Are our school districts trying to hide something?
It sure seems that way in the South Kingstown, Rhode Island, School District. Like many parents across the country, mom Nicole Solas is concerned about the lessons her child might be exposed to in school. But when Nicole sought to attend the meeting of a publicly funded committee that meets weekly to discuss and make recommendations on policies that apply across her kindergarten-age daughter’s school district, she was told that the meeting was closed and parents were not welcome.Now, the Goldwater Institute is pushing back: We’ve joined with the Stephen Hopkins Center for Civil Rights in Rhode Island to represent Nicole in a complaint before the state attorney general asserting that the school district has violated the state’s Open Meetings Act by closing these meetings to the public.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time that the school district has kept Nicole from getting information she has the right to know. When Nicole requested public information about what her daughter would be learning in kindergarten, she was stonewalled and threatened with a possible lawsuit. After the Goldwater Institute got involved to help Nicole learn about her daughter’s curriculum, the district said that getting that info would cost an unbelievable $74,000.Goldwater Director of National Litigation Jon Riches joined The Lars Larson Show this week to talk about what’s going on and what’s coming next for Nicole’s story—you can listen here.
Situations like Nicole’s shouldn’t happen in the first place—and Goldwater is leading the charge to ensure our classrooms stay free from politics. In a recent piece for FoxNews.com, Riches and Goldwater Director of Education Policy Matt Beienburg write, “If the goal of our schools is to give children a great education that prepares them for the real world—and it should be—then there must be a more proactive plan for ensuring that politics doesn’t seep into our classrooms in the first place, for ensuing that schools’ activism never supersedes their academic rigor.”
That plan is Goldwater’s Academic Transparency Act, which would require schools to proactively post on a publicly accessible portion of their website a simple list of the actual materials used for student instruction in the most recent school year, so parents could be better equipped to make decisions regarding their kids’ education. “Multiple states have now introduced or advanced this academic transparency legislation, with more poised to come on board this year and next,” Riches and Beienburg write.
While our legal system is supposed to treat parties equally when they appear before a court, that’s not what always happens in practice. In judicial actions that involve decisions from administrative agencies, a series of deference doctrines require courts to defer to the government when the government is prosecuting or defending an action from an administrative agency. That means that in cases in which a court applies deference to administrative agencies, the court is obligated to put its proverbial thumb on the scale for the government and its legal arguments.
But a new paper out this week from the Goldwater Institute argues that state legislatures can and should play a role in reducing the power of the administrative state through laws that ensure the judiciary remains fair, impartial, and independent when deciding cases involving administrative agencies. Because deference doctrines are based on judicial interpretations of the Federal Administrative Procedures Act (APA)—a law that sets out the legal framework for how courts review administrative decisions—clarity in the statute could direct courts on how to address deference or whether to apply it at all. Furthermore, because many states model their state-level administrative procedure statutes on the federal APA, state legislatures can play a key role in scaling back or eliminating this centerpiece of the administrative state.
The Goldwater Institute is pleased to announce Florida Governor Ron DeSantis as the keynote speaker for our 2021 Annual Dinner.
Since he took office in 2019, Governor DeSantis has been one of the nation’s most popular governors. He has been widely praised for his leadership in Florida’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, setting the standard for the nation’s recovery.
We hope you can join us Friday, November 5, at the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Montelucia, for Arizona’s premier liberty event. To learn more and to purchase tickets, click here.