Fellow North Dakotans,
COVID has been a trying experience for us all, but perhaps in a unique way for parents of K-12 students. Parents have had to instantly become teachers at home, taking an enormous amount of time to help their children study, as well as buying computers and supplies, upgrading internet service, supplying lunches, arranging childcare, and sometimes providing special education and employing tutors. Nevertheless, the vast majority of federal COVID funding earmarked for education that North Dakota has received so far has gone to schools, not to parents incurring these costs. Senate Bill 2176 would fix this inequity, and your voice to legislators is needed!
Senate Bill 2176 has a number of features that would apply to any ND student who previously received in-person instruction, but who now is receiving remote instruction by parents because of COVID. It would provide $1,500 in funds to the family for the first child, and $500 for each child thereafter, with a cap of $2,500 per family. The bill would be targeted at average and below-average income families, would be retroactive (reimburse expenses already incurred), and would reimburse for child care – an expensive component for many families. SB2176 would tap remaining federal COVID funding as well as future federal COVID funding, so it would not create a drain on the state budget.
SB2176 is a bill long overdue. Parents have needed financial help for instructing their children during COVID for a long time and this bill seeks to remedy that situation. We need your help in encouraging the Senate Education Committee to render a “DO PASS” decision on this bill.
There are two ways to do this. First, you can send a message to all of the members of the Senate Education Committee, urging them to support North Dakota parents. Second, you can testify via written document or online during the hearing by signing up here. Now is the time to speak up to support families here in North Dakota!
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
By Vince Torres, President & Executive Director
The COVID-19 global pandemic continues to impact every area of our lives, and as we approach the fall, parents with school-aged children are shifting their attention to education. In New Mexico, schools were closed in early-March and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham recently announced that our public schools will not reopen for in-person learning until September at the earliest.
Even with the Governor’s announcement, tremendous uncertainly remains about whether schools will actually reopen this year and if another closing will quickly follow. Consequently, most New Mexico parents and families find themselves in the tough position of determining how to best continue their children’s education. While many parents will choose to utilize available online public education, a recent poll suggests that a record number of American families will homeschool their children this year. In either case, the new school year will commence much like the last school year concluded – with “home” as the classroom, and parents and guardians as the primarily responsible educators.
This reality begs the question – should New Mexico parents receive a partial refund of their children’s education dollars to support at-home learning?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, New Mexico taxpayers spend almost $10,000 a year per student on public education. This amount does not include federal funding dollars.
With public schools buildings closed from March through at least September, and with many families in need of help to support educating their children at home, what if New Mexico parents received a reasonable tax refund to help purchase curriculum, computers, supplies, tutoring services, internet access, and other necessities?
Maintaining some level of continuity in our children’s education is of the utmost importance and we must provide parents, grandparents, and guardians with the means to support educational excellence in the home. In years past, our political leaders have stressed the importance of keeping “more money in the classroom.” And since “home” is the classroom for most New Mexico children right now, perhaps some of our tax dollars should come back home.
“Education funding should always be student-centered…rather than institutional.”
-Dr. Lindsey M. Burke, The Heritage Foundation
Family Policy Alliance of Wyoming believes in the family. If you wonder what it means to “believe in families” you would not be alone. Most people think, “Everyone believes in families, right?” Well. Not so much.
In June, a summit was scheduled Harvard Law School’s Child Advocacy Program and was organized around the topic Homeschooling Summit: Problems, Politics, and Prospects for Reform.
To understand the “problems” to be discussed, one only need to look to the article submitted to the Arizona Law Review by Professor Elizabeth Bartholet the faculty director of Harvard Law School’s Child Advocacy Program. In the article, Professor Bartholet recommends a “presumptive ban” on homeschooling. Her reasoning is found in the description of the article where it states, “Many homeschool because they want to isolate their children from ideas and values central to our democracy, determined to keep their children from exposure to views that might enable autonomous choice about their future lives. Many promote racial segregation and female subservience. Many question science. Abusive parents can keep their children at home free from the risk that teachers will report them to child protection services.”
In summary, the main complaint is that morally based education is abuse. With little evidence and in spite of overwhelming success stories, the article states, “Child abuse and neglect characterize a significant subset of homeschooling families.”
After rounding out this vitriol, the article closes by attacking private schools claiming they lack regulation and indoctrinate children. The irony is that many parents who place their children in Christian schools do so precisely because of growing concerns with the radical leftist indoctrination their children were exposed to in the public-school system. Professor Bartholet must have forgotten every parent has the fundamental right to provide their child with an education that respect their religious and moral beliefs.
Standing for families means standing for family values in education. Moms and dads know their children best and care more for their intellectual growth than anyone else on earth. That’s why parents are best at tailoring their child’s educational opportunities to meet their child’s unique needs. To claim the alternative is to claim that large governmental bureaucracies will always do it better. But the facts show America’s public education system is increasingly driven by ideology at the expense of teaching the classic subjects that once made American education a beacon to the world. School choice is proven to improve academic outcomes for our children while also saving taxpayers money. For these reasons it is even more important Wyoming families have the ability to choose excellent educational opportunities for their children to excel.
While homeschools are growing in Wyoming, there is much work to be done to encourage the growth of charter schools and private schools across the state so more families can benefit. Family Policy Alliance of Wyoming® will continue to stand with parents, even if Harvard is against them.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” – Proverbs 22:6
As schools closed to COVID-19, homeschooling has swept across America. I have been wondering how many parents have taken well to it and will continue homeschooling after COVID-19. I know many families who were sold on homeschooling long before the current crisis. Their children have validated them by going on to be very successful and productive.
That’s why last week I was taken aback by Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Bartholet’s statement that homeschooling should be banned! As the faculty director of Harvard Law School’s Child Advocacy Program, her comments carry weight. Why would someone from such a prestigious school say something so radically wrong? For a learned educator she is woefully or willfully ignorant of the facts.
Jim Daly of Focus in the Family called her statement outrageous and noted, “the fact is that children who are schooled at home perform academically better than their public schooled counterparts by a degree of 30 percent. They also have higher SAT/ACT scores as well as better grade point averages in college… they represent a powerful force to help save and serve not only the next generation but also preserve and protect many of the ideals upon which this country was built… [including] our first freedoms …life and religious liberty.”
And we haven’t heard the last of her. She will be promoting her prejudice at a Harvard Law Symposium this summer, geared solely for those who oppose homeschooling.
Daly called out the professor’s real agenda: her opposition towards parents giving their children an education that is in keeping with their religious values. Conservative Christians were among the first to embrace homeschooling and Bartholet says, “that in itself, is reason enough to discredit homeschooling as an educational model.”
Fortunately, the law provides that parents not only have the responsibility to care for and protect their children, but the right to guide and educate them also.
It’s not a given that public schools will share your moral or spiritual values. Parents in neighboring Massachusetts are finding this out. Check out Mary Ellen Siegler’s Facebook page: Massachusetts Informed Parents. In our own state, Family Policy Alliance has found that RI School Districts were told to implement a disturbing Obama mandate, despite President Trump’s executive order overruling it. The mandate requires that teachers and counselors validate gender dysphoria without the parent’s knowledge. That same mandate would allow a minor to change the gender on his school records without parental notification.
With policies like these in place, it’s no wonder some parents prefer to educate their children at home!
If you are thinking about homeschooling post COVID-19 check out Focus on the Family for resources. You may also check the Home School Legal Defense Association, aimed at “Making homeschooling possible.”
Chairman, Board of Directors – Rhode Island
Bare shelves. Closed stores. Self-isolation. It sounds like the start of a scary movie, but as you and I both know, in 2020 it just means one thing: COVID-19.
As America puts life on hold, here are three things to be grateful for:
- More time with your family. Schools are closing, and businesses are converting many employees to temporary work-from-home arrangements. This is a great opportunity to invest in quality time with your family that you might not otherwise get! If you’re wondering how to make school work for your newly-homeschool kiddos, check out these resources.
- We don’t live in a country with government-run health care. Some politicians, such as presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, are using COVID-19 as an opportunity to call for government-run health care. But in countries that have these systems, the virus may reveal underlying problems.Take the UK, for example, where the National Health Service has cancelled all elective (non-urgent) operations, in order to free up hospital beds. While some US hospitals are beginning to take similar approaches, this is a more unusual measure in our country and reveals how seriously we are taking the virus. In the UK, this is commonplace: the government has cancelled tens of thousands of operations in a single flu season.Meanwhile, in Italy, the government recently began making tough calls: who gets treatment, and who doesn’t? In a close call, the person with the longer life-expectancy will win out. This could mean denying care to those who are especially sick, elderly, or weak. Yet this is not what we are called to do as Christians: Scripture commands us to “defend” the cause of the weak (Psalm 82:3).News reports reveal that part of Italy’s rationing comes down to a lack of equipment, including ventilators that are critical in treating COVID-19. This is unsurprising for a government-run system: such systems often have fewer medical devices on hand in comparison with our own system. For example, while the US has around 170,000 ventilators available, the UK has only 5,000. Putting that in perspective, the US has just over 1 ventilator per 2,000 people, while the UK has just less than 1 ventilator per 13,000 people.
You may hear we still don’t have enough capacity. That’s why we can be grateful for the precautions our officials have already taken. Self-isolation is a chance not only to protect ourselves from illness, but to limit the impact on the health system, and – importantly – to protect those most susceptible to the virus.
- We serve a good God. At a time that may feel uncertain, we can be grateful that we serve a God who is in control at all times and who works all things together for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose. We can rejoice in His goodness, pray for wisdom for those in authority, and defend the weakest in our community by following health guidelines. Rather than being a time to fear, this is a time to celebrate the opportunity to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to rest in God’s goodness.
Here’s to a joyful self-isolation!
Policy and Communications Strategist
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus”—Philippians 4:19.
The spread of COVID 19 has impacted the lives of just about every American family. As of Monday, many of us have already experienced the strain of schools being shut down, and daycares could be next. Currently, the majority of states have shut down their entire school systems, impacting a minimum of 30 million public school students who receive not only education but two meals a day. We know many families might be anxious about what their children will do during the day or even if they’ll be able to provide food for their children. There are many resources available to help families during this difficult time.
Currently, the federal government is working hard to partner with school districts to ensure students continue to have access to breakfast, lunch and even weekend meals. School districts are setting up food distribution centers to provide food for all children, whether that’s through a daily or weekly pickup by students (or their family members), and some school districts are even setting up delivery routes. With parents encountering increasingly sparse shelves at their local grocer, this option can offer even more peace of mind for families.
Local food pantries and churches across the nation are also receiving large food donations to meet the increased demand. Check your school district website or local news to find out if free food resources are available in your area.
In addition, many private educational companies are stepping in to provide immediate free educational resources to families who find themselves with children at home during the day and little educational guidance. Our national partner, Focus on the Family, has a very large library of resources, books, and DVD’s for parents providing home education. National Geographic Kids and Scholastic have videos, articles, books, and educational games and experiments for kids covering a variety of topics including science, math, and history. The New York Times has also promoted resources families can take advantage of like outschool.com (that provides free online classes), prodigygame.com (which provides free math lessons and skill boosting activities), and khanacademy.org (which provides free personalized courses covering all the core subjects from first grade to high school and .)*
As we all press forward during this challenging season, the White House Corona Virus Task Force led by Vice President Pence has urged all Americans families to join together in its “15 Days to Slow the Spread” campaign which includes avoiding gatherings of over ten people, following all CDC guidelines (like frequent handwashing), and listening to state-wide recommendations, like avoiding restaurants and bars.
We hope and pray during these uncertain times you and your family remain safe and healthy and that you are not anxious for anything, but are filled with the peace of God knowing He will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus.
*Disclaimer: The educational resources mentioned in this article do not indicate an official endorsement of Family Policy Alliance.
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
Members of the committee, I thank you for the opportunity to come before you today to express my support for SB384.
Somewhere in Georgia today there is a kid who has made a decision with his parents that the best educational path for him is to take advantage of the opportunity to be homeschooled.
Maybe he had a learning disability, maybe he was very advanced in a particular subject matter that he wanted to explore in depth, perhaps there were opportunities that he could only take advantage of through homeschooling, or maybe the family simply decided homeschooling was the best route to make certain their values are reflected in his education.
Whatever the reasons, this student is also interested in sports. He may not be the best athlete, but it’s a passion, he enjoys the camaraderie, and finds it to be a valuable part of his personal development.
Today, Georgia is one of the shrinking minority of states around the country that forces this student to make a choice- pursue the educational path that he and his parents have determined is best OR reject that decision in order to participate in athletics.
This choice is not forced upon him because he has done anything wrong. He hasn’t. It isn’t about his academics. He’s doing fine in school and excelling on tests. It isn’t because of cost because his family’s tax dollars count just as much as the next family’s. And, it isn’t about protecting the public school system because 13 of the 15 highest rated public school systems in the country allow for equal access for homeschoolers.
This false choice is simply about punishing homeschooling and forcing as many kids into public school, regardless of whether that is the best route for the student, as possible. This is just wrong.
Like many of you, I would love to see this bill result in a Tim Tebow-like player getting an opportunity to play high school football, sign to play for the Dawgs, and lead them to a championship. We can hope that happens, but that isn’t what this bill is about. It isn’t even fully about sports.
This bill is about removing barriers to parents and their child making the best educational decision for their family. Those are the only people that should be involved in that decision, and it is your responsibility as elected officials to cut out as many obstacles that muddy the waters.
Today, I am obviously speaking to you as the Executive Director of an organization that supports school choice, parental rights, and wants to see families empowered. But, I am also speaking to you today as a father.
I was not homeschooled, and, as such, I enjoyed the opportunities to play sports throughout my life. Both football and basketball were a major part of who I was as a child and a teenager, and, if I’m being honest, who I am today.
With three sons of my own now- ages 3, 2, and just born, I cannot imagine the choice between deciding whether to homeschool my boys as we plan to and believe is the best thing for our family or putting them in school so they can play sports, enjoy that opportunity, and, Lord willing, be the third generation of Muzios to play college athletics.
No parent should have to make that choice. They’ve paid the same tax dollars as everyone else, and, every parent- whether they homeschool or not- should be applauded for being intentional about their child’s educational choices, not discouraged from doing so.
I believe this legislative body should promote freedom, empower families, and encourage every student to pursue their best results. That’s what this bill is about. It’s about choice, preserving options for qualified students, and joining the growing majority of states that are doing the right thing. In fact, every state that touches ours has a Tebow law in place.
I don’t want Georgia to be left behind. I don’t want to see my state continue to punish those who exercise their school choice rights. I don’t want parents and students to continue to be forced into these difficult and gut-wrenching decisions, and, selfishly, I don’t want that for myself. I humbly ask you to support this legislation today.
Thank you for your time and your consideration.