Educational freedom, a topic that has languished in the doldrums for far too long, finally caught a fresh breeze of hope this year. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a blow against “Blaine Amendments,” which have centralized education in Western states like Wyoming and have made secularism the de facto religious perspective of government funded schools.
In August, the Trump campaign released a 2nd term agenda themed, “Fighting for You.” One item stood out: a pledge to “Provide School Choice to Every Child in America.”
This theme hasn’t been just an item tucked away among a longer list. It was arguably the most consistent theme across the RNC Convention as well – seemingly mentioned in every speech.
It’s difficult to imagine something more transformative – culturally, for families, and for individual students – than empowering families to choose the school they believe will help their children. Enabling parents and students to choose the right fit for their individual needs would enhance competition, allow for values to be protected, improve results, and help students to flourish outside of a one-size-fits-all agenda.
For years, the major parties have been too afraid to tackle this tough issue, not because it’s wrong (it’s right!) and not because it isn’t popular (it is!), but because powerful political lobbies stand in opposition. It’s time for this era to end, and it’s why Family Policy Alliance of Wyoming® is committed to leading our state into a new age in education.
We’re committed to breaking the logjam, removing the obstacles, and providing the resources to the pro-education freedom, pro-parent, pro-student, pro-family agenda – providing children with more options, more hope, and more opportunity.
Whether we achieve school choice is very much on the ballot – from the President of the United States on down to your State Representative and School Board – and the discussion will very much permeate the future of education conversation in Wyoming. It’s imperative that we elect the right leaders and have the right strategy to achieve our goals.
Changing children’s lives for the better has never been more opportune. Education freedom is wildly popular and is a key to victory. It’s also instrumental in changing lives, strengthening families, bolstering culture, and fueling prosperity. The time to act is NOW!
Because we stand with students and their parents,
Right now, families across America are managing the wild uncertainties of the new school year and facing difficult choices regarding the schooling of their children. Many families will be “virtual learning” for an indefinite amount of time. Others have chosen to pull their children out of public school and homeschool instead, and some are fortunate enough to return to a “new normal” of in-person private or public school. And, of course, many families are returning to homeschooling as usual. As families make different choices for their children’s education, no family is untouched by the effects of COVID on education in our country.
Millions of American parents have been compelled to decrease or stop working altogether to educate their children. We can relate. We both work outside the home, as do our husbands. We are grateful to have our careers but very familiar with the incredible challenge of educating children from home while working and parenting fulltime. It’s a lot to juggle, but we are the fortunate ones. Millions of American parents don’t have the option of flexing time at work or decreasing the amount of time they spend working. If they decrease their hours at work, their bills won’t be paid. It’s not an overstatement to say that many, many American families are faced with whether to provide food and shelter or education for their children. That is a choice no family should be faced with.
Some say “virtual learning” or “online school” is not homeschool. We agree – it’s not the same. In virtual school, the school provides the lesson plans and assigns work to students. However, the parents teach their young children how to use a mouse, open Google classroom, mute themselves, type into chat boxes, etc. –not to mention reading instructions to their children, helping them write and type assignments and ensure they are completed. In many cases, parents also absorb the financial costs of laptops, tablets, webcams, and high-speed internet service to participate in “virtual learning.”
Public schools receive thousands of dollars in state and federal funds per student enrolled in their school. Currently, public schools are receiving the same, full amount of per-student funding regardless of whether they are delivering in-class learning or “virtual learning” to students. Many districts are actually receiving more funding than normal due to federal COVID relief. So while parents are forced to work less or not work at all in order to home-educate their children, the public school system receives complete funding for their children’s education while the parents receive none.
This reality is not only unfair, but illogical and wrong. Now more than ever, taxpayer dollars for education must follow the child.
You might be familiar with the phrase “money follows the child” when you hear people talk about “school choice.” Traditional school choice allows states to give money directly to parents for the education of their child. Most commonly, these programs are called Education Savings Accounts or ESAs. These savings accounts provide families complete control over the taxpayer funds allocated to their child(ren) to purchase laptops, curriculum, private school tuition, tutoring and other supplemental materials.
Families need and deserve access to education savings accounts today!
Many families are desperate to access funds now to educate their children. If the public school is educating your child, that’s great. They should get the money. But if they aren’t, it is fundamentally unfair the school is getting paid while the families are getting the bill.
State legislators need to hear from families today. Please take a moment to contact your lawmakers and urge them to make education savings accounts available to families immediately. (To find your state representative and senator if you don’t know them, click here.)
Also, stay tuned! In a few short weeks, Family Policy Alliance® will be releasing a national education guide for equipping parents with all they need to know about school choice, what’s going on in the public education system and how to protect children, and to help parents engage with policymakers impacting their children’s education at all levels.
Statesmen Academy Director
Earlier this week, the campaign for President Trump released a 2nd Term Agenda themed, “Fighting for You.” While there are many good nuggets in there, one item stood out: a pledge to “Provide School Choice to Every Child in America.”
And, it hasn’t been just an item tucked away among a longer list. It’s been arguably the most consistent theme across the RNC Convention this week – seemingly mentioned in every speech.
It’s difficult to imagine something more transformative – culturally, for families, and for individual students – than unleashing school choice in America. Empowering parents and students to choose the right fit for their individual needs would enhance competition, allow for values to be protected, improve results, and allow for students to flourish outside of a one-size-fits-all agenda.
For years, the major parties have been too afraid to tackle this tough issue – not because it’s wrong and not because it isn’t popular – because powerful political lobbies stand in opposition. It’s time for this era to end, and it’s why Family Policy Alliance of Georgia® is committed to leading our state into a new age in education.
We’re committed to breaking the logjam, removing the obstacles, and providing the resources to the pro-school choice, pro-parent, pro-student, pro-family agenda – providing children with more options, more hope, and more opportunity.
Whether we achieve school choice is very much on the ballot – from POTUS on down to your State Representative – and the discussion will very much permeate the State Capitol. It’s imperative that we elect the right leaders and have the right strategy to achieve our goals.
If you agree with speakers like Senator Tim Scott, Ambassador Nikki Haley, First Lady Melania Trump, and so many more, then we ask you to partner with us today.
This Administration priority is wildly popular and is a key to victory. It’s also instrumental in changing lives, strengthening families, bolstering culture, and fueling prosperity. The time to act is NOW!
Because we stand with students and their parents,
President and Executive Director
A Philadelphia teacher accidentally set Twitter on fire when he publicly posted his form of admitting to what many parents have long been concerned about—indoctrination in the classroom away from the watchful and protective eyes of parents. He’s worried that parents (especially conservative parents) might “interfere” with what typically happens in his classroom when classes become largely or partly virtual this fall.
Translation: Parents are a threat to teachers who want to use the classroom to advance political agendas.
See his Twitter posts below:
What this Philadelphia teacher believes about parents is nothing new—he just made the mistake of admitting it publicly on Twitter.
Sadly, American public school classrooms have long been used by the radical left to advance political agendas, particularly when it comes to sex and sexuality, when parents aren’t around.
There are clearly two competing visions for American education today. One vision centers around parental rights and the family. The other is driven by a radical political agenda. Family Policy Alliance will always advocate for family-centered education policy.
That is why we invite you to participate in the first-ever one-day-only virtual “Protecting Children in Education Summit.” Family Policy Alliance will be co-hosting this event with The Heritage Foundation, Alliance Defending Freedom, Family Research Council, and many others.
This event is tomorrow, August 12th, starting at 10:00AM Eastern Time. The event is free, but you do need to register.
We hope to see as many parents and grandparents as possible online at this one-day event!
Vice President, Strategy
Schools are not the same today as they were forty years ago and will most likely not be the same in forty more years as we find them today. However, the task of the teacher will forever remain consistent and constant – shape the way the child views the world.
Public education should be a viable and affordable method of education for families of diverse backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs. The curriculum should be fact based, neutral, and tested for academic excellence and accuracy. But tragically, as I stated in a previous email, public school is becoming less attractive to morally conservative families.
Therefore, we have organized a Home School Interest Panel on Thursday, August 13 at 7pm. This will be a live webinar featuring Darren Jones, attorney for the Home School Legal Defense Association and Greg Golden, president of the North Jersey Home School Association. I will be moderating the panel as we discuss the following:
- Legal requirements in the state of NJ for compliance
- Laws and best practices regarding record keeping and grades for graduation
- Home School students acceptance into colleges and trade schools
- Diverse curriculum choices for different age groups
- Groups for activities, friendships, and shared teaching responsibilities
Online learning has been widely practiced in the university setting for years. K-12 primary educators are now relying on virtual remote learning due to the coronavirus. Yet, Christian home school families have practiced individualized learning for years despite intense criticism. Clearly, the objection was not the method, but the message students were learning – biblical foundations in morality and thought.
With an increased likelihood that children might be spending time at home again this school year, this becomes a prime opportunity to take control of your children’s education. Register for the Home School Interest Panel to know your options in education.
Director of Advocacy
In 2020, it’s easy to look around and wonder—is there anything good happening??
I’m thankful that the answer is YES, and you have been a part of making these good things happen!
Let me count some of the things we are grateful for at Family Policy Alliance, and I hope you will join us in praising God for this good news! And remember, these wins came about despite COVID-19 and all the challenges it brought right in the middle of when state legislatures were supposed to be busiest.
- First, do no harm.
When we elect lawmakers to represent us and our values, the first thing we hope and expect of them is that when they get to our capitols, they first “do no harm.” In other words, please don’t mess things up.We know that politicians can often mess things up, but this year many states were able to block a lot of bills that would deeply harm the lives of children and families—in large part because believers and pro-family voices joined together to push back against these bad bills.For example, New Mexico was poised to pass a bill proposed by their governor and pro-abortion legislators that would codify abortion up to the moment of birth in state law. Believers of all denominations joined together in opposition. The bill’s defeat is widely celebrated as the greatest victory for New Mexico’s pro-life movement in modern history.
In Georgia, the casino lobby spent major resources to lobby for unprecedented gambling expansion the Peach State, yet pro-family conservatives rallied enough opposition that the bill was pulled at the last minute.
And, in Colorado where far Left activists have been having a field day with passing laws that are increasingly harmful to families, the state was set to pass the latest bill that would redefine what it means to be a “parent.” The bill would have, among other consequences, divorced child birth from parentage making the family entirely a creature of state contract law and encouraged the use of Artificial Reproduction Technology – in which many extra embryos are created and, in most cases, eventually killed – thus adding to the loss of babies in our state. A coalition of conservatives and believers rallied, and the bill was stopped.
- Saving girls’ sports!
As you probably know, girls’ athletics are under attack by activists who would sacrifice girls’ athletic opportunities on the altar of a political agenda so that boys (who identify themselves as girls) can compete in girls’ divisions and steal girls’ scholarships. The state of Idaho had enough, and they became the first state in the country to pass a law protecting girls’ sports!Way to go Idaho! Their new law is under attack in court by the ACLU, so much work remains to be done to save that law so that other states can follow Idaho’s lead. Join the fight to Save Girls’ Sports if you haven’t already!The other good news on the girls’ sports front is that the Trump Administration has repeatedly clarified that to permit boys to steal girls’ athletic opportunities would be a violation of Title IX, the civil rights law that ensures girls equal access to academic and athletic opportunities with boys. And, the Trump Administration has also sided with Idaho in protecting its new law!
- Stopping Planned Parenthood & Nancy Pelosi, saving livesAs the COVID situation began to unfold, Nancy Pelosi’s COVID relief plan included a billion-dollar funding stream with a provision that would have excluded the Hyde Amendment — which has protected against taxpayer funding of abortions for decades. Thanks to tens of thousands of you raising your voice and to the White House, her plan was stopped.Then, while Planned Parenthood was seeking out masks and gloves in the thick of the crisis, they (and the broader abortion lobby) attempted to skirt regulations meant to protect women on the chemical abortion pill. With your support, Family Policy Alliance rallied a coalition of national and state-based allies to stop the effort in its tracks. Now that battle will continue to be fought in courts.
Laws to save lives were also being advanced! In the midst of COVID, Family Policy Alliance of Wyoming helped shepherd a bill to protect babies who survive botched abortions. The bill passed all the way through the Wyoming legislature, even though Wyoming’s governor ultimately vetoed it. This fight isn’t over!
- Education freedom for families
In America, our legal system is built upon recognizing certain God-given freedoms—including the right of parents to direct their children’s care and education. But sometimes, financial limitations prevent parents from being able to fully realize that right.Thankfully, in the midst of the COVID crisis, two major things happened to advance education freedom for families. First, President Trump’s Administration issued a rule to ensure that COVID relief funding would serve all students—those in public and private schools.Second, the Supreme Court struck down what’s called a “Blaine Amendment,” an antiquated law that has been used to prevent faith-based schools from being part of a school choice programs simply because they are faith-based. The ruling was a win for parents, for religious freedom, and most importantly—for children. We believe that children win when their parents can choose the best education for each child, and that no government should place limitations on a child’s future because of her zip code or her family’s income.
We hope this list of wins to be thankful for encourages you as it does us—and these were only a small sample of the good things happening across the country this year! Your voice makes a difference. Your vote can change lives. Your support is invaluable.
And certainly the fight isn’t over. Because of COVID, many state legislatures were cut short. This means that many, many good policies that protect lives and families were also not able to advance.
That’s why Family Policy Alliance is already gearing up for both the 2020 election and for January 2021 when most state legislatures get back to work. The 2020 election is critical to ensure that we have the right lawmakers representing us and our values in every state—so that we can advance those good, pro-family policies in 2021.
As you can see, the policies that are passed by good lawmakers can truly save lives and create a better country for our children.
No one’s claiming that any politician or law can be our country’s savior—only Jesus Christ can fill that role, and it’s clear today that we all need His saving grace. But we do claim that God has placed each of us in this country at this time to represent His truth in our system of government.
That is our calling and that is our unique form of ministry at Family Policy Alliance.
As we prepare for November 2020 and the life-saving policies we seek to pass into law in 2021, will you consider a gift to Family Policy Alliance?
For truth & for His calling,
Vice President, Strategy
After an abysmal month at the U.S. Supreme Court, Chief Justice John Roberts and the conservative wing of the Court handed school choice and religious freedom proponents a major victory last week in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts ruled that Montana’s application of a “no-aid provision” discriminated against religious schools and families, in violation the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
In 2015, the State of Montana enacted a tax-credit scholarship program to help low-income families send their children to the better schools, including private, faith-based institutions. Sadly, the Montana Department of Revenue subsequently issued a rule declaring that children receiving these scholarships could not use them at religious schools. The Montana State Supreme Court agreed, citing the infamous “Blaine Amendment” in Montana’s State Constitution.
Thirty-eight states, including New Mexico, have the discriminatory Blaine Amendment in their state constitutions. The Amendment arose in the late 19th century in an effort to keep Catholic influence from public schools. In the Court’s opinion, Chief Justice Roberts provided the historical context, noting that “[t]he Blaine Amendment was ‘born of bigotry’ and ‘arose at a time of pervasive hostility to the Catholic Church and to Catholics in general.’”
Since that time, the Blaine Amendment has been repeatedly used to discriminate against religious schools and institutions, and to exclude them from public funding and programs. In 2012, for example, two anti-religious activists sued the State of New Mexico, arguing that our textbook lending program violated the state constitution because it allowed children from religious schools to access educational materials available to children in other schools (Moses v. Skandera). To defend their case, the activists pointed to the Blaine Amendment found in Article XII, Section 3, of New Mexico’s Constitution.
Thankfully, five Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the bigotry of the Blaine Amendment, ruling that the U.S. Constitution “condemns discrimination against religious schools and the families whose children attend them.”
With the Court’s ruling, Montana families are now free to choose the education that best suits their children, and religious schools cannot be disqualified from a school choice program simply because they are faith-based. Although New Mexico currently has no such programs or scholarships available, this decision provides yet another reason why our state should enact school choice legislation and offer families more options when it comes to educating their children.
No parent should be discriminated against for choosing a better education and future for their child, and no government should be able to place limitations on a child’s future because of that child’s zip code or family income.
We want to thank our allies, including Montana Family Foundation who authored the legislation, and several of our New Mexico State Legislators who signed an amicus brief in support of the petitioners in the case—Sen. William Sharer, Rep. Rod Montoya, Rep. Cathrynn Brown, Rep. Rebecca Dow, Rep. David Gallegos, Rep. Gregg Schmedes, and Rep. James Strickler.
Thank you all for helping us fight for children, parents, and families, and better opportunities for all.
President & Executive Director
“The group consisting of mother, father, and child is the main educational agency of mankind.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
There hasn’t been much good news from the Supreme Court lately, but today we’re happy to share a good opinion from our nation’s high Court. Today, five of the Court’s nine justices decided that parents should be free to choose the best education for their children—and that includes education in private, faith-based schools.
The Court’s decision today is a win for parents, for religious freedom, and most importantly—for children. We believe that children win when their parents can choose the best education for each child, and that no government should place limitations on a child’s future because of her zip code or her family’s income.
And, today’s decision is a beautiful story of how families and godly values advance when we—the family of believers—unleash our citizenship to see government work for the people.
Please let me share that story with you. I believe it’s an important one for every believer who cares about this country to know.
In 2015, good legislators in the state of Montana passed into law a tax-credit scholarship program designed to help low-income families, especially single mothers, send their children to the best schools for them—including private faith-based schools. The law was written by our friends at Montana Family Foundation.
Then things started to go wrong. The Montana Department of Revenue issued a rule saying that children receiving the scholarships could not use them at faith-based schools. So, three mothers who believed their children would be better off at faith-based schools filed a lawsuit. Sadly, the Montana Supreme Court issued an opinion in 2018, stating that it believed Montana’s Constitution allows the state government to discriminate against faith-based schools based on a provision historically used to prohibit government funds from going to faith-based schools (also known as a “Blaine Amendment”), and it struck down Montana’s good scholarship program.
What’s worse is that many states have “Blaine Amendments” in their Constitutions, and these Amendments were discriminatory in nature from their very beginning. They started out in the 1870’s as a way to keep Catholic influence out of the largely Protestant public schools during a time of high anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant bias in America. Obviously, the Blaine Amendments are old dinosaurs in the law based on interdenominational conflicts that need to go extinct.
As the conflict over Montana’s scholarship program reached the Supreme Court, the Montana Family Foundation, which represents family values in the state, filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case defending the law on behalf of Montana’s families.
Family Policy Alliance and the state family policy councils also worked to gather state lawmakers to file another friend-of-the-court brief in the case to show the Supreme Court that good lawmakers in other states also want to advance options for education choice for families. In fact, many lawmakers who are alumni of Family Policy Foundation’s Statesmen Academy signed onto this brief!
And now today, the Supreme Court declared that families in Montana should be free to choose the education that best suits their children—including in faith-based schools, that the old Blaine Amendment used to invalidate the scholarship program is bigoted and discriminatory, and that faith-based schools can’t be disqualified from a school choice program just because they are faith-based.
President Trump, who supports school choice for children as a civil rights issue, also issued a statement today in support of the Court’s decision, saying “no parent should be forced to send their child to a failing school.”
Today’s decision is a celebration of how children are the real winners when believers work to elect state lawmakers who support their values, those state lawmakers pass good laws, citizens and lawmakers join together to defend those good laws, the nation’s high Court applies our constitutional religious freedom protections correctly, and our President supports the values we hold dear.
This is a win for biblical citizenship in action, for your faithful partnership in supporting the mission of Family Policy Alliance to advance your values in both public policy and elections, and—most importantly—for children who deserve the best foundation we can give them as they seek out God’s calling on their lives.
For our children,
Vice President of Strategy
We’re a little over a third of the way through the 2020 legislative session and have reached the week of session known as turnaround. Turnaround marks the part of session where bills must have made it through the chamber they originated in unless they have been otherwise “blessed” to be exempt from this requirement by leadership. This is where the legislature starts narrowing down what bills it will be considering going forward.
I wanted to take this opportunity to look at some different pro-family bills that may be of an interest to you that are winding their way through our legislature.
- H.B. 2465 – This bill would expand the number of students eligible for our existing low-income tax credit. This tax credit was designed to create a scholarship program to help low-income students move into a school where they can flourish. This allows everyday Kansans to play a role in helping our students thrive by donating to a scholarship granting organization that helps these students excel. Currently, this program is only applicable to a small group of Kansas students, and this bill will allow this program to help more Kansas kids.
- H.B. 2552 – This bill brought by Renee Erickson (an alum of the Statesmen Academy, which is a project of our sister organization, Family Policy Foundation) will help students who are falling behind educationally as determined by their 3rd grade reading assessment. There are thousands of Kansas students every year who are reading below grade level on their 3rd grade reading assessment. This bill will give them the option to take part of the state funding allotment to allow students to pursue educational opportunities that fit their needs. This broadens options for families in educating their children in our state.
- H.B. 2724 & 2725 – These bills are designed to expand options for students performing below level level in English or math or who are determined to have a disability or a learning disability like dyslexia. The programs created by these bills will allow parents to elect to use a portion of the funds allocated for their student to seek alternative education methods for their child. This promotes parent’s ability to make the best decisions for their child.
- H.B. 2506 – This bill would ease the process for military families who have professional licenses valid in other states who move to our state due to their status in the military. This would expedite the professional licensing process for military families and help remove barriers to families in our state.
We are proud to partner with Americans for Prosperity of Kansas in discussing many of these important issues and their effect on the family at the upcoming Day at the Dome Rally. This rally will be held at the Kansas Capitol on Monday, March 9, 2020 at 10:30. If you are able, I encourage each of you to attend.
Further, we are continuing to work to educate legislators on the impact of Medicaid expansion on forced taxpayer funding of abortion. Without the Value Them Both Amendment, Medicaid will become a funding stream for the abortion industry. We are persisting in our work to ensure that Value Them Both appears on your August ballot, where it has the strongest likelihood of passing to protect both mothers and babies in our state.
Many of your legislators will be back in their districts over the next several weeks. I encourage you to reach out to them and encourage them to fight for life and families in Kansas.
For a Kansas where families thrive,
Brittany Jones. Esq.
Director of Advoacy
Nancy Pelosi is not your child’s mom, but she’s certainly trying to be.
With Mother’s Day right around the corner, it is important to honor mothers and grandmothers—and the irreplaceable, God-given roles they have in children’s lives.
Mother’s Day is also a powerful reminder that children are given to their mothers by God to be intimately known and lovingly protected. That’s why Family Policy Alliance® believes that parental rights are also God-given, intrinsically known, and should be protected—not taken away—by our government.
Yet, Nancy Pelosi has made a bill that is one of the worst violations of parental rights we’ve seen one of her top-five priorities this year. By advancing H.R. 5, the so-called Equality Act that promotes a radical LGBT agenda, Pelosi is choosing to please powerful special interest groups over honoring mothers and fathers.
We’ve shared with you about how Pelosi’s Equality Act would impact schools, businesses, churches and ministries, and healthcare.
We’ve shared with you how Pelosi’s Equality Act will work its way into your child’s curriculum—with no option to opt-out your child.
And, we’ve shared with you about how Pelosi’s Equality Act will harm your parental rights—including even the risk of losing custody if you don’t sign off on your child’s “gender transition.”
Yet, Pelosi is pushing her Equality Act forward for a final vote in the full U.S. House next week. That’s why we need your help.
This Mother’s Day, we honor, celebrate, and thank God for all mothers. But, we’re also asking every mom and grandma to join with us in opposing Nancy Pelosi’s Equality Act because it is a direct attack on God-given parental rights.
Here are 3 ways you can help RIGHT NOW:
- If you haven’t yet, send an automatic letter to your member of Congress asking him/her to vote NO on Nancy Pelosi’s Equality Act. It only takes 1 minute through our action center, and it doesn’t matter who your member of Congress is. EVERY member needs to know that moms are not behind this bill!
- Join us in using the power of social media to show Nancy Pelosi and the U.S. House that moms do NOT support the Equality Act! Share your short letter to Nancy Pelosi and use the hashtags: #MomsKnowBest and #EqualityAct.Here’s a great example from a mom we know, our very own attorney and policy manager, Stephanie Curry!
- Share this article with other moms and grandmas you know and invite them to take action too!
Because YOU, not Nancy Pelosi, know best how to raise your kids,
Vice President of Strategy