As we learn more about recipients of new grants under the state's Dropout Recovery Pilot Program, it's becoming clearer that one key political winner is James Leininger. Leininger, a San Antonio physician and businessman, is the state's biggest financial backer of private school voucher schemes and a major donor to Gov. Rick Perry's election campaigns. On Monday a state district judge in Austin rejected the Texas State Teachers Association's request for an injunction that would have blocked the distribution of public funds to private schools through the dropout program. We told you about TSTA's request last week. In addition to the injunction request, TSTA has filed a lawsuit to stop this diversion of tax dollars to private schools. That lawsuit is pending. A look at one of the grant recipients illustrates how state education officials appointed by Gov. Perry are using the dropout program as a back-door voucher scheme. That recipient, Christian Fellowship of San Antonio, Inc., is an evangelical Christian church that established Family Faith Academy in 1998. See Christian Fellowship's grant application here. The Texas Education Agency, under the direction of Education Commissioner Robert Scott (who Gov. Perry…… Read More
Texas Freedom Network has been taking fire from religious extremists on the State Board of Education for our stand on public school Bible classes. We have been very critical of the state board’s failure to adopt clear, specific curriculum standards to guide public schools in creating worthwhile, legal courses that don’t end up in court.
In pieces published by the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News, state board member Ken Mercer, R-San Antonio, responded to our concerns about the lack of sound Bible class standards by repeating a disingenuous argument. Mercer claimed (again) that the Texas attorney general has given a “constitutional green light” to the vague, very general standards the state board adopted. Well, how could the attorney general object to something that says essentially nothing? The standards adopted by the state board barely even mention the Bible. Now local school districts will have to expend precious and scarce resources to develop real curriculum standards that are academically and legally appropriate — something the state board decided was just too hard to do itself.
Then Mercer repeats the falsehood that no public school district has ever been successfully sued for offering an… Read More
Canadian border guards are under orders to prevent members of a fundamentalist American church from crossing into Canada to protest at the Saturday funeral for a Winnipeg man brutally killed on a Greyhound bus last week.
Westboro Baptist Church, a controversial Kansas-based sect, intends to picket the funeral of 22-year-old Tim McLean to tell Canadians his slaying on July 30 was God’s response to Canadian policies enabling abortion, homosexuality and adultery.… Read More
TIME has posted reflections on faith written by the two presumptive presidential candidates, Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain.
My values speak to the 47 million Americans suffering without health care, the care of soldiers and civilians in Iraq and veterans back home, the expanse of God’s creation that is warming day by day, the single mothers struggling to provide for their families and the fathers who are too often absent from the scene. I don’t believe we should ignore the debate over traditional “values issues” at the expense of these other moral challenges. But we can’t just talk about “family values.” We actually have to stand up for policies that value families.… Read More
Recently, TEA adopted a dropout prevention plan that would allow the agency “to fund nonprofit groups as an alternative [to public schools] to educate dropouts.”
“They couldn’t push vouchers through the Legislature in an aboveboard way,” said TSTA President Rita Haecker. “So they went through the back door to divert public dollars to private school programs, even though lawmakers warned them not to do so.”