Friday, February 08, 2008

Some Controversies Regarding School Board Candidate Tommy Le

I quoted a story from the Washington Post yesterday about the school board candidates, without looking into it or criticizing it. The deal is, we don't endorse candidates, but our readers do have an interest in Montgomery County issues, and we can help inform them. So I just copied and pasted the article for information purposes. But possible misstatements in the article have drawn a couple of people's attention. For instance, The Post said:
Le, 65, of Silver Spring, is a longtime PTA activist ...

Well, I wouldn't know, I don't live in Silver Spring, he could be an activist, for all I know. You know me, I'm a sucker, you tell me something, I tend to believe it. But then commenter Ted here on the blog said:
Le a longtime PTA activist? Last time a PTA member was 1993. Just being a member of a PTA does not make you an activist---just a member.

Incredible as Le has not been at PTA meeting in any recent time nor been out on the front lines in any PTA advocacy effort. Just listen to him at forums. He cannot relate to a single school issue current or otherwise or even knows what goes on in school building.

Another lazy reporter who did not do his homework on Le. Just used a made up line from Le's brochure that Le made up himself.

Now, this is just somebody commenting on a blog, maybe they've got it right, maybe not. If anyone has knowledge of Tommy Le being a "PTA activist" in recent years, could you please put a pointer into the comments? If he's in the PTA at your school, tell us, is he active? Maybe a link to a news story, that would be nice. Also, if somebody has one of Le's brochures with this assertion in it, I'd like to hear what it says, really. If this is in his brochure and is not true, and The Post reported it without checking, the accusation of lazy reporting sticks pretty easily.

Then, tonight, Maryland Politics Watch blog had a post about the article, too, in particular the part about Le.
Did you read the Post’s article on the Montgomery County school board candidates the other day? Did you see at-large candidate Tommy Le’s comments on the Montgomery County Education Association?
Le, by contrast, opposes the [teachers’] raises and the influence wielded by the teachers association, which he referred to as the "Montgomery County Extortion Association" during a telephone interview. He said labor support has packed the school board with people who "owe their allegiance to anything that benefits the union."

So Le is a principled objector who’s going to stand up to the “extortionists,” right? Wrong.

It turns out that Le actively sought the Teachers’ endorsement, sending in a questionnaire last December and sitting for an interview with them. In that questionnaire, Le described the current collective bargaining agreement as “a win-win situation for all concerns.” When the Teachers asked him, “Would you support honoring negotiated agreements, especially in tight fiscal times,” Le replied, “Yes.” Le also supported continued inclusion of MCEA on the schools’ Executive Leadership Team and Deputies’ Operating Budget Committee (a sure mechanism for “influence”). It was only after the Teachers endorsed Alies Muskin that Le went on the warpath. What a Way to Seek an Endorsement

The Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum told The Sentinel they supported this guy, last time around. I don't know about this year, I didn't think they're paying any attention to the the schools. The CRC and PFOX members of the MCPS citizens advisory both failed to show up at the last meeting -- the CRC member is now president of the Citizens for Responsible Government, fighting for the return of legal discrimination against transgender people. So maybe this year they don't care who runs for school board.

And it is too bad, but it looks like you'll have to read local education news in The Post with a skeptical eye. People are saying they've found some pretty big holes in this story.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

For example Tommy Le's response to this question in 2006 from Gazette

Do you think the current system for renovating schools is adequate, or does it needs changing?



MCCPTA - Montgomery County Council of PTAs

Now here part of the testimony of then MCCPTA Pres. Cindy Kerr gave in February 2006 to the County Council related to MCPS Capital Improvements Program Budget as proposed.

"Unfortunately, with 194 schools and a more-than-30-year modernization schedule, all of our schools are not up to that standard. Almost 25% have not been modernized since 1970; these are old, decrepit buildings in desperate need of expansion and modernization. Most are facing at least a decade before there is any relief; some much longer since they are not even on the modernization schedule yet. We have too many students housed outside schools in what is only a temporary solution for overcrowding-- portables. We have schools with mold, poor air quality, and many in need of lead remediation. This slow process of replacing and repairing buildings leads to increased maintenance needs for which we need more dollars in both the capital and operating budgets.

The long list of needs is why we must continue to take an aggressive approach to scheduling and funding solutions to alleviate health and safety concerns, relieve overcrowding with new and reopened schools and additions, and update our old facilities for today’s technology and programs needs. You will hear from our cluster coordinators about the many specific needs of their schools for capital projects. This is not about politics, nor about our need for shiny buildings, but for our children."

MCCPTA President's Captital Budget Testimony in November 2005

MCCPTA President's Captial Budget testimony in November 2004


Does Tommy Le sound like he knows what is going on in school buildings??? Where was he while the hearings were being held by MCPS/BOE and the County Council concerning the Capital Budget and Operating Budget in any year or in the years above? Certainly not there listening to school communities.


February 09, 2008 1:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is Tommy Le again
from this year about unions as told to Gazette. This was after he was soliciting the teacher union to get them to back him. Now we know why he said the below when he clearly did not say it according to others in the actual candidate interview with the teachers union.

Q. Do the superintendent and the unions have too much influence over the school board?

You have to ask? The Teachers Union is an Emperor without clothes; people who run this union would recruit and⁄ endorse ONLY candidates who had pledged and agreed (via their voice-recorder at their so-called candidate interview sessions) to support their union contracts for yearly increase in salaries and benefits. They will print their pre marked-up ballots with names of those candidates they had selected; and on each election day, the union will send their army of their union activists who will have the Tuesday off with pay (while the rest of us work to pay their salaries) and pass out their so-called Teacher-Endorsed pre marked-up ballots to voters. Telling other who to vote for is a disgrace to our democracy and disrespect to the voter’s independent choice and their integrity.

The superintendent, by laws, is working for the tax payers and the school board; but we have an un-ept board, so the supt just has always a freehand to use our students and teachers as his instrument for his new educational experiences.


In the last election he accused a special education advocacy group of being biased against Asians because they would not endorse him but endorsed others in 2006.

Before the special education advocacy group came out with their endorsements Tommy Le thought they were the greatest thing since sliced bread.

As soon as he found out he was not endorsed by them he went into "hate" mode.

Seems like he has not changed at all. Exactly which groups have endorsed Le? Any Asian groups?

Is the answer none?

February 09, 2008 1:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Over in England, you can't have curriculums thrown because some judge is afraid it might reflect favorably on religious belief. Here's an interesting story about what happens when Richard Dawkins goes to schools in England to speak:

"Creationists Seek Foothold in Europe


Posted: 2008-02-09 19:55:58

LONDON (Feb. 9) - After the Sunday service in Westminster Chapel, where worshippers were exhorted to wage "the culture war" in the World War II spirit of Sir Winston Churchill, cabbie James McLean delivered his verdict on Charles Darwin's theory of evolution.

"Evolution is a lie, and it's being taught in schools as fact, and it's leading our kids in the wrong direction," said McLean, chatting outside the chapel. "But now people like Ken Ham are tearing evolution to pieces."

Ken Ham is the founder of Answers in Genesis, a Kentucky-based organization that is part of an ambitious effort to bring creationist theory to Britain and the rest of Europe. McLean is one of a growing number of evangelicals embracing that message - that the true history of the Earth is told in the Bible, not Darwin's "The Origin of Species."

Europeans have long viewed the conflict between evolutionists and creationists as primarily an American phenomenon, but it has recently jumped the Atlantic Ocean with skirmishes in Italy, Germany, Poland and, notably, Britain, where Darwin was born and where he published his 1859 classic.

Darwin's defenders are fighting back. In October, the 47-nation Council of Europe, a human rights watchdog, condemned all attempts to bring creationism into Europe's schools. Bible-based theories and "religious dogma" threaten to undercut sound educational practices, it charged.

Schools are increasingly a focal point in this battle for hearts and minds. A British branch of Answers in Genesis, which shares a Web site with its American counterpart, has managed to introduce its creationist point of view into science classes at a number of state-supported schools in Britain, said Monty White, the group's chief executive.

"We do go into the schools about 10 to 20 times a year and we do get the students to question what they're being taught about evolution," said White, who founded the British branch seven years ago. "And we leave them a box of books for the library."

Creationism is still a marginal issue here compared with its impact on cultural and political debate in the United States. But the budding fervor is part of a growing embrace of evangelical worship throughout much of Europe. Evangelicals say their ranks are swelling as attendance at traditional churches declines because of revulsion with the hedonism and materialism of modern society.

"People are looking for spirituality," White said in an interview at his office in Leicester, 90 miles north of London. "I think they are fed up with not finding true happiness. They find having a bigger car doesn't make them happy. They get drunk and the next morning they have a hangover. They take drugs but the drugs wear off. But what they find with Christianity is lasting."

Other British organizations have joined the crusade. A group called Truth in Science has sent thousands of unsolicited DVDs to every high school in Britain arguing that mankind is the result of "intelligent design," not Darwinian evolution.

In addition, the AH Trust, a charity, has announced plans to raise money for construction of a Christian theme park in northwest England with a 5,000-seat television studio that would be used for the production of Christian-oriented films. And several TV stations are devoted full-time to Christian themes.

All this activity has lifted spirits at the Westminster Chapel, a 165-year-old evangelical church that is not affiliated with nearby Westminster Abbey, where Darwin is buried.

In the chapel, Rev. Greg Haslam tells the 150 believers that they are in a conflict with secularism that can only be won if they heed Churchill's exhortation and never, ever give up.

"The first thing you have to do is realize we are in a war, and identify the enemy, and learn how to defeat the enemy," he said.

There is a sense inside the chapel that Christian evangelicals are successfully resisting a trend toward a completely secular Britain.

"People have walked away from God; it's not fashionable," said congregant Chris Mullins, a civil servant. "But the evangelical church does seem to be growing and I'm very encouraged by that. In what is a very secular society, there are people returning to God."

School curricula generally hold that Darwin's theory has been backed up by so many scientific discoveries that it can now be regarded as fact. But Mullins believes creationism also deserves a hearing in the classroom.

"Looking at the evidence, creationism at the least seems a theory worthy of examination," he said. "Personally I think it is true and I think the truth will win out eventually. It's a question of how long it takes."

Terry Sanderson, president of Britain's National Secular Society, a prominent group founded in 1866 to limit the influence of religious leaders, fears the groups advocating a literal interpretation of the Bible are making headway.

"Creationism is creeping into the schools," he said. "There is a constant pressure to get these ideas into the schools."

The trend goes beyond evangelical Christianity. Sanderson said the British government is taking over funding of about 100 Islamic schools even though they teach the Quranic version of creationism. He said the government fear imposing evolution theory on the curriculum lest it be branded as anti-Islamic.

The Council of Europe spoke up last fall after Harun Yahya, a prominent Muslim creationist in Turkey, tried to place his lavishly produced 600-page book, "The Atlas of Creation," in public schools in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Spain.

"These trends are very dangerous," said Anne Brasseur, author of the Council of Europe report, in an interview.

Brasseur said recent skirmishes in Italy and Germany illustrate the creationists' tactics. She said Italian schools were ordered to stop teaching evolution when Silvio Berlusconi was prime minister, although the edict seems to have had little impact in practice. In Germany, she said, a state education minister briefly allowed creationism to be taught in biology class.

The rupture between theology and evolution in Europe is relatively recent. For many years people who held evangelical views also endorsed mainstream scientific theory, said Simon Barrow, co-director of Ekklesia, a British-based, Christian-oriented research group. He said the split was imported from the United States in the last decade.

"There is a lot of American influence, and there are a lot of moral and political and financial resources flowing from the United States to here," he said. "Now you have more extreme religious groups trying to get a foothold."

In some cases, the schools have become the battlegrounds. Richard Dawkins, the Oxford university biologist and author of last year's international best-seller "The God Delusion, "frequently lectures students about the marvels of evolution only to find that the students' views have already been shaped by the creationist lobby.

"I think it's so sad that children should be fobbed off with these second-rate myths," he said.

"The theory of evolution is one of the most powerful pieces of scientific thinking ever produced and the evidence for it is overwhelming. I think creationism is pernicious because if you don't know much it sounds kind of plausible and it's easy to come into schools and subvert children."

White, the director of the British Answers in Genesis, is well aware that the group's school program is contentious. The group has removed information about it from its Web site to avoid antagonizing people.

The group operates a warehouse with $150,000 worth of DVDs, books and comics promoting creationism, but he says he only sends speakers and materials into schools that invite Answers in Genesis to make a presentation.

White, 63, said he was raised as an atheist, and after earning a doctorate in chemistry, embraced evangelical Christianity in 1964.

He says that when he is asked to speak to science classes, he challenges the accuracy of radioactive dating which shows the world to be thousands of millions of years old and says that the Bible is a more accurate description of how mankind began. He personally believes the Earth is between 6,000 and 12,000 years old.

"Usually I find the discussion goes on science, science, and science and then when the lesson is finished one or two students say, 'Can we talk about other things?' and I sit down with them and usually they want to talk about Christianity," he said. "They want to know, why do you believe in God? Why do you believe in the Bible? How can you be sure it's the word of God?"

Dawkins feels the effect. He said he is discouraged when he visits schools and gets questions from students who have obviously been influenced by material from Answers in Genesis. "I continually get the same rather stupid points straight from their pamphlets," he said.

White is getting ready for a visit by Ken Ham, who will preach at Westminster Chapel this spring. Meanwhile he is pleased that small groups of creation science advocates now meet regularly in Oxford, Edinburgh, Northampton and other British cities.

"The creation movement is certainly growing," he said. "There are more groups than there were five years ago. There are more people like me going out speaking about it, and there's more interest. You have these little groups forming all over the place.""

February 09, 2008 8:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrea-not anon
The Post and the electronic Post write some different things- the ePost said a majority of maryland state legislators showed up for Al Wynn- but when given the actual names and numbers- it was not a majority. I think the actual Post in the MC weekly gave the number who actually showed. I think the Post has cut costs in editing and reporting and often just cuts and pastes from press releases. I don't take anything they say at face value.

I have to be at a Giant tomorrow for 2 hours- I hope none of the Shower nuts are there.

February 09, 2008 10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Shower nuts. Heh.

Ironically, my church just this evening hosted a screening and discussion of the classic film "Inherit the Wind." The opening scenes were strikingly familiar, as if it could be happening today in Loudoun, or even Montgomery. Funny.

February 09, 2008 11:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds pretty interesting. What church do you go to, David?

BTW, that the referendum will be on the ballot is a foregone conclusion now. You guys might want to start planning. I don't the name calling is going to go over well with the general public.

February 10, 2008 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Shower Nuts are the veritable modern day heirs to the wind.

Proverbs 11:29
"He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.

February 10, 2008 11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The first black slaves landed in Virginia in 1619. In 1630 an angry Virginia court sentenced "Hugh Davis to be soundly whipped, before an assembly of Negroes and others for abusing himself to the dishonor of God and the shame of Christians, by defiling his body in lying with a Negro." Maryland was the first state to ban interracial marriages in 1664. Jefferson's state, Virginia, prohibited all interracial liaisons in 1691, vigorously denouncing miscegenation and its fruits as "that abominable mixture and spurious issue."

More recently, some 45 percent of all white Americans surveyed in 1994 said that they "approve" of intermarriage --an all-time high-- but most still express some reservations about it, and 16 percent would ban it outright.

The last state to legalize interracial marriage was South Carolina in November 1998. It amended its constitution to repeal a clause banning "marriage of a white person with a Negro or mulatto or a person who shall have one-eighth or more of Negro blood." The clause is, of course, a dead letter, and has been ever since 1967 when the Supreme Court found anti-miscegenation laws to be unconstitutional. In that November 1998 vote, 62 percent of South Carolinians voted to permit interracial marriage; 38 percent voted to keep it illegal.

The CRW is like South Carolina in the case above. They will be the last holdouts for hatred and discrimination and believe they should be proud of themselves for maintaining the "long tradition" of discriminating against minorities. They couldn't get MCPS to go along with their desire to continue to marginalize and discriminate against LGBT teens in our public schools, so now they are pouring all their hate-mongering efforts into discrimination against trans people, an even smaller minority. Shame on these so-called christians for espousing hate for any of God's children! This Christian believes that Jesus would not support this effort.


February 10, 2008 11:35 AM  

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