December 6, 2007: An update from the Institute
Father Knows Best...Sometimes
By John Tillman, Chairman and CEO
My daughter Lauren just turned 9. She still thinks I'm pretty smart. But I've heard from friends with teenagers that it won't be long until I'm really, really dumb. This period of dimness on my part should coincide with her 13th birthday and continue until she is about 18 or 19. Then, according to friends with older children, a miracle occurs and I will slowly once again become smart and my judgments may even be valued anew.
It turns out that is exactly how our public school system sees me, too. You see, I was smart enough to choose which pre-school my daughter attended, and I'll be smart enough to help her choose which college. But in between I'm too dumb to know which K-12 school she should attend. The government decides for me based upon where I live. It's a pretty raw deal if you live near any number of failing schools around the state and can't move or can't afford to pay private tuition on top of your school tax burden.
The K-12 public school system is a protected monopoly. Parents have few choices, and even those choices cost extra. There is no market, no competition, little innovation and very poor performance. As a result, the U.S. ranks among the worst in the world in K-12 education performance.
On the other hand, how do we fare with pre-school and post-secondary education when Mom and Dad know what is best? We have competition with many choices and we have--you guessed it--world-class excellence.
Our K-12 performance can be world-class--if legislators will recognize that father does know best. Okay, maybe not always, but certainly always better than a government bureaucrat.
Questions? Comments? Want to get involved? You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Who's Looking Out for You?
Hopefully Not Blago!
By Greg Blankenship, President
Ronald Reagan once said that the scariest words in the English language were "I'm with the government and I'm here to help." Want to make them even scarier? Have them come from our governor, the Honorable Rod Blagojevich.
Just look at his track record from this year. We'll start with the minimum wage hike, which the Gov claimed would help 650,000 low-wage workers. Too bad that many, like state contractors, also lost their jobs a result. In May, the Springfield State Journal-Register reported that Rely Services, a Carlinville-based data processing contractor, had lost two large state contracts in the past year--and 134 Illinois workers lost their jobs. Why? Governor Blagojevich's agencies didn't want to pay the higher wages that had been put in place. You can't make this stuff up.
Next came the news that Blago planned to expand public health insurance to families earning $82,000 per year. Sounds "generous," right? Well, not to taxpayers, and certainly not to the people kicked to the curb. State substance-abuse treatment centers, who often cover the neediest cases, according to the Journal-Register, are facing shortages while $400 million is diverted to help cover middle-income families. Yikes.
Finally, we have this week's news that 350 downstate workers will lose their jobs on December 31, thanks to shifting funds from coal mines to, wait for it, the Chicago Transit Authority.
Nothing like receiving a pink slip in the company Christmas card, is there? Governor Blagojevich says he is looking out for us. Let's just hope he overlooks you and me!
A December Preview
This month, the Institute will release exciting new information on two hot topics for Illinois. In both instances, we can show that giving individuals more information, more choices, and more competition will help to make Illinois a better place to live and work.
Both of these arenas face different challenges, but the solutions are the same. Give individuals the freedom to choose and to produce and we will all prosper. As we enter the holiday season, it is important to remember that our greatest gift is the gift of freedom. And we should be thankful that, in large sum, the examples in our upcoming releases are largely exceptions to American life and not the rule.
Happy holidays to everyone from the Illinois Policy Institute.