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Torrent Of Bad Education Bills Rips Through Legislature; Leadership Puts Ideology Ahead Of Students, Fiscal Crisis April 22, 2003

Austin, TX Ideological agendas have displaced sound public policy and the best interest of Texas students at the Texas Capitol, as the legislature considers a litany of anti-public education bills this week, said the Texas Freedom Network.

“Last week, the House slashed $1.4 billion in state education funding, and now politicians are pushing initiatives that would siphon billions more out of public schools,” said Samantha Smoot, Executive Director of the Texas Freedom Network. “Count them: a billion dollar voucher program, free textbooks for private school students, and a ‘virtual’ schools program where the state would buy a home computer and printer for untold numbers of homeschooled and private school students.”

“Not only are these bills bad for our neighborhood public schools, they simply defy reason,” said Smoot. “Instead of responsibly addressing our budget deficit and school funding needs, the politicians in charge are putting their pet ideological projects ahead of Texas students.”… Read More

Voucher Bill Sneaks Through Committee At Closed Meeting On House Floor FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 3, 2003

Austin, TX Chairman Kent Grusendorf called an impromtu meeting of the House Public Education Committee at his desk on the House floor this morning and hurriedly passed out his controversial voucher bill, H.B. 2465.

For the next two years, H.B. 2465 would create a private school voucher program in Texas school districts with more than 40,000 students, in which a majority of the students are eligible for the federal free and reduced price lunch program.

Starting in 2005, the voucher “pilot” program would be open to any school district and any child, thus making the more than 4 million public and charter school school students in Texas 1,040 school districts eligible for a voucher.

“It’s no surprise that this bill was snuck through at a closed meeting on the floor, given the unpopularity of vouchers and the drastic nature of this bill,” said Samantha Smoot, Executive Director of the Texas Freedom Network, which advocates against vouchers.… Read More

Bill Dismantling Education Standards Heads To House; Ends Class Size, Curriculum, Teacher Standards At Schools FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 2, 2003

Austin, TX Student learning would suffer under proposed rollbacks of education standards, said the Texas Freedom Network. Legislation passed by a House committee last night would exempt some school districts from virtually all state education standards.

“This new push would eliminate education standards for class size, curriculum and teachers that have proven to improve student performance,” said Samantha Smoot, Executive Director of the Texas Freedom Network, which monitors public education issues in Texas. “Putting kids and education first means improving schools, not abandoning our commitment to proven education standards in order to save money.”

House Bill 973 by Rep. Kent Grusendorf (R-Arlington) would make “exemplary” rated school districts and campuses subject only to a fraction of the laws governing open-enrollment charter schools. H.B. 973 would exempt these districts from state standards for class size, curriculum, teacher certification and training, minimum teacher qualifications, parental rights, dropout prevention programs, after-school programs, remedial and accelerated instruction, educator rights and benefits, school day length, school year length, assessment of students with disabilities, and some anti-discrimination provisions.… Read More

Bush Faith-Based Plan Undermines Safety & Science FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 28, 2003Austin, TX The President’s proposal to divert millions of dollars to faith-based substance abuse programs would rollback decades of scientific practice and jeopardize people in need, according to the watchdog group the Texas Freedom Network.

“The President’s proposal to fund religious drug treatment programs would turn back the medical clock to the 19th Century,” said Samantha Smoot, Executive Director of the Texas Freedom Network, which has monitored the Texas Faith-Based Initiative crafted by then-Governor Bush.

“The President values programs that say ‘We can pray you out of your addiction’ more than programs that say ‘We will treat your addiction with counseling, medical treatment and spirituality’,” said Smoot. “Even more outrageous is his insistence that taxpayers foot the bill for this dangerous approach.”

“The faith-based treatment centers the President wants to fund say that addiction is a sin, not a disease. They believe addiction should be treated with worship and prayer exclusively,” said Smoot. These programs, like Victory Fellowship and Teen Challenge, have been openly hostile to scientifically-based treatments and have repeatedly failed to meet state health and safety standards in Texas.… Read More

Bush Faith-Based Action Follows Disastrous Texas Model FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 12, 2002

Washington, DC As President Bush turned to executive orders today to implement much of his beleaguered Faith-Based Initiative, advocates from his home state say the same approach had disastrous consequences in Texas.

In a report released earlier this year, the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund detailed the negative results of the Faith-Based Initiative developed by then-Governor George W. Bush, which has served as the model for his national Faith-Based Initiative.

The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund points out that, at both the national and state level, George W. Bush has:

· Directed key government agencies to increase contracting with faith-based social service providers; · Diverted public funds to religious social service programs; · Deregulated certain faith-based providers; · Established an advisory body to shepherd his initiative through the public policy process and brainstorm ways of bolstering faith-based programs; · Created faith-based offices or liaisons within key government agencies to review agency policies, identify perceived ‘regulatory barriers,’ and increase faith-based partnerships; and · Promoted the Faith-Based Initiative through both legislative and regulatory means.… Read More


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