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‘What real journalism looks like’: Orlando Sentinel exposes Florida’s $1 billion school voucher scam

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The Orlando Sentinel is being praised for a months long investigation on Florida’s school voucher program, inspecting fifty percent more schools than state education officials inspected in all of last year.

The newspapers three-part, Schools Without Rules expose on the state’s nearly $1 billion tax credit scholarship program.

“That is what real journalism looks like — a team of journalists doing shoe-leather reporting, conducting the kind of inspections, investigations and interviews that even the state’s education officials don’t,” Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell explained. “This little-regulated system needs an overhaul. And the world needs more real journalists.”

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Reporters Beth Kassab, Leslie Postal and Annie Martin reported that “private schools in Florida will collect nearly $1 billion in state-backed scholarships this year through a system so weakly regulated that some schools hire teachers without college degrees, hold classes in aging strip malls and falsify fire-safety and health records.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos refused to visit any public schools during an August trip to Florida. In March, DeVos joined President Donald Trump in touring a voucher school.

“The number of children using the scholarship programs has tripled in the past decade to 140,000 students at nearly 2,000 private schools. Many of those schools, which are subject to little state oversight, are heavily reliant on the state scholarship programs to keep their doors open,” the Sentinel found.

The Sentinal discovered an alarming lack of oversight.

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“After Palm Bay Police began investigating principal Samuel Vidal Jr., who was accused last year of lifting the shirt of a 15-year-old student and putting his mouth on her breast, Vidal shut down his private Christian school,” the Sentinel found. “But the police investigation didn’t stop Vidal, 41, from winning approval from the Florida Department of Education to open a new private school in Palm Bay and collect nearly $200,000 in state-backed scholarships. And even after Vidal was charged with felony lewd or lascivious molestation, prompting the state to pull scholarships from the second school, it approved yet another school this year with ties to Vidal.”

Maxwell, who writes the Sentinel‘s “Taking Names” column, was openly disgusted by the response to the series by voucher supports.

“If voucher supporters actually cared about the safety and education of these children, they wouldn’t make excuses for all the problems exposed here. They wouldn’t attack the journalists who discovered them,” Maxwell noted. “Whining that the media ignored swell schools to focus on problematic ones is like whining that the media ignore planes that fly safely to report on ones that crash.”

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After touring a voucher school with Secretary DeVos, President Trump said he wanted to expand the “great success” of Florida’s program nationwide.

Read the entire Orlando Sentinel expose on Florida’s Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and Step Up for Students, which administers most of the scholarships.


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‘It’s treachery if not treason’: Harvard’s Laurence Tribe destroys Trump’s claim he’s above the law

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Legendary constitutional law expert Laurence Tribe explained the legality of President Donald Trump's claim to be above the law during a Thursday evening appearance on MSNBC's "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell.

The host played a notorious clip of Trump.

"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters. Okay? It’s like incredible," Trump argued.

"And now he has gone beyond that," O'Donnell noted. "Now the president is sayin, 'I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and I cannot be prosecuted for that crime. Or any crime.'"

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Marine Corps unit busted planning to hold a party at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort: report

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President Donald Trump is facing yet another corruption scandal after a Marine Corps unit was caught planning to hold a party at the commander-in-chief's Mar-a-Lago resort.

"At a time when taxpayer and foreign-government spending at Trump Organization properties is fueling political battles, a U.S. Marine Corps reserve unit stationed in South Florida hopes to hold an annual ball at a venue that could profit the commander-in-chief," the Miami Herald reported Thursday.

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Internet blown away by Giuliani’s ‘pants-sh*tting panic’ freak out on CNN’s Cuomo

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Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani received harsh reviews of his Thursday evening appearance on CNN with anchor Chris Cuomo.

Many people worried about Giuliani's mental health after watching the interview.

Here is some of what people were saying about Trump's defense attorney.

https://twitter.com/RadioFreeTom/status/1174860581897199617

https://twitter.com/ananavarro/status/1174859510600613888?s=21

https://twitter.com/elise_jordan/status/1174857898800898048?s=21

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