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Oklahoma GOP cheer ‘transformational’ school choice bills after House passage: ‘Every kid wins’

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Republicans in Oklahoma’s House of Representatives passed two school choice bills late Wednesday that House Speaker Charles McCall said have the potential to transform the way education is run in the state, and ensure that “every kid wins in the state of Oklahoma.”

“It doesn’t matter where the parent decides to take them to school, we’re increasing our funding for parents to go to private schools, for parents to educate by alternative means, as well as public school,” the Republican speaker told Fox News Digital. “It’s pretty transformational for the state of Oklahoma. It is the first time that we’ve offered a path to help families with private school tuition and grant some relief also for parents that choose to homeschool.”

The bills passed in the House would give parents a tax credit up to $5,000 per child that opts to attend private school, and a $2,500 credit for students educated by other means, like homeschool.

They also include a $500 million increase in funding for public schools throughout the state that will also fund $2,500 minimum pay raises for every teacher not designated as an administrator, $50 million to schools receiving below-average funding from annual local tax revenue, and $300 million to be distributed to public school districts on a per-pupil basis.

The measures now move to the state Senate, where Republicans believe they can pass.

SCHOOL CHOICE REVOLUTION: GOVERNORS DRIVING THIS FAST-GROWING MOVEMENT

The Oklahoma State Capitol building, seen here in Oklahoma City, building was built in 1917. 

The Oklahoma State Capitol building, seen here in Oklahoma City, building was built in 1917.  (Getty Images)

EXCLUSIVE: OKLAHOMA GOVERNOR PRAISES PASSAGE OF ‘EMPOWERING’ SCHOOL CHOICE BILL IN STATE’S HOUSE

The first bill that offers tax credits also includes a provision allowing parents to request an advance on the tax credit to help pay for the upcoming semester. This bill passed the House on Wednesday in a 75-25 vote.

The second bill outlines how the appropriated monies can be spent, including on teacher and support staff raises, STEM programs, instructional materials, fees for nationally standardized assessments, summer education programs, after-school programs, student support services, or tuition and fees for concurrent enrollment. It passed 78-20.

The office of Speaker McCall says that private school choice has been difficult to navigate in Oklahoma so far, and is looking at the passage of these bill as a possible blueprint for other states who are attempting to legislate similar school voucher measures.

Classroom

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“We revere education very highly in this state,’ McCall said. “We yield to our constituents’ preferences and their desires… but it’s always about… how can you craft something that… helps parents achieve what they want to achieve?”

“It’s parental choice to us. It’s not school choice,” McCall added. He said in his nearly 11 legislative sessions, related bills like charter school authorizations and scholarship fund increases have succeeded, but it’s the first time a tax credit for private school and alternative education has been successful.

“The one piece we’ve never been able to advance in the 10 years that I’ve been in the legislature, and this is my 11th session, is a mechanism for private schools, if a parent elects to educate through private school,” McCall said.

Downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma

Downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma (iStock)

The challenge, McCall said, was “to find a way to help every kid in the state and address the education challenges and opportunities in rural Oklahoma, suburban Oklahoma, in urban Oklahoma. And we could all find support with a tax credit.”

“Just leaving more money with the citizens of the state that elect to go to private school,” he said. “Give them an opportunity just to keep their own money… let’s take away the double taxation where we normally tax their income and appropriate it to public education. Just let them keep it and use it.”

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“These bills today are a win for every kid in the state, every parent in the state, every school in the state, and there is a mandated teacher pay raise as part of the funding. So every teacher in the state,” McCall said.

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/oklahoma-gop-cheer-transformational-school-choice-bills-house-passage-every-kid-wins

Politics

Lawmaker says his state may need to ‘divorce’ from USDA over this ingredient in school lunches

A state lawmaker is aiming to “divorce” Iowa from federal regulations to ban margarine and vegetable public school meals over health concerns.

“Seed oils and margarine are wreaking havoc on the health of our children,” Iowa state Rep. Jeff Shipley told Fox News. “Fake industrial fats like margarine are connected to a myriad of mental and physical illness.”

An Iowa bill could ban margarine across the state, claiming the butter alternative can cause illness.

An Iowa bill could ban margarine across the state, claiming the butter alternative can cause illness. (iStock)

Shipley’s legislation, House File 341, passed a subcommittee on Feb. 23. Some margarine, which is made up of vegetable oils and water, has been associated with higher cholesterol levels, according to Harvard Health. It also contains trans fat, which has been associated with increased depression, the National Library of Medicine reported in 2016.

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“Animal fats, or higher quality saturated fats like olive or avocado oil are, essential nutrients for children’s health and developments,” Shipley said.

Both margarine and butter can have associated health risks.

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Jay Cowin, a registered nutritionist, previously told Fox News that seed oil was “full of polyunsaturated fatty acids like Omega-6, which can cause inflammation and liver damage. But compared to margarine, butter contains more saturated fats, which have been associated with a higher risk of heart disease.

And some experts found increased sugar and fat intake contributed to increased rates of depression and anxiety

An Iowa bill's sponsor says USDA guidelines are leaving children nutritionally starved.

An Iowa bill’s sponsor says USDA guidelines are leaving children nutritionally starved. (Fox News)

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Shipley told Fox News that his bill’s text conflicts with guidelines from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which provides funding for public school meals. The nutritional guidelines outlines limited sugar and sodium intake and specific low-fat alternatives for some foods. 

Shipley said the guidelines restricted “fat and protein, thus leaving children nutritionally starved and unhealthy.” 

“Our commitment to the school meal programs comes from a common goal we all share – keeping kids healthy and helping them reach their full potential,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a recent press release on updated school meal guidelines. “Research shows school meals are the healthiest meals in a day for most kids, proving that they are an important tool for giving kids access to the nutrition they need for a bright future.”

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“Since it’s become clear that the USDA guidelines are not supportive of children’s health, ultimately we will need to divorce the state of Iowa from these guidelines,” Shipley said, though he recognized his legislation could jeopardize USDA funding for Iowa school meals.

House File 341 is awaiting a full committee vote. 

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Politics

WI Assembly set to vote on bill that would make it a felony to encourage, engage in violence during a riot

Anyone who encourages a riot or engages in violence during a riot would face felony charges under a bill Wisconsin’s Assembly is poised to take up Wednesday.

The Republican-backed measure would make urging, promoting or organizing a riot a felony punishable by up to three years and six months in prison. Engaging in violence during a riot would a felony with up to six years in prison.

The bill defines a riot as a disturbance involving violence that’s part of a gathering of at least three people. The act of violence must have a clear and present danger of property damage or personal injury.

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Assembly approval would send the bill to the Senate. However, its prospects look dim. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a similar bill last year that would have made attending a riot a misdemeanor with up to nine months’ jail, and participating in a riot that causes property damage or injuries would have been a felony with up to three years and six months in prison.

The Wisconsin Assembly is set to vote on a bill that would make it a felony to encourage a riot or engage in violence during a riot.

The Wisconsin Assembly is set to vote on a bill that would make it a felony to encourage a riot or engage in violence during a riot.

Evers said in his veto message that it’s already a crime to refuse police orders to withdraw from an unlawful assembly, and that the bill could infringe on free speech rights.

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Republicans introduced the bill after protesters burned swaths of downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin, and damaged statues during demonstrations against police brutality in 2020.

 

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Politics

Trump supporters outnumbered in New York as few take up Trump’s call to ‘PROTEST’

Former President Donald Trump’s supporters are far outnumbered in New York City ahead of his potential arrest Wednesday, despite the Republican’s call for his voters to “PROTEST, PROTEST, PROTEST.”

Demonstrators cheering on the potential indictment against Trump gathered outside the offices of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, drowning out the handful of protesters there supporting the former president, according to Politico. The grand jury is set to meet again Wednesday.

“I wish more people had shown up,” Trump supporter Philippe Lejeune told the outlet.

Law enforcement sources say an indictment against Trump was unlikely to come down on Tuesday, however, saying it wouldn’t come until Wednesday at the earliest. If Trump is truly indicted it may galvanize more of his supporters to protest.

Few Americans are taking up former President Donald Trump's call to

Few Americans are taking up former President Donald Trump’s call to “PROTEST” ahead of his potential arrest this week. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

The NYPD prepared for potential widespread protests on Tuesday, but they never arrived.

The NYPD prepared for potential widespread protests on Tuesday, but they never arrived. (Leonardo Munoz)

Out of an abundance of caution, the NYPD ordered all 36,000 of its officers to be in uniform and on standby in anticipation of Trump’s potential arrest Tuesday. U.S. Capitol Police also erected barricades and called for more manpower ahead of the potential indictment, but few protesters showed up and Trump remains unmolested.

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The USCP clarified on Monday that it is not aware of any specific threat against the Capitol, but is making preparations out of an abundance of caution.

Several law enforcement groups were scheduled to meet at noon on Monday at NYPD headquarters in Manhattan to discuss the logistics of a potential indictment against Trump. The NYPD hosted the meeting, and attendees included Michael Magliano, chief of the Department of Public Safety, which oversees New York court officers, the head of the Secret Service’s New York office, and a representative from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

Trump would be the first former president in U.S. history to face criminal charges if Bragg’s office levels them. The potential indictment is expected to allege campaign finance infractions relating to records keeping, what some call a slim pretext for such a high-profile case.

U.S. Capitol Police prepared for potential protests surrounding Trump's arrest.

U.S. Capitol Police prepared for potential protests surrounding Trump’s arrest. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Some Democrats fear that the potential charges are not up to the task and could backfire, making it harder for allegations to stick relating to the other two investigations into Trump.

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Bragg’s investigation is just one of three Trump is facing, and the charges stemming from it may be the easiest ones for Trump to defeat. A failed prosecution of the former president – whose opponents have long dreamed of locking him up – could only serve to bolster his common refrain that he is the victim of a “witch hunt.”

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