Education Choice Bill Up For Vote Tuesday In Senate Finance: Who's Living In The Past?Feb. 11, 2011
Bringing at least a modicum of school choice and education freedom long has been a goal of reform minded people who realize that the government-run education monopoly is holding back academic achievement. This Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee has a chance to show its open mindedness and independence from the education establishment when it votes on HB 2314, patroned by Delegate Jimmie Massie's (R-72, Henrico). The bill establishes a tax credit for businesses donating to non-profit organizations providing scholarships to free and reduced lunch students (family of four earning less than $40,793 per year). Despite fierce opposition from the Virginia School Board Association and the Virginia Education Association, the bill passed the House of Delegates 54-45 this week.
The modesty of this bill is testimony to how tenacious and powerful the Educrat establishment is in Richmond. It will fight to the death anything that hints at cracking its monopoly or reforms it from within. This is no exaggeration. The Educrats even are resisting a bill to provide for more physical education (HB 1644), patroned by Delegate John O'Bannon (R-73, Henrico). (See Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog.)
On the heels of yesterday's well-attended Family Foundation Day at the Capitol and rally focused on school choice, we think there is real momentum to pass HB 2314. It's certainly well passed time, considering the state of public education in certain areas of the state and for certain families that are trapped with no option but to attend an inadequate public school. Similar scholarship programs in Pennsylvania and Florida have been huge successes. Florida's program is a prime example, where demand for a program started in 2001 has grown from $50 million to $88 million, providing scholarships for more than 33,000 low-income children. The bill is designed to avoid the nefarious "negative fiscal impact" to the state. In fact, the fiscal impact will be all positive. Florida's program, for example, saved that state $36 million in the 2008-09 fiscal year alone, according to the Florida Office of Program Analysis and Government Accountability. In Florida and elsewhere, thousands of children have been given opportunities for a better education through scholarships created because funding is available. Despite cries of "taking money from children" in public schools, the scholarship programs in other states have in no way negatively affected public schools. Unfortunately, the Senate Finance Committee has been very hostile to any legislation that provides education freedom to families. Last year, it killed a similar bill by a 9-6 vote — see committee members make outlandish and outrageous comments. In two different polls conducted by, or on behalf of, The Family Foundation or other education freedom supporters over the past three years, large majorities of Virginians have indicated their support for tax credits like the one created in HB 2314.
Certain liberals like to say, "Conservatives want to take us back," although they never specify where. Perhaps it's more a case of liberals holding us back — or stuck in the past — with ideas no longer as effective as once were, and never moving forward with proven reforms.
Virginia Obamacare Law Suit To Be Heard Monday MorningOct. 15, 2010
Virginia's law suit against the new health care law — known officially as "Commonwealth of Virginia, Ex Rel. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II vs. Kathleen Sebelius, Civil No. 3:10CV188, Motion Hearing" — will proceed Monday morning at 9:00 in Judge Henry Hudson's Richmond courtroom. The hearing is on the heels of yesterday's decision by Federal District Judge Roger Vinson in Florida to allow the 20 State Law Suit to proceed as well (21StateLawsuit.com). While that case is behind the Eastern District of Virginia's famous "Rocket Docket," and is where the Virginia case stood about a month ago, the fact that the weight of 21 states now are at full trial over the constitutionality of Obamacare was welcome news to Attoreny General Cuccinelli (Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). We will be there in the courtroom Monday (or, most likely, in a satellite room with a video feed), and provide our impressions later in the day (electronic equipment is not permitted in the courtroom). So please check in with us. We also hope to be at any post hearing news conference the attorney general may hold, just as we were after the hearing on the federal government's motion to dismiss in July. We were the only media anywhere to post video of the entire news conference (see it here, as relevant points to Monday's hearing were discussed).
We expect Attorney General Cuccinelli will be on several television interview shows throughout Monday afternoon and evening, so there will be plenty of opportunity to hear straight from the source. In the meantime, here's a video of a speech he made at a freedom rally in D.C. last month:
Getting his day in court. More precisely, the people getting their day in court against the government's unprecedented power grab over individual liberty.
New Jersey: A Nice Place For Education ReformJun. 03, 2010
There's an old saying that, "New Jersey is a nice place to be from." Despite its reputation and the brunt of numerous jokes, New Jersey soon may be the place for cutting edge education reform. At least from an education freedom viewpoint, our friends to the north are getting closer to bringing education freedom and choice to families than we are here in Virginia. Earlier this month, the New Jersey Senate advanced a bill similar to legislation The Family Foundation advocates for here in Virginia that creates a tax credit for donations made to private scholarship foundations. The foundations then can give scholarships to students that meet certain eligibility criteria so that they can attend a school of their choice. Unflattering, and deceptively called a "voucher" by opponents and the mainstream media, these scholarship programs have seen great success in several places, from Florida to Pennsylvania.
The fact that New Jersey is attempting to join the growing list of states that offer this education freedom while Virginia continues to stall shows just how quickly we are falling behind more modern education movements in other states. The legislation in New Jersey faced the opposition of the powerful New Jersey Education Association (sister to our own anti-reform, left-wing Virginia Education Association). But through the leadership of Governor Chris Christie and several Democrat legislators, including a key committee chairman, the bill is advancing — complete with the drama of the Senate committee moving its meeting outside the capitol so that thousands of school choice advocates holding a rally could hear the debate.
Opposition to education reform, such as scholarship programs, continue to be stuck in the past. African-American leaders and legislators all over the country are beginning to reject the typical accusations that these tax credits will "drain money from public schools" or reestablish segregation. Even the Newark Star-Ledger, which has one of the most liberal editorial boards in the nation, has endorsed the tax credit bill.
In fact, the bill introduced by Delegate Jimmie Massie (R-72, Henrico) during this year’s legislative session would have saved the state and local governments money while reducing class sizes (children leaving for private schools), thereby improving teacher-student ratios, something the education establishment claims it wants. Far from hurting low-income families in urban areas, the private-aid scholarship program the bill would establish would provide them a way out of failing schools that are not meeting their needs nor preparing them to be able to compete in a global economy.
Momentum for school choice is growing. Successful programs in Florida, Arizona and other states are improving education outcomes for many children, despite efforts to block them. In the Arizona case, the U.S. Supreme Court will review a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision declaring education freedom is unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit is the most overturned appeals court in the nation and is infamous for its overtly radical decisions. Stay tuned. There will be a lot of action in on this important matter in New Jersey, Arizona and even here in Virginia.
Colonel Allen West: The American Daniel Hannan?Dec. 16, 2009
We've been looking for an American conservative politician who would stand up and speak to the truth in the face of what the left has portrayed as its inevitable transformation of America into a European-style socialist state, as well as its permanent stay in power. Notice "American" in the first line, because earlier this year British European Parliament member Daniel Hannan emerged on the world stage with his profile in courage when he publicly dressed down British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in front of the European Parliament. Later, Hannan exposed the liberty shackling European anti-discrimination laws as most Americans were asleep while our own version — "hate crimes" — was sailing through Congress. But now, perhaps, America's Hannan has emerged: Retired Army Lt. Colonel Allen West, a candidate for Congress in Florida (see author Mark Whittington at AssociatedContent.com), made a speech that has generated a million-plus views on YouTube, aired on national television, and which has galvanized conservatives across the country. Watch it for yourself and let us know what you think.
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Allen West as ignited what some conservatives are calling a second American Revolution. His references to the patriotism of the first one reinforce that imagery.
Kaine Was There Before He Wasn't ThereDec. 09, 2009
Below is a follow-up e-mail to an included news release, verbatim, (with certain non-germane individuals and mobile numbers deleted) from Governor Tim Kaine's Deputy Press Secretary, Lauren Cunningham, earlier today. We post without comment:
----- Original Message -----
From: Governors Update Mailing List
To: Governors Update mailing list
Sent: Wednesday, December 09, 2009 10:34 AM
Subject: RE: Governor's News Release
Due to inclement weather, Governor Kaine was unable to attend this morning’s announcement with SYKES. I apologize for any confusion.
Deputy Press Secretary
Governor Timothy M. Kaine
From: Cunningham, Lauren
Sent: Wednesday, December 09, 2009 10:16 AM
To: Cunningham, Lauren
Subject: Governor's News Release
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
Office of the Governor
Timothy M. Kaine, Governor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 9, 2009
Contact: Lauren Cunningham
Phone: (804) 225-4262
GOVERNOR KAINE ANNOUNCES SYKES’ GROWTH SUCCESS IN BUCHANAN COUNTY
RICHMOND – Governor Timothy M. Kaine today joined Sykes Enterprises, Incorporated, officials to celebrate the grand opening of the company’s Southern Gap industrial park facility that has brought more than 250 jobs to the Buchanan County area over the past year. SYKES, which also operates a facility in Wise County, is a global leader in providing outsourced customer contact management solutions and services in the business process outsourcing (BPO) arena.
"I’m excited to congratulate SYKES on its newest Virginia facility," Governor Kaine said. "This company has maintained a presence in Wise County for more than 10 years and has proven to be a valuable corporate partner. This latest endeavor is a great way to kick off Southern Gap industrial park and a great sign of progress and good things to come."
SYKES provides an array of sophisticated customer contact management solutions to Fortune 1000 companies around the world, primarily in the communications, financial services, healthcare, technology and transportation and leisure industries. SYKES specializes in providing flexible, high quality customer support outsourcing solutions with an emphasis on inbound technical support and customer service. Headquartered in Tampa, Florida, with customer contact management centers throughout the world, SYKES provides services through multiple communication channels including phone, email, Web and chat.
"We continue to see a demand for outsourcing, and the expansion of our Buchanan County operations is a result of SYKES adapting to meet this demand," said Chuck Sykes, SYKES President and Chief Executive Officer. "We are grateful for our partnership with the community of Buchanan County and have found here a labor market full of intelligent and hard working people."
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Buchanan County and The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority to secure the project.
"We are delighted to have SYKES in Buchanan County as the first business to locate in our new Southern Gap business park and thank them for the jobs they are creating for our citizens," said Carroll Branham, Chairman of the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors.
# # #
Okay, we do have one comment: What else has Governor Kaine, over the last four years, said, done or attended that he did not actually say, do or attend?
First Prostitutes And Porn Stars, Now W&M Hosts Child Porn PhotographerMar. 16, 2009
College students on spring break notoriously scram from campus this time of year to places warm in temperature and hot in activity. Televised scenes from Florida, Texas and Mexican resorts and beaches aren't always the most wholesome. The "Girls Gone Wild" videos come to mind. But if you're looking for the good times on the cheap, our very own College of William and Mary is doing its part to keep your costs down in this sour economic climate — and using parents' tuition money to do so. After all, why spend $1,275 in the classroom, for legitimate co-curricular or extra-curricular and fulfilling activities, or scholarly exhibits, when you can bring in child porn?
Naive to think tuition money should actually go to academics? What do they expect at W&M? After all, it has made the news for all the wrong reasons in recent years, as host of the infamous "Sex Workers' Art Show" (here), an exhibition that includes performances by strippers and prostitutes.
That show is about to make a return campus engagement. But now the College is complementing that smut with something called "The Century Project" which may sound academic or historic, but don't be misled.
Starting today, "The Century Project" will be on display for one week in W&M's Muscarelle Art Museum, although "art" would be a generous term. Created by a former Newsweek and Life photographer, Frank Cordelle, and invited to the College this year by a senior who herself posed nude for Mr. Cordelle when she was 17, "The Century Project" displays photographs of naked women from birth to age 94 (hence "century").
Many of the photographed women have been through traumatic situations including breast cancer, rape, abuse and anorexia, and pose naked for this project to somehow mentally "conquer" their past and to promote a "healthy alternative to the way in which women are represented in the media."
Now that's an ironic touch. The media is dominated by colleagues of Mr. Cordelle who share his liberal mindset, whether news media or entertainment media. So who exactly is he blaming? Besides, it's people like Mr. Cordelle who ridicule as "backward" media and entertainment that portray women as wholesome and in traditional roles.
But Mr. Cordelle has a dual agenda, because the most disturbing aspect of "The Centruy Project" are the photographs of girls from birth to age 17, which are blatant child pornography. He rationalizes that the pictures of naked minors are not overtly sexual and thus are legal, claiming, "the entire female life cycle . . . doesn't begin at age 18" and admits that his photographs are "a valuable tool for sociopolitical purposes."
Huh? Here's another irony: Aren't liberals supposed to be "for the children"? How is this anything but exploitative and damaging to children? Which is the brazen side here and why should parents unknowingly have their money used for an admitted political purpose? Of course it's difficult to attack such a cryptic political purpose, no matter how bizarre or exploitative. So we'd like to know what exactly about female minors imparts a political statement that he needs to display naked photos of them? What is W&M and its administration trying to say — or sanction?
First, removing the Cross from Wrenn Chapel and whitewashing history and faith, then turning the campus over to the porn industry, and now to child porn. Maybe Key West isn't the worst option this spring break after all.
"Clinics Like This"Feb. 05, 2009
"I know there are clinics out there like this. And I hope we can keep (women) from going to these types of clinics." Those are the words of a Florida NOW chapter leader responding to reports that a new born, living human baby was simply thrown in the trash by an abortion "clinic" owner after a botched abortion. Florida officials are investigating to see if charges can be filed. The only way officials knew that this incident happened was after an anonymous tip.
The inhumanity of someone simply throwing a living human being into the trash is obviously difficult to comprehend, yet somehow not shocking to those of us in the battle for life. We see the disregard for the humanity of unborn children every day.
You might ask if something like this could ever happen in Virginia. The answer is absolutely yes, and we'll likely never know if it does.
Today, the Senate Education and Health Committee once again killed legislation that would improve the health and safety requirements for abortion centers - including regular inspections. Virginia does not require any meaningful standards for these facilities, nor does it require any reporting of complications from botched abortions. Clearly, "clinics like this" are likely to exist in Virginia, and the majority of the Senate Ed and Health committee is absolutely content with that.
Abortion advocates know that "clinics like this" exist and yet they fight every effort to regulate them. They fight with all their passion to keep "clinics like this" open for business.
Once again today, the Senate Education and Health committee disregarded the humanity of unborn children. But what else can we expect from a culture that has such disregard for humanity.
Unanswered Questions Because They Are Unasked QuestionsOct. 14, 2008
Tomorrow night is the third and final presidential debate. We've posted questions prior to some of the other debates that we'd like to get answers to, but of course, unless they are asked, we'll never know the answers. Here are some more questions we'd love to hear asked tomorrow night: 1. Senator Obama, given the voter fraud violations by the leftist organization ACORN in 2004, and the numerous investigations of it this year in battleground states (see Washington Post, here), do you still believe, as you stated earlier this year, that it will play a large role in your administration?
2. Considering how grievous the violations were and new accusations are, are you sstill proud of serving as its lawyer?
3. You like to note your past as a community organizer. Is registering the fictitious, the dead and people not qualified to vote what community organizers do?
4. Was registering the fictitious, the dead and people not qualified to vote the goal of the Civil Rights movement?
5. Why have you not repudiated the vile comments of Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) and John Lewis (D-Ga.), who said your opponents wanted to kill blacks and Jews? (See Wall Street Journal.)
It's doubtful these questions will get asked given the left-wing slant and timidity of the Mainstream Media. But it never hurts to put them out there. You never know who's reading . . . at least it may get some people thinking.
Here's the video of the new New Testament interpretation by Rep. Cohen:
Angry Left Hate Speech Quote Of The Day Starring Alcee HastingsSep. 25, 2008
It doesn't seem possible, but the the Angry Left gets more hysterical and despicable each day. Not even Michael Phelps or Usain Bolt is this prolific at topping themselves. We can't keep up. (See last Friday's post about the vile from so-called comedienne Sandra Bernhard.) So, today, we start trying to keep pace by beginning an Angry Left Hate Speech Quote Of The Day, not to be confused with our ever popular Capitol Square Diary QOD. Not that we're even going to make this an official category, but with the Mount Everest high amount of material available by the hour, we hold out that option. So, without further ado, our inaugural ALHSQOD quote comes from disgraced impeached and convicted (for perjury and corruption) former federal judge, now-U.S. Representative Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.). (See Fox News article here). Yesterday, in Florida, at a panel discussion hosted by the National Jewish Democrat Council, he said:
If Sarah Palin isn't enough of a reason for you to get over whatever your problem is with Barack Obama, then you damn well had better pay attention. Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don't care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks. So, you just think this through.
As reported by the blog hotair.com, the room erupted in laughter and applause. Classy. However, according to the Fox News report, a fellow member of the Congressional Black Caucus, U.S. Representative Arthur Davis (D-Ala.), rebuked Hastings in a written statement:
I didn't like his comments when I heard them and they don't sound any better reading them in print. ...
(I)t is a great mistake for Democrats to ridicule (Palin's) cultural roots. I don't know how many Americans strip moose, but a lot of the ones I know tote guns and the Democratic Party had better win enough of those gun toters if we are to be successful.
Finally, some commonsense. They can start by reigning in the hate speech by an increasing number of party officials and left wing fringe groups which claim to do their bidding.
School Choice: Whether Educrats Like It Or NotJul. 24, 2008
Despite rabid opposition from the education establishment across the nation, more states are realizing that restoring parents' freedom to choose how their child is educated is critical to guaranteeing the best education possible. In recent years Georgia, Florida, Arizona and Pennsylvania, to name a few, have passed various forms of education choice legislation. Even the District of Columbia has opened the doors of education freedom to parents. In Virginia, the birthplace of liberty in our nation, the idea of extending that freedom to parents of children in elementary and secondary schools is met with ferocious hostility by the education unions and, unfortunately, a majority of legislators. "Choice," it seems, is limited by too many only to abortion. While Virginia government provides direct assistance to families with children in pre-K programs or college, no such assistance is available for kids K-12. In fact, college TAG grants provide essentially the same type of education choice we need in K-12, so for the state to say the general model won't work is a little disingenuous.
We have long advocated for providing parents the freedom to choose the best education environment for their children. As we move through the 21st century, we remain in a 19th century education model — a "once size fits all" approach that fails too many children. Educrats simply offer to continue to pour more and more money into a system — notice their rhetoric is always about the "system" — instead of allowing parents to find the best environment for their children's particular needs.
Tuesday, we were pleased to join several other organizations in Virginia to announce the formation of School Choice Virginia, started by school choice advocate Delegate Chris Saxman (R-20, Staunton). The event garnered a lot of statewide attention (see our post and the news links here, as well as a new article, today, here.) This group will review the myriad of potential proposals and work to bring about real education freedom in Virginia through advocacy and education.
At the Richmond press conference announcing the group, former Washington, D.C., City Councilman Ken Chavous, an African-American Democrat, endorsed our efforts. Mr. Chavous has seen first hand the impact of giving families more opportunities to educate children in communities where far too many never even make it to graduation. He now is traveling the country, working with legislators and organizations, to bring education choice to all of our nation's families.
In his comments, Mr. Chavous made it clear that this is not a partisan issue — it became largely so, as so many others, when it became federalized. Rather, this is an issue of liberty and it's about what is best for our nations' children. We can no longer be held hostage by the education establishment.
Not only will education freedom help students struggling in poor performing schools, but it also will save taxpayers money. Study after study shows that when choice is introduced, enrollment in public schools decreases, but much of the money spent on the students that leave stays with the school. In essence, the schools have more money to spend per child. Though we know that money isn't the answer, this undermines opponents who claim that school choice will "take money from public schools." Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only that, but the new competition forces public schools to improve — and in many cases they do.
Frankly, school choice is coming to Virginia. It's coming whether the educrat establishment likes it or not. It may take some time, but as more and more states recognize the need for educational freedom, the only question that remains is whether Virginia will take the lead in granting families more liberty, or whether it will once again choose to fall further and further behind the rest of the nation in the area of freedom.