Tag Archives: Special Interest

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal delivers effective education reform

Bobby and Supriya Jindal
Bobby and Supriya Jindal

Looks like Republican governor Bobby Jindal made it into the Wall Street Journal.

Excerpt:

Governors of both parties have promoted education reform, but so far no one has delivered more than Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal. This week he’ll sign two bills that offer a national model for competition and parental choice.

Louisiana’s new laws will essentially give all parents an average of $8,500 to use for their child’s education as they see fit. They can keep their child in their local public school, but they can also try to get Johnny into a more demanding charter school, or a virtual school, or into special language or career-training courses, among other options.

Nearly 400,000 low-income children—a bit more than half of all students—will also be eligible for vouchers to attend private schools. State officials estimate that about 2,000 students will use vouchers this September given private-school capacity limits, but that tens of thousands will do so over time.

Louisiana is also making life easier for charter schools, with new authorizing boards, a fast-track for high-performing networks, and access to facilities equal to that of traditional public schools. The new laws seek to strengthen superintendents and principals over local school boards, which are bastions of bureaucratic and union intransigence.

Nearly as dramatic are reforms in teacher tenure. To earn tenure, teachers will now have to rate in the top 10% (measured in part by student performance) for five of six consecutive years, and any teacher who falls into the bottom 10% loses tenure. No teacher in the bottom 10% can get a raise, while layoffs will no longer hit the junior-most teachers first while ignoring performance.

Mr. Jindal made school reform a second-term priority after winning a landslide re-election last November. By then he had appointed or helped elect reformers to the state superintendent’s office and board of education.

Louisiana voters also had a preview of reform’s potential. Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, New Orleans schools have become almost exclusively charters—with dramatic academic improvements—and the city has run a small and oversubscribed voucher program since 2008. As for tenure, the reforms attach consequences to a teacher-evaluation system enacted in 2010.

The result: the reforms attracted bipartisan legislative majorities of roughly 60%. Over four votes (two different bills, each having to pass the House and Senate), one-quarter to one-half of Democrats voted for reform, including many black representatives, especially those from New Orleans.

Teachers unions were predictably opposed and even heavier-handed than usual. Michael Walker Jones of the Louisiana Association of Educators dismissed choice on grounds that “If I’m a parent in poverty I have no clue because I’m trying to struggle and live day to day.” Unions pushed principals to cancel school—sometimes giving parents less than 24 hours notice—so teachers could protest at the state Capitol. It was a tired act.

Mr. Jindal joins Indiana’s Mitch Daniels in passing the most far-reaching school reforms, and now they’ll have to follow through to produce better student outcomes. Unions will seize on any troubles as a sign of failure, but success might catalyze similar reforms across the country that could finally improve the life prospects for all American children.

Now is a good time to compare and contrast those reforms with the record of the Obama administration:

The Democrats worked with the teacher unions to kill voucher programs for the poorest students in Washington DC, many of them minority students.

Excerpt:

“House and Senate Appropriators this week ignored the wishes of D.C.’s mayor, D.C.’s public schools chancellor, a majority of D.C.’s city council, and more than 70 percent of D.C. residents and have mandated the slow death of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. This successful school voucher program–for D.C.’s poorest families–has allowed more than 3,300 children to attend the best schools they have ever known.

The decision to end the program, a decision buried in a thousand-page spending bill and announced right before the holidays, destroys the hopes and dreams of thousands of D.C. families. Parents and children have rallied countless times over the past year in support of reauthorization and in favor of strengthening the OSP.

Yet, despite the clearly positive results and the proven success of this program, Sen. Dick Durbin, Rep. Jose Serrano, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Secretary Arne Duncan worked together to kill the OSP. Funding the program only for existing children shrinks the program each year, compromises the federal evaluation of the program, denies entry to the siblings of existing participants, and punishes those children waiting in line by sentencing them to failing and often unsafe schools.

What is incredibly disappointing to low-income families in Washington, D.C. has been the silence of President Barack Obama. The President, who benefited from K-12 scholarships himself, worked on behalf of low-income families in Chicago, and exercises school choice as a parent, has stood silently on the sidelines while his Secretary of Education belittled the importance of helping such a small number of children in the nation’s capital.”

Another Wall Street Journal article explains why voucher programs work for children. They don’t work for teacher unions, and that’s why Democrats oppose them.

Excerpt:

In a study published last year, Patrick Wolf of the University of Arkansas found that voucher recipients had graduation rates of 91%. That’s significantly higher than the D.C. public school average (56%) and the graduation rate for students who applied for a D.C. voucher but didn’t win the lottery (70%). In testimony before a Senate subcommittee in February, Mr. Wolf said that “we can be more than 99% confident that access to school choice through the Opportunity Scholarship Program, and not mere statistical noise, was the reason why OSP students graduated at these higher rates.”

The administration downplays these findings. But the students who attend D.C. public schools are overwhelmingly black and poor, and the achievement gap has a particularly devastating impact on their communities. High school dropouts are eight times more likely than someone with a diploma to wind up behind bars. Some 60% of black male high school dropouts in their 30s have prison records. And nearly one in four young black male dropouts is in jail or juvenile detention.

Mr. Obama says he wants to help all students—not just the lucky few who receive vouchers. But that’s an argument for offering more vouchers to those in need, not for reducing school choice. Policies ought to be weighed against available alternatives, not some unattainable ideal. The alternative to a voucher for families in D.C. ghettos and elsewhere is too often a substandard public school.

The positive effects of the D.C. voucher program are not unique. A recent study of Milwaukee’s older and larger voucher program found that 94% of students who stayed in the program throughout high school graduated, versus just 75% of students in Milwaukee’s traditional public schools. And contrary to the claim that vouchers hurt public schools, the report found that students at Milwaukee public schools “are performing at somewhat higher levels as a result of competitive pressure from the school voucher program.” Thus can vouchers benefit even the children that don’t receive them.

Research gathered by Greg Forster of the Foundation for Educational Choice also calls into question the White House assertion that vouchers are ineffective. In a paper released in March, he says that “every empirical study ever conducted in Milwaukee, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Maine and Vermont finds that voucher programs in those places improved public schools.” Mr. Forster surveyed 10 empirical studies that use “random assignment, the gold standard of social science,” to assure that the groups being compared are as similar as possible. “Nine [of the 10] studies find that vouchers improve student outcomes, six that all students benefit and three that some benefit and some are not affected,” he writes. “One study finds no visible impact. None of these studies finds a negative impact.”

Such results might influence the thinking of an objective observer primarily interested in doing right by the nation’s poor children. But they are unlikely to sway a politician focused on getting re-elected with the help of teachers unions.

There is a difference between Demcorats and Republicans, and the difference is that Republicans think that children do better when their parents can choose a school that works for their child. Republicans are the evidence-based party – they do what’s right. But Democrats do whatever it takes to please their special interest groups.

Planned Parenthood loses fight for $397,000 in taxpayer-funding

Good news from Life News.

The Planned Parenthood abortion business has lost its battle to keep a $397,000 taxpayer-funded contract in Memphis, Tennessee after pro-life advocates contacted members of the county commission requesting that the grant be given to someone else.

Shelby County Health Department director Yvonne Madlock had announced in September that , after significant lobbying from pro-life advocates, Christ Community Health Services would receive the $397,000 contract with the county for family planning rather than Planned Parenthood. Then, in a 6-4 party-line vote, the Shelby County Commission decided to postpone its decision and allow Planned Parenthood more time to make its case that it should continue receiving the tax money.

Now, the Shelby County Commission voted 9-4 on Monday to give Christ Community Health Services the family planning contract instead of renewing it with Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region. However, the Memphis Commercial newspaper reportsthat the abortion business has a pending bid protest with the county government.

[…]The money comes from the Title X family planning grants states are given by the federal government and Davidson County, the location of Nashville, made the decision earlier this year to move the recipient of its funding elsewhere from the Planned Parenthood abortion business. Because Shelby County was the lone holdout, pro-life advocates focused their efforts on persuading the county government to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

So, it sounds like things are not quite settled yet. But still – good news so far.

Related posts

New House GOP bill de-funds Planned Parenthood

Rep. Denny Rehnberg
Rep. Denny Rehnberg

Story from Life News.

Excerpt:

The battle over yanking federal taxpayer funding of the Planned Parenthood abortion business is back in Congress as House Republicans have unveiled new legislation attempting to remove its Title X funding.

Republicans tried earlier this year to de-fund Planned Parenthood but Obama refused overtures from pro-life Speaker John Boehner to do so when Republicans and Democrats were working on ironing out legislation to fund the federal government. Obama eventually agreed to a compromise that allowed both the House and Senate to vote on a stand-alone bill de-funding Planned Parenthood and, while House Republicans approved their measure, Senate Democrats defeated it in the upper chamber.

[…]Now, Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana, the chairman of the House Labor, Health, and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee has introduced new legislation to fund the federal government that prohibits any funds going to Planned Parenthood unless the organization stops doing abortions.

“This bill is the result of the cumulative effort of members of the Subcommittee, and Americans I heard from at 81 listening sessions and in countless meetings in Washington and in Montana.  Now, it’s posted online for the only test that matters, and that’s the approval of the American people,” Rehberg said.

Naturally, the head abortionist is outraged – someone is taking away her dollars!

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards issued a statement last week condemning the legislation.

“Eliminating funding for the Title X family planning program and prohibiting Planned Parenthood from providing preventive health care through federal programs will result in millions of women across the country losing access to basic primary and preventive health care,” Richards said.

The new bill also came under attack from both pro-abortion organizations and pro-abortion lawmakers.

“Another health-related provision prohibits any funding under the bill from going to any Planned Parenthood affiliate unless the organization promises not to perform abortions with non-federal funds,” Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, a pro-abortion Connecticut Democrat and a member of the subcommittee, groused. “The main effect would probably be to prohibit Medicaid patients from choosing to receive services such as contraception and cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood clinics.”

I listed Planned Parenthood AND the Democrats as being interested in the dollars. It’s a vicious circle. Planned Parenthood gets the dollars to kill the babies, and then they make campaign contributions to the Democrats who give them the taxpayer money. It’s all about the money. They kill babies for money. It’s a big business, and we subsidize it with our taxes.

Hon. Maurice Vellacott
Hon. Maurice Vellacott

And even in Canada, some Canadian conservatives are trying to push to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

Excerpt:

Two more Tory MPs are taking swipes at the International Planned Parenthood Foundation.

One claims the group conned the government when it applied for and got a federal grant of $6 million over three years.

Another is linking it to the sinister and long-discredited science of eugenics.

Saskatchewan MP Maurice Vellacott says the federation was deceitful in claiming that the money would only go to countries where abortion is illegal.

Alberta MP Leon Benoit wants to condemn the foundation over an award named for Margaret Sanger.

Sanger was a pioneer in planned parenthood who embraced a type of eugenics.

Saskatoon MP Brad Trost started the ball rolling earlier this week with a web post condemning the decision to fund the international family-planning group.

While the Prime Minister’s Office is adamant that abortion is not an issue for the Conservative government, it still seems to be a touchy subject for backbenchers.

The Planned Parenthood grant is a case in point.

Trost said in his web post that the government’s claim that the money would be used in countries that bar abortion is “hair-splitting.”

Vellacott said the federation is “trying to dupe” the government over abortion.

“Even in those countries where abortion is technically illegal, it’s naive to think that Canadian tax dollars are not being used to promote abortion,” he said in a news release.

Maurice Vellacott is my favorite Canadian MP. He is the Canadian-equivalent to Iain Duncan-Smith in the UK. And don’t think these guys aren’t good on fiscal issues – they are. They just are also good at social issues, which should go together anyway.

Related posts on Planned Parenthood

Guttmacher Institute: states enact record number of abortion restrictions

Enacted Abortion Restrictions By Year
Enacted Abortion Restrictions By Year

Great news from the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-abortion think tank. (H/T John from Truth in Religion & Politics)

Excerpt:

In the first six months of 2011, states enacted 162 new provisions related to reproductive health and rights. Fully 49% of these new laws seek to restrict access to abortion services, a sharp increase from 2010, when 26% of new laws restricted abortion. The 80 abortion restrictions enacted this year are more than double the previous record of 34 abortion restrictions enacted in 2005—and more than triple the 23 enacted in 2010. All of these new provisions were enacted in just 19 states.

The post breaks down the pro-life measures by category:

  • Counseling and waiting periods
  • Gestational bans
  • “Heartbeat” bill
  • Banning abortion coverage in new insurance exchanges
  • Medication abortion
  • Cuts to abortion subsidies

All of these bills were supported by Republicans, and opposed by Democrats.

Elections have consequences. We elected a massive number of Republicans in 2010, and now we are seeing the results of that effort. I could not be more proud of the Republicans who voted in these measures to protect the unborn.

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NY state public schools spend the most money but get lousy results

Eastern United States Map
Eastern United States Map

From the New York Post. (H/T Jammie Wearing Fool)

Excerpt:

New York state’s school systems deserve an F — in financial accountability.

State taxpayers spend substantially more money on education than any other state in the nation but get far less in return on their investment, according to a shocking new federal study released yesterday.

New York schools on average spent $18,126 per student in the 2008-2009 school year — tops in the nation, the Census Bureau reports.

That’s nearly $2,000 more than the $16,271 spent in neighboring New Jersey and 80 percent higher than the national average of $10,499.

But the Empire State’s four-year high-school graduation rate of 73.5 percent ranked a lowly 39th in the nation, two points below the national average, according to a separate analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics.

By comparison, Massachusetts — which spends $4,000 less per student — has an 83 percent graduation rate.

New York has doubled its per-student spending over 10 years. For five consecutive years the state has spent the most per student in the nation.

[…]One main reason for New York’s sky-high spending is it pays its teachers significantly more in salaries and benefits than any other state.

New York spent $12,524 per student to cover instructional salaries and benefits, nearly double the national average of $6,369. Even New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts spent $3,000 less per student than New York did on teacher pay and benefits.

Teacher unions are one of the main Democrat special interest groups. Teacher unions oppose being held accountable by parents. They don’t want to have their pay and benefits be conditional on producing quality educations for children. They just want to be able to collect exorbitant salaries and benefits while they indoctrinate your children with leftist politics and liberal values. They don’t care what parents want, and they don’t care about whether your children learn anything that will allow them to achieve independence and prosperity.

Must-see videos on education policy

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