Posts Tagged ‘Justin Owen’
With football season in full swing, there’s one National Football League proposal that will likely have fans crying foul. To level the playing field for teams, the NFL has proposed eliminating the draft and creating zones from which teams will receive college talent.
It would work like this. The Tennessee Titans’ zone would represent all of Tennessee and Kentucky, as well as a small sliver of northern Alabama. Players from college teams within those zones—such as the University of Tennessee, University of Kentucky, and UAB—would automatically be drafted to the Titans. There would be one exception. Those players willing to pay a $100,000 fee could waive this rule and apply to be drafted by any team in the country. Presumably, this would make it more difficult for any one team to “buy” the best draft picks, making the entire league more uniform, even with the above caveat.
Of course, this proposal is a hoax. The NFL would never suggest such an arbitrary approach to drafting players from college. But it does pose an interesting question: why on earth is this exactly how we structure our public school system? A child’s school, from pre-Kindergarten through high school, is determined by a ZIP Code, an imaginary boundary dictating their educational fate. It doesn’t matter which schools want to accept that student or where that child and her parents want to send her, the rules are the rules. Only those wealthy enough to afford private school tuition can “buy” their way out of this box.
This is as unacceptable for our children as it would be for the NFL. Students should have a wide array of options at their fingertips, ensuring that they have every possible chance to succeed, whether it’s in their zoned public school, a private school, a charter school, or even an online learning environment. School choice provides such a path. With choice, parents, not ZIP Codes, can determine the educational fate of our children. And that’s exactly where the decision should lie.
If you would get up in arms about the spoof NFL policy, it’s time to consider why so many people are agnostic to treating our kids this same way. It’s time for all Tennesseans, young and old, wealthy and not, to stand together in support of School Choice NOW.
-Justin OwenSeptember 12th, 2014 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News
News broke this morning that Volkswagen’s Works Council is backing the United Auto Workers (UAW) play at the VW Chattanooga plant. Despite losing an election, the UAW continues to try and unionize the plant, which would become the first foreign auto plant to become unionized in the South.
When state and local politicians forked over $230 million in corporate welfare to VW Chattanooga just a few months ago, we warned far and wide that taxpayers could be getting more than they bargained for with the deal. With today’s news, it looks more and more like Tennessee taxpayers could be funding the UAW’s march into the South. Taxpayers who disagree with the UAW’s radical political agenda should think twice about allowing politicians to shake out their pockets and hand their hard-earned money over to companies willing to ignore their workers and cozy up to groups like the UAW.
-Justin OwenSeptember 11th, 2014 | Beacon Blog, Feature, Recent News
Below is the op-ed written by Beacon CEO that appeared in the Tennessean.
Good enough for Jefferson, good enough for me
By: Justin Owen
September 2nd, 2014 | Commentary, Feature
I’m proud to be part of the effort to fix the constitutional quagmire over how we select appellate and Supreme Court judges in Tennessee.
Through the years, Tennessee’s judicial selection process added a nominating panel, predominantly composed of lawyers and insiders. This panel would nominate three candidates to send to the governor, who then selected one of the three to serve on the bench. All this despite our Constitution stating that “judges should be elected by the qualified voters.”
While the Beacon Center of Tennessee and others have taken this matter to court in the past, judges have consistently upheld this so-called Tennessee Plan as constitutional, ignoring the plain language of the Constitution.
So we can either defer to those incorrect rulings, or we can improve the system by taking it to the voters themselves with a constitutional amendment. Amendment 2, which will be on the ballot in November, rightly puts the issue in the hands of voters.
With Amendment 2, Tennessee voters can adopt a method almost identical to that crafted by our founders for selecting federal judges. Like the federal model, the governor we elect will nominate the most qualified people as judges, and then our elected legislature will vote to confirm or reject their appointment. Unlike the federal system, there will be no lifetime tenure for judges under Amendment 2.
This approach strikes a great balance between making sure we have judicial independence to uphold the rule of law, while holding judges accountable to the people and our elected representatives.
The great Thomas Jefferson, who helped craft the federal system for selecting judges, had but one criticism of it: lifetime tenure. “If a member of the Executive or Legislature does wrong, the day is never far distant when the people will remove him. They will see then and amend the error in our Constitution which makes any branch independent of the nation,” Jefferson said of lifetime appointments for judges.
In a tip of the hat to Jefferson, Amendment 2 will not only preserve the balance between judicial independence and accountability, it will also offer voters a chance to remove judges at the polls. If voters dislike a judge’s rulings, they can vote against their governor, senator and representative who put the judge there. And ultimately, and most importantly, Amendment 2 protects the right of Tennesseans to keep or fire the judges at the end of their terms at the ballot box.
I’ll be voting “Yes on 2” in November because it is the best approach to choosing competent, fair and impartial judges, while holding them accountable to the people of our state.
If it was good enough for Jefferson, it’s good enough for me.