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Jindal Talks Vouchers, Creationism at NBC Education Nation (VIDEO)

With his tax axe plan parked, Bobby Jindal had a few minutes to get out of the car in New Orleans and chat with NBC's Hoda Kotb on Friday. The one-time WWL-TV anchor and current Today Show host was in town for NBC's Education Nation, a summit on school systems that's traveling around the country. After parrying questions about his future and the income tax proposal, Jindal weighed in on vouchers and creationism in Louisiana schools.


In the face of court rulings against his voucher-based reforms, Jindal defended the changes. Throwing out his usual vigorously stirred mixture of numbers and rhetoric, Jindal said funding for teachers has increased on his watch, but the money needs to spent for good performance. Only helping that performance would be parents' moves to get kids in schools that cater to their education, Jindal said.


"This is about saying every child learns differently," the gov said. "Let's let parents choose." 


In terms of funding, Jindal defended the massive higher education cuts that have happened on his watch in much the same fashion. Kotb brought up cuts to UNO and Southeastern Louisiana University, but Jindal said the state has done great work with the budget money they had.


"Compared to other states, we've done heroic work," he said. "Performance is getting better as we tie money for performance."


Jindal said he would be glad to meet with UNO and SLU leaders and explain the cuts.


Later, Kotb asked Jindal whether creationism should be taught in public schools. The governor went on the record saying schools teach to a specific science curriculum for state testing. For private and parochial schools, however, Jindal brought up the subject of the question: the Louisiana Science Education Act. The 2008 law allows supplemental materials to be used in science teaching. He said supplemental materials shouldn't only be used when it comes to evolution and creation, but also global warming.


"We shouldn't be afraid of exposing our kids to more information, more knowledge," Jindal said. "Give them critical thinking skills, and as adults they'll be able to make the best decision."


The science education act is facing a renewed repeal effort during this legislative session. Sen. Karen Carter-Peterson (D-New Orleans) filed a bill to wipe away the law.


NBC's Education Nation, which is playing out before a live studio audience at the NOCCA campus in the Marigny, lasts through Monday. At 6 p.m. Saturday, NBC education correspondent Rahema Ellis will moderate a teacher town hall. At 4 p.m. Sunday, Ellis will moderate a Student Town Hall. The event is by invite only, but streaming video is available here.


NBC has also dispatched their Education Nation bus to the area, which will highlight education success stories in the area through April 19.


Here's video of Jindal's interview:


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