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Monday, October 31, 2005

Expulsion from Loretto

As of Saturday, October 29th, I was given official notice by express mail that I am expelled from Loretto High School. This was given completely without forewarning, without a meeting, and without a chance to say goodbye. My family is now seeking legal advice, and more details will follow.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Loretto Update

First, I would like to thank those who commented on my blog, especially the women who courageously spoke about their abortion experiences. There is no better or truer voice for the pro-life movement than those who have had abortions. Thank you for sharing your stories.

After the initial uproar and confusion over Ms. Bain's dismisal, things are now pretty much the same as always at Loretto, from my point of view. My friends are still my friends and, for the most part, people treat me as they did before.

One thing that I had not mentioned was that Loretto's administration has banned my mother from campus since October 16th. Obviously, we hope this can be resolved soon, especially since there are school events (such as the school play) that our family would like to attend.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Loretto Teacher Fired: Part 2

In case some of you have not figured it out yet, Wynette Sills is my mother. I was unable to reveal this earlier because at the time of my last post, my family felt that it might make my time at Loretto awkward. After all, our family appreciates the school and hopes that my younger sister will also be able to go there. Now that the Bee has revealed our identity publicly, I would like to share the article and my thoughts as a sophomore at the school.

Anti-abortion mother got teacher ousted

By Todd Milbourn -- Bee Staff Writer Published 2:15 am PDT Saturday, October 22, 2005
Story appeared on
Page A1 of The Bee

The mother of a Loretto High School student obtained photographs that exposed a drama teacher as a former Planned Parenthood volunteer, a revelation that led to the teacher's firing last week. It wasn't the first time Wynette Sills raised her anti-abortion views on the all-female, private Catholic campus.

Sills, who leads anti-abortion rallies outside Sacramento-area Planned Parenthood offices three times a week, complained to school administrators last year about a classroom presentation on domestic violence, said Gail Erlandson, a theology teacher for 11 years at Loretto.

Sills objected to brochures listing agencies that offer help for women because they included Planned Parenthood, which supports abortion rights. The brochure was later revised.
Bishop William K. Weigand's call to fire drama teacher Marie Bain in response to Sills' latest protest has raised concerns in some circles that anti-abortion activists at Loretto have too much pull with the Sacramento Diocese's top cleric.


"There are a handful of extremists in the affluent Catholic community that can make keeping the integrity of academic freedom very difficult," said Erlandson, who retired last year in part over the brochure flap. "There is a lot of fear among teachers: How far is this going to go?"
Sills did not return repeated messages left on her telephone or at her home.
Sills provided photos of Bain escorting women into the clinic in a Sept. 19 e-mail with a letter stating: "If the identification is verified, clearly this individual cannot be a part of the Loretto staff."

Bain "will have extensive unsupervised access to our young women at Loretto, and I must speak up or they are put at risk due to her abortion-promoting presence," Sills wrote. "My conscience will not let me ignore this information."

Loretto, a college preparatory school on El Camino Avenue, is one of three Catholic high schools in the Sacramento area that operate independently of the diocese. But the school still falls under the bishop's purview on issues of morality.

Weigand, who declined to comment for this story, exercised that authority in an Oct. 5 letter to Loretto's president, Sister Helen Timothy.

Weigand's spokesman, the Rev. Charles McDermott, said the diocese "treads carefully not to intrude on internal affairs."

But the message in Weigand's letter is clear: "I am directing you, under the provisions of Code of Canon Law ... to dismiss Ms. Bain with all deliberate speed." The letter also states that the termination should be handled with "dignity, sensitivity and appropriate decorum."
Dom Puglisi, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Sacramento, said parents have a right to expect their students will be taught in accordance with Catholic principles. And allowing teachers to publicly display contrary beliefs sends the wrong message, he said.
"It sounds like we play hardball, but they know up front, whether they are Catholic or non-Catholic, that these are Catholic schools and we go by the teachings of the church and Rome," said Puglisi.

Loretto has long employed Catholic and non-Catholic faculty alike. Bain, who was hired in August, is not Catholic. That fact could play a role in a potential discrimination lawsuit, wrote Bain's attorney, John M. Poswall, in a statement.

"Loretto knew that she was not a Catholic and did not insist that she either hold or follow Catholic doctrine when they hired her," wrote Poswall.

Vocal parents demanding action from administrators are not unique to Loretto, said the Rev. Martin Connell, an education professor at Loyola Marymount University, a Jesuit college in Los Angeles.

Increasingly, he said, "teaching and schooling is treated as a service industry - we tell people how we want our lawn cut, how we want our hair cut and how we want our children educated."

While it's positive to have parents more involved in their child's education, sometimes parents step on the toes of teachers and administrators, he said.

One of the Sacramento Diocese's seven Catholic high schools, Loretto offers a rigorous academic program with an emphasis on social justice.

Traditionally, the school's mission has been to instill Catholic values while pushing students to become independent thinkers. School officials have said they take pride in presenting all sides of an issue.

"The idea is to come to the right decisions based on faith," said Rebecca Williams, a University of California, San Diego, freshman who graduated from Loretto in the spring. "That doesn't mean you always have to agree with the church, but you have to always consider both sides."

Williams said she understands the bishop has certain moral obligations, but is disappointed he would "align himself with someone who takes pictures of people walking into a clinic."

"What does that say about our church as a compassionate organization?" Williams asked.

At least three mornings a week, demonstrators gather in front of Sacramento-area Planned Parenthood clinics, many hoisting anti-abortion signs and shouting anti-abortion messages to clients and workers, said Katharyn McLearan, spokeswoman for the local chapter.

As a volunteer, it was Bain's job to be a "friendly face" and help steer clients through the protesters, McLearan said.

Sills first saw Bain during one of those morning rallies, according to the e-mail Sills wrote to administrators. Sills decided to alert the school after seeing Bain at a Loretto function in September.

Many at the school have kept quiet about Bain's firing - at least publicly. Calls to six Loretto teachers and the school principal were not returned. Timothy, who initially voiced support for Bain, has since referred all questions to Weigand's office.

But debate is lively in cyberspace. Web sites ranging from "Bush vs. Choice" to "California High School Conservative" have weighed in.

Loretto sophomore Katelyn Sills, Wynette Sills' daughter, started a political blog in March and has written in support of the bishop's decision to fire Bain.

A person "who volunteers at abortion clinics on days when the killing occurs is probably not the best candidate for a position at an all-girls Catholic high school," wrote Katelyn Sills, who did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

An classmate who wished to remain anonymous retorted on Sill's blog: "Many people at our school are pro-choice but do not think that abortion is the right answer. Should we with our beliefs be expelled from the school?"

On a recent afternoon, Loretto students gabbed and listened to iPods in front of the school as they waited for rides home.

Kathryn Wahlberg, taking a break from after-school play practice, said she was in Bain's drama classes. She drafted a four-page letter that she plans to send to the bishop. Wahlberg said Bain was a "disciplined but fun" teacher who was "really good for students who are serious about acting."

Regarding her termination, Wahlberg said, "It makes people think we don't tolerate people of opposite opinions. I don't think we're like that."


Let me tell you the whole story. My family was not originally as pro-life as we are now. Actually, it all started at Loretto. In my freshman year in our Sexuality and Spirituality class, we had to research abortion, develop an opinion, and give a presentation to the class. That night I went home and was reading some websites. It was then that I realized that there really was no argument. You can see what I have to say on it here. I realized that if abortion is the ending of a human life, I would need to do whatever I could to protect that life. When I shared all of this with my family, they agreed. We had always made small donations to the Life Center, but after this touched our hearts, we knew we had to do more. Since then, we have gone to abortion clinics, passed out literature on fetal development and the facts of abortion, and have offered to help women in any way we can.

I have gone to the Planned Parenthood mentioned in this article and have seen this individual as an escort there. I know that many people do not know what exactly an escort does, but a blogger named"Naaman the Ex-leper" was formerly an abortion clinic escort and explains it here. When I started school and saw Ms. Bain, I just thought that they looked very similar. I mentioned this to my mom and she could not believe it. Others who go to abortion clinics with us document their time there with pictures, not of the "clients" but of the long term employees and escort activity in general just so any falsehood that the abortion clinic decides to tell can be easily disproved.

The article mentions the "brochures" that were handed out last year in our Sexuality and Spiritualty class. These "brochures" were actually business cards that were labeled "Just in Case" and listed emergency numbers and "helpful" websites. One of these websites was teenwire.com, which is Planned Parenthood's teen outreach. If you visit this website, I'm sure you can understand why my family would be opposed to such a website being distributed at this Catholic high school.

Interestingly, the Sacramento Bee chose to interview Kathryn Wahlberg. Kathryn and I are both sophomores and we consider each other friends. We know what each other's views are, but we don't let that interfere with our friendship.

At a Catholic school, people can reasonably expect that the staff will support Catholic teaching. This does not mean that the teachers have to be Catholic. I have had many teachers that I admire and are not Catholic. However, Ms. Bain did not just disagree with the Church. Her moral identity is in direct conflict. John Paul II states
that abortion "is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being," and that "it is contrary to the law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church." This was not some small issue. When a teacher at a Catholic school has actively demonstrated that her beliefs are contrary to the Church on an issue that the Church believes is "deliberate killing", something is very wrong.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Abortion Controversy at Loretto Catholic High School

I am a sophomore at Loretto High School, which is an all-girls CATHOLIC school, and I would like to offer my opinion on this article as it appeared on page A1 of the Sacramento Bee:


Teacher fired for work at clinic

By Todd Milbourn and Cameron Jahn -- Bee Staff Writers

Published 2:15 am PDT Saturday, October 15, 2005


A drama teacher at a Catholic high school in Sacramento was fired Thursday after church officials learned she had previously volunteered at an abortion clinic, school officials said Friday.

Marie Bain, 50, of Sacramento, who had taught at Loretto High School since August, was dismissed after a student's parent obtained pictures showing Bain escorting people into a Planned Parenthood clinic last spring.

The pictures were delivered to Bishop William K. Weigand, head of the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento, who outlined the decision to terminate Bain in an Oct. 5 letter to the president of the all-female school.

"Obviously, the very public nature of Ms. Bain's previous volunteer activity at a Planned Parenthood Clinic is inconsistent with her position as a teacher at a Catholic high school and her role as a collaborator in the formation of Catholic women," Weigand wrote. "Abortion is gravely immoral and Ms. Bain's active and public participation in the procurement of abortions is morally inappropriate and unacceptable with regard to her work as a teacher at Loretto."

Reached at home Friday night, Bain acknowledged that she had been fired and that she had volunteered at Planned Parenthood before taking the Loretto job.

"There are many things I would love to say, but I don't want to jeopardize anything. I am pursuing many avenues," she said.

Bain's termination, announced Friday afternoon, was met with tears from students at the college preparatory school on El Camino Avenue. She was described as a passionate teacher with a dramatic personality who pushed her students to memorize their lines with precision.

Bain had been preparing her students for a four-day run at the end of the month of "The Young and Fair," N. Richard Nash's 1948 play about balancing one's idealism and personal ethics.

"She is exceptional," said Sister Helen Timothy, the school's president. "Students thought very highly of her."

"We lost a great teacher," said Cynthia Mitterholzer, the dance instructor who will take over for Bain.

Mitterholzer said teachers working at a Catholic school understand they must follow certain rules.

However, "I think that your personal life is your personal life, and she complied with everything asked from the school in her contract."

Weigand, who is out of town, was unavailable for comment.

The Rev. Charles McDermott, vicar episcopal for theological affairs for the diocese, said employing teachers who have volunteered at abortion clinics sets a poor example for students.

"To support abortion is contrary to the position the church has held for nearly 2,000 years," he said.

"If you participate in that way, you are not qualified to teach in a Catholic school because teachers are inevitably role models."

School officials at Loretto conduct extensive background searches before hiring teachers. The searches typically focus on employment and criminal history and do not often delve into volunteer work, Timothy said.

Timothy said that Bain's views on abortion did not surface during interviews and that she was unsure if they would have disqualified the teacher.

"We hire teachers for their talent and experience and she signed a contract with certain terms and conditions" to uphold Catholic values, Timothy said. "And during her employment at Loretto she was compliant."

In July, a letter to The Bee signed Marie Bain of Sacramento voiced opposition to laws requiring teens to notify parents if they have an abortion.

"Like it or not, teens get pregnant," the letter stated. "And the most important issue is keeping them safe. Safe means access to reliable health care, not gut-wrenching red tape."

Before being hired at Loretto, Bain taught in the Los Rios Community College District.
She volunteered weekly for about nine months for Planned Parenthood, greeting patients and ushering them past anti-abortion protesters who frequently demonstrate outside clinics, said Katharyn McLearan, director of public affairs for the local Planned Parenthood Mar Monte.

"We have protesters who hold very graphic signs and are very intimidating, and they sometimes come up to patients' cars," said McLearan. "She was there to be a friendly face and address their concerns.

"It is concerning to us that people are targeting their employment just for being involved," said McLearan, who said Bain contacted Planned Parenthood on Friday to inform the agency of her termination.

Weigand, in his letter, said the case serves to emphasize the importance of checking employee backgrounds to ensure that "those entrusted with forming responsible Catholic women at Loretto High School share our important Catholic moral beliefs and can serve in all respects as worthy role models for our young women."

"She is exceptional. Students thought very highly of her. "
Sister Helen Timothy
president of Loretto High School

While I am thankful for Bishop Weigand's actions, I am confused about my own school's position. All of the students, including myself, received a letter from our school administration about this matter during the last few minutes of school on Friday. There was a mixed reaction from my classmates. Some thought that dismissing this teacher was completely understandable, but others thought that the whole affair was "stupid." Still others could not figure out what Planned Parenthood had to do with abortion. I am writing to clarify some of these misunderstandings and to share my own opinion.

Planned Parenthood is the number one abortion provider in our country, greatly contributing to the 4,000 abortion deaths that occur each day. I have been at Planned Parenthood to pray and I know how the escorts act. If someone considering abortion genuinely wants to talk to a pro-lifer, the escorts turn on loud music and stand right between the "client" and the pro-lifer. Obviously, these volunteer escorts don't truly care about "choice." If they did, they would not be so opposed to people and churches offering jobs, homes, medical care, adoption services, and anything else that a pregnant woman might need. They are definitely not there to be a "friendly face and address their [the women's] concerns", but only aggressively encourage women to have abortions.

The article talks about Ms. Bain's letter in opposition to Prop 73, where she states, "Like it or not, teens get pregnant, and the most important issue is keeping them safe. Safe means access to reliable health care, not gut-wrenching red tape." A person that thinks that parents should not be notified about their minor daughter having an abortion and who volunteers at abortion clinics on days when the killing occurs is probably not the best candidate for a position at an all-girls Catholic high school.

In our student handbooks, it states in capital letters that, "ANY STUDENT WHO PUBLICIZES OR ADVOCATES AN ABORTION EITHER PLANNED OR ALREADY OBTAINED WILL BE DISMISSED FROM LORETTO." From this, one can assume that a student that advocates abortion will be dismissed, but the administration is "unsure if they [her views on abortion] would have disqualified the teacher."

As a student at Loretto, I did not notice students thinking "very highly" of this teacher. I myself did not see anyone crying over her dismissal. The majority of students either didn't care or just didn't understand. I think that if students knew what escorts do, they would share the Bishop's concern.

So please pass this on to everyone who has read the article. The Sacramento community needs to know the truth.


(This post is linked to Stop the ACLU, The Indepundit, The Political Teen, Cafe Oregano, Jo's Cafe, and Cao's Blog.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Abort73

I have just come across an excellent pro-life website. It is At first, I thought that "Abort73" meant no on Proposition 73, but since the website is very anti-abortion and there is no mention of Prop 73, I think that it means Abort 1973, which is the year of Roe vs. Wade.

Anyways, this is the perfect website for everyone: those who are looking for background information to support their pro-life argument, those who just don't know much about abortion, and those that support abortion. (The last two are often times the same person.)

So please, visit http://abort73.com/.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Photos of Dead Iraqis Exchanged for Porn Access

I really don't want to just reiterate what other people have already said, so if you haven't heard this story before, click here before you read further.

OK, my school's political club is having this as the main topic in our meeting tomorrow, which was not my decision. I really don't think that we will have much to discuss. The people that took the pictures and wrote the comments are obviously sick individuals, did wrong, and will be punished when found. I do, however, have some things to say about this.

1. People are already blaming Bush for it (surprise!). But did Bush take the pictures? Did Bush tell people to take the pictures? Is Bush in anyway related with the porn site?

2. Just because some soldiers have done this does not mean that all or even the majority of them are like that.

3. One of the bad things about this is that if we don't feel like viewing the porn site ourselves, we have to rely on other people who have viewed it for our information. I myself like to be able to research and see what I am talking about, but in this case, I can't.

4. I think that it is important to know how the Iraqis were killed and who they were killed by. Although the news organizations don't come out and say it, their articles make it seem like the soldiers were the ones that killed them. But, for all we know, it might have been a roadside bomb.

Most of the blogs writing about this so far have been liberal, and mostly writing to Bush-bash.
Any other (conservative or liberal) comments? Please let me know if I have stated anything incorrectly.

(This post is linked to World Opinion Roundup and Majikthise.)

Hilarious Parody

Conservative Schooler has written this on his blog. It's definitely a must-read and really shows what would happen if we as a society adopted the thinking of those that oppose Prop 73.
Here's an excerpt:

"Right now, California Public Schools require that parents see their student's report cards. In addition, teachers may call parents at home to talk about the students.This terrorizes students. Some parents may severely punish children who receive bad grades. In addition, no child should have to endure the embarrassment of having their teacher call their parent at home.So therefore, I am proposing the Keep Kids Smart Act. This act will require that teachers get permission from students before sending home a report card or calling a parent."

Friday, October 07, 2005

Update

Since a lot of things have been happening on my blog and in general this week, I have decided to just write about it all in one post.

1. Stand up and Speak Out has some new features such as the side menu, (which took forever to manipulate to work in my blog!)

2. My blog used to be a "large mammal" on the TTLB ecosystem, but since I knew I was getting a lot less visitors and links than some of the people below me, I knew something was wrong. Apparently, I was right. The next day I was a "rodent" and then a "marsupial".

3. However, things are looking up because now I have been accepted as a member of the Alliance of Free bloggers. They are pretty funny, even if I don't agree with everything that everyone says in the Alliance. (For those in Sacramento, they kind of remind me of Armstrong and Getty.)

4. I recently went to a college fair and I am considering Stanford as my first choice. I have visited Stanford and I thought that the campus and the atmosphere was awesome. Any other opinions on Stanford and colleges in general?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Bush Chooses Harriet Miers

Bush has choosen Harriet Miers as his nominee to the Supreme Court. From the SF Chronicle: "Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had urged the president to consider Miers, according to several officials familiar with Bush's consultations with Congress." That in itself is scary enough.

Miers has never been a judge, and has mostly been in the background so far, so it is difficult to know what she believes. However, according to this website, "Until recently, president usually picked people for the High Court with whom they were personally familiar." and "The Constitution does not require that a justice on the Supreme Court have previous experience as a judge. Indeed, the Constitution doesn't require that justices even be lawyers."
"Fewer than half of the 108 people who have served on the Court had previous experience as judges."

All in all, this was a very interesting nomination.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Comments on Life in Prison

SactoDan has written a post on a New York Times article about life in prison. Because I have very strong pro-life beliefs, I do not think that we should use the death penalty as punishment. To me, this just doing the same thing that the crimminal did. I do not, however, think that prison life should be at all comfortable. They deserve to pay for what they did, but they do not deserve one of us to become murderers for it.

Here is an interesting except from the post: "It takes either a very violent crime, or numerous less violent crimes to get life in prison. Most career criminals have high ratios of crimes they were never caught for, compared to those in which they received a conviction. That means there are potentially a lot of victims for each one of these repeat offender lifers. If it is in California under the Three Strikes law, the person will probably die in prison. That's what they deserve.I am sick of hearing about the slice of pizza theft that counted as a third strike and sent a guy away for life. He got sent away for life for all the cumulative crimes he committed on his way to stealing the slice of pizza, and anyone who thinks he should still be out is saying someone else has to die or be seriously injured, should the next guy with a slice of pizza not hand it over so willingly.Who is volunteering to be that victim? Not me."

My thoughts exactly.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Political Compass Questionnaire


Today I took the political compass questionnaire here. First you answer questions on "how you see the country and the world, such as "I'd always support my country, whether it was right or wrong." And you have to say whether you strongly disagree, disagree, agree, or strongly agree. Next are questions on the economy, "personal social values", and so on. Many of the questions seemed very leading, so a couple of times I wished there was a space where I could type in my own answer.

So above is the result of my quiz. According to the quiz, I am neither right nor left, and am an authoritarian. Below is a chart of where several famous people would be:
It must mean something about the people that write this stuff when Bush is almost as far from the center as Saddam Hussein. Interesting.

You go, Thomas Sowell!

Thomas Sowell hit the nail on the head. In a column titled "Smart 'problems'" Sowell addresses the problem that many teachers face: smart students. "Most of the teachers in our public schools do not have what it takes to develop high intellectual potential in students. They cannot give students what they don't have themselves.", says Sowell. I find this very interesting and have noticed the same thing myself.

Judge John Roberts Confirmed

I know that this is probably old news (2 days old) but I thought that I should mention it. All I can say is Thank God.

Also, if you go here to Yahoo Most Viewed News you will notice that while Paris Hilton's breakup is #2, Roberts being confirmed is not even in the top 25 and it only happened on Thursday. That's pretty sad, really.