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Anti-gay group organizes in Anoka-Hennepin (MN) schools as community deals with gay suicides

“Well, news flash: There are homosexual people all over the world. Having your kid meet a homosexual in school and possibly even having a nice conversation with one isn’t going to turn your kid into one.” --Tammy Aaberg

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Andy Birkey, Minnesota Independent

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Protests over alleged harassment last year. Photo: Andy Birkey, Minnesota Independent

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The woman sobbed as she told her son’s story to the Anoka-Hennepin School Board on Monday (August 23). “Hi, I’m Tammy Aaberg, the mother of Justin Aaberg, who was a gay student at Anoka High School who committed suicide July 9th of this year.” The school district has become ground zero in the battle between those who want safe spaces for LGBT students and those who want any mention of homosexuality banned from high school campuses.

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According to LGBT advocates, Justin’s death is one of three suicides by gay students in the last year, and while the district says it takes bullying seriously and has beefed up discipline against harassment, it has spurned invitations by LGBT groups to do anti-bullying education. To make matters more complicated, a group of parents opposed to homosexuality has formed to put pressure on the board not to bow to LGBT interests.

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The district — the state’s largest, with around 40,000 students — made headlines last year when the Minnesota Department of Human Rights alleged that two teachers conspired to harass a student, Alex Merritt, who they thought was gay. The news led to protests at school board meetings urging the district to adopt stronger anti-bullying policies and offers by LGBT groups to provide education. The school board rebuffed those efforts.

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Suburban school district gets earful over anti-gay harassment, Andy Birkey, Minnesota Independent
Students, teachers and concerned residents of the Anoka-Hennepin School District crowded into the district’s board meeting on Monday evening to vent their concerns after learning that the district paid out $25,000 to a student who says he was continually harassed by two district teachers because they thought he was gay.

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Less college? First, define your terms

A more educated workforce is a must, but schooling can take various forms.

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Jennifer Godinez and Matt Kane, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

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In "Maybe fewer people should go to college'' (Aug. 15), Mitch Pearlstein laid out some key challenges in higher education, especially the problems with soaring college costs and debt, and the inordinate time many students are taking to acquire a four-year degree nowadays.
And it was courageous of Pearlstein to suggest that some current university students from affluent families might not really be motivated or qualified for the demands of traditional four-year colleges.

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Unfortunately, the headline may have implied to many readers that fewer students overall should obtain some form of post-secondary education. That would be about as wrong a signal as one can send on this subject. And it's especially discouraging to the aspirations of our students of color, who need to dramatically improve their higher-education completion rates.

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Maybe fewer people should go to college, Mitch Pearlstein, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN
Maybe they'd be happier learning a trade. ... Or maybe nothing will change.

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Schooling Scholars on Classroom Success

Teachers are workers who, like the rest of us, need and deserve better working conditions and better pay. What’s good for teachers is good for the rest of us.

Moshe Adler, TruthDig

Beverly Wilson leads her kindergarten class through a song at Lakewood Elementary School in St. Albans, W. Va., in September 2007 AP / Jeff Gentner

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These days everyone seems to think teachers need improving—even people who uncover evidence to the contrary. A group of economists from Berkeley, Harvard and Northwestern recently made headlines when they published a study that was ostensibly about the relationship between teacher quality and student success as adults. The economists made three observations. The first is that when children are assigned to kindergarten classes randomly, test scores in some classes are higher than in others. The authors argue that these differences must be due to differences in teacher performance (as well as peer effects). The second observation is that children who attend high-score kindergarten classes earn more money in their adult life. Based on these two observations, the economists conclude that we should invest in raising the quality of teachers, and The New York Times goes a step further and argues that teachersshould be paid according to their performance.

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However, the economists also made a third observation that they dismissed as having no bearing on their conclusions: Children who attend high-score classes in kindergarten perform only negligibly better on standardized tests than other students in later years. Why? The authors claim this finding isn’t important. As Raj Chetty of Harvard, one of the economists who produced the study, told the New York Times, “We don’t really care about test scores. We care about adult outcomes.”

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Playing With Teen Sex Statistics: A Lesson in Lies

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If most high school kids aren’t having sex yet, that means that it’s that much more important to get them good sex education, so when they start having sex---and statistics overwhelmingly show that they will---they know how to make healthy choices.

Amanda Marcotte,  RHRealityCheck.org

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There are many goofy aspects to this Life Site News story arguing that because a slim majority of teenagers don’t have sex, we don’t need to teach them about contraceptive methods. Perhaps the most puzzling is why they came out with the story on July 14th, since the report came out a month and a half ago. (In classic Life Site fashion, they don’t actually link the report, for fear that a stray reader may actually read it an clue into the fact that their spin is dishonest.) Did it take the American Life League (ALL) this long to craft a response? If so, you’d expect them to come up with something less transparently silly than this:

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ALL says that the CDC report, entitled “Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Child Bearing, National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG),” debunks Planned Parenthood’s constant mantra that most teens will not abstain. In particular the pro-life organization points to the words of Planned Parenthood Federation of America vice president of medical affairs, Vanessa Cullens, from a YouTube video directed toward teens: “Admit that you are a sexually active individual like most of us, and that you are going to have sex and that you need to take precautions in order to stay healthy.”

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