Tag Archives: teachers

TMLC Appeals Ninth Circuit’s Anti-God Decision to the U.S Supreme Court

ANN ARBOR, MI – The Thomas More Law Center announced today that it has appealed a controversial decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court. The appeal was filed in the case of Bradley Johnson v. Poway Unified School District late last week.

For the past twenty-five years, Bradley Johnson, a high school math teacher at the Poway School District located in California had been displaying red, white and blue banners in his classroom that contained patriotic phrases such as: “In God We Trust, ” “One Nation Under God, ” and “God Bless America.”

He displayed the banners pursuant to a 30-year school district policy that permitted teachers to maintain classroom displays of non-curricular messages that reflected their personal opinions and values. In effect, the school district designated classroom walls as forum for the expression of the teacher’s private opinions and viewpoints.

However, in 2007 school officials ordered Johnson to remove his banners because they promoted a “Judeo-Christian” viewpoint.

In an outrageous case of double standard, school officials allowed other teachers to display non-Christian religious displays in their classrooms. These displays included a 40-foot string of Tibetan prayer flags with images of Buddha hung across a classroom, a poster with Hindu leader Mahatma Gandhi’s “7 Social Sins;” a poster of Muslim leader Malcolm X; a poster of the Buddhist leader Dali Lama; and a poster containing the lyrics of John Lennon’s anti-religion song “Imagine, ” which begins, Imagine there’s no Heaven.

As a result, the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, which defends the religious liberty of Christians, filed a federal lawsuit against the school district on behalf of Johnson.

On September 4, 2008, Federal District Judge Robert T. Benitez agreed with the Thomas More Law Center. He ruled that “Johnson was simply exercising his free speech rights on subjects that were otherwise permitted in the limited public forum created by Defendants” and that there was an “ongoing violation of his First Amendment free speech rights.”

However, the Poway School District appealed the ruling and a three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Benitez’s decision ruling that the school district was justified in removing banners that mentioned God, while leaving untouched the Tibetan Prayer flags and the images of Buddha.

Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, commented, “This case is a prime example of how public schools across our nation are cleansing our classrooms of our Christian heritage while promoting atheism and other non–Christian religions under the guise of cultural diversity.”

Continued Thompson, “The Ninth Circuit Court’s rationale in allowing the Tibetan Prayer Flags and references to other religions while outlawing America’s patriotic slogans that mention God is unconvincing. Brad Johnson was simply exercising his free speech rights in a forum created by the school district to inform students of the religious foundations of our nation.”

Attempts to get a rehearing in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals failed, and so the Law Center pursued its only remaining option– a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari (appeal) to the United States Supreme Court.

Local Teacher Nominated for Special Recognition

(Dayton, OH) – Kelsey Woodward, Senior at Northmont High School, believes Ms. Janelle Hayes is one special teacher. Like students in schools all over the Miami Valley, Kelsey knows her teacher has made a real difference in her life and thinks it’s about time great teachers like Ms. Hayes got some much deserved recognition. Kelsey wants to do something about that and has nominated her Spanish teacher for the Heroic Teacher of the Year award.

The Heroic Teacher of the Year contest was initiated to honor teachers who have distinguished themselves within their school and community through generosity and commitment while putting the needs of students before their own. Besides recognition for exceptional accomplishments, each winner will receive a $200 gift card to their favorite bookstore and an Engage Wireless LCD; an exciting new interactive teaching tool for the classroom, courtesy of UWrite Touch.

The contest was inspired by the ground-breaking novel Leave No Child Behind by Dr. Randy Overbeck, winner of the 2011 Thriller of the Year Award from ReadersFavorite.com. The book tells a story of heroism, when a small-town teacher is confronted by an act of terrorism that threatens her classroom and school.

“After many years as an educator, I hope, as an author, to bring some recognition to those educators who have the willingness to stand up for students and believe in kids who may not even believe in themselves,” the author says.

This contest is sponsored by Heroic Teacher Press, an independent publishing company based in Lebanon, Ohio, and UWrite Touch, an educational technology company. The small press is also working with local booksellers like “Chapters:Pre-Loved Books” in Lebanon to find and recognize outstanding teachers.

“The mission of Heroic Teacher Press is to raise the status of teachers in America and all the company efforts focus on that,” says Overbeck, a former teacher, college professor and school administrator. “This contest is designed to highlight real life teachers that are largely going unrecognized by the general public.”

In her nomination, Kelsey writes Ms. Hayes’ teaching “will have a lifetime impact on the person I become.” And Kelsey’s not alone. Other students are invited to nominate their favorite teacher for the award. Parents, colleagues and supervisors are also welcomed to submit a nomination of a deserving K-12 educator for the recognition. Nomination forms and full details are available online at www.heroicteacherpress.com or by sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Attn: Heroic Teacher Contest, 789 Lake Bluff Ct., Lebanon, OH 45036. Information on the contest is also available at participating bookstores.

How Union Busting Could Effect Xenia Community Schools

The so-called “union busting” efforts by state officials is a blessing in disguise. The fiscal conundrum faced by governors and state representatives has forced all of them to deal with public unions one way of another. In states like Wyoming, the Democrat governor convinced the union to cut pay and benefits in order to maintain a growing economy. In Indiana, the Republican governor eliminated collective bargaining that enabled government to become more efficient, provide services more effectively, and increase merit-based pay to public employees. This means both methods of controlling public finances work.

In Ohio, Republican lawmakers are seeking to implement similar fiscal policies as Indiana.

Union employees, Ted Strickland and other democrats claim an end to collective bargaining will harm the middle-class. Mary McCleary of The Buckeye Institute refutes their claim. In a recent article, she wrote:

“Contrary to the rhetoric these folks are spouting, eliminating collective bargaining for public sector employees actually does the opposite. It helps the middle class and protects our vulnerable populations. As it currently stands when there is not enough money to pay for all government employees in the system, workers get laid off. They lose their jobs. If a collective bargaining agreement weren’t in place, jobs could be saved. Everyone could take a small pay cut, and everyone would keep their jobs. Furthermore, when government workers are laid off, services are necessarily cut. Think about our schools where teachers are let go and programs are cut. The students suffer and all because the unions won’t make concessions. Contrary to what has been said, collective bargaining for government employees actually hurts the middle class.”

Last week, a manufacturer’s sales rep shared his experience with unions. He was an autoworker who made it to the highest position in the AEU. He sat at the bargaining tables with corporate executives. He made the big bucks and yet he quit. Why? Because all it was about was getting the biggest pay for himself and the union bosses. Union workers were never a part of real deal.

How does any of this apply to Xenia Schools?

School officials claim they have a budget deficit of $5 million. In order to make ends meet, they have to close two schools and lay-off around 70 teachers. What if all union employees including administrators, teachers, and support staff accepted a temporary pay and benefit cut for say three years? After all, wages, salaries and benefits make up the largest part of the budget. Because the school budget is about $60 million, a 10% cut would reduce costs by about $5 million. That would save 70 teaching positions.

Of course, it might mess up the plan to close two schools in order to get the “Tobacco Money” for building new schools, which plan is wrong for Xenia. The plan eventually to close Spring Hill is no more necessary because of a high water table any more than at Tecumseh. Besides, rebuilding Spring Hill without a basement would solve the previous flooding problem. A number of other schools do not have basements either.

Actually, Xenia needs at least one more neighborhood elementary school, not two less. Xenia lawyers could challenge the Ohio School Facilities Commission future projections of school building enrollements and its minimum enrollement requirement in court.

As in previous posts, education research proves small neighborhood schools provide better interactive learning environments than larger ones. Because small schools facilitate greater personal interaction, teachers and students enjoy learning more and consequently are more productive. (See my series titled Xenia Community Schools Rebuilding Plan I, II, III)

This blogger has a graduate level education in secondary education.