Smoky Mountains Sunrise
Showing posts with label Parental Rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Parental Rights. Show all posts

Thursday, April 5, 2012

American Federation for Children Launches Parent Engagement Campaign

New website, video exposes groups that block reforms benefiting parents and children

The American Federation for Children—the nation’s voice for school choice—today launched a new campaign titled Parents Know Best aimed at engaging parents in the pursuit of better educational options for their children and helping defend them against increased attacks on their judgment from special interest leaders.

The Parents Know Best campaign encourages parents to take a stand against policymakers and interest groups who presume they are better equipped to make decisions about how and where children should be educated than are the families themselves. The campaign is launching with an eye-opening video chronicling a series of recent statements from special interest group leaders on why parents should have less of a role in choosing the best school for their child.

Many of the comments have gained national attention in recent weeks, including one in which Vincent Giordano, the executive director of the New Jersey Education Association, said in a television interview that “life’s not always fair” while discussing the plight of New Jersey students trapped in failing schools. The NJEA spent over $11 million last year opposing the Opportunity Scholarship Act—a plan to create a scholarship tax credit program for students in the state’s worst districts—and other reforms.

“We believe it is essential to support families in their journey toward figuring out the best educational option for their children, and to make sure that they are not bullied by special interests intent on maintaining the educational status quo,” said Kevin P. Chavous, a senior adviser to the American Federation for Children. The Parents Know Best campaign will also feature inspiring stories from parents who have exercised school choice, as well as provide informational resources to parents seeking better educational options for their children.

To find out more about the Parents Know Best campaign visit the website at

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Canadian Father Arrested for Girl's Picture of Toy Gun

Just when we were beginning to think that western Canada might be a good place to escape to in the tragic event that Obama's lease is extended, comes this story on the heals of provincial authorities in Alberta telling homeschoolers they cannot teach their children that homosexual acts are sinful.  The world has truly gone mad. Where did "the free world" go?

By Thandi Fletcher

Daddy, are you mad at me? Those were the first words out of the mouth of a scared little girl to her father when he was released this week after being charged with possession of a firearm because of a picture she drew at school of a man holding a gun - which turned out to be a toy.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Latest Crime Wave: Sending Your Child to a Better School

School districts hire special investigators to follow kids home in order to verify their true residences.

From The Wall Street Journal
By Michael Flaherty

In January, Ohioan Kelley Williams-Bolar was sentenced to 10 days in jail, three years of probation, and 80 hours of community service for having her children attend schools outside her district. Gov. John Kasich reduced her sentence last month.

In case you needed further proof of the American education system's failings, especially in poor and minority communities, consider the latest crime to spread across the country: educational theft. That's the charge that has landed several parents, such as Ohio's Kelley Williams-Bolar, in jail this year.

An African-American mother of two, Ms. Williams-Bolar last year used her father's address to enroll her two daughters in a better public school outside of their neighborhood. After spending nine days behind bars charged with grand theft, the single mother was convicted of two felony counts. Not only did this stain her spotless record, but it threatened her ability to earn the teacher's license she had been working on.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Voucher Victory in Wisconsin

Expansion of Nation’s Oldest Urban Voucher Program Acclaimed by Nation’s Original Voucher Organization

With a stroke of a pen, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker yesterday signed a 2011-2012 state budget that dramatically expands the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program to include tens of thousands of working class and middle income families. His signature also means that a brand new school choice program will be established in Racine County.

The budget had previously passed the Senate and House on June 17 by votes of 19-14 and 60-38, respectively.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Cartel: The True Nature of Teacher Unions

From The Heritage Foundation
By Sarah Torre

The problem of continual academic mediocrity that plagues America’s public school system can be laid at the door of union monopolies. That’s the message of The Cartel, a new documentary that will show this Sunday at 12 pm at the Washington, D.C. Independent Film Festival. The film documents the abuses of power exercised by teacher unions, specifically in the state of New Jersey, and the adverse effects such control can have on student achievement and parents’ fight for school choice.

The movie shows scenes of school buildings with new facades and million-dollar football fields juxtaposed with statistics of failing high schools and abysmal reading proficiency scores across the state. New Jersey is known for its extravagant education funding, currently spending over $350,000 per classroom in some of the state’s worst performing school districts. Why should a state with one of the highest public education budgets in the country boast meager academic achievement?

The inability of school districts to fire poorly performing teachers because of union tenure rules, coupled with an expensive and excessive administrative bureaucracy demanded by the same union, leads to an inefficient use of state funds and an ineffective education system. Similarly, when families and communities move to implement voucher programs, teacher unions cry foul, claiming such programs would supposedly drain money from already struggling public schools. What is the motivation for keeping bad teachers in classrooms, wasting millions of taxpayer dollars on renovation projects, and denying families the power of school choice?

As a principal who was fired for his request to take action against teachers watching pornography while in school, states in the movie:

You keep quiet if you want this high-paying position; or you take a stance and you’re going to lose your job. And they’ll put your name in the newspaper, which means you’ll never be employed again. Because they play dirty, because there’s so much money involved.

While the movie investigates the power of teachers unions in New Jersey and demonstrates the negative impact such tactics can have on students, the film’s producer, Bob Bowdon, is quick to show support for teachers who care about educating their students:

Those good teachers deserve our respect. Wanting lousy teachers out of the classroom doesn’t mean you’re against all teachers. A point so obvious, I can hardly believe it needs to be made. This absurd idea that you have got to support every teacher, or else you hate all teachers, has been an effective myth put forward by the union for years.

The effects of teachers’ unions on school district governance and student performance is necessary to understanding many of the problems public schools around the country continue to face. Be sure to visit The Cartel website for screenings in the D.C. area and around the country.

Sarah Torre currently is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Brazilian Couple Receive Criminal Conviction for Homeschooling

As in the United States where private and parochial school students are unwelcome at the White House Easter Egg Roll, statists everywhere are driven to indoctrinate and control your children. Better that they should be ignorant and compliant slaves of the state, than able to think for themselves. This Brazilian verdict was issued despite these two boys passing law school entrace exams -- at ages 13 and 14.

From LifeSiteNews
By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

espite the fact that his children passed difficult government imposed tests,
and even qualified for law school at the ages of 13 and 14, homeschooler Cleber Nunes and his wife Bernadeth have been slapped with fines equivalent to a total of $3,200 for refusing to submit their children to the Brazilian school system.

However, Nunes told (LSN) that he has no intention to pay the fine, although he says that he might have to spend 15-30 days in jail if he does not.

Although homeschooling is common in many countries, including the United States, and is associated with higher levels of academic achievement, it is completely prohibited in Brazil, the government of which has become increasingly intrusive in recent decades following the establishment of a socialist regime in the 1990s.

Since Nunes began to homeschool his two oldest children four years ago, his family has been subject to repeated threats of fines, imprisonment, and loss of custody. However, he has resisted steadfastly and his case has gained national attention.

The guilty verdict in the criminal case against Nunes, which follows two negative verdicts in a parallel civil case that ended over a year ago, was given despite the fact that David and Jonatas Nunes had passed a difficult set of tests imposed by the criminal court.

"They had asked the kids to do the tests to check their level of knowledge, and also psychological tests to check their mental health," Nunes told LifeSiteNews (LSN). "It seems that the only valid result they expected was the failure of the kids."

The tests imposed by the court on Nunes' children were so difficult that one of the teachers who had designed it reportedly admitted that she herself could not pass it. However, David and Jonatas Nunes both passed the exams by margins of five and eight percentage points.

Despite his sons' performance, however, the government has again ruled against Nunes, this time in criminal court, and ordered a fine. The total amount in fines owed by Nunes as a result of the decisions against him has mounted to over $3,200 in US dollars.

"If they impose tests it means that two possibilities should be considered. They could be suffering intellectual abandonment, or not," Nunes told LSN. "In other words, they were trying to prove they were victims. But they passed and they kept saying we were criminal."

Nunes says that despite his success, the judge ruled against him because of his style of home schooling, in which the children direct their own learning, with Nunes overseeing the process.

"The judge said we left the children to learn by themselves," said Nunes. "He recognized that they passed the university entrance examination and the tests, but said that it was by their own efforts," he added, calling that a "joke."

"They want to take control of them, of their minds"

Nunes says he has decided not to appeal the ruling, because Brazil's Supreme Court has already refused to hear the appeal of his civil case. Although he has paid his wife's fine to spare her jail time, he says he will not pay his own fine.

"The natural thing to do is appeal, but I don't trust the Brazilian judges," Nunes told LSN. "They already showed who they are and what they want. They are not interested in protecting our kids....They want to take control of them, of their minds, they want them out of their home."

Although he has refused to comply with the rulings against him, Nunes currently faces no more legal difficulties stemming from the homeschooling of David and Jonatas, because they are now beyond the age of mandatory schooling.

However, his daughter could soon be subject to compulsory schooling in Brazil. She will soon turn four, the age at which compulsory schooling begins in Brazil.

Contact Information:

Cleber Nunes (he speaks English) can be contacted at:

To contact the Brazilian Embassy:

Embassy of Brazil in the USA
3006 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC
Phone: (202) 238-2700
Fax: (202) 238-2827

Embassy of Brazil in Canada
450 Wilbrod Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 6M8
Phone: (613) 237-1090 or (613) 755-5160
Fax: (613) 237-6144

Embassies of Brazil to other Nations:

Friday, January 29, 2010

British Journalist Asks 'Can I Claim Asylum in the US?'

From The Telegraph
By Ed West

A German family have been granted asylum in the United States because their children were being forced to learn a curriculum that was “against Christian values”, according to German paper The Local.

A US court has granted asylum to an evangelical Christian family who fled Germany because they were not allowed to homeschool their children.

An immigration judge in Nashville, Tennessee ruled that parents Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, and their five children, are free to stay in the US, where they have been since 2008, news agency AP reported late on Tuesday.

The parents, who came from the state of Baden-W├╝rttemberg, allege they were persecuted for their faith and defiance of Germany’s compulsory school attendance since those who do not comply face fines and jail time.

According to Uwe Romeike, his family was fined the equivalent of some $10,000 over two years, but could not afford to make payments after their court appeals failed.

“I think it’s important for parents to have the freedom to choose the way their children can be taught,” Romeike told AP, later adding that German curriculum was increasingly “against Christian values.”

The other day I asked if parents who did not toe the New Labour political line could take their children out of “Citizenship” classes, but I didn’t realise I might be able to flee Europe altogether.

In Britain, meanwhile, the Government is trying to make homeschooling even harder, supposedly because homeschooled children could be abused more, but in reality, I suspect, because many of the parents are religious.

Homeschooling may not be everyone’s cup of tea, nor is Evangelical Christianity for that matter, but allowing parents to decide their children’s education is a mark of a free society. And many parents of young children, and not even just religious ones, feel rightfully uncomfortable about schools trying to force the state’s morality on their kids, and not just in the arena of sex.

Marc Young, editor of the Local, says the Romeikes have made a “mockery” of US asylum policy, but the decision is entirely in line with American tradition. The Puritans left East Anglia for New England not because they feared death or imprisonment but because under James I, Englishmen were expected to follow a narrow Anglican worldview. Conservatives in western Europe feel the same way today.

Now where can I apply for asylum to the US?

Ed West is a journalist and social commentator who specializes in politics, religion and low culture.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Obama's Speech to Children is a Seriously Flawed Civics Lesson

Whether done by Democrats or Republicans, it is inappropriate for the President of the United States to use the nation's schoolchildren as political props or junior lobbyists.

It is not surprising that millions of Americans are suspicious of the President's intent in the address he will deliver today from Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. Americans resent this intrusion into their children's education because the teaching materials prepared by the U. S. Department of Education, withdrawn or not, reveal the President's intent. Those materials do not ask students how they might improve their grades, they ask how each student might help Obama. That this administration has undertaken one of the largest, unconstitutional power-grabs in U.S. history, only adds to the suspicion.

Certainly, government has an interest in a well-formed, educated citizenry. Government has an interest in a safe, high quality, and secure food supply also; but they don't (at least not yet) propose to collectivize the farms. The ultimate authorities over schooling in the United States are known as "chief state school officers," and those are state officials. But even that degree of government involvement in education is a recent phenomenon. The Cato Institute describes how schooling in the United States has evolved from a responsibility of families, churches, and local communities:
"Many people do not realize that for most of American history— from the early Colonial period through the end of the Civil War— not only was there no federal involvement in education, there was comparatively little state or local government involvement, either.

One sign of centralization is the migration of school financing from the local to the state and federal levels. In 1930 only 0.4 percent of funding for education came from the federal government, 17 percent from state governments, and 83 percent from local sources. By 1997 the federal government provided 7 percent of all funding, state governments’ contributions had ballooned to 48 percent, and the local government share had shrunk to 45 percent. Also by 1997, schools in 35 states received less than half of their revenues from local taxes.

In 1930 there were 262,000 government schools in America— one for every 470 people. Today those schools have been reduced to only 90,000 for a population more than twice as large— roughly one school for every 3,055 people. With the closing of small schools came the opening of large school districts. In 1932 there were 127,531 school districts nationwide. By 1994 only 14,881 school districts remained.

But long before the federal government got heavily involved in education, young America had waged a successful revolution against a titanic empire and founded a unique republic based on individual rights and responsibility. Alexis de Tocqueville would describe the ordinary citizens as the best educated in history."
As government's role has increased in education, schools and districts have become fewer and larger, and government regulation has made them more uniform, less personal, "one-size-fits-all " institutions. They have become less accountable to families for success, and more accountable to government for compliance, and everywhere throughout the nation, in rich districts and poor, the literacy and student achievement that awed de Tocqueville, has seriously declined. Today, government schools are mediocre at best. In many cities and states, including South Carolina, more than half of all students entering high school fail to graduate.

Americans would rightly resist government ownership of the nation's news media. We would not want politicians to control our access to information and be able to influence what Americans think. And yet we allow government to form the nation's children during the twelve most important years of their lives.

Socialized education has not worked any better than socialized health care will work. The President's address to the nation's schoolchildren starts the academic year with a seriously wrong civics lesson -- that the federal government, much less the President of the United States, has a role in education. America does not need more government involvement in education; it needs far less.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Parental Rights Amendment Reaches 110 Co-Sponsors

Grassroots Movement Behind Effort to Ensure Parents' Rights to Raise their Children

From Christian Newswire

A Constitutional Amendment to protect the parent-child relationship introduced by U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Michigan, has reached 110 co-sponsors in the House.

"More and more members of Congress are recognizing the threat from government and foreign interference into the parent-child relationship," Hoekstra said. "I encourage my colleagues to support the initiative by co-sponsoring the Parents' Rights Amendment."

The Parental Rights Amendment (H.J.Res.42) would state explicitly in the U.S. Constitution that parents have a fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit, while protecting against abuse and neglect. Threats to the parent-child relationship include potential Senate ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and the erosion of fundamental parental rights in our federal courts.

"Just about every member of Congress agrees with the legal principle that parents have the fundamental right to make decisions for the upbringing of their children," said Michael Farris, J.D., president of "Because of international law and shifting judicial philosophies, the right is being steadily undermined. We now have 110 members of Congress with the foresight to say that we need to protect this long-standing right before the erosion goes too far. We appreciate the leadership of Pete Hoekstra and the 109 other members of Congress who believe that it is important to secure the rights of American families for generations to come."

More information on the Parental Rights Amendment can be viewed at

Monday, June 22, 2009

Senator DeMint Introduces Parental Rights Amendment

Senator Jim DeMint's star in the political firmament burns brighter with every passing day.

We were delighted to read today that South Carolina's great United States Senator is the chief sponsor of Senate Joint Resolution 16, a Parental Rights Amendment that will explicity protect the rights of parents in the Constitution as a fundamental right and not just an implied right. The companion legislation in the House is House Joint Resolution 42, and was introduced by Representative Pete Hoekstra of Michigan.
The legislation seeks to protect states' rights from international law and treaties. DeMint explains:
"As we look at where this country is going, particularly [regarding] more association with the United Nations and [consideration of] the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, these treaties would supersede all the laws in 50 states."
Additional information about Senator DeMint's legislation and the parental rights movement is available here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Durbin: Private School for Me, But Not for Thee

Windy City Hypocrites: Senator Durbin, Governor Blagojevich and Obama

From The Weekly Standard

As part of the negotiations for passing the increasingly embarrassingly delayed omnibus bill, the Senate is considering a number of Republican amendments, one of which would strip the omnibus bill of language that would kill the Washington Opportunity Scholarship program. The program, which allows 1,700 low-income Washington students to attend private schools with a $7,500 voucher, would lose its funding at the end of next school year if the Senate doesn't pass Sen. John Ensign's amendment.
Sen. Dick Durbin, who attended private school and sent his children to private school, like any good Democrat, insists that those who don't have the means to do so be loyal to the failing public school systems he spurned. Usually, this is the hypocrisy that dare not speak its name, but on the floor this week, Durbin treated the Senate to a justification:
My wife and I sent our three children to Catholic schools. That was our choice. We continued to pay our property taxes to support public schools. I have openly supported public school referenda in my community. I have done everything in my State to make sure there was adequate funding for public schools, but we made a personal family decision, based on a number of circumstances, to send our children to the local Catholic schools. That was our decision at our expense. I have no prejudice against private education. If I entrusted my children to it, I certainly believe in it. But the question always came up in my mind: Who should pay for it. We were prepared as a family to pay for it. It was an extra sacrifice we were prepared to bear.
Well, then, as long as he was voting to support public-school referenda. I'd like to see one other time in his career when the "question came up in his mind, 'Who should pay for it?'" and the answer was not the taxpayer. Odd that the fiscal and personal responsibility bug bites Durbin only when he's voting on a $14 million dollar program that allows inner-city kids to escape the teachers' unions grip on education and the Mags, guns, and apathy of their public schools.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Sunday, March 8, 2009

School Choice Can Free Education

From The Bluegrass Institute
By John Garen

Gov. Steve Beshear outlined in his inaugural address a sampling of Kentucky’s economic problems. He urged leaders to “take bold steps” to resolve them.
I agree with the governor. Kentucky faces serious issues that require bold action. And I’m going to suggest a bold step for our state that I hope lawmakers take seriously.

I am not alone, and I think the time is right: Let’s have serious education reform that brings market-based incentives into the province of primary and secondary education by creating charter schools and voucher systems.

Before you say they won’t work, remember that these kind of free-market ideas work everywhere else.

We rely heavily on market incentives for so many goods and services. Yet, we rely so little on them in education. We utilize the free market with everything from food, housing and clothing to the frivolous Magic 8-Ball and Whoopee Cushion.

Market incentives drive the mundane – paper towels and flashlight batteries – and the intangible – music, art and film, which touch deep emotional chords. Market-driven goods range from the simple to the sophisticated, such as automobiles, jet engines, digital cameras and complex legal cases.

The free-market system works pretty well. But somehow lawmakers resist using it in primary and secondary education policies. Given the considerable dissatisfaction with public schools, it’s high time to consider alternatives.

First, free and competitive markets create a great incentive system. An important basis for markets involves voluntary exchange. In order to profit, the seller must provide something that someone else wants. This forces the seller to provide something valuable.

Second, the free market creates competition. Not only must sellers provide something
valuable, its quality must match or exceed the competition. Sellers that provide better products draw customers. Sellers that improve efficiency increase profits.

These mechanisms disappear when government provides goods and services – the case with public education. Public schools get customers “assigned” to them based on a neighborhood. As a result, competition disappears. Yes, a family can choose schools by moving to a different neighborhood – a cumbersome and expensive way to create competition, thus limiting it.

Also, public schools automatically get money they need to operate from state and local governments. This eliminates the need to satisfy the customers – parents with students in a school. And it adds more reasons to please the political “masters” who control the money. All of this reduces the need for efficient spending, since the same number of students attend the school, regardless of the school’s policies or performance.

Bringing market-type incentives into public education does not necessarily translate into a lack of government support for schools. For example, government gives money to families to buy food in a foo-stamp program, even though they shop exclusively at privately operated stores.

One way to do this in education is by creating a charter-school policy. Here’s how charter schools can improve public education:

• Charter schools are privately run schools “chartered” by school districts and can enroll any student who wants to attend. The public’s money for the student gets credited to the school. So, parents dissatisfied with their child’s school can apply for a student’s admission to a charter school.

• The public schools must compete with the charter schools, and incentives to satisfy families and students enrolled in the public schools emerge – more bang for the buck.

A full-fledged voucher system represents an even bigger step toward market-based education incentives. Vouchers work this way:

• Parents get money, a “voucher,” for each of their children, and parents can spend the voucher at a school they choose. Parents can use the voucher at public or private schools.

• Parents can “top off” a voucher, meaning they can add their money to the voucher if they want to send a student to a more expensive school. For example, a school that charges tuition of $10,000 per year becomes affordable even to families of modest means with an $8,000 voucher.

• This education system operates no differently than the aforementioned food-stamps program.

Do not equate charters and vouchers with wild, untried schemes dreamt up by cranks.

They work in many places throughout the United States. Nationwide, charter schools have become increasingly common and now account for 1.8 percent of enrollment – but not in Kentucky.

The state tried to move to the forefront of education reform with the passage of Kentucky Education Reform Act 1990. But 18 years later, you cannot find Kentucky on the education-reform radar.

Moving to a system with market incentives ingrained in our educational system presents significant challenges, including implementation and transition issues, along with considerable political resistance and others. But overcoming these hurdles offers the best chance for an effective primary and secondary schooling system.

Let’s take this bold step.

John Garen is department chair and Gatton Endowed Professor of Economics at the University of Kentucky, and an adjunct scholar with the Bluegrass Institute, Kentucky’s free-market think tank. A version of this article appeared in Business Lexington.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

How Children are Sexually Corrupted in Public Schools

From News With Views
By Joel Turtel

One of parents’ most important duties is to protect their children from harmful sexual values and behaviors. Yet many public schools force potentially harmful, sometimes shockingly explicit sex education on their students. Most of the time, parents have no control over the content of these classes. Occasionally, a group of parents finds out about a particularly obnoxious sex education class and protests to the principal or local school board. The class may be dropped, only to be replaced by another class that teaches equally objectionable material, again without parent’s consent. School authorities’ attitude towards parents on this issue shows their anti-parent bias, and their contempt for parent’s rights to control the values their children are taught.

Many school authorities insist that children need comprehensive sex education from kindergarten through high school. They believe parents can't be trusted because they have shameful feelings about sex or have “outdated” moral or sexual values. School authorities, claiming that they know best regarding sex education, usurp parents’ role, allegedly for the “good of the children.” In doing so, they show contempt for parents’ rights, values, and common sense.

Read the rest of this entry >>

Thursday, February 12, 2009

School Choice? Yes: New Studies Show All Students’ Scores Rise

From The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
By David Pusey

For cynics who do not believe school vouchers help students who remain in public schools or those who transfer to another public or private school of their choice, solid new evidence is emerging that will make believers out of the biggest skeptics.

Two new studies find school choice is indeed a tide that lifts all boats in educating all students. Just as Milton Friedman, the Nobel Prize winner and founder of the modern school choice movement, suggested 50 years ago, evidence now shows that competition helps all students, even those who remain in public schools.

A July 2008 study by David Card of the University of California-Berkley shows that competition in Ontario, Canada, led to higher achievement for all students. Pupils in Ontario may attend a public school or a Catholic school. The taxpayer-funded voucher is equivalent no matter whether a parent chooses a public or private school. Card and his research colleagues found that students who stayed in their assigned public schools performed better on standardized exams of reading, writing, and math under this school choice model. The positive effects on student achievement were largest where there was more choice. Since choice is restricted to public schools or Catholic schools in Ontario, one wonders if student achievement would increase even more significantly if options were made available beyond Catholic schools.

A second 2008 study, this one by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, analyzed two phases of the Milwaukee voucher program and showed student achievement increased with the availability of school choice.

When the Milwaukee program was initially launched between 1990 and 1996, there were never more than 1,500 students using a voucher. That’s because the state forbade children from using the scholarship to attend a religious school, and the voucher amount was very small.

After Wisconsin court rulings declaring vouchers constitutional, changes were made to the program. Milwaukee pupils were then allotted a $4,900 voucher and could apply that to a secular or religious school of their parents’ choice. That enabled more families to participate in the program.

The New York Fed study found no effects of vouchers — positive or negative — on any students when the Milwaukee voucher program did not provide much competition or choice. However, once students were given larger voucher amounts, once students could choose from a variety of schools, and once public schools actually faced competition, then students using the vouchers and students who remained in public school both earned higher test scores. This study confirms a 2003 study on this topic by Stanford University economist Caroline Hoxby.

These new studies show that if you care about the students who remain in public schools, then more choice and more competition are what will improve their academic outcomes.

The point of these research papers is clear. If we are to be successful with vouchers in Georgia, we must not create a half-hearted program. Specifically, the data show that true competition will compel all schools to improve. A successful program would provide a substantial scholarship and have few restrictions where parents could use the voucher.

Some opinion writers and defenders of the status quo cite no academic benefits of school choice plans. However, a careful read of the evidence shows that while limited choice and limited competition may have no benefits, more competition does lead to academic gains for all students. It is telling that detractors of choice cannot find a single study that finds school choice harms a single student.

All Georgia public school students would benefit from students who use a voucher to attend a private school. The threat of losing customers — students and their parents — would motivate public schools to take better care of their remaining patrons.

David Pusey is an education specialist with the Center for an Educated Georgia.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Vatican Official Defends Rights of Parents to Educational Choice

From LifeSiteNews
By Hilary White

An “inclusive” education means that which respects the rights of parents to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children, a Vatican Cardinal told the U.N.’s International Conference on Education last week.

Citing the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See's permanent observer at the U.N. offices in Geneva, said, “Educators should remain aware that they carry out their service in cooperation with parents, who are the first 'educational agency' and have the priority right and duty to educate their children. This convergence of efforts is an evident application of the basic principle of subsidiarity.”

The concept of subsidiarity in Catholic social teaching means that the needs of the individual are best served by the stratum of society closest to him, starting with the family. Catholic teaching holds that it is the purpose of the state to safeguard the family and the family’s rights. This doctrine is directly opposed to the high-level statist concepts of social theory that are currently at the fore in the UN and European Union, where governments are creating increasingly tightly regulated social conditions.

Tomasi’s assertion on the rights of parents is directly opposed by some European countries, most notably Germany, which retains a Nazi-era law forbidding homeschooling. In recent years, parents who have chosen to shield their children from the heavily secularised, and sexualised, state education have been hounded in the courts and had their children seized by the state.

Archbishop Tomasi also criticized the emphasis on “efficiency” in education and in society in general, saying that the global financial crisis is a “concrete lesson” in what happens when a society subordinates the needs of the individual to utilitarian ideals.

"‘Inclusion’ works through the promotion of a society that respects the dignity of every human person and goes beyond criteria of efficiency.”

“Only the person that conceives relations with others beyond criteria of productivity and control can value reality in a balanced perspective and assume appropriate responsibility.”

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Sidwell Choice

The Obama family leads by example

From The Wall Street Journal

Michelle and Barack Obama have settled on a Washington, D.C., school for their daughters, and you will not be surprised to learn it is not a public institution. Malia, age 10, and seven-year-old Sasha will attend the Sidwell Friends School, the private academy that educates the children of much of Washington's elite.

[Review & Outlook] AP

Vice President-elect Joe Biden's grandchildren attend Sidwell -- as did Chelsea Clinton -- where tuition is close to $30,000 a year. The Obama girls have been students at the private University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where tuition runs above $21,000. "A number of great schools were considered," said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, a spokeswoman for Mrs. Obama. "In the end, the Obamas selected the school that was the best fit for what their daughters need right now."

Note the word "selected," as in made a choice. The Obamas are fortunate to have the means to send their daughters to private school, and no one begrudges them that choice given that Washington's public schools are among the worst in America.

Most D.C. parents would also love to be able to choose a better school for their child, but they lack the financial means to do so. The Washington Opportunity Scholarship Program each year offers up to $7,500 to some 1,900 kids to attend private schools, but Democrats in Congress want to kill it. Average family income for kids in the voucher program is about $22,000.

Mr. Obama says he opposes such vouchers, because "although it might benefit some kids at the top, what you're going to do is leave a lot of kids at the bottom." The example of his own children refutes that: The current system offers plenty of choice to kids "at the top" while abandoning those at the bottom.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Public Schools Not Good Enough For Obama's Children, But You Should Stay Put

The Sidwell Friends School

In a long tradition of hypocritical, limousine liberals, the Obama's have sworn before the NEA and the AFT their unyielding opposition to allowing poor, inner-city families the freedom to seek out better schools for their children. "We need to focus on fixing and improving our public schools; not throwing our hands up and walking away from them," he told them.

But when it comes to his own family, he's not about to subject his children to those schools:

Obama's Girls Will Attend Private School

By Lisa Tolin, AP

President-elect Barack Obama and his wife have chosen Sidwell Friends School for their two daughters, opting for a private institution that another White House child, Chelsea Clinton, attended a decade ago.

"A number of great schools were considered. In the end, the Obamas selected the school that was the best fit for what their daughters need right now," said Katie McCormick Lelyveld, a spokeswoman for Michelle Obama.

She said Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, "bring with them a number of security and privacy concerns that come with being part of the new first family — and the school they've selected is positioned to appropriately accommodate that."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

School Choice for the Obama's

When Barack Hussein Obama addressed the National Education Association to spell out his plans "to invest" more of your money in public education, Dennis Van Roekel, President of the National Education Association proclaimed that Obama "gets it."

But when it comes to putting his children where his mouth and your money is, Obama is not willing to trust his own reforms and proposed massive increases in federal spending. Public schools may be fine for the "little people," but the Obama's will do what all the other liberal hypocrites in Congress do, find private schools for their children. Sure, they will placate those that the education establishment really serves -- teachers and administrators -- bu
t they will not risk the lives of their two girls on the chance that massive increases in funding might accomplish what they have never accomplished before.

And those unable to get out like the Obama's? Did you really expect change you could believe in?

The New York Post has the story about Washington, DC's newest private school family:


By Jennifer Fermino

Future Mom-in-Chief Michelle Obama flew into DC ahead of her husband yesterday on a reconnaissance mission to scope out private schools for her two daughters.

She headed first to the tony Georgetown Day School, an ultra-progressive prep school where students and their teachers are on a first-name basis.

"She's so tall. Oh, my gosh," said an awed eighth-grader, Ellie Lasater-Guttmann. "And she's prettier in person."

If Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, are enrolled at Georgetown Day, Michelle will bump into plenty of friends at Parent Association meetings.

The school, which is pre-K through 12th grade, is brimming with the offspring of several key Obama aides, and a rumored future attorney general, Eric Holder, is a trustee.

The Obamas are widely believed to be deciding among three schools - and the contest has Washington's prep-school parents riveted.

The other two contenders are Sidwell Friends and Maret.

"There's a frenzy going on in terms of speculation. It makes me want to vomit," one Maret parent told The Atlantic.

At a private dinner party several weeks ago, Beth Dozoretz, a major Democratic Party donor, handed Mrs. Obama a handwritten note from her daughter, a fourth-grader at Sidwell, pushing her school, the magazine reported.

The youngster wrote about how much she loved her school, which counts Chelsea Clinton and Tricia Nixon as alumnae.

After Georgetown, Michelle headed to Sidwell, a liberal Quaker school that many consider the front-runner in the heated Race for the Schoolhouse.

Joe Biden's youngest son goes there, and it has got the Secret Service drill down pat from the relatively recent Chelsea days.

But the candidate who won the White House on a platform of change might find the school too Clintonesque.

Many of Bubba and Hillary's close pals - including Mark Penn and Mandy Grunwald - send their kids there.

Still to be visited is Maret, a college-prep school with an emphasis on sports.

The president-elect's senior foreign-policy adviser, Susan Rice, sends her kids there.

The DC public schools made an unsuccessful push for Chelsea Clinton back in 1992, but it seems unlikely the Obama girls will end up in a city school. The last presidential child to attend public schools was Amy Carter.

Malia and Sasha are currently enrolled in the rigorous University of Chicago Laboratory School, which boasts of concentrating on character development as much as its curriculum.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Obama and Vouchers

From the National Center for Policy Analysis

According to public opinion polls, 65 percent of adult African-Americans and 63 percent of adult Hispanics favor the use of school vouchers, and more than half of minority adults give higher marks to their local police than their public schools. Yet, the number of minority students that are quitting the education system is staggering, says the National Journal.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics:

  • In 2006 nearly 11 percent of African-American students between the ages of 16 and 24 dropped out of school -- almost double the rate for white students.
  • The dropout rate among Hispanics was 22 percent.
  • Higher dropout rates also mean higher unemployment: in 2006, more than half of all African-American dropouts and more than one-third of Hispanic dropouts were not in the labor force.

The fundamental problem with the voucher debate is that it is always seen as an either/or proposition. For Republicans, it is the panacea to all the education woes; for Democrats, it is something that will destroy public education. So what does the future hold for them now with President-elect Obama?

Obama argues that voucher-based initiatives fund mostly faith-based schools, violating separation of church and state. But faith-based institutions may participate in voucher programs as a result of Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, in which the Supreme Court ruled that students may study at any private or public school as long as aid is awarded directly to the parent or guardian and not the school.

Some critics argue that voucher programs drain funding that could be used to reform and improve public schools. But others counter that under voucher programs state aid allotted to public schools would move with the student regardless of whether he or she attends a public or private school. It's really no different than any other change of school; you want the money to follow the child, says the Journal.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Give Parents A Choice In Education, Says Bob Barr

The federal Department of Education is spending almost $70 billion this year on a function not even mentioned in the Constitution. “The Department should be closed down and the money left with the American people to use for education at the family, local, and state levels,” says Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party presidential nominee.

While spending so much money on programs that should not exist, in 2003 the Congress created a small voucher program started for students in Washington, D.C., which has some of the worst schools in the nation. Now the Democratic majority is planning on killing the initiative, putting nearly 2000 students back into the failed public school system. “The only federal education program Congress wants to get rid of is the one doing the most to help poor kids,” observes Barr.

But since education is not a federal responsibility, “a better way to promote educational opportunity is at the state level,” explains Barr. There are now 22 different choice programs in 14 states. Some of those initiatives provide vouchers; others create tax credits. “I commend Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue for recently signing into law legislation creating a state income tax credit for individuals and companies that donate to groups which provide private scholarships for students,” said Barr.

In fact, “private scholarships have become an increasingly important choice mechanism across the nation,” Barr notes. Examples range from the District of Columbia's Washington Scholarship Fund to Portland, Oregon’s Children’s Scholarship Fund. “In this way average people who want to improve education can avoid the political obstacles to reforming the public schools,” he adds.

America’s public educational monopoly is not working. “The failure to adequately educate our children to compete in the international marketplace and to be good citizens in a free society is truly scandalous,” says Barr. “The answers will not come from Washington. Instead, they will come from families across America as they educate their own children, put their children into private schools, and improve the public system,” Barr adds. We expect choice and competition throughout the economy. “It’s time to apply those same principles to education,” he insists.

Barr represented the 7th District of Georgia in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003, where he served as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, as Vice-Chairman of the Government Reform Committee, and as a member of the Committee on Financial Services. Prior to his congressional career, Barr was appointed by President Reagan to serve as the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, and also served as an official with the CIA.

Since leaving Congress, Barr has been practicing law and has teamed up with groups ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the American Conservative Union to actively advocate every American citizens’ right to privacy and other civil liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. Along with this, Bob is committed to helping elect leaders who will strive for smaller government, lower taxes and abundant individual freedom.