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School Choice And The Scholarship Tax Credit – With Trent Franks: Why doesn’t the media always search for the other side of the story? What is going on with school choice in Arizona? Who will decide what your children actually learn?Does the government have the expertise to educate our children? What has been shown to improve the entire education system? What is a scholarship tax credit system? Click the link to hear Trent Franks discuss some amazing leaps forward in the area of school choice!
Air Date: 08/04/2021
Guest: Trent Franks
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: Â As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith and the Culture
This is the intersection of faith and culture. Thanks so much for joining us today. We’re taking on all the hot topics of the day, but from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. That’s where you get truth. You got to learn from history. You got to know what the Constitution says, and most importantly, what is God’s instruction manual teach us about all of these different issues.
We’re here with David Barton, he’s America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders, Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders, and I’m Red Green, former Texas legislator and America’s Constitution coach. Check us out at wallbuilderslive.com for more programming.
You can go back into the archives and get some of those previous Good News Friday programs if you just need to pick me up to know that there is some good news and that there’s a lot of good things happening out there despite the bad things as well. And you can also get those other interviews and our Foundations of Freedom Thursday programs, all at wallbuilderslive.com.
Alright, David and Tim, Trent Franks will be with us later in the program, former Congressman, former state legislator out of Arizona and a school choice champion.
Well, and let’s also address what could be the elephant in the room. If you do a Google search of him, which is, we could say if you do a Google search of a lot of good people, you might come up with some negative content…
Don’t Google me, people. Do not Google Rick Green, won’t be good. Don’t it.
Oh, no. Google Rick Green, he looks a whole lot better than googling David Barton. So yeah.
Are we talking about the pictures or the content?
Discovering the REST of the Story
So just want to clarify, what are we talking about here? So guys, one of the things that’s interesting is Trent Franks was a leader in Congress. Dad, I know you’ve known him for nearly all the years I’ve been alive, right?
For like 30 years, you’ve known Trent. And he’s done so much working with state policy in Arizona and state legislature in all the things he did there, and he goes to Congress. And he saw the political games being played in Congress.
And one of the things that certainly, guys, we have talked about, we discussed on air before is you can look at the hypocrisy of the Left with a lot of their accusations, a lot of them covering for their friends and then accusing the right of doing things, that the right did not do.
Actually, some of their friends are actually doing, because you have like the Harvey Weinstein versus like the Brett Kavanaugh, where the Harvey Weinstein, the guy who literally sexually assaulted and abused, and all these things to women in Hollywood.
And then during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings when he’s going through the Senate confirmation hearing to become a Supreme Court Justice and all the accusations of all of the evil sexual things that he allegedly did. And you had all these women accusing him. And then nearly every single accusation after he does become a US Supreme Court Justice, so many these women come out and say, oh, yeah, well, he wasn’t really the guy.
Maybe I remembered wrong or no… You know, the story wasn’t exactly right. They recanted. But the accusations were there.
And of course, the media doesn’t really want to publicize the fact that they acknowledge they’re lying. And this is what we are seeing in the midst of canceled culture, is that you have a group politically polarized so far on one side, they don’t actually care what’s true, they care about canceling somebody.
And Trent Franks actually got dragged into this in Washington, DC, where there were accusations against him of doing things that we’ve talked to him, and he said, guys, that’s not at all what happened. He tells a story. You know, interesting, the news media didn’t come to him for the other side of the story; interesting that they didn’t want to print the republican version of the story. Nonetheless, the point is that I…
The Truth About Trent Franks
And let me add. We didn’t just talk to him. We talked to other members of Congress at the time. We talked to staff members. We had the rest of the story from lots of different sources. Media never went to any of those sources.
Well, and the point is that if you do a basic Google Search today, you would go wow, did this guy really do all this? Well, look at the bad things he did. And he’s actually more of a victim of this canceled culture mentality of this polarization.
Now, with that being said, we also can throw the caveat out there that, of course, none of us are perfect. So this is not a defense saying the Trent Franks is not a sinner who needs a savior. Because guys, all of us, everybody listening, just heads up to all of you on radio right now, you’re a sinner who needs a savior, you need to know Jesus. That is the baseline. But what we’re saying is that these accusations that you might find on Google is not accurate.
But the reason we wanted to talk with them today is because one of the things he did when he was a state legislator in Arizona is he actually helped Arizona get some of the very first ever school choice legislation passed in any state. And we are now, guys, seeing a complete crisis in the education system in America. Where dad, you know, Rick, we’ve talked about some of the things that we’ve seen in school boards and how far school boards have gone.
Well, even recently, we’ve seen some of the videos come out of where parents have shared with school boards complaining about what’s been taught their kids and the school board members say, hey, you parents don’t have a clue what your kids need. We’re the experts. We’re the officials. We need to be educating your kids. You stay out of this. You don’t know what they need.
We’ve seen also recently where news has come out that teachers are having these equality surveys, and among part of the equality survey is what gender are you, what do you want us to call you, and don’t tell your parents we’re doing this. Don’t let them know we’re doing. So you’re telling these kids don’t let your parents know. Or you’re giving birth control stuff to 10 year olds saying, don’t tell your parents we gave you this.
An Influential Leader
I mean, this is nonsense. And this is why so many parents want out of the system. They want out of the public school system. I mean, it is going directly against the parents, trying to undermine them, teach their kids things that they don’t want their kids taught. This is where school choice is so important.
There’s been no one in the nation better at this than Trent Franks. He’s actually won a US Supreme Court case on school choice, and has opened the door for millions of American children to be able to have better education.
So he is a great guy. I have known him for years way back in the days before we got in the state legislature through Congress. He is a really, really good guy, strong Christian man, good faith and character, great guy, and pleased to have Trent Franks on with us today.
Trent Franks is our special guests when we come back from the break, we’re going to be talking about school choice and some great leaps forward. Stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
A Moment from AMERICA’S HISTORY
This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. Our Founding Fathers, despite their common love for America, did not always agree with each other in politics. Such was the case between John and Samuel Adams. John was the leader of the Federalist Party and Samuel was a leader of the anti-Federalist Party. Consequently, political disagreements were not unusual between these two.
On October the 4th 1790, Sam wrote John and told him “Let ministers and philosophers, statesmen and patriots unite their endeavors to renovate the age by educating their little boys and girls and leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system.” Two weeks later, John wrote back and told Samuel that on this issue, they both agreed. While these two prominent Founding Fathers disagreed on much, they both agreed on the importance of educating the next generation in the principles of Christianity.
For more information on God’s hand in American history, contact WallBuilders at 1808REBUILD.
Welcome Trent Franks
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today. Always good to have Trent Franks with us, former Congressman, just a super guy, and a leader on a lot of the very important issues, including school choice, but Trent, great to have you, brother. Thanks for coming back on.
Well, I’m so glad to be with all of you. You know how I feel about WallBuilders and what you all do in this country for future generations.
Well, we consider you a great ally, and had to get your thoughts on the movement in school choice right now. I guess, you know, a lot of people in the last year with COVID, one of the silver linings of the whole COVID crackdowns and craziness that happened is that a lot of people experienced alternatives to the local public school and realize, wait a minute, there’s not just one option, there’s other ways to get educated out there that can be just as good or better.
Well, that’s absolutely right. You know, I homeschool my own children. They’re 12 years old, so I’ve done it from the very beginning, and I consider that a superior option. But I think that things like that became more possible in the minds of, as you say, everyday Americans.
And it kind of takes away this false notion that only government-run schools have the expertise and really almost the responsibility to educate our children and kind of gives us a little different take on things. And I think it’s a very healthy thing. A lot of heartache came out of COVID, but this is one of those things that I think will prove significant in the long run.
Well, we were intrigued to see that the data is starting to show wherever you have school choice, the scores go up, there’s better results, that it actually improves the entire system. You know, that’s something we kind of known in our gut for a long time and had some anecdotal evidence of that. But that seems to be pouring in and even the Wall Street Journal reported on that the other day.
Arizona’s Scholarship Tax Credit Program
Well, it is significant, Rick. And I have to tell you, as you say, you know, a lot of us have believed that for a long time. As you know, years ago, I had the privilege of writing Arizona’s scholarship tax credit program.
It was the first in the nation and that was the substance of last year Supreme Court decision in Espinosa. So this is something I believed in for so long, but to see the evidence clear, and I think what it amount so you know, historically, we saw a lot of the left saying well, you know, if you have things like Federal Express, it will destroy the post office. But it didn’t. It made the post office better.
And not only the school choice help those parents who afford an alternative to public education or to government education, but it also puts pressure on government schools to respond better. And it just creates an innovation and just a lot of things that have a cross-pollenization that is very, very good for education.
It’s always amazing to me that even as conservatives, you know, we point out how important free enterprise is to creating the best products at the best price in the world. But we forget that the greatest most valuable treasure God ever gives us is our children. And why do we not use the best system of a free market mechanism to bring the best education?
Because the ideals and truths that we inculcate into our children’s hearts and minds are really the substance of the future, that’s more than any other mortal paradigm. That points to how we will turn out and continue as a nation.
Man, I couldn’t agree with you more. That was my number one reason when I went into the legislature 20 years ago, school choice, to get this competition in the marketplace, to put good positive pressure on the public schools to improve. And of course, you know, in areas where the teacher unions dominate.
The Teachers and Unions
And it’s not the teachers themselves, is the unions that are dominating the policy, they’re trying to reverse some of this. I mean, even though all these good results are going on, Governor Pritzker in Illinois now wants to end their state tax credits, because that pressure is being put on these schools to say, hey, you got to clean up your mess and improve or we’re taking our money and going to a private school that’s going to do a better job for our kids.
That’s right. I would say, because of the importance of this venue that I think it’s very critical, that we do everything that we can in our school choice innovations to make sure that that policy does not give the Left and others who have tried so long to maintain this government, or education.
Any leverage to somehow place upon our schools, because you know, about 85%, or more of private schools in America have a religious foundation or a base of faith perspective. And the Left would love to be able to get a hold of that.
And that’s why without any self-focus here, I truly believe that the scholarship tax credit approach is far better, because it makes it almost impossible for the Left to leverage these things. Even the ESAs and the vouchers and things like that, I have supported those over the years because they’re a step in the right direction.
But ultimately, that throws a log down the trail where the Left might be able to try to get a hold of those mechanisms because government coming from the public treasury gives them that leverage, in other words, where shackles become shackles.
But with the tax credit, these are private contributions coming from private individuals going to private organizations to give private scholarships to private individuals for of the parent’s private choice of schools. And that privately drives the Left completely to distraction. But it’s so very important. And I just think that it’s very important now that we’re moving in the right direction to be very wise in how we move forward.
Keeping the Government Out
Yeah, and explain again, on the tax credits. So if you’re a parent, and you want to participate in that, there are when you have the tax credits in that state, and that bill has been passed, there are private organizations or private businesses are able to donate money. They get a tax credit, so it helps them on their finances, but at the same time, it creates these funds that parents think can tap into and the government’s not even involved.
Well, that’s right. And there’s a terrible inequity for parents that want to choose an alternative to government schools in America right now. Wealthy parents can send their children to any school they want to because they have the money to do it.
You know, middle class or poor parents, they are stuck with being taxed into oblivion and still having to come up with the extra money to send their child to a private school after they’re really paying for the public schools already.
Yeah, so you’re paying twice. And if you can’t afford to pay twice, you’re out.
You’re out. And so what this problem that we’re trying to solve is a problem of empowering parents to be able to do what they choose. This doesn’t put the thumb on the scale of what choice they make.
I’ve always believed that parents are the ones that should make the decision. One of two people will decide what our children learn. It will be some bureaucrat who doesn’t know the child’s name, or parents who would pour their blood out on the floor for that child. And I just think that the decision is best left in the parents.
And so if we can empower parents without creating the leverage on the part of government to somehow come in and do to the private schools what they’ve done to the so-called public schools, then we’re making a step in the right direction. And the way to do that in my mind is to make sure that the dollars do not come from the public treasury.
The Entire System Benefits
And there’s a lot more to be said on that. I don’t think we’d have time. But the point is that it’s vital that we’re very careful how we go forward.
Yeah, I was intrigued by this data that’s showing that the entire system benefits this education freedom index. Normally, I always brag on my home state of Texas, but I have to say we dropped from 6th to 29th. And it’s because we haven’t done any school choice. It’s shocking to me.
I truly believe that’s right.
Yeah. And that’s a Republican-controlled state. It’s so frustrating. I mean, 65% of Texans want school choice, and yet here in this Republican-controlled state, we haven’t been able to get it done. What was the secret for you, you think to get it done in Arizona as long ago as you did?
I wrote the legislation more than 25 years ago, and I spent three years trying to get it passed in the legislature. And I have to say, quite honestly, we had some advantage in that early on, we were simply saying this is a small tax credit to go to help organizations that fund private scholarships for children to go to school of their parent’s private choice.
And it just didn’t seem like it was in the mainstream of the battle at the time. And yet, we could see the future of how important it was going to be.
And I was on the board of a little group raising money, and we were raising about $100,000 a year for these private scholarships. But when we got the scholarship tax credit in place, that went to 100 million immediately. And now we’ve raised about 6.5 billion dollars in 18 states nationally here.
Now we’ve scholarship to about a half a million children. And this is a largest school choice program in the nation. And yet, there still seems to be an element of obscurity.
So I just want people to really take a look at this tax credit, because it simply says that the money that would otherwise go to government remains in the private of the parents to be able to do things just to donate to the scholarship funds, which they’re in turn have to do in Arizona.
At least 90% of that money has to go directly to scholarship, tuition for children to go to school of their parent’s choice. And there are already a lot of laws put in place automatically then to keep that within the legal framework and to avoid any pressure on the private schools.
I love it. Now, if we’ve got folks listening that want to try to push that back home in their particular state, what’s the best resource for them?
Well, I mean, there’s so many resources, but I’d have to say that they should take a look at Arizona’s plan. And if they’re interested in talking about that, they can talk to one like the Arizona Christian Schools tuition organization here. They would probably be able to give them the most information.
I just got to tell you, I know we’re about out of time. But I would be derelict if I didn’t try to embarrass David Barton just a little bit.
Oh, sir, you can have all of the time that you want if that’s where we’re headed, go for it.
Well, I mean, honestly, the man has had a tectonic impact on the United States Congress. When I was there, he addressed us many times, and he always, always left us spellbound and really fundamentally inspired. And I came to the absolute conclusion and conviction that David Barton is the greatest American historian in American history.
And I really mean that. He is literally an unparalleled chronological command of how our Christian ideals and principles were woven into American fabric from the very beginning.
And I think what makes him so inspiring is because anyone that ever hears him speak, not only they’re not the same, but they know that those ideals are kind of woven into David’s own heart, and it really makes him have a big impact. And so you guys, I have to say to you:
One of the Greatest Man
I know you’re all a team, but you follow one of the greatest men I know in America. And I’m sure that that would embarrass him more than I could if I made fun of him in some other way. But he just really has had an enormous impact.
You know, when his dad was still alive, he told me one time we were going to have a big dinner and we were honoring David and Cheryl for all the years and just incredible work that they’ve done, and you’re so right about everything you just said. I mean, it’s been my great honor to learn from him for two decades now.
But his dad told me, he said that David, he will not want you to say any of that. But you just give him scripture and he can’t respond. And he said, you give him the scripture that says render honor to whom honor is due, and it is due. You’re 100% right.
And it is amazing to me, since he’s not sitting here right now I can say this, you know, I can memorize a lot of stuff, but this guy, God has gifted him with a brain where you can sit down at dinner and go, did you ever hear about so and so? And he’ll [crosstalk 19:46] dates and places. And I mean, it’s just it’s phenomenal.
And I think it’s been for such a time as this type thing where he was so steeped into those original writings for so many years. He’s read more of the Founding Fathers than any person alive. And so, all of that is in his brain and like you said, in his heart as well.
And so all the things that WallBuilders has produced, and then he continues to teach for such a time as this right now when our nation is just struggling with who we are, and where we’re going to go, he has really preserved those principles of liberty that the Founding Fathers gave us. And so I just, I echo everything you just said, and so thankful that you said it.
Well, I mean, it. You know, there’s members of Congress come and go, but there’s only one David Barton in the world. And I saw on Fox item this morning that there’s a report where some of the schools doing these equity surveys are telling the kids not to tell their parents about it.
Of Cataclysmic Significance
And if that isn’t a wake-up call to where we are, I don’t know what to say, Rick Green, because the impact here is of cataclysmic significance. And I hope we get it right.
They are coming for your kids. That is not an exaggeration. They want your children. They want your children’s hearts and minds. And that’s why school choice is so incredibly important. Trent, God bless you, brother.
God bless you.
We appreciate you so much. And it’s great to have you back. It’s been too long. And let’s get you back again soon.
Look forward to it. And God bless WallBuilders and all of you. You take care.
Amen. Thank you, Trent Franks. Stay with us, folks, going to take a quick break. When we come back, David will be here and I’ll be in big trouble for all of that discussion about how awesome he is. Stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live.
Have you ever wanted to learn more about the United States Constitution, but just felt like man, the classes are boring, or it’s just that old language from 200 years ago, or I don’t know where to start? People want to know, but it gets frustrating because you don’t know where to look for truth about the constitution either.
Well, we’ve got a special program for you available now called Constitution Alive! With David Barton and Rick Green. And it’s actually a teaching done on the Constitution at Independence Hall in the very room where the constitution was framed.
We take you both to Philadelphia, the cradle of liberty and Independence Hall and to the WallBuilders’ library, where David Barton brings the history to life to teach the original intent of our Founding Fathers. We call it the Quickstart Guide to the Constitution, because in just a few hours through these videos, you will learn the citizen’s guide to America’s constitution, you’ll learn what you need to do to help save our constitutional republic. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and it’s going to inspire you to do your part to preserve freedom for future generations.
It’s called Constitution Alive! With David Barton and Rick Green. You can find out more information on our website now at wallbuilders.com.
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live and special thanks to former congressman Trent Franks for joining us. Back with David and Tim, and of course, guys, man, we’ve talked about school choice since we started this program, many, many years ago. That’s a long time ago. 15 years, we’ve been doing this, 15 years? I think we have. Anyway, school choice, we’re certainly believers in it competition. It improves everywhere that you have it. And these legal battles are vital, because man, those teacher unions do not want that school choice to happen.
Competition Helps Everyone
Well, they don’t. But as you point out, competition helps everyone. And just think of a burger joint on one corner, if three or the burger joints pop up on the other three corners, you’re all going to have to compete with each other. I’m going to have to have better prices, better burgers, better service, better flavor, better everything. It helps everybody. It helps all consumers.
Or you can all be terrible. And it doesn’t matter where you go, because you get the same equal… So you either can be a socialist or capitalist in this scenario, right? Because sometimes, depending on where you go, like if you pull up and there’s Chick-fil-A on one corner, there’s a reason there’ll be 100 cars waiting to go to that drive thru, as opposed to if you pull up and it’s multiple other places.
But dad, to your point, there’s no doubt that if you have competition, and you have choice, and there’s one place that’s terrible, and one place is doing a much better job, you’re clearly going to go to the places doing a much better job. And this is why if you look at the public school system, guys, we saw in the midst of this COVID shutdown that homeschooling more than doubled during COVID.
And actually, those numbers have maintained, because parents have seen firsthand so much of the curriculum that was being taught and what they’re actually in many cases what students weren’t being taught, and parents said we need to do this.
We’ve seen explosion, so to speak, and the growth of students going to Christian Schools. And right now with the public school being exposed in a lot of failing areas, and again, we will say this consistently. We know there’s a lot of public school people listening to us right now, there’s a lot of public teachers listening to us right now. We are so grateful for the God fearing public school teachers that are there.
However, we also can be honest and recognize the brokenness of the system in so many areas. And a lot of the brokenness of the system, there are some things that really can’t be replaced on some level. It’s almost like the VA hospital scenario.
If you talk to some of the veterans who are the very well spoken, even some of the congressmen, they will acknowledge that they don’t know a way to fix the VA: it almost has to be blown up and you start the whole thing over so that you can finally eliminate and eradicate all the problems. That’s kind of where the public school system is.
There are so many problems inside of it that even though that we know there are some very good people there, and there might be some very good public school districts, overall, there are so many major problems, which, of course, is why we’re seeing more and more parents run for school board and try to get involved. But having a tax voucher system or a school choice option, certainly does seem to be the best solution for so many parents right now.
And this organization that Trent has, as he said, $6.5 billion, they put out, half a million kids have been scholarshipped, and as he points out, there is still an element of obscurity about it. And he’s exactly right. I mean, most folks have no idea there are organizations like this or that organizations like this can be done in other states.
Or in multiple states, if there are options like this: that parents don’t have to leave their kids in a failing public school, that actually there’s financial waivers and help for them in specific states. Now, again, it’s not in every state, which is why we’re trying to champion more people to fight for this in their state, because it should be a viable option in every state.
School Choice And The Scholarship Tax Credit – With Trent Franks
And by the way, not only is this a passion for Trent Franks, I was talking to Trent, he told me, he said God put him here for two reasons. One was to end abortion, and the other was to provide school choice. And God bless him on both issues.
That’s an absolutely worthy purpose. And I hope he succeeds in both of those. We’re seeing great movement on both of those. In fact, folks listen to Good News Fridays, and you will hear tons of victories on those two issues across the country. Thanks so much for listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.