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 learn and take action about inaccurate and biased class material, especially material concerning the Middle East, used in public schools in Newton, Massachusetts and other communities.

This bias is not limited to anti-Israel or anti-Jewish falsehoods; students are also presented with inaccurate and prejudicial views of Islam and the Arab people. One handout describes Arab society as "pious but barbaric"; another states that Islam approves of spousal abuse and discriminating against women. While some Islamic authorities do condone such abuse and discrimination, others do not; and the justification for mistreating women is often based on cultural, not religious, grounds.

Our goal is to ensure that material presented to students 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. Unfortunately, this is not the case at the moment

Major events in our seven-year quest asking the schools to review class material and remove objectionable material are on the Breaking News section and our Facebook page.

Links to class materials are here.

Success, But More to Accomplish

Some material, including a grossly inaccurate Saudi-funded text called the Arab World Studies Notebook and a (now defunct) hate-filled website at www.Flashpoints.info has been removed from Newton schools due to pressure from PENS and other community members.

The Newton Public Schools (NPS) also agreed to 'white out' a statement in the book A Muslim Primer claiming that 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".

However, other inaccurate and biased material, including anti-Israel and arguably anti-semitic material as well as the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim material described above, 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.

Broken Promises

NPS Superintendent David Fleishman and Newton Mayor Ruth Fuller promised in 2017 to place class materials online (the NPS currently charges about $500.00 per class to see those materials), to suspend teaching certain subjects until class material could be reviewed, and to review materials for inaccuracy and bias. None of these promises have been fulfilled. 

The NPS has admitted that the Middle East curriculum "should be changed"; however their representation to the Anti-Defamation League's (ADL) Regional Director that the teaching of Middle East history was suspended in 2015 pending a review of class material was undeniably false. Not only have World History and other classes continued to teach Middle East history, the material continues to include the same biased and overtly anti-Israel, anti-semitic,anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim texts the NPS promised to review in 2017. To our knowledge, there has been no review of class materials; if there was, its findings have not been implemented or made public.

Even prior to 2015, NPS officials refused to read published reports about the curriculum and specific items of material discussed therein, and wrongly (and illegally) told parents they were not allowed to speak with teachers or other administrators about their concerns.

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 Reporterand JointMedia News Service.

To date, administrators continue to proudly declare that they will not read, much less taken action on, the substantial and growing body of criticism (including comprehensive reports by the textbook review organization Verity Educate and the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), and articles by CAMERA, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (herehere, and here), StandWithUs, and other organizations. Far from reviewing class material and removing unsuitable material, the NPS has conducted no review of class material. As a result, material with grossly inaccurate and overtly biased claims remains in use. Nor has the ADL, to which the promise to review materials was made, made any attempt to hold the NPS to its that promise. 

Residents expressed their concerns about the NPS' failure to act in contentious School Committee meetings in May and June, 2018, following similar meetings in 2016 and 2011. None of the several meetings with school officials or follow-up emails,  telephone calls, or provision of analyses and reports to the NPS has 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.

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 to us at NewtonExcellence@gmail.com.