A new meta-analysis of 38 studies on charter school performance finds the best available research "encouraging." In the report for the Charter School Leadership Council, author Bryan C. Hassel says studies tracking individual students over time are the most informative because the method allows researchers to identify the schools' value.
Among the nine studies in this category is the 2004 Goldwater Institute study, which examined test scores of 60,000 Arizona students attending 873 charter and traditional public schools statewide over a three-year period. Findings indicate that Arizona charter school students, on average, began with lower test scores than their traditional public school counterparts, and showed overall annual achievement growth roughly three points higher than their non-charter peers. However, achievement growth varies by grade level. Goldwater Institute analysts are building on this research by conducting a bi-annual progress report tracking more students over longer periods of time.
Street construction starts tomorrow on Valley Metro's $1.3 billion light-rail system. Supporters of light rail claim that the project will help ease congestion on the Valley's roads, citing the alleged success of light rail in other cities.
Proponents of light rail assert that similar systems have benefited cities such as Portland and San Diego. But careful analysis indicates that light rail systems have failed to yield even marginal returns on those cities' investments.
Despite supporters' high hopes and light rail's high cost, light rail systems have rarely removed more than one car out of 1,000 from area roads, doing little to ease area traffic congestion.
Although it bears a futuristic name, light rail is based on 19th-century systems that don't reflect the realities of modern life in Phoenix. And light rail comes with a heavy price tag: it'll take $1.50 to move one passenger just one mile, making light rail far more expensive than many other forms of transportation, as a Goldwater Institute study shows.
Officials would do well to increase the availability of other public transportation options, including buses, which are more flexible and cost-effective approaches to easing gridlock on the roads.
The U.S. Senate voted yesterday to revise procedures for class-action lawsuits. As the Washington Post reports, the legislation is an attempt to prevent "forum shopping," instead funneling class-action lawsuits from state courts into federal courts. While the legislation may be constitutional and useful, it shouldn't be heralded as a panacea for tort reform.
Tort reform may be necessary, but it shouldn't involve a further increase of federal statues promulgated pursuant to the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. As I explained in an AZMED article last year, most tort reform proposals should be decided at the state, not the federal level.
In his book, Shakedown, Cato Institute senior fellow Robert A. Levy discusses various abuses of the judicial system as a result of baseless lawsuits. He will join the Goldwater Institute May 5 for a book forum to discuss concrete ways to overhaul antitrust and tort laws.
It's no secret that people are flocking out of California. In fact, some Californians are waiting up to a month just to get a moving van.
So why the mass exodus? As Business Week reports, California's skyrocketing cost of living is sending people packing into more affordable destinations such as Phoenix, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth and Tampa-St. Petersburg. The report also shows that during the second quarter of 2004, about 42 percent of California home sellers over 55 moved out of the state, up from 23 percent in 2003.
The Goldwater Institute report, The Tax Man and the Moving Van: Fiscal Policy and State Population Shifts examines the trend and ways Arizona can avoid repeating California's mistakes.
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Fifteen Bureaucrats Are Better Than One
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have announced that they will not recommend candidates to serve on the Independent Payment Advisory Board, the federal health care law’s panel of 15 bureaucrats tasked with reducing Medicare costs. In a letter to the president explaining their decision, Boehner and McConnell said they “believe Congress should repeal IPAB” and “hope establishing this board never becomes a reality.”Read More >>
Policymakers Need to be Adults when it Comes to Corporate Handouts
Economic development consultants act like children when they talk about attracting new businesses. Maybe a “deal closing” fund can help the state attract high-profile corporate relocations, they argue. Or maybe a special job training grant. Just do it this one time and it will make our state an economic powerhouse. Pretty please!Read More >>
Charter Schools Should have Better Access to Empty Public School Buildings
The wave of school building closures comes at a time when charter schools are disproportionally represented in the list of the top performing schools in the state. As TUSD shutters schools, shouldn’t the district find a way for successful charter schools to move in and give families better options?Read More >>