Archives for category: Disruption

In the previous post, educator Byron James Henry described the election of three Christian nationalists to the board of the Ct-Fair District in Texas. He hoped for the best and hoped they would put the needs of students before their religious agenda. In this post, he describes what they did after their election.

“Something is rotten” in Cy-Fair ISD. Christian Nationalism first reared its ignorant and intolerant head in Cy-Fair ISD at school board meetings during the summer of 2021 when a loud minority of extremists began denouncing the fake threat of Critical Race Theory (CRT). For example, one resident stated that “true Christ followers are horrified to learn how the CRT ideology and BLM have infiltrated many of our schools” and insisted that “things won’t improve until we are more concerned about God’s approval than the approval of the cult of CRT.” Many of the attendees, duped into believing that young white children are being taught to see themselves as “oppressors” and feel ashamed of their race, gave her a standing ovation. It is almost impossible to reason with misinformed, self-righteous people who believe they are engaged in a battle of good vs. evil. In their quest to “save” Cy-Fair ISD students from the “threat” of CRT, these residents helped fuel an extremist movement that threatens the foundational values of the public school system: diversity, toleration, pluralism, equal treatment, and equal opportunity. Note: If you or someone you care about has succumbed to Christian Nationalism, then Christians Against Christian Nationalism can help.

Contrary to the extremist argument that public schools have a liberal bias or indoctrinate children with “woke” ideas, the public school system prepares all children for participation in our diverse, pluralistic society. Christian Nationalists oppose the civic mission of public schools if it means promoting toleration and equality for marginalized groups or affirming religious pluralism and cultural diversity. They want the public schools to promote a conservative Christian worldview that reinforces their own political and religious agenda and ignores the historical legacy of racism and discrimination. In Cy-Fair ISD, three extremist candidates harnessed this Christian Nationalist energy in the November 2021 school board election: Scott Henry, Natalie Blasingame, and Lucas Scanlon.

These board members oppose anything the schools do to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Natalie Blasingame stated on the campaign trail that teachers in Cy-Fair ISD “shouldn’t have to check their faith at the door” and pushing a conservative, Christian agenda in Texas public schools has been her motivation for seeking public office for years. We’ve known since 2015 that Blasingame doesn’t support the separation of church and state, believes that God called her to run for school board to promote Christianity in public schools, and by her own admission stated, “I have no politics but obedience.” Obedience? To what, exactly? The U.S. Constitution? To her interpretation of the Bible? Is Natalie Blasingame, like her donor Steven Hotze, a supporter of Dominion Theology that insists Christians must take over all elements of society, government, and culture to impose a Biblical worldview on everyone? Christian Nationalists are opposed to the idea of a pluralistic, multicultural republic if it means a conservative Christian worldview cannot be imposed on all of society. Should someone with such an extremist agenda be making policy for our public schools?

Alarmed by the rise of political and religious extremism in my community, I founded the Cy-Fair Civic Alliance in November 2021. We started out as a Facebook group and quickly grew to approximately 400 followers in a few weeks. Residents responded to the notion that Cy-Fair ISD needed a non-partisan group that would promote strong, inclusive public schools that serve everyone. The values of diversity, toleration, pluralism, equal treatment, and equal opportunity resonated with the community, and we started organizing on behalf of Cy-Fair ISD students, teachers, and families.

We spoke at school board meetings, wrote emails to the district about important education issues, raised money to award a scholarship to a Cy-Fair ISD graduate who planned to become a teacher, and delivered gifts to all librarians in the district when their professionalism and integrity was being attacked by everyone from Governor Abbott to members of the Texas legislature to the Texas Education Agency. The supporters of the new extremist board members called us, in public at school board meetings, “groomers” for rejecting their calls to pull books off library shelves. They said that we were supporting the “sexualization” of young children and wanted to have “pornography” available in the school libraries. They even created a hateful, anonymous sewer of a blog that somehow manages to combine the stupidity of Marjorie Taylor Greene and the misogyny of Matt Gaetz.

Our non-partisan, grassroots organization always took the high road and remained focused on our mission. Then, to our surprise, a bizarre turn of events took place. Bethany Scanlon, the wife of Cy-Fair ISD trustee Lucas Scanlon, helped create an LLC using our organization’s name and even filed federal trademark paperwork to prevent us from using it. We first learned of the creation of the faux Cy-Fair Civic Alliance when it was announced during the “Citizen Participation” portion of the June 2022 school board meeting. We were, to say the least, a little perplexed that the same crowd of people who had called us “groomers” and constantly denounced our group decided to take our organization’s name! What could possibly be their motivation? Was this supposed to prevent us from doing our activism? And, why of all people, was a school board trustee’s spouse involved in this? What was Christian Nationalist Lady Macbeth up to? A quick glance at the internet revealed that her new organization was a self-described “Conservative Christian group that believes the Bible is the Word of God, Jesus Christ is Lord, and free volunteer service to others is a constructive way to help the community.”

Read on. The takeover of school boards by those who want to destroy public schools is a frightening development.

Carol Burris writes in The Progressive about the alarming rate with which charters close. Parents should know this before enrolling their children and taking a chance.

She writes:

In May, a study by the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH) at Tulane University found that charter schools close at much higher rates than public schools, even when controlling for factors such as enrollment and test scores. Each year, roughly 5 percent of charters close, compared with 1 percent of public schools.

But REACH’s data likely underestimates the problem. Because so many new charter schools open each year, the closure rate is offset by the overall growth of the industry. And a new charter opening in Columbus, Ohio, is of little help to a student whose charter just closed in Memphis, Tennessee.

To more accurately capture the big picture, we at the Network for Public Education published a report on the long-term viability of charter schools. We looked at seventeen cohorts, each composed of all U.S. charters that opened in a given year, beginning in 1998 and ending in 2014. Our goal was to track these schools over time and see how they fared when compared with one another. We found that, by year three, an average of 18 percent of charters had closed. By year ten, the proportion of failed charters topped 40 percent.

Enrollment data for the year before each school closed indicated that charter schools opening between 1999 and 2017 have collectively displaced upwards of one million students—often with almost no warning.

The alarming rate of charter school closures prompted the U.S. Department of Education to direct federal startup funding to schools more likely to succeed. But even modest proposals have met stiff resistance from the charter lobby. For them, the closures are seen positively: It is “the sector working as intended,” Chalkbeat reported, citing National Alliance for Public Charter Schools Chief Executive Officer Nina Rees.

And she’s right—charter churn, including abrupt closures, is baked into the marketplace model that believes only the most popular performers should survive. The three recent closings in North Carolina, however, were not based on popularity, or even low test scores—they were the result of greed and fraud.

To prevent this, government officials at all levels need to tighten regulations and hold charter school boards accountable. Until government officials get serious about charter school reform, each parent or guardian who enrolls their child in a charter school deserves a notice that says, “Caution: This school could close with little to no warning.”

Like many other states, Texas is facing a dramatic shortage of teachers. Teachers are fed up by low pay, poor working conditions, and the disrespect heaped on them by hare-brained politicians like Governor Gregg Abbott and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. While the politicians blabber on about “parental rights,” by which they mean the right of parents to dictate curriculum and to censor books, none of them talk about the value of teachers and their importance.

Politicians tell teachers that they must not discuss gender or sexuality. They must not discuss the past or presence of racism, which is alive and well in Texas and everywhere else. Politicians prattle on about “critical race theory,” which they do not understand and cannot define. Bottom line, they don’t want teachers to talk about racism because it makes the politicians uncomfortable; it makes racists uncomfortable when you mention their bigotry.

The Houston Chronicle reports:

More Texas teachers are considering leaving the profession than at any point in the last 40 years, according to new polling from the Texas State Teachers Association.

The survey found that 70 percent of teachers were seriously considering quitting this year, a substantial jump from the 53 percent who said so in 2018, the last time the typically biennial survey was conducted. Teachers attributed their grim outlook to pandemic-related stress, political pressure from state lawmakers, less support from parents and stretched finances.

I don’t know where they got that “last 40 years” number, because there was never a time when so many teachers were ready to throw in the towel and walk away from their classrooms.

Texas can’t afford to pay teachers more? Nonsense. Texas, under Abbott’s non-leadership, doesn’t want to pay teachers more. Abbott sees more to be gained politically by demonizing teachers.

In the survey, which was completed by 688 Texas teachers, 94 percent said the pandemic increased their professional stress, and 82 percent said financial stress was exacerbated. Experts have pointed to better pay as a key way to recruit and retain teachers. Respondents taught for about 16 years on average, and their average salary was around $59,000. That’s about $7,000 below the national trend, according to the teachers association.

Besides salary, Texas teachers on average also receive some of the worst retirement benefits of those in any state, a separate study from June found. Teachers who have retired since 2004 have not received a cost-of-living adjustment, although the Legislature has passed some “13th check” bills that send extra annuity payments.

In addition to pay, 85 percent said they felt state lawmakers held a negative view of teachers, 65 percent said the public held a negative view and 70 percent said support from parents had decreased over the last several years.

Abbott and fellow Republicans in the Texas Legislature have recently enacted several high-profile education policies, over opposition from teachers groups and education experts.

Last year, the Legislature placed restrictions on social studies curriculum, prohibiting certain discussions about racism. Abbott banned school districts from instituting mask mandates last fall, as COVID-19 cases surged. And schools are now facing calls for censorship of books that include discussions about race, gender or sexual orientation.

“For political reasons, Gov. Abbott has been trying to drive a wedge between parents and teachers, and this has definitely hurt teachers and hurt their students as well. It threatens the future of public education in Texas,” wrote TSTA President Ovidia Molina.

“Many of these teachers will be missing from our classrooms this fall, and for others, it is only a matter of time.”

Abbott has defended the measures as a way to depoliticize education and restore power to families about what their children do and don’t learn. He is calling for “Parental Bill of Rights” legislation next year to give parents even more control, as conservatives criticize the public school system as too progressive.

“Many parents are growing increasingly powerless about what to do to regain that control. That must end,” Abbott has said. “No government program can replace the role that parents play in the education of their children.”

A spokeswoman for the governor, Renae Eze, emphasized his commitment to education funding and “support for our hardworking teachers.”

“In 2019, the Governor signed into law one of the biggest teacher pay raises in our state’s history—over $1 billion in annual investment—and established the Teacher Incentive Allotment, which puts teachers on a pathway to earning a six-figure salary while prioritizing high-need areas and rural schools,” Eze said.

The Teacher Incentive Allotment gives raises to high-performing teachers. It has been rolled out to about 10 percent of Texas’ roughly 1,200 school districts, but almost all of the funds for the statewide program go to Dallas ISD — receiving 10 times more than any other district. The program is opposed by teachers unions, which advocate instead for universal raises.

Here are a few thoughts for Governor Abbot.

You have done everything possible to politicize the classroom with your bans and censorship.

You have insulted teachers.

You have pitted parents against teachers.

You have put your money into a merit pay incentive program that has never worked anywhere in the nation. Ever.

Your gag orders, your insertion of politics into what teachers teach, your hostility to public education demonstrates your contempt for teachers.

Your devotion to vouchers shows that you prefer schools where teachers have no certification, no preparation at all to teach. If you get your way, employers will avoid Texas. You favor indoctrination over education. You oppose freedom of thought. Your students will finish high school poorly educated. Texas will go backwards.

Shame on you.

I was thinking of titling this post “Libertarian Crackpots Take Charge of School Funding in New Hampshire” but decided to bite my tongue.

Garry Rayno, a writer for, reports that the Koch-funded plan to defund public schools in New Hampshire is a “success.” Not because most parents want to put their children in private or religious schools, but because the overwhelming majority of students using the new education freedom accounts are already enrolled in nonpublic schools. Thus, public funds are now underwriting private education. At some point, the public schools will shrink to be just one among many choices even though the people of New Hampshire never voted to abandon their community public schools. This is a theft of public dollars for private use.


The new education freedom account program is a success judging by the number of students participating in the first year.

More students are expected to participate in the second year and state education officials predict it will continue to grow into the future.

One of the most expansive school choice programs in the country, it was sold as a way for students and parents to find the best educational avenues to fit their student’s individual learning needs.

That would be wonderful and would fulfill the education department’s long-standing goal of individualized student pathways, but that is not what happened for a majority of students.

Instead the program has increased the state’s education spending while few students changed their learning environment.

The vast majority of students — around 85 percent — participating in the first year, did not attend public schools the year before. Instead they were in private or religious schools, or home schooled, or too young for school.

That does not change the learning environment for that 85 percent of students.

What did change under the program was the parents’ financial obligations, which were reduced thanks to the influx of state taxpayers’ money.

Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, a program advocate, told lawmakers the first year of freedom accounts would cost the state’s Education Trust Fund about $300,000 and the second year about $3.2 million. Instead the cost was close to $9 million this year.

Why the increase? Edelblut’s estimates were for students leaving traditional public schools to participate in alternative programs, not for those already in other programs applying for state help to cover the costs of private and religious schools, or home schooling.

Essentially most of the state money flowed through the parents to private and religious schools and for homeschooling costs all previously paid for by the parents or religious institutions.

When the program was first debated this term, the nonpartisan Legislative Budget Assistant’s office estimated the state’s exposure could be as high as $70 million if all the students in private or religious schools applied for grants.

The program provides grants to parents of students who earn no more than 300 percent of the federal poverty level or about $80,000 a year for a family of four.

You only have to qualify once, so if the next year your family makes $125,000, you still qualify and if you double that the next year, you still qualify.

Grants range from about $4,500 to $8,000 per student with the average the first year a little under $5,000 per student.

The money can be spent in any number of ways, for tuition, books and instructional programs, supplies, computers, individual instruction on a musical instrument, etc.

The money to pay for the freedom accounts comes from the Education Trust Fund established more than 20 years ago when the state overhauled its funding system after the Claremont II Supreme Court decision saying the then current system of relying on local property taxes with widely varying rates to pay for public education was unconstitutional because it violated the proportional and reasonable clause of the state constitution.

For most of its early years, the trust fund ran a deficit and state general fund money had to be added to meet the state’s education aid obligations.

In recent years the fund has had a surplus including this biennium. The state budget passed last year estimates a $54.4 million surplus at the end of last fiscal year June 30 and a $21 million surplus at the end of the 2023 fiscal year.

The surplus at the end of last fiscal year is much larger than that as the overall state revenue surplus is more than $400 million, but most of that has already been spent through legislation this year such as the $100 million settlement fund for the children abused at the Youth Detention Center.

The law establishing the freedom accounts has a provision if the education fund does not have enough money to cover the cost of the grants, the needed money will be withdrawn from general fund revenue without any action needed from the legislature or the governor.

Such a provision is extremely rare as lawmakers like to be able to determine how general funds are spent.

The number of students participating in the program the first year would probably not be so large if not for the American for Prosperity, an “education organization” funded by the Koch network and other like thinking libertarians who have longed advocated that public education tax money also pay for private and religious schools, homeschooling and charter schools.

The New Hampshire affiliate had a campaign ready to go when the freedom account legislation passed as part of the budget package last year. The group helped parents enroll their students in the program, many who were in private or religious schools or home schooled.

Last week the same organization held an “education fair” for parents to meet representatives of some of the organizations and groups approved to other alternative education programs under the freedom account program.

The fair was promoted by Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut who tweeted a photo from the fair, and the department had a booth there to promote its 603 Moment campaign on social media.

Others touting the fair included members of the House freedom caucus and others in the free state/libertarian wing of the GOP.

The fair is intended to help grow the program, meaning more state money will be drawn from the Education Trust Fund and ultimately the state’s general fund.

This is a well planned operation that only required the state to agree to a school choice program with few guardrails to begin taking the state down the road to greater educational “freedom” and less traditional public education.

The Koch network has recently developed a proposal to “reform” public education with one of its officials calling public education the “low hanging fruit.”

The reform would look a lot like what the freedom account program looks like and would shift resources as it does away from traditional public education to alternative pathways.

As the freedom account program grows, observers of the legislature know what will happen eventually.

As more and more education trust fund money is allocated, there will be pressure to reduce the amount of money going to traditional public education and, depending on which party is in control, to charter schools.

That is how public education becomes the low hanging fruit.

The education commissioner and others talk about the achievement gap between students from well off areas and minority students and those from low-income families.

Edelblut maintains that gap has not changed in 50 years despite numerous efforts on the federal and state level and says that is why education needs to change.

He downplays what the recent education funding commission made the centerpiece of its work, that the achievement gap is due to the resources available to students.

Students from property poor communities perform below students from property wealthy communities.

The economic disparity gap between students from property wealthy and property poor communities is larger now than it was when the Claremont lawsuit was filed 30 years ago.

Proponents of alternative education programs say it is not about spending more money, and the education funding commission said the same thing.

But the commission said the resources needed to be distributed differently, while the advocates for freedom accounts say it is about finding the right fit for a student.

Those advocates are saying the issue is not economic disparity.

Ultimately their goal is to make government smaller and they can accomplish that by disrupting traditional public education with lower cost, less regulated alternative programs.

Eventually traditional education will be small enough to be just one more alternative pathway for students among many.

That is why public education is the low-hanging fruit and freedom accounts are just the beginning.

In the Texas governor’s race between the vile Gregg Abbott and challenged Beto O’Rourke, the candidates are fighting for rural votes on the issue of vouchers. Rural Republicans have a strong allegiance to their public schools, which are often the heart of the community and its biggest employer. Many rural communities do not have any other schools.

Yet Governor Abbott has supinely sought the approval of Betsy DeVos’s American Federation of Children.

The Texas Tribune summed up the conflict:

A battle over school vouchers is mounting in the race to be Texas governor, set into motion after Republican incumbent Greg Abbott offered his clearest support yet for the idea in May.

His Democratic challenger, Beto O’Rourke, is hammering Abbott over the issue on the campaign trail, especially seeking an advantage in rural Texas, where Democrats badly know they need to do better and where vouchers split Republicans. O’Rourke’s campaign is also running newspaper ads in at least 17 markets, mostly rural, that urge voters to “reject Greg Abbott’s radical plan to defund” public schools.

Abbott, meanwhile, is not shying away from the controversy he ignited when he said in May that he supports giving parents “the choice to send their children to any public school, charter school or private school with state funding following the student.” He met privately last week with Corey DeAngelis, an aggressive national school choice activist who had previously criticized Abbott as insufficiently supportive of the cause.

“School choice” tends to refer to the broad concept of giving parents the option to send their kids to schools beyond their local public school, while vouchers would allow parents to use state tax dollars to subsidize tuition for those other options, including private schools. Opponents of vouchers say they harm public school systems by draining their funding. In the Legislature, vouchers have long encountered resistance from Democrats and rural Republicans whose public schools are the lifeblood of their communities.

O’Rourke is leaning into the bipartisan salience of the issue.

“For our rural communities, where there’s only one school district and only one option of public school, he wants to defund that through vouchers, take your tax dollars out of your classroom and send it to a private school in Dallas or Austin or somewhere else at your expense,” O’Rourke told a rural audience recently.

As usual, the voucher vultures are pushing the lie that money taken away from your public school will allow children to attend elite private schools.

It can’t be said often enough: voucher funds are never enough to pay for elite public funds. It is a lie. Voucher funding ranges from $4,000 to $8,000. The tuition at elite private schools ranges from $30,000 to $70,000.

Elite private schools don’t have vacancies. When they do, they don’t seek to enroll poor kids.

After 25 years of vouchers, the research is clear: kids who leave community public schools for voucher schools lose academic ground. Large numbers return to their public schools.

Meanwhile public schools are grievously harmed by the withdrawal of funding. They must lay off teachers and cut programs.

If the Devil designed a program to hurt the public schools, he would call it vouchers. And it would be funded by the American Federatuon for Chiildren.

Carol Burris knows every detail of the U.S. Department of Education’s new regulations for charter schools. She has studied them closely and written about what they mean. They are a reasonable effort to create accountability for the expenditure of hundreds of millions of dollars a year on charter schools. The federal Charter Schools Program began in 1994 as a $4 million annual fund to start new charter schools. In the nearly three decades since then, the program has grown (in response to the powerful charter lobby) to $440 million a year. The program, until now, has been unregulated. It has been riddled with waste, fraud, and abuse. As two well-documented reports (see here and here) by the Network for Public Education demonstrated, a large number of charters received federal funding but never opened or closed soon after opening. While the original intent of the program was to jumpstart small, teacher-led or mom-and-pop charters, the program grew into a slush fund for big charter chains, grifters, and slick, for-profit entrepreneurs.

The U.S. Department of Education wisely decided it was time to set some rules. Federal funding comes with rules.

Billionaire Mike Bloomberg knows none of this context. He recently wrote (or one of his aides wrote) an uninformed article in the Washington Post about the Department’s new regulations for the Federal Charter School Program. He falsely claimed that the regulations were a “victory” for the charter industry, even though the charter industry fought the regulations vigorously. Bloomberg’s article was a lame attempt to put a happy face on a major defeat for the charter lobbyists.

Carol Burris responded:

Michael Bloomberg embarrassed himself with his recent op-ed published in the Washington Post entitled “Charter School Change is a Victory for Children.” It would appear that given the efforts and funding that his organization put into blocking Charter School Program reforms, he now feels the need to take an unearned victory lap.

Bloomberg begins his op-ed by thanking the Biden Administration for listening to parents and editorialists—like himself. After participating in the month-long hate fest that claimed the President was “at war with charter schools,” he and his allies at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools are likely eager to creep out of the doghouse.

In addition to its heated rhetoric insulting the President and telling Secretary Cardona to back off, the charter lobby deliberately spread misinformation regarding the U.S. Department of Education’s then-proposed Charter School Program reforms. They falsely claimed that over-enrollment in district schools and cooperation with a public school district were prerequisites to obtaining CSP funding. Bloomberg used his influence to write op-eds that parroted the campaign of misinformation.

As I explained here in the Washington Post Answer Sheet, neither claim was valid. Now, Bloomberg once again twists the truth with three additional false narratives in his recent op-ed.

The first is as follows.

“The Department of Education’s original proposal could have prevented public charter schools with long wait lists from expanding or replicating if the district schools were under-enrolled.”

This was inaccurate when he first wrote it and is still untrue. Under-enrollment was an example of one of the ways charter schools could demonstrate need. Waiting lists, special missions, and other ways to show need were always allowed. This was clarified by the Department long before the final regulations were published.

The second false claim in his op-ed is:

“It [proposed regulations] would have prioritized funding for public charter schools that enter into formal contracts with district schools, making charters dependent on the good will and good faith of schools that may see them as competitors.”

Mr. Bloomberg better check again.

Priority 2 (charter/district cooperation) is still in the regulations as an invitational priority this year. Invitational is one of three levels of priority. The proposed regulations never stated which level priority 2 would have. The priority, by being retained, also opens the door for priority 2 to become a higher priority in the coming years.

And finally:

“And it would have restricted public charters from receiving early implementation funding that can be crucial to the process of opening a school. The proposal was amended to prevent those outcomes.”

The amendment he refers to (see below) was a change without distinction. Those implementation funds cannot be used; therefore, the original restriction, for all intents and purposes, is still intact.

This is the minor change between the proposed and final regulations, as explained by the Department here.

“We amended Assurance (f) to remove the requirement that applicants provide an assurance that they will not “use or provide” implementation funds for a charter school until after the eligible applicant has received an approved charter and secured a facility so that applicants are required only to provide an assurance that they will not “use” implementation funds prior to receiving an approved charter and securing a facility.”

If the schools cannot use the funds, whether or not they are “provided” is irrelevant.

I do not know who penned this op-ed for Mr. Bloomberg. But I do know this. His buddies at the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, likely with his financial support, spent a king’s ransom trying to get the U.S. Department of Education to scrap or delay the regulations. In the process, they alienated members of Congress, especially powerful House Appropriations Chair Rosa De Lauro, as well as members of the Department. Their campaign was relentless, nasty, and very expensive.

But in the world of Michael Bloomberg, the truth is flexible, and he can use the influence derived from his fortune to put in print whatever “truth” suits his purpose.

However, those of us who have followed this carefully know the deal. As charter devotee, Jeanne Allen tweeted to the National Alliance’s Nina Rees, who was also trying to claim victory, “You should probably read thoroughly the final CSP #charterschool rules. All 135 pages. Not only did nothing really change, but the explanations make it worse than it was to start.”

Ron DeSantis is either very crazy or very mad. At a press conference, he claimed that elementary school teachers are “instructed” to encourage children to switch genders.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is never one to let the facts get in the way of his latest bit of fear-mongering. The governor and possible presidential candidate tossed out another bit of rancid, Republican red meat, telling a crowd at a recent press conference that school teachers are “instructed to tell kids” to switch genders.

Governor DeSantis has insulted every teacher in the state of Florida. He hates teachers, except when he wants to arm them.

This attack must be part of his plan to turn parents against their local public schools and to create demand for vouchers. With vouchers, students can attend religious schools that openly indoctrinate their students.

In 2001, libertarian political scientist Jason Sorens proposed the creation of a “free state.” He appealed to other libertarians to cluster in one small state, where enough of them would be able to eliminate laws and authority and “live free.” That state was New Hampshire, and the libertarians have joined hands with Republicans to impose their agenda on others who don’t share it. Earlier this spring, Free Staters proposed that New Hampshire secede and became an independent nation, but that proposal failed overwhelmingly, in part because enough people realized it was nutty and/or they didn’t want to give up their Social Security.

Dan Barry wrote in The New York Times about an effort by Free Staters in Croydon, New Hampshire, to cut the town’s school budget in half.

As is typical in many towns and cities across the nation, not many people show up for local elections, or in this case, the town meeting. One of the members of the Croydon board of selectmen, Ian Underwood, proposed cutting the town budget for schools by more than half, from $1.7 million to $800,000.

In pamphlets he brought to the meeting, Mr. Underwood asserted that sports, music instruction and other typical school activities were not necessary to participate intelligently in a free government, and that using taxes to pay for them “crosses the boundary between public benefit and private charity.”

The pamphlet did not note that its author was a 1979 graduate of the public high school in Chesterton, Ind., where he starred on the tennis team, ran track, played intramural sports and joined extracurricular activities in math, creative writing, radio and student government. Also: National Honor Society member, National Merit finalist and valedictorian.

One person not completely gobsmacked by Mr. Underwood’s proposal was the school board chairwoman: his wife, Jody Underwood. The Underwoods, who do not have children, moved to Croydon from Pennsylvania in 2007 in part to join the Free State mission; they are now considered a Free State power couple.

Underwood’s radical proposal passed by 20-14. It was a victory for the Free Staters. As the Underwoods did media interviews, they gloated:

Mr. Underwood asked what for him appears to be a fundamental question — “Why is that guy paying for that guy’s kids to be educated?” — and denied that he and his wife were “in cahoots.”

Many people in Croydon were “livid.” They realized this radical act was the result of their indifference.

But they were also chastened. They hadn’t attended the town meeting. They hadn’t fulfilled their democratic obligation. They hadn’t kept informed about the Free State movement. To some observers, they had gotten what they deserved…

From this muddle of anger, confusion and regret, though, a movement was born. It came to be known as We Stand Up for Croydon Students.

Conservatives, liberals and those who shun labels — “an entirely nonpartisan group,” said Ms. Damon, one of the members — began meeting online and in living rooms to undo what they considered a devastating mistake. They researched right-to-know laws, sought advice from nonprofits and contacted the state attorney general’s office to see whether they had any legal options.

They did: Under New Hampshire law, citizens could petition for a special meeting where the budget cut could be overturned — if at least half the town’s voters were present and cast ballots.

Ms. Beaulieu, 44, a project manager for a kitchen and bath store, helped to gather enough signatures for the necessary petition. Once a date in May was set for the special meeting, she and other volunteers spread the word, knocking on doors, conducting phone banks and planting lawn signs…

The crisis in Croydon generated a curious democratic dynamic. Since the law required that at least half the town’s electorate participate in the special meeting’s vote for it to be binding, those trying to overturn the Underwood budget encouraged people to attend, while those hoping to retain it encouraged people to do just the opposite and stay home.

On the chilly Saturday morning of May 7, Croydon residents filed into a spacious building at the local YMCA camp for their special meeting. The We Stand Up contingent needed at least 283 voters.

The turnout: 379.

The vote in favor of overturning the Underwood budget: 377.

The vote against: 2.

The We Stand Up crowd cheered and hugged, leaving Mr. Underwood to vent online with posts titled “Your House Is My A.T.M.” and “Possibly Dumbest Thing I’ve Heard Someone Say, Ever,” and Dr. Underwood to frame the moment as both an impressive voter turnout and a victory for “mob rule.”

“It felt to me like a bunch of woke people came to Croydon,” she said.

What happened in Croydon is a lesson for us all.

Get out and vote.

Do not let the neo-fascists, neo-Confederates, racists, and conspiracy theorists take over.

Fight for democracy or lose it.

Ian Millhouser, one of our best legal commentators, wrote at Vox about Justice Neil Gorsuch’s blatant misrepresentation of the facts in the case of the coach who was exonerated by the Supreme Court for praying at the 50-yard line after the game. Gorsuch’s factually inaccurate description of the case leaves a mess for educators and courts who want to know what sort of prayers are okay and which are forbidden. My personal hunch is that Gorsuch and his extremist allies intend to overrule the 1962 ban on prayer in public schools.

Millhouser begins:

Kennedy v. Bremerton School District is a big victory for the religious right, but only because Gorsuch misrepresents the facts of the case.

But Justice Neil Gorsuch’s opinion for himself and his fellow Republican appointees relies on a bizarre misrepresentation of the case’s facts. He repeatedly claims that Joseph Kennedy, a former public school football coach at Bremerton High School in Washington state who ostentatiously prayed at the 50-yard line following football games — often joined by his players, members of the opposing team, and members of the general public — “offered his prayers quietly while his students were otherwise occupied….”

Moreover, because Gorsuch’s opinion relies so heavily on false facts, the Court does not actually decide what the Constitution has to say about a coach who ostentatiously prays in the presence of students and the public. Instead, it decides a fabricated case about a coach who merely engaged in “private” and “quiet” prayer.

If the facts of Kennedy actually resembled the made-up facts laid out in Gorsuch’s opinion, then Kennedy would have reached the correct result. Even under Lemon, a public school employee is typically permitted to quietly pray while they are not actively engaged with students….

In the real case that was actually before the Supreme Court, Coach Kennedy incorporated “motivational” prayers into his coaching. Eventually, these prayers matured into public, after-game sessions, where both Kennedy’s players and players on the other team would kneel around Kennedy as he held up helmets from both teams and led students in prayer.

After games, Kennedy would also walk out to the 50-yard line, where he would kneel and pray in front of students and spectators. Initially, he did so alone, but after a few games students started to join him — eventually, a majority of his players did so. One parent complained to the school district that his son “felt compelled to participate,” despite being an atheist, because the student feared “he wouldn’t get to play as much if he didn’t participate.”

When the Bremerton school district learned of Kennedy’s behavior, it told him to knock it off — though it did offer to accommodate Kennedy if he wanted to pray when he wasn’t surrounded by students and spectators. And Kennedy did end some of his most extravagant behavior, such as the prayer sessions where he held up the helmets while surrounded by kneeling students.

But Kennedy also went on a media tour, presenting himself as a coach who “made a commitment with God” to outlets ranging from local newspapers to Good Morning America. And Kennedy’s lawyer informed the school district that the coach would resume praying at the 50-yard line immediately after games.

At the next game following this tour, coaches, players, and members of the public mobbed the field when Kennedy knelt to pray. A federal appeals court described this mob as a “stampede,” and the school principal said that he “saw people fall” and that, due to the crush of people, the district was unable “to keep kids safe.” Members of the school’s marching band were knocked over by the crowds.

And, contrary to Gorsuch’s repeated claims that Kennedy only wanted to offer a “short, private, personal prayer,” Kennedy was surrounded by players, reporters, and members of the public when he conducted his prayer session after that game. We know this because Justice Sonia Sotomayor includes a picture of the scene in her dissenting opinion.

The religious right won a big case. Where will schools draw the line? Will every religion be free to have its own prayers at school?

My prediction: The Supreme Court is building a path to restore prayer in the schools, reversing Engel v. Vitale (1962). Will every religion get its own prayers? Or will there be a single religion imposed on everyone? Or a nonsectarian religious prayer?

Dana Milbank is a wonderful columnist for the Washington Post. He writes here about the death of state decisis, the legal principal of respecting precedent. The six-person majority on the Supreme Court have thrown away precedent. They are drunk with power. They are free to do whatever they want with no restraint, and they are rolling back decades of social progress. They are not conservatives. They are radicals.

Milbank writes:

Now begins the era of stare indecisis.
Respect for precedent — known by the Latin stare decisis, “to stand by things decided” — had been a centuries-old cornerstone of the rule of law, necessary so “the scale of justice” doesn’t “waver with every new judge’s opinion,” as the 18th-century legal philosopher William Blackstone wrote.

But — et tu, Alito? — the Supreme Court’s radical right put the knife in stare decisis in its decision overturning Roe v. Wade and destroying 50 years of precedent upon precedent.

The dissenting justices wrote that “the majority abandons stare decisis,” an act that “threatens to upend bedrock legal doctrines,” “creates profound legal instability” and “calls into question this Court’s commitment to legal principle.”

The majority protested that it didn’t abandon stare decisis — then explained why it did: “Stare decisis is not an inexorable command. … Stare decisis is not a straitjacket.”

The burial of stare decisis leaves us, ipso facto, with a void: Which Latin phrase best describes the legal doctrine of this new era, in which judges rule by whim, not precedent? Well, thank your lucky stares, because my classics consultant, Vanessa (she asked that her surname not be used in order to speak Latin frankly), has many options.

Labels such as “judicial modesty,” “judicial restraint” and “originalism” were trashed along with stare decisis. For this radical majority to claim “restraint” now would be the very definition of stare mendaciis — to stand by lies. Other better labels for the court majority’s new philosophy are stare deviis (to stand by inconsistent things), or perhaps stare fetore (to stand by a foul odor), in honor of the question Justice Sonia Sotomayor posed during oral arguments: “Will this institution survive the stench that this creates?”

But maybe most accurate is stare sodalitate — to stand by your political party. To the Romans, this meant either “electioneering gang” or “religious fraternity,” apt descriptions both of this court’s right wing.

There are other potential principles being thrown about. This week’s Jan. 6 committee hearing revealed that President Donald Trump, upon receiving displeasing information (such as his attorney general’s refusal to bless his election lies), would hurl his meal at the wall. This would be stare cibo iacto — to stand by thrown food (although other scholars use stare vasis fractis — to stand by broken dishes).

The Republican Party, even now, remains steadfastly loyal to Trump, adhering to something called the Wynette Doctrine, stare homine tuo — stand by your man.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is claiming she was deceived by Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch into thinking they wouldn’t overturn Roe — an instance of stare credulitate, to stand by gullibility.

At a Trump rally, Rep. Mary Miller (R-Ill.) practiced stare hominibus albis — to stand by White people — when she called the abortion decision a “victory for White life.” (She said she misspoke, although the crowd cheered.)

Congressional candidate Yesli Vega, the GOP nominee to replace Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) said “it wouldn’t surprise me” if it were difficult for a woman to get pregnant from rape, “because it’s not something that’s happening organically,” according to an Axios recording. That’s called stare rapina legitima — to stand by legitimate rape — affirming the precedent set by Senate candidate Todd Akin (R-Mo.), who said in 2012: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is reviving the doctrine of stare contra pedicandum (to stand against sodomy) by saying he would defend a 1973 anti-sodomy law struck down two decades ago. Justice Clarence Thomas has invited challenges to that decision, as well as others protecting same-sex marriage and contraception.

Texts show that Thomas’s wife, Ginni, meanwhile, urged the Trump White House to “release the Kraken” of false election-fraud allegations — a philosophy known as stare monstris, to stand by sea monsters.

The court’s right-wing majority might also share the belief of Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) who said she’s “tired of this separation of church and state junk,” which she said came from a “stinking letter” by Thomas Jefferson, not the Constitution. Demonstrating stare templo — to stand by the church — Boebert decreed that “the church is supposed to direct the government.”

Another creed comes from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) who attacked Elmo because Sesame Street encouraged coronavirus vaccination. That’s stare contra pupas — stand against Muppets.

The court’s recent rulings invite many other Latin descriptors: stare atrocitate (to stand by cruelty), stare decuriatione (to stand by intimidation), stare deminutione capitis (to stand by the loss of liberties). But ultimately a court that has abandoned precedent stands for nothing (stare nullis) except for the raw exercise of power — stare imperio. And that leads to one place: stare ruina, to stand by destruction.