Jim Blew to take Students First helm

October 8, 2014

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Congratulations to choice movement veteran Jim Blew for taking on the leadership of Students First.

Jim is both brilliant and delightfully direct in his delivery. My favorite Jim story came from shortly after he left the Alliance for School Choice. Our state team was meeting and we were discussing some situation. There was something that needed saying hanging in the air, so I simply blurted it out. Clint Bolick, Zack Dawes and Scott Jensen all looked a bit surprised, so I explained:

Hey, look, Jim’s not here anymore. Someone has to take up the slack!

Great hire for SF and good luck Jim!


San Dimas SAT Scores Rule! Errrrr…at least compared to Texas!

October 7, 2014

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So usually every other week or so there is a new story about how Texas has once again drop kicked California in one way or another. It would start to get boring if it weren’t just so delightful for some of us, complete with great info-graphics like:


Oh and this one:

And of course the editorial cartoonists have joined in the fun:

But at long last, the SURFER STRIKES BACK in the news today from the Dallas Morning News that Texas SAT scores have hit a 22 year low. Worse still, California, long a smear on the bottom of the Texas boot, has comparable student demographics and participation rates but better scores!

So cheer up gnarly surfer dude! Texas may have a top business climate, population and economic growth, etc. but they have in recent years displayed a complacency regarding K-12 reform that has allowed even California to overtake them.





Wake Up America- College Football > NFL

October 5, 2014

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Wow…what a week in college football, and an opportune time to note would should be obvious: 32 teams running the same offense and the same defense is relatively boring compared to the grand chaotic mess of college football. Yes the athletes are the creme de la creme, but they are all pretty close to doing the same stuff they have been doing for decades.

Huge upsets this week. Undefeated but unranked Arizona beats Number 2 Oregon on the road with their anti-Super Duck kryptonite: huge. Ole Miss beats Bama- seismic. TCU knocks off Oklahoma-they can’t do that to our pledges, only we can do that to our pledges. Arizona State knocks off USC with a 50 yard bomb as time expires while USC players stand around in the end zone and watch it happen-


Hilarious. Mississippi State finally bursts the bubble of Texas A&M after they pull countless 4th quarter comebacks in the SEC: priceless.

Now before someone takes to the comments section to note just how awful my beloved Longhorns have been this year, let me note that I am painfully aware of just how awful my beloved Longhorns have been this year. That’s just part of the deal. The Longhorns were terrible when I was an undergraduate, wandered between awful and decent in the 1990s, finally got it done in 2005, declined thereafter and have hit rock bottom this year. Being a long-term college football fan is similar to reading about the rise and fall of empires in history books- it just takes longer and is far more visceral.

Oh, and you may have heard that there is going to be a 4 team playoff this year, thanks to this guy:

My Longhorns are in a purgatory, but it doesn’t matter- college football itself is great. The Arizona Cardinals are undefeated and my fantasy NFL team the Psychopaths are 3-1, and that is nice, but I’m most thankful that it is less than 9 million degrees in the shade outside and college football is rolling. Wake up America- the greatest show on turf is taking place outside of your local NFL stadium.

P.S.- I neglected the big upsets in my neighboring state to the north, as Utah State defeated previously unbeaten and ranked BYU, and Utah beat previously undefeated and highly ranked UCLA.




Strong Bad is Back!

October 3, 2014

Strong Bad is back with a new email and rap video.


It’s no Crack Stuntman, but it’s pretty awesome.


Over One Billion Saved

October 1, 2014

McDonalds billions

Watch out, Ronald. We’re catching up!

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Matt seems to have been a little distracted by the Ramones yesterday, so for those who are still wondering, the new study from the Friedman Foundation is a comprehensive financial audit of modern school choice programs. It finds that choice has already saved $1.7 billion. As Matt notes, Friedman produces some pretty awesome slideshows that let you absorb tons of information in two minutes. Check it out below and let us know what you think!

The School Voucher Audit: Do Publicly Funded Private School Choice Programs Save Money? from The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice

One two three four! One two three four! Gabba Gabba Hey- Blast Through an important study today! (Thank you, goodnight!)

September 30, 2014

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So the second greatest rock band of all time invented Punk Rock by taking 1950s do-wap songs and speeding them up to under two minutes, added a splash of psycho. The Friedman Foundation has gotten in on the act with these cool info-graphic slide shows that you can blast through a study in under two minutes, and like the Ramones, it is also awesome. Check it out here.


The Brown Shirt Left

September 29, 2014

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

I attended a debate last night between gubernatorial candidates Doug Ducey (R) and Fred Duval (D) on K-12 policy. Unfortunately what would have otherwise been a civil exchange of ideas between two candidates who pass the “would like to have a beer with” test was marred by protesters in the audience who attempted to hijack the event by screaming invective on entirely unrelated matters from the audience.

It seems almost unnecessary to say that the protesters were uniformly on the far left. I’m 47 years old, have seen this happen several times, and have yet to see a right of center group behave in such an anti-democratic fashion. I’m not saying it has never happened, just that I have never once seen it happen.

The person who should be most upset by this is Fred Duval. Duval is obviously a decent guy and I would put the odds that he had anything to do with this squarely at zero. Nevertheless, when a group of people shouting random hostility at his opponent act like a group of brown-shirt fascists, it’s nothing but bad. This was Duval’s best chance to make his points with the public on the subject that he has emphasized more than any other, and that chance was essentially lost. Ducey handled the situation well, receiving a thunderous round of applause in elegantly rebuking the protestors. Game, set match Ducey.

Attempting to shout down opponents is contemptible and against the most basic tenets of democracy. I would say exactly the same thing if a group of conservatives disrupted a debate by attempting to shout down the Mr. Duval.  Notice the muted reaction of the Arizona Republic. If a group of Russell Pearce supporters had shown up in force to scream at Fred Duval I hate to say that I strongly suspect that it would have been a top of the fold front page story rather than a buried note in page three. Seeing this unfold made me wonder if the era of public debates might not be drawing to a close. It is much easier to keep things under control in a studio. The only other alternative is to hire a ton of security, which raises the cost of public events considerably. Either way, we will have fewer civil and public exchanges so long as a vocal minority of Americans lack a basic commitment to civility.

If so, illiberal forces will have stolen something from us. I took my sons aged 14 and almost 13 to the debate last night, and I wonder how many more such events they will have the opportunity to attend. The soft bigotry of low expectations seems very much at work here. We’ve grown to expect some left-wing groups to behave like fascists. We should have much higher expectations.

The misguided people engaging in brown-shirt tactics should remember an old slogan of the left- the whole world is watching. You may have deluded yourself with some complex rationalization justifying attempting to shout down opponents, but don’t expect decent people of either the left or right to believe it.


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