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Moving Toward A Free-Market In Education

Moving Toward A Free-Market In EducationLaura Carno

December 9, 2014

 

Imagine if you could shop for your child’s education just like you’d shop for a new laptop.

If you were shopping for a new laptop, you would look online at the features to see if they match your needs. You would look at reviews and at what Consumer Reports has to say about the specs, the durability and the overall performance. You might ask your friends what brand laptop they have and how they like it. You also might visit Best Buy and the Apple Store to get the look and feel of various models.

We are all very accustomed to shopping this way for most consumer products in our lives. How would we respond if we simply had to accept the taxpayer-funded laptop that our state government determined was best for us? One store, one salesperson, take it or leave it.

In Colorado where I live, we are luckier than some other states because we have some choices in schools. It is true that some districts have highly rated traditional public schools, but that is          neither universal nor the norm. Consistently, the schools that rank the highest in performance and college preparation are charter and private schools.

Take for example Liberty Common High School, a public charter school in Fort Collins, CO. They focus on a classical liberal-arts curriculum accentuating math, science and engineering. Every student is required to take 4 years of math and a foreign language. They have high expectations and achieve high results. Although Liberty doesn’t teach to any standardized tests, their students consistently out-perform students in other schools who are teaching to the standardized tests. Liberty consistently achieves the highest test scores in Colorado, and even broke the ACT record this year.

Charter schools are public schools. They require no tuition to be paid by the parents. They are part of traditional school districts and are funded by tax dollars. They actually have less money to work with since they do not receive any tax money for facilities as their non-charter counterparts do. They need to use a portion of the per-pupil student funding for facilities, yet they are still achieving superior results. Charter Schools are far from rare. Twelve percent of Colorado’s K-12 students are now in Charter Schools. With charter schools achieving such wonderful results with more efficient spending of taxpayer dollars, it’s no surprise that responsible and active parents are choosing charter schools for their children.

Private schools require parents to pay separate tuition in order for their child to attend. Does that mean that all private schools are only for the wealthy and elite? Look at the example of Arrupe Jesuit High School in North Denver. The average family income among the students’ families is $31,000 per year. Over 50% of these students will be the first in their family to graduate high school. So how do these families afford private school tuition? The Arrupe students work for a portion of their tuition through the school’s Corporate Work Study Program. There is a longer school day and school year to allow students to work 5 days per month at area partner companies. They earn valuable work experience and are able to work for a portion of their own tuition. The parents pay a small portion of the tuition, which may be as little as $100 per month. In addition, Arrupe partners with the Ace Scholarships Program, which provides families with the remainder of the tuition costs, through money raised from individuals and businesses.

The performance at Arrupe is astounding as 100% of graduates are accepted to college. This busts the myth that kids from poorer families are destined to squander their potential in poor achieving traditional schools. They have a better chance to succeed when their parents take an active role, and when their community invests in their opportunity to attend a high performing private school. Who wouldn’t want to send their kids to the best schools available?

If traditional public schools do not work to improve and keep the remaining parents happy, students will continue to leave and so will the public funds received per pupil. This competition improves the performance of all schools.

Although Colorado has more choice in education than some other states, we still face roadblocks from some in government who want to preserve the public school paradigm. State Senator-elect, Michael Merrifield was a previous State House member who served as the chair of the House Education Committee. During a discussion about charter schools, Merrifield famously quipped “there is a special place in hell for supporters of charter schools.” Why would a former educator denigrate parents who simply want the best for their kids, especially when the performance of these schools is better than traditional public schools?

It’s time to remove any bias against school choice, or against parents who are looking for better schools for their kids. It is not the fault of these parents or children who are left to deal with the sub-par schools in their communities. It is the fault of the obstructionists to progress and a better future for our kids. All we ask is to have a choice. After all, it is the way we shop for everything else.

Laura Carno

Founder, I Am Created Equal

Visit Laura Carno’s personal sight here.

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Post-Election Analysis – Udall Lied Campaign

In the few weeks since the election, we have been working to answer the question: “What was the impact of the ‘Udall Lied’ campaign on sending Mark Udall home?”

With so many media players in any election, it is always difficult to prove who was responsible for which election results.  The attached document makes the case that ‘Udall Lied’ demonstrates the wisdom of defining a candidate early in the minds of voters, changing the culture in which the election happens and impacting the language that becomes the norm.

Please let me know if you have questions about our analysis or would like to look more deeply at any of our numbers.

We thank you sincerely for taking a risk on our unconventional campaign.  It worked, and we are grateful for your support.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Thank you,

Laura

IACE Post-Election Analysis PDF Attatchment

(Click above to view the PDF)

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On October 28, 2014, the Independence Institute held a debate at the Denver Post building on whether there is a war on women in Colorado. On the “no” side we had Kelly Maher and Laura Carno. For the “yes” side we had Susan Greene and Laura Chapin.

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NRA Magazine- Election Issues

NRA Magazine

October 30, 2014
The 2013 Colorado recalls were all about politicians overreaching on gun control. It was a response to just one more example of people like Michael Bloomberg using their vast fortunes to tell the rest of us how we must behave. When Bloomberg forces restrictions on salt, sodas and trans-fats, it’s annoying. But when he proposes gun restrictions that make me less safe, it is incredibly disrespectful to all women. A billionaire who hires armed security to protect him dares to tell me how many rounds I can have in my magazine! Ordinary Colorado citizens organized the recalls, knocked on doors, called their neighbors and flocked to the polls. Despite $350,000 of Bloomberg money being spent against the recall efforts, we successfully recalled two sitting state Senators and forced another to resign, showing Bloomberg that the voters couldn’t be bought.

Bloomberg Can Be Beat Because Our Votes Can’t Be Bought.

This is a direct excerpt from the full NRA  Magazine, click here to see the magazine.

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See the original video here.

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El Paso Ballot Question 1B: A Dishonest Tax Increase

The Jeff Crank Show
By Jeff Crank
October 14, 2014
El Paso County Ballot Question 1B is nothing more than a dishonest attempt to fool voters.  Its shameful deception rises to the level of the misleading term-limits language of a few years ago.  If you remember the term limits language which implied that a yes vote “limited” terms when it actually extended them then question 1B this year might ring a bell.  1B imposes a tax of $92.40 per year on the average household in El Paso County for the next 20 years and beyond.  That is a minimum tax increase of $1,848 per property- and likely much higher.  However, you wouldn’t know these facts just by reading the ballot language.
Pretty harsh to say it is deceptive, but the facts leave little doubt.  First, the language calls the tax a “fee”.  Why? If they called it a tax, the Colorado Constitution would require the ballot language to start out by saying “shall taxes be increased by $39,275,650 for 2016 and each year after for 20 years.”  By cleverly calling the tax a “fee”, they can now start the language with “Are you in favor of funding emergency needs caused by flooding…”.  It was worded this way to enhance the ability to get it passed but it is nothing more than a way to trick you into believing that the money coming out of your pocket is a “fee” and not actually a tax.  After all, it is on your property TAX bill.
The sleight of hand continues.  Rather than being honest about how much you’re going to pay each year, they broke the amount down per month.  They could have simply said that it would cost the average homeowner $1,848 over the next twenty years.  Instead, they broke the amount down by month – to $7.70 per month.  Why not just give us the full monty and break it down to the day, hour or second? By the way, if you do the math, it is just over a penny per hour tax increase.
Question 1B also creates a brand new government bureaucracy and then exempts it from the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights provisions of the Colorado Constitution.  In other words, it creates a bureaucracy and then allows that bureaucracy to vote to extend the tax (that they call a fee) without ever going to the citizens for a vote of the people.
As Mayor Steve Bach, who strongly opposes 1B, stated, “the new $92.40 storm water fee is about the same amount the average residential property owner now pays for all City services combined.”  That’s right, you’ll pay as much property tax for storm water as you do for police, fire, snow removal, street repair, parks, arts, etc.  Imagine this new unaccountable bureaucracy getting as much property tax as the city of Colorado Springs, never having to face an election and having the ability to increase the tax at their whim and without voter approval.
If this tax increase of $785 million over twenty years weren’t offensive enough the audacity of the language should convince any citizen to vote no.  The drafters of the language trying to pull the wool over voters eyes by calling a tax a “fee”; reducing the yearly tax amount to make it appear smaller; and thumbing their nose at the voters by taking away the right to vote on tax increases make this as deceptive and misleading as any ballot language we’ve ever seen.

Our storm water problem is real and it should be addressed but Question 1B is not the answer.  I hope you’ll join Mayor Steve Bach, myself and many other community leaders in voting no.

Original post here.

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Colorado’s State-Wide Ballot Amendments – What is the Proper Role of Government?

Colorado’s State-Wide Ballot Amendments – What is the Proper Role of Government?
Laura Carno
By Laura Carno
October 14,  2014
Following are my opinions on the state-wide ballot initiatives in Colorado from my perspective about whether or not they are actually the proper role of government.  Feel free to reach out if you have questions about your local ballot issues.Amendment 67 – Definition of Person and Child

The marketing for Amendment 67 would have you believe that it exists solely to gain equal rights in wrongful death situations.  If implemented however, it would effectively ban most forms of birth control, and cause legal issues for women who miscarry or participate in many forms of infertility treatments.  The pro-life activist community is not universally behind the Personhood effort. In 2008, Colorado’s Amendment 48, the first attempt at a Personhood Amendment in Colorado, was defeated at the ballot box 73-27. When a similar bill made its way through the Colorado State Legislature in 2014, even the Catholic Archbishop of Denver urged people to act to stop the bill.  It failed.  This Amendment creates more intrusion in to women’s lives, and makes government larger and more powerful.  I will be voting NO.

Amendment 68 – Horse Racetrack Casino Gambling

The marketing for Amendment 68 is “for the children.”  It purports to be raising money for schools.  Who isn’t for good schools?  If this passes, it would allow casino style gambling at 3 Colorado horse racetracks (one existing horse racetrack and two still to be developed), and would create an additional tax to produce millions more in revenue to the state.  Ordinarily, I would support a business owner’s right to determine what should happen at his or her business.  But, I have a couple of issues with this Amendment.  First, voters in the areas where these casinos might open should have the ability to make this decision for their community, adding a local control element to the discussion.  None of these proposed casinos would impact my area.  Why should I get a say?  Second, creating new taxes simply adds to the amount of money the State government has to spend, and generally speaking, government does not spend money well.  When we “starve the beast”, they have less money with which to harm citizens. I will be voting NO.

Amendment 104 – School Board Meeting Requirements

This Amendment requires that when school boards meet with unions for the purpose of collective bargaining, that these meetings will be conducted in public.  When this idea has previously been brought before the Colorado state legislature, it has been killed on a party line vote. Not surprisingly, the teachers’ union is funding the opposition to Amendment 104.  The government belongs to us, and the citizens are owed transparency in negotiations that involve taxpayer dollars.  For more history on this effort, see this Denver Post op-ed by former State Representative B.J. Nikkel, a great advocate of government transparency. I will be voting YES.

Amendment 105 – Labeling Genetically Modified Food

This Amendment would require labeling of food products containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), with many exceptions.  The history of GMOs is a complicated debate.  While I can appreciate the viewpoint of those who don’t want to consume GMOs, I am also aware of the positive uses.  In poor parts of the world for example, GMO’s are starting to be used to infuse crops with specific nutrients, thereby saving millions who would otherwise die of malnutrition.  Ultimately, I come down on the side of voluntary actions instead of the force of government.  Food products that do not include GMOs are free to label their products (as many do today) as GMO free.  Consumers would then be free to choose what they buy, and apply pressure to companies to label their food products.  Although there are many more complexities covering the exceptions, ingredients, etc., it is simply not the proper role of government to force businesses to jump through regulatory hoops and add cost to their process.  I will be voting NO.

See the original post by here.

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Right to an abortion is not in jeopardy

September 20, 2014

The Denver Post

By Laura Carno

Democrats seem intent on making this election about choice. What else explains the barrage of ads in the Colorado U.S. Senate race with the false narrative that a woman’s right to get a legal abortion is in jeopardy?

Since the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision, Roe vs. Wade has “survived” the pro-life presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush.

Despite the steadfastness of the law, the incidence of abortion is at its lowest point since 1973.

The many good works of the pro-life movement such as privately funded centers that support young pregnant women as an alternative to abortion have effectively lowered the tide of abortion.

Yet, a deafening barrage of political commercials is now telling women their reproductive rights are in danger. Let’s be clear: They aren’t.

The false “your reproductive rights are in danger” narrative is a tactic “pro-choice” Democrats have embraced for decades to persuade women to vote for Democrats over Republicans. I would argue that a woman who thinks she is voting “pro-choice” should examine what those choices are.

Voting for a Democrat who is billed as pro-choice is also a vote for someone who does not support a woman’s right to choose her own doctor or health plan. It is a vote for someone who likely doesn’t support a woman’s right to choose her own form of self-defense.

The good news in this is that we haven’t given up the right to make our own choices about who to vote for.

The option for a woman to choose a legal abortion is only one issue out of many. And since that option is not likely in jeopardy, look at the other choices that are important to you and your family, including health care, take-home pay and your family’s safety.

See the original post here.

 

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Long Live the Incumbents!

ByIan J. Roy

In politics, there’s nothing worse than a coordinated political ploy just before an election.

In this particular case, Senate Democrats didn’t stop at just the usual controversial bill; they introduced a dead-end Amendment to the United States Constitution to rile up their party’s base. The unfortunate and shocking aspect is that the Amendment would’ve effectively gutted free speech in the name of protecting incumbent politicians.

Of course this isn’t how the bill is being sold to the tens of millions of voters on partisan e-mailing and fundraising lists however. With the “War on Women” narrative losing traction and almost every poll and prediction coming out saying that Democrats will likely lose control of the Senate in 2014, party leaders will now harp on an old rallying cry, overturning the Citizens United decision.

If you don’t recall, Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission involved a documentary filmmaker’s non-profit organization being forbidden from making a Pay-Per-View film about Hillary Clinton just months before the elections in 2008. This was due to the McCain-Feingold law, which banned corporations, non-profit issue organizations and unions from speaking ill of any Federal candidates within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election.

Now, you might say wait a minute… Isn’t 30-60 days before an election normally around the time that every citizen starts looking into whom they might vote for?

You’d be precisely correct.

The fact is that most Americans are too busy working full-time jobs, secondary jobs, raising families, and trying to enjoy a few moments of life during the rest of the year. Unless you’re a political junkie, you only start paying attention to races when they get down to the wire. What McCain-Feingold did, and what Udall’s S.J. Resolution 19 would have done, is ensure that just as we begin to pay attention, the only people telling us how to vote is the incumbents with their built-up war chests of cash.

“Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.”

The sentiment behind the law is understandable. What society would want only the richest of their members deciding whom our lawmakers will be? The knee-jerk urge is for arbitrary restrictions to be placed to try to obstruct the influence of the rich. What supporters of these proposals don’t understand is that dark money and mega-donors will ALWAYS find a way to their preferred politicians.

The most powerful players, from George Soros to Michael Bloomberg to Charles Koch, all have armies of lawyers, political connections and loosely associated organizations figuring out how to navigate campaign finance laws. Think of it in economic terms. When mountains of regulations are laid at the feet of business and industry, who is better positioned to come out on top? Is it the small companies struggling to survive or the giant corporations with million dollar legal teams?

The big and politically connected corporations will always weather the storm. They stand to be even better off in the aftermath, once their small-time competition is removed from the picture. This is exactly the power shift that we will face in elections if the goals of this Amendment are given serious consideration.

The more grassroots organizations that we take pride in supporting and identifying with will be the ones that will be shut up by this law, not the rich. Whether you are a member of the NRA, Greenpeace, a labor union such as SEIU, the National Taxpayers Union, or a civil liberties organization such as the ACLU or FreedomWorks, your issues and grievances will be silenced just when they need to be echoed the loudest. This law limits the marketplace of voices at election time to one, that of the powerful and wealthy incumbent.

You might ask, isn’t that the case now? As an individual who works for a small, 2-person, state based organization, I can tell you that we still have power in this system. I spend much of my time processing $10, $25, even $2 donations from countless supporters who simply want us to change the narrative being shoved down their throats by incumbent politicians and party bosses. We use minimal resources to speak to voters in a direct and down to Earth manner about what’s affecting their lives. Keeping our organization off of the TV and radio waves would simply silence the small-town voters that we help to represent.

You would think that with 15 of the top 20 big money donors from 1989-2014 being strongly Democratic leaning (including Goldman Sachs), and with the boogie men at Koch Industries only coming in at #58, the left would be a bit more cautious to use this as a partisan issue. In fact, if billionaires and millionaires can so easily purchase elections, why don’t we have a President Romney, a Governor Meg Whitman out in California or debates on President Perot’s reforms in the 90’s? Why did a freshman Senator from Chicago defeat the Clinton Empire in a ruthless primary campaign?

The truth is that American’s can smell a billionaire rat better than Senate Democrats and Senator McCain give them credit for. Manipulation of economic grievances is no reason to throw away free speech rights. When government stops picking winners and losers and inserting itself into every crevice of the economy, there will be far fewer billionaires inserting their check books into buying politicians and legislation. That is how we fix the problem, not by giving Harry Reid and John Boehner the power to decide who can speak to us before we vote.