ICYMI: On December 5, we sent you some great news about results at the Foundation. If you missed it, you can read it here.
Quotes of Note
“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy.” – Benjamin Franklin
“‘Can you assure the boys and girls of this country that NORAD and the Air Force is fully prepared to track Santa once again?’ Senator Tom Cotton asked. ‘I don’t have a complete intelligence report, senator, but I understand that the reindeer have been in fact fed their quantity of oats and are prepared for the delivery of all of those gifts to those who have been nice and not naughty,’ General Paul Selva said.” – CNN
Kudos: Vetoing an ordinance change increasing retirement pay for the mayor and City Council, Statesboro Mayor Jan Moore declared, “The approval of this increase in retirement pay for elected officials is demonstrative of elected officials placing their personal financial interests above the public interest and the interests of the employees of the City of Statesboro.” Source: Statesboro Herald
Back to basics: In 2016, Georgia will release an A-F School Grading System for schools, joining 15 other states in grading schools A-F. The grade will include student achievement, achievement gap closure and student growth, with the calculation to be determined by the State Board of Education. Source: Foundation for Excellence in Education
Teacher Quality: An audit by the state Department of Audits and Accounts finds that Teach for America teachers get better results than traditional teachers, but tend to leave the profession earlier. The study noted that the turnover rate in low-income schools, where most TFA teachers teach, is high for all teachers. Source: Insider Advantage
Reform proposals: Allowing flexibility in testing so students can move at their own pace is one of the recommendations of the Governor’s Education Reform Commission, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. It’s known as competency-based learning.
You heard it here first: Tom Vander Ark highlights a Georgia startup: “Gareth Genner’s Parish.Academy is a micro kit for Catholic schools. The Atlanta-based startup empowers the creation and operation of 40-160 student schools with an annual cost of $3,750 per student.” Sound familiar? Genner was a speaker at this year’s Georgia Legislative Policy Forum!
If you find yourself in a hole: The Atlanta City Council approved a 50-mile Streetcar System Plan this week.“This plan, when implemented, will solidify our city’s commitment to improving social equity and increasing economic mobility for all of our citizens,” a news release declared. The Foundation has written extensively criticizing the project, whose current 2.7-mile system was initially projected to cost $72 million. The last official cost estimate – back in 2013 before operations began – was $98 million.
Smart transit: Cobb County is focusing on affordable and efficient transit solutions. The express bus service targeting millennials would provide real-time bus arrival information, wi-fi and charging stations on buses and a seamless fare card with MARTA/GRTA. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Dignity of work: Even The New York Times is pointing out that Americans increasingly want welfare to come with work. “Where opposition to the social safety net has long been fed by the specter of undeserving inner-city African-Americans … it’s fueled, more and more, by people’s resentment over rising dependency they see among their own neighbors, even their own families.”
Brew-ha-ha: Georgia craft breweries are not allowed to sell directly to customers, but legislation adopted this year allowed them to sell facility tours and “give away” their product afterward. The Department of Revenue has barred breweries from basing tour prices on the value of the beer and “thwarted the legislative intent of that legislation,” Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said this week. “And I would like to see them eliminate the need for legislative action, if they would go back and revisit that, because if they don’t, we may have to.” Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Twelve days of Christmas: The cost of the gifts in the holiday classic, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” is $34,130.99 in 2015, “a mere $198 more than last year’s cost,” according to the 32nd annual report. Source: PNC
More spend less: Average health spending per capita in the United States is around $8,600 annually. But it’s not distributed evenly. About 80 percent of the enrollees are healthy and collectively consume only 20 percent of the health care dollars used, about $2,150 per year on average. Source: NCPA
This month in the archives: In December 2005, the Foundation published, “Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Needs Teeth to be Effective,” by James Garland and John Marsh. It noted, “Quite simply, local and state officials have found ways to effectively circumvent [Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights] provisions, a lesson that should be remembered if the General Assembly considers any further structural limitations to spiraling government spending.”
Foundation in the news The Citizen published a letter from Peachtree City officials accusing the Foundation of misrepresenting facts on that city’s broadband plan. Read Kelly McCutchen’s response here.
Social media: The Foundation has nearly 2,800 Facebook “likes” and more than 1,500 Twitter followers at twitter.com/gppf. Follow us on Instagram, too! Visit our Facebook album of 30 (tongue-in-cheek) reasons you should not contribute to the Foundation. Choose us as your beneficiary when you shop smile.amazon.com. While all contributions to the Foundation are tax-deductible, Amazon will donate one-half percent of your purchase price at no cost to you!
Have a great weekend!
Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd
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I wanted to publicly say how much I appreciate Georgia Public Policy Foundation. For those of you that will be entering the Legislature or are relatively new you may not quite yet appreciate how much we rely on Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s research and work. As you know we’re a citizen’s legislature. We have very little staff. They have been an invaluable, invaluable resource to us. To put this [Forum] on and the regular programs that they do throughout the year make us better at what we do. (At the 2012 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum.)