Category: Children

Now’s Our Chance to Help School District 51 — Finally!

Crumbling ceiling tiles and exposed pipes at Orchard Mesa Elementary School

First the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce and downtown business owners like Doug Simons of Enstrom Candies told city residents they needed to pay an extra sales tax to fund an event center downtown. People panned the idea and voted it down by a huge margin. A common criticism was, “A tax to build an event center? But what about our crumbling schools?” Then the chamber, Simons and CMU proposed waving a magic wand and changing the names of North Avenue to “University Boulevard,” and 12th Street to “Maverick Way,” saying this will be really great. People again panned the idea for the cost and inconvenience. A widely-expressed sentiment about the proposed name change has been ”Change the name of North Avenue? But what about our crumbling schools?”

Number of Mesa County Children in Extreme Poverty has Skyrocketed under Republican County Commissioners

The number of children in extreme poverty in Mesa County has skyrocketed under a Republican-dominated Board of Mesa County Commissioners. (FPL= Federal Poverty Level. A family of four is at the federal poverty level if they make an income of $24,600 in 2017. Under 50% of the FPL would be about $12,600/year. (https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines) Chart available (without red annotations) at Colorado Children’s Campaign.

When was the last time a Mesa County Commissioner or a state-level elected official from Mesa County gave a public statement about the skyrocketing number of families and children suffering from extreme poverty in our county, or proposed possible solutions to the problem?

That’s right. Never.

Tipton Hates Infants

Tipton voted against letting babies get health insurance immediately upon birth, to allow the parents time to prove their baby’s citizenship.

Republican House Representative Scott Tipton, who represents Colorado’s western slope, voted “NO” on a measure to assure that newborn babies are covered with health insurance immediately after birth for up to one year to give parents time to verify their baby’s citizenship status.

Buy a gun for Father’s Day? Think again.

Shame on Sportsman’s Warehouse for advertising guns on sale for Father’s Day. Mesa County has one of the highest suicide rates in the country, and women comprise 75% of all fatal domestic violence victims by guns in the U.S.

Sportsmans’ Warehouse ran a big ad in today’s Daily Sentinel touting a big sale on guns and ammo for Father’s Day.

This does our area a big disservice.

There is a huge intersection between fatal domestic violence killings and guns, and keeping guns in the home raises the risk of homicide, suicide and accidental shootings tremendously.

In Colorado alone, there have been 105 domestic violence homicides by gun since 2006.

Delta County “Sex Ed” Teacher Shelly Donahue Banned from Oklahoma School District

Donahue with her bag of spaghetti, which she uses to illustrate what girls’ brains are like

A school district in Tulsa County, Oklahoma has banned sexual abstinence speaker Shelly Donahue from returning after students complained that her comments during a “sex ed” presentation were demeaning to girls and insulting to children of broken families.

The news of her being banned pertains to Colorado’s western slope because Delta County School District regularly hires Shelly Donahue to give the very same talk to Delta high school seniors.

Undeveloped Parks Languish While City Pursues an Events Center

Matchett Park – Despite the City of Grand Junction putting on a community-wide planning effort in 2014 that resulted in a master plan and preferred alternative for development, and despite the City getting a GOCO grant to cover 75% of the cost it’s construction, nothing ever happened at Matchett Park

The City of Grand Junction owns a number of large land parcels around the valley that are designated as parks, but that are little more than vacant lots unused by the public.

G.J. Area Chamber of Commerce Continues to be Anti-Worker, Anti-Family and Anti-Local Government

Family Unfriendly Chamber – The G.J. Chamber’s ad in the Daily Sentinel 2/20/17 says the chamber opposes a bill to require large employers to offer parents limited unpaid time off to attend kids’ academic activities, like parent-teacher conferences, meetings about dropout prevention, truancy, etc.

 

In its ad in yesterday’s Daily Sentinel, the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce announced it opposes HB-1001, “The Parental Involvement in K-12th Grade Education Act,” a family-friendly bill that requires businesses with 50 or more employees to offer workers 18 hours of unpaid leave per school year to attend their kids’ academic events, like parent-teacher conferences, meetings related to dropout prevention, attendance, special education services, truancy, discipline issues and the like. HB-1001 allows for exemptions in case a business is having an emergency and needs all of its employees, or if an employee’s absence would leave a business unable to operate. The unpaid leave time could not exceed six hours in any one month, and employees would have to request the leave a minimum of a week before it is needed. The bill passed out of the House Education committee on February 6 on a 7-5 vote, and went to the full House, where is passed on the third reading with a 37-28 vote. Western slope House Representatives Dan Thurlow and Yeulin Willett both sided with the Chamber and voted against the measure, making these two legislators family-unfriendly as well. Every single House member who voted against this act was Republican. Every legislator voting for it was a Democrat.

Another Reason G.J. Needs a Recreation Center: The Skyline Warehouse

Skyline Warehouse: easy to miss if you’re driving on Highway 6 & 50

Last night I had the opportunity to attend a kids’ indoor soccer game at the Skyline indoor sports facility at 2522 Highway 6 & 50.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, Skyline is an old warehouse that in 2011 was repurposed into an indoor sports facility. It is located behind the Auto Zone on Highway 6& 50, just west of Sam’s Club.

The Skyline Warehouse definitely serves a need in western Colorado. Its indoor batting cages and soccer field keep kids active in sports throughout the winter without their having to be out in the cold and the snow. It’s a wonderful thing for kids and parents alike to have a warm, indoor place to play sports in winter.

She’s Back! Self-Styled Grand Junction Missionary June Fellhauer Returns to Pitch her $99 Religious Video Series to D-51 Girls

Self-styled G.J. missionary June Fellhauer, giving a talk on “Women’s Purpose” July 12, 2015 (Photo credit: YouTube)

June Fellhauer is back, once again taking advantage of School District 51’s “PeachJar” literature distribution system to plug her $99 video evangelism series to girls 11 years and up.

Fellhauer is kind of like Grand Junction’s own Shelly Donahue, but without the plastic bags of full of spaghetti and waffles, and titillating talk about masturbation. And unlike Donahue, Fellhauer apparently preaches only to girls, not boys, at least when she preaching for money.

Several days ago Fellhauer sent out a flier to D-51 families promoting another free sales-pitch event, this one called “Becoming Love,” aimed at girls 11 and up. The purpose of the event is to recruit kids’ families to pony up $99 for their daughters to view Fellhauer’s online, four-week video series in which she teaches biblical myths to girls with the primary message that women are subservient to men rather than qualified, able individuals in their own right. Fellhauer warns girls not strike out on their own, and tells girls if they remain helpers underneath the “cover” of their men, the men will “lift them up,” and they will get their power that way.

Don’t Be Fooled: Saying the Pledge of Allegiance, Now a Religious Oath, is Always Optional

pledge-of-allegiance-1892

The text of the original Pledge of Allegiance, as it existed until 1953. In 1954, Congress added the words “under God” to it, effectively changing it from a purely patriotic statement into a religious statement.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s recent refusal to stand during the playing of the national anthem has spurred debate over coerced and often perfunctory recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance.

In reaction to the September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, people started reciting the Pledge more frequently, on more occasions and in more venues than ever before. Many U.S. public schools starting requiring students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily. Mesa County’s District 51’s student handbook (pdf, at page 35) says students get an “opportunity” and have the “right” to say the pledge, but it never expressly says in a neutral manner that students also have a legal right not to say it. Rather, the manual practically sneers at students who choose not to say the pledge by using language that infers such students are likely to be disruptive and disrespectful in doing so:

“If you feel, based on personal convictions or religious beliefs, that you do not want to recite the Pledge or salute the flag, we ask you to remain respectfully silent, not interfering with the
rights of others to recite the Pledge and salute the flag.”

The New Graff Dairy: A Shining New Addition to Town

Graff Dairy 2.0 - worth a trip across town

Graff Dairy 2.0 – worth a trip across town

Graff Dairy, a longtime fixture in town at 581 29 Road, has gotten a complete makeover and is now a fantastic place to stop to get your espresso and ice cream fix.

Graff Dairy 2.0 is clean, spacious and bright, with tables and umbrellas on a nice front lawn where you can sit to eat your ice cream. It also now has a very welcome more sophisticated edge that this town really needs. For example, they offer free water flavored with chunks of fresh watermelon and sprigs of rosemary — a nice flair. Some local stories have reported that their ice cream is the same as it used to be, but it really seems much better than that. The old Graff ice cream seemed little better than ice milk, but the new Graff ice cream seems richer and more flavorful, like it has a higher butterfat content than it used to.

FFRF Warns Delta County School District to End Shelly Donahue’s “Sex Ed” Talks

Donahue with her bag of spaghetti, which she uses to illustrate what girls' brains are like

Donahue with her bag of spaghetti, which she uses to illustrate what girls’ brains are like

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has sent a letter (pdf) to the Delta County School District’s attorney warning that Shelly Donahue’s “sex ed” talks in schools there violate laws that prohibit religious proselytizing in public schools and require specific information be included in public schools’ comprehensive sex education courses.

Andrew Seidel, staff attorney with FFRF in Madison, Wisconsin, wrote to Aaron Clay, legal counsel for the Delta County School District 50J in the two-page letter that:

“Shelly Donahue’s biography on her website prominently includes her personal ‘salvation’ story and how she came to accept Jesus and the Holy Spirit into her life. While discussing her relationship with her ex-husband, Ms Donahue writes that ‘I believe that because Dave and I didn’t begin our relationship with a foundation of Biblical purity, we never connected heart-to-heart.’ That belief, and her subsequent desire to ‘fill that hole in [her] heart,’ led Ms. Donahue to develop her abstinence-only program. She also claims that a preacher and divine intervention healed her brain tumors. Finally, she proclaims, ‘I am passionately committed to Jesus Christ as the ultimate answer to ALL things, including teen sex.’ Her sex education program relies on her religiosity, not science, medical training, or specialized knowledge of the subject. Her website includes several videos of her TALL Truth presentations, which feature emphatic references to her religious views, but no discussion of STIs or contraceptives, which are essential, and state-mandated, elements of sex education.”

Seidel points out how easy it is to discern Donahue’s religious agenda from her website, and says that it is “well settled that schools may not advance or promote religion.” He cites several nationally significant legal cases in which rulings have reinforced this legal point.

Seidel wrote that,

“…In this case, it would have taken only a cursory glance at Ms. Donahue’s website to verify her religious agenda. Merely skimming her ‘About’ page reveals her inappropriateness as a speaker on sex education. It is difficult for us to understand how this event could have been approved. Your community undoubtedly possesses many secular experts who have experience, training, certification and/or degrees and would be delighted, usually at no cost to the district, to discuss the topic of sex education before your student body, and whose presence would not raise constitutional red flags.”

WCAF to Award $4,325 to Student Who Exposed Christian Proselytizing in Delta Public Schools

Cidney Fisk of Delta, Colorado

Cidney Fisk of Delta, Colorado

On Monday, August 15, 2016 Western Colorado Atheists and Freethinkers (WCAF) will award a $4,325 college scholarship to Cidney Fisk, the newly-graduated Delta High School student who exposed the pervasive Christian proselytizing in Delta County’s public schools. WCAF will hand over the check to Cidney at noon in front of Delta High School in Delta, Colorado.

Cidney is an award-winning, A+ student who excelled in speech and debate, but was punished for her opinions about the school.

The scholarship is WCAF’s largest to date. The group gave a $1,000 gift to the Mesa County Public Library Foundation in July of 2013 to help with construction of the new downtown Central Library, and in spring, 2016 donated $100 to Delta Middle School to help with minor repairs in the girls’ and boys’ restrooms in the school’s cafeteria.

Cidney graduated from Delta High School last May and was outspoken about the school bringing in Christian-based speaker Shelly Donahue, who gave an abstinence-only-before-marriage talk to students. This talk was nominally secular, but contained crucifixes in all the slides and Donahue told the students that having premarital sex “puts

A slide from Shelly Donahue's "WAIT" program shown at Delta High School in October, 2015, containing Christian crosses (crucifixes)

A slide from Shelly Donahue’s “WAIT” program shown at Delta High School in October, 2015, containing Christian crosses (crucifixes)

them further from God.” This talk the only “sex ed” most DHS students ever received from the school district, but it contained none of the state-required information about contraceptives, sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV/AIDS or other information the state says public schools must give students if districts choose to teach sex education.

Cidney Fisk’s Interview on KVNF Radio

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 12.44.55 PMThis 30 minute interview on KVNF Radio with Cidney Fisk and her parents about their experience with the Delta County School District was broadcast July 19, 2016. Host Ali Lightfoot interviews Cidney, her parents and Delta County School District officials about the religious speakers the school routinely brings in, other incidents of proselytizing occurring within the district, and the retribution Cidney faced from her teachers and counselors after voicing her opinions about that and what Cidney perceived as the district’s misguided financial priorities: Click this link to listen to the interview.

District 3 Commissioner Candidates Discuss Deficiencies in County’s Administration of Food Assistance Program

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 11.00.29 AM

 

A June 27, 2016 article on this site discussed how Mesa County turns away almost half of eligible applicants who go to the local Department of Human Services to apply for food stamps. This unused assistance leaves millions of dollars on the table that not only could help more needy county residents buy food for their families, but that would also boost the local economy by pumping millions more dollars of revenue into local grocery stores.

Delta County School Board Rips Off Kids

A slide from Shelly Donahue's "WAIT" program shown at Delta High School

Crucifixes in a slide from Shelly Donahue’s “WAIT” program at Delta High School

The Delta County School Board is violating state and federal laws in order to keep students from getting medically-accurate sex education information, and it seems to be by design.

Last October, the school district hired controversial abstinence-only-before-marriage pontificator Shelly Donahue as a sex education speaker for students. According to students, this was the only “sex education” the Delta County School District provided them, and the school board and district administration apparently consider this an adequate sex education.

Far from it.

For those who aren’t familiar with Shelly Donahue, she is an evangelistic Christian abstinence-only speaker who rakes in government grant funds by giving “WAIT” (“Why Am I Tempted”) training in public schools. Donahue’s website says

“She is passionately committed to Jesus Christ as the ultimate answer to the teen sexual activity problem in America. As a motivational speaker and a leading sex education expert, she is making a significant impact for the Kingdom of God!”

The leading "T" in Donahue's business logo is a crucifix in flames; the logo and cross appear in every slide, regardless if presentations at public schools

The leading “T” in Donahue’s business logo is a flaming crucifix; the logo and cross appeared in every slide in her presentations at Delta schools

In her talks, Donahue dishes out vast amounts of medically inaccurate information to kids and uses broad, simplistic analogies that convey stereotypical images of what boys’ and girls’ personalities are like. She includes liberal doses of religiously-based, guilt-and-shame to frighten students out of having sex before marriage.

Delta County School District Has Lots to Answer For

DDServicesThe Delta County School District is in serious need of help.

The recent exposure of the extent of Christian proselytizing in the Delta County school system has not just raised eyebrows locally, state-wide, nationally and internationally. It has encouraged Delta area residents to come forward with their own personal stories of proselytizing and discrimination in Delta public schools and their workplaces, and how it has affected their lives.