Kevin Ryan

Why are American students failing? Look at the elephant in the living room: sex

Kevin Ryan
By Kevin Ryan
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January 22, 2014 (MercatorNet) - Over the last three decades, social scientists, educational researchers, and pundits have probed for the reason why educationally the US on the fringe of being a Third World country. In particular, why does the academic achievement of American students begin to fall off during junior high and plummet during the high school years?

The “failure theories” are many: our schools are too big; our schools are too small; our school year is too short; our school day is too long; our teachers are too dumb or too lazy or under paid; our parents don’t care; we don’t give the schools enough money. Critics endlessly opine that our students don’t have enough arts, enough sports; enough science, enough math. They don’t have enough homework; they have too much homework. What is being missed from the analyses is the teenagers’ elephant in the room, their Kim Kardashian at the Sunday school picnic: sex.

In the pre-Big Media era, young people learned about the “birds and the bees” and how to make their way sexually in the world from their parents, the church, their friends, the surrounding culture and schools. However, in the US today, parents, for a range of reasons from overextended single mothers to golf-distracted fathers, are having a limited impact on their children’s sexual education.

Our churches are still there, but fewer and fewer young people are attending. Also, most pulpits speak to the young with diminished authority. Their friends are swimming in the same sexual soup of confusion and misinformation as they. Today the “surrounding culture” is a mix of TV, the Internet, and various “i” devices. The dominant message from these media to young Americans is the modern variant of “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow you die.” Or, more like, eat, drink and, by all means, express yourself sexually early and often.

The dispensers of sexual wisdom

With two key “teachers,” parents and churches, hobbled on the sidelines, the primary influencers are the media and the schools. Our media moguls, free speech warriors all, long ago learned that the best way to attract customers’ eyes in order to sell soap, cars and beer is to show a little skin. As a result, today’s screens are a variable torrent of naked flesh. To learn the exquisite secrets of the female body, boys no longer have to read National Geographic by flashlight under the bedcovers. Galaxies of porn sites are just clicks away.

So, for most American children, this leaves our schools as the institutions best set up to pass on the community’s sexual wisdom. After all, schools have trained “learning specialists.” And they have a captive audience during youth’s formative years. How, then, are our schools doing?

First, the surface symptoms and, then, the results. A casual stroll through the halls of many high schools or a conversation with an experienced teacher will provide myriad indicators of the sexual environment within which we are raising our children. The cafeteria, halls, and locker rooms ricochet with f-bombs and sex-laced taunts. Nuzzling at lockers and fondling in the school’s dark corners is a staple. Girls appear to be competing in a stripper’s fashion show. Boys look like they are trying out for 1930-ish gangster movies.

Meanwhile teachers and administrators drift through the halls like those see-no-evil-hear-no-evil monkeys. However, teachers and students alike are well aware of the sexual bullying, the swopping of electronic porn sights, cell phone cameras flashing in the locker room and quickly sexting around the school,

How sexually active are US students?

Short answer: Plenty active.

  • In 2011, 47 percent of US high school students surveyed reported having had sexual intercourse. A third of that group said they had had sex within the last 3 months. 15 percent had had four or more different partners so far.
  • 750,000 teens become pregnant each year – the vast majority (82  percent) of these pregnancies are unintended. By comparison, the United States’ teen pregnancy rate is over three times that of Germany (19 percent), almost three times which of France (26 percent).and is over four times that of the Netherlands (14 percent).
  • Thirty percent of teens watch porn at least once a week.

Providing a young person with information is the way Americans have been responding to what is clearly a devastating problem of irresponsible sexual behavior. For thirty years or more, schools have been teaching something called “comprehensive sexual education,” a fact-based program that now starts its informational campaign in many states at age five and runs through 12th grade. Promoted vigorously and effectively by Planned Parenthood, the program’s mantra is “safe-sex.” The keys to “safe-sex” are birth control pills and condoms, items which research shows are largely ignored by teens.

A veteran Boston teacher pin pointed the reason for the failure of comprehensive sex education and its “safe sex” campaign.  “Why all this wasted time and graphic demonstrations on how to use condoms. My 10th graders can’t even remember to bring a pencil to class and we expect that in the high heat of lust that they’ll remember how to correctly use a condom!”

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It is nothing short of a masterful grasp of the obvious to say that this current situation is unhealthy for our kids’ futures and harmful to our country’s future. Also, it is difficult enough to run a school, but to try to run a school that is a sexual playground is simply doomed. Nevertheless, in the US we have local control of the schools. If a school board wants Chinese to be taught in the middle school, it happens. If they want to deemphasize football and focus on soccer, it happens. School boards are, of course, political bodies and they typically response to the will of the community. If not, board members are replaced. Still, except for some myopic civil libertarians and aging free love apostles, most adults are stunned when they discover the sexual climate of so many of our junior and senior high schools.

What can be done?

Parents and taxpayers, who pay for public education, can find their voice and again insist on sexual sanity in our schools. A few suggestions:

  • No hugging, no kissing, no fondling, and no holding hands anywhere on school grounds.
  • Establish and enforce a strict language code. Cursing, swearing, calling another a bitch or a “ho” is forbidden anywhere on school grounds. Period!
  • Dress codes should prohibit overly tight, provocative clothes. Where there is enough parental will, school uniforms are an excellent solution.
  • Review the school’s sex education curriculum to ensure that it offers an intelligent and ennobling vision of sex, one that appeals to students’ best moral selves. For example: “Sex is most meaningful and fulfilling when it’s part of something bigger—a continuing, serious relationship between two human beings. You know. Like a marriage.”
  • Teach the straight facts about condoms: They allow a false sense of safety. They reduce but don’t eliminate the risk of pregnancy and STD.
  • From junior high forward, sex education classes should be single sex.
  • Pornography on one’s cell phone or tablet or computer means immediate dismissal.
  • Provocative displays of one’s gender or sexuality, whether hetero, homo, bi, or trans, won’t be tolerated and will, also, lead to dismissal.
  • Teachers’ sexual views and private lives are to be just that: private. On the other hand, all educators are expected to enforce school rules and promote abstinence.
  • Finally, the school community, through dances, proms, drama and music productions and sports, should foster and promote a healthy and protected environment for young people to grow in understanding of human sexuality, but grow slowly.

While transforming the behavior of teenaged students may appear to many as an impossible task, those who have service in our military will disagree. Military boot camps are designed to modify the behavior of teenagers and our services have a long and distinguished history of transforming self-indulgent and disorganized teenagers into productive, disciplined human beings.

However, Marine drill sergeants aren’t required in schools. Rather, schools need teachers and administrators with a clear awareness of their authority and the conviction that the community is supporting them. Key, too, is the educators’ realization that these changes will improve not only life in their classrooms, but the academic performance of their students. While the idea of a kinder, gentler boot camp may offend the sensibilities of some, take a hard look at what we have now.

Reprinted with permission form MercatorNet

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received more than $400 million in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

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If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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