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Rural Charter Focuses on Patriotism, Sparking Political Questions

On the eve of America's Independence Day during a presidential election year, this story about one rural Idaho charter school seemed appropriate for sharing.

North Valley Academy Charter School in Gooding, Idaho, might take the top prize in a competition for most patriotic, but its focus on individual freedoms and free market capitalism has raised questions among some about its politics.

The K-12 public charter school, with about 250 students, is one of a number of charters across the country with this kind of theme, an apparent response to a dearth of lessons in traditional public schools on the importance of the nation's free market system, according to a Fox News story.

The school's founder, Debra Infanger, is planning a second, similar school in Idaho Falls, and it's being supported by Frank VanderSloot, who is one of the national campaign finance co-chairs for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Infanger said in the story the school doesn't have any political aim, but one expert quoted said charter schools "invite scrutiny when they focus on concepts that may be viewed as political."

The story described some of the ways the school incorporated its patriotic theme. Students wear red, white, and blue uniforms. They sing songs such as "Proud to be an American" or "God Bless America" every day. They take a citizenship test as 8th graders, and they held a "We Love America" open house.

What do you think? Either way, hope you have a Happy 4th of July!

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