CNN Targets Trump-Allied Christian School in Attack on School Choice

On Friday morning, CNN News Central investigated the Arizona school system and how it has been impacted by school choice. Instead of reporting the undeniable flaws of the public school system, correspondent René Marsh tried her best to focus on the religious and Trump-affiliated groups which have caused an alleged “civil rights issue” by simply staying true to Biblical sexual ethics.

The target was the Dream City Christian School, affiliated with the pro-Trump organization Turning Point USA, a school whose “website underscores a far-right Christian viewpoint, promising to combat morally bankrupt and liberal ideology, including critical race theory, evolutionism, and gender identification. And it’s partially funded by taxpayer dollars like many private schools in the US, students at Dream City can use state money to pay for private education.”

Marsh stated:

A CNN investigation found Dream City Christian received more taxpayer money than 95% of the private schools in the state voucher program. A total $1.3 million, last year, according to data CNN obtained. That’s despite anti-LGBTQ mandates in the parent handbook stating faculty must believe and parents must agree to their children being taught that homosexual behavior is sinful and offensive to God and rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God.

She went on to interview those who have opposed the legislation, one professor called it “a civil rights issue” that a Christian school teaching Christian ethics would receive taxpayer money and others worried for the future of the public school system. What is not explained are the problems that the public school system has perpetuated, and how with the opportunity, Arizonans will continue to leave, allowing for greater educational opportunities for their children. ESA can now be accessed by 100 percent of K-12 students in Arizona, and as a result the state “made progress in closing the gap with a nation-leading rate of growth for low-income students,” according to the Daily Signal. 

Marsh’s glaring mistake was ignoring the many facts that support school choice as a beneficial policy. Arizona has already seen the value of its Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA) Program, claiming education is not one size fits all, and parents should have options. Parents are now able to afford sending their children to a school of their choosing regardless of its religious or political affiliation, which is Marsh’s major objection.

School choice is sweeping the country as more and more parents have become fed up with the poor educational system and its liberal agenda. Public schools closing may become a real problem as parents may send their children to Christian schools with government funds, but if the Department of Education and schools don’t shape up, no CNN pity story will save them.

The transcript is below, click “expand” to read:

CNN News Central

6/21/2024

7:55:30 AM EST
 

SARA SIDNER: All right, a new CNN investigation has found that some religious schools in Arizona including a school that has partnered with a Trump-aligned advocacy group, are being partially funded by taxpayer dollars. Some of those funds are going to unregulated private schools that don’t face the same standards as public schools or have the same anti discrimination protections. And this move has in part contributed to the closure of public schools in the state. CNN’s René Marsh has this interesting story.

[Cuts to Video]

DONALD TRUMP: Hello, Phoenix! 

RENE MARSH: Phoenix mega church, the setting for recent Donald Trump campaign rally. 

TRUMP: You have to have choice also in education, you’re going to have choice in education. 

MARSH: The same mega church has partnered with the Trump aligned political group Turning Point USA to educate students at this private school, Dream City Christian 

CHARLIE KIRK: Dream City Christian School. A Turning Point academy

MARSH: Its website underscores a far-right Christian viewpoint, promising to combat morally bankrupt and liberal ideology, including critical race theory, evolutionism, and gender identification. And it’s partially funded by taxpayer dollars like many private schools in the US, students at Dream City can use state money to pay for private education. A CNN investigation found Dream City Christian received more taxpayer money than 95 percent of the private schools in the state voucher program. A total $1.3 million, last year, according to data CNN obtained. That’s despite anti-LGBTQ mandates in the parent handbook stating faculty must believe and parents must agree to their children being taught that homosexual behavior is sinful and offensive to God and rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God.

SAMUEL ABRAMS: It’s a civil rights issue – 

MARSH: Professor Samuel Abrams studies school privatization 

ABRAMS: –because there’s no way for any school system to operate whereby public money is funding such discrimination. That’s reprehensible.

MARSH: Two years ago, Arizona was the first of nearly a dozen states to go to a universal voucher system where families can use public funds regardless of income. Reds states are leading the charge, fueled by a backlash over COVID closures at public schools and a major campaign funded in part by a handful of conservative billionaires pushing for more public dollars for private education.

TOMMY SCHULTZ: There have been more gains made in the last few years of the school choice movement than there were in the prior 30.

MARSH: The American Federation for Children, founded by former Trump Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has led the way by opposing anti-voucher candidates. Tommy Schultz is CEO.

SCHULTZ: We’ve been involved in more than 2,000 state legislative races and overall, we’ve had a 75 percent successful win rate. We’ve utterly changed the narrative and this issue of school choice has been a deciding factor in so many elections across the country.

MARSH: This school year vouchers cost taxpayers in Arizona hundreds of millions of dollars more than anticipated, funneling public money to unregulated private schools that don’t face the same educational standards as public schools.

SCHULTZ: I would submit that school choice is the best government funded anti-poverty program that’s out there 

MARSH: But although vouchers have long been pitched this way as a means to help disadvantaged students in public schools. A CNN analysis found that Arizona’s program is disproportionately benefiting students in richer communities. As the state’s private schools like Dream City get a windfall and tax dollars. Public schools are seeing declining enrollment and shrinking budgets. 

WOMAN #1: It hurts the neighborhood. People bought into this area with the fact that we have a school, now obviously we don’t have a school.

MARSH: Families and teachers said goodbye at Sunset Canyon Elementary, one of three schools shutting down in its district after hundreds of kids moved to vouchers, those school officials say lack of affordable housing and lower birth rates are also to blame.

8:00:05 AM EST

MARSH: Advocates are sounding the alarm that the future of public schools is at stake.

BETH LEWIS: Our schools have been so underfunded for so long that there really wasn’t any cushion in those school budgets, even the smallest amount of movement is going to destabilize that and our public schools simply cannot hold. 

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