It’s Time to Move on School Choice Reform

It’s Time to Move on School Choice Reform

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

Teachers’ unions appear to have run into a buzz saw. On October 25, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten tweeted enthusiastic support for a Washington Post article titled “Parents claim they have the right to shape their kids’ school curriculum. They don’t.”

By November 6, her message had drastically changed. “Parents have to be involved in their kids’ education. They must have a voice. At the same time, we have to teach kids how to—not what to—think.” Sure, Randi.

In the interval, there had been a reality shock: the Virginia governor’s election, this time with an electorate that had wised up. Parents had been appalled when they remotely observed the overtly racist curriculum their children were being taught and then shocked at the blowback, including being charged with “white supremacy,” when they protested.

Moreover, they now realized the unions were responsible for the damaging school COVID shutdowns. Weingarten herself pressured legislatures and school districts into closures. Unions influenced the Biden CDC into adding new and impossible conditions for reopening. They threatened outright strikes if school districts tried to reopen for the 2020-2021 school year.

Voters were not amused. When Terry McAuliffe vowed, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” the damage was done. Polls showed challenger Glenn Youngkin gaining 15-17 points among parents in the last weeks of the campaign. Education-oriented voters swung from favoring McAuliffe by 33 points to a nine-point Youngkin advantage.

Weingarten’s response was that the reports had all been a massive misunderstanding, that it was actually the teachers’ unions that had tried to reopen the schools. Her pathetic gaslighting attempts were ignored.

The longtime symbiotic relationship between the teachers’ unions and the Democrats may be fraying. They both earn the other’s loyalty. According to OpenSecrets, 99.72% of the AFT contributions in 2020 went to Democrats. Fully 97% of AFT donations have gone to Democrats since 1990.

In Virginia, McAuliffe bagged $1 million from the unions. AFT ran ads for McAuliffe, and Weingarten personally stumped for him.

Their money isn’t wasted. As governor, McAuliffe had vetoed nine school choice bills. This year, he affirmed on CNN, “I will never allow [school choice] as governor.” Nationwide, Democrats have been able to stymie the movement for universal school choice in spite of growing majorities in favor.

The Democrats are in a sticky situation now. According to RealClearOpinion research, voters’ support for school choice surged from 64% to 74% in just the last year. Another poll showed 78% approve of Education Savings Accounts, the most comprehensive method for funding parental choice directly.

Voters have expressed particular contempt for politicians (and educators) who send their own children to private schools but deny the same privilege to less fortunate children. 62% of voters said they would be less likely to vote for such a hypocrite.

Terry McAuliffe, for one, got the message. The veto king sent his five children to private schools. When asked about it on NBC this year, his verbatim quote was “Chuck, we have a great school system in Virginia. Dorothy and I have raised our five children.” You’ve gotta love it.

Democrats are stuck with a policy that is not only morally and educationally wrong but is a political loser. Advocates for children and parents should seize the opportunity to not only win some elections but to fundamentally reform the structure of education in America into a system that serves students and parents, not bureaucracies.

Teachers’ unions must be publicly held accountable. These organizations which relentlessly pound a “for the children” theme have a wretched record of not promoting their educational interests.

In the 1960s, when the unions first rose to influence, about $3,000 (inflation-adjusted) dollars were spent per student. Today, that number is over $13,000. Yet academic achievement and the ethnic gap have stubbornly failed to improve.

Not all of the spending increase has gone to teacher salaries, and not all of the fault for academic failure is theirs. But as the dominant influence in education policy for the last half-century, unions must bear major responsibility for the dismal outcomes.

Parents’ rights advocates: take heart. This is our time.

The City of Phoenix Vaccine Mandate Is Dangerous and Outrageous

The City of Phoenix Vaccine Mandate Is Dangerous and Outrageous

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

Vaccines should always be voluntary and never be forced. But apparently, the City of Phoenix doesn’t care about freedom.

Last month, the city announced that its employees will have until January 18, 2022 to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. And it doesn’t even matter if they work from home. The new policy lacks any sort of exemption for that because, of course, these mandates aren’t based on commonsense.

But don’t worry. Employees will receive $75 as a “thanks” for their compliance. And with rampant inflation and rising oil prices, that should cover at least one tank of gas. Maybe.

The city claims that its simply following President Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal contractors. But this just further shows how comfortable Phoenix is with such a blatant abuse of power.

And it ignores another significant issue.

>>> CONTINUE READING >>>

Medicare Ads and Other Inane Policies

Medicare Ads and Other Inane Policies

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

We’ve all seen them, the Medicare TV ads exhorting seniors to apply for enhanced benefits. Government appears to be coaxing often reluctant retirees into greater dependence.

But this is a colossally bad idea, even for those of us who support helping citizens in their sunset years. It stimulates greed (it’s freeeee!) and entitlement in the demographic which government programs have already made into the most wealthy. It expands the reach of government into our lives.

But it’s worse than that. The ads are pitching benefits in a program already teetering on bankruptcy. Americans were told that their mandatory payroll contributions were put in a fund to finance payouts in retirement, but that was a lie. Politicians raided the trust long ago and today’s retirees are dependent on the (inadequate) contributions of today’s payers – yes, like any other welfare program.

The rational response would be reforms that include reducing expenses where possible. Instead, we spend untold millions to pump up program outlays. Not smart. Consequences to follow.

But screeching Medicare ads aren’t the only government initiative which, partisan disagreements aside, simply don’t make sense. Take electric cars. They’re touted as a big key to a carbon-free future. We’re pouring public funds into subsidies, charging stations and other enticement for owners.

We may disagree over the feasibility of carbon reduction strategies to ultimately reduce climate change, but it doesn’t matter. Electric cars aren’t the answer. They still require energy that must be produced somehow.

The pollutants may come from an electricity generating plant instead of a car’s exhaust, but the damage done isn’t greatly different. The environmental costs of battery production and disposal as well as the extra power sources needed to service a national fleet of autos make EVs an environmental loser.

But politicians use them anyway to bolster green credentials. Buyers like the subsidies, the perks and driving a cool car. Manufacturers are joining the ranks of the uber-rich. So, the beat goes on.

EVs could have some environmental benefit if nuclear generation sourced their electricity. Once again, stupidity intervenes.

The environmental Left decreed long ago that nuclear was off-limits. Nuclear power plants would henceforth be discouraged by excessive regulation and harassment. The strategy has basically worked, but it’s a shame.

It’s still true that nuclear is by far the most environmentally friendly, non-emitting energy source available. Nuclear-producing France pays 50% less for energy with 10% the amount of pollution experienced by Germany, which sanctimoniously exited the nuclear market years ago.

Here‘s more lunacy. A year ago, America had finally achieved energy independence, after decades of kowtowing to Arab sheiks and oil-rich autocrats . Within days, the Biden administration returned us to supplicant status. Pipeline permits were canceled, offshore drilling cut back and even the remote ANWR oil deposits were shut down.

Meanwhile, with our consent, Russia’s Nord Stream pipeline was approved, which will dominate Western Europe‘s natural gas supplies. Biden unsuccessfully begged OPEC to increase oil production, so US gas prices have predictably skyrocketed and a cold winter looms.

Again, the environmental benefits of our foolishness are nil. Pipelines are the most environmentally safe way of transporting natural gas. The fuels from Russia and the Middle East are no cleaner than ours.

We have more inane policies. Children too young to vote, drink, smoke or drive are now permitted to change their socially constructed gender by irreversibly altering their bodies-without parental consent.

$450,000 payouts are seriously proposed for illegal immigrants who were separated from their children in a humane effort to avoid mixing children with adults during detention. In spite of causing no known harm, GMO bans limit the amount of food available to starving Africans.

The driving force for these nutty, harmful policies is the relentless pursuit of electoral success by pandering to special interest groups. We’ve come a long ways from Thomas Jefferson’s vision of a “wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another…”

Listen to political analysts uncritically predicting the fate of multi-trillion dollar spending bills based solely on how the vote would affect legislators’ prospects for remaining in office another term.

It’s disgraceful, but we expect no more, so that’s what we get.

Arizona’s Establishment Media Proves to Be a Failure in Its Coverage of the Scottsdale School District Scandal

Arizona’s Establishment Media Proves to Be a Failure in Its Coverage of the Scottsdale School District Scandal

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

Another school district scandal went viral last week. This time, it was in Scottsdale. But there’s a good chance that you didn’t hear about it from Arizona’s establishment media. Because once again, they were late to the party.

In case you missed it, last week, a group of mothers discovered Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board President Jann-Michael Greenburg had access to a secret dossier of parents and other political opposition. But this wasn’t just a collection of social media posts.

The dossier included records of nursing licenses, divorces, mortgages, family trees, bankruptcies, civil and criminal charges, and a slew of other personal information. Allegedly compiled by Jann-Michael’s father, Mark, it also included pictures and videos of the children of his perceived political opposition. And a file on acclaimed radio host James T. Harris also appeared in the dossier.

But there’s even more to the story.

>>> CONTINUE READING >>>

Maricopa County’s Bond and Override Election Results Should be a Wake-Up Call to Teachers’ Unions

Maricopa County’s Bond and Override Election Results Should be a Wake-Up Call to Teachers’ Unions

By the Arizona Free Enterprise Club |

People are fed up. And parents, in particular, are frustrated with school boards across the state. Now, they are starting to speak up. But it’s not just with their voices at local school board meetings. Last week, they spoke up at the ballot box.

Across Maricopa County, multiple bond and override elections were held affecting various school districts. And in a year that didn’t include a midterm or presidential election, you would expect a low-turnout election like this one to benefit the funding proponents.

But the results were very telling.

Most of the bonds and overrides affecting school districts in suburban areas failed. And in many cases, they weren’t even close.

Override continuations were voted down in the Buckeye, Agua Fria, Liberty, and Litchfield school districts while bonds went unapproved in the Higley, Cave Creek, and Queen Creek school districts. A budget increase for the school district in Fountain Hills also failed.

The only suburban areas that were exceptions were Kyrene and Chandler. This must have the left in a tizzy.

>>> CONTINUE READING >>>

Race Baiters Are Trying To Divide Us

Race Baiters Are Trying To Divide Us

By Dr. Thomas Patterson |

Americans are barraged with messaging from left-wing politicians and their supportive media informing us we are a fundamentally racist nation, frozen in amber from our slaveholding past, and denying it only proves how racist we are.

But the facts are against these purveyors of resentment. Yes, racism exists–duh-but America is the least racist nation on earth. To label us unregenerate bigots is a slur purposed to divide us by skin color.

First, America in this century has elected to its highest offices two members of racial minorities,  if anything aided, not hindered, by their race. Hundreds of other blacks hold elected positions, cabinet posts and positions of influence.

Moreover, this nation of supposed bigots boasts the largest legal immigrant population in the world, with 40 million citizens born outside the country, quadruple the immigrant population in 1965. America is the world’s greatest magnet for immigrants, who seek freedom and fairness.

Black Americans, both native-born and immigrant, have also benefited from the promise of liberty and equality. It is true they have not obtained the financial and social success of some other groups. But know that family breakdown and substandard education have caused more harm than racial animus ever could.

The linchpin of systemic racism allegations is the charge that blacks are regularly gunned down by rogue cops. Again, facts intrude.

According  to the FBI Uniform Crime Report last year, policeman made 10 million arrests which resulted in 1004 fatalities, 41 unarmed, nine of those black. The same year 89 police officers and about 10,000 black citizens were murdered.

Yet the left continues to attack normal Americans as racists.  When usual indices of racism i.e., actual mistreatment of minorities, failed to materialize, the definition of racism was expanded to include believing in the goal of color blindness.

When “racism“ lost its bite due to overuse, “white supremacy” became the all-purpose insult. Whiteness is composed of such subversive notions as “merit,” “family,” “rationality,” “getting the answer right,” and “capitalism.”

This racialized environment was the background in which the recent Virginia election took place. When Terry McAuliffe lost, predictably out came the race card.

“He’s run a racist campaign from start to finish,” it was said of Glenn Youngkin.  It was asserted that Republicans decided “tap dancing with white supremacy is their way back to power,” Youngkin made “racial appeals to working class white voters” and “this country simply loves white supremacy.”

These claims not only lacked evidence but were laughable because Youngkin’s successful running mate for lieutenant-governor was Winsome Sears, a black woman of Jamaican descent and his attorney-general was Cuban-American. Sears spoke movingly of her experience as an immigrant, later a Marine and an American living the Dream.

Evidence of Youngkin’s racism was based largely on his opposition to Critical Race Theory in the public schools and his support of parents who were threatened for opposing it. CRT is the thoroughly un-American notion that character is determined by skin color. Whites are inherently racist as is the country they founded, while blacks are incapable of racism by nature.

The racial haters defending CRT first defended it as necessary, then denied it was being taught. By the time of the election, analysts were insisting that CRT “isn’t real” and is “code for white parents don’t like the idea of teaching about race.”

Again, they have a problem with their facts. There is a torrent of published information showing state and local education officials supporting CRT and schools surreptitiously teaching it. Under Governor Terry McAuliffe, the Virginia Department of Education declared that “teachers should embrace Critical Race Theory” in order to “re-engineer attitudes and beliefs systems.”

The relentless lies and deceit about race are a political strategy of the Left, which has determined the future of the Democrat party lies in racially dividing the nation, while posing as the champion of the growing minority groups.

Martin Luther King‘s dream was of a nation where we would judge each other by the “content of our character” not skin color, where race wouldn’t really much matter. Whether his vision or its opposite prevails will determine the future character of America itself.