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Two States Now Have Universal School Choice — And Yours Could Be Next


BY: KERI INGRAHAM | JANUARY 27, 2023

Read more at https://www.conservativereview.com/two-states-now-have-universal-school-choice-and-yours-could-be-next-2659317975.html/

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signing a document
On Tuesday, Iowa became the second state in the country to pass universal school choice. Several red states are looking to follow suit.

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KERI INGRAHAM

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On Tuesday, Iowa became the second state in the country to pass universal school choice, directly providing families with funds to support their children’s education. Arizona was the trendsetter for this new wave of educational freedom after Gov. Doug Ducey signed universal school choice into law on July 7, 2022. 

Now the race is on to advance educational freedom, with several red states looking to follow suit. The significance of these developments can hardly be overstated. What was once a pipe dream for many education reformers — the enabling of school choice at scale during their lifetimes — is now becoming a reality.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, true to her word, wasted no time in the 2023 legislative session by introducing the Students First Act in her Condition of the State address on Jan. 10. Within two weeks, the bill was signed into law. It took less than 24 hours for debate in the House and Senate, followed by Reynolds’ signing. The education savings account (ESA) program will provide parents with approximately $7,600 annually to allocate toward approved educational avenues. Most families are eligible in years one and two, and the benefit will be extended to all families statewide in year three.

Of course, powers beholden to leftist teachers unions should not be expected to go down without a fight. Even in pioneering state Arizona, new Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs seeks to undo its universal school voucher expansion law in her 2023 budget proposal. With Republicans controlling both state legislative bodies, her proposal will likely go down with the same fate as her massively failed veto referendum that sought to stop the law from taking effect while she was secretary of state last fall. For a politician, Hobbs is remarkably insensitive to the views of Arizona voters, 67 percent of whom support the state’s ESA program (the number jumps to 77 percent of Arizona parents of school-aged children).

States with a Republican governor and GOP majorities in both their House and Senate, on the other hand, are leading the charge across the United States to empower parents with options. The goal is universal school choice — through ESAs — to provide flexibility for families to select their desired educational avenue. Funds can be spent on school tuition, homeschool expenses, online learning, tutoring, special needs therapy, learning materials, and other education-related expenses.

ESA programs not only afford parents options outside of government-run, union-controlled public schools, but they save the state money because typically only a portion of the student state funding is provided. For example, in Arizona, instead of upwards of $12,000 spent per student within the public system, the ESA provided to families is only $7,000.

As the race to pass universal school choice picks up speed, several states could be heading to the home stretch in the coming weeks and months.

  • Utah is positioned extremely well to join the universal school choice ranks as the House and
    Senate have both passed the “Utah Fits All Act” as of January 26. If signed into law by Gov.
    Spencer Cox, families would have access to roughly $8,000 each year for educational expenses.
  • Florida is historically a national leader in school choice, with almost half its students learning in an option outside of their assigned traditional public school. Current legislation is calling for
    universal school choice. With Republican lawmakers holding supermajorities in both the House
    and Senate, and Gov. Ron DeSantis at the helm, it’s only a matter of time.
  • Oklahoma is a contender in the educational freedom race. The Education Freedom Act is currently in the Senate, which has a 40-8 Republican supermajority. The House has an 81-20 supermajority. Once the bill hits educational freedom champion Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk, it will be signed into law. It will grant all families statewide access to an ESA based on the state’s per-pupil education expense. State Superintendent Ryan Walters is a fierce supporter of empowering Oklahoma families with educational freedom to select the schools that will best serve their children.
  • Texas, traditionally lagging behind other red states on school choice, is not to be counted out this session in advancing ESAs. In May 2022, Gov. Greg Abbott urged lawmakers to empower parents through state funding following students. As the months passed, the groundwork was laid, including debunking the notion that school choice does not benefit rural areas or that it hurts rural school districts.
  • West Virginia was the national leader prior to Arizona passing universal school choice in 2022. In West Virginia, roughly 93 percent of students have access to the Hope Scholarship to date. There is the possibility to expand it to 100 percent of the state’s children within the next three years. Despite the state’s families having negligible educational freedom options until 2019, West Virginia is now among the leaders.
  • Indiana has efforts underway to expand the state’s existing ESA program to all students statewide while also increasing the grant amount from 90 percent of the per-student state funding to 100 percent. That would translate to an average of $7,500 allocated per student for educational expenses of the parents’ choosing.
  • Arkansas shouldn’t be overlooked this session. Newly elected Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders has stated her support for plans to “empower parents with more choices … so no child is ever trapped in a failing school.”

The tide is turning, and the implications are tremendous. No longer will families be at the mercy of government-run, union-controlled traditional public schools. Parents in an increasing number of states will be empowered as decision-makers in their children’s education.

The question is: Which state will be next to achieve universal educational freedom?


Dr. Keri D. Ingraham is a Fellow at Discovery Institute, Director of the American Center for Transforming Education, and a Visiting Fellow at Independent Women’s Forum.

Texas Counties Say the Border Crisis Is An ‘Invasion.’ They’re Not Wrong


REPORTED BY: JOHN DANIEL DAVIDSON | JULY 06, 2022

Read more at https://thefederalist.com/2022/07/06/texas-counties-say-the-border-crisis-is-an-invasion-theyre-not-wrong/

Border wall

The move was meant to pressure Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to take direct action to secure the border. The question is, will he?

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JOHN DANIEL DAVIDSON

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Ahandful of Texas counties on Tuesday declared the ongoing border crisis an “invasion” and called on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to do the same, citing constitutional authority for states to act in self-defense in the face of federal inaction.

Speaking in rural Kinney County, which includes a stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border, officials from Kinney, Uvalde, and Goliad counties said the Biden administration has refused to secure the border and enforce the law, and that although Abbott has done much to support local communities in south Texas most affected by the crisis, he needs to do more. Namely, he needs to follow their lead and declare an invasion.

County officials of course can’t do anything about illegal immigration on their own, but their argument is that Abbott, as governor of Texas, can. They cite Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the Constitution, which says that states can’t do things like conduct foreign policy or engage in war, “unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit delay.”

Those three words, “unless actually invaded,” are the crux of the argument. The idea that states have the constitutional power to act on their own to enforce immigration law and police the border has been gaining ground for some time now. Former Trump administration officials such as Russ Vought and Ken Cuccinelli, both now at the Center for Renewing America, have made a case for unilateral state action on the border. 

Cuccinelli, former acting deputy Homeland Security secretary under Trump, was at the press conference on Tuesday in Texas. “This is the first time in American history that a legal authority has found, as a matter of law, that the United States is being invaded,” he said, later adding, “What we’re talking about is an operation that looks a lot like Title 42.”

That is, declaring an “invasion” means that state law enforcement, at the direction of the Texas governor, would directly arrest and expel to Mexico illegal immigrants in much the same manner as Border Patrol and U.S. Customs and Border Protection does now under Title 42, the pandemic health order that allows federal authorities to expel illegal immigrants with minimal processing.

So far, Abbott has been reluctant to take this route, instead attempting lesser measures such as arresting and prosecuting illegal border-crossers for criminal trespass or ordering onerous state inspections at ports of entry as a way to pressure his Mexican counterparts into stopping migrants in Mexico before they cross the border.

These lesser measures, however, haven’t done anything to stem the flow of illegal immigration, which continues, month over month, to set new records. Perhaps it’s time for Abbott to listen to these local officials, and also to people like Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, who was also at the press conference Tuesday and said, “We should declare an invasion and, as Texas, turn people away.”

Arguably, Abbott already bought into this more expansive constitutional interpretation of state authority when he struck security agreements with the governors of the four Mexican states bordering Texas back in April. (Never mind that the agreements were mostly for show, given the corruption of Mexican officialdom in these states.) After all, Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the Constitution says that states are not allowed to “enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded.”

By entering into security agreements with “another State, or a foreign Power,” it would seem Abbott has tacitly acknowledged not only that his state has been “actually invaded,” but that he has the constitutional authority to act in its defense. If that’s the case, why not take the next step and avail himself of the considerable law enforcement (and military) resources at his disposal to secure the border and expel illegal immigrants?

Maybe Abbott, secure in the state capital of Austin, is just taking longer to reach this conclusion than the people of south Texas, who are bearing the brunt of the border crisis. Indeed, among the hundreds of thousands of people crossing the border illegally every month now are a not insignificant number of people who do not want to be arrested, and whose presence on U.S. territory could reasonably be considered hostile. Unlike the migrant families who turn themselves in to the first Border Patrol agent they see, these people often attempt to evade the authorities, which gives rise to things like high-speed chases through small towns and over private lands. Across Texas border communities, this has become a serious and worsening problem since President Biden took office.

Some of those chases end in damaged property; some end in fatal car crashes. Sometimes the attempt to evade detection ends not with a chase but a horrifying tragedy like the one in San Antonio last month, where 53 migrants were found dead in a tractor-trailer.  

Corporate media outlets, to the extent they cover the border crisis at all, will likely only mention efforts to declare the crisis an invasion in order to mock it or smear the people arguing for it as racists and bigots. But it is not some crackpot idea. In February, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich issued a legal opinion affirming that the border crisis constitutes an invasion and that the governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, has the authority under the Constitution to secure its border with Mexico.  

In his legal opinion, Brnovich argued that the meaning of the word “invade,” as used in Article I of the Constitution, “covers the activities of the transnational cartels and gangs at the border—they enter Arizona ‘in [a] hostile manner’; they ‘enter as an enemy, with a view to … plunder’; they ‘attack,’ ‘assail,’ and ‘assault’; and they ‘infringe,’ ‘encroach on,’ and ‘violate’ Arizona.”

Ducey, like Abbott, has thus far balked at the idea of using state law enforcement to police the border directly. But as the crisis drags on, each month breaking the previous month’s record for arrests, border-state governors might be forced to test the limits of their authority. The incentives to do so are only going to mount as the crisis worsens.

And anyway, if there’s a constitutional question to be settled here, why not step forward now, set down a marker, enforce the law, and see how it plays out? If states really have no power to repel an invasion, no ability to defend their people and police their borders in the face of federal inaction, then we might as well admit now that we no longer live in a constitutional republic, and that states, whatever they once were, have been reduced to nothing more than administrative units of a centralized regime in Washington. There’s a word for such a political arrangement: empire.


John Daniel Davidson is a senior editor at The Federalist. His writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Claremont Review of Books, The New York Post, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter, @johnddavidson.

Arizona’s Ducey calls Harris the ‘worst possible choice’ to fix border


Reported by Edmund DeMarche | Fox News |  March 25, 2021

Read more at https://1776coalition.com/featured-content/arizonas-ducey-calls-harris-the-worst-possible-choice-to-fix-border/

Gov. Doug Ducey, the Arizona Republican, didn’t mince words Wednesday shortly after he learned that President Biden was tapping Vice President Harris to oversee the effort to resolve the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Ducey, who was in Tucson, told reporters that Harris is “the worst possible choice” for the job. He also said that Harris’ selection is evidence that Biden has trivialized the situation. He said Harris just “flat out” doesn’t care.

He pointed to Harris’ career as a senator from California. He said she has made it clear that she does not consider the border “a problem or a serious threat.” Harris was recently criticized after she laughed when asked by a reporter if she would be visiting the border. She joked, “Not today.”

“If President Biden’s intent was to show that he’s taking this seriously, he’s really done the exact opposite,” Ducey said.

Harris called the situation at the border challenging,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Former Harris advisors told the paper that they believe that she is up for the challenge but called the job “high risk, very low reward.”

Biden made the announcement as a delegation of White House officials and members of Congress traveled to the southern border to tour a facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, where more than 750 migrant teenagers are being held. The Biden administration has in recent weeks moved to open more than 10,000 new beds across the Southwest in convention centers and former oilfield camps.

It notified Congress on Wednesday that it will open a new 3,000-person facility in San Antonio and a 1,400-person site at the San Diego convention center. HHS is also opening a second site in Carrizo Springs and received approval from the Defense Department Wednesday to begin housing teenagers at military bases in San Antonio and El Paso, Texas.

GOP lawmakers say Biden administration’s decision to reverse Trump-era immigration policies prompted the latest surge in migrants. The White House has argued that Biden inherited a chaotic situation and is working to stabilize the border.

Political observers say that this is the first major task for Harris as vice president and could have a lasting impact on her own future as a presidential candidate.

Biden called Harris “the most qualified person” to take charge of the situation and interact with countries like Mexico and Honduras.

“It’s not her full-responsibility job, but she is leading the effort because I think the best thing to do is to put someone who, when he or she speaks, they don’t have to wonder about, is that where the president is,” Biden said, according to the Washington Post. “When she speaks, she speaks for me.”

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