The AACS Legislative Office monitors issues that affect the educational freedom and religious liberty of Christian schools.
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The Washington Flyer
September 11, 2015
“One of the worst days in America’s history saw some of the bravest acts in Americans’ history. We’ll always honor the heroes of 9/11. And here at this hallowed place, we pledge that we will never forget their sacrifice.”
George W. Bush
AACS National Legislative Conference Next Week
The AACS will be hosting its annual National Legislative Conference next week in Washington, D.C. The conference will include special Congressional and legislative briefings to update attendees on issues related to Christian education and religious liberty, and also a special banquet featuring Senator James Lankford as the speaker. You can receive updates on the conference by liking us on Facebook (“AACS Legislative Office”) and following us on twitter (@aacs_dc). Due to the National Legislative Conference there will be no Washington Flyer next week.
Religious Liberty of Government Officials Threatened by Same-Sex Marriage
Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, captured the nation’s attention when she was jailed for refusing to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple because of her religious belief in biblical marriage. However, she is not the only government official who has been caught in the crosshairs of the battle between religious liberty and the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. Another county clerk in Texas, Katie Lang, was sued for over $40,000 earlier this year by a same-sex couple after she refused to give them a marriage license, even though she offered to find someone else who would have no objection to doing so. She now allows her deputies to issue licenses although she still holds to her strong belief that marriage is between one man and one woman. In Oregon, Marion County Circuit Judge Vance Day is being investigated for refusing to issue marriage licenses since gay marriage became legal in Oregon last spring. In Alabama, several counties have shut their doors to all marriage licenses in order to avoid charges of discrimination; the state legislature is expected to take up the issue in the next legislative session in an effort to determine a way to protect the religious liberty for those who have sworn to uphold the law. North Carolina has also seen 32 magistrates refuse to issue gay marriage licenses for religious reasons. However, the state passed a law last June to protect religious freedom by allowing government officials to recuse themselves from issuing licenses if they have a “sincerely held religious objection,” provided they have notified a higher authority of their objections. While some are calling for government officials to simply resign if they have an objection to upholding the law, Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation argues that the religious freedom of all people, including government employees, should be protected: “Some on the left say that you must do every aspect of your job, despite your beliefs, or resign. But this has never been the practice in the United States. We have a rich history of accommodating conscientious objectors in a variety of settings, including government employees. Do we really want to say that an otherwise competent employee must quit or go to jail if there is another alternative?”

School Choice

New York Governor Announces Plans to “Fix” Common Core
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made headlines last week when he announced his intentions to form an “education commission” to determine how to fix the
problems with the Common Core Standards in his state. His announcement comes less than a month after data was released showing that approximately 20 percent of students chose to opt out of the state’s annual assessments. While Cuomo says he still supports the goal of the CCS, he believes the implementation has been “deeply flawed.” He claims the fault for this lies with the state’s education department, which, in turn, puts the blame at the feet of parents and teachers in the opt-out movement. Nationwide, support for the Common Core Standards has dropped from 65% in 2013 to 49% this year. Even outspoken supporters of the standards recognize the lack of support the standards are receiving, with Jeb Bush calling the Common Core label “poisonous” and the Boston Globe reporting that the Common Core-aligned test PARCC is in a “death spiral.”


School Choice

Washington Supreme Court Rules Charter Schools Unconstitutional
The Washington State Supreme Court ruled last week that the state’s voter-approved charter school law is unconstitutional. In the 6-3 ruling, the court said charter schools do not qualify as “common” schools under Washington’s Constitution and, therefore, are not eligible to receive public funding intended for traditional public schools. This ruling throws the new school year into chaos for about 1,200 pupils enrolled in the 9 charter schools in the state. Chief Justice Barbara Madsen said the charter schools are not common schools because they are controlled by a charter school board and not by local voters. In contrast, Justice Mary Fairhurst in her separate opinion
wrote, “Nowhere does the Act identify a source of funding; it merely states that charter schools must receive funding based on student enrollment, just like existing public schools. Because the Act neither identifies a source of funding nor commands the use of restricted funds to support charter schools, it withstands appellants’ facial challenge and is constitutional.”

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Weekly Market Update provided by Jeff Beach of the AACS Investment Team at Merrill Lynch
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House Judiciary Committee Holds Investigative Hearing on Planned Parenthood
Christians in Government: Stay or Go?

American Association of Christian Schools
Jamison Coppola: Legislative Director
Maureen Van Den Berg: Policy Analyst

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