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Political News and Commentary from the Right

Principal not to blame for NYC high school riot

The headlines scream Bathroom Ban Leads to Riot at NYC High School! Most of these stories seem to paint Murry Bergtraum High School Principal Andrea Lewis as a sort of crazed tyrant who caused the riot by instigating an unreasonable ban on student use of the school’s restrooms. But a deeper look at the situation paints a far different picture.

First, the word demonstration is probably more appropriate to describe the event than riot. These students crowded the hallways and shouted a lot. There are no reports of violence or vandalism, both generally considered characteristic of any good riot. Several news stories claim the situation was chaotic, but that hardly seems to justify the title riot. Merriam Webster’s online dictionary gives the following definition for the word riot (unless you use the archaic definition):

a : public violence, tumult, or disorder
b : a violent public disorder;

In modern usage the word riot doesn’t accurately describe the event at Lewis’ school. Labeling the event as such does serve the purpose of the media. Sensational headlines sell papers. It also serves the purpose of those who dislike Lewis as the new leader of the struggling school. Students quoted in the various articles actually admitted the demonstration was more against her leadership than it was about the bathroom ban. Any students wanting things to return to their prior state, before Ms. Lewis, will be tickled the stories are exaggerating the seriousness of the event. Teachers who dislike their new principal are also likely to enjoy the sensationalism. Lewis was brought into the school to turn it around and that will always upset teachers who were content with the status quo at the failing school.

“What happened yesterday was absolutely a problem, and that’s why we can’t have that,” said American Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew.

Lewis became the new principal at the school only this fall. Since 2003, she had been the principal at Acorn Community High School in Brooklyn. While there, she described herself as a “very procedure driven person” in an interview with She instituted several policies there that likely met resistance by teachers, students, and parents when they were first put in place. But…they evidently worked.

Acorn Community High School‘s math and English scores improved drastically and the school was removed from New York’s list of schools needing improvement. Indeed, the school report card issued by the New York Department of Education for last year gave the school an overall grade of A. The highest marks were given for Student Progress. Contrast that with Murry Bergtraum‘s grade of D on last year’s report card, with an F in the Student Progress domain.

Lewis was hired to turn the school around and is even receiving a $25,000 per year bonus for agreeing to stay there for at least 3 years. That’s a pretty big statement that something was wrong at MBHS and NYC education officials believe Lewis is the one who can turn things around. Gotham Schools talked to students and found the bathroom ban might have been the spark, but the protest blaze was really fueled by the changes Lewis has made since her arrival.

“It’s not all about the bathroom,” said one student. “She’s made a lot more changes also.”

Students said that since her arrival at Bergtraum, Lewis has changed grading practices, made it mandatory for teachers to assign homework, and altered the curriculum. Some of those changes have bred resentment among students, they said.

Another student complained about changes to the music curriculum…

“It used to be, we talk about different types of music, sing every now and then,” the student said. “Now she wants us to treat it like it’s English and history put together….Why do we have to add other aspects when it’s not necessary?”

Now we’re starting to see the real problem here and it’s not Lewis. Officials at the school were not commenting on the event, which is standard in school districts across the country. But it is reported the bathroom ban followed a fight between students while classes were going on. In all likelihood, Lewis’ bathroom ban was meant to be a temporary means of keeping students from making their way out of class and into the halls to join the fray or start it anew–just a way to keep students in the classroom until things cooled down. And she even announced at the same time that, if it was an emergency, students could use the restroom at the nurse’s station.

The problem is the students don’t like the tactics Lewis is using to try to return the school to its intended purpose–to educate them! Imagine a music class that demands students actually learn music history and complements the English curriculum by requiring them to write papers. Imagine a high school that recognizes most real learning is achieved via discovery while working through assignments outside the classroom. Imagine a high school where rubrics are posted in the classroom to standardize grading practices. These are the types of changes made by a principal trying to reform a failing school, and it’s natural for students to resist.

What’s not natural, is for parents, teachers, and the media to defend a bunch of kids who “riot” because they’re not getting their way. It’s insane that the media paints this principal as a tyrant to sell papers, and that teachers blame the principal for student unruliness when she’s working to return a school to what it’s supposed to be, parents should be speaking out in support of Lewis for her attempts to turn things around.

I applaud Lewis for her efforts, and chastise any and all who oppose her “harsh” measures to get the job done. Keep it up Ms. Lewis, and get that school back in line.

Tags: New York City, Andrea Lewis, Murry Bergtraum High School, Acorn Community High School, Riot, Bathroom Ban, Education, Failing Schools

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December 12, 2010 Posted by | Education | 2 Comments

Union says stop teaching students in Detroit

Detroit is a dying city, instinctively gasping for breath as it struggles to survive. But things are tough all over in the US today. Unemployment is hovering just under 10%, millions have been without a job for two years or more, and our national debt is fast approaching the calamitous mark of $14 TRILLION.

But, while most leaders in the US are looking to better educate the next generation as a means of lifting the economy out of its current funk, the Detroit teachers’ union is bucking the trend. The union is calling on some of its members to STOP teaching their students and act as mere babysitters. In a letter to substitutes published on its website, the Detroit Federation of Teachers calls on substitute teachers to “cease and desist with the following responsibilities”:

  • Developing lesson plans. Let the administrator provide lesson plans daily or weekly for students in your care, or develop a “survival kit,” activities designed to give students something to do for the periods you have them.
  • Do not grade assignments given to students. Let the administration check the assignments you issue.
  • Do not enter grades into the grade book. Turn in the grade book you have maintained to the administrator. The administrator can enter any grades achieved and average them for card marking.
  • Do not complete the computerized grade sheets. The administrator can enter in grades.
  • Do not participate in parent-teacher conferences. Let the administrator confer with parents on a student’s progress in class.

Effectively, the union is demanding substitute teachers STOP educating the youth of Detroit and instead act as mere babysitters. In the letter, DFT President Keith R. Johnson says “I truly regret the necessity to take this action because it is not in the best interest of our students. However, I can no longer allow our members to be treated in such a manner…” An absolute admission that students are NOT the center of concern for the teachers’ union in Detroit. And though Johnson “regrets” taking action that is not in students’ best interest, a sacrifice must be made for the union to get its way and that sacrifice will be the children…the innocent, malleable youth of Detroit…the future of the dying city.

Johnson accuses the district of hiring long-term substitutes to “save money,” and says this action is necessary force the district to pay them more. But every district has need of long-term substitutes. When teachers are seriously ill, on leave after having a baby, or even if the district cannot find enough certified teachers to fill its classrooms, long-term subs are called on.

In a dying city, you might expect a teacher shortage. And you will find one in Detroit. In late September, the district was still short certified teachers. Pointing out that “59 of our 140 schools have reached or exceeded enrollment projections,” district Financial Manager Robert Bobb announced a hiring surge to fill the vacancies.

Now the district has filed suit against the union, claiming the letter violates “the existing collective bargaining agreement agreed to by its members.” In response to the suit, Johnson again made remarks that evidence his priorities are not the best interest of Detroit students. From an article on

The problem stems from a teacher shortage in the district and substitutes taking on the role of general classroom teachers, but not being compensated as such, Johnson said.

So Johnson believes the solution lies in NOT educating Detroit students! This illustrates the problem with teachers’ unions. In every part of the educational system, from the classroom to the office of the Secretary of Education, the number one priority should be the students. Obviously, in the leadership of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, this is not the case.

If you’d like to let Johnson know how you feel about this situation contact him via the phone and email below.

Keith R. Johnson, President, Detroit Federation of Teachers
Phone: (313) 875-3500, Ext. 778

Tags: Education, Detroit, Detroit Federation of Teachers, Detroit Public Schools, Teachers’ Unions, Unions, Keith R. Johnson, Economy

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December 4, 2010 Posted by | Education | 1 Comment

King of the Blacks

No, it’s not Barack Obama…at least in this article by columnist Joseph C. Phillips.  But this is a black columnist pointing out what he sees as the biggest obstacle to achievement in the black community.  Using his own son’s experience as an example, his poignant essay asks “How is it that…the ‘king of the Blacks’ is the kid that flunked 8th grade?”

by Joseph C. Phillips at

My wife and I have big dreams for our children. We want nothing for them but health, happiness and success and we recognize that a good education can be a step towards realizing that goal. We also demand that our children perform up to their potential. The skills one learns in school – study habits, attention to detail, and meeting deadlines – are essential for success in the work world. In this we are like every other parent in America.

However we are also Black parents of a certain generation and so the subtleties of race continue to speak to us and they are very real. Sometimes we are not sure if we are responding atavistically to the faint smell of something in the air or if what we are hearing are the soft echoes of our own imaginations. It’s sometimes impossible to tell, which is why race and issues associated with race (to coin a phrase from the late Ralph Wiley) continue to make Black People want to shout.

Last week I had what my parents generation used to call a “come to Jesus meeting” with my 7th grade son. His mid-term report card arrived in the mail. His mother and I were under-whelmed.

The comments on my son’s report card indicated that he is under the mistaken impression that school is for socializing and his grades reflect a rather lackluster effort at best. I went “old school:” after a brief lecture he received some tactile encouragement to start taking care of TCB.

There are many black students at my sons’ middle school, but he is 1 of only 3 in the highly-gifted magnet program within the school. The HGM is a program restricted to students that score 99.9% on an intellectual assessment test. One of three! That doesn’t leave much wiggle room to be the black kid that can’t cut it, that clowns in class or that falls behind.


December 21, 2009 Posted by | Education | , , , , | 1 Comment

Lyrics to “Praise Obama” Song

Yesterday we posted the video of elementary school children being trained to worship Barack Hussein Obama. The lyrics to their songs of praise were a little hard to make out. Here are the words the teacher was making these kids memorize and sing:

Song 1:

Mm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said that all must lend a hand
To make this country strong again
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said we must be fair today
Equal work means equal pay
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said that we must take a stand
To make sure everyone gets a chance
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

He said red, yellow, black or white
All are equal in his sight
Mmm, mmm, mm!
Barack Hussein Obama

Mmm, mmm, mm
Barack Hussein Obama

Song 2:

Hello, Mr. President we honor you today!
For all your great accomplishments, we all doth say “hooray!”

Hooray, Mr. President! You’re number one!
The first black American to lead this great nation!

Hooray, Mr. President we honor your great plans
To make this country’s economy number one again!

Hooray Mr. President, we’re really proud of you!
And we stand for all Americans under the great Red, White, and Blue!

So continue —- Mr. President we know you’ll do the trick
So here’s a hearty hip-hooray —-

Hip, hip hooray!
Hip, hip hooray!
Hip, hip hooray!

Anyone still denying this was indoctrination?

September 25, 2009 Posted by | Education, Obama | , , , , | 8 Comments

I won’t be showing the President’s speech today

Just to let everyone know, I teach math in a public high school and I won’t be showing Obama’s speech today.

I just finished reading the speech, and to tell you the truth, I like it. A lot of what he’ll say is the same thing I say day after day to the students. The problem is, he doesn’t practice what he’s preaching. I’ll break this down later because I have to head to work now, but my students will have to watch his speech on their own time if they want to see it.

Today I’m teaching math!

September 8, 2009 Posted by | Education | , , | 1 Comment

You did it: KS teacher rehired!

Great job and many thanks to all who stood up for Lawrence High School history teacher Tim Latham, whose contract wasn’t renewed due to his conservative beliefs.  The pressure you put on resulted in Mr. Latham being rehired!

Mr. Latham’s response:  “I couldn’t be more pleased with this outcome. While I am happy to have this behind me, and look forward to returning to LHS next fall, I will always be grateful to my students for actually putting what I teach into practice.”

I, too, am grateful to Mr. Latham’s students, several of whom created the Facebook group, Save Mr.Latham, Lawrence High History Teacher, which counts almost 2,000 members after only a few days.  These students refused to stand by and let their successors at Lawrence High be deprived of, as one student put it, “…a really good teacher.”

June 18, 2009 Posted by | Bill of Rights, Education | , , , , | 3 Comments

Statement from Tim Latham

From Save Mr.Latham, Lawrence High History Teacher


There has been a rumor going around that the main reason I was non-renewed is because I supposedly compared Obama to Hitler. I have been receiving some pretty nasty e-mails about it so I feel I must speak.

This is completely and totally false. I NEVER compared Obama to Hitler.

This is what happened and where the rumor comes from:

In a good GOVERNMENT class you learn about ALL forms of government. On one particular day we were discussing the various forms of government; i.e. Democracy, Socialism, Communism, Fascism, etc. The difference between dictators, Prime Ministers, and Presidents, etc. We talked about many differences between the Democratic and Republican platforms. You have to understand I had VERY GOOD students who asked great questions leading to great discussions.

As we were talking about fascism (a gov’t that allows private property ownership but maintains strict control over banking and major industry) a student asked me what governments were fascist. The term was familiar but he couldn’t remember why. I pointed out that Benito Mussolin (Italy) and Adolf Hitler (Germany) of WWII were the most famous fascist dictators. Another student made a comment asking how someone like Hitler gets in power. I explained that he had actually been DEMOCRACTICALLY ELECTED… something many people don’t realize. He then became a dictator and took over control of everything. Another student asked how someone like Hitler could get elected? I stated that people didn’t realize he was going to become the person he did. Germany was suffering worse than any country in the world from the Great Depression (economic crisis), Germany was still angry over the Treaty of Versailles (WWI) and Hitler was a very good public speaker and told the people exactly what they wanted to hear. He made a lot of promises and appealed to the masses.

About 15 minutes later into the class we were discussing McCain and Obama again and what people liked about them, what each ones chances were of getting elected, etc. And yes, I did mention, that the best thing going for Obama was that he was an eloquent speaker, people were unhappy with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the economy was looking bad. ALL points being covered in the news every day, by every political pundit in the world.

There is a girl in that particular class who LOVED to argue and who was a major Obama supporter. Made for good debates sometimes, sometimes frustration. This is one of those frustration times. THE STUDENT HERSELF is the one who, after I made the above statement about Obama, that said “so you’re comparing Obama to Hitler?” As soon as she said it, before I could even speak, several other students (who were used to argueing with her) stated that is not what I said. I myself repeatedly said no I was not comparing the two. I did admit that the “situation” for them to get elected is similiar but I in no way thought that Obama was in any way like Hitler. I repeated that statement more than once since she wanted to argue it, no I WAS NOT comparing Obama to Hitler. I pointed out that those situations are common in many elections; i.e. using the economy, an unpopular war (see Vietnam), etc. in order to gain support for an election. Not good enough, she went straight to the Asst. Prinicipal and said I was picking on Obama and comparing him to Hitler. I was called in, I explained everything that happened exactly like I have just stated, and I thought, that was that. Evidently not.

That is the true story. You decide for yourself.

Tim Latham

June 15, 2009 Posted by | Bill of Rights, Education | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Teacher, father of 3, fired for conservative views

UPDATE: Tim Latham and students will be on Fox & Friends at 7:45 AM tomorrow, Monday, June 15, 2009

UPDATE 2Statement from Tim Latham

UPDATE 3:  Latham rehired.

Though this was his first year at Lawrence High School, he’s been teaching History for the past 19 years. A self-professed liberal student who graduated this spring says, “It’s really disappointing because he’s a really good teacher. It doesn’t seem fair. Why would they let a good teacher go?” But let him go they did, after repeatedly chastising him for being critical of President Obama and even for having a McCain/Palin bumper sticker on his car!

Tim Latham states he was also dressed down by his assistant principal Jan Gentry for content on his school website, which she deemed “too patriotic.”   But liberals needn’t worry now because his links to different branches of the US military and the military academies have been removed from the site.  The Left no longer needs to worry that his pages may encourage high school students to serve their country.

While some of his pages have been left in tact, clicking on the “What I Think” tab now yields an empty page.  Another tab on his home page labeled “Terrorism” also contains nothing.  Apparently, school officials have scrubbed his pages of anything that might let young minds experience something other than the liberal education establishment view of our world.  God only knows that they could just get the idea that Conservatism isn’t the evil so many educators wish to brainwash the children to believe.

You can help by joining the “Save Mr. Latham, Lawrence High History Teacher” group on Facebook now.  Already, 655 have joined to show their support!  There’s also a discussion thread on the group site to leave your comments.  You can also sign a petition to help Mr. Latham get his job back.

Read more on this story here.


June 13, 2009 Posted by | Bill of Rights, Education | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

How Obama Killed the DC Voucher Program

from National Review Online

While Obama always talks up the value of non-ideological solutions to bad public schools, he was quick to sign a bill last month that cancels a federally-funded D.C. school-voucher program after the 2009-2010 school year, unless Congress and the District government act to reauthorize it.

For more on this, watch this new Reason.TV video. It features some of the kids, and their parents, who have benefited from D.C. school vouchers, and who have so much to lose from Obama’s double-talk on education policy.

“Out of everything else they can shut down or everything else they can advocate for, they want to take this one thing away?” Adds her mother, Ingrid, “We voted for you, we walked, we went to the parade, we stood freezing. Why? . . . Can you get this tape over to Obama and have him answer our questions? Why, sir, why?”


May 6, 2009 Posted by | Education | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Obama names Chicago school chief to Education Dept.

Associated Press

CHICAGO – President-elect Barack Obama announced Arne Duncan, the head of the Chicago school system, as education secretary Tuesday and declared that failing to improve classroom instruction is “morally unacceptable for our children.”

“When it comes to school reform, Arne is the most hands-on of hands-on practitioners,” Obama said, making the announcement at a school that he said has made remarkable progress under Duncan’s leadership.

“He’s not beholden to any one ideology, and he’s worked tirelessly to improve teacher quality,” Obama said.

…(Read full article)

December 16, 2008 Posted by | Education | , , , | 1 Comment