Indiana Triple Play Delivers the Win

May 5, 2011

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand that’s seven.

Gov. Daniels has just signed into law three – count them – three school choice “enactments” according to the terms of my notorious bet with the Washington Post‘s Jay Mathews.

  1. A new voucher program – bigger than any existing school choice program
  2. A new tax deduction for education expenses (including private schooling)
  3. An expansion of Indiana’s existing tax-credit scholarship program

Add that to the list of previous enactments this year…

  1. Utah’s Carson Smith voucher expansion
  2. Douglas County, Co. new voucher program
  3. Arizona new ESA program
  4. DC voucher expansion

…and that smells like a really fancy dinner at one of Milwaukee’s finest restaurants.

In the comments here, “allen” suggests that whether or not there’s an “end zone” in the war or terror, we should definitely seek to “run up the score.” I heartily agree – and I’m not above running up the score on Mathews, either.

A little bird tells me these states are still in play for enactments this year:

  1. Oklahoma
  2. Florida
  3. Georgia
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Ohio
  6. Pennsylvania
  7. Texas
  8. New Jersey
  9. North Carolina
  10. Iowa

I’ll take Texas with a grain of salt – sorry, Matt, but we’ve been promised a program in Texas too many times over too many years for me not to be skeptical. But hey, as you put it, 2011 is already setting a new standard for education reform. Why not Texas, too?

Fact: Chuck Norris can enact a Texas voucher in every state.

Kong & Mario image HT The Pitch


Me and Mathews – It’s BACK On!

April 4, 2011

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Jay Mathews and I are rebooting our somewhat troublesome bet. We’re starting over from scratch. This time, rather than counting legislative chambers, we’re going to count “enactments” of school choice. Any time a new school choice program or expansion of a school choice program (defined the same way as before) is enacted, that counts as one.

I have to get to seven enactments in 2011 to win.

We’re currently at four:

    1. AZ new program

    2. AZ program expansion

    3. CO new program

    4. UT program expansion

I’m getting out a little ahead of the Arizona governor, here, but those bills are both slam dunk at this point.

I warned Jay that Indiana is looking pretty good, so it’s really a fight over whether I can get two wins in places like Wisconsin, Oklahoma and D.C. He’s cool with that.

Commence handicapping!


Well . . . That Was Easy!

April 1, 2011

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

I made the bet thinking I had three. I turned out I had five. By the time the bet went live on the blog I had seven.

Then, in the comments, Matt brings to my attention that both Utah houses passed a major financial expansion of the Carson Smith voucher program on March 10. And Scott notes that Minnesota’s House passed a new voucher program on March 30.

I won the bet in half a day!


Me and Jay Mathews: IT’S ON!

April 1, 2011

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Last week I challenged Jay Mathews of the Washington Post to a bet:

Tell you what, Jay. Let’s make a bet. You say there won’t be “a wave of pro-voucher votes across the country”…[W]e’ll set a mutually agreed on bar for the number of voucher bills passing chambers this year. If we hit the bar, you have to buy me dinner at a Milwaukee restaurant of my choice. But if we don’t hit the bar, I buy you dinner at a DC restaurant of your choice. That’s pretty lopsided in your favor, dollar-wise. How about it?

Today I’m proud to announce that Jay has accepted the bet!

The terms, exactly as I offered them to Jay over e-mail:

Here’s what I propose. I win the bet if at least ten legislative chambers pass bills in 2011 that either create or expand a private school choice program. Otherwise you win. Just based on my experience in the movement, I think if we got that many chamber passages, it would mark 2011 as a banner year for choice.

Definitions: A “private school choice program” is a program that funds attendance at private schools using public funds, either directly (by vouchers) or indirectly, through the tax code (as is the case with many school choice programs these days). That means charter schools don’t count. This is the definition we use here at the foundation. “Expanding” a program means increasing the eligible student pool, or increasing the amount of funds available to support the program (on either a per-student or global basis). That’s in your favor because I’m agreeing not to count, say, relaxation of burdensome restrictions on participating schools as an “expansion.”

Jay’s succinct response: “It’s a bet!”

Well, I didn’t plan it this way, but during the time I was working out the details and deciding how many programs to propose for the bet, and then communicating with Jay, there were a few votes on school choice programs!

When I proposed the bet to Jay earlier this week, I had missed the votes in Arizona a couple weeks ago. I thought we only had three of the ten passages needed for me to win the bet – the Virginia House, the Oklahoma Senate and Douglas County, Colorado.

When Matt clued me in on the Arizona votes, I realized that we were already at five out of the ten passages needed for me to win:

    1. VA House new tax-credit scholarship program (February 8 )

    2. AZ Senate tax-credit program expansion (March 8 )

    3. AZ House tax-credit program expansion (March 10)

    4. Douglas County, CO new voucher program (March 15)

    5. OK Senate new tax-credit scholarship program (March 16)

Then what happens?

    6. IN House new voucher program (March 30)

    7. U.S. House voucher expansion (March 30)

We got to seven votes before I even announced the bet! So much for my plans to make this a big, drawn out, suspenseful thing. The whole shooting match is going to be over before I even get three blog posts out of it. And here I made these cool ruler graphics and everything!

Here’s one other thing that’s bothering me. Was it unethical for me to make the bet with Jay without revealing to him that Indian is the official ethnic food of Jay P. Greene’s Blog?