A New Can Of Worms
26 November 2003
States Dragging Feet on Leave No Child Behind

"State officials are so overwhelmed by the data they must collect under federal education reform that many are releasing 'school report cards' riddled with errors or delayed for so long that the information is virtually useless to parents and schools," writes Stephanie Banchero of the Chicago Tribune.

"From Utah to Pennsylvania, education officials have been trying to analyze mounting piles of student test scores and teacher competency statistics and finding the task far more costly and time-consuming than they imagined."

Later in the piece education bureaucrats point to school districts not interested in reporting because there are no consequences to reporting late with faulty scores, yet.
According to today's SJ-R we now have empirical proof that putting government in charge of health care is a disastrous idea:

"On the day Congress passed a Medicare drug provision favorable to pharmaceutical companies, Gov. Rod Blagojevich put the industry's feet to the fire by seeking the elimination of some medications from the state's preferred-drug list.

The governor's plan takes aim at the five companies that have restricted sales to Canada to stop the flow of re-imported drugs. Blagojevich on Tuesday said he will eliminate any drugs manufactured by those companies from the drug list used by state government employees, retirees, inmates and psychiatric patients, provided a safe alternative is available.

'We are not going to just sit back and watch the big drug companies use their political clout and their dominance of the marketplace to force Americans to continue to pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs,' Blagojevich said."

The good news is that tucked away in the Medicare Bill -- which I still think is bad policy -- are Medical Savings Accounts. If these become as popular as 401k's and IRA's it will mean the end of Ted Kennedy's goal of a single payer system.
25 November 2003
Promoting Transparency in the School Cafeteria?

Rep. Jan Schakowsky may have had a moment of lucidity with this one:

"Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) has introduced legislation designed to increase the safety of school meals by creating a national database on the inspection records of school food suppliers.

'Putting information in the hands of the ultimate consumers is a great way to empower people to make sure they have safe food,' the congresswoman said...

The proposed database would list fines and enforcement actions taken against school food suppliers, as well as illness outbreaks and recalls associated with suppliers' products....

Schakowsky's proposed database is modeled in part on a system used by the Agriculture Department, which purchases about 17 percent of the food served in schools. Using internal agency records, the USDA reviews suppliers' safety records before granting contracts. Schakowsky's database would compile similar information on the remaining school food, which is purchased locally."

If you read this story you quickly realize that this is little more than a proposal. We have no idea on how it would function or how much it would cost. If a regulation is designed to promote transparency -- for example financial regulations -- it will enhance trust by providing more accurate information eliminating risk.

Until we have idea of the scope of the problem, the costs of the program and a realistic estimate of the benefits we won't know for sure. Right now, it is just an intriguing idea that's fits my opinion that regulation should enhance transparency and promote higher levels of trust, versus seeking to command and control.

It's About Time...

The Sun-Times today has promising news on the education front:

"The IRS has begun auditing the National Education Association, which has allocated millions of dollars to elect pro-education candidates while reporting on tax forms that it does not spend union dues on politics."

Buried in the story is this,though:

Hundreds of pages of internal NEA documents reviewed showed the 2.7 million-member union spent millions of dollars to help elect pro-education candidates, produce political training guides and gather teachers' voting records.

Not to quibble, but shouldn't that be "pro-union" candidates, not "pro-education" candidates?

This Is Just Precious
24 November 2003
Profile of David Brooks

The New York Observer profiles the new conservative at the New York Times.

Brooks, while I find him amusing, is definately their kind of conservative.
23 November 2003
Where's the Outrage?

Senate President Emil Jones on the War on Terror:

"Democrats thumped their chests and taunted Senate Republicans for refusing to endorse the Bush provision and the rest of the package, including a change permitting the same type of flawed paper ballots to be counted in Illinois that the GOP fought against in Florida to hand Bush the 2000 presidency.

'Perhaps you don't want us to have a target because I want to go after him [for] destroying the economy [and] triggering the . . . war,' bellowed Senate President Emil Jones (D-Chicago).

'I'm still looking for the weapons of mass destruction . . . in his personal war. It's ridiculous. I want him on the ballot,' Jones said."

No, Senator Jones it's not George Bush's war. He didn't trigger this war, Al Quaeda did. It's our war -- all of ours. You see, Senator, WE WERE ATTACKED ON 9/11/2001. More than 3,000 innocent people lost THEIR lives. To suggest that this is a personal war of George W. Bush is despicable, unpatriotic and it defames the victims of that Sunny September morning.

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