Tuesday, July 5, 2022
spot_imgspot_img
Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

These Conservative Candidates Are Trying to Take Back WI School Boards on April 6

Throughout southeastern Wisconsin, conservative candidates are making a stand and trying to take back local school boards or just add more conservative voices to them. The April 6 ballot will feature a lot of conservative choices.

It’s happening in the Oak Creek-Franklin School District, where the Take Back the Board PAC is fielding four candidates – Kelly Ganiere, Michael Dudzik, Jerry Krist and Jeffrey Tilghman – in an effort to defeat the incumbent school board members.

It’s happening in Muskego, where a Milwaukee police officer, Kevin Zimmerman, is seeking a seat. It’s happening in Oconomowoc, where strong conservative candidates are on the ballot – Matt Carrico and Alexandra Schweitzer. It’s happening in Stone Bank, where Patrick Foy decided to run as a write-in candidate when he realized no one was listed on the ballot. It’s happening in Elmbrook School District with the candidacy of James Gunsalus, who is backed by the Waukesha County GOP. Some conservatives are pushing Emily Donohue as a write-in in the Elm Brook School District and Todd Doerfert, a candidate in Hartford.

“Our children’s education has been politicized and our community polarized this past year. Our kids deserve to have a school board united to make students a priority and I am a bridge builder who can do that,” Donohue says on her website.

Doerfert told HUHS.org, “As a school board we need to understand that members of our district do not have unlimited disposable income. We must find ways to solve problems at the school which require less spending or no spending. Critics will say ‘that’s impossible,’ but I believe we can.

James gunsalas
James gunsalus

Some heavy hitters have endorsed some of these candidates. Political insiders we’ve talked to say they believe there is momentum behind more conservative candidates seeking school board positions, something that may be attributed to parental concern over schools’ handling of the in-person teaching question and the power of teachers’ unions, although it’s certainly not a phenomenon driven solely by that. In Oconomowoc, citizens outraged that the board didn’t send kids back to in-person schooling like neighboring districts have organized.

Here are some of the conservative candidates or candidates espousing some conservative values who are on the ballot, in no particular order. The list is not meant to be all-inclusive; rather, we are highlighting some candidates we find interesting. There are also some incumbents respected by conservatives on the ballot, such as in Oconomowoc (Jessica Karnowski and James Wood) and in Muskego-Norway (Tracy Blair).

Blair defines herself as a “fiscal conservative” who “kept the tax levy down.” She is a small business owner and active community volunteer.

Here’s a list of the candidates Rebecca Kleefisch’s PAC is supporting in the April 6 election.

This list is not meant to be all-inclusive; rather we are highlighting select candidates and races that we find interesting/people have brought to our attention. If you think another candidate also deserves to be featured, write us at [email protected] or [email protected] and let us know so we can add them in.
We aren’t telling you who to vote for, nor do we endorse in political races. However, we are providing the following information to help educate voters on their choices.


Kevin Zimmerman: Muskego-Norway School Board

Kevin zimmerman
Kevin zimmerman

We were familiar with Kevin Zimmerman as a Milwaukee police officer; he once made WTMJ-TV when he bought a woman car seats instead of giving her a ticket. He’s drawn the unfair fire of some liberal opponents, including in the media.

We asked Zimmerman for a statement explaining why he is running and his philosophy, which he defines as conservative. He gave us these questions and answers.

What do you believe are the most important issues for the Muskego-Norway Schools in the coming term and why?

“I believe the most important issues relate to how to make our graduates into fiscally responsible functioning members of society. I want to give them the exposure to get real-life experience in more trade classes, budgeting, tax classes and so on. In addition, I want to ensure that our curriculum stays true to what we stand for and isn’t altered in the current climate of today’s culture. I want our curriculum to be free from ideology and ensure that we teach our students how to think, not what to think. I want to continue to keep our students in school and eliminate the mask requirement as soon as possible. I believe it is a personal choice to decide to wear a mask in school.”

What skills would you provide as a school district leader that you would like to highlight?

“As a seasoned law enforcement officer, I have had years of experience in taking all sides of an issue into consideration and understanding that there is always more to the story or issue. I am unbiased in decision-making and open to listening and understanding the topics at hand. I am able to multi-task, stay calm when tensions are high, and present rational thought processes during decision-making. I am a parent and husband and know that being a part of the school board is critical to give our students a solid foundation for their future.”

What is the most significant issue you think should be addressed by the School Board in the next year or next few years?

“There are several issues that need to be addressed. Critically, our focus should be the mask mandate. We should poll the parents if we should continue in the schools with face coverings. The next is mental health and keeping our kids healthy through the remaining pandemic. Children are struggling from the isolation and ramifications of the pandemic. We need to up our support for our resources in this category. Lastly, more long term, I want to upgrade the STEM program and add more trade classes including plumbing and electrical. Along with that, I would like to continue to expand the Connect Academy program. Lastly want to teach kids how to think, not what to think.”

What is one change you would like to see happen in the School District?

“I would like to focus on a better rhythm of feedback from the parents/community/staff by continually surveying on plans or focus areas. I believe by polling more often we can stay better engaged on where our efforts should be focused. With this shift of the school board, we can ensure that the critical needs of our staff, students and parents are met. If we have learned anything over the last year, it is that we need to ensure we have agility in decision planning. This will be created by staying close to the needs of our staff/parents/community.”

What in your background or life experiences makes you particularly qualified for a position on the School Board?

“I believe the experiences from my career, being a father, a husband, and coach make me very relatable to the Muskego community. I am unbiased and neutral when it comes to situations that arise. I am able to stay calm under pressure and listen to both sides of an issue prior to making a decision. I’m open to new ideas, suggestions, and I am very dependable. I am not afraid to speak up, but I also know when to listen. I want to give back to the local community that I live in, while continuing to dedicate my life to serving in the city of Milwaukee. I am also a conservative and have conservative values.”


Tracy Blair: Muskego-Norway School Board

Matt carrico

Blair is an incumbent. On her Facebook page, she provides this information:

What makes you the best candidate or Why should I vote for you?

“I truly believe that it’s my experience and qualifications. In addition to being an incumbent, a mother of six who all been students in the district, I have my Master’s degree in Pediatric Nursing, I teach senior nursing students at Children’s Wisconsin, so I understand the academic world along with the health care world; which are both present in our school district. My nursing role leads me to be a good listener and advocate for you. I have been on numerous school district’s committees; strategic planning, human growth & development, master’s planning and the parent advisory committee. I have volunteered in numerous roles that has enriched me and I hope the community- I was a Girl Scout leader to two troops, a MAA coach, Park and Rec Basketball coach, Muskego Soccer Club Coach, Lake Denoon PTO Committee Chair, and was the Country Meadows PTO president for nine years. Currently I am on the St. Leonard’s Athletic Board, St. Leonards Track Coordinator, St. Leonard’s 9th Grade Morality teacher, Columbia College of Nursing Alumni Board, City of Muskego Library board, and I’m on the CESA 1 Board of Control. My husband and I own a small janitorial business called Excel Building Services, so I understand budgeting, hiring and hard work ethics.

I have maintained a high level of understanding of how school boards run by receiving a Level 1 from the Wisconsin Association of School Boards and I am also a certified pediatric nurse, both of these keep me current in knowing a lot more about policies and procedures and keeping current within this field. I feel that my goals of keeping the tax levy down being a fiscal conservative, looking to improve the STEAM programs, and helping with mental health issues are similar to what I have been hearing around the community. I have told many people while interacting during my Meet & Greets or going door to door, that I am here for you. I will work as hard as I can to assure that you feel that this is the best school district around! If you have any other questions- please feel free to ask. Thank you for listening!”

Patrick Foy: Stone Bank School Board

Patrick foy
Patrick foy

Patrick Foy decided to run as a write-in candidate for Stone Bank School Board when he realized that no one was on the ballot. He’s been endorsed by Republican state Rep. Barb Dittrich, who serves the Oconomowoc area.

She wrote, “When I was looking for a campaign treasurer, I knew it had to be someone smart, reliable, & trustworthy. That is why I asked Pat Foy. He is those things & more. A man of impeccable character. He is of such character that when he saw the ballot for his precinct & saw no one running for school board, he found it unconscionable & stepped up. Please honor his commitment & sacrifice by writing in Patrick FOY For Stone Bank School Board! You must be sure to write in his name completely & correctly for it to count. If you are in the Stone Bank School District, do yourself & your community a favor by writing in Patrick Foy for School Board this Tuesday, April 6th!”

We asked Foy for a statement explaining his background and what he wants to bring to the school board.

Private Industry Experience

“I’m a Director and member of the executive team for a local mid-sized manufacturer with approximately 425 employees and $130MM in annual revenue (Bruno Independent Living Aids in Oconomowoc WI). I oversee departments that manage our customer interactions, marketing and government contracting efforts. As a Director, my daily work revolves around balancing the interests of customers, associates and the company to come up with the best solutions and find ways to improve performance and be more competitive.

I’ve been both a board member and officer for non-profit 503c organizations and my church, I was enlisted in the Wisconsin Army National Guard from 1984-1992.

Overall, I’m just a guy that loves his community, sent my own son through the district, and recognizes the importance that a strong school plays in the overall health and growth of the community. Families chose to live in this area (or use open enrollment to bring their children to the district) based on the quality of education that is delivered. Stone Bank is traditionally a top 5% school in terms of student outcomes, and it’s critical that the district remain competitive moving forward.”

Conservative Values

“You asked about whether I was conservative – depending on your definition, I would say that I ‘qualify’ as conservative. I believe in limited government, personal responsibility and American exceptionalism (in terms of a government based on the rule of law vs. monarchy or party rule). I believe that parents are best positioned to teach morality and ethics, rather than the state and the government should serve the public (taxpayers) rather than the other way around.

I contribute my time and money to people and causes that reflect these philosophies. For the past two election cycles, I have served as Treasurer for Rep. Barb Dittrich’s campaign; it’s taught me quite a bit about campaign finance and how to successfully campaign for office.”

School Board changes

“As I mentioned earlier, Stone Bank School traditionally scores in the top 5%, so there are a lot of things that are going well. From most accounts, the district performed well in adjusting to the COVID issues over the past year. But as the saying goes, ‘things are never so good that they can’t be better.’

The education that our students receive has to prepare them to compete on a global scale – Heavy emphasis on STEM topics is required. The curriculum should also encourage critical thinking and minimize the ‘pseudo-science’ (probably not the best term, but I’m really talking about theories that are not well-vetted) that is passed off as fact.

My biggest contribution to the board is to justify spending so the taxpayers are getting a good return for their money. We need to ensure that the investment into school facilities, staff, programs and future expansion fits within the revenue model without the need for soliciting through numerous referendums.”

Motivation

“As I mentioned earlier, when I checked my ballot and saw that this race was write-in only, and my friends and neighbors didn’t know who was running, I became concerned about the future of the board and school. The more I thought about who should run, the more I saw a fit between my abilities and what I would want to see in a candidate. It’s a relatively small district, so I’ve been able to get my message out through social media and personal contact over the past few days. I think I have a good chance of winning the approval of the public on Tuesday, and if so, I will work incredibly hard to make the outcomes at Stone Bank School second to none.”


Matt Carrico: Oconomowoc School Board

Matt carrico

Carrico was endorsed by the Rebecca Pac, which is a new political action committee formed by former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch to support Republican candidates throughout Wisconsin. He is running for a seat on the Oconomowoc School Board. We asked him for a statement explaining his positions and background.

“We have two board members, Jessica Karnowski and James Wood, who have been fighting for our students throughout this difficult time. As a father of two OASD students I want to help them bring conservative values and offer my business skillset to serve our community,” Carrico told Wisconsin Right Now.

“After spending more than 20 years building a business, I understand how to be fiscally responsible, make tough decisions, and serve something bigger than myself. Our most immediate challenge is the hiring of both an interim superintendent and then a permanent replacement to lead our district for years to come. We need to understand that leadership changes create unique stress to any organization, and it could cause key members of our administrative team to look elsewhere. To keep our team together, we should be looking for a superintendent that will realize the good things we have happening and wants to build on them. I will bring a level-headed approach to the superintendent search and leadership to the board.”

He further explained to Oconomowoc Citizens Represented, “I earned a degree in business administration with a minor in economics. After graduation, we moved to Wisconsin so I could work full time in my family’s commercial swimming pool business which my parents and I started in 1998. Since our move here I have held many roles in the company and currently serve as the President managing the day-to-day operations.”

The incumbents seeking re-election are Jessica Karnowski, Juliet Steitzer and James Wood. Alexandra Schweitzer is the other challenger. An unsuccessful effort to recall Steitzer was launched after controversy over a vote to start the school year with a hybrid model. Both Karnowski and Wood voted to keep students in school five days a week, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


Alexandra Schweitzer: Oconomowoc School Board

Alexandra schweitzer
Alexandra schweitzer with david clarke

On her Facebook page, Schweitzer touts an endorsement from former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. She writes, “Today Sheriff David Clarke spoke on Vicki McKenna about the importance of this upcoming election. He emphasized the importance of finding a candidate that is PARENT and TAXPAYER centered! He reminded the listeners to be careful of whom they select, don’t just choose someone because they say they have party alliance! Don’t pick the one that has spent the campaign season not getting to know the PARENTS and TAXPAYERS, but pandering to the unions. He emphasized that over and over. Who is Sheriff Clarke’s pick for Oconomowoc? Alexandra Schweitzer. I am THE grassroots CONSERVATIVE on the BALLOT.” She was also endorsed by Rebecca Pac among others.

Schweitzer told the Journal Sentinel, “We need to focus on the fact that schools are open, and we need to keep it that way.” She told Oconomowoc Citizens Represented that she’s conservative.

She told that group: “It’s time to give our children’s education back to We, the People, the taxpayers, the parents! It’s time to put kids first, and remove any and all agendas from their education!”

She explained, “After years of being a stay-at-home mom I’ve decided to ‘dust off’ my career that started by serving the people of the great state of North Carolina under the direction of Robert Wilkie at the North Carolina Republican Party. I went back to work this summer joining the fight to get schools open, working with a team putting cases in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court blocking municipalities from overstepping and closing religious schools. Most recently I was called to serve the President and worked alongside some of the most brilliant legal minds in this Country defending his right to a fair election.”

We reached out to Schweitzer to see if there was anything else she felt voters should know. She sent us this:

“In the wake of today’s cancel culture mentality my goal is to be there for more than just the immediate need of keeping schools open, getting masks off the kids. Conservative High School students are afraid to speak. Students from all over the state have contacted me with some pretty scary stories. I would like to help OHS become the leader of the pack and end that oppressive behavior,” she wrote.

She also pointed out that “three very popular Oconomowoc alderman are among my long list of unsolicited endorsements.”


Jessica Karnowski – Oconomowoc School Board

Matt carrico

Karnowski is an incumbent. She also received an endorsement from Rebecca PAC.

“I have served this district in many capacities over the last 6 years, both in leadership roles and on subcommittees. I am a fiscal conservative who manages the delicate balance of prioritizing what is best for kids, staff, taxpayers and the district,” she wrote on her Facebook page.

“Roles that I have had while serving on the Board consist of School Board President, Curriculum and Instruction Committee Chair, WASB Representative, Human Growth and Development Committee, Business Advisory Board, Athletic Strategic Planning, and Board Clerk.”

She told Citizens Represented, “I have been a resident of Oconomowoc for the last 20 years. I moved here, because it was important for my husband to stay in the community he grew up in, and he wanted to raise his family here.

I served our community for many years on the Oconomowoc Fire Department as an EMT Intermediate and retired several years after the girls were born.

I have 3 children. My girls are in high school at OHS, and my son is in 5th grade. After the district chose to teach in a hybrid model late summer, I had no choice but to enroll my son where he could attend school every day. Up until this school year, he attended school in the district.

I am a registered Dental Hygienist working in private practice and teach part time both at WCTC and Marquette Dental School.” Read more about her here.


James Wood – Oconomowoc School Board

Matt carrico

Wood is an incumbent. He was endorsed by Rebecca PAC.

He told Citizens Represented, “I have been a resident of the Lake country area since I was 12 years old and a member of the Oconomowoc district for the last 19 years. I am married to my wife Jackie and we have 2 daughters Payton (7) and Reagan (6). Both our kids attend Meadow View Elementary School. Professionally, I am a Technology Systems Designer and Project Manager for Staff Electric.”

He also said, “My vision is a school district that partners with the parents to turn out the very best version of these kids they can be. It is not all about achievement (test scores) Growth (the measure of aptitude) might be more important when trying to maximize potential of all learners. The district can’t do it alone. I believe the district should take the lead on the academic skills and the parents provide an assist. I believe the parents should take the lead on morals and character development and I believe the district should provide an assist in that development.”

On Facebook, he wrote, “Since being elected in spring 2018, I was elected School District Clerk in 2019 and 2020. I have served on the Finance Operations and Advancement Committee for 3 years. 1 year as FOA Committee Member and 2 years as FOA Committee Chairperson. I have served on The District Strategic Planning Committee, The Athletic Strategic Planning Committee, The Superintendent Evaluation Design Committee, The School Board Self-Evaluation Design Committee, The OEA – District Collective Bargaining Committee in 2019 & 2020, and I have attended enough governance workshops to choke a horse.”

Read more about the backgrounds of Schweitzer, Carrico, Wood, and Karnowski here.


James Gunsalus: Elmbrook School District

James gunsalas
James gunsalus

The Waukesha County GOP lists James Gunsalus on its website.

He touts “taxpayer transparency, strong student outcomes, business background in medical contracting and financial analysis, and conservative fiscal budgets.”

He is quoted as saying, “My business background in the health services industry will enable me to make good decisions based on legal contracting, data and financial analysis experience.”

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted Gunsalus as saying, “My view is that the Elmbrook school district is no longer a non-partisan institution. The Democratic National Committee’s objectives of Critical Race Theory and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion mandates are infused into Elmbrook’s curricula, staff training, and parent programming.”

The newspaper reported that the Waukesha County GOP was funding ads supporting Gunsalus in the race saying that the district is teaching children that “all white people are racist, so equality has never existed.”

We contacted Gunsalus for more details on his campaign, and he provided us with this information that he also gave other news sites:

What do you believe is the most important issue facing the Elmbrook School District?

“I believe the most important issue is the overall education my kids and other parents’ children are receiving, at all grade levels. (MAP) scores have been on the decline since 2014-15. Actual data supporting this is on the Board of Education’s website.”

As a school board member, what would be your policy priorities?

“COVID, masks should be optional, the same way in-person/virtual was thought out… We need to get our kids back into school full-time. (Also) I will be a candidate that opposes indoctrinating the children with racism, mistruths about our nation and world history.

I want to hold the superintendent and his administration accountable for lax policies. Just recently a teacher this past fall provided a sex survey to the BCHS 10th graders which hit national news. In order to keep fresh perspectives, and to remove cronyism we must have a method of limiting the number of years a superintendent and school board members serve. I believe a flow of new and fresh involvement from the community will help keep the district strong.”

What makes you the right candidate for the job?

“People like me — parents invested in the district who aren’t part of the system — offer another perspective on the goals of education. Since at least 2014, the school district has accepted Common Core standards (which) presents a worldview to our students that fails to acknowledge American principles of freedom, equality, personal responsibility, and American exceptionalism. I will represent our community and do my best to invoke the best academic practices that better serve the values of our community.”


Emily Donohue: Elmbrook School Board

Matt carrico

Some people are pushing Donohue as a write-in candidate. “SHARE THIS!!!!!! Brookfield and Elm Grove residents!!!! There is now a registered write in candidate opposing Jean Lambert who has been on the school board 15 years and watched our scores plummet while doing nothing. WRITE IN “Emily Donahue” when you vote and let’s get Lambert off the board!!” wrote one such supporter of the above flyer.

Donohue wrote on her website, “Our children’s education has been politicized and our community polarized this past year. Our kids deserve to have a school board united to make students a priority and I am a bridge builder who can do that.”

She added, “Emily Donohue is a loving wife to husband Matt, caring mother to her 3 children, and active member in the community. As a parent with children currently in the district, she has experienced first-hand the challenges our children have faced this past year. Emily’s dedication and commitment to the Elmbrook School District can be seen in her passion to make a positive impact in the community.”


Todd Doerfert: Hartford

Matt carrico

Doerfert’s flyer emphasizes that he’s for merit pay, balanced budgets and responsible spending, and “real-world curriculum” on topics like the stock market, career advancement, and personal finances.

He told HUHS.org, “As a school board we need to understand that members of our district do not have unlimited disposable income. We must find ways to solve problems at the school which require less spending or no spending. Critics will say ‘that’s impossible,’ but I believe we can.

A good first step is to identify what our goal is as a school. Is our goal to buy each new item that all the surrounding schools have? Have we decided as a community that HUHS students will become more successful in life if we spend more money? Is it our goal to make the school look like a college campus? I believe our goals should focus on preparing students for life after HUHS.

Goal: During the 4 years at HUHS we ensure students develop their own 5-year, post high school plan to earn enough money to pay for a lifestyle of their choice.

I believe focusing on a 5-year post high school plan as soon as students start HUHS is important. First as a broad-based framework, then ideas would evolve as the student gets older. Finishing touches could be applied senior year when students are ready to start their independent adult lives.”

Take Back the Board PAC: Oak Creek-Franklin

Matt carrico

This grassroots organization formed to try to unseat some incumbents in the district.

“As more and more data comes out about the mental health effects of online learning, we have to ensure that those people in power who make the decisions regarding having our children learn remotely vs. in-person are truly acting in our children’s best interest, and not being influenced by special interests,” the group’s website says.

The group’s candidates are Kelly Ganiere, Michael Dudzik, Jerry Krist and Jeffrey Tilghman. You can read more about Take Back the Board PAC here. Another article on the group’s website says, “The fight to get students back into the classrooms this fall has frustrated parents across the country, but perhaps nowhere have families had to face unnecessary obstructions like those in Oak Creek, WI.”

The group opposes incumbent Leah Schreiber Johnson, writing, “Mrs. Schreiber Johnson has extensive and dogmatic ties to the Democrat Party, specifically the progressive wing of the party which has a deeply divisive attitude toward cooperative debate at all levels of government. Schreiber Johnson has repeatedly exhibited that divisive behavior in documented school board meetings. That toxicity does not belong as a voice on our school board, it never has. It is time that partisanship and divisive attitudes be replaced by candidates whose values work for the students and parents of Oak Creek, not self-interested political aspirations or special interest groups that continue to obstruct the emotional wellbeing and academic potential of our youth.”

Kevin Nicholson wisconsin

BREAKING: Kevin Nicholson Ending Campaign for Governor

Combat veteran Kevin Nicholson is ending his outsider campaign for the Republican nomination for governor,...
mandela barnes for senate

Mandela Barnes for Senate: ‘The Founding of This Nation – Awful’

Mandela Barnes for Senate: Barnes thinks the founding of the United States was "awful."Radical Lt....
wisconsin gas tax

Wisconsin GOP Gubernatorial Candidates on The Gas Tax, Minimum Markup & Scott Walker

Wisconsin Right Now asked the gubernatorial candidates their opinions on the Wisconsin gas tax, indexing...
wisconsin gop debate

Wisconsin GOP Debate: Missing Michels Slammed by Rivals on Gas Tax, Residency

The Wisconsin GOP debate got pretty pointed, but Tim Michels was missing.Republican gubernatorial candidates Rebecca...
tim michels gas tax

Tim Michels Tied to Groups That Pushed Aggressively for Gas Tax Increases

Michels was also board president of a group that opposed a bill that would have...
jarchow toney

Jarchow Supportive Push Poll’s Blatant Lie About Eric Toney & Rittenhouse

We knew it would get ugly, but this is really beyond the pale.A text...
bruen decision

Roe vs. Wade Overturned; WI GOP Candidates Praise Decision

Roe vs. Wade has been overturned.In a 6-3 decision authored by Supreme Court Justice...
bruen decision

U.S. Supreme Court Strikes Down Gun Restrictions in Major Decision

The Bruen decision struck down a New York law that limited who could carry concealed...
new marquette poll

8 Good Signs for Republicans in the New Marquette Poll

The new Marquette poll is out, and we unearthed 8 positive signs for Republicans in...
evers kleefisch michels

Evers, Kleefisch in Margin of Error; Michels Up by 1% in GOP Primary

Republicans have more enthusiasm, and most voters think the state is on the wrong track,...
Roger Roth

Senator Roger Roth: Gov Evers Must Take Action to Defend The Safety of Our Citizens

By: Senator Roger RothJust over a month ago, Politico obtained a first draft of the...
Carson v. Makin

U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Ban Preventing Religious Schools From Receiving State Funding

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned Maine’s ban on state tuition assistance to students attending religious schools in an education case that could have big implications for schools around the country.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Carson v. Makin.

The dispute began when the state of Maine created a tuition assistance program for rural areas without public schools. The program, though, explicitly said that state funds could not be used at religious private schools, only secular schools.

A family sued the state of Maine saying they should be able to use the state funding at a religious school if they desired. They argued the program discriminates against religious schools and violates the Free Exercise Clause of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court sided with the challengers to Maine’s law Tuesday.

“Maine’s program cannot survive strict scrutiny,” the court’s ruling says. “A neutral benefit program in which public funds flow to religious organizations through the independent choices of private benefit recipients does not offend the Establishment Clause. Maine’s decision to continue excluding religious schools from its tuition assistance program after Zelman thus promotes stricter separation of church and state than the Federal Constitution requires. But a State’s antiestablishment interest does not justify enactments that exclude some members of the community from an otherwise generally available public benefit because of their religious exercise.”

The high court pointed to Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, a 2016 ruling where the court sided with a religious school that was denied state grant funding assistance for a playground improvement because it was religious.

“The Department’s policy violated the rights of Trinity Lutheran under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment by denying the Church an otherwise available public benefit on account of its religious status,” the court ruled in that case. “This Court has repeatedly confirmed that denying a generally available benefit solely on account of religious identity imposes a penalty on the free exercise of religion.”

As The Center Square previously reported, critics of Maine’s anti-religious school provision also pointed to Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue, a Supreme Court case in 2020 in which the high court ruled in favor of a similar Montana program, saying students could receive state funds for education at a religious school.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, and Justice Stephen Breyer wrote the dissent. In the dissent, Breyer said the majority gave too little credence to the establishment clause and too much to the free exercise clause.

“The Court today pays almost no attention to the words in the first Clause while giving almost exclusive attention to the words in the second. The majority also fails to recognize the ‘play in the joints’ between the two Clauses," Breyer wrote.

Religious liberty advocates celebrated the ruling.

“We are thrilled that the Court affirmed once again that religious discrimination will not be tolerated in this country,” said Kelly Shackelford, Liberty Counsel’s president and chief Counsel. “Parents in Maine, and all over the country, can now choose the best education for their kids without fearing retribution from the government. This is a great day for religious liberty in America.”

David Borowski

Milwaukee Judge David Borowski Refuses to Return Guns to Confessed Shooter, Questions Why DA Didn’t Prosecute

The city was poised to give accused shooter Ricky De La Rosa his guns back.A...
Mayorkas

Lawmakers Say Documents Show DHS Secretary Mayorkas Misled Congress About Disinformation Board, Demand Hearing

Several Republican senators are demanding a hearing saying they received documents from a Department of Homeland Security whistleblower about the agency’s new disinformation governance board that allegedly show DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas misled a Senate committee when he testified about the board last month.

The lawmakers sent a letter this week to Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee asking for a hearing on the issue where Mayorkas could come back for questioning.

“We write to request you convene a hearing with Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas as soon as possible to answer critical questions about apparently misleading testimony before the Committee on May 4 on the Department of Homeland Security Disinformation Governance Board (the Board),” the letter said. “We are deeply concerned that documents recently obtained by Senators Josh Hawley and Chuck Grassley contradict the Secretary’s testimony and public statements about the Board.”

This kerfuffle is the latest in a string of disputes around the board, not the least of which included Nina Jankowicz’ resignation from leading the board after controversial social media videos surfaced.

The Republican senators published the DHS documents online purporting to show documented evidence that Mayorkas misrepresented the purpose of the board.

“Responding to a question from a reporter ‘Will American citizens be monitored?’ Secretary Mayorkas responded unequivocally ‘No,’ adding that ‘We at the Department of Homeland Security don’t monitor American citizens,’” the letter said. “He went on to suggest the Board would be concentrating on foreign threats – ’addressing the threat of disinformation from foreign state adversaries [and] from the cartels.’ Yet talking points prepared by Ms. Jankowicz, the Board’s then–Executive Director appear to show that the Department does in fact monitor American citizens and that the Board’s work is concentrated on domestic threats.”

The documents also give evidence that the federal agency has been working on the disinformation board longer than Mayorkas let on in his testimony.

“At the May 4 hearing, Secretary Mayorkas testified that the Board ‘has not yet begun its work,’” the letter said. “Yet the documents indicate the Secretary had stood up the Board on February 24, 2022 – more than two months earlier. The Board’s charter, signed by the Secretary, required the Board meet ‘regularly’ and ‘no less than once per quarter.’ Another document dated only six days before Secretary Mayorkas appeared before the Committee provides preparatory materials for a meeting between Under Secretary for Policy Robert Silvers and Twitter. The document was prepared by Ms. Nina Jankowicz in her capacity as ‘Executive Director DHS Disinformation Governance Board,’ clearly evidencing that the Board had already begun its work.”

After the board was announced, critics quickly raised concerns about its implications for free speech and the Constitution.

“Any regime with an organized disinformation effort directed at its own people is one that is moving away from self-government and toward state control of the most basic aspects of liberty,” said Matthew Spalding, Constitutional expert and Dean of the Van Andel Graduate School of Government for Hillsdale College.

Now, the lawmakers are calling for a hearing, but whether that hearing will actually happen remains to be seen.

“The American public deserves transparency and honest answers to important questions about the true nature and purpose of the Disinformation Governance Board and it is clear that Secretary Mayorkas has not provided them – to the public or this Committee,” the letter said. “Therefore, we request you hold a hearing with Secretary Mayorkas and join us in insisting that all records related to the Board be provided to the Committee prior to the hearing.”

Sen. Peter’s office and the DHS did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Oconomowoc Area School District

Oconomowoc School District Threatens Parent With Defamation Lawsuit

"First, we request that the District revoke its cease and desist letter. Second, we request...
Border Patrol May Apprehensions

Border Patrol Records Another Record High of Apprehensions, Encounters at Southern Border in May

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol published official data Thursday for apprehensions and encounters May: the highest monthly total in recorded U.S. history of 239,416.

CBP published the data after The Center Square published preliminary numbers received from a Border Patrol agent.

Official numbers include both Border Patrol and Office of Field Operations data of people entering the U.S. illegally at all ports of entry.

Despite President Joe Biden, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and CBP Chief Chris Magnus arguing that the border is closed, that Title 42 is being enforced, and that it is complying with the Remain in Mexico policy, more people entered the U.S. illegally in May 2022 than an any month recorded in U.S. history.

And the numbers are only going up.

In April, CBP reported 235,478 total encounters/apprehensions; in March, 222,239; in February, 165,902; in January, 154,816.

The last two months alone equals roughly the size of the population of Montana.

The southern border sectors that saw the most traffic last month, as in nearly all months, were in Texas in the Rio Grande Valley and Del Rio sectors.

The numbers are broken down by BP sector and categories, including apprehensions, turn backs, non-violations, outstanding, no-arrests, got aways (known/recorded), and deceased. Here are the numbers based on the preliminary data obtained by The Center Square.

RGV Sector

Apps - 46,527TBs - 4,284Got Aways (known/recorded) - 4,378Unresolved Detection - 133No Arrest - 2,887Deceased - 15Non-violation - 261Outstanding - 18

Del Rio Sector

Apps - 45,662TBs - 193Got Aways (known/recorded) - 15,006Unresolved Detection - 168No Arrest - 3,736Deceased -26Non-violation -176Outstanding -58

Yuma Sector

Apps - 36,568TBs - 204Got Aways (known/recorded) - 3,007Unresolved Detection - 20No Arrest - 62Deceased - 9Non-violation -54Outstanding - 63

El Paso Sector

Apps - 35,650TBs - 3,104Got Aways (known/recorded) - 9,856Unresolved Detection - 31No Arrest - 225Deceased -0Non-violation -104Outstanding -25

Tucson Sector

Apps - 27,554TBs - 995Got Aways (known/recorded) - 18,612Unresolved Detection - 1,655No Arrest - 3,344Deceased - 12Non-violation - 202Outstanding - 399

San Diego Sector

Apps - 17,797TBs - 756Got Aways (known/recorded) -5,437Unresolved Detection - 4No Arrest - 5,301Deceased - 1Non-violation - 7Outstanding - 150

Laredo Sector

Apps - 12,297TBs - 2,601Got Aways (known/recorded) - 3,113Unresolved Detection - 45No Arrest - 1,134Deceased - 11Non-violation - 246Outstanding - 0

El Centro Sector

Apps - 7,264TBs - 407Got Aways (known/recorded) - 679Unresolved Detection - 4No Arrest - 5Deceased - 0Non-violation - 2Outstanding - 5

Big Bend Sector

Apps - 3,309TBs - 54Got Aways (known/recorded) - 1,521Unresolved Detection - 41No Arrest - 184Deceased - 5Non-violation - 22Outstanding - 69

Apprehensions include those in the U.S. illegally who surrender or are caught by BP officers. Turn backs include those who entered illegally but returned to Mexico.

The categories of "no arrests" and "unresolved detection" aren’t part of 6 U.S. Code, which classifies how encounters are to be reported. These categories are used as a way to lower the number of got-aways being reported, the BP officer says.

No arrests mean someone “was detected in a non-border zone and their presence didn’t affect Got-Away statistics,” according to the official internal tracking system definition used by agents to record data. "Unresolved detection" means the same thing, but the officers, for a range of reasons, couldn’t determine citizenship.

Non-violations are “deemed to have committed no infraction and don’t affect Got-Away statistics,” according to the tracking system definition.

The categories of non-violations, no arrests and unresolved detection should actually be categorized as got-aways, the BP officer says, assuming all non-arrests were of non-citizens.

Preliminary data in other sectors show more than 1,600 people were apprehended in May, with Miami apprehending the most.

Charity Barry

Vandals Target Monroe Businesses, Conservative Candidate Charity Barry

A Monroe, Wisconsin restaurant and next-door store were vandalized with expletives and vile slurs because...
Rebecca Kleefisch Evers poll

Rebecca Kleefisch Slams Evers in Light of Emails Showing Union Influence on School Reopenings

(The Center Square) – There are new questions about who is running public schools in Wisconsin following the release of emails between Gov. Tony Evers and the state’s largest teachers’ union.

Empower Wisconsin on Wednesday broke a story showing the Wisconsin Education Association Council, or WEAC, was in regular contact with Gov. Evers’ office about the plan to reopen schools back in the summer of 2020.

“We at WEAC are getting pressure from the Senate Democrats to take a position on these bills from the School Administrators Alliance. We have been told the Senate Dems are working with the Governor’s office on a strategy relating to opening of schools,” wrote WEAC lobbyist Jack O’Meara in an August 21, 2020 email to Evers’ office.

The report doesn’t include Evers’ response, but the governor eventually told local schools to make their own decisions about reopening. WEAC encouraged local schools to stay closed in the fall of 2020.

Republican candidate for governor Rebecca Kleefisch on Wednesday ripped what she characterized as collusion between Evers and WEAC.

“Wisconsin needs a governor who spends time prioritizing kids and listening to parents, unlike Tony Evers who lets union bosses decide when to lock kids out of classrooms,” Kleefisch said in a statement.

Kleefisch, like the other two Republicans running for governor, have made it clear they support parental involvement in public school policies, and strongly support school choice for families across the state.

“Wisconsin parents deserve choices for their kids’ educations. We will no longer accept the backward one-size-fits-all educational monopoly that Evers and his union boss allies support,” Kleefisch added. “As governor, I will enact universal school choice and continue to support parents taking back control of their school boards.”

Wisconsin’s local-decision school reopening policy allowed some schools to open quickly in the 2020-2021 school year, and allowed others like Milwaukee and Madison schools to remain closed for the entire school year.

.75% Interest Rate Hike

Federal Reserve Announces .75% Interest Rate Hike

The Federal Reserve announced a 0.75 percentage point rate hike Wednesday to help combat soaring inflation, the largest rate increase since 1994.

The Fed said it raised the rates "to 1‑1/2 to 1-3/4 percent and anticipates that ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate."

"The committee seeks to achieve maximum employment and inflation at the rate of 2% over the longer run," the Federal Reserve said in a statement. "In addition, the committee will continue reducing its holdings of Treasury securities and agency debt and agency mortgage-backed securities, as described in the Plans for Reducing the Size of the Federal Reserve's Balance Sheet that were issued in May. The committee is strongly committed to returning inflation to its 2% objective."

The decision is expected to curb inflation, but that comes at a cost to the economy. Federal data shows consumer prices have risen at the fastest rate in decades and producer prices spiked 10.8% in the last year.

"Overall economic activity appears to have picked up after edging down in the first quarter," the Federal Reserve said in its announcement. "Job gains have been robust in recent months, and the unemployment rate has remained low. Inflation remains elevated, reflecting supply and demand imbalances related to the pandemic, higher energy prices, and broader price pressures."

The Federal Reserve pointed to COVID-19 and the ongoing war in Ukraine when referencing the nation's economic difficulties. Experts have acknowledged those issues but also point to a major spike in the U.S. money supply and federal debt spending.

"Since early 2020, the Federal Reserve has printed nearly $5 trillion — using much of this to purchase government debt in addition to mortgage backed securities and other assets," said Joel Griffith, an economic expert at the Heritage Foundation, as the Center Square previously reported. "As this cash was injected into the economy, total money supply swelled by more than $75,000 per family of four. The Federal Reserve's complicity in financing Congress' outrageous spending spree of the past two years is largely to blame for the sky-high inflation, the new housing bubble, and rampant speculation [in] the financial markets."

Sex-Based Discrimination

26 Republican Attorney Generals Challenge New Sex-Based Discrimination Federal Guidance

Half of the state attorneys general in the country want the Biden administration to walk back new federal guidance on sex-based discrimination for schools and other organizations that receive federal money for food programs.

The AGs, 26 of the 27 Republicans in those offices across the country, claim in a letter to President Biden the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s guidance means states, local agencies and programs that receive federal food dollars through the Food and Nutrition Act and the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program could lose funding if they don’t comply, including in hiring practices.

"Using hungry children as a human shield in a policy dispute violates basic decency," Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said. "Aren’t there any parents in the Biden administration that can see past the edges of their ideology?"

In May, the USDA announced it will interpret the prohibition on discrimination based on sex in Title IX to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“USDA is committed to administering all its programs with equity and fairness and serving those in need with the highest dignity. A key step in advancing these principles is rooting out discrimination in any form – including discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said. “At the same time, we must recognize the vulnerability of the LGBTQI+ communities and provide them with an avenue to grieve any discrimination they face. We hope that by standing firm against these inequities we will help bring about much-needed change.”

The AGs called the interpretation drastically broader than originally defined in Title IX.

The guidance applies to about 100,000 public and nonprofit-private schools and residential child care institutions that participate in the national school breakfast and lunch programs, which provide subsidized free or reduced-price meals daily for nearly 30 million children.

“We have long had a productive relationship with the federal government, managing various food and nutrition programs guided by the principles of cooperative federalism. We would like to continue this cooperative relationship. But the guidance flouts the rule of law, relies on patently incorrect legal analysis that is currently under scrutiny in the federal courts and was issued without giving the states the requisite opportunity to be heard,” the letter reads.

Attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming and Virginia each signed the letter. The letter originates from Tennessee AG Herbert Slatery III.

The only Republican AG to not sign was New Hampshire's John Formula.

×