Michelle Rhee‘s highly-controvesial right-wing education “reform” organization, StudentsFirst, yesterday was forced to issue a statement on Tennessee’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill, after having awarded the bill’s author and top House sponsor, Rep. John Ragan, the “Reformer Of The Year” award.
Image: StudentsFirst founder Michelle Rhee and Tennessee Rep. John Ragan, StudentsFirst’s “Reformer Of The Year.”
“More than a year ago, StudentsFirst endorsed and highlighted Representative John Ragan in Tennessee because of his support of several education policies for which we advocate,” Tim Melton, StudentsFirst’s Vice President for Legislative Affairs said in the statement:
However, a bill he introduced this year, HB 1332, is an ill-conceived, harmful piece of legislation that would have represented a backward step for Tennessee schools and kids. StudentsFirst did not at any time support HB 1332 and will not support any similar legislation, whether in Tennessee or any other state. Thankfully, members of the Tennessee legislature agreed, and did not allow the bill to move forward.
The statement was issued only after LGBT activist Scott Wooledge over the weekend revealed that StudentsFirst had donated $6500 to Ragan and named him the “Reformer Of The Year.”
But Melton neglects to mention fact that Ragan has a history of supporting anti-LGBT and anti-science legislation. In 2011 Rep. Ragan argued against the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and voted for a plethora of bills dangerous to students.
Melton also does not rescind StudentsFirst “Reformer Of The Year” award to Ragan, nor does he ask Ragan to return the campaign contribution StudentsFirst made.
In other words, StudentsFirst shows absolutely no remorse, and no change in policy, making Melton’s statement essentially worthless.
Will StudentsFirst refuse to support any lawmaker or politician who does not support equality for gay, lesbian , bisexual, or transgender students? Wouldn’t that be putting “students first”?
Ragan, mind you, has repeatedly said that a gay person is not a “mentally healthy adult human being,” which should should have disqualified him from being awarded a campaign contribution or an actual award.
Let’s look at just a few of the bills that Rep. Ragan supported, “more than a year ago,” which should have been red flags for StudentsFirst, had they bothered to vet the candidates they support financially or with public accolades.
John Ragan voted for the “Requires Abstinence-Centered Sex Education in Schools” bill, which, yes, “requires abstinence-centered sex education in schools,” because, as we all know, abstinence education does not work, especially in areas where lawmakers also make it difficult to access contraception. This alone should have been a disqualifier for Rhee to become one of Ragan’s top financial contributors.
Thousands of Tennessee children every year will be forced to take a “maturity test” to enter kindergarten should a bill the Tennessee House just passed become law. Currently, children who turn five by September 31 are allowed to enter kindergarten, but the new bill changes that date to August 31, ensuring that all kindergarteners are at least five years old. The maturity test would be administered to four-year olds should their parents, presumably, want their children to not be a year behind their friends and neighbors.
Opponents of the bill, House Bill 2566, say that the real reason for the dates change is it would save Tennessee an estimated $21 million, allowing them to lay off many teachers.
Tennessee, which recently enacted a law that protects teachers who teach creationism, has become home to some of the most anti-intellectual, anti-education, anti-science, and anti-reality bills in the country.
Yes, that “creationism” bill Ragan voted for, the “Scientific Theories in the Classroom” bill, “prohibits school authorities from limiting teachers’ authority to help students critique scientific theories in the classroom,” or, as average citizens like to say, allows teachers to claim global warming is false, evolution is false, and everything in the Bible is the actual word of God.
It was called in Tennessee the “Monkey Bill,” because Tennessee is the home of the infamous 1925 Scopes Monkey trial that prosecuted a teacher for breaking a law that banned the teaching of evolution.
Rep. Ragan is not only not “evolving,” he’s helping to move the state of Tennessee backwards, and StudentsFirst is funding his work.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.