Article by Rabbi Shapiro about HB 989

Reprinted with permission from Rabbi Shapiro

Won’t you join me­­­­­ in that quintessential expression of American ideals and participate in a vote?  In a democracy, voting allows us all to voice our decisions while allowing all to have the same voice.  If we can rule by the majority, while respecting minority voices, we are, after all, expressing a fundamental principle elaborated by the founders of our great country!

So, let’s vote on this question, please!

Should water molecules (H20) have one atom of hydrogen or two?

What do you think?

If you are in favor of water molecules having just one hydrogen atom, then please text the word “One” to me at 804-914-4460.

If you are in favor of water molecules having two hydrogen atoms, then please text the word “Two” to me at 804-914-4460.

Next month, I promise to report on the vote so that we can, together, after hearing everyone’s voice, after accepting input from all who wish to participate, decide whether or not water molecules should have one or two hydrogen atoms.

Wait! What?  You think this is silly?  Then you are just out of step with the mainstream thinking of Floridians and/or our Tallahassee leadership!

You see, the Florida State Legislature has passed, and Governor Scott has signed, a bill that allows parental and community input into the curricular materials, textbooks, etc. that will be used in each county school district.  After all, we all pay for our public schools (and too many religious schools, as well, I’m afraid, but that’s a different article in the Freethinker) so shouldn’t we get a say?

Thus, if we can get a large group of us to challenge textbooks that claim that water is H2O and decide that we want to have only materials that teach that water is H1O, we can go to our school board meetings and raise a ruckus!

Not going to happen, you say?

What if we can get a large group of us to challenge textbooks that claim the earth is 4 billion years old and have them replaced by materials that teach that the earth is more like 10,000 years old, just as described in Genesis Chapter 1?

What if we can get a large group of us to challenge textbooks that claim that God is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution and have them replaced by materials that teach that our great country was founded on Christian principles?

What if we can get a large group of us to challenge textbooks that claim that the Ku Klux Klan holds extremist reactionary positions such as white supremacy, white nationalism, anti-immigration and anti-Semitism and have them replaced by materials that teach that the KKK has “tried to be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross, targeting bootleggers, wife-beaters, and immoral movies. In some communities it achieved a certain respectability as it worked with politicians?” (That’s a direct quote from the textbook United States History for Christian Schools, 3rd ed., Bob Jones University Press, 2001)

The “What ifs” can go on and on.  The bill signed by the Governor CS/HB 989: Education,  already seems to say what A Beka Book and Bob Jones University Press curricula have been pushing, that Algebra II is the work of the devil!!

Elections and rule by the majority have their place, an important place, in our great democracy.  But elections can’t decide questions of right and wrong.  Nor can the courts.  Let us not forget that there are still with us women who were born into a U.S.A. where women could not vote!  There was a time that elections and the courts agreed that slavery was OK for our country.  Even now, it seems that the electorate, in some areas, and the courts, express the idea that LGBTQ people do not have the same rights as others.

Nor do elections, majority rule, or the courts, get to decide the facts.  Sound science and academic integrity tell us that water molecules are going to have two atoms of hydrogen no matter what our justices decide, no matter how the electorate votes!

Through our taxes, we’re all paying for the textbooks and curricular material used in our local school classrooms.

In the name of sound science, academic integrity, the thought processes, the brains with which we are all endowed, please keep an eye out for attempts to pressure our local school boards into thinking otherwise! If you see an assault on our traditional values, on the truthfulness of the textbooks used in our public schools, please scream!  Keep screaming all the way to the next meeting of the county school board!

Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program

Link to article  by The Rev. Harry Parrott

Quote from article:

The Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program takes money that corporations would otherwise pay into the state’s general revenue fund and diverts it to a scholarship-funding organization that hands out vouchers for private and religious schools.

What began as a program capped at $50 million has been expanded by the Legislature and will grow to $873 million by 2018-19.

Florida Constitution-public education

I love this part of the Florida Constitution.

Article IX

SECTION 1. Public education.—
(a) The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education and for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of institutions of higher learning and other public education programs that the needs of the people may require.
 
SECTION 6. State school fund.—The income derived from the state school fund shall, and the principal of the fund may, be appropriated, but only to the support and maintenance of free public schools.

Florida Constitution and the Right to Freedom of Religion

By Rabbi Shapiro

Does the government have the right to speak out on the sale of tobacco products to minors?

Does the government have the right to speak out on the obesity epidemic in our country?

Does the government have the right to speak out on racism in our country?

The answer is firmly “No!” to each of the above questions! It may be making too much of a fine point, but we are all going to keep in mind that in a Democracy, the Government has no rights at all!! The People have rights, but the Government has only duties, obligations and responsibilities. Thus, the Government can and should speak out on the sale of tobacco products to minors, on the obesity epidemic in our country and on racism because it is the duty of the Government to do so. But the Government does not have the right to do so!

Again, this may seem like a semantic exercise in nitpicking, not worth the time to even discuss. But, as with many small tears in the fabric of our society, it will become larger and larger as we look forward to the next 24 months here in Florida.

Remember, when the People have rights and the Government has responsibilities, we have Democracy. When the People have responsibilities and the Government has rights, we have Fascism!

Coming our way between now and Election Day 2018 is the argument that the Government should have the right of Freedom of Religion.

It is the people that have the right of freedom of religion as enumerated in the First Amendment to the US Constitution and in Article 1 Section 3 of the Florida Constitution.

There will be an amendment on our ballot in November 2018 asking us to give the government the right to fund religious institutions. It will be up to the citizens of Florida to decide to give or withhold final approval.

At issue is Florida’s “No-Aid” clause, part of our State’s Constitution since 1885.
Article I
SECTION 3
Religious freedom.—There shall be no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting or penalizing the free exercise thereof. Religious freedom shall not justify practices inconsistent with public morals, peace or safety. No revenue of the state or any political subdivision or agency thereof shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.

Governor Scott is now assembling a “Constitutional Revision Commission” as required by law. Once every twenty years such a Commission has the opportunity to suggest changes to Florida’s Constitution and place those changes on the ballot for approval or rejection by the citizens of Florida. There is no legislative or judicial review involved.

The Commission, not yet formed, but whose leadership has been named, will argue that the “No-Aid” clause limits the Government’s right to support religious schools and other religious institutions!

Let’s not be taken in by this rhetoric and false model. Let’s protect ourselves from Government requirements that we support religious activities that are in opposition to our own beliefs!

Let’s begin by becoming familiar with Article I, Section 3 of our Florida Constitution and telling our friends and neighbors about the upcoming assault on the protections it provides each and every citizen of Florida!

This blog post was written by Rabbi Shapiro and reprinted here with permission

Taxpayer money and charter schools

Quote from the article:
In January the Freedom from Religion Foundation wrote the school district and provided photos of the charter school students attending an event in a chapel where there was a large cross …….  Anita Henry-Smith, Duval’s charter schools supervisor, warned Seacoast Charter’s officials that the event was a default on the school’s charter...

end quotes

Click here to find your representative and write

Please write your Florida representative and ask them to include the following suggestions into law:

Suggestions by the League of Women Voters:
1. A public charter school may be housed in a religious institution so long as secular identity is maintained and the student body reflects broad racial/ethnic/religious and economic diversity.

2. Charter public schools must report financial information in a format that is adequate for comparison with other public schools, particularly regarding facilities ownership and management contracts.
3. Members of the charter schools’ governing board MUST NOT have any financial interest in the charter school. Legislators serving on education or appropriation committees must recuse themselves on votes related to charter school finance if they have any financial interest in one or more charter schools.
4. As a recipient of public education funds charter schools should meet the procurement standards applicable to other public institutions as stated in statute and rule regarding competitive bids, purchasing of services, equipment, supplies and sites. Records of all transaction and procedures should meet all public records laws for full disclosure. Charter schools that acquire their facilities using public funds must assure that the facility reverts to public ownership at termination of the charter. If the facility is subject to a mortgage, the mortgage must disclose and protect the public’s interest in the facility. A conversion of an existing public school to a public charter school should only be authorized by the local governing school board retaining full public ownership of the facility and the assets associated with the school.