Capitol Comments

In many states and local school districts, education leaders have taken the mantra, “time is money,” literally. The New York Times reports in an effort to cut costs, thousands of school districts across the nation are gutting summer-school programs, condensing the school calendar into four-day weeks or otherwise shortening the school calendar, even though virtually everyone involved in education agrees that American students need more instruction time.

With national initiatives in place to increase educational standards (specifically the No Child Left Behind Act) there comes the inevitable need for progress assessment.  Many class subjects lend themselves well to a more traditional “multiple choice” testing format, but science assessment has struggled to employ this technique effectively.  Science education combines a mixture of rote memorization, which can be tested by traditional methods, with an understanding of the scientific method, problem solving, and deeper scientific inquiry, which are difficult to summarize for the purpose of answering “A, B, C or D”.

The National Research Council (NRC) recently reaffirmed the importance of science in K-12 education by recommending that science receive the same emphasis as that currently being given to math and reading under the No Child Left Behind Act. The NRC’s Committee on Highly Successful Schools or Programs for K-12 Education released their suggestions due to the growing number of jobs, both inside and outside of the scientific community, requiring knowledge in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields.  The chair of the committee, Adam Gamoran, recently said, “the goal isn’t only to have a capable and competitive work force.  We need to help all students become scientifically literate because citizens are increasingly facing decisions related to science and technology – whether it’s understanding a medical diagnosis or weighing competing claims about the environment.” 

According to a recent article in the New York Times, stagnant salaries for judges and the growing pay gap between public and private legal salaries have led to increased turnover for judges – especially in New York. In that state, turnover has markedly increased over the last few years with almost 1 in 10 judges now leaving annually.  New York judges have not had a raise in 12 years and other legal professionals, including partners at top law firms, can earn 10 times as much as their judicial counterparts.

CSG Research & Expertise in the News: 6/26-7/2, 2011

The following compilation features published news stories during the week of June 26-July 2 that highlight experts and/or research from The Council of State Governments. For more information about any of the experts or programs discussed, please contact CSG at (800) 800-1910 and you will be directed to the appropriate staff.  Members of the press should call (859) 244-8246.

New pieces in the Seattle Times and the Detroit Free Press give updates on film tax incentive scale-backs in Washington and Michigan.  Each is written from the perspective of impacted workers and businesses.      

For more on film tax credits from CSG, including comments from the director of Washington’s film incentive office, see a recent E-News brief and a related blog post.     

Indiana GOP Senators are using QR codes on mailers and signs to help connect the print world to the online world (Read the press release here).  

Get some mail from your state senator with an odd looking barcode on it?  Scan it with your phone, and you could automotically be directed to her or his web page on your phone's web browser without having to go through the troubleof typing in the URL on a tiny phone keyboard or starting up your computer.


The NY Times reported today that at least seven states have laws on their books prohibiting localities from adopting policies aimed at reducing obesity and improving public health. The most recent example is Ohio, where the budget bill just signed by Governor John Kasich limits local government control over restaurants.

“Alphabet soup,” a phrase observers used to describe President Roosevelt’s anti-Great Depression programs, might well fit in the case of corporate tax policy.  Like the New Deal, a number of acronyms, abbreviations, and other shorthand expressions characterize today’s corporate and business tax policies.  Here is a sample, drawn from recent developments at the state and federal level. 

Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report which airs on Comedy Central, was recently approved by the Federal Election Commission to form a “super” PAC in order to raise unlimited campaign funds for the upcoming 2012 presidential election.