Stacey Campfield has succeeded in forcing the University of Tennessee to pull funding for a planned sex education week. The state senator known for his homophobia, ignorance surrounding sex and gender issues, and annual attempts to pass an ever-expanding “Don’t Say Gay” bill, was not pleased with the university’s plans to use tax dollars and student fees to educate students, and went so far as to claim college students aren’t adults.
Campfield is also known for claiming, shockingly, that it’s “virtually impossible” to contract HIV via heterosexual sex.
READ: New ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Bill Forces Teachers To Tell Gay Kids They Need A Psychiatrist
Although scheduled to begin April 7, “Chancellor Jimmy Cheek announced the school would remove state tax money from the Sex Week budget — two-thirds of the total, or $11,145, according to the Daily Beacon
Montgomery Circuit Judge Charles Price issued an order this morning blocking a controversial school choice bill from being sent to Gov. Robert Bentley for his signature today.
Legislative staff would have sent the bill to Bentley shortly after lawmakers convened at 1 p.m. Bentley planned to sign the bill this afternoon. Price issued his order shortly before 11 a.m.
The Alabama Education Association filed a lawsuit Monday night seeking to stop the legislation that would give parents zoned for “failing” schools an estimated $3,500 income tax credit to help pay for tuition at a private school or another public school.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of a taxpayer and claims that the Republican majority violated the Open Meetings Act when the tax credit program was added to a bill in conference committee with little discussion.
“When the conference committee goes off and takes a break and comes back and they’ve got a 27-page bill. We’re saying they met and had an illegal meeting,” said lawyer James Anderson.
Watch for a major fight in Congress over taxpayer subsidies for religious and other private schools.
In his Republican response to the State of the Union this week, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) touted “school choice,” a euphemism for vouchers.
“We need to give all parents, especially the parents of children with special needs, the opportunity to send their children to the school of their choice,” Rubio said.
The next day, the Florida senator rolled out his “Educational Opportunities Act,” a neo-voucher bill that lets corporations and individuals donate money to “scholarship granting organizations” that pay for tuition at private schools. The donors get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit - for corporations up to $100,000 and for individuals up to $4,500 - and private schools, most of them religious, get a windfall of new money.
Call it a Rubio Goldberg Machine that takes tax dollars, spins them around and puts them into the collection plates of various religious schools that are then free to use the cash to indoctrinate and discriminate.
It’s more than a little ironic that Rubio, who spent a lot of time in his speech talking about the federal debt problem, told The Miami Herald that he doesn’t know how much his scheme will cost.
The newspaper said Rubio’s private school slush fund reflects his close ties with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Bush has relentlessly pushed private school subsidies in the Sunshine State for years, and the Herald said some of his former associates helped Rubio concoct his plan.
The senator’s neo-voucher campaign is likely to have a companion effort in the U.S. House of Representatives. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has announced plans to put forward a “school choice” scheme, and it’s certain to have the enthusiastic backing of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
Boehner is positively obsessed with taxpayer subsidies for religious and other private schools. He used all his political clout - and backroom political wheeling and dealing - to keep in place a federally funded voucher program in the District of Columbia that underwrites tuition at Roman Catholic, fundamentalist Protestant and Muslim schools.
Senate Bill 758 (document), styled the Oklahoma Science Education Act, would, if enacted, require state and local educational authorities to “assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies” and permit teachers to “help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.” Unusually but not uniquely, no scientific topics are specifically identified as controversial, but the fact that the sole sponsor of SB 758 is Josh Brecheen (R-District 6), who introduced specifically antievolution legislation in the two previous legislative sessions, is telling.
In late 2010, Brecheen announced his intention to file antievolution legislation in a column in the Durant Daily Democrat (December 19, 2010): “Renowned scientists now asserting that evolution is laden with errors are being ignored. … Using your tax dollars to teach the unknown, without disclosing the entire scientific findings[,] is incomplete and unacceptable.” In a subsequent column in the newspaper (December 24, 2010), he indicated that his intention was to have creationism presented as scientifically credible, writing, “I have introduced legislation requiring every publically funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution using the known science, even that which conflicts with Darwin’s religion.”
What Brecheen in fact introduced in 2011, Senate Bill 554, combined a version of the now familiar “academic freedom” language — referring to “the scientific strengths [and] scientific weaknesses of controversial topics … [which] include but are not limited to biological origins of life and biological evolution” — with a directive for the state board of education to adopt “standards and curricula” that echo the flawed portions of the state science standards adopted in Texas in 2009 with respect to the nature of science and evolution. SB 554 died in committee. In 2012, Brecheen took a new tack with Senate Bill 1742, modeled in part on the so-called Louisiana Science Education Act; SB 1742 likewise died in committee.
With SB 758, Brecheen seems now to be following the lead of Tennessee’s “monkey law” (as it was nicknamed by House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh), enacted (as Tenn. Code Ann. 49-6-1030) over the protests of the state’s scientific and educational communities in 2012. The major difference is that SB 758 omits the monkey law’s statement of legislative findings, which cites “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning” as among the topics that “can cause controversy” when taught in the science classroom of the public schools. The history of Brecheen’s legislative efforts clearly demonstrates that it is evolution which is primarily the target of the new bill, however.
Second, House Bill 1674 (document), styled the Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act, would, if enacted, similarly require state and local educational authorities to “assist teachers to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies” and permit teachers to “help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.” Unlike SB 768, however, HB 1674 specifically mentions “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning” as subjects which “some teachers may be unsure” about how to teach.
The sole sponsor of HB 1674 is Gus Blackwell (R-District 61). In 2012, Blackwell revived House Bill 1551, which was originally introduced in the Oklahoma House of Representatives by Sally Kern (R-District 84) in 2011. HB 1551 was rejected in the House Common Education Committee in 2011, but Blackwell resurrected the bill in 2012, adding a reference to controversial “premises in the areas of biology, chemistry, meteorology, bioethics and physics.” The revised bill quickly passed the House Common Education Committee, which amended it slightly to provide “Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to exempt students from learning, understanding, and being tested on curriculum as prescribed by state and local education standards.”
This is what happens when you give the GOP total control of your state.
A federal judge on Friday blocked a new Missouri law that requires insurers to exclude birth control coverage for moral objectors, ruling that it conflicts with an insurance mandate under President Barack Obama’s health care law.
The temporary restraining order halts the Missouri law just three months after the Republican-led Legislature enacted it by overriding Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto.
The state law requires insurers to issue policies without contraception coverage if it runs contrary to the religious or moral beliefs of an individual or employer. The law appeared to be the first in the nation to directly rebut an Obama administration policy that requires insurers to cover birth control at no additional cost to women.
U.S. District Judge Audry Fleissig wrote in her order that there “appears to be an irreconcilable conflict” between the state and federal laws that puts insurance companies in an awkward position. If they were to comply with Missouri’s law, insurers could be subject to federal penalties for not abiding by the contraception mandate. Yet insurers also could face financial penalties from the state insurance department for failing to follow the Missouri law.
The first front in the war on science and education is the Discovery Institute’s attempts to wedge religion into science classes, the second is a war against public education period.
The GOP battle cry for red state public education is: “Privatize it!” This is how the GOP wants you to let their favorite flavors of religious institutions and private corporations receive tax dollars to provide sub standard education.
The GOP battle cry for red state public education is: “Privatize it!”There are some very large hogs snuffling around smelling for dollars outside that public education fence.
But people would be wrong to assume that the GOP is motivated solely by a hatred of big government. The GOP has shown itself time and again willing and able to use big government to push its agenda, particularly since 2010 with its crafting of historica numbers of anti-abortion legislation.
No, ironically, given the GOP’s vocal disdain of money as a solution, the secret motivator here is…money.
Privatization is the new Gold Rush. There is money to be made in them there hills. And charter schools are the the Republican hammer to be used to prise it out of our hands.
Georgia has a charter school amendment, which was pushed as a response to a dysfunctional public school system. The logic being, apparently, to replace rather than fix. In Louisiana, where Republicans control both chambers of legislature, Governor Bryant plans to push charter schools again in 2013. I’ve written previously about how Louisiana is banishing its students in that state to the Bronze Age. In both states, there have been cries from opponents of ‘re-segregation.’ The Arkansas Times reported in September on GOP plans to ‘end-run’ charter school restrictions.
If you look at a red state, chances are somebody is trying the pull the rug from under public education, or eddimication, as the mostest educated conservatives call it.
The Progressive reported back in May 2011, on how the Republican scheme functions, using Wisconsin as an example:
Governor Scott Walker’s unprecedented $900 million cut to school funding, coupled with a scheme to create a state-run system of charter schools, will kill off both the school and the town, they said. Under S.B. 22, the bill they came to oppose, students and funds that used to go to schools like Montello’s will be siphoned off to virtual charter schools run by a state board of political appointees.
As Ruth Conniff wrote at The Progressive, ‘K-12 education is the single largest budget item for each of the 50 states. So it stands to reason that privatizing education is the largest front in the conservative war on government.’
Privatizing, folks, is a Republican codeword for ‘profit.’ Who takes over when the government is not involved? It’s not charities. It’s for-profit entities. The people who will suddenly become middlemen for your tax dollars
In another conservative experiment with tax dollars there are vouchers going to some highly questionable religious schools, and a lot of Catholic Schools. 8 years later it’s time for the Feds to stop bailing out religious schools and instead invest more in public schools.
When Congress created the nation’s only federally funded school voucher program, advocates said the plan would improve the education of some of the poorest urban youths.
Eight years later, it seems clear that things haven’t gone as planned.
A lengthy investigation of the Washington, D.C., voucher program by The Washington Post showed that many parents use the voucher money to send their children to schools that are unaccredited and unaccountable.
In addition, the program has become a type of bailout for Catholic schools. More than half of 1,584 students who receive vouchers use them to attend Catholic institutions.
Some of the schools examined, which include a K-12 school operating out of a storefront, a Nation of Islam school based in a converted house, and a school built on the teachings of an obscure Bulgarian psychotherapist, could not survive without federal funds, The Post said. In some cases, more than 90 percent of a school’s students pay with federal vouchers.
Congress allocated $20 million for the D.C. voucher program for this year, The Post reported, and since 2004 the federal government has set aside $133 million for the program. Students who meet the household income requirements can receive about $8,000 per year for elementary school and around $12,000 per year for high school.
And yet, the schools are not accountable to the taxpayers who are forced to fund them. No government official has say over the curriculum, academic quality or management of the schools.
In fact, the only requirements for D.C. schools that accept voucher students are that the institutions must have a certificate of occupancy and employ teachers who are college graduates. One requirement that is glaringly absent from that list is accreditation. D.C. private schools aren’t required to be accredited in order to enroll voucher students, and The Post found that at least eight of the 52 schools that accept vouchers lack accreditation.
Here’s one of the things I do not like about the Obama administration. Faith based initiatives have fed from our tax dollars while discriminating against U.S. Citizens for far too long. If you want to protect your freedom to fundamentally hate, then you need to stop asking for tax dollars to further your hate and discrimination with.
Recent disclosures by the Department of Justice reveal that the Obama administration has continued a policy, first put in place by the Office of Legal Counsel in the Bush Justice Department, of granting faith-based recipients of taxpayer dollars certificates of exemption from federal laws prohibiting religious discrimination in employment by such organizations receiving federal funds.
The latest development in a long-simmering standoff between the administration and civil liberties groups is the American Civil Liberties Union’s Freedom of Information Act request, submitted this week to the Department of Justice, seeking greater detail about the faith-based organizations that have received such certificates of exemption, and the circumstances under which these certificates are granted. Until recently, the disclosures from the Obama administration about what it has called a “case-by-case” review have failed to make clear that the granting of certificates of exemption to faith-based grantees who requested them has remained administration policy. Rather, the administration has responded to calls from civil liberties groups for transparency on the issue with silence and confusion.
Since President Barack Obama launched his Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships shortly after taking office in 2009, the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination (CARD) has been assiduously asking the administration a simple question: why are faith-based organizations that receive taxpayer money permitted to discriminate based on religion in hiring, and under what circumstances? For over three years, CARD members have remained frustrated not only with the refusal to change the policy, but the administration’s unwillingness to explain exactly how the policy is being implemented. Last year, at a townhall at the University of Maryland, Obama himself would not explain the policy, saying only, “I think that the balance we tried to strike is to say that if you have set up a nonprofit that is disassociated from your core religious functions and is out there in the public doing all kinds of work, you have to abide generally with the nondiscrimination hiring practices. On the other hand, if it’s closer to your core functions… then you might have more leeway to hire someone who is of that religious faith. […] I think we’ve struck the right balance so far.”
The following makes an excellent case for the morality of much-maligned social programs, and how - contrary to typical Tea Party rhetoric - those social programs honor the values of America’s founding fathers. There’s far too much good stuff for me to quote in one page, so please read the whole thing - I’ve pasted the first few paragraphs below:
This evening, as I was trying to distract myself from the mundaneness of folding laundry and prepping dinner, I ran into some Facebook drama. I don’t think any of us intends to get into trouble on Facebook, it just happens. Tonight, in the sea of emotions—errr—comments, I felt like I had to represent the facts and of course the topic had to be public aid.
My first thought was, in a country that is supposed to stand for freedom, opportunity, and security for all, why would a human being want to see another human being starve? Why? I am very familiar with the SNAP program (food stamps). It runs at 98 percent efficiency. That means there is nearly no waste, no fraud, and almost total accountability. It is one of the most efficient government programs there is. And that level of efficiency tells us all one thing: The people using the program all need the program because they all qualify for the program. Think about that for a moment.
One of the most noticeable things about the comments I encountered in that Facebook exchange was that people felt that anyone using a form of public aid was using their money. I found it interesting, from a sociological perspective, how possessive these people were of tax dollars that go into the general coffers when used towards social programs such as SNAP, Social Security, Medicare, etc. When referring to those programs I started reading things like: “I don’t want MY MONEY…” even though all money goes into one giant funnel. Personally, I don’t like working to support what I think are illegal wars that cost an estimated six trillion dollars. I would much rather pay taxes for healthcare and college or trade school for every one of my fellow citizens, but somehow public sentiment has changed to the point where that has a negative connotation, which flies in the face of the very foundation our Founding Fathers established for this country.
“All the property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it.”
~ Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father, American diplomat, statesman, and scientist; letter to Robert Morris, December 25, 1783
The entire right wing is fixated on Planned Parenthood, which is bad for planned parenthood but great for Democrat chances in congressional and presidential races this fall.
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Friday signed into law a bill banning abortion providers like Planned Parenthood from receiving money through the state, her office said in a statement.
The Republican-backed Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priority Act cuts off funding for family planning and health services delivered by Planned Parenthood clinics and other organizations offering abortions.
“By signing this measure into law I stand with the majority of Americans who oppose the use of taxpayer funds for abortion,” Brewer said in a statement.
Arizona joins six other states with similar laws, officials said. But three of those states — Indiana, Kansas and North Carolina — are facing legal challenges.
Arizona does not provide tax dollars for abortion, but backers said the law is needed to make sure that no indirect monies are funneled to organizations like Planned Parenthood that provide abortion and other health services. There were no estimates of how much money is involved.
But officials at Planned Parenthood Arizona, the state’s largest abortion provider, said the law means that thousands of women in the state may now go without life-saving cancer screenings, birth control and basic health care.
Blow to Planned Parenthood on Texas abortions
“We are most concerned about the women and men who could be forced to go without health care as a result of this bill,” Bryan Howard, Planned Parenthood Arizona’s president and CEO, said in a prepared statement.