Big win for Common Core opponents in Missouri, new lawsuit in South Dakota

Ready for some good news? Today, a national nonprofit law firm leading the charge against Common Core reported a big victory in Missouri, where it helped thwart the implementation of an expensive and unpopular part of the Common Core math curriculum.

Since teaming up with Missouri attorney, D. John Sauer, who initially took on the case on behalf of Missouri taxpayers, the Thomas More Law Center has brought similar challenges to the constitutionality of the Common Core testing consortia in several other states, including North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia.

So what happened exactly?

The court of appeals dismissed an appeal by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, upholding a lower court decision that blocked Missouri’s membership in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) --- part of the Common Core math standards being forced on U.S. students. You know, the "new" math that has made children cry and parents tear their hair out because of its stultifying nature.

Why is this a big deal?

As it turns out, SBAC violated the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution and numerous federal and state statutes.

Secondly, for the privilege of membership, states are required to pay hefty fees (i.e., taxpayer money).

In South Dakota, SBAC membership fees would total over $600,000. That could buy a lot of crayons. Two South Dakota moms (who clearly recognized bad budgeting when they saw it) had the Thomas Moore Law Center file a lawsuit this month on their behalf, challenging the constitutionality of the state’s participation in the SBAC.

Shelli Grinager, mother of three, and Amber Mauricio, mother of five, have both seen their school-aged children break down in tears due to pressure teachers and schools placed on them to pass SBAC tests.

This isn't the first time Grinager, a former school board member, PTA president and advocate for students and families, has fought against Common Core. Since its roll-out, she has spoken out against the high-pressure SBAC tests. Last year, she began homeschooling her children, after two were denied more challenging math because they had to stick to the rigid Common Core curriculum.

Mauricio’s fight against Common Core began when she attempted to “opt out” her children from SBAC testing. The school ignored her opt-out request and tested her children anyway. Mauricio was alarmed by the nature of some Common Core aligned questions asked of her children, which sought to examine how they would behave in certain situations and what their home life is like.

To learn more about the Thomas More Law Center's continuing efforts to help parents combat Common Core, check out the Common Core Resource Page and Test Refusal and Student Privacy Protection Form.

Video: The Other PARCC from Shoot4Education on Vimeo.

Featured Image: Claes Oldenburg's "Study for a Rotten Apple Core, Two" is seen during a press preview of the Collection of Betty Freeman at Christie's April 3, 2009 in New York City. David Hockney's "Beverly Hills Housewife" (est. $7-10 million) is set to break a world auction record and is displayed along with works by Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Dan Flavin and others. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

On the radio program Monday, Glenn Beck, Stu Burguiere, and Pat Gray discussed the Trump defense team's arguments in the Senate impeachment trial against President Donald Trump.

"This is different than what the Democrats were doing," Glenn said of the Trump team's impeachment defense. "We know the case of the Democrats, they just kept going over and over and over, for three days, the same stuff. The Republicans, at least on Saturday, did not ... and I thought it was really, really good."

Glenn added, "The president's defense was very compelling."

Watch the videos below to hear Glenn's top takeaways from the president's defense team:

Part 1: Why the president's defense is 'very compelling'

Part 2: Top takeaways from president's impeachment defense

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Americans are getting crushed by healthcare costs. In 2018 alone, we spent $3.6 trillion on healthcare — that's more than $11,000 per American and nearly a fifth of the national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It's on everyone's minds, which is why it has taken center stage in the Democratic party's primary. Of course, the solutions offered by the current crop of presidential candidates would do nothing to help alleviate that enormous spending. In fact, it would only add to it — what with Bernie Sanders' Medicare for All and Joe Biden's proposed ObamaCare expansion.

However, what also deserves attention in discussions about plans that increase the government's role in health care is how religious organizations would be affected. Faith-based hospitals and health care sharing ministries (HCSMs) play an important role in America, often serving as a critical provider and/or facilitator of payments for medical services in many states. If plans like Medicare for All were implemented, these groups would be at risk of going bankrupt or being severely curtailed due to the elimination of choice that comes with these proposals.

Instead of imposing a top-down and expensive health care system overhaul, faith-based providers and groups should be allowed to continue offering a variety of plans that work as high-quality, often cheaper alternatives. And more Americans should consider them.

Instead of imposing a top-down and expensive health care system overhaul, faith-based providers and groups should be allowed to continue offering a variety of plans that work as high-quality, often cheaper alternatives.

As mentioned, one such option is a health care sharing ministry. In this model, individuals contribute money into a pool managed by a religiously or ethically-affiliated organization, and costs for medical treatment are shared by people who adhere to that organization's belief system. Typically, applicants are required to sign a statement of faith in order to be accepted. It's basically like a subscription service: consumers pay a set amount of money into the ministry every month. Then, when they have a medical need or incident, they submit a claim to the ministry. Members whose claims are approved are reimbursed by the ministry from that pool of funds. Note, these ministries don't cover procedures they deem immoral.

Because providers are often getting paid in cash under this model — and typically within 90 days — patients are able to negotiate significant discounts, in some cases slicing procedures' costs to a fraction of the initial price. Insurance companies, by comparison, tend to not pay dollar for dollar on claims, and certainly not in cash. Additionally, insurance companies usually have onerous paperwork requirements, forcing doctors to spend half of their time on electronic health records and desk work. This increase in demand for administrative work is partly responsible for the United States leading the world in administrative costs in healthcare.

There are various types of HCSMs, each offering different benefits depending on what the individual needs — and a lot of savings on monthly plans. Take Christian Healthcare Ministries, for example. It's resulted in enormous savings for its members. Whereas the average healthcare plan can cost about $400 a month on the low end (with high deductibles), CHM plans can run between $78-172 a month for a single person. These kinds of plans are particularly great options for people who are relatively healthy and young, where the need for doctors and prescription drugs is less likely.

HCSMs have seen explosive growth in popularity recently. In 2014, there were only approximately 160,000 members. By 2018, membership ballooned to about 1 million HCSM members around the United States who have shared over $1 billion in medical expenses. But unfortunately, many people still feel locked into the traditional — and expensive — health care insurance model. HCSMs provide a way out, and, depending on their belief system, people should research them and see if there's one that best suit their needs. If more people deviate away from the traditional health care insurance market, insurance companies would be incentivized to adjust their pricing. That won't be possible, of course, if plans like Medicare for All are implemented.

Health care is one of life's biggest expenses, and voters are understandably desperate for a plan that cuts costs without compromising quality of care or access to it. Alternative options to health care insurance such as HCSMs are practical, free-market solutions that saves money. Americans should sift through these options before subscribing to plans that will only break the bank.

James Czerniawski is a Young Voices contributor. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCz19.

Bill O'Reilly: Adam Schiff is in 'wonderland' during the Senate impeachment trial

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On the "Glenn Beck Radio Program" Friday, Bill O'Reilly gave his latest take on the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, and explained why he thinks House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) is like "Alice in Wonderland."

Watch the video below to catch more of the conversation:

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Friday to discuss the latest developments in the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.

According to Cruz, Thursday was a "very consequential day" in the otherwise tedious and redundant impeachment proceedings.

"Yesterday, the House managers effectively threw Joe Biden under the bus," Cruz said. "They doubled down on what they started doing on the first day of arguments, which was making their entire case ... based on the proposition that there was zero evidence to justify investigating Burisma [the Ukrainian natural gas company that paid then-Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter, $50,000 a month to sit on the board]."

Cruz went on to explain that every time the Democrats, namely House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), rehash the "zero-evidence" argument, they open the door for Republicans to present the overwhelming evidence that contradicts those claims.

"That proposition, that there's zero evidence to investigate Burisma, is utterly and completely absurd. So, I'm looking forward to Saturday when the president's lawyers will begin presenting his case. Because what the Democrats have done, is they have opened the door to this. And I hope the president's lawyers will stand up and systematically lay out the case," Cruz said.

"They've been arguing that Hunter Biden is completely irrelevant to this case. Well, the House managers have now, through their arguments, made Hunter Biden not only relevant — he was always relevant — but critical now," he continued. "They built the entire case, like a house of cards, on the proposition that there was no reasonable basis to investigate Burisma. And that's just absurd."

The two also discussed Cruz's new podcast, "Verdict with Ted Cruz," which he records with Daily Wire host Michael Knowles each night following the Senate trial.

"Last night's podcast went through systematically ... all of the overwhelming evidence of corruption from Burisma that any president, not only had the authority to investigate, but the responsibility to investigate," Cruz said. "And that, ultimately, is why President Trump is going to be acquitted at the end of this process."

Watch the video below for more details:

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