January 22, 2019: “National School Choice Week: A Capitol Choice,” is a noon Policy Briefing Luncheon on Tuesday, January 22, in the Empire Room, 20th floor, Sloppy Floyd Building in Atlanta. Speakers are Dr. Ashley Berner, deputy director at the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Education Policy, and Georgia Public Policy Foundation Senior Fellow Dr. Ben Scafidi, professor of economics at Kennesaw State University. $35. Early Bird Registration is $25 through December 31. Find more information and registration here.
Quotes of note
“Most people will tell you the secret to unity is to disagree less. If we ignore our partisan differences or just get everyone to agree, the thinking goes, our country will eventually improve. However, the secret to bridging our divides is not to disagree less; it is to disagree better.” – Arthur Brooks
“It will not be denied that power is of an encroaching nature and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it.” – James Madison (1788)
“The most decent and honorable person I ever met was my friend George Bush, one of nature’s noble men. … Loyalty to his country, loyalty to his family, loyalty to his friends, loyal to the institutions of government and always, always, always a friend to his friends. None of us were ready for this day.” – Alan Simpson, at the funeral of President George H.W. Bush
Energy and environment
Last plastic straw: Delta Airlines has joined the plastic straw revolt, The Atlanta Business Chronicle reports. The company plans to eliminate single-use plastic items – stir sticks, wrappers, utensils and straws – from aircraft and its Sky Club, and replacing with bamboo and birch products. The Reason Foundation notes the much-used statistic that Americans used 500 million plastic straws a day is based a 9-year-old boy’s “completely unscientific school project.”
Rethinking Choice: Uniformity in U.S. school systems is legislated and cemented in many state constitutions, along with so-called Blaine Amendments that forbid government funding of sectarian schools, Ashley Berner of the Johns Hopkins University Institute for Education Policy writes for the Brookings Institution. “As a result, the district structure is all we have known for a hundred years, and our cultural imaginations have become constrained by it. Most democracies, meanwhile, adopted educational pluralism, which disaggregates the funding, regulation and delivery of schools.” Berner joins Foundation Senior Fellow Ben Scafidi to speak at the Foundation’s January 22, 2019, National School Choice Week Celebration.
Free speech victory: Students at Kennesaw State University sued the university in federal court, alleging school administrators denied the Young America’s Foundation chapter equal access to university resources and charged students excessive fees to host a conservative speaker. The university agreed to a settlement that requires KSU to restore students’ free speech rights on campus and to pay the YAF chapter $17,100. Source: SPN.org
Flexible food rules: School menus are improving. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue tweeted Thursday: “Nutritious school meals don’t do anyone any good if kids just throw them into the trash. So we’re empowering local schools by providing more options to serve healthy AND appetizing food.”
Ride-hail fatalities? A new study places the blame primarily on ride-hailing services for a 2-3 percent increase in fatal crashes in cities with Uber and Lyft. Baruch Feigenbaum of the Reason Foundation points out, however, “That approach shows correlation but not causation. … That increase could have been due to increased vehicle miles traveled or more driver distractions. Nowhere does this study show that ride-hailing is the cause of increased fatalities.”
Deadly road diet? Evacuation from Paradise, Calif., during the massive, deadly Camp Fire was hindered by “road diets” that had been implemented by the city. There were massive traffic jams as 27,000 people tried to leave on short notice; motorists abandoned their cars. Evacuation routes had been narrowed from four lanes to two and bike lanes added. Source: Wattsupwiththat.com
Two-way street: While much of the discussion in health care is about pricing transparency, a new study finds that up to 80 percent of patients don’t share relevant health information with their clinicians. The study, published in JAMA Network Open, is based on an online survey by researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Source: Becker’s Hospital Review
Alternative routes: Despite the calls for Georgia to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, there are numerous options for the state to facilitate care and coverage for low-income individuals without taking that costly step. Go here to view the ideas shared by the Foundation’s Kyle Wingfield at the House Rural Development Council meeting December 4 in Dahlonega.
Team paper: A new Trump Administration report outlines the key issues related to health-care choice and competition. The 119-page report drew from expertise across departments, agencies and councils, identifying four areas where federal and state rules inhibit adequate choice and competition and recommending improvements in each.
Ear, ear: The ear may be Apple’s next health monitoring target. It’s “a perfect sensing area for detecting various health data,” according to a Business Insider article based on a noted analyst who predicts Apple could integrate its wireless AirPods earphones with health-focused Apple Watch features in the future.
Small business wins: While owners of large U.S. corporations suffered a depressing week amid concerns about the economic future, owners of small firms have hardly ever felt better, judging by the latest National Federation of Independent Business survey. NFIB reports an acceleration of hiring last month and a determination among small business employers to expand and create more jobs. Source: News reports
This month in the archives: In December 20 years ago, the Foundation published, “Why Georgia Needs to Balance the Public-Private Playing Field.” It noted, “When government sells a service or product, state and federal tax revenue is lost and the associated costs shifted to all other taxpayers. More importantly, cities do not pay property taxes on their facilities, directly costing local taxpayers great sums that would otherwise be paid by private firms.”
Have a great weekend!
Kyle Wingfield and Benita Dodd
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The best way to make a lasting impact on public policy is to change public opinion. When you change the beliefs of the people; the politicians and political parties change with them.