Proof That Koch-Backed Professors Are Using Universities to Spread Right-Wing Policies

Casey Quinlan | ThinkProgress | Reader Supported News | May 14, 2016

conomic freedom centers” — or institutes with conservative, libertarian missions that are backed by the Charles Koch Foundation — are tightly controlled by the interests of the conservative foundation, according to remarks from Koch-backed professors and executives at the Association of Private Enterprise Education’s annual meeting in Las Vegas.

The remarks were recorded by UnKoch My Campus, a group that focuses on the influence of powerful donors on research and coursework in universities, and shared by Greenpeace staff. At the event, Koch-backed professors and Charles Koch Foundation executives said that students act as “foot soldiers” for free enterprise ideals, deans will take money from anyone, and the slightest mention of the foundation’s legal team can bring universities back in line.

Koch-backed institutes made their way back into the news lately after recent reports that $5 million was earmarked for these centers at Arizona public universities. The American Association of University Professors is also unhappy about George Mason University’s relationship with Koch-backed academics. AAUP Associate Secretary Anita Levy recently sent a letter to the president of George Mason University and the chair of State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to express concern over renaming GMU’s law school the “Antonin Scalia Law School” after having received $30 million from the Charles Koch Foundation and an anonymous donor. GMU has received a lot of money from the Kochs over the years. Between 2011-2014, the university received almost $48 million from the Koch Foundation, according to the Associated Press.

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Equality Florida: Marion County School Board Adopts anti-Trans bathroom policy

Victoria, LGBTQ youth are now at risk in Marion County.

On Tuesday, the Marion County School Board approved a Gender Inspection resolution that prohibits transgender students from using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. This resolution, enforced starting yesterday, stigmatizes transgender and gender nonconforming kids and puts them at risk for further harassment and bullying.

Over 100 people showed up to the School Board meeting where the resolution was brought forward as an “emergency” agenda item just six days after it was introduced.

Unfortunately, this reckless policy passed by a 4-1 vote with School Board Chair Bobby James as the only NO vote. Send a “THANK YOU” note to Chair James and Superintendent George Tomyn for standing against this resolution and advocating on behalf of LGBTQ youth — click here!


I was so honored to stand side-by-side with local advocates who spoke against this dangerous Gender Inspection resolution that puts transgender students at risk. A HUGE thank you to the members of the community who bravely joined us at the hearing – thanks to you, the majority of testimony last night was from folks in strong opposition to this reckless resolution, and I know we sent our message loud and clear.

We know the bottom line: transgender girls are girls and belong in the girls’ room. Transgender boys are boys and belong in the boys’ room. But the most important thing to know is that transgender people visit the restroom for the same reason as everyone else — to use it. And when they do, they want privacy, safety, and respect just like everyone else.

While we lost the battle this week, our work in Marion County is far from over. Let us see this moment not as a defeat, but as a call to action. Right now, we need every single person who supports equality to lean in and help us continue to promote the safety and wellbeing of LGBTQ students across the state.

Please take a moment and send a “Thank You” note to Chair James and Superindenent Tomyn for standing with LGBTQ youth in Marion County. 

Hannah Willard
Policy & Outreach Coordinator
Equality Florida

Federal Bills Seek To Reinstate Student Aid Eligibility To Minor Marijuana Offenders

NORML | February 18, 2016

Washington, DC: A bipartisan coalition of US senators introduced legislation last week to restore student financial aid eligibility to minor marijuana offenders.

Senate Bill 2557: The Stopping Unfair Collateral Consequences from Ending Student Success Act, aka the SUCCESS Act, sponsored by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), repeals the language in the Higher Education Act that strips students of aid because of a past drug offense, and removes the drug conviction question from the student aid application form (FAFSA).

Between 2013 and 2014, 1,107 applicants lost eligibility for a full year of aid because of a drug conviction or a failure to report one, according to Department of Education.

“A youthful mistake shouldn’t keep a person out of college and the middle class,” Sen. Casey said. “There’s now an emerging bipartisan consensus on the need to reform our criminal justice system and ensure students who have already paid their debt to society are not punished twice.”

Separate House legislation, HR 3561: The Fair Access to Education Act, also remains pending in Congress.

For more information, please contact Danielle Keane, NORML Political Director, or visit NORML’s Take Action Center:

Fixing student debt: States and activists take unconventional measures


RT America | February 6, 2016

Some states around the US are taking unconventional measures to help cut the cost of colleges. In New Mexico, 30% of money spent on the lottery goes to students’ scholarships. RT’s Simone Del Rosario explains what states are doing to lower college costs, and speaks to some who have benefited from it and an activist working on ballot initiatives to help effectuate tuition pricing changes.

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Club Fight: Tenn. Residents Complain About High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance

Rob Boston | Talk2Action | January 27, 2016

At public schools around the country, students, mostly high schoolers, are forming Gay-Straight Alliance clubs. Fundamentalist Christians often freak out over the existence of these clubs, like these people are doing in Winchester, Tenn.

Whenever this happens, I have to explain, once again, who made it possible for students to form Gay-Straight Alliances at public secondary schools.

It was fundamentalist Christians.

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Groundbreaking High School for LGBT Students to Open

Associated Press | Yahoo News | January 6, 2016

A first-of-its-kind private school in Georgia aimed at attracting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth and teachers is being established in Atlanta for students who feel bullied or not accepted in traditional schools.

Pride School Atlanta is a k-12 institution designed to be an alternative for LGBT students, though the school is open to any student who believes they’re not getting the support they need for “being different,” says Pride School founder Christian Zsilavetz.

“Kids have full permission to be themselves — as well as educators. Where there’s no wondering, ‘Is this teacher going to be a person for me to be myself with?’” said Zsilavetz, who is transgender and a veteran teacher with nearly 25 years of experience. “This is a place where they (students) can just open up and be the best person they can be.”

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Student slaps FL public schools with suit for refusing to teach evolution because it contradicts the Bible

 | Raw Story | December 18, 2015

A Boca Raton man and his young son are suing the boy’s Florida school district for neglecting to teach the theory of evolution because of religious beliefs, WPBF reports.

Brandon Silver may only be 11, but he joined his attorney dad, Barry Silver, in slapping the  Palm Beach County school board with the 18-page suit.

“It’s such a magnificent story and it’s being neglected. The students are being deprived of learning from it because certain religious people don’t like the story because it contradicts the Bible and we think it is terrible that children shouldn’t learn the truth about where they came from,” Barry Silver told the station.

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Catholic Girls’ School Violated Gay Man’s Rights, Court Rules

Reuters | December 17, 2015

BOSTON (Reuters) – A Boston-area Roman Catholic girls’ high school violated a gay man’s rights when it revoked an offer for him to work as director of food services after he revealed on a form that he was married to another man, a state court has ruled.

Matthew Barrett last year sued Fontbonne Academy in Milton, Massachusetts, south of Boston, saying it had discriminated against him when it revoked a job offer made in 2013 after learning of his sexual orientation.

The school argued that as a Catholic institution, it had an obligation for all staff to model the values of the church, which teaches that homosexual activity is immoral.

Massachusetts Superior Court Justice Douglas Wilkins late Wednesday rejected that argument, noting that Barrett had been offered a job that did not involve teaching ethics but simply preparing food.

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The Supreme Court on Affirmative Action: 5 Possible Outcomes

Bill Blum | Truthdig | December 12, 2015

    Abigail Fisher, who challenged the use of race in college admissions, speaks to reporters outside the Supreme Court in Washington on Wednesday. With her is Edward Blum, who helped bring the case to court. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP)

Like a lot of veterans—or old fogies, take your pick—of the political uprisings of the late ’60s and early ’70s, I’ve watched the growth of the new college protest movement with avid interest. I was heartened by the determined young activists who stood up to entrenched racism at the University of Missouri. I’ve also applauded—with a few quibbles here and there—the many others who, inspired by the Black Lives Matter struggle, have raised demands for greater diversity on campuses across the country.

On Wednesday, those demands made their way to the Supreme Court—not directly, but in effect, during the oral arguments heard in the case of Abigail Noel Fisher v. the University of Texas.

Filed in 2008 after her application to UT was rejected, Fisher’s case was originally considered by the Supreme Court in 2012-13 but was sent back to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. It is now before the Supreme Court for a second round of review.

Christian university is granted federal permission to exclude LGBT students

David Hudson | Gay Star News | December 11, 2015

A Christian university in Tennessee has been granted a federal exemption to ban gay and trans students, and others that it feels doesn’t fit in with its faith-based outlook on life.

Dr. Randall O’Brien, the President of the Carson-Newman University, has said that he applied for Title IX exemption for the Southern Baptist institute in Jefferson City because he was advised to do so by his attorney.

As well as LGBT students, the exemption allows the school to exclude unwed mothers, students who are pregnant or women who have had an abortion.

Title IX was introduced to US law in 1972 to prevent sex discrimination in education. However, schools run by religious organization can apply for exemptions if adhering to the amendment ‘would not be consistent with the religious tenets of such organization.’

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