Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration in federal court Wednesday, claiming that the Department of Education has illegally manipulated grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the controversial Common Core standards.
In the suit, Jindal argues that the Education Department’s $4.3 billion grant program “effectively forces states down a path toward a national curriculum” in violation of the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal laws that prohibit national control of education content. The suit asks a judge to declare the department’s actions unconstitutional and to keep it from disqualifying states from receiving Race to the Top funds based on a refusal to use Common Core or to participate in one of two state testing consortia tied to the department’s grant program.
The legal challenge puts Jindal, who is considering a 2016 presidential bid, at the forefront of a dispute between conservatives and President Barack Obama, bolstering the governor’s profile on the issue as he’s trying to court conservative voters nationwide.
“The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative,” Jindal said in a statement. “Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C., in control of everything.”
The Common Core standards are math and English benchmarks describing what students should know after completing each grade. They were developed by states to allow comparison of students’ performance. More than 40 states, including Louisiana, have adopted them.
When the state education board adopted the standards in 2010, Jindal supported them, saying they would help students to better prepare for college and careers. He reversed course earlier this year, however, and now says he opposes the standards because they are an effort by the Obama administration to meddle in state education policy.
The governor’s change of heart is not shared by lawmakers, the state education board and his hand-picked education superintendent, all of whom refuse to jettison Common Core from Louisiana’s classrooms. Jindal tried to derail use of the standards by suspending testing contracts, but a state judge lifted that suspension, calling the governor’s actions harmful to parents, teachers and students.
Turning to federal court represents a new tactic in Jindal’s efforts to undermine Louisiana’s use of the standards.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has criticized the governor’s opposition to Common Core as politically driven. In a June interview with “CBS This Morning,” the secretary said of Jindal’s switched position: “It’s about politics, it’s not about education.”
The Obama administration embraced the standards and encouraged states to adopt them as part of the application process for the Race to the Top grant program. Two state testing consortia — the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium — received $330 million from the grant program to develop standardized testing material tied to Common Core.
“Louisiana now finds itself trapped in a federal scheme to nationalize curriculum,” the lawsuit says. “What started as good state intentions has materialized into the federalization of education policy through federal economic incentives and duress.”
Louisiana received more than $17 million from Race to the Top and joined the PARCC consortium. It also received a waiver from certain federal education requirements under a program enacted by the Obama administration in 2011 that Jindal’s lawsuit says was designed to coerce states to use Common Core or risk the loss of billions in federal education funding.
By Editor - Last updated: Monday, September 1, 2014
By Matt Besler
The Illinois Supreme Court recently ruled that the state constitution prevents any diminishment of health care benefits for retired state employees. The ruling is ominous for the future of practical pension reform and the quality of life for all Illinoisans.
According to the 6-1 decision, the pension protection clause — which says that retirement benefits are a contractual agreement that “cannot be diminished or impaired” — applies to other retirement benefits, not just pensions.
The Wall Street Journal called the ruling “a dreadful precedent for sensible pension reform.” It creates a significant barrier to passing meaningful reform, thereby necessitating further tax increases on Illinois’ families, and it effectively dooms the retirement security of rank-and-file state workers.
The pension system is unsustainable at the state level. Therefore, without the necessary reforms, the most likely play by the political establishment will be to push retirements back to municipalities without making any changes to the plans or giving local governments added flexibility. We know that about 80% of municipalities are in critical condition. Without meaningful pension reform, the Illinois Supreme Court, political leaders and public sector unions (the Illinois Ruling Class) have shattered the retirement security of state workers. Want to see how this ends? Take a good look at Detroit.
To date, the message from those who uphold the status quo in Illinois to reform-minded legislators has been: Confront public-sector unions at your peril.
Yet confront them as policymakers, they must. As Chris Christie said of his duel with the NJEA, “If we don’t win this fight, there’s no other fight left.” The cost of public-sector pay and benefits, combined with billions of dollars in unfunded pension liabilities for retired government workers, are weighing down state and city budgets.
Fixing problems of this scale, where the political price is immediate while the benefits are stretched out over decades, is never easy. But for each day that passes without major reforms, the mathematics of the pension crisis grind on: ever more retirees, collecting steadily larger checks, as tumbling bond ratings make it more and more expensive to borrow money to mask the hole
Illinois has traditionally been the economic engine of America’s Heartland. Bad fiscal policies, however, are obscuring our competitive advantages and destroying Illinois’ future. At Illinois Opportunity Project, the policies we advocates, as well as the candidates and legislators we support, champion thoughtful, long-term, reform-focused solutions. Join our Policy Revolution at illinoisopportunity.org.
- Matthew Besler
President, Illinois Opportunity Project
The U.S. Justice Department labeled ISNA an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terrorism-financing trial in American history and listed the group as a Muslim Brotherhood entity. The event’s speaker lineup includes many Islamist radicals, debunking the moderate image ISNA puts forth.
The name of this year’s conference is, “GenerationsRise: Elevating Muslim American Culture.” It will be held in Detroit on August 29-September 1.
A Clarion Project analysis in March showed that ISNA’s religious leadership is made up of radicals, including one whose deportation is sought by the Department of Homeland Security because of his links to Hamas.
Sayyid Syeed, former ISNA Secretary-General and current National Director of its Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances, was videotaped in 2006 declaring, “Our job is to change the constitution of America.”
A 1991 U.S. Muslim Brotherhood memo explicitly identifies ISNA and its various components among its fronts. The memo states the Brotherhood network’s “work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within.” Another Muslim Brotherhood document from 1988 states ISNA is part of its “apparatus.”
In 2007, the Justice Department labeled ISNA an unindicted co-conspirator in the successful trial of the Holy Land Foundation, a Muslim Brotherhood front found to be financing Hamas. The U.S. government also listed ISNA as one of the “individuals/entities who are and/or were members of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood.”
Specifically, federal prosecutors revealed how checks for the “Palestinian Mujahideen” were deposited into ISNA accounts and then transferred to the Holy Land Foundation for distribution to Hamas. A federal judge upheld the unindicted co-conspirator designation in 2009, citing “ample” justification and observing that the Foundation “operated from within ISNA.”
ISNA’s Canadian affiliate lost its charitable status last year due toevidence it was financing Pakistani terrorist groups, but ISNA claims it has nothing to do with ISNA-Canada.
ISNA portrays itself as the leader of the Muslim-American community, but a 2011 Gallup poll found that only 4% of Muslim-American males and 7% of females see ISNA as the group that most represents their interests. Nonetheless, its organizational capabilities and high profile have given it access to American leadership on a bi-partisan basis.
ISNA, like other American Islamist groups with radical backgrounds, were also embraced by the Bush Administration following the September 11, 2001 attacks. Last year, President Obama delivered avideotaped address for ISNA’s convention, praising it despite that event’s extremist lecturers.
This year’s event is no different. Carter is adding his name to a lineup that includes:
Imam Siraj Wahhaj, whose history of extremist and anti-American incitement is too long to review. For example, in 1992, he said, “If only Muslims were clever politically, they could take over the United States and replace its constitutional government with aCaliphate. If we were united and strong, we’d elect our own emir and give allegiance to him. Take my word, if eight million Muslims unite in America, the country will come to us.”
His rhetoric became more cautious after the 9/11 attacks. In 2011, hepreached, “The trap we fall into is having a premature discussion about sharia when we are not there yet.” In November, the New York Police Department disclosed frightening information about his mosque’s activity.
He is scheduled to teach at the conference on the topic of elevating Muslim-American culture.
Zaid Shakir, an imam with a history of radicalism. Last year, hepreached that the U.S. Constitution is inferior to sharia because it grants equality to Muslims and non-Muslims. His writings depict the U.S. military in the worst of ways and the New York Times reportedin 2006 that “he said he still hoped that one day the United States will be ruled by Islamic law.”
He will be preaching about using the culture to pass Islamic values to the next generation and will be on an interfaith panel about political activism.
Dawud Walid, the executive director of the Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). He most recentlydisparaged Independence Day and questioned whether fallen U.S. soldiers should be honored for Memorial Day. He has also expressed support of the Muslim Brotherhood and vilifies the U.S. government.
He is hosting a panel about “collective conscience” that includes Rep. Keith Ellison.
Zahra Billoo, the executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of CAIR. She joined Walid in questioning Memorial Day anddefaming the U.S. military. She’s also defended the terrorism of Hamas against Israel.
She will be speaking about the work of the youth activists. The ISNAprogram lists her as one of the “most remarkable young Muslim leaders and activists who are elevating Muslim American culture in the new millennium.”
Tariq Ramadan, the grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood’s founder and the son of a major Brotherhood leader in Europe. In April 2010, he inferred that Iraqi and Palestinian attacks on U.S. and Israeli soldiers are legitimate by saying resistance cannot target civilians.
A Norwegian documentary by an Iraqi Muslim asked a senior Brotherhood leader if Ramadan is a member of the group.
“He thinks he is using the Muslim Brothers’ perspective and he’s convinced of the Muslim Brothers’ ideology, but he spreads the word in his own way. We give people the freedom to express their understanding exactly the way they want,” he replied.
He will speak on the topic of “re-thinking education.”
Jamal Badawi, formerly listed on ISNA’s website as a member of its Board of Directors. He is personally listed as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land trial and is a founder of the Muslim American Society, another U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity. His name is listed as a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood official in an internal document from 1992.
His history includes endorsing suicide bombings and “combative jihad” and praising Hamas as “martyrs.” He is also close to Brotherhood spiritual leader Yousef al-Qaradawi.
Badawi will preach on the topic of sharia and culture.
Muzzamil Siddiqui, a founder of ISNA and its president from 1997 to 2000. He preaches that Muslims must institute sharia using astrategy of gradualism. He said in 1996:
“[Muslims] should participate in the [U.S. political] system to safeguard our interest and try to bring gradual change for the right cause…We must not forget that Allah’s rules have to be established in all lands, and all our efforts should lead to that direction.”
Siddiqi was more specific in a 2001 speech, where he said thatSharia’s penal system must also be eventually established:
“The criminal law of the Sharia is not practiced here and it is not even required for Muslims to practice the criminal law in a non-Islamic state…Once more people accept Islam, insha’allah, this will lead to the implementation of sharia in all areas.”
Siddiqui will teach on the topic of “remosqued,” or how to change mosque culture so there is greater attendance.
Hassan Qazwini, imam of the Islamic Center of America in Michigan. The mosque has had Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam as a guest speaker. Qazwini has boasted that Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a spiritual leader of Hezbollah, “considered me his son” and the two met whenever he traveled to Lebanon. Qazwini’s mosque held a memorial service for him when he died in 2010.
He will be teaching about sharia and culture.
Ihsan Bagby, the executive director of the Kentucky chapter of CAIR. He was also a national board member for CAIR from 1995 to 2013. He is also the General-Secretary of the radical Muslim Alliance in North America, which is led by Wahhaj.
A 1991 publication quoted him as saying, “Ultimately, we [Muslims] can never be full citizens of this country…because there is no way we can be fully committed to the institutions and ideologies of this country.”
Bagby is also teaching on the topic of “re-mosqued.”
Suhaib Webb, is the imam of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center. His mosque is run by the Muslim American Society, which federal prosecutors say was “founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.”
The Center’s parent organization, the Islamic Society of Boston, hassignificant Muslim Brotherhood ties and was attended by the Boston bombers. There is video of Webb preaching that homosexuals are cursed.
Webb will be preaching about how to elevate Muslim-American culture.
Yasir Qadhi, a Salafist preacher from the Al-Maghrib Institute. Hesays that “Allah destroys this [American] version of capitalism” and that the U.S. economic system enslaves millions. He also preaches against man-made law and in favor of sharia law. There is alsodisturbing audio from him justifying the persecution of Christians and Jews under an Islamic state.
He is teaching about sharia and culture.
Ingrid Mattson, a former President of ISNA. She is on the Council of Scholars of the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT), a U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entity in Virginia that had its offices raided by federal agents in 2002. IIIT was embraced by the former Egyptian President Morsi when he ran Egypt for the Muslim Brotherhood. Zaid Shakir’s website has an endorsement of his theology from Mattson.
She will be teaching on the topic of “collective conscience.”
Imam Mohamed Magid, ISNA president and executive director of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Center, which had its offices raided as part of a terrorism-financing investigation in 2002.
In 2004, Magid reacted to the U.S. government’s investigation into U.S. Muslim Brotherhood entities including the Holy Land Foundation by accusing elements of the U.S. government of being “intent on dismantling Muslim organizations and bringing them down.”
He will be preaching on the topics of “positive citizenship” and elevating Muslim-American culture.
ISNA’s recruitment of former President Carter as a speaker is a feather in the cap for the organization. Despite its documented history, ISNA will be able to further its political influence by pointing to Carter’s presentation as proof of its moderation and credibility.
For those of us who’ve been raising alarms about both the jihadist threat and the national-security vulnerability created by the Obama administration’s non-enforcement of the immigration laws, this is not a surprise — particularly less than two weeks before September 11. But it is nonetheless jarring to read. Judicial Watch has just put out this statement:
Islamic terrorist groups are operating in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and planning to attack the United States with car bombs or other vehicle born improvised explosive devices (VBIED). High-level federal law enforcement, intelligence and other sources have confirmed to Judicial Watch that a warning bulletin for an imminent terrorist attack on the border has been issued. Agents across a number of Homeland Security, Justice and Defense agencies have all been placed on alert and instructed to aggressively work all possible leads and sources concerning this imminent terrorist threat.
Specifically, Judicial Watch sources reveal that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) is confirmed to now be operating in Juarez, a famously crime-infested narcotics hotbed situated across from El Paso, Texas. Violent crimes are so rampant in Juarez that the U.S. State Department has issued a number of travel warnings for anyone planning to go there. The last one was issued just a few days ago.
Intelligence officials have picked up radio talk and chatter indicating that the terrorist groups are going to “carry out an attack on the border,” according to one JW source. “It’s coming very soon,” according to this high-level source, who clearly identified the groups planning the plots as “ISIS and Al Qaeda.” An attack is so imminent that the commanding general at Ft. Bliss, the U.S. Army post in El Paso, is being briefed, another source confirms. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not respond to multiple inquiries from Judicial Watch, both telephonic and in writing, about this information.
The disturbing inside intelligence comes on the heels of news reports revealing that U.S. intelligence has picked up increased chatter among Islamist terror networks approaching the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. While these terrorists reportedly plan their attack just outside the U.S., President Obama admits that “we don’t have a strategy yet” to combat ISIS. “I don’t want to put the cart before the horse,” the commander-in-chief said this week during a White House press briefing. “I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggest that folks are getting a little further ahead of what we’re at than what we currently are.”
The administration has also covered up, or at the very least downplayed, a serious epidemic of crime along the Mexican border even as heavily armed drug cartels have taken over portions of the region. Judicial Watch has reported that the U.S. Border Patrol actually ordered officers to avoid the most crime-infested stretches because they’re “too dangerous” and patrolling them could result in an “international incident” of cross border shooting. In the meantime, who could forget the famous words of Obama’s first Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano; the southern border is “as secure as it has ever been.”
These new revelations are bound to impact the current debate about the border crisis and immigration policy.
By Editor - Last updated: Monday, September 1, 2014
By RYAN TERRELL – firstname.lastname@example.org
BOLINGBROOK – Bolingbrook’s police and fire dispatch services will be outsourced this fall.
The Bolingbrook Village Board voted Tuesday to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the Western Will County Communication Center (WESCOM) to take over the services, a move officials say will net an annual savings of $319,000. WESCOM, considered a unit of local government, is a consolidated dispatch service with 19 member agencies across three counties, primarily Will County.
In addition to the savings, WESCOM offers better technology and a larger staff in the event of critical incidents, officials said. The move also follows the State of Illinois’ pro-consolidation stance, according to Bolingbrook Deputy Police Chief Tom Ross.
“The state has said funding is becoming scarce and that they prefer that dispatch centers throughout the state start consolidating to save funds,” Ross said.
The agreement calls for Bolingbrook to pay WESCOM $1.13 million for its first year of membership. That figure is based on a projected number of calls the police and fire departments receive annually. The following years’ fees will be based on call volume as well.
“We anticipate the savings will grow as well, as WESCOM adds more agencies and the costs are spread out even more,” Ross added.
Bolingbrook’s 14 full-time dispatchers and two supervisors will be offered jobs at WESCOM, according to Steve Rauter, executive director of WESCOM.
“We’ve outstretched our hand to take as many of them as Bolingbrook can provide,” Rauter said. “We haven’t heard from all of them yet, but several have applied and they seem pretty excited to be coming here.”
Any Bolingbrook employees hired at WESCOM would bring accruals with them, Rauter said, including longevity level for salary purposes, years toward pension and some comp time.
“In some cases they will make more [in compensation], some will make less, but on average it will be very fair and will be a soft landing for them,” he said.
Both entities’ employees are represented by unions. Currently, the 16 Bolingbrook dispatch employees are represented by AFSCME Council 31. WESCOM employees are represented by the Metropolitan Alliance of Police.
Maggie Lorenc, a representative of AFSCME Council 31, said the union was opposed to the consolidation, citing concerns about resident safety and staffing at WESCOM, “as one center will be handling calls from 20 agencies.”
In May, the union circulated a petition against the consolidation.
Lorenc said any employees who opt not to pursue employment with WESCOM will be eligible for unemployment.
“WESCOM is a separate employer and the Village of Bolingbrook cannot force them to take employment there. So technically they are eliminating positions and this is a reduction of force,” she said.
WESCOM, formed in 1992 with seven initial agencies, will have a membership of 21 agencies with the addition of Bolingbrook’s fire and police dispatch services.
“It was the brainchild of some [fire] chiefs who are now retired and they came up with the idea after the deadly tornado hit Plainfield in the early ’90s,” Rauter said. “They wanted to do something more cost-effective with dispatch that followed the technology of the day.”
In July, WESCOM opened a 17,000-square-foot facility in Plainfield. Rauter called it a state-of-the-art facility that provides a protected environment with advanced technology for dispatchers.
“Our ability to stay in service is pretty good. We have two generators, two HVAC systems. And the place is built to withstand tornadoes,” Rauter said.
Another advantage, Rauter said, is the mutual aid services WESCOM provides for escalated police or fire incidents. And in the fall, WESCOM is expected to become the first Will County dispatch center to offer a “text to 911” service, he said.
Ross said the prospects of offering a text to 911 service in the community was one of the reasons Bolingbrook’s departments wanted to make the switch.
“It’s an expensive and complex technology,” he said. “It’s especially important for the hearing impaired in the community.”
While both entities have targeted a date of Nov. 1 for the consolidation, Rauter said that date depends on a number of factors, including staffing needs.