Welcome

Welcome to the Parents for Excellence in Newton Schools (PENS) website! We hope you will find the site informative and that what you read here inspires you to take action - an email, a phone call, or a conversation with your children or neighbors - about inaccurate and biased class material used in public schools in Newton, Massachusetts and other communities.

Our goal is to ensure that material presented to student as factual is accurate and non-biased. We do not object to material advocating a particular philosophy or point of view so long as its source and inherent bias is disclosed and students receive information and/or materials on contrary views. That is not the case in Newton right now

Unfortunately, the use of inaccurate and biased material is not limited to Newton schools. Much of the objectionable material used in Newton is also used in other schools in Massachusetts and throughout the country. 

The latest news is on our Breaking News section and Facebook page.

Links to class materials are here.

Success, But More to Accomplish

Some items of material, including a grossly inaccurate and biasedSaudi-funded text called the Arab World Studies Notebook and a (now defunct) hate-filled website called Flashpoints were removed from Newton schools due to pressure from PENS and others.

The Newton Public Schools (NPS) also agreed to 'white out' a statement in the book A Muslim Primer claiming the Catholic church was "reconsidering polygamy as a Christian option". Newton North High School History Chair Jonathan Bassett acknowledged that the statement "might be misleading".

Unfortunately other inaccurate and biased material, including anti-Israel and arguably anti-semitic material, remains in use. This material is not used as a basis for discussion or to compare different points of view, but is presented as factual.

Although an October 27, 2017 letter from Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Regional Director Robert Trestan to Superintendent Fleishman referenced a determination by the NPS that the high school curriculum on the Middle East needed change and would be suspended pending such review, students not only continue to be taught Middle East history, they continue to be taught with the same biased and at times overtly anti-semitic, anti-Israel, and/or anti-Arab or anti-Muslim materials the NPS promised to review. To our knowledge there has been no review of class materials; if there has been, its findings have not been implemented or made public.

In addition, the letter falsely claims that the decision to review class materials was made "prior to the 2015-16 school year". The facts are that several months prior to the 2015-16 school year, NPS officials openly stated that they refused to read any of the published reports about the curriculum and specific items of material, and wrongly (and illegally) told parents they were not allowed to speak with teachers or other administrators about their concerns.

When last heard from, NPS administrators proudly declared that they refused to read, much less taken action on, the substantial and growing body of criticism (including a comprehensive report by Verity Educate, articles by CAMERA, and PENS' reviews) of materials used in high school classes; and no material, including material with grossly inaccurate and overtly biased claims, has been removed for six years. Nor has the ADL made any attempt to hold the NPS to its promise to review the curriculum and suspend teaching about the Middle East pending such review.

In June 2016, then-Mayor Setti Warren urged the community to send him examples of biased material used by students and said they would be reviewed and removed (Warren, a member of the School Committee, had already received numerous examples of the materials as well as reports by Verity Educate, CAMERA, PENS, and other organizations). Although he was again provided with the objectionable materials and reports, no review or removal has taken place.

Residents expressed their concerns about the NPS' failure to act in two contentious School Committee meetings in May and June, 2018, following up on similar meetings in 2016 and 2011. None of the meetings or follow-up emails,  telephone calls, or provision of analyses and reports to the appropriate authority have made any difference, and none of the many promises by the NPS or the Mayor's office have been kept.

We need your help to overcome the NPS' disregard for educational accuracy and its tolerance of inaccurate and overtly biased material, including material which fails to meet the most basic educational standards.  While some of this material (the Arab World Studies Notebook and Flashpoints) has been removed from use, most remains.

Other organizations including the Fordham Foundation for Educational Excellence,  Jewish Telegraph AgencyThe Textbook League, and American Jewish Committee have issued reports on specific items of material used in Newton classrooms. These findings have been published in newspapers and magazines including the Washington Times, Metrowest NewsTimes of Israel, Baltimore Reporter, and JointMedia News Service.

Please email or call Superintendent David Fleishman, the School Committee, and Mayor Ruthanne Fuller and tell them that you want the History Department Chairs of both high schools to review the Verity Educate Report, CAMERA articles, and other reviews and stop the use of inaccurate, deceptively edited, and biased material. Students tell us that with rare exceptions, this material is NOT used to "illustrate bias" or for discussion purposes but as purported "fact".

Contact information is here. A 'bcc' to NewtonExcellence@gmail.org would be appreciated.

We also need people to help spread the word about biased, inaccurate, and anti-Israel/anti-semitic class material used in high schools in Newton, MA and throughout the nation. Most parents are not aware that their children are learning from inadequate or objectionable sources, and most students do not have the knowledge or awareness to challenge their teacher's choice of material.  Even if you only have a couple of hours for a one-time project, we can use your help. Write us at NewtonExcellence@gmail.com.