Friday Facts: May 27, 2016

It’s Friday!


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 1992-2009, Georgia public schools increased their employment of administrators and other non-teaching staff by 74 percent even as student numbers increased only 41 percent.

Guide to the Issues 2016, compiled by the Foundation, is now available online. Each 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 

It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, “whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection,” and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.” – John Adams

“Among the strange things of this world, nothing seems more strange than that men pursuing happiness should knowingly quit the right and take a wrong road, and frequently do what their judgments neither approve nor prefer.” – John Jay 

“[T]he efforts of governments alone will never be enough. In the end the people must choose and the people must help themselves.” – John F. Kennedy

Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, this vehicle parked outside the State Capitol said it all.
Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, this vehicle parked outside the State Capitol said it all.


Band-Aid fails vets: Two years ago when Congress tried to fix a chronic delay problem at the Veterans Health Administration, one key reform was a new, $10 billion program, “Veterans Choice.” The goal was to give vets an option of going to a private doctor if they were unable to get a timely appointment with a government-paid VHA doctor. The program has failed miserably, NPR reports, and “wait times have gotten worse – not better, with 70,000 more vets waiting at least a month for an appointment than this time last year. As Investor’s Business Daily puts it, “like any government-run operation, it’s invariably going to be wasteful, inefficient and prone to corruption.”

Transportation and land use

Everyone’s a winner: Despite the uproar over high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes on I-405 outside Seattle, the tolled lanes are reducing congestion even for people who opt not to pay, according to Streetsblog, citing data from PubliCola and an earlier study.

Transit planning: Georgia Tech professor Mike Dobbins’ white paper on transit is worth reading as Atlanta prepares to pitch a new sales tax: “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.”

Surburbs dominate: Data released by the federal government provides additional evidence that the suburbs continue to dominate metropolitan area population growth and that the biggest cities are capturing less of the growth than they did at the beginning of the decade. Source:


School choice support: Georgia’s Republican general primary ballot asked whether parents should be able to choose where to spend their education tax dollars. Seventy-five percent of voters said yes; they support school choice.   

Where are your parents? Arguing that it’s time to restore good parenting into the education equation, Frederick M. Hess and Gerard Robinson declare, “The case for responsible parenting may seem too obvious to merit discussion, but it’s the elephant in the room that no one is talking about when it comes to schooling. This has hurt children, undermined efforts to improve schools, and embittered educators.” Source: 

Funding safe: A Florida judge has ruled against teachers’ union plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the funding of Florida’s tuition tax credit scholarship program, which to date has served 400,000 students.

Health care 

Embracing innovation: “Online Eye Exam Site Makes Waves In Eye Care Industry,” reads the headline on an NPR segment about an innovative online vision service that Georgia legislators were first in the nation to ban, at optometrists’ request. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, embraced the service, which benefits low-income individuals. 

Energy and environment 

Up to standard: The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is asking the federal Environmental Protection Agency to return the metro Atlanta ozone nonattainment area to “attainment” status. The EPD says the region has achieved the eight-hour air quality standard (0.075 ppm) set in 2008 for three years (2013-2015) and will not exceed the standard through 2030. … Or, at least, until the mission-creep EPA bureaucrats raise the ante again.

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In May 2006, the Foundation published, “A Temporary Setback for Education in Georgia.” It noted, “Georgia can ill afford to put up more barriers between our children and a good education.” 


Social media: This week, the Foundation has 2,920 Facebook “likes” and 1,603 Twitter followers at Follow us on Instagram, too!

Visit to read our latest commentary, “Memorial Day Thanks for Better Days after Battle Scars,” by Benita Dodd. 

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

“Although no sculptured marble should rise to their memory, nor engraved stone bear record of their deeds, yet will their remembrance be as lasting as the land they honored.” – Daniel Webster

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd

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