Video: The Future of School Choice in America

“The Future of School Choice in America with Lisa Snell, Andrew
Campanella, Lisa Keegan, Lance Izumi, and Larry Sand,” produced by
Zach Weismueller and Todd Krainin. About 1 hour. Original release
date was February 7, 2014 and original writeup is below. 

   

Reason TV hopped aboard the Northern Sky
train
 for the final Los Angeles to San Francisco leg of
the National
School Choice Week Whistle Stop Tour
 across the country
and joined National School Choice Week President Andrew Campanella, Reason
Foundation Director of Education Policy Lisa Snell, former Arizona
Superintendent and education reformer Lisa
Keegan
Pacific Research
Foundation
 Educational DirectorLance
Izumi
, and California
Teachers’ Empowerment Network
 founder Larry Sand for an
hour-long panel discussion about the state of the school choice
movement in America.

The talk is broken into four parts: the next steps for school
choice (2:19), best practices at the top public schools (14:37),
the role of teachers in the choice movement (29:49), and the
crucial ways in which funding affects educational outcomes
(44:12).

Approximately 1 hour long. Shot by Zach Weissmueller and Todd
Krainin. Edited by Weissmueller.

Scroll down for downloadable versions of this video, and
subscribe to Reason
TV’s Youtube channel
 for more content like
this.  

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Sheldon Richman on the Cruel Joke of Emphasizing Voting

An
in-house promo on MSNBC shows a series of colorful shower curtains
backed by a sappily whistled tune; the final curtain turns out to
be not for a shower but for a voting booth — at which point
prime-time All In host Chris Hayes says, “In
America there are many ways to express yourself, but only one that
counts. Speak out.” The not-so-subtle
message: vote or you have no voice. Sheldon
Richman argues that of all the ways to express oneself, voting is
the way that counts least.

View this article.

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Is Matt Damon Right That Tenure is Vital for K-12 Teachers?

A coupla days ago, actor Matt Damon
did an “Ask Me
Anything” on Reddit
. In answer to one of the questions, he
uncorked this reference to a 2011 exchange he had with Reason at a
pro-teacher rally:

We would never let business men design warheads, why would you
cut out educators when you’re designing education policy? This was
for one of those libertarian websites and they had an attack
question planned about tenure. Diane Ravitch was there, she’s a
huge figure in education and she jumped in and just set them
straight about what having tenure meant. It just basically means
you have the right to be represented, and have your side of
something heard if someone is trying to get rid of you.

There’s a lot of things to agree with in Damon’s comments about
education. Yes, No Child Left Behind is an expensive and
ineffective boondoggle (also, a bipartisan one). And K-12 education
is fairly obsessed with standardarized tests, a problem that will
only get worse as “Common Core” guidelines fully start influencing
curricula around the country. As Matt Welch and I point out
somewhere in The Declaration of Independents, K-12
education is so ossified that it’s still following a 19th-century
agricultural schedule that even farmer don’t use anymore.

But Damon’s understanding of the role of teacher tenure as it
applies to K-12 teachers is simply wrong (as is his
characterization of Reason‘s offending question that
starts his rant, on display below). To pretend that tenure for
elementary and secondary-school teachers – which typically kicks in
after a few years on the job – is simply about wrongful termination
underscores Damon’s complete lack of knowledge of how public
education works. And it has nothing in common with tenure at the
college and university level, which is far more rigorous and
includes important (though often overstated) safeguards for
academic freedom. Teachers are among the very most politically
powerful entities in any given local or state decision-making
process. Far from somehow being disenfranchised in the setting of
educational policy and especially in terms of job dismissal,
teachers are doing pretty damn swell. If you want a particularly
egregious example of just how far legal protections for teachers
can go, check out this 2006 Reason piece by John Stossel.
Titled “How
do I fire an incompetent teacher?
,” it documents the virtual
impossibility of booting godawful employees from the New York City
public school system. That’s an extreme situation, but the general
outline holds true everywhere.

Damon is hardly alone is suggesting that tenure is some sort of
noble bulwark against a particularly nasty and brutish
public-sector work jungle. Here’s Erik Kain writing at Forbes in
2011:

Teachers need protection from over-zealous bosses and
ideological politicians. This is the same thinking behind seniority
rules, which protect more expensive teachers
(i.e. veterans) from being laid off due to budget cuts. Teaching is
not a high-paying job compared to jobs in the private sector, and
one of the benefits is some job security.

Kain was writing about a Chicago Tribune infographic
bemoaning how long it takes to get rid of substandard teachers. Do
people really believe that, absent the current system of tenuring,
politicians would be firing massive numbers of teachers? Or that
“over-zealous bosses” would fire public-school teachers more
readily than, I don’t know, private-school teachers? Is K-12
education a unique field that would get rid of experienced (and
presumably more effective) workers simply because they cost
more?

How is it that good workers in all sorts of industries and
fields manage to keep their jobs, get promotions, and be evaluated
fairly but K-12 teachers need tenure early on in their careers?
Could it have less to do with any sort of pressing need and more to
do with the political clout wielded by teachers unions and
professional associations? And a taxpaying public essentially held
hostage by the same? I’m just throwing out some ideas
here…

To that latter point, Damon and others routinely assert that
public school teachers don’t make good money. That is flatly false.
Public
school teachers make
on average about $13,000 a year more in
straight salary than their private-school counterparts, and the
compensation gap grows still wider when retirement and health
benefits are added in. And when teacher pay is compared to other
professionals’ pay on an
hourly basis
, teachers do extremely well. The idea that
public-sector workers are trading salary for security is a
well-documented myth
.

As it happens, National
School Choice Week
, which annually celebrates a true grassroots
movement pushing towards increasing options for all K-12 students,
just ended recently (check
out this Reason TV video
about the future of school choice).
I’m curious if Damon believes that’s a righteous cause. I think I
know the answer. Last year,
Damon took a bunch of shit
for opting out of sending his
children to Los Angeles Unified School District schools. He argued
that they weren’t “progressive” enough for his tastes, so he had no
choice but to opt for a private school. It’s great that he
exercised his right to choose. But does he support the right of
parents without his economic means to do the same? How much do you
want to bet that whatever private schools his kids attend have far
weaker tenure protections than the LAUSD?

Here’s the original Reason TV video with Damon being interviewed
by Michelle Fields. Produced by Jim Epstein, who also enters the
fray:

 

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Buy American Pot!

Originally released in November 2009, “Buy American Pot” is a
special message from the American Marijuana Growers Association, a
group of pot-growing Americans dedicated to keeping pot illegal and
profits high.

The original text is here:

We all know that a lot of people are harmed by prohibition, but
who benefits? Strangely enough, some of the biggest beneficiaries
are the bootleggers. Sure, they take a big risk, but black
marketeers don’t have to pay taxes, they’re protected from foreign
competition, and they benefit from artificially inflated prices.
Talk about protectionism.

What kind of message would an honest American Marijuana Growers
Association have for us? “Thank you for your support of marijuana
prohibition and buy American pot!”

“Buy American Pot” PSA was produced by Paul Feine, Alex Manning,
and Hawk Jensen. Approximately 1.15 minutes.

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Mother of Three Goes to Jail for Growing Medical Pot

On December 17, 2013, Daisy Bram was convicted of cultivation of
marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to sell. Bram was
sentenced to 120 days in jail and four years probation. Bram was
incarcerated on February 1, 2014. Her three children were taken
into custody by Child Protective Services more than a year ago and
remain in foster care.

“Parents, Pot and Prohibition: Daisy Bram’s Story” was released
on May 16, 2013. The original text is here:

As her children were being taken away from her, Daisy Bram
screamed, “My babies! My babies!”

In 2011, Daisy Bram and Jayme Walsh lived with their two small
children, Thor and Zeus, in Butte County, California. Like so many
other people in northern California, Bram and Walsh had medical
marijuana recommendations and a small cannabis garden in their back
yard. In September, their home was raided by Butte County sheriffs.
Bram and Walsh were charged with cultivation of marijuana,
possession with intent to sell, and child endangerment. Thor and
Zeus were taken by Child Protective Services and placed in foster
care for four months.

A year later, Bram gave birth to their third son, Invictus. With
their Butte County cases still unresolved, Bram and Walsh decided
to move their family to neighboring Tehama County.

In January of 2013, Tehama County sheriffs raided Bram and
Walsh’s new home. This time they found a cannabis garden in a
locked room off the back of the house. Child Protective Services
once again seized Bram and Walsh’s children and placed them in
foster care, where they remain to this day. On January 30, Tehama
County officers seized Bram’s car. Walsh is currently in jail with
bail set at one million dollars. Bram is out on bail awaiting
future court dates.

“There is nothing worse that someone can be accused of than
doing something to harm their own children. If someone from the
government is going to come after someone and make that accusation,
they better have the ammunition ready to go,” said Michael
Levinsohn, Daisy Bram’s attorney.

Learn more about Daisy’s story at Green Aid and The Human
Solution.

Approximately 7.5 minutes.

Produced by Paul Feine and Alex Manning.

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John Ross on State Moves To Reform Marijuana Laws

Marijuana bills and initiativesThe march
toward good sense and marijuana freedom continues apace. To give a
glimpse of what’s in store for 2014, here’s a 50-state guide to
legislation and ballot measures that are in the works thus far this
year. By John Ross’s count, 13 states may follow Colorado and
Washington State’s lead and legalize recreational use—either at the
ballot box or in the legislature. Medical marijuana is on the table
in 16 states. Five states may decriminalize possession, replacing
criminal penalties with civil fines

View this article.

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How Courts Failed the Constitution: Clark Neily on “Terms of Engagement”

How Courts Failed the Constitution: Clark Neily on
“Terms of Engagement,” produced by Zach Weissmueller. Approximately
9 minutes. 

Original release date was February 5, 2014 and original writeup
is below.

“The judge will actually collaborate with the
government in coming up with hypothetical justifications for a law
in order to bend over backwards and uphold whatever the government
is doing,” says Clark Neily, attorney at the Institute for Justice and author of
the new book, Terms
of Engagement: How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution’s
Promise of Limited Government.
 ”You don’t get a neutral
arbiter.”

Neily sat down with Reason TV’s Zach Weissmueller to discuss what
Neily describes as an ongoing pattern of “judicial abdication” in
America.The judiciary, he says, was meant to stand as a bulwark
against the tyranny of the majority, a defender of individual
rights. Instead, it has become a mere enabler of legislators and
government agencies. Neily argues that charges of “judicial
activism” are overblown in a time when what’s needed is greater
“judicial engagement,” or, a real grappling with the meaning of the
Constitution and its application as a check on government
power.

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How Courts Failed the Constitution: Clark Neily on "Terms of Engagement"

How Courts Failed the Constitution: Clark Neily on
“Terms of Engagement,” produced by Zach Weissmueller. Approximately
9 minutes. 

Original release date was February 5, 2014 and original writeup
is below.

“The judge will actually collaborate with the
government in coming up with hypothetical justifications for a law
in order to bend over backwards and uphold whatever the government
is doing,” says Clark Neily, attorney at the Institute for Justice and author of
the new book, Terms
of Engagement: How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution’s
Promise of Limited Government.
 ”You don’t get a neutral
arbiter.”

Neily sat down with Reason TV’s Zach Weissmueller to discuss what
Neily describes as an ongoing pattern of “judicial abdication” in
America.The judiciary, he says, was meant to stand as a bulwark
against the tyranny of the majority, a defender of individual
rights. Instead, it has become a mere enabler of legislators and
government agencies. Neily argues that charges of “judicial
activism” are overblown in a time when what’s needed is greater
“judicial engagement,” or, a real grappling with the meaning of the
Constitution and its application as a check on government
power.

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Nick Gillespie on The GOP’s Stupid Plan to Spurn Immigrants and Embrace E-Verify

“Republicans,” writes Nick Gillespie,

insist that the federal government is too inefficient and
incompetent to deliver the mail or to oversee health care, but it’s
nonetheless qualified to police thousands of miles of borders and
run employment checks on hundreds of millions of workers? Come on
guys, get your story straight.

View this article.

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Nick Gillespie on The GOP's Stupid Plan to Spurn Immigrants and Embrace E-Verify

“Republicans,” writes Nick Gillespie,

insist that the federal government is too inefficient and
incompetent to deliver the mail or to oversee health care, but it’s
nonetheless qualified to police thousands of miles of borders and
run employment checks on hundreds of millions of workers? Come on
guys, get your story straight.

View this article.

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