Healing The Racial Divide

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The recent national crisis and racial tension have underscored that America seems more divided than ever. On the one hand, President Obama believes that our differences are just being exposed. On the other hand, a few of us feel that the president and Attorney General Holder exacerbated the race problem. In some ways, both views are right. How could that be? America has come a long way since the lynchings of the 50s and days of Selma. However, we have a ways to go in terms of race, poverty, and class.

We could not have expected the President, alone, to work miracles with an issue that has plagued our nation from its beginning. Our political leaders can only do so much. All the institutions in society must work together to move forward, but the Church has always had a special role to play. While segments of the American Church have historically been blind to the sin of racism—and even justified slavery by distorting Scripture—other parts of the Church have led the way in ending racial injustice.

So how can the Church take the lead as we look for ways to draw Americans closer together and build greater understanding among the growing variety of ethnic groups that make up our great “melting pot”? On Thursday, January 15th, I helped convene a meeting of over 150 ministers who met at the Potter’s House in Dallas for a powerful closed door conclave called “The Reconciled Church: Healing The Racial Divide.” Collectively, we represented a diverse group of significant leaders from across denominations and ideological backgrounds. These leaders represented over 40 million American Christians.

The purpose of that meeting was to reach consensus on how we can promote peaceful reconciliation and to collaborate on how bridges can be established for a brighter economic future in our communities as social entrepreneurs and influencers who are building tremendous ministries that address underlying cures for race, class, and poverty problems. Our nation deserves better models of spiritual leadership. We have the opportunity to change the course of history within the American church and affect the globe. Our time is now.

The group believes that “Healing the Racial Divide” in our nation is achievable in the next 15 to 20 years by using what we dubbed “seven bridges to peace.” These bridges of peace serve as a framework for a lasting model of unity that is built on our concern for the well-being of all people. All of us agreed that the American church has been divided along class and racial lines. Therefore, we signed a covenant of reconciliation and committed to the process of healing the racial rifts within the church. Essentially, we agreed to multiply our good works and make them more multi-ethnic.

What became apparent during our time is that America’s clergy—those who remain devoted to the Word of God—are deeply invested in healing the divisions in our society. If we take unified action in moments of tension, we can do a much better job exhorting people to productive action than the mainstream media, which remains addicted to confrontation, scandal, and shining the spotlight on the worst in human behavior.

We can take a cue from some of the most successfully reconciled organizations in our nation today; professional and college sports, which though not perfect, remain far more integrated than most churches and neighborhoods. Such organizations share a clear, common mission: to win, and each player is recruited for his or her ability to contribute to that goal. I believe if America’s clergy can continue to gain understanding from one another, we can build a sense of common purpose and solidarity across racial and ethnic lines among our churches and in our communities.

At the end of the day, the people in America’s urban centers are not so different from those in the nation’s suburbs and gated communities. We all carry the image of God and desire respect, the benefit of the doubt, and opportunity to advance in life. And I believe America’s pastors hold the key to cultivating this kind of understanding. We have the opportunity to change the course of history within the American church and affect the globe. Our time is now.

Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD.

This commentary appeared at Black Community News.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Say ‘No’ to PARCC/SBAC Testing

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This is National School Choice Week, but I want to talk about parents’ school testing choice. Moms and dads, you have the inherent right and responsibility to protect your children. You can choose to refuse the top-down Common Core racket of costly standardized tests of dubious academic value, reliability, and validity.

Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

I’m reminding you of your right to choose because the spring season of testing tyranny is about to hit the fan. Do you object to the time being taken away from your kids’ classroom learning? Are you alarmed by the intrusive data-sharing and data-mining enabled by assessment-driven special interests? Are you opposed to the usurpation of local control by corporate testing giants and federal lobbyists?

You are not alone, although the testing racketeers are doing everything they can to marginalize you. In Maryland, a mom of a 9-year-old special needs student is suing her Frederick County school district to assert her parental prerogative. Cindy Rose writes that her school district “says the law requires our children be tested, but could not point to a specific law or regulation” forcing her child to take Common Core-tied tests. Rose’s pre-trial conference is scheduled for Feb. 4.

The vigilant mom warns parents nationwide: “While we are being treated like serfs of the State, Pearson publishing is raking in billions off our children.” And she is not just going to lie down and surrender because some bloviating suits told her “it’s the law.”

Pearson, as I’ve reported extensively, is the multibillion-dollar educational publishing and testing conglomerate — not to mention a chief corporate sponsor of Jeb Bush’s Fed Ed ventures — that snagged $23 million in contracts to design the first wave of so-called “PARCC” tests.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers raked in $186 million through the federal Race to the Top program to develop the nationalized tests “aligned” to the Common Core standards developed in Beltway backrooms.

As more families, administrators, and teachers realized the classroom and cost burdens the guinea-pig field-testing scheme would impose, they pressured their states to withdraw. Between 2011 and 2014, the number of states actively signed up for PARCC dropped from 24 (plus the District of Columbia) to 10 (plus D.C.). Education researcher Mercedes Schneider reports that the remaining 10 are Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, and Rhode Island.

State legislators and state education boards in Utah, Kansas, Alaska, Iowa, South Carolina, and Alabama have withdrawn from the other federally funded testing consortium, the $180-million tax-subsidized Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which administered field tests last spring to three million students in 23 states. In New Jersey, the parental opt-out movement is “exploding,” according to activist Jean McTavish. Many superintendents have conceded that “they can’t force a student to take a test,” NJ.com reports.

Last week, Missouri withdrew from PARCC, while parents, administrators, and the school board of the Chicago Public Schools spurned PARCC in the majority of their 600 schools.

In California, the Pacific Justice Institute offers a privacy protection opt-out form for parents to submit to school districts at pacificjustice.org. PJI head Brad Dacus advises families to send the notices as certified letters if they get ignored. Then, be prepared to go to court. PJI will help. The Thomas More Law Center in Michigan also offers a student privacy opt-out form at thomasmore.org.

Don’t let the bureaucratic smokescreens fool you. A federal No Child Left Behind mandate on states to administer assessments is not a mandate on you and your kids to submit to the testing diktats. And the absence of an opt-out law or regulation is not a prohibition on your choice to refuse.

Here in Colorado, the State Board of Education voted this month to allow districts to opt out of PARCC testing. Parents and activists continue to pressure a state task force — packed with Gates Foundation and edu-tech special interest-conflicted members — to reduce the testing burden statewide. For those who don’t live in PARCC-waivered districts, it’s important to know your rights and know the spin.

In Colorado Springs, where I have a high-schooler whose district will sacrifice a total of six full academic days for PARCC testing this spring, parents are calling the testing drones’ bluff about losing their accreditation and funding.

“The Colorado Department of Education is threatening schools to ensure that 95 percent of students take these tests,” an El Paso County parent watch group reports. “Be assured that MANY parents across Colorado — FAR ABOVE 5 percent in many schools — are refusing the tests, and not one school yet is facing the loss of accreditation, funding, etc. As long as schools can show that they gave a ‘good faith attempt to get 95 percent to test, they can appeal a loss of accreditation’ due to parental refusals to test.”

You also have the power to exercise a parental nuclear option: If edu-bullies play hardball and oppose your right to refuse, tell them you’ll have your kid take the test and intentionally answer every question wrong — and that you’ll advise every parent you know to tell their kids to do the same. How’s that for accountability?
Be prepared to push back against threats and ostracism. Find strength in numbers. And always remember: You are your kids’ primary educational providers.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Education Is Too Important Not To Leave To The Marketplace

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This week, events around the country will highlight the importance of parental control of education as part of National School Choice Week. This year’s events should attract more attention than prior years because of the growing rebellion against centralized education sparked by the federal Common Core curriculum.

The movement against Common Core has the potential to change American education. However, anti-Common Core activists must not be misled by politicians promoting “reforms” of the federal education bureaucracy, or legislation ending Common Core while leaving all other federal education programs intact. The only way to protect American children from future Common Core-like programs is to permanently padlock the Department of Education.

Federal programs providing taxpayer funds to public schools give politicians and bureaucrats leverage to impose federal mandates on schools. So as long as federal education programs exist, schoolchildren will be used as guinea pigs for federal bureaucrats who think they are capable of creating a curriculum suitable for every child in the country.

Supporters of federal education mandates say they are necessary to hold schools “accountable.” Of course schools should be accountable, but accountable to whom?

Several studies, as well as common sense, show that greater parental control of education improves education quality. In contrast, bureaucratic control of education lowers education quality. Therefore, the key to improving education is to make schools accountable to parents, not bureaucrats.

The key to restoring parental control is giving parents control of the education dollar. If parents control the education dollar, school officials will strive to meet the parents’ demand that their children receive a quality education. If the federal government controls the education dollar, schools will bow to the demands of Congress and the Department of Education.

So if Congress was serious about improving education, it would shut down the Department of Education. It would also shut down all other unconstitutional bureaucracies, end our interventionist foreign policy, and reform monetary policy so parents would have the resources to provide their children with an education that fits their children’s unique needs. Federal and state lawmakers must also repeal any laws that limit the education alternatives parents can choose for their children. The greater the options parents have and the greater the amount of control they exercise over education, the stronger the education system.

These reforms would allow more parents access to education options such as private or religious schools, and also homeschooling. It would also expand the already growing market in homeschooling curriculums. I know a great deal about the homeschooling curriculum market, as I have my own homeschooling curriculum. The Ron Paul Curriculum provides students with a rigorous program of study in history, economics, mathematics, and the physical and natural sciences. It also provides intensive writing instruction and an opportunity for students to operate their own Internet businesses. Of course, my curriculum provides students with an introduction to the ideas of liberty, including Austrian economics. However, we do not sacrifice education quality for ideological indoctrination.

It is no coincidence that as the federal role in education has increased, the quality of our education system has declined. Any “reforms” to federal education programs will not fix the fundamental flaw in the centralized model of education. The only way to improve education is to shut down the Department of Education and restore control of education to those with the greatest ability and incentive to choose the type of education that best meets the needs of American children — American parents.

For information about the Ron Paul Curriculum go to ronpaulcurriculum.com.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Barack Bombs Boehner And Bibi

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Reportedly, Mr. Obama has his panties in a twist about the upcoming Bibi Netanyahu visit.  House Speaker Boehner invited Bibi to speak to Congress. Bibi accepted. Barry’s feeling left out, whining about protocol. The protocol complaint is a smokescreen. Boehner is not obligated to get Barry’s permission. But, you see, Barry thinks he is king, and demands homage.

Barry is perhaps terrified Bibi will persuade Congress that Obama’s approach to Iran is fantasy–that to prevent Tehran from getting The Bomb, tougher deterrents are required. Barry wants endless talks (he calls them negotiations) and extended deadlines culminating in a friendly gathering around the campfire to sing folk songs and gobble s’mores.

Bibi, Boehner, and a whole truckload of Democrats and Republicans think Barry is a useless appeaser, a marshmellow negotiator, a delusional head of state. So to save Israel, Europe, and the U.S., like grown men serious about their duty, they are taking matters into their own hands. They realize it is time to put the feral adolescent in his place.

Barry is very angry with Boehner and Bibi for humiliating him on the world stage. One does not humiliate The Barry! He has promised “there will be a price to pay.” First installment: the Veruca in Chief refuses to meet with Bibi when he comes to speak to Congress in early March. Obama went even further. He floated a story that the head of Israeli intelligence services (Mossad) stands opposed to Netanyahu and more sanctions against Iran, a falsehood condemned by Israeli officials here.

Imagine that, a president who has snubbed the Israeli head of state many times, even calling him ‘chicken s***,’ keeping him waiting for meetings that were scheduled; this is the man Barry continues to abuse, our closest ally in the region. The only logical conclusions: Barry believes Israel is the root cause of conflict in the Middle East, plus he hates Netanyahu’s guts. Well, isn’t that special? No wonder Barry hates Bibi.  Bibi is a real man. None in this administration dare say ‘Islamic terrorism,’ or more accurately, ‘Muslim fascism.’  But they are glad to insult, abuse, and embarrass our best friend, a real leader, a man of integrity.

My prayer is Congress takes Netanyahu seriously, voting for sanctions with real teeth against Iran; and when Barry vetoes the bill, I hope they override it and humiliate him further. He has earned all the humiliation he receives from here on out.

But my fear is Iran already has The Bomb and only needs to perfect delivery systems, and that Obama knows this and is setting up this drama so that he can blame Congress and Israel when the negotiations fail. Obama has proven he is capable of anything, openly funding and arming the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda, treasonous acts on their face.

Is he planning to allow Iran nuclear weapons, given his affection for Islam and his hatred for America and Israel?

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

America’s State Of The Union

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According to President Obama, the state of the union is strong. If the union is strong, why the long laundry list of new entitlements and the proposed increases in federal taxes? The state of our union is strong. However, the reasons seem to escape the White House.

The union is strong because we remain free. We had elections last fall that demonstrate the power of a revitalized conservative movement that continues to grow everyday.

It’s far from time to celebrate, however; our nation is on a precipice, being pulled ever closer to the edge. Each of the 3 branches have failed in their responsibilities to the American People.

As a function of time and human nature, government has lost its way. Since before the Constitution, we’ve known that the effects of time would erode our freedoms; and government would grow a little more each year.

Thomas Jefferson told us, “Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction to wit; by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, it’s necessary consequence.”

For over 100 years, our government has played a shell game with new gimmicks to take more of our money, and to consolidate political power.

Each new game was sold to the public by politicians who should have been barkers in front of a carnival tent. Perhaps the boldest efforts were the first.

We were sold on the idea of an income tax that would only tax the wealthiest among us; and to eliminate corruption and be more “democratic,” we denied the states a seat at the table by changing the way we elect senators.

Public schools and the Department of Education, Social Security, Medicare, and a host of other failed programs followed. Each promised to solve our social and economic woes, only to create scores of new problems.

More recently, reports of abuses, scandals, and corruption seem to saturate government agencies and the leadership in all three branches.

Without going too far back, start with the financial crisis in 2008. Millions of tax dollars were handed out to companies that had become “too big to fail,” followed by the auto industry bailout.

We have an executive branch illegally writing laws and ignoring the ones they don’t like. We have a legislative branch that refuses to listen to their constituents, preferring to pander to big money donors.

The list goes on, enough to fill volumes. So, why is the state of our union strong?

Our union remains strong because of something the politicians don’t understand. The American people are strong, and they are fed up with the shell game.

The Tea Party was born in late 2008. It has grown in numbers to millions in all 50 states. This grassroots movement has made such an impact that the media and both parties now must include these people in their poling and reporting.

Last year, a rancher in Nevada was about to have his cattle forced off of public lands his family had cared for over generations. It had been an acceptable arrangement: the rancher maintained the water supplies and the land; in return, his cattle grazed on that land.

Friends, neighbors, and Americans from at least as far away as Iowa showed up to meet the Bureau of Land Management as they tried to seize the cattle. These volunteers stayed until the government backed off.

Last year also saw the beginnings of the Convention of States project. Right now, several states are scheduling time to consider amending the Constitution of the United States using Article 5. The second part of the article allows the states to propose and then ratify amendments that can restore our government and the voice of the states and people.

This is but one event. Every week, events are planned and organized. Classes and seminars, voter education, and shared information on legislation and current issues are spread across the multitude of networks ensuring an informed citizenry.

Over the last two weeks, two major events occurred: the South Carolina Grassroots Coalition Convention and, this past weekend, the Freedom Summit in Des Moines, Iowa.

Each event had nationwide coverage and was just as important as the Iowa Straw Poll. More events are coming, including meetings of state leadership in the grassroots movement.

The grassroots movement in America is America. These are individuals and family members; many are church-going Christians, others are something different. Most of all, these are the volunteers, the minutemen if you would of America as we begin this new century.

As it has been throughout our history, American men and women will fight for their freedom wherever it is challenged.

Yes, Mr. President. The state of our union is strong because the American People are strong, informed, and fed up.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom