Remarkable Interest in School Choice in Colorado?

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

By Daniel J. Mitchell

In Douglas County, CO, a jurisdiction with 240,000 residents south of Denver, there is strong public interest in the possible implementation of a sweeping school choice program.  Here’s a blurb from the Denver Post:

Douglas County School District officials say an unexpected level of interest in a retreat exploring school choice today and Saturday is forcing them to add an overflow room and a video feed to allow the public to watch the discussion. The school board is investigating a voucher program that would allow students to use public money to help with tuition at approved religious schools and other private ones. The two-day retreat will discuss the findings of a school-choice task force that has been mulling several issues, including vouchers.

…The board will officially discuss the school-choice recommendations at a meeting Tuesday night, during which the public will be allowed to comment. No Colorado school district has a voucher program.

Here’s a link to the full proposal. I’m told that parents will have a voucher for about $ 4,500 per child that can be used to finance tuition at any qualifying school. This is more than enough money to cover costs at most non-government schools, and the population is sufficiently large to make this program a dramatic test case.

Keep your fingers crossed that Douglas County officials resist special-interest groups that are seeking to thwart this reform. The teacher unions have been vicious in their efforts to stop this kind of development. If Douglas County succeeds in putting kids first, this could break the logjam and lead to better education policy across the nation.

Remarkable Interest in School Choice in Colorado? is a post from Cato @ Liberty – Cato Institute Blog

Cato @ Liberty

Public School Orders Student to Take American Flag off His Bike

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

(Eugene Volokh)

KSBW (Monterey, California) reports:

Thirteen-year-old Cody Alicea put the [American] flag [on his bike] as a show of support for the veterans in his family.

But officials at Denair Middle School told him he couldn’t fly it. He said he was told some students had complained….

[T]he superintendent said he’s trying to avoid tension on campus…. Parraz said the campus has recently experienced some racial tension. He said some students got out of hand on Cinco de Mayo.

“Our Hispanic, you know, kids will, you know, bring their Mexican flags and they’ll display it, and then of course the kids would do the American flag situation, and it does cause kind of a racial tension which we don’t really want,” Parraz said. “We want them to appreciate the cultures.” …

As I wrote when dealing with a similar story from Cinco de Mayo of this year, if there is a reasonably predictable likelihood (not just a bare conjecture) that speech or expressive conduct will cause substantial disruption — which is not clear under these facts — then the school may legally restrict it without violating the First Amendment. That’s the holding of Tinker v. Des Moines Indep. Community School Dist. (1969). (I speak here only of whether the district may legally do this, not whether it should.)

But California Education Code § 48950 deliberately gives students more protection than the First Amendment does. And the high school’s actions, if they were reported accurately, would violate that statute:

(a) School districts operating one or more high schools … shall not make or enforce a rule subjecting a high school pupil to disciplinary sanctions solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other communication that, when engaged in outside of the campus, is protected from governmental restriction by the First Amendment ….

(b) A pupil who is enrolled in a school at the time that the school has made or enforced a rule in violation of subdivision (a) may commence a civil action to obtain appropriate injunctive and declaratory relief as determined by the court. Upon motion, a court may award attorney’s fees to a prevailing plaintiff in a civil action pursuant to this section….

(d) This section does not prohibit the imposition of discipline for harassment, threats, or intimidation, unless constitutionally protected….

(f) The Legislature finds and declares that free speech rights are subject to reasonable time, place, and manner regulations.

The “time, place, and manner regulations” restriction doesn’t apply here, because the restriction here was justified with reference to the content of the expression (and the supposed harm that it might cause). Time, place, and manner regulations must be unrelated to content, and focused instead on matters such as noise, blockage of hallways, and other effects of speech that don’t stem from the message that the speech communicates.

Thanks to David Hudson (First Amendment Center) for the pointer.

The Volokh Conspiracy

School Choice Center Stage in the States

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 
style=”float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; margin-left: 10px;”> href=””> class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-29045″ title=”floridaschool” src=”” alt=”” width=”375″ height=”240″ />

As a result of last week’s election, 2011 could be a watershed year for education reform and school choice. Many conservative candidates in the states campaigned on returning to local control in education and expanding school choice options for parents. Several states in particular could see significant movement on the education reform front as new leadership takes the helm in the coming months.

In Arizona, incoming superintendent John Huppenthal bested Penny Kotterman, whom the href=”″>American Federation for Children notes would have worked to roll-back school choice options for Arizona families. Notably, Kotterman, the former head of the Arizona teachers union, was the chief plaintiff in the landmark Kotterman v. Killian school choice case challenging the legality of the Arizona tax credit program. While Kotterman argues that vouchers and tax credits are “detrimental” and “irresponsible” policy, superintendent-elect Huppenthal is a staunch supporter, telling the href=””>Arizona Republic: id=”more-46536″>

First and foremost, I’m about school choice. There’s no school that can be excellent for every child. So in order for every child to get an excellent education, we have to get excellent school choice.

The outcomes in Florida also mean that support for school choice will be strengthened. The Sunshine State—as we’ve detailed href=””>here, href=””>here and href=””>here—has been a leader in education reform over the past decade. Governor-elect Rick Scott is likely to build on Florida’s success and is a strong proponent of school choice, including vouchers, charter schools, and an expansion of virtual education options. In his href=””>education platform, Governor-elect Scott writes:

I want to build an education framework that is student-centered, allowing education to be customized to fit the unique needs of each student and family. Every parent should have the choice to decide which delivery method and what provider is best to meet the needs and learning abilities of their children. Simply stated, parental choice is a crucial element of this new era in education. It is a catalyst to help all other reform measures work more effectively.

Moreover, the href=””>American Federation for Children notes that Pam Bondi “defeated the vehemently anti-school choice State Senator Dan Gelber to become the Sunshine State’s next Attorney General.”

In Indiana, Governor Mitch Daniels could have the support of both the Indiana House and the Senate when promoting school choice options and education reform proposals. The Republican-controlled House will be led by Brian Bosma, a strong school choice proponent, who would likely back school choice proposals set forth by Governor Daniels, such as vouchers for low-income children. The Evansville Courier Press reports that Daniels is considering a wide array of education reforms and that State Superintendent Tony Bennett supports Daniels’s education proposals “ href=””>without question.”

In Ohio, John Kasich, a school choice proponent, defeated Governor Ted Strickland. This will likely mean renewed support for the state’s school choice programs, including the Autism Scholarship Program, the EdChoice scholarship program, and the Cleveland voucher program. In addition to the support of Kasich, Ohio families will likely benefit from the support of the Ohio House of Representatives and the state Senate.

In Nevada, incoming Governor Brian Sandoval is not only a strong advocate for school choice; he also has big plans to implement many pieces of the successful Florida reform model. Education expert href=””>Matthew Ladner also notes that Sandoval plans to take a page from his election opponent, Rory Reid:

This was an especially interesting race from an education angle, as Sandoval called for Florida reforms, and Reid proposed weighted student funding. Sandoval read Reid’s education plan, and declared that it was a good plan, so he was going to do it and the Florida reforms.

Finally, Wisconsin will prove an exciting state to watch over the next year, as education reform promises to be on the agenda. Governor-elect Scott Walker is a strong supporter of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which last year href=””>empowered more than 20,000 students to attend a private school of their choice. Republicans also took control of both houses of the Wisconsin legislature, creating a ripe environment for education reform initiatives and school choice expansion.

Across the country, election results mean big opportunities for genuine education reform that empowers parents. Families are also likely to see education reform proposals in states like Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Kansas—states in which the post-election climate is more favorable to reform and to school choice. To the benefit of parents, children, and taxpayers, 2011 could indeed shape up to be one of the most fertile climates for choice-based education reform in years.


The Foundry: Conservative Policy News.

Video: School tells student to remove flag from his bicycle

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The “anonymous complaints” exception to free speech?

Via JWF, this will probably be the outrageous outrage of the day. A 13-year-old boy has flown the flag on the back of his bike to and from his middle school for a couple of months, in part to honor the military service of his grandfather. This week, according to the family, the school told […]

View the video »

Hot Air » Top Picks

‘Chicken Smackers with Biscuit or School Choice’

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

By Andrew J. Coulson

My inbox this morning contained the following Google News Alert for “school choice” from the Evansville Courier & Press:

School menu
Evansville Courier & Press
The middle school menu is chicken smackers with biscuit or school choice, peas, mashed potatoes with gravy and pineapple. Monday’s elementary and K-8 school
See all stories on this topic »

My colleagues and I have been asking for school choice for some time — folks have even made movies about it — so it’s nice to finally see it on the menu. [Just for middle school, though; I really think it should run the gamut.]

In case the Courier Press decides to tweak that menu after the fact (you know, seasonal ingredients and all), here is a screen cap.

‘Chicken Smackers with Biscuit or School Choice’ is a post from Cato @ Liberty – Cato Institute Blog

Cato @ Liberty

LATEST: Kaufman may have inspired school shooting threat **UPDATED: email was addressed to host

November 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

More on that threat called and emailed in to the station where Allen West’s new chief of staff, Joyce Kaufman has her radio show, which caused a county-wide lock-down of Broward schools on Wednesday. From local station WSVN-7, word that Kaufman’s own words may have inspired the threats… City of Pembroke Pines Police Capt. Dan […]
The Reid Report

Malaysia: 10-year-old Christian student caned for bringing fried rice with pork to school

November 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Islamic Tolerance Alert from modern, moderate Malaysia: “Jakim Asked To Investigate Beginda’s Religious Status – Nazri,” from Bernama, November 10 (thanks to Twostellas):

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 (Bernama) -The government has asked the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to investigate the religious status of Beginda Anak Minda also known as Noor Azman Abdullah, said Minister in the Orime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.

He said only after this was done, could investigations proceed into the caning of his son in a school in Kuching for bringing fried rice with pork sausages into the school’s premises.

“If he is determined to be a Muslim, according to a decree issued by the National Fatwa Council, if one of the parents is a Muslim, the child also has to be a Muslim.

“Only after this can conclusions be drawn why his son was caned,” he said when winding debate on the Supply Bill 2011 for the Prime Minister’s Department in the Dewan Rakyat Wednesday.

The case was highlighted in newspapers on Nov 5 after the 10-year-old boy’s mother, Angela Jabing, complained to the Sarawak Education Department about the caning incident.

The issue also caused a shouting match to erupt between Zulkifli Nordin (Ind-Kulim-Bandar Baharu) and Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (Pas-Kuala Selangor) leading to the latter being ordered out of the Dewan till proceedings resumed in the afternoon.

Zulkifli had accused PAS of condoning Muslims eating pork which riled up Dzulkefly resulting a slanging match between the duo which lasted for almost 10 minutes before Timbalan Speaker Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar intervened.

Later, Chong Chien Jen (DAP-Bandar Kuching) told reporters at Parliament’s lobby that Basil anak Beginda (the son) was not a Muslim based on his parents religious status in his birth certificate and their wedding certificate which was e-mailed to him by Basil’s mother today.

“According to the certificates, his father, Beginda anak Minda has no religion while his mother, Angela anak Jabing is a Christian. So based on this, the boy was brought up as a Christian according to his mother’s religion,” he said.

Jihad Watch

Best Law School Faculties in “Legal History”

November 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


Brian Leiter has posted the results of his survey:

1. Yale University (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Harvard University loses to Yale University by 115–91
3. Stanford University loses to Yale University by 183–30, loses to Harvard University by 177–33
4. University of Virginia loses to Yale University by 189–19, loses to Stanford University by 116–69
5. Columbia University loses to Yale University by 194–17, loses to University of Virginia by 102–85
6. University of Texas at Austin loses to Yale University by 193–17, loses to Columbia University by 101–91
7. Tied:
New York University loses to Yale University by 189–20, loses to University of Texas at Austin by 101–75
University of Southern California loses to Yale University by 190–20, loses to University of Texas at Austin by 103–78
9. University of Chicago loses to Yale University by 193–14, loses to New York University by 93–78
10. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor loses to Yale University by 189–17, loses to University of Chicago by 99–66

I was surprised my brilliant UCLAW colleagues did not finish in the top 10, as they are a formidable group:

Richard Abel (History of the Legal Profession)
Khaled Abou El Fadl (History of Islamic Law)
Steven Bank (History of Taxation)
Stuart Banner (Legal History)
Cheryl Harris (Race & Law)
Gerald López (History of Legal Education)
Jennifer Mnookin (Legal History, History of Evidence Law)
Clyde Spillinger (Legal History)
Kirk Stark (History of Taxation)
Adam Winkler (Constitutional History)
Stephen C. Yeazell (History of Civil Litigation)

In any event, inquiring minds want to know when Leiter will rank corporate law faculties.

Gov. Christie rips school superintendent as poster boy of greed and arrogance

November 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Governor Christie’s fight against the teachers union and gross overspending is ever more evident in this battle he has in Parsippany over a superintendent getting a pay raise, after Christie announced his proposal in July of capping superintendent’s pay.

Instead, the school board and this superintendent went around the system and made sure to get his raise before the proposal get enacted.

Christie went off on the superintendent, and he wasn’t the only one. Taxpayers in the school board meeting booed the members for passing the pay raise.

Liberty Pundits Blog

Taser incident in East Lansing High School raises concerns

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

East Lansing Police are defending the use of a taser on a 17-year-old student at East Lansing High School last week, reports the Lansing State Journal.

Marcus Reid, 17, has been charged with two counts of hindering, obstructing and assaulting a police officer and one count of disorderly conduct from a Thursday incident at the high school.

The Journal reports a school officer, who had just been assigned to the school, was escorting a 17-year-old woman off school property because she had been suspended when Reid intervened. The officer called for back up and seven East Lansing Police officers responded to the school. A third student, an unidentified minor, also engaged in the scuffle with officers.

The suspended student, 17-year-old Hodan Sharif, faces one count of disorderly conduct and one count of disorderly obstruction criminal charges. The minor will face disorderly conduct charges in probate court, the paper reports.

Police say they had to use the taser on Reid because they could not subdue him with other methods. But Reid’s mother says the incident was excessive force. She alleges her son ended up with a hairline fracture from the incident, something police deny. Police say he never complained of being in pain while in the city jail.

Dionnedra Reid said over the weekend that her son, a junior, already was being held down on his back by four other East Lansing police officers when another officer Tasered him twice in the chest. Reid said she watched a videotape of it Friday with school officials. Monday, she said she objects to the use of police officers to enforce school discipline, such as escorting a suspended student from the grounds of the school.

Police refused to comment on Dionnedra’s complaints. They also note that the officer had just been returned to the school after budget constraints had lead the police department and the East Lansing Schools to eliminate the school officer post. The post was reinstated just before former Chief Tom Wibert left for a new job in Texas.

School officials and police say they are reviewing the incident.

Michigan Messenger

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