Obama has picked Arne Duncan of Chicago as Secretary of Education. Unwilling to send his own kids to schools run by Mr. Duncan, he is never-the-less putting Duncan in charge of the rest of our schools.
My appointment for the Secretary of the Department of Education would have been the head of a liquidation firm. As a libertarian, I can find fault just about everywhere in Washington, but nothing better illustrates the modern disregard for the Constitution and the 9th and 10th Amendments than the Federal education infrastructure. My daughter asked me what I would do first if I were President. I would put blowing up this department first (though its demise would be neck and neck with the Department of Energy). I would even be willing to do it in a funding-neutral way, such that Federal funds currently allocated to education would still be so allocated, and simply distributed on some kind of per head basis to local districts. Which, in fact, would actually increase real education funding, eliminating the great Washington leaky bucket as well as the cost of compliance with reams of rules and regulations that is born by local districts.
It is possible to find a few (though very few, on a percentage basis) anecdotes of public schools that have been turned around (in fact, I think there are few enough that a movie can and has been made about every one). There are no examples that I know of a large school district being turned around. As to this guy Duncan picked by Obama today -- I am willing to believe he had some point successes at individual schools. But he certainly didn't turn around the whole district (certainly not to the Obama family's standards, since they refused to send their kids to the schools Duncan ran). So what hope does he have at a national level? Answer: none. But I am sure he will ask for more money to do it.
Chicago has become the latest city to try to impose special wage requirements solely on one sector of one industry, ie on big-box retailers like Wal-mart. One wonders how anyone can bend the notion of "equal protection" to support this kind of hash, but rather than again refuting this silliness for about the 89th time on this blog, I will leave it to Cafe Hayek and Russel Roberts. I particularly liked the way he rewrote the story for the Chicago papers:
Imagine a different world. A world where the City Council was blamed for the
failure of Wal-Mart and Target to pay a decent wage. Here's how the story might
After years of disastrous decisions in running the public
schools, it has become clear that Chicago's City Council has failed the children
of the Chicago area. After attending these mediocre schools, many children of
the city have inadequate skills to be successful in the labor
"Something must be done," declared Ald. Johnson. "If we had
decent schools, we wouldn't have this problem and people could live on the money
Johnson has proposed a bill that would require all Chicago
City Council members and teachers and administrators in the Chicago school
system to pay a special tax. The proceeds of the tax would help provide workers
in the member's district with a living wage.
I discussed why I like the Football Outsider rankings of NFL teams and players here. Typically defenses and offenses are ranked by total yards (given up and gained, respectively). This is a really poor metric, as evidenced in part by the fact that Arizona is something like 3rd in the NFC in offense and 5th in defense by these traditional rankings. The better football outsiders team rankings are here.
A couple of observations
- Cincinnati #1 after five weeks. Wow! Both offense and defense in the top 6. I know it is early, but the Outsider's way of ranking teams tends to be more reliable than traditional statistical approaches. For example, last season after week 5 they had Philadelphia and New England ranked #1 and #2, and these two teams eventually met in the Super Bowl. Cincinnati has had a pretty easy schedule to date, which will get harder as the season continues
- San Diego is by far the best 2-3 team out there. They have had a brutal schedule, which gets better going forward. They still should be considered a good playoff bet.
- Washington is easily the worst 3-1 team out there. Expect them to start losing soon, particularly as their schedule remains tough.
- Philadelphia may continue to struggle. The rankings show that their 3-2 record is no fluke, and they have perhaps the toughest schedule left to play of any team in the NFL
- San Francisco and Houston are really, really bad. Historically bad. I had been hoping that Arizona had a chance in the Matt Leinart / Reggie Bush sweepstakes, but SF and Houston will be tough to beat.
- Chicago is working on the Baltimore Ravens award, with the #1 defense to date in the NFL and the third to last offense. Chicago has also been one of the least consistent teams (highest variance), but has one of the easiest schedules for the rest of the year, so still may have a chance if it can just to anything on offense.
- NY Giants and Indianapolis are solid #2 and #3, though you have to worry about the Giant's high special teams score pulling them up - these scores tend to regress to the mean over the season. Is there anyone who wouldn't love to see a Manning-Manning Superbowl?