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Government Funding for Mat-Su Madrassa?


That’s what the Christian Conservatives are pushing for this legislative session, even if they’re too obtuse to know it.

Chalk up another one to the Constitutionalists of Convenience – you know, conservatives who squawk and flap about libruls and leftists who want to “shred the Constitution,” and then turn around and fire up the shredding machine for the very document they purport to love. The fair-weather founding father fans now have their sights on one of the hallmarks of the Alaska Constitution – public education.

The Alaska Constitution specifically prohibits using public money to fund religious schools. It’s quite clear. But, since the Christian conservative crowd is out get them some free government money to prop up religious schools that can’t make it on their own, there’s just one thing to do. They’re just take that part of the Constitution that they don’t like, Article 7 Section 1, and get rid of it.

Article 7 is the shortest article in the whole document. It’s short, and it’s sweet, and it gets right to the point, clear as crystal. Here’s Section 1:

§ 1. Public Education
The legislature shall by general law establish and maintain a system of public schools open to all children of the State, and may provide for other public educational institutions. Schools and institutions so established shall be free from sectarian control. No money shall be paid from public funds for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution.

So if Mr. Keller and the rest of his ilk get their way, we’ll take that part right there, and send it right here.


There.  Now that we got rid of that pesky bit of Constitutional wisdom, we can start funneling everyone’s money to pay for the kind of schools Wes Keller wants – like the ones that teach creationism and evolution side by side, because it’s only  fair.

The plan faces criticism on several fronts, including opposition from many who support offering more public school options to students and the expansion of Alaska’s charter school system – the independently-run, state-funded, non-religious schools are available in only a handful of districts.

The voucher plan would allow for stipends given by the government to be used to help students pay for their education outside of the public school system.

Now, mind you, it isn’t that Alaska doesn’t have the money to help fully fund education and improve our schools. We’re swimming in money. We’re lousy with cash. We’ve got it coming out our ears! Governor Sean Parnell was busting his buttons during the recent State of the State address to lawmakers, talking about how Alaska has a big wad of savings, and we’re not suffering like the rest of the country. But don’t get your hopes up children. That giant pile o’ cash is actually slated by the governor to go to something just a little more important than you – the oil companies. And that leaves the Anchorage School District alone facing a $25 million shortfall which will result in layoffs for hundreds of Alaska education workers. Now, don’t get all misty-eyed about it. It would take Exxon alone almost a whole day to make that $25 million. We simply can’t allow them to suffer like that, when all we have to do is fire all the graduation coaches, and other staff. They really weren’t doing anything anyway.

Our new voice of sanity in the State House, Harriet Drummond (D-Anch) used to be on the school board. And she has issues.

She also rebutted the idea that school choice would introduce more money into education, but would instead divert funds away from the public school system. She said a voucher system would be particularly costly for rural or sparsely populated districts, most of which only offer one school to choose from.

“Our schools are already suffering from cuts,” Drummond said. “This will exacerbate that situation.”

The House Education Committee is now reviewing this bit of religious rocket science, and if it gets approved, it will go before the voters in 2014 – not the bill, but the rewriting of the Constitution part. Fortunately, it would first take a supermajority of 75% in both the House and the Senate to vote for the bill, and then a majority of voters in a general election. That’s probably not going to happen. Yet.

Keller has tried these shenanigans before with no success, not even getting the bill through the House. But now, thanks to the new district lines, Alaska’s representation is more conservative (and I would posit, crazier) than is Alaska itself. And therefore, Keller is hopeful.

He also says that there is a “visceral desire to make sure the kid gets every break they can.”  So get ready to pony up so that kids in Wasilla can learn all about how Jesus rode a dinosaur, and climate change is God’s plan. Our kids deserve only the best chance at success. Keller even cites studies from the Friedman Foundation to show how this is a totally awesome idea. Scratch the surface of the Friedman Foundation, and lo and behold ALEC and the Koch Brothers can be found. This is not surprising, as Keller is not only a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, (ALEC), but he serves as the Alaska state leader. And that is why Rep. Wes Keller of Wasilla is driving the bus over the Constitution. In a choice between ALEC and Alaska, he’s got his priorities clear.

An elder from Sarah Palin’s church, Mr. Keller has already had a brief but illustrious history of asshattery as a lawmaker. You may remember him as the one that stalled a proclamation honoring the Girl Scouts, and quizzed a poor legislative staffer asking what she knew about a supposed nefarious connection between the Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood. The young woman who thought (as we all did) that honoring the Girl Scouts on their 100th Anniversary was a pretty noncontroversial thing, stood agog as Keller explained that he’d heard about a rumor on the internets and had some concerns about these “Girl Scouts” and their wicked ways.

Well, the Girl Scouts eventually got their honor, and while you might have expected that Keller would have slunk away red-faced, and the people would have said to themselves, “What kind of ignoramus have we elected? Wow, are we embarrassed. We’ll never do that again!” you would find your expectations dashed. Because the good people of Wasilla (or at least a majority of them) decided this was their kinda guy, and sent him back to Juneau to wreak his idiocy on the rest of us.

And yes, we’re still waiting for that awkward moment when Keller & Co. realize that if the government gives money to religious schools, that means it gives money to OTHER religious schools, not  just THEIR religious schools. Welcome to the Wasilla Wiccan Academy! Hey, it’s all about giving parents a choice, right? I mean, unless you’re just looking to make other people pay for your own personal Christian Theocracy… Oh, wait.



22 Responses to “Government Funding for Mat-Su Madrassa?”
  1. Valley_Independent says:

    To be fair to my neighbors to the north of Wasilla who elected Keller for the second time, their other option was Roger Purcell, former mayor of Houston, AK. Among other infamous stunts, does the flashing-lights-in-the-borrowed-police-car-on-the-way-to-Fairbanks incident ring a bell?

    • you don't say... says:

      oh that is not as bad as burning down the wrong address…have a photo op take pics of the wrong house as the fire department is planned to be last at the scene…the look on rogers face was priceless…and criminal…that and the fact that he is renting property from a meth dealer…or that the girl that was found dead on the property…

  2. tallimat says:

    Enough said about Less.

    The guy creeps me out.

  3. Zyxomma says:

    What’s in the water in Wasilla? Cruise ship dumpings? Leakage from Dead Lake Lu-sill?

  4. mlaiuppa says:

    Well, I think a Madrassa needs to step up and be first in line for some of that free public education money.

    Then let’s see them come up with a reason why the Christian schools can have it and the Islamic schools cannot.

    Sauce for the gander!

  5. blue_in_AK says:

    I wonder how Lindsey will vote on this one since she’s on record as opposing vouchers. Will she be true to her principles or bow to the wishes of her new masters?

    • John says:

      It will be a good test. My money is on “she has traded in her principals for a committee seat and hugs from her new BFFs”

      but we shall see.

  6. Alaska Pi says:

    Something I keep hoping someone who knows will pop in and help untangle.
    The Friedman Foundation bases its notions on “school choice” on a very (shaky) extension of competition- necessarily-promotes-better-products, Here the product is education.
    The other wahoos , Koch, ALEC, et al, sorta say something similar but the uptake of all this by the evangelicals and other religious types focuses more on parental choice rather than “better product”…parental choice being the be all end all of what constitutes socialization of their progeny
    What fresh hell is this?

  7. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    Spot on.

    Nice rant AKM, would that we all had a more specific and lucid idea of exactly where you stand on the issues related to religious sentiments and such like but you are under no obligation to provide such clarification if you choose not to. I can understand why you would not want to discuss it.

    Personally, I was born an atheist and have remained so for these three score and three years.

    With that in mind I would say that for the most part I think that those people who are religious in whatever sense, be they devotees of one of the sects of the big three or sc***tolo*ists, are entitled to their delusions.

    They are NOT entitled to impose them on anyone else, but that is what the whole coordinated effort to dismantle public education is all about, indoctrination.

    To everyone out there lurking google up the wedge document and get familiar with it. It pertains primarily to the scheme of inviegling creationism into science classes, but it has been broadly embraced by the so called conservatives and is being invoked in multiple ways across the country to more influence, power and direct money to the .0x% – some fraction of the .1% for their benefit and at everyone else’s expense.

    It is the exact same thing as the externalization of costs from resource extraction.

    Pay me to brainwash your kids. What can go wrong?

  8. AKMagpie says:

    Just goes to show how weak our mental health system is, I guess. Or is it the educational system that has failed to teach that stuff…something to do with critical thinking skills? When was Keller, or for that matter, the whole Wasilla crew last evaluated for mental health. They and so many other of our legislators demonstrate magical thinking and delusions of grandeur and of godhood. Not good.

    Guess we’re going to have to set up a secular, LGBT and atheist friendly school with, ya know, real science texts and reading comprehension levels adequate to understand the Alaska and the United States Constitutions. Yup, we’d let the Wiccans, Buddists, and pastaverians in too. There would be a comparative religious mythologies elective.

  9. mike from iowa says:

    I will let Alaska Pi state my opinion and I trust there will be sufficient PFFFTTSS included for emphasis.

    • Alaska Pi says:

      mikey- I don’t if there are enough PFFFFTTT!s for this one.
      Nice tidy lil bit of sleight of hand going on here along with the obvious horsepunky :

      Not only is the ” No money shall be paid from public funds for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution.” section dropped from the State Constitution but the addition of “however, nothing in this section shall prevent payment from public funds for the direct educational benefit of students as provided by law. ” grants an easily ever vulnerable opening to all kinds of horsepunky “law” which can strew public monies at all kinds of private schools.
      Rep Drummond actually understates, in the quote above, the potential damage to rural/bush school districts .
      This is a proposal which , aside from all the other stupidity surrounding it, epitomizes the disconnect between Southcentral/ the Valley and pretty much the rest of the state.
      This choice crap on the heels of finally settling the Molly Hootch case?! Really, REally, really?
      Pffft! Pffffttt! Pffft! A thousand times Pfft!

    • Alaska Pi says:

      Molly Hootch came earlier . i’m too mad. Settle down, self.
      I meant Kasayulie was finally settled. Moore is recent too.
      (see major cases )

      • mike from iowa says:

        You sure as heck did me proud. From now on you can express my opinions on everything Alaska.

        • Alaska Pi says:

          No, nuh, no, no, no!
          Oft times your Pffft!s are considerably more valuable than mine. I’m good at jumping up and down and hollering Pffft! but I’m awful short and folks tend to look right across my head and keep chatting , without paying attention.
          The rural school problem here is deep and abiding. Over 30 schools have closed since a 1999 law yanking state funding if schools drop below 10 children. In some cases there are alternatives but as most of the villages are very remote , most closures mean remaining families must move. They have no meaningful choice. None. And they would gain none with this horsepunky idea.
          For a State Rep to waste one minute of the legislative session on this crap about changing the Constitution to allow parents the “choice” of what kind of education they want for their kids and on the state dime too torches my shorts on so many levels I can hardly sort it all out .

  10. alwaysagardener says:


  11. Jeanne Devon says:

    (Thank you, John. The brain is a cruel prankster. Corrected.) 🙂

  12. juneaudream says:

    Oh come on Jeanne! This horse in the mouth time. Where is a room per each of the city/villages/towns/ wot-ever..that are empty at this moment, and..can be rented..lined take some of that money? Someone..print up T-shirts with Dinos for Jesus, get some folks with clipboards and ask the public who would like to have ark building 101, and fish n christianchips..taught locally? Set up the be..more christian than thou. Would they wear robes..and flipflops…only bath every few weeks in the local lakes and streams? ( rubdowns..per the winter months..) And by all means..have rocks piled near each home, and schools members..for smiting all who refuse to ..lineup..and..Go God-ly!