The AACS Legislative Office monitors issues that affect the educational freedom and religious liberty of Christian schools.
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The Washington Flyer
July 29, 2016

“God grants liberty only to those who love it and are always ready to guard and defend it.”
Daniel Webster
Education and Values Issues in Stark Contrast in Party Platforms
In this particularly unusual and intense election cycle, the party platforms released by the two major political parties stand in stark contrast in the areas of education and values issues, with the
Republican Platform described as the most conservative platform that has been presented and the Democratic Platform labeled as the most progressive. In the area of education, the Republican Platform begins with a commitment to parents’ rights, stating: “Parents are a child’s first and foremost educators, and have primary responsibility for the education of their children. Parents have a right to direct their children’s education, care, and upbringing. We support a constitutional amendment to protect that right.” The platform recognizes that the Constitution actually gives the federal government “no role in education,” and offers strong support for a “broad range of choices for parents and children at the state and local level,” including tax credits, vouchers, and educational savings accounts. Additionally, the platform reiterates opposition to national standards and assessments. The platform also specifically describes its opposition to the Administration’s use of Title IX to force a redefinition of “sex discrimination” and implement a new transgender policy in public schools nationwide. In contrast, the Democratic Platform emphasizes a commitment “to provide every family in America with access to high-quality childcare and high-quality preschool programs, and to provide only public school choice with restrictions placed on certain public charter schools.” Additionally, the Democratic Platform in multiple places offers a commitment to LGBT issues and the advancement of “nondiscrimination” policies in education. Regarding life issues, the Republican Platform explicitly states, “American taxpayers should not be forced to fund abortion.” Specifically, there is a call for the “codification of the Hyde Amendment” and “a permanent ban on federal funding and subsidies for abortion and health care plans that include abortion coverage.” In contrast, the Democratic Platform states that “every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion.” Specifically, the platform declares a commitment to oppose any efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, and any “federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment.” Regarding marriage and religious liberty, the Republican Platform states, “We do not accept the Supreme Court’s redefinition of marriage and we urge its reversal, whether through judicial reconsideration or a constitutional amendment returning control over marriage to the states. We oppose government discrimination against businesses or entities that decline to sell items or services to individuals for activities that go against their religious views about such activities. We support measures such as the First Amendment Defense Act to ensure these entities do not face government discrimination because of their views on marriage and family.” In stark contrast, the Democratic Platform “applaud[s] last year’s decision by the Supreme Court that recognized that LGBT people—like other Americans—have the right to marry the person they love.” The platform continues, “But there is still much work to be done.…We will oppose all state efforts to discriminate against LGBT individuals, including legislation that restricts the right to access public spaces. We support a progressive vision of religious freedom that respects pluralism and rejects the misuse of religion to discriminate.”
Note: As a 501c3, the AACS does not endorse a candidate or party.


Survey Shows Majority of Millennials Are Pro-life
The Students for Life of America (SFLA) have released the results from a Barna Group survey which shows that 53% of Millennials believe that abortion should be illegal, with exception only in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother. This percentage is up nine points from four years ago. In a recent
article, Michael New explains this shift by pointing to advances made through science that prove that a fetus is actually a human being. New suggests that the “development of ultrasound technology has played a role in this opinion shift.” As a general rule, Millennials respond well to proofs, making them more apt to side with the scientific world and whatever science proves as fact. Another notable reason for these pro-life gains is that more and more Millennials find abortion acceptable only in drastic situations. The survey also found that only 47% think that Planned Parenthood should receive federal funding. Interestingly, while the numbers show Millennials to be pro-life, the young adults don’t often identify with the pro-life label. Other recent studies also indicate that the positions of many Americans on abortion are more nuanced than the labels “pro-choice” or “pro-life” can account for. This finding has led some to suggest that better ways for talking about abortion and describing people’s opinions regarding abortion need to be developed. In his article, New concludes that “translating this opposition to abortion into effective political action will be an important challenge for pro-life activists in the future.”


Virginia School Board Pauses Transgender policy
The Fairfax County School Board in northern Virginia has decided to temporarily suspend its implementation of new transgender accommodation guidelines due to strong resistance from parents. The new policy was created as a result of the directive issued by the Obama administration last May requiring public schools to fully accommodate transgender and gender non-conforming students by allowing them full access to facilities which are consistent with their chosen gender identity. The school board voted soon afterwards to include gender identity in its nondiscrimination guidelines, establishing the new guidelines that allow gender-conflicted students to use locker rooms, showers, bathrooms, and participate on sports team based on their gender identity. However, after the outcry from parents, the school board voted to put implementation of the policy on hold. Fairfax County School Board member Elizabeth Schultz told
The Daily Signal, “Fairfax County Public Schools will keep handling transgender student matters with privacy and dignity in the way they always have…case-by-case, which is exactly what we wanted them to do in the first place.” The Obama directive is being broadly challenged by lawsuits filed by 21 states.

In Case You Missed It:

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Early Bird Registration—AACS National Legislative Conference
Don’t miss the AACS the National Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., on September 12-14.
Register by August 15 to receive the special conference rate on your hotel room and the discounted registration fee.

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

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