News shorts from around the country

Legislative trend may attract educational grants
EP News
More states are adopting teacher evaluation reform in an effort to get a second chance at the federal government’s Race to the Top educational grants. The legislative trend ties teacher tenure and pay to overall student performance. Louisiana is one of the most recent states to take action, approving a value added assessment for teachers. State Rep. Frank Hoffmann said that reform is indeed a positive step. “The concept stands by itself,” he said, “whether we had Race to the Top available or not,” he said. Matt Brouillette, president and CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives, stated that it’s good to hold teachers to a higher standard.
According to Brouillette, “this is the kind of accountability that our public education system severely needs.”

School bailout criticized as gift to unions
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The Obama administration is seeking $23 billion in “emergency” funding for public schools, but conservative lawmakers say it’s merely a bailout for the teachers’ unions. The Keep Our Educators Working Act would purportedly save teacher jobs, retain funding for programs like summer school, and aims to generally bail out the public school system. Education Secretary Arne Duncan told Fox News that if the bill is not enacted, “millions” of school kids would be affected. “This is a bipartisan issue – Current Events and ideology, around education, we have to put to the side,” he said. But Republicans call the measure a gift to the teachers’ unions. Lindsey Burke, education analyst for the Heritage Foundation, said, “more federal funding is not going to solve states’ fiscal problems and could in fact exacerbate those problems by really preventing states from making the difficult budgetary decisions necessary to reduce costs and affect long-term systematic education reform.”

Good News November elections see flood of candidates
EP News
According to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), thousands of people are throwing their hats in the ring for the upcoming midterm election. The FEC says more than 2,300 people will vie for 471 House and Senate seats, which is the most candidates in the last 35 years.
Frustration with the Obama administration, the popular Tea Party movement, and a general anti-incumbent sentiment may be at the heart of the increase. Bruce Ray Riggs, a candidate for the Florida Senate, said he favors giving the states more powers. “I had to sell my four-wheeler to pay [the filing fee], and I did,” he said.  “It’s worth it.  [Congress] has railroaded the American people.”

DeMint to force vote on supplemental to finish the fence
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U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) announced in late May that he will seek a vote on his amendment to the supplemental appropriations bill to require the completion of 700 miles of double-layer physical fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border within one year. The amendment is cosponsored by U.S. Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), David Vitter (R-La.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.). Democrats have already twice blocked Senator DeMint’s amendment to finish the border fence from receiving a vote. To ensure a vote on this critical issue, Senator DeMint will now move to suspend the rules of the Senate to allow passage of the border fence amendment, which will require 67 votes for passage. DeMint’s amendment was already approved last year by the Senate in a bipartisan 54-44 vote, with 21 Democrats joining 33 Republicans in support of the measure. However, Democrat leaders gutted the amendment behind closed doors after “the Obama administration had opposed rapid expansion of the fence.”

Planned Parenthood wants more telemed abortions
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Planned Parenthood has revealed a planned five year expansion of its “Telemed” abortion process to clinics across the country. The process allows a woman to obtain abortion pills via teleconferencing, without an actual physical exam. Derrick Jones, spokesperson for National Right to Life, said that while the “Telemed” drug has been touted as a ‘be-all, end-all’ drug for women to have an abortion, it’s anything but safe. “It’s a multi-pill, multi-stage process,” he said; “and it does have enormous physical risks.”

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