Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Surf's Up

Remember the Dream Act? Joanne Jacobs has an idea, link the Dream Act to military service.  There is a long history of using military service as a stepping stone to citizenship.  The only downside to Jacbobs' idea is that in the past the military would take legal immigrants into their ranks, this would be a signficant policy change, allowing illegal immigrants into the ranks gives the air of legitimacy to their actions--even after you require them to disavow allegiance to their home nation.
As the round of state of the states addresses and state budget proposals start making their way into the news cycle, one this is almost certain--there are going to be some painful cuts in state spending--including education: It's a tough time to be a state legislator. I spent Saturday morning listening to Washington State House Education Committee testimony from school board members, teachers, principals, and parents of kids in special program all speaking against budget cuts. No one in the room seemed to understand that everything is different this time.
Money manager Whitney Tilson suggests that the fiscal crisis "means that the 100+ year bull market in education funding is likely over." Over the last thirty years, we doubled staffing ratios, added generous pensions, and greased the wheels of reform with lots of extra spending--that is over. The ARRA stimulus will be noted as the zenith of education funding (and federal control in education); states are broke, the cliff is here.
Indeed, many states are looking at 10% to 20% budget shortfalls (Nevada is looking at 40%) on top of the budget shortfalls that took place in the past 2-3 years necessitating spending cuts or tax increases.  The time when schools were largely insulated from spending cuts is over.

Speaking of education, is the Rhodes Scholarship losing its luster?  Well maybe not the scholarship itself, but at least on scholarship committee members seems to think that the quality of candidate is going down and she blames the growing specialization of an undergraduate degree these days.  I have, however, become increasingly concerned in recent years - not about the talent of the applicants but about the education American universities are providing. Even from America's great liberal arts colleges, transcripts reflect an undergraduate specialization that would have been unthinkably narrow just a generation ago.
As a result, high-achieving students seem less able to grapple with issues that require them to think across disciplines or reflect on difficult questions about what matters and why.
The writer is Heather Wilson, a former U.S. Representative from New Mexico, U.S. Air Force officer and Rhodes Scholar.

As usual, Don Boudreaux lays out in a nice simple, easy to understand case about health care, and what the GOP should do to answer the question about what to do about health care, here is my favorite nugget:
“Most importantly, yes, the government will step aside to let each of you make your own choices, and to let entrepreneurs experiment creatively and competitively with different ways of supplying and financing health-care.
“No, the result won’t be unlimited health-care for anyone.  But, yes, it will be more, better, and less costly health-care for everyone.  Oh – and, yes, America will also be a freer society.”
Of course, it is unlikely that the GOP will say such things because we as a society have gotten used to the government intervention in health care.
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