Truth Frequency Radio
Jan 16, 2015

minnesota.cbslocal.com_2015-01-16_19-14-066-Year-Old Girl Found Hanging From Jump Rope In Foster Home Bedroom… Left Note Written In Purple Marker… ‘I’m Sorry For What I Do’…

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. (AP) — Police in Minnesota have closed their investigation of a 6-year-old girl’s hanging death by ruling out foul play, and said the evidence points to an accident or suicide.

Kendrea Johnson was found unconscious in a bedroom of her foster home in Brooklyn Park with a jump rope around her neck Dec. 27. There were no witnesses in the room.

“All of the evidence leads back to either suicide or accidental,” Deputy Chief Mark Bruley said. “The reality is she was in the room by herself and we’ll probably never know the answer to that.”

Bruley said Kendrea had been getting treatment for emotional problems including suicidal thoughts. Child protection workers put the girl in foster care in December 2013 after her mother allegedly abused drugs. She had been at that particular home since March.

Citing police investigative records, the Star Tribune reported Thursday that investigators found a note written in purple marker in a child’s handwriting reading: “I’m sorry.” A second note said: “I’m sad for what I do.”

Kendrea’s foster mother said the girl had said she wanted to jump out a window and kill herself because “Nobody likes me,” the newspaper reported. She drew pictures at school of a child hanging from a rope, and police found healed ligature marks on both sides of her neck, the newspaper said.

Suicides among young children are rare. There were 33 suicides among children ages 5-9 in the U.S. between 1999 and 2006, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kendrea’s biological mother and grandmother have said they believe somebody else killed her. Bruley said it was hard for him and his investigators to accept that a 6-year-old could have deliberately taken her own life.

“She clearly had emotional issues. Does that mean she fully understood the consequences? I don’t know,” he said.

David Palmiter, a psychology professor at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania, who researches child and adolescent behavioral disorders, said he never had come across a case of suicidal thinking in a child younger than 10 in more than 25 years of practice.

“If you just think about a 6-year-old and their level of cognitive function, that’s a really complex task for a 6-year-old to formulate an evaluation of your place in the universe … decide you’re at fault and nothing can be done about it,” he said.

Burley said he didn’t blame Kendrea’s family for being upset or searching for alternative answers. But he said his detectives did an “extremely thorough” investigation and examined every bit of evidence.

“It’s an absolute tragedy all around,” he said.


Arizona CPS Takes 7 Children Away from Parents after Accident

shoars-family-with-grandparentsby Terri LaPoint
Health Impact News

The unthinkable happened to a family in Arizona. Their three-year-old daughter mysteriously collapsed while her parents were away from home, and she died shortly after. As horrible as that tragedy was, Khloe’s death was only the beginning of the devastation to the Shoars family. Child Protective Services  immediately came in and took away all seven of their other children, placing them in various foster home settings around the area.

The children now don’t have their parents, or even each other, as they try to grasp what has happened to their sister. None of the children, ranging in age from 2 to 9 years old, have been placed with family or friends, and they cry to come home. They don’t understand what has happened, and neither do their parents, Jeff and Tabitha Shoars.

“It’s like a bad nightmare you can’t wake up from,” says Jeff.

No charges have been filed against anyone, yet the state of Arizona has already begun the TPR process, Termination of Parental Rights.

Shoars Daddy Vows To Protect Khloe AlwaysKhloe’s Story: Beautiful Daughter Born in Troubled Circumstances

Khloe has been described a “bubbly, bouncy, giggly” little girl who was a huge blessing to her family. Jeff says that this is “way too soon for her to be out of our lives.”

Khloe’s life began under very difficult circumstances. Her mother Tabitha was sexually assaulted by two men when the family lived in Minnesota. The men went to prison, but Tabitha found that she had become pregnant from the attack. She says that abortion was never an option for her, and together she and Jeff made the choice to give life to the baby that had been conceived.

Tiny Khloe only weighed a pound and a half when she was born prematurely, at just 27 1/2 weeks. She had a brain hemorrhage at birth, and she was in very serious condition at the same time that her mother suffered a placental abruption. While the doctors fought to save Tabitha’s life, Jeff, who has always been terrified of needles, never hesitated when the baby needed a blood transfusion, promptly volunteering to donate blood for Khloe.

The doctors allegedly told the Shoars that she would grow out of the brain hemorrhage condition, and despite Tabitha’s requests, no further testing was ever done on Khloe to monitor the situation. Like the rest of the Shoars children, Khloe was fully vaccinated, and always got the annual flu shot.

A Family that Loved Her

Khloe captured the hearts of her family from the very beginning. Even though she was conceived from assault, Jeff says that he “always considered her mine,” and he vowed to always protect her. According to Tabitha, “she came from a bad situation, but she is our blessing.”

When the Shoars learned Tabitha’s attackers were about to be released from prison, they decided to move cross-country in March 2014, settling in Avondale, Arizona, a city just outside of Phoenix.  Leaving the fears for their safety behind, they found that life was going well for the big family with lots of kids, until that one horrible night in August.

These are the pieces that Tabitha and Jeff have been able to put together of the events that occurred.

A Terrible Accident

Shoars Khloe in parents arms 2On the afternoon of August 14, Jeff and Tabitha left together at about 3:30 pm, leaving their children in the care of a babysitter whom they trusted. The young man, in his twenties, has been described as being “like a big brother to the kids,” and he had a history of playing with and caring for the children, both with and without the parents’ supervision.

She didn’t have much of an appetite for dinner that night, although her family reports that she usually eats seconds. After dinner the kids were playing outside, and Khloe fell and hit her head on the ground. Her siblings and the babysitter found no mark or bump. She went to bed early, which her mother says is what she would do whenever she had a headache. Tabitha also reports that she had a headache a few days before, but they thought nothing of it, since it went away.

After Khloe went to sleep that night, she woke up with a high-pitched scream, then she was crying. The babysitter ran in to her to see what was wrong. He says that he thought at the time that she must have had a nightmare. He helped her get out the bed where she had been asleep with the younger children, and walked her to the kitchen for a drink of water. He reports that she was wobbly on her feet, but he thought that she was just sleepy. After she sipped some water, she collapsed in the hallway, with her eyes rolling back in her head and gasping. The babysitter called 911. Her lips were turning purple as he was trying to do CPR.

When the police arrived before the paramedics, the first officer on the scene moved him out of the way and squeezed her. She threw up, but remained unresponsive. Later, the medical reports would show kidney damage on the side of Khloe where she was squeezed.

Jeff and Tabitha were about 45 minutes away in a Phoenix suburb when they got word that their baby had collapsed. By the time the frantic parents got home, there was police tape surrounding their house. Tabitha was directed to go to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and Jeff stayed behind to check on the other kids and talk to the officials at their home.

What this mother found at the hospital was “every single parent’s worst nightmare.” The doctor told her that Khloe (who had been admitted as a Jane Doe) had bleeding and swelling of the brain and kidney damage, and that she was unresponsive. She was on life support.

Tabitha says she was distraught and tried to get answers, but there were none to be had. She wanted to know what happened, but the doctors reported that nothing showed up in her blood work. “There was no bruises, scars or marks, or signs of anything! She wasn’t bitten, she wasn’t stung, she wasn’t shaken NOTHING.”

CPS Removes Remaining Children from Home

The Shoars ChildrenWhen Jeff arrived at the hospital, he told his wife that CPS was taking the other kids for 72 hours, because it was “protocol for them to investigate.” At the time, they were fine with that because they needed to focus on Khloe. None of their family lived in Arizona, and Tabitha and Jeff didn’t question the actions of CPS, which seemed reasonable to them at the time.

As the day progressed, it became clear that it was only the life support machines keeping their little girl alive. Tabitha says that CPS didn’t even want to let the other children come to the hospital to say goodbye to their sister, but that the doctor insisted that CPS let them come.

Tabitha tearfully described to me the most heart-rending day of her life, as she had to let go of her baby Khloe. Jeff choked up as he told me, “I adored her and I loved her more than anything.” They lay with her in the hospital bed as her heart stopped and she let go of this life.

And yet, they still haven’t had a chance to grieve the most difficult thing a parent could go through, because CPS didn’t bring their other children back to them. Even now, they only get to visit a few hours a week.

No Charges Filed, but Children Not Returned

Understandably, there was an investigation. The babysitter was originally arrested, then released. The parents have been investigated. The police are allegedly calling this a homicide investigation; however, to date no charges have been filed against anyone. The investigators allegedly do not appear to be looking at the babysitter any more.

Jeff says that they still don’t know the answer to the big question: “what happened to Khloe?” It’s kind of like Sherlock Holmes trying to put together all the pieces.

Health Impact News spoke with Tabitha’s sister-in-law Lisa Shoars R.N., who said, “The symptoms that were described to me definitely seem to be consistent with a brain aneurysm, from what I’ve learned in nursing school.”

An autopsy was performed, but the results have not yet been released. The Shoars are hoping that the autopsy will help to fill in the pieces. The Shoars are concerned about the fact that they were told that the autopsy was completed, but that the medical examiner is waiting for the police report before releasing the autopsy. Supporters have told Tabitha and Jeff that this is not the usual order of things.

They report that all of the doctors say there were no signs of abuse. A rape kit was done, and it came back negative. Tabitha says that she does not believe that the babysitter hurt Khloe, and the family’s thinking is that their little girl died from tragic natural causes.

Reasoning Behind Why Children were Removed from Parents is Not Clear

Shoars family with dogFamily and Child Advocate Steven R. Isham M.A., L.B.S.W., recently met with the Shoars and has reviewed the available records.  He expresses concern that there are a number of issues with the state of Arizona’s treatment of the Shoars family. Among his findings are the following:

  • The court documents and child protective services documents misrepresent and conflict with the facts. There is documentation that has been added to reports that did not occur. There seems to be documentation of threats made to the children by the Foster Parents, and by CPS workers to elicit certain behaviors and language.
  • I was unable to discover in the records or through conversation exactly what the accusations are that drew the conclusion of imminent harm and immediate removal of the children from the Parents and from the Grandparents.
  • Concerns for the children:
    Medications not provided in state care
    Long absences from school
    Holidays and Family milestones ignored in state care
    Multiple separation anxiety provoking events in state care with no evidence of accompanying support services for those many events
    Separated from original home
    Separated from Parents
    Separated from Grandparents
    Separated from siblings
    Separated from schools
    Children told to address Foster Parents as Mother and Father causing confusion and distrust in these already traumatized children as listed above.
    Placed with Hispanic families with cultural differences causing anxiety with language, foods, clothing, and a variety of other cultural items
  • It is reported that one child was told by Foster Parent that biological Mother was in heaven with deceased sibling. It is reported that child was shocked and confused when he saw the biological Mother at the next visit.
  •  It appears that the Parents and Grandparents participation has already been discontinued if it ever was actively sought during the reunification process.
  • It does appear that Parents and Grandparents have actively participated in every condition asked of them. There is nothing that shows they have not fully participated when asked to do so by the court or by Child Protective Services.

Arizona CPS: Presumed Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Despite the fact that there have been no charges filed, and the autopsy has not even been released, Arizona’s Child Protective Services appears to have condemned the Shoars without a trial, deeming them guilty until proven innocent. A caseworker allegedly told the family that the accusation is neglect, because the parents allegedly failed to protect the children from abuse by the babysitter.

There is a hearing scheduled for January 16. This hearing is reportedly about three things:

  1. TPR – to determine if the state will terminate parental rights to the Shoars seven living children. The Shoars have been told that at least one of the foster parents wants to adopt some of her kids, the kids who have parents who love them. It is unclear if this is the same foster parent who makes the children call her “mom.”
  2. to determine if the grandparents may be awarded custody. Currently, two of the children are in a group home, and two others are in a non-English speaking home (the Shoars report that all of their children speak only English).
  3. a pre-trial conference

Tabitha says that she is worried sick about her children and scared for their safety. She has heard horror stories about what happens to kids in foster care, and wants desperately to protect them from that. The Shoars are concerned because their children have reportedly been sick quite frequently since entering foster care.

“The CPS is traumatizing our kids.” They reportedly cry and beg their parents to let them come home, but their parents are powerless to do anything.

The Shoars have named a star after their little girl, who would have turned 4 on December 19. The star “Khloe Madison” is in the Sagittarius constellation. “This star shines for you in your memory.” Tabitha hopes that knowing that there is a star in the sky looking down on them in their sister’s name will somehow bring comfort to their other children.


A Family Torn Apart During Time of Tragedy

Jeff and Tabitha want answers, but more than anything, they want their kids back, these children whom they love “more than anything in the world.”

Tabitha says, “I want my kids to know that I will always fight for them.” The Shoars have suffered the tragic unexplained death of one of their children. How cruel to have to suffer the loss and separation from the rest of their children.

Mr. Charles Flanagan is the Director of DCS/CPS in Arizona. He may be reached at 1-602-542-5844. Concerned citizens might want to ask him how his agency can think that it is acceptable to attempt to terminate parents’ rights when no charges have been filed against them, and there are allegedly no signs of abuse.

Newly elected Governor Doug Ducey can be reached by phone or email here.

For those who want to follow the Shoars family story and support them in their struggle to get their kids back, there is a Facebook page set up:

Freedom and Justice for the Shoars Family. #justice4shoars

The next court hearing is on Friday, January 16, at 9 am at the Family Courthouse at 3131 West Durango, Phoenix. The family welcomes people to come to the courthouse in support.


School’s Plan to ‘Empower’ Students in Intruder Scenario Slammed as ‘Dangerous’ & ‘Stupid’: ‘WOW’

An Alabama middle school sent a letter home to parents late last week notifying them of a new safety procedure aimed at keeping students safe should a would-be evildoer enter campus.

W.F. Burns Middle School — located in the small city of Valley, Alabama — wrote that as part of “enhancing our procedure for intruders” they would like to arm each student with a canned food item to possibly strike the suspect with.

“The procedure will be the same as we have done in the past with the addition of arming our students with a canned food item,” the letter sent home to parents read.

Image source: WHNT-TV

“We realize this may seem odd; however, it is a practice that would catch an intruder off-guard,” the letter continued. “The canned food item could stun the intruder or even knock him out until the police arrive.”

Principal Priscella Holley and assistant principal Donna Bell added in the letter that “the canned food item would give the students a sense of empowerment to protect themselves.”

“We hope the canned food item will never be used or needed, but it is best to be prepared,” it concluded.

According to school officials, the canned food component of the new precautions is just one part of an emergency program called ALICE, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate, WHNT-TV reported.

Nonetheless, individuals commenting on local news stories posted to Facebook appeared overwhelmingly against the idea of arming students with canned food.

“WOW. The level of stupidity in this is astronomically high,” one individual wrote.

“This is probably the most dangerous and stupid thing I’ve ever heard an educator say,” wrote another individual.

“Really stupid,” echoed yet another.


Psychosocial experiences in childhood may influence later-life cardiovascular health


Having positive psychosocial experiences during childhood may increase the likelihood of better cardiovascular health in adulthood. This is according to a new study published in Circulation – a journal of the American Heart Association.
A happy mother and child

The investigators, including senior author Laura Pulkki-Råback, PhD, of the University of Helsinki in Finland, believe their results support findings from previous studies indicating that a child’s well-being affects their health later in life.

At study baseline, Pulkki-Råback and colleagues analyzed the socioeconomic status, emotional stability, parental health behaviors, occurrence of stressful events, social adjustment and the self-regulation of behavioral problems among 3,577 children aged 3-18 years.

The cardiovascular health of 1,089 of these participants was assessed 27 years later, when they were aged 30-45 years. This was done using the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 – a questionnaire that assesses seven factors that contribute to cardiovascular health: cholesterol, diet, blood pressure, weight, blood sugar and smoking.

Parents’ choices may affect children’s later-life health

Overall, the researchers found that participants who experienced positive psychosocial experiences as a child – such as a stable emotional environment at home, financial stability, social acceptance and greater opportunities to control aggressiveness and impulsiveness and to learn healthy lifestyle habits – were more likely to have better cardiovascular health as an adult.

In detail, participants who had the most positive psychosocial experiences in childhood were 14% more likely to be of normal weight in adulthood, 12% more likely to be a non-smoker and 11% more likely to have a healthy blood sugar level, compared with participants who had the least positive psychosocial experiences in childhood.

Pulkki-Råback says the team’s findings indicate that a child’s family environment can have a significant impact on their later-life health:

“The choices parents make have a long-lasting effect on their children’s future health, and improvement in any one thing can have measurable benefits.

For instance, if an unemployed parent gets steady employment, the effect may be huge. If he or she also quits smoking, the benefit is even greater. All efforts to improve family well-being are beneficial.”

Furthermore, Pulkki-Råback notes that past studies have shown that ensuring the good well-being of children and families is cost effective in the long term – it lowers health care costs in older age. “The knowledge is out there,” she adds, “and now it is a question of values and priorities.”

Psychosocial experiences in childhood are not the only factors that may influence cardiovascular health later in life. Last month, Medical News Today reported on another study published in Circulation, which found that women who began their menstrual cycle aged 10 or younger or 17 or older may be at increased risk of heart disease, stroke and hypertension-related complications.

Another study, published in July 2014, found that women who were sexually abused in childhood were more likely to have an early sign of atherosclerosis – thickening or hardening of the arteries – in adulthood.


Why Are Cell Phone Towers Going Up on Public Schools All over the Country?

Dees Illustration

Aaron Dykes and Melissa Melton

TruthStream Media

“We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.” – Former CIA Director William Casey

This is a follow up to our last report based on a tip sent to us by a viewer who wanted to know how it was okay that the largest elementary school in Dallas put up a giant cell phone tower right on the basketball court next to the playground.

After we released the video, lots of people sent us tips from one side of the nation to the other.

These cell towers are being placed on school property — next to even preschool playgrounds and sometimes directly on the rooftops of the schools themselves — all over America.



With no long-term studies for safety, troubling health data pointing to everything from cancer to negative impacts on the immune system to impairing hormone function — why?

Why is there such a concerted, nationwide push to place these dangerous towers right next to our growing children in the very buildings they spend all their time in during the week?

Well…there is one theory…but you aren’t going to like it.

Cell Phone Towers are for Mind Control, 1of3 | 2of3 | 3of3

For more on this, check out the source docs on

Aaron Dykes and Melissa Melton created, where this first appeared, as an outlet to examine the news, uncover the deceptions, pierce through the fabric of illusions, know the real enemy, unshackle from the system, and begin to imagine the path towards taking back our lives, one step at a time, so that one day we might truly be free…


“Children eligible for expanded Medicaid contribute more in taxes as adults” (In other words, children who think the state is mommy and daddy feel more obligated to it)

January 12, 2015
Yale University
Children who received expanded Medicaid benefits in the 1980s and 1990s contributed more to the US tax system as adults, a new study has found. They also were more likely to attend college and less likely to die prematurely in adulthood.

The study is based on an analysis of tax returns for nearly all children born in the United States from 1981 to 1984. It compared children from similar backgrounds who were eligible for Medicaid for different lengths of time, depending on where and when they were born.

Medicaid, which began in 1965, is a public health insurance program for low-income people. It expanded dramatically in the 1980s and again in the 1990s, with the establishment of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Historically, states have set different eligibility thresholds for Medicaid.

Yale University economist Amanda Kowalski, one of the study’s co-authors, said the research has implications for today’s Medicaid landscape, as well. “Although it will take years to know the long-term impact of current expansions of Medicaid undertaken as part of the Affordable Care Act, this study shows that the investments that the government made in Medicaid in the 1980s and 1990s are paying off in the form of higher tax payments now,” Kowalski said.

According to the study, the federal government recouped 14 cents for each dollar spent on childhood Medicaid by the time the children reached age 28. Assuming these higher tax payments persist, the federal government would recoup 56 cents on each dollar by the time these children reach age 60.

Children eligible for more years of Medicaid made higher combined income and payroll tax payments as adults, the study found. They also collected less from the Earned Income Tax Credit, and females had higher cumulative wages.

In addition to Kowalski, who also is affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), the study’s co-authors are David Brown and Ithai Lurie, from the Office of Tax Analysis at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The study was released Jan. 12 as an NBER Working Paper.

The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in the study are entirely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Yale University. The original article was written by Jim Shelton. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Feds: Parents, public schools don’t mix

Michael F. Haverluck   (

It’s becoming more and more commonplace: parents being ushered out the door of their children’s educational life. But a Virginia-based nonprofit is working on legislation to counter that trend.

Other than dropping their kids off at school and purchasing their school supplies, parents’ roles in their children’s education is becoming marginalized to the point where their input on curriculum, assistance in homework, and ability to opt them out of offensive curriculum is overstepping their authority over students – which the federal government says belongs to them.

Becoming more apparent than ever under the federal government’s Common Core, parents of publicly schooled children are deemed unfit to have any say in their children’s education, which is something to be left up to the “experts,” according to, a Christian nonprofit organization based in Purcellville, Virginia, dedicated to protecting children by empowering parents.

“It is no accident, no coincidence … and it’s not just your imagination,” insists Michael Ramey, director of communications and research for “There really is a steady trend by the government and the courts to remove the influence of parents from the public schools.”

Disarming those believing that this warning is some kind of right-wing conspiracy theory, Ramey argues that the complete government takeover of public schools and the children they train has arrived, and it’s no secret with the implementation of the federally imposed Common Core and fairly recent court decisions from the government’s judicial branch.

“I’m not saying your child’s teacher or principal, or even your local school board, is out to get you … Nor am I suggesting some giant system-wide conspiracy, where some shadow organization is secretly working through all different channels to rob you of your rights,” Ramey assures. “It is something bigger and more dangerous than that.”

According to officials funded by the tax dollars they pay, parents don’t have their children’s best interest at heart when it comes to their education.

“What we are witnessing is the rise of an ideology, a statist mindset that actually believes that ‘expert’ agents of the state can make better decisions for your child than you can,” Ramey declares.

Good ruling from the past, grueling rulings from the present

Ramey says courtroom decisions affirming parental authority over their children’s education from decades ago are a thing of the past.

“In 1979, the Supreme Court held, ‘The statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition’ (Parham v. J.R., 1979),” Ramey informs. “Unfortunately, a growing, powerful minority no longer finds that idea repugnant today.”

In an alleged ruse to gain full control of children and instruct them with whatever indoctrination tools they see fit, government officials over education are declaring parents irrelevant and incompetent when it comes to training children to become productive members of society.

“Instead, they argue that because not all parents are experts in education, parents should not be trusted with educational decisions for their child,” Ramey continues. “[They say] education is far too important; it must be kept in the hands of the experts.”

Evidence for this evolution in thinking when it comes to parental involvement in education comes from landmark court decisions within the past decade.

“This trend is seen in court cases such as Fields v. Palmdale (2005), which held that parents have no say in what, when or how their children are taught about controversial subjects in the public schools,” Ramey explains. “[A]nd Parker v. Hurley (2007) … held that parents have no right to opt their children out of objectionable material, even if it does not involve a core curricular subject.”

Even more recent machinations by lawmakers have targeted parents who want to withdraw their children from the overreaching public school system, ruling that their tax dollars collected for public education cannot be used to instruct their children outside the state-run schools.

“It is also seen in legislative action, such as Congress’ 2009 defunding of a voucher program in DC that allowed low-income families to make school choices for their children.” Ramey points out. “And that perfectly parallels a lawsuit brought in 2013 by the federal government against the state of Louisiana in an attempt to end a similar educational choice program in that state.”

Ramey emphasizes the fact that he covered all three branches of the federal government – judicial, legislative and executive – which have had their hand in removing the hands of parents from their children’s education. to the Core

The federal government isn’t the only entity that has had its hand in public education and shown a vested interest in America’s youth. It has recently joined hands with the private business sector to grab more control of children through “educational” polices and materials administered through the Common Core – a federal instructional program that all states must adopt … or surrender their eligibility for millions in federally issued education funds.

“Perhaps the greatest example of this intrusive statist mindset, however, has been the push to adopt the Common Core State Standards,” Ramey explains. “Conceived by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and fleshed out by trade unions in DC, the Common Core includes ‘curriculum standards’ that all states must adopt in order to be eligible for federal ‘Race to the Top’ education dollars.”

As if parents didn’t think their control over their children’s education wasn’t usurped enough by teachers, school districts and the departments of education, a higher authority is now claiming its stake as the chief controller over children’s education – and it’s using the Common Core as tool to do it.

“Under Common Core, local school districts and even state departments of education are losing authority over education decisions to a smaller and more centralized group of ‘experts’ who are further away from and less accountable to the real experts – the parents and local school teachers who know those children and work to meet their needs every day,” Ramey asserts.

For progressives not believing the Common Core is overreaching enough, it works hand-in-hand with a high-maintenance (and high-priced) digital information system that tracks children – a system through which world governments have all the data they need on those within its system.

“Common Core is also coupled with a scheme to create a national database of American students,” Ramey notes. “Proponents claim it will allow educators to tailor curriculum to the individual student’s needs – but critics see it as a ploy to help big businesses exploit student data for advertising revenue.”

And just how many states already ascribe to the federal government’s Common Core? Currently 42 states plus the District of Columbia are fully on board with the Common Core. The initial number was 45, but Oklahoma, Indiana and South Carolina withdrew their allegiance after seeing its detrimental effects on student learning and development. Minnesota has partially adopted with the Common Core minus Math standards. The four states that have never adopted the Common Core are Texas, Virginia, Nebraska and Alaska. All the remaining states have completely signed on, but some are having second thoughts.

“Fortunately, parents have started to push back,” Ramey shares. “Several states that adopted the Common Core have since reversed that decision; five states declined to adopt it in the first place. And other states where Common Core was implemented this school year are still seeing parents and lawmakers pushing to retake control of education from the centralized federal powers behind this program.”

Fighting back

Instead of sitting back and watching or lamenting over the landslide of parental rights in the public school system, is working on legislation this year to usher children back under the control of their parents when it comes to education.

“The ultimate way to push back … will come in 2015 with [’s] newly concerted effort to push the Parental Rights Amendment through the U.S. Congress,” Ramey says. “This Amendment to the Constitution will secure the ‘fundamental right’ of parents ‘to direct the upbringing, education and care of their children,’ including ‘the right to choose public, private, religious or home schools, and the right to make reasonable choices within public schools for one’s child.'”

Ramey says that rulings such as Fields and Parker that usurp parental authority to make choices in the children’s education should not be left uncontested and that the Parental Rights Amendment will help ensure that parents will no longer experience the inability to influence the culture and teachings in their children’s educational environment.

“Your tax dollars pay for the public schools,” he contends. “Yet elitist bureaucrats are making them unsafe for parental rights while pushing their own statist worldview. And anywhere unsafe for parents is unsafe for children.”

Ramey insists that by standing up for the fundamental rights of parents to have a say in their children’s education, the government takeover can stop dead in its tracks.

“Together, we [must] reverse this trend and restore the rights of parents in the education of their children,” Ramey exhorts parents and freedom-loving Americans.


This Is What Happens When We Lock Children in Solitary Confinement

“That place mentally messed me up,” a teen recalls of his 82 days in the hole. “I really wanted to die. I felt hopeless.”

One night in March 2013, a 17-year-old named Kenny was walking with a friend through farm country in Reilly Township, Ohio. The boys had been drinking and were checking car doors in the hope of finding a little money when they came across a pickup with keys in the ignition. They decided to take it for a spin.

If you hadn’t guessed by now, Kenny wasn’t exactly thinking straight. He was just three weeks out of court-ordered rehab for marijuana possession and public intoxication, and his dad had just caught him stealing his anxiety medication. The pair drove a few miles to the home of Kenny’s girlfriend, whose mother saw the purloined truck and called the cops. The boys bolted, spent the night in a shed, and the next night were arrested while partying at a frat house. A judge found Kenny guilty of receiving stolen property worth less than $7,500, a low-level felony. He deemed Kenny, who had some pot on him when he was caught, a “delinquent child,” and sentenced him to six months at the juvenile correctional facility in Circleville.

But Kenny’s sentence wound up being rougher than the judge had perhaps intended. While the Circleville facility’s website boasts rehabilitative programs such as music, worship, woodworking, and education, he didn’t have much of a chance to take advantage of them. Shortly after arriving, Kenny landed in solitary confinement for fighting. Over the next six months he spent nearly 82 days in the hole—locked in his own room or an isolation cell—once for 19 days at a stretch, according to court documents.

I learned about Kenny’s case from legal filings in a lawsuit brought by the Obama administration against the state of Ohio. They make for some chilling reading. For years, the Department of Justice has pressured Ohio and other states to fix widespread problems in their juvenile prisons. In the fall of 2013, the department learned that some facilities were punishing kids like Kenny with long stretches of solitary. It investigated and filed suit the following March, asking a judge to immediately intervene because children would continue suffering “irreparable harm” if the practice wasn’t stopped. Kenny’s case was cited as a key example of the damage solitary could do.

While in isolation, Kenny—who was diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder prior to the sixth grade—wrote to his mother, Melissa Bucher, begging her to make the two-hour drive to visit him. “I don’t feel like I’m going to make it anymore,” he wrote. “I’m in seclusion so I can’t call and I’m prolly going to be in here for a while. My mind is just getting to me in here.”

Bucher, a warm, lively woman who at first glance could be mistaken for Kenny’s big sister, insists that forced isolation turned her teen from a social kid with some mental-health issues into a depressed young man who shies away from others and experiences panic attacks at night. “Other inmates would call me a lot and tell me he was not doing good and hearing voices,” she said. When she visited Kenny, she noticed “he had scratch marks all over his arms. He was just digging into them.” Alphonse Gerhardstein, an attorney representing Kenny and others in a separate lawsuit that was eventually consolidated with the Justice Department’s case, noted in an email to the state attorney general’s office that the boy “bangs his head frequently” and “had fresh injuries.”

When I reached out to the Ohio Department of Youth Services last May to ask about Kenny’s situation—by then he’d turned 18 and had been moved to an adult prison—spokeswoman Frances Russ declined to comment on the particulars. But she wrote in an email that “seclusion is minimally used in our facilities to maintain safety and order” and insisted that kids in solitary get access to rehabilitative programs.

“They locked me in that little room with nothing,” Kenny countered when I reached him by phone a few weeks later. He was cold and lonely in the isolation room, Kenny told me, but that was nothing compared with the psychological torment. “I wasn’t even thinking straight, banging my head on the door and everything else. I was acting like a crazy person,” he said. “I had some of the roughest nights in there that I’ve ever had in my life.”

Desperate for human attention, he recalled busting the cell’s sprinklers and then spending nights soaked, on a wet mat. He lashed out too, and was rewarded with a separate conviction for harassing a staff member—Kenny told me he’d peed in a milk carton and threw it at a guard. “I’m not even like that, for real. I’m a good person. That place mentally messed me up,” he said. “I thought I was going to end up killing somebody or something.” Prior to being in solitary, he had never contemplated suicide, but in the hole, “I really wanted to die. I felt hopeless.”

The milk carton outburst resulted in additional time, which is why, at age 18, Kenny found himself in the adult lockup. It was “a traumatic and horrible experience for him,” Gerhardstein told me, and he ultimately spent another 50 days in nonpunitive seclusion, including time in the prison’s medical unit. He was “basically suicidal,” Bucher said. “He was a mess.”
The practice of isolating prisoners is deeply rooted in American history. In 1787, a group of prison reformers joined by Benjamin Franklin argued that if inmates were left alone in silence, they would become repentant. This Quaker-inspired method resulted in the creation, in 1790, of a penitentiary house containing 16 solitary cells in Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Jail. Some 50 years later, Charles Dickens visited the city’s lockups, of which he wrote, “The system here is rigid, strict, and hopeless solitary confinement. I believe it, in its effects, to be cruel and wrong.” In its most recent census of state and federal adult prisons, in 2005, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that nearly 82,000 men and women were in “restricted housing”—a lowball figure that doesn’t include jails or immigration facilities.

The system for children evolved quite differently. Traditionally the core concept of juvenile justice has been parens patriae, literally “parent of the nation.” The state serves as a surrogate parent, educating and rehabilitating wayward kids. The excessive use of solitary in youth facilities was first documented in a handful of states in the 1970s and 1980s. But it really took off in the 1990s at the tail end of the crack epidemic, when conservatives began warning of “super-predators”—what the Princeton professor who coined the term described as “fatherless, Godless, and jobless” teenagers who would coldly victimize their communities. Voters panicked and states began passing laws that treated child perpetrators more like adults. By decade’s end, kids were routinely being put on lockdown for much of the day, and even held in cages on the yard, says psychiatrist Terry Kupers, an expert on solitary confinement who has testified in numerous lawsuits over jail and prison conditions.

As of 2011, the most recent year for which national data is available, the Department of Justice reported that 61,423 minors were being held in 2,047 juvenile facilities, of which roughly 1 in 5 used isolation—some prison officials prefer euphemistic terms like “reflection cottages” or “timeouts.” That didn’t even account for adult prisons and jails, which held roughly 95,000 more juveniles, according to an American Civil Liberties Union/Human Rights Watch estimate.

But even as prisons ramped up the use of isolation for infractions such as fighting, resisting a guard, or destruction of property, scientific evidence was piling up that demonstrated its devastating effects on the human brain. Back in the 1980s, Stuart Grassian, then a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, had interviewed adult prisoners in solitary in Walpole, Massachusetts, and found in them a distinctive set of psychiatric symptoms that resembled delirium. These included hallucinations, panic attacks, memory problems, obsessive thoughts, and impulse control. One prisoner described feeling “spaced out. Hear singing; people’s voices [saying], ‘Cut your wrists and go to Bridgewater and the Celtics are playing tonight.’ I doubt myself. Is it real?”

Up until around that time, brain researchers widely believed that we produce all the neurons we will ever have by early childhood. We now know, however, that new brain cells continue to develop in the hippocampus—a portion of the brain central to cognition and memory processing—throughout adulthood. When scientists began looking at animals kept in isolation, they discovered that they grew fewer new neurons than their nonisolated counterparts. That’s because isolation creates stress, and stress hormones inhibit neuron formation, which can result in harm to memory and learning. The effect is often more pronounced in juvenile animals, whose brains are undergoing rapid development. There “isn’t any question,” says Zachary Weil, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Ohio State University, that isolation is harmful to the brain and to overall health.

Last March, researchers from Brazil published a study in which they isolated adolescent marmosets, a kind of adorable South American monkey, in cages as small as two and a half feet across, and kept them from seeing or touching other monkeys. The animals soon grew anxious and spent less time on their usual grooming habits. Compared with controls, they exhibited “significantly” higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol and a steady drop in neuron production in the hippocampus—just one week in isolation decreased the observed number of new cells by more than one-third.

Ceylan Isgor, an associate biomedical science professor at Florida Atlantic University, has found that the effects of isolation on juvenile animals are “long-lasting.” As she explained it to me, the pruning of synapses—the connections between nerve cells—that occurs during adolescence and helps teenagers grow out of behaviors such as impulsiveness does not occur normally under conditions of extended isolation. Extrapolating from animal studies, she said, the results would suggest that kids already prone to breaking rules will become even more likely to act out: “You’re getting a whole different network.” And while the consequences may not be seen right away, they can pop up later as mental-illness symptoms or vulnerability to drug addiction. In other words, the way we often deal with messed-up kids in juvenile detention may increase the likelihood that they’ll reoffend down the road.

David Chura, whose 2010 book, I Don’t Wish Nobody to Have a Life Like Mine, chronicles the decade he spent teaching English to juveniles at the Westchester County Jail (an adult lockup in New York), has seen the effects of isolation firsthand. In 2004, the prison opened a new security housing unit, a.k.a. solitary wing. At first, it seemed like an improvement: The rooms, Chura recalled, were clean and quiet and “you could read or whatever.” But then his students began to deteriorate, rapidly and dramatically, and his teaching attempts fell apart: “The motivation for doing anything was lost.” Young men who used to fastidiously iron their orange uniforms stopped bathing. They became angrier and started acting out more. When they were allowed out of their cells into an adjacent recreation area—an empty room with a screen for fresh air—the kids would “plaster their faces against these screens and be yelling back and forth,” Chura told me, as though trying to prove, “I’m alive. I’m really still here.”

The class action suit in Ohio described a boy, “IJ,” who was 14 when he entered state custody in 2006. Grassian, by then retired from Harvard, was asked to review his records. When IJ first came into the system, Grassian testified, he was described as a “cooperative youth” who, despite his intellectual disabilities, didn’t require psychiatric drugs or mental-health services. But after a few years, and a lot of time spent in solitary, the teen was diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder and PTSD. Six years into his sentence, he was “seen as simply incorrigible…and a misogynist,” Grassian noted. He assaulted a staff member that year too. “I hated being in my room,” IJ testified. “It made me mad. It made my anger issues way worse.”

Then there’s the case of Jonathan McClard, who was 16 when he arranged to meet his ex’s new boyfriend at a car wash in Jackson, Missouri, one summer evening in 2007. According to the Southeast Missourian, he brought his father’s gun along and shot the other kid multiple times, leaving him severely wounded—surveillance footage captured Jonathan “calmly drinking a soda” afterward, the paper reported. When police arrived, he confessed, and was promptly hospitalized for suicidal ideation. He was “extremely happy,” he later told the paper, when he learned that his rival’s injuries were healing.

Jonathan was tried as an adult that November, sentenced to 30 years in prison, and placed in the juvenile wing of the Northeast Correctional Center in Bowling Green, where he began taking GED classes. In December, however, he landed in solitary after he “assumed an aggressive stance,” according to a Department of Corrections (DOC) representative, and “leaned forward” toward correctional officers who were counseling him on hygiene.

He was still in solitary when his mother, Tracy McClard, came to visit two weeks later, just days shy of his 17th birthday. The visit was “really hard,” she said. Jonathan told her he “wasn’t getting any human interaction at all,” was only allowed out of his cell every three days to shower, and was being fed through a slot in the door. (The DOC spokesman would only say that he had “daily interaction with staff.”) To keep himself occupied, Jonathan did mental math and read the Bible. “I could see a change in him,” McClard told me. “He looked so old.”

After he turned 17, Jonathan was transferred from solitary to a single cell in a correctional center near Bonne Terre en route to an adult prison. The next day, when McClard came home, her daughter said that someone from the prison had called several times but wouldn’t say what it was about. She called back. Jonathan was dead. He had hanged himself in his cell.

At the family’s request, Lindsay Hayes, who has worked as a suicide prevention consultant for the Justice Department, reviewed the boy’s prison records. The staff, he determined, knew of Jonathan’s history of suicidal thoughts and of his deep anxi­eties about his impending transfer, and yet he hadn’t seen a counselor for more than a week prior to the move. His handling by the prison authorities, Hayes concluded, “was the proximate cause of his preventable suicide.”

If solitary messes with your mind when you’re reasonably sane, it can also make existing psychiatric problems­ worse. And psychiatric problems are endemic among prisoners: The authors of a study published in 2008 in the Journal of the American Academy of Child looked at 16,750 incarcerated juveniles and found they had 10 times the rate of diagnosed mental illness as kids on the outside. Numerous state studies over the years have found that up to two-thirds of kids in lockup had diagnosable disorders. And when these kids act up behind bars, locking them in a room alone often exacerbates their condition. “There were times the sense was this kid was just being a pain in the ass, and they needed to be taught a lesson,” Chura recalled, when the real problem was that he had mental-health problems the staff wasn’t trained to deal with. According to a 2009 Justice Department report, of the 79 kids who had killed themselves at juvenile facilities over an earlier five-year period, 62 percent had spent time in seclusion, and more than half took their lives while they were in “room confinement.”

Juveniles placed in adult prisons are particularly at risk of landing in the hole—in part, ironically, because of laws designed to protect them. The Prison Rape Elimination Act, enacted to curb sexual abuse of prisoners, stipulates that unsupervised minors may not come into “sight, sound, or physical contact” with adult inmates. Because many prisons lack the space or the staff to separate teens from adults in a more humane way, psychiatrist Kupers told me, the kids “wind up in isolative confinement.”

The Justice Department recently intervened in a Michigan case on behalf of a group of boys in adult prisons, one of whom was raped and then allegedly spent more than five months in solitary by choice, petrified that he would be attacked again. While the lawsuit focuses on allegations that the prison didn’t properly separate juveniles from adults, the boys’ attorney, Deborah Labelle, says the isolation was clearly detrimental to the boys’ mental health: Four of her seven plaintiffs attempted suicide: two of them did so while they were in solitary, because “they just could not take it anymore.” (A Michigan corrections spokesman wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit.) “If a jail is that violent that they cannot ensure safety without locking people down,” one prison reform expert told me, “there are more problems than isolation.”

Lawyers with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division were arguing that solitary confinement is dangerous for children as far back as the George W. Bush era. From 2000 to 2005, attorney James Eichner worked in the division’s special litigation unit, which monitors violations of prisoners’ rights. During his time, Eichner told me, the division tried to convince states and counties that kids should not be treated just like “little adults,” because their “brains were wired differently.” But “that was not accepted as true the way it is now.”

The new science has finally started making its way into policy, however. In 2011, a United Nations torture expert said solitary should never be used on juveniles, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry issued a similar decree the following year. This past July, Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced joint legislation that would prohibit the use of punitive solitary confinement on kids in federal detention facilities. “When you look at the evidence, you really see this is not a practice in keeping with the ideals of our country,” Booker told me. “It harms our young people. It harms them physically, it harms them emotionally.”

Under President Obama, the Civil Rights Division has put considerable energy into making the criminal-justice system less punitive and more rehabilitative. “Solitary confinement can be dangerous, and a serious impediment to the ability of juveniles to succeed once released,” then-Attorney General Eric Holder proclaimed in May, a week before the department announced a sweeping settlement in the Ohio case. Now, isolation can’t be used in the state’s juvenile facilities to punish youth with mental-health problems. (The ban will eventually extend to all of the kids.) If someone commits a violent act, he or she must be kept apart from others for two to four hours, but never more than a day.

The Justice Department has also gone after juvenile prison abuses in California, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, and Tennessee. Staffers at a Mississippi youth facility operated by a private contractor, for example, found a young inmate hanging from a light fixture after he learned that his two-year-old had died in a car crash. He survived, but rather than being put on suicide watch, he was placed in isolation. Officials at Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall, in Northern California, put a 17-year-old with schizophrenia in solitary for 60 days for behavior that included “spitting, hearing voices, and talking to himself,” according to one complaint. And five correctional officers at New York City’s notorious Rikers Island Jail allegedly beat a mostly naked boy—including hitting him with a metal fan—for making a “smart remark.” After the hospital released the kid, he was allegedly punished with 75 days in the hole.

The movement to end juvenile solitary has gotten a boost from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, whose recommendations on juvenile justice reform have been adopted by more than 200 jurisdictions, including Baltimore, San Francisco, and Dallas County, Texas. This past summer, the foundation issued new voluntary guidelines calling for an end to “the use of room confinement for discipline, punishment, administrative convenience, retaliation, [or] staffing shortages.” In short: emergency use only. “No one says you can’t put a kid in a room if they’re temporarily out of control,” explains Paul DeMuro, a senior consultant to the foundation. “Say if you bring in 10 kids in a gang who are still fighting when there’s only three staff on duty from the midnight-to-seven shift. That qualifies as an emergency basis.” But only for an hour or two.

While most states have placed some limits (see map) on punitive solitary in their youth facilities (jails and adult prisons are another matter entirely), other states had to be dragged into it: In West Virginia, for example, a 2012 court order rescinded the ability of correctional staff to throw children in the hole for minor rule violations. Only truly out-of-control kids can be confined—but it can’t be a punishment, and there’s a 10-day maximum.

kids in the hole
Maximum length of punitive “room confinement” allowed in post-trial youth facilities


To be sure, some prison workers are worried about losing their disciplinary leverage. Elaine Harris, the spokeswoman for a union representing more than 1,300 West Virginia jail and prison employees, told me the court ruling was “certainly a contributing factor” in a riot last February at the state’s Lorrie Yeager Jr. Juvenile Center. Youth inmates, she added, have been using the court order to goad correctional staff: “You can’t do anything to me. I’ll have your job!”

But reformers point to Massachusetts as evidence that eliminating youth solitary can be a win for everyone. Since 2008, the state has had a policy of isolating only juveniles who are “exhibiting seriously disruptive or dangerous behavior” and can’t be calmed down in other ways, says Nancy Carter, director of residential operations of the state’s Department of Youth Services. Staff members have to get approval from a superior immediately upon putting a youth in isolation and must check on the kid every four minutes—kids on suicide watch cannot be isolated at all. “There was an adjustment period” after the rules were first introduced, Carter says, and a temporary uptick in assaults. Since then, however, there have been fewer assaults, and no more suicides.

Just this week, New York City’s Board of Correction voted to end solitary for inmates under 21 starting next January.

Ohio’s new rules, according to its youth services spokeswoman, already have reduced the total time spent in seclusion at the state’s youth facilities—which house about 440 kids total—from 667 days last January to just 35 in September. What’s more, violence by youth inmates hit a low that month of 118 incidents, a decline of 37 percent from January. “Ohio is doing much better,” says Gerhardstein, the lawyer who worked on Kenny’s case, which was settled along with the Justice Department’s. “They really are implementing the reforms.”
Kenny was finally released from prison on October 15, but he hasn’t been the same since he got out. He’s uncharacteristically restless, his grandmother, Linda Manzi, told me. He’s always pacing back and forth and “he gets panic attacks, he gets claustrophobic, like he’s pinned in.” When the family attended a fall festival, Kenny became so anxious standing in line for a hayride that he had to get away—he couldn’t deal with the crowd.

The latest from Bucher, Kenny’s mom, was that he was back in school full time, and seemed to be handling it. But the family still worries about him. When I asked her about Ohio’s reforms, Bucher said she felt mixed, because the changes had come too late to help her boy. “It really, really upsets me,” she said. “He still suffers and he never got help—no health, no nothing.” And even as the ink dried on the settlement, her son was still doing adult time in isolation: “What about Kenny?” she asked.


Former Pepsi Lobbyist Will Help Overhaul School Lunch Program

www.motherjones.com_2015-01-16_19-48-25By , Mother Jones

Some political functionaries creep sheepishly through the revolving door that separates government from the industries it regulates—you know, maybe wait a few years between switches.

Not Joel Leftwich. Since 2010, he’s held the following posts, in order: legislative assistant to longtime Senate agriculture committee stalwart and agribusiness-cash magnet Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas); program manager in the federal lobbying department for agrichemical giant DuPont; deputy staff director for the Senate Agriculture Committee; and director of lobbying for PepsiCo. Now, after the Republican takeover of the Senate and Robert’s ascension to the chair of the Agriculture Committee, Leftwich is switching sides again: He’s going to be the ag committee’s chief of staff.

And all just in time for the Congress to perform its once-every-five-years overhaul of federal nutrition programs, including school lunches and the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food-aid initiative. Back in 2010, President Obama signed a school lunch bill, generated by a Democratic-controlled Congress, that banished junk-food snacks from schools and stipulated more fruits and vegetables in lunches. Leftwich’s once-and-current boss, Sen. Roberts, has been a persistent and virulent critic of those reforms.

As for Leftwich’s most recent ex-employer, Pepsi—whose junk-food empire spans from its namesake soda to Lays and Doritos snacks—its take on the issue of school food is embodied in this flyer, uncovered by my colleague Alex Park. It touts Cheetos as a wholesome snack for school kids. PepsiCo showers Washington in lobbying cash—note how its expenditures jumped in 2009 and 2010, when the last school lunch reauthorization was being negotiated in Congress.

In other revolving-door news: Mike Johanns of Nebraska recently retired from the Senate, where, from his perch on the ag committee, he joined Sen. Roberts in pushing the agribusiness agenda and sopping up industry campaign donations. Before that, he served as USDA chief for President George W. Bush. Now? Days after his retirement comes news he will serve on the board of directors of agribusiness giant John Deere—a position that pays at least $240,000 per year in compensation and stock, Omaha.Com reports. But don’t worry: “Johanns stressed that he won’t be doing any direct lobbying of his former Capitol Hill colleagues or their aides on behalf of the company.”


Fight for mandatory recess in Orange County fails