Update from the Institute: August 1, 2008
New Video: Charter School Facts
There are currently over 10,000 students on waiting lists for charter schools in Chicago alone. In our latest video, “Charter School Facts,” you can hear from some of the parents and students who are benefiting from charters--and why the state should lift the cap on these innovative schools.
Institute in the News
Catch up on the Institute’s latest media hits! Our Director of Transparency Policy, Kate Campaigne, was recently featured in the State Journal-Register, the Times (Ottawa), and the Champaign News-Gazette. Meanwhile, Collin Hitt, our Director of Education Policy, was also recently featured in the Peoria Journal-Star.
By John Tillman, CEO
Last night, the Institute hosted star chef Charlie Trotter at a reception in Chicago. Those in attendance heard from a man deeply committed to the principles of liberty--as well as the importance of leadership by example.
Chef Trotter’s suggestion for all of us looking to do well in life is to always set one’s personal standards above and beyond the expected, to never stop innovating, and to relentlessly seek new ways to improve. The best leadership comes from looking inward, focusing on your own role and your own pursuit of excellence--which, in turn, will inspire others to follow by also leading within their own spheres of responsibility.
Charlie Trotter’s restaurants and his various businesses did not become successful overnight. When he opened, he set high standards, and he worked relentlessly to achieve excellence. Despite his reputation, Trotter told us, “I’m not a perfectionist.” Perfection, after all, is impossible. Rather, he said, he was an “excellentist.” I really like that.
Trotter also noted that setting such high standards is like a high-wire act. It’s a high-wire act, I might add, without a cushy net, and sometimes your competition may shake the wire. To be excellent, we must face risk.
We could all use a bit of Chef Trotter’s thinking in our work for greater liberty. We are doing well...but are we excellent? Are we pursuing innovation and improvement every day? Are we setting our standards--and our expectations--high enough?
We all need to be “excellentists,” setting standards above those of any political party, any candidate, or anyone who becomes satisfied with the current status quo. It is not good enough to simply issue a great report on a policy issue. What can be done to see that policy put into law?
Our standard of excellence at the Institute is to do just that--to see the principles of liberty put into public polices that become law. We started this journey six years ago, and we are working relentlessly to lead. We have set our goals very high--we seek to change the cultural and political dynamic in the state of Illinois--and we do it recognizing the risks. As Chef Trotter implied, this, too, is a high-wire act. We all take one step at a time, one by one, across the wire to the other side. The reward, I think, is worth it.
And with that, I ask of you, as I do almost every time, what can you do today, tomorrow and next week, however small a step it may be, to get on that high wire and lead for liberty?
Questions? Comments? Like to get involved? E-mail John Tillman at email@example.com.
Health Care Hits...and Follies
By Greg Blankenship, President
The beauty of America's decentralized system of governance is that it allows for a great deal of policy experimentation. This gives policymakers the opportunity to observe what works--and what doesn't---across jurisdictions.
One great emerging example of how this works is in the area of health care reform.
In 2006, in one of the most ambitious efforts to date to tackle rising health care costs and the problem of the uninsured, Massachusetts embarked on an effort to implement universal health care. At the same time, the state of Florida implemented a less grandiose plan to reform runaway Medicaid costs. Florida's effort relied on competition and choice to lower prices and increase access to quality care. Massachusetts relied on state subsidies to support the uninsured.
The results of the first year are coming in, and as one would expect, the Massachusetts plan has led to an explosion of costs--probably because of the simple fact that when you offer something valuable for little to no cost, you’re going to find a lot of takers. This simple fact has now led to calls for further tax increases to cover the Bay State’s exploding health care costs.
On the other hand, the Florida model, while not perfect, has led to a decline in spending--approximately 7%--while allowing greater access to services that were heretofore unknown to prior Florida Medicaid enrollees.
Florida, using choice and competition, worked as advertised. Massachusetts, relying on a state-centric subsidy plan, worked as well as common sense expected--which wasn't well.
The beauty of it all is that we in Illinois are now able to see the early results of these experiments. We can learn from fellow states across the country.
That we'll learn the right lessons, of course, remains to be seen.