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Federal Court to Hear Case of Texas High School Student Expelled for Refusing to Wear RFID Tracking Badge Due to Religious Objections, Privacy Concerns PDF Print E-mail
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Written by The Rutherford Institute   
Monday, 17 December 2012 14:55
SAN ANTONIO, Texas — At 10 a.m., CST, on Monday, December 17, 2012, attorneys for The Rutherford Institute will appear before the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio to argue for a preliminary injunction preventing school officials from expelling Andrea Hernandez until the case is decided. Hernandez, a sophomore in a science and engineering magnet school housed in John Jay High School, has refused to wear a school-mandated RFID tracking badge based on her sincere religious objections. The badges, part of the school’s “Student Locator Project,” include tiny Radio Frequency Identification (“RFID”) chips that produce a radio signal, enabling school officials to track students’ location on school property. School officials’ initial attempt to kick Andrea out of the magnet school was thwarted when the Bexar County District Court granted a 14-day temporary restraining order, enabling Andrea to remain in school. After the case was moved to federal court at the urging of school officials, the Western District of Texas, San Antonio division, extended the TRO by another 14 days. In coming to Andrea’s defense, Rutherford attorneys have alleged that the school’s attempts to penalize, discriminate and retaliate against Andrea violate her rights under Texas’ Religious Freedom Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

“Oblivious to the impact on students’ fundamental rights, school officials have embarked upon a crusade to achieve full student compliance with the profit-driven Student Locator Project by stigmatizing students who disapprove of the program and rewarding students who submit to it,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “Students have actually been offered gifts and pizza parties in exchange for submitting to the program, while students who refuse to wear the SmartID badge are forced to stand in separate lunch lines, denied participation in student government and activities, and prohibited from making certain commercial exchanges at school.”

The Northside Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas, has launched a program, the “Student Locator Project,” aimed ostensibly at increasing public funding for the district by increasing student attendance rates. As part of the pilot program, roughly 4,200 students at Jay High School and Jones Middle School are being required to wear “SmartID” card badges embedded with an RFID tracking chip which will make it possible for school officials to track students’ whereabouts on campus at all times. School officials hope that by expanding the program to the district’s 112 schools, they can secure up to $1.7 million in funding from the state government. Fifteen-year-old Andrea Hernandez has been penalized, discriminated against, and retaliated against by school officials for objecting to being forced to participate in the RFID program. For Hernandez, a Christian, the badges pose a significant religious freedom concern in addition to the obvious privacy issues. Andrea’s religious objection derives from biblical teachings that equate accepting a personalized code—as a sign of submission to government authority and as a means of obtaining certain privileges from a secular ruling authority—with a form of idolatry or submission to a false god. Hernandez was informed that “there will be consequences for refusal to wear an ID card.” For example, students who refuse to take part in the ID program won’t be able to access essential services like the cafeteria and library, nor will they be able to purchase tickets to extracurricular activities. According to Hernandez, teachers are even requiring students to wear the IDs to use the bathroom. School officials offered to quietly remove the tracking chip from Andrea’s card if the sophomore would agree to wear the new badge without the embedded RFID chip so as to give the appearance of participation in the Student Locator Project. Andrea refused the offer, believing that to wear the “mark” of the program would still compromise her religious beliefs. Affiliate attorney Jerri Lynn Ward is assisting The Rutherford Institute with Andrea’s defense

 
What Kids Learn From Chores PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 17 December 2012 14:37
(or More Proof That Suffering Builds Character)
By: Dr. James G. Wellborn

Like so many parental expectations and requirements, getting your kid in the habit of doing chores will help prepare them for the real world (if you can ever get them to move out).

Here are some of the benefits kids derive from assigned chores.

• Responsibility (or “I’m not your maid.”) When you make a mess YOU are obligated to clean it up.  The most straightforward reason your kid needs to do chores is to drive the point home that he is responsible for his actions in the world (and the messes he makes).

• Personal Obligation (or “You helped create this mess now get up and help clean it up!”) When you live with other people, you’re obliged to contribute to the general upkeep of common living areas.  Chores help your kid learn to pull her own weight when it comes to keeping shared spaces clean (so she doesn’t end up moving back home because even her friends consider her a slob).

• Organization and Prioritizing (or “You had plenty of time to get that room clean.  You can just forget about going anywhere till it’s done!”) Chores are unpleasant for most kids.  Unfortunately, life is filled with unpleasant but necessary tasks.  Chores provide the chance for your kid to practice making time for necessary evils like routine maintenance in their schedule of otherwise fun or meaningful activities.  This helps them learn how to plan, organize, prioritize and suffer.

• Sensitivity for others (or “Just because it doesn’t bother you to wallow in filth doesn’t mean I’m going to live in a pig sty!”) It isn’t crucial that things be straightened or cleaned.  Exposure to germs and disease can help build the immune system (if it doesn’t kill you first).  But, there are some things you do because it is important to someone else (like, say, a spouse or the health department).  Chores provide your kids with a clear message that the world doesn’t revolve around them and they need to take others’ feelings and sensibilities into consideration.

• Pride in a job well done (or “You call that done?  Get back in there and finish cleaning that room.”) It is important to take pride in even the most insignificant tasks.  Chores help your kids learn that every task, however base, is an opportunity to work their hardest and do their best.  (The expression on their face when you feed them this line is priceless.)

• Self-sufficiency (or “Why do I have to tell you every single time to replace the trash bag after you take out the trash?”) OK, this reason really isn’t that important.  If your kid needs a lot of practice before he can skillfully take out the trash or sweep the floor, you have much bigger challenges than getting chores done.

Like so many time-honored parental expectations, household chores have a value more significant than the practical issue of household maintenance.  That said, what is the most important reason kids should do chores? 
Because you said so, of course.

About Dr. James G. Wellborn

Dr. James G. Wellborn is a clinical psychologist with a private practice in Brentwood, Tenn., focusing on adolescents and families.  He is the author of the book Raising Teens in the 21st Century: A Practical Guide to Effective Parenting that includes a chapter on getting teens to do chores along with strategies for addressing 78 other typical teenage issues.  You can learn more about Dr. Wellborn by visiting his website at www.DrJamesWellborn.com.

 
Members Re-elected to Iowa State Fair Board PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Lori Chappell   
Monday, 17 December 2012 14:11

DES MOINES, IA (12/13/2012)(readMedia)-- Members were re-elected to the Iowa State Fair Board of Directors during the State Agricultural Convention held December 7-9 in Des Moines.

Directors re-elected to two-year terms and their districts are James Romer, Ames (north central); Paul Vaassen, Dubuque (northeast); Gary VanAernam, Exira (southwest); Jerry Parkin, Earlham (south central); and Gary McConnell, Bloomfield (southeast).

Delegates from six geographic State Fair Board districts elect two board members each for a total of 12 directors. All terms are staggered two-year terms.

Other directors include Bill Neubrand, LeMars (northwest); Alan Brown, Hampton (north central); John Harms, Monticello (northeast); C.W. Thomas, Guthrie Center (southwest); Randy Brown, Osceola (south central); and Bob Schlutz, Columbus Junction (southeast).

McConnell, A. Brown and Romer will serve the Board as president, vice-president and treasurer, respectively.

Directors by office held are Governor Terry Branstad (represented by Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds), Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey (represented by Jay Johnson), and Iowa State University President Dr. Steven Leath (represented by Dr. Chuck Morris, director of 4-H Youth Development at Iowa State University).

Nothing Compares to the 2013 Iowa State Fair August 8-18. For more information, call 800/545-FAIR or check out www.iowastatefair.org.

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School collecting postcards in remembrance of the 1.5 million Jewish children PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Deb Bowen   
Thursday, 13 December 2012 13:20

The children of Danville (Iowa) schools are collecting postcards in remembrance of the 1.5 million Jewish children who perished in the Holocaust.  They would like people to send cards from all around the world.  Anne Frank collected postcards so she inspired the children in Iowa who just launched this outreach a week ago.  It's all new!

Also, two students from Burlington (Iowa) wrote and illustrated a children's book for a collection called A BOOK by ME.  It's called Oceans Apart and it tells the story of Anne having a pen pal from Danville named Juanita Wagner.  The original letters Anne sent her (also letters from Margot Frank to Juanita's older sister Betty Ann and a final letter from Otto Frank letting the girls from Iowa know his wife and daughters perished in a concentration camp) are in The Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles.
The details of these two Holocaust educational projects can be found on my website at www.abookbyme.com.  The icon of Anne Frank at the top will take you right to a platform which explains the projects and offers advanced book sales.
Happy holidays and thank you!

 
Rep. Morthland Statement on Conceal-Carry Circuit Court Ruling PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Rep. Rich Morthland   
Wednesday, 12 December 2012 13:49

Moline, IL…State Representative Rich Morthland (R-Cordova), a co-sponsor of Illinois’ Concealed Carry Bill (HB 148), released the following statement following the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ordering the State of Illinois to provide a framework for a conceal-carry law:

“The time for Illinois to end its shame as the only State in the Nation where the right to lawful self-protection in public is overdue and yesterday's court ruling on concealed carry in Illinois proves it.”

“Today, I urge my colleagues in the House and the new incoming legislators to pass comprehensive conceal-carry legislation. With this legislation, we need to both ensure compliance with the Federal courts mandate while providing a framework that fully supports our guaranteed constitutional rights.”

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