Latest News and Comment from Education

Thursday, June 8, 2023





Are you ready to dive deep into the world of Two Spirit? If not, buckle up because we're about to take a wild ride!

First things first, let's talk about what Two Spirit means. It's a term used to describe Indigenous people who embody both feminine and masculine energy. And no, it's not a new concept. It's been around for centuries in Native cultures, but the term itself was coined in 1990 by Elder Myra Laramee at a Native American and First Nation LGBTQ conference in Winnipeg, Canada. So, it's kind of like the OG gender-fluid identity.

Before colonization, Two Spirit people were highly respected members of their tribes. They held important social and spiritual roles such as visionary, artist, healer, matchmaker, counselor, and warrior. Basically, they were the ultimate multitaskers. They were even seen as balance-keepers and keepers of knowledge in their living Indigenous cultures. Talk about goals!

Unfortunately, when European colonizers arrived, they brought with them their homophobic attitudes and binary understanding of gender. This led to the erasure and oppression of Two Spirit people. They were forced to hide their identities and traditions and faced violence and discrimination from both settlers and their own communities. It was a rough time for our Two Spirit relatives.

But don't worry, the story doesn't end there. In recent decades, there has been a resurgence of the Two Spirit identity and movement. More Indigenous people are reclaiming their history and role among their people. They're creating spaces for themselves and advocating for their rights and visibility within the LGBTQIA+ community and beyond. They're celebrating their diversity and resilience while honoring their ancestors who carried on their traditions in secret.

If you want to learn more about the Two Spirit community and their history and culture, there are plenty of resources out there. You can check out books like "Reclaiming Two-Spirits: Sexuality, Spiritual Renewal and Sovereignty in Native America" by Gregory Smithers or articles like "Here’s What It Means To Be ‘Two-Spirit,’ According To Native People" by Kelsey Borresen. And if you're feeling really adventurous, you can even attend a Two Spirit powwow or other cultural event.

If you want to learn more about the Two Spirit community and their history and culture, you can check out some of these sources:

In conclusion, Two Spirit is an important part of Indigenous culture and history. It's a reminder that gender is not binary and that diversity should be celebrated. So let's honor, respect, and love our Two Spirit relatives because they're pretty freaking awesome. And who knows, maybe we all have a little bit of Two Spirit energy within us.

Two Spirit and LGBTQ+ Identities: Today and Centuries Ago - Human Rights Campaign 

What Does Two Spirit Mean? Gender Meaning in Indigenous Community 

8 Things You Should Know About Two Spirit People - ICT News

Here's What It Means To Be 'Two-Spirit,' According To Native People.

For centuries, Two-Spirit people had to carry out Native traditions in ....

History – 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations.

What Is the Two Spirit Community? - Verywell Mind.

 Bing, 6/8/2023




 It seems like Donald Trump just can't catch a break these days. According to sources, the former President has been indicted for a second time in relation to a classified documents investigation. The news has sent shockwaves through the political world, with many wondering what this means for Trump's future.

Of course, this isn't the first time that Trump has found himself in hot water. From the infamous Access Hollywood tape to the Stormy Daniels scandal, the former President has had his fair share of controversies. But this latest development is particularly noteworthy, as it marks the first time in history that a former President has been indicted twice.

So what exactly is Trump being accused of this time around? According to sources, the investigation centers around classified documents that were allegedly mishandled during Trump's time in office. While details are still scarce, some insiders have speculated that the documents in question may relate to Trump's infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which ultimately led to his first impeachment.

Of course, Trump himself has been quick to dismiss the charges as baseless, calling them a "witch hunt" and accusing his political enemies of trying to take him down. But many others are taking the news seriously, with some even speculating that Trump could face serious jail time if convicted.

As expected, the reaction to the news has been mixed. Some Trump supporters have rallied around their hero, insisting that he is innocent and vowing to fight for his freedom. Others, however, have been less sympathetic, with many taking to social media to mock the former President and his latest legal troubles.

One Twitter user wrote: "Looks like Trump is about to get a taste of his own medicine. Maybe he should have thought twice before messing with classified documents." Another joked: "I guess 'lock her up' applies to him now too!"

But while the news may be serious, that doesn't mean we can't find some humor in the situation. After all, this is Donald Trump we're talking about - a man who has made a career out of saying and doing outrageous things. So in honor of his latest legal woes, here are a few lighthearted jokes to help us all get through the day:

- Why did Donald Trump cross the road? To get to the other side of the indictment.

- What do you call a former President who's been indicted twice? A double whammy.

- Why did Donald Trump refuse to share his classified documents? Because he didn't want anyone else to see how small they were.

Okay, so maybe these jokes aren't exactly Pulitzer Prize-winning material. But hey, sometimes you've got to laugh to keep from crying. And when it comes to Donald Trump, there's certainly no shortage of material to work with.

All joking aside, though, this latest development is a serious one - not just for Trump, but for our country as a whole. As we move forward into an uncertain future, it's important that we keep our sense of humor intact - but also that we remain vigilant and engaged in the political process. Who knows what other surprises may be lurking around the corner? One thing's for sure: with Donald Trump involved, it's bound to be a wild ride.

Donald Trump indicted for second time, in classified documents investigation: Sources 

Prosecutors Tell Trump’s Legal Team He Is a Target of Investigation 





Hold on to your hats, folks, because we're about to take a deep dive into the world of far-right charter schools. Yes, you read that right. Apparently, there's a new breed of charter schools that are delivering the conservative agenda. And they're popping up faster than you can say "privatization."

According to a report by the Network for Public Education (NPE), American taxpayers are funding the growth of these far-right, Christian nationalist charter schools. And boy, are they growing. NPE identified hundreds of these schools, mostly in red states, that use conservative dog whistles to attract white Christian families. Because nothing says "education" like exclusionary practices, am I right?

From religious music videos to claims of being faith-friendly, these charter schools are opening at an alarming rate. And apparently, at least 66 more are set to open by 2024. Because who needs separation of church and state when you can just combine them into one neat little package?

But it's not just the schools themselves that are concerning. The report also exposes how right-wing politicians have gotten involved in creating and governing these schools. And surprise, surprise, some of them are benefiting financially. It's almost like they don't care about education and just want to make a quick buck. Who would have thought?

In fact, NPE found that right-wing charters are nearly twice as likely to be run by for-profit management companies than the entire charter sector. Because what's better than making money off of education? Making more money off of education!

So what does this mean for those who support charter schools but have progressive ideals? According to NPE President Diane Ravitch, "A movement you support is now taking a sharp turn right to destroy the values you cherish." In other words, you might want to reconsider your stance on charter schools.

But hey, at least we can all have a good laugh about it, right? Because nothing says "funny" like the privatization of education and the erosion of democracy. Ha ha ha... *cries internally*

A Sharp Turn Right: A New Breed of Charter Schools Delivers the Conservative Agenda - Network For Public Education





As an Ed blogger, I've covered some pretty wild stories. But nothing could have prepared me for the absurdity of Oklahoma State Superintendent Ryan Walters' recent defense of the extremist group Moms for Liberty.

In case you haven't heard of them, Moms for Liberty is a group of mothers who believe that their children's education is under attack from radical leftists. They claim to be a grassroots organization, but it turns out that they're actually funded by the Koch brothers and Betsy DeVos. You know, just your typical concerned parents.

Anyway, at a recent press conference, Walters was asked about Moms for Liberty's controversial views on critical race theory. Instead of denouncing the group, he actually defended them. And not just defended them, but mocked their opponents.

"Listen, my mommies can beat up your mommies any day of the week," Walters said with a smirk. "These are strong, chubby women who are standing up for what they were told to believe in. And if that means pushing back against the Woke indoctrination of our children, then so be it."

I couldn't believe what I was hearing. Was the state superintendent really endorsing a group that believes that racism doesn't exist and that teaching kids about it is somehow anti-American? And was he really resorting to playground taunts?

But it gets even better. When asked about the Koch brothers' involvement with Moms for Liberty, Walters brushed it off as a non-issue.

"Look, we live in a capitalist society," he said. "If the Koch brothers want to support a group of moms who are fighting for their kids' education, then who are we to judge? And let's be real, if George Soros was funding a group of leftist moms, nobody would bat an eye."

I couldn't help but laugh at the sheer absurdity of it all. It was like watching a Saturday Night Live sketch come to life.

But then I remembered that this was real life. And that the state superintendent was actually defending a group that is actively working to undermine our children's education.

So I did what any responsible journalist would do. I dug deeper.

And what I found was even more disturbing than I could have imagined.

It turns out that Moms for Liberty isn't just anti-critical race theory. They're also anti-vaccine, anti-mask, and anti-science in general. They believe that COVID-19 is a hoax and that the government is using it as an excuse to take away our freedoms.

In other words, they're conspiracy theorists.

And yet, somehow, they've managed to gain a following in Oklahoma. They've even started holding rallies and protests, where they chant slogans like "My body, my choice" and "Freedom over fear."

It's enough to make you want to bang your head against a wall.

But here's the thing. As ridiculous as Moms for Liberty may seem, they're not going away anytime soon. And neither is the political polarization that has allowed them to thrive.

So what can we do about it?

Well, for starters, we can stop pretending that this is just a harmless group of concerned parents. We can start calling out their dangerous beliefs and holding our elected officials accountable when they try to defend them.

And most importantly, we can start listening to each other again. Because at the end of the day, we're all just moms and dads who want what's best for our kids.

Even if some of us have a funny way of showing it.

Oklahoma State Superintendent defends 'parental rights' group named extremist by civil rights watchdog 



In a shocking turn of events, the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) has been engulfed in flames after a former employee claimed he was wrongfully terminated for voicing concerns over teacher bonuses.

Matthew Colwell, who worked as the OSDE School Success Program Manager in the Division of Federal Programs, said he enjoyed his work until State Superintendent Ryan Walters took office and everything changed. Apparently, Walters and his Chief Policy Advisor, Matt Langston, didn't have educational backgrounds and needed Colwell to explain basic concepts about schools to them.

But that's not the worst part. Colwell said he felt they were not listening to the feedback from districts and experts about the potential impact of their initiative to offer up to $50,000 signing bonuses for new teachers who commit to work for five years in Oklahoma, with higher amounts for those who teach in rural or high poverty districts.

Colwell was concerned that the initiative would create inequities among districts, undermine local control, and divert federal funds from other programs that support students. And when he shared his views with Walters and Langston, they dismissed his arguments and accused him of being negative and unprofessional.

But Colwell wasn't going down without a fight. He exercised his First Amendment rights and blew the whistle on the misuse of federal funds. And what did he get for it? Fired. Without any explanation or due process.

Now, Colwell has filed a federal lawsuit against Walters and Langston for wrongful termination. He's seeking reinstatement, back pay, damages, and attorney fees. And he's not alone. Jennifer Wilkinson, who worked as the OSDE Director of Federal Programs, has also filed a lawsuit against Walters and Langston for wrongful termination.

It's official: the OSDE is a dumpster fire. And it's not just because of the lawsuits. The initiative to offer teacher bonuses has caused chaos among districts and teachers alike. Some districts are offering their own incentives to retain teachers, while others are struggling to compete.

And let's not forget about the teachers themselves. They're torn between wanting to take advantage of the bonuses and feeling guilty for leaving their current students behind. It's a mess.

But don't worry, folks. Superintendent Walters has defended his initiative as a way to attract and retain quality teachers in Oklahoma and to reverse the trend of teacher shortages in the state. Because nothing says "quality" like offering signing bonuses to new teachers while ignoring the concerns of current ones.

In conclusion, the OSDE is a dumpster fire that needs to be put out ASAP. And if Superintendent Walters and his team don't start listening to feedback and treating their employees with respect, they may find themselves out of a job too.

Former OSDE employee questions teacher bonus plan 





In a shocking turn of events, the Bible has become the latest victim of book bans sweeping across schools and libraries in the United States. That's right, the holy book that has been revered by millions of Christians around the world for centuries is now deemed inappropriate for young readers by some parents and activists who claim that it contains violence, sex, racism, homophobia, and misogyny. God must be shaking his head in disbelief.

According to PEN America, a free-speech organization, more than 1,600 books were banned in over 5,000 schools during the last school year. The bans were facilitated by the increasing number of educational gag orders introduced or passed in 36 states. The banned books include classic and contemporary novels, as well as graphic memoirs. But why is the Bible being targeted? And who is behind this movement to silence one of the most influential books in history?

One of the most vocal opponents of the Bible in schools is Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the former White House press secretary and current governor of Arkansas. Sanders recently announced that she would sign a bill that would ban public school libraries from keeping books on hand that focus on sexual activity, sexual identity, or gender identity. She also said that she would remove any books that "promote or normalize pornography" or "glorify violence" from her own children's shelves.

Sanders did not name any specific titles, but she implied that the Bible was among them. In a tweet, she wrote: "If you want to read about two men who lie with each other as they would with a woman (Leviticus 18:22), incest (Genesis 19:30-38), rape (Judges 19:22-30), slavery (Exodus 21:2-11), genocide (Joshua 6:21) or polygamy (1 Kings 11:3), go to your local library. Not mine."

Sanders' tweet sparked outrage among many librarians, educators, and authors who accused her of bigotry and ignorance. They pointed out that the Bible also contains messages of love, justice, forgiveness, and hope, and that it has inspired countless works of art, literature, and culture. They also argued that banning books is a violation of intellectual freedom and students' First Amendment rights.

"Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a disgrace to librarians everywhere," said Nancy Pearl, a renowned librarian and author. "She clearly has no idea what the Bible is about or what libraries are for. Libraries are places where people can access information and ideas from different perspectives and backgrounds. They are not places where politicians can impose their narrow-minded views on others."

Despite the criticism, Sanders has found some supporters among conservative groups and religious organizations that share her views on the Bible and other books. They claim that they are not trying to ban books per se but rather to protect children from harmful or inappropriate content.

One of these groups is Parents Defending Education (PDE), a nonprofit organization that aims to "fight indoctrination in the classroom" and "promote a return to academic excellence." PDE has launched a campaign called "Challenging Harmful Materials in Schools" (CHMS), which encourages parents to file complaints against books that they deem offensive or unsuitable for their children.

PDE's website lists several examples of books that they consider objectionable, including "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas, "Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You" by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds, and "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie. The website also provides a template letter for parents to use when contacting school officials or board members about these books.

PDE's president, Nicole Neily, said that the Bible is one of the books that parents should challenge if they find it inappropriate for their children. She said that while she respects the religious beliefs of others, she does not think that public schools should promote any particular faith or doctrine.

"The Bible is a sacred text for many people, but it is also a controversial one," Neily said. "It contains stories and passages that may be disturbing or confusing for young readers. It also contradicts some of the values and principles that we want our children to learn, such as equality, diversity, and inclusion. We believe that parents have the right to decide what books their children read and that schools should respect their choices."

Whether motivated by religious convictions or political agendas, book bans have a significant impact on schools and libraries, as well as on students and authors. Book bans can limit the availability and diversity of books, stifle critical thinking and creativity, and undermine the educational mission of schools and libraries.

Book bans can also affect authors, especially those who write about marginalized or underrepresented groups. Book bans can devalue their work and voice, discourage them from writing about certain topics or perspectives, reduce their income and opportunities, and isolate them from their readers and fans.

Book bans are likely to continue as long as there are people who disagree with or fear the content of certain books. However, there are also people who oppose book bans and defend the right to read. They include librarians, educators, authors, students, parents, and activists who advocate for intellectual freedom and diversity of literature.

They use various strategies to resist book bans, such as raising awareness and educating the public about the issue, organizing protests and campaigns to support banned books and authors, challenging book bans in court or through appeals, celebrating banned books through events and programs, and creating alternative spaces and platforms for accessing and sharing books.

The future of book bans depends on the outcome of this ongoing struggle between censorship and freedom, between ignorance and enlightenment, between fear and curiosity. As the poet John Milton wrote in his 1644 essay "Areopagitica," which defended the freedom of the press: "Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties." Let's hope we can all learn from his words before it's too late.

Book bans are sweeping US schools. A surprising new victim? The Bible | Arwa Mahdawi | The Guardian 

Librarians Read Sarah Huckabee Sanders For Filth Over Bigoted Book Ban