Policy

Do Standardized Tests Raise Dropout Rates?

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The No Child Left Behind Act became law in 2002. Among other things, it required standardized testing of students, beginning in 2003. The scores are used to evaluate the quality of the schools.

It sounds reasonable. Congress certainly thought so. It was co-authored in the Senate by Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and Judd Gregg (R-NH), while John Boehner (R-OH) and George Miller (D-CA) introduced it into the House. It passed both houses by huge bi-partisan majorities, 91-8 in the Senate and 384-45 in the House.  read more »

Subjects:

The Secret of Where Good Energy Comes From

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In the wake of Solyndra's failure, pundits have latched on to a simple, compelling narrative: government can't do energy right.

From synfuels to solar panels to "clean coal" (written, inevitably, with knowing quotation marks), demonstration projects funded by the Department of Energy are described as one failed white elephant after another. Today the DOE is the agency everyone loves to hate (and, at least in Texas Gov. Rick Perry's case, the agency to forget).  read more »

Does a Big Country Need to do Big Things? Yes. Do We Need a Big Government to do them? No.

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TV network MSNBC's left-leaning commentator Rachel Maddow has opened herself up to ridicule by the conservative blogsophere over her advert featuring the Hoover Dam. The thrust of the spot is that “we don’t do big things anymore” but that we should. But critics say the dam couldn’t be built today due to environmental opposition to exactly these kinds of projects. Indeed many in the Administration and their green allies are more likely to crusade for the destruction of current dams than for the building of new ones.

Both sides have their points.  read more »

Occupy Wall Street: About D@%& Time!

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"Privileged people don't march and protest; their world is safe and clean and governed by laws designed to keep them happy. I had never taken to the streets before; why bother? And for the first block or two I felt odd, walking in a mass of people, holding a stick with a placard..." Michael Brock in John Grisham's The Street Lawyer (Doubleday, 1998).  read more »

Brand Loyalty Dominates Trip to Work

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Many public sector mavens watch like the Dow Jones average the shares of workers using various modes of transportation on work trips to see how their favorite mode is doing.  One shouldn’t be surprised when a certain hyperbole creeps into the interpretation of the trends.   But in reality not a whole lot is changing, despite many assertions of ballooning growth from some sectors.   read more »

Gas Against Wind

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Which would you rather have in the view from your house? A thing about the size of a domestic garage, or eight towers twice the height of Nelson’s column with blades noisily thrumming the air. The energy they can produce over ten years is similar: eight wind turbines of 2.5-megawatts (working at roughly 25% capacity) roughly equal the output of an average Pennsylvania shale gas well (converted to electricity at 50% efficiency) in its first ten years.  read more »

Political Footballs: L.A.'s Misguided Plans For A Downtown Stadium

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Over the past decade Los Angeles has steadily declined. It currently has one of the the highest unemployment rates (roughly 12.5%) in the U.S, and there’s little sign of a sustained recovery. The city and county have become a kind of purgatory for all but the most politically connected businesses, while job creation and population growth lag not only the vibrant Texas cities but even aged competitors such as New York.  read more »

Florida Gets Dragged Into the 21st Century

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Righteous cries of outrage and anger dominate Florida these days, as unreasonable assaults upon common sense seem to roll with regularity out of the governor’s office. Recently, Governor Scott   published a list of Florida’s higher education faculty, matching salaries to names.  This act was disingenuously styled as an effort towards transparency, but it was really a good old-fashioned right-wing poke at the eggheads.   read more »

Arab Spring - American Winter

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2011 brought us the Arab Spring, a year of protests, turmoil, and revolution. 2012 will usher in the American Winter, a new era of withdrawal and separation for America and the Middle East. Contrary to conventional wisdom, America is poised to step back from the dominant role it has played in the Middle East since 1948.

The author has traveled to the Middle East for more than two decades during which time there was little change among the dictators, strongmen and mullahs that ruled the desert lands.  read more »

HELP WANTED: The North Dakota Boom

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The nation’s unemployment rate has been hovering at nearly nine percent since 2009. But not every state is suffering an employment crisis. In the remote, windswept state of North Dakota, job fairs often bustle with more recruiters than potential workers. The North Dakota unemployment rate hasn’t risen above five percent since 1987.  In the state's oil country, unemployment hovers at around two percent, and pretty much everyone who wants a job—as long as they are old enough and not incarcerated—is employed.  read more »