School Choice Movement – Does This Education Program Work?

What is your opinion of America’s elementary and secondary schools? A 2018 Pew Research poll found that improving the nation’s educational system was ranked second on the priorities of the American public, slightly behind defending against terrorism and ahead of strengthening the economy. The angst represented in the poll findings reflects the perception that public schools are failing, threatening the prosperity and security of the nation.

The American public school system has been under attack since the mid-1970s and the emergence of the Back to Basics education movement. Critics of the schools advocated that a return to a focus on the three “Rs”— reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic — would restore public education to its historical standing as “the best schools in the world.” In the years since, school administrators, teachers, and students have experienced numerous attempts to improve education results and save money.

One approach — allowing students to transfer from public to private schools with public financial assistance — has become the battleground over the future of the traditional public school systems in the country. The war is being fought in media, public meetings, and state legislatures by opposing coalitions:

  • Dissatisfied Parents, Fiscal Conservatives, Over-Taxed Homeowners, and Employers. These groups often assert that introducing free market options in education through choice will produce better outcomes.
  • Parents who Favor Public Schools and the Education Community. Teachers, administrators, educational policy leaders typically claim with equal fervor that allowing school choice will destroy public education, ending the opportunity for middle- and low-income students to compete against a favored white, upper-class minority successfully.

Both sides are guilty of half-truths, misrepresentations, and exaggeration in the pursuit of their objectives. Choosing the right solutions to improve the education of the nation’s young requires an understanding and agreement about the current state of the educational system, and of the better alternatives to improve its outcomes.

America’s Public School System

Federal and State Roles

The authors of the U.S. Constitution left the responsibility of regulating public education to each of the individual states. Accordingly, each state maintains the public school system within its borders establishing attendance requirements, curriculum, teaching methods, textbook materials, and graduation requirements. Excluding Hawaii and its single, statewide school district, the states share power and implement their education policies through local school boards in geographically-distinct school districts.

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Consumer Price Index (CPI) as a Measure of Inflation – How It’s Used

The Consumer Price Index, or CPI, increasingly affects Americans of all ages, incomes, and location. Yet few citizens understand how it’s calculated, how it’s used, or its strengths and shortcomings.

The CPI is one of the most important figures calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). It reflects the rate of inflation that has occurred from one period to another, allowing you to understand why your dollars buy less today than yesterday. The Federal Reserve uses the index to set monetary policy, and Congress considers it when determining cost-of-living adjustments to federal benefits and taxes.

Here’s what you need to know to understand the CPI and how it affects our nation’s economy — and your bottom line.

What Is the CPI?

Simply stated, the Consumer Price Index is a weighted measure of the change in prices paid by typical consumers for a representative collection of goods and services over time. The BLS uses a combination of sampling data and statistical analysis to establish the price for a fixed category of goods and service consumed by a family unit during a specific period. A comparison of the index price for two calendar dates provides a close approximation of inflation between the two periods.

Three separate, though related, Consumer Price Indexes are published each month:

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How Immigration Affects the U.S. Economy – 11 Myths to Dispel


 
Immigration has long been a controversial subject for Americans, despite the country’s reputation as the world’s melting pot. In times of economic uncertainty, emotions run especially high, and partisans on both sides of the political divide use immigration controversy for their own gain.
 
Knowing what’s fact and what’s fiction is particularly tricky in the unregulated, anonymous world of social media. In order to separate the truth from our fears, it’s important to know the facts behind the issues. Here’s how immigration affects several aspects of the U.S. economy.

Immigration Myths

According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), there are approximately 45 million immigrants in the United States today, making up about 13.5% of the population. Immigrant children born in the country almost double the figures to 87 million and 27%, respectively. Over 80% of immigrants have lived in the country for more than five years, and almost one in three owns a home.
 
Yet while immigrants are a part of our neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces, misconceptions about them abound. Here are some of the most common.

Myth #1: Most Immigrants Come From Latin America

Many Americans believe that immigrants predominately come from Latin America by sneaking over the border. While Latin Americans accounted for 37.2% of immigrants in 2016, the composition of immigrants has changed significantly in the past half-century. In 1960, the largest immigrant groups were from Italy, Germany, the U.K., and Canada, according to the MPI. European countries accounted for almost one-half (48.5%) of the total, and the Soviet Union (7.1%) had a higher share than Mexico (5.9%).
 
In 2016, most immigrants came from Mexico (26.5%), India (5.6%), and China (4.9%). Mexico and Central American countries, including Cuba, accounted for the largest proportion of legal and illegal immigrants, but not the majority. Asia represented slightly more than 20%, with the rest of the world comprising 42.5%.

Myth #2: Most Immigrants Are Illegal

Some Americans believe most foreigners are in the United States illegally. That is not true. Illegal immigrants account for about 24.5% of the immigrant population but a meager 3.4% of the U.S. population in total, according to Pew Research.

Myth #3: Immigrants Are Unskilled & Uneducated

Some Americans assume immigrants are uneducated, unskilled, low-wage workers. However, the MPI found that one-half of immigrants have a high school diploma or higher education. Two-thirds of immigrants over the age of 16 are employed, with almost a third (31.6%) in management, business, science, and the arts, compared to 38.8% of native-born citizens.
 
It’s true that a higher proportion of immigrants (24.1%) are engaged in low-wage service jobs than native-born citizens (16.8%). However, the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, citing statistics from the U.S. Office of Homeland Security and others, states that immigrants are “generally much better educated than U.S.-born Americans are … [and] 62 percent more likely than U.S.-born natives to have graduated college.”
 
Foreigners who work in the United States with H-1B visas have bachelor’s degrees or higher and work in specialized fields such as IT, engineering, mathematics, and science. President Trump and others have complained that H-1B visa holders compete with Americans for high-paying jobs. However, the visa program was created to allow companies to hire foreign workers to work for three years or more in specialty occupations for which there are not enough skilled Americans to fill the positions.
 
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Is Social Security Going Broke? Possible Solutions

More than one-half of Millennials believe there will be no money in the Social Security system by the time they are ready to retire, according to a 2014 Pew Research report. “I don’t think anyone honestly expects to collect a single penny they pay into social security. I think everyone acknowledges that it’s going to go bankrupt or kaput,” says Doug Coupland, author of “Generation X.”
 
What went wrong? Will Social Security go bankrupt?

A Brief History of Social Security

In 1935, few of the program’s creators could have anticipated the condition of the Social Security program today. The country was in the midst of the Great Depression with a quarter of its labor force – 15 million workers – idle, and those with jobs struggled to make ends meet as their hourly wages dropped more than 50% from 1929 to 1935. Families lost their homes, unable to pay the mortgage or rent. Older workers bore the brunt of the job losses, and few had the means to be self-supporting. One despairing Chicago resident in 1934 claimed, “A man over 40 might as well go out and shoot himself.”
 
Hundreds of banks failed, erasing years of savings of many Americans in a half-decade. People lived in shanty towns (“Hoovervilles”) or slept outside under “Hoover blankets” (discarded newspapers). Breadlines emerged in cities and towns to feed the hungry. Thousands of young American men hopped passing trains, sneaking into open boxcars in a desperate attempt to find work.
 
Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), promising a New Deal, defeated former President Herbert Hoover in 1932 with more than 57% of the popular vote and 472 of 531 Electoral College votes. Three years later, FDR signed a bill that would “give some measure of protection to the average citizen and to his family against the loss of a job and against poverty-ridden old age.”