Saturday, January 23, 2010

Question of the Weekend: Higher Ed Reform

This week, the Tennessee General Assembly examined, at the Governor's behest, the condition of higher education in Tennessee. Legislators wrapped up the special session on education by passing a bill that would make it easier for students inside our State to transfer credits from one State university to another. In addition, the finished legislation will give incentives to those universities which actually help students to graduate and finish their college education.

Representative Stacey Campfield (R-Knoxville), one of the General Assembly's most outspoken conservatives, said on his highly publicized blog this week that "this bill actually does something," implying that the results from the higher education reform which passed will be easier to guage than last week's K-12 reform law.

The debate over higher education in Tennessee is the topic for our question of the weekend for reader comment, discussion, and debate.

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Roe No More

If Roe v. Wade is ever overturned, it isn't unreasonable to believe that Tennessee would move to restrict abortion:

Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion organizations cannot rely on either the Legislature or the public to bolster their position in Tennessee law. These groups know that Statewide, they do not have the support of public sentiment, and as a result they don't have support of the General Assembly or even (on paper) the support of the joint legislative Democratic Caucus. Hence, pro-abortion forces in Tennessee rely on the courts as their means to avoid popularly-accepted restrictions on abortion in this State.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Making Political Speech More Free

Why it is good that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down yet another portion of McCain-Feingold "campaign finance reform," and why Tennessee is preparing to make it easier to campaign:

Many of the people who seek such strong regulations and restrictions on political donations are well-intentioned. They see how money can "corrupt" the political process-which it certainly can-and they would like to see that corruption curtailed. The best way, those people presume, to limit the corrupting influence of money in politics is to limit what entities can donate money to political campaigns, and further set limits on how much money individual people may give. That sounds great in theory, but in practice the people who believe that contribution limits are the only way to keep the system clean are simply asking for more "average joes and janes" to be excluded from the political process. When government overly limits what entities can give to campaigns, it also-perhaps inadvertandly-says to someone from an ordinary middle class home "we want you to vote, but we don't want you to run." Contribution limitations make politics even more of a rich man's game than it already is.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Citizen Questions

Today's column was devoted to answering a citizen's questions about the functioning of the Tennessee General Assembly:

Those of you who are regulars (most importantly, those who are members of the General Assembly-and I know you read this column) do not laugh at Lisa, don't even chuckle. Her questions are very legitimate because she is like many Tennesseans-she has real political beliefs based on basic knowledge and a worldview, but she doesn't really know how the Hill in Nashville functions every day. I'm going to answer her questions as best I can, not only for her sake, but for all citizens who are interested to know more about how our State Legislature operates.


The Vote Heard 'Round the World

Results of the Massachusetts U.S. Senate special election between Scott Brown (R) and Martha Coakley (D). David Oatney discusses his campaign for the Tennessee Republican State Executive Committee. Fabian Story, Ken Marrero, Hatton Humphrey, Adam Graham, and Warner Todd Huston join the roundtable.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Post-Secondary Education

If the Tennessee General Assembly wants to expand educational access, they should consider all kinds of education:

The idea that every high school graduate needs to go on to college sounds like a wonderful notion, but if you saturate the market with bachelor's degrees, the very education that we are telling Tennessee kids is so necessary for their success becomes significantly devalued because so many more people will have B.A.'s. As a society and as a State, we should desire to make our colleges, universities, and community colleges more accessable to potential students who want and deserve to be there, especially those who might not otherwise be able to afford it. However, there should be some caution exercised when encouraging students to go on to college. Not every youngster is college material, and even many who are might have some talents and abilities that would lead them in another direction aside from college or university.

What about those kids?

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Lynn's Change of Heart

Rep. Susan Lynn changed her mind about the Tennessee education reform bill:

One really can't blame Susan Lynn for her change of heart. The concerns which she had about the Governor's proposal were shared even by many Republicans who ended up voting for the bill. Positive reform of our education system shouldn't be something that comes about solely because the federal government is dangling money in front of our State. However, many of the changes in our education law, such as achievement standards for teachers and students to help measure which schools are succeeding and which are not-and which teachers are better meeting their students' needs-are things that conservatives have demanded for years.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Question of the Weekend: Session Length

The Tennessee General Assembly finished its special session on education Friday. It will resume the regular session Monday, which brings us to our question of the weekend.

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