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,
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
Georgia is an awesome place. We have beaches and mountains. Outstanding farmers and a booming film industry (yes, fake news, production is still flocking to Georgia). We are a great place to do business and an incredible place to raise a family.
But, the most precious resource of our state is, unquestionably, our children.
That’s why it’s imperative to address with real solutions, the real problems our children face as they head back to school.
Somewhere in Georgia a coach, teacher, or student will have their First Amendment rights silenced – barred from expressing their God-given and constitutionally protected freedom to exercise their religion.
As school starts, there are children across our state who are at schools that do not fit their needs or schools where they are bullied, and they remain trapped – unable to afford an option better suited for them and their family.
Students who desire to be homeschooled will attend public school because it’s the only place they can participate in the extracurricular activities their tax dollars pay for – foregoing the educational route they’ve identified as best for them.
Conversely, students who remain homeschooled will be denied the opportunity to put on their local high school’s uniform, march in the band, or participate in a club because they won’t sacrifice what they’ve determined to be their educational route – costing them other opportunities crucial for their development.
And, every student and teacher will find themselves handcuffed by a one-sized fits all approach that has characterized our school system for far too long.
So, where’s the hope?
Well, we have a governor in Brian Kemp that is bold in dismantling Common Core, putting students first, and using his political capital to support teachers and stronger classrooms, as you can see in his recent op-ed.
On top of that, he is joined by a leading advocate for empowering students in Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. He outlined his educational philosophy here.
This gives us GREAT hope, and we must seize the momentum!
With such strong leadership at the helm, we are committed to forging a stronger, freer, more empowering Georgia for our students to seize opportunity and become who God meant them to be.
That’s why we testified and fought for Educational Savings Accounts (ESAs) which give kids and their parents an opportunity to attend the school that best suits their individual needs, utilizing their tax dollars to fuel their dreams. It’s also why we’ve crafted and led the charge for the Tebow Bill, which allows Georgia homeschool students to (as they are able to in the vast majority of states) participate in extracurricular activities at their local public schools. And, it’s why we are pushing the Student and Educator Faith Protection Act, designed to protect the First Amendment rights of students and faculty.
Back to School is an exciting time, and we are making progress under Governor Kemp. But, it’s also a time when many parents and students are faced with a stark reality – there isn’t enough choice, there isn’t enough freedom, and there isn’t enough protection for the faith and values our kids are taught at home.
To join us in the fight for Georgia, please consider a generous donation today . Your gift will help us craft the policies and lead the charge to fight for Georgia’s most precious resource.
For Opportunity and Freedom in Our Schools,
President and Executive Director
PS. I have great confidence in the leadership of our state, but they need strong partners under the Gold Dome. We can make no mistake about it that choice is lacking in our state. Our education must improve. And, in many systems, our values are being actively undermined – including Decatur where a radical policy led to a young girl’s horrific assault. We MUST do better. Please partner with us today so that we can fight to build on the educational successes we are seeing under Governor Kemp
Sanctity of Human Life Awareness and Unity Day 2019, New Mexico State Capitol
On Saturday, at noon, the New Mexico Legislature adjourned “sine die,” concluding a Legislative Session unlike any other in recent memory. On the heels of the November “blue wave,” progressive legislators partnered with Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham to propose one of the most liberal agendas in state history. However, when the final gavel fell Saturday in both the House and the Senate, it became apparent that New Mexico was not quite ready to follow in the footsteps of California and become the next bastion for all things “progressive.” In fact, much of the progressive agenda faced harsh pushback from both the public and legislators on both sides of the aisle, leading to some unexpected victories and encouraging moments.
Today, we recap our “Top 5 Moments of the 2019 Legislative Session.”
- Radical Abortion Bill—House Bill 51—Defeated by the Senate. After passing the House of Representatives, the radical abortion bill, House Bill 51, was defeated in the Senate by a vote of 18-24. During the debate, Senator Gabriel Ramos (D) admonished the legislature for prioritizing the lives of coyotes, prairie dogs, and chickens over the lives of unborn children. When the final vote was tallied, 8 Democrats joined the 16 Senate Republicans to oppose the bill.
- Local Family Leads Effort to Pass “Simon’s Law.” In February, a local family from Albuquerque partnered with Representative Gregg Schmedes (R) to introduce legislation aimed at preventing doctors from instituting “do not resuscitate” (DNR) orders on a child without parental/guardian knowledge. Seven-year-old, Twila, was born with a genetic condition, and unbeknownst to her parents, doctors at UNMH repeatedly placed a DNR order on Twila’s chart. Although this legislation was tabled by the Democrats in a House Committee, the opportunity to advocate on behalf of Twila and her family was a highlight of the entire Session.
- Assisted Suicide Bill–House Bill 90—Tabled in the House. After clearing two House Committees, House Bill 90, which would have legalized assisted suicide in the state, was tabled in the House due to a lack of support. When the bill was originally introduced, it was considered by many to be the most extreme assisted suicide legislation ever proposed in any state. In addition to lacking many “safeguards” found in other states, the bill would have allowed non-physicians, including physician assistants, to prescribe lethal medication—leading Representative Rod Montoya (R) to refer to the bill as “Physician Assistant Assisted Suicide.”
- Thousands of New Mexicans Rally for Life. According to many people, the public engagement during this Session was stronger than ever. Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico® was proud to participate in four pro-life events, including “Sanctity of Life Awareness and Unity Day,” “Pastors’ Day,” “A Prayer Vigil for Life,” and the final “Rally for Life.” Thousands of New Mexicans participated in these events and brought a spirit of prayer into a building that desperately needed it.
- Charter School Moratorium and Enrollment Cap Efforts Fail. In a victory for parental rights and school choice, efforts to halt the opening of new charter schools and cap charter school enrollment failed to advance.
The 2019 Legislative Session will not be soon forgotten, and these moments represent just a few of the highlights. Ultimately, we hope these victories help people of faith recognize that when we speak up and engage, we have the power to change outcomes and change our state. This Session was just the beginning and we believe much greater things lie ahead.
Thank you for your prayers and continued support!
The Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico Team
Crossover Day of the legislative session- where any legislation that hasn’t made it through at least one Chamber becomes dead for the year- is fast approaching, and there is a lot happening under the Gold Dome.
We alerted you earlier this week to Heartbeat legislation being dropped in both Chambers. HB 481 sponsored by Rep. Ed Setzler and SB 218 sponsored by Sen. Bruce Thompson affirm a self-evident truth – babies with beating hearts are human beings, crafted and known by God, and worth protecting. For many months, we have been laboring toward this moment, and we are hard at work to see passage Georgia take this pivotal stand.
SB 104 sponsored by Sen. Chuck Payne should be voted on the Senate Floor soon, and this is a tremendous opportunity for Georgia to affirm that parents have a fundamental right to make decisions when it comes to their child’s care.
On Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Marty Harbin introduced SB 221 – which mirrors the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This crucial piece of legislation ensures that all Georgians will see their basic right to freely exercise their religion protected. While the media and the Left has long worked to distort the truth of this bill, we are hard at work to push back.
In the Senate, we are seeing some movement on SB 163 – which allows homeschool students to participate in extracurricular activities of their local public school. Also sponsored by Sen. Thompson (who is also carrying a second great pro-life bill, SB 169), this bill was heard in committee, and we hope to get it out by Monday so it can receive a full vote in the Senate.
We are excited by the committee passage of SB 173 – establishing Educational Savings Account – and also provided testimony in support of this bill. Our hope is that this gets a vote on the Floor prior to Crossover Day. Congratulations to Sen. Greg Dolezal on this success with his first piece of legislation.
And, finally, Governor Kemp is taking the lead on HB 546 – a bill aimed at banning abortion in Georgia upon Roe v. Wade being overturned in part or in whole. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Jody Lott, a Governor’s Floor Leader. Family Policy Alliance of Georgia’s vision is a state (and nation!) where all life is cherished, and we appreciate Governor Kemp’s efforts on behalf of the unborn.
As you can see, we are hard at work, and we desperately need prayer. Biblical wisdom, sound strategy, and fortitude will be needed in the coming days as big votes are cast and key decisions are made.
Humbled to serve,
President and Executive Director
PS. Other legislation – including HB 53, sponsored by Rep. Kasey Carpenter – remain a high priority. This bill protects the First Amendment rights of the students, educators, and faculty members in our schools. A pivotal piece of legislation, we continue to make a big push on this and are grateful for Rep. Carpenter’s leadership.
It’s that time of year. In days, the 2019 legislative session will begin, and the ability to advance the vision of a Georgia where God is honored, religious freedom flourishes, families thrive, and life is cherished begins in earnest.
I’ll be wearing out shoes racing between meetings and working to build the coalitions needed to pass legislation that will make our state better for families. Because of your efforts, we have already made a difference in electing the personnel and shaping the policy that will be at the heart of this session.
But now I am asking that you join me in earnest prayer. Success requires the mighty work of our Lord, and, over the next 3 months, I am calling for faithful Georgians to pray all-the-more for our state. Here are some requests:
- Join us in prayer for all of our Georgia elected officials to have a genuine heart for public service and that the Lord will use their time in office to draw them closer to Himself.
- As Brian Kemp and Geoff Duncan take the lead for our state, pray for their families. Both are great examples as husbands and fathers, and please join us in lifting up the families that are sacrificing so much to allow them to serve. Having pledged to stand for life, religious freedom, and school choice, much hostility from opponents has and will be directed their way, and we pray the Lord will sustain, encourage, and bless them throughout their time in office.
- We are working on some great legislation this session. Please pray for wisdom for our team, that we are winsome and successful, and that our legislation ultimately is signed into law. Pray also for our bill sponsors- that they would be encouraged and blessed for their partnership with us and boldness for Georgia families.
- Please pray that the Lord will soften hearts and change minds. There are those who do not want to see us succeed on key items on our agenda. The Lord must do a mighty work here!
- Finally, please pray that our efforts glorify our King- that we are salt and light, that we conduct ourselves in Christ-honoring manner, and that we win people over to the Kingdom. While, yes, we are a political organization aimed at “winning” in elections and policy, we are first and foremost a ministry that desires to bring honor and praise to the Living King!
Over the course of this legislative session, I will send you regular updates about the bills we are promoting and how you can get involved. However, as we begin this session, I humbly ask that you commit to bathing these efforts in prayer.
President and Executive Director
Stacey Abrams is dangerous for Georgia’s children. I’m serious; this isn’t political-speak.
Many of you may have heard about the 5-year-old girl who was assaulted in the bathroom at her Decatur elementary school- an assault made possible because of a radical pro-transgender policy that puts the LGBTQ agenda over the needs and interests of young students.
The innocence of this young girl has been irreparably violated, and the liberals running Decatur schools are refusing to reverse course. But, these are the kinds of policies supported by Stacey Abrams and her liberal San Francisco donors, and, if elected, this radical agenda could sweep across our state- placing more students at risk.
And, she’s already proven she doesn’t care about the safety of our kids.
Stacey Abrams placed her liberal agenda above Georgia children when she opposed measures that would have kept sex offenders away from our schools and kept them from photographing our kids. She even “took a walk” on a vote to crack down on sex trafficking!
But, wait, there’s more.
Stacey Abrams is endorsed by Planned Parenthood and is a radical, pro-abortion candidate. She supports abortion on demand and would roll back even the most basic protections for innocent human life.
And, for those children in our school system who hope to grab onto the opportunity to achieve a better life, Stacey Abrams wants to take away a crucial scholarship that opens doors for thousands of low-income children- a scholarship that makes it possible for many to end the poverty cycle and achieve the American Dream.
Now, I’m sure Stacey Abrams would tell you that she cares about children, but her policies tell a different story. They place our kids at serious risk in schools. They put her pro-abortion agenda over the basic right to life. They put her big government agenda ahead of the needs of our kids.
My friends, she’s dangerous, and the most vulnerable among us demand action.
Early voting is underway, and I’m pleading with you to exercise your voice. Encourage everyone you know to join you at the polls. Protect our children by rejecting the dangerous, radical agenda that puts our children at risk.
The consequences of losing this election could not be more severe. As a father of 3 young boys, this is personal for me, and I know it is for you. Stacey Abrams is dangerous, and I’m humbly asking you to join us in stopping her radical agenda.
For our kids,
President and Executive Director
Paid for by Family Policy Alliance of Georgia
We need a culture change under the Gold Dome. For those who have heard me speak, this refrain- or a variation of it- is often at the forefront of my mind as I share what needs to happen in our state.
This legislative session, key bills and amendments protecting life, religious freedom, and parental rights were killed before they even hit the floor. Despite a thoroughly “red” legislature with a full complement of statewide office holders, they refused to even touch the most important issues.
BUT, there is reason aplenty to rejoice. First, the upcoming elections- featuring open seats at the key statewide positions and every legislative seat- give us a perfect opportunity to make that culture change.
Second, we made substantial progress in our first legislative session here in Georgia. We nearly passed a key parental rights bill (SB 437) in the House after getting unanimous passage in the Senate. With time being the only issue, this will pass next session. Also, we achieved significant progress on Tebow legislation (SB 384 and HB 905), where we will have a summer study committee with the goal of passing a bill in 2019. Our religious freedom in schools bill (SB 361 and HB 922) was the lead story on AJC, got attention from major broadcast stations, and was covered by national media. It will also be reintroduced as well and has been a key differentiator for who is truly supportive of religious freedom and who is not.
Finally, there is some strong school choice legislation now on the governor’s desk including Rep. John Carson’s HB 217- which increases the cap on scholarships for school choice- and Rep. Scott Hilton’s HB 787- which helps fund charter schools. This is a very positive step, though we want to continue to do more to make Georgia a more school choice oriented state.
This legislative session underscored the need to do more, and it also gives us reason to be grateful. It was an exhausting process, and, because of this, I would ask you to thank your representatives- regardless of Party or ideology- for their work on your behalf. Also, please take some time to thank some or all on this (incomplete, my apologies to anyone we forgot) list of legislators who put in tremendous legwork this session fighting for our values:
- Rep. Mandi Ballinger (HD-23) for passing SB 437 out of the House Juvenile Justice Committee.
- Rep. Wes Cantrell (HD-22) for carrying key pro-life and school choice legislation.
- Rep. Kasey Carpenter (HD-4) for carrying our religious freedom in schools and parental rights legislation in the House for us.
- Rep. John Carson (HD-46) for carrying school choice legislation to passage.
- Rep. David Clark (HD-98) for carrying our Tebow legislation in the House.
- Rep. Brooks Coleman (HD-97) for agreeing to set up a summer study committee regarding Tebow legislation.
- Rep. Scott Hilton (HD-95) for carrying school choice legislation to passage.
- Rep. Ed Setzler (HD-35) for requesting SB 437 be put on the floor for a vote in the House.
- Sen. Marty Harbin (SD-16) for carrying RFRA, a resolution calling for a parental rights amendment, and passing a resolution calling for a repeal of the Johnson Amendment.
- Sen. William Ligon (SD-3) for carrying legislation to protect faith-based adoption agencies and to protect free speech on college campuses.
- Sen. Josh McKoon (SD-29) for carrying pro-life legislation.
- Sen. Jeff Mullis (SD-53) for allowing SB 437 to go to the floor of the Senate.
- Sen. David Shafer (SD-48) for requesting SB 437 be put on the floor for a vote in the Senate.
- Sen. Renee Unterman (SD-45) for passing SB 437 out of her Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
- Sen. Michael Williams (SD-27) for carrying our religious freedom in schools and Tebow legislation.
President and Executive Director
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” –Proverbs 22:6 (ESV)
It is no secret that New Mexico consistently ranks near or at the bottom in public education when compared to other states. In January, Education Week magazine released its 2018 Quality Counts report, in which they ranked New Mexico 50th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Sadly, our substandard rankings in education have become an annual regularity, and, each year, we are told that the solution is more funding for public education. However, we rarely talk about the fact that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, New Mexico spends more per-pupil than any of our neighboring states – states that consistently outperform us in virtually every education category.
So, if more money is not the answer to improving education in New Mexico, what is?
At Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico, we believe that parents have a God-given responsibility and right to direct the upbringing and education of their children. To this end, we believe one of the most critical solutions needed to improve education in our state is school choice for families, and Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) represent one option we should seriously consider.
What is an ESA? As described by EdChoice, ESAs “allow parents to withdraw their children from public district or charter schools and receive a deposit of public funds into government-authorized savings accounts with restricted, but multiple, uses.” Those funds—often distributed to families via debit card—can cover private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, private tutoring, community college costs, higher education expenses, and other approved customized learning services and materials.
What are the benefits of ESAs? ESAs allow families to choose a better education for their children. Parents and guardians know what type of education and which school is best for their children, and ESAs would give them access to options not currently available to them. This particularly benefits middle-class and poor families, and those currently living in public education districts with struggling schools.
Have ESAs been tried before? Six other states, including Arizona and Nevada, have already established ESA programs, and at least thirteen others have introduced legislation this year to establish them.
How does the money work? Programs differ from state to state, however, the deposit of public funds into an ESA is typically a fixed amount established by the state, or a fixed percentage of the per-pupil state funds.
Are ESAs a good idea? Overall, we believe ESAs are a great idea for New Mexico. ESAs give a sizable amount of freedom to parents on how to best educate their children and they explicitly recognize the responsibilities of parents to play a role in their children’s education.
Something to think about: According to an EdChoice survey (2017 Schooling in America), ESAs have strong support among Democrats (71%) and Republicans (73%), and particularly strong support among Hispanics (81%).
Something to pray for: Please pray for our schools—including our public, private, charter, and home schools—that God would bless, protect, and improve them for the benefit of all our children.
Something to do: Please take 2 minutes to watch this short video on ESAs – “A New Kind of Education Savings Account”
God bless you and have a great week!
President and Executive Director
You can smell it in the air, can’t you? Can you feel it? The wonder, excitement, pure joy, and exhilaration that comes with the “most wonderful time of the year” … the beginning of football season!
This time of year is a much-treasured time in my family. NFL teams are suiting up for training camp, college teams have launched practice, and high school football will begin playing games in just a few short weeks. It’s a time that brings back many great memories, ushers in boundless joy, and makes me think of the day when my sons will update the record books (Hey, a dad can dream).
But, for many Georgia families, it’s a time of year best embodied by a closed door.
For those parents and children who have decided their best course of action is to homeschool, the road to athletic participation is closed. Regardless of the talent or passion of the student, Georgia is one of the few states committed to keeping those kids from participating in public school sports – which, by the way, are paid for by the tax dollars of their parents.
A system that penalizes those who exercise the right to be educated as best suits their family is broken. Denial of access and opportunity undermines choice, denies parental rights and harms Georgia’s students.
My friends, Georgia is lagging behind, while a majority of states have passed a version of a “Tebow Bill,” legislation that allows homeschoolers to participate in public school sports. Instead of encouraging participation and genuine school choice, our state is one of the most restrictive in the nation!
However, we are preparing to push back. Strong, pro-family leaders like Sen. Michael Williams – a candidate for governor – and others are partnering with us on this issue in the upcoming legislative session. While we will be providing more information about our efforts in this area in the coming months, we are asking that you begin voicing your support for a Georgia “Tebow Bill” now.
Even if this bill will not affect you personally, it is vital for paving the way for genuine school choice. Please contact your legislator using our Action Center.
Your voice on this issue could make a profound difference for students and their families here in Georgia. We hope that you will join us in standing for this crucial right!
In His Service,
P.S. Believe it or not, there are strong, well-funded opponents to equal access for homeschoolers. Make sure your voice is heard to counteract the Left on this issue by speaking out using our Action Center.