Cost Functions Should Not be Used to Make Education Spending Decisions

by Kansas Policy Institute


June 1 - Wichita - A cost study recommending a school funding increase upwards of $2 billion survived a peer review by a scholar the Legislature hired; but, another respected school finance scholar says cost studies should not be used to set funding levels.

Benjamin Scafadi, Ph.D., a professor of economics and director of the Education Economics Center at Kennesaw State University, says, “cost function studies do not provide valid and reliable estimates of the minimum 'cost' of achieving a given outcome.” 

Knowing the Legislature’s WestEd cost study would define the conversation on education spending and impact further judicial proceedings, Kansas Policy Institute partnered to do an independent peer review with Dr. Scafidi.  His findings disprove the notion that spending more money causes student achievement to improve. 

In response to the Kansas Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the Gannon V case, the Kansas Legislature recently contracted with a vendor conducting a $285,000 study to analyze the “cost” of educating public school students in grades K-12. The Legislature asked the vendor, WestEd, to “estimate the minimum spending required to produce a given outcome within a given educational environment.” WestEd used a “cost function” approach to estimate the costs of providing students in each public school in Kansas with an adequate education. 

Dave Trabert, president of the Kansas Policy Institute, commented, “These cost studies may be done with the best of intentions, but they fail to provide results that are useful in guiding policy decisions. In practice they only take a partial look at one variable – spending – and ignore all other variables that impact learning.”

Scafadi said, “The estimates vary widely and do not track with historical data on spending and achievement.” The review outlined the reasons why supposed “cost” functions do not provide valid and reliable estimates of the minimum “cost” of achieving a given outcome.

“One glaring problem we found with the WestEd study is that researchers do not have access to data on all external factors that impact the cost of educating students.” Trabert said.

Scafidi’s study for Kansas Policy Institute included in its exhaustive review a complete recommendation of best practices that should be performed to “check carefully for robustness and reliability of results.”

His data determined it unreasonable to conclude that giving the Kansas public school system, as currently constituted, a large boost to spending would significantly improve student outcomes.

“Given the vast sums of taxpayer funds at stake, the Kansas Governor, Legislature, and the State Supreme Court should implement the five best practices, as laid out in my review, to discover the truth about the relationship between spending and valuable student outcomes.” Scafadi concluded.




Editor's Note: Such mathematical games accomplish little more than feed the lawyers who feast on endless court decisions that force the Kansas Legislature to raise taxes violating both the separation of powers and the people's right to determine fiscal policy.

Federal Judge Rules: Way Trump Uses Twitter Is Illegal

by George Upper


There’s been a lot of theorizing about the effect of social media on the 2016 presidential election, most of it — in the establishment media, anyway — focused on how Donald Trump’s campaign, with or without the help of the Russians, “stole” the election from Hillary Clinton by selectively planting “fake news” on Facebook.

But Trump’s social media advantage during the campaign was never on Facebook; it was always on Twitter, from his announcement through the election and inauguration.

And, while it wasn’t obvious at the time, that’s when swamp water began seeping into Trump’s online presence, with the ultimate result being that federal judge ruled Wednesday that President Donald Trump cannot block users from access to his Twitter account without violating the First Amendment to the Constitution after seven plaintiffs — we don’t have their names, but I’m guessing they don’t hail from right-of-center heartland America — sued over the practice.

The judge ruled that, because blocking accounts that disagree with him on Twitter prevents those users from expressing their disagreement with him on what was essentially a public forum amounted to government suppression of their right to free speech, according to The New York Times.

Now, given the circumstances, the judge could hardly have decided anything differently. It’s not the judge in the wrong here; it’s the circumstances surrounding the judge’s decision.

Essentially, Federal District Court Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald ruled that, because Trump and Dan Scavino, the White House social media director, “exert governmental control over certain aspects of the @realDonaldTrump account,” the account is an official government account and blocking the seven plaintiffs from it because of their political views violated their First Amendment rights. 

Again, that’s true. But that’s not the problem.  The problem is that this should never have been an “official government account” in the first place. 

Donald Trump — with the help of media experts in his employ, one would imagine — built his following on Twitter long before he ever ran for office, and he continued to build it — and expertly so — during his campaign.  If the account had remained under his personal control, he could block or not block anyone he chose.

But that’s not what happened.

“The viewpoint-based exclusion of the individual plaintiffs from that designated public forum is proscribed by the First Amendment and cannot be justified by the president’s personal First Amendment interests,” the judge, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1999, wrote in her decision.  The White House is apparently considering an appeal, although the basis for such an action was not mentioned and remains unclear, given the present circumstances.  

“We respectfully disagree with the court’s decision and are considering our next steps,” said the Justice Department, which is representing the president in the case.

‘The right thing for the president and his social media director to do would be to log into the president’s account and unblock everyone who has been blocked on the basis of viewpoint,” said Jameel Jaffer, the plaintiffs’ attorney and the executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, which joined the case as a plaintiff itself.

The court, however, did not order the president to take such an action which would, on the face of it, appear to mean that any government employee or elected official with a social media account funded with taxpayer money would have to take the same action or face similar lawsuits.  Again, since White House staffers became involved, free speech is a legitimate issue in this case. But was it really necessary for that to happen? Isn’t the president’s Twitter account really that, a personal account?  

And the president should be able to communicate directly with the American people without the intervention of federal bureaucrats. Shouldn’t he?

The court, however, did not order the president to take such an action which would, on the face of it, appear to mean that any government employee or elected official with a social media account funded with taxpayer money would have to take the same action or face similar lawsuits.  Again, since White House staffers became involved, free speech is a legitimate issue in this case. But was it really necessary for that to happen? Isn’t the president’s Twitter account really that, a personal account? 

And the president should be able to communicate directly with the American people without the intervention of federal bureaucrats. Shouldn’t he?


Kentucky's 'Pay for Play' Legal System

by Allen Williams


In October of 2017 I was returning from a trip On US 64 which brought me through Louisville, Kentucky.  Just about a half to three quarters of a mile before the Shively 264 exit, I was bumped in my rented 2017 Chevy Impala by an individual in some sort of green sports car. I saw him or her  swing in behind me from an angle consistent with someone entering the highway from an on ramp. 

It looked to be a woman or guy with long hair from my rear view mirror who fell in behind me after the hit and slowed down.  I had expected him to pull in behind me after the bump event.  I signaled to pull over to the shoulder where we could exchange insurance information.   I stopped on the shoulder about 100 yards from the Shively 264 exit.  Instead of pulling directly in behind me, the guy sped away on the 264 exit just as traffic began to back up at the Shively exit.  However, I got his license number '840 CAL' before he fled the scene.  Looking at the rental vehicle right side damage, the collision was consistent with an onramp entry and appeared to be more that $500.

Two Louisberg police officers showed up about a minute or so after the individual sped away. I thought they might have witnessed the accident but instead they began clearing debris off the Shively exit to free up traffic. Lacking a working cell phone I was unable to contact the police.  One female officer at the scene I attempted to talk with said they were 'super busy' and that another patrol car would be coming.  At that point, she and an accompanying officer jumped into their cars and left the scene. I waited 30 minutes at the Shively exit for the promised patrol car but it never showed.  I then left and continued my journey home.  The next day, I filed a Kentucky Civilian Traffic Collision Report with the state police.

The civilian traffic collision report I filed is a joke.  It gets no identifying number after it's filed; nobody appears to do anything with the report. It's likely a convenient archive that allows insurance adjusters to determine your 'risk' factor in premium assignments. Otherwise, it's a worthless document for anyone who has filed it.

After I arrived back home I called the Kentucky state police but they wouldn't run the license plate I recorded.  They suggested that I talk to Louisville police at Division 4 of Jefferson County.  So I called there and the officer tells me they don't have jurisdiction and they wouldn't run the plate because I'm not a law enforcement officer or an insurance representative.  They suggest I call the Jefferson County DA.  So I talk to a Jefferson County assistant DA who tells me that I cannot file a criminal complaint over the phone and that I would have to return to Kentucky.  Neither would they accept my complaint in a notarized letter. Only a local lawyer could file my complaint, I was told.  I believe the reader can see where this might be going.

Talking to a number of lawyers in the Loiuisville area that handle auto accidents revealed a host of solutions for the hit and run accident I was involved in but none of them were viable. I should point out that few attorneys called me back the same day as either business was exceptionally good or the amount of damages I experienced wasn't sufficient to peak their interest.

One attorney suggested that I file a civil action to recoup the rental losses. But unfortunately, even if I returned to Kentucky and filed a civil and criminal action, I was told that the accused could simply deny it. (The perpetrator obviously didn't have insurance which was why the person fled to begin with).  Another lawyer said paying the damages myself (or my insurance company) would be cheaper than hiring a lawyer to resolve the issue. What this translates to is unless there's sufficient money in play because of an incident we're not interested in pursuing it even if it's a felony. Remember that statement because it's nothing more than 'pay to play' and even if you win the civil suit it's doubtful that you'd be awarded attorney's fees. it's characteristic of the endemic corruption in America's legal system. You'll understand this a bit further down. 


My personal favorite was a local lawyer who advertises  'How to Get a Car Accident Report or Police Report in Kentucky'.  Nothing gauche about tooting your own horn.  The process is actually quite simple, "There is a company that has a website to handle requests for car accident reports for Louisville and all of Kentucky. The website is called www.buycrash.com (www.buycrash.com/Public/Home.aspx). There is a fee for each accident report that can be paid by credit card (MasterCard, Visa, Discover, or American Express) or PayPal...Written requests need to be addressed to the Kentucky State Police post that worked the accident. Written requests should include a self-addressed stamped envelope and a $5.00 check or money order payable to Kentucky State Treasurer...If you believe another person was responsible for your car accident in Louisville or elsewhere in Kentucky, you may want to contact a Kentucky attorney to assist you with filing a claim or pursuing a lawsuit..You can contact Brett via email or call (502) 749-5700, toll free (866)935-5729.."

So the lawyer's advertisement suggests that what I experienced outside Louisville is quite common in the area. His site has a number of testimonials from happy satisfied clients  So there you have it, if the monetary damages are sufficient to make it worthwhile for the attorney then a claim will be pursued.  Apparently the same condition applies to the Jefferson county D.A. Never mind that a particular law has been violated, after all we break the country's laws every day where immigration is concerned. 

One final call to the Jefferson County DA to suggest that their office pursue the criminal charge against the individual who fled the accident scene as it was at least a Class C misdemeanor.  (My guess is it wouldn't be a felony unless it was something like $5000 or more in damages) The assistant DA that I talked to said they don't pursue individuals and that I would have better luck with a civil complaint through an attorney.  Now the DA had to know that a civil complaint against an individual without auto insurance was futile so his recommendation was more 'pay for play' rhetoric. 

I retorted with 'I bet if I robbed a bank and someone got my license you’d run it. That’s no different than someone leaving the scene of an accident.'  There was complete silence from the assistant D.A. I thought he had hung up.  He reiterated that there was nothing he could do and so the call ended.


Travel through Kentucky at your own risk.




Oregon Judge Tries to Silence Mother of Medically Kidnapped Children: Orders Website Taken Down

by HealthImpactNewsStaff

 

Multnomah County Oregon Circuit Court Judge Susan M. Svetkey recently ordered Trisha Delaurent of Vancouver, Washington, to take down a website and Facebook page that chronicled her struggles with Oregon CPS to get her children back. Trisha was charged with “medical neglect” of her oldest son, Max, who is 15.

Oregon CPS not only removed Max from her custody, but also his 3 siblings, including a newborn baby just 12 days after he was born.
Baby Elias – Removed from family just 12 days after birth. Image Source.

The website chronicling the family’s struggles is injusticeoregon.com, which has since been taken over by other interested parties, so that Trisha no longer has control over the website. The website was ordered to be taken down by Oct. 2nd, but is still up at the time of publication. The Facebook page for injusticeoregon has apparently been removed. 


Family Court Judges Routinely Violate the 1st Amendment

Judge Svetkey. Image source/contact info.


Here at MedicalKidnap.com we have had family court judges order our stories about families who claim they have had their children taken away unjustly be removed from our website. These judges usually threaten the parents and issue gag orders against them that many attorneys have claimed are unconstitutional. The parents are, of course, terrified, because the state is holding their children in custody. Sometimes the parents come back and beg us to remove their stories. A few times judges have threatened to jail parents for failing to comply with their order.

But Health Impact News has never given in to pressure to remove these stories. The 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives us the freedom to publish these stories, and each time we stood firm and defied those orders, any legal action threatened by the judge against the parents, such as going to jail, has (so far) not happened.


Why Does Oregon Want this Mother Silenced?

Since the website injusticeoregon.com is still up despite a judge’s order that it be taken down, much of the background of this case is documented on this site. Guy Bini, writing for GarrettsVoice.com has also covered their story recently:

Delaurent has been accused of medical child abuse. She has publicized her family’s story and claims her innocence. The information published on the website has been highly critical of both Oregon CPS and law enforcement investigators who have been looking into the medical child abuse allegations.
 

Specifically, Delaurent has published a counter narrative with details that point to a lack of a genuine investigation which includes false reporting, false statements, failure to investigate and witness tampering all initiated by state investigators.


According to Judge Svetkey, the creation of the website and FB page flies in the face of state and federal laws designed to help protect the privacy and confidentiality of minor children who become caught up in the DHS/CPS system. However, DHS attorneys representing the children did not present any documentation during the 9/28 hearing that would suggest Delaurent was in violation of any state or federal privacy laws, nor were any specific laws referenced by code or by statute. Instead, state attorneys asked Delaurent if she posted medical information about the children which any parent has a right to do. Delaurent answered “Yes” which embolden Judge Svetkey to order the entire website injusticeoregon.com to be shut down.

Delaurent, a mother of four, is currently embattled with both Oregon DHS and Washington DSHS over the custodial rights of her children.

In October of 2016, the three oldest children were taken into temporary protective custody by Oregon CPS and later placed with the children’s maternal grandmother. On the surface it seems like an optimal plan to place the three older children with their maternal grandmother, until one scratches the surface to dig into grandma’s background and discovers a long-term hostile relationship towards Delaurent.

In February 2017, Delaurent gave birth to her 4th child. Twelve days after the birth of her youngest son, Washington CPS took temporary custody of him as well based upon a ‘threat of harm’ due to the other 3 children being taken by Oregon CPS.

Delaurent’s motivation to develop a website was to publish her family’s story. It was born out of her frustration which stemmed from what she believed to be a biased investigation on the part of Oregon CPS investigator, Steve Jackson, and Gresham Police Officer, Detective Robert Harley who is assigned to the Portland Child Abuse Team known as CAT. Neither investigator interviewed friends or family members close to the Delaurent family. Instead, they sought the opinions of those who were adversarial to Delaurent, and that includes Delaurent’s mother.

In April of 2017, Detective Harley interviewed Delaurent, six months after the decision was made by the state to take her children into temporary protective custody, and only after she had made numerous requests to be interviewed.

Medical abuse cases typically involve parents who fail or neglect to seek medical attention for their children, especially those children who have life threatening ailments. Delaurent has done the exact opposite. Delaurent has sought out medical treatment for her children and accepted the medical advice given by her doctors. She has made certain that doctor’s orders were followed. Then why has Delaurent been accused of medical child abuse?


Read the full article here.