QUOTE OF THE DAY
USA Today: US is training twice as many K-5 elementary school teachers as needed each year
The nation is training twice as many K-5 elementary school teachers as needed each year, while teacher shortages remain in the content specific areas of math, science and special education.
Illinois trained roughly 10 teachers for every one position available, according to an estimate by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a Washington based research and policy group.
In New York, about 6,500 childhood education specialists were trained in 2010 to fill the projected demand of 2,800 in 2011, according to the state's education department and labor bureau.
Public elementary schools in Cherry Hill, N.J., average 400 to 600 applicants for one full-time position; the numbers are up to 400 for work as a long-term substitute, said George Guy, the principal for A. Russell Knight Elementary School.
NCTQ president Kate Walsh says the market is "flooded with elementary teachers" because universities and colleges don't make the effort to match supply and demand as other professions might do. Dean Donald Heller of Michigan State's College of Education says it is true that MSU does not coordinate with the state regarding how many elementary school teachers are needed. But the school produces teachers for a nationwide market, not specifically for Michigan, he countered.
The National Center for Education Statistics reported there were 1,708,057 elementary school teachers in 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available, a decrease from 1,774,295 in 2009.
WSJ: The Coolidge Lesson on Taxes and Spending
Only Reagan could fix this.
That's the intuitive reaction to the surge of spending and budgetary challenges in Washington today. It's hard to think of another Republican with the fortitude to push back against the outlays, to make government smaller, to lower taxes. And to show that such moves can yield prosperity.
The "only Reagan" assumption is too narrow—especially when it comes to the fiscal challenge. For while Reagan inspired and cut taxes, he did not reduce the deficit. He did not even cut the budget. But if you look back, past Dwight Eisenhower and around the curve of history, you can find a Republican who did all those things: Calvin Coolidge.
A New Englander and former Massachusetts governor, Coolidge came to Washington as vice president and moved into the White House only in 1923 after the sudden death of President Warren Harding. He later won the office himself and served until 1929. The 30th president cut the top income-tax rate to 25% (lower than the 28% of the historic Reagan cut of 1986). Coolidge reduced the national debt and balanced the budget. When he departed the White House for his home in Northampton, Mass., he left a federal budget smaller than the one he found.
Washington Post: The feds will run most Obamacare exchanges
Friday was a very important day for health policy days. It was the last day for states to tell the federal government whether they wanted any part in running the Affordable Care Act health exchanges come 2014.
The federal government did not get many takers. Some of the most closely watched states, including Florida and New Jersey, decided to leave the entire task to the federal government. All told, the federal government will run 26 of the state health exchanges. It also will partner with seven states, where state and federal officials take joint responsibility for the marketplace. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia will take on the task themselves. Here’s what that looks like in map form, via the Kaiser Family Foundation.
As for the partisan breakdown, this graph should give you a sense of how politics played a role in state decisions. While you do see some Republican-led states running exchanges—and some states with Democratic governors passing up the opportunity—there is a definite split along party lines.
CBS: Doctors-In-Training Face Licensing Delays in Illinois
Hundreds of highly qualified medical students could be absent from Illinois teaching hospitals starting in July because of delays in processing their licenses, the result of a dispute between lawmakers and the medical community about how to fund the state office that issues licenses for physicians and doctors-in-training.
Thousands of applications are submitted by medical residents every spring for temporary licenses. But the office that handles those applications, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation’s medical unit, slashed more than half its employees last month because of financial woes.
The result: Processing times for licenses have increased from 16 days to six months. And it could get worse soon, since the unit is solely funded through license fees but lawmakers and doctors can’t agree on how much those should cost.
Medical students nationwide seeking residency spots for next academic year have until Wednesday to submit a list of their hospital preferences. Yet some highly qualified students may overlook Illinois hospitals out of fears they won’t be licensed by the time they have to start working.
“Students who are quite competitive, who have several options and could have their choice, it could make sense not to take the chance (of not being licensed on time),” said Dr. Karen Broquet, associate dean for graduate medical education at Southern Illinois University.
The Texas Tribune: Education Chairman Aims to Expand Charter Schools
Broad changes to the state's charter school system, including the creation of a new state board to oversee the state contract process, would result from legislation filed Monday by Senate Education Committee Chairman Dan Patrick, R-Houston.
The State Board of Education currently oversees applications for charter school contracts, which state law caps at 215. Patrick's Senate Bill 2 would create a new state entity to authorize the contracts and lift that cap, allowing for an unlimited number of charter school operators in the state.
"There is no one answer to transforming schools but lifting the cap to add high quality public charters will give Texas parents, including the nearly 100,000 currently on a charter school waiting list, more choices to find the best education for their child," Patrick said in a statement.
The legislation also includes language that makes it easier for local school boards to vote to become "home rule districts" and convert into charter schools. It follows Gov. Rick Perry's call for more charter schools in his State of the State address, in which the governor praised the innovation they bring to the public education system.
The charter school measure is one of a comprehensive set of proposals expected from Patrick to expand school choice in the state this session. Patrick has said those will also include include fostering open enrollment across school districts and creating a private school scholarship fund through offering a state business tax savings credit to corporations.
The Senate Education Committee heard testimony on the subject during an interim meeting in August.
Businessweek: The Price Tag for Obama's Antipoverty Moonshot
If there was a moonshot moment in President Obama’s State of the Union speech, it involved global development. The U.S., Obama pledged, “will join with our allies to eradicate extreme poverty in the next two decades.” Part of that effort would involve saving the world’s children from preventable deaths and “realizing the promise of an AIDS-free generation.”
In one short paragraph, Obama committed the U.S. and its partners to ending absolute poverty planetwide and saving millions of lives each year. Even more astounding is that the goal is plausible—if, that is, the U.S. is willing to spend the same as we did on the original moonshot and ask the rest of the world to do the same.
The goal of eliminating $1.25-a-day poverty over the next 20 years may be the most straightforward part of the president’s package. It also demands the least of the American taxpayer. Forecasts of poverty rates from Martin Ravallion of the World Bank and the Center for Global Development suggest that economic growth in developing countries alone will be rapid enough to reduce the number of people in the developing world living below the $1.25-a-day line from 20 percent to 3 percent. Even a slight “bending of the curve” through more rapid growth, lower inequality, or (even) transfers from richer countries would get us to zero. This can be accomplished with minimal assistance from the West, if the record of the past 20 years is anything to go by. The decline in the proportion of people in absolute poverty from 43 percent to 21 percent worldwide between 1990 and 2010 was led by China and India, both countries that receive aid worth a fraction of a percent of their GDP.
The health goals pose bigger challenges. We’ve seen immense progress in the fight against child mortality over the past 50 years, for example—and particularly heartening improvement in Africa over the past 10. But we’re still a long way from the level considered necessary to avoid easily preventable deaths. The child mortality rate in developing countries today averages close to 5 percent. In Africa it averages 12 percent. The United Nations forecasts that Africa is likely to continue to see child mortality of 8.5 percent in 2030. Forecasts I created with colleagues at the Center for Global Development last year were more optimistic: We suggested Africa might see a rate of 6.6 percent in 2030. Either way, Obama has called for Africa to reach a rate less than one-third the predicted level within two decades.
Huffington Post: Dunkin' Brands Lobbying Against Key Obamacare Provision
An iconic American brand has come out against a key Obamacare provision requiring some companies to expand their health insurance coverage.
Dunkin' Brands is lobbying the government to change their definition of full-time work from at least 30 hours per week to 40 or more hours per week, their CEO Nigel Travis has told the Financial Times. Successfully doing so would mean Dunkin' and other companies would have fewer workers to insure under President Barack Obama's health care reform law, which mandates that big employers give health care coverage to all full-time employees and their dependents, or face a penalty.
In response to the Obamacare mandate, which applies to all employers with at least 50 full-time workers, numerous firms have said they would cut their employee hours to avoid paying for their health care coverage. A majority of companies expect their health care costs to rise because of Obamacare and plan to shift health care costs to employees in response, according to a survey last year by Mercer.
A Wendy's franchisee in Omaha, Neb. has said he will reduce all non-management employees' hours to 28 hours per week to sidestep Obamacare, WOWT NBC reported in January. A Taco Bell franchise in Guthrie, Okla., cut its employees' hours to 28 hours or less per week to skirt Obamacare, News 9 reported in January. And a Denny's restaurant owner in West Palm Beach, Fla., plans to reduce employees' hours in response to Obamacare, The Huffington Post reported in November.
In response to Obamacare, Darden Restaurants, the parent company of Olive Garden and Red Lobster, tested making some workers part-time last year, according to the Associated Press. After the move garnered bad publicity, the chain decided not to make full-time workers part-time, but has not ruled out a broader shift toward part-time work, according to the AP.
Bloomberg: Wal-Mart E-Mails Seen Showing Tax Drag Mounting on Retailers
The payroll tax increases and delayed tax returns that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. executives blamed in internal e-mails for weak February sales may be poised to hurt other retailers as well.
Wal-Mart had the worst monthly sales start in seven years, according to internal e-mails obtained by Bloomberg News and reported Feb. 15. Jerry Murray, Wal-Mart’s vice president of finance and logistics, in a Feb. 12 e-mail called the retailer’s February month-to-date sales “a total disaster.”
“It’s not Wal-Mart specific,” David Strasser, an analyst for Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in New York, said in a telephone interview yesterday. Family Dollar Stores Inc., Target Corp. and supermarkets are encountering similar effects, he said. “Anyone with any low-end exposure is going to feel this. That customer runs out of money every day as it is. Now they’re really going to run out of money.”
When a payroll-tax break expired Dec. 31, Americans began paying 2 percentage points more in Social Security taxes on their first $113,700 in wages. That’s about $15 a week for a person making $40,000 a year. In addition, tax returns may be delayed in part because of the late release of forms, Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, said in a report.
Delayed tax rebates will be “a significant short-term issue” for retailers such as AutoZone Inc. and Advance Auto Parts Inc. as well as Wal-Mart, David Schick, a Stifel Financial Corp. analyst, wrote in a Feb. 15 report.
“I think it’s broad,” Schick, based in Baltimore, said in a telephone interview.
CARTOON OF THE DAY