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As I write this, the United States Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the Espinoza v Montana Department of Revenue case.

 

The national press has covered this extensively and there have been several Montana blog posts as well as print media.  We will not be able to hear the audio of the hearing until it is posted by the Supreme Court at the end of the week.

 

Supporters of Espinoza tout this as religious freedom but in reality, it is nothing more than the path through which they can funnel scarce public funds into private education.  Our public schools, particularly our rural schools, cannot afford to lose yet more resources to bolster schools that discriminate and are unaccountable and unaccredited.

 

The 1972 Montana Constitution is clear that public funds may not be given to religious organizations and the writers of that document have now written again to underscore their intentions and fight back against this attempt to divert our public resources.

 

Our Montana Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional.

 

But there is a great deal of money to be made off of private education and those with already deep pockets are pouring even more money into this fight so that they can get richer and take more from our public coffers.

 

Espinoza v the Montana Department of Revenue has far-reaching and universally disastrous implications.  It means that someone like Greg Gianforte could ultimately give $50,000 to his private, discriminatory Petra Academy taking that $50,000 out of the tax pool that pays for our roads, our water and yes, our public schools.

 

We won’t know the outcome of this hearing until June.  But today and tomorrow, I urge everyone to do all that the can to support our strong public school systems and fight back against those who would diminish and demean our public schools, students and teachers.

 

Sincerely,

Representative Moffie Funk

 

 

At the end of this month, the Montana Family Foundation will be hosting an event in Billings to celebrate "National School Choice Week."

 

What is National School Choice Week?

 

The week was started by the right-wing Gleason Family Foundation that also funds the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Uncommon Charter Schools, the libertarian Cato Institute and anti-union organizations that promote “right to work." - The Washington Post

 

What is their actual goal?

 

"School choice" is the term that came out of focus groups funded by wealthy special interests that want to dismantle public education across America and in Montana. What "school choice" really means is "using public dollars to fund for-profit private schools." These private schools mean big checks to CEOs, but millions of dollars (actually, a billion dollars) in wasted tax money.

 

Smoke and Mirrors

 

According to the National School Choice Week website, "National School Choice Week is nonpartisan and nonpolitical, and is not related to any legislative advocacy effort."

That's beyond disingenuous. The "planning partner" listed for the events here in Montana is the Montana Family Foundation.

 

In addition to pushing a deeply homophobic agenda, the Montana Family Foundation literally lists "legislative advocacy" as part of its mission. That advocacy includes pushing for school privatization.

 

In 2013, Mike Dennison reported the following:

 

"The state organization is the Montana Family Foundation, a group based in Laurel and known for its conservative push on social issues, such as opposing gay rights and abortion.

Yet in recent years, the foundation has spearheaded the school-choice movement in Montana, lobbying the issue at the Legislature, organizing school-choice conferences and throwing its political support behind candidates that will vote for school choice.

 

The Montana Family Foundation also gets assistance and counsel from national groups like the Friedman Foundation and the Institute for Justice, well-financed organizations promoting and defending school choice across the nation.

 

Jeff Laszloffy, president of the Montana Family Foundation, says he got involved in the issue several years ago when he was approached by Greg Gianforte, the then-CEO and founder of RightNow Technologies Inc., a software development firm in Bozeman.

 

Gianforte, who engineered the 2012 sale of RightNow to software giant Oracle Corp. for more than $1.8 billion, is a financial supporter of the Family Foundation, and his wife, Susan, is the chair of the nonprofit organization’s board.

 

Gianforte also chairs the board of Petra Academy, a private K-12 school in Bozeman that offers a “classical and Christian” education, and he and his wife have given tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Republican political candidates and the Republican Party in Montana."

 

Don't be fooled by the Montana Family Foundation and their super-wealthy backers!

 

National School Choice Week is about one thing: selling off Montana's public schools.

 

Will you help Montanans Organized for Education continue to hold school privatization advocates accountable in Montana?

 

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The Washington Post recently reported on an analysis by the Network for Public Education that revealed a shocking waste of taxpayer dollars being given to charter schools that closed or never even opened.

 

The Charter School Program has been in operation for almost a quarter of a century but the report, “Asleep at the Wheel,” could only investigate data from 2006-2014 because there was no oversight in the earlier years of the program.

 

It is estimated that $1 billion has been wasted over the life of the program.

 

 

And who has benefited and continues to benefit from this program despite warning signs: Betsy DeVos whose home state of Michigan ranked among the highest in grants received for schools that either quickly closed or never opened.

 

We are proud that Montana does not make this infamous list of wasted taxpayer dollars because we know that charter schools don’t work for Montana.

 

But for-profit institutions want to come here and the US Secretary of Education and our current Superintendent of PUBLIC Education think that would be just fine.

 

I urge you to read the report (check out the interactive map on Michigan) >>>

 

And then take action by signing our petition or making a small donation.