School Choice

Herman Cain, KKK Crackers, and Snuffing The Seed of One Of Your Hoes

Given that some polls are now showing Herman Cain leading the Republican presidential field, do you think that maybe someone in the media might be able to get around to asking him about his role in the 2006 radio ad campaign that the Bush administration called "inappropriate" and the RNC called "racist"? 

Here is a refresher:  Back in 2006, an organization called America's PAC was formed for the purpose of spending $1 million to get Black and Hispanic voters to support Republican candidates with absurdly over-the-top and offensive radio ads:

The group, America's Pac, began running ads last month in more than two dozen congressional districts.The campaign discusses issues ranging from warrantless wiretapping to school choice, but the most inflammatory spots pertain to abortion.

"Black babies are terminated at triple the rate of white babies," a female announcer in one of the ads says, as rain, thunder, and a crying infant are heard in the background. "The Democratic Party supports these abortion laws that are decimating our people, but the individual's right to life is protected in the Republican platform. Democrats say they want our vote.Why don't they want our lives?"

...

Another spot attempts to link Democrats to a white supremacist who served as a Republican in the Louisiana Legislature, David Duke.The ad makes reference to Duke's trip to Syria last year, where he spoke at an anti-war rally.

"I can understand why a Ku Klux Klan cracker like David Duke makes nice with the terrorists,"a male voice in the ad says. "What I want to know is why so many of the Democrat politicians I helped elect are on the same side of the Iraq war as David Duke."

According to the New York Sun, Herman Cain was the spokesperson for the group and personally voiced some of the radio ads:

The group referred calls from The New York Sun to a conservative, African-American talk show host who voiced some of the ads, Herman Cain.

"The main thing that America's Pac is up to is it basically is challenging the thesis or the belief on the part of the Republican Party that they cannot attract the black vote," Mr. Cain said. He said similar advertisements run in 2004 helped boost President Bush's share of the black vote in Ohio to 16%, from 9% in 2000.

"We don't believe that was an accident," Mr. Cain said. The IRS filing indicates that the ads are running this year in 10 battleground states, including Ohio, New Mexico, and Nevada.

Mr. Cain, who once managed the Godfather's Pizza chain and ran unsuccessfully for the Senate from Georgia in 2004, said he was not troubled that Mr. Rooney, who is white, is funding ads using black voices who claim to speak on behalf of the black community."You don't have a lot of black billionaires who would want to fund something like this," he said.

We managed to track down the audio of one of America's PAC's most infamous ads a while back and uploaded it to YouTube:

Is that Cain featured in the ad?  We don't know for sure - it kind of sounds like him, but it is entirely possible that it is not him ... but since nobody seems willing to ask Cain about the ads and his role with the organization, it is impossible to know.

It is known that Cain was a voice and spokesman for the America's PAC ad series, so even if he didn't voice this particular ad, it seems worth asking him which ads he did voice and whether he feels ads about a "Ku Klux Klan cracker" or snuffing the seed of "one of your hoes" are appropriate, especially since even the RNC denounced the ad's "racist or race-baiting in intent."

Right-Wing Columnist: Eliminate Public Schools To Stop "Stalinist" LGBT History Law

Writing for the ultraconservative Crisis magazine, Kevin Ryan of Boston University’s Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character is outraged over the recently signed California law that makes sure textbooks cover important LGBT historical figures. Ryan said that the policy has a “distinct Stalinist odor” that will bolster the “gay agenda.” But Ryan has a way to respond to the new textbook law: abolish public schools. “Eliminate state-run public schools,” Ryan writes, “make a transition to one of the many school choice options” like home schooling:

Given the brute fact that the state can and does put parents in the slammer for not delivering up their children for the state approved and directed schooling, this new legislation has about it a distinct Stalinist odor. The odor is particularly strong in the nostrils of those parents who believe such grave matters as how one lives out their sexuality is not the educational province of the state bureaucrats who create the lesson plans for teachers.

It is tempting to dismiss this soon-to-be statewide curriculum as just another in a long line of outrageous and kooky, La-La Land events seemingly designed to keep the rest of us chuckling and mildly finger-wagging. However, the Sunshine State is the 800-pound gorilla of the textbook world and teachers and parents in Montana, Iowa and Georgia will surely be seeing the “gay agenda” in their next textbook adoptions.



Another idea — and one which is receiving a great boost from legislation requiring a gay-friendly curriculum — is to eliminate state-run public schools. That is, make a transition to one of the many school choice options that put parents back in charge of their children’s education.

Increasingly, the very idea of the state answering the core educational question, “what is most worth a child knowing,” is being acknowledged as dangerous and a violation of parents’ right to control the education of their children. Currently in the US the parents of well over one million children are making huge personal and financial sacrifices to homeschool their children, and the movement is growing. While motivations vary, many of these parents have withdrawn their children from the public school because of the very over-sexualized environment this new California legislation will doubtlessly intensify.

It is tempting to take solace in the idea that this latest school victory by gay activists is a step too far and will spark a revolt. However, the public school teachers unions, local, state and national, are very strong and very politically protected. The opposition is underfunded, disorganized and tends to have a short attention span.

On the other hand, if attempts to alter our children’s understanding of their sexuality and what is the correct way for them to live out their sexuality cannot arouse parents to action, what, in God’s name and our nation’s future, will?

Right Wing Round-Up

Pro-Voucher Group Working Against Recall of Union-Busting Wisconsin Republicans

An organization that backs private school vouchers is campaigning against the recall of the eight Republican Wisconsin senators who backed Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union legislation. The so-called American Federation for Children (AFC) is an ardent supporter of the voucher scheme in Milwaukee, the unsuccessful voucher program which Walker and his GOP allies want to export to other parts of the state as part of bolstering the Republicans’ attacks on public schools and teachers.

Listen to their robocall defending GOP Senator Sheila Harsdorf:

At the same time that Walker and the Republicans proposed a massive $834 million cut to public schools, endangering the state’s esteemed public education system, they seek to spend more taxpayer money on a wasteful voucher program that has been unable to improve the education of Milwaukee students. A comprehensive study in 2009 found “no overall statistically significant difference between [voucher school] and [public school] student achievement growth in either math or reading one year after they were carefully matched to each other,” and that fourth graders in the voucher program were actually performing worse than comparable public school students.

While the private school voucher scheme did nothing to improve education, it did funnel taxpayer dollars to religious schools: of the 120 schools receiving vouchers examined in the study, 95 were religious and 7 operate within a religious tradition.

Renowned education scholar Diane Ravitch, once a proponent of the so-called “school choice” movement, told OnMilwaukee.com that the voucher program “has not worked”:

Milwaukee is indeed the nation's laboratory for assessing the value of school choice. The advocates of school choice predicted that academic performance in choice schools would not only soar, but that the competitive pressure would cause achievement in the regular district schools to improve. None of this has happened. The latest studies show that students in voucher schools and in charter schools do not perform any differently from those in the regular public schools.



"Reformers" in Milwaukee have been pursuing strategies that we now know are ineffective. The more time and resources devoted to ineffective strategies, the less attention there is to finding useful improvements. Choice got the support of foundations and business leaders, but it has not worked.

Even the state schools superintendent Tom Evers agreed that “choice schools have proven to be no more effective and in some cases less effective than Milwaukee Public Schools.”

But organizations like the AFC ignore and dismiss the clear findings that the Milwaukee voucher program is a wrongheaded and ill-designed effort to improve education, and instead want to expand the program to more school districts and tear down the public education system. Now, they want to make sure that Republican legislators keep their jobs and continue to support vouchers and bust unions representing public school teachers.

Meet Renee Ellmers: Cracking down on Monarchy and Mosques

Following the election, RWW will bring you our list of the "The Ten Scariest Republicans Heading to Congress." Our final candidate profile is on Renee Ellmers of North Carolina:

Leading Democratic Rep. Bob Etheridge by 1,489 votes in North Carolina’s second district, conservative activist Renee Ellmers has declared victory and is now attending freshman orientation in Washington DC.

A self-declared “product of the tea party,” she ran on anti-health care and anti-Stimulus platform: she compared President Obama to “Louis XIV, the Sun King” and asserted that his administration is establishing “a socialistic form of government.” She blasted Democrats for their “imperial ruling class attitude,” and referred to the Stimulus Plan as “massive government takeovers of the economy.”

Ellmers believes that Obama put the country at risk because he supposedly refuses “to recognize – and tell the American people – [that] he understands radical Islamic terrorism does exist.” She then launched an ugly and bigoted campaign ad equating all Muslims with the 9/11 terrorists, and arguing that the Islamic Community Center in Lower Manhattan is a “Victory Mosque” and a symbol of Muslim conquest:

Narrator: “After the Muslims conquered Jerusalem, and Cordoba and Constantinople, they built victory mosques. And now, they want to build a mosque near Ground Zero. Where does Bob Etheridge stand? He won’t say, won’t speak out, won’t take a stand.”

Ellmers: “The terrorists haven’t won, and we should tell them in plain English, ‘No, there will never be a mosque at Ground Zero.’”

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, she suggested that Obama’s foreign policy subtly shows support for terrorists by using foreign aid to build mosques. Cooper, however, pointed out that she was referring to a program started by President Bush that helps rebuild houses of worships including churches and temples. When he asked if the Roman Catholic Church built a “Victory Church” in Rome over a Pagan temple, she took umbrage and asked Cooper if he was “anti-religion” or “anti-Christian.” Cooper replied: “That’s like the lowest response I have ever heard from a candidate, I have got to tell you.” (Watch the ad and interview below).

Defending her ad to rightwing radio talk show host Tammy Bruce, she said that “it’s time for elected officials to go to Washington who are ready to stand up for America.”

Ellmers says she decided to run for Congress after her work with Americans for Prosperity, a corporate front group tied to the Koch brothers, campaigning against health care reform. She told G. Gordon Liddy that the health care reform bill was “put in place simply to control our lives.” She also maintained that “physicians are not going to be able to continue to practice” because of the reform law, which she said “is just a monster.”

According to Ellmers, insurance companies should be able to deny individuals coverage for pre-existing conditions, saying: “private insurance companies [should] decide how they’re going to handle the pre-existing conditions situation.” Ellmers also attacked requiring insurance companies to cover maternity care and other health issues, calling such coverage “very costly.”

In a debate she came out against emergency funding to protect the jobs of teachers, and suggested that diverting public funds towards private school vouchers through “school choice” would help prevent job losses among teachers.

She said that her plan to reduce the debt would be to cut taxes and end foreign aid, and as a proponent of the “FairTax” she believes that the progressive income tax should be scrapped and replaced with a national sales tax.

An avowed opponent of immigrant rights, she claimed that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has shown “the kind of leadership we have not seen in a long time” by signing SB 1070, and suggested that Congress vote to defund the Department of Justice over their lawsuit against the draconian immigration law.

Ellmers told the conservative RedState blog that she is fiercely anti-choice and opposes the feminist movement. She was been endorsed by Sarah Palin, Concerned Women for America, and the Susan B. Anthony List.

A Tea Party activist who smears minority groups for political gain and has no real plan to cut the deficit or save jobs, Renee Ellmers appears to exemplify many of the ugliest qualities of the tea party movement.

 

The Predictable Return of the National Black Republican Association

Via Sam Stein, we learn that the National Black Republican Association has made another of its election year forays onto the political scene with yet another series of ads spouting all sorts of nonsense.  

They first made a name for themselves back in 2006 when they ran a few ads, with one claiming that Martin Luther King Jr. was a Republican and another stating that “Democrats have bamboozled blacks” and “want to keep us poor while voting only Democrat.”  And now that the 2008 election if upon the nation, the NBRA has re-emerged with a new series of ads – one calling the Democratic Party racist, the other calling Barack Obama an elitist (Stein has the video):

1. Racist Democrats and Obama

Narrator: The Democratic Party is a racist party.

Bill and Hillary Clinton played the race card against Barack Obama.

Hillary supporter Paul Begala said the Democratic Party can't win with just "eggheads and African-Americans."

Democrat Gov. Ed Rendell said a large block of white Democrats in Pennsylvania would not vote for Obama because he is black.

Hillary said her supporters are white Democrats who will not vote for a black man.

The Democrats claim all the racist Democrats became Republicans.

That's not true.

Racist Democrats declared they would vote for a "yellow dog" before a Republican because the Republican Party was the party for blacks.

Bull Conner, Lester Maddox, and George Wallace died Democrats. Former Klansman Robert Byrd is still a Democrat in Congress.

Today racist Democrats will not vote for Obama, a black man.

Learn the truth.

Visit our website at http://www.NBRA.info

----------

2. Arrogant Obama

Narrator: Dr. King said judge people by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

Barack Obama sounds good, but character is judged by action when no one is looking.

Obama voted no on the minimum wage bill.

Obama said no to school choice scholarships for poor black children trapped in failing schools.

Obama voted yes for a bill to kill babies born alive in a botched abortion.

Bitter is what Obama called blacks and whites who love God.

Racist is what Obama called his white grandmother who raised him and made sacrifices so Obama could get a good education and become a millionaire.

Obama's friends are terrorist Bill Ayers and Rev. Wright who said innocent Americans deserved to die on September 11th.

Obama is an arrogant elitist who turned his back on poor blacks and his own country.

Learn the truth.

Visit our website at http://www.NBRA.info

These ads raise the questions of what the NBRA actually does other than running controversial ads every couple of years and just how much of an impact the organization has within the conservative movement?  Judging by their appearance at last year’s CPAC conference, the answer to both is not very much.

This is the main hall where most of the speakers and panels were hosted:

CPAC1.jpg

This is the tiny room at the end of a well-hidden hallway where the NBRA assured a few dozen listeners that the organization was slowly becoming a force to be reckoned with because last year their website received over one thousand visitors:

CPAC2.jpg

Surprise! Gays Not Popular at Religious Right’s GOP Debate

Given the radical right’s longstanding obsession with denying legal recognition or protections to LGBT Americans, it’s not surprising that several questions at the "Values Voter Debate" were about protecting America from the gays. Also not surprisingly, these candidates lined up to oppose equality.

The first question of the night, from the American Family Association’s Buddy Smith, was about “protecting” marriage.  Every candidate except libertarian Ron Paul pledged to push for a federal marriage amendment.  Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee touted his record of pushing a marriage amendment in his state and promised to lead an effort to have a constitutional amendment that would affirm marriage as “one man, one woman, for life.”  Rep. Tom Tancredo pledged to do everything possible to pass a federal constitutional amendment, warning that Americans are just “one kooky judge” away from having homosexual marriage forced on them.  Sen. Brownback bragged of his efforts in the Senate to pass the FMA and complained that President Bush had not done more to pass it.  Alan Keyes, who had just tossed his hat in the ring, took a shot at the absent Mitt Romney, calling him “single-handedly responsible” for gays getting married in Massachusetts (not, shall we say, a view widely shared among marriage equality activists).

Paul Weyrich, a founder of the modern Religious Right political movement, closed the first section of the program by asking what candidates would do to counteract “the homosexual agenda.”  Most candidates went back to the need for a marriage amendment to prevent, in Keyes’ typically tempered words, the “destruction of traditional marriage.” Brownback and Rep. Duncan Hunter talked about keeping gays from serving openly in the military.  Libertarian Ron Paul, while saying he is opposed to legislating morality, called for eradicating hate crime laws. Brownback also attacked hate crimes laws as criminalizing thought and moving into an agenda of not allowing people to speak their beliefs.  Businessman John Cox talked about common sense but spouted nonsense, talking about opening floodgates to bestiality and polygamy and warning darkly of “transvestite” teachers in public schools as a reason to support “school choice” and homeschooling.

During the “yes or no” segment of the program, Stephen Bennett, self-proclaimed “former homosexual,” argued that homosexual behavior is immoral and dangerous, and asked whether, as president, candidates would support legislation ensuring that schools would forfeit federal funding if they expose children to “homosexual propaganda” that puts them at risk. All the candidates clicked their green lights to answer “yes.”   A later question asking whether they would pledge to veto ENDA also won unanimous support.  

During a segment in which questions were directed at a single candidate, anti-gay zealot Peter LaBarbera asked the absent Mitt Romney why voters should trust him when he spent so much of  his career promoting “anti-life” and “pro-homosexual” policies and not challenging Marriott’s providing pornography in its hotels as a member of its board.  But perhaps the most memorable anti-gay question came from Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver, who cited Abraham Lincoln in criticizing Fred Thompson’s “federalist” approach to marriage, essentially making marriage equality the moral equivalent of slavery:

While you were senator you opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment, but recently you stated that you would support a marriage amendment that would prevent judges from imposing same-sex marriage, so long as it would not prohibit state legislatures from adopting same-sex marriage. This reasoning is like saying that you favor a constitutional amendment that prohibits judges from imposing slavery, so long as the state legislatures were free to do so. Does not your position fundamentally misunderstand the universal importance of marriage in the same way my latter example about slavery indicates a misunderstanding of human dignity?

Blackwell Ignoring Ohio Voters’ 37 Percent Solution

Former Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell may have decided to get back into public life, but he does not seem to have learned much from his devastating loss in last year’s election. Blackwell ran for governor of Ohio last year with an education policy platform based solely on his support for school defunding, the “65% Deception,” and vouchers. Blackwell’s opponent – now Governor Ted Strickland - expressed his principled opposition to vouchers throughout the campaign.

Blackwell’s full-throated advocacy of publicly funded private school vouchers earned him praise from some of the nation’s most ardent advocates of school privatization.

For instance, voucher warrior and affirmative action foe Clint Bolick said the voucher movement “has no greater friend than Ken Blackwell.” And voucher pusher Patrick Byrne, also the impresario of the “65% Deception,” praised Blackwell’s “passion” for vouchers. Voucher backers made sure that the money kept rolling in.  Blackwell’s campaign received at least $100, 000 from voucher groups such as Bolick’s Advocates for School Choice

But on Election Day, Blackwell received just under 37% of the vote.

In spite of that dramatic evidence that vouchers and other privatization schemes do not enjoy wide-spread public support in Ohio, and research showing the same nationally, Blackwell soldiers on.  In his first published column since joining the staff of the Family Research Council, Blackwell attacks Governor Strickland’s groundbreaking plan to eliminate the EdChoice voucher program and redirect the money back to Ohio’s public schools:

Calling school vouchers "undemocratic" and charter schools a "dismal failure," Gov. Strickland, in his first major public policy address, slammed the door of educational opportunity on thousands of poor children and crushed the hopes of their parents.

By denying these children the equal access to a quality education that choice programs offer, he also denied that the bloated public education bureaucracy and its entrenched unions have failed our children.

Despite Blackwell’s assertion that voucher programs offer students “equal access,” private schools can choose who to accept – many deny admission to all students with special needs – and students who currently receive vouchers do not have the ‘choice’ to attend any school they wish.  Last year, Ohio voters had a choice, and elected a governor openly committed to funding and strengthening Ohio’s public schools – and focusing on proven reforms – as the best way to ensure that all children have access to a quality education.

Vouchers and the Art of Ardent Lovemaking

Bolick's BookMonths ago, voucher warrior Clint Bolick announced he would leave his position as head of the Alliance for School Choice. It may have been more of a career change than we realized -- writing romance novels. Bolick has decided to release his first self-proclaimed work of fiction, Nicki’s Girl, just in time for the holiday shopping season: One on-line book seller offers the following description:
When talented young architect Kevin Gibbons meets Nicole Petri, he is quickly swept away. Nicki's otherworldly beauty, sweet disposition, and ardent lovemaking seem almost too good to be true. Even after she reveals alarming personality traits, Kevin marries her. Eventually Nicki bears the daughter she desperately desires. But despite the fact that Alexandria is the spitting image of her mother, her arrival does little to purge Nicki's demons. Alex's behavior in turn veers between angelic and terrifying, forcing Kevin to struggle furiously to save both his little girl's life and his own sanity.
Along with this brief synopsis, one can find several stellar reviews. Alliance for School Choice communications director calls her boss’s book a “page turner.” Libertarian lawyer and Goldwater Institute staffer Jordan K. Rose says Bolick’s “foray into fiction” is a “must read.” And "Diane Bolick" objectively opines that she “can’t put it down.” The voucher movement has suffered a number of setbacks recently, but it remains to be seen if the public will appreciate Bolick’s fiction any more than they support school vouchers.

Little-Known Group Spends $1 Million on Offensive Ads to Lure Blacks to Vote Republican

A group called America’s PAC has raised almost $1 million to run highly inflammatory radio ads targeting African American voters, urging them to vote Republican in November, according to the New York Sun.

One ad, called “Don’t Go There,” features an exchange between two men. The first man says the second man has no reason to vote Republican because he is unemployed, an adulterer, and won’t serve in the military, and finally he comes to abortion:

Michael: And if you make a little mistake with one of your ho’s, you’ll want to dispose of that problem toot sweet, no questions asked, right?

Dennis: Naw, that’s too cold. I don’t snuff my own seed

Michael: Huh. Really? (pause) Well, maybe you do have a reason to vote Republican!

Another ad on abortion accuses the “Democrat Party” of “decimating our people” by supporting abortion laws. Over the sound of a thunderstorm and a crying baby, a woman says, “Democrats say they want our votes. Why don’t they want our lives?

In another ad, “Hazardous Dukes,” the “Michael” character says David Duke visited Syria to support terrorists in Iraq. The speaker continues,

Now, I can understand why a Ku Klux Klan cracker like David Duke makes nice with the terrorists. They fight voting rights in Iraq, just like he does back home. But what I want to know is why so many of the Democrat politicians I helped elect are on the same side of the Iraq war as David Duke.

Duke, the founder of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was a Republican state representative in Louisiana and ran for governor as a Republican.

Other ads blame Democrats for Hurricane Katrina and voting irregularities in Florida in 2000, call Social Security “the most discriminatory government program we have,” invoke Martin Luther King, and assert that “it’s only the Republicans who support our troops.” Unlike other right-wing efforts to reach out to African Americans by focusing on just abortion and gay marriage, the PAC’s ads range across the panoply of Republican issues, from regulation and “school choice” to Iraq and NSA wiretapping. You can listen to 24 of these radio spots on America’s PAC’s web site.

Alliance for School Choice Blogger: Islam is Spreading Evil Among Us

Writing on the Alliance for School Choice blog, right-wing activist Nancy Salvato uses a recent controversy over a Harry Potter book in Georgia to claim that public schools are being used to indoctrinate children into radical Islam. The Georgia controversy started when a parent complained that the book promotes the wicca religion and demanded it be removed from an elementary school library. Salvato, an aide to Illinois state senators Ray Soden and Carole Pankau. says that debating wicca is a waste of time. The real danger, she says, is Islam:
We are facing clear and immediate dangers to our way of life and shouldn’t waste time entertaining the paranoid delusions of any person(s) declaring that Wicca is being proselytized through the Harry Potter series, especially anyone who hasn’t bothered to read an entire book. Indeed, from everything I’ve ever read about Wicca, it is a very peaceful practice. Yet, one can conclude that another religious practice is spreading evil amongst us; those who believe in the inalienable rights of every person to pursue life, liberty, and happiness; and respect and defend the U.S. Constitution which protects these rights…Radical Islamists, in the name of Allah, will commit indiscriminate, non-selective and suicidal acts of terror, as has been demonstrated on American soil. Despite this, in our nation’s public schools, children are being taught about Ramadan… This is what the mainstream media should be reporting, this is what parents should be worrying about. Harry Potter is a fantasy, and though no one is telling readers which characters are good and evil, it can be agreed that most kids fantasize about being Harry, the good guy, not Malfoy (the bad guy). Do the kids indoctrinated into radical Islam understand good and evil? They haven’t had enough experiences to recognize that they are being brainwashed. Let this be on what our energy is focused, not distractions like magic and witchcraft. Leave that to the imagination.
The Alliance for School Choice has made many outlandish accusations against public education, but the suggestion that our public schools are in danger of becoming virual madrassas is certainly…novel. Clearly the not-so-subtle difference between teaching about religion and indoctrination is lost on Salvato.

A Voucher Warrior Steps off the Battlefield?

bolick.bmp The voucher movement has been dealt some serious set-backs in recent months. In July, a study by the Department of Education found that public school students outperform their private school peers – undercutting the right-wing’s basic argument that private schools are better. In August, a similar study found that public school students also learn more than students in charter schools. Last month, a survey released by Gallup and the non-partisan education organization Phi Delta Kappa found that public support for vouchers is in a free-fall. A poll of Indiana residents by the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy came up with similar results. And recently major fractures have occurred between different factions of the Right over the proposed national voucher program and the Bush administration’s implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act. All this may have proven to be too much for one of the privatization movement’s biggest stars. An Arizona paper announced yesterday that Clint Bolick, president and general counsel for the pro-voucher Alliance for School Choice has taken a position with a Scottsdale law firm. In recent years, Bolick has committed himself to fighting against public education, he first rose to prominence a crusader against affirmative action as a disciple of Clarence Thomas. He was co-founder of the right-wing legal group called the Institute for Justice and a prominent player in the conservative libertarian community. This news may not indicate Bolick’s outright surrender in the Voucher Wars, but could it be the beginning of a strategic retreat and reorganization at the highest levels of the right-wing coalition against public education?

Voucher Group Defends Coulson’s Deception

UPDATE: Within hours of this post, Cato removed the offending article from its website. A few days ago Right Wing Watch noted that Cato’s Andrew Coulson was caught falsely casting aspersions on an academic research center in Indiana. The Center for Evaluation and Education Policy recently released a survey that found falling public support for vouchers. Unwilling to believe the results, Coulson launched an untruthful ad hominem attack on CEEP claiming that their study couldn’t be trusted. Now, Clint Bolick’s Alliance for School Choice has stepped up to defend Coulson.
The folks over at PFAW's blog must have at least pulled a muscle when they stretched to take a swipe at Cato's Andrew Coulson. Here's PFAW's account: Earlier this month, Andrew wrote a column in the Indianapolis Star critical of Indiana University's Center for Evaluation and Education Policy. CEEP periodically polls Indianans on school choice, and recent poll results have shown declining support for school choice among respondents. Andrew's principal complaints: CEEP's financial ties to IU's Department of Education make the group biased against school choice, and the question design was flawed. CEEP's Jonathan Plucker fired back that CEEP is financially independent of IUDOE; that the costs of the poll are likewise paid by CEEP to prevent any hint of bias; and that CEEP works with outside polling experts to make sure the results are accurate and reliable.
Bolick’s group , does not dispute that “Andrew” was lying. Instead, they praise him for issuing a purported retraction, to which they provide a link.
However, PFAW oddly fails to mention that, five days after the column ran in the Indy Star, Coulson subsequently posted this on Cato's blog.
Sure enough, there is a post on Cato’s blog, dated 9/8, in which Coulson acknowledges his error:
In a recent op-ed for the Indianapolis Star, I wrote that Indiana University’s Center for Evaluation and Education Policy (CEEP) had a vested interest in finding school choice to be unpopular with voters — because it was a part of the University’s Department of Education, and that department could well be rendered obsolete under a large scale school choice program. As it turns out, the Center is largely financially independent of the Department, and so would not likely go down with the ship under a voucher or education tax credit program.
But on that same day, Coulson’s column, including the passage he admits is false, was posted on Cato’s website, where it still appeared without the correction nearly two weeks later. Coulson himself may have apologized, but Cato and the Alliance for School Choice don’t seem to have a problem perpetuating his false allegations.

Uh Oh – Fractures developing in the Right-Wing Coalition against Public Education

In today’s Wall Street Journal, voucher warrior Clint Bolick takes aim at Bush Administration Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. It seems Bolick doesn’t think the No Child Left Behind Act is destroying public schools fast enough and Spellings is to blame. Bolick is upset that not enough parents have yanked their children out of LA public schools.

The question is whether Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings--whose administration has made NCLB the centerpiece of its education agenda--will do anything about it. She has the power to withhold federal funds from districts that fail to comply with NCLB, and has threatened to do just that. Rhetoric, so far, has exceeded action.

Incredulous that parents would actually prefer to keep their children in public schools, Bolick laments that “as of yet private school choice is not an option under NCLB.” Bolick reminds us that right-wingers in Congress have proposed a national voucher bill, but until then, he says, the battle against public schools must be led by Secretary Spellings.

In response, Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander and John Ensign and Reps. Buck McKeon and Sam Johnson have proposed adding private options under NCLB for children in chronically failing schools. But for now, the only hope for these kids is for Secretary Spellings to hold the districts' feet to the fire.

For her part Spellings, thinks NCLB is a nearly perfect law, but Bolick is not appeased. Pleading with her to withhold funding from LA public schools, Bolick issues a final warning to Spellings.

Will she or won't she? Margaret Spellings's actions in the coming days will determine far more than the Bush administration's education legacy.

Ouch.

Dialing for Vouchers

A group headed by voucher pusher and civil rights foe Clint Bolick has created a telephone hotline to help Arizona parents get information on the state’s new pro-privatization laws. Right now callers to the hotline are simply asked to leave a message, but Arizona Republic columnist Richard Ruelas offers Bolick’s group some helpful suggestions to make the hotline a better source of honest information:

"Hello and thank you for calling the School Choice hotline. For English, please stay on the line. Para Español, press '2' to be disconnected since no Arizona private schools offer programs for English learners.

"If you are poor, please press '3.'

"If you are not sure if you are 'poor,' know that Arizona's new corporate tax-credit law defines 'poor' as being nearly 3.5 times the poverty level, or $68,450 for a family of four. Press '4' for more instructions, or have your servants figure it out.

"If you wish to make a campaign donation to Representative Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, the man who pushed for this bill and will benefit from it since he heads up one of Arizona's largest tuition tax-credit organizations, press '5.'

"If you wish to just laugh hysterically over the fact that Arizona passed a law that defines a $68,000 household as 'poor,' press '6.' One of us school-choice types will be on the line to gladly laugh along with you."

No doubt the ‘school choice types’ Ruelas refers to are having a good laugh. As People For the American Way Foundation research has shown, the so-called ‘tuition tax credits’ in Arizona, which overwhelmingly benefit wealthy parents and private, religious schools, are nothing more than vouchers in disguise. Though voucher pushers like Bolick claim to support public education, corporate tax credit schemes divert millions of dollars of public money to unaccountable private schools - millions of dollars that could be spent on public school reforms that work.

Voucher Money Pours Into Ohio Governor's Race

The Cleveland Plain Dealer looks at the large out-of-state donations to Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell's campaign for governor and finds that--along with major right-wing funders like Richard Scaife and Howard Ahmanson--Blackwell's benefactors are advocates of school vouchers.
National charter-school advocates are digging deep to help underwrite Ken Blackwell's gubernatorial campaign. No single issue has delivered more out-of-state $10,000 donations than school choice. Blackwell has received more than $100,000 from donors outside Ohio who favor voucher programs and taxpayer-funded private schools, according to a Plain Dealer analysis of $10,000 contributors.
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