Limbaugh: Democrats' "All Out Assault" On Marriage, Religion, Science, And Education The Cause Of "National Angst"
From the 10.20.2014 edition of Premiere Radio Network’s The Rush Limbaugh Show:
#ILGov: IEA’s Real Rauner Sing-Along
It’s paramount that people vote in Pat Quinn this fall!
A Colorado school board whose proposed changes to a history curriculum spawned student walk-outs and teacher sick-outs voted on Thursday to move ahead with a modified version of the controversial measure.
The Jefferson County Board of Education in suburban Denver agreed to appoint a committee to review newly revised guidelines for the Advanced Placement history courses in the 84,000-student district, over complaints from parents, teachers and students who voiced their concerns at the Thursday night meeting.
The resolution, forwarded by conservative member Julie Williams, originally said the current Advanced Placement framework focused on negative aspects of American history, and the committee should look at modifying it to promote “patriotism” and “respect for authority.”
The board pulled the more pointed language from William’s original proposal before Thursday’s hearing, but not before it sparked student walk-outs at nearly all of the district’s 17 high schools and one middle school over the past three weeks.
The question of how U.S. teens learn history in public schools is the latest flash point in a liberal-conservative fight over national curricula that had previously focused on more scientific topics such as teaching creationism versus evolution.
Opponents of the plan called it an attempt by the board to censor and whitewash history to advance a conservative political agenda.
Board president Ken Witt said last week that the teachers’ union, which has been at odds with the board over merit pay and other issues, was behind the protests.
He called the student walk-outs and a high number of teacher absences that canceled classes at four high schools “the manipulation of our students.”
By a 3-2 vote, with the conservative majority prevailing, the board voted to appoint the committee, which will include students and community members.
About 100 people spoke at the hearing, most in opposition to the review committee.
Michele Patterson, president of the Jefferson County Schools parent-teacher association, blasted some board members for “degrading” students by calling them pawns of the teachers’ union.
“You should be ashamed of yourselves,” she said.
Ross Izard, an education policy analyst for the Denver-based Independence Institute think tank, said neither a “misguided” argument about censorship, nor a debate over a new merit-based pay deal for teachers, fully explains the walk-outs.
“Instead, thousands of kids and teachers have been misled into fighting a vicious political proxy war between the union and the school board,” he said.
Arizona School District Fires Teacher For Not Letting Racist Kids Bully A Black Student (VIDEO) [TW: Racism, Bullying, Hate Speech, White Privilege]
When Aister arrived on the scene, the group had surrounded their victim. So, like any good teacher should do, she stepped in to protect the student from the bullies.
“He was called the n-word, ‘monkey,’ and ‘coon,’” Aister said during an interview with KNXV. And then she made it clear to the bullies that she wouldn’t let their actions continue.
If you’re picking on him, you’re picking on me. It’s not five against one, it’s five against two, and there will be no more taunting, teasing or racial names.
However, in what seems to be a plot to get revenge against Aister for getting their racist kids in trouble, parents accused her of threatening their poor innocent children and calling them names. In the end, Aister got fired and the racist kids apparently got off scot free.
The Fountain Hills Unified School District board voted to terminate Aister during a hearing on Monday and then quickly scattered like a bunch of rats having a spotlight shined on them as the petty parents cheered.
Here’s the video via Raw Story.
All Pam Aister did is defend a black student against a group of racist bullies who clearly intended to harm him, and rather than punish the students, school officials punished the teacher instead. Of course, this is Arizona we’re talking about, after all. You know, the state that once refused to recognize Martin Luther King Day and recently passed a law legalizing racial profiling? Yeah, that state.
The parents of these racist students claim that Aister told the bullies to “shut up” and made a comment about a student’s “ugly face.” That’s what they’re actually complaining about. That’s why they got Aister fired.
As a person who worked as an educator for a period of time, I can say that I’ve heard teachers tell kids to shut up. Even as a student, I can recall teachers doing the same thing. It happens. But none of them ever lost their job for it, nor should they have. As for the alleged “ugly face” comment, if these parents and school officials have a bigger problem with that than they do with the vicious racist names the bullies were hurling at a black student, they have seriously screwed up priorities.
Pam Aister should be back in the classroom teaching. Instead, she represents a reason why people will stay away from the education profession. What’s the point of being a teacher if you will be fired for trying to stop racism and bullying? It’s as if the school district actually wanted Aister to let the poor black kid get pummeled and verbally assaulted. Maybe that’s exactly what they expected her to do, and that is a truly frightening thought.
The American Historical Association (AHA) and the Organization of American Historians (OAH) should honor these students for standing up to their school board’s effort to distort U.S. history around a blatantly political agenda.
The students are reacting to a proposal by the Jefferson County, Colorado school board — the state’s second largest school district with about 85,000 students — to change the way history is taught in the schools.
Last November, three new board members were elected to the school board, forming a conservative majority. One of them, Julie Williams, has led the charge to revise the Advanced Placement U.S. history curriculum to promote patriotism, respect for authority, and free enterprise and to guard against educational materials that “encourage or condone civil disorder.” Williams said she believes that the current Advanced Placement curriculum in American history places an excessive emphasis on “race, gender, class, ethnicity, grievance and American-bashing.”
This attempt to ignore or downplay the long tradition of dissent, protest, and conflict that has always shaped American society is not unique to the Jefferson County school board. It is a key aspect of the right-wing agenda for public education. In the early 1990s, Lynne Cheney, who headed the National Endowment for the Humanities during the first Bush Administration (and is the wife of former VP Dick Cheney), attacked the teaching of American history for presenting a ”grim and gloomy” account of America’s past. After that, conservatives on local school boards around the country escalated their efforts and continue them today. It is part of the backlash against the increasing examination by historians of the roles of women, African Americans, Latinos, native Americans, dissenters, and movements in American history.
But such battles go back even further than Cheney’s campaign. In her 1979 book, “America Revised,” Frances Fitzgerald examined how the teaching of American history has been the subject of an ongoing debate going back to the 1800s, fueled by political differences over the nature of American identity. Conservatives have traditionally sought to emphasize consensus over conflict in the development of U.S. history textbooks and curriculum.
With the support of many teachers and parents, the Colorado students have engaged in a protest of their own to teach the school board a lesson. It began on Sept. 22, when about 100 students walked out at Evergreen High School, one of 17 high schools in the suburban district outside Denver. Since then the protests have gained momentum, fueled by social media and student-to-student contact. As the New York Times reported, they “streamed out of school and along busy thoroughfares, waving signs and championing the value of learning about the fractious and tumultuous chapters of American history.”
By last week, the number of students involved in the protest had mushroomed. On Thursday, according to the Denver Post, more than 1,000 students walked out of class behind a new unified slogan — “It’s our history; don’t make it mystery.” Student leaders said that the protests will continue.
"People think because we are teenagers, we don’t know things, but we are going home and looking things up," one high school student told the Post. "If they don’t teach us civil disobedience, we will teach ourselves."
The students’ protest pitted them against the school board’s conservative majority that has received support from Americans for Prosperity-Colorado, a group affiliated with the Koch family foundations. Dustin Zvonek, the group’s director, penned an op-ed claiming that last fall’s school board election was an “exciting and hopeful moment for the county and the school district.”
"We’ve had conservatives on our board before," Michele Patterson, the president of the district’s PTA, told the New York Times. "They were wonderful." But the conservatives on the current school board are "not interested in balance or compromise. They have a political agenda that they’re intent on pushing through," Patterson said.
One of the district’s schools, Columbine High School, is already in many history books. It was the site of one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern American history. In April 1999, two Columbine students killed 12 students and a teacher, and wounded 23 others, before they both committed suicide. The massacre made Columbine a household name and triggered another political battle — over gun control — that has continued in the wake of ongoing mass killings. The current protest by students at Columbine and other district high schools may give Jefferson County students a second chance to enter the history books as defenders of free speech, dissent, and honest pedagogy.
In recent years, the College Board, with the aid of many history professors, has overhauled the Advanced Placement curriculum and test to emphasize critical thinking and research skills over rote memorization of names, dates, and events.
On Friday, the College Board, issued a statement in support of the Jefferson County rebellion.
"The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program supports the actions taken by students in Jefferson County, Colorado to protest a school board member’s request to censor aspects of the AP U.S. History course." It continued: "These students recognize that the social order can — and sometimes must — be disrupted in the pursuit of liberty and justice. Civil disorder and social strife are at the patriotic heart of American history — from the Boston Tea Party to the American Revolution to the Civil Rights Movement. And these events and ideas are essential within the study of a college-level, AP U.S. History course."
Wouldn’t it be fitting and appropriate for the OAH and the AHA to give these students an award at the next meetings for their commitment to the teaching of American history? Perhaps one or both of these organization could invite some of the students to give a presentation about their protest campaign as part of a plenary session on the teaching of AP American history. It would surely be the most well-attended session at either conference.
Such a gesture by one or both of the leading organizations of historians would help legitimate what they are doing, draw more attention to their efforts, inspire high school students elsewhere to challenge arbitrary authority, and put the two organizations on record in opposition to the efforts by school boards to distort the teaching of history for overtly political purposes.
Peter Dreier is the Dr. E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, and chair of the Urban & Environmental Policy Department, at Occidental College. His most recent book is “The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame" (Nation Books, 2012)
h/t: Peter Dreier at TPM
News of a massive student protest in Colorado against a “conservative-led school board proposal” has prompted Fox News to rethink its stance on student freedoms.
Earlier this week, hundreds of students across six high schools in Arvada, Colorado, walked out of their classrooms amid news of a “conservative-led school board proposal to focus history education on topics that promote citizenship, patriotism and respect for authority.” The Associated Press reported that the curriculum proposal would establish a committee to ensure certain history materials “don’t ‘encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law’”:
Student participants said their demonstration was organized by word of mouth and social media. Many waved American flags and carried signs, including messages that read “There is nothing more patriotic than protest.”
The school board proposal that triggered the walkouts in Jefferson County calls for instructional materials that present positive aspects of the nation and its heritage. It would establish a committee to regularly review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to make sure materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.”
On September 25, Fox & Friends hosted Ken Witt, president of the Jefferson County Board of Education, which oversees the Arvada schools, to discuss the protests. Amid chyrons like “Political Pawns” and “Teachers Are Using Students,” Witt alleged that the real issue was not the history curriculum proposal, but rather the upcoming teachers union contract :
WITT: That’s the unfortunate situation that’s going on. I believe that there is a significant amount of union conflict right now that we would like to not have. The issue is that it’s easy to get children out. It’s easy to use kids as pawns and it’s not right. We have a union contract that’s expiring in August of this year.
Co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck parroted Witt’s allegations, saying, “What concerns me is that what I’m hearing from you, and correct me if I am wrong, is that there is someone else behind this planting it and using these students for their own gain.”
Though Fox hosted Witt to scapegoat teachers unions (an approach the network has taken multiple times) for the voluntary actions of students, Fox’s apparent disapproval of these protests stands in stark contrast with the network’s recent lauding of students exercising their First Amendment rights.
On September 2, Fox & Friends hosted student Madeline Taylor who the co-hosts claimed was “taking a stand” against the healthy school lunch program and plugged her “petition to bring back the pizza and French fries.” Co-host Steve Doocy argued that students should be able to decide their own lunches because “they’re the customer,” an unsurprising assertion given that Fox News has repeatedly attacked first lady Michelle Obama’s healthy lunch initiative.
In May, the Fox & Friends hosts smeared a Florida teacher as a “Bible Bully” for supposedly “humiliating” a student for reading his Bible during a free reading period, even though school officials maintained that he was reading his Bible during a “classroom ‘accelerated reading’ program.” Doocy recalled the student telling the teacher, “If you have a problem with this, you need to call my dad,” with Hasselbeck nodding and saying, “That’s right.” Fox radio host Todd Starnes later joined the program to assert that “The law is very clear - this young man does have the right to read that Bible in that classroom,” and Hasselbeck recollected that the “the Supreme Court … ruled that the prayers in open town council meetings do not violate the Constitution. It was a 5-4 decision.”
Such hypocrisy makes clear that Fox News only approves of students exercising their First Amendment freedoms when it fits the network’s conservative agenda.
h/t: Hilary Tone at MMFA
BREAKING: Teachers’ strike in Highland, Illinois has ended, will start back up tomorrow
There will be school for Highland students Friday. #STL— FOX2now (@FOX2now) September 18, 2014
#BREAKING Highland, Ill. teachers approve new 3-year contract, end strike.— KSDK NewsChannel 5 (@ksdknews) September 18, 2014
#Highland teachers vote 150-2 to accept offer from district. Classes resume Friday.— jessicabock (@jessicabock) September 18, 2014
On his radio program yesterday, Georgia GOP U.S. House nominee Jody Hice blamed court decisions barring school-sponsored prayer and the display of religious texts in public buildings for a “downward slide” in America, including low test scores, gang violence, drugs, teenage pregnancy and “promiscuity.”
“[A]s we have removed prayer and Bible and our Christian heritage from our public school, what has been the counter consequence?” he asked. “Has behavior increased or decreased? Has education gotten better or worse? Have our overall citizenship, our citizenry, have we become a better place to live or a worse place to live? Is there more drugs or less? More gang violence or less? More teenage pregnancy or less? More promiscuity or less?”
“Folks, across the board we have suffered,” he concluded.
In fact, teen pregnancy rates have been falling steadily over the past two decades as has the rate of sexual activity among teens, and in 2011 violent crime in the U.S. fell to the lowest rate in 40 years, a trend that has persisted. But somehow we don’t think Hice meant to credit the separation of church and state for these positive trends.
So we had in 1952 a clear understanding of the role of religion in our public life, even in our schools. Then shortly thereafter we had the beginning of a reinterpretation of the First Amendment, a reinterpretation of separation of church and state as it applies to the public school system.
And wow, have we been on a downward slide ever since. Removing prayer, then removing the Bible, then removing religious documents such as the Ten Commandments, which of course has led to the removal of other symbols and so forth, and then removal of benedictions and invocations at any kind of school event or activity.
And I just want to ask you, what kind of behavior, as we have removed prayer and Bible and our Christian heritage from our public school, what has been the counter consequence? Has behavior increased or decreased? Has education gotten better or worse? Have our overall citizenship, our citizenry, have we become a better place to live or a worse place to live? Is there more drugs or less? More gang violence or less? More teenage pregnancy or less? More promiscuity or less? What has happened in our society as we have removed our religious heritage from being taught, from even being allowed in our public schools?
Folks, across the board we have suffered. Education scores have gone down, violence and crime has gone up and we are witnessing more and more of the consequence of those decisions.
h/t: Miranda Blue at RWW
The law prohibits you from spanking your boss, your employee, your spouse, your best friend, or a stranger you walk past on the street.
GETTING SPANKED AS A CHILD MAKES PEOPLE MORE LIKELY TO SUFFER FROM MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS AS ADULTS
But in the United States, it’s still perfectly legal to spank your own children.
This is because state laws only define physical abuse as any “unreasonably” violent actions that leave a mark on a child. Spanking and other less severe types of physical punishment generally don’t count — and as a result, about 90 percent of American parents resort to spanking at one time or another.
Research, though, tells us that getting spanked as a child can leave a discernible mark on people: it makes people more likely to suffer from addiction, depression, and other mental health problems as adults. This is one reason why 37 countries have explicitly banned all physical punishment of children — even by parents — since 1979.
Even our own existing state laws generally define child abuse as “endangering a child’s physical or emotional health and development.” By this standard — and given what we’ve recently learned from research — any form of physical punishment violates children’s rights, whether it’s done by a teacher or parents.
Over the past century, we’ve gradually expanded the legal rights of children to protect against physical abuse, with the state recognizing a responsibility to curtail parents’ rights in this area. Here’s the case for why we should extend this to ban all forms of physical punishment, including spanking.
Spanking isn’t effective
There’s a reason why the American Academy of Pediatrics — along with most leading psychologists — strongly recommend that parents do not spank their children: research shows it’s an especially ineffective form of punishment.
MOST PSYCHOLOGISTS STRONGLY RECOMMEND AGAINST SPANKING
Spanking may temporarily force a child to stop doing something wrong, but it’s not a long term solution. “Hitting a child only results in fear and obedience,” says Karin Österman, a developmental psychologist who’s conducted research into the effects of physical punishment. “It does not enhance the child’s understanding of why a certain behavior is undesirable.”
It also communicates that violence is an appropriate way of dealing with a problem. As a result, research shows,children that are spanked become more likely to get into fights with peers and engage in antisocial behavior.
Of course, just because a punishment isn’t effective doesn’t mean that it should be outlawed. But other recent research provides a compelling reason why it should:
Spanking causes real, long-term damage
Researchers have long known that more severe child abuse leads to long-term mental problems. Obviously, the physical pain kids experience immediately makes abuse unacceptable, but the way it makes them more likely to suffer from depression, PTSD, addiction problems, and other mental disorders as adults is equally troubling.
Spanking may not cause the same sort of instant physical harm — but research increasingly indicates it leads to the same type of long-term mental damage.
PEOPLE WHO ARE SPANKED ARE MORE LIKELY TO COMMIT CRIMES, ABUSE THEIR SPOUSES, AND ATTEMPT SUICIDE AS ADULTS
There’s evidence that when children are spanked, their cognitive development slows. Later on, as adults, they’re more prone to suffering from mood disorders and addiction problems and more likely to commit crimes or abuse their spouses or children. They’re more likely to attempt suicide.
All this might come as a surprise, but it makes sense in the context of physical child abuse as a whole. The longest-lasting problems caused by abuse are generally mental, not physical.
The difference between severe beatings and spanking isn’t one of kind, but one of degree. This is true both for how the punishment is carried out, but also how it affects the developing brain.
“The link between child abuse and negative health effects in adulthood has long been known,” says Österman, who recently studied the long-term effects of Finland’s 1983 spanking ban. “Our study shows that adults who were victims of physical punishment during childhood suffer the same types of symptoms in adulthood.”
Her study was especially interesting because it compared kids who’d grown up before and after the ban went into place. The law was found to reduce spanking across all socioeconomic groups, but the strong link between spanking and long-term negative mental health remained in place — reducing the chance that it was a random correlation caused by unrelated socioeconomic factors.
Banning spanking is part of the broader development of laws that protect children
The idea of a law against spanking might seem like a sudden government intrusion on the rights of parents. But the truth is that parents’ and adults’ supposed “rights” have steadily been giving way to children’s actual rights for some time now — and that the US is actually behind much of the world in this area.
FOR MOST OF HUMAN HISTORY, CHILDREN HAD NO RIGHTS AGAINST PHYSICAL ABUSE AT ALL
For most of human history, children had no rights against physical abuse at all: in most societies, a parent was free to beat them however they saw fit. In the US, during the early and mid 20th century, laws were gradually passed that protected children from physical and sexual abuse, along with neglect.
Most recently, 37 nations have banned all forms of physical punishment, including spanking. The earliest laws came in 1979, but the movement has been accelerating as of late — 29 countries have enacted bans since 2000.
Countries with laws that ban all physical punishment of children
In the US, some states have recognized that spanking is abuse — but only when it comes at the hand of someone other than a parent. 30 states have banned all sorts of physical punishment in schools.
States that ban all forms of physical punishment in school (shown in blue):
For comparison, in addition to the 24 nations in Europe that have banned physical punishment entirely, every single European country has banned it in school.
International law has also moved in the direction of banning all forms of physical punishment of children — including spanking. 194 countries have signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty that commits them to “protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence.” In 2007, the UN committee explicitly interpreted this as forbidding physical all punishment. There are three UN states, though, that still haven’t ratified it: Somalia, South Sudan and the US.
It’s time to ban spanking in the US too
Laws that ban spanking — and explicitly define all physical punishment as abuse — have been proposed in the Massachusetts and California state legislatures in recent years. Both were controversial, though, and were ultimately voted down.
Support for anti-spanking laws is is high among child psychologists, researchers, and other experts. Still, about 81 percent of American adults feel spanking is sometimes necessary to properly discipline a child. The most common argument for spanking usually goes “I got spanked as a child, and I turned out fine.”
But the link between spanking and long-term mental problems doesn’t mean everyone who gets spanked will suffer them — just that they increase the chance of them as a whole. Given that physical punishment also doesn’t work in the short term, it makes sense to err on the side of the child.
WHETHER PUNISHMENT LEAVES A MARK ON THE SKIN OR IN THE BRAIN IS UNIMPORTANT
The other main argument is that the state shouldn’t be in the business of policing parents. Banning spanking might make for more effective parenting, the argument goes, but so would forcing parents to read to their children every night. Ultimately, it’s up to parents to determine how to raise their children.
That’s a stance that makes sense for many aspects of child-raising — but one that we don’t take when it comes to matters of basic well-being and abuse. Over the 20th century, public opinion shifted as we came to accept that the state had a responsibility to prevent parents from beating their children.
Until now, we’ve made a strange distinction: recognizing this responsibility for punishment that leaves broken bones, bruises, or other physical signs of pain, but permitting less severe forms of physical punishment that do not, like spanking. New research, however, is telling us that these so-called “reasonable” forms of physical punishment still make an indelible mark on a child’s brain, increasing the chance of depression, addiction, and other mental disorders down the road.
The discussion here shouldn’t be about parents’ rights, but children’s. Physical punishment as a whole should be banned. Whether the mark it leaves is on the skin or inside the brain is unimportant.
The five students are the grandchildren of Cliven Bundy, a rancher who has previously engaged in armed clashes with the U.S. government over the use of federal land. The incident that sparked the removal involved Bundy’s 15-year-old granddaughter whose school refused to allow her to bring a pocketknife to school, according to television station KSNV.
Her father, Ryan Bundy, disagreed with the school’s labeling of the knife as a weapon and, per KSNV, said he has inculcated in his children the need to always carry a knife. His children affirmed his stance, saying that they utilize knives for chores but don’t wield them as weapons.
"They’re trying to make my child a criminal – and any other child a criminal – for simply having something, and that is not right," Bundy said.
Bundy said he hopes the administration will allow the pocketknives on campus so that the issue can be resolved, a sentiment his daughter echoes.
"I hope that somehow (sic) figures this out because I still would like to go to this school," she said. "I really don’t want to be homeschooled."
h/t: Ahiza Garcia at TPM
Opposition to the educational standards known as Common Core has come from an array of Tea Party groups, conservative think-tanks, Glenn Beck, and the Koch Brothers’ Americans for Prosperity — and a few voices on the left as well. But one of the most active sources of opposition has been an unlikely group: a Christian conservative organization that works to defend the rights of homeschooling parents.
Homeschoolers are not actually covered by the educational standards. Still, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) has spent tens of thousands of dollars in opposition to the Core State Standards Initiative, including federal lobbying, a microsite, and even a fully produced 39-minute documentary. According to a press release, “HSLDA has been opposing Common Core since 2009 and, as public concern over the standards grew, HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris decided that creating a film about the standards would be the best way to make information about Common Core widely available.” While HSLDA has tried to present these public school standards as an “immediate threat” to homeschooling families, critics from inside and outside of the homeschool movement wonder if it is part of a pattern of fear-mongering by an organization eager to maintain its membership base.
‘Jerry Falwell’s Lieutenant’
In 2009, the governors and state education commissioners from 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands joined together to establish a set of standards for K-12 English-language arts and math education. But while that Common Core was initially embraced by governors of both parties, growing opposition from conservatives has pushed some Republican governors and legislators to drop the benchmarks.
Among its most fervent opponents are the Home School Legal Defense Association and its founder Michael Farris. An attorney and ordained Baptist minister, Farris joined with J. Michael Smith in 1983 to establish an organization to provide advocacy and legal representation for parents who chose to educate their children at home. Farris was a already veteran of the Christian Right movement, having worked against the Equal Rights Amendment under anti-feminist legend Phyllis Schlafly in the 1970s, as head of the legal department at Concerned Women for America, and as a state director for Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority in the early 1980s. Today, HSLDA estimates its current membership as about 82,000 families. The organization, based in Purcellville, VA, reported in 2013 that its annual budget is more than $10 million.
A self-described “Christian organization,” HSLDA came to prominence as a growing number of conservative Christians, fed up with secular public schools, decided to educate their children in their own preferred way. Farris, in a video on the organization’s site explains, “Homeschooling has given us a way to obey God’s command to teach our children to love God as we go through the day… the only way to make that practical, to implement the command about teaching kids to love God, in the way that he prescribed, that I’ve figured out, is homeschooling.” Milton Gaither, a homeschooling historian and an associate professor of education at Messiah College, told ThinkProgress that as homeschooling became “an increasingly popular option for conservative Christians” in the 1980s, HSLDA created mailing lists, magazines, and an organizational structure to organize them. “HSLDA was able to corner the market,” Gaither said, “and by 1990 they were running the show and were pretty much the face of homeschooling.” In 1993, HSLDA reached a major milestone: homeschooling was legal in all 50 states.
Some homeschooling advocates were not thrilled that the movement’s most visible organization was and remains a religious one. Mark Hegener, publisher of Home Education Magazine, told ThinkProgress that Farris’ “approach is a narrow religious agenda, and homeschooling is just his shtick.” While the movement had been initially diverse and inclusive in its early days in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Heneger thinks HSLDA made homeschoolers seem like a homogeneous community of Bible “thumpers.” While he acknowledges the Christian homeschoolers represented by Farris and his organization have a right to be exclusive, Hegener does not believe they have a “right to be exclusive and speak for everybody.” Still, he said, while more inclusive homeschoolers attempted to band together to create a counterweight, the more individualist homeschooling families were not interested in a “top-down” centralized national organization and efforts were largely unsuccessful.
As head of HSDLA, Farris became a national spokesman for the homeschooling movement and one of the country’s most vocal critics of public schools. A 1993 Washington Post profile noted that, in his 1990 book Home Schooling and the Law, Farris argued that “Christian beliefs have been thoroughly eradicated from public schools,” and those schools are a “multi-billion-dollar inculcation machine” to push “secular humanism and new age religions.” It also quoted Farris as describing public schools as “godless” promoters of “evolution, hedonism and one-world government.”
While Farris was making a name for himself in the homeschooling world, he was also dipping his toes into politics. Relying on his prominence within the burgeoning Christian Right movement, Farris won the 1993 Republican nomination to be Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. Ron Faucheux of Campaigns & Elections called the general election contest “one of the nastiest campaigns ever waged for a statewide office.” His campaign energized religious conservatives and received the strong support of Christian Coalition founder and televangelist Pat Robertson. But his ideology and previous statements proved problematic. His Democratic opponent attacked him as “Jerry Falwell’s lieutenant,” called him “rigid and extreme” and highlighted Farris’ previous work in trying to get books he believed promoted “Secular Humanism” removed from public schools. Quotes, like one from his 1992 book opining that “wives have a duty to be a loving and submissive aid to their husbands,” proved controversial, even for many within his own party. Though Farris repudiated some of his earlier writings, saying that did “not accurately represent” his views, even the state’s Republican U.S. Senator John Warner refused to back him and Farris lost by nearly 9 points (as the Republican nominee for governor won by a more than 17-point landslide).
CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
After the loss, Farris changed his sights from politics to higher education. In 1999, he broke ground on Patrick Henry College, a place for homeschooled students and others to prepare for political leadership. The college, also located in Purcellville, VA, was designed to be a Christian college to train students to work “for Christ and for Liberty.” Students at Patrick Henry must agree to a strict religious covenant, must promise to refrain from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, to attend religious services regularly, and to abstain from premarital sex and dating (which Farris has called “serial infidelity.”) Farris has frequently expressed his dream that alumni will go on to win Academy Awards and the White House.
While the school is not legally affiliated with the homeschooling association, HSLDA helped found Patrick Henry College, continues to helps fund it, and shares the same land. Working an estimated 50 hours a week between his dual roles as chancellor of Patrick Henry College and chairman of HSLDA, Farris receives an annual compensation package of nearly $400,000 as he continues to work toward advancing his mission: combining God and the classroom under one roof.
‘Trampling the Constitution and education freedom’
Though opponents have tried to convince parents that the Common Core is a massive federal plot to usurp state and local control of education with a national curriculum — some even labeling it “Obamacore” — it is not actually even a federal program, nor a curriculum.
National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) devised the set of standards, which lay out what public school students should be expected to know and understand by the time the graduate high school. All 50 states already had state standards in place, and the plan included “an explicit agreement that no state would lower its standards.” The goals were devised in 2009 by a panel of education experts, including representatives from standardized testing providers like ACT and College Board. Through their membership in the NGA, the elected governors of nearly every state agreed to set these goals, though they did not “define how the standards should be taught or which materials should be used to support students.” These goals, generally speaking, apply only to public school students.
Education reform advocates, including the Center for American Progress, the American Federation of Teachers, and the National Education Association have embraced the Common Core standards, while encouraging an implementation that provides adequate support to the teachers and schools who will be tasked with helping students meet its goals. (The Center for American Progress has received grant funding for its work on Common Core implementation.)
While no state is required to participate in the Common Core standards, the Department of Education has offered some carrots to encourage adoption of high state standards, in general. These included grants via the Race to the Top portion of the 2009 stimulus law and waivers allowing states to opt-out of some No Child Left Behind requirements if they have switched to college and career ready standards. But adopting Common Core was not a requirement for either.
One of the Common Core’s strongest supporters has been a conservative educational think-tank called the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Michael Brickman, the organization’s national policy director, told ThinkProgress that while the federal government was not involved in crafting the standards, the federal incentives “painted a false impression that the federal government was behind” Common Core and led to opposition by groups like HSLDA. “I don’t think we’d be having this conversation if the federal government hadn’t incentivized states to adopt these standards — a very small portion of an optional grant program.”
This claim of a federal takeover is one of a series of objections Michael Farris and his Home School Legal Defense Association have cited in their massive anti-Common Core campaign. In 2013, on his Home School Heartbeat two-minute daily radio program, Farris did a series of segments with Estrada, outlining their opposition to the Common Core. In one segment, Estrada said, “We are seeing nothing less than the federal government pressuring states to adopt the Common Core and change their curriculum.” Farris responded that this was “one more example of the federal government trampling the Constitution and educational freedom.”
The most expensive part of the group’s campaign against Common Core was its 2014 documentary, Building the Machine. Farris described the film as “presented in a way that shows both sides arguing their case — but when you watch it, the opposition to the Common Core is so much more sensible than those that are promoting it, there’s no doubt left behind.” It would convince, Farris predicted, “people that are in the middle that this is a dangerous program.” (Farris told Tea Party activists in the same speech that Common Core is “the worst of the lot” of federal education programs, is an “evil idea,” and that his broader goal is “chopping off head of the snake entirely” by amending the constitution to ensure the federal government will no longer be able to use the “general welfare” clause of the constitution to interfere with education.)
CREDIT: HSLDA’S YOUTUBE ACCOUNT
The movie features an array of attacks on Common Core. A Cato Institute scholar suggests that it was not the “will” of people because they don’t vote for governors based on what they will do at the National Governors Association. Two members of the Common Core’s validation committee who did not back the final standards express their disappointment with what their former colleagues adopted. A journalism teacher objects to having standards and testing at all as a formula for a society where everyone is “mushed out to be the same.” A researcher from the Heartland Institute makes the odd claim that “we have no track record and the track record we have points against Common Core.” Farris himself appears to decry “systemization, and centralization, and data collection.” The Fordham Institute put out a point-by-point refutation of what it called “spurious accusations” in the documentary.
Almost no mention of homeschoolers is made in the film.
Protecting homeschoolers from birth control and same-sex marriage
One common attack on HSLDA has been that its work often extends to topics that are not directly connected to the rights of homeschoolers. So far this year, its federal lobbyists have worked to stop ratification of treaties, including U.N. Conventions on the Rights of the Child, the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, as well as passage of a bill to prevent corporations from denying birth control coverage in their healthcare benefits. HSLDA’s Estrada told ThinkProgess that the organization is concerned that the treaties include language protecting the “best interest of the child,” which could directly impact parents who disagree with the United Nation’s interpretation of that standard, and that the bill would undermine free speech and religious liberty.
In 2006, the group even lobbied for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. A statement on the group’s website explained that because “Same-sex marriage attacks the traditions of the family in western civilization,” it thus constitutes an “attack on parental rights.” Estrada said that the group no longer lobbies on this issue and that he did not know why it had done so then.
Ryan Stollar, executive director of Homeschool Alumni Reaching Out (a group of former homeschoolers who work within the movement to protect the rights of current homeschool kids), told ThinkProgress that he believes the issues the leaders of HSLDA “have chosen and continue to choose to focus on are not necessarily that issues that are in the best interest of the homeschooling movement,” and may be “actively jeopardizing” it. He cites “right-wing extremism,” positing that “making opposition to same-sex marriage a homeschooling issue is shooting [themselves] in the foot” in their attempt to represent the broader movement. “It alienates so many people,” he said, and the group’s thus-far successful work to block the disability treaty, for example, is “not connected” to homeschooling and “atrocious.”
Robert Kunzman, an expert on homeschooling and professor at the Indiana University Bloomington, told ThinkProgress, “To the extent that they believe it to be a threat, you can’t fault them for deciding that’s where to put their energies. But some of the issues they’re taking on are pretty far afield from homeschooling.” Among these questionably-related issues, he observed, is the Common Core.
‘Selling peace of mind to members’
HSLDA is not a typical advocacy organization. Rather than simply collecting donations, it offers members an informal insurance policy for $120 annually, serving as a legal team for parents who homeschool their kids and might face any interference from the government. HSLDA says that while it “cannot guarantee representation in every case,” it comes “to the aid of our members and many nonmembers whenever possible.”
HSLDA is “selling peace of mind to members,” Rachel Coleman, a homeschooling alum who leads the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, observed. But, she told ThinkProgress, “to convince people that they should be members, [HSLDA must] convince those parents that there is a reason for that. It’s helpful to them to present every little thing as a threat to homeschooling.”It’s helpful to them to present every little thing as a threat to homeschooling.
Over the years, this “fear-mongering” charge has been one of the most frequent knocks on HSLDA. Gaither of Messiah College said the organization uses a “constant, steady stream of alarmist rhetoric of ‘what the federal government is doing is a threat,” with Farris spreading “constant fear that the federal government is getting bigger and bigger, more and more secular, [and is] destroying the creation of our forefathers.”
Kunzman concurred, telling ThinkProgress that he has frequently heard people in homeschool community criticize HSLDA as a group that “only survives financially by continuing to manufacture crises. That’s how they fundraise. Threats to homeschool freedom get the base riled up, so people contributing believe they need legal protection and political advocacy.” This victimization narrative has proven beneficial to the organization in good times and bad, he suggested: “If they win something, it’s great promotion of their services. If they lose, it’s ‘the threat is real and you’d better support us.’”
HSLDA dismissed these criticisms. Will Estrada, the organization’s director of federal relations, told ThinkProgress in a telephone interview that the group hears from some who think they “blow things up” out of proportion and others who think their tactics are not reactive enough. “Some of these people are a little too naïve. We see on a daily basis attempts to restrict homeschool freedom,” he said, noting that while the group does its best to share “the truth from our legal experience of 30 years, you can’t make everyone happy.”
Gaither also observed that while “Jesus in the Gospel says you can’t serve God and money,” some critics believe the organization’s leadership wants to be pure, but also to be well paid. Estrada also rejected any suggestion that Farris and the eight other HSLDA employees making upwards of $110,000 annually are unduly profiting from an organization that calls itself a Christian organization. “[Michael] Farris hasn’t had a vacation in years,” said Estrada, and “a lot of these people could be making way more than they are making” if they went to a K Street law firm.
Will the Common Core impact homeschooling?
An article in HSLDA’s quarterly Home School Court Report magazine entitled “Common Core testing affects homeschoolers this year,” warns that a small number of Tennessee homeschoolers who affiliate with local school districts instead of church schools could be forced to take a test based on the Common Core Standards. The same article also notes that even those families “have a good legal argument to avoid it.”
CREDIT: HSLDA’S COMMON CORE MICROSITE
For a full explanation of why HSLDA opted to get involved in Common Core, one must turn to the group’s anti-Common Core website. It spells out three major arguments as to how the Common Core represents a threat to homeschooling: data tracking, college admission standards, and standardized testing.
HSLDA says that “perhaps the most immediate threat to homeschool and private school students is the expansion of statewide longitudinal databases,” citing an Oklahoma official who proposed including homeschoolers in the data collection process. “In light of the growing revelations that the government is engaging in massive invasion of privacy in spheres other than education,” the group warns, “it is utterly impossible to believe that these databases will not be mined and misused to serve the ulterior purposes of a centralized government intent on growing its own power.”
Estrada told ThinkProgress that while he is not aware of any evidence that data-collection harms homeschooled children or impedes parents, he said he sees no reason that the federal government, states, or businesses need “all this information on kids.” “Whether data held by outside entities will make it so kids can’t homeschool isn’t really the question,” he suggested, “The question is why do they have it and should they have it.”
The other major concern is that if states have common standards for the public schools, standardized tests like SAT, ACT, and GED will be aligned to the Common Core and homeschooling parents who opt not to use Common Core curricula will see their kids do poorly and not get into college. Warning that kids taking these examinations might “soon encounter progressive ideologies including social engineering and alternative lifestyles,” HSLDA claims on its website, homeschool students who “are not adherents to the Common Core” could “find themselves at a significant disadvantage come test time.” Additionally, it claims that colleges and universities are “being pressured to adapt their standards for college readiness to the Common Core standards.”Students taking the redesigned SAT, ACT, or the Iowa Tests could soon encounter progressive ideologies including social engineering and alternative lifestyles.
ThinkProgress contacted ACT Inc. (the non-profit company behind the ACT test), GED Testing Service(the public-private partnership behind the GED test), and College Board (the non-profit behind the SAT and AP tests) to see whether such a re-alignment was imminent. Ed Colby, director of public relations for ACT Inc. explained that in fact the opposite was true: “The ACT is already aligned with the Common Core standards,” he said, because the company “helped develop those standards” and was “at the table” when they were designed. CT Turner, senior director of public affairs for GED Testing Service said that it updates its tests based on “what people need to succeed,” not Common Core — and that its recent realignment “started happening before the Common Core standards came.” Carly Lindauer, senior director of external communications at College Board, said that the newly redesigned SAT “measures the skills and knowledge that evidence shows are essential for college and career success” and “is not aligned to any single set of standards.”
ThinkProgress also spoke with a psychometrician with expertise in how these standardized tests and the admissions processes work: Wisconsin Center for Education Research associate scientist H. Gary Cook. He noted that “a lot of what’s on [existing standardized tests already] are in these standards, as ACT said.” Moreover, he noted, the tests are a tool mainly for colleges and universities to determine who will likely succeed in their first year. While the “indirect customers” for these tests are “the people who take them,” the “primary customer of ACT and SAT are universities,” he explained, “If these didn’t work, universities wouldn’t use them.” As such, he said, he does not “see ACT or SAT” being coerced to adapt their core assessments to fit Common Core.
Estrada conceded that this concern has not proven an issue so far and said that HSLDA is in the process of updating that part of the site. “We’re watching very closely, it’s something we’re concerned about. But at this point it doesn’t look like the effect is going to be where we thought two to three years ago.” He suggested that this may be, in part, that with states like Texas not adopting Common Core, it became harder to create a nationalized curriculum. Either way, he said, homeschoolers continue to do well on the tests: “I love being proven wrong by homeschoolers when they’ve done so well and their education is so good, they come back and ace these tests even though they’ve never really been prepared for them.”
In his book Write These Laws On Your Children, homeschooling expert Robert Kunzman quoted Farris expressing concern that standardized testing is not going to be a fair measurement because content validity can’t be attained for so many different homeschooling experiences: “The problem is that all of this is entirely subjective. There is no such thing as an objective standard. A test is fair, according to due process standards, only if it measure the content of what you’ve been taught… you’d have to write an individualized, content-valid standardized test for every child that’s being homeschooled in America. You just can’t do that.” But despite his stated concern that homeschoolers might be disadvantaged by standardized tests, the school he founded and leads, Patrick Henry College, requires applicants to submit an SAT or ACT score. ThinkProgress was unable to talk with Farris nor another Patrick Henry College spokesman about his concerns about standardized testing and the college’s admissions policies.
Luis A. Huerta, an associate professor and coordinator of the education and policy program at Columbia University’s Teachers College, told ThinkProgress that he thinks HSLDA and homeschoolers have some reason to be cautious of Common Core. “If [Common Core affects] external metrics that are the gateway to college, this potential hurts the content of instruction they engage in as private homeschoolers,” he explained, adding, “I think they’re against this because it has the potential to change a lot of things.” At the same time, he said, this campaign could be yet another wedge issue that will boost HSLDA membership: “If they publicize potential ills, might this be the force that brings [lapsed members] back home to HSLDA?”
Messiah University’s Gaither observed that while he does see a lot of concern about Common Core homeschool online chat rooms, it is most often from people who do not seem to understand what the standards are. For HSLDA, he suspects, Common Core is another attempt to scare parents into thinking it’s a threat “so people will give money,” at a time when membership growth has slowed (its official membership total was about 3,000 families higher at the time of Kunzman’s 2009 book).Parents and teachers are saying ‘We’re tired of all of these top-down mandates. To heck with it, we’re gonna homeschool.’
Whether this is part of the intent of the effort or not, HSLDA’s Estrada noted one other apparent impact of the campaign against Common Core: more homeschoolers. “I talk to families on an almost daily basis who are frustrated, not so much with Common Core, but who see it as the last straw. Parents and teachers are saying ‘We’re tired of all of these top-down mandates. To heck with it, we’re gonna homeschool.’” While he doesn’t know if it will be massive, “anecdotally, we see a lot of it.” He said they have not made a “concerted campaign” to recruit people based on their fear of having their kids in public schools aligned to the standards, but noted, “I’ve said, once or twice, on panels, ‘If you’re concerned about the Common Core, now’s a great time to homeschool!’”
Still, so far, Estrada admitted, Common Core has not actually affected homeschoolers. “But homeschoolers have seen what happens [when there are] centralized, standardized policies in place that affect all kids in education. We were founded in 1983 when most states criminalized homeschooling.” The Home School Legal Defense Association, he said, is fighting it now “before people say ‘all 50 states have Common Core. Why are those homeschool kids not getting the same education?’”
ThinkProgress intern Shannon Greenwood contributed to this report.
ThinkProgress is an editorially independent project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
For the past three nights, Shaila Evans has packed her book bag and set it by the front door hoping to go to school the next day. And every morning she has been disappointed.
The Ferguson-Florissant School District was supposed to begin classes Thursday, August 14. Owing to the protests and riots, the district postponed the beginning of the school year to the following Monday, August 18, but then canceled classes for the entire week altogether.
"She’s really anxious to start school," says her mother, Janeatha Evans. "She loves school, and she’s been saying how she wants to start learning and making new friends."
Shaila used to attend Griffith Elementary but will start third grade at New Halls Ferry Elementary this year.
Teachers at Walnut Grove Elementary are just as anxious.
At 9 a.m. Tuesday morning, a couple of Walnut Grove teachers and other volunteers stood outside the Ferguson Public Library, a few blocks north of the Ferguson Police Department, waving signs that read “Teachers Here to Teach” and “Students Welcome.”Photo by Mitch RyalsOutside the Ferguson Public Library where teachers and volunteers spend the day with students after the first day of school was pushed back again.
Carrie Pace — sometimes called Mrs. Paste by the students because she’s an art teacher at Walnut Grove — spearheaded the collaboration with the Ferguson Public Library to provide students with a place to learn despite school being canceled.
"We’re trying to provide a positive and productive place for students," she says. "A place for them to come and do something educational and meet up with other students."
A meeting room in the back of the cozy library buzzes with schoollike chatter. One teacher reads a book aloud to a group of kids while another helps students draw and make posters. One poster reads: “Stop the violence. Let kids go back to school.” Another table is dedicated to science lessons and one to math.
Shaila and Janeatha have fun with the glue. Janeatha writes each of their names in glue on colored construction paper. Then she mixes food coloring with sugar and sprinkles it on the glue.
"It’s nice to see this to take the kids’ minds off riots and war zones," Janeatha says. "[Shaila] understands the situation and the protests, but she doesn’t get the violence and destroying property."
About 30 kids filtered in and out by midafternoon, and Pace expected more to come before the teachers and volunteers left at 4 p.m. They’ll be at the library again today from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., but Pace is uncertain about Thursday and Friday. The staff is required to attend a professional development session that will address crisis-management counseling on those days.
"I’m hoping we can get enough parents and retired teachers and other volunteers so we can keep this going Thursday and Friday as well," she said. "I’m hopeful it will happen Thursday and Friday."
The Ferguson-Florissant School District is scheduled to resume classes Monday, August 25. The nearby Jennings and Riverview districts also canceled school yesterday, but they resumed today.
WASHINGTON — Though the network of conservative groups funded by billionaires Charles and David Koch are better known for spending millions on top-tier Senate and gubernatorial races, they may be having a more durable impact at the local level.
A report released Thursday by the left-leaning Center for American Progress Action Fund compiles example after example of how Americans for Prosperity is mobilizing supporters to campaign against local tax increases and mass transit systems and for like-minded candidates running for school and county boards. Americans for Prosperity is a key player in the Koch-affiliated universe, with chapters in 35 states.
Among the local targets cited was a proposed tax increase to provide a permanent source of funding for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. After Americans for Prosperity’s Ohio chapter mailed fliers, made calls, ran radio ads and knocked on thousands of doors, the proposal was defeated.
"There is no issue we won’t get involved in if you’re going to raise taxes," Eli Miller, director of the Ohio chapter, told a local NPR affiliate in April.
The CAP Action Fund report suggests that the Ohio effort was aimed less at protecting local pocketbooks and more at protecting Koch-affiliated business interests in Columbus. Georgia-Pacific Chemicals, a Koch Industries subsidiary, would have seen its property taxes go up at one facility if the levy had passed.
Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D), who leads the action fund, said that the Kochs are interfering with the ability of local communities to “determine what’s right” for them.
"The local business community was largely supportive of the zoo levy," Strickland told The Huffington Post. "It’s kind of ironic, because some of the people who in the past have perhaps been cheerleaders for the Kochs, as they have attempted to use their wealth in order to get conservative candidates elected to office, are now perhaps a little unhappy that the Kochs are behaving in ways that are not consistent with their goals — and that was certainly true with what happened in Columbus with regards to the zoo levy. They’re willing to spend whatever they need to cripple and limit government."
The report also highlights a fight over a proposed mass transit system in Nashville. The Amp, a 7.1-mile rapid transit bus project, never received the go-ahead after Americans for Prosperity’s Tennessee affiliate encouraged state senators to introduce a measure aimed at preventing cities from establishing rapid transit systems that would use separate road lanes. Though a coalition of business and community groups were in favor of the proposal, it fizzled.
The report argues that in the Nashville example, the Koch network was motivated by a belief that public transit would threaten the brothers’ oil and gas interests.
Almost no issue appears to be too small for the Kochs’ activists. Americans for Prosperity jumped into an Iron County board of supervisors election in northern Wisconsin to attack candidates opposed to an iron ore mine. The group also flexed its organizing muscle over a 1.75 percent food and beverage tax in Fremont, Nebraska, to fund emergency capital improvement projects and a 1 percent tax increase in Gahanna, Ohio, to prevent cuts to the local police force.
"What does David Koch know about the city of Gahanna?" Strickland asked.
The Kochs, he argued, “are willing to spend vast sums of unreported money to interfere with the decisions that should rightfully be made by local communities. If you look across the country, they are using their wealth to try to control what happens at the local level, to the detriment of schools, teachers, firefighters and infrastructure development. If they are successful, if they achieve their goals, it will be detrimental to the country because the decision-making is coming from the top down.”
Local education issues are another area arousing Koch interest. The network has worked to roll back efforts aimed at integrating schools in North Carolina and promoted school board candidates in Douglas County, Colorado, who supported abolishing teacher tenure, benching teachers’ unions, implementing voucher programs and paying teachers based on the subject and grade they instruct.
The CAP Action Fund report also flags a Huffington Post story about the Youth Entrepreneurs nonprofit, funded primarily by Charles Koch, which pays public school students to take courses espousing lower taxes and fewer regulations and deploring higher minimum wages and social welfare programs.
Strickland framed his group’s report as an effort at raising public awareness about the “selfish” motivations of the Kochs’ political involvement.
"I think there are many people, even in the communities affected by these efforts, who are largely unaware that these wealthy outside interests are having an impact on what happens there," he said. "The Koch brothers are looking out for themselves and their own economic interests, but they cloak that in a kind of political and economic philosophy that allows them to pretend to be high-minded in their motivations. Their motivations are selfish and people need to know that. Once people understand the threat to the democratic process and understand the source of that threat, we will be better able to help local communities protect themselves from these efforts."
Americans for Prosperity has a different take. It sees its local campaigns as a way to reach voters who wouldn’t otherwise show up for a federal election and bring them into the network.
"It’s a little frustrating when someone says, ‘Oh, this is a political effort about the U.S. Senate,’" Americans for Prosperity President Tim Phillips told National Journal in June. “They don’t look at the totality of what Americans for Prosperity is doing.”
"We’re genuinely a long-term effort," he added. "We’re not about some election cycle."
Another day, another example of the Religious Right’s persecution complex. On today’s edition of “Sandy Rios in the Morning,” listeners heard the sad tale of Laurie Higgins, a cultural analyst at the American Family Association-affiliated Illinois Family Institute, who spoke of the “liberal intolerance” and “persecution” she encountered in her previous work as a high school administrator.
Higgins described how she was demoted and shunned by her colleagues because she spoke out against “pro-homosexual resources,” like “Angels in America,” being available to students in the school library. She was also frustrated by the school’s “complete unwillingness” to include resources on LGBT issues that offered “opposing views.”
Rios and Higgins were shocked that no parents, teachers, or pastors came out in support of her or “dared to stand up for their own faith” in fear of the “authoritarian regime” of the school system.
“The halcyon days of being Christian in America are over,” warned Higgins.
In anticipation of the oppression ahead, Higgins advised: “Churches need to do a better job of preparing Christians to endure persecution, because it’s coming.” In her view, if parents and pastors aren’t actively driving LGBT books out of every school library, they “aren’t willing to suffer for Christ.”