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Alabama Legislature Rams Through School Choice/Flexibility Bill
al.com ^ | Feb 28-March 1,2013 | numerous al.com sources

Posted on 03/01/2013 7:07:35 AM PST by alancarp

**Note to the moderators: this is a summary post for a number of stories on this same topic. All cited links below include full original titles. No single story/link was sufficient; trying to also prevent multiple posts.

Summary: An Alabama Legislative Conference Committee transformed an 8-page education reform bill into a 27-page "bombshell" bill that has now passed both Houses and awaits the Governor's signature. This new bill includes the following provisions:

1. Parents of children in "chronically failing" schools will be allowed to either (a) move into a different (non-failing) public school; or (b) take 80% of the school's funding associated with their child as a tax credit and apply that to enrollment in a private school. This is effectively a modified 'school voucher' program.

2. Tax credits will be allowed for businesses who support private school education.

The speed at which this occurred led to 'shouting' in the Alabama Senate yesterday (i.e., this is a Democrat nightmare scenario - Republicans doing what was done to them in times past). Juicy details in the links below:

School flex bill triples in size in conference committee, takes aim at 'failing schools'

Republicans in bombshell move push through bill giving tax credits for kids at 'failing' schools to go to private schools

School bill switcheroo: Read the school choice bill Republicans rammed through (full text)

Tracking the 2013 session: Republicans pull surprise, ram through school choice bill

From 'historic' to 'sleaziness': Reaction to the school choice bill and how it was approved

Gov. Bentley announces Alabama Accountability Act

Governor Bentley has indicated that he will sign the legislation next week.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government; US: Alabama
KEYWORDS: choice; education; flexibility; publicschools; schools; vouchers

1 posted on 03/01/2013 7:07:49 AM PST by alancarp
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To: alancarp
Parents of children in "chronically failing" schools will be allowed to either (a) move into a different (non-failing) public school; or (b) take 80% of the school's funding associated with their child as a tax credit and apply that to enrollment in a private school. This is effectively a modified wimpy 'school voucher' program.

Guess who controls what constitutes a "failing school"? They will get the same amount of screaming and lawsuits they would have otherwise endured.

There is no political benefit to compromise with evil. If you are going to fix education, fix it all the way.

2 posted on 03/01/2013 7:15:40 AM PST by Carry_Okie (The environment is too complex and too important to be "protected" by government.)
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To: alancarp

“Governor Bentley has indicated that he will sign the legislation next week.”

Don’t want Governor. SIGN IT NOW!


3 posted on 03/01/2013 7:16:02 AM PST by BO Stinkss
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To: alancarp
Many thanks for the updates, and all the links. Nice to see the GOP thinking "damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead."

A few questions, if I may, which I didn't see addressed in the articles:

1. Are many, if not a majority of Democrat state legislators black?

2. Are many of the failing schools in the state primarily black in enrollment?

This forces the Dems to directly decide what's more important to them: their own children, or their union constituents.

4 posted on 03/01/2013 7:19:05 AM PST by ken5050 ("One useless man is a shame, two are a law firm, three or more are a Congress".. John Adams)
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To: alancarp
It would be excellent if this move went national like the right to work movement. Thousands of children could be saved from a life of failure. The teachers union would no longer be able to destroy their lives in order to manufacture more democrat voters.
The lucky children would have a chance, finally, to grow up a success.
5 posted on 03/01/2013 7:21:58 AM PST by concerned about politics ("Get thee behind me, Liberal")
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To: Carry_Okie
I personally would advocate Classical Conversations as my own solution, since I believe the ALL public schools are failing schools. Yes, I'd burn them all down and start over, but that's clearly not going to happen.

However, I also reject the notion that this is a compromise: in the political world, there is no scenario in which a Democrat would ever 'compromise' with a school voucher program of any kind. No, I believe this is step 1 of a bigger plan... and clearly both an improvement and a big deal.

6 posted on 03/01/2013 7:27:34 AM PST by alancarp (Obama will grab your guns and ship them to Mexican drug mobs.)
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To: alancarp

“Rep. Mary Moore, D-Birmingham, as she was leaving the House chamber threw her hands over her head and shouted, “Welcome to the new confederacy where a bunch of white men are now going to take over black schools.”

Paging revs. Sharpton and Jackson - You are now needed in Montgomery for a race baiting rally.


7 posted on 03/01/2013 7:28:27 AM PST by BO Stinkss
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To: BO Stinkss

Allowing parents to make choices that they feel will benefit their own children == white people taking over black schools


8 posted on 03/01/2013 7:31:30 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (The ballot box is a sham. Nothing will change until after the war.)
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To: alancarp

Let the Libturd DemoCommunists shout. Then shout louder than them, and then sign the bill.


9 posted on 03/01/2013 7:44:53 AM PST by fwdude ( You cannot compromise with that which you must defeat.)
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To: alancarp
Yes, I'd burn them all down and start over, but that's clearly not going to happen.

There is an easier and more fundamental way to fix this.

No, I believe this is step 1 of a bigger plan... and clearly both an improvement and a big deal.

I have never seen incrementalism really work with the exception of State CCW laws, which are in fact gun-owner registration, thus compromising the benefits significantly. I am not discounting the effort to which the legislature went, yet it will produce little to show the positive results with which to take that "next step." It is thus a dangerous tactic compared to (for example) accrediting private testing with a validated warranty system as equivalent to public education credentials.

10 posted on 03/01/2013 7:45:16 AM PST by Carry_Okie (The environment is too complex and too important to be "protected" by government.)
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To: ken5050
Answers: 1. Are many, if not a majority of Democrat state legislators black? From this photo ('Senate Dem caucus'), it appears so:

Balance of power in the Senate is now 22 Republicans; 11 Dems., 1 vacancy, 1 alleged "independent".

2. Are many of the failing schools in the state primarily black in enrollment? That seems to be the belief, though I have yet to see a formal list. One of the legislators was quoted as saying that this bill could be a "life-changing event" for many kids.

Frankly? I think the "will" to improve still has to be with the parent(s), and unless that's pursued, then nothing will change. But now you cannot say that the opportunity isn't available.

Additional point: I do not know (yet) if transportation support has been included in the bill. Clearly, it is expensive to take your kids to school these days - especially one out of your own area. I don't believe this is the responsibility of the government to fund that, but I'm pretty sure it will be cited as a "barrier" to this legislation's implementation.

We'll see: as I say, a good first step. Should at least put some pressure on schools to improve.

11 posted on 03/01/2013 7:46:02 AM PST by alancarp (Obama will grab your guns and ship them to Mexican drug mobs.)
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To: Carry_Okie
There is no political benefit to compromise with evil. If you are going to fix education, fix it all the way.

Agreed. But sometimes you have to move incrementally, like the Leftists do.

Of course, we claim victory but never keep moving, so this strategy is toast for conservatives.

12 posted on 03/01/2013 7:48:08 AM PST by fwdude ( You cannot compromise with that which you must defeat.)
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To: ken5050
Oh yeah - you said: " This forces the Dems to directly decide what's more important to them: their own children, or their union constituents. "

That choice to sell their souls to the unions occurred long ago. And everything - yes, literally everything up to and including casino gaming 'rights' - that is wrong with their lives is blamed on a civil rights struggle that is still being fought.

13 posted on 03/01/2013 7:54:51 AM PST by alancarp (Obama will grab your guns and ship them to Mexican drug mobs.)
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To: alancarp
We'll see: as I say, a good first step. Should at least put some pressure on schools to improve.

They're unionized. Schools can't improve without hurting the teachers union. The more social failures they can create, the more democrat voters they create. If the children were to learn academics, ethics, or morality, they'd grow up to vote right wing. The teachers wouldn't get any more free handouts from the democrat politicians if the right wing was in charge all the time.
It's a "You scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours" thing. The children in the government schools are future democrats and dollar signs. Dependent democrats are being cranked out like pieces of meat on an assembly line. If they were to grow up successful, it would ruin everything.

14 posted on 03/01/2013 8:01:06 AM PST by concerned about politics ("Get thee behind me, Liberal")
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To: BO Stinkss

she said that!!!
This is not all the community before someone jumps up and cries the left wing crap of racist

It’s blacks who fail in public schools, it;s black teachers who do not do their job, it;s black views that you do not work hard at school and it;s whites which are on the right who are trying to say to blacks, you can help yourself if you want to get ahead and we will set up the steps which you must take.

It;s these black leaders which keep lacks down and they do keep them down because so long as most blacks think white is evil, they are dumbed down and kept stupid and the right are satan then the left can keep getting votes and controlling segments of a population.


15 posted on 03/01/2013 8:10:21 AM PST by manc (Marriage =1 man + 1 woman,when they say marriage equality then they should support polygamy)
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To: fwdude

The Left is going for broke and is all in on the installation of Common Core into the school systems around the nation.

Anyone with children needs to google “Common Core” and learn how our nation’s children are being indoctrinated to leftist ideals at a pace that is astounding.


16 posted on 03/01/2013 8:31:52 AM PST by TennTuxedo
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To: alancarp

Thanks for the information. If you post more on this as it unfolds, kindly ping me. Than ks


17 posted on 03/01/2013 8:51:21 AM PST by ken5050 ("One useless man is a shame, two are a law firm, three or more are a Congress".. John Adams)
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To: alancarp

Nice job with this.
BUMP


18 posted on 03/01/2013 8:59:49 AM PST by Lancey Howard
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To: manc
AMEN! You've explained it all. Now, black folks, time to sh*t or get off the pot...you've got your opportunities, now apply yourselves, educate yourselves, and stop with the sob stories that “the white man keep me down.”

AND, while you're at it, educate yourself about who and what obozo really is. Stop slobbering over a black man who ran for President and turned out to be a socialist, hell bent on destroying YOU and me and this country. He was not the great black hope you wished for, so except it. Stop enslaving yourselves to the demands of the Socialist-Democratic Party (the actual new name of the old Democratic Party, which is dead.) Work toward searching for and supporting a candidate who is actually a Conservative they claim to be...check out their record. Allen West is but one excellent example of accomplishment and a strong moral foundation. This man believes in the Constitution, our freedom, liberty, RIGHTS.

Black folks have been stuck on stupid for toooooo long. Shake the shackles and do the right thing for yourself, your family and for your country.

19 posted on 03/01/2013 9:52:49 AM PST by itssme
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To: alancarp; ken5050
More articles are continuing to pour in about this new law (in the future, I'll just say "go to al.com" as it is literally going to be impossible to keep up with this. But rest-assured, the Left is now at work giving their opinions - exactly as they would have done had this not been forced through as it was:

Inside Alabama's problematic plan to let students flee "failing schools" (Challen Stephens) Inside Alabama's problematic plan to let students flee "failing schools" (Challen Stephens)

Alabama Accountability Act FAQ, a guide to the most radical education reform in decades Alabama Accountability Act FAQ, a guide to the most radical education reform in decades

What they are saying about the controversial education bill What they are saying about the controversial education bill

Montgomery bigwigs give Alabama the Full Monty (John Archibald)

How Alabama compares with other [16] states offering tax credits for school choice

Private school tuition in Alabama: a sampling of dollar amounts from across the state

At 2pm (CST) - 13 minutes from this post - al.com is supposed to have a live chat about this bill with (liberal) Matt Murphy. Check there if you wish - their link currently doesn't go to a chat page.

20 posted on 03/01/2013 11:47:46 AM PST by alancarp (Obama will grab your guns and ship them to Mexican drug mobs.)
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To: TennTuxedo

Do you know if private schools must incorporate the “common core” in order to be certified?


21 posted on 03/01/2013 11:49:16 AM PST by fwdude ( You cannot compromise with that which you must defeat.)
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To: alancarp; ken5050
Here is a big problem I see with this new program

This information is taken from the 'FAQ' article I just cited in my previous post (#20).

Point 1> Alabama spent about $4,442 per student per year in 2010-2011, not including federal and local funding. Since the Accountability Act sets the bar at 80 percent of the state's cost to educate a child in public schools, the tax credit, if it would have existed that year, would have been $3,553.

Point 2> If your state income tax bill is less than the amount of the credit, the state will pay you the difference in the form of a rebate. In other words, if your child qualifies for a $3,500 tax credit, but your state tax bill is only $1,000, the state would send you a check for $2,500.

So there's the rub - and it is understandable: if your total state tax liability is LESS than allowed credit, then you will not get back more money than you owe for any given year. There's some language in the bill that seems to push the remaining credit off to future years, but that's gonna be problematic in any case:

"If income taxes owed by the parent are less than the total credit allowed under this subsection, the taxpayer shall be entitled to a refund or rebate, as the case may be, equal to the balance of the unused credit with respect to that taxable year."

Okay.

The bill is obviously targeted to lower income families (your income must be at or below 150% of the state median, or no credit). Private school tuitions seem to run anywhere from $6000 to $10,000 annually. The tax credit would cut that in half - maybe - but the lower income families most needing to take advantage of the program likely won't even get that much:

If you have no income: no tax credit
If you have an income roughly over $75,000... now you can probably get the entire credit. But that's a pretty stout paycheck for the targeted audience.

The state is relying on provisions intended to encourage businesses and individuals to donate heavily to private schools in the form of scholarships: individuals can can a 100% credit for donations (up to the tax liability); for businesses the limit is 50% credit up to 50% liability.

We'll see if that proves to be enough.

22 posted on 03/01/2013 12:24:16 PM PST by alancarp (Obama will grab your guns and ship them to Mexican drug mobs.)
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To: alancarp; All
In response to the caterwauling from the Dems and the usual lefties, the Alabama GOP should just quote that esteemed political scholar, Nancy Pelosi:

"First, we have to pass the bill before you can find out what's in it..."

And so, they did!!!

23 posted on 03/01/2013 12:42:40 PM PST by ken5050 ("One useless man is a shame, two are a law firm, three or more are a Congress".. John Adams)
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To: alancarp

Love it!


24 posted on 03/01/2013 2:21:16 PM PST by Southack (Media Bias means that Castro won't be punished for Cuban war crimes against Black Angolans in Africa)
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To: ken5050

Here’s the secret to this entire story. In Bama...schools that qualify as “failing”....are almost all in urban city areas (Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Mobile, etc). So this is mostly all aimed at the counties with urban populations. You don’t like your urban mess? You move the kid. Now, so far, no one has said that you are now limited by county lines...so you could actually take the kid out of the urban city area....cross countylines, and force the new county to accept kid, without any tax contribution.

You can sense some trouble here if two thousand folks cross county lines, and force another school district to accept their kids.


25 posted on 03/01/2013 3:43:20 PM PST by pepsionice
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To: ClearCase_guy

Stockholm Syndrome


26 posted on 03/01/2013 5:22:26 PM PST by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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To: alancarp

Is that funding to the classroom or does it include heat, lights, lunches, etc.?


27 posted on 03/01/2013 5:27:28 PM PST by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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To: Carry_Okie
I have never seen incrementalism really work

It worked for liberals, pro-2nd Amendment and Prolife groups.

28 posted on 03/01/2013 5:28:26 PM PST by 1010RD (First, Do No Harm)
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To: alancarp

On a morning news cast this morning, first words out of all the dims mouths was racists, racists, racists. That is the magic word again. Racism. Play it again Sam.


29 posted on 03/01/2013 6:10:46 PM PST by RetiredArmy (1 Cor 15: 50-54 & 1 Thess 4: 13-17. That about covers it.)
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To: 1010RD
It worked for liberals, pro-2nd Amendment and Prolife groups.

Liberals own every institution of public indoctrination. The problem for conservatives is that the left can spin every small gain made as a failure, simply because it is easy to find remnant consequences of liberalism after the change.

A classic case is Newtown, which occurred because it was a gun-free zone, yet the spin is against liberalized gun laws that were not the cause. Hence, incremental pro-2A laws are on the brink of a death knell, with CCW permits functioning as a list of gun owners from whom their weapons can be confiscated.

Got it now?

Pro-life groups have made gains, but not by compromise. So your citation there is incorrect.

30 posted on 03/01/2013 6:16:23 PM PST by Carry_Okie (The environment is too complex and too important to be "protected" by government.)
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To: fwdude

No, I don’t believe so. The states have to follow common core as a whole in their public schools if they are to get any of the federal monies.


31 posted on 03/01/2013 8:24:09 PM PST by TennTuxedo
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To: Carry_Okie
I read parts of the essay to which you linked.

I liked the idea of “We Test, Inc.”

Also....Good point about lengthy educations curtailing fertility. It also keeps young people in a prolonged state of immature adolescence.

32 posted on 03/01/2013 8:29:08 PM PST by wintertime
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To: wintertime
The prologue to it is long. Yet the reason for it is to impart the understanding with which to appreciate the solution set, as it is deceptively simple. I don't know how else to do it.

Still, it's the best I've seen in terms of a politically realizable set with which to deconstruct our existing statist monolith.

33 posted on 03/01/2013 10:05:38 PM PST by Carry_Okie (The environment is too complex and too important to be "protected" by government.)
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To: Carry_Okie

Re: Mark Edward Vande Pol

He has good points. What’s needed is for them to be condensed into “talking points”.


34 posted on 03/02/2013 5:17:51 AM PST by wintertime
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To: alancarp
"1. Parents of children in "chronically failing" schools will be allowed to either (a) move into a different (non-failing) public school; or (b) take 80% of the school's funding associated with their child as a tax credit and apply that to enrollment in a private school. This is effectively a modified 'school voucher' program."


35 posted on 03/02/2013 5:24:48 AM PST by Mad Dawgg (If you're going to deny my 1st Amendment rights then I must proceed to the 2nd one...)
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To: wintertime
Re: Mark Edward Vande Pol

He has good points.

"He" is me, always has been. :-)

What’s needed is for them to be condensed into “talking points”.

I can do that. It will take a while, always does.

36 posted on 03/02/2013 6:37:27 AM PST by Carry_Okie (The environment is too complex and too important to be "protected" by government.)
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To: alancarp
Excellent! We didn't get in this mess overnight, and it won't be eliminated overnight. But this is a massive victory.

The wise will take it.

Yes, I know people are concerned about government regulations. Well, there's nothing to prevent Obama from screwing up private ed now, through accreditation, regulation, or the witholding of federal money.

In the worst case scenario, we will revert to the status quo anti. Think it through.

But here's the real benefit.

Under voucher programs, parents become a conservative constituency. God help Obama when he tries to take their vouchers away.

Moreover, parents become used to being customers, rather than school committee brown nosers. Maybe they'll get used to making decisions for themselves, and develop a distaste for serfdom.

37 posted on 03/02/2013 6:49:03 AM PST by St_Thomas_Aquinas
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To: alancarp
Private school tuitions seem to run anywhere from $6000 to $10,000 annually.

Catholic high schools about $6k. Elementary schools about $3k. It can be done.

Of course, tuition is partially subsidized by parishioners.

But as I like to respond to government schools supporters, "Why don't you go out and raise donations for your fine schools? If they're as good as you say, it should be easy."

Watch a bunch of inexpensive, store-front private schools spring up with, gasp, uncertified teachers!... If the law allows.

38 posted on 03/02/2013 6:55:18 AM PST by St_Thomas_Aquinas
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To: pepsionice
Exactly. I live in Elmore county, and my kids go to school here. We have fairly nice schools here. However, the county to the Southeast of us is Macon, with the county seat of Tuskegee, which is one of the most democratic counties in America. Guess what is going to happen to our schools?

However, there is a very silver lining here for those who wish to take it. If the school is failing you put your kid in a private school. And now this bill will cover 80% of the costs in a tax writeoff! Most of the private schools in Alabama are Christian schools, and many are very, very good, teaching not only the basics, but also instilling a Christian, moral, ethical, pro-American curriculum.

I can't see how this can hurt, if poorly taught kids (yes, even blacks) go to such institutions. In fact, I have several black colleagues who see the truth and pay for their kids private education, and their kids really benefit from it, as these schools do not condone the gansta way found elsewhere.

39 posted on 03/02/2013 7:11:24 AM PST by Alas Babylon!
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To: Carry_Okie
Very thoughtful essay. Good Job!

Have you posted it as a vanity here on Free Republic. If you do I will comment on it and bring it to the attention of the “Another Reason to Homeschool” ping list.

40 posted on 03/02/2013 8:34:22 AM PST by wintertime
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To: Alas Babylon!
We have fairly nice schools here.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Your schools, and their curriculum, policies, textbooks and **worldview** are GODLESS. Simply by attending children **will** learn to think and reason godlessly. They must just to cooperate in the godless classroom. And...They risk learning that religious beliefs are to be private and left in the trash can at the door of their public life. ( This is not “fairly nice”.)

Your government owned and run government schools are **NOT** religiously neutral because no education can be. It is impossible. All schools must choose between either a God-centered worldview or a godless worldview and neither is religiously neutral in its content or consequences. ( This is not “fairly nice”.)

Your government owned and run schools are **forcing** citizens to pay for the NON-neutral GODLESS indoctrination of its children. ( This is not “fairly nice”.)

Your government schools are the very definition of a socialist and single-payer entitlement. By attending children risk learning that the voting mob has the power to give them tuition-free schooling. Well? If the voting mob can give them tuition-free school, why not use the voting mob to get **lots** of other “free” stuff? ( This is not “fairly nice”.)

Your government's socialist-entitlement and godless schools likely have many so-called “Christians” working in these godless indoctrination camps. When did Christ ever teach that Christians should support, work for, and establish indoctrination centers that teach children to think godlessly and be comfortable with stealing ( socialism)? At some point, and on some level, children may likely determine that their prison-like schools are in contradiction to Christian principles that so-called Christian teachers are promoting and supporting. The Barna Foundation reports that 85% of children from highly active evangelical homes fail to be active in their faith 2 years after graduation from their godless government schools. Maybe it is because the kids can't stand the Christian hypocrisy of their so-called “Christian” jailers ( oops! “teachers”). ( This is not “fairly nice”.)

In many ways the government in your county's schools treat children (whose only crime was to be born) like prisoners. Every First Amendment Right in government schools is trashed ( speech, press, assembly, expression of religion, and godlessness is imposed on them by law). The children risk learning to be comfortable prisoners of the state. ( This is not “fairly nice”.)

41 posted on 03/02/2013 8:50:46 AM PST by wintertime
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To: wintertime
Very thoughtful essay. Good Job!

It was a compilation of things I've been saying on FR for over ten years. While it is too long, it's still better material and strategy than anything I've seen out of Hillsdale, Cato, Reason, or the Manhattan Institute.

Have you posted it as a vanity here on Free Republic?

I might do a substantial excerpt, but given that the page was done with style sheets, reformatting the whole thing for FR is an amount of work for which I don't have time. Too busy rewriting the second book.

42 posted on 03/02/2013 6:10:00 PM PST by Carry_Okie (The environment is too complex and too important to be "protected" by government.)
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