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'Religious Freedom' and Conservative Education

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'Religious Freedom'
Utah was founded because of persecution, so it's no surprise that "religious freedom" has become a byword for our congressional delegation. The question is just whose religion they want to free, and from what. The Washington Blade reported that Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chair of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight & Government Reform, is getting ready to call a hearing on the First Amendment Defense Act, which would prevent federal action against individuals and businesses opposing same-sex marriage for religious reasons. The bill was introduced by Sen. Mike Lee. The Blade says that the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage is bombarding Congress with faxes to push a hearing on FADA. Chaffetz's support of FADA has become a campaign issue, as Stephen Tryon attempts to oust the popular congressman. "The legislation is hateful, and totally inconsistent with American values as well as Christian values," he says on his website. But Utahns are a different kind of Christian.

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Conservative Education
One of the most frightening statements to come from Gov. Gary Herbert is this: "I am asking the State Board of Education to consider implementing uniquely Utah standards." KUTV Channel 2 reported on Herbert's letter to the board seeking an end to the Common Core standards and mandatory SAGE testing for high school students. Why? Because conservatives have long been complaining about conspiratorial federal overreach, assembly-line thinking and too much testing. While it may be true that there's too much testing going on, you can also blame the state Legislature for that. But to have a common goal in education should not be a campaign issue. Herbert wants the state board to tailor education to the state's needs. Perhaps politicians should consider the needs of the students first. A good place to start would be by supporting teachers in salary and mentoring.

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Go Go GREENbike!
You can now rent a GREENbike at Trolley Square. That brings GREENbike to 33 stations and pushing east, according to Building Salt Lake's website. "GREENbike's system has grown by 400 percent since launching in 2013, with 10 bike share stations and a fleet of 55 bikes," writer Isaac Riddle says. Still, the sharable bicycles aren't of much use to the elderly or the disabled, who might be able to use tricycles instead of bikes. A recent KUER 90.1 FM report noted the problems with creating bike lanes, and a real vision for all modes of transportation. Advocates talk about a Complete Streets Approach, which would accommodate drivers, cyclists, children and wheelchair users. Salt Lake City has a ways to go.

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More by Katharine Biele

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