Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Round-up of good news for conservatives from the past week

First, from Heritage Foundation think tank, school choice reform passes in Washington, D.C. and Indiana. Now poor parents will have a choice to send their children to better schools without having to move to a richer neighborhood.

Excerpt:

The month of March closed with a victorious week for schoolchildren and families across the nation. School choice bills passed in both Washington, D.C., and in Indiana to expand educational options for students.

In Washington, the SOAR Act sailed through the House on a 225–195 vote, reauthorizing and expanding the successful D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP), which has been under attack by the Obama Administration for the last two years. In Indiana, legislation that has been cited as the “broadest” voucher expansion bill in the country similarly won hands-down in the Indiana House.

In Washington, House Education Committee chairman John Kline (R–MN) said last Wednesday:

Today’s vote is a victory for disadvantaged students throughout our nation’s capital. Over the last seven years, the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program has placed a quality education within reach of students previously trapped in underperforming schools. This program has engaged parents, motivated children, and helped the dream of a diploma become a reality for thousands of D.C. students.

In a similar vein, Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma noted:

This is about promoting opportunity, focused tightly on those that have no choice today. … I’m here to give parents—especially parents without the means—opportunities for their children.”

The SOAR Act not only restores the DCOSP—which provides scholarships to low-income students in D.C.—it also expands the DCOSP to allow more students to receive scholarships.

Indiana’s legislation would provide families with a portion of their children’s public school funding to use on their choice of private schools. The amount of money families receive would be based on income levels.

Christian parents are not well served by government-run public schools, because public schools undermine Christian beliefs and result in poorly-educated educated children to boot. Let us have our tax money back so we can choose a school that serves our needs. We don’t let the government pick our laptop and cell phone, why should we let the government take our money and then choose a failing school for our children? I want to choose the school my children will go to – because I am the one who will be held accountable to God later for the children I’ve produced. And I want the poor parents and the rich parents to get the same voucher so that everyone can choose. I want the poor to have the exact same options that the rich have. And I want the failing schools to be closed down due to lack of funds, just the way that a business that fails its customers is closed down due to competitive pressures.

Next, Denver Republicans reject same-sex civil union bill.

Excerpt:

A bill to allow civil unions for same-sex couples in Colorado was stopped on Thursday night by a vote in the House Judiciary Committee.

The committee voted 6-5 to stop the bill from moving on to the full House.

The vote came after eight hours of testimony in a packed chamber at the State Capitol.

The measure easily passed the Senate last week with three Republicans joining all the Democrats voting for it.

Democrats said Senate Bill 172 could have cleared the House if all members there were allowed to vote.

This is a good idea because marriage benefits are given out to promote marriage, which is the most stable environment to raise children. Same-sex civil unions are proven to be less stable than opposite-sex marriages, and that is bad for children. If we care about children, then we need to give tax incentives for traditional marriage – the best environment in which to raise children. It’s not personal – it’s business.

Next, Texas Republicans shift money from contraceptive programs to crisis-pregnancy centers.

Excerpt:

About $7 million over the next two years would be moved from state-funded family planning services into crisis pregnancy center funding under an amendment passed by the Texas House during the budget debate.

The House voted 100-44 to pass the amendment, despite a short battle between author Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland, and several Democrats, who argued that family planning services help not only in the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, but also allow low-income women to get healthy check ups and cancer screenings. They said the amendment would cost the state money in the end.

“This takes money from the pot of funds used to reduce the rate of unplanned pregnancy to give money to counsel women who are pregnant already. Isn’t that counter-productive? asked Rep. Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio.

Author of the amendment Rep. Randy Weber, R-Pearland, said that the “most innocent” need to be protected, which he said more funding for abortion-prevention centers would accomplish. He also said studies point to statistics that the poorest families using contraceptives were not successful.

I am not a big fan of single motherhood, but I am a big fan of adoption. And murdering an innocent child is certainly worse than either of those. Studies show that more contraception does not prevent abortions, it increases them.

Next, more education reform by Florida Republicans.

Excerpt:

Florida is widely recognized as the state leader in education reform. Students in the Sunshine State have made the strongest academic achievement gains in the nation since 2003, and they are one of the only states that have been able to narrow the achievement gap between white and minority students. Yesterday, the Washington Post highlighted the Florida model, and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s role in its creation:

“The president who turned No Child Left Behind from slogan into statute is gone from Washington, and the influence of his signature education law is fading. But another brand of Bush school reform is on the rise.

“The salesman is not the 43rd president, George W. Bush, but the 43rd governor of Florida, his brother Jeb.

“At the core of the Jeb Bush agenda are ideas drawn from his Florida playbook: Give every public school a grade from A to F. Offer students vouchers to help pay for private school. Don’t let them move into fourth grade unless they know how to read.”

State leaders seem to know a good reform strategy when they see it, and many across the country are beginning to embrace the Florida reform model.

Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Governor Gary Herbert of Utah just signed the Florida-style A-F grading system into law in their respective states. The scale grades schools and school districts on a straightforward, transparent scale designed to inform parents and taxpayers about achievement results. The move will arm parents with more information about school performance – a necessary step to improving education. State leaders in Indiana, Arizona and Louisiana also recently implemented the A-F grading scale.

While transparency about school performance is essential to results-based education reform, providing parents with opportunities to act on that information is crucial. Many states are now working to enact that most important piece of the Florida reform model – school choice.

[...]Florida students have demonstrated the strongest gains on the NAEP in the nation since 2003, when all 50 states began taking NAEP exams. Moreover, between 1998 and 2008, the average score for black students increased by 12 points in reading from 192 to 204. In Florida, it increased by 25 points—twice the gains of the national average. If African American students nationwide had made the same amount of progress as African American students in Florida, the fourth-grade reading gap between black and white would be approximately half the size it is today.

Republicans are all about helping the poorest African-American children to get high-quality educations. And we don’t just talk about it, and we don’t just express good intentions, and we don’t just pass ineffective laws to much media fanfare. We deliver the goods – we walk the walk – we have the evidence of good results. It’s not about vague rhetoric and happy feelings. It’s about delivering the goods we promised to deliver. Better educations for poor minority students. Higher standards. Better outcomes.

If we care about children, then we do not kill them, we do not make them grow up without mothers and fathers, we do not force them into failing schools. Conservatism is pro-family, pro-parent, and pro-child. This is what we believe, and we act on those beliefs when we are voted in. No more happy talk about hope and change. If you want results for poor minorities, you vote Republican. And we don’t provide “compassionate” welfare programs to incentivize broken homes either, because that is the number one cause of child poverty. Conservatives hate making people slaves to the government.

Must-see videos on education policy

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2 Responses

  1. Bret says:

    Just curious for your opinion WK, because this has been a conundrum of mine: I applaud Jeb’s initiaitve and am excited about the increased performance specifically for minorities. At the same time, I have what I think is a legitimate gripe that predominantly white schools are not able to maximize their potential due to funds being taken away from them.

    Case in point, our daughter is in public school (for now). Her elemenentary school has earned the grade of an “A” and has a program cost per student of $7129. The demos are 70% white, 25% hispanic and 5% black.

    The elementary school in town is inverted demograpghically speaking, and has earned a “C” and has costs per student of $10,400. They have computers in every room, less students, and teachers earn the same amount as our school.

    One of the factors for grading a school, there are about five of them, is demograhics…for example, the higher percentage of “free or reduced” lunches, the lower the grade; the higher the percentage of non-English primary speakers, the lower the grade. The lower the grade, the more money a school gets per student.

    We are often conducting fund raisers to try to catch up with the “C” schools supplies, but always fall short.

    If you research the NAEP’s grade card, you’d notice that while the minorities performance increased, their white peers did not increase nearly as substantially…in fact, the white students increased their scores by only 1/3 of the minorities.

    As parents, its our responsibility and we take it seriously, to make sure our child thrives..we wont leave that in the hands of someone else. Though a disparity exists on how and to whom our tax dollars are being spent, we would never allow that to be an excuse for sub par performance in our family.

    Sorry for the length of this, our bottom line is that we are joyous that grades have come up, especially for minorities…but are a bit miffed that the kids in our school are not getting the same financial and educational opportunities as other schools…any thoughts?

    • I agree – a lot of these education problems are caused by lack of parental involvement and should not be subject to government redistribution of wealth. I would like to see each family get a voucher and choose the school that they think is best for them. That would help to transfer money away from schools that are failing, and then there wouldn’t be any overfunded, underperforming schools at all.

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