If you are a glutton for punishment, I posted North Carolina's Race to the Top Q&A video below. Participants included Bill Harrison (SBE), June Atkinson (DPI), Bev Perdue (Gov), and Bill McNeal (NCASA).
The following was the most revealing question and answer:
RTTT Reviewer Question: Does the local [school district] also provide equal amounts of dollars to the charters in their localities?
NC Delegation Answer: Yes.
Really? Localities do not provide equal facilities funds. Moreover, the N.C. Court of Appeals found that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) inappropriately withheld funds from charter schools.
Did the NC delegation mislead the RTTT reviewers? There is no way to know for sure. I would, however, expect that someone in the delegation knew that charter schools do not receive facilities funds from localities.
In view of the trouble the volcano on Iceland has brought to many vacationers, I think the European Union needs to amend its statement to say that there is a right to a vacation free of travel problems. If your vacation gets messed up because of a volcanic eruption or something like that, you're entitled to a do-over. At society's expense, of course.
I hope President Obama doesn't read European news or he might get an idea from this. The London Timesreports that Brussels has designated vacations a human right:
An overseas holiday used to be thought of as a reward for a year’s hard work. Now Brussels has declared that tourism is a human right and pensioners, youths and those too poor to afford it should have their travel subsidised by the taxpayer.
Under the scheme, British pensioners could be given cut-price trips to Spain, while Greek teenagers could be taken around disused mills in Manchester to experience the cultural diversity of Europe.
The idea for the subsidised tours is the brainchild of Antonio Tajani, the European Union commissioner for enterprise and industry, who was appointed by Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister.
The scheme, which could cost hundreds of millions of pounds a year, is intended to promote a sense of pride in European culture, bridge the north-south divide in the continent and prop up resorts in their off-season.
When nations begin to throw basic human rights (such as to life, liberty, and property) into the same batch as taxpayer-funded vacations for all, the concept tends to lose its significance. Maybe that's the goal.
Ravenswood City School Board in California did not renew the charter of the Stanford New School/Ravenswood City Elementary. The charter school was a project of the Stanford School of Education. According to the New York Times,
In recent years, education departments at several major universities have started charter schools. As Stanford has found out, however, running a public school can be a teaching experience even for the learned.
But Stanford New School has the best of credentials. It was founded by Linda Darling-Hammond, a leader in the school reform movement and President Obama’s adviser on education during his transition. Its blueblood board includes Stanford administrators and professors and Silicon Valley royalty with connections to Google and Cisco. It also includes Maria de la Vega, the superintendent of the Ravenswood City School District — who recommended that her board deny the charter extension.
Despite the presence of top education scholars with their cutting-edge theories (not to mention per pupil expenditures $3,000 above the state average), the school was a miserable failure. Schools with similar demographics crushed the Stanford New School on state tests.
Unlike district schools, bad charter schools close. Students ill-served by attending the SNS/RCE will have an opportunity to salvage their education by enrolling in a different, more successful district or charter school.
According to the News & Observer, the end of the forced busing scheme means that some students from Garner High School will be reassigned to Southeast Raleigh High School.
Low-income kids fared much better at Southeast Raleigh HS than similar students at Garner HS. Nearly 64 percent of economically disadvantaged students graduated in 08-09, while only 55 percent of economically disadvantaged students graduated from Garner HS last year.
On the NC end-of-course Algebra exam, both high schools had a similar percentage of low-income students taking the test, between 42 and 46 percent. But just over 50 percent of Southeast student earned a "proficient" score, while around 45 percent of Garner students passed.
Please Note: We do not know why low-income students at Southeast Raleigh HS outperformed Garner HS on these measures. I simply want to make the point that the students from Garner will be reassigned to a school that has been somewhat successful with low-income students.
Pundits still consider Britain’s Conservative Party the most likely winners in next month’s general election.
The following quote from a TIMEprofile of Tory leader David Cameron suggests that outcome would be better for Britons than continued Labour Party rule:
The economy should be the key battleground in the election. But Britain's bloated budget deficit, standing at 12% of GDP, gives the parties little room to maneuver, leaving them to squabble only over the speed and delicacy with which they'll slash government spending. Tory plans to start cutting right away have been attacked by opponents who say this would threaten the fragile recovery. Cameron dismisses that. "The danger facing the U.K. is not dealing with the debt. It's not dealing with the debt that's the danger. …"
But the news isn’t universally good:
There's a huge gap now between American conservatism and the touchier-feelier variety promoted by Cameron's Conservatives. Thatcher, a hero to many on the U.S. right, laid the foundations of a long British boom that has only recently ended. But Thatcherite economic reforms came at a social cost that earned Conservatives a reputation — in the phrase of a party chairwoman — as "the nasty party." So Cameron has been at pains not to embrace Thatcher's legacy but to rid the party of it. Launching the Tory manifesto on April 13, he promised a return to an inclusive "one nation Conservatism" in place of the polarized and polarizing ideology of the Thatcher years.
To the extent that Cameron and his colleagues run away from Thatcher, the United Kingdom is likely to suffer. As Nicholas Wapshott explained in his book on Thatcher’s relationship with Ronald Reagan: “Angela Merkel in Germany and Nicolas Sarkozy in France both enjoyed electoral success by being directly compared to Thatcher, and many countries were left wondering whether they would ever be blessed by electing a Margaret Thatcher figure to liberate them from a poorly run economy, high taxes, and creeping state control.”
One of the statists’ favorite economists,
Joseph Stiglitz, offers his prescription for the ailing economy in the latest issue of Money magazine. The article is not yet posted online, but you can get a sense of the tenor of Stiglitz’s remarks from the headline: “Why the Bailout Needs a Reboot.”
Here’s a key passage:
Hasn’t the passage of the stimulus package in the wake of the credit crisis helped at all? It has worked. But it was too small. And too much of it was in the form of tax cuts.
Aren’t low taxes good for growth? They are not strong enough. The point of the stimulus was to increase spending in a hurry to shore up aggregate demand.
Stiglitz says “a better way of getting money into the system is to fill in the gaping holes in state budgets.”
We can improve the economy by rewarding profligate state governments for their inability to spend within their means? Hmm.
If you doubt that Stiglitz’s ideas make sense, you’re more likely to agree with the sentiments John Hood shared during his address Thursday at the Winston-Salem Tea Party:
It’s nice to see that at least some Business Week readers aren’t buying the headline “Why the Obama Plan Is Working.” Reader Michael Buck of Carrollton, Texas, offers the following assessment of the article Mike Dorning wrote under that headline:
It is unclear where the market and economy will be at the end of the year. What is not unclear is the increasing debt this Administration has placed on future generations. This Administration is on par to double the debt of all previous Administrations. Mike Dorning can cheerlead for Obama all he wants, but he takes away not just his credibility but that of BusinessWeek when he does.
A North Carolina-based letter writer in the latest print version of U.S. News & World Report raises some concerns about an opinion column from the American Enterprise Institute’s Ken Green. (You might remember his 2007 presentation to the John Locke Foundation’s Shaftesbury Society.)
If I remember correctly, Green’s U.S. News article had noted the drawbacks in government mandating use of renewable energy sources. The response from John Powell of New Bern takes Green to task:
Kenneth Green conveniently forgot that any investment in electricity generated from renewable energy is rewarded by a continuing stream of income from free wind and solar energy. In contrast, coal- and oil-fired plants will cost a fortune in fuel over their entire lifetime while dumping billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Green also ignores the huge costs (trillions) incurred in global climate damage by coal and oil and by the unnecessary wars we are fighting to secure a supply of foreign oil.
If any North Carolinian is in dire need of the John Locke Foundation’s services, Mr. Powell might be that person. If one could draw a “continuing stream of income” from something that’s acquired freely, wouldn’t we all leap at the opportunity? Some basic economics might help Mr. Powell learn there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
He might also learn some of the basic elements of cost-benefit analysis. It’s not enough to say that power plants will “cost a fortune” and generate “huge costs” for the climate. Cost-benefit analysis replaces adjectives with numbers to help policymakers, voters, and taxpayers decide whether a policy proposal makes economic sense.