Category: Commentaries

School Choice, A Way to Fix Public Schools

By Ben Scafidi BENJAMIN SCAFIDI This excerpt is adapted from a speech by Dr. Ben Scafidi on July 10, 2014, at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s Friedman Legacy for Freedom celebration in Macon.   I’ve been a Milton Friedman fan since I was an undergraduate and I am honored to be a Fellow at the Friedman Foundation. He has influenced me and influenced national policy so much. The legacy Friedman chose is the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. I want to read you some quotes from Milton and Rose Friedman about school choice. This is from 2003: “Our goal is to have a system in which every family in the U.S. will be able to choose for itself the school to… View Article
By Lindsey Burke Erika Hartley has two sons with Autism, which means she can explain in one sentence what being able to customize their education means to her family. “If you’ve met one child with Autism,” she says, “You’ve met one child with Autism.” Fortunately, for her sons, Hunter, 11, and Jackson, 7, they live in Arizona, home to the first-in-the-nation education savings accounts. ESAs enable Hunter and Jackson attend Pieceful Solutions, a school that specializes in teaching children with special needs. The Hartleys can use any money left over after tuition for private tutoring, books, educational therapies and to pay for other education-related services and products. Now, some families in Florida will have access to this innovative approach to… View Article

Education Excellence Can’t Be Achieved From Above

By Jason Bedrick Education in America in the 21st century is moving away from the standardization of the Industrial Era and toward greater customization. As parents increasingly tailor their children’s education through course choice, scholarship tax credits, education savings accounts, homeschooling, online and blending learning, and so on, top-down accountability schemes will become increasingly untenable. As our education system becomes more decentralized and complex, the locus of accountability should shift from government to parents. The best form of accountability is directly to parents who are empowered to choose the education providers that meet their children’s needs—and leave those that do not. Since low-income families often cannot afford anything besides their assigned district school, the government school system has had to… View Article

State needs power to fix problems

By Benita M. Dodd What’s a state to do when the federal surface transportation program heads toward its Sept. 1 expiration date with little promise of a new transportation bill and the Federal Highway Trust Fund’s expenditures outpace tax receipts about $1.25 billion a month? BENITA DODD The good news is nobody expects Congress to allow the program to lapse. Washington will slap on some Band-Aid legislation taking states into 2015 (hint: November elections) but the wounds of partisanship will continue to fester. What Georgia should not be doing is holding its breath. State transportation leaders should hold their noses instead; forge ahead with new and growing independence from the federal government. Gov. Nathan Deal is doing so already, having… View Article
  BENITA DODD By Benita M. Dodd As Memorial Day approaches, the word of the week is “summer.”  Unfortunately, the true meaning of the holiday more often takes a back seat to barbecue. What is now simply the “unofficial start of summer” once was “Decoration Day,” honoring the troops who died in the Civil War. Today, it honors all the Americans who have died in military service. The context is important. Schools are preparing to close after a year of struggling to impart not just academics but character. In some cases, it’s even tougher to teach character: Students’ role models have devolved. Yesterday’s “Hannah Montana” is today’s twerking Miley Cyrus. Many students go home to workaholic parents, single parents, low-income… View Article

Taxes Do Matter to Migration

By Jonathan Williams, Will Freeland and Ben Wilterdink The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) recently released a new study that purports to show that state taxes have a negligible effect on the decisions of Americans to migrate from one state to another. The study criticizes research done by Dr. Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore and Jonathan Williams in the yearly publication, “Rich States, Poor States,” and other publications that arrive at the conclusion that states should seek to adopt competitive tax and fiscal policies as a way of promoting economic growth.   The author of the CBPP report fundamentally misinterprets what the data really means and/or grossly misrepresents the actual position taken by advocates of lower state taxes. For the… View Article

Get Georgia Moving Again on Transportation

By Benita M. Dodd  BENITA DODD Georgia’s economy is picking up, and with it the daily traffic congestion as growing numbers of commuters travel to jobs. Inertia followed the failure of the 2012 transportation sales tax (TSPLOST) in nine of 12 regions, but it’s time to move forward on transportation.   Georgia still needs funding. Congress’ stalemate and growing national infrastructure demands are shrinking the federal pot. At home, even if Georgia legislators possessed the political will to increase it, the state fuel tax remains a source of diminishing funds. It’s tougher to fund infrastructure maintenance and repairs, let alone enhancements, amid erosion by greater fuel efficiency, more alternative-fuel vehicles and money going to programs that do little to ease congestion.  … View Article

Time to Restructure Testing?

By Kelly McCutchen  KELLY McCUTCHENPresident, Georgia Public Policy Foundation Across Georgia, tension is in the air as 1.6 million students endure the annual ritual of end-of-year testing. Nervous students, parents and teachers feel the pressure: The efforts of an entire year hinge upon the performance at this one point in time.   Without a doubt, testing has a vital and necessary role in education. Why else would private schools test their students even though it is not mandated? When used appropriately, testing analyzes strengths and weaknesses, gaps in knowledge and progress toward the ultimate goal of graduation and success. In a perfect world, the results inform educators who then use that information to improve how they teach.   The current testing regime,… View Article

Steer Clear of Overregulating Autonomous Autos

BENITA DODD By Benita M. Dodd If anything drives transportation policy as a solution to congestion and mobility challenges in Georgia, it should be the recommendations in a new report from the Washington, D.C.-based Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) that focuses on “driverless” cars. The report, “Self-Driving Regulation,” described as one of the first comprehensive analyses of autonomous vehicle regulation, is written by CEI fellow Marc Scribner. Unfortunately, Georgia already is bringing up the rear on enabling legislation: Four states and the District of Columbia already have enacted laws recognizing the legality of these autonomous vehicles on the road; several others are considering legislation. It bears pointing out that autonomous vehicles are not quite “driverless;” rather, they are self-driving.… View Article

Tax Policy Trails the Campaign Trail

By Benita M. Dodd With the April 15 tax filing deadline imminent, the Tax Foundation sent out its perennial reminder of Tax Freedom Day, the day Americans have collectively paid off their federal, state and local taxes and can begin to work for themselves.  Unfortunately for Georgians, Tax Freedom Day comes three days later than it was last year: April 12. Georgia is also well behind the first in line and lags all its neighbors but North Carolina: In Louisiana, it’s March 30. It’s no surprise that taxes scarcely raised their Hydra head in the 2013-2014 Georgia legislative session that ended March 20. As with so many other potential controversies, legislators kept tax policy below the radar as they raced… View Article

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