Today is National Teacher Day. What better way to show appreciation for a job well done than a salary increase?
California Governor Schwarzenegger wants to pay teachers based on job performance. As Cato Institute education policy analyst Marie Gryphon articulates in this article for the Orange County Register, merit pay merits attention. To succeed, merit pay must be coupled with school choice. "School choice and merit pay are the twin beacons of market-based reform . . . Merit pay will prod teachers toward excellence, and parents, through their choices, will show school administrators what merit should mean," Gryphon explains. For more on merit pay, see http://www.cato.org/dailys/05-22-01.html.
Today, more than 5 million American workers have opted out of the Social Security system, participating instead in plans administered by local and municipal governments.
President Bush visited Galveston recently to highlight the success of these plans. San Diego's Supplemental Pension Savings Plan, established in 1981, is among the best of these plans, allowing employees to contribute between three and six percent of their salaries to their retirement accounts. The City of San Diego matches employee contributions, and permits employees to choose among a range of investments with different levels of risk.
By 2000, the average worker in San Diego's SPSP program would have been eligible for three times the benefits of a worker who had remained in the traditional Social Security system.
Unfortunately in 1983, Congress eliminated the provision allowing localities and municipalities to opt out of Social Security. But San Diego's example helps demonstrate the power of individual accounts to make people better off.
Illinois has given us just one more example of how allowing government to reward large contracts to private companies opens the door to corruption and abuse. This week, the state's auditor general issued a report finding that the agency responsible for cutting government waste instead spent lavishly and awarded multimillion-dollar contracts to consultants who might have had an inside track.
In spite of the evidence that government and business make poor bedfellows, groups such as the Arizona Technology Council continue to push for government ownership of private companies and targeted tax incentives.
If this is such a good idea, why does the Arizona Constitution prohibit such involvement? Because, as the Illinois case underscores, government needs a check on its enduring inclination to enter into sweetheart deals with private companies. Not only does permitting such involvement open the door to corruption, but it creates an unfair market advantage for those companies that win contracts. Given these arguments and the abundance of substantiating evidence, it's safe to say that any requisite changes to Article 9, section 7 of the Arizona Constitution will end up being a bad deal for taxpayers.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Education released the first-year evaluation of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program serving 1,366 low-income students in the nation's capital, www.ed.gov/programs/dcchoice. The report found the average family income of scholarship applicants was $18,742. A majority of participating parents cited academic quality as the primary reason for participating in the school choice program. Additionally, parents listed fighting, tardiness, destruction of property, truancy, cheating, and guns or other weapons as problems at their child's previous school.
The report also dispels some common misconceptions surrounding private school tuition and student population. Most participating private schools ask families to pay $5,500 or less in tuition, and 60 percent of participating private schools have student bodies comprised entirely of students from racial or ethnic minority groups. On average, 82 percent of children attending participating private schools are minority students. Three out of four participating private schools said they accept or are willing to accept special needs students.
The report is the first in a series of annual reports that the U.S. Department of Education will conduct to monitor the impact of the program on participating students.
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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 >>
Communities Putting Prevention to Work, or Communities Participating in Pork Wars?
Uncle Sam thinks he knows what’s right for your health, and he’s using your hard-earned money to teach you that lesson. Two years ago, the Goldwater Institute reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gave Pima County, Arizona nearly $16 million through its Communities Putting Prevention to Work program to reduce obesity and promote healthy lifestyles. Our friends at Cause of Action, a watchdog organization that reports on government waste, have released a report detailing how Pima and other counties have been spending your tax money.Read More >>