Voucher

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 5/17/11

Michele Bachmann

2012: More likely to run for president following Mike Huckabee's decision against running (CBS News, 5/16). 

Constitution: High school student challenges her to a debate on the Constitution as a result of her record of making incorrect statements (Minnesota Independent, 5/13). 

Herman Cain

Georgia: Wins praise for speech at Georgia GOP convention (Southern Political Report, 5/16). 

Florida: Tops field in Fort Lauderdale Tea Party straw poll (Sunshine State News, 5/16). 

Mitch Daniels

Reproductive Rights: Signs law defunding Planned Parenthood that costs thousands their health care, state millions of dollars (The Faster Times, 5/16).

2012: Members of Indiana Republican Party encourage Daniels to run during state convention (AP, 5/13).

Religious Right: Anti-choice activists upset Daniels weighed Condoleezza Rice as a running mate because she is pro-choice (Life News, 5/13). 

GOP: Reports say that Governors Haley Barbour, Chris Christie and Scott Walker would endorse Daniels (CBS News, 5/12). 

Newt Gingrich

Religious Right: Denies advisers' links to Dominionist theology (RWW, 5/16).

Medicare: Describes Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare as "right wing social engineering" but previously said he would've voted for it (Think Progress, 5/16). 

Health Care: Makes inconsistent remarks over his past support for health care insurance mandates (Politico, 5/16). 

Iowa: Will make swing through Iowa this week following official announcement (Dubuque Telegraph Herald, 5/15). 

Jon Huntsman

Religious Right: Set to address Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition (RWW, 5/16).

South Carolina: Huckabee's former state campaign chair announces his support for Huntsman (Politico, 5/16). 

Florida: Meets with key donors in Florida (St. Petersburg Times, 5/11). 

Roy Moore

Religious Right: Claims President Obama is "pushing his own immoral values without regard to what the people think or believe" (WND, 5/16). 

Campaign: Launches website for exploratory committee (RoyMoore2012.com).

Sarah Palin

PAC: Embarks on new direct mail campaign with focus on 2012 election (WaPo, 5/16). 

2012: Supporters hope that Huckabee's announcement will create an opening for Palin (Commentary, 5/16). 

Tim Pawlenty

South Carolina: Hires political director for South Carolina primary (The Hill, 5/17). 

Environment: Continues to apologize for past support of ‘cap and trade’ system (Minnesota Post, 5/17).

Mitt Romney

Fundraising: Raises over $10 million on Monday call-day in Las Vegas (WaPo, 5/17). 

Health Care: Defends state health plan that is analogous to federal health care law (NYT, 5/13). 

Rick Santorum

Medicare: Criticizes Gingrich for attacking Paul Ryan’s Medicare privatization proposal (The Hill, 5/16). 

Health Care: Knocks Romney for defending his Massachusetts health care law (The State Column, 5/13).

Scott Walker’s Latest Pro-Voucher Gambit Exposes Dishonesty Of The Voucher Movement

Private school voucher advocates and their allies in the so-called “education reform” movement readily talk about the need for rigorous, constant testing along with the application of free market principles to education: reward high-performing schools and teachers and punish bad ones.

Over the last decade, Milwaukee has been a laboratory for private school vouchers, and the results have been poor: numerous studies have shown that vouchers failed to make any difference in student performance. Just like in Washington, DC and Cleveland, private school vouchers in Milwaukee failed to produce the gains their supporters promised as students, with students in the Milwaukee voucher program actually performing worse than comparable public school students.

But now Republican Gov. Scott Walker wants to expand the ineffective voucher program while cutting funds to public schools. And so much for the emphasis on testing -- voucher students will now be exempted from the tests that revealed the program’s failure.

The Wausau Daily Herald reports:

Milwaukee’s voucher school program would be expanded under a Republican-backed bill expected to pass the state Assembly on Tuesday.



State Superintendent Tony Evers has questioned expanding the voucher program at the same time Walker is proposing cutting public school aid by more than $800 million over the next two years.



Walker is also proposing eliminating in his budget that voucher students take the same statewide achievement tests that public school students must take.

This year, results were released for the first time comparing public school and voucher students. They showed voucher students lagging behind their peers in public schools.

That’s right, even though voucher students are “lagging behind their peers in public schools,” voucher programs are being rewarded with expansion while public schools are punished with cuts. With little care for accountability and testing, this move by Walker and the Wisconsin GOP demonstrates how the push for private school vouchers is really about the Right’s ideological war against public education.

The pro-voucher American Federation for Children is even launching an ad campaign to defend Wisconsin Republicans facing recall votes, and recently hosted an event where they honored Walker for his voucher advocacy. AFC was founded and funded by Betsy Devos, a Religious Right activist and wife of Dick Devos, the son of the founder of Amway and an unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor of Michigan. Today, AFC is one of the most aggressive pro-voucher groups, and aims to fully privatize public education.

Through their advocacy for private school vouchers, the Devos family merged their anti-union and anti-public school beliefs with their mission to chip away at the separation of church and state. The Devos family is a key benefactor of Religious Right groups across the country, financing major social conservative organizations like Focus on the Family and the Council for National Policy, and provided almost the entire funding for Maggie Gallagher’s Institute for Marriage and Public Policy.

With Scott Walker admitting that the private school voucher movement’s emphasis on testing, results and accountability is hogwash, it is abundantly clear what the real goal is: privatizing public education.

Heck: DC Mayor Vince Gray Wants To Punish Kids Who "Survive The Abortion Holocaust"

During the heated fight over the federal budget, Republicans won a compromise that stopped the city of Washington D.C. from using its own tax dollars to help low-income women access reproductive health services and added more funding to a DC private school voucher program opposed by local officials. Strongly objecting to the House GOP’s blatant encroachment on home rule, which included financing an ineffective voucher program while taking away crucial funding for women’s family planning, DC Mayor Vince Gray and a number of Council members were arrested during a protest. Anti-choice leaders harshly criticized Gray, deriding him a proponent of black genocide who wants to destroy the city’s African American population.

Indiana right-wing commentator Peter Heck, who called President Obama a disgrace to his ancestors over his pro-choice views, is out with a new column charging Gray with supporting the “slaughter [of] innocent children” while punishing those “who survive the abortion holocaust”:

But beyond the blatantly obvious flip-flops which the Obama-loving mainstream press find a way to excuse as just part of the president's remarkably nuanced mind, this behavior fits a much larger pattern of inconsistency that has come to define the liberal mind in America. Inconsistencies that should bring great embarrassment when exposed, and that rationality would demand be confronted and resolved, are systematically embraced and welcomed in the land of left-believe.

How else can one explain the recent protest that took place in Washington, DC? There, over 40 liberals (including the city's mayor and several councilmen) took to the streets to complain that the budget deal recently passed by Congress would deprive the nation's capital city of federal tax dollars to fund abortions. In the name of choice, these left-wing activists blocked the streets until being detained by police. On its own, seeing a group of liberals championing the right to choose to kill children in the womb is nothing new.

But that wasn't all they were protesting. Another part of the budget deal that had raised their ire was the reinstatement of the Opportunities Scholarship Program. This school-choice program provides poor families the chance to move their children from failing inner-city schools to higher performing ones, allowing future generations of predominantly minority students the opportunity to escape the cycle of poverty that engulfs them. This protest, then, is the perfect embodiment of modern liberal thought: rally in the streets to continue facilitating the choice to slaughter innocent children in the womb while simultaneously demanding that those children who survive the abortion holocaust be given no choice to break free from their deplorable surroundings.

Right Wing Round-Up

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Justin Elliott @ Salon: The Muslim-baiting tracker.
  • Joe.My.God: GOP Contract Bars King & Spalding Staffers From Supporting Same-Sex Marriage.
  • Towleroad: Virginia Social Services Panel Votes 7-2 to Reject Changes That Would Allow Adoptions by Gay Couples.
  • Alan Colmes: The Koch Brothers Tell Their Employees How To Vote.
  • Rachel Tabachnick @ Talk 2 Action: Voucher Advocate Betsy DeVos, Right-Wing Think Tanks Behind Koch-Style Attack on PA Public Schools.
  • Zack Ford @ Wonk Room: Tennessee ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Advances, Sponsor Says Teachers Need Time for ‘Arithmetic.’

Right Wing Round-Up

Pro-Voucher Group Working Against Recall of Union-Busting Wisconsin Republicans

An organization that backs private school vouchers is campaigning against the recall of the eight Republican Wisconsin senators who backed Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union legislation. The so-called American Federation for Children (AFC) is an ardent supporter of the voucher scheme in Milwaukee, the unsuccessful voucher program which Walker and his GOP allies want to export to other parts of the state as part of bolstering the Republicans’ attacks on public schools and teachers.

Listen to their robocall defending GOP Senator Sheila Harsdorf:

At the same time that Walker and the Republicans proposed a massive $834 million cut to public schools, endangering the state’s esteemed public education system, they seek to spend more taxpayer money on a wasteful voucher program that has been unable to improve the education of Milwaukee students. A comprehensive study in 2009 found “no overall statistically significant difference between [voucher school] and [public school] student achievement growth in either math or reading one year after they were carefully matched to each other,” and that fourth graders in the voucher program were actually performing worse than comparable public school students.

While the private school voucher scheme did nothing to improve education, it did funnel taxpayer dollars to religious schools: of the 120 schools receiving vouchers examined in the study, 95 were religious and 7 operate within a religious tradition.

Renowned education scholar Diane Ravitch, once a proponent of the so-called “school choice” movement, told OnMilwaukee.com that the voucher program “has not worked”:

Milwaukee is indeed the nation's laboratory for assessing the value of school choice. The advocates of school choice predicted that academic performance in choice schools would not only soar, but that the competitive pressure would cause achievement in the regular district schools to improve. None of this has happened. The latest studies show that students in voucher schools and in charter schools do not perform any differently from those in the regular public schools.



"Reformers" in Milwaukee have been pursuing strategies that we now know are ineffective. The more time and resources devoted to ineffective strategies, the less attention there is to finding useful improvements. Choice got the support of foundations and business leaders, but it has not worked.

Even the state schools superintendent Tom Evers agreed that “choice schools have proven to be no more effective and in some cases less effective than Milwaukee Public Schools.”

But organizations like the AFC ignore and dismiss the clear findings that the Milwaukee voucher program is a wrongheaded and ill-designed effort to improve education, and instead want to expand the program to more school districts and tear down the public education system. Now, they want to make sure that Republican legislators keep their jobs and continue to support vouchers and bust unions representing public school teachers.

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 2/15/11

Michele Bachmann

New Hampshire: Announces intention to visit New Hampshire at CPAC (Minnesota Independent, 2/14).

CPAC: Uses faulty tax math at her CPAC speech (WaPo, 2/11).

Health Care: Says that repealing reform law is “the driving motivation of my life” (RWW, 2/10).

Haley Barbour

Immigration: Lobbied for Mexico to support the extension of an “amnesty” program (Salon, 2/14).

Lobbying: Politico looks into conflicts of interest as Governor after lobbying for tobacco industry (Politico, 2/14).

Iowa: Plans to address a Republican fundraiser in Iowa on March 15 (The Note, 2/14).

Mitch Daniels

Tea Party: Rush Limbaugh thinks Daniels is trying “to discredit talk radio and the tea party movement” (Politico, 2/14).

CPAC: Speech on debt receives rave reviews from pundits, but Daniels wins just four percent of straw poll votes (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 2/14).

Education: Pushes dramatic school vouchers bill despite cuts to public education (Evansville Courier & Press, 2/13).

Jon Huntsman

Utah: The former Utah governor trails Romney among state’s Republicans (Desert News, 2/12).

2012: Hires staff for his leadership PAC (Politico, 2/11).

Mike Huckabee

Religious Right: Criticizes GOProud during CPAC controversy (GOP12, 2/11).

Poll: Leading Republican choice on who would make a good president (The Atlantic, 2/11).

Sarah Palin

Poll: Struggles in polls of early primary states (Politico, 2/14).

Budget: Uses phony data to critique Obama’s proposed budget (CBS News, 2/14).

PAC: Hires chief of staff for leadership PAC (CNN, 2/11).

Tim Pawlenty

Religious Right: Plans to attend Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting in Iowa in March (Iowa Independent, 2/14).

Florida: Set to address Florida’s Republican state legislators (Florida Times Union, 2/11).

CPAC: Attacks President Obama as weak in CPAC speech (RWW, 2/11).

Mitt Romney

New Hampshire: Has support of 40% of New Hampshire GOP primary voters in WMUR Granite State poll (WMUR, 2/14).

Nevada: Meets with supporters in the early caucus state (LVRJ, 2/14).

Health Care: Massachusetts reform law continues to haunt Romney among conservatives (The Plum Line, 2/14).

Rick Santorum

Religious Right: Plans to attend Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting in Iowa in March (Iowa Independent, 2/14).

Palin: Runs away from criticizing Palin after she calls him a “Neanderthal” (PoliticalWire, 2/10).

CPAC: Criticizes judiciary and defends social conservatism at CPAC (RWW, 2/10).

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 2/15/11

Michele Bachmann

New Hampshire: Announces intention to visit New Hampshire at CPAC (Minnesota Independent, 2/14).

CPAC: Uses faulty tax math at her CPAC speech (WaPo, 2/11).

Health Care: Says that repealing reform law is “the driving motivation of my life” (RWW, 2/10).

Haley Barbour

Immigration: Lobbied for Mexico to support the extension of an “amnesty” program (Salon, 2/14).

Lobbying: Politico looks into conflicts of interest as Governor after lobbying for tobacco industry (Politico, 2/14).

Iowa: Plans to address a Republican fundraiser in Iowa on March 15 (The Note, 2/14).

Mitch Daniels

Tea Party: Rush Limbaugh thinks Daniels is trying “to discredit talk radio and the tea party movement” (Politico, 2/14).

CPAC: Speech on debt receives rave reviews from pundits, but Daniels wins just four percent of straw poll votes (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, 2/14).

Education: Pushes dramatic school vouchers bill despite cuts to public education (Evansville Courier & Press, 2/13).

Jon Huntsman

Utah: The former Utah governor trails Romney among state’s Republicans (Desert News, 2/12).

2012: Hires staff for his leadership PAC (Politico, 2/11).

Mike Huckabee

Religious Right: Criticizes GOProud during CPAC controversy (GOP12, 2/11).

Poll: Leading Republican choice on who would make a good president (The Atlantic, 2/11).

Sarah Palin

Poll: Struggles in polls of early primary states (Politico, 2/14).

Budget: Uses phony data to critique Obama’s proposed budget (CBS News, 2/14).

PAC: Hires chief of staff for leadership PAC (CNN, 2/11).

Tim Pawlenty

Religious Right: Plans to attend Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting in Iowa in March (Iowa Independent, 2/14).

Florida: Set to address Florida’s Republican state legislators (Florida Times Union, 2/11).

CPAC: Attacks President Obama as weak in CPAC speech (RWW, 2/11).

Mitt Romney

New Hampshire: Has support of 40% of New Hampshire GOP primary voters in WMUR Granite State poll (WMUR, 2/14).

Nevada: Meets with supporters in the early caucus state (LVRJ, 2/14).

Health Care: Massachusetts reform law continues to haunt Romney among conservatives (The Plum Line, 2/14).

Rick Santorum

Religious Right: Plans to attend Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition meeting in Iowa in March (Iowa Independent, 2/14).

Palin: Runs away from criticizing Palin after she calls him a “Neanderthal” (PoliticalWire, 2/10).

CPAC: Criticizes judiciary and defends social conservatism at CPAC (RWW, 2/10).

2012 Candidates Weekly Update 12/28/10

Haley Barbour

Mississippi: Uses private jet for political and entertainment outings, state spent over $500,000 for his air travel (Politico, 12/27).

Race: Controversy over Barbour’s Citizens Council “whitewash” continues (Christian Science Monitor, 12/22).

John Bolton

Government: Says government should not cut defense spending to shrink the deficit (TPM, 12/27).

Social issues: Denounces non-binding treaty on the rights of indigenous people (Fox News, 12/25).

Mitch Daniels

Social issues: Stands by his support for a “truce” on social issues (Politico, 12/27).

Education: Details private school voucher plan (Courier Journal, 12/24).

Mike Huckabee

GOP: Think Progress investigation ties Huckabee to “a firm notorious for defrauding families facing foreclosure with false promises and predatory fees” (Think Progress, 12/27).

Health Care: Huckabee and Palin’s own 2009 speech challenge Palin’s criticism of Michelle Obama’s anti-obesity efforts (The Hill, 12/27).

Sarah Palin

Language: Claims “Refudiate” was a typo, but she used the term in an earlier interview on Fox News (NY Daily News, 12/27).

Environment: Says conservationists are hypocrites for using pencils and paper (HuffPo, 12/27).

Foreign policy: Former Bush spokeswoman Dana Perino says Palin’s reality show and policy role give her an “authenticity” problem (The Right Scoop, 12/26).

2012: Peggy Noonan predicts that Palin won’t run for President but will have immense clout in the primary (GOP12, 12/26).

Tim Pawlenty

2012: Upcoming book tour could serve as “a test of his appeal” to Republican voters nationwide (Gannett, 12/24).

Religious Right: Sidesteps judicial nomination process and appoints Religious Right activist and deputy chief of staff’s wife to district court (RWW, 12/23).

Mike Pence

Religious Right: Leaders of Religious Right groups believe Pence can unite social conservatives with fiscal hawks (WSJ, 12/27).

GOP: Columnist believes Pence can successfully run for the nomination by “reuniting the Reagan Coalition” (Forbes, 12/23).

Mitt Romney

Health Care: Struggles to balance his criticism of coverage mandate with his support for a mandate in Massachusetts (HuffPo, 12/27).

2012: Holiday card asks, “Guess which grandchild heard that Papa might run again?” (Politico, 12/22).

John Thune

Government: Flounders in attempt to oppose earmarks while requesting more than $100 million (AP, 12/28).

Minnesota: Headlining MN GOP’s Lincoln/Reagan Dinner (Star Tribune, 12/22).

Meet Congresswoman-Elect Sandy Adams: Conspiracy-Theorist, Religious Extremist

Following Tuesday's election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress."  Our first candidate is Florida's version of Sharron Angle, Sandra "Sandy" Adams:

After serving four terms in the Florida State House, Sandy Adams ran for US Congress and handily defeated freshman Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas. She built-up a far-right voting record as a state representative, and she campaigned as the most conservative candidate in the competitive Republican primary.

As a legislator and candidate Sandy Adams has embraced the agenda of the Religious Right. Adams voted to enact burdensome waiting periods and tougher parental notice laws for young women seeking abortions, and voted in favor of forcing women to have ultrasound tests before terminating their pregnancy, which the Governor ultimately vetoed for placing “an inappropriate burden on women seeking to terminate a pregnancy.” During the GOP primary she was endorsed by militantly anti-choice groups such as the Republican National Coalition for Life and the American Conservative Union. Moreover, she is on-record opposing stem-cell research and boasts that she “fought against this type of research funding in the Florida House of Representatives.”

She is also an avowed opponent of teaching evolution, and voted in favor of a bill that calls on teachers to “teach theories that contradict the theory of evolution.” Adams herself does not believe evolution and says that Christians should reject evolution in favor of “the biblical terms of how we came about.” When asked “by a caller in a telephone town hall meeting whether she believed in evolution…Adams replied, ‘I’m Christian. What else do you want to know?’” Adams also supports Florida’s unsuccessful private school vouchers program and wants the Ten Commandments to be displayed in public schools.

Like Sharron Angle, Sandy Adams floats the baseless conspiracy theory that Islamic, or Sharia, law is thriving in Muslim communities in Michigan and in danger of spreading throughout Michigan and the United States:

The Muslim extremist project is to create pockets and to grow their Muslim extreme philosophies, and if you look at some of our towns within our own borders, like Michigan, Michigan has cities that have a lot of Muslim influence and even so much as I would say some extremist Muslim influence because they are trying to operate under Sharia law, not American law. And I believe that we need to continue to operate under our Constitutional laws and the laws of our country and our state and we should not be under any other form of the law.

Sarah Palin endorsed Sandy Adams, and Adams claims that she “can’t wait to join the Tea Party Caucus” and said that “I believe what Michele Bachmann is doing is the right thing to do and I will be part of that Caucus, I can assure you of that.”

She has embraced anti-government extremism, and wants to radically alter the Constitution by repealing the 16th and 17th Amendments, which would eliminate the progressive income tax and the right of voters to elect their US Senators, respectively. Adams believes that instead of voters, state legislators like herself should pick the state’s Senators. Adams also wants to abolish the Department of Education, said that the Departments of Energy and Interior Departments should be “completely dismantled” because they are “not allowed by our Constitution,” and strongly opposes Wall Street Reform. She wouldn’t “vouch for the constitutionality of the federal Clean Water and Clean Air acts without reading them,” writes the Orlando Sentinel, “yet she’s all for big government when it comes to NASA.,” which is based in her district.

Furthermore, she backs Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Roadmap for America,” which calls for the privatization of Social Security and Medicare. According to Florida Today, Adams “wants to cut government spending, but couldn’t cite one area to cut; wants to repeal health care reform, but offered no alternative; and is willing to look at privatizing Medicare, something that should alarm seniors.” Adams was also the chief sponsor of a state constitutional amendment that would stop Florida from cooperating with the recently passed health care reform law by barring mandatory insurance coverage.

Adams is also ardently opposed to immigrant rights and touts the endorsement of Americans for Legal Immigration, which has been classified as a “nativist extremist organization” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group is “allied with various Minuteman factions” and according to the SPLC, the group says that its “‘rallying cry is: Illegals Go Home!’” While serving in the State House, Adams was one of just fourteen members to vote against allowing undocumented children to receive healthcare through Florida KidCare.

On the environment, Adams supports offshore oil drilling off Florida’s coast and tried to censure the Governor for attempting to pass a constitutional amendment to prohibit such drilling.

A steadfast and longtime advocate of the Religious Right and anti-government extremism, Sandy Adams plans to be a bridge between Christian conservatives and Tea Party reactionaries in addition to a stalwart ally of Michele Bachmann in the House.

 

 

 

 

Connecting The Dots With Bill Donohue

You know, I must be stupid because I have absolutely no idea what is going on in this Catholic League press release:

Catholic League president Bill Donohue speaks to the Omnibus Spending Bill just passed by the Senate:

The Congress is now officially on record approving a bill that tells mothers in Washington, D.C. that if they decide to take their baby to term, and elect to send their child to a private school—just like the one that President Obama and his wife have chosen for their own children—they can do it on their own dime: the successful voucher scholarship program that 1,700 poor kids were enrolled in is now dead. But if these same mothers decide to abort their babies, the same government will rush to pay their bills.

Most of those affected are black. The bill will soon be signed into law by America’s first black president. Is there anyone so stupid not to understand what is going on?

President Obama hates school vouchers? Or black babies? Or mothers of black babies who might one day use school vouchers?

I'm utterly confused.

Right Wing Round-Up

  • Via Alex Koppelman we get this National Journal article reporting that John McCain is "angry and frustrated that, despite the risks he took in pushing immigration reform, Hispanic voters flocked to Democrat Barack Obama in last year's presidential contest. McCain's raw emotions burst forth recently as he heatedly told Hispanic business leaders that they should now look to Obama, not him, to take the lead on immigration."
  • Geoffrey R. Stone argues that what a recent report on the American Bar Association's ratings of Republican and Democratic judicial nominees really shows is that "the mainstream of legal thought is out of sync with what the Republican Party thinks it should be."
  • AU highlights some horror stories from a voucher school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
  • Lynn Paltrow responds to an attack from TVC's Andrea Lafferty, explaining that Lafferty should actually be supporting efforts to defend "drug-addicted women from prosecutions for endangering their unborn babies” because "threatening pregnant women with prosecution creates an incentive for them to have abortions."
  • Tips-Q notes that Newt Gingrich is really making nice with the American Family Association and is even providing quotes for their OneNewsNow articles.
  • Pam notes that FRC continues to try and scare up opposition to hate crimes legislation by warning that its passage will lead to rampant religious persecution.
  • Greg Sargent reports that Ted Olson has come to the defense of Harold Koh, calling him a “man of great integrity.”

The Perils of Wooing Pat Robertson

In endorsing Rudy Giuliani today, Pat Robertson made clear that his support was based on his belief that Giuliani was the candidate best suited to defend “our population from the blood lust of Islamic terrorists,” but also sought to entice other right-wing leaders and voters to back him based on his promise to place ideologues on the Supreme Court:

Uppermost in the minds of social conservatives is the selection of future Supreme Court justices and lower court judges who will sit in both the federal circuit courts and the district courts … He understands the need for a conservative judiciary and with the help of the distinguished Ted Olson, who is here today, and other members of his team, has assured the American people that his choices for judicial appointments will be men and women who share the judicial philosophy of John Roberts and Antonin Scalia.

Watch video of Robertson endorsing Giuliani here.

With Robertson now backing Giuliani’s agenda, perhaps someone should ask Giuliani if he likewise backs Robertson’s:  

Going There: Utah Voucher Group Takes Anti-Gay Tack

For wealthy backers of publicly-funded private school vouchers, Utah has been a crucial battleground. Last year, Amway heir (and 2006 candidate for governor of Michigan) Dick DeVos and others poured a hundreds of thousands of dollars of “seed money” into a Utah PAC, Parents for Choice in Education, which set about electing state legislators who would support a voucher plan. While the group has used heavy-handed tactics before – invoking the specter of “illegal aliens” during last year’s campaign – it’s hit a new low with a recent push poll it conducted in an apparent attempt to stir up anti-gay sentiment against opponents of vouchers:

Bill Lee, a Sandy resident, earlier this week received a call he described as "pretty nasty stuff." He took notes about a portion of the survey he said asks how someone's vote would be affected knowing the same group that opposes vouchers, the "liberal national teachers' union," supports same-sex unions along with higher taxes. Parents for Choice declined to release the survey questions. …

"Many Utahns would be shocked to know the policies and positions promoted by the National Education Association, the parent organization of the UEA," [Elisa Clements, Parents for Choice’s executive director] said, referencing the Utah Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union, which opposes vouchers.

The UEA's communications director described the tactic as "dirty politics." "There are absolutely no resolutions dealing with those issues that have been handled by the National Education Association," Mark Mickelsen said.

Voucher advocates see Utah’s new plan – which will face a referendum this fall – as a potential model for the rest of the nation.

'Patriot Pastor' Televangelist’s Voucher-Funded School Employs Uncertified Teachers

Although Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) has said he wants to eliminate the state’s troubled private-school voucher program, the Republican-controlled state House yesterday passed a budget maintaining the program, and the state Senate is apparently poised to do the same. The Columbus Dispatch reports on one parochial school that fails to meet the lowered requirements for private schools to receive state money: Harvest Preparatory Academy, operated by televangelist Rod Parsley’s World Harvest megachurch.

About 500 students attend Harvest Preparatory Academy. Thirty-six teachers and two aides educate them.

But only eight are licensed, the Ohio Department of Education says. And more than one-third of staff members hadn't had a background check more than midway through the school year.

Parsley is a major player in Ohio Republican politics. Along with Russell Johnson, another area megachurch pastor, he organized a political machine of so-called “patriot pastors” that in effect functioned as a church-based campaign arm for Kenneth Blackwell’s 2006 bid to defeat Strickland for governor. Blackwell, who once proposed eliminating all state funding of public schools, made expanding the voucher program a signature of his campaign, which lost by a wide margin.

Blackwell Ignoring Ohio Voters’ 37 Percent Solution

Former Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell may have decided to get back into public life, but he does not seem to have learned much from his devastating loss in last year’s election. Blackwell ran for governor of Ohio last year with an education policy platform based solely on his support for school defunding, the “65% Deception,” and vouchers. Blackwell’s opponent – now Governor Ted Strickland - expressed his principled opposition to vouchers throughout the campaign.

Blackwell’s full-throated advocacy of publicly funded private school vouchers earned him praise from some of the nation’s most ardent advocates of school privatization.

For instance, voucher warrior and affirmative action foe Clint Bolick said the voucher movement “has no greater friend than Ken Blackwell.” And voucher pusher Patrick Byrne, also the impresario of the “65% Deception,” praised Blackwell’s “passion” for vouchers. Voucher backers made sure that the money kept rolling in.  Blackwell’s campaign received at least $100, 000 from voucher groups such as Bolick’s Advocates for School Choice

But on Election Day, Blackwell received just under 37% of the vote.

In spite of that dramatic evidence that vouchers and other privatization schemes do not enjoy wide-spread public support in Ohio, and research showing the same nationally, Blackwell soldiers on.  In his first published column since joining the staff of the Family Research Council, Blackwell attacks Governor Strickland’s groundbreaking plan to eliminate the EdChoice voucher program and redirect the money back to Ohio’s public schools:

Calling school vouchers "undemocratic" and charter schools a "dismal failure," Gov. Strickland, in his first major public policy address, slammed the door of educational opportunity on thousands of poor children and crushed the hopes of their parents.

By denying these children the equal access to a quality education that choice programs offer, he also denied that the bloated public education bureaucracy and its entrenched unions have failed our children.

Despite Blackwell’s assertion that voucher programs offer students “equal access,” private schools can choose who to accept – many deny admission to all students with special needs – and students who currently receive vouchers do not have the ‘choice’ to attend any school they wish.  Last year, Ohio voters had a choice, and elected a governor openly committed to funding and strengthening Ohio’s public schools – and focusing on proven reforms – as the best way to ensure that all children have access to a quality education.

Anatomy of a Voucher Push

Last week the Utah House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill that could become the nation’s first universal voucher program. If this voucher scheme is passed into law, Utah taxpayers will be forced to finance religious education in private Christian and other religious schools– and Utah public schools will be robbed of much needed resources. Even in one of the most conservative states, the voucher movement has faltered in previous attempts to privatize public education. This year, however, sketchy campaign contributions and dirty tricks may help the extreme right-wing pull one over on the people of Utah.

The voucher movement has bought and paid for undue influence in Utah’s legislature. Last year, a political action committee called “Parents for Choices in Education” spent over a half a million dollars with the exclusive goal of electing proponents of school privatization. The organization’s money came from the usual suspects of the voucher movement. Patrick Byrne, chief advocate of the recently defeated 65% Deception plan to defund public schools, gave at least $70,000 to the pro-voucher political action committee. All Children Matter, the political funding arm of the voucher movement founded by Dick and Betsy DeVos, gave the group $240, 000.

One of the politicians the pro-voucher group helped elect is Steve Urquhart, the sponsor of the universal voucher bill. Not only did Urquhart sponsor the legislation, it seems that he may have used his position as chairman of the power House Rules Committee to extort votes for it. Rep. Sheryl Allen, a supporter of public education, has recently claimed that Urquhart will not allow bills she sponsors to get past the Rules Committee. Fortunately, Allen has found a way to work around Urquhart’s obstruction. Unfortunately, however, Urguhart’s underhanded tactics may have forced two other lawmakers to vote his way. The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

When the controversial private school vouchers bill passed the House of Representatives by one vote last Friday, one of the surprise "yes" votes that put it over the hump was Rep. Brad Last, R-St. George, who had voted against the bill in the House Education Committee just a few days earlier…

Here's a possible reason why: Last, who manages assisted living centers in southern Utah, is sponsoring HB338, which would have made it more difficult to sue emergency room doctors for medical malpractice. The bill had been stuck in the House Rules Committee for two weeks and then, lo and behold, it was passed out of the committee three days after Last voted for the voucher bill.    

And who is the chairman of the Rules Committee? Rep. Steve Urquhart, R-St. George.    

And who is the sponsor of the voucher bill? Urquhart…

Another unknown vote prior to the final tally on the vouchers bill last Friday was Rep. Richard Wheeler, R-Ephraim, a vice president at Snow College.

When crunch time came, he voted yes.

And on Wednesday, when the Capital Facilities Appropriations Subcommittee submitted its priority list for capital facilities projects, a proposed library at Snow College made the cut.

The $14.5 million library was seventh on the list. If the top seven projects are selected, the total cost will be about $144 million. The Legislature has discussed spending $150 million on capital facilities projects this year.

Urguhart’s voucher bill passed by one vote.

Texas Voucher Advocate Wants Government to Step In

James Leininger, the hospital-bed tycoon known as the Religious Right’s “sugar daddy” in Texas for the millions he has poured into far-right politics in recent years, is trying out a new strategy in his long quest to see publicly-funded private school vouchers implemented in the state: emotional blackmail.

Announcing the closure of his $50-million privately-funded voucher program in the Edgewood district of San Antonio, Leininger is calling on the state to implement a publicly-funded program to replace it. "If the Legislature doesn't act, those kids are going to be out on the street," he warns.

The Texas legislature has repeatedly rejected vouchers, as recently as last year. And despite spending more than $2 million in last year’s GOP primary to weed out Republicans who opposed vouchers, and millions more in the general election, by his own count he still lost five pro-voucher legislators, making passage difficult, to say the least.  So the activist accustomed to expanding his influence with his money is now apparently trying to use the lack of it to the same ends. However, Leininger’s cry for help is likely to fall flat: since Texas still has a public school system, the Edgewood students won’t be “out on the street” at all.

Focus on the Family Applauds Bush's Voucher Mention

In State of the Union speech. But Heritage’s Lips wants to scrap No Child Left Behind. Meanwhile: Vouchers debated in Georgia.
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Voucher Posts Archive

Brian Tashman, Tuesday 05/17/2011, 8:48am
Michele Bachmann 2012: More likely to run for president following Mike Huckabee's decision against running (CBS News, 5/16).  Constitution: High school student challenges her to a debate on the Constitution as a result of her record of making incorrect statements (Minnesota Independent, 5/13).  Herman Cain Georgia: Wins praise for speech at Georgia GOP convention (Southern Political Report, 5/16).  Florida: Tops field in Fort Lauderdale Tea Party straw poll (Sunshine State News, 5/16).  Mitch Daniels Reproductive Rights: Signs law defunding Planned Parenthood that... MORE
Brian Tashman, Friday 05/13/2011, 12:24pm
Private school voucher advocates and their allies in the so-called “education reform” movement readily talk about the need for rigorous, constant testing along with the application of free market principles to education: reward high-performing schools and teachers and punish bad ones. Over the last decade, Milwaukee has been a laboratory for private school vouchers, and the results have been poor: numerous studies have shown that vouchers failed to make any difference in student performance. Just like in Washington, DC and Cleveland, private school vouchers in Milwaukee failed... MORE
Brian Tashman, Monday 05/09/2011, 3:41pm
During the heated fight over the federal budget, Republicans won a compromise that stopped the city of Washington D.C. from using its own tax dollars to help low-income women access reproductive health services and added more funding to a DC private school voucher program opposed by local officials. Strongly objecting to the House GOP’s blatant encroachment on home rule, which included financing an ineffective voucher program while taking away crucial funding for women’s family planning, DC Mayor Vince Gray and a number of Council members were arrested during a protest. Anti-... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Monday 04/25/2011, 5:03pm
Alan Colmes: Tennessee State Senator Stacey Campfield Defends His “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. David Neiwert @ Crooks and Liars: Rick Santorum: Gays already have enough rights. Rachel Tabachnick @ Talk 2 Action: Pro-Voucher Astroturfing: Campaigns Across Nation Coordinated by DeVos, Funded by a Few Mega-Donors. Tanya Somanader @ Think Progress: Allen West: Liberal Women Are ‘Neutering American Men.’ Steve Benen: Even For Fox, A Cheap Attack. MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Thursday 04/21/2011, 4:41pm
Justin Elliott @ Salon: The Muslim-baiting tracker. Joe.My.God: GOP Contract Bars King & Spalding Staffers From Supporting Same-Sex Marriage. Towleroad: Virginia Social Services Panel Votes 7-2 to Reject Changes That Would Allow Adoptions by Gay Couples. Alan Colmes: The Koch Brothers Tell Their Employees How To Vote. Rachel Tabachnick @ Talk 2 Action: Voucher Advocate Betsy DeVos, Right-Wing Think Tanks Behind Koch-Style Attack on PA Public Schools. Zack Ford @ Wonk Room: Tennessee ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Advances, Sponsor Says Teachers... MORE
Kyle Mantyla, Wednesday 03/30/2011, 4:38pm
PFAW: House Votes to Impose Costly, Ineffective and Constitutionally Troubling Voucher Program on DC. Ryan @ TFN Insider: Haters Gotta Hate. Chris Rodda @ Talk 2 Action: Huckabee: All Americans Should Be Forced at Gunpoint to Listen to David Barton. Justin Elliot @ Salon: Why the Christian right is backing a brutal despot. Andy Kopsa @ Iowa Independent: Indiana group leads gov-funded marriage program and push for anti-gay amendment. Robert Steinback @ Hatewatch: Muslim-Basher Pam Geller, Fresh From Call for Censorship, to Testify to... MORE
Brian Tashman, Tuesday 03/22/2011, 11:40am
An organization that backs private school vouchers is campaigning against the recall of the eight Republican Wisconsin senators who backed Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union legislation. The so-called American Federation for Children (AFC) is an ardent supporter of the voucher scheme in Milwaukee, the unsuccessful voucher program which Walker and his GOP allies want to export to other parts of the state as part of bolstering the Republicans’ attacks on public schools and teachers. Listen to their robocall defending GOP Senator Sheila Harsdorf: At the same time that Walker and the... MORE