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Author of “Don’t Say Gay” Bill Named School Reformer Of The Year (Seriously.)

April 30, 2013

StudentsFirst, the PAC devoted to promoting “education reform” founded by Michelle Rhee, has made a lot of very suspect endorsements and policy positions over the years — suspect if you were to actually take their name at face value, that is —  but this one might just take the cake. Scott Wooledge writes:

StudentsFirst, a very prominent and controversial educational political action group named Tennessee House Representative John Ragan as the state’s “educational Reformer of the Year” who “stands up for the kids of Tennessee” and “has also been a leading advocate for change.” […]

It turns out the honoree is the co-author and introductory sponsor of the latest permutation of the notorious Tennessee “Don’t Say Gay” bill. The latest version would have forced select Tennessee school officials to notify parents of children who privately discussed their sexual orientation, essentially dictating forced “outing” of kids, even against their own objections.

Does this means Rhee is now actively working not just to undermine our public schools, but also to advance an anti-gay agenda? StudentsFirst says no — it’s all just a big oops!

Just to be clear: this isn’t a national organization that has no knowledge of the local school system, public officials, or politics of the area in which they’re getting involved. This was done by StudentsFirst Tennessee, which presumably hires people knowledgeable about the politics of the state. (It is a political action committee, after all.) The “Don’t Say Gay” bill is notorious.  And even were StudentsFirst to have somehow been unaware:

As vetting goes, one need simply type “John Ragan'” into the Tennessee legislature’s website to see Ragan filed HB 1332, the “Classroom Protection Act” back on February 14, 2013. It even pops up with a great big bold lead-in that says: “Education” so this educational political action group could easily find bills of interest to them. […]

With a little more legwork StudentsFirst might have found that Ragan was a supporter of yet another anti-gay education bill, an effort to affirm Christian Evangelical’s rights to harass LGBT kids as protected First Amendment speech, known as a “license to bully” bill.

Indeed, there’s nothing opaque about John Ragan’s positions. Still, StudentsFirst chose to endorse and support him. Why? Probably because the only thing they actually care about are candidates whose goals for education “reform” mirror those of Michelle Rhee herself: busting teacher unions, and funneling public money into corporate charter schools and standardized testing companies.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 1, 2013 5:37 am

    As a gay man who grew up in an strict religious environment, to think that someone from my school would out me to my parents would have destroyed me entirely. I would have found a bridge to jump off of – no kidding.

    These people have no idea the kind of harm that can be done to these developing minds to force them to be outed, especially to their parents is frightening and appalling.

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