Friday, June 22, 2007

The Special Ed Myth.

We placed this post under the category of Failures of Our Public Education System because of the labeling of students by Educrats. Often times you will hear that academic performance in schools has been hindered by special education programs. The fact is schools get more money if they have larger numbers of students labeled with some sort of disability. It is true that there are more "special ed" children in schools, in fact the percent increase is 50% from the 1976-1977 school year to the 2000-2001 school year. * Closer inspection of this information reveals that we do not actually have more "special ed" children but the standards for labeling these children has been reduced.

* Digest of Education Statistics 2002, National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Educaiton, 2003, Table 52.

To learn more about the education myths we recommend the book Education Myths What Special-Interest Groups Want YOU to BELIEVE about our SCHOOLS - AND WHY IT ISN'T SO.

The Money Myth "Schools perform poorly because the need more money."

At the end of WWII the US spent $1214 (inflation adjusted for 2001-2002 dollars) per student for those in elementary and secondary schools. By 2001-2002 we were spending a total of $8745. That is an 8 fold increase. From 1971/1972 to 2001-2002 spending doubled from $4479 per student to $8745 per student with no increase in student performance.*

*To learn more about this education myth and other myths we recommend the book Education Myths What Special-Interest Groups Want YOU to BELIEVE about our SCHOOLS - AND WHY IT ISN'T SO.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Myth: Increased spending correlates to increased performance.

Stanford University researcher Eric Hanushek researched every study (163) that examined the relationship between spending and educational performance. Only 27 or 16% of the studies found increased spending produced increased results. Of this 16% other researchers have found that the increased in performance was so small compared to the increased spending that is does not justify the increased in spending.

Eric A Hanushek, "School Resources and Student Performance," in Does Money Matter? The Effect of School Resources on Student Achievement and Adult Success, Gary Burless, ed., Brookings Institution, 1996.

Richard Rothstein with Karen Hawley Miles, "Where's the Money Gone? Changes in the Level and Composition of Education Spending," Education Policy Institute, 1995.

To learn more we suggest Education Myths What Special-Interest Groups Want YOU to BELIEVE about our SCHOOLS-AND WHY IT ISN'T SO - Jay P. Greene

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Charlie Arlinghaus: Gov. Lynch should veto the Senate's experiment with deficit spending

The following piece appears in the Union Leader. No further comment is needed.

Charlie Arlinghaus: Gov. Lynch should veto the Senate's experiment with deficit spending

EVERY BUDGET requires a conference committee to sort out the differences between the House and Senate versions. The differences are usually subtle. This year, however, the details reveal startling differences that suggest the Senate version should be either fixed or vetoed.

The House passed a professional and responsible budget. I have been critical of the House revenue estimates for being too high and its spending increase for being huge by recent historical standards, but those criticisms amount to policy differences and different views of the economy.

Both the Senate and House budgets raise spending too much. A 16 percent increase is much too high, vastly outpaces inflation, and cannot possibly be maintained over time without significant tax hikes or "reform." However, by three important measurements the House budget is responsible and the Senate budget is an enormous mistake.

The most important distinction is balance. Just four years ago, the state's bond rating was lowered after four consecutive years of general fund deficits. The bond rating is important because it affects the rate at which we borrow money. A lower rating is like being forced to pay higher mortgage interest rates.

More important, a bond rating is a more objective assessment of the state's fiscal stewardship than the political process usually allows. Each party will criticize the other, emphasize the positive aspects of its own ideas and denigrate the other party. A bond rating is one of the few objective assessments delivered by national rating agencies on Wall Street.

The House budget combines the interdependent general and education funds into one budget (a suggestion Doug Hall and I made two years ago) for clarity. It balances that budget each biennium and puts any surplus into the state's rainy day fund as required by the state's budget law.

The Senate budget can only be described as hand crafted to get us into trouble with the bond rating agencies. While I was happy to see senators adopt more conservative revenue estimates in a few areas, the rest of the budget is out of balance and relies on gimmicks.

The Senate split the budget back into a general and an education fund. Each of its two budget years and the end of the most recent is in deficit. Despite revenue $60 million ahead of budgeted expenses, the fiscal year ending next week shows an $8 million general fund deficit (spending $1.394 billion and estimating revenue at $1.385 billion).

Because the education fund came in strong, there will be a surplus of $48 million. State law and the House budget call for it to be deposited into the rainy day fund. Surpluses in good economic times are saved for recessions. The Senate, in contrast, suspends state law to keep most of the money so the state can run large general fund deficits in both of the next two fiscal years.

In FY 2008, the Senate runs a $49.5 million deficit. In FY 2009, it swells to $60.7 million. On top of a small 2007 operating deficit, that will make three years in a row of deficits during years of significant revenue growth. You can almost hear the eyebrows on Wall Street rising.

The Senate budget spends $110 million more than it raises. The state is saved from deficit only by transferring $87 million from the education fund and borrowing $48 million left in the rainy day fund two years earlier.

The Senate's experiment with deficit spending is the result of a similar escapade two years ago. The Legislature then suspended the rainy day fund law to borrow $30 million from the surplus Craig Benson left. Benson's $30 million forms the bulk of the 2007 surplus that the Senate is borrowing.

It is an action that makes a mockery of the rainy day fund. However, at a minimum, senators should put the $30 million back in the rainy day fund or send Craig Benson a thank you note for the surplus that allows the their profligacy.

The governor should insist the final budget come closer to the House's version. Any surplus that our windfall levels of revenue create must be deposited in its entirety in the rainy day fund, not borrowed to perpetuate problems. Also, the general and education funds should be recombined to reduce the operating shortfall to $23 million. The remaining deficit should be eliminated with spending cuts.

If the final version doesn't do each of those three things, the governor's only responsible choice is to veto it.

Charles M. Arlinghaus is president of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy, a free-market think tank in Concord.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New Hamshire Parents for Educational Freedom

I would like to encourage parents to visit a new site called New Hampshire Parents for Educational Freedom.

To Republican lawmakers, I say, the choice is yours.

The biggest crock of poop I heard today.
"To Republican lawmakers, I say, the choice is yours." - Ray Buckley chairman of the state Democratic Party.

The above quote appeared in today's Union Leader. To read the whole piece, which would best be used as a birdcage liner pick up the June 19th edition of the Union Leader.

To Mr. Buckley I give the following response to your quote.

There is no choice here. Mr. Buckley you and bullies have given no one a choice. The Claremont and Londonderry attorneys did not give anyone a choice when they rammed these lawsuits down the peoples throats. The courts in turn rendered an unconstitutional decision and did not give the legislators a choice. Spineless legislators are yielding to the judges when they do not have to. Democrats are just pandering to the Londonderry and Claremont attorneys, educrats and the teacher's unions. There is no choice here, I do not have a choice as to where I may educate my child unless I pay twice (property taxes and private tuition elsewhere). No Mr. Buckley you have made it clear that you do not want parents to have a choice. Your majority is killing what little choice parents had in killing charter schools by sneaking in House Bill 2 to the State Budget.

If you really want parents to have choice give us a choice. Ignore the judges decision they have no right to do what they did anyway. For once and for all Mr. Buckley you and your party should stop pandering to the unions and do what is right for New Hampshire's Children. Give us a choice where we can educate our children in the institution of our choice and finally stop the educational spending spree that results in mediocre results and deficit spending.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Educational Freedom at Risk are Homeschoolers Next? Contact your Legislators.

The following piece appeared in the Union Leader Contact your legislators and tell them to stop the insanity. Homeschoolers will surely be next in their hit list.

Killing charters: A murder in the Senate

Buried deep in the Senate's version of House Bill 2, the supplement to the state budget, is a provision that would kill the charter school movement in New Hampshire.

The provision removes the state Board of Education's authority to approve new charter schools after July 1. In New Hampshire, charter schools can be approved either by the state board or the local entity that approves the school budget. Fifteen charter schools have been approved for operation in New Hampshire. All of them were approved by the state board. Why? Because the local districts think they'll lose money and control if they approve a charter school. So they don't approve them.

Charter schools operate on a five-year, renewable charter. The provision in HB 2 could mean that none of the eight existing or seven approved charters will be renewed. As soon as each charter expires, the school will be at the mercy of the local district, which will kill it.

Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, said the idea was not to affect renewals, only new charters, and that the language could be changed if its effect would be to prevent the renewal of all charter schools.

D'Allesandro is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, where Senate President Sylvia Larsen introduced the provision as an amendment to HB 2.

The stated reason, D'Allesandro said, was to give existing charters time to get off the ground without new charters interfering.

But that makes no sense. Charter school startup funds come from a federal grant, a separate pool of money than the per-pupil allotments that keep a school running. The per-pupil money stays with the child, whether he is in a traditional public school or a charter school. (Charter schools are public schools.) So whether there are no new charter schools or 200, existing charter schools are affected not at all -- unless the schools are close by and they compete for students, but with only 15 approved in the state, those days are a long way away.

Banning the state approval of new charter schools is a significant policy change. As such, it should have received open debate and public comment. But this provision was quietly slipped into the supplemental budget bill, where major policy changes have no place. It is as if Sen. Larsen wanted to kill new charter schools but did not want anyone to know.

In conference, this provision must be removed from HB 2. It should stand as its own bill and be debated in public.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Teachers vs Union - Victory

Hat tip to the Family Taxpayers Network for pointing me to the website.

The US Supreme court did the right thing and sided with the Teachers and therefore the best interests of the Children.

The following press release is from the Evergreen Freedom Foundation.

Teachers and EFF Win Unanimous Victory at U.S. Supreme Court

Press Release from the Evergreen Freedom Foundation
June 14, 2007

Contact: Booker T. Stallworth
Communications Director
(360) 956-3482

WASHINGTON, DC—Today the United States Supreme Court announced it has overturned the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling in Washington v. Washington Education Association and Davenport v. Washington Education Association (WEA). The cases are the culmination of a decade’s worth of work by concerned teachers and the Evergreen Freedom Foundation (EFF), a Washington state think tank. The Court's ruling could potentially affect millions of union-represented workers nationwide.

As reported by SCOTUS Blog: "In the final of three decisions on the merits Thursday, the Court ruled that it is not a violation of the First Amendment for a state to bar a labor union representing government employees from using non-union workers' dues for political causes if those workers have not explicitly consented. The result was approved unanimously, but there were three partial concurring votes. The decision, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, was issued in a pair of consolidated cases, Davenport v. Washington Education Association (05-1589) and Washington v. Washington Education Association (05-1657)."

"We are elated that the U.S. Supreme Court has honored the First Amendment rights of teachers by overturning the state Supreme Court’s decision," said Bob Williams, president of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation. “The Court understood that the constitutional rights of teachers should be protected and are not superseded by the union’s statutory rights. This ruling will help protect non-member teachers from having their agency fees used on union politics against their will."

At issue in the case is a state statute that required labor organizations to get permission from nonmember workers before using mandatory dues for political purposes. “Nonmembers" are workers who have resigned from the union but are forced to pay collective bargaining fees as a condition of employment.

The WEA admitted to multiple violations during a state investigation and was fined over $590,000 by a Thurston County court.

The WEA later claimed in court that it had no 'fiduciary responsibility' to its members and that the law unconstitutionally ‘burdened’ its free speech rights. The Washington Supreme Court agreed.

"The next step is to make sure the law is strongly enforced in state to ensure the WEA and other unions are in compliance. The WEA has been busily attempting to undermine the law while it was under Supreme Court review," Williams said.

Additional Information

For the most up-to-date information, photos, video, key documents related to the cases, and a weblog on the case, please visit