Aug 31

Across the United States, millions of families are entering that perennial time period of anticipation, anxiety, excitement and hustle-bustle: Back To School.   In the majority of cases, parents choose their schools for their children indirectly, by moving into a neighborhood where the public schools meet their needs.  In a large minority of cases, families are stuck with the public school tied to their zip code, unable for one reason or another to move to better pastures.

In a smaller minority of cases, a private school is selected and paid for, often while simultaneously paying the local taxes that fund their would-be public school.   Some of these private schools choose their students with rigorous admission processes, where the applicants voluntarily subject themselves to all sorts of trial and tribulation, firm in their beliefs that the rewards will justify the means.

And in the tiniest minority, when like an “oversubscribed” bond offering the school has more applicants than slots, the school chooses the students randomly, by lottery.

What would make any parent reach for such a brass ring? A powerful independent documentary, “The Lottery”,  directed by Madeleine Sackler and released late in April seeks to shed some light on this situation.   It’s a film that no parent, voter, or teachers union member, should miss. Continue reading »

Aug 11

“All politics is local”

– Thomas “Tip” O’Neill, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1977-1987

Oh really?    Increasingly, it seems like Washington didn’t get the memo.

In Arizona, an overwhelming majority of citizens have had their legislative directives overturned by a federal judge that towed the Obama administration’s political line.   According to an April Rasmussen poll,  70% of Arizonans (but far fewer journalists) supported their law which would have permitted local police to seek immigration status documentation in their course of work.   Note that having to provide your car registration to the police upon being pulled over for “reasonable cause” is already a widely accepted practice; being able to prove that you’re in this country legally doesn’t seem like a big stretch from there.

But this is just one of a number of increasingly high-profile interventions by the federal government into the affairs of an individual state.   Continue reading »

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