The Brookings Institution, one of the oldest public policy think tanks in Washington DC, released its Education Choice and Competition Index today. According to the index, Washington DC ranks third out of 107 cities and suburban areas for school choice based on the policies governing choice and availability of education options.
While the District’s mix of public, public charter, and private schools does offer parents a wide variety of educational choice, it does not mean that all of those choices are available to all parents. For the most part, private school options are only available to upper income families. In 2009, Barack Obama ended the voucher program that gave more than 2000 children from low income families the opportunity to attend private schools instead of failing public schools.
Furthermore, the index did not take into account the fact that DC Public Schools announced in August that, thanks to a waiver from the Department of Education, it would be ending its Title I School Choice Programs. That program allowed students assigned to schools designated as a Title I school in need of improvement the option to enroll in an alternative public school or public charter school. According to a letter from Chancellor Kaya Hederson, this move allows the district greater flexibility in spending federal funds. What it in fact does is take away what little control parents had over the education of their children.
In place of the school choice program, the District will provide grants to “allow individual schools to offer intensive extended day programs, technology-based instruction, and support for struggling learners during the regular school day.” In other words: instead of having the option of getting your child out of a failing school and into a good one, more money will be spent to allow those failing schools to continue to teach your child using new, broadly defined and unproven methods that are marketed as some sort of improvement to giving parents a choice.
Thankfully, there are statutory limits that prevent the Treasury from printing paper currency to fund its operations. Otherwise, do you seriously believe that common sense would be enough to stop them from doing so?
But were you aware of the fact that there is no limit to how high of a denomination they can assign to the platinum coins struck by the U.S. Mint?
According to subsection (k) of 31 USC 5112, which governs “Denominations, specifications, and design of coins”:
(k) The Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the Secretary, in the Secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.
It has been suggested that in order to avoid yet another battle over raising the debt ceiling, the President simply needs to instruct the Mint to strike a few one trillion dollar coins which could then be deposited at the Federal Reserve. The Fed could then shift the money into the Treasury Departments accounts and magically fund government operations for the next 2 years.
According to Joseph Gagnon of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, this would not create any added inflation since the U.S. Government would only be using the money to keep spending at existing levels and not throwing the extra money into the economy. I’m not an economist and I cannot say for certain this would not add to inflation, but you would have to assume that the Federal government would control its spending enough to not be tempted to repeat this in the future in order to finance ever larger deficits. If it did, I suppose they could always counter act the effects by having the Fed print less money, right? Right???
Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson announced on Tuesday that she fully expects President Obama to bail out the beggared city in exchange for in return for its residents’ overwhelming support during his reelection. “Our people in an overwhelming way supported the re-election of this president and there ought to be a quid pro quo, and you ought to exercise leadership on that,” Watson said.
Nearly 75 percent of voters in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, voted for Obama on Nov. 6.
You may be aware that state advisory board began oversight of the city’s finances in June in an attempt to help Detroit avoid bankruptcy.
Police in Denham Springs, Louisiana, paid a visit to Sarah Henderson after neighbors complained about the opprobrious arrangement of her Christmas lights. A contentious relationship with her neighbors prompted her to arrange the Christmas lights on her roof to resemble a hand “flipping the bird.” Henderson was ordered to remove the display or be fined for violating local obscenity laws.
“She agreed that it wasn’t worth the possible hassle of fines and legal action,” said Denham Springs Police Corporal Shawn Perkins.
It is not clear what law Herderson was supposedly violating. According to a story in The Advocate, Police Chief Scott Jones said that he would “see if there is a city ordinance” that would prevent Henderson from re-erecting the display. Never mind that any ordinance or law prohibiting such speech would be unconstitutional.
Louisiana ACLU Executive Director Marjorie R. Esman points out that in 1971, the Supreme Court ruled in Cohen v. California that “state may not, consistently with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, make the simple public display of … [a] four-letter expletive a criminal offense.”
“The law on this issue is perfectly clear: the City may not restrict Henderson’s expression purely because it, or Henderson’s neighbors, finds it vulgar or offensive,” Esman said in a letter to Denham Springs Police Chief.
I find it extremely disheartening that, in this day and age, those we trust to enforce the law can be so ignorant of it.
A new law criminalizing online student speech went into effect in North Carolina on Saturday. Known as the 2012 School Violence Prevention Act (who doesn’t want to prevent violence?), the law criminalizes student-on-teacher cyberbullying, meaning that public school students who use computers with the “intent to intimidate or torment” school employees will now be guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor — the equivalent of a simple assault or resisting arrest charge which is punishable by up to 60 days in jail or a $1,000 fine. The law would make even the truth illegal since it prohibits online statements “whether true or false, intending to immediately provoke, and that is likely to provoke, any third party to stalk or harass a school employee.”
The problem here is that the terms “intimidate” and “torment” are not defined and essentially leave it up to the school employee to determine whether or not the speech was criminal. It in effect creates a text book example of the heckler’s veto. As written, it serves little more purpose than to protect government officials from criticism by chilling free speech.
Consider the fact that it would criminalize such things as:
- A student objecting to a decision by school officials on his personal Facebook page
- A student in a chat room stating that they don’t like a particular teacher
- A student posting a complaint about offensive comments made by a teacher in class
- A student making an accurate and truthful comment on Facebook that exposes a teacher who is having an inappropriate relationship with another student.
“This law is so vague that it could easily result in a student being arrested simply for posting something on the Internet that a school official finds offensive,” said ACLU-NC Policy Director Sarah Preston.
It is another example of law makers passing a well-intentioned yet poorly written law in the hopes of appearing to be effective in the fight against cyberbullying. Does the cyberbullying of school employees occur? Without a doubt. Is this law, as it is written, the proper response to protect against such acts? No way.