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Almost Every Dollar of School Vouchers in This Southern State Pays for Religious Education



93 Cents of Every School Voucher Dollar in North Carolina Winds Up in the Coffers of Faith-Based Private Schools

Despite what many would call a clear and obvious violation of First Amendment principles of separation of church and state, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that states can use the voucher system to help parents pay for private schools, and those schools can be faith-based. So, depending on where you live – at least 16 states plus the District of Columbia have school voucher programs – a portion your tax dollars are possibly going to Christian, Catholic, or Islamic faith private schools. And in those schools, most likely, children are being indoctrinated in misogynistic and homophobic beliefs, along with a denial of climate change and evolution.

In one of those 16+ states where lawmakers have embraced the school voucher public-to-private-religious-schools pipeline, 93 cents of every school voucher dollar goes to pay for educating young children in mostly Christian schools.

North Carolina has given parents $12 million this year in what they call “opportunity scholarships,” aka, school vouchers. Of that $12 million, more than $11 million, or 93 percent, has gone to pay for private religious schools, and just $800,000 has gone to private secular institutions, the Charlotte Observer reports.

“The government saves, the parents are happier, the children are being educated,” GOP state Rep. Paul Stam, one of North Carolina’s top anti-LGBT lawmakers, tells the Observer.

But opponents of school voucher programs rightly note those dollars that go to private schools could be used to improve what critics say are failing public schools, insufficient teacher salaries, crumbling infrastructure, and outdated or even nonexistant books and educational materials.

Each North Carolina student who qualifies is eligible for up to $4200 per year. The average price of a private school education in the Tar Heel State is more than twice that, $8800.

Also more than doubling is the amount North Carolina lawmakers are devoting to the school voucher program – which really is just a state-approved loophole to fund private, Christian education. Next year, parents will have access to a $25 million religious slush fund. Yes, $25 million of North Carolina taxpayers’ money will be poured into mostly Christian schools. The top recipient of school vouchers, Trinity Christian School, this year took in nearly a half-million dollars from “opportunity scholarships.”

“Religious schools may include worship, prayer and religious instruction as part of the school day,” the Observer reports.

Mark Helmer, a school principal at Covenant Day School and president of the Greater Charlotte Association of Christian Schools “said the bulk of school time is spent on academics – but those lessons may have religious themes, too,” according to the Observer.

“We really emphasize what we would call teaching from a Biblical world view,” Helmer said. For instance, he said, classes might discuss how the themes of a novel relate to the Bible or how God’s creation is reflected in the order of mathematics.

In Covenant’s science classes, lessons about the origin of Earth start with the premise “In the beginning God created …” then explore a range of interpretations, including evolution, said Head of School Mark Davis.

Not only are these private religious schools often teaching discrimination, and using tax dollars to do so, they are free to discriminate against LGBTQ youth and teens as well. They are only barred from discriminating against a student’s race or national origin.


Image by Michael 1952 via Flickr and a CC license
Hat tip: Raw Story


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‘Jurors Meet With Defendant’: Anger Grows Over Report GOP Senators Met With Trump to Map Out ‘Rigged’ Impeachment Trial



News from The Washington Post that top White House officials held a clandestine meeting Thursday with Republican Senators to map out a plan to limit the Senate impeachment trial while President Trump has been secretly “courting” Senate Republicans in an effort to gauge and gain their loyalty has many angered and alarmed.

The House is expected to pass articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, which would require the Senate to hold an impartial trial, over which the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court would preside. It very much is a legal proceeding with historic consequences for the future of America’s democracy.

Republicans appear to not have grasped this fact, not the gravity of their constitutional duties.

Many Americans are growing angered as a result. Some are calling the Senate impeachment trial “rigged” before it has even begun. Others are pointing out that this is akin to jurors meeting with the “defendant to discuss how long they think they have to let the trial go on.”

“Juries don’t collude with the accused criminals they’re judging,” one person on Twitter said. “Only collusion, only obstruction,” said another.

Take a look at the responses:

Meanwhile, the fact that the target of an investigation is conspiring with the very public servants who will serve as jurors on his trial is shocking to some.

Image by The White House via Flickr 

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White House Secretly Meeting With Republicans to Limit Impeachment Trial as President Courts GOP Senators



The Trump White House is in secret  talks with top Senate Republicans to draft a strategy on how the impeachment trial will be conducted after the House passes what are expected to be damning articles of impeachment. The president has been focused the past few weeks on sitting down with Senate Republicans individually or in small groups to take the temperature of the caucus and to woo those who have occasionally suggested they might be uncomfortable with the actions he has taken that have led to the current impeachment inquiry.

“A group of Republican senators and senior White House officials met privately Thursday to map out a strategy for a potential impeachment trial of President Trump, including proceedings in the Senate that could be limited to about two weeks,” The Washington Post reports late Thursday afternoon.

Among the Republican Senators who clandestinely met with top Trump White House advisors are: Mike Lee (Utah), Ron Johnson (Wis.), John Neely Kennedy (La.), Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), Ted Cruz (Texas) and Tom Cotton (Ark.). The six strong Trump supporters met, according to the Post, “with White House counsel Pat Cipollone, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, senior adviser Jared Kushner, and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway.”

Earlier Thursday Politico reported “Trump cozies up to GOP during impeachment,”noting the President has been “aggressively courting Senate Republicans” including Susan Collins and Mitt Romney, both seen as potentially dangerous to Trump should the Senate hold an impeachment trial.

In a separate Politico article Politico suggests the White House attempted to convince the majority-Republican Senate to immediately dismiss any articles of impeachment and hold no trial.

Senators “informed the White House that there simply aren’t the votes to approve a motion to dismiss the trial; it would take just three Republicans to block any impeachment vote on the Senate floor.”

The Washington Post echoed that reporting, explaining that “even a two-week trial could run counter to what Trump has expressed privately. The president is ‘miserable’ about the ongoing impeachment inquiry and has pushed to dismiss the proceedings right away.”

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Watch: Nunes Stunned When State Dept. Official Knocks Down His ‘Black Ledger Isn’t Real’ Conspiracy Theory



Intelligence Committee Ranking Republican Member Devin Nunes Thursday afternoon appeared stunned when he questioned a U.S. State Dept. official during the impeachment hearings and did not get the answer he anticipated.

Rep. Nunes has been spewing far right wing conspiracy theories during each impeachment hearing over the past two weeks, including the thoroughly debunked lie that Ukraine – not Russia – attacked the U.S. 2016 election.

(Earlier one of today’s witnesses, Dr. Fiona Hill, publicly lambasted the spreading of the false Ukraine conspiracy theory as she sat just feet away from Nunes. The video is here.)

Nunes asked David Holmes, who is the State Dept.’s counselor for political affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine about the “black ledger.”

That line of questioning did not go well for Nunes.

Nunes asked if Holmes had “ever heard of the black ledger.”

“I have,” Holmes replied.

“The black ledger – is that seen as ‘credible’ information?” Nunes asked.

“Yes,” Holmes responded without hesitation.

Surprised, Nunes repeated his question.

“The black ledger is credible?”

“Yes,” Holmes again replied.

Nunes did not look pleased.

“Bob Mueller did not find it credible. Do you dispute what Bob Mueller’s findings were? – They didn’t use it in the prosecution or in the report.”

“I’m not aware that Bob Mueller did not find it credible. I think it was evidence in other criminal proceedings. Its credibility was not questioned in those proceedings, but I’m not an expert on that.”

Holmes is correct – it was used as evidence in prosecutions (see below).

The black ledger is a register of off-the-book payments made by the corrupt now-former ruling party of Ukraine – not today’s ruling party.

It contains details of 22 payments allegedly made to Paul Manafort, totaling $12.7 million, by his former client, the ex-President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. Manafort later became Donald Trump’s election campaign chairman. When the ledger was exposed Manafort was forced to resign from the Trump campaign. He is now in prison, serving a 90-month federal sentence.

Mueller actually did find the black ledger credible, as The Washington Post reported one week ago. It was used as evidence in Mueller’s indictment against Manafort.

Rep. Nunes appears to believe the existence of the black ledger and its authenticity are conspiracy theories. He is the one spreading conspiracy theories. The black ledger is real.


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