This year, one out of every four South Dakota students will go to school only 4 days a week due to budget constraints. It looks like the evidence both for and against shorter school weeks is pretty slim, but it strikes me as a move in the wrong direction. Ignoring the relationship between class time and educational outcomes, my secondary concern is how this impacts working families. As the parent of a school age child, I am (along with my wife and my daughter’s mother) constantly negotiating daycare, play dates and extracurricular enrichment activities. In addition to the fact that I can afford those opportunities for her, I’m lucky to have a flexible-enough work schedule that I can cover for days my daughter has off of school (or is too sick to go to daycare). I’m guessing many school districts facing budget constraints are not in particularly wealthy neighborhoods, so the families most impacted by the dedicated childcare time school days provide will be the ones to be hardest hit. Yes, we must think of the children when we make decisions like this, but we must also think about the families and communities that are affected when we force the creation of an entire generation of under-educated latchkey kids.
Archive for August 2011
Ever since I learned about his appointment as Ambassador to China, I’ve kept my eye on former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman. First of all, consider that Utah is perhaps the most red state in the country, electing very, very few Democrats. Because of this, the population and the party make allowances for that rarest of beasts: the moderate Republican, which Huntsman clearly is. Secondly, he seems adept at playing both sides in his own bid for the White House. By serving in the Obama administration, he can claim heir to Obama’s policies if they’re successful. By running against Obama this year and next, he can lay the groundwork for a national campaign now while arguing against Obama and the Dems and building up his GOP-bonafides. He’s a shrewd guy, and if Obama wins in 2012, I think Huntsman stands a good shot going into 2016. As Andrew Sullivan says, he’s the Obama of the right.
Chip Cravaack is a first term Congressman representing Duluth and the northern metro. Because he is in his first term he should be interested in making a good impression with his constituents in order to help ensure his re-election. It’s curious to me that he would, then, 1) refuse to hold town hall meetings in the largest city in his district; 2) charge residents $10 for the opportunity to meet him and discuss issues important to their lives and the district; and 3) move his family out of the district to live in a different state (New Hampshire, to be specific). While items 1 and 3 are an insult to the people he was elected to represent, it’s the second item that’s particularly worrisome to me. Town hall meetings are often not pleasant, but they’re a good way to gauge the mood of your district. Pay-to-play is not a sustainable model of representative democracy. We clearly have enough purchased influence in Washington; there’s no reason to bring that back home.
Even at the end of his second term when the global economy was collapsing, 1/3 of Americans still approved of Bush. That is the base of the Republican party and the same people who show up for the primaries. Clearly, if you want to double down on those policies, why wouldn’t you want another conservative Texas governor in the White House?
Bachmann winning the straw poll yesterday doesn’t really surprise me. She’s an Iowa native, truly represents the base of the GOP and knows how to work the media. Paul in second is also not really a surprise; he and Huntsman are the only Presidential contenders with major disagreements with the party, and Paul has a committed group of young Libertarians behind him. And then there’s Pawlenty. Politico is already reporting that he’s closing shop. I really thought that he might have a chance at winning the GOP moderates and Independents against Romney, but he just wasn’t charismatic enough or confident enough to pull off a bloodthirsty attack on his opponents.
It looks to me like it’s now a three-way race between Bachmann, and the two major candidates who didn’t compete in the straw poll: Perry and Romney. And in that race, I don’t see how Perry doesn’t win the nomination. Perry perfectly blends Bachmann’s and Romney’s strengths, while mostly avoiding their weaknesses. He appeals to the base and to the business class. At the end of the day, though, he’s a gun-toting evangelical fundamentalist governor of Texas, and if memory serves, we just said goodbye a president with that story.
It only took me two years to finally get around to it. Oh well, welcome to the new version of my site. I’m going to be refocusing my efforts on the type of work that I produce (namely, work that serves some sort of political or community service aim). There’s not much here yet, but that should be changing in the next few weeks, as I’ve gotten some really exciting projects in the pipeline. If you catch any sneaky bugs, feel free to drop me a line.