Fighting Human Trafficking

By Chuck Grassley

It often takes people by surprise to learn that human trafficking is a very real problem right here in Iowa. Whereas the Department of Homeland Security reports that millions of victims are trafficked throughout the world for sexual exploitation, forced labor, and other crimes, this issue also hits very close to home. A recent study found that hundreds of young people each and every month are at “high and moderate risk” to becoming victims of sex trafficking and enslavement.

Federal law defines human trafficking to include the commercial sexual exploitation of children under the age of 18 as well as the “recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining” of adults, by fraud or coercion for labor, services, or commercial sex. One example is “survival sex” in which a minor is forced to sell sex to earn money for basic needs.

As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I have worked to raise awareness about this issue and advance reforms that beef up tools, resources and restitution for victims. More work remains to prevent traffickers from victimizing people for profit. These crimes generate billions of dollars in criminal enterprise at the expense of human dignity, innocence, and even life.

Human trafficking has long been considered an “underground” problem. Building awareness throughout schools, neighborhoods and local businesses can make a real difference to shed light on this crime that’s happening right under our noses. Sex trafficking exists among prostitution rings and has been reported in communities with access to major interstates and wherever else the demand takes it. The traffickers have mastered using the Internet as an enormous resource for advertising and providing their criminal enterprise to customers. Staying vigilant and having conversations with families, friends, and neighbors can …read more

Source: Caffeinated Thoughts Education

Advancing Iowa’s Renewable Energy Economy

By David Young

An ethanol plant in West Burlington, Iowa.

As I travel throughout the 16 counties of the Third District each month, I get the opportunity to learn firsthand about the new technologies Iowans are using to more efficiently produce biofuels and harness renewable energy to power our state and country. The renewable energy economy in Iowa has created high-paying jobs, increased exports valuable to America’s economy and ultimately helped Iowa families save more of their hard-earned money.

During my time in Congress, I’ve been a strong advocate for our biofuels economy.

Earlier this month, an amendment to protect renewable energy I offered to the Make American Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act passed unanimously. My amendment removed a harmful provision in the bill prohibiting the Department of Agriculture (USDA) from using funds to “develop, facilitate, or expand production of, an alternative fuel” for the Department of Defense (DoD).

In addition to protecting jobs and our environment, the renewable energy sector could be strategically beneficial to our military. It’s important the DoD has the flexibility to work with other agencies to find other sources of energy since homegrown fuels reduce our reliance on foreign sources of energy that could present challenges to our national security.

By removing the restriction on allowing the DoD to work with the USDA, Iowans will continue to have the ability to contribute to our military’s energy supply and researchers across the state can continue to work on groundbreaking discoveries to increase America’s energy independence without facing unnecessary Washington-imposed hurdles. Additionally, the tens of thousands of jobs in the renewable energy sector will be protected as the industry continues to grow.

A recent report from the Clean Energy Trust shows job growth across the renewable energy sector is happening 11 times faster than all other sectors in Iowa. This job growth coupled with the importance …read more

Source: Caffeinated Thoughts Education

This Banned Book Week, Teaching Banned Books Isn't Enough - Education Week

On controversial topics, teachers should focus on not just what they teach, but how they teach it, writes Jonna Perrillo. …read more

Source: Education Week Curriculum and Instruction

Why We Can't Give Up on Our Public Schools (Q&A) - Education Week

Though public education is far from perfect, it needs our unequivocal support to improve, say educators Deborah Meier and Emily Gasoi. …read more

Source: Education Week Accountability

Bill Goodling, Influential U.S. House Republican on Education, Dies at 89 - Politics K-12 - Education Week

The former teacher, principal, and school superintendent became one of the most influential members of Congress on education policy during his 13 terms in the House. …read more

Source: Education Week Vouchers

Episode 01: Rick Santorum Discusses the Graham-Cassidy Bill

By Caffeinated Thoughts

Former U.S. Senator and Republican Presidential Candidate Rick Santorum (R-PA) may be out of the U.S. Senate, but he is still working to effect change. He recently helped write the Graham-Cassidy Bill that is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Ron Johnson (R-WI).

He joins Shane Vander Hart on the inaugural episode of The Caffeinated Thoughts Podcast to discuss this bill that many are calling the “last ditch effort” to repeal and replace Obamacare. He explains what the bill does, addresses some common questions and concerns about the bill, and why he thinks the Graham-Cassidy Bill repeals Obamacare and replaces it with a program that states can tailor to their needs.

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The Caffeinated Thoughts Podcast can only exist due to the generosity of our sponsors.

This show is sponsored in part by American Principles Project, a conservative political think tank in Washington, D.C. American Principles Project believes that human dignity should be at the heart of public policy. They work in all 50 states and in Washington, D.C. to promote life, religious freedom, local control over education, authentic economic progress for working Americans, and a return to constitutional principles, such as federalism. Want to help American Principles Project? Visit their website today. Sign up for e-mail updates, send a small (or large) donation their way, help them out. They’re a great group.

Also, be sure to check out Travis Risvold of Modern Woodmen of America. Call Travis at 515-883-0029. He can help you find the life insurance YOU need.

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Source: Caffeinated Thoughts Education

Court: Pontiac Catholic school covered by anti-bias law

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Source: Education Week

'Little Rock Nine' members mark school's 1957 desegregation

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Source: Education Week

Betsy DeVos Approves Massachusetts Plan for ESSA Implementation - Politics K-12 - Education Week

Massachusetts is the 15th state so far to have its Every Student Succeeds Act plan approved by the U.S. Department of Education. …read more

Source: Education Week Accountability

Teacher Evaluation: Why Multiple Measures Matter - Leadership 360 - Education Week

In an industry as large as public education and where learning is our business, one might think we’d lead the way in measures of accountability. But we are not. …read more

Source: Education Week Accountability