Today, the Colorado State Supreme Court declared unconstitutional and prohibited implementation of a law that would have provided private and religious school vouchers to qualifying students in Colorado. The Colorado law was the first passed in the nation since the U.S. Supreme Court narrowly decided such programs do not necessarily violate the U.S. Constitution. The Colorado court found that the voucher program violates the state Constitution’s requirement that local school districts retain control over locally raised education funds.
Today, a resolution urging a mass exodus of children from public schools was rejected by delegates at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in Indianapolis.
"Today's vote by a very conservative body should be seen as a powerful repudiation of anti-public education extremists," said People For the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas. "The failure of this irresponsible resolution indicates that support for public schools is strong among Southern Baptists just as it is among Americans as a whole. A vast majority of parents prefer quality public schools to any other option."
The U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) recently released a report, “Unfunded Mandates: Analysis of Reform Act Coverage,” finding that the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is not, technically, an “unfunded mandate.” U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige took the opportunity to divert attention from the struggle facing states forced to implement the law in spite of more than a $9 billion shortfall.
A narrow 5-4 Supreme Court upholding a person’s right to sue a state for damages for failing to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act highlights the fragility of federal civil rights enforcement and the importance of future Supreme Court nominees to the ability of federal courts to enforce civil rights protections. In recent years, similar cases have gone the other way as a 5-4 majority has pursued a new theory of “states’ rights” jurisprudence. The leaders of that “states’ rights” movement on the Court, including Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, dissented from today’s ruling.
A new report examines the wide disparity between wealthy and poor school districts, and cites the state’s over reliance on local property taxes as the culprit in producing huge inequities between school districts. The report, Inequity in Illinois: How Illogical School Funding Has Eroded Public Education, was authored by People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF).
Today, Americans will witness the sad and sorry spectacle of right-wing legal and political activists urging Congress to reject strides toward equality and to pass a constitutional amendment that would require every state to treat some Americans as second-class citizens.
Attorney General John Ashcroft’s participation today in ceremonies honoring the anniversary of the historic Brown vs. Board of Education desegregation case rang hollow in the light of his career-long antipathy to school desegregation and lackluster civil rights enforcement efforts, said People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas.
Last night’s FDA decision to deny over-the-counter availability of the “morning after pill” – medication that can prevent a pregnancy from occurring if taken within 72 hours following unprotected sex – is an egregious example of the Bush Administration’s choice of politics over women’s health. The administration overruled a sound, scientific recommendation from an FDA panel, which voted 23-4 to make the medication available.
In response to a demand letter from attorneys representing Lago Vista High School student Sherrell Ingram, the Texas school has “suspended” its policy prohibiting same-sex prom dates in time for Sherrell to bring her best friend, another female, as her guest to the Lago Vista High School Prom.