Category Archives: News

Bobby Jindal pushes education reform in Lousiana

Governor Jindal speaks about budget reform
Governor Jindal speaks about budget reform

Last year, my favorite Governor, Bobby Jindal, passed several laws to address discipline problems in the schools. One bill’s goal was to re-establish discipline in classrooms by empowering teachers. Another bill sought to protect teachers from frivolous lawsuits. A third toughens penalties for students who are absent or tardy. That was a great start, especially since it was miles away from the typical teacher union plan to spend more money without any guarantee of better student achievement.

But he goes even further here, in a post dated 2/17/2009. First, he expands the laws governing discipline in the classroom even further.

We will give teachers more authority to remove students from the classroom for unruly behavior, require that parents be notified when their child is removed, and administrators will have to give their teachers feedback and management skills to help them work with misbehaving students.

Additional plans to increase discipline include requiring that suspended students make up missed work, permitting courts to help our schools hold parents accountable for attending mandatory intervention programs with their kids, and to allow schools to work with the courts to enforce truancy penalties. These steps will ensure that not only teachers and administrators will be taking a more active role in discipline – parents will be held accountable as well.

He also proposes to strengthen charter schools.

…we will require that our public elementary and secondary education boards use a high-quality third party review process for approving charter school applications. By ensuring that all applications are measured by the same high-quality standards, we can make certain that only the best applications are approved.

The regulation of charter schools is OK because as I understand it, charter schools are public schools. And lastly, he proposes something that the teacher unions and children will hate, but that parents and taxpayers will love: teacher and student evaluation criteria.

…we will work to implement a comprehensive value-added assessment model, which will aid our schools in better determining teacher effectiveness and student improvement. Our state has completed nationally recognized research, which was recently praised by the National Council on Teacher Quality, dealing with the use of value-added data well-positions in teacher preparation programs to improve our current system. This model takes student achievement into account, which better informs our parents, teachers, and kids on the progress our students are making.

The article also mentions a dropout prevention program that is coming out soon. The press release goes on to discuss budget reforms and coastal infrastructure. He proposes web sites to make budget expenditures transparent to the taxpayers, as well as subjecting all spending to accountability standards.

Bobby Jindal, along with Mark Sanford in South Carolina, are my two favorite governors. Being a person of color myself, it is a real joy for me to see an Indian-American man universally regarded as the savior of the Republican party. In the Republican primaries of 2008, I favored Fred Thompson, because he had good ideas. But Jindal is a policy genius. And at 38 years old, he has youth, charisma and passion. What we need in the Republican party are compelling ideas, and people who are willing to debate with our opponents in order to convince them.

To find out more about Bobby Jindal, check out these links:

Interview with Michael Medved (audio, 25 minutes)
Interview with Rush Limbaugh (PDF)
The American Spectator: Hope Floats on the Bayou
RedState.com: Bobby Jindal Saves Louisiana
Townhall.com: The Future of Conservatism (Isn’t Running for President)
The Weekly Standard: Jindal All the Way
The National Review: The Governor Is Right
The Wall Street Journal: Bayou Boy Wonder
Townhall.com: Want real hope and change? Try Louisiana

William Lane Craig Ontario debate videos (York, Toronto, Waterloo)

Video and audio from William Lane Craig’s January 2009 speaking/debate tour in Ontario, Canada are here.

1. DOES GOD EXIST?
VIDEO: William Lane Craig vs Ronald De Sousa at York University (DivX Video File)

I watched this one and this was a lively debate, with cross-examination. I recommend this one, De Sousa is fully engaged in the debate. They’ve debated before. He really bears his burden of proof and doesn’t give an inch. He makes a lot of emotional denunciations, like “Christians are mean” and “the Bible is mean”. He proposed the unobservable multiverse to explain the fine-tuning. Is this what atheism has come to? Belief in fairies in order to weasel out of the progress of science?

He argues that the laws of physics, (math formulas that describe physical regularities), caused the entire physical universe to come into being. He argues that morality is what most people do in particular times and places, and Craig nails that. I found it silly to argue that morality is what people decide, yet God is expected to conform to this changing standard or he’s evil. I blogged about that problem here. De Sousa’s problem of evil argument is pretty vague. This is a solid engagement!

2. DOES GOD EXIST?
AUDIO: William Lane Craig vs James Robert Brown at the University of Toronto
Part 1 (welcome) Part 2 (Intro) Part 3 (Debate 1) Part 4 (Debate 2) Part 5 (Q&A)

They’ve known each other for a while and debated before. I just listened to the first two speeches and it sounds lame. Brown is a good speaker, but he talks about arguments that Craig never raises, like Aristotle’s prime mover and Behe’s irreducible complexity. He also started out with the genetic fallacy about how beliefs originate. His speech is really disorganized, flipping between snark and argument. He also proposed the unobservable multiverse to explain the fine-tuning. Sigh.

He believes in objectively morality, but he believes that there is no purpose in life, (no reason to follow the moral rules beyond personal satisfaction). He tried to argue the problem of evil, but it was not rigorous. Too much snark about Greek gods and flat earths. Atheists seem to think that the high number of false religions somehow disproves the claim of Christianity to be correct. There are lots of wrong answers to math questions – how does this undermine the correct answer? Because it hurts the other people’s feelings? WHO CARES!

3. DOES GOD MATTER?
VIDEO: William Lane Craig vs Christopher Dicarlo at University of Waterloo (Video)
(Or, watch it in 14 Youtube clips, starting here).

This is a pretty lame debate. Dicarlo is completely out of his element and has probably never debated a Christian scholar in his life. I don’t recommend this debate. I found him to be as uninformed as he was insulting.

I also posted video of Bill Craig’s appearance on the Michael Coren TV show, here. Bill’s latest newsletter talks a bit about his upcoming Quebec tour in February 2009:

Next week I’ll be back in Canada, this time in the even colder climes of Quebec. I have a debate on Jesus’ resurrection scheduled with the Muslim apologist Shabir Ally at McGill University on February 11, sandwiched between lectures I’ll give in French at L’Université Laval and L’Université de Montréal on February 10 and 12 on “Dieu Existe-t-il?” As always we appreciate your prayers!

By the way, I mailed my annual donation for Bill’s ministry today. If you like what Bill does, be sure and stop by his Reasonable Faith web site and leave him a contribution. You want to participate in the work of this fine defender of Christianity. If you can’t spare the money, then please pray for Bill.

Porkulus bill reverses welfare reform and nationalizes health care

This post is just a quick summary of what the spendulus bill actually does. The Heritage Foundation notes that the bill reverses welfare reform, threatens religious liberty and effectively federalizes health care.

Against the recommendations of the Congressional Budget Office, he will sign this bill. Despite returning the nation to a sea of dependency by completely reversing President Clinton’s welfare reform in 1996, he will sign this bill. Despite the threat to religious freedom cleverly disguised in the small print, he will sign this bill. Standing steps from the federal agencies he plans on doubling in size through cherry-picked liberal programs, he will sign this bill. Using an economic emergency to shield the liberal goal of federalizing your health care, he will sign this bill. And despite the overwhelming majority of Americans in poll after poll saying ‘no’ to this bill, he will say ‘yes’.

The National Review has more on the reversal of the welfare reform, which was passed by Newt Gingrich and signed by Clinton. Porkulus actually makes the welfare problem worse than before 1996.

Under the provisions in the stimulus bill, states will once again be paid a bounty for expanding their welfare rolls. As reported by Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, the federal government will now pay states 80 percent of the cost for each new family they sign up for welfare. That means that states will get $4 for every $1 they spend. This will leave the main welfare program, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), with a funding mechanism similar to the one that supports Medicaid. As Brian Blase argues here, Medicaid’s funding ratio, which gives states $1 to $3 for every dollar they spend, has caused state Medicaid spending to skyrocket. If Medicaid’s dollar-for-dollar model has proved ruinous, Obama’s new $4-to-$1 ratio for welfare will prove, in all likelihood, four times so.

The Cato Institute’s blog explains how porkulus will balloon the budget deficit, and also how it is full of pork. According to the Tax Foundation’s Joseph Henchman, only about 24% of the bill is “tax cuts”, and not the good kind. Arnold Kling, speaking at a Heritage Foundation/Club for Growth event, argues that the right thing to do would have been to cut payroll taxes. Cutting payroll taxes would stimulate the economy. The Competitive Enterprise Institute notes that Cato assembled 200 economists who opposed the Generational Theft Act. CEI also notes that our current national debt is 11 trillion and that we owe 451 billion in interest per year, before porkulus even passes.

CNS News reports that the Generational Theft Act was passed without a single Republican or Democrat in the House or Senate reading it.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) predicted on Thursday that none of his Senate colleagues would “have the chance” to read the entire final version of the $790-billion stimulus bill before the bill comes up for a final vote in Congress.

“No, I don’t think anyone will have the chance to [read the entire bill],” Lautenberg told CNSNews.com.

Or, if you like video, you can see John Boehner’s disgust with the hiddenness of spendulus here. So much for “transparency”. The Democrats also broke their promise to allow the public to see the final version of the bill for 48 hours, before it was voted on. I highly recommend watching this 1 minute clip. At least the Republicans in the House did not provide cover to Obama. He will own the mess he created. Too bad the Democrats aren’t owning Clinton’s Community Reinvestment Act, which caused a lot of this sub-prime lending mess in the first place.

For details on what pork is actually in the porkulus bill, check out Tom Coburn’s list. (This may not reflect the last minute copy from Friday).