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
While families send their children back to school each fall, for Family Policy Alliance our “back to school” time comes in January— when Congress and state legislatures go back into session. All summer and fall, we’ve been preparing and training for the new legislative session. Now, we can protect your family and advance your values.
As we anticipate January 2018, we wanted to share with you both the policy threats that you need to be aware of for your family, as well as some key opportunities where your partnership will protect and strengthen families.
This year, the world watched with shock and heartbreak as U.K. baby Charlie Gard’s parents were denied their right to fight for his life. Parents everywhere felt their grief—What if Charlie were my son?
We’ve seen decisions about medical care for children taken out of parents’ hands here in the U.S., too, with doctors placing “do not resuscitate” orders on children’s medical files or performing abortions on underage girls without even notifying parents. Even in the world of mental health care, LGBT activist groups are pushing to prevent families from accessing basic talk therapy for children struggling with sexual integrity—bringing their sexual orientation or gender identity into alignment with their faith and values.
We believe parents are best equipped to love and protect their children. That’s why we’re working to protect your rights as a parent and to prevent a Charlie Gard tragedy here in the U.S.
No two children are alike—not even twins—and God has a calling and a purpose for each one. That’s why we’re working to make sure policies guard the right of parents to guide their children toward their calling—and to prevent any political agendas or red tape from getting in children’s way as they launch into their calling. In 2018, we will work with our state allies to enhance school choice opportunities for families, protect Christian colleges from being forced to violate their faith so that students can choose a higher education that aligns with their values, and prevent state licensing bodies from restricting students who go on to get professional licenses (such as medical, legal or technical) from living out their faith in their professional calling.
January 2018 marks the 45th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Despite that sober reminder of millions of preborn babies lost, we have much to be thankful for. We are now living among the most pro-life generation since Roe, and we have a new Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch, who values the sanctity of life. We continue to work with our state-based allies to strategically chip away at Roe until we live in a nation where every life is cherished.
Our fight for life doesn’t stop at Roe, though. We also defeated dangerous assisted suicide legislation in all 27 states where it was introduced this year. In 2018, we will continue our work opposing assisted suicide and instead work to pass legislation affirming that every life is worth fighting for—regardless of health condition, disability or socioeconomic status.
Your faithful partnership with Family Policy Foundation—especially at year-end—is key to educating pro-family Americans about these (and many more) issues, and equipping them with the tools they need to make their voices heard at just the right time.
On Nov. 7, voters in many states will head to the polls, generally to vote on lower-level races such as school boards. But while most of these races won’t garner major attention, they can still have major impact.
Case in point: the elections for school board in Douglas County, Colorado. This exurban county on the southern edge of the Denver metropolitan area has become ground zero in the nationwide fight for parental choice in education.
In 2011, a group of reformers on the school board passed a modest voucher program that would allow 500 students – out of 67,000 students in the district – to receive publicly funded scholarships to attend private schools. But ever since, the program has been embroiled in court challenges. However, last June, a U.S. Supreme Court decision gave the program new life, directing the Colorado Supreme Court to reconsider the program under favorable parameters.
But even with a favorable legal outcome, the survival of the school choice program is likely to be determined by the results of Tuesday’s school board elections. With four open seats, each side on this issue is backing their own slate of four candidates. Not surprisingly, teachers unions are spending heavily to elect the anti-school choice slate. One union alone has already poured $300,000 into supporting the liberal slate.
Family Policy Alliance’s allied organization, CFA Foundation, has produced a voter guide specifically for the Douglas County School Board elections. If you are a voter in this district – the third largest in the state – or if you know someone who is, please click here to access and share this helpful guide.
Why doesn’t the government offer parents more options to find the best education for their children?
Paul Weber, president and CEO of Family Policy Alliance, explains the many ways that children could be better served, if the needs of families were given priority.
He says the possibilities go far beyond high school graduation.
Family Policy Alliance is proud to work alongside Cole Muzio and Family Policy Alliance of Georgia, one of our 40 state-based allies. Cole has a great message about the importance of increasing education freedom in Georgia—and every state!
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. Many states have already 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.
The freedom of families to choose the educational options that best meet their child’s needs is critical in Georgia, and every state. Making sure homeschoolers in every state can access athletics is one piece of Family Policy Alliance’s effort in increasing families’ freedom in education. We’ve made a quick-reference map so that you can see if your state is a state like Georgia that needs more freedom in education with a “Tebow bill” or if your state already secures this freedom for homeschooling families. We’re working to make sure every state on this map turns blue instead of gray!
States with Tebow Laws or Similar Provisions for Homeschoolers
Believe it or not, there are strong, well-funded opponents to equal access for homeschoolers. We need your partnership and financial support in order to build a nation where families, not the government, drive education needs and funding. Children’s dreams and successes shouldn’t be shackled by government interference and powerful teachers’ unions. Will you partner with us on education freedom today?
In His Service,
Family Policy Alliance of Georgia
Parental rights have been eroding for decades. It’s particularly obvious in education. Parents who want school choice are sometimes labeled as haters of democracy — nothing could be further from the truth. It is precisely our democratic system which protects and upholds our right to guide our children as we see fit.
Determining how our child is best educated and the values upon which that education is based is a basic right of parents. Speaking personally, we opted to send our children to private Christian schools. While this may not be an option for everyone, it often provides a nurturing and safe environment for children to learn. Another option is homeschooling, which we also did with our children. This is a particularly good option for parents to address the unique learning style of their children. Rather than simply giving our children over to the government schools; a home environment is often best, as determined by the people who know them best: their parents.
North Dakota thankfully has some basic laws in place to protect parents in exercising their rights when it comes to raising their children. However, among its flaws, the law requires periodic testing to state requirements, which is often based on Common Core standards that have been proven inconsistent and poor indicators of a child’s academic abilities. Many public schools do a good job of providing a basic education, but the inherent value system they typically promote is inconsistent with our values and religious freedoms as Christians.
The final aspect of the education debate is funding for homeschool and private schools. This past legislative session, House Bill 1382 was designed to provide school choice options and use Educational Savings Accounts to financially support parents’ educational choices. Rather than approving the final version of the bill, which was simply to study the issue, the Senate defeated it.
We need to protect and expand parental rights and the ability to instill Christian values through our children’s education. It is not the educational system and its values that are ultimately responsible for their education, but each of us as parents. Let’s make our voices heard so that democratic rights and values trump philosophies imposed by the educational system!
Please take a moment to contact your legislators toady about this important issue.
A Montana court says the state cannot exclude private, religious schools from a state education tax credit.
Jeff Laszloffy, president of Montana Family Foundation, explains why it’s a good decision for families as well as Christian schools. And what other states can learn from the legislation.
Learn more about Montana Family Foundation.
The Arizona Legislature recently passed bills protecting the sanctity of human life and allowing parents unprecedented choice in where they send their children to school.
One of the bills, SB 1367, is a law that provides basic, humane medical care for babies born alive after abortions. Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, one of Family Policy Alliance’s 40 state-based groups said the bill is just common sense.
“Babies who survive abortions could get a chance at life,” she said. “If Gov. Ducey signs this bill, babies would be given basic, humane medical care to save them.”
Arizona lawmakers also took steps to protect the conscience rights of health care workers who do not want to participate in physician assisted suicide. SB 1439 also protects those in the medical field from discrimination based on their faith beliefs.
“No one should be forced to participate in actions that violate their conscience,” explained Herrod. “This bill strengthens existing law to protect the rights of conscience of health care workers and also provides legal recourse if they face discrimination for exercising that right.”
And parents in Arizona got some good news when the Legislature passed a near-universal education savings account plan. The accounts allow parents to choose which school their child attends and the funds roll over from year to year.
“This groundbreaking school choice bill makes Arizona the first state to put in place a universal Empowerment Scholarship Account program,” said Herrod. “SB 1431 opens up eligibility to all Arizona students in a district or charter school. We’re grateful for the many lawmakers who took a bold stand for students and voted to pass this important legislation.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION
To find one of Family Policy Alliance’s groups in your state, visit our website.
What if the government ran a chain of “cafeterias” for children?
What would they serve? How would they treat your family? How far would they go to protect the monopoly?
In his Stoplight® commentary, Stuart Shepard explores that analogy in light of recent happenings on Capitol Hill.
Thank you for sharing Stoplight with your friends.