More Than 8 In 10 Students Opt Out Of Common Core Testing In Some New York Districts

As testing began in public school classrooms across New York this week, administrators faced a huge backlash from upset parents who chose to opt their children out of the exams. Federal curriculum standards known as Common Core mandated the standardized testing, which many feel places undue stress on kids by giving test results a huge bearing on overall grades.

One group tracking the backlash within the state of New York recently released some staggering statistics that show an overwhelming majority of kids refusing to take the tests in certain districts. Even teachers unions, specifically New York State United Teachers, have encouraged parents to opt out of the assessments.

A Long Island-area district topped the list, with a whopping 82 percent of parents deciding their children should not be subjected to the series of tests. Numerous others had opt-out rates well above 50 percent. The 2015 results are projected to be twice as high as the number of refusals tallied just a year ago. Nevertheless, High Achievement New York Executive Director Stephen Sigmund touted the ostensible success of the program.

“You’re going to have one million kids take these assessments in the next two weeks,” he insisted, “so you can’t lose sight of the fact that the vast majority are taking the assessments.”

He went on to lambaste parents and other Common Core opponents, saying “they shouldn’t be encouraging kids to refuse tests, and particularly the teachers unions shouldn’t be encouraging them.”

While, as in previous studies, there does seem to be a correlation between high opt-out rates and wealthier school districts, criticism of Common Core is becoming a nationwide issue across socioeconomic divides. Politicians in several states have introduced legislation designed to keep the federal mandates out of schools and students; and despite efforts to silence opposition, parents, teachers, and students continue to voice their concerns about a program that forces educators to teach test-related material instead of offering more comprehensive lessons.

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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Controversial School Assignment Instructs Kids To Pretend They Are Muslim

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After a Wisconsin radio host posted a screenshot of one area teacher’s idea of an appropriate writing assignment, dozens of outraged citizens – along with several high-profile news organizations – began circulating the story and lambasting the teacher.

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According to the post, U.S. and World History teacher Beth Urban instructed her students to prepare for a five-paragraph essay in which they will pretend to be a male or female Muslim in America.

“Give 3 examples of what you do daily for your religion,” the assignment stated, “and any struggles you face.”

EAG News contacted a parent of one student in the class who, while she doesn’t hold the teacher accountable for coming up with the project, does feel it was inappropriate.

“I did not voice my concerns directly to the teacher,” she said, “because I do not blame the teacher. I believe this is a curriculum issue. The teachers are not using their own curriculum; the school boards/superintendents do generally.”

Such a loss of local control over public education is a major source of concern for opponents of the federal curriculum program known as Common Core. EAG News pointed out, however, that this was not Union Grove High School’s first experience with controversial assignments.

Roughly two years ago, the same school distributed crossword puzzles that defined conservatives as those who adhere to a “political belief of … restricting personal freedoms,” a move that was quickly denounced by local parents.

Shortly after that incident, the company responsible for publishing the assignment confirmed it would take greater care in eliminating such biased content.

Western Journalism contacted Union Grove High School for comment. As of this writing, our attempts have been unsuccessful.

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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Teachers Unions HATE Accountability, Rebel Against Performance Measurement

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It’s all about the children right?

At least that’s what the teachers unions will tell you when they rail against performance measurement in their industry.

I’ve never seen an industry so averse to accountability. Our education system is crumbling, and the teachers unions have a big part to do with that. By refusing to hold bad teachers accountable (and even enabling them), the unions are damaging the future of our country.

Performance testing is a big evil in their eyes. Why should they have to perform like the private sector? They are “owed” tenure, a “living wage,” and “freedom from accountability.”

What a crock of you know what.

In New York, the teachers who are “all about the children” are now threatening to refuse to test students. Yes, you got that right. Teachers are rebelling against accountability by telling their kids they don’t have to take the tests that measure their learning.

Unbelievable, right?

The Wall Street Journal reports:

In an aggressive move against testing, the New York State United Teachers Union started robocalling members Thursday with a reminder they can have their children refuse next week’s state exams.  

“This is insanity,” says the robocall’s recording of union president Karen Magee.  “Governor Cuomo is forcing schools to use tests as a hammer…we are fighting back.”

Evan Stone, co-founder of Educators 4 Excellence, which aims to elevate teachers’ voices in policy, said the union should use its influence to improve testing rather than trying to undermine the testing system.  

Our education system has become a seminary for liberal teaching of the socialist religion. ‘Get all you can from government, avoid accountability, lie in order to obtain power, and brainwash the children’ is the new mantra.

Accountability is critical if we are to rid our schools of this cancer. The New York teachers union should be ashamed.

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

New Jersey Teen Claims Victory In Pledge Of Allegiance Case

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In November, Western Journalism reported on a 17-year-old high school senior, Samantha Jones (pictured, far right), who was taking on the American Humanist Association as they attempted to have the phrase “under God” removed from the Pledge of Allegiance.

At the time, she said the phrase was so important to her because “A lot of different people with a lot of different beliefs call this country home. So I think that everyone’s beliefs are protected by this right, including atheists’. Because it does acknowledge that our rights don’t come from the government, but from a higher power. So they can’t take away the basic human rights it did not create.”

In February, the New Jersey teen, along with The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which was representing her, claimed a great victory when a judge threw out the AHA’s lawsuit, which argued that “under God” violated the state’s constitution and discriminated against those who do not believe in God.

Today, Jones has another reason to celebrate — almost a year after the original filing, the AHA has “thrown in the towel” and decided not to appeal the case. A press release from the Becket Fund says this is their fifth victory in a row defending the words “one nation under God.”

In a post on Fox News after the ruling in February, Jones wrote about why she decided to take a stand for the Pledge. The precocious teen said she is “proud to live in a country that is so respectful of everyone’s beliefs. We are a diverse country and we celebrate that diversity in many ways. However, the same laws that protect the atheists’ world view (sic), protect mine. I will not let them silence me.” She also said it is “empowering to know that, no matter what happens, I have some rights the government can never take away.”

Jones plans to continue to work with the attorneys at the Becket Fund to “make sure school children across New Jersey are free to say the Pledge of Allegiance in full.”

h/t: TheBlaze

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

Arizona Takes Huge Step To Shut Down Michelle’s School Nutrition Decrees

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The recently elected Arizona public instruction superintendent made addressing the strict mandates limiting food choice in schools – an initiative enthusiastically supported by Michelle Obama – a high priority just months into her term. Republican Diane Douglas recently released a statement indicating that public schools in the state will not be forced to abide by one particularly controversial aspect included in the set of nutritional guidelines.

“I have ordered effective immediately, that the [Arizona Department of Education] Health and Nutrition Services division grant exemptions for all fundraisers for both traditional public schools and charter public schools,” she announced.

While regulations also dictate what public schools are permitted to serve during meal times, restrictions placed on fundraising efforts have similarly been panned by school officials across the country.

As Western Journalism reported last summer, members of the Tennessee Board of Education sounded off on the impact these limitations would have on clubs and organizations within the school that rely on bake sales to fund student activities.

“If somebody wants to object to federal intrusion in what’s going on in schools,” advised Board Chairman Fielding Rolston, “I think this would be an ideal place to target their objections as opposed to some of the other things people are tending to complain about.”

Douglas continued her criticism of the restrictions in her statement, declaring that “Forcing parents and other supporters of schools to only offer federally approved food and snacks at fundraisers is a perfect example of the overreach of government and intrusion into local control.”

Should local school leaders be allowed to implement their own nutritional standards? Sound off in the comments section below.

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