Property owners are reeling from last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Kelo v. City of New London, which permits the Connecticut municipality to seize land from homeowners and sell it to a private developer to build a hotel, office space, and shops.
The Court's decision gutted Fifth Amendment private property protections, which limit government power to seize private property to cases where it is needed for "public use," traditionally interpreted as projects like roads and bridges.
However, Justice Stevens writes "that nothing in our opinion precludes any State from placing further restrictions on its exercise of the takings power. Indeed, many States already impose 'public use' requirements that are stricter than the federal baseline."
Arizona is one such state. Article II, Section 17 of the Arizona Constitution limits acceptable private uses of condemned property to "private ways of necessity, and for drains, flumes, or ditches, on or across the lands of others for mining, agricultural, domestic, or sanitary purposes."
In the well-publicized 2003 Bailey case, Arizona Court of Appeals judge John Gemmill upheld a narrow definition of public use: "The constitutional requirement of 'public use' is only satisfied when the public benefits and characteristics of the intended use substantially predominate over the private nature of that use."
When it comes to protecting private property, the federal constitution is a baseline. Property owners in Arizona can take some comfort knowing that the Arizona Constitution sets a higher standard.
You have to admire vested interests in the education status quo: they have a flair for reinvention that rivals Madonna's, and to the same end: more money. WestEd's June 23 report claiming that preschool can solve the Social Security crisis, however, is even harder to swallow than the pop star's latest turn as a children's book author.
Some historical perspective: After Sputnik, the establishment donned its 007 tuxedo and sold more spending as the key to Cold War victory with the National Defense Education Act for math and science instruction. In the 1960s they donned their War on Poverty uniform, selling the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Title 1) as a long-term solution to poverty.
What has been the result? The U.S. scored 19 out of 21 nations in the latest 12th grade international math and science test score comparison. In 2001, secretary of education Rod Paige announced, "After spending $125 billion of Title I money over 25 years, we have virtually nothing to show for it."
Now comes the WestEd report claiming preschool can fix Social Security. At an annual cost of $12,000 per child, the report breathlessly asserts, "As adults, they would enter the workforce at higher skill levels, earning larger salaries and paying higher taxes into the system."
To say nothing of forcing our grandchildren to inherit our debts, preschoolers won't solve the Social Security problem. Research demonstrates that gains from preschool fade in the early elementary years: there is no discernable long-term gain.
Madonna may be right about what kind of world we are living in, but the special interests are going to need better material to justify this spending spree.
- Education News: "Can Today's Preschoolers Save Tomorrow's Social Security?"
-WestEd report: Early Childhood Investment Yields Big Payoff
-Goldwater Institute study: Assessing Proposals for Preschool and Kindergarten: Essential Information for Parents, Taxpayers and Policymakers
Eight in 10 students failed the AIMS test when it was first administered in 1999. Since then, the State Board of Education has changed the test six times to make it easier. Yet in 2004, over 60 percent of students still failed. Furthering the trend, new legislation lets students use qualifying class grades to raise their AIMS scores, meaning students can pass the test even if they answer fewer than half of the questions correctly.
With so much fiddling, does AIMS provide parents with meaningful information on what their children are learning?
To find out, Education Next put AIMS-and tests in 39 other states-to the test. Comparing the percentage of students achieving proficiency on state tests to the percentage achieving proficiency on the National Assessment of Educational Progress helps reveal the comparative rigor of each state test. The AIMS test earned a B-, indicating Arizona standards are less rigorous than national standards and standards in over half a dozen other states.
This grade suggests AIMS misses the mark as a meaningful measure of student performance.
- Education Next: "Johnny Can Read in Some States"
- East Valley Tribune: "Decade of AIMS," (subscription required)
-Robert Robb: "On AIMS, it was the adults who flunked"
-Senate Bill 1038: "AIMS test; graduation; exceptions," signed by the governor on May 20, 2005
Arizona fell three spots to 48 on this year's Morgan Quitno Press "Smartest State" ranking. That doesn't bode well for the Grand Canyon state, or so it would seem.
In determining which state is the "smartest," the ranking relies on factors that have little to do with how well a state is educating students. The authors fail to distinguish between what goes into the system and what comes out.
Input factors such as per-pupil funding, teacher salaries, and class size have little to do with student achievement. Output factors such as standardized test scores, which actually measure student achievement, are much more meaningful.
However, of the 21 factors employed, only eight are meaningful measures of achievement, and two are confounding mirrors of each other, which may skew the results. Even using graduation rates can be problematic in a comparative study of this kind because it is difficult to account for differences in graduation requirements and relative difficulty of curricula.
This ranking, while great for garnering press, provides little useful information on education quality. As rankings go, the "Smartest State" ranking definitely has room for improvement.
-2004-2005 Smartest State Award
- The Economic Journal: "The Failure of Input-based Schooling Policies"
-National Bureau for Economic Research: The Market for Teacher Quality
-American Legislative Exchange Council: Report Card on American Education
Recent Facebook Activity
A Lesson in Making a Bad Bill Worse
Last week, the Arizona Senate passed Medicaid expansion. Sadly, the proponents were not satisfied with merely passing a program expansion we can’t afford; they actively worked together to kill a series of common sense amendments that would have prevented extra expense and abuse.Read More >>
Pension Systems Looting the Taxpayer
Have you ever squeezed a balloon and had parts of it squeeze out between your fingers? Unless you pop the balloon with a pin, it will reemerge somewhere else when you squeeze it. Public employee pensions have become balloons, and abuse of public pension systems keeps oozing despite attempts to put the squeeze on it.Read More >>
Who’s Next on the IRS’s List?
In upholding the federal health care law’s individual mandate as a tax, Chief Justice John Roberts reiterated Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes’ promise that “[t]he power to tax is not the power to destroy while this Court sits.” With the IRS’ recent targeted investigations of tea parties, balanced budget advocates, and constitutional study groups across the nation, the Chief Justice may soon have the opportunity to keep his promise.Read More >>