State lobby spending on pace to set records

From California Watch:

Lobby spending in Sacramento already is on pace to touch new highs this legislative session, according to third-quarter filing totals released by the secretary of state’s office.

Interest groups last quarter spent more than $72 million lobbying state government, a dip from the $77 million they spent during the previous quarter but still enough to push lobby spending to a record high by this point in the legislative session.

During the first three quarters of this legislative session, which began in January, groups have spent nearly $216 million on lobbying services. That’s a 5 percent jump over the first three quarters of the 2009-10 session.

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No Education without Representation: how special interests are robbing our students’ futures

The U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Educational Statistics on Tuesday released what it calls the Nation’s Report Card. The compilation of student test scores nationwide reflected a 1 percent improvement by fourth- and eighth-graders in mathematics but essentially no improvement in reading proficiency.

While the tiny improvement in math marks the highest scores in the history of the test, what makes the results troubling is that only 40 percent of fourth-graders and barely 35 percent of eighth-graders tested proficient in math and roughly one-third proficient in reading.

Shortly after the release of the Nation’s Report Card, Michelle Rhee, an education reformer and former head of the public schools in the District of Columbia, called me to discuss the state of education in the United States and what ought to be done to improve public schools. Rhee made headlines for her tough, data-driven approaches to education reform and battles against teachers unions in D.C. which eventually led to her resignation after unions spent significant resources to unseat Mayor Adrian Fenty, who hired Rhee. Rhee also was featured in the acclaimed education reform documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman.'”

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(Brian Calle is an Opinion Columnist and Blogger for the Orange County Register. His blog is called Uncommon Ground.)