Richmond High School Teacher Who Gave Students Handouts Calling Islam "An Ideology of War" Resigns

Categories: Education

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An advanced placement U.S. government teacher accused of passing out virulently anti-Muslim handouts to a Richmond high school class has resigned.

The Houston chapter for the Council on American-Islamic Relations called district officials to discipline the teacher last week upon discovering his class handouts included statements like this:

"Muhammad posed as a prophet. . .Both Jesus and Paul warned that after they were gone many false prophets would come. Muhammad is simply one of them. . ."

"Islam is more of an ideology than a religion. It is also an ideology of war. . ."

"[Islam forces] its ideology on cultures and ultimately on the world through propaganda, subversion, and even physical force when it is deemed necessary, one area of the world at a time."

"You will either give into their demands recognizing Islam's 'noble' rule, you will become a Muslim yourself, or you will die."

"[Muslims believe] All governments - except Islam - should be overthrown."

". . .everyone will be brought under the yoke of Islam, willingly or unwillingly."

". . .even though generally Islamic followers will say that they 'believe' in Jesus and respect Him and the Bible, in fact, neither is really true."

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HCC Wants to Seal Records in Lawsuit. Again...

Categories: Courts, Education

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Houston Community College is attempting to seal internal records in the drawn-out legal battle with the former general counsel the college system fired last year.

If this sounds like deja vu, it should. Since early this year, HCC, one of the largest publicly-funded community college systems in the country, has aggressively fought to make sure documents related to its lawsuit against Renee Byas do not make their way into the public eye as the case winds through the courts. HCC lawyers have even gone so far as to argue that publicly-elected HCC board trustees are "representatives of the college," and not the public. A Harris County district court judge largely denied HCC's previous attempts, carving out only a few narrow exceptions under which documents in the case could be filed under seal.

At issue here is why HCC really fired its general counsel. On one hand, the college claims it fired Byas because she was "insubordinate" and because her contract extension with HCC was invalid (HCC says that only the board's chair, not the full board, signed her extension, and that Byas turned her extension back into HR five days late). On the other hand, Byas claims that HCC fired her in "attempt to silence a public servant who refused to let HCC's Board of Trustees use a $425 million public bond project as a private slush fund."

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The $40M Question: Bohac Wants Texas to Pay Transportation Costs When Students Switch Public Schools

Categories: Education

Screen shot from Dwayne Bohac's website
Sometimes there is such a thing as a free ride?

If the state of Texas can just come up with $40 million a year, it can fund what the state's Legislative Budget Board thinks will be the annual cost to provide transportation for public school kids who -- along with their parents -- want to transfer to another, presumably better, public school.

State Rep. Dwayne Bohac (R-Houston) has offered up House Bill 1796 which among other things would establish protocols for students who transfer to other public schools to receive transportation if they live more than two miles from their school. In many school districts, such as Spring Branch ISD where Bohac lives, students who opt to change schools have to come up with their own transportation.

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Group Accuses Richmond Teacher of Spewing Anti-Muslim Hate in Class

The Houston office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is asking Lamar CISD officials to discipline a teacher accused of passed out "virulently anti-Muslim materials" to students in class.

CAIR claims a teacher at Foster High School in Richmond cribbed material from an anti-Muslim website (it's not clear what website) to distribute to students. While CAIR hasn't named the teacher, the group has provided examples of what was supposedly handed out in class:

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How Dickinson ISD Punishes Students Who Take Dual College Courses Off Campus

Categories: Education

Margaret Downing
Jeremias Parada and his son, Abraham, are still hoping that Dickinson ISD officials will change their minds.

It was 2 a.m. and his oldest son was up in his room studying. Jeremias Parada was nothing but proud.

This is what it would take to succeed in this country, he'd told his sons. Work hard, set goals and you could find your way to all sorts of rewards, he'd told them. The son, Abraham, didn't work after school; his parents didn't want him to. All his time should be devoted to his classwork.

Jeremias Parada is a bandy-legged little man who has an air of dignity and resolve about him. He immigrated to New York City from El Salvador to escape the devastating civil war there in the early '90s. His wife, Deysi Parada, came to the United States for the same reason. He works for the Alvin school district as an a/c technician, and she in the Dickinson schools as an ESL teaching aide.

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UH Reveals Matthew McConaughey Speaking Fee

Categories: Education

McConaughey's speaking fee is going to a good cause.
Well, we now know how much the University of Houston will pay Matthew McConaughey to deliver the university's upcoming commencement address in May. And we also know now that UH is paying $20,250 to a mysterious, self-proclaimed booking agent based in Carlsbad, California, with no apparent connection to McConaughey whatsoever.

So we're both pleased and puzzled.

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UH Suspends Frat After Hazing Allegations

Categories: Crime, Education

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On Tuesday afternoon, University of Houston President Renu Khator announced that officials have suspended the school's chapter of the Sigma Chi fraternity after what she called "disturbing allegations of hazing within the fraternity" surfaced.

"I am shocked, dismayed and deeply disappointed that allegations of this nature have arisen on our campus," Khator said in a statement. UH hasn't offered any specifics other than to say that five students accused of hazing have also been suspended. In her statement, Khator says UH police are continuing to investigate the incident and have already started turning over their findings to the Harris County District Attorney's Office.

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HISD Trips Once Again on a $35 Million Shopping Spree

Categories: Education

Photo by Margaret Downing
Trustee Juliet Stipeche thinks some more employee training is called for

Google the words "HISD" or "Houston ISD" coupled with the words "procurement" and "audit" and you won't just find stories from last week. History has a tendency to repeat certain moments and not always in a glorious way.

So it was sad news last week that once again HISD has apparently tripped over itself in its procurement process, triggering an audit that found its new procedures as troubling as its old, albeit with some new wrinkles.

The district paid high dollar for contracts when there were lower bids; committee members can't come up with documentation to show how they reached their decisions and they set a new land-speed record for racing through 21 proposals that involve spending a huge amount of taxpayer money.

As a result, the audit investigators recommended that all this bundle of contracts approved by the board last year be re-bid. That's except for the two contracts that have already been executed and they recommend HISD's legal department take a look at them.

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UHD Students Protest Late Change in Commencement Date

Categories: Education

Not everyone is happy about the change
A last minute switch of date and time for the University of Houston Downtown commencement has upset a number of graduating seniors and their families -- so much so that there will be a meeting today with the UHD administration.

Students complain that the late change of when commencement will take place inconveniences students who work as well as relatives who planned to travel to Houston for the ceremony. In some cases relatives have already booked their flights.

And then there's the whole question of deposits already paid for reception halls.

In announcing the change from 10 a.m., Saturday May 23 to 3 p.m. Friday, May 22, UHD said it was doing this to allow people to better enjoy their Memorial Day weekend.

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UPDATED: HISD & Its Parents Ponder: If a Kid Goes to a Worse School But With A Smaller Class Size, is He Better Off?

Categories: Education

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Update 5 p.m. March 12: A note on the HISD website, confirmed by an HISD spokeswoman says that "Proposals to reduce classroom overcrowding have been withdrawn from HISD board agenda, won't be voted on tonight." The spokeswoman says that the item was withdrawn at the request of the board president, Rhonda Skillern-Jones with the support of several board members. No date has been established for when this will be brought back for a board vote, she says.

You buy your house or sign your lease in a certain part of town after being told that by doing so your kids will go to a great neighborhood school. But then, someone decides there's too many kids at that great school and so your children can go to another school. It's not as good, not as highly rated, but there's this overcrowding issue and the state is breathing down our necks to do something right now.

After years of receiving routine waiver approval from the Texas Education Agency allowing Houston ISD to exceed the state-mandated 22-to-1 student-teacher ratio, the HISD administration announced in a sudden burst of enthusiasm that it was ready to tackle the class size problem right now. And all things considered, 1,500 waivers this year, even for the largest school district in the state, doesn't seem like a particularly good faith effort to meet the state standard.

But with the administration making its announcement well into the school year, the howls of outrage were only matched by the puzzlement of some board members.

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