The Locker Room

December 03, 2008

"Inside/Out" Choice Bus in Raleigh!

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 7:04 PM

What is the "Inside/Out" Choice Bus? According to the DPI press release,

The Choice bus is a rolling classroom developed by the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation. The bus is a school bus that is half classroom and half replica of a jail cell. It will travel the state to help demonstrate to students the importance of staying in school and graduating.
As I wrote earlier this year, "State education leaders launched 'The Message: Graduate!' website to provide information and resources on graduation. One of these resources was a documentary called InsideOut. According to the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation, the documentary 'presents a stark look at prison life -- with inmates telling their personal stories of regret for not pursuing an education and graduating.'”

Documentary. Check.
Classroom/jail bus. Check.
Waste of money. Check.

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Re: New school testing standards

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:50 PM

Today's discussion about overhauling North Carolina's school testing standards reminds me of this item from the not-too-distant past. 

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Lottery news

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:56 PM

The state lottery is beginning to feel the effects of the economic downturn. 

As noted before, this scenario creates a quandary for state leaders. Should they feel glad that North Carolinians who can least afford to waste money on the lottery might be more likely now to save that money or use it for other purposes? Or should those state leaders worry about a loss of lottery revenue for state programs?

If they answer "no" to the first question and "yes" to the second, will we see more aggressive sales pitches to lure people into making more sucker bets?

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New N.C. school testing program by 2013

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 2:45 PM

That's the timeline the N.C. Department of Public Instruction is pursuing, according to presentations today to the General Assembly's primary education oversight panel.

DPI officials say their redesigning the entire testing program to focus on "essential standards." They say that focus will help them put a system in place that could last 10-12 years.

One element of today's discussion that might interest Terry Stoops is the plan to open up some of the state's standardized tests for public review.

Meanwhile, Terry has some other suggestions for improving testing and accountability.

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The Road to stupidity

Posted by Becki Gray at 1:27 PM

If you’re wondering why there isn’t any money for North Carolina roads and transportation needs, it might have something to do with the priorities in projects elected officials decide to fund.  The Wilmington Star News reports that DOT money and assets are being promised to build an airplane museum and replica of the White House in Wilmington. 

Seems the Transportation Advisory Committee which is responsible for setting highway and transportation priorities has endorsed the project.  If this goes through, 35 acres that the DOT bought for $1 million with taxpayer money two years ago will be given to the museum builders.  The money for the actual buildings will come from private donors.  (Proponents are counting on former crew members of Air Force One and airplane construction companies to pony up.)  Still uncertain is whether local governments (i.e. taxpayers) will be on the hook for any expenses.  Didn’t we just see a similar failed and shameful use of taxpayer money with the Randy Parton Theatre boondoggle?  Seems like the difference is road and transportation money will be used this time, at least to get the project started.

Of note:  While southeastern North Carolina elected officials are debating whether to divert DOT assets away from road needs for this museum, NC House Speaker Joe Hackney is in Washington begging for federal money to fix the state’s worst bridge.    

It’s a little hard to stomach the tax and fee increases the 21st Century Transportation Committee is considering recommending to the 2009 General Assembly when state leaders continue wasting valuable transportation dollars on just plain stupidity.



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Free market works in health care

Posted by George Leef at 12:16 AM

Here is an excellent article on the way the free market works in health care.

Unfortunately, it seems that the Democrats are intent on obliterating what's left of the free market in health care and shackling everyone to their nirvana of socialized medicine.

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Stossel explains Austrian economic theory

Posted by George Leef at 08:06 AM

In his column today, John Stossel explains in plain English what Austrian School economists have been saying for nearly a century -- inflation doesn't just raise prices, but also causes economic discoordination by inducing people to expand in certain industries where the investment is not sustainable.

As Stossel argues, more "stimulus" from the government is exactly the wrong thing to do. It's like "curing" a hangover with a few more stiff drinks.

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Harry Reid to Americans: "You stink"

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 07:36 AM

He means it in a literal sense.

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New mental hospital not safe, either

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 07:30 AM

More mental health woes for the state: federal inspectors cited multiple violations at the new Central Regional Hospital in Butner, threatening its ability to receive Medicaid payments.

In little more than a year, all four of North Carolina's remaining state-run mental hospitals have now either lost or been threatened with losing accreditation because of patient deaths or incidents of abuse and neglect.

Yes, it was to deal with problems at the state hospitals that mental health reform started in 2001. But the problem is privatization.

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Now they tell us

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:09 AM

Now that the presidency is safe from a “third Bush term,” Newsweek must feel free to admit that the current economic woes cannot be blamed entirely on the 43rd president and his administration.

Here’s what the magazine has to say this week about former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin:

[B]y the end of the 1990s, economic orthodoxy in the Democratic party was known as Rubinomics (a term Rubin himself would never use), meaning, roughly, a belief in free trade, fiscal restraint, and deregulation of financial markets. Pretty much everyone who really knew and understood the interaction of Washington and the marketplace had worked for Rubin. It is no wonder that so many of President-elect Obama's top economic players, including his Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and his chief economic adviser Larry Summers, are Rubin protégés.

It's all perfectly logical and explicable, except that Rubin arguably helped create the financial crisis that Obama now must fix. As Treasury secretary, Rubin pushed to allow banks to get into riskier businesses, and as a high-level official at Citigroup for the past nine years he and his colleagues at Citi have presided over the near collapse of an institution that will require a massive taxpayer bailout because it is too big to fail.

Ignoring for a moment the false implication that fiscal restraint and markets freed from excessive regulation caused our current problems, it’s interesting to note that Newsweek made no mention before the election about a Clinton-era figure bearing some responsibility.

Not wanting to make the same mistake as Newsweek, I won't leave the false impression that the Bush administration bears no blame for the current economy. John Hood expressed the problem quite well here.

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Avoiding a major overreach

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:05 AM

Amid all the excitement about a transition to a new presidential administration, Newsweek’s Robert J. Samuelson uses his latest column to urge President-elect Obama to avoid confusing short-term measures designed to shore up the economy with grandiose schemes favored by his left-leaning friends:

[T]he parallel pursuit of crisis management and sweeping domestic reform is at best distracting. In practice, it may be politically poisonous. Superficially, the two objectives can be made to seem compatible. Obama can plug "green" investments as a way to restore job growth; he can tout a more efficient health-care system as a way to control health costs. But these debating points obscure as much as they reveal.

Any program to refashion the energy and health-care sectors — to take the obvious candidates — would be enormously complicated, controversial and contentious. The idea that the present crisis atmosphere would make congressional passage, even with Democratic majorities, easy is a fantasy. Some producers and consumers would win; others would lose. Proposals would create massive uncertainties for businesses and raise the probability of higher costs. To succeed in curbing greenhouse-gas emissions, for example, any "cap and trade" program must involve higher energy prices.

The notion that "green" investments would be large, permanent net creators of jobs is mostly a mirage. Somehow these investments must be paid for. If that happens through higher prices, higher taxes or cuts in other government programs, then "green" jobs will mainly substitute for some other class of jobs. As for curbing health-care costs, that's desirable. The trouble is that the first effect of Obama's health-care program would probably be the opposite.

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Today's Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:01 AM

Today's Carolina Journal Online exclusive features a David Bass report about the impact of declining test scores in North Carolina's public schools.  

John Hood's Daily Journal focuses on problems associated with taxpayers across North Carolina subsidizing Randolph County's economy through support of the state zoo.

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Et tu, Ralphe?

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 06:02 AM

Ralph Nader gives up on cap-and-trade to support a global carbon tax

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