Today's news -- April 12, 2017





Standardized testing creates captive markets *

It’s easy to do business when the customer is forced to buy. But is it fair, is it just, or does it create a situation where people are coerced into purchases they wouldn’t make if they had a say in the matter? For example, school children as young as 8-years-old are forced to take a battery of standardized tests in public schools. Would educators prescribe such assessments if it were up to them? Would parents demand children be treated this way if they were consulted? Or is this just a corporate scam perpetrated by our government for the sole benefit of a particular industry that funnels a portion of the profits to our lawmakers as political donations? Let’s look at it economically. Say you sold widgets – you know, those hypothetical doodads we use whenever we want to talk about selling something without importing the emotional baggage of a particular product. You sell widgets. The best widgets. Grade A, primo, first class widgets. Your goal in life is to sell the most widgets possible and thus generate the highest profit. Unfortunately, the demand for widgets is fixed. Whatever they are, people only want so many of them. But if you could increase the demand and thus expand the market, you would likewise boost your profits and better meet your goals. There are many ways you could do this. You could advertise and try to convince consumers that they need more widgets. You could encourage doctors and world health organizations to prescribe widgets as part of a healthy lifestyle. Or you could convince the government to mandate the market. That’s right – force people to buy your products. That doesn’t sound very American does it?


House, Senate far apart on school construction


Longhofer, Katz in runoff election for Palm Beach teachers union president

Magistrate recommends ways to resolve non-instructional contract disputes (USEP mentioned)


McKay vouchers may come with hidden costs


Are charter schools truly public schools?


Higher ed on the cheap in Florida

Florida is the third-largest state, but its universities continue to lack the money to play in the academic big leagues. A case in point: The California university system has five of the top 10 public universities in America, according to the U.S. News & World Report rankings. In fact, six California public institutions are listed before the University of Florida even comes up — at No. 14. And on the overall list of public and private universities, only one of Florida's 12 public universities makes the top 50 — and UF is hanging on in a tie for No. 50. Tuition and fees account for nearly as much university revenue as state tax dollars, even though tuition is cheap compared to other states and has been frozen in recent years. Yet the Florida House is poised to pass a proposed 2017-18 state budget that would cut state spending on universities by more than $100 million, raid their reserves and cut state money for employee salaries at university foundations. Translation: House Republicans won't invest in higher education, but they don't want to help universities raise private money, either. "Compared to other areas of the state, higher education was due for an adjustment,'' declared Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, chairman of the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee. Florida universities are due for an adjustment, all right. But it's not down, as they have hardly recovered from the economic recession that forced deep cuts in programs and faculty members on many campuses. These charts show that university funding across the nation has failed to recover from the recession. Florida, which started from behind, has remained there. First-rate education is not possible at cut-rate prices. Freezing tuition, slashing state spending and harming private fundraising is a recipe for permanent mediocrity.


Lawmakers need to bridge budget differences


Constitution Revision Commission announces statewide public hearings


Concerns as constitutional makeover gets under way


Scott declares wildfire emergency


Judicial term limits proposal now faces more skeptical lawmakers in Senate


Prosecutor sues Scott over removal from murder cases


Governor’s office affirmed prosecutorial discretion, independence, in letter last year


House demands finance records from secret appropriations


Sheriff: Trump’s China summit cost local taxpayers $1.5 million


Scott sidesteps questions about mid-session checks from big donors


Francis Rooney: The Department of Education must die — unless it evolves


A reborn labor movement is coming -- if unions are bold enough to change


FBI obtained FISA warrant to monitor Trump adviser Page


Classified docs contradict Nunes surveillance claims, sources say


Manafort firm received Ukraine ledger payout


Sessions signals immigration crackdown: “This is the Trump era”


Domestic abuse survivors still face deportation under Trump


Border officers nearly double searches of electronic devices, government says


Florida’s support of Trump travel ban surprises state’s top industry — tourism


Partisan battles over nominees pose danger for Supreme Court, chief justice says


Fear of flying, for good reason


Plenty more villains at Wells Fargo


Sessions is wrong to take science out of forensic science


White House tells agencies to come up with a plan to shrink their workforces


Ron Book: Trump's proposed HUD cuts too harmful


Marino set to serve as White House drug czar


Choice of pro-immigration economic adviser riles Trump’s base


Trump taps lawyer involved with Trump U case for federal job


Trump promised an “unpredictable” foreign policy. To allies, it looks incoherent.


Trump’s shift on Russia brings geopolitical whiplash


Syria strike follows Washington’s failed foreign-policy playbook


Trump’s trademark continues its march across the globe, raising eyebrows


Trump Jr. admits there is no barrier between the president and his businesses


The public deserves to know who is visiting the White House


Trump won’t definitively say he still backs Bannon


The real reason for the White House infighting: Trump has no clear vision


The latest test for the White House? Pulling off its Easter Egg Roll


Spicer apologizes after saying Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons


Anger and ridicule in Israel over Spicer's Hitler comments


Wasserman Schultz: Spicer's claim “ignorant and offensive”






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