Posts Tagged ‘Tennessee’

Education reform … working in Tennessee

Ron Ramsey

Ron Ramsey

Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is now a featured author at FAB!  (OK, he just blasted out this e-mail, but what the heck.)

Boldness in Education Policy is the Only Answer
by Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey

When I first arrived in the state Senate in 1996, Republicans were in the minority. That fact didn’t bother me in the least. I’ve embraced challenges all my life. So when I got to the Senate, my primary goal was to build a conservative majority in the state Senate.

The guardians of the status quo had other ideas. Democrats, of course, pushed back against us. But even those on “my side” warned that talk of a GOP majority was “dangerous” and that I shouldn’t upset the apple cart.

It took a lot of hard work, but today we have not only a majority in the Senate but also a supermajority in both houses of the General Assembly.

Our road to a conservative majority comes to mind often when I am engaged in battles on education policy in Tennessee. The guardians of the status quo, it seems, are everywhere.

While our state is featured frequently at the top of various “best of” lists, there is one area in which Tennessee has historically lagged behind: education. We have ranked near the bottom of states by various different metrics. When Republicans finally got our majorities and captured the governor’s mansion, we moved quickly and deliberately to change that history. And we have.

We abolished the teachers union monopoly on collective bargaining so that teachers, not union representatives, have a voice and a seat at the table. We made test scores part of teacher evaluations so that our best teachers can be rewarded for their hard work. And parents now have more choices in education thanks to our expansion of the state’s charter school law. Most importantly, we have ended the tenure entitlement for teachers.

Results have been encouraging. Already, our schools have posted three consecutive years of gains on state assessments in all areas. Nearly 150,000 more students are proficient or advanced in elementary and middle school math and science than in 2010. And we are one of only two states making double-digit gains in high school graduation rates.

None of this could have been done without the outstanding education reform team we have in place. One member of that team has drawn the ire of the enemies of innovation and the defenders of the status quo.

Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman has been under fire for advocating a new salary schedule for teachers which, for the first time, would reward our very best or highest-need teachers with truly competitive pay. No longer would low-performing teachers receive higher salaries and benefits just for punching a clock. To the old education establishment, this is a revolutionary concept. To most people, this is just common sense.

I find it amazing that just because Commissioner Huffman stands up to special interests to create a better Tennessee for our school children, he gets pilloried.

Opponents can claim that teacher pay will be cut, but the truth is just the opposite. Gov. Bill Haslam and the General Assembly have added $130 million for teacher salaries over the past three years, compared with $22 million over Gov. Phil Bredesen’s last term.

Tennessee is changing the game when it comes to education — and change is not easy. The inertia of the status quo is strong. This “Race to the Top” is not a sprint; it is a marathon.

Fortunately, we Republicans are not immune to hard work. We thrive on it. I’m proud of our governor, our Republican legislators and especially our education commissioner for being willing to battle complacency and strive to do better.

This is about our children. It is about their future and the future of our great state. Boldness in education policy is not just one option among many. It is the only option.

Originally published in the July 20, 2013 edition of the Nashville Tennessean newspaper

Tennessee, just say NO to ObamaCare – RALLY IN NASHVILLE!

Just Say NO Rally, Dec 5, 12:00 Noon, Tennessee State Captiol

Just Say NO to ObamaCare Rally, Wednesday, Dec 5, 12:00 Noon, Tennessee State Captiol

Your help is needed to stop an ObamaCare State Exchange in TN.  From the Nashville Tea Party:

Governor Haslam must make a decision by December 14, and reports indicate he is still undecided.  Please Join Nashville Tea Party and many other groups to raise our voices together and petition the Governor to Just Say NO to an ObamaCare State Exchange.  We will have a petition for you to sign at the Rally.  Please join us.  Here is a map link.  We will rally on the east side of the Tennessee State Capitol Building at 12:oo Noon on Wednesday, December 5.

When ObamaCare becomes the debacle that we believe is inevitable, we cannot allow ourselves to be in the position of taking the blame.  If Republicans become the face of ObamaCare in Tennessee, we will be blamed.  We cannot allow that to happen.  Please do the following:

  1. Call Governor Haslam’s office: (615) 741-2001
  2. Contact Governor Haslam through his website: http://www.tn.gov/help/.  Under “Choose a Topic”, select “MESSAGE TO GOV. HASLAM,” then type your message.
  3. E-mail Governor Haslam at bill.haslam@tn.gov.
  4. Attend this rally on December 5.

More from the Cato Institute:

  1. ObamaCare is Still Vulnerable
  2. ObamaCare: The Road to Repeal Starts in the States
  3. No ObamaCare Exchanges

Armageddon for Tennessee? Neanderthals still waiting!

States with no state income tax

States with no state income tax.

Frank Cagle has a great column in the Metro Pulse commemorating the 10-year anniversary of Tennessee’s most recent defeat of the state income tax.  Cagle writes:

… someone ought to mark the occasion when almost the entire state political establishment, academia, and virtually all editorial writers were impatiently explaining to us Neanderthals that unless we passed a state income tax, the state was headed for financial collapse.

We were confidently told by University of Tennessee economists that the state tax structure could not support state government.


The income tax bill came to the House floor and was defeated.

Surely Armageddon would ensue.

Tennessee, 10 years on, has a current budget surplus of $600 million. The Legislature this past session eliminated the inheritance tax, the gift tax, and cut the rate of the sales tax on food. This year K-12 was fully funded and funds for higher education were increased. There will be an effort next year to eliminate the Hall income tax for those over 65, and possibly eliminate it altogether.

Name another state during this bad recession that has cut taxes. Around the country, state governments are in crisis. California cities are going bankrupt. Taxes are being raised to cover budget shortfalls.

When Tennessee state government was “starved for revenue” in 2002, the state budget was $20 billion. This coming year the budget is $31 billion.

Entire column here.

Obama gives $395K to Tennessee abortion mill, yet taxpayers are too stingy

Abortion at 10 weeks

We send money to Washington; this is what they do with it. (Photo shows abortion at 10 weeks.)

LifeNews.com has reported that the Obama administration has sent a family planning grant of $395,000 to a Planned Parenthood abortion business in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Story here.)

In a related story, we constantly hear that we have a humougous federal deficit because the working people who create wealth in this country are too stingy and won’t send enough of their money to Washington.  That money is needed in Washington, they say, so the political class can claim to be compassionate to America’s poor people.  (They love to be compassionate with somebody else’s money.)

Anyway, as long as they take our money and give it to baby-killers, their faux compassion for America’s poor will remain unconvincing, to say the least.

Abortion in Tennessee: Extensive series in the Nashville Tennessean

Welcome to Tennessee Abortion Capital of the Southeast

Welcome to Tennessee, Abortion Capital of the Southeast

The Nashville Tennessean has published an extensive series on abortion in Tennessee.  Did they get it right?  Please comment below!  Here are the links:

Abortion in Tennessee

The Debate

The People

The Data

Sex Education Reform in Tennessee … stunning video

Tennessee Rep John J DeBerry Jr D-Memphis

Tennessee Rep. John J. DeBerry, Jr., D-Memphis

From the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA):

On Friday, May 11, Governor Bill Haslam signed the new Tennessee sex education bill (SB 3310) into law. The bill was initiated in large part due to parental outrage over explicit sex education taught in Nashville schools. The new law sets a standard for other states to follow.  It places a clear priority on sexual risk avoidance abstinence education. The law also puts provisions in place that will prohibit explicit sex education from being implemented in classrooms  – a first for any state. It also empowers parents to protect their children from harmful sex education through their right to pursue legal options should a school ignore the protective provisions of the law.

The sex education bill received broad bipartisan support in the Legislature. Tennessee Legislator, Rep. John DeBerry (D-Memphis) earned an enthusiastic standing ovation for his straight talking defense of the bill which  encourages youth to choose healthy behaviors.

Read the story on “gateway sexual behavior” here.  Be sure to read the entire story.  Opponents tried to lampoon the bill, saying it banned hugging and holding hands, but Rep. DeBerry (D-Memphis) stood up to set the record straight.  Watch Rep. DeBerry’s speech in the Tennessee Legislature here:


The Future of Abortion in Tennessee

David Fowler of the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT)

David Fowler, President, Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT)

David Fowler, President of the Family Action Council of Tennessee (FACT), explains to a group of pastors how Tennessee’s lack of sane restrictions on abortion condemn thousands of babies a year to death, and lays out the battle that lies ahead as the pro-life community works to pass a constitutional amendment in 2014 that would make those sane restrictions possible once again.

This is an excerpt from David Fowler’s speech at Family Research Council’s Watchmen on the Wall pastor’s briefing in Nashville, Tennessee on February 16, 2012.


GAP returns to U of Tennessee at Knoxville

Dialoge with pro-abortion student.  I got the shade; I was there first.

Dialogue with pro-abortion student. (I got the shade; I was there first.)

This is our 8th day of GAP in the last 3 weeks.  If you count our Pro Life Training Academy, travel, and prep work, it’s my 16th day of hard labor in 19 days.  By hard labor I mean up at 6:00 am and to bed at midnight or later on GAP days … with only slightly more sleep on the other days.  There would be 3 more days after this one.

But God is good.  He knew that we were all tired.  He didn’t test us.  After we got the exhibit set up, I propped myself up on a wall underneath a shade tree, right near the poll table.  They would have to come to me.

At the poll table, students answer the question, “Should abortion remain legal?”  A “no” response means pro-life; we sign them up for the Pro Life Collegians.  A “yes” response means pro-abortion; we initiate dialogue with the goal of helping them rethink their position.  For most of the day, I just quietly asked the “yes” responders, one at a time, “May I ask why you responded that way?”  If they answer, we’re off to the races.

For a nice change of pace, God didn’t send any combative people over to the table this day.  The combative types can offer awesome opportunities, especially if they draw a crowd.  But they are rarely thoughtful and it is hard work to be reasonable with somebody who is unreasonable.  I just wasn’t up to it.

So God sent to me (and all the rest of us) a steady stream of people who were willing to have civil discourse.  He also sent a number of pro-lifers who gave us encouragement.  It was very different from most GAPs, including most GAPs at UT.

Of course, a few passersby gave us the “flying buzzard” as they rushed on past, but the drive-by’s can be easily ignored.  We should aways remember that such people are often facing struggles that we probably can’t imagine.  We should also remember that God loves each and every one of them, too.  But God would have had a hard time loving them through us on this day.  The civil ones got all we had to give.

Day 2 of GAP at UT Chattanooga

No one wants to see that

UTC student Madi Rose Taff stating the obvious. Nobody want's to see pictures of violence. But even fewer people want to be tortured to death.

Day 2 at UT Chattanooga (UTC) was another awesome day of GAP.  Come to think of it, I’ve participated in perhaps 150 days of GAP, and every single one of them was awesome.  Maybe that’s why we want to do even more of it.

It was another hot, hot day at UTC.  Before this week would be over, the heat would take it’s toll.  In fact, I’m typing this a full 2 weeks later, and my body hasn’t fully recovered, yet.  Please pray for healing and recovery.

We were greeted by protesters, which is always a plus.  They attracted the newspaper to come and do a story on our project.  The pro-aborts really don’t know what to do about us.  If they don’t respond at all, then we dominate the landscape.  If they do respond, they look silly.

For example, this group didn’t try to argue that abortion is OK.  No they took a very nuanced view of the First Amendment:

  1. Free speech is important and should be protected.
  2. We shouldn’t be allowed to show abortion pictures because it made them uncomfortable.

Oooohhhh kay.

One guy, who was not even pro-life, came by to protest the protesters.  He was there on behalf of the First Amendment.  Like we always say, “GAP is like a box of chock-lits; ya neva know WATT your gonna gay-et.”

UTC students study the pictures.

UTC students study the GAP pictures in front of the library.

Shocking statement by Sen. Bob Corker

Sen. Bob Corker

Sen. Bob Corker

Did you hear what our Senator Corker said on TV this morning.  It was one of the most astonishing things I had ever heard any legislator say.

He was asked, “So, you’ll vote yes for it, right?”  His stunning response:

I would like to at least read the 70 pages [before I decide how to vote].

We are not making this up.  See for yourself … click here.  We thought you were supposed to pass a bill before you can find out what’s in it!

Planned Parenthood stripped of federal funding in Tennessee

Killing babies no longer funded with taxpayer dollars in Tennessee.

Killing babies no longer funded with taxpayer dollars in Tennessee.

Apparently, Planned Parenthood has been stripped of its federal funding in Tennessee.  Click here for the story.

Statement by Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey here.

This is a continuation of story here.

TRL: Gov. Haslam can stop Planned Parenthood funds

Brian Harris, President of Tennessee Right to Life

Brian Harris, President of Tennessee Right to Life

From LifeNews.com:

Tennessee Right to Life continues to press Governor Bill Haslam to take steps to yank the taxpayer funding the Planned Parenthood abortion business receives from the state.


“As much as 55% of certain Planned Parenthood salaries are funded through contracts with the Tennessee Department of Health, said [Tennessee Right to Life President Brian] Harris. “These same employees  spend at least part of every work day promoting and/or participating in abortions at Planned Parenthood … no tax payer should be forced to subsidize the salary of any organization’s employees that participate in the harming of women and the killing of helpless unborn children.

Full story here.

Background story here.

Gov. Haslam’s statement here.

Gov. Haslam on funding for Planned Parenthood

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam

Apparently, the effort to keep Tennessee from funding the abortion industry is not yet complete.  I don’t really understand the details.  Last week, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Speaker of the House Beth Harwell issued this press release:

The confusion surrounding the language in the budget regarding Planned Parenthood has been unfortunate. The Office of Legal Services advised House and Senate leadership that it is unconstitutional to amend general law through the appropriations bill (Article II, Section 17), an interpretation which would have put the entire budget document in jeopardy. It was not our intent to allow funding for Planned Parenthood. Our majority in the General Assembly clearly meant to defund them. We are currently working with pro-life activists to resolve this issue with legislation and we will put it to rest immediately upon the legislature’s return in January.

Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey and Speaker Beth Harwell

 CBR supporter Danny Bullington wrote Gov. Haslam and received this reply:

June 3, 2011

Dear Danny:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns about Planned Parenthood. Listening to and learning from Tennesseans is very important to me, and I am committed to better understanding your concerns.

I am pro-life. I believe in the sanctity of every human life from the moment of conception. I am committed to protecting our traditional values, especially the rights of the unborn, and as Governor I am working to protect those rights.

No state tax dollars go to Planned Parenthood in the budget passed by the legislature this year. The current issue surrounds federal money passing through the state. I do have a line-item veto to reduce or disapprove a sum of money, but removing legal language – which is at the heart of this matter – would require the budget to be re-approved by the legislature, which has already gone out of session.

I am against tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood, and I am disappointed that the circumstances surrounding the state budget do not allow us to prevent this from happening this year. But I am already working with Lt. Gov. Ramsey and Speaker Harwell to ensure that taxpayer dollars do not go to Planned Parenthood in future budgets.

Again, thank you for contacting my office with your concerns, I look forward to working with you and all Tennesseans to make our state an even better place to live, work, and raise a family.

Warmest regards,
Bill Haslam

So, that’s all I’ve got.  But if you need more, try Google; they’ve got a search motor that’s catching on real big.  (Seriously, I think they’re going to make a go of it!)

Pro life legislation not a step in the right direction?



As Tennessee Right to Life and pro-lifers in Tennessee (including myself) were celebrating the victories won in the most recent Legislature, some in our movement were saying, “Wait a minute; not so fast!”

Many people, notably those involved in a number of Personhood campaigns all over the country, believe that laws restricting abortion actually help to enshrine abortion in the law.  Or that it has the effect of legitimizing abortion by implying it is acceptable as long as it is properly regulated.

J.D. Ellis, Tennessee Vice-Chairman of the America’s Independent Party (AIP) articulated the views of many:

… according to Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, the purpose behind SJR 127 is to, “restore common sense restrictions” on abortion, such as a 48-hour waiting period, parental consent, and a requirement that abortions be performed in a hospital after the second trimester. In other words, our “pro-life” leaders want to use this amendment to enact laws defining the conditions under which the murder of unborn children will be accepted. Is this a truly pro-life position? Does this really acknowledge the personhood, and equality under the law, of the unborn? What other group of living human beings would we treat this way?

After World War II, should America have demanded that Germany “restore common sense restrictions” on the murder of Jews? Would we permit the killing of, say, high school teachers, as long as the murderer first waited 48 hours? Or how about the murder of blondes, provided the murder was committed at a hospital? Or the slaughter of 5-year-olds, so long as we first notified the victims’ grandparents? “Common sense restrictions”? On murder? No, when we really view the unborn as persons, and abortion as murder, then such regulations are not “common sense”, but complete nonsense!

Aside from all this, the supporters of SJR 127 also seem to lack the foresight to perceive what would happen next time the Democrats regain control under a Constitution that gives them the power to “enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion”. This amendment would give a Democrat-controlled General Assembly the power to make abortion on demand completely legal in Tennessee, with absolutely no restrictions. Some “pro-life” amendment this is!

What do you think?  Is Mr. Ellis right or wrong to oppose these measures?

For more information on Personhood, click here and/or here.  One of our favorite people in the whole pro-life movement is Dan Becker, President of Georgia Right to Life and a leader in the Personhood movement.  Order his new book Personhood here or here.

Here’s the FAB view.  We will never change public policy unless and until we change public opinion.  And we will never change public opinion until we show people pictures of abortion, because only pictures will make people see that (1) the preborn child is really a baby, even in the first trimester of pregnancy, and (2) abortion is a horrifying act of violence.

Unless and until we show large numbers of voters the truth, then we will never win the legislative battle to change the laws, neither by the Legislature nor by passing Personhood amendments at the state level.

Having said that, we believe there is value in both protective legislation and in Personhood, and we pledge to do whatever we can to support both.

Legislation now saves babies now.  We rejoice over each life saved.  If a building is burning and 100 people are trapped inside, shouldn’t we save 10, 20, or 50, even if that’s all we can do?  And didn’t the abolition of slavery begin with restrictions on the practice?  To win those legislative battles, we must display abortion pictures so that voters can know what abortion is and does.  Even small changes in voting behavior will have a huge impact on the makeup of our legislative bodies.

Speaking of education, many in the Personhood movement believe that ballot initiatives are an excellent teaching tool for educating people about the evil of abortion.  Absolutely!  And to accomplish the education that is necessary to win this nationally, we must include abortion pictures in our voter education efforts.  Otherwise, the public will not apply the kind of pressure necessary to first overturn Roe v Wade and then outlaw abortion nationally.

At FAB, we are much like Billy Martin in some of those Miller Lite commercials from the 1980s.  We feel strongly both ways.  What do you think?  Please comment!

Pro life Freedom Ride coming to Knoxville

Dr. Alveda King and Fr. Frank Pavone

Dr. Alveda King and Fr. Frank Pavone

Protestants and Catholics, unite!  Dr. Alveda King, a Baptist minister, and Fr. Frank Pavone, a Catholic priest, have long worked together to promote the Gospel of Life, a message of hope and healing, across racial and denominational lines.  Fr. Pavone and Dr. King (niece of Dr. Martin Luther King) will be in Knoxville on Friday-Saturday, October 15-16, and I hope you will join us.

Friday night’s Worship Rally will be at 7 p.m. at the Tennessee Theater and Saturday’s Prayer Vigil will be at 9 a.m. at the Cherry Street Planned Parenthood Clinic.

There are three abortion clinics in Knoxville, including Planned Parenthood’s new clinic in East Knoxville.  Nearly 4000 children are killed every year in these clinics. This does not include those killed by the RU-486 abortion pill and other forms of chemical abortion.

Nearly twenty years ago, pro-life leaders in Chattanooga rallied and prayed together.  For their faithfulness, God closed the last abortion clinic in Chattanooga, turning that property into The National Memorial for the Unborn. Chattanooga remains the largest city in America without an abortion clinic or PP presence.

Let’s pray and work to make Knoxville the next one.  For more information, visit www.ProLifeFreedomRides.com.