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Archive for September 29th, 2009

Politicians in Washington have a nasty habit of assuming that they should control every aspect of life, and education is a good example. Bush thought he could demonstrate “compassion” by spendinng a lot of money to centralize education policy in Washington, so we got saddled with the No-Bureaucrat-Left-Behind education bill. Now Obama is trying to be Bush on steroids, increasing spending even more and proposing to micro-manage local school districts by dictating school calendars. It may very well be the case that summer vacations should be shortened, but that is none of Obama’s business. Moreover, the AP story on the issue notes that other nations get much better performance with less time in school – which is why decentralization and choice are the right ways of discovering the right way(s) of providing better education:

Students beware: The summer vacation you just enjoyed could be sharply curtailed if President Barack Obama gets his way. …The president, who has a sixth-grader and a third-grader, wants schools to add time to classes, to stay open late and to let kids in on weekends so they have a safe place to go. …While it is true that kids in many other countries have more school days, it’s not true they all spend more time in school. Kids in the U.S. spend more hours in school (1,146 instructional hours per year) than do kids in the Asian countries that persistently outscore the U.S. on math and science tests — Singapore (903), Taiwan (1,050), Japan (1,005) and Hong Kong (1,013). That is despite the fact that Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong have longer school years (190 to 201 days) than does the U.S. (180 days).

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A previous post poked fun at state bureaucrats in Michigan for threatening a woman for the ostensible crime of keeping an eye on her neighbors’ kids without a government permit. English bureaucrats are equally clueless, badgering two women who take turns caring for each other’s kids. The common theme, of course, is that bureaucracts lack common sense – but the real lesson is that this is the inevitable consequence of government intervention (especially when politicians say they are “doing it for the children). The BBC reports:

England’s Children’s Minister wants a review of the case of two police officers told they were breaking the law, caring for each other’s children. Ofsted said the arrangement contravened the Childcare Act because it lasted for longer than two hours a day, and constituted receiving “a reward”. It said the women would have to be registered as childminders. …The two detective constables, Leanne Shepherd, from Milton Keynes, and Lucy Jarrett, from Buckingham, told the BBC how Ofsted insisted they end their arrangement. …Ms Shepherd, who serves with Thames Valley Police, recalled: “A lady came to the front door and she identified herself as being from Ofsted. She said a complaint had been made that I was illegally childminding. I was just shocked – I thought they were a bit confused about the arrangement between us. So I invited her in and told her situation – the arrangement between Lucy and I – and I was shocked when she told me I was breaking the law.” …”To think that they would waste their time and effort on innocent people who are trying to provide for their families by returning to the workplace… Surely their time and effort would be better placed elsewhere.” …Minister for Children, Schools and Families Vernon Coaker insisted the Childcare Act 2006 was in place “to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all children”.

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A grandmother in Indiana has been arrested for purchasing cold medicine. We can all sleep more safely now that this hardened criminal has been taught a lesson. The Terre Haute News reports:

When Sally Harpold bought cold medicine for her family back in March, she never dreamed that four months later she would end up in handcuffs. Now, Harpold is trying to clear her name of criminal charges, and she is speaking out in hopes that a law will change so others won’t endure the same embarrassment she still is facing. …Harpold is a grandmother of triplets who bought one box of Zyrtec-D cold medicine for her husband at a Rockville pharmacy. Less than seven days later, she bought a box of Mucinex-D cold medicine for her adult daughter at a Clinton pharmacy, thereby purchasing 3.6 grams total of pseudoephedrine in a week’s time. Those two purchases put her in violation of Indiana law 35-48-4-14.7, which restricts the sale of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, or PSE, products to no more than 3.0 grams within any seven-day period. When the police came knocking at the door of Harpold’s Parke County residence on July 30, she was arrested on a Vermillion County warrant for a class-C misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to 60 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.

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