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Week in Review: Parent-Free Zone

August 6, 2022

Closed to the public—parents not welcome.

That’s the message the South Kingstown school district sent Rhode Island mom Nicole Solas when she tried to attend a meeting of the district’s taxpayer-funded Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) Advisory Board before enrolling her daughter in kindergarten. This week, the Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit to defend Nicole’s rights and hold the school district accountable for conducting public business in secret—in violation of state law.

School districts should never keep parents in the dark as clandestine committees make decisions that impact their children. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what’s happening in Rhode Island and around the country—but Goldwater won’t let the public education bureaucrats get away with it.

Goldwater’s landmark academic transparency law requires public schools to post their learning materials online, and the Institute’s new guide empowers parents to file effective public records requests when the government still tries keeping secrets. Moreover, Goldwater’s American Freedom Network of pro bono attorneys stands ready to help parents in every state access the information they’re entitled to.

Read about how we’re defending the rights of parents like Nicole at In Defense of Liberty

Ripping Up the Government Permission Slip

Right to Try was born out of an appalling reality: “Dying Americans are routinely blocked from accessing potentially lifesaving treatments unless they receive a government permission slip,” Goldwater Executive Vice President Christina Sandefur writes in Discourse Magazine.

But Right to Try, which Goldwater passed in 41 states and then at the federal level in 2018, puts patients first by ripping up the permission slip, allowing terminally ill Americans to access innovative treatments that have not yet received full approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. And it laid the groundwork for Right to Try for Individualized Treatments, which Goldwater already enacted in Arizona this year. Right to Try 2.0 extends the Right to Try to cutting-edge medical treatments tailor-made for an individual patient, using information about that person’s genes.

Ultimately, Sandefur writes, Right to Try is more than just a law. “It’s a bipartisan, grassroots movement of patients, doctors and activists—all of them fed up with having to navigate a half century of life-threatening regulations,” she says. “It’s an acknowledgement of a basic constitutional right—a basic human right: the right to fight for one’s life.”

Read more about how Right to Try puts patients first at Discourse Magazine.

When Public Schools Fail Families…

For Arizona mom Kelly Pichitino, whose son Ben has special needs, the turning point came in 2018, when public school teachers went on strike as part of the RedForEd movement. “Kids had nowhere to go,” Kelly told Goldwater Senior Fellow Jonathan Butcher. Kelly initially had sympathy for the movement, but eventually grew fed up and applied for an Empowerment Scholarship Account (ESA), which allowed her to teach Ben at home and choose his speech and occupational therapists.

More than four years later, every family in the state is eligible for the ESA program after the Institute enacted a landmark universal school choice reform. “Yet the same special-interest groups behind the RedforEd strikes that changed Pichitino’s mind about assigned schools are leading an effort to put the locks back on education,” Butcher writes in The Federalist.

But they’ve miscalculated. After schools shut down during COVID, countless families ditched the public education system in favor of options that better met their needs—options like homeschooling, learning pods, and private schools. “Unions and special interest groups have to convince families to stay in the public school system by making their appeal to a large number of them who have already voted with their feet,” Butcher adds. It’s a tough sell—but it’s all the special interests have.

Read more at The Federalist.

FREE MOVIE SCREENING: The Film They Don’t Want You to See


It’s a story that cannot die in a prison cell, no matter how much the communist Chinese government tries to squash it. When Hong Kong’s basic freedoms come under attack, one man finds himself in the crosshairs of the state, and he must choose between defending Hong Kong’s long-standing liberties, or his own freedom. Now, you can see this incredible story for yourself.

The Goldwater Institute invites you to a complimentary screening of the must-see documentary The Hong Konger at 6:30 PM on August 11th at the AMC Arizona Center 24 theater in Phoenix. This event is held in partnership with the Acton Institute and Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation. Following the film, we’ll be hosting a panel with Ambassador Andrew Bremberg, President of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation; The Hong Konger Associate Producer Eric Kohn; and Goldwater Vice President for Legal Affairs Timothy Sandefur.

Register today for your free tickets here.



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