Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Supreme Court to Hear Voter ID Case: Supporters Say Law Combats Fraud; Others Charge It Unfairly Impacts Poor,Minorities

Supporters Say Law Combats Fraud; Others Charge It Unfairly Impacts Poor, Minorities

Sept. 25, 2007

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments in a case that will raise the question of whether requiring a voter to have a government-issued photo ID will unfairly impact poor and minority voters.

A federal appeals court upheld a 2005 Indiana law that would require all voters to show ID before being able to vote. Judge Richard Posner said it would be impossible for a person to exist in society today without an ID, saying, "Try flying or entering a tall building."

The National Committee on Election Reform said that 6 to 10 percent of eligible voters don't have valid IDs -- perhaps as many as 20 million Americans. Most of them are poor, getting by with no identification at all. They don't drive, they don't have bank accounts and they don't fly.
Only a few states have voter identification laws but the Indiana Democratic Party -- one of the petitioners -- said that Indiana's requirements are the most restrictive.

To get an ID in the state, you must have a validated birth certificate and two other forms of identification. An Indiana state employee has testified that as many as 60 percent of applicants for IDs are turned away because of improper documentation.

Those arguing for the voter identification law say that they are concerned about inflated voter registration lists and nationwide reports of in-person voter fraud.

They cite a 2000 Indianapolis Star report that found 300 dead people on the registered voter list, though there is no evidence of anyone having been prosecuted for impersonating a registered voter.

An article in the Michigan Law Review said that the number of voters that would fail to show up with IDs would be several times higher than the number of fraudulent voters.

Ken Falk of the American Civil Liberties Union, who will argue the case before the court, asked, "Why are we imposing these restrictions on a minority group, when there is no evidence of voter fraud?" The ACLU's petition can be viewed by clicking here.

Full Article: http://www.abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=3648184&page=1

Mark Towner's Spyglass Spots: Sutherland Institute Press Release

Contact: Katie Christensen, Sutherland Institute
(801) 355-1272

Data Shows Utah’s Private Schools are as Diverse as Public Schools

Current Voucher Programs Helping Struggling Minority Students Most

Salt Lake City, UT – September 25, 2007 – Independent research conducted by the non-profit Sutherland Institute shows that Utah’s private schools are as broadly diverse as its public schools. Considering the students that vouchers are primarily intended to serve – low-income and minority students – the Institute anticipates that private schools are likely to become even more diverse if HB148 becomes law.

“Our survey results, collected from more than 60 private schools around the state, found no significant difference in racial diversity between private and public schools,” said Derek Monson, Sutherland Institute policy analyst.

Actual minority enrollment as a percentage of total student body for the 2006-2007 school year was 24.5 percent for voucher-eligible private schools and 24.8 percent for public schools. The federal data from 2003 shows Utah’s private schools have a slightly higher proportion of minority students compared to the public school system.

“A common misperception we hear is that vouchers will lead to segregation,” said Monson. “The data shows this is not true. Wherever voucher policy has been implemented in the U.S., low-income, struggling minority students – not affluent white students – are the ones leaving public schools and switching over to the private alternative. This trend suggests that private schools will only become more diverse with the implementation of HB 148.”

Carmen Torres, a single mother of three from West Valley, noticed how quickly her children were assimilated into their private school in Park City. “My oldest daughter was very nervous about attending a private school because she is shy and was worried if she would fit in as a Hispanic. But her worries were erased after just one day at the school. In fact, all three of my children feel much more comfortable at private schools, because they feel accepted for who they are and have many friends.”

The Missing Voucher Column - Choice: A Fundamental Freedom

Recent Post from
Utah Rattler
September 25, 2007
The Missing Voucher Column
Filed under: Education — utahrattler @ 11:38 am
For some unknown reason, the column (”A Minute For Parents”, September 11, 2007) is not available on the Clipper website (all of Ms. Hamilton’s other columns are, however). So here’s her column:

Choice is a fundamental freedom. In November you get to vote for or against the voucher system. I guess you have to decide if you want to be in charge of your children or if you want the Board of Education and the Utah Education Association in charge of your children’s school environment and education. Frankly, I have more confidence in you – not because public schools are not doing an excellent job in most instances, but because children don’t all fit into the same category.

I had a single mother friend whose oldest boy entered junior high in Davis County and started running with friends she did not approve of. She wisely pulled him out of the public school and put him into a private school. He stayed there two years and then when she put him back into the public school, he did just fine. I can’t imagine how she did it financially.

This parent saw a need and somehow scrounged up the money to solve it. In my opinion we need to vote for vouchers and allow parents to choose the most appropriate educational setting for each of their children. In the vast majority of cases parents will choose a public school. However, we all know children who march to a different drummer and need something that the public schools can’t provide, whether it be more discipline, a more challenging environment for high achievers, a new approach for low achievers or a way to get children away from the “wrong crowd,” whether that be drugs, gangs or for moral reasons.

I personally know educators in high places who are very much for the voucher program. A Utah State University study estimated that this arrangement would potentially save the state more than $1 billion over 13 years. That money could be used to increase public school spending and help fund the education of the 150,000+ new students projected to enter Utah’s schools in the next decade. Parents need to understand that even though a child attends a private school under the voucher system, about $2,500 will go to the public school allowing more funds for the school to use on the students who are there.

It is parents who have the primary right and responsibility to educate their children. It is constitutional. See Utah Constitution Article X, Section 2 where it says, “The public education system shall include all public elementary and secondary schools and such other schools and programs as the Legislature may designate.”

The number of children attending Utah charter schools has doubled nearly every year since 2002, and school enrollment will have grown from 537 students in 2001 to an estimated 20,000 in 2007, with thousands more on waiting lists. This shows parental desire for something different than the public schools can offer.

There is accountability in the voucher program. It is scaled as to household income and household size. Participating private schools must use testing, have teachers with specified education, disclose accreditation status and be audited. Money is given directly to the school and there are other regulations. It disturbs me when I read that this is not true.
Again, the school system offers a great education for a lot of students, and I believe they will continue to do so, but I believe concerned parents need other alternatives. In other states, the whole system improves when competition is a factor.

For more information see http://www.choiceineducation.org/.
Kim Burningham, the state BOE chair recently responded to the column (you’ll note that his long response is available on the website) . For the most part, Burningham runs the same, tired arguments illustrated in “Nanny State Knows Best?“.

Burningham starts by saying that vouchers won’t help choice as no one will afford the private schools anyway. I bet the single mother illustrated above begs to differ as do many of us who’ve actually bothered to call private schools to inquire about their tuition rates. Burningham also makes a poor assumption that private and public educational facilities will remain static ignoring the law of supply and demand by also stating that there aren’t very many private schools. With demand, the supply will go up and tuition rates will decrease as supply increases. I find it very likely, that the supply will be naturally biased to those in low to middle incomes as they hold the greatest amount of funding opportunity for a private school and are the emerging market - the high income market has already been met (no new growth opportunity there).
Burningham also tries to hit the “accountability” argument by focusing on government programs/methods, again, indicating that he puts more weight on a bureaucrat/big company/third party analysis over the judgment of the child’s parent (see: “Voucher Accountability: The Best Auditor” and “Parents Know Their Children Best“).

On the lighter side, I found a couple of funny comments in his letter. First, is the argument that private schools will only take good, able bodied students and leave the physically challenged etc in the public schools. Maybe he should check out the Carson-Smith Scholarship which the “education union” opposed. Check out the “student eligibility requirements”, the voucher amount, and list of private schools. Note: Carson-Smith is taxpayer (NOT private) money. Carson-Smith was passed in early 2005. This also goes back to the supply and demand stuff I mentioned above. Second, I chuckled at his ‘limited enrollment slots” and “preferred children” (siblings) line. Charter Schools have limited enrollment slots and enrolled siblings make it much more likely that their siblings will be accepted. Schools also have limited slots for transferring students (but usually aren’t exceeded, I believe).

Ok. I’ll quit there, this is long enough. Again, the bottom line is parents will make the best decision for their child’s education and are the superior auditor.

Intolerance in the Name of Tolerance

September 25, 2007
Intolerance in the Name of Tolerance
By Cal Thomas

I would not be as bothered by Columbia University's decision to host Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad if Columbia and other universities had a consistent policy toward those they invite to speak and the rules applied equally to conservatives and liberals; to totalitarian dictators and to advocates for freedom and tolerance.

Any conservative who has ever tried, or actually succeeded, in speaking on the campus of predominately liberal academic institutions knows it can resemble to some extent the struggle experienced by African Americans when they attempted to desegregate lunch counters in the South during the civil rights movement.

In the 1980s, I spoke at universities from Smith College in the East to the University of California at Davis in the West. At Smith, lesbians sat in the front row kissing each other while the rest of the crowd shouted so loud no one could hear me (NPR's Nina Totenberg witnessed the riotous behavior, prompting me to remark, "I hope you're getting this on tape, Nina, because this is what liberals mean by tolerance.").

Former U.S. News and World Report columnist John Leo has been among the chroniclers of the demise of free speech on many college campuses. Writing in last winter's issue of the publication City Journal, Leo noted that Columbia University officials prevented a large crowd from hearing Walid Shoebat, a former PLO terrorist who is now an anti-jihadist. The reason given was security, which as Leo pointed out is a frequent excuse for restricting speech. Had Shoebat remained a PLO terrorist, Columbia might have allowed the students in, because anti-Jewish rhetoric of the kind Ahmadinejad delivers always seems welcome on too many campuses. Only Columbia students and 20 guests were allowed to hear Shoebat speak.

Why would Columbia expect Ahmadinejad to answer what they promised in advance would be "tough" questions? Have they not seen him interviewed by America's best reporters? He doesn't answer questions. He uses the interviews to lecture America and make his propaganda points. The exercise is useless, except to him because he scores points at home for standing up to "the Great Satan," or whatever the preferred term du jour for the United States is at the moment.
Last October at Columbia, a mob of students stormed a stage, curtailing speeches by two members of the anti-illegal immigration group known as the Minutemen. The students shouted "They have no right to speak," which was revealing, given the "academic freedom" argument that is used to defend liberal professors and their frequent anti-American rants when conservatives attempt to shut them up.

As John Leo wrote, "Campus opponents of (Rep.) Tom Tancredo, an illegal immigration foe, set off fire alarms at Georgetown to disrupt his planned speech, and their counterparts at Michigan State roughed up his student backers. Conservative activist David Horowitz, black conservative Star Parker, and Daniel Pipes, an outspoken critic of Islamism, frequently find themselves shouted down or disrupted on campus." The number of instances involving censorship of conservatives on college campuses and denial of honorary degrees to people who don't toe the liberal line could fill a book.

There is something else about Columbia's decision to admit Ahmadinejad and that is the notion that by exposing a tyrant and religious fanatic to a liberal arts campus -- a man who believes he has been "called" to usher in Armageddon -- might make him less genocidal and students and the rest of us more understanding. We understand he and his legion of murdering thugs wish to kill us and are contributing to the death of Americans in Iraq. What part of mass murder do they not understand at Columbia, or don't they have time to study history these days?
Ahmadinejad is probably using his visit to case our country, like a bank robber does before a big heist.

Before we allow more of our enemies into America and give them a freedom unknown in their own countries, we should at least demand reciprocity. Their president gets to speak in America? Our president gets to speak in Iran.

Their president has access to our media? Our president should have access to their media. And while we're at it, how about for every liberal who gets to speak on campus, the school must also invite a conservative.

(c) Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Another Nail in the Coffin

Another Nail in the Coffin
Posted Sep 24th 2007 6:36AM by NixGuy
Filed under: President 2008, Money Trail, John McCain

With apologies to "Star Trek," let me just say this about John McCain's presidential aspirations: "It's dead, Jim".Over the weekend, David Freddoso at NRO traveled to the Michigan GOP confab at Mackinac Island where just hours earlier John McCain lost his Michigan chairman. Yes they were both there:

If he intended to embarrass Sen. John McCain, Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox could not really have done it more effectively than he has. His announcement Monday that he was stepping down as McCain's state chairman came just in time for this weekend's Republican retreat here, which every major GOP presidential candidate was scheduled to attend.That's a pretty big hit. Some of us recall that in 2000 John McCain won a surprising and huge victory in the Michigan primary If he has any hope at all (and he doesn't) he needs to do the same thing in 2008. That's not going to happen when your main man in Michigan decides to jump ship. But then again, McCain was able to convince a lot of Democrats and independents to come over and vote GOP (and for him) instead of the boring and decided Democratic nomination. This year, Hillary Clinton is not quite anointed yet, and Democrats will probably choose to vote on the Democratic side.See more at the Detroit News.

McCain still has some potent Republican fundraisers on his Michigan team, but many of them acknowledge that it's tough to excite donors to write checks.
He has lost his campaign plane and has to travel commercial, making him less mobile -- and less able to cram in fundraisers.

He has to fly commercial?! It's definitely over.

Oh-eight (D): The Hillary filibuster

Oh-eight (D): The Hillary filibuster
Posted: Monday, September 24, 2007 9:07 AM by Domenico MontanaroCategories: ,
CLINTON: The New York senator hit all the Sunday morning shows yesterday, including NBC’s Meet the Press. The Washington Post says that she “demonstrated a particularly senatorial skill: the art of the filibuster… Above all, though, in a morning of appearances that yielded virtually no news, Clinton illustrated her ability to talk. And talk. And talk.”
The New York Daily News called it “TV’s Tour de Hillary.” On Meet the Press, Clinton touted her ability to withstand Republicans’ “withering attacks.” “I think I've proven that I not only can survive them but surpass them," she said.
The Sunday New York Times had a CW-setting piece about Clinton's place in the campaign. "She has been challenged for fund-raising supremacy and news media attention by Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. Former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina beat her to the punch in introducing big policy proposals. But nothing that her main rivals have done has so far has derailed Mrs. Clinton, leading them to begin rolling out aggressive new strategies aimed primarily at her, including courting black voters in South Carolina and stepping up attacks."

Full Story http://firstread.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2007/09/24/376385.aspx