A Republican Congress instituted the first federally funded private school voucher program, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, in the District of Columbia in 2004. The program was a political victory for far-right groups and individuals such as voucher sugardaddy James Leininger of Texas. But it looked likely to fade out of existence due to the efforts of the current Democratic-controlled Congress.
See Secretary Spellings’ column appearing in yesterday’s Washington Post:
Signed into law by President Bush four years ago, the program is the first to provide federally funded education vouchers to students. It awards up to $7,500 per child for tuition, transportation and fees; in 2007-08 it enabled 1,900 students from the underperforming Washington public school system — the highest total yet — to attend the private or religious schools of their choice.
Now, let’s look at what Spellings has to say in favor of the program.
First she says that parents like the voucher program, but that’s a non-starter. There are also families who are like their neighborhood public schools. The issue is whether it is wise public policy to divert to… Read More
Neither can we.
But it’s true!
For 13 years we’ve been fighting — with your invaluable help — to strengthen our public schools, ensure respect for all faiths and keep the government from infringing on religion and vice versa.
To celebrate, we invite you to our 13th Annual Celebration in Austin — a celebration of freedom and public service.
Get your tickets today. It’s one of the most important decisions you’ll make this year.
Can’t wait to see you there!… Read More
The Texas Education Agency’s former science curriculum director, Christine Comer, has filed a federal lawsuit charging that the agency’s policy of neutrality on teaching biblical creationism is unconstitutional. You might recall that TEA forced Comer to resign last fall after she forwarded an e-mail to colleagues and others outside the agency about an Austin talk by Prof. Barbara Forrest of Southeastern Louisiana University. Forrest is an expert on the movement to promote “intelligent design”/creationism as an alternative to evolution in public schools. TEA directors claimed that forwarding the e-mail about Forrest’s lecture created the perception that the agency opposed teaching “intelligent design”/creationism rather than remaining neutral on the controversial topic. In her lawsuit, Forrest points out that federal courts have ruled that teaching “intelligent design”/creationism in public schools unconstitutionally promotes religion. “The agency’s ‘neutrality’ policy has the purpose or effect of endorsing religion, and thus violates the Establishment Clause,” the lawsuit says.
The lawsuit comes as the State Board of Education — itself chaired by a biblical creationist — prepares to begin debate over revising the curriculum standards for Texas public school science… Read More
The rest of the nation seems to be having second thoughts about the religious right’s radical agenda, but you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at the Texas Republican Party platform adopted earlier this month. Religious extremists who control the party are doubling down, pushing a platform that’s as radical as any in the past. The Texas Freedom Network has analyzed the party platform here.
Here’s a taste of what Texas would look like under the GOP platform:… Read More
Oh, this should be fun. The Texas Republican Party Convention is this weekend in Houston, and already social conservatives are pushing the party to take official positions that are sure to alienate mainstream folks. One delegate argued that the party platform should include a plank calling for the removal of naked people in paintings and sculptures in the National Gallery of Art and other public places in the nation’s capital. “You don’t have nude art on your front porch,” he said, according to the Dallas Morning News. “You possibly don’t have nude art in your living rooms. So why is it important to have that in the common places of Washington, D.C.?” In an unusual example of moderation, the party platform committee voted against that plank.
Another delegate has argued against a plank calling affirmative action “simply racism disguised as social value.” That kind of language, he said, would alienate African Americans and keep them from joining the GOP. (Gee. You think?) The platform commitee disagreed, keeping the language in the platform for now.
The platform, which the state party is set to adopt today, is likely to include support for teaching… Read More