About Me

Some stuff I have written has turned up at The Atlantic, Al Jazeera, Talking Points Memo, Ms., Alternet, The American Independent, Westword, RH Reality Check, Religion Dispatches and a bunch of other places.

I am a 2012 USC Annenberg Foundation Reporting on Religion and American Public Policy Fellow looking into sex education, teen pregnancy and poverty in Mississippi.  You can read all about that here.

This gem about church and state in NUVO Indiana (and federal tax dollars) snagged me a 2012 Society for Professional Journalists Investigative Reporting honor.

I am a native Iowan and grew up in the 70s & 80s.  I once had the Grand Champion Doe Rabbit at the Grundy County Fair, but I no longer dabble in animal husbandry as I currently live in NYC and space is at a premium.  I am happily married to a great fella and mom to a beautiful, hilarious 24-year-old.  I enjoy long walks on the beach, sunsets and in-suite hot tubs.

Go Yankees.

© AKopsa 2014 – opinions here are my own and not necessarily those of any organization I write for – obviously.

27 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Could we please correspond privately? I want to talk to you about the Laura Silsby situation. I may have additional information for you regarding this HUGE topic. (Not about HER or HAITI, but the subject of child exploitation in the name of God. Please look at the website link I included.)

    Thanks

  2. Hi, AKopsa.

    I saw your coverage on the U.S. missionaries in the Haitian adoption case, and especially your coverage of Laura Silsby. I think you would find the following video interesting:

    http://www.newsy.com/videos/10-americans-charged-with-kidnapping-in-haiti

    Like your coverage of the issue, Newsy looks at multiple sources so that readers can gain a more-informed perspective on the Silsby issue. The video includes a discussion of the latest developments in the case, especially Silsby’s questionable record. I hope you will consider embedding the video in your post.

    Newsy.com videos combine and analyze news coverage from multiple
    Sources across media to give users comprehensive updates about global events.
    Newsy videos highlight bias, and explore new perspectives to make users smarter, faster.

    Please let me know if you have any questions.

    Claire Hanan
    hanan.claire@gmail.com

    For instructions on how to embed videos, read #3 on this page:

    http://www.newsy.com/faq/3

  3. Thanks very much for your postings on David Barton. He does indeed need to be exposed to the light of day. Not only has he manipulated Texas and national politics, but he has warped the education of countless thousands of homeschooled children, and the effects of that playing out in the decades to come are scary to contemplate.

    I also sympathize with your dillusionment with the two party system in this country. I’ve just ended 10 years of work within the DFL Party here in MN who are no longer the party of the Farmers and certainly do not do much for the Laborers either. The Green Party was my only option, but they seem so demoralized. From what I see from history, we have such a disarrayed and fragmented left that there is little standing in the way of further fascist inroads, especially in this environment of economic collapse.

    So I appreciate your voice calling a spade a spade, especially these propaganda mouthpieces of the extreme right.

  4. I noticed your posts on Victory Christian Academy and thought you could help me get the word out about our website. We have created a website and blog for former students of Victory Christian Academy Boarding School. This website is dedicated to all the girls that have attended either the Ramona, San Diego, or the Jay, Florida Schools. This is a place for Victory Girls to have a voice and share their story. We are in the planning phase of having a Reunion. Please help us get the word out by posting to your site.

    http://girlsofvictorychristianacademy.com

    Thanks

    Jodi – former VCA Girl

    • I will add a link to my blog roll. Please let me know if there is anything else I could do to help. The man that was responsible for Victory has relocated to Iowa. I have no evidence that he has started a new school there, however, if you have any insight, I would be happy to investigate! ak

  5. Our 3 children attend schools in an UNRESPONSIVE Paddling School District in Tennessee and we are unable to protect them from witnessing/overhearing students being threatened/hit with wooden paddles just outside class for minor infractions, then the battered student is further humiliated when they immediately face classmates when they return to their seat. Tennessee State Law does NOT require Parental Consent of Notification for Children to be Physically punished in school!

    We made a written/verbal presentation to our school board during April 2008 during “National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month” to Demand they Prohibit Physical/Corporal Punishment of Children in our Schools and we received no response, they IGNORED US!

    U.S. Congress just passed the “Safe Students Act” and it is expected to pass the Senate, but it doesn’t keep kids as safe paddling is still allowed in schools. Allowing students to be paddled/corporally punished in schools is in direct conflict with the children’s bureau of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare that states in its guidelines for juvenile lockups: “Corporal punishment should not be tolerated in any form.”

    This bill sets minimum federal standards against the use of seclusion and restraints in public and private schools, a reaction to a U.S. government investigation that last year found hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and death of children who were subjected to these tactics over the previous two decades.

    Republican opponents argued that states’ rights were being trampled, and 153 legislators voted against it.

    But the bill does not outlaw corporal punishment. States still have the right to make the decision.

    Until Congress forces states to stop this practice, kids will still be subjected to beatings in many schools in this country.

    The TRUTH is that school children are treated differently in our great nation based on where they live. A black middle school student in Texas DIED by having his chest crushed when his teacher sat on him to restrain him and ignored his pleas that he could not breathe, he died on the classroom floor in front of his classmates (this teacher is teaching in another state), a Texas high school student suffered deep bruising and welts to his lower back, buttocks and back of his legs when he received 21 “licks” with a wooden canoe paddle, which broke during the beating and had to be taped to continue the beating, a 9-year old Georgia 3rd grader suffered deep bruising injuries when he was paddled with a WOODEN PADDLE
    3 TIMES IN ONE DAY (Decatur Co., GA affirmed Corporal Punishment Policy 9/17/09 for school children) and a Publicly Funded Charter School in Memphis, Tennessee physically punishes middle/high school boys and GIRLS weekly during a ceremony called “Chapel” by hitting them with wooden paddles and/or whipping their hands with leather straps IN FRONT OF ALL THE OTHER STUDENTS AS A DETERRENT to publicly induce shame, humiliation and fear! The school employees in the above actions have LEGAL IMMUNITY and are STILL paid by our tax-dollars to be ENTRUSTED with the care and education of our children!

    Research indicates that Corporal Punishment is harmful to children and lowers their IQ’s due to stress from fear.

    People with SPANKING FETISHES work in occupations that give them access to children like hospitals, schools, boy scouts, etc. and over 2,500 teachers were punished in a 5 year period since 2000 for inappropriate sexual relations with our nation’s school children, and women teachers are sexually preying on children at an increasingly alarming rate, which is why PHYSICAL/CORPORAL PUNISHMENT OF CHILDREN IN SCHOOLS MUST BE ABOLISHED IMMEDIATELY!

    20 states still legally allow school employees to hit children with wooden paddles to punish them, known as Corporal (Physical) Punishment. Nearly 60,000 spankings in Miss. schools last year. Ouch! For the second time in a month, a school district in Leflore County, Miss. was hit with a $500,000 (each) lawsuit from a student alleging injuries from a paddling. It was reported that a state legal adviser, told Bristol, Tennessee Director of School that while school principals who paddled students were legally protected from allegations of assault, they were not immune from accusations of inappropriate or improper touching.

    School boards are asking for trouble to sanction a practice that is intended to inflict pain.

    Our nation’s most prominent and trusted National Children’s Health and Education Organizations have issued official position statements OPPOSING Physical/Corporal Punishment of Children in SCHOOLS including The American Medical Assn (AMA), American Academy of Pediatricians, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Bar Assn, American Humane Assn, American Psychiatric Assn, American Psychological Assn, American Public Health Assn, National Parent Teacher Assn (PTA, National Mental Health Assn and Prevent Child Abuse America among others.

    A federal lawsuit filed on 2/22/2010 on behalf of a Tate County high school student seeking a restraining order to ban school paddling in Mississippi, claiming the punishment is unfairly applied based on gender and race. In denying the restraining order, Judge Pepper said that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution, a prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment cited in the lawsuit, did not apply to corporal punishment. Judge Pepper also ruled tha t the plaintiff failed to show that he was in imminent danger of another paddling. The FEDERAL lawsuit seeks a DECLARATION that Physical/Corporal Punishment on Students is UNCONSTITUTIONAL!

    Also, The Coalition Against School Paddling filed a Title IX Complaint against the 20 School Paddling States with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights on February 6, 2010 based on the uneven, damaging impact corporal punishment has on girls.

    Shocking News Headlines of Children suffering sever injuries by abusive practices in schools are all too common in states that allow paddling. Children are the most vulnerable members of our society. Adults have constitutional and legal protection from physical violence. Why are children still waiting? Physical punishment of schoolchildren is NOT education’s “Best Practice” as it is ILLEGAL in 30 states. School Physical/Corporal Punishment is a SERIOUS HEALTH AND SAFETY risk causing stress and impaired learning for all school children subjected to or witnessing school corporal punishment. The Cost to Abolish Physical/Corporal Punishment of Children in Schools is $0. School paddling bans must be tied to federal funding. Doesn’t it just make sense for all of us to keep our hands off of other people’s children? Don’t ALL AMERICAN SCHOOL CHILDREN DESERVE Education’s “Best Practices”? Pushing for anything less than an outright ban on all forms of classroom abuse reveals a gap in the administration’s professed commitment to making schools better, safer, and stronger.

    • This is a lot of information Julie, and I thank you for sharing it here. When you refer to the “safe schools act” are you talking about HR 4247? I agree it doesn’t go far enough. However, there is HR 911 that is in the Senate Committee for Health, Education, Labor and Pension right now. I am putting up a post on this today. ak

  6. a,

    Didn’t Jack Patterson mention just before his child abuse hearing in Empire, AL on his website that HR911 would adversely affect his “ministry” to the children in his residential homes?

  7. I’d like to include your write-up on the Iowa Family Policy Center in a near-term internet radio/tv show. I’d like to talk further with you about this. Thanks

  8. Thanks for keeping Roloff survivors struggles alive. I know it was a long time ago, but I was in Rebekah when I was 14. I’m 44 now and it haunts me. It’s not a home, it’s a torture chamber. Funny how they say they are getting you closer to god and one of the things they did for me was push me away. I’m at a point in my life that I’d welcome some type of relationship with god but the thought sickens me.

    They screwed me up for life. The beatings, kneelings, shamings, peeing in trash cans.

    Seriously, those homes are torture chambers.

    Thanks again.

  9. Trans-vaginal ultrasound = rape. Oh, please! I’m pro-choice & am dissappointed @ such a lame attack.
    I had an ultrasound in the ’80s where they made me fill my bladder to beyond comfortable & jabbed the out of my abdomen & I had to hold my pee in or they’d have to start all over. Horrible. Recently got a trans-vaginal ultrasound & it was less uncomfortable then getting a pap-smear. Plus whether you had an abortion or continued the pregancy, you’d get trans-vaginal ultrasounds. Is that rape? Is a pap smear rape?
    IMO, the issue is the “outlaw not only abortion but also forms of hormonal birth control.” & the “egg-as-person” concept. That’s what I would focus on preventing.
    I remember when abortion was not allowed, even if birth could kill the woman. One man stated to me that he’d rather have his daughter die in giving birth than have an abortion, because he was a Catholic & believed the unborn life was more important. He refused to give an opinion about what if both died in birth. Birth control to avoid abortion was available, but frowned upon.
    If I needed a safe abortion & they made me jump thru hoops to get it; I would. But if birth control to avoid the need for abortion was taken away, then I have no control over my body except to not have sex what-so-ever ever unless I wanted a child.
    Focus on the issues of all forms birth control being taken away & the life of the unborn being more important than a living person.
    Don’t make up silly objections that can be easily dismissed!! Think!!!

    • I would suggest the big difference between your vaginal ultrasound and the one I had as a result of a miscarriage is that we consented to ours.

  10. i am tring to get a hold of bro phillp duffey. i was in reclamation ranch year2005 or so. thank you

  11. I just saw/read the article about Rebekah Home in Corpus Christi. I was sent to the home and was there for two years. As I read it- I remembered some of the horrific things I went through.
    I remember the silence and the tears. I can honestly say I don’t remember much laughter while I was there at all, even with friends we made. it was as if laughter was a sin.
    I am in my 50’s and swear to god still have thoughts and have had nightmares about that place. I recently had a horrific nightmare about it- the sounds, the silence, the tears, the paddle, all of it- thats how I came across your article.
    I cant say I was sad to hear about his death, as bad as that may sound.
    Thank you again for that true,factual,detailed writing. When I tried to tell my family about what went on, they didn’t believe me.

  12. this is just amazing. I was in Rebeka and after only today starting my investigation and 30 years later I still cant talk about this.I would love to talk to you and tell you some of my story

  13. I just read your article on faith based programming by the US government. Thanks for shedding some light on these practices. I have served overseas with two NGO’s so I have more then a passing familiarity with these issues. If the American public knew the truth, I think we could bring about some change in policy. Thanks for what you are doing.

  14. Hello Andy,
    My name is Camilla Rose and I’m an International acclaimed musician singer/songwriter, entertainer etc… who’s a transsexual.

    I’m the only professional transsexual musician in the world performing Western, Cowboy, Cowgirl, John Denver and Folk music concets. For certain, the first Trans ever in the history of the Western Music Association (WMA) to be a member.

    In addition to perfroming concerts around the world, I’ve also developed and managed, small to large, special events and fundraising & education world wide as well.

    I would like to offer my services for free to help out peole like Clair you wrote about and others. If you desire to have a special event for trans folks and great entertainment, then please keep me in your files to contact.

    You can hear a few songs from my new CD and read a little about me on my website: http://camillaroselive.com

    Feel free to call my cell (719) 588-7549 USA

    I’m looking forward to hearing from you, so we can talk more about these ideas and others.

    Sincerely,
    Camilla Rose

  15. Dear Andy,

    Thanks for all you do here. I have blogged extensively about Accelerated Christian Education, and I want to do something to help bring attention to the abuses in Christian Reform Schools like New Bethany. Please could you contact me (reply here, or email jonnyscaramanga@gmail.com) to let me know what the best sources of info are? I’m googling a lot, but I don’t want to miss anything.

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