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Toni Van Pelt interviewed on First Coast Connect radio show hosted by Melissa Ross. Listen Now 
General Information about the Study: At the request of Reps Mark Pocan (D- WI), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Gwen Moore (D-WI), the GAO examined participation in private school choice programs across the country. The study surveyed 20 voucher programs and 5 ESA programs (although only two were operational at the time of the study) across the country and conducted site visits and interview with school district and private school officials in programs in 4 states: Ohio, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Indiana. The programs in those four states represent half of all private school choice programs, and around 2/3 of participating students nationwide.
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GAO Report: Private School Choice Programs Are Growing and Can Complicate Providing Certain Federally Funded Services to Eligible Students
Explaining the Trump/Republican wins by EdDoerr When all the November 8 votes are tallied it will be seen that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote for President by over 1 million and that Democrats won  more votes than Republicans in the races for the Senate and House. Trump won the electoral college  vote because the rustbelt states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin tipped slightly to  him. Why? Perhaps the best explanation for these 3 states is found in the article, “Illness as indicator” (Link Here), in the November 19 issue of the respected newsweekly The Economist. “The best single predictor” is share of the county votes that switched from Romney in 2012 to Trump in 2016. And the best single indicator there is “an index of public- health statistics.” Pollster Patrick Ruffini drew on data from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington on “county level data on life expectancy and the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, heavy drinking and regular physical activity (or lack thereof).” Conclusion: “The data suggest that the ill may have been particularly susceptible to Mr Trump’s message.” And: “The better physical shape a county’s residents are, the worse Mr Trump did than Mr Romney.” Ironically, it is these less healthy voters who will be harmed most if Obamacare, Medicare and Medicaid are cut back under a Trump administration and GOP controlled congress.   Clinton’s popular vote win was upset by the electoral college system embedded in the Constitution, which may have made some sense in 1787 but today seriously thwarts democracy. Now for the congressional mess.   Senate. Since each state has two senators, the sparsely populated states like Idaho, Wyoming, Montana and Alaska get the same number senators as such heavily populated states as California, Texas, New York and Florida. So a voter in Wyoming counts for far more than one from California.  Advantage: Republicans. Loser: American democracy.   House. While a majority of voters preferred Democrats over Republicans,  gerrymandering and increasing voter suppression have given a decided shift toward rural and conservative white voters. Advantage: Republican. Loser: American democracy.   On balance these various underminings of democracy make it harder for majorities to cope with anthropogenic climate change and world overpopulation, and the increasing threats to women’s rights of conscience on reproductive matters, public education, church-state separation, and religious liberty (all of which have occupied  me full time for over 50 years). We have a lot of work to do, and Americans of all persuasions will need to work together. We can also hope that some congressional Republicans will put their country’s welfare first.
BOOK REVIEW Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, by Daniel Dennett. (Viking Penguin Group: New York, NY.) Cloth. 448 pp. 2006. ISBN: 0-67003472-X. Ten years ago Dennett came out with this bestseller. He was primarily concerned with demolishing two ideas that seemingly cast a spell among most human beings. The first spell is the taboo that forbids investigation into religion. The second spell is religion per se, or more to the point, the idea that such an examination into religion could sweep it away, along with its positive attributes, thus leaving the world worse than it is. Early in the book, the author notes that many non-Americans have complained that the tome is American-centered. Dennett concedes the point but does not believe this is such a big deal. However, he also concedes that his worldview is centered on “First World” peoples. The fact, though, is that religion is a worldwide phenomenon, and to focus so narrowly on the U.S. and the West detracts from the book – but not much. (Read More)
 AN OPEN LETTER TO THE UNITED STATES SENATE Civil and Human Rights Organizations Oppose Confirmation of Jeff Sessions Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Democratic Leader Reid, Chairman Grassley, and Ranking Member Leahy: On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 national organizations committed to promote and protect the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, and the 144 undersigned organizations, we are writing to express our strong opposition to the confirmation of Senator Jefferson B. Sessions (R-AL) to be the 84th Attorney General of the United States.
Toni Van Pelt