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Arizona Implements Universal School Choice; Washington Should Follow Suit

A few weeks back, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed legislation making his state the first in the nation to codify universal school choice into law. The new law expands the state’s “Empowerment Scholarship Accounts,” which were established 2011 and originally applied only to children with special needs.

The traditional education model redirects taxpayer money to government schools. State schools and districts then decide how best to use the money. Instead of maintaining the failing status quo, Arizona will be allowing parents to take control of their money so that it may be used for the education that best meets their family’s needs.

The scholarship money can be spent on private education, online learning programs, tutoring, homeschool curricula, testing fees, and more. The average amount provided per student without disabilities is $5,700. That number increases to $19,000 for children with disabilities.

The enormity of this victory for Arizona students and families cannot be overstated. School choice is the single most important reform needed to improve primary education because, as we have discovered, the problem with education is not a shortage of money. From 1970 to 2010, federal education spending per student increased 375%. Over that same period, student achievement has remained entirely stagnant. Increasing funding will not fix the systemic inefficiencies and backward incentive structures that have led to failing schools across the country.

The traditional method of funding education, which entails transferring funds from government treasuries to government schools, does not work. Throwing money at the problem simply cements this deeply flawed structure into place. The systemic inefficiency and corruption has metastasized to the point that the system desperately needs to be reset. (For great investigative reporting on education system and teachers union corruption, watch the documentary The Cartel.)

Low-income students are most harmed by the current education system. Well-to-do families can afford to send their kids to private schools if their local public school isn’t up-to-par, but those without the necessary funds have no choice but to send their kid to a failing institution.

Not only does the quality of education suffer without competition, but the content is souring as public educators become bolder pushing leftist ideology on students. Secular humanism and progressive politics pervade every academic subject, and many parents with traditional values are worried their children’s schools are promoting values at odds with their family’s beliefs.

The answer to both the quality and content problems is very simple: Give education funding to families. Make schools compete for students by giving parents control over where education funding goes. Give the districts no choice but to increase the quality of the education and provide a balanced worldview. As parents use education money in ways that best serve their children, schools that don’t provide quality education will either improve or be replaced by schools that do.

In many areas of the country, including parts of Washington, students are locked into the school that serves their community. If the local public school is terrible, too bad. Unless you’re able to pay out-of-pocket for private school education, your kid will have to settle for a subpar government education and be left behind his or her peers attending better schools in other zip codes.

Giving parents the ability to customize their child’s education to the individual needs of their child should be a slam dunk bipartisan reform for the divided houses in Olympia. There’s no reason for the current top-down, one-size-fits-all education system to continue. Families should be allowed to use their own tax dollars to decide how their child gets educated and tailor that education to their child’s needs.

Forcing them to settle for whatever education the government provides, however terrible that education may be, is not only detrimental to both family and society but also deeply immoral. We cannot allow those opposing reforms to continue robbing students, especially low-income students in failing school districts, of their potential and of the quality education they deserve.

 

James Silberman is a guest contributor to the FPIW Blog. He is a pro-life activist from Gig Harbor, WA, and a student at Whitworth University.

Washington Schools to Teach Gender Identity Curriculum in Kindergarten

 

Kindergarten used to be a place for children to learn how to add, subtract, and read.  Next year, Washington school children as young as five years old will instead be learning about gender fluidity and the differences between gender and sexual identity.

The newly-minted health and physical education standards, released by the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), will be implemented in schools across the state for the 2017-2018 school year.

As reported by The Daily Caller, the new standards require students to learn about gender identity and expression beginning in kindergarten.

  • Beginning in Kindergarten, students will be taught about the many ways to express gender.  Gender expression education will include information about the manifestations of traits that are typically associated with one gender. Crossdressing is one form of gender expression.
  • Third graders will be introduced to the concept of gender identity.  These children will be taught that they can choose their own gender.
  • Fourth graders will be expected to “define sexual orientation,” which refers to whether a person identifies as heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual; they’ll also be taught about HIV prevention.  Children in fourth grade will be told that they can choose their sexual orientation.
  • Fourth and fifth graders will learn about the relativity of gender roles and why such roles are social constructs that are not inherent to who we are as male or female human beings.
  • Seventh graders will be expected to “distinguish between biological sex, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation.”
  • High school students will critically “evaluate how culture, media, society, and other people influence our perceptions of gender roles, sexuality, relationships, and sexual orientation.”

These changes to education standards will transform public schools into a conduit for promoting the latest gender theories plaguing universities across the country.

Perhaps the most concerning element about the new standards, however, is that OSPI has no plans to notify parents of these controversial changes.  In a phone call this morning with FPIW, OSPI communications manager Nathan Olsen confirmed the changes and said that the state does not plan to issue a press release or otherwise inform parents of the changes.

When asked by The Daily Caller “whether a student who rejects the idea that ‘gender identity’ is distinct from ‘biological sex’ could end up failing a course on account of their beliefs, Olson replied that it “would be handled at the district/school level.’”

Parents should be concerned about whether these standards are age-appropriate, as well as whether the manner in which these topics will be taught may undermine the values held by their family.  It is frightening to think that students who hold traditional beliefs about gender and sexual identity may have to choose between accepting politically correct talking points or failing assignments and being ostracized by school administrators.

We encourage all concerned parents to attend the next school board meeting in your school district (find information on your school district here).  Ask if your local school board plans to implement the state’s radical new curriculum for elementary school classes in your child’s school and, if you aren’t satisfied with the response you get from the school board, we’d encourage you to run for the school board and to let us know of your intention.

You can sign the petition to show your opposition at this link, and support FPIW as we work to return sanity to the classroom and culture.

Read the Obama Administration’s Mandate Letter to Public Schools

 

The Obama Administration has sent a letter mandating all public schools in the United States change their locker room, shower, and bathroom policies to allow entry to anyone, based only on how the individual identifies or expresses their gender internally, and not based upon their biological status.  This mandate also extends to sports teams.

This means that any boy can enter the girls locker room or showers, so long as he claims internally to feel like a girl, or vice versa. Simply claiming that one feels like a female is now sufficient proof to allow unrestricted access to these private places where girls will be in various states of dress and undress.

You can read the full letter here.

Sign our petition to tell President Obama to mind his own bathroom!

Not Your Grandma’s Homework

For many students in Washington, the new school year will bring with it an entirely different approach to mathematics. Even simple addition and subtraction problems are no longer what they seem.

The much-debated Common Core State Standards are set to take full effect in Washington by the end of the 2014-2015 school year, with new assessments rolling out in 2015.

In honor of back-to-school week, Kelsey Harris at the Daily Signal has written a post describing how Common Core will revolutionize the way second graders think about simple addition and subtraction.

Under this new methodology, students will learn that 9 plus 6 does not ‘simply’ equal 15, as previous generations have learned. In fact, under Common Core, students can now be more “comfortable” when adding and subtracting because they have their “friend” (the number 10) close at hand.

To help parents understand this new mindset, one local news station in New York has even created a ‘Homework Helper’ video series. Check out the article here and watch the video demonstrations below.