That’s no moon, that’s a Death Star Bill!

December 11, 2018

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

So my son Ben had an social studies assignment to explain the legislative process. He had to build a powerpoint and then this happened. Yes it went down the y-chromosome. I got a kick out of it, figured some of you might as well.













The Prodigal Nerd Returns to Florida

December 3, 2018

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

A bit of personal news- I’ve taken a new gig at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry and as editor at RedefinED. Over at RedefinED online I offer an introductory post re-introducing myself to my friends in Florida:

Florida is a grandly innovative state with a record in policy implementation that is far greater than average. It’s very hard to appreciate this when you are close to your own inevitable policy and political messiness, but trust me, it is very clear from over here. I’m proud, for instance, that Arizona originated both scholarship tax credits and education savings accounts. Both innovations have been successfully taken to greater scale, however, in Florida – in no small part due to the relentless attention paid to the details of implementation.

You’ve taken crucial first steps towards equalizing opportunity in schooling. The sky not only did not open with a rain of frogs or locusts, you’ve seen real tangible progress. Florida public education, despite much protestation from traditionalists, is not only still there, it is substantially improved.

Funding for public education is guaranteed in the Florida Constitution and is as close to a permanent institution as you get in American society. It’s here to stay. Florida, however, has the chance not just to practice the form of public education, but to fulfill its actual promise. Much divides our society, but Americans still unite on crucial issues, including education. We desperately want an education system that gives students the knowledge, skills and habits needed for success and to responsibly exercise democratic citizenship. We – left, right and center – commonly and fiercely desire a system of schooling which serves as an engine of class mobility. Florida has moved the needle in this direction by setting families free to pursue opportunities that would otherwise be denied to them. More of this is needed and the next step will be to develop a consensus around setting educators free as well.


Racism in Public Schools

November 28, 2018


(Guest post by Greg Forster)

OCPA carries my article on racism in public schools:

Robinson’s case attracted wider attention, threatening to make the system look bad. So, Robinson was able to get permission from the guardians of the government school monopoly to transfer her grandchildren out of Edmond North.

But most cases of racism, harassment, and bullying don’t make media headlines. Those families are stuck. They have to keep sending their children to school to be preyed upon, day after day.

Don’t listen to me, listen to Robinson: “The students still there, they feel helpless, they feel like their hands are tied and they just have to tough this out,” she told KFOR. “No kid should have to tough it out.”

This is just one of many reasons all parents ought to have school choice:

America continues the struggle to build a genuinely pluralistic society. That means overthrowing the continuing power of racism, our great national original sin. To pursue the American principles of equality and freedom, we must labor diligently to dismantle the structures of racial oppression.

The government school monopoly was created in the 19th century to consolidate the power of social elites. They wanted to homogenize what was, in their eyes, an unacceptably diverse population. A society where differences are valued can only emerge when the monopoly they built is broken.

Let me know what you think!

Miscellaneous post holiday links

November 26, 2018

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Paul Peterson interviews Justice Clint Bolick on the 2018 elections and school choice,Brett Kavanaugh and other topics. Quick note on the AZ Prop 305 vote: we have something called Voter Protection in Arizona, which means that the legislature has a severely limited ability to alter something passed at the ballot. As Clint explained, it was the ESA eligibility expansion rather than the program that was on the ballot in November. Because the expansion contained a statewide cap (30k students statewide) many pro-choice groups chose not to engage in support of the expansion as it would have voter protected a cap that would have been practically impossible to alter. We had wildly conflicting polls up until the end but Arizona voters decisively chose not to expand eligibility, which means that the program continues with the current eligibility pool (Students with Disabilities, foster care children, children attending D/F rated public schools, military dependents and orphans and siblings of eligible students) and (given this result) no participation cap starting in 2019, but with the more limited eligibilty pool described earlier. Efforts now should focus on improving the administration of the program.

Yours truly teamed up with David Lujan, former state lawmakers and Director of the Arizona Center for Economic Progress in support of ASU Prep charter school., a high performing charter in downtown Phoenix threatened by a demand for a large increase in rent from the Phoenix Elementary School District. In combination the district and charter schools of the area scored at the 99th percentile of academic growth, which as both righties and lefties like Mr. Lujan and I both agree is something well worth preserving, so hopefully the grownups work something out.

Lots of interesting discussion going on about standardized testing. I remain in favor of lighter footprint testing but man oh man we’d better be coming up with ways to lower the perceived costs and increase the perceived benefits.



Best Songs You’ve Probably Never Heard

November 23, 2018

The blog has been a little empty lately and your shopping carts may be too full, so I thought I would share some songs you might like that you’ve probably never heard before.  Consider it my gift to you.

First up, we have this beautiful song by the Vulgar Boatmen.  I wrote a blog post before about how great this band is (was), but I didn’t mention this gem.  It’s called There’s a Family.  Here is the studio version:

Here is a live version from a club concert in the early 90s.  I’m not sure which version I enjoy more.

Next we have the “Twee” band Allo Darlin’.  It’s probably that I’m getting old, but I don’t mind a sweet pop song, especially these vulnerable and heartfelt pieces:

You’ve probably heard the Kinks’ song, Strangers, but I bet you haven’t heard this cover by Lucius before:

This Tiny Desk Concert by Lucius is also pretty amazing.  I especially enjoy around the 12 minute mark when they are asked if they would play one more song and they then scavenge through the desks to find items to use for percussion while playing Genevieve.

These aren’t quite Matt’s punk or heavy metal covers, but I hope you enjoy them anyway.

And the Winner of the 2018 “Al” is… Joy Morton

November 1, 2018

It was a very crowded field of excellent nominees for this year’s Al Copeland Humanitarian Award. In total there were 8 nominees (two of whom shared the honor): Leo MoracchioliRichard GarfieldElizabeth VandiverEric LundgrenAdam Butler and Autumn Thomasson, George Henry Thomas, and Joy Morton.

Of all of these worthy individuals, Joy Morton best exemplifies the way in which Al Copeland improved the human condition.  Morton, like Copeland, promoted good by doing well.  As Collin noted in his post, Morton sought a competitive advantage for his salt company by adding iodine and advertising the health benefits of doing so.  It was known at the time that small amounts of iodine could prevent goiters, which were a widespread and damaging problem throughout America’s heartland. But no one was doing anything about this until Morton saw a way to make money from adding iodine to people’s diet.

It was later learned that iodine is crucial to healthy brain development.  By adding iodine to salt, Morton reduced cognitive disabilities among those with the lowest access to iodine in their diet, raising IQs by one full standard deviation in that population. Collin emphasized how much good Morton achieved through his profit-seeking enterprise relative to what has been achieved by billions in non-profit expenditures:

One. Standard. Deviation. Countless foundations have invested countless dollars to achieve impacts a fraction of that size in [a] tiny fraction of the population – and most have failed. Morton accomplished it all with table salt.

Al Copeland similarly improved the human condition through a profit-seeking enterprise.  Rather than prevent goiters and raise IQs, Copeland satisfied our desire for spicy chicken.  And both efforts have in common a significant reliance on salt.

Leo Moracchioli shares with Morton and Copeland the fact that he makes money from his humanitarian activities.  Making heavy metal covers on Youtube brings plenty of joy to his followers as well as money to his pocket.  And Matt was right to note the importance of “disintermediation” in producing this and other positive developments.  But it is hard for fun music to compare with preventing goiters and raising IQs let alone to providing spicy chicken.

Ben Ladner’s personal and well-written nomination of Magic: The Gathering’s creator, Richard Garfield  was also compelling.  But like my previous nomination of D&D promoter, Gary Gygax, Garfield falls short.  As much as I identify with and root for the Geek tribe, their amusement and acts of solidarity do not rise to the level of improving the human condition like spicy chicken does.

My nomination of Elizabeth Vandiver also falls short.  Promoting awareness of human nature through understanding of Classical Mythology is enormously important work, but Vandiver reaches too few people to make enough of a difference.  If only our schools thought this was an important part of their job and made use of Vandiver’s materials, it might be a different story.

Greg had several nominees.  We may have to consider a rule regarding whether an individual can have multiple nominees in a single year and whether multiple people can share a nomination.  In any event, Greg’s nomination of Eric Lundgren was excellent but it felt more like a Higgy nomination for Bill Gates. Making use of old computer parts is indeed noble, but the way Microsoft sought to block it shows that profit-seeking enterprises can also promote bad while doing well.  The nomination of Adam Butler and Autumn Thomasson for providing legal assistance to lemonade stands while also making a profit selling lemonade also sounds like a Higgy nomination for the PLDDs who seek to shut those stands down. Lastly, George Henry Thomas is also a very worthy nominee for his demonstration of true patriotism and understanding that victory can only be achieved when one’s opponent admits defeat.  Thomas’ example is actually in keeping with Daniel Pipes’ more recent promotion of the Israel Victory Project.  While victory can only be achieved by the admission of defeat by one’s opponent, Thomas actually failed at achieving that, as Greg concedes.  Some Southerners continue “The Cause” to this day, so it is now our responsibility to complete what Thomas started.

Fortunately, because we are goiter-free and enjoy elevated IQs we are now positioned to pursue the total defeat of The Cause, rocking on YouTube, playing games with other Geeks, understanding human nature, and fighting PLDDers of all sorts.  For this we owe a debt of gratitude to Joy Morton and award him the 2018 Al Copleand Humanitarian Award.

Stop the Clock! The Al Will be Announced Tomorrow

October 31, 2018

Image result for stop the clock

We had so many excellent nominees for The Al this year that I need some extra time to select the winner.

Our nominees include Leo MoracchioliRichard Garfield, Elizabeth Vandiver, Eric LundgrenAdam Butler and Autumn Thomasson, George Henry Thomas, and Joy Morton.

As you enjoy your candy you can review all of these nominees and await the announced winner tomorrow.