms' piece was not an attack on HCBUs. People can decide for themselves here.

3) DarkStar wishes Mychal Massie had addressed more issues in his letter to the Post. For what it is worth, the letter the Post published from the four HCBU presidents was 579 words as published. The Post told Mychal his letter in response would have to be 200 words or less to be considered.

4) DarkStar finds "revolting" my reference to all-male universities historically being the first examples of institutions of higher learning to practice inequity. Of this, he said:
I find the total lack of taking history into account to be revolting. Why must Black history be destroyed at the expense of integration? Especially since this part of "Black History" is actually American history? Let's keep the HBCUs around and remove the HWCUs.
I had in mind the 1636 founding of Harvard and its early successors when I wrote that; these schools not only were all-male, but had other restrictions. I don't believe referring to this "destroys black history"; more provocatively (though it does not seem to be hard to provoke DarkStar), I don't think the admission of females destroyed male history, or that closing HCBUs (not that I've seen anyone quoted in any of these posts and articles call for that) would "destroy black history."

Finally, DarkStar seems (to me) to be offended by expressions of support for the integration of HBCUs. I remind him that integration has for some generations now been taught in our schools and throughout our society as a positive value at the very center of our civil moral code. As such, no one should be surprised to find members of the integration generations puzzled at continued support for institutions that appear on the surface to reject this value. It would be more surprising if it were not so.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:24 AM

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Project 21’s Massie Responds to Black College Presidents in Washington Post

From David Almasi:
Last Sunday, the Washington Post published a letter to the editor from four presidents of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Maryland, who took issue with Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow and U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Commissioner Abigail Thernstrom asking, in a Wall Street Journal essay, "are historically-black colleges good for blacks?"

Why they chose the Washington Post to air their grievances and not the Journal is unknown, but here is a portion of what the four contended:
Such mistaken interpretations of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the landmark 1992 Fordice Supreme Court case do a great injustice to historically black institutions and the students they serve. Most unfortunately, they threaten to open old wounds related to race and poverty.
In a rebuttal published in today’s Post, Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie responded:
Asserting that U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Abigail Thernstrom failed "to understand that a main object of the civil rights movement was to enhance educational opportunities for [blacks] by eliminating the vestiges of segregation and enhancing their educational institutions" is nothing short of revisionism.

The 1992 Supreme Court decision in United States v. Fordice did not hurt historically black colleges and universities. It upheld Title IV, on desegregation of public education, in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

There is no debate that historically black institutions have been permitted to escape adherence to Title IV specifically because they are black. What's more, they have escaped penalty while their proponents viciously castigate other institutions for lacking diversity.
To read all of Mychal’s letter, click here.
To contact author David Almasi directly,
write him at [email protected]


Addendum from Amy: The DarkStar Spouts Off blog has published a long critique (attack?) on Mychal's letter. I found it odd in a couple of respects:
1) DarkStar/Ed Brown refers to Mychal's "race hustling ways." I've been unable to find a definition anywhere for the slang term "race hustling," but I thought it referred to the exploitation of racial divisions for personal profit. If I am right (I invite readers to write to tell me they disagree), I don't think the term applies to someone who advocates the elimination of racial divisions in an uncompensated letter to the Washington Post written on his free time.

2) DarkStar castigates Mychal for not addressing a litany of other, related issues, but letters to major newspapers intended for publication nearly always must be short and succinct to have any hope of being published. Writers can't address everything they might wish to.

3) DarkStar ends with:
Here is the bottom line to all of this, besides the disgust I'm feeling towards Massie's letter. Why is it that people like [Abigail] Thernstrom and Massie say close down HBCUs because of their segregated history, instead of saying close down HWCUs, because of THEIR segregated history?

Close down the HWCUs, transfer the money and facilities to the HBCUs, and then let's see what happens.
Mychal's letter didn't call for closing down historically-black colleges; he exposed the hypocrisy inherent in calling for integration while promoting segregation.

In their letter's lead sentence, the four HCBU presidents called for "eliminating the vestiges of segregation and enhancing [black] educational institutions..."

The four HBCU presidents opposed and supported segregation in the same sentence.

As to Thernstrom: Although you'd be hard-pressed to tell from the college presidents' and DarkStar's attack on her views, she expressed support for the continuation of historically-black institutions. Her essay concludes:
"[Historically-black colleges and universities] do seem to meet a real need, serving their students well in important respects. In a free society, many private and public institutions will have a distinctive profile. Group clustering is not necessarily unhealthy; indeed, it's an inescapable feature of a multiethnic nation. No one worries that there are 'too many' Jews at Yeshiva and Brandeis, 'too many' Catholics at Notre Dame and Holy Cross, 'too many' Mormons at Brigham Young. And so it should be with Howard, Fisk and Mississippi Valley State. That's what democratic pluralism means."
Hardly a call for the "closing down" of HBCUs, as DarkStar alleges.

4) The college presidents and DarkStar attacked Abigail Thernstrom, yet Abigail Thernstrom's essay was jointly written with her husband, Stephan Thernstrom. Isn't the man's input as worthy of note as the female's?

Possibly this anti-male inequity could be addressed by establishing and supporting all-male universities...

...or perhaps it is that kind of thinking that got all this higher education inequity started in the first place.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:13 PM

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Black Activists Criticize Local NAACP, School Officials for Censoring Ohio School Play

Project 21 members believe the NAACP's criticism of Lakota East High School for producing the play "Ten Little Indians" is more than a little misguided:
Black Activists Criticize Local NAACP, School Officials for Censoring Ohio School Play

The Lakota East High School dramatic production of the Agatha Christie novel Ten Little Indians -- initially cancelled by school administrators after it was called racially insensitive by a local NAACP leader -- is back on, but with changes that imply the play will be compromised by political correctness.

Members of the Project 21 black leadership network call the actions of Butler County NAACP president Gary Hines inappropriate and detrimental to race relations. They say it presents the appearance of a shakedown of the southwestern Ohio school system. They are also critical of school officials for buckling under pressure from Hines.

"In this era of unprecedented equality, and particularly when it affects impressionable and innocent young people, Gary Hines is stirring the pot of racial animosity with a pretty big spoon," said Project 21 fellow Deneen Borelli. "It appears he whipped up a controversy that may generate business for him. Some people would call that a shakedown."

East Lakota students worked for months to produce the play "Ten Little Indians," which the Educational Theatre Association says is one of the top 25 plays produced by high schools nationwide. Based on the Agatha Christie novel of the same name, it is a murder mystery about a killer stalking a group of strangers trapped on an island. The killer knocks over Indian figurines after a murder is committed.

When it was first published in England in 1939, the title used the "n-word" instead of Indian, and the original English book cover had black figures on it. The American version, first published in 1940, as always used the term “Indian.” The stage version is sometimes titled "And Then There Were None."

Hines -- the owner of the GPH Consultants diversity training company and a reported long-time critic of the Lakota Local Schools system -- implied he was going to lead a protest of the play, which was supposed to be performed this weekend. He told the Cincinnati Enquirer the play is about "genocide" and that "kids don't have enough information about diversity." Referring to the original name and artwork of the novel published overseas over 70 years ago, he told the Cincinnati Post, "We can't run away from that." He said, however, he would not oppose the play being done by a community or professional theater group.

Lakota Board of Education president Joan Powell, referring to Hines' past criticism of the school system, told the Enquirer she believed Hines' financial goals may influence his actions.

Superintendent Mike Taylor today said the play will be performed next month, but with changes. It will be performed under its alternative title, contain unspecified additional material and will feature what the Associated Press describes as "conversations and other activities" that Taylor said will "honor diversity in the community."

Also unspecified is any participation by Hines -- paid or unpaid -- in the school's new diversity-related programming.

"To claim that harm will be caused by students re-creating a 1939 Agatha Christie novel, via a theatre production, is the height of political correctness run amuck," said Project 21 member Joe Hicks. "The trajectory of this nation's racial and ethnic relations has produced a radically altered ethnic and racial landscape. Today, America is the most tolerant industrial society in the world. The assumption that some imaginary hoops have to be jumped through to avoid hurting the feelings of some ultra-sensitive individuals with defined political agendas is simply incorrect."

Project 21 chairman Mychal Massie added: "This ridiculous capitulation further compromises what was already a grotesque abrogation of the students’ creative environment. The Lakota Local Schools is attempting to straddle the fence of racial intimidation. Those innocent school children have the right to their creative enterprise without being subjected to race mongers who are intent on inculcating their condemnable agendas. Instead of coming down on the side of common sense, the school district signaled their willingness to support this person's malevolence."
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:54 PM

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Autism Research Development

A potentially significant development is announced in the autism research field.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:43 PM

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Children Banned from Private School Sports Teams

High school athletics regulators in Maine banned two home-schooled students from a private school's track and cross-country teams, requiring them to join their local public school's athletics program to compete.

Children Banned from Participating in Private Schools' Sports Teams

Students Douglas and Laura Pelletier, who are home-schooled, participated in the track and cross-country teams at Seacoast Christian School. But Douglas and Laura's future in interscholastic sports was threatened when the Maine Principals' Association (MPA) selectively prevented home-schooled students from playing for private schools' athletic teams.

Under Maine state law, home-schooled children are allowed to play on the teams of both public and private schools. In November of 2002, however, MPA executive director Richard Durost issued a memorandum to MPA member schools, which comprise all of Maine's public schools and many private schools, that said a private school would jeopardize its eligibility to compete with other MPA schools if home-schooled children played on its athletic teams. Although this conflicted with state law, Durost and the MPA were steadfast in enforcing the new ban. As the MPA regulates high school interscholastic extracurricular activities in Maine, a school's sports program could be significantly impaired if it violated an MPA policy.

In March of 2003, the Home School Legal Defense Association filed a complaint in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine in Portland, Maine on behalf of the Pelletiers and other Maine home schoolers, arguing that home-schooled children should be allowed to participate in high school sports at private schools. In May of 2003, a judge ruled against the family, forcing the children to go through their local public school if they want to take part in interscholastic sports. The judge ruled that the family's right to choose private education was not burdened because they had the option to enroll in private or public schools if their children wanted to participate in sports. The Pelletiers have not appealed the decision.

In a letter to the MPA, the Home School Legal Defense Association pinpointed what it believed the issue had always been about: a desire "to give public schools a monopoly on homeschool students who are also athletes."

Source: Home School Legal Defense Association

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:53 AM

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Family Investigated for Sending Child to College

An ace student who skipped high school to complete college was prevented from receiving the associate's degree she earned while still a teenager. Because the child prodigy was not 19 years old, state education regulators in New York did not allow her to sit for a G.E.D., which the college required in order to award the degree.

Family Investigated for Sending Child to College

When child prodigy Angela Lipsman graduated from the eighth grade at New York City's Public School 187, she immediately began taking full-time college-level courses at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Although the 15-year-old earned enough credits for an associate's degree, her father, Daniel, became subject to an investigation for alleged educational neglect because Angela skipped high school to go directly to college.

Angela and her father live in the Washington Heights neighborhood. Daniel had vowed that he would "go to prison before my daughter goes to a city high school." Local high schools suffer from overcrowding, and the educational environment is so poor that Washington Heights' George Washington High School saw just 37 percent of the student body graduate on time in 1998.

New York Education Department regulations require children to be enrolled in school until the age of 17, and say that Angela cannot get a general equivalency diploma until she is 19. Even though Angela had maintained a 3.84 grade point average in her collegiate classes, the college would not give her the degree she earned because she never received a high school diploma. Daniel filed an age-discrimination lawsuit challenging the age requirements, but New York State Supreme Court Judge Bernard Malone ruled that Angela should not have been allowed to skip high school - even if it was to go straight to college.

Daniel Lipsman asserts that the state should not dictate what age a child must be in order to move on to the next level of schooling: "If the kid can demonstrate the achievement, give him or her the credential. She has a birth certificate. A G.E.D. is not a substitute birth certificate. This law is irrational and serves no legitimate governmental interest."

Angela had to travel to New Jersey in order to take her GED test. She then faxed the results to Excelsior College in Albany. Ironically, she received her associate's degree a week before she got her GED. In January, 2005, Angela received her bachelor's degree with a 3.87 G.P.A. from her 53 undergraduate courses. She has completed four graduate courses and plans to earn a master's degree before she turns 18.

Sources: New York Daily News (July 16, 2003), New York Post (July 16, 2003), Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Lipsman

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 10:49 AM

Monday, June 04, 2007

Parents Lose Legal Custody of Home-Schooled Children

The Massachusetts Department of Social Services took legal custody of two children, not because of any allegation of abuse or neglect, but because their parents were deemed "unfit" relating to home-schooling their children.

Parents Lose Legal Custody of Home-Schooled Children

To the consternation of officials from the Waltham Public Schools and the Massachusetts town's Department of Social Services (DSS), Kim and George Bryant decided to home-school their son, Nick, and daughter, Nyssa.

This decision ignited a legal fight between the local government and the Bryants that lasted over six years and became so contentious that the DSS took legal custody of the children.

The DSS was awarded legal custody of the Bryant children after the school district obtained a court ruling in 2001 stating the Bryants were "unfit" parents because they didn't file an educational plan or grading system meeting school district approval. The Bryants countered that their plan was very similar to one accepted for a familyin Framingham, another eastern Massachusetts school district.

Nonetheless, Kim and George were determined to be in "educational neglect" of their children, and the DSS was awarded legal custody of Nick and Nyssa. The children, however, continued to live with their parents and Bryants continued to provide and pay for all of the children's expenses. At no point did the DSS offer or provide any services. George Bryant explained, "DSS did virtually nothing to support the 'health' of my family," while claiming legal custody of the children. Both sides additionally agree the children were never abused mentally, physically, sexually or emotionally by their parents.

On June 12, 2003, DSS officials and four police officers arrived at the Bryant home at 7:45 am and ordered the children be taken to a hotel, where they would be given a standardized test. DSS worker Susan Etscovitz charged: "We have legal custody of the children and will do with them what we see fit... They are minors and they do what we tell them to do."

After the DSS failed to convince Nick and Nyssa to go to the hotel to sit for the test, the Framingham Juvenile Court issued a same-day ruling ordering their parents to take them. At the hotel, the children continued to refuse to take the test. Nyssa said, "We don't want to take the test. We have taken them before, and I don't think that they are a fair assessment of what we know." George Bryant echoed his daughter's complaint, saying, "Private school students do not take standardized tests. Why should our children be subjected to this, against their will?" He added: "We do not believe in assessing our children based on a number or letter. Their education process is their personal intellectual property." Surprisingly, Waltham School Superintendent Susan Parrella provided support to the Bryants' cause when she weighed in on the matter in quote to a local newspaper: "An acceptable home school plan is in place right now. I was not aware of any testing occurring today."

Nonetheless, a court hearing to determine whether a complete transfer of custody of the Bryant children to the DDS would take place due to their noncompliance was scheduled for the next day. But the hearing was later postponed indefinitely. George Bryant commented, "We were told [Thursday] that we must show up [Friday]. Several hours later we received a note in our door from DSS saying that it will be discussed at a later time." Since the issue was left unresolved, the Bryants were burdened for some time by the possibility that DSS officials and police officers would arrive at their door to demand their compliance with school district regulations, or perhaps to take the children to foster homes.

The Bryant case may be an extreme example, but home-schooling families in the Bay State often face hostile local governments. Scott Somerville, a staff attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Association, notes "Massachusetts is a barbaric [state] for homeschoolers."

While Nick continued to be home-schooled, Nyssa chose to enroll in a public high school in the neighboring Belmont Public School District in the fall of 2003. To facilitate her placement, Kim compiled a transcript highlighting the work Nyssa completed during her home schooling. As a result of her past educational achievement, Nyssa began high school a grade above most students in her age group. She made the school's highest honor roll every semester.


Sources: Townhall.com (June 18, 2003), WorldNetDaily (June 2003 coverage), PrisonPlanet.com, Talon News (June 17, 2003), GOPUSA News (June 17, 2003), Childrenfirstamerica.org, Penwing.com, Home School Legal Defense Association, Kim Bryant, George Greeley Bryant

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 12:16 AM

Friday, June 01, 2007

Home Schoolers Banned in Calvert County

Calvert County, MD bans the use of a county building by home-schooled students on the grounds that such instruction, though open to the public, would duplicate county services and waste taxpayer dollars.

Activities Banned From Community Center: Alcohol, Crime... and Home Schooling?

You can take a foreign language class at community centers in Calvert County, Maryland. You can play ultra-violent fantasy wargames, possibly even ones based on pagan beliefs. You can even participate in Bible study classes. But Lydia Goulart and Kyle Travers have found out the hard way that you can't teach a class in fiber arts or host a geography club there if your lessons happen to be in conjunction with home schooling.

In Calvert County, using a county building to "home school" children ranks among prohibited activities like alcohol use, criminal acts or hosting for-profit events. According to county officials, allowing home schooling parents to use public facilities for their classes and extracurricular activities would be a waste of taxpayer money because it would create "duplicate services" already provided by the public schools. This decision stands despite the fact that Goulart and Travers planned on opening their activities to the public and sought to utilize rooms that otherwise were empty.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, arguing Calvert County officials violated the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the law. The court ruled against Goulart and Travers, allowing the ban on homeschooling activities to continue. HSLDA appealed the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond, Virginia. On September 26, 2003, the Fourth Circuit Appeals Court overturned the District Court, affirming that teaching the young is protected under the First Amendment. However, the court also held that the Community Center had not violated the rights of the homeschoolers by excluding them from the facilities. HSLDA decided not to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sources: The Home School Legal Defense Association, The Daily Record (Baltimore, Maryland) (September 29, 2003)

**Read this story and 99 other all-new outrageous stories of government regulatory abuse in the new fifth edition of the National Center for Public Policy Research's book, Shattered Dreams: One Hundred Stories of Government Abuse.

Download your free PDF copy today here or purchase a print copy online here.**
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 4:26 PM

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Winkelman v. Parma City School District

I've updated a past post about the couple that was threatened with a fine because they went to court on behalf of their minor son without hiring a lawyer.

In short, the U.S. Supreme Court has now weighed in on behalf of the parents.

Says Tony Mauro, writing for Legal Times:
Parents do not need to hire lawyers to litigate public school special education disputes involving their children, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The 7-2 decision in Winkelman v. Parma City School District says parents have “independent, enforceable rights” in a free, appropriate education for their children under the Individuals With Disabilities Act. As a result, they can pursue those interests not just at the administrative appeal stage, but into federal court as well.

“It is not a novel proposition to say that parents have a recognized legal interest in the education and upbringing of their child,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, adding that “a parent of a child with a disability has a particular and personal interest” in pursuing equal opportunities for the child.

The opinion did not disturb the longstanding rule that pro se litigants can only represent themselves, not others. Kennedy said there was no need to rule on that issue because the Court was saying that parents, in pursuing these claims, are enforcing their own rights, not just the rights of their children.

The ruling came in the case of Jeff and Sandee Winkelman, who were dissatisfied by the educational plan devised by the Parma, Ohio school district for their son Jacob, who has autism spectrum disorder. When administrative appeals ended, Sandee Winkelman, a nurse, schooled herself in legal procedure and took the case to federal court. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that parents could not litigate under IDEA, setting the stage for their high court appeal.

School districts, claiming that the cost of special ed litigation goes up when parents rather than lawyers are involved, fought against parental representation. In some cases, local bar groups have also complained that parents without lawyers were engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

But parents said the high cost of legal fees, as well as the dearth of lawyers willing to take on these often-complex lawsuits, made self-representation necessary...
There's more. Read the rest here.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:29 PM

Friday, February 16, 2007

Jonathan's Law

The Carey family of New York State has been promoting "Jonathan's Law," a proposal to make records concerning the care of disabled children available to the child's parents.

The Careys are promoting this law after the state's Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities kept them from viewing records relating to the investigation of allegations that their autistic son Jonathan was physically abused while attending a private school specializing in the education of autistic youngsters. Jonathan was unable to speak, and as such, he could not tell his parents what had happened to him at school.

The Careys removed Jonathan from the school in question and enrolled him in another. As this story shows, Jonathan liked his new school.

Tragically, last Thursday, Jonathan was killed while in the second school's care. As the Albany Times Union reports the story:
The 13-year-old child who died while being transported from the O.D. Heck Developmental Center was the same boy who was allegedly abused while a resident of the Anderson School in Dutchess County in 2004, his parents confirmed to the Times Union today.

Mike and Lisa Carey said authorities told them their son, Jonathan, was inappropriately restrained by two O.D. Heck workers in a transport van Thursday night going through Colonie and couldn't be revived.

"We are devastated,'' Mike Carey sobbed. "He was such a special human being. Jonathan loved Jesus. And maybe this is the Lord's way of getting Jonathan's law passed as soon as possible.''

The two center employees -- identified by town police as Edwin Tirado, 35, of 1634 6th Ave., Schenectady, and Nadeem Mall, 32, 9 Plaske Drive, Schenectady -- have been charged with second-degree manslaughter.

The two men drove around for 1 1/2 hours after the boy stopped breathing said Colonie Police Chief Steven Heider in an afternoon press conference. They went to a Hess Mart for drinks and then drove to a toy store in Mohawk Commons, a short distance from O.D. Heck, to buy a video game and drop it off at Tirado's Schenectady home.

Mall was driving a van to take the 13-year-old and a 14-year-old patient from O.D. Heck to Crossgates Mall. They first stopped at the Hannaford on Wolf Road so that Mall could get cash from an ATM. When he returned, Heider said, Tirado was restraining the boy in the back seat of the van.

The boy soon stopped breathing. "The two adults rendered no aid and they did not return to O.D. Heck for an hour and a half,'' Heider said.

More than two hours after they left for the mall, they finally returned and told O.D. Heck workers they had a medical emergency. Efforts were made to revive the boy there, and he was then taken to St. Clare's Hospital where he was pronounced dead...
I have not read Jonathan's Law, and would not make a recommendation regarding its passage unless I had, but I hope legislators will keep in mind the very special circumstances of children who, due to age or disability, cannot tell their parents about the things that happen to them. Regardless of how it comes about, Jonathan's parents deserve to know the full story of what happened to him -- in both schools. I do not believe the government at any level has the right to withhold information about a child from his parents. It is shocking to me that it even tries.

As a matter of deterrence, persons who work with nonverbal individuals should know that the government won't cover up details in the event they abuse their charges. In my experience, most people who work with special students like Jonathan are wonderful, committed folks who work very hard and shower their students with a lot of loving care. Unfortunately, it would be naive to assume that those who would hurt a child wouldn't be emboldened by the fact that a nonverbal child can't tell anyone about the abuse.

Everyone deserves to be safe. Thos who cannot help protect themselves need extra protection, including sufficient transparency of records to permit their families to know everything it is possible to know about the quality of their care.

In closing, here's an article with a picture of Jonathan. My heart goes out to his family.

Addendum, 5/23/07: Jonathan's Law has been adopted by the New York state legislature and signed into law by New York Governor Elliot Spitzer.
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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 9:33 PM

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Parents May Be Fined for Helping Their Own Son

The Cleveland Bar Association has made an outrageous decision: It is attempting to get an Ohio couple fined because they went to court on behalf of their minor son without hiring a lawyer.

Says the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
The bar charged [Brian and Susan Woods] with unauthorized practice of law and threatened a $10,000 fine, saying that although the Woodses were allowed to represent themselves, they could not act as lawyers for their son. The charge is normally filed against nonlawyers who provide legal services for pay, but is rare against parents.
The parents largely won the case for their son, settling it after the school district agreed to send their son, who has autism, to a private school.

More from the Plain Dealer:
Michael Harvey, the Rocky River lawyer handling the charges for the bar association, said the goal is to protect the rights of children. Harvey said special education laws are so complex that children need experts, not untrained parents, looking out for their rights.

"You hope parents will do the right job for the child, but that's not always the case," Harvey said.

Harvey said that although the bar is officially seeking a $10,000 fine, it would be happy with an admission that the Woodses broke the law and an agreement not to do it again.

Brian Woods thinks he's being intimidated to prevent parents from handling cases themselves - and to protect the large fees lawyers charge for such cases, which can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
The parents, in suing the public schools, were suing the government. The government has a law saying they can't handle the case on the child's behalf without professional help -- apparently because the consequences to the child of losing to the government are excessively dire.

The government would do better to can the laws saying people need professional help to fight the government and instead run a government people don't need to fight.

Addendum, 10/30/06: On Oct. 27, 2006, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide if the parents had the right to appear in court without a lawyer.

An AP report says, in part:
Justices to Take Up Autism-Case Dispute

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27 (AP) - The Supreme Court agreed Friday to consider an appeal by an autistic child and his parents, who want to sue over his school accommodations without hiring a lawyer.

The parents, Jeff and Sandee Winkelman, say they cannot afford a lawyer to argue their court case against the school district of Parma, Ohio, near Cleveland, over the education of their son, Jacob.

The federal appeals court in Cincinnati ruled that the Winkelmans, suing under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, had to find a lawyer to represent Jacob, although other federal courts have ruled differently in cases involving that law.

The Bush administration then urged the justices to take the case, saying that in adopting the measure, Congress clearly intended that parents be able to represent their children in such court proceedings.

The Winkelmans’ suit contested Parma’s plan to educate Jacob at a public school. They wanted the district to pay his yearly tuition of $56,000 at a private school that specializes in educating autistic children.

Whether Jacob should have private schooling at public expense is not before the justices, only the question of his parents’ right to go into federal court without a lawyer....
Addendum, 5/23/07: The U.S. Supreme Court has now weighed in -- on behalf of the parents.

Says Tony Mauro, writing for Legal Times:
Parents do not need to hire lawyers to litigate public school special education disputes involving their children, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The 7-2 decision in Winkelman v. Parma City School District says parents have “independent, enforceable rights” in a free, appropriate education for their children under the Individuals With Disabilities Act. As a result, they can pursue those interests not just at the administrative appeal stage, but into federal court as well.

“It is not a novel proposition to say that parents have a recognized legal interest in the education and upbringing of their child,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority, adding that “a parent of a child with a disability has a particular and personal interest” in pursuing equal opportunities for the child.

The opinion did not disturb the longstanding rule that pro se litigants can only represent themselves, not others. Kennedy said there was no need to rule on that issue because the Court was saying that parents, in pursuing these claims, are enforcing their own rights, not just the rights of their children.

The ruling came in the case of Jeff and Sandee Winkelman, who were dissatisfied by the educational plan devised by the Parma, Ohio school district for their son Jacob, who has autism spectrum disorder. When administrative appeals ended, Sandee Winkelman, a nurse, schooled herself in legal procedure and took the case to federal court. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that parents could not litigate under IDEA, setting the stage for their high court appeal.

School districts, claiming that the cost of special ed litigation goes up when parents rather than lawyers are involved, fought against parental representation. In some cases, local bar groups have also complained that parents without lawyers were engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.

But parents said the high cost of legal fees, as well as the dearth of lawyers willing to take on these often-complex lawsuits, made self-representation necessary...
There's more. Read the rest here.

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Posted by Amy Ridenour at 11:36 PM

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