Northam: Expanding Home Schooling = "Dangerous"Jul 23, 2013
In an interview last week with conservative radio host Rob Schilling from Charlottesville, Republican candidate for lieutenant governor E.W. Jackson shed some light on the need to allow more freedom in Virginia's education system. He said:
Parental choice in education is the principle [by which] we govern our educational system. ... Parents are empowered to decide how, and where, and by what values their children are educated.
Jackson contends that the home-schooling family should not have limited access to government resources simply because of how they choose to educate their children. In the interview, he agreed with host Rob Schilling that an amendment to the Virginia Constitution is needed to remedy this inequity:
It’s going to take a constitutional amendment. I promised people I would work for that. We’ve got to make sure that a home-schooling family is like any other family that decides to send their children to a private school, a Christian school, whatever it is. That that home-schooling family gets the resources that would otherwise be spent in a government school.
In response, his Democrat opponent, Senator Ralph Northam of Norfolk, called Jackson's proposal "Another example of E.W. Jackson trying to impose his dangerous agenda on to the Commonwealth" (see Washington Post).
It's no surprise that Senator Northam would see expanding parental choice such as home-schooling as "dangerous." He has repeatedly voted against legislation that would allow home-schooled high school students to participate in public school sports, a proposal supported by nearly 70 percent of Virginians; as well as against a tax credit for donations to scholarship programs for underprivileged students to escape failing public schools, which also garners overwhelming public support. (Despite his opposition, that bill finally passed in 2012.)
He also fails to recognize that home-schooling and private schools save the commonwealth's taxpayers millions of dollars every year. As one legislator in the General Assembly has said, if every home-schooled or private school student in Virginia showed up tomorrow at their assigned public schools, there would not be the classrooms, teachers or money to handle them.
In Virginia, parents have the liberty to choose how their children are taught. However, some options are limited because of the lack of financial resources. But should those who choose to educate their children at home miss out on some of these resources supplied by their own tax dollars? Parents have the authority to make a choice, but they should also be able to access all means of giving their child the best education available.
Save the Babies!
Save the Babies!
The definition of “women’s health care” is as fluid it seems as the definition of gender, at least to the political left. Yesterday’s floor debate in the state Senate is another example.
As the Senate was debating Delegate Ben Cline’s bill to redirect non-Medicaid funding away from Planned Parenthood to comprehensive health care facilities, Senator Barbara Favola lamented that such a prohibition would end a contract the state has with a Planned Parenthood affiliate to provide STD testing. She worried that such a change would endanger “women’s health” and put unborn babies at risk (no, really) because they are more likely to have health issues if their moms have an STD:
Never mind that being killed in the womb is “no fault of their own” either, Favola and Planned Parenthood itself sure are awfully concerned about STD testing all of the sudden, which is kind of surprising. You see, over the past year plus while the industry was fighting to dilute abortion center health and safety standards, they fought to remove a requirement that abortion centers provide STD testing!
That’s right, the same people lamenting that they aren’t going to get paid by taxpayers to do STD testing also fought against having to do STD testing. Apparently, it’s only women’s health care when you profit off of the taxpayers.
And by the way, there is no reason that community health clinics can’t apply for the same grant and provide the same service. And they can do so in really “underserved” areas because they actually have clinics in underserved areas. There are no Planned Parenthood abortion centers west of Roanoke. There are dozens of community health care centers.
It really is remarkable that the abortion industry seems absolutely incapable of being honest in any way. Or they are completely blind to their own distortions. But they can get away with it because there is absolutely no one in the media that is going to challenge their claims.
If anyone ever wondered why so few people trust the “mainstream” media, today’s stories about two bills that passed yesterday in the House of Delegates and state Senate are clear evidence.
Now, as someone who has been doing political media work for nearly 20 years, let me first say that there are still good reporters out there trying to be accurate. Not all reporters are so blatantly biased that they manipulate stories, and even some who have bias do an admirable job of trying to be fair. But the decline in accuracy, the inability to even begin to hide bias, the have-to-get-this-online immediately syndrome, and quite frankly, the rise of a generation of reports who have no concern about being subjective and inaccurate has ruined media credibility and if not corrected is going to have devastating consequences for our nation. Fake news is just the beginning.
Back to today’s news stories (some of which first appeared online last night, leaving no time for any reporter to verify claims made).
In a story delivered by the Associated Press to multiple news outlets concerning the passage of a House bill that would redirect money away from Planned Parenthood, several false claims were made and printed as if true. The first claim, that abortion makes up only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s business, has been repeatedly proven false and misleading, even by the media’s own “fact-checkers.” The statement is not attributed to anyone in particular in the story, so where did the “reporter” (I’ll explain why that’s in quotes shortly) get the information? Was it her own bias? Did someone with Planned Parenthood or some other abortion-defending group tell her? It’s in the paragraph that prefaces other claims with “according to the organization.” Does that apply to the 3 percent claim? Who exactly should be held accountable for the falsehood?
Another false claim in the article states, “Without the funding, the organization says it would have to shut its five clinics in the state.” The reality is that most of the money Planned Parenthood receives is from Medicaid, which this bill doesn't address, and the amount of taxpayer dollars that would be affected by this bill is relatively small. Small enough that it would have no bearing on whether or not a facility would close.
Late this afternoon, a correction on the second claim was posted on the story on the Richmond Times-Dispatch website, stating, “An earlier version of this story reported erroneously that losing funding would force the group to close its five clinics in the state. Planned Parenthood officials said defunding would ‘significantly undermine our ability’ to provide services at the clinics, but they did not say the facilities would close.” Frankly, the correction is just as false as the original statement, but it’s at least moving in the direction of accuracy.
Here’s the interesting part, the “reporter” on the story is, in fact, a student at VCU and not a professional journalist. Because news outlets are bleeding money and most veteran reporters in Richmond have been kicked to the curb or left for other jobs, some media outlets are relying on something called the Capital News Service, which is primarily staffed by college kids! So, the Associated Press story was not actually written by someone with the AP, but by a college student.
Now, I’m all for “real life” experience for college kids. Heaven knows many could use some. But relying on a college student for actual news reporting is far removed from the days when they would research and verify facts for a story, not have the actual byline! Regardless, an editor somewhere along the way should have known about the 3 percent falsehood. It’s easily found with a simple Google search. Clearly, no one cared if the story was accurate, just that it went online quickly and, I dare say, fit the narrative that Planned Parenthood must be saved at all cost.
A second story came from the Richmond Times-Dispatch regarding a religious liberty bill that passed the state Senate. It quoted the Senate Democrat caucus this way: “The Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus issued a news release saying the bill would allow state employees to refuse marriage licenses to people based on religious beliefs.”
Except that statement is patently false. The bill clearly defines to whom it would apply and “state employees” are nowhere to be found. It’s very limited to those associated with religious organizations in the performance of duties associated with the organization. Again, the story popped up online and my guess is the reporter had no time to verify the claim, which was since deleted from the online version of the story. This afternoon, after the reporter was made aware of the erroneous claim, the Senate Democrat caucus issued a correction saying, “Yesterday's press release incorrectly stated that Senator Carrico's SB 1324 would allow state employees to refuse to issue marriage licenses on account of their sincerely held religious beliefs. That was not the intention of the bill. We apologize for the staff error and commit to further quality controls in order to make sure this does not happen again.”
Intention? No, it’s the actual language of the bill, but here’s to “quality controls” to make sure facts are used. Perhaps the editors at the Associated Press and RTD should think about some “quality controls” as well.
Of course, online corrections to these stories is simply too late. How many people go back and read a story again to find the corrections hidden at the bottom? My guess is you won’t see these false claims challenged in any meaningful way on any media website or in print. Anchors or reporters on newscasts (like here) who may have quoted the falsehoods won’t likely begin tonight’s newscasts with an apology (rarely do you see that happen) or correction. The fact is the narratives for these stories were affirmed and people were fed falsehoods that they will continue to believe because “it was in the news.”
I repeat, some of these errors can be attributed to reporters not having time to verify claims in the age of news is now. But still, these falsehoods are suspect on their face and a simple reading of the legislation will show them to be false. Clearly, a reporter should have time while sitting waiting for votes to be cast to actually read the bills? An editor should be aware that fact-checkers have found statements to be false or misleading. Some of it may be shear laziness.
But a lot of it is biased. Too many reporters believe what confirms their bias. How do we know? Last night, when talking with reporters about the Planned Parenthood bill, we challenged the false claims, because the "AP" story was already online. And we were ignored. To me, that’s proof they weren’t interested in truth, but in telling their version of reality, which just happens to align with Planned Parenthood’s.
And that’s why people are just as willing to believe “fake news” as they are what they are being fed by the “mainstream” media.
Crossover Sees Wins, Losses
Crossover Sees Wins, Losses
As the General Assembly approaches “crossover,” the day after which each chamber can consider only bills that have passed the other chamber, dozens of bills have been disposed of in committee or, now and then, on the floor of either the House or Senate.
First the good news, a handful of bills creating new "hate crimes" were defeated in House and Senate committees this week. And though it may sound strange, that is a victory for conscience rights.
Hate crimes essentially punish thought, and one could be subject to a separate criminal penalty, including jail time, not for the actual crime, but simply because of the thoughts at the time. In Virginia, conviction of a hate crime carries with it a “mandatory minimum” of 30 days in jail. One can clearly see the slippery slope created by this sort of “thought crime”. What sort of thoughts, values, or motivations might the state try to criminalize next?
As we watch the progressive left use violence and bullying to silence speech it doesn’t like, criminalizing thoughts in any way is a dangerous step. Luckily, those in the House and Senate courts committees agreed.
Last Thursday, we saw our top religious liberty proposal pass the House of Delegates. This bill, which passed last year but was vetoed by Governor Terry McAuliffe, protects religious charities and schools from being discriminated against by the state simply because those organizations don’t hold the Governor’s view of marriage. (A Senate version passed committee Friday afternoon.)
Also this week, the House passed a resolution recognizing pornography as a serious public health problem. The devastating effects of pornography on society are now being chronicled in research and for many, in their own lives. From addiction to destroying marriages to its impact on human trafficking, few reasonable people see anything positive in the exploitation of men and women through pornography. Recently, South Dakota became the second state to recognize pornography as a public health hazard. Though this resolution falls short of that, it has brought attention to this serious problem.
Not all, however, went as we hoped this week. Legislation we supported that would have made Virginia’s Education Improvement Scholarship Tax Credit program more attractive to corporate donors failed in the House of Delegates on a “voice vote.” The bill would have increased the tax credit from 65 to 90 percent, bringing Virginia in line with other states that have similar programs. Already, nearly 2,500 low and middle income children are benefiting from the program, which last school year saved the Commonwealth over $4 million. Unfortunately, those arguments didn’t win the day as the bill died on a procedural vote. The good news on school choice is that other proposals, including expanding virtual and charter schools and creating Education Savings Accounts are still making their way through the legislature.
Thank you again to everyone who has responded to our Action Alerts! With all the bills that will be voted on by both the House and Senate on Monday and Tuesday, I know you’ve received several alerts. These are important issues so we hope you’ll be patient and take the time to act so that your elected officials hear from you!
Our 2016 Summer Interns
Our 2016 Summer Interns
The Family Foundation’s summer internship program has grown over the years and attracts some incredibly talented college students. This year, our 2016 intern class is bright, fun-loving, creative, driven, and faithful. With dozens of students applying for a limited number of spots, the caliber of interns continues to improve. This summer, our interns are learning about each area of the organization, from policy research to social media outreach to grassroots activism and community organizing.
One aspect of our summer internship program that continues to evolve is in Biblical worldview training and discussion. Each Friday, our interns spend several hours hearing from various experts on different issues and participate in in-depth discussions of these topics. Our goal is to continue to expand this program in future years, and I look forward to announcing more about these plans in the coming months!
I hope you’ll enjoy the brief bios below and be sure to click on their names to read more about each of them:
Abbey Jessee (Development Intern; Radford University)
Abbey returns to us after interning last summer. This is her second summer interning and she is very excited to be back again. She attended Radford University and graduated in May with a degree in Marketing and a minor in Sports Administration. A fun fact about Abbey is that she has broken her arms 5 times and her foot once. Although it has been a little over a year since she’s been clumsy and broken anything and her family is hoping that the streak continues!
Grace Saunders (Social Media Intern; University of South Carolina)
Grace is the Social Media Intern at TFF this summer. She will be a junior next year at the University of South Carolina, Go Cocks! She is studying Library and Information Science with the hopes of minoring in Political Science, as her dream job is to be a political analyst. Her favorite sport is tennis and she considers herself to be the next Serena Williams. Peanut Butter and Chocolate are her two top favorite foods, so the way to her heart is Reece’s and Cookout Milkshakes. She obviously got the internship start date wrong because she didn’t show up until a month through the internship. She is well traveled and considers herself an expert in traveling abroad. Grace probably knows more than you so she considers humility her best quality
Richard Wiley (Policy Intern; Liberty University)
Born in Jacksonville, Florida and presently living in Goochland, Virginia, Richard was drawn to The Family Foundation because of his interest in the interaction of church and state in local politics, particularly those in the Old Dominion. He was homeschooled for much of his primary education and studied with Liberty’s dual enrollment program to complete high school with an associate’s degree. Richard graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pre-law from Liberty this spring after spending time on the University’s policy debate team, moot court team, and SGA legal team.
Evan Withrow (Grassroots Intern; Christopher Newport University
Evan is an excellent candidate for the new British Prime Minister. After Britain voted to leave the EU last month, Prime Minister David Cameron decided he no longer wanted to steer Britain to its uncertain future and announced his resignation. The nation will be left looking for somebody come October and much to our excitement as the first American non-profit organization to endorse an all-American candidate for Prime Minister, Evan has agreed to act in this capacity should he be chosen, so long as he gets to keep his desk and his American accent. His experience includes, but is not limited to, diligent and faithful service to his country in his softball league for several years, two years of college education at Christopher Newport University studying communications (probably the undercover kind), and YouTube. We can’t guarantee that he’ll be selected by the present monarch due to a less than advantageous situation with the unionist party, but if he succeeds at gaining the position, he’ll leverage technical jargon against malefactors better than Humphrey Appleby ever did.
Cameron Dominy (Elections and Grassroots Intern; Charleston Southern University)
Cameron is very much a Yankee…yet he wears Chubbies and goes to school at Charleston Southern University. Cameron is a Former Division One Javelin Thrower, but his competitive spirit carries over which is why he is currently serving as the President pro tempore for the CSU Student Government and is also the chairman of the CSU College Republicans. The South Carolina Student Legislature is lucky to have him as their chief of staff.
Introducing Abbey Jessee
Introducing Abbey Jessee
Abbey Jessee is the Development Intern at TFF this year. This is her second summer interning and she is very excited to be back again. She attended Radford University and graduated in May with a degree in Marketing and a minor in Sports Administration. One of Abbey’s favorite times in college was when she had the opportunity to intern with the Radford Athletic Department as a Sports Marketing Intern. During this internship she worked with multiple sports teams doing advertising and promoting sporting events on and off campus as well promotions and student involvement during game time.
After, she graduated college she decided that while still looking for a job it would be beneficial to have another internship under her belt in order to gain a little more experience. Coming back to The Family Foundation she was excited to learn more about fundraising and all of the efforts that go into garnering donors. After this internship she would like to get a job doing event planning for corporations.
Her favorite thing to do is go to Virginia Tech football games with her family. This has been a tradition that has been going on even before she was born and she attended her first football game at 4 months old and has only missed a couple home games. Her favorite game that she has been to so far was when Virginia Tech played Ohio State at OSU and Virginia Tech won the game! The atmosphere was by far the craziest she has ever seen it and OSU was one of her favorite stadiums that she has been to. Her favorite movie is Sweet Home Alabama, but Frozen does come in as a close second. A fun fact about Abbey is that she has broken her arms 5 times and her foot once. Although it has been a little over a year since she’s been clumsy and broken anything and her family is hoping that the streak continues!
Abbey is excited to see what God’s plan is for her after the internship!
Introducing Cameron Dominy
Introducing Cameron Dominy
This is Cameron Dominy’s second consecutive summer interning for The Family Foundation. He returns as a Grassroots intern this time around, after spending the previous year working in Elections.
A Connecticut native, Cameron’s family currently resides in the Blacksburg area. For the majority of the year, he studies Political Science and History at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina. At his college, Cameron leads the on Campus College Republicans Chapter, and serves as the President pro tempore of the Student Government Association. Last year, he was elected to be the Governor of the South Carolina Student Legislature, a student run and perpetuated organization with thirteen college delegations and over one hundred representatives. He will continue to serve in that capacity until the upcoming spring semester. Following graduation from college, Cameron plans on pursuing a graduate degree in Political Science at either George Mason or William and Mary.
Cameron enjoys reading, good tea, and all things Boston sports. He finds collections of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories especially stimulating, and he frequently writes about current political issues. Cameron has a particular love for sarcasm, which much of his writing tends to reflect. He is also a former NCAA Division One athlete, as the threw the Javelin for Charleston Southern his Freshman year of college.
Cameron hopes that the experience and worldview training of two summers with the Virginia Family Foundation will allow him to be an effective voice for Christ across the American political system.