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NOLA: The U.S. Justice Department is suing Louisiana in New Orleans federal court to block 2014-15 vouchers for students in public school systems that are under federal desegregation orders. The first year of private school vouchers “impeded the desegregation process,” the federal government says.
Al.com: SPLC President Richard Cohen said poor parents can’t afford private school tuition even with the help of the new tax credit and, even if they could, often don’t have a participating private school near them . . . | Southern Poverty Law Center: SPLC asks federal court to block Alabama education law that discriminates against poor children | Complaint: C.M. v. Bentley
American Federation for Children: The number of applications for educational choice programs in Ohio, Wisconsin and Louisiana demonstrates a growing number of families are taking advantage of educational choice options available to them starting this school year.
Legal Insurrection: I’ll have to leave the next questions to the immigration law experts: Would the Romeikes have been better off under the Gang of 8 bill and/or Obama administrative policy if they did not apply for asylum, which is a legal route to permanent residency, but instead came here illegally?
Pew Charitable Trusts Stateline: Thirteen states created or expanded tuition tax credits, private school scholarships or traditional vouchers in 2013, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Eight states did so in 2012 and seven states in 2011, according to the group.
WSFA.com (includes video): Alabama’s Superintendent of Education, Dr. Tommy Bice, sent a letter to members of the Alabama Legislature Tuesday, attempting to clarify the department’s position on the licensure of private schools and how they factor into the Alabama Accountability Act.
Wendy McElroy at the Future of Freedom Foundation: California Senate Bill 131 is the latest volley in the political campaign against religious and private educational institutions, especially Catholic ones.
Newsleader: Powell was taught at home, his parents using a religious exemption that allows families to entirely opt out of public education, a Virginia law that is unlike any other in the country. That means that not only are their children excused from attending school — as those educated under the state’s home-school statute are — but they also are exempt from all government oversight.
NCPA Policy Digest: In March 2013, the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) commissioned a survey of Black voters in four Southern states to gauge attitudes and opinions within the Black community on education reform, charter schools and the need for parental choice in their community. The findings indicate strong support among this significant segment of the population for greater freedom in K-12 education, widespread recognition of the need for better quality schools, and openness to charter schools and publicly funded scholarships as reform vehicles.
AZ Central: The Arizona Charter Schools Association and about 200 of its member charter schools plan to file a lawsuit against the Arizona Department of Education today, association president Eileen Sigmund said.
AFC: The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today applauded the North Carolina Legislature for taking a historic step by passing the nation’s newest statewide voucher program
Boston.com: Attorneys for Christian parents who fled Germany in order to home school their children but have been denied U.S. asylum said they are preparing to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case and were working with Congress to try to change asylum law.
American Federation for Children: The American Federation for Children (AFC), the nation’s voice for educational choice, today applauded the North Carolina Legislature for creating the nation’s newest statewide voucher program, the third created this year.
Education News: In a recently published blog, state Sen. Aaron Osmond contends that Utah’s compulsory education law is to blame for the chaos and inefficiencies found in many public school classrooms.
Jay Greene at WSJ: It is not clear why private schools have an advantage in producing more tolerant students. It may be that private schools are better at teaching civic values like tolerance, just as they may be more effective at teaching math or reading. It is also possible that, contrary to elite suspicion, religion can teach important lessons about human equality and dignity that inspire tolerance.
The Friedman Foundation: Ohio’s low-income kindergartners will be eligible for school vouchers this fall with Gov. John Kasich’s signing of the state’s 2013-14 budget today. On Thursday the Ohio House and Senate approved the budget containing the voucher expansion, which, over time, makes all low-income students eligible.
Catholics Fire Back At Obama Over School Comments: ‘anti-faith, Secular Agenda Shamelessly On Full Display’
Ben Shapiro at Breitbart: Speaking in Ireland this week, President Obama stated that Catholic schools were divisive: “If towns remain divided—if Catholics have their schools and buildings and Protestants have theirs, if we can’t see ourselves in one another and fear or resentment are allowed to harden—that too encourages division and discourages cooperation.”
HSLDA: On Wednesday, June 12, the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit took the encouraging step of ordering the Department of Justice to respond to Home School Legal Defense Association’s request to have the Romeike case reheard by the entire Sixth Circuit.
NH Union Leader: n attorney for the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom said, “Parents should be able to choose what’s best for their own children. New Hampshire’s program allows businesses to help make that happen, and nothing about that violates the state constitution, as the state’s legal history clearly demonstrates. “The arguments the ACLU is making against this program do not at all reflect the reality of what the state constitution clearly allows. The people who stand to suffer the most if the ACLU succeeds are New Hampshire’s students,” Gregory S. Baylor said. The Alliance, Cornerstone Policy Research, and the Liberty Institute filed a brief defending the law. Cornerstone Policy Research Executive Director Ashley Pratte was “appalled.”
“Parents should be able to choose what’s best for their own children. New Hampshire’s program allows businesses to help make that happen, and nothing about that violates the state constitution, as the state’s legal history clearly demonstrates. The arguments the ACLU is making against this program do not at all reflect the reality of what the state constitution clearly allows. The people who stand to suffer the most if the ACLU succeeds are New Hampshire’s students.”
World Net Daily: The justices of the Supreme Court of Sweden delivered a “perfunctory order” rejecting the family’s appeal and in effect, delivering its “death sentence,” several weeks ago. HSLDA has been working with the a team from the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of the family.
Wall Street Journal: A complaint filed Wednesday with the U.S. Justice Department on behalf of students in school districts here and in surrounding suburbs alleges that Texas laws impose “cruel and unusual punishment” for truancy, in violation of students’ constitutional rights. | Washington Post: Dallas area schools to face federal civil rights complaint | National Center for Youth Law: Students’ Constitutional Rights Violated by Dallas County Schools & Truancy Courts, According to Complaint Filed Today with Department of Justice
AFC: The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today applauded the North Carolina House of Representatives for passing a budget that provides funding for an educational choice program creating new opportunities for thousands of North Carolinian children. North Carolina’s educational choice program received bipartisan support and is tailored to children who participate in the federal free or reduced lunch program.
U.S. Senate Committee Votes Down ‘School Choice’ Amendment, Americans United for Sep. of Church and State celebrates
Americans United for Sep. of Church and State: Yesterday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee was considering amendments to S. 1094, the “Strengthening America’s Schools Act,” which would reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C) introduced an amendment that would have allowed states to turn their Title I funds into giant voucher programs.
HSLDA: Two applications to the European Court of Human rights have been declared inadmissible, under the “pretext,” according to Harrold-Claesson, that the Johanssons had not exhausted all their domestic remedies. However, according to the appeal submitted by Alliance Defending Freedom’s Senior Legal Counsel Roger Kiska, HSLDA Director for International Affairs Mike Donnelly and Harrold-Claesson, who won a case against Sweden in the European Court in April 2012, this simply isn’t true. “We find it very strange that of the forty-nine judges in the European Court, it was a German judge, in a one-judge-decision, who declared the Johanssons application inadmissible.” Harrold-Claesson also blamed a Swedish bureaucrat at the European Court as being an obstacle. “There is a Swedish court administrator who has been called a ‘gate keeper’,” explained Harrold-Claesson . . . Kiska also expressed great frustration with the situation. “It is disgraceful that a self-styled democratic nation would tolerate this kind of abrogation of basic human rights,” he said. [more]
American Federation for Children: The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today criticized the New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf for depriving students of vital educational options by refusing to authorize two virtual new charter schools. Both charter schools had received conditional approval and spent a year ensuring they met every requirement, only to have Cerf deny their approval.
The American Spectator: Mr. Goldstein rightly notes that the U.S. grants asylum to people “seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to: Race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.” It seems to me that the Romeike’s religious beliefs, which led them to pull their kids out of public school, qualify. And beyond all of the legal wrangling, this one just doesn’t pass the smell test. Do the right thing, Mr. Holder.
American Federation for Children: The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today applauded new legislation to improve funding for the state’s choice and charter schools while expressing disappointment that efforts to expand parental choice to more families were not enacted into law.
Education Views: In a through-the-night push, Republican lawmakers sculpted some of the final contours of a state budget that would cut income taxes by $651 million over two years, expand taxpayer-funded private voucher schools across the state and increase state aid to public schools by $300 per student over two years.
Religion Clause Blog: In Fishers Adolescent Catholic Enrichment Society, Inc. ["FACES"] v. Bridgewater, (IN Ct. App., May 29, 2013), an Indiana appeals court affirmed most of the decision of an administrative law judge in a suit brought by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission against FACES, a non-profit group created to provide enrichment opportunities for home schooled children.
NCPA Policy Digest: Many politicians and political think tanks have been debating back and forth about the merits of school choice, and whether it would benefit U.S. children. In Arizona, charter schools are among the highest-achieving schools in the nation, with their students routinely topping nationwide comparisons. The government should encourage the use of charter schools throughout the nation, says Jonathan Butcher, education director at the Goldwater Institute.
The Hill: Attorney General Eric Holder is under pressure from House Republicans to give a German family asylum so its children can be homeschooled in the United States and be taught “Christian values.”
HSLDA: We’re a Christian family with four children, ages 6—12 years. Since our marriage, my wife and I were living in or near Munich, Germany, joining a small Church there. It was probably when our oldest daughter was still a toddler that we started thinking about school.
American Federation for Children: The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today applauded the Iowa Legislature after both chambers unanimously passing House Bill 225, which increases the amount of tax credits School Tuition Organizations (STO) can receive, from $8.75 million to $12 million a year.
Turtle Bay and Beyond: The AP reports on a US Apeals Court decision to leave a family of homeschoolers at the mercy of the German Government, even though the Court found that the US Constitution forbids the state from prohibiting homeschooling. The family faces impossible fines and loss of custody of their children if they are returned to Germany. They should have just pretended to be gay.
Eugene Volokh at the Volokh Conspiracy: Jonathan posted earlier today about Romeike v. Holder (6th Cir. May 14, 2013), which reject German homeschoolers’ asylum claim. The opinion is quite readable and persuasive, and I recommend it to those interested in the subject. But here’s my general thinking (reprised from 2010 post on the original immigration judge decision in the case), and stressing that I’m not an expert on asylum law:
Jonathan Adler reports on the ruling at the Volokh Conspiracy: The relevant legislation applies only to those who have a “well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(42)(A). There is a difference between the persecution of a discrete group and the prosecution of those who violate a generally applicable law.
Patheos: Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Gregory S. Baylor, whose organization argued for the constitutionality of the program, defended it on the grounds that “parents should be able to choose what’s best for their own children.” “The ultimate winners in the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision are Indiana families who want to provide the best education for their children, whether it is public or private,” Baylor said March 26.
NorthJersey.com: The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey filed a public records request on Thursday demanding the disclosure of guidelines that the Christie administration followed when it granted $11 million to two religious schools, almost all of it to an orthodox Jewish rabbinical school.
DFW Catholic: Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Gregory S. Baylor, whose organization argued for the constitutionality of the program, defended it on the grounds that “parents should be able to choose what’s best for their own children.” “The ultimate winners in the Indiana Supreme Court’s decision are Indiana families who want to provide the best education for their children, whether it is public or private,” Baylor said March 26.
Education Week: A federal appeals court on Thursday reinstated a Michigan law that bars school districts from deducting teachers’ union dues for their employees. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, ruled 2-1 that the state’s Act 53, a 2012 measure that by its own terms was meant as “a check on union power,” likely does not violate the free speech or equal protection rights of teachers’ unions.
Baptist Press: Alan Sears, president of Alliance Defending Freedom, noted that a key benefit of ADF’s involvement in helping defend religious freedom overseas is “the crucial perspective it gives us” for defending legal rights in America.”
Religion Clause Blog: The Louisiana Supreme Court today in a 6-1 decision held that the state’s school voucher program enacted in 2012 violates the state constitution. In Louisiana Federation of Teachers v. State of Louisiana, (LA Sup. Ct., May 7, 2013) . . .
The American Federation for Children, the nation’s voice for educational choice, today urged the Louisiana Legislature and Governor to find a legislative solution after the Louisiana Supreme Court struck down the current funding mechanism for state’s voucher program. The Court only ruled against the funding of the voucher program and did not strike down the constitutionality of the program.
One News Now: Roger Kiska, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, explains the state’s point of view. “They’re absolutely oppressive with regard to parental rights. They believe that the only duty of the parents basically is to give birth and then the child belongs to the state,” he tells American Family News. “So we had known all along that this was going to be something that would have to be taken from Sweden and brought to the European level.” Kiska says the remaining option is to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, which has jurisdiction over Sweden. [more]
LifeSiteNews: Roger Kiska, the Alliance Defending Freedom’s senior legal counsel in Europe, was outraged by the court’s action. “It is beyond belief that a modern civilized country could allow such injustice to continue,” he said. “There is no evidence in the record that justifies the continued separation of this family. We will continue to fight for this family and on behalf of the principle that the European Convention condemns such acts.”
Charter Schools, the Establishment Clause, and the Neoliberal Turn in Public Education | Aaron J. Saiger at Fordham Law
Saiger, Aaron J., Charter Schools, the Establishment Clause, and the Neoliberal Turn in Public Education (May 1, 2013). Cardozo Law Review, Vol. 34, No. 1163, 2013; Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2259283. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2259283
One News Now: Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Roger Kiska contends that the state wants to be the parent of all students, indoctrinating them with the state’s ideology. “I’ve heard statements in Sweden and in France recently that the role of the parent is simply to give birth to a child, and then it’s the state’s duty to educate the child,” Kiska accounts. “That’s absolutely contrary to international law and morality.”
HSLDA: Roger Kiska, the Alliance Defending Freedom’s senior legal counsel in Europe, was outraged by the court’s action. “It is beyond belief that a modern civilized country could allow such injustice to continue,” he said. “There is no evidence in the record that justifies the continued separation of this family. We will continue to fight for this family and on behalf of the principle that the European Convention condemns such acts.”
NRO (includes video): Amidst a controversy over the widespread education-reform project Governor Bobby Jindal has begun in Louisiana, the head of the state’s largest teachers’ union has essentially claimed that children belong to teachers’ unions as much as they do their parents.
Washington Post: For the second straight year, significant parent opposition to “parent trigger” legislation in Florida has led to defeat in the legislature despite powerful supporters, including former governor Jeb Bush.
Crossmap at Christian Post: The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) joined an amici brief in support of New Hampshire’s tax credit program for businesses that wish to help students attending private schools. In January, the American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed suit against New Hampshire’s Education Tax Credit Program.
EagNews.org: Leaders of a deeply troubled Pennsylvania school district are considering a plan to convert all of its individual schools into charters beginning next fall – an immediate and sweeping change that’s never been attempted before in American K-12 history.
MercatorNet.com: But Gotland (province) Social Services persisted, and managed to get a mid-level appeal court to overturn the district court ruling. Now the couple, with the aid of the US-based Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) and the Alliance Defending Freedom, have taken their case to the Supreme Court of Sweden. They are being represented by Ruby Harrold-Claesson of the Nordic Committee on Human Rights. . . . Alliance Defending Freedom and HSLDA are encouraging concerned people from all over the world to participate in an HSLDA-sponsored letter-writing campaign that asks the Supreme Court of Sweden to accept the case Johansson v. Gotland Social Services and return Domenic to his parents.
Baptist Press: A German family should be granted asylum in the U.S. because their s native government is denying a fundamental human right by preventing them from homeschooling their children, attorney Michael Farris told a three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals Tuesday (April 23) in Cincinnati.
Huffington Post: Home-schooling families in Europe have become a cause celebre for some U.S. conservatives. The Arizona-based Alliance Defending Freedom is working with two Swedish home-schooling families, including Christer and Annie Johansson, who lost custody of 11-year-old Domenic when they refused to enroll him in public school.
CBN (includes video): Alliance Defending Freedom and the Home-School Legal Defense Association have asked the European court of Human Rights to hear the case of a Swedish family heavily fined for home-schooling.
weden’s highest court is being asked to free an 11-year-old boy whom government officials have held in captivity for four years because his parents home-schooled him. Attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom and the Home School Legal Defense Association are legal advisors to the parents, who are represented by Ruby Harrold-Claesson of the Nordic Committee on Human Rights.
WorldNetDaily: Swedish parents Annie and Christer Johansson have launched what may be their last hope to see their son again – with an appeal to the Supreme Court of Sweden to overturn a lower court’s decision to end their parental rights over homeschooling . . . he HSLDA has been working on Domenic’s case, along with officials from the Alliance Defending Freedom.
NCPA Policy Digest: In states where online education has been implemented, local and state teachers unions have challenged virtual education in court by seeking to limit enrollment in the charter schools that utilize the technology, by pushing for virtual schools to be closed and by seeking to limit enrollment to students who live “in district,” despite that defeating the benefits of the Internet.
Alliance Defending Freedom and the Home School Legal Defense Association have asked the European Court of Human Rights to hear the case of a Swedish family heavily fined for home-schooling their daughter.
AZ Catholic Conference: The Arizona Senate has passed an important school choice bill (HB 2617) today that would expand the pool of potential donors under the existing corporate scholarship (tuition) tax credit to include S corporations and Limited Liability Companie
Alan Sears at Alliance Defending Freedom: This week’s deadline for filing your 2012 U.S. income taxes is a good reminder that many organizations you care about depend on Alliance Defending Freedom to defend their tax credits and tax-exempt status. Just this month, we’ve intervened in two cases to protect your religious freedom from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, who once again are proving that their idea of liberty does not include parents deciding where their children are educated.
KnoxNews.com: A bill to create a new state panel that could authorize charter schools when local school boards reject them has been revised to apply only in five counties, including Knox, and remains a contentious issue as legislators push toward adjourning the 2013 session.
lliance Defending Freedom, Cornerstone Policy Research, and Liberty Institute have filed a friend-of-the-court brief with a New Hampshire court in defense of the state’s tax credit program for businesses that wish to help students attending private schools.
The Denver Channel: The American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado has petitioned the Colorado Supreme Court to overturn a decision that found the Douglas County schools’ voucher program constitutional.
Kristina Johannes at The Catholic Thing: Rarely, however, is parental choice seen as the social justice issue that it is. Instead, what we hear is the old argument that parents who choose parochial or other private schools are separating themselves from the public – and by extension – the common good; an argument that even the Ku Klux Klan used to its advantage in the 1920s.
Robert Knight at Townhall: A courageous German Christian couple refused to hand over their children to the government schools and fled to America three years ago. Now, the Obama Administration is trying to send them back. A likely outcome would be the state seizing the children and imprisoning the parents.
Christian Newswire: Focus on the Family spokesman and Truth Project founder Dr. Del Tackett yesterday declared his support for HSLDA’s efforts to defend the Romeike family. Tackett believes that the U.S. government is siding with the restrictive homeschooling laws in Germany and that this could have serious implications for American homeschoolers.
Baltimore Sun: The ACLU of Maryland is calling for legislators to halt funding to religious and private schools, saying that taxpayer money should be put toward the state’s funding obligation to public schools. | ACLU press release
Alan Sears at Alliance Defending Freedom: One of the quieter – though equally intense – battles for religious freedom in America is being fought almost daily on behalf of young school children. This week, two cases from two different parts of the country spotlight the obstacles being placed before people of faith, like you, who want nothing more than to select a school that best meets the needs of their children and grandchildren.
PBS: Now the debate over vouchers and school choice is heating up anew in some states — the latest, last week, the Indiana Supreme Court upheld a 2011 state law allowing tax funds to be used for private schools through tuition vouchers.
American Federation for Children: The American Federation for Children – the nation’s voice for educational choice – today applauded the efforts of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and the Georgia legislature for passing legislation to raise the cap and add additional accountability and transparency measures to the Georgia Scholarship Tax Credit Program, ensuring more money reaches disadvantaged children throughout the state.
Wall Street Journal (via Google): “We find it inconceivable,” the justices wrote, that the framers meant to prohibit government spending from which a religious institution could ultimately benefit. Everything from police protection to city sidewalks benefit religious institutions, but “the primary beneficiary is the public,” and any benefits to religious groups are “ancillary and indirect,” said the ruling. “The direct beneficiaries under the voucher program are the families of eligible students and not the schools selected by the parents for their children to attend.”