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Archive for March 2013

DHS Denies Massive Ammunition Purchase

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By Elizabeth Flock

March 22, 2013 RSS Feed Print

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., says the Department of Homeland Security was planning to buy 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition over the next five years.

The Department of Homeland Security responded Friday to questions from Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., about why the agency was allegedly planning to buy some 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition over the next five years.

DHS told Whispers it regularly fills all of its goods and services requirements at one time because it’s cheaper for the agency, and that the 1.6 billion number was misleading because the language of DHS’s purchase said it would need “up to” a certain amount.

One solicitation by the agency—for training centers and law enforcement personnel—was for “up to” 750 million rounds of training ammunition over the next five years, DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard told Whispers.

Another five-year contract allows for the purchase of “up to” 450 million rounds of ammunition, he said, and was also for law enforcement. Boogaard noted that the contract would be used by all DHS agencies except the Coast Guard.

“With more than 100,000 armed law enforcement personnel in DHS, significant quantities of ammunition are used to support law enforcement operations, quarterly qualifications, and training, to include advanced firearms training exercises,” Boogaard told Whispers.

According to a letter to one lawmaker detailing DHS ammunition purchases, the department procured 148 million rounds in 2012.

Questions over DHS’s big ammunition purchases have been bouncing around the right-wing blogosphere for months. But the story came to a head Friday after a video was posted to the website Infowars of Rep. Huelskamp saying at CPAC that he had expressed concerns to DHS over the purchase but received no response.

“They have no answer for that question. They refuse to answer to answer that,” Huelskamp said on the video of the purchases. His office told Whispers that he had sent a letter to DHS with his concerns but had not heard back.

In the letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, Huelskamp wrote that it had “become clear” that DHS was “purchasing vast quantities of ammunition” and that “estimates show that this … would be enough for 24 Iraq wars.” The Kansas congressman also said the timing of the purchase was “of great interest” because of gun control legislation currently being pushed by the Obama administration.

“The extraordinary level of ammunition purchases made by Homeland Security seems to have, in states such as my own, created an extreme shortage of ammunition to the point where many gun owners are unable to purchase any,” he wrote.

DHS previously responded to concerns over the purchase voiced by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., noting in a detailed letter sent to the senator’s office in February just how much had been purchased and for what purpose.

“DHS routinely establishes strategic sourcing contracts that combine the requirements of all its components for commonly purchased goods and services such as ammunition,” a DHS legislative affairs person wrote to Coburn. “These strategic sourcing contracts help leverage the purchasing power of DHS to efficiently procure equipment and supplies at significantly lower costs,” the department told Coburn.

 

Written by Leatherneck Blogger

March 31, 2013 at 06:00

Consistency K-12 in Jackson, Missouri Schools

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Brad Noel                                                                                                                       Candidate for Jackson School Board

Let’s talk about consistency. Consistency is an essential part in the education process because it lets the students know what is expected of them from year to year, however in the Jackson R-2 School District that has somehow fallen through the cracks. They have chosen instead to replace it with a hodgepodge of theories and grading styles that leave not only the children wondering what will come next but the parents at home scratching their heads in confusion.

In the Elementary levels, K-5, they are currently using the Standards Based Grading method which is a topic of discussion all to itself that I will address specifically in a future blog. This style of grading allows the students to take tests as many times as necessary in order to achieve the desired outcome which is currently a 3. Yes, I said a 3 and not a letter grade as they have replaced traditional letter grades with numbers. Now jump to the Middle School, upon entering grade 6 the district in its infinite wisdom has chosen to do an about face and return now to the traditional style of grading in which the students receive letter grades for each subject. What, where have the numbers gone? Surely this must be an oversight and we will soon see the numbers return to our reports cards that we have become accustomed to for the last 6 years. WRONG!!! The Middle School is exactly the same grading style that every one of us grew up under and served us so well for decades. In Middle School you no longer have the opportunity to re-take a test, if you fail that’s the grade that is entered into the grade book, but wait we just went through 6 years of being able to take a test multiple times how are our children supposed know what is expected of them if it changes every time they wake up. Big leap forward to High School, ahh finally we are approaching the time in our education career that the real world is going to start really kicking in right? Not so fast, once again the district changes things up, you still receive your letter grades and the grading scales are very similar, however if you don’t like the grade you get on a test or you are not prepared to take the test on test day you can get a do over. Really, a do over, how does this teach our kids responsibility? How does this teach our kids that there are consequences for their actions or lack thereof? In twelve (12) years of school we have gone from number grades and multiple test re-takes to letter grades and no test re-takes and back again to multiple test re-takes, one word for this INCONSISTENT!!

Now if you are like me you are asking yourself how did this all come about? Simply put, the current Jackson R-2 Board has failed in their duties to oversee the operations of this district and things have gotten all discombobulated. Even after having parents notify them of the inconsistencies occurring they chose to cover their ears, close their eyes and silence the crowds in what seems to be an attempt to make it somehow all go away magically. Well I’m sorry that’s not going to work, you have got to roll up your sleeves, dig in and see to it that this District has the same philosophies from start to finish. This is a total combined district and not a bunch of little factions operating under their own rules. Should the voters choose to have me represent them on the Jackson R-2 School Board in April I will ask the hard questions, I will fight for consistency, and I will do my dead level best to see to it that this District once again becomes a place where people want to come back to and raise their families.

Written by Leatherneck Blogger

March 31, 2013 at 06:00

Posted in Other

Planned Parenthood Official Endorses Right to Kill Babies Born Alive

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By Leah Barkoukis

3/29/2013

Sadly, you read that headline correctly. From The Weekly Standard:

Florida legislators considering a bill to require abortionists to provide medical care to an infant who survives an abortion were shocked during a committee hearing this week when a Planned Parenthood official endorsed a right to post-birth abortion.

Alisa LaPolt Snow, the lobbyist representing the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, testified that her organization believes the decision to kill an infant who survives a failed abortion should be left up to the woman seeking an abortion and her abortion doctor.

To be clear, sponsor of the bill Republican Rep. Cary Pigman has said his interest in the bill is “solely and strictly to provide care for that infant that is born alive, following any procedure, that it receives full and appropriate resuscitation.”

But Snow thinks politicians shouldn’t be the ones to decide “what constitutes the best medically appropriate treatment in any given situation.” Needless to say, the lawmakers were absolutely stunned:

“So, um, it is just really hard for me to even ask you this question because I’m almost in disbelief,” said Rep. Jim Boyd. “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?”

“We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family, and the physician,” said Planned Parenthood lobbyist Snow.

Rep. Daniel Davis then asked Snow, “What happens in a situation where a baby is alive, breathing on a table, moving. What do your physicians do at that point?”

“I do not have that information,” Snow replied. “I am not a physician, I am not an abortion provider. So I do not have that information.”

Rep. Jose Oliva followed up, asking the Planned Parenthood official, “You stated that a baby born alive on a table as a result of a botched abortion that that decision should be left to the doctor and the family. Is that what you’re saying?”

Again, Snow replied, “That decision should be between the patient and the health care provider.”

“I think that at that point the patient would be the child struggling on the table, wouldn’t you agree?” asked Oliva.

“That’s a very good question. I really don’t know how to answer that,” Snow said. “I would be glad to have some more conversations with you about this.”

Of course Snow doesn’t elaborate on what exactly she means by “decision,” or rather how the baby should be killed, but she certainly seems to be taking a page from the Kermit Gosnell playbook—hence the type of questioning she received and look of utter shock on many of the lawmakers’ faces.

If a baby is born alive and thus becomes the patient as Rep. Jose Oliva suggests, the pro-abortion mantra ‘my body, my choice’ completely falls apart—since it’s not her body anymore, it’s no longer only her choice.

But perhaps most disconcerting about this video, and as Carol points out, is the “complete absence of any apparent discomfort at the prospect of post-birth abortion — in other words, infanticide.” Planned Parenthood’s position is not just extremely disturbing, it’s absolutely abhorrent.

Leah Barkoukis

Leah Barkoukis is the Townhall.com web editor.

Written by Leatherneck Blogger

March 30, 2013 at 11:58

Standards Based Grading, Jackson Schools

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Brad Noel                                                                                                                       Candidate for Jackson School Board

I would like to talk about Standard Based Grading, the current grading system being used in the Jackson R-2 Elementary (K-5) schools. This style of grading is a relatively new concept in which the students are graded on their performance in separate areas of each core subject in the curriculum rather than getting an overall grade for the subject itself. Along with the change in what gets graded the value has also been changed to remove the traditional letter grades A-F and replace them with numbers 4-1. While the theory behind the grading style has some merit it only works if you follow the program that has been developed which is where Jackson has faltered. Jackson has chosen to try and re-invent the wheel so to speak and pick and choose pieces of different models, which don’t work well together, causing much turmoil and confusion within the district with not only parents but teachers as well. Along with the fact that the program is pieced together it is only being used in the Elementary grades K-5 and when asked why it is not being implemented any further in the district the response given was “we have to have letter grades in the upper levels due to college requirements”. This statement speaks clearly to the fact that the district does not fully understand the program that they put into action and begs the question if this style of grading is so much better than the traditional style why then is it only being used at the lower levels and not throughout the district as a whole. As you may remember my last blog “Consistency” this is just another example of the inconsistency that runs wild in Jackson R-2.

When parents in the district began questioning the administration on the how’s and why’s things started getting hairy, which ties back into my first blog relating to the communication between the public and the School Board. We were told in the beginning to give it time, maybe a few months, and see how it works. We were told that it was not set in stone and it can go just as fast as it came, so we did just that, we waited. We waited more than months in fact; we waited almost two years, two years that we can never get back in the education of our children. It was then after seeing how not only our children were struggling but how our teachers were struggling as well that is when we ramped our efforts to get to the heart of the problems. What we discovered was really not what we were expecting, for you see we already knew that the administration had put this plan into place but what we did not know was revealed to us in Board meeting after Board meeting in which we were told that the Board does not have time to research everything that they vote on. You don’t have time? That is your job, to pass things with your votes that are beneficial to the district and if you don’t have sufficient knowledge about what you are voting on then you do research to make sure you are making  well informed intelligent decisions regarding  the single most important thing in this district, OUR CHILDREN!!!

At the time that Jackson decided to put this plan into place, without informing the parents or the teachers what was about to happen, the Desoto School District was doing the exact same thing, in fact it was at Desoto that the Jackson administration attended the presentation about this style of grading in order to prepare their self for the changeover. Interestingly enough the Desoto School District did involve their parents during the discussion periods leading up to their grading change and allowed them to have some input on the subject. They too wanted to give it a period of time to see if the program would work for their students. Why am I telling you this? Because I have learned just recently that the Desoto School Board has voted to scrap the Standards Based Grading system and return to the traditional method of grading to take effect in the 4th quarter of this school year. The reason they are going back to traditional grading is because of the masses of unhappy parents that were filling their Board meetings on a regular basis voicing their displeasure with the new system. Wait, you mean the Board listened to the public; they actually allowed the public to be heard and rendered a decision based on what the parents of the district were telling them, what a novel idea! A school board that actually held itself accountable to its patrons rather than pushing them aside and telling them you don’t matter. This is exactly the type of board members that we need here in Jackson, members that allow the parents to weigh in on the workings of the district and take to heart the fact that the Board works for the parents and not the other way around. This is the Type of Board member that I will be if elected to serve you the public as your representative on the Jackson R-2 School Board in April.

Written by Leatherneck Blogger

March 30, 2013 at 06:00

Posted in Other

Mark Kelly AR-15 Purchase Blocked by Tucson Gun Store

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Gun store owner questions ‘intent’ of gun control proponent

By Steven Nelson

March 26, 2013 RSS Feed Print

Mark Kelly testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about gun control, Jan. 30, 2013.

Mark Kelly, the retired astronaut and husband of former Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords, will not be laying a hand on an AR-15-style rifle he paid for at a Tucson, Ariz., gun shop earlier this month.

Douglas MacKinlay, the owner of Diamondback Police Supply Co., announced in a Facebook post Monday he had determined Kelly’s “intent” unworthy of one of his customers.

“While I support and respect Mark Kelly’s 2nd Amendment rights to purchase, possess, and use firearms in a safe and responsible manner, his recent statements to the media made it clear that his intent in purchasing the Sig Sauer M400 5.56mm rifle from us was for reasons other then for his personal use,” MacKinlay said in the statement. “In light of this fact, I determined that it was in my company’s best interest to terminate this transaction prior to his returning to my store to complete the Federal From 4473 and NICS background check required of Mr. Kelly before he could take possession this firearm. A full refund was sent to Mr. Kelly, via express mail, on Thursday of last week.”

MacKinlay said the gun would be donated to the Arizona Tactical Officers Association so that it can be raffled to raise money for state police equipment. His store, said MacKinlay, was also donating $1,295—the cost of the gun—to the National Rifle Association’s Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program.

Kelly, whose wife was shot in the head and nearly died in 2011 when Jared Lee Loughner used a semi-automatic pistol to shoot up a crowd in Tucson, had previously said in a Facebook post that the gun purchase was incredibly fast and easy.

“I just had a background check a few days ago when I went to my local gun store to buy a 45. As I was leaving, I noticed a used AR-15. Bought that too,” Kelly wrote in the post. “Even to buy an assault weapon, the background check only takes a matter of minutes. I don’t have possession yet but I’ll be turning it over to the Tucson PD when I do. Scary to think of people buying guns like these without a background check at a gun show or the Internet.”

In a statement to Breitbart News earlier this month, the gun store explained that the AR-15-style gun Kelly bought was acquired from another customer and “cannot be released to Mr. Kelly or any other customer for a minimum of 20 days in accordance with local ordinances. … Once the hold period is up,” the store said, “Mr. Kelly must then show proper identification, complete the Federal Firearms Transfer Record (Form 4473) and successfully complete the NICS background check prior to his taking physical possession of the firearm.”

 

Written by Leatherneck Blogger

March 30, 2013 at 06:00

Chicago, Los Angeles, New York Prosecuted Fewest Federal Gun Crimes

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By Elizabeth Flock

March 28, 2013 RSS Feed Print

A new report finds the nation’s three largest cities are among the worst in the country at prosecuting federal gun crimes.

The districts that contain Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City ranked last in terms of federal gun law enforcement in 2012, according to a new report from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which tracks federal data.

Federal gun crimes include illegal possession of a firearm in a school zone, illegal sale of a firearm to a juvenile, felon, or drug addict, and illegal transport of a firearm across state lines. In Chicago, the majority of gun charges last year were for firearms violations.

The districts of Eastern New York, Central California, and Northern Illinois ranked 88th, 89th and 90th, respectively, out of 90 districts, in prosecutions of federal weapons crimes per capita last year, but it wasn’t always this way. All three districts fell lower on the list than they had been in years past. In 2010, for example, Chicago was 78th in federal weapons prosecutions.

These cities also have some of the nation’s most restrictive gun laws, as well as the most active mayors in championing gun control. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa are all members of the national Mayors Against Illegal Guns campaign.

D.C., which also has tough gun laws, was in the lower half of the list in 2012, coming in at 78th. In 2011, D.C. prosecuted a higher number of gun crimes, coming in at number 49.

National Rifle Association chief Wayne LaPierre first pointed to the report on Meet the Press Sunday, when he demanded to know why the national press corps wasn’t asking the White House or U.S. attorneys general to explain lax federal enforcement of gun laws.

His comment didn’t sit well with gun control activists, including the group Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America. “It’s like, ‘don’t look at us, look at gun enforcement’,” says the group’s founder Shannon Watts. “But the NRA works to block gun prosecutions all the time.”

Requests for comment from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in New York and California were not immediately returned. But the U.S. attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois maintains that federal weapons law enforcement is among the top priorities of their office. “We have a number of different methods of attacking gangs, guns, drugs and violent crime,” says spokesman Randall Sanborn, who notes that many gun arrests are reviewed to determine whether the arrest should stay with the county or be brought to the federal level. “We look at which court the defendant is likely to get a substantially greater sentence… More cases that used to be brought federally are now staying in state courts because [they are] now able to get a sentence equally great or greater,” he says.

The TRAC report notes that many more gun arrests happen at the state and local level than happen at the federal level, and that it’s difficult to assess how many prosecutions happen overall.

While the districts that ranked lowest last year for federal gun crime prosecutions all contained major cities, the districts at the top of the list for its enforcement were almost exclusively rural. The districts of Southern Alaska, Kansas and Western Tennessee ranked first, second and third in prosecutions of federal weapons laws per capita last year.

Susan Long, a statistician and co-director of TRAC, said the data revealed a stronger federal enforcement presence in rural areas than urban ones. “If taxpayers of [a certain area] don’t pass strong gun control measures … the feds pick up the ball,” she said. “But now we’ve got sequestration cutting back on all these resources.”

The U.S. court system has said that sequestration will have a major impact on the federal judiciary, including the furlough of some court employees, cuts to the federal defenders’ office and fewer probation officers for criminal offenders.

Written by Leatherneck Blogger

March 29, 2013 at 10:26

Spelling Lesson in Jackson, Missouri Schools

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Brad Noel                                                                                                                       Candidate for Jackson School Board

This week’s topic will be devoted to spelling in Jackson R-2. As most of you are aware when the  2009-2010 school year began 3 years ago you were told that the district would no longer be teaching spelling via weekly spelling tests because they didn’t want your kids to memorize a list of words, they wanted them to learn how to spell them using the rule method or other various methods. Upon hearing this information many, if not all, began to question this theory asking how will you know if my child can spell correctly if you don’t have tests to check their progress? This theory at the time was another fad teaching method that was being tried in various districts around the nation and Jackson R-2 felt the need to jump on board and experiment with your children’s future just like they did several years ago when they jumped onto the whole language spelling bus, no more phonics, only to have the wheels come flying off in a few years leaving your children plied up in heap of bad spellers.

As I mentioned earlier JacksonR-2 has once again jumped on another spelling bus that has not been proven and is in fact discouraged in recent studies by J. Richard Gentry, Ph.D., the very man that Jackson references in their current spelling program. In his books and articles he uses terms that you may have heard in the last few years like “writing workshop” and “word sorts” and “word games” all of which are followed by, in his expert opinion, as “WRECKS!!!” Dr. Gentry also in his expert opinion says that the best way to teach spelling is with a word list and the pretest- study-posttest format. You may ask yourself, if the man that the district uses as a reference says that tests are the best way to teach spelling then why are they not adhering to his advice? Why are our children being used as experimental game pieces? Who makes this decision to use this teaching method? Well the answer to all of those questions is quite simple, the Jackson R-2 School Board whether directly or indirectly have approved this practice and when parents and teachers come forward with concerns then it’s their job to make sure the wishes of the public are addressed.

Spelling is a crucial part of your child’s education as it lays the foundation for them to become good readers. The theory here in Jackson right now is backwards in their thinking that good readers make good spellers and I am sure that most of you can attest to the fact that your child may be reading fairly well but they consistently misspell words that they read every day. I am sure you all know that your elementary aged child does not have a spelling book that they bring home, if they have no spelling book then how does the teacher know what words are important for them to be able to spell? According to Dr. Gentry it is entirely too time consuming and too complex for teachers to choose words and implement a weekly spelling unit without the resources typically found in a good spelling book, so why don’t we have a spelling book? Poor management! Let me ask you this, could you read the following sentence if you had not been taught the proper spelling of these words in advance? I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. It is because your brain was trained the correct spelling of the words in the preceding sentence through practice, repetition, and memorization that you were able to read it even though the letters were jumbled.  A weekly word list and a weekly spelling test should not be looked at as taboo, it is essential; it is necessary, and it is the best possible way to teach your children to spell as research shows. Evidence to support this fact is present in the Junior High where some students are actually given weekly spelling lists and tests, which begs the question if it’s okay for Junior High why is it not okay for the elementary students where the foundations of spelling are supposed to be instilled? If elected to represent you the public and the parents on the Jackson R-2 School Board in April I will fight to bring spelling back into our classrooms so that our children are prepared for life in the 21st century.

Written by Leatherneck Blogger

March 29, 2013 at 06:00

Posted in Other

‘Gay Marriage’ and Religious Freedom Are Not Compatible

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By: Erick Erickson (Diary)  |  March 26th, 2013 at 06:30 AM  |  264

The kids these days on the right are full of a great libertarian notion that “hey, let’s just get the government out of marriage.”

“Rock on,” say other libertarians.

They then all smugly self-congratulate themselves, pat themselves on the back, and move on to other issues.

What they ignore is that the left will never take marriage out of the hands of the government. The left cannot. But it goes beyond that. The left cannot take marriage out of government because for so long it has been government through which marriages were legitimized to the public and the left must also use government to silence those, particularly the religious, who refuse to play along.

Let’s ignore, for the sake of this post, that the Democracy of the Dead has settled for us that in society marriage should be between a man and woman as the best way to propagate the species.

The left has done an admirable job in secular society making the case that gay marriage merely allows a class of people to be happy and have what everyone else has.

The front on which the gay rights movement has failed is the religious and, in particular in the United States, the Christian front.

From Matthew 19:4-6:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

The Christian Left would prefer to view Matthew 19 as a passage on divorce, which is discussed. But they willfully ignore Christ’s definition of what a marriage is — one man and one woman united to become one.

As much as many would ignore, obfuscate, or try to confuse the beginning of Matthew 19, Christ makes it very clear. The Creator made a male and a female and the two become one. That is marriage in Christianity, despite what a bunch of progressive Christians who have no use for the Bible would have the world believe.

Therein lies the problem for the gay rights movement.

As long as there are still Christians who actually follow Christ and uphold his word, a vast amount of people around the world — never mind Islam — will never ever see gay marriage as anything other than a legal encroachment of God’s intent.

So those Christians must be silenced. The left exerted a great deal of energy to convince everyone that the gay lifestyle is an alternative form of normal. It then has exerted a great deal of energy convincing people that because the gay lifestyle is just another variation of normal, gay marriage must be normalized.

Meanwhile, those Christians are out there saying it is not normal and are refusing to accept it as normal because of silly God dared to say marriage is a union between a man and woman.

Any Christian who refuses to recognize that man wants to upend God’s order will have to be driven from the national conversation. They will be labeled bigots and ultimately criminals.

Already we have seen florists, bakers, and photographers suffer because they have refused to go along with the cultural shift toward gay marriage. There will be more.

Once the world decides that real marriage is something other than natural or Godly, those who would point it out must be silenced and, if not, punished. The state must be used to do this. Consequently, the libertarian pipe dream of getting government out of marriage can never ever be possible.

Within a year or two we will see Christian schools attacked for refusing to admit students whose parents are gay. We will see churches suffer the loss of their tax exempt status for refusing to hold gay weddings. We will see private businesses shut down because they refuse to treat as legitimate that which perverts God’s own established plan. In some places this is already happening.

Christians should, starting yesterday, work on a new front. While we should not stop the fight to preserve marriage, and we may be willing to compromise on civil unions, we must start fighting now for protections for religious objectors to gay marriage.

Churches, businesses, and individuals who refuse to accept gay marriage as a legitimate institution must be protected as best we can. Those protections will eventually crumble as the secular world increasingly fights the world of God, but we should institute those protections now and pray they last as long as possible.

The left cannot allow Christians to continue to preach the full gospel. We already see this in, of all places, Canada. Gay marriage is incompatible with a religion that preaches that the unrepentant are condemned, even of a sin the world has decided is not one. The religious freedom will eventually be ended through the judiciary. We should work to extend that freedom as long as we can.

Now many of you have read through this and you are shaking your head in denial. “No way this is possible,” you say. But then just a decade ago no one seriously considered gay marriage as possible. And we are already seeing signs we’re headed in this direction. It’s coming. Get ready.

Libertarians will have to decide which they value more — the ability of a single digit percentage of Americans to get married or the first amendment. The two are not compatible.

 

Written by Leatherneck Blogger

March 28, 2013 at 17:35

Open public speaking at school board meetings Jackson R II School Board

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Brad Noel                                                                                                                       Candidate for Jackson School Board

As many of you know for the past few years I along with many other parents in the Jackson R2 School District have been disappointed with some of the policies and procedures being put in place. Most attempts to address the Board Of Education, the publicly elected ultimate authority, have fallen on blind eyes and deaf ears and as of late have even been denied the opportunity to speak at all at their monthly, open public meetings. Looking through the Jackson R2 Board Policies I found the term “parent involvement” mentioned twenty seven (27) times, yet five (5) different parents on three (3) separate occasions were denied the opportunity to speak just this past year alone. They were and have not been denied because they were unruly or because some sort of Federal or State law prohibits the public from addressing the Board, they were denied for various self imposed reasons in an attempt to silence the public and avoid having to acknowledge the fact that they have failed to perform their duties fully. This current Board has gone so far as to completely change the wording of a policy on one occasion to remove the term “parent” involvement from its content to avoid having parents on a self imposed committee to evaluate the curriculum on a yearly basis, this took place after having two parents submit letters volunteering to be on said committee. This does not say parents get involved this screams parents stay away!

Being a publicly elected body a School Board has an inherent duty to allow the public to address them during their open meetings held monthly and is even required by State Law to set time aside during the meeting for public comment, not public that you agree with or public comment that only praises your actions but all public comment positive and negative. To hide yourself behind numerous hoops that you require the public to jump through in order to address you with issues they may have from time to time is unacceptable and borders on censorship. The time has come to get some new board members in place who will actually allow the public to use their voice and take to heart the feedback that they give.

I believe that a school board member should be open minded and listen intently to the wishes of the public which voted them into that position even if at times the feedback you receive is critical in nature. If elected to the Jackson R2 School Board I will ensure that the public, be it parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles or even a resident with no children in school, is given the opportunity that they deserve to address the R2 Board on issues they may have regarding the Jackson R2 School district. Furthermore I will do my due diligence in researching all items before giving my vote for or against.

Written by Leatherneck Blogger

March 28, 2013 at 06:00

Posted in Politics

Issues Facing Jackson R II School District

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Brad Noel                                                                                                                       Candidate for Jackson School Board

With the April 2nd school board elections right around the corner I wanted to take the time to talk about some issues currently in the forefront of discussions right now. While I have previously written about some of them I hope this serves as a refresher of sorts for those who have been keeping up and helpful for those now trying to become informed on the candidates. We are at a time now that some new leadership is needed in Jackson R-2 and I am ready, willing, and able to do just that.

*Spelling- We must bring spelling back. The current method or theory used in Jackson is failing our children. Since 2009 Jackson has used the premise that good readers make good spellers, they say that they do not want children to memorize a list of words rather learn how to spell using the “rules” or invented methods. I know in my house I have two children who are very good readers, above grade level actually, who misspell words that they read every day; I’m sure I’m not alone. The foundation of reading is spelling not the other way around. Bringing back the weekly spelling lists and tests is a priority I intend to tackle if elected to serve you.

*Security- Jackson has taken steps in the right direction to ensure the safety of the children and staff during their time at school. I feel there are many more things that be done to further maintain the security needed for a safe learning environment. I do not however believe that the answer is to arm our teachers, they already have enough on their plate and security guard duties should be left up to those that have made that their profession. Now, Jackson has not indicated that they are looking in that direction but should that option be presented I will not support it, there are other viable options.

*Technology- This is an ever changing field, as we all know something bought today is outdated by tomorrow. Jackson has done the best job possible working within the confines of a budget to keep pace. There are massive technology issues coming up very soon and I feel that I have the ability to continue to make the decisions needed to keep Jackson headed in the right direction. I understand that the time of textbooks that we all grew up with is slowly riding off into the sunset; however I do not feel that we can completely abandon that method of instruction.

*Standards Based Grading- I think everyone knows where I stand on this issue. It has its good points and its bad points. I do not feel that the manner in which it is being used in Jackson is benefitting the students or parents. Should this system remain in place I believe it is need of major tweaking in order to properly demonstrate how our children are performing. I feel that a hybrid system in which you have an overall letter grade for the subject qualified by the performance of the standards is a much better use of the system, a method suggested by the author of the book that Jackson has used as reference in implementing this grading system. The current use is making our children lackadaisical in their study habits and does not serve them well for the future. The parents do not like this style of grading and if you have ever been to middle school orientation you know how loud the cheers are when they are told of the return to the grading system we all grew up with.

*Morale and Support- This may be at an all time low here in Jackson right now. All across the district we are losing experienced well qualified teachers to surrounding districts at an alarming rate. The current board will tell you that when they ask the frontline staff how things are going the reply is favorable, of course they would reply in that manner because they have not been shown a willingness by the board to support them, when a teacher does give an opinion that is contrary to administration they are told that they are not being a team player. Our teachers are, as they have been referred to, professionals and should be treated as such with valued opinions and respect. They are the ones who have devoted their lives to the education of our children. They are the ones who see firsthand how programs, policies, and methods are working and their feedback should be held in the highest regards if Jackson is to continue to educate our children to a high level. They should not be confined in their teaching styles and are the heart and soul of our fine district. My door will always be open for our staff to come to me in confidence with any and all concerns so that we can make the best decisions possible for our children.

I understand and am fully aware that these are not the only issues that must be dealt with as a board member. We have a middle school that is jeopardy of being outgrown as our elementary school population increases which will require attention in the near future. How will the district fund such a project? I do not have that answer but if elected I look forward to the opportunity to work together with fellow board members along with the public to achieve the best outcome possible for our children. We will have a brand new elementary building that will need to be filled with students and staff eager to teach and learn. This will require careful redrawing of district boundaries in order to distribute the students properly. Along with this is the fact that we currently have outlying school buildings that are going to be in need of repair and upgrades to continue to use, an issue that I would very much welcome the opportunity to work on for the betterment of our district. I know that the time and energy required to oversee the issues we face within the district are and will be tremendous and I feel I am more than capable of doing the job that must be done. Being a board member is not a status symbol, it is at times a thankless job, and does not come with a paycheck. The payment for this job is the gratification a person receives from seeing the district grow and flourish from the decisions made and the success of our children after having have completed their educational life here at Jackson R-2. On April 2nd please get out there and vote and elect me Brad Noel to represent and serve you the public and our children on the Jackson R-2 School Board.

 

 

Written by Leatherneck Blogger

March 27, 2013 at 06:00

Posted in Other

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