Monthly Archives: July 2010

Managing choice in education

Earlier this month, the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed that unaccredited public school districts must provide for the educational costs of a student who wishes to transfer into a neighboring, accredited district. The Children’s Education Council of Missouri suggests that an orderly array of choices for parents in unaccredited districts may be the best way to serve these students while limiting the challenges or complications potentially faced by accredited districts who stand to receive an influx of new students.

I think as a practical matter, most people would like to see greater parental choice in education. And yet, there are plenty of folks with skin in the game, so to speak, and so we’ve got to look at the politics of this as well.

While the case will undergo further review, it seems to have the potential to change the dynamics for suburban school supporters in regards to their position on school choice issues. It wouldn’t however, seem to change much for the broader public education political establishment, which tends to react to any manner of choice as a threat to its position. For that reason, it will be interesting to see if this issue could cause something of a rift between the former (suburban school supporters) and the latter (the larger education bureaucracy).

If such a rift developed over this issue, would it be enough to lessen the cohesion of a large and unified public education system bureaucracy that has succesffully fought against greater school choice in Missouri? I don’t know – but for the sake every child who deserves a better academic education than they now recieve, I hope so.

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Filed under Education

Glenn Beck may lose sight

Television and radio commentator Glenn Beck tells a live dinner audience that he may lose his vision, after having been diagnosed with macular dystrophy. From Politics Daily, via the Drudge Report (see the 6:30 mark).

Things like this are always powerful reminders of our mortality. Love him  or hate him, Beck has enjoyed tremendous success recently. Yet, he too will pass away – is passing away. Fading. Soon he literally may not even be able to see the things of this world.

Each and every one of us is in an unstoppable state of decay. Even our greatest successes will not save us. How then, shall we live?

We ought to live for eternity, and in the present, we ought to live with an eternal perspective. May we have the wisdom and strength to do so.

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Filed under Personal Living, Philosophy and Ethics

Summer Reading vs. Summer School?

I posted a few thoughts over at the National Association of Scholars blog about a potential new tool in the toolbox of education reform – giving kids books to read before they leave school for summer break.

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Filed under General & Miscellaneous

NAACP, Tea Party, and fine political lines

Dave Helling of The Kansas City Star reports on reaction within the black political community to the NAACP’s condemnation of alleged “racist” elements in the tea party. The organization held its annual convention in Kansas City, Missouri this year.

I’m a bit surprised – pleasantly – at the overall tone of comments coming from Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Cynthia Tucker. And according to The Kansas City Star:

Timothy Johnson of the Frederick Douglass Foundation said ‘the NAACP no longer speaks for the average African-American … the Tea Party movement has nothing to do with race.’ “

I’ve got to say that it relieves me to see that sentiment expressed. While the NAACP has a vital legacy of contribution to our society, much of what I see coming from the organization or its leaders today does not live up to that positive role  in racial reconciliation that it has played in the past.

The NAACP expressed surprise that so much attention was paid to their condemnation, but given the context, its leaders shouldn’t be surprised at all. Conflict makes for a compelling story, and conflict involving race and politics is especially easy to latch onto.

That being the case, I would have hoped that the NAACP would have seen fit to stick to what it claims to believe are the important issues, and not stoke controversey by taking a questionable pot shot at a political rival.

The other, underlying political dynamic at play here is the extent to which race will become an issue in the midterms and in the next presidential election. There are clearly some elements within the liberal movement that are prone to portray opposition to President Obama as racially motivated.

Yet, the president and his advisers know that to play that game is to walk a very fine line at great risk. The question is whether de facto surrogate organizations with less temperance, less savvy and less on the line generally will understand and heed the political imperative  of their patron president.

The jury is still out on that question.

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Tasered – again (and again).

Another taser incident. This time, law enforcement brutally tased an elementary school teacher in her own home after she called to report a prowler. ABC News compiled this and several other similar, nearly unbelievable incidents.

I wonder if there is a comprehensive list of such incidents. Surely there are groups that track, comprehensively, reports of police brutality. With this phenomenon continuing, it seems worthwhile to begin tracking it in particular.

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Obama playing politics on immigration

Kris Kobach writes in the New York Post that the administration is playing politics with its attack on Arizona’s law enforcement approach to illegal immigration. BTW – I do think this will ultimately hurt Dems in the midterms.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Immigration

Cameras in the courtroom?

Not a good idea, says Chris Berger of Overland Park, Kansas. He notes that issue has increasingly arisen in recent Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Installing cameras would politicize the court and threaten its independence, writes Berger. I generally agree with that assessment, and I oppose using cameras to broadcast Supreme Court proceedings.

There have been some efforts to tape and broadcast committee hearings in the Missouri General Assembly. I don’t know if those efforts ever gained traction, but I would be similarly disinclined to support such a move. Not that committee hearings could never be recorded by video, but that it is unnecessary and inadvisable to videotape every meeting of every committee to produce for open consumption. Even if it was cheap and easy to do – which it probably wouldn’t be – that would not alter more principal considerations.

Our national and state governments are designed according to republican principles, and are stabilized by a system of checks and balances. Whether it’s bringing cameras into the Court Chamber of the Supreme Court – or Hearing Room 6 in the basement of the Missouri State Capitol – let’s not tamper with republicanism and checks and balances in an ill-fated grasp at “transparency.”

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Filed under Missouri Politics, Supreme Court