Last week we went to the other Washington for The Heritage Foundation’s annual Resource Bank meeting. We were in Bellevue, which is right next to Seattle. The theme of this year’s event was “Out of Bounds and Out of Control: Time to Bring Government Closer to Home.” Here are a few of the things we learned from the speakers and the discussions:
Some states have leaders who are willing to say no to the federal government—for example Maine, Oklahoma, and Utah. Maine Governor Paul LePage, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruit, and Utah Speaker of the House Greg Hughes discussed how their states are resisting federal control and charting their own course in health care, welfare reform, and land use.
The American Council of Trustees and Alumni is giving students the information they need to choose a good college—something beyond school reputation. They are answering the question: What Will They Learn? ACTA’s WhatWillTheyLearn.com grades 1,100 colleges and universities based on whether they require coursework in seven core subjects: composition, literature, foreign language, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics, and natural or physical science. For their good work, ACTA received The Salvatori Prize in American Citizenship at the annual Krieble Dinner last Thursday.
[Photo from The Daily Signal, May 7]
Some good news in the fight against Common Core: States have been withdrawing from the consortia working on Common Core. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is particularly vulnerable, having declined from 26 member states to 11. A few more states withdrawing could make the consortia unviable.
The threat that Common Core poses to basic education can be seen in the recent changes to the Advanced Placement U.S. History Test. At a panel on stopping bad education policy, Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center explained how the College Board has revamped the test to reflect a Leftist version of U.S. history—downplaying America’s virtues and emphasizing its sins. The federal government, meanwhile, has incentivized schools to offer AP history. The solution, says Kurtz, is to break the College Board’s monopoly in AP history testing. Kurtz has developed both an alternative test and model state legislation that would allow schools to choose different tests. If you are interested in working with Kurtz to get such legislation considered by your state legislature, you should contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abortionist Kermit Gosnell is the most prolific serial killer in American history, but almost no one knows that fact because conservatives are not engaged in the culture. Liberals tell stories, while conservatives crunch numbers, explained Ann McElhinney. McElhinney and her husband Phelim McAleer are working hard to change that. They’ve made documentaries challenging the environmental movement on a number of topics, most recently on the facts about fracking (FrackNation). Their next project is to tell the story of Kermit Gosnell’s crimes. Andrew Klavan is writing the script and Nick Searcy is slated to direct.
Canada is a showcase for conservative reforms. Niels Veldhuis and Jason Clemens of the Fraser Institute talked about how Canada reversed course on fiscal policy in the 1990s. Canada closed its fiscal gap by cutting spending (real cuts) much more than raising taxes. Not only did the government move out of the red, but Canada’s economy has consistently outperformed the G7 since 1997. Canada has also reformed its welfare system and has a growing constituency for independent schooling.
Health care innovation is coming. Soon, explained Robert Graboyes of the Mercatus Center, we’ll be able to get diagnosed for $40 without leaving our homes, and we’ll have nanites that can eat leukemia in our blood and then dissolve. And we’ll get those and other good things sooner, said Graboyes, if we can get government out of health care. Key targets for reform, said Graboyes, should be the delays in drug development caused by Food and Drug Administration regulations, Medicare’s pricing setup, the hospital monopolies created by Certificate of Need laws, and the medical schools’ control of entry into the medical profession.
The supply side of education matters, too. School choice has achieved gains around the country, but in order for choice to really work, the suppliers—charter schools, private schools, online providers—need fewer regulatory constraints. At an education roundtable, Matt Ladner of the Foundation for Excellence in Education argued that Education Savings Accounts are probably the easier way forward for getting choice in education. A setup that lets families spend their share of education funding on a basket of education goods that they choose diffuses the imperative to regulate providers.