Sunday, February 17, 2008

Me & the School Board

Oh, my frickin' god, I am so pissed I am just shaking.

So, today, the kidlet tells me she needs a dollar for tomorrow. Her public school requires the kids to wear uniforms. She says her school is raising money to help buy an ultrasound machine and that they can get out of wearing the uniform tomorrow if they pay a dollar to help buy an ultrasound machine.

Now, as an advocate for women's rights who didn't fall off the turnip truck yesterday, I hear "fundraiser" and "ultrasound machine" and am immediately suspicious. I demand to see this note from the school.

The note, on bright red paper and with the heading "Helping Hands Help Beating Hearts!" confirms that they can get out of wearing their uniforms tomorrow, Valentine's Day, IF they pay a dollar. The money will go to "help purchase an ultrasound machine for Mommies to see and hear their babies heart beat. The Family X Clinic (formerly the Women's X Center) located in X appreciates your support!"

Skipping their poor grammar and capitalization skills for the moment, I went to the computer and googled this organization. And here 'tis:


They offer "life-affirming services" for women and "post-abortion syndrome counseling," along with this handy little explanation of what "post-abortion syndrome" is:


Oh, my f**king god!

Okay, I am in a little town outside New Orleans for now, and I know the culture is different from what I'm used to. I tried not to make waves when they sent out flyers inviting kids to a prayer gathering at the school flagpole one morning. I let my daughter go to a revival meeting all the kids were going to, and which was advertised with flyers taped to walls all over the school (I let her go because her friends were going and because I believe in letting her satisfy her curiosity and because I know she will have to deal with pressure from the Jesus freaks eventually; indeed, they had several nights of great rock concerts and then, on the last night they got her alone and pressured her to be "saved;" my kid, who is true to herself no matter the pressure, managed to get out of there without ever giving in to the pressure, before collapsing sobbing on the sofa when she returned home).

I said nothing when, on December 5, 2007, they had an EXCUSED absence day for kids who wanted to go to this cokehead-cum-preacher's tent revival for Jesus in Baton Rouge. The guy admits he holds the revivals during the school day, when he could hold them on weekends, because he is pushing the limits of a new Supreme Court ruling permitting some worship activities during school hours - all in the name of "freedom." So, my kid faced either going to their revival or having to go to school when everyone else got the day off and also being stigmatized as one of the few "non-Christian" kids in this place: ttp://

Funny but last I checked my state was in the bottom five in terms of student academic achievement, yet they gave out excused absences for a full schoolday with Jay-zus.

Two years ago, I found out late about the parish's efforts to segregate several schools by gender:



As the ACLU brief explains (ttp://, they were not JUST going to have gender segregated public education here, but were going to rely on outdated stereotypes about the biology of gender to teach boys and girls differently. Girls, the training for teachers under the new program claimed, learn best by talking and being in groups. Girls hear better. Boys, the training for teachers said, learn best by doing. Boys should be active. They are wired for hunting prey. Boys who are not as active should be encouraged in group activities outdoors. When processing literature, teachers should ask girls how they would feel if they were the characters in the story, and not about the action; boys, on the other hand, must never be asked about their feelings and should, instead, be asked about the action. Teachers should smile and make eye contact with girls, but avoid eye contact with boys. Boys should be disciplined more harshly. Girls should be taught math and science differently from how boys are taught. Boys should be segregated from girls until they learn to control the "surging levels" of testosterone in their bodies (maybe we should keep women separate and in burkas, for their own protection, since teh menz can't help themselves, right).

The parish spent Louisiana taxpayer dollars on teacher training from this man at his "Gurian Institute," without ever checking his credentials:


As I wrote to the ACLU after they'd already won their temporary court reprieve (the current status is that the parish has simply backed off for a while as they wait for the furor to die down and regroup their legal strategies), I knew this guy personally when I lived in Washington State. The guy calls himself a "counselor." He appears on CNN and "Good Morning America" where anchors call him "Doctor" and fails to correct them. He has written a number of books on boys and girls (including one in which a friend of mine in WA is credited as a "research assistant" when all she did was show the dood how to use a word processing program). Although the Institute's webpage gives his partner's credentials in great detail (hers are relevant to the work they're doing), it is suspiciously light on his credentials. This is because, as I was able to prove to the ACLU simply because I knew the guy enough to know where to begin digging, he has a B.A. in Journalism and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Some gender expert, eh? He cherry picks his science in his books. It's a joke. Finally, he is what is called a "registered counselor" in WA State. A "licensed counselor" is someone with an actual education in therapy. A "registered counselor," on the other hand, is someone who 1) lives in WA State, 2) pays a registration fee to their Department of Health, and 3) works in the field of counseling, usually in an institutional setting, like a school or a prison (the latter is where Mr. Gurian apparently began his work as a "counselor"). You read that correctly. "Registered counselors" in WA are not required to have any particular training in therapy-related fields, any particular degree, or even be working towards such a degree. Anyone may receive the designation, including you or me. In fact, in 2007 WA State convened a task force to decide what to do about the designation, as it is so vague as to be potentially misleading (task force findings at: ttps:// When an R.C. counsels patients, he or she must get a signed waiver stating that the patient understands that this person may have no actual background as a therapist. So, Mr. Gurian has to get waivers from patients, under WA law, when he sees individuals, yet the state of LA paid him taxpayers' money to train several dozen Livingston Parish schoolteachers in his gender studies quackery, no waiver required (Mr. Gurian's registration with the state is here: ttps://

The parish's gender segregated education plan was also heavily influenced by this guy, Leonard Sax:


My daughter has an auditory processing disorder! She has never, ever learned anything well by "hearing" or by being in groups. She learns by DOING, by getting up and creating, just like these idiots claim boys do. Their narrowly defined, gender restricted versions of teaching would have been a disaster for my daughter - and will be if they ever manage to implement it.

So, I have held back from being at war with this damn parish for two years now, but this is the final straw. Tomororow at 8, I call the head of the school board. I am also going back to my contact at the ACLU (with whom I corresponded about Mr. Gurian's dubious credentials, with that information to be used should the issue come up again) to ask for help with this completely out of control school district.

(links broken for a little discretion)

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