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By Benita M. Dodd BENITA DODD Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May. Most Americans take a moment from picnics on the unofficial start of the summer to honor those in the armed forces who have died. Some families grieve every day for those lost in action; some return and grieve for fallen comrades they couldn’t save. For others, it’s even more personal: They return from military action alive but with lasting physical and emotional scars. That’s where Scott Rigsby comes in. Rigsby was 18 and about to start college in 1986 when he was in a wreck involving a tractor-trailer. Both legs were amputated and his struggle to recovery, physical and psychological, was long, difficult and… View Article

Friday Facts: May 27, 2016

It’s Friday! Events  Monday, June 6: “The Politics of School Choice” is a Leadership Breakfast keynoted by national education expert Jay Greene and sponsored by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Education Economics Center at Kennesaw State University. 7:30 a.m., Room 278, Burruss Building, Kennesaw State University. Parking available in the visitors’ lot. $20 includes event and Chick-fil-A breakfast. Register online here. Then and Now: In 1991, when the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was established, we reported the percentage of education dollars used for classroom instruction had gone from 76 percent in 1970 to 52 percent in 1990. Today, instruction spending is 54-58 percent (depending on how broadly “instruction” is defined.) Meanwhile, from… View Article
By Mike Dobbins The pace quickens for putting out some information for citizens to consider as they decide how to vote on the transit referendum. Yet major issues remain about how people will be able to make an informed decision on this most important opportunity. I shared in the Saporta Report recently the process by which rational and effective transit planning should go forward. Regrettably, Atlanta lacks a comprehensive transit plan and has not considered most of the technical and commonsense steps to create one, instead pinning its faith on a 52-mile streetcar plan. My concern here was well captured by John Kay of the Financial Times (4/27) under the headline, “Grand projects are worthless if they don’t work.” Itstates:… View Article

Friday Facts: May 20, 2016

It’s Friday!  Then and Now: In 1991, when the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was established, the average fuel efficiency of a domestic passenger car was 28.4 miles per gallon. According to federal numbers, today it is 36.4 mpg, an improvement of more than 28 percent.  Guide to the Issues 2016, compiled by the Foundation, is now available online. Each Issu chapter includes principles for reform, facts on the issue, background information and, in most cases, positive solutions to the challenges facing Georgia.  Quotes of Note  “Public officers are the servants and agents of the people, to execute the laws which the people have made.” – Grover ClevelandContinued dependence upon relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration… View Article
By Geoff Duncan For generations, government has tried to solve the issues surrounding poverty by adding new programs or growing existing ones.  Much to the surprise of bureaucrats, the outcomes from this approach are uninspiring. Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute found the federal government spent $1 trillion on 126 different anti-poverty programs in 2013 without making a dent in any of the key metrics around poverty. Government has led us to believe if we simply pay our taxes on time each year it will take care of the needy and we can move on with our busy lives. Remind me again: What is the definition of insanity? This past legislative session, Georgia launched an innovative approach to tackle issues… View Article

An Unwarranted Criticism of School Choice

By Russ Moore May is known for flowers, Memorial Day, graduations and – to some in the education arena – the annual GradNation report by America’s Promise Alliance.  The report, the seventh annual, is commendable: chock-full of well-researched statistics and compelling charts reporting America’s progress becoming a “GradNation” by achieving an average high school graduation rate of 90 percent by 2020. Sadly, the predictable “spin” from groups with an ax to grind has also hit the streets. Case in point: A recent article on the Education Week (EdWeek) blog has the tantalizing headline: “Charter, Alternative, Virtual Schools Account for Most Low-Grad-Rate Schools, Study Finds.” EdWeek may not be an “enemy” of school choice, but a casual search of its… View Article

Friday Facts: May 13, 2016

It’s Friday!  Then and Now: In 1991, when the Georgia Public Policy Foundation was established, more than nine in 10 U.S. households had a landline (93.3 percent) for phone service. Today, 96.3 percent of households have phone service, but nearly half of those households (47 percent) have dumped their landlines for wireless service onlyHappy Birthday Hayek! Nobel economist Friedrich Hayek was born 117 years ago this week. His explanation of how “local knowledge” or decentralization is superior to central planning is relatable given our continued top-down regulatory approach in the Internet Age, where local knowledge can be shared easily (Yelp, FaceBook, etc.): If we can agree that the economic problem of society is mainly one of… View Article

Does More Money Improve Outcomes?

Fifty years ago, James S. Coleman published a groundbreaking education report that many call the fountainhead for those committed to evidence-based education policy. Among other things, Coleman found that variations in per-pupil expenditure had little correlation with student outcomes. Even to this day, there remains the simple question as to whether, other things equal, just adding more money to schools will systematically lead to higher achievement. Figure 2 shows the overall record of states during the past quarter century. Changes in real state spending per pupil are uncorrelated with changes in 4th-grade student achievement in reading. Similar results are obtained in math and in both math and reading at the 8th-grade level. Clearly, states have changed in many other ways… View Article

Do Governments Underplay Buses, Favor Rail?

In an editorial below from Transportation Reviews  that was published online in March 2016, author David A. Hensher opines on, “Why is Light Rail Starting to Dominate Bus Rapid Transit Yet Again?” Read the full text here: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01441647.2016.1155851. Below are some excerpts that are relevant to Georgia governments in making sensible choices among transit modes. This highlight sums up his viewpoint:  “The value for money proposition should deliver the best outcome for society regardless of whether it is rail or bus based, in their light and heavy configuration.” Almost weekly, we see proposals to build light rail in many cities, and Australian cities are no exception. It is also quite marked how absent any serious consideration of… View Article

Extending the REACH of Academic Achievement

By Benita M. Dodd BENITA DODD Education activists watched in dismay as education reform proposals were swept under the rug once again at the Gold Dome in 2016 before legislators rushed home to begin campaigning. Across the state, however, as graduation ceremonies approach, one reform begun in 2012 is providing hope: REACH Georgia scholarships. REACH Georgia (Realizing Educational Achievement Can Happen) was launched in 2012 by Gov. Nathan Deal as a privately funded, needs-based mentorship and scholarship program based in Georgia’s public schools. Now it’s a public-private partnership; since 2015, the Legislature has appropriated $2 million for the program; for 2017, the amount is $2.75 million. “We’re not looking for the merit scholar,” says Joy Hawkins, director of business development… View Article

The Foundation raises issues of importance above political rhetoric to a point where politicians focus on them and ultimately make quality decisions.

U.S. Representative Johnny Isakson more quotes