Education Tweet-storm!

Arne Duncan opened a can of worms this morning, with a single tweet:

Arne Duncan
Verified account
‏@arneduncan
What if every district committed both to identifying what made their 5 best schools successful & providing those opps to all their students?

Responses include:

Amy Cody Clancy ‏@acodyclancy @KJeskey @BadassTeachersA @arneduncan What if the top 5 schools have less poverty, more parental supp and the money with which to succeed?

Work at DENR in 2015!

Coal Ash Wednesday: More state control = more danger

Exactly the opposite of what we need:

For a President who likes to champion cleaner, safer and cost effective energy and environmental solutions, it caught some by surprise when Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency punted on December 19th on classifying toxic coal ash as a hazardous waste which would have set stringent disposal requirements. Instead coal ash is now classified as non-hazardous waste, equivalent in many respects to household garbage.

EPA’s ruling leaves a lot of discretion to state authorities and that’s a big problem, Holleman asserted. Investor-owned utilities are very powerful in their home states. They exert significant influence over who’s elected or appointed to administer disposal rules and then how those rules are enforced, or effectively ignored.

At one time the Hometicks (realtors) ruled the roost in the General Assembly, but in the last six years or so, Duke Energy has emerged as the undisputed king of lobbying in Raleigh, and their will be done. And when that level of influence is being wielded, there's simply no room left for the people.

Daily dose: It's a wrap edition

POLICIES & POLITICS

GOP ramps up damage control after Neo-Nazi missteps (Washington Post) -- While some Republicans praised House Speaker John Boehner for his decisive moves to push out a congressman guilty of tax fraud while backing Majority Whip Steve Scalise, others worried about the potential fallout from a racial controversy.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/house-republicans-struggle-to-contain-fallout-from-scalise-gr...

First principle: Smaller is usually better

Last week, we talked about "preserve options" as a first principle for action. It turns out that "preserve options" is a good idea in almost any circumstance, but most certainly in the area of public policy. A related first principle is think small, a principle with a bias against scale.

There's no question that scale makes sense in many sectors. For example, a consulting business with global clients needs global scale to serve those clients. Scale also matters when it comes to reducing operating costs.

In other areas, however, scale turns out to be mostly not a good thing. From public education to food production to global warfare to state highway planning, its easy to slip past the point of diminishing returns, to have too much of a big thing. Factory schools, factory farms, bloated defense budgets, and never-ending sprawl. Each of these has unintended consequences that could never have been foreseen. Struggling schools, failing infrastructure and worse, all in the name of economic efficiency.

Schools, in particular, suffer when there is a factory mentality. With state guidelines as cover, public school planners tilt toward BIG schools at every level. The cost has enormous.

Daily dose: White supremacist + whip = pending resignation

David Duke: Scalise knew us (Washington Post) -- Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke said late Monday that his longtime political adviser, Kenny Knight, was “friendly” with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) in 2002, and cited that relationship as the reason Scalise accepted an invitation that year to speak at a gathering of white supremacists. “Scalise would communicate a lot with my campaign manager, Kenny Knight,” Duke said in a phone interview. “That is why he was invited and why he would come. Kenny knew Scalise, Scalise knew Kenny. They were friendly.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/12/30/former-kkk-leader-says-his-political...

Outlook on fracking: All talk, no pay

It seems like the invisible hand of the capitalism is dealing trash when it comes to fracking around these parts. But that won't stop the honorables in Raleigh, who will give speculators all the rope they need. Only the most naive and inexperienced investors will jump into the fracking game in North Carolina, and the rest of us will be paying for their screw-ups for years to come.

The enemy at home: Payday lenders and the military

Swimming in shark-infested waters:

Among other protections, the act bans members of the military from being charged more than 36 percent in annual interest on certain consumer loans. Payday, auto title and tax refund-anticipation loans are among those covered by the cap.

But attorneys general and regulators say lenders have used loopholes in the act to prey on members of the military. Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal regulator, in September said some lenders lurk just outside of military bases to offer loans that fall just beyond the act's limits.

One more issue that sets Democrats apart from Republicans, especially here in NC. Republicans don't think it's their responsibility to "intervene" in a "business arrangement" between two willing entities, even if that arrangement is fraudulent and even if the victim has already put his/her life on the line for the country, day after bloody day, for years. There are a lot of disgusting things associated with the NC GOP's mismanagement of our state, but this one is easily in the top five.

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