Audit of L.A. ‘training institutes’ reveals abuse of ratepayer dollars

Photo courtesy of 401(K) 2013, Flickr

Photo courtesy of 401(K) 2013, Flickr

Ratepayers are mad as hell after Controller Ron Galperin’s financial audit of the Joint Safety and Training Institutes revealed that we have been ripped off by IBEW union boss Brian D’Arcy for tens of millions of dollars. This audit revealed bloated salaries, credit card and expense account abuse, prohibited payments to DWP employees to conduct training sessions, and no bid contracts totaling millions.

The City Administrative Officer’s performance and operational evaluation revealed an inefficient organization without adequate management, oversight, controls, policies, and procedures.  As a result, the CAO’s report outlined 36 recommendations, all of which have been agreed to by DWP and the IBEW.  This includes appointing an executive director and developing a plan for a money saving merger of the institutes.

The CAO’s report indicated that the Institutes provided some value, including servicing as a catalyst and focal point for training and safety and an incubator for “researching, developing and implementing programs relatively quickly to address specific issues or concerns.”

Because of the lack of adequate controls and performance metrics, there is no way to determine how much bang for the buck the ratepayers received for their $20 million that was funneled to the two nonprofit trusts over the last five years.

We have a right to be mad as hell as the Joint Safety and Training Institutes have squandered over $40 million of ratepayer dollars over the last 15 years without any accountability.  But our wrath should not be directed at DWP and its management, but rather at the city council which has provided air cover for IBEW union boss D’Arcy and his shenanigans.  But this is not surprising as at least ten members of the city council have received campaign contributions from the IBEW and its cronies. The other members are whipped into shape because they fear that D’Arcy will use the IBEW slush funds to finance the election campaigns of their opponents.

This kowtowing to D’Arcy was evident in the delays leading up to the release of Galperin’s audit.  It took over a year from the Los Angeles Times front page expose in September of 2013 for the city council to approve a limited five year audit of the trusts, and another six months before the financial review was completed.  This included a two month delay because D’Arcy was concerned that the audit was too comprehensive.

Furthermore, previous general managers and other senior members of management were told by then-Mayor Villaraigosa and selected members of the city council that the Joint Safety and Training Institutes were off bounds and none of their business.

Rather than bury the reports of the controller and the city administrative officer, the city council and the Energy and Environment Committee, led by D’Arcy acolytes Wesson and Fuentes, respectively, should hold comprehensive, open and transparent hearings so that ratepayers and voters can develop a better understanding of what happened to the ratepayer money that was funneled to the trusts over the last five years.

The trusts would need demonstrate that they are efficient and why they should not be shuttered, especially given that the department spends over $100 million a year on safety and training.

The trusts would also be required to discuss the timetable for implementing the 36 recommendations that IBEW and DWP have approved.

Ratepayers deserve a full accounting of what happened to their $40 million that was laundered by the Joint Safety and Training Institutes.  Without a full disclosure, the Mad as Hell Ratepayers will vent their fury November 2016, when the city, LAUSD, the county and the state want us to approve massive increases in our taxes.

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, The Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler Classifieds — www.recycler.com. He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com

Schools want spotlight on huge CalSTRS rate hike

class teacher education schoolThe push back from schools hit with a huge CalSTRS rate increase, expected to be an additional $3.7 billion a year when fully phased in, is not that it’s unaffordable and will hurt students or unfairly lets the state and teachers off the hook.

Instead, a coalition of school districts, including the giant Los Angeles Unified School District, is proposing a separate budget item for the CalSTRS rate increase within the Proposition 98 school-funding guarantee.

The change would not require the state to spend more money on schools. But the coalition thinks a separate budget item could ensure that funding for the CalSTRS rate increase, as it’s phased in over seven years, “will grow at a predictable rate” for all school districts.

As it stands now, school districts would have to pay for the CalSTRS rate increase with money from a new K-12 funding plan adopted two years ago, the Local Control Funding Formula.

The big bite for CalSTRS would be obscured among other funds, the coalition fears, and the new funding plan’s goals of restoring funding to the pre-recession 2007-8 level and providing more money for targeted schools could be disrupted and delayed.

“The requirement of schools to fund these increased (CalSTRS) contributions within the LCFF undermines the goals and the promise of increased services for students in California,” the coalition said in a statement last December.

“Addressing this important funding issue up front will keep the goals and objectives of the LCFF intact, and is essential to ensuring students are served as envisioned.”

Since December the coalition membership has grown to 160 school districts, and legislators and the Brown administration have been told of the proposal, Scott Patterson, Grossmont Union High School District deputy superintendent, said last week.

A potential issue is whether the California State Teachers Retirement System rate increase could create winners and losers among school districts.

The new funding formula gives extra money to targeted schools with large numbers of students who are English language learners, recipients of subsidized meals, and from foster homes.

If there is no separate budget item, a district that gets mainly the base grant might have much of its Proposition 98 increase eaten up as the CalSTRS rate increase is phased in. But a district that gets additional targeted money could still get a substantial increase.

STRS pension costs are based on the number of teachers, which tends to be proportionate to total student enrollment. Extra money for targeted schools under the new funding formula is based on a different factor, student demographics.

Patterson said the coalition believes its proposal for a separate state budget item “would help alleviate” the creation of winners and losers as the CalSTRS rate increase is phased in.

The coalition knows of no active opposition to its proposal among schools or community colleges, he said, and the powerful California Teachers Association has not taken a position.

Rate increase projected to get CalSTRS to full funding

The Brown administration had no comment on the coalition proposal last week. Gov. Brown is expected to issue the “May revise” this week, an update of his January proposal for a new state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

The state could have a surplus of several billion dollars, though much of the tax revenue surge may be temporary. It’s a windfall for schools, possibly too much for lawmakers who want to restore funding for other programs cut during the recession.

“Surprisingly perhaps, these revenue trends pose a risk for the state budget mainly because higher revenues in 2014-15 boost ongoing spending on schools and community colleges under Proposition 98, potentially making it harder for the state to balance its budget in 2015-16 and beyond,” the Legislative Analyst’s Office said last month.

The timing is remarkable for CalSTRS, which unlike most California public pension funds lacks the power to raise employer pension rates, needing legislation instead. Lawmakers ignored CalSTRS pleas for a rate increase for nearly a decade.

Now the big rate increase finally approved last year begins to phase in amid an incoming tide of school funding, arguably making it more difficult for the coalition to catch the ear of lawmakers because there is no squeaking wheel.

If the coalition is not successful this year, the issue may heat up before the CalSTRS rate increase is fully phased in by 2020.

The coalition expects CalSTRS costs for the average unified school district to increase from 3.8 percent of the budget to nearly 9 percent over the seven years. Districts also have another big pension cost for non-teaching employees in CalPERS.

In the new fiscal year, the coalition expects the CalSTRS rate increase to increase school costs by an estimated $430 million and then to escalate, step by step, to an additional $3.7 billion a year by 2020.

“We want to be careful in expressing that we are not opposed to the increased CalSTRS contributions that are necessary to help put the program back on sound financial footing,” said Patterson.

A big rate increase is sorely needed. A new actuarial report last month shows that CalSTRS as of last June 30 had 68.5 percent of the projected assets needed to pay future pension obligations. The debt or unfunded liability was $72.7 billion.

The total contribution to CalSTRS from schools, teachers and the state last fiscal year was $5.7 billion, about half of what CalSTRS paid out during the year for pensions and death and survivor benefits, $11.7 billion.

The CalSTRS investment fund, expected to pay roughly two-thirds of future pension costs, was $180 billion in 2007, dropped to $112 billion in 2009, and was only back up to $191 billion last March 31, despite a major six-year bull market.

Before the increase last year, the CalSTRS contribution rates for schools and other employers (8.25 percent of pay) and teachers (8 percent) were similar. Now the schools rate will more than double to 19.1 percent of pay by 2020.

The rate for most teachers goes up about a quarter, reaching 10.25 percent of pay next year. The increase is regarded as a violation of “vested rights” only allowed if offset by a new benefit that, in this case, is guaranteeing a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment.

The state contribution to CalSTRS, which had been a combined total of 5.5 percent of pay to two separate funds, tops out after three steps at 8.8 percent in July of next year.

When a soaring stock market briefly pushed the CalSTRS funding level above 100 percent in the late 1990s, a half dozen measures increased pension benefits and cut contribution rates.

A Milliman actuarial report two years ago said if CalSTRS were still operating under its 1990 structure, pensions would have been 88 percent funded instead of 67 percent — a gap that could have been closed with a much smaller rate increase.

Reporter Ed Mendel covered the Capitol in Sacramento for nearly three decades, most recently for the San Diego Union-Tribune. More stories are at Calpensions.com.

6 things to know as state proposes tougher vaccine rules for children

From OC Register:

Moms who turned out last week to hear vaccine critic Andrew Wakefield speak in Dana Point said the debate over whether to inoculate their children has become so divisive it’s severing friendships.

“The ‘V’ word, man, it’s a hot topic,” said Dotty “Sunshine” Hagmier, founder of local moms group Moms In Charge.

(Read Full Article)vaccine2

Innovation or insanity? Californians’ ideas for busting the drought

From LA Times:

Last month, after Gov. Jerry Brown ordered Californians to cut back their water use, a retired engineering professor in Carmel revived a decades-old proposal for easing the drought: icebergs

He wrote to officials urging them to consider towing giant hunks of ice across the ocean to California, a fantastical concept that has never quite gained steam.

(Read Full Article)Drought

Undocumented students disrupt Janet Napolitano’s speech at UC summit

From SJ Mercury News:

The University of California’s national summit on undocumented students started going sideways seconds after UC President Janet Napolitano stepped to the podium to make her opening remarks Thursday morning.

As Napolitano greeted 260 attendees from across the nation who came to share ideas on admitting, retaining and supporting students who lack legal immigration status, dozens of undocumented students around the room suddenly stood and raised their fists in the air.

(Read Full Article)Janet Napolitano

Union-led coalition launches campaign to change Prop. 13

From Sac Bee:

A coalition of public employee unions and other liberal groups, including many churches, launched a campaign Thursday to alter Proposition 13, California’s iconic property tax limit, and raise billions of dollars by hiking taxes on commercial property.

The organization, Make It Fair, is headed by unions, including the California Teachers Association and the Service Employees International Union, which would be the main source of millions of dollars to qualify the initiative for the 2016 ballot and campaign for its passage.

CA Politicians Reach Into Transportation Funds, Ignore Crumbling Infrastructure

california roads infrastructureNow there is no question that road and bridge maintenance is lagging in the Golden State. Most counties have an average pavement rating of “at risk” or “poor” according to a finding by the California Transportation Commission. In addition to the safety hazards caused by poor road maintenance, there is a direct cost to the average California driver of hundreds of dollars for vehicle maintenance and tire wear.

Before assuming that that the Sacramento politicians are justified in seeking to dig deeper into drivers’ wallets, it is important to point out that billions in transportation tax dollars have been spent on other programs. State government has been diverting a billion dollars a year in annual truck weight fees to pay debt service on general obligation bonds and another $100 million annually in gas tax revenues to the general fund.

Now, in theory, all transportation tax revenues are to go for transportation purposes. Voters have passed several propositions they were assured would guarantee this result.

However, Sacramento has used slight-of-hand to divert these revenues. For example, after voters approved $20 billion in transportation bonds in 2006, bonds that were to be repaid from the general fund, officials later decided to use transportation tax revenue for bond repayment, freeing up general fund revenue for other purposes.

Some will argue that it is appropriate that transportation taxes repay transportation bonds, but voters were lead to believe the money would come from the general fund. When the state passes school bonds, they are repaid from the general fund.  When water bonds are passed, they too are repaid by the general fund. There is no reason transportation bonds should be different. By using transportation tax revenue to pay off bonds, there is not enough money left to maintain the improvements the bonds pay for.

Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff has a better idea that will slap the hands of those who have been reaching into the transportation tax cookie jar and diverting funds from road and bridge maintenance. Huff’s legislation, Senate Constitutional Amendment 7, would close the loopholes and stop this theft of transportation dollars. SCA 7 is the only plan in the Legislature that would provide funds to improve state roads and highways without raising taxes.

However don’t look for quick or easy passage of SCA 7. Its flaw? It does not require a tax increase and for the majority party in Sacramento, which is obsessed with extracting more money from taxpayers, this flaw is likely to be fatal.

It is hard to blame California drivers if they feel a like a lot like the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield who would complain, “I don’t get no respect.”

Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. Originally posted on HJTA.

Teachers Unions Appeal Vergara Decision

teacher… and continue to block any and every meaningful reform the California state legislature has to offer.

On May Day (how fitting!) the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers filed their appeal of the Vergara decision. In that 2014 ruling, Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu struck down California’s teacher tenure, layoff and dismissal laws, claiming that they deny students access to a quality public education, especially those from poor and minority families.

In a PR move, union bosses have been taking their rather lame case to the media. CTA presidentDean Vogel somehow managed to maintain a straight face when he stated, “This suit was never about helping students. As educators we believe every student has the right to a caring, qualified and committed teacher and that is why we are appealing the judge’s misguided decision.” Then, tossing in some class warfare for flavor, he added that the judge failed to take into consideration “the impact of a severe lack of funding and growth in poverty which are some of the most important factors impacting student achievement.” (Actually, most studies have shown that the most important factor in student achievement is the effectiveness of the teacher.)

CFT President Josh Pechthalt, avoiding the merits of the case, did his typical “class warfare first, last and always” song and dance. “Wealthy anti-union advocates like David Welch, the funder of this suit, are obscuring the real problems of public education, which are best addressed by restoring funding to programs that ensure student success. It is not coincidental that the law firm he retained is one of corporate America’s leading anti-worker, anti-union firms.” (Increasing funding doesn’t “ensure” anything. Far from it. We have almost tripled education spending in forty years with nothing to show for it.)

A confident Lily Eskelsen García, president of the National Education Association, said she fully expects the California Court of Appeal will return education policy to where it belongs: the legislature. “Every student deserves a highly effective teacher in his or her classroom. The California legislature has worked to provide fair due process protections that ensure quality teachers are in every classroom. Due process prevents good teachers from being fired for bad reasons, and it protects teachers’ professional judgment and academic freedom.” (“Due process long ago morphed into “undue” process; even pedophiles have a hard time getting the ax.)

Perhaps the NEA’s leader’s comments are most galling of all. First she seems to forget that a whole load of ugly Jim Crow laws were eradicated by the courts. I highly doubt that Eskelsen García would have groused about judicial activism in those cases. (By the way, Judge Treu did not make any laws; he just ruled that several laws on the books are unconstitutional.) Another reason her “policy belongs in the legislature” comment is nonsense is that CTA has a lock on that body. With its forced dues scheme, every public school teacher in the Golden State is made to fork over on average more than $1,000 a year, with much of that money going to buy legislators. Parents, kids and taxpayers have no mechanism to match the union’s wildly unfair advantage. So in essence, Eskelsen García is forcing us to play cards – but only with a deck that the unions have carefully stacked. It is commonly said that CTA is an important wing of the Democratic Party in California. It’s more accurate to say that the Democratic Party is really a wing of the powerful California union.

In fact, prior to Eskelsen García’s statement, several California state legislators already had attempted to pass legislation with Vergara in mind.

  • Assembly Bill 1044 (Assemblywoman Catherine Baker, R-Dublin) would have eliminated “last-in-first-out” by declaring seniority cannot be the sole factor governing layoffs.
  • AB 1248 (Assemblyman Rocky Chávez, R-Oceanside) would have extended from two to three years how long it takes for teachers to win tenure and would allow administrators to  revoke tenure if teachers have consecutive poor performance reviews.
  • AB 1078 (Assembly Minority Leader Kristin Olsen, R-Riverbank) would have increased the number of ratings teachers could be assigned and would require educators to be evaluated in part based on student test scores.

Not surprisingly, these bills – modest as they were – never really had a chance. Each one was summarily killed in the CTA owned-and-operated education committee in the State Assembly.

Then there was AB 1495, introduced by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego. Whereas existing state law calls for two teacher ratings – satisfactory and unsatisfactory – Weber’s bill would have added a third teacher rating of “needs improvement” to the state’s minimum requirement for evaluations. It would also call on districts to put teachers who are not rated fully satisfactory first in line for professional coaching. This sensible bill garnered support from the likes of EdVoice, Students Matter and StudentsFirst – all Sacramento student advocacy groups. But CTA’s cronies in the Assembly education committee snuffed out this bill too. That prompted Weber, no shrinking violet, to lash out at her fellow Democrats. As reported by LA Weekly’s Hillel Aron, she said, “When I see what’s going on, I’m offended, as a senior member of this committee, who has probably more educational background and experience than all ya’ll put together on top of each other.” She added, “Obviously, it was orchestrated by the teachers union to not let the bill out. It was purely political.” Shirley surely gets it.

There is one bill, however, that the teachers unions have not taken a position on … yet. Carol Liu, D-La Cañada-Flintridge, has concocted SB 499. Her teacher evaluation bill requires teachers to be evaluated in part on student progress, including such objective measures as testing, but – and it is a very big but – mandates that the specifics be worked out as part of the union-school district collective bargaining agreement. However, giving unions more negotiating power over evaluations would be a problem said Nancy Espinoza, a legislative advocate for the California School Boards Association in testimony before the Senate Education Committee a couple of weeks ago. “We are going from developing evaluation standards to negotiating them. That is a tremendous change.” It creates opportunities, she said, for teachers unions “to leverage evaluation standards related to student achievement for gains related to salary” and would likely increase the frequency of an impasse in negotiations “and concerted actions like strikes.”

Also weighing in against the bill is a coalition of groups including Democrats for Education Reformand the California Chamber of Commerce. In a letter to Liu, it mentioned “Offering unions this power affords them the opportunity and incentive to water down teacher evaluations.”

StudentsFirst called the bill misguided, claiming it ignored research on what makes an evaluation effective, and puts the state at risk of losing federal support.

Bill Lucia, CEO of EdVoice, called retaining school boards’ authority over evaluation criteria a non-negotiable “bright-line issue.”

In defending her bill, Liu said that “buy-in from teachers” is critical for evaluations to be useful in helping teachers improve. “Teachers need to be at the table to discuss goals of an evaluation. Their voice needs to be heard and heard loudly.”

But buy-in from teachers is not important in Sacramento. The only buy-in there that matters is from the teachers unions. Liu’s – and every other education bill – is in the unions’ hands. Until theVergara appeals are exhausted, that is the unpleasant fact of life.

Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own. Originally posted on UnionWatch.

Raise minimum wage, reduce jobs

Minimum WageWe might be inclined to laugh off the national demonstrations calling for a $15/hr minimum wage for burger-flippers, as the suggestion should be received as utterly ridiculous in any intelligent economic debate. But the left isn’t laughing.  They’re undoubtedly ecstatic at the media legs such demonstrations have maintained against all odds, and they can’t wait to roll out these downtrodden fast-food workers as a reason to increase the federal minimum wage, victims as they are of an evil system of economic organization that dares assign a value to labor performed in the context of supply and demand.

That evil is, of course, a free market.

One might imagine that defending the “unfree” alternative to a free market would be an untenable position.  And it certainly is, if the economic realities that govern marketplaces and history are any consideration.  But what social engineers and statists lack in a cogent argument against a free market, they make up for with sly packaging.  They suggest that the appropriate role of government is to rein in the excesses of the free market, thereby making the market (somehow) more efficient via sensible impositions in the marketplace.

What must first be understood is that government attempts to raise the minimum wage amounts to little more than price-fixing, and price-fixing is the touchstone of countless tyrants and Democrats of times long gone.  So it’s astonishing that any of it can possibly be considered a novel policy position to make the current marketplace more efficient.

A prominent example in the 20th century might be FDR’s razing of agricultural products in 1933 to raise the prices of produce and livestock.  Ever the humanitarian and man of the working class, FDR’s policy enactments culled over six million pigs and plowed under untold amounts of farm produce.  The end result was that the supply of agricultural products dropped while demand was relatively stable, and as a result, prices increased.  This end result was advantageous for farmers who enjoyed a higher price for their product — less so for the impoverished and hungry Americans who found food scarcer and less affordable.

Why did FDR do it?  Well, it was just an idea that seemed sensible to him and his Secretary of Agriculture, Henry Wallace, at the time, the latter a man who was reportedly “most impressed” by Soviet farming.  That the Soviet farming practices with which he was so enamored and influenced by led to the Holodomor in Ukraine, or that these policies set a precedent for the “basic governmental approach of supporting farm prices by reducing supplies” that “continues to this day.”  But that doesn’t dent his legacy a bit among the progressive faithful, or in the schoolbooks your children read.

Democrats today are even less forgivable for their efforts to fix wage prices, knowing, as they should from ample evidence throughout history, that the practice is destructive.  Even Dr. Alan Krueger, chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors, could only muster the following unconvincing support for Obama’s suggested policy of raising the minimum wage to $9 back in 2013:  “A range of economic studies show that raising the minimum wage increases earnings and reduces poverty without measurably reducing unemployment.”

“Note the shifty adverbs, “modestly” and “measurably, which can paper over a lot of economic damage,” observes the Wall Street Journal in an article from February 2013, cleverly titled “The Minority Youth Unemployment Act.”  “In the real world,” the article continues, “setting a floor under the price of labor creates winners and losers.  Some workers will get a $1.75 raise.  Great.  But others – typically the least educated and skilled – will be priced out of the market and their pay won’t rise to $9.  It will be zero.”

Source : AEI

Let’s remain in the real world for a moment more, and observe that there is overwhelming evidence suggesting that Dr. Krueger’s vague pitch to sell a minimum wage increase is altogether false.  UC Irvine economist David Neumark “has looked at more than 100 major academic studies on the minimum wage,” and concludes that about 85% of them “find a negative employment effect on unskilled workers.”

Back in fantasy land, however, ideologue Barack Obama hasn’t reconsidered his plea for a $9 minimum wage, but upped the ante altogether, calling for an increase to the federal minimum wage to $10.10 in the State of the Union address in 2014.  And in case you don’t remember, he was so sure that arbitrary price-fixing by the federal government is preferable to free markets naturally dictating the prices of wages, goods, and services, that good King Barack felt obliged to issue an edict (without Congressional support, mind you) raising the minimum wage for all individuals employed in federal service contracts.

A roughly 40% hike in cost may be all well and good on the balance sheet of a federal government that spends money with no consideration at all to the fact that it even has a balance sheet, but businesses typically have finite resources, operate in competitive marketplaces, and have obligations to shareholders.  When the government introduces arbitrary mandates to increase costs, a business will necessarily increase the prices of goods and services rendered to maintain profitability.  When demand slows due to higher prices, there will be efforts to cut costs.  And unskilled labor, now more expensive, is the usual target of these cuts.

There is nothing magical or obscure about any of this.  Increases to minimum wage prove uniquely detrimental to the most unskilled laborers, who are typically paid minimum wage.

But the statist media criers are out in force, longing to see the outcome of the minimum wage increases that have occurred in select municipalities around the nation, and hoping for the best.  Why?  Because “there’s only one way to find out” if it can really work, and that’s to do it.

Suzanne McGee of the Guardian makes just this argument.  “There is some data suggesting reason for concern,” she writes, citing an American Enterprise Institute article offering evidence that the last raise to the federal minimum wage in 2009 (signed by George W. Bush, lest we forget) cost Americans 1.4 million jobs.  But she goes on to suggest that the ongoing fast food strikes are actually a sign that the debate for $15/hr minimum wage is intensifying, and not just a gaggle of activists with a completely unreasonable demand to have their pay doubled for no practical reason whatsoever.  (Again, the left takes this seriously, even if reasonable people do not!)

The piece is mired in questionable assertions, though I think this one stands out as my favorite: “If a small business’s profit margin is so razor-thin that it can’t pay its employees enough to live above the poverty line if they are trying to support even a single child, then perhaps that company might want to reconsider its business model?”  It’s one of those wonderful statements that truly capture both the unfounded arrogance and economic ignorance so common of the left.  Who Suzanne McGee is or how she’s qualified to tell any small business owner how he or she should run a business is anyone’s guess, as is how a worker having children adds to that worker’s production value such that it warrants higher pay.

She does pose an interesting question, however.  “The risk that we run, of course, is that once we undertake the experiment, and commit raising the minimum wage, we are running the risk of that being that we’re choosing the wrong course of action.  But is paralysis any better?”

The answer to that question is an emphatic yes, if by paralysis you mean a dynamic market unimpeded by supposed government benevolence and unencumbered by outmoded ambitions of price-fixing that are proven failures.  There’s a compelling argument that Americans in the 1930’s would have been immeasurably better off had the government been a bit more paralyzed, to be sure.  The better question is, should we disavow the historical evidence before us in favor of an idea that social engineers happen to like and could prove destructive to American youth, who might be denied entry level employment on a path to becoming productive and successful individuals by raising minimum wage to whatever number the government arbitrarily decides upon?

The answer to that question should be a resounding and confident “No!”

William Sullivan blogs at Political Palaver and can be followed on Twitter. Originally posted on American Thinker.

Drop in S.F. graduation rate surprises school officials

From SF Chronicle:

San Francisco school officials, caught off-guard by a dramatic rise in dropout rates, were poring over data this week trying to figure out where and when hundreds of high school students fell through the cracks.

District leaders had expected to see some impact on graduation and dropout rates, given the more rigorous, college-prep graduation requirements that kicked in with the class of 2014. Yet the data for that class, released by the state last week, show a big step backward, especially for African American and Latino students.

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