Saturday, March 17, 2007

How Taxes Work

The following piece is self explanitory and came from the Maine Public Policy Institute.

How Taxes Work

by T. Davies

This is a VERY simple way to understand the tax laws. Read on - it does make you think!! Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner.

The bill for al ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this: The first four men -- the poorest -- would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1, the sixth would pay $3, the seventh $7, the eighth $12, the ninth $18, and the tenth man -- the richest -- would pay $59. That's what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement -- until one day, the owner threw them a curve (in tax language, a tax cut). "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20." So now dinner for the ten only cost $80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six -- the paying customers?

How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share? The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would end up being PAID to eat their meal. So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59. Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man, but he (pointing to the tenth man), got $7!" "Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man, "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!" "That's true," shouted the seventh man.

"Why should he get $7 back when I got only $2? The wealthy get all the breaks!" "Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!" The nine men surrounded the tenth man and beat him up. The next night the tenth man didn't show up for dinner. So the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, the nine men discovered -- a little late -- what was very important. They were FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS short of paying the bill! Imagine that! And that, boys and girls, journalists and college instructors, is how the tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction.

Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore. Where would that leave the rest? Unfortunately, most taxing authorities anywhere cannot seem to grasp this rather straight-forward logic!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Dead funding: Lynch switches course again

The following editorial appeared in the Union Leader. School board members, the Claremont lawyers, the Londonderry lawyers, the teachers' unions and administrators are not going to be happy until an amendment includes an income tax and uncontrolled spending on the part of schools. The Claremont case was not about need it was about greed. Any definition that does not have cost controls will only lead to an income tax, future income tax increases and continued lawsuits by greedy educrats.

Dead funding: Lynch switches course again

Monday, Mar. 12, 2007

WE WONDERED how long Gov. John Lynch's original education funding proposal would last once school board members started calling their legislators in protest. Answer: just shy of two months.

It's nice to have a governor willing to listen to lawmakers and adjust his positions after hearing them out. It would be nice, too, to have a governor who better thought out his own proposals before making them.

First, Gov. Lynch was opposed to amending the state constitution to effectively overturn the state Supreme Court's Claremont rulings. Now he's pushing an amendment. First, he was against Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen's GraniteCare plan. Now he's using it to balance his budget. First, he was against Gov. Craig Benson's plan to create a Web site where residents could go to compare prescription drug costs. Now he's promoting it.

We could go on, but you get the point.

When Gov. Lynch proposed an across-the-board 5 percent increase in state education aid this year, it was a shock for a couple of reasons. One, it raised aid to communities that didn't need or expect it while shrinking aid to those that arguably do need it and definitely expected it. Two, anyone could see that it would not fly in the Legislature.

Sure enough, nearly two months later the governor has reversed course. He won't say exactly why he changed his mind, but rest assured that there was intense political pressure to give schools more money.

Gov. Lynch gets credit for shifting money in the budget without being overly concerned about upsetting the status quo. But you cannot ignore the status quo. He really should have done more to test support for his education funding plan before releasing it. We've lost two months in which the governor's energies could have been focused on gathering support for the necessary constitutional amendment, but were instead diverted by a poorly conceived school funding plan that was dead on arrival.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

"Trail Blazers"

The Croydon School Board Report for 2006-2007 Reported the following.

"Our children continue to assimilate into the Newport Schools with ease. The new math program, "Trail Blazers" is now being used in Croydon, as well as, Towle School. Our teachers seemed please with it."

Teachers being pleased is not enough. The "Trail Blazers" math program is flawed.

In short this program was found to not be effective when researched. Sound research principles were not used by the creators of this program.

For more information about "what is wrong with Kendall/Hunt Math Trailblazers, And why it isn’t good enough for our youngest children."

We recommend the following sources of information.

Mathematics -- Specific Math Programs

California Review:
"Math Trailblazers"

Review: "Math Trailblazers"

Is This Math Program Proven?

How To Respond When Your School Announces a New-New Math Program

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

What is an Adequate Education by Tyler Stearns

On February 19th we had the pleasure of hearing the following brilliant speech by the very articulate and intelligent Tyler Stearns a senior at Holderness school. The speech was presented at the State Education Forum in Plymouth. Please send your definition of an "adequate education" to

Tyler Stearns
February 19, 2007

What is an Adequate Education?

My name is Tyler Stearns. I am a senior in high school. I wanted to speak tonight because I have had the unique experience of attending both public and private educational institutions. I spent my elementary years at Thornton Central School and my first two years of high school here at Plymouth. I transferred across the river to the private Holderness School last year.

Speaking from experience, I have found that a one-size-fits-all education does not work. The Supreme Court’s misguided opinions have left us in a precarious situation. We are now ultimately being forced to adopt universal standards for education. But students are by no means universal in all of their educational abilities. It would be unwise for us to adopt a definition of adequacy that dumps all students into a collective group. We need to focus on individual preference and ability.

I recommend that the state adopt a two-fold plan:
• We need a constitutional amendment to prevent centralization of our traditionally decentralized education system. We need to retain local control. After all, who knows what children need most: local teachers and parents or legislators and bureaucrats in Concord?
• The next part is to adopt some kind of school choice program. If every time a new educational technique or tool is created we have to wait months, perhaps years, for the legislature to act what kind of education are we giving our children? Allowing school choice will force the educational system to adapt to attract children. I have had the fortunate experience of being able to afford a private school education. We don’t need to flood our failing schools with more money; we need to give less-fortunate children the option of attending a school that performs well.

Objective studies, including some from Harvard and Princeton, have shown that school choice has caused reading and math scores to rise anywhere from 6 to 15 percentile points. Both public and private schools show improvement in performance in those areas that allow school choice. One study even showed that students using vouchers to attend private school almost double their graduation rates as compared to non-voucher public school students in the same city. I know this forum is not about funding, but as an added bonus one study done in here in New Hampshire showed that a proposed school choice system would have saved the state over 30 million dollars in 8 years. Now, if all this is not adequacy then I don’t know what is.

In summary, I propose that the State of New Hampshire adopt a constitutional amendment and a school choice program. It is the only way that we can ensure all students will get the best education possible. Let parents and children decide how our education system works. I leave you with a quote on school choice from Nobel Prize winning economist Dr. Milton Friedman: “We can strengthen the foundations of our freedom and give fuller meaning to equality of educational opportunity”.

To learn more about Tyler Stearns click here.
Keep an eye on this young-man he is sure to be one of our great leaders when he is an adult. He just may be president come 2048 or so.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

State Education Forums

Last night my husband and I attend the last of the State Education Forums. Just below you will find both of our speeches we presented to the legislators at the forum.

Addressing the task of defining an adequate education, committee chairman Iris Estabrook said "The Legislature takes its responsibility to respond to the court's order very seriously". I respectfully suggest that the legislature NOT take the court's order seriously and abandon this perilous course of action. As we near the end of these hearings, I would like to recap some of what this committee has heard in support of this view....

Refreshingly, some speakers even within the existing education system, called for local control, parental control, vouchers and school choice. Alas, many speakers came like kids in a candy store looking to include their pet projects. The most egregious demand was class size limitations. Inclusion of class size into the definition of adequacy not only perpetuates the "input-driven" standards deemed unsatisfactory in previous efforts, it provides no educational benefit as shown in over 85% of a group of 277 studies(1). As a testament to the self-serving nature of these demands, not a single class size limit advocate even mentioned homeschooling, the ultimate in small class size, because homeschooling doesn't artificially inflate the demand for teachers. In short, class size reduction is good old fashioned feather bedding, a giveaway to the teachers unions. It doesn't belong in any adequacy definition.

A few more examples: NH Council of Social Studies Executive Board member Ann Anthaman suggests social studies be part of an adequate education. "Media Smart" director Rona Slockour came to the microphone in Manchester to declare the value of "Media Literacy" to solve all manner of social ills.

Three NH School Counselors Association members produced virtually word-for-word identical recitations extolling the virtues of guidance counselors, including my personal favorite line from Catherine Sheridan who considers her profession indispensable in helping to "improve school transitions from kindergarten to first grade". We've also heard multiple calls for mandatory Kindergarten despite growing evidence that time at home with parents is more valuable. The gamut of demands spanned from pre-natal education to the grave. Is a pattern emerging here?

The most disturbing yet honest comments came from two school board members, one in Manchester and another in Dover who said "we need it all!" and "Let's get the money!" These statements reveal the real goal of these legal games - to provide an endless laundry list of expenses for public schools. Perpetual lawsuits will keep these expenses growing without limit. Lawsuits like Claremont I, Claremont II, and Londonderry are just the tip of the iceberg. Our legislature has thus become the proverbial Titanic sailing aimlessly into a definition of educational adequacy.

Ladies and Gentlemen, its time to grab the life vests and sound the alarm. Five forums have shown that acceding to the court's demands will open a floodgate of gimme-gimme lawsuits that can only result in broad based taxes and out-of-control spending. There is widespread consensus that the court has overstepped its bounds, having no constitutional authority to direct the legislature in this manner. Lawmakers have not only the right, but the duty to face down this threat to our liberty and rebuke the court's demands.

I therefore ask this committee to propose two acts. First, tear up the court's illegal mandate. Second, pass a constitutional amendment establishing once and for all that education is a parental responsibility, not a state responsibility. These acts will preserve New Hampshire's unique quality of life and hopefully bring an end to the frivolous education industry lawsuits. If we permit the courts to dictate education policy, New Hampshire will collapse into the tax-and-spend nightmare of our neighbors, and the public will curse the name "Claremont" for generations to come.

1. Education Week Sept 29, 1999

Jim Peschke
Croydon, NH

I'd like to thank members of this committee for allowing parents and taxpayers to participate in discussions about educational adequacy in New Hampshire. My own research regarding educational adequacy issues across the nation has provided alarming evidence against the committee's proposed plan. I'd like to share some of what I've learned.

In a winter 2007 Education Next article, James Guthrie and Matthew Springer write that since the late 1960s "plaintiffs have filed more than 125 court cases questioning the constitutionality of school district and school spending levels." "In 2005 alone, high court decisions were handed down in eight states." This doesn't sound like a case-by-case judicial review process, it sounds more like a nationwide scam. It makes me wonder if any action taken by the legislature can keep the courts from meddling in our schools.

In the same publication, Josh Dunn and Martha Derthick summarized the case against court involvement: "Adequacy lawsuits have proved a serious threat to the right of citizens to have their taxes determined by elected officials who are in a position to weigh the competing claims for public support and to judge the relative efficacy of spending for particular purposes." In other words, the court is trying to play lawmaker and is ill-suited for this task.

We the people look to you the legislature to protect our rights. It is clear that the Claremont and Londonderry lawsuits were designed by those who stand to profit from higher education spending. These groups, most notably the teachers unions, have turned our schools into an entitlement machine.

We're repeatedly assured that these forums focus solely on the adequacy definition and not on cost. This simply isn't true, nor should it be. Committee Chairman Iris Estabrook commented that the court's complaint is that current standards are "too general, not specific enough to define its cost". Apparently the court demands cost-specific adequacy definitions. At the Education Funding and the Constitution forum in Concord, Claremont lawyer Scott Johnson also said the adequacy definition must include costing.

This obsession with education spending by those who stand to gain from it is the real reason the court handed down its mandate, and its also the reason this legislature must reject the courts demands.

I am a parent and I do not want you or anyone else to define an adequate education for my child. My husband and I are responsible for our child. We do not want our right of deciding what is the best possible education for our daughter legislated away from us. If you must define an an adequate education please legislate that the parent must define an adequate education with the money following the child and not the institution. Any definition should also include legislation that will ward off future lawsuits by the Big Ed beast. The last component of adequate education which includes costs is a spending control measurement such as the annual increase in spending on adequate education should not exceed the rate of inflation.

In closing I would like to say that over the past 20 years, New Hampshire has increased education spending by 106.1%. We are ranked 3rd nationwide in education performance. We are adequately educating our children.

Cathy Peschke

Just before I spoke a superintendent was speaking about how we should consider educating 3 and 4 year olds as well as full day kindergarten. This through me in to a tizzy. In my original speech I was going to state the following "Friedrich Engels, who in his 1847 draft of the Manifesto called "Principles of Communism" wrote as one of its tenets: "Education of all children, from the moment they can leave their mother's care, in national establishments at national cost." I thought it would be to harsh so I had took it out. Now I had wished I left it in. I did not state it clearly because I was so dumbfounded by the superintendent statements but I hope I got my point out at the disgust of wanting to rip children away from their parents so they can be properly indoctrinated was indeed wrong.

Please be sure to send your definition of an "adequate education" to our legislators at