PENS is Independent and Non-Political
PENS is an educational organization, not a political advocacy group. We are not affiliated with any other organization and do not express a point of view on issues not related to the accuracy or bias of class material.
We are not associated, formally or informally, with any other organization including Americans for Peace and Tolerance, Open Newton Schools, or Verity Educate. We have shared information and class materials with those organizations, but that is the extent of our collaboration.
We are extremely grateful to Verity Educate for research and publishing its Report on the Middle East Curriculum in Newton Public Schools, although we did not commission the Report or pay Verity Educate for its work. The Report analyzes 27 texts used in Newton, MA introductory high school history classes, 16 of which are problematic. In addition to utilizing the Report, PENS performed independent research on student materials and has worked with other organizations, including StandwithUs, in reviewing such material.
Our focus on Middle East history as taught in high school World History classes came about because material about that subject was the subject of numerous complaints, and because even a cursory study of the material showed egregious problems. Although most of the bias is anti-Israel and/or anti-Jewish, some material also contains bias against Arabs and Muslims. Bias against and misinformation about Islam and Arab society is discussed here.
Although we are focused on texts containing bias as it relates to the issues and people of the Middle East, there have also been reports of bias in school activities and against other groups. A play presented at Newton South High School, Thoroughly Modern Millie, included Asian characters whose stereotypical behavior was so offensive that some students decided not to participate or were ashamed to bring their relatives to performances. Other schools which performed the play asked for and received permission to modify those characters to avoid offensive stereotypes. In that case, we reached out to the organized Asian-American community. We stand ready to work with parents, teachers, and other concerned citizens to review problematic material of any type and if necessary, to take appropriate action.
We take confidentiality very seriously and are well aware of the fear of retaliation for exposing biased and inaccurate class materials used in the Newton Public Schools. We will not release the names of PENS members or anyone we have contact with unless given express permission or mandated by court order.
Feel free to contact us at the email address below. If you'd like to join our email list, please send us your name and contact information. If you're interested in working with us, please let us know and we will contact you about potential projects.
Parents for Excellence in Newton Schools (PENS)