One of the nation’s largest public school systems is preparing to include gender identity to its classroom curriculum, including lessons on sexual fluidity and spectrum – the idea that there’s no such thing as 100 percent boys or 100 percent girls.
Fairfax County Public Schools released a report recommending changes to their family life curriculum for grades 7 through 12. The changes, which critics call radical gender ideology, will be formally introduced next week.
“The larger picture is this is really an attack on nature itself – the created order,” said Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council.
“Human beings are created male and female. But the current transgender ideology goes way beyond that. They’re telling us you can be both genders, you can be no gender, you can be a gender that you make up for yourself. And we’re supposed to affirm all of it.”
The plan calls for teaching seventh graders about transgenderism and tenth graders about the concept that sexuality is a broader spectrum – but it sure smells like unadulterated sex indoctrination.
Get a load of what the kids are going to be learning in middle school:
“Students will be provided definitions for sexual orientation terms heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality; and the gender identity term transgender,” the district’s recommendations state. “Emphasis will be placed on recognizing that everyone is experiencing changes and the role of respectful, inclusive language in promoting an environment free of bias and discrimination.”
Eighth graders will be taught that individual identity “occurs over a lifetime and includes the component of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
“Individual identity will also be described as having four parts – biological gender, gender identity (includes transgender), gender role, and sexual orientation (includes heterosexual, bisexual, and homosexual).”
The district will also introduce young teenagers to the “concept that sexuality is a broader spectrum.” By tenth grade, they will be taught that one’s sexuality “develops throughout a lifetime.”
“Emphasis will be placed on an understanding that there is a broader, boundless, and fluid spectrum of sexuality that is developed throughout a lifetime,” the document states. “Sexual orientation and gender identity terms will be discussed with focus on appreciation for individual differences.”
As you might imagine – parents are freaking out.
“Parents need to protect their kids from this assault,” said Andrea Lafferty, president of Traditional Values Coalition. “Who could imagine that we are in this place today – but we are.”
Last week, the school board voted to include gender identity in the district’s nondiscrimination policy – a decision that was strongly opposed by parents.
Lafferty, who led the opposition to the nondiscrimination policy, warned that the district is moving towards the deconstruction of gender.
“At the end of this is the deconstruction of gender – absolutely,” she told me. “The majority of people pushing (this) are not saying that – but that clearly is the motivation.”
School Board spokesman John Torre told the Washington Times the proposed curriculum changes have nothing to do with last week’s vote to allow boys who identity as girls to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice.
He would have us believe it was purely coincidental.
To make matters worse, Lafferty contends parents will not be able to opt their children out of the classes because the lessons will be a part of the mandatory health curriculum.
However, Torre told me that parents will indeed be able to opt out of those classes “including the sexual orientation and gender identity lessons.”
I must confess that I’m a bit old school on sex education. I believe that God created male and female. My reading of the Bible does not indicate there were dozens of other options.
“They are not being forthright with the information,” Lafferty said. “They are not telling people the truth. They are bullying parents. They are intimidating and they are threatening.”
I must confess that I’m a bit old school on sex education. I believe that God created male and female. My reading of the Bible does not indicate there were dozens of other options.
However, I’m always open to learning new things – so I asked the school district to provide me with the textbooks and scientific data they will be using to instruct the children that there are dozens and dozens of possible genders.
Here’s the reply I received from Torre:
“Lessons have not been developed for the proposed lesson objectives,” he stated. “Because of the need to develop lessons, the proposed objectives would not be implemented until fall 2016.”
In other words – they don’t have a clue.
And the Family Research Council’s Sprigg said there’s a pretty good reason why they can’t produce a textbook about fluidity.
“It’s an ideological concept,” he told me. “It’s not a scientific one.”
He warned that Fairfax County’s planned curriculum could be harmful to students.
“It’s only going to create more confusion in the minds of young people who don’t need any further confusion about sexual identity,” he said.
The board will introduce the changes on May 21. Lafferty said she hopes parents will turn out in force to voice their objections.
After six years of development, a new automated system for processing immigration forms takes twice as long as processing applications by hand, according to a Department of Homeland Security internal watchdog.
The $1.7 billion information technology project, called Transformation, began under a $536,000 contract with a 2013 end date but soon stalled because of, inspectors say, poor planning and inadequate staffing.
One problem today is that the user interface on the Electronic Immigration System – or ELIS – is something of a maze.
“Immigration services officers take longer to adjudicate in ELIS in part because of the estimated 100 to 150 clicks required to move among sublevels and open documents to complete the process,” Richard Harsche, acting assistant inspector general for the DHS Office of IT Audits, said in a newly released report.
ELIS – the abbreviation was intended to evoke the historic immigration station Ellis Island — also has no tabs or highlighting features, and searches do not produce usable results, he said.
At one location evaluated, employees closed 2.16 cases per hour manually and 0.86 cases in ELIS.
“Instead of improved efficiency, time studies conducted by service centers show that adjudicating on paper is at least two times faster than adjudicating in ELIS,” Harsche said. The project is being financed through immigrant fees.
Officials at DHS U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which maintains the system, are aware of the technical problems, according to the IG. The agency plans to make adjustments in future phases of the project, including reducing the number of clicks required to get work done.
However, in some respects, the agency’s hands are tied by the project’s original blueprints.
“USCIS has been limited in its ability to make changes to ELIS because of challenges with the existing architecture,” Harsche said. “The architecture consists of 29 commercial software products, which are difficult to integrate.” Most modifications will take place by the end of 2014, during a transition to a more flexible architecture.
The agency recently inked a potential $58 million contract in hopes of completing the e-filing system. Going forward, USCIS will break up the project into six-month software release cycles to identify problems early, rather than run the risk of finishing and discovering the whole system does not perform.
This “agile” development strategy was praised in the IG report.
“Agile methods used during software development projects can reduce the risk of project failure and assure that the delivered system performs as intended,” Harsche said. “With the appropriate blend of tools, processes, and people with appropriate skill sets, the USCIS [chief information officer] can use these agile approaches to support the agency better in its goals, such as completing the USCIS Transformation effort.”
On Tuesday afternoon, USCIS officials said a June 2 letter that replied to a draft report will stand as the agency’s public response to the final assessment.
“Coordination and communication between the system owner and business owner is crucial to the success of USCIS meeting its mission,” agency Acting Deputy Director Rendell Jones wrote. “The respective program offices are responsible for training users on the IT systems appropriate for an indivdual’s particular job function” and USCIS officials also ensure “user manuals and training documentation are up to date.”
He said officials expect to complete updates for the ELIS user materials by November.
Oregon and Maryland have attracted most of the attention for failures within state-based ObamaCare web portals, but Minnesota may challenge for the bronze medal at the very least. Despite repeated assurances from Governor Mark Dayton on down, the MNSure system is failing, its management structure is “non-existent” according to an independent panel, and the best option might be trashing the whole mess:
An independent consultant has issued a damning report of the state’s troubled online insurance marketplace.
MNsure’s management structure is “non-existent” according to Optum, a subsidiary of Minnetonka-based UnitedHealth Group, which recently performed a week-long analysis of the more than $100 million website.
MNsure executives have been making decisions in a “crisis mode,” the report states.
MNsure’s board members called for the end-to-end review after the website continued to experience major technological issues three months after it launched.
The report found the agency’s ambitious enrollment goals will suffer as a result.
“While MNsure will fall short of achieving its original enrollment goals and consumer satisfaction levels, continuous improvements can be made in both the short-term and long-term,” the report states.
Those problems, however, won’t be fixed quickly and the state should consider scrapping the system altogether and starting over, the report said.
The MNSure target was 70,000 enrolled in private plans by April 1, according to the metrics laid out by the state. Only 28,000 have done so at this time, even though nearly 50,000 have enrolled in public assistance programs through the MNSure portal, and they have less than two months left to make up the remaining 60% of the goal (April 1 enrollments have to be registered by mid-March). And the website won’t be fixed in time to allow for that kind of boost, KARE 11 reports:
A “large gap exists between required functionality and what has been delivered,” the report states. Technological testing was inadequate, and schedules took precedent over quality.
In particular, Optum faulted IBM Curam for more than 100 defects in its software – more than twice as many as any other vendor on the MNsure project.
In December, Gov. Mark Dayton blasted IBM, which responded that improvements were underway.
But it’s not just the Curam software that has contributed to the site’s technical problems.
There’s a “significant gap” in program management at MNsure, which has made software development, testing and readiness difficult.
People can call into MNSure to get assistance in sign-ups, but that’s also a problem. Wait times are averaging 50 minutes in the call center, which is another area in which management is non-existent. The independent panel recommends hiring another 100 operators, but that will take time, plenty of training, and one hopes no small amount of background investigation before allowing access to that kind of private identity data. Speaking as someone who ran specialized call centers for 15 years in the context of highly-sensitive data, I can attest that there is no way to get that many operators up to speed in that short of a time frame, even if you could hire them all today.
As predicted, MNSure is crashing and burning as we speak. Insurers here expecting a windfall of healthy, young enrollees are going to rethink next year’s premium schedules – and Minnesotans will get the bill just as we go to the voting booth in the midterms.
Addendum: Even when I briefly ran a health-sector call center in the mid-90s, where wait times weren’t a big focus of customer service, a 50-minute average would probably have gotten me fired.
Contact lenses that allow the wearer to see high-definition virtual screens are to be unveiled in Las Vegas next week.
Dubbed iOptik, the system allows the users to see projected digital information, such as driving directions and video calls.
The tiny ‘screens’, which are the invention of Washington-based group Innovega, sit directly on a users’ eyeballs and work with a pair of lightweight glasses.
Together, they provide an experience equivalent to watching a 240-inch television at a distance of 10 feet, according to Innovega’s chief executive Steve Willey.
The glasses are fitted with micro-projectors and nothing else. The contact lenses, however, are more complicated devices.
They can be worn on their own and only function with the iOptik software when a user looks through the company’s paired glasses.
The system can work with smartphones and portable game devices to deliver video – or switch to a translucent ‘augmented reality’ view, where computer information is layered over the world we know it.
‘Whatever runs on your smartphone would run on your eyewear,’ Innovega chief Stephen Willey said in an interview with CNET. ‘At full HD. Whether it’s a window or immersive.’
Crucially, the device can be worn while moving around in a similar way to Google Glass.
Innovega customised the standard contact lens manufacturing process with a unique filter to make the contact lenses.
‘All the usual optics in the eyewear are taken away and there is a sub-millimeter lens right in the centre,’ Mr Willey told CNET.
‘The outside of the lens is shaped to your prescription if you need one and the very centre of the lens is a bump that allows you to see incredibly well half an inch from your eye.’
An optical filter also directs the light. ‘Light coming from outside the world is shunted to your normal prescription. Light from that very near display goes through the center of the lens, the optical filter,’ Mr Willey said
The contacts are due to be previewed at the Consumer Electronics Show and promise to provide a much more immersive experience than other head-work wearable devices.
The company unveiled a prototype of the technology at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show, but plans to show a more advanced, working version next week.
Innovega could also license the technology to other vendors, who may add elements such as audio, touch control, motion control, and other hardware seen in gadgets such as Google Glass.
Last year, South Korean scientists created soft contact lenses fitted with LEDs, bringing the possibility of transparent, flexible materials that can be programmed to take pictures a step closer to reality.
Unlike the iOptik, which requires glasses to work, these contact lenses can be used as standalone systems capable of performing tasks such as taking pictures.
Microsoft and the University of Washington have also been working on similar projects that seem more like a prop in movies such as Mission Impossible 4.
In 2012, they created a prototype of a hard augmented reality contact lens capable of receiving radio signals and transmitting them to the brain through optical nerves.
The company that earned the no-bid contract to build the failed Obamacare website also runs the Army’s disastrous Human Terrain System in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has been accused of fraud, sexual harassment and racism.
The much-maligned Human Terrain System (HTS), launched in 2007, sends academics from social science fields like anthropology and linguistics into war zones to help soldiers understand the local population. The Army spent $58 million on the program in 2013, down from $114 million in 2011.
CGI Federal, the U.S. arm of the Canadian CGI Group and the designer of the failed Obamacare website, attempted a failed turnaround in HTS during the Obama administration. The young company, which employs Michelle Obama’s former Princeton classmate and Christmas guest Toni Townes-Whitley as a top executive, received eight figures from the Army in 2013 for the project, records reveal.
Oberon Associates, a CGI Federal subsidiary that joined the CGI portfolio in 2010, earned the $227 million contract to run HTS in 2011 in a deal that insiders said reeked of cronyism due to former HTS director Colonel Sharon Hamilton’s rumored friendship with an Oberon co-founder.
The HTS contract was one of CGI’s first big gets in the United States, as CGI Federal was only formed to bring the CGI Group into the federal contracting business in 2009.
CGI Federal received a more than $45.5 million modification this year to continue work on the Federal Terrain System.
“They took over in 2011. There were high hopes that CGI Federal could turn it around, but there’s a hearing going on now into fraud, waste and abuse,” John Stanton, author of “General David Petraeus’ Favorite Mushroom: Inside the US Army’s Human Terrain System,” told The Daily Caller.
“Many troops were injured defending Human Terrain system academics,” Stanton said. ”I was just kind of stunned to see CGI Federal running that [Obamacare] website. To me, it’s an example of bad contracting and bad government oversight.”
HTS team members were found to have engaged in instances of fraud, sexual harassment and racism in 2009 and 2010, prior to CGI’s takeover, according to recently released documents. An Army internal investigation found program supervisors inflating overtime and comp time pay, and members even admitted to filing for hours that they didn’t work.
“My supervisor is the laziest, most incompetent human being I have ever met,” according to one internal Army complaint from a member of the program.
“Sexual harassment is prevalent and sexist behavior is an everyday occurrence; I was sexually harassed in the field repeatedly; sexual comments and jokes are rampant; nearly every female in the program faces some form of sexual harassment,” according to another complaint.
CGI’s management of the program failed to sufficiently turn things around, with Stanton noting that the problematic behavior continued.
The program’s failures have not escaped notice on Capitol Hill.
“The HTS reduction is long overdue and it’s good to see the Army take this initial action to downsize the program,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter of the House Armed Services Committee in 2013. “The program definitely requires an even closer look for reasons pertaining to both past performance and future necessity.”
“Who wants to keep the Human Terrain System around? Who in the Pentagon? Nobody else can figure it out,” Stanton said. ”It’s a tragicomic program.”
CGI Federal did not return a request for comment.
The rollout of ObamaCare has been plagued by problems these past two weeks, as thousands complained they couldn’t sign up for coverage due to a deeply defective website.
But this process could have been easier if a nine-year, government-backed effort to set up a system of electronic medical records had gotten off the ground. Instead of setting up their medical ID for the first time, would-be customers would have their records already on file.
Unfortunately for patients – and taxpayers – the long-running project has produced tangibly few results despite costing the government, so far, at least $30 billion.
Under a George W. Bush-era executive order, all Americans should have access to their medical records by the end of 2014, part of a concept referred to as e-health. President Obama then made electronic medical records (EMRs) central to the success of the Affordable Care Act
Health care IT providers were tasked with creating a system connecting patients, health care professionals, hospitals, laboratories and medical facilities. But despite being paid vast incentives by the government’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), they’ve dragged their feet.
Doctors have so far received $14 billion in sweeteners, and hospitals have been handed more than $16 billion. Officials indicate that incentives could eventually reach $45 billion, though there is no universally integrated system anywhere in sight.
Taxpayers lose here, but so do patients.
The system, if and when it is operational, could prove invaluable in an emergency. Consider a person being rushed to the ER, with the hospital having no knowledge of the individual apart from the name on their driver’s license. The medical records system would immediately produce that individual’s private medical history, helping doctors determine treatment right away.
Doctors, practitioners and hospitals, though, have been enriching themselves with the incentives to install electronic medical records systems that are either not inter-operable or highly limited in their crossover with other providers.
“The electronic medical records system has been funded to hospitals at more than $1 billion per month. Apparently little or none of that money went to the enrollment process which is where the bottle neck for signing up to ObamaCare’s insurance exchanges appears to be,” Robert Lorsch, a Los Angeles-based IT entrepreneur and chief executive of online medical records provider MMRGlobal, told Fox News.
Specified medical practitioners are eligible to receive up to $44,000 via the Medicare EHR Incentive Program and up to $63,750 through the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.
According to the CMS website, as of August 2013 more than 320,000 health care providers received payments for participating in the incentive programs – more than half of all those eligible.
“The incentives [for doctors and practitioners] were designed to help small family practices because some of these record systems were getting very expensive, and they couldn’t afford it,” a California-based former health care IT developer told Fox News, speaking on condition of anonymity due their close relationship with some of the corporate incentive recipients. “But there was a handsome windfall for those making decent money,” she added. “Why did all these other people get a windfall?”
In the case of hospitals, the incentives run into the many millions. One example cited by a director at the Office of the National Coordinator, established to oversee the incentive programs, demonstrates one hypothetical hospital receiving $6 million for adopting an EMR system under Medicare. The presentation indicates even more could be received under Medicaid handouts
The incentives began in earnest under Obama’s 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. Between January 2011 and August this year, $15.8 billion to hospitals was handed out in Medicare and Medicaid program incentives. According to one prior estimate by an ONC director, $44.7 billion may eventually be available through Medicare and Medicaid payments.
A large proportion of the overall money paid out has gone to a group of leading health IT specialists, some of which have close connections to the Obama administration. Cerner board member Nance DeParle became the director of the White House Office of Health Care Reform. Epic’s CEO, Judith Faulkner, is a highly influential Obama donor and was given a key role on a federal health IT committee. While these big companies have tinkered with their systems, none has reached comprehensive inter-operability.
Last year, after Congress launched an investigation over why so little progress had been achieved, members of both the House and Senate called on Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to cease and desist EHR incentive payments and demand more scrutiny on those who had received money. Sebelius publicly disregarded their requests.
“I’m concerned that this program isn’t focused on creating an inter-operable system that would allow unaffiliated systems to share medical information,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said in an emailed statement to Fox News. “It is essential that CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT heed feedback from stakeholders and ensure the program they are creating is a wise use of taxpayer dollars,” he added.
Lorsch, at MMRGlobal, offered the U.S. government what it describes as a user-friendly personal health record system for one dollar per month per family – a fraction of what it has cost the taxpayer so far.
“It would have cost less than $1 billion in the year versus more than $13 billion in handouts to hospitals with no EMR interoperability. Plus, unlike under ObamaCare, the patient would be in control of their health information and, most importantly, their privacy,” Lorsch said.
MMRGlobal already owns at least eight U.S. patents related to personal health records and e-health. It is currently suing or settling with big health care information users like Walgreens, AllScripts, WebMD. It has also informed hospitals they may be infringing its patents.
Before his recent departure, the head of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at the ONC warned that hospitals are the biggest stumbling block in the adoption of EMRs.
Farzad Mostashari told delegates at a California healthcare conference that hospitals are the “biggest problem in getting inter-operability going” and that “the government will pay more to hospitals to get them to do what they were paid” to do in the first place.