LATEST BLOGS

Timeline: Legislative public records debate
By JASON MERCIER  | 
Feb 23, 2018

Lawmakers may adopt a controversial public records bill sometime tonight. Here is a timeline of this public records controversy . . . 

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Public charter schools are doing more for families and students with significantly less money
By LIV FINNE  | 
Feb 22, 2018

Yesterday a friend sent me more good news about public charter schools. A new study from CATO and the University of Arkansas examines student performance at charter schools and traditional schools in eight major U.S. cities, Washington D.C., Indianapolis, Boston, Denver, San Antonio, New York City, Atlanta, and Houston. These researchers also conducted a return-on-investment (ROI) analysis, comparing projected lifetime earnings of charter school students with those of traditional school students, relative to the cost to taxpayers. Their conclusion? They show public charter schools are delivering better results for students at significantly lower costs to taxpayers.

This study breaks new ground. The results are fascinating, especially the results from Washington D.C. This district has the sixth-largest charter school sector in the nation, with 46 percent of all students preferring a public charter school to their assigned traditional school. D.C.’s charter schools have revenue of $21,387 per student. Traditional schools run by the central district have $35,261 per student. So, with nearly $14,000 less per student, D.C.’s charter schools provide their students more reading and math knowledge than district schools.

In the words of Corey DeAngelis, lead researcher:

“But these results shouldn’t surprise anyone. When educational institutions have the incentive to spend money wisely, they do just that. Because residentially assigned government schools do not have to attract their customers, they can spend tons of money on administration and fancy buildings. On the other hand, charter schools must spend money on kids – rather than administrators – if they want to keep their doors open.”

 

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Should state lawmakers be held to same public disclosure requirements as local officials?
By JASON MERCIER  | 
Feb 22, 2018

Public records are a critical tool for the public necessary to hold public officials accountable. Without them we are at the mercy of what those in power want us to know. I prefer following the advice of President Reagan: “Trust but verify…watch closely and don’t be afraid to see what you see.” This is what public records allow us to do. Consider the recent example in Seattle. Without public records we would be left to believe that the reason Seattle enacted an income tax was out of fear something President Trump would do. Thanks to public records, however, we now know without a doubt that the true motivation and scheming of Seattle was to set up a lawsuit to see if the Supreme Court would allow a statewide income tax without the people first approving a constitutional amendment (see this excellent blog post from SCC Insight for details).

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