Archive for March, 2014

Maybe you were focused on the NCAA tournament coming up this week, but if you were, you may have missed a recent editorial in the News Journal writing about Common Core critics like CRI. Rather than engage in the typical bashing of those concerned about Common Core, as even some educators are not happy with the new standards being imposed top-down, one size fits all standards. CRI is supportive of every reasonable effort to bring about education reform that benefits students (read about our reforms at www.caesarrodney.org), but the new standards are a rehash of previously failed standards imposed by the federal government. It does not matter who came up with the standards: what matters is that they function as a top-down, one size fits all approach based more on interpreting texts and following processes than any sense of literacy improvement or real critical thinking skills. Of greater concern is providing parents and students with educational choice and a real means for parents to afford the type of education any good parent would want for his or her child.

Below is the editorial from the News Journal:

Listen carefully to Common Core critics
The counteroffensive launched by Gov. Markell and other governors in defense of the Common Core academic standards underscores the tensions in our polarized politics and the fractured nature of education reform in this country. Gov. Markell, the other governors and several business groups responded to growing criticism of the academic standards that 45 states have adopted for public schools.
The governor said, “It’s not about politics; it’s about raising the bar for our children.”
The Common Core standards began to develop in 2009 with governors from various states as prime movers. The proposal gained popularity, and many states quickly adopted it. But as one observer said, support was a mile wide and an inch deep. However, as the implementation of the program progressed, silent opponents began finding their voices.
The political right attacks the Common Core standards as another intrusion by the federal government on the prerogatives of the states and local school boards.
Some on the political left view the standards as placing too heavy a burden on teachers.
Gov. Markell has promoted the standards as the next logical step in making our schools better. He co-wrote an opinion essay for the Bloomberg news service with the headline “Common Core Isn’t a Government Conspiracy.”
The right’s criticism aligns with its overall political criticism of President Obama and the Democrats, even though some conservative governors back it. Critics lump Common Core in with criticism of the Affordable Care Act. “Obamacore” is teamed with “Obamacare.”
The left’s criticism echoes the growing Democrat-on-Democrat fight over charter schools and their effect on public education.
Common Core may not be a government conspiracy, but its advocates should listen closely to some of these criticisms. Standards, for example, are not new. The 2001 No Child Left Behind Act required every state to put rigorous standards in place. It is worth asking whether those standards did much good. Several observers praised the quality of the Common Core standards, holding them superior to previous ones. But the task of aligning those standards with practices is enormous and difficult. One of the most telling criticisms is about how quickly all this is being implemented. Is it on a political schedule or on a school schedule? Is it a political necessity that it be up and running before President Obama or Gov. Markell leave office in 2017?
“Implementation” is not just a cover for criticism. A poor implementation can be damaging. Just look at Obamacare. Common Core standards could benefit our entire school system. We should take the care, and the time, to get it right.

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CRI Turns Six Years Old

The Caesar Rodney Institute celebrates our 6th anniversary today.  All of us at CRI cannot thank you enough for all of your support that has enabled CRI to reach this milestone.

The founders of CRI sought to create a Delaware-focused policy think tank to provide non-partisan, constructive, detailed appraisal of state policies and to provide solutions to Delaware public policy issues, particularly those related to the State’s economy.   CRI was and remains unique in our mission, breadth and quality of research and analysis.  Simply put, no one else does what we do.

From its inception CRI has focused on policies, not personalities; this has allowed CRI to provide independent analysis, sometimes resulting in CRI standing as the only group standing against a wave of conventional “wisdom.”  The Bloom Energy debacle stands as one example of CRI providing prescient analysis to lawmakers, though they did not heed our predictions.  Policy Director David Stevenson explained clearly how the Bloom project would cost you hundreds of millions dollars more in energy bills than was alleged and he has been proven correct. CRI’s John Stapleford correctly predicted the demise of the Fisker project and the loss of over $20 million in taxpayers’ cash based on his objective analysis of the risks and likelihood of success of Fisker.

Just as much as CRI cautions against ill conceived policies, CRI promotes policy solutions that will improve Delaware for all citizens.  CRI has pushed for sound economic growth policies, like eliminating the tax paid by many businesses based on their revenue, regardless of profitability (the gross receipts tax is aptly named in every way).

CRI continues to educate policy makers about the need to make real education reforms, including eliminating paycheck deduction of union dues to free teachers from the state union orthodoxy, and more focus on improving education for Delaware’s students rather than protecting the status quo.  The lack of a high quality public education system remains the biggest drag on economic growth, particularly in New Castle County, as families and businesses move to Chester County for better schools, taking their income tax, spending power, home purchase dollars, etc. along with them.

CRI has accomplished a great deal in six years, starting from a great idea and moving to reality and daily results.  I would like to thank everyone at CRI: the staff, Board, and Advisory Board for all of their time and hard work that keeps CRI moving forward.

CRI has much more to do.  We continue to need your help to continue our work.   Please consider making a tax deductible donation of any size to CRI today by clicking here to donate.  From all of us at CRI, thank you.

Best regards.

Jim Ursomarso

Chairman & CEO


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From the News Journal and Office of Management and Budget:

These officials were the state’s top-salaried employees in 2013, according to records from the Delaware Office of Management and Budget.

1. Orlando J. George Jr., President, Delaware Technical and Community College: $370,939.92, Total pay=$469,885.84

2. Dr. Vincent F. Carr, Medical Director, Department of Correction: $218,000.12

3. Dr. Gerard Gallucci, Medical Director, Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health: $211,975.92

4. Tie: Medical Examiner employees: $201,400.42

Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Adrienne Sekula-Perlman and Assistant Medical Examiners Edward McDonough and Jennie Vershvovsky earned the same salary.

5. Dr. Richard T. Callery, Chief Medical Examiner: $198,521.96

6. Myron T. Steele, Supreme Court, Chief Justice: $192,914.50,*now retired

7. Leo E. Strine Jr., Chancellor, Court of Chancery: $191,360,*now Delaware Chief Justice

8. James T. Vaughn Jr, President Judge, Superior Court: $191,359.73

9. Chandlee Johnson Kuhn, Chief Judge, Family Court: $191,268.45

10. Tie: Supreme Court Justices: $191,202.54

The Justices are Carolyn Berger, Henry D. Ridgely, Randy J. Holland and Jack B. Jacobs.

73. Jack A. Markell, Governor, State of Delaware: $170,999.92


What are your thoughts on this list?

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