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U-46 approves pacts, but some foster debate


By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 approved contract renewals on three secondary literacy resources as well as an elementary literacy resource proposal at its meeting on Monday, May 16.
  The board unanimously approved a $38,377 expenditure for a one-year contract renewal with Gale Cengage Learning, but the other two renewals were approved 6-1 as Jeanette Ward voted no standing by her belief that resources should not be one-sided.
  “I wanted to praise the Cengage resource,” Ward said. “I’m very impressed with it. It includes opposing viewpoints referencing news sources” from multiple perspectives.
  Ward added: “Providing opposing viewpoints allows students to form their own opinions and allows freedom of thought, and that is the kind of resource that I can support.”
  However, the other two resource  Ward said she had “major concerns” and “major objections” to including the Encyclopedia Britannica resource, which will cost $25,868, as well as the Newsela resource, which will cost $144,825.
  In July of last year, Ward voted in favor of the Newsela resources and she said she “was of the opinion that it was more balanced” when she first reviewed it.
  Since then, Ward said a U-46 teacher has complained about the one-sided nature of the resource, and from her further review she said: “I’m not sure if my review was incomplete or that the resource has changed since last year, but I have major objections this year.”
  Ward said a detailed list of her concerns could be found at ward4schoolboard.blogspot.com, but she said at the meeting one example was articles painting “Republicans [as] rude, but Democrats are not” as well as a glowing article praising a transgender student in California who ran for prom queen.
  For Britannica Ward said “it does include links to primary resources” from the U.S. Constitution to the Declaration of Independence as well as including “opposing viewpoints on many issues,” but she objected to the lack of opposing viewpoints on some important issues.
  One of those issues includes providing the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights without providing any discussion on how the handouts claimed as rights in that document would be paid for. That document claims rights to housing, medical care and many other social services which would, by definition, require slave labor to provide and comes in direct contrast to the “unalienable rights” listed in the Declaration of Independence which are “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
  Another concern voiced is Britannica claiming abortion is “safe and relatively simple” as well as painting a rosy picture of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.
  Ward said: “[Sanger] was a racist who believed in eugenics and using abortion as a tool to limit black population growth.”
  Sanger attended Ku Klux Klan rallies, sympathized with Adolf Hitler and wrote in a 1939 letter to Clarence Gable that “we do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population.” None of this is included in the Britannica resource.
  On the same night Ward objected to a resource that glorifies Sanger who wrote in “Pivot of Civilization” that black people are “human beings who never should have been born,” Ward was called a racist by board member Traci Ellis after a group of students presented a petition asking Ward to resign for her beliefs during public comments. Ellis voted in favor of the Britannica resource.
  Approved unanimously by the board was an elementary literacy resource adoption proposal asking for the purchase of Writing Pathways resources for grades K-8 at a total cost of $49,614 along with an $8,400 expenditure for professional development. The board also approved by a 7-0 vote $4.9 million in itemized bills.

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