I posted briefly yesterday on Kevin Jennings, the "safe schools czar," but let's take a little closer look at the man whose official title is Director of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools.
Fox News posted an article on Jennings yesterday which outlines most of his biographical information. In 1990, while Jennings was a teacher in Massachusetts he founded the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) which is now in over 40 schools.
The post Jennings now holds was created by Bush in 2002. The website of the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools describes their mission as providing "financial assistance for drug and violence prevention activities and activities that promote the health and well being of students in elementary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher education" as well as formulation and development of policy relating to school violence and drug prevention. Sounds fair enough - schools should be drug and violence free.
William Jasper, writing for The New American, posted an article on September 11 about Jennings in which he contends that Jennings has an agenda to promote homosexuality in schools "under the guise of promoting 'safe schools.'" Jennings is a "bullying expert" and has fought against bullying in schools, which is certainly to be admired. No child should be bullied in school for any reason whatsoever.
However, to some, the Jennings agenda goes too far. If Van Jones was too controversial and radical in his beliefs to be considered suitable, well, let's just say that Kevin Jennings almost makes Van Jones look mainstream.
Jennings has made clear his intent to transform society through the schools. In March 2000, Jennings gave a speech to a church audience in New York City in which he addressed how to deal with religious conservatives. He said,
"Twenty percent of people are hard-core fair-minded [pro-homosexual] people. Twenty percent are hard-core [anti-homosexual] bigots. We need to ignore the hard-core bigots, get more of the hard-core fair-minded people to speak up, and we'll pull that 60 percent [of people in the middle] … over to our side. That's really what I think our strategy has to be. We have to quit being afraid of the religious right. We also have to quit — … I'm trying to find a way to say this. I'm trying not to say, '[F---] 'em!' which is what I want to say, because I don't care what they think! [audience laughter] Drop dead!"
That's the guy in charge of teaching tolerance speaking. He now, of course, denies ever saying that and says he has no recollection of saying that at all. Americans For Truth is searching their archives for a tape of the speech.
Jennings has been outspoken about his agenda to make homosexuality mainstream and acceptable to school children. As an adult, one gets to make up one's own mind; children are the responsibility of the parent and the parent's moral or religious beliefs should not be challenged in schools. It's not the job of public schools to override the parent. In October 1997, Jennings said this:
I'd like five years from now for most Americans when they hear the word GLSEN to think, "Ooh, that's good for kids." … Sane people keep the world the same [sh---y] old way it is now. It's the [crazy] people who think, "No, I can envision a day when straight people say, 'So what if you're promoting homosexuality?' or [when] straight kids say, 'Hey, why don't you and your boyfriend come over before you go to the prom and try your tuxes on at my house?'" … [I]f we believe that can happen, we can make it happen. The only thing that will stop us is our lack of faith that we can make it happen. That is our mission from this day forward.
Jennings has also come under fire for his failure to report an incident when he was a teacher in 1994; a high school sophomore informed Jennings that he was "involved" with "an older man" that he had met in a bus station bathroom. Jennings reports that he told the student "You know, I hope you knew to use a condom." The audio link of this conversation is here; Jennings shared this information at a speech in 2000 in Iowa.
Did Jennings have an obligation to report this incident? Legally, of course he did. Did he do so? No. The Fox article reports that The Washington Times found that no report was filed.
Jennings has been forthcoming about his own drug use. In his 2007 autobiography he wrote, ""I got stoned more often and went out to the beach at Bellows, overlooking Honolulu Harbor and the lights of the city, to drink with my buddies on Friday and Saturday nights, spending hours watching the planes take off and land at the airport, which is actually quite fascinating when you are drunk and stoned."
Mr. Jennings has never, that I can find, expressed regret about his past experience with drugs; in fact, the quote seems to celebrate such activity. Again, a personal choice for him, but is that the right man for the Drug Free Schools job?
In his 2002 book, Always My Child, Jennings proposes "a diversity policy that mandates including LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] themes in the curriculum." Is that the new direction of our education curriculum? If so, I suspect home-schooling will increase exponentially. That's just not the role for schools.
Jennings is just one more bizarre czar working for Team Obama. If this were a position that had to undergo proper vetting and confirmation, I doubt he would have made the cut. He's probably perfectly acceptable and accomplished in his field of study and authorship (he's published six books), but he's the wrong man to lead the charge for safety in our schools.