Federal K-12 Funding Should Follow the Student

With reforms to No Child Left Behind up for debate, House Republicans are wisely proposing that low-income families be allowed to take a portion of their federal funding to different public schools of their choosing. This form of school choice is known as “portable funding,” or sometimes “backpack funding” since money follows the child.

Low-income families are especially in need of school choice. The upper-class can afford private school tuition and the middle-class can afford to locate in neighborhoods with quality public schools. However, low-income families are too often left with no outlet from failing schools.

School choice is essential since every child has different needs. Each student has different priorities for what they need from a school that cannot be simplified into one test score or grade. School choice allows parents to weigh different factors and do what’s best for them. Factors such as academic success, school safety, or strength in a certain subject all matter to students in a different way.

Whether or not a school has high test scores or meets government-mandated standards should not be of great importance for government funding. If enough families choose to send enough students to a school to make it viable, then that school should be considered a success. All that counts is whether a school serves its students’ needs, whatever those needs may be.

On the left, teachers unions and progressives claim that portable federal funding of education will take resources away from poor school districts. But this approach fails to recognize the educational benefits for individual families and students who can take advantage of school choice. It also perpetuates the falsehood that bad schools just need more taxpayer money to improve. Customized education helps all students individually, whereas pouring more money into failing education systems has failed to produce nationwide gains.

Read the rest at the Washington Examiner…

Is Giuliani Right About Obama?

Rudy Giuliani made headlines this week when he stated that President Obama had been “influenced by communists since an early age.” The comments garnered critical reaction ranging from those calling Giuliani wrong to those calling him a racist. However, his critics ignore a very real and plain truth: Marxism has been a major influence in modern American liberalism since the 1960s and has played a large role in the president’s life.

The self-proclaimed Encyclopedia of Marxism details how communists helped to establish the peace movements of the 1960s in Europe and the U.S., which led to heavy Marxist involvement against the war in Vietnam. It’s important to note that while it was never proven that foreign communist regimes were involved with the anti-war movement, it is undoubtedly true that Americans influenced by and espousing Marxism were at the front of the anti-war movement.

It was in that movement that men like Bill Ayers would gain prominence. Ayers cofounded the self-described communist revolutionary group the Weather Underground, which orchestrated a string of bombings of U.S. government buildings during the 1960s and 70s.

In 2008, the media scrutinized the relationship between Barack Obama and Bill Ayers. Ayers had been to several functions at Obama’s home, yet Obama maintained that the two were merely acquaintances, a claim that was pretty much verified and then dismissed. But the media missed the point. The point is that a communist terrorist was treated with such respect and reverence by the left that he nonchalantly passed through engagements attended by Democratic presidential candidates. And still, he continues to excuse his organization’s terrorism.

American colleges are full of Marxist professors; this is not contested. The University of Chicago, where Ayers teaches and Obama briefly taught law, is an obvious example. One need only look at the Democratic Socialists of America, whose members include educators, activists, and public officials, to see the prevalence of Marxist thought in American politics. Their website proclaims that“Democratic Socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically to meet human needs, not to make profits for a few.”

Read the rest at The Daily Caller…

For Pollution’s Sake, Privatize Federal Land Already

The US government has a hazardous waste problem. Many federal departments have properties that are contaminated with everything from radiation at Department of Energy facilities to petrochemicals on current and former military bases.

The departments of Agriculture and the Interior are no different, as highlighted in a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Over 5,000 sites managed by these two departments are either likely to be contaminated or have been confirmed to be polluted with some form of hazardous waste. Moreover, the Department of the Interior has a backlog of more than 30,000 possibly contaminated abandoned mines waiting to be assessed. The vast majority of these sites are on lands in the western half of the country, scattered throughout properties of the Bureau of Land Management.

The report is the latest in a long series of case studies that show that the federal government is generally a poor steward of the lands that fall within its jurisdiction. In 2014, Newsweekdeemed the Department of Defense one of the world’s biggest polluters. It’s only logical that other government agencies, especially those whose explicit mandate is to oversee federal lands, would have similar failings. The departments of Agriculture and the Interior claim to currently have about US$500 million in environmental liabilities that will require future clean up, nearly all of which will be paid with taxpayer dollars.

However, these estimates are an understatement. In 2012, the Army Corps of Engineers assessed Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) on Agriculture and Interior department lands and found the potential clean up cost to be much higher. Millions have already been spent to mitigate the environmental damage wrought by these sites, and yet the Corps determined that another $4.7 billion will be needed to complete the remediation of the hundreds of remaining sites.

Moreover, if we know anything about the history of government projects, that number is probably still far too low. Large government projects often end up costing far more than expected, even double by the time they are completed.

Read the rest at The PanAmerican Post…