Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Another letter censored by the "unbiased" Star Tribune

Another letter censored by the "unbiased" Star Tribune. This one from a concerned parent regarding Welcoming Schools.

In regards to Katherine Kersten/Welcoming Schools:

Should bullying be allowed at schools? Absolutely not. Should Mpls Public Schools be trying to do something about it? Of course, however the Welcoming Schools Curriculum is not the vehicle that should be used.

Contrary to the letter (Fostering Tolerance) in Wednesday’s editorials, the Welcoming Schools curriculum does not fairly represent a variety of families. African American families are only mentioned 4 times, Latino families once, Asian and Hispanic families are not mention at all. However, families with two dads are mentioned 12 times and families with 2 moms are mentioned 14.

Bullying such as pushing, shoving, punching is not mentioned at all. Bullying for being fat is mentioned 3 times, for physical appearance 3 times, for having a handicap or special needs, not at all. Families of faith are not mentioned either. Tell me then, how can this be a curriculum about bullying?

Katherine Kersten hit the nail on the head by exposing this curriculum for what it really it. A school district should not accept any kind of curriculum put out by a special interest, political action group. I can tell you this, if a conservative group such as Focus on the Family introduced a bullying curriculum to MPS, all of the parents that are so excited about the Welcoming Schools curriculum would be in an uproar. Thank you Katherine for telling is like it is.

Korey Stoelzing, Minneapolis
Hale parent

Monday, May 19, 2008

25th Anniversary Dinner a sell-out

Nearly 600 gathered to celebrate MFC/MFI's 25 Anniversary Dinner with Dr. Del Tackett. A unique aspect of this years banquet was the hundreds of new faces - with a biblical worldview - attending. Almost all had participated in The Truth Project. MFI has over 250 committments, and growing, from churches across the state.

Approximately 70 pastors and religious leaders gathered the next morning to meet with Dr. Tackett and learn more about the Truth Project.

Thank you Gov. Pawlenty

Thank you Gov. Tim Pawlenty for answering the requests of thousands of callers by opposing comprehensive sex education, gestational surrogacy and efforts to legalize same sex marriage - to name just a few.

You are truly a pro-family governor.

Is Hale Principal Bob Brancale bullying teachers?

More reports from Hale teachers indicate a lack of support for "Welcoming Schools." A Hale teacher voluntarily approached an MFC employee at a large metro church this weekend and echoed comments made by other Hale teachers that many do not support the curriculum and are under a gag order from Principal Bob Brancale. Some have referred to Brancale as intimidating.

This is no surprise as sources indicate that Brancale may be under review for his aggressive behavior at an Information Meeting earlier this year. Brancale allegedly verbally bullied a Muslim mother after she expressed concern with the WS curriculum.

MFC has also been told by teachers to ask Brancale for solid, documented cases of GLBT bullying at Hale. Apparently, they believe the numbers are cooked.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Star Tribune spin ignores legitimate concerns regarding "Welcoming Schools"

Today's Star Tribune editorial, "Educators need help to combat bullying, Antigay behavior is a growing issue in Minneapolis" schools lacks understanding and affirms anti-Christian hatred.

The parents objecting to "Welcoming Schools" support the districts effort to combat bullying, however they strongly object to a curriculum that calls Christians "stupid" and undermines parental authority.

Read the statement read before the Mpls. School Board in February.

Chairperson Lee, Directors and Dr Green:

My name is Arbuc Flomo and my children attend Mpls. Public Schools, three of which are scheduled to pilot the “Welcoming Schools” curriculum this spring. I am representing a highly diverse group of concerned parents tonight, including Muslim, Hispanic, Christian, Liberian, adoptive and others who have children in Mpls Public schools.

We want to begin by saying that we stand with the District and our school in wanting to address the bullying and name calling issues, including the bullying and name calling of GLBT children and their families. However, in doing so we retain the rights as parents to expect our schools not to interfere with our freedom to teach our children our individual beliefs and values, whatever they may be.

We are here tonight to request that the Minneapolis Public Schools cancel its plans to pilot the “Welcoming Schools” curriculum in the entire district.

The “Welcoming Schools” pilot curriculum for K-5th grade is a biased curriculum promoted by a powerful, well-funded, special interest lobbying organization called the Human Rights Campaign and is scheduled to be taught at Parkview, Jefferson and Hale elementary schools. The HRC web sites states “HRC works to secure equal rights for GLBT individuals and families at the federal and state levels by lobbying elected officials, mobilizing grass root supporters, educating Americans, investing strategically to elect fair-minded officials and partnering with other GLBT organizations.”

This curriculum is highly controversial. And although Hale Principal Bob Brancale introduced this curriculum as “anti-bullying” to both parents and staff it is far from that. We have found that approximately two-thirds of the curriculum teaches elementary children about “underrepresented family structures” and “redefining male and female behavior.” It far under represents families of color, and virtually ignores Asian and Immigrant families and also ignores faith and belief differences in families.

In both the first section called “Understanding and Recognizing Family Diversity’, and the second section called “Helping all Children to Thrive: Looking at Gender Roles and Stereotyping” the examples used, books read and projects done are biased toward GLBT families-a fact corroborated by Jesse Teben, the districts Out 4 Good representative who was at Hales informational meeting last Thursday night. It is NOT inclusive to all families. The third section called “Creating a Respectful School by Addressing Name –Calling and Bullying” we have found to be more inclusive.

After reviewing the curriculum this is some of what we know:

1. Teachers are instructed to use a glossary of terms when introducing underrepresented family structures.
The curriculum defines Lesbian “as a women who loves another women in a special way” and Gay as “a person who loves, in a very special way, someone who is the same gender.” Young children may become confused, thinking their parent is gay because he/she loves their best friend, or more concerning, may think they are gay because they love their best friend! We do not agree that the definitions for Gay and Lesbian are sufficient in explaining. To really teach children about Gays and Lesbians, they need to understand homosexual behavior, which then means they need to understand sexual behavior. This is completely inappropriate material for early elementary school children, and these definitions are simply inadequate.

2. “Welcoming Schools” is designed to question the moral authority of parents. After careful review of Welcoming Schools, it is certain that the techniques, lessons and materials used- do indeed - encourage and reward our children to question what they are taught in our highly diverse family environments.

By questioning the moral authority of parents, “Welcoming Schools” deliberately creates conflict between child and teacher, child and parent, and parent and teacher. A school curriculum that creates conflict between child, parent and teacher is fostering an environment that is emotionally harmful and threatening to the child. This is not acceptable.

3. “Opting-out” further questions parental authority and makes children feel ashamed. Chairperson Lee and Directors please know the division that on “opt-out” option will cause children. Children whose parents “opt-out” will be separated from their teacher and class during that time the curriculum is presented. This can cause embarrassment and shame from being called out of the group and children may again question their parent’s decision on why they “opted-out”.

Here are some other concerns:

4. We feel The Minneapolis Public School District is not prepared to handle the controversial nature of “Welcoming Schools”. At an informational meeting last Thursday night at Hale a parent very respectfully stated her concerns and questions about the curriculum When she was finished the administration responded by dismissing her concern.

We believe this incident illustrates that “Welcoming Schools” is so biased that even a good principal could not defend it. The issues that were brought up by this woman were very real and need to be addressed, but when leaders in positions of power are dismissive and disrespectful then how are the goals of the school and of this curriculum being met? If a good principal feels he can do this in front of hundreds of parents, imagine what could happen to a child behind the closed doors of a classroom.

5. All data gathered by teachers is subjective in determining the curriculums effectiveness and outcomes.

6. “Welcoming Schools” will not end bullying as it omits the diversity of families of faith at Hale Elementary. This curriculum is not inclusive of all parents; it ignores Asian families, minimally mentions families of color and overlooks family faith differences.

A Muslim mom from Hale posted this on a Mpls blog for parents…”as a Muslim family we have never pushed our agenda in the school. We have had to deal with people not accepting us and our children have been put into uncomfortable situations but that does not allow us to tell other families what their beliefs should be”.

If we want to teach our kids to not bully or make fun of others because of the language they speak, the color of their skin or because they have two moms or two dads then let’s spend this time teaching them character qualities such as love, respect, honesty, kindness and what it means to have integrity. This teaches behaviors and not beliefs. If we teach a child to be respectful of others then they won’t bully. If we teach our children to be kind then they will not bully.

7. We can defeat bullying by promoting the distinctive qualities we have in common. Most, it not all, parents gathered at the information meeting at Hale agreed that bullying needs to be stopped. In my home we do this by teaching our children personal values on top of general qualities that we all share. We teach our children that everyone is worthy of value, love, respect and tolerance. We believe that if the school worked with parents and children to promote the values we hold in common we could put an end to bullying at Hale and possibly provide an example for the rest of the district.

In Closing:

As a representative of concerned parents in Mpls Public Schools, we are asking you to remove this controversial and damaging curriculum from ALL Minneapolis schools because it promotes a controversial agenda from The Human Rights Campaign, it is biased towards GLBT families, it teaches children to question parental authority, it causes good principals to bully parents and it ignores the diversity of families of faith. If anything, let’s find a curriculum that is more mutually agreeable. We don’t want this to damage or split apart our schools.

Finally, theses are the action items we respectfully ask this board to address:

1) DO NOT support the “Welcoming Schools” curriculum, in any Mpls Public School.
2) Appoint an independent and diverse task force to review alternatives to the issues that need to be resolved including parents on both sides of this issue.
3) Review the District’s own controversial curriculum policy, which is included in the hand out packet. We feel this curriculum violates the District’s own policy.
4) Review the process by which new and pilot curriculums come to the schools. We understand that the Curriculum and Instruction Department was unaware of “Welcoming Schools” as early as this past February. Finally, in the Districts own website with the button on bullying, “Welcoming Schools” is not even mentioned as a district initiative.

We all care for our children and want to do what is best for them. This is why we respectfully present to you our concerns and opposition to the curriculum.

I would like to invite anyone who is here because is this curriculum to please stand together to show the board the level of interest this curriculum has generated.

Thank You.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Pawlenty vetoes surrogacy contracts

Pawlenty vetoes bills on sick-leave use, surrogacy contracts
He said that surrogates should be able to make their own medical decisions and that added sick leave would be costly.
Star Tribune
Last update: May 17, 2008 - 12:09 AM

Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed several family-related bills Friday.

The governor rejected one that would set up requirements for surrogate mother agreements, citing lack of protections for women who contract to carry and deliver children for others, including failure to establish the surrogate mother's right to make her own medical decisions while she's pregnant. Pawlenty also expressed concerns that the bill "fails in any manner to recognize or protect the life and rights of the unborn child."

Advocates had argued that the bill would establish the legal parentage of children born of surrogate mothers and would "minimize the few negative situations" that inevitably occur under such arrangements.

For full article, click here.

Thank you Gov. Pawlenty for listening to concerned Minnesotans and protecting the rights of the unborn and mothers during pregnancy.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A pastor expresses concern over Welcoming Schools anti-Christian message

Superintendent Green,

I understand the curriculum "Welcoming Schools" is being put in place in Minneapolis elementary schools on a trial basis. I understand the purported goal of this curriculum is to stop bullying. However from the description I have of it, it sounds more like a curriculum to desensitize people (children!) to gay and lesbian issues.

I also understand it does this by specifically raising questions about and putting down the Bible and teachings of the Bible. That particular concern raises issues about separation of church and state, and sounds like it is getting into an area the state has no business meddling in.

This curriculum appears to have a hidden agenda that is far greater than its up front purpose of stopping bullying, which is a valid goal. I would ask you to cease any plans for using this curriculum, and consider more effective curriculum's focused on stopping bullying which might address the many more issues behind bullying than gay and lesbian issues.

Sincerely yours,
Rev XXX XXXX, pastor

Response to emails

A reply to an email to Lydia Lee


Welcoming Schools has been sent to our Curriculum and Instruction Department and is undergoing a formal review process to determine which parts, if any, can be successfully used for the 2008-09 school year. It has not been delivered in any classroom.

The District's mission is to do everything it can to prevent bullying and hazing in our schools. A number of anti-bullying curriculums have been approved and have been in place for several years. Bullying continues to be a growing concern, and we are committed to providing instructional materials and training to District staff to create a more tolerant school environment.

Thank you for taking the time to express your views on the Welcoming School curriculum.
Lydia Lee
Chair, Minneapolis Board of Education

Sources say Sup. Green's office is getting pressure to stop Welcoming Schools

A source close to Sup. Green's office exclaimed "What the [heck] is happening with Hale parents?"

Apparently Sup. Green's office is receiving some persistent opposition.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hale teacher training may qualify for Welcoming Schools

Seems like Principal Brancale is getting ahead of himself. Although "Welcoming Schools" has yet to be approved by Curriculum and Instruction, Hale teachers are being trained to teach anti-bullying curriculum say sources inside Hale Elementary.

Last week, thirteen substitute teachers were paid to fill in for teachers attending a “bullying” training session. Sources say the training was not for "Welcoming Schools" but will “qualify them to teach Welcoming Schools” next Fall.

Brancale has said on several occasions that "Welcoming Schools" won't cost the taxpayer money. Did the substitutes work for free?

Jesse Teben from Out4Good facilitated the training.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Curriculum and Instruction left out of initial decision process

According to sources close to Hale Elementary, the District’s Curriculum and Instruction Department was not originally included in the approval process of “Welcoming Schools” until a complaint was filed by a group of concerned parents.

What is Brancale up to?

Curriculum and Instruction is scheduled to deliver a decision by May 28th. Sources say they have the power to stop "Welcoming Schools."

Please contact C&I department head Dorothy Huffman or Bev Lillquist and ask them halt the pilot of "Welcoming Schools."

Stay tuned.

Are Hale Elementary teachers being bullied into providing bullying incidences?

Sources inside Hale Elementary report that the justification for bringing Welcoming Schools into Hale is suspect. Apparently, the number of incidences of GLBT bullying is lower than reported by Principle Brancale at the Parent Information meeting in February and other occasions. Allegedly the cases he references lack the formal reporting practices of the district. Our sources report teachers feel pressured to supply bullying incidents and are under a gag order to not speak about Welcoming Schools to parents.

Stay tuned.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Welcoming Schools "anti-bullying" curriculum

Katherine Kersten's column regarding the Human Rights Campaign curriculum, "Welcoming Schools" is a warning for all Minneapolis Schools.

The real agenda behind schools' anti-bullying curriculum
Last update: May 11, 2008 - 10:14 PM

The bully is the scourge of the elementary school playground. So who could object to a new anti-bullying curriculum scheduled to be tested in three Minneapolis elementary schools -- Hale, Jefferson and Park View -- and adopted districtwide if successful?

But what if that curriculum is really a disguise for a very different agenda brought to Minneapolis by the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based gay and transgender advocacy group? What if its lessons have little to do with bullying, and much to do with ensuring that kids as young as age 5 submit to HRC's orthodoxy on family structure, even if it differs from their own parents' view?

Click Here for link to column

Stay tuned

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Open your eyes - mayhem, murder, criminal sexual misconduct and paranoia linked to pot

Reprint of story during 2007 session.

It’s hard to stomach the lack of respect given testimony by law enforcement during legislative hearings (2007) on smoked “medical” marijuana. No, the legislators don’t give dirty looks or flip attitudes; just a subtle arrogance and superior demeanor, blithely shrugging off the testimony of these brave public servants. Frankly, I find it disgusting.

There is ample evidence that pot is linked to violent crime. A simple Google search produced four stories in the last few months linking pot to murder, violent death and criminal sexual conduct in the metro area.

For example, in December, 2006 Chaska native, Grant Everson was convicted in the murder of his mother. According to the Star Tribune, "Grant Everson is convicted of plotting with his friend, Joel Beckrich, 21, to slit Tom and Nancy Everson's throats with box cutters as they slept and use the insurance payout to open a coffee chop and sell marijuana in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. "The prosecution argued that Grant primarily wanted revenge on his parents for being too hard on him about work and school; he was earning a 0.0 grade-point average, and recently dropped out of technical school, wasn't working and spent a lot of time smoking marijuana and playing video games with friends, including Beckrich," the Star Tribune reported.

In Anoka, the Pioneer Press reported, Jason Gonsioroski recently pleaded guilty to his daughter's death due to scalding. Gonsioroski portrayed himself as a "pot-smoking stay at home dad."

Last March marijuana was found in the automobile of William Krawchuk, the driver who dragged Trooper Thelen 1,655 feet before being shot.

The Pioneer Press reported that a 47-year-old man “was charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct after an alleged six-year sexual relationship with” a 15-year-old girl. Apparently the “girl told a school liaison office that she had been having sex with the man since she was 9 because ‘she wanted things (he) purchased for her,’ including alcohol and marijuana for her and her friends.”

Pot causes paranoia. A Minnesota pastor shared written testimony with several legislators describing “fits of paranoia; not wanting to leave the house and being very concerned about how people looked at me. At one point I was going to invest in a machine fun, take my family and move to the mountains of Montana and shoot anyone who was opposed to my way of life.”

Anyone that has smoked pot knows this is not an isolated case. In March the Guardian reported, “A youth who murdered two school friends with a hunting knife was jailed for life yesterday in a case which has raised questions about the mental health risks of cannabis. Thomas Palmer, a habitual cannabis user, was 18 when he killed the two boys in an "explosion of anger" which left one of them with his head almost severed. ””He cut 16-year-old Steven Bayliss's throat and stabbed Nuttawut Nadauld, 14, on a footpath near their home in Finchampstead, Berkshire, in September 2005. Palmer admitted killing the boys but denied murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility, claiming he was in the early stages of schizophrenia.”

And how have legislators responded to mayhem, murder, criminal sexual conduct, and schizophrenia? Its “Henny Penny” scolds Senator Steve Murphy, author of the senate version of the smoked “medical” marijuana bill.

“If everybody here is so concerned about people abusin’ things, and law enforcement really wants to go after people, then you should bring back prohibition and just get rid of the alcohol," said Murphy.

"But you know what, we’re not going to do that because there are more people using alcohol, lots more, than are using marijuana, and seriously...medical marijuana. Now, you know, it’s just Henny Penny thinkin’ that this will change the state of affairs in Minnesota. It’s just Henny Penny," he said.

Apparently Murphy thinks we should legalize smoked “medical” marijuana because liquor is legal. Most people are familiar with the myriad of problems associated with alcohol. Yet few, if any, can explain how the legalization of smoked "medical" marijuana will provide any solution. Not even Murphy.

No, smoked “medical” marijuana is bad public policy that is unhealthy and dangerous. Rather than showing compassion for the few that might find relief, we should heed law enforcement to the innocent voices of the murdered, deranged and molested.