Tags: education reform, fundamentalism, indiana education, joseph l. conn, koch brothers, mitch daniels, private education, privatization, privatize education, public education, public schools, religion, religious education, religious right, right wing, roger hollander, tim lahaye, vouchers
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The push for vouchers is not about “education reform,” but
part of a national drive to radically privatize education.
and state are under relentless assault.
In late April, the Indiana legislature approved House Bill 1003, a measure
that broadly funds religious and other private schools. The multi-million-dollar
program sets up a new school voucher scheme, expands a tax credit program and
offers tax deductions for the costs of private education and homeschooling.
Gov. Mitch Daniels was a chief promoter of the package, and he clearly means
to force taxpayers to fund religious education. He is the founder and driving
force behind The Oaks Academy, a “Christ-centered” private school in
Indianapolis. Daniels sometimes poses as a moderate, but his education plan is
Make no mistake. This is not about “education reform.” This is part of a
national drive to radically privatize education. Indiana is just one of many
states where mega-bucks foundations and sectarian interest groups are demanding
taxpayer dollars for parochial and other private schools. Their long-term goal
is to shut down the public school system or leave it so damaged that its role in
American life is minimal.
In October 2010, Religious Right godfather Tim LaHaye addressed the Council
for National Policy about his goals for education. (The secretive CNP is the
premier meeting place for Religious Right zealots, TV preachers, right-wing fat
cats and others who want to take America back to the Dark Ages.) He viciously
mischaracterized the public schools and issued a call to arms for the CNP and
its allies to remake them.
“I have a pet concern,” said LaHaye, the fundamentalist preacher and “Left
Behind” author who founded the CNP. “And I think it is the concern of everyone
in this room; and that is we are being destroyed in America by the public school
systems of our country. And it was Abraham Lincoln who said, essentially, let me
educate the children of this generation and they will be the political leaders
of the next generation.
“And, folks, we have let the enemy come in and take over the greatest school
system in the history of the world,” he continued. “At one time, Noah Webster
was the school master of America, a dedicated Christian who founded people on
the Word of God and principles of God. And I’d like to see you join me in prayer
that God would let us wrestle control of the American school system from the
secularists, the anti-Christians and anti-Americans that want to bend the minds
of our children.
“At our expense,” LaHaye blustered, “they want to take the most priceless
thing we have – the brains of our children – and let them educate them. They
educate the teachers, they provide the textbooks, and we give them the most
precious things we have. That doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m hoping that this
conservative movement will be long enough to get a majority who can vote what I
consider a new bill of rights – a bill of parental rights where parents can
decide where to send their children to school.”
Touting “biblically based education,” LaHaye concluded that ideology is the
answer to education reform, not additional funding.
“May I suggest,” he said, that “more money is not what they need, it is a
better ideology, and we have already got it.”
LaHaye’s take on public schools is, of course, a pack of lies. Our school
system is not secularist or anti-Christian or anti-American. It welcomes
children of all faiths (and none). Nobody is turned away from the door,
regardless of religion, race, sex, sexual orientation, family background,
disability or economic situation. And our public schools are generally governed
by elected school boards, whose members represent their diverse communities and
are answerable to them.
But LaHaye’s screed serves an important purpose. It gives us the master plan
that he and other right-wing ideologues are pursuing. That’s why we have raging
battles over vouchers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and a host of other states.
(And it’s why House Speaker John Boehner strong-armed through Congress a federal
taxpayer-funded voucher scheme in the District of Columbia.)
LaHaye and his cronies hate America’s vitally important public school system.
They want to shut it down and move to a “choice” system where taxpayers
subsidize private schools that are accountable only to the sponsoring clergy and
are free to indoctrinate children in their “biblically based” ideology. They
don’t want to improve public education, as they sometimes claim; they want to
LaHaye is not alone in this battle. Betsy DeVos, the infamous Koch brothers
and other wealthy members and supporters of the CNP are funding the nationwide
attack on public schools and church-state separation today. Don’t be fooled.
They often put forward bogus “parents groups,” to serve as front operations, but
it’s they who are calling the shots.
Wake up, America. This radical movement is advancing. Let your legislators
and members of Congress know how you feel before it’s too late.
The War on Contraception Goes Viral May 18, 2011Posted by rogerhollander in Health, Right Wing, Women.
Tags: abortion, amanda marcotte, anti-choice, birth control, contraception, family planning, indiana, mitch daniels, planned parenthood, pro choice, religious right, roger hollander, tennessee, women's health, women's rights
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As those of us who’ve been following the anti-choice movement for years can attest, the biggest stumbling block for them has been finding a way to make a move towards restricting access to contraception while still trying to keep something like a decent reputation with the public. Attacking sexual liberation and women’s rights has always been at the heart of the anti-choice movement, but in order to sell such a radical agenda as mainstream, they’ve had to make sentimental and often bad faith claims about simply wanting to protect fetal life. While making frowny faces in the direction of pregnant women who want to terminate has been an effective strategy for restricting abortion rights, however, it has its limits when it comes to attacking women’s ability to prevent pregnancy in the first place.
Not that there haven’t been attempts at using “pro-life” arguments to fight not just abortion but contraception. Some anti-choicers have floated the idea that contraception leads to abortion—claiming that women wouldn’t have abortions if they didn’t get it in their silly heads that they should be able to have sex for pleasure instead of procreation. (Never mind that women throughout history have attempted abortion by all sorts of means, whether their cultures had contraception or not.) A slightly more effective argument has been to claim, with no evidence in support, that popular, female-controlled hormonal birth control is the same thing as abortion. This hasn’t done much to convince anyone, but at least establishes a convoluted, disingenuous cover story about embryonic life that anti-choicers can hide behind while they attack contraception. But even then, it has limits, since while the “pill is abortion” argument can be used to attack hormonal contraception, even anti-choicers haven’t been bold enough to claim that condoms or other barrier methods are also abortion.
Then, just this year, it seems that the anti-choice movement came to a nationwide realization: Their past attempts to create some logical-sounding connection between contraception and fetal life were a waste of time and energy. Successful attacks on contraception don’t have to make sense or even look like they kind of sort of make sense if you look at them sideways while ignoring history, science, and true rationality. No, all they have to do is wave their hands around while yelling “abortion” and focus their attacks on those made vulnerable through economic duress, and they would have surprising success at separating women from the means to prevent pregnancy.
True, screaming “abortion” while attacking funding for contraception and other reproductive health services that aren’t abortion didn’t end up as successful as anti-choicers hoped when the Republicans nearly brought the federal government to a shutdown trying to defund Planned Parenthood. But overall, the entire debacle was a success for the anti-choice movement, because by the time it was all over, politicians who want to be viewed as social conservatives realized that it’s no longer enough to be anti-abortion. You must also be opposed to access to contraception for people deemed to be unworthy of sexual autonomy, namely, low-income women and young women.
What this means is that politicians in conservative areas have taken a hard right turn on contraception. The biggest example so far is definitely Indiana, where Gov. Mitch Daniels blew off the “truce” he claimed to support in the culture wars to sign a bill that defunds family planning aid to his state, which will inevitably increase the state’s budget problems in myriad ways. If this were 2010, Daniels probably wouldn’t have done that or even have been put in that situation. In the past few months, however, the last tentacle attached to the concept of attaching anti-choice lies to some semblance of truth has been released, and any politician who doesn’t want to be labeled “pro-abortion” had better start hating on contraception, no matter how many abortions it may prevent.
The pressure to move towards a more radical anti-contraception stance is quickly becoming localized, which was entirely predictable, as conservatives tend to organize on a local and state level far more than liberals do. A reader from Tennessee alerted me to this story about the commissioners at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department in the state suddenly turning on family planning, canceling a half million dollar contract for family planning services in the area on the grounds of “abortion”, even though (say it with me now) none of the funding in question goes to abortion.
The reasoning for this is scattered and nonsensical. The all-male commissioner board claims some times that the problem is that abortions are being performed in the same buildings as contraception is distributed, and some times they claim that contraception is abortion. Because of this ridiculous inability to even pretend like they’re making sense, the board has tabled the debate until this Wednesday, but it’s not looking good for the women of Chattanooga-Hamilton County who rely on subsides to pay for birth control and other forms of non-abortion reproductive health care. The arguments for cutting the funding probably won’t get any more coherent, nor will the politicians pushing them likely bother to do anything crazy like educate themselves on the realities of women’s health care before condemning it all as abortion. They don’t need to anymore; anti-choicers who are calling the shots don’t care what kind of hand-waving you employ, so long as the goal of cutting off women’s access to contraception is achieved.
Unfortunately, barring some miraculous turn of events in the courts that shut this all down, we can probably expect to see more of this on the state and local level in conservative areas. A switch has been flipped in the conservative movement, and it’s not enough anymore to simply oppose abortion rights anymore, but to move even more radically in a direction of denying women any right to control their bodies whatsoever.