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  • Testimony posted February 11, 2016 by Robert Rector Reducing Hunger and Very Low Food Security

    Executive Summary There are frequent claims of widespread hunger in the United States. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has defined hunger as “the uneasy or painful sensation caused by lack of food.” Hunger is a temporary sensation of discomfort; it is very different from and less severe than malnutrition. The most widely accepted measure of hunger is the very…

  • Backgrounder posted February 8, 2016 by Robert Rector, Rachel Sheffield, Kevin D. Dayaratna, Ph.D. Maine Food Stamp Work Requirement Cuts Non-Parent Caseload by 80 Percent

    In 2015, the U.S. government spent over $1 trillion on means-tested welfare aid, providing cash, food, housing, medical care, and social services to poor and low-income individuals. The food stamp program is the nation’s second largest means-tested welfare program.[1] The number of food stamp recipients has risen dramatically from about 17.2 million in 2000 to 45.8…

  • Backgrounder posted December 4, 2015 by Paul Winfree, Daren Bakst, Rachel Sheffield, James Phillips, Diane Katz, Nicolas Loris, Katie Tubb, Roger Severino, Sarah Torre, Lindsey Burke, James Sherk, Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D., Brett D. Schaefer, David Inserra Important Policy Riders for the FY 2016 Appropriations Bills

    The Constitution unequivocally grants Congress the exclusive power to appropriate funds for the “necessary and proper” operations of government.[1] James Madison wrote in The Federalist No. 58 that providing budgetary powers to Congress was a critical element in maintaining individual rights: “The power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and…

  • Backgrounder posted December 2, 2015 by Lindsey Burke The Every Student Succeeds Act: More Programs and Federal Intervention in Pre-K and K–12 Education

    In late November, Congress proposed reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) would reauthorize ESEA, which has been due for a rewrite since 2007, marking a new period for the law established exactly 50 years ago by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The 1,061-page…

  • Commentary posted November 12, 2015 by Lindsey Burke Blaine Amendment shouldn't stop Education Savings Accounts

    "Dismal." "A train wreck." That's how people have characterized the results of this year's National Assessment of Educational Progress. The NAEP assesses fourth- and eighth-graders' performance in reading and math every other year. Test results had been trending upward since the early 1990s, but the results released last month indicated a drop in both math and reading…

  • Backgrounder posted November 9, 2015 by Lindsey Burke, Vance H. Fried Open Education: Individualized Learning from Kindergarten to College

    Notions about how the American education system should function, from kindergarten to college, are changing. The very idea of constructs such as grade levels, and a rigid division between high school and college, is being challenged. The proliferation of online learning has created unprecedented access to a wide range of academic content, laying the groundwork for a…

  • Backgrounder posted September 28, 2015 by Lindsey Burke From Piecemeal to Portable: Transforming Title I into a Student-Centered Support System

    At the federal, state, and local level, policymakers and education-reform advocates have been striving to improve educational options and outcomes for all children, focusing in particular on improving outcomes for children from disadvantaged families. This effort is not new, nor is the sense that K–12 education is falling short, particularly for those children who need…

  • Commentary posted September 28, 2015 by Robert Rector Poverty in the U.S. — We Spend Much More Per Person on Social Welfare than Europe Does

    Tomorrow, the U.S. Census Bureau will release its annual poverty report. Conventional wisdom holds that the U.S. has a small social-welfare system and far more poverty, compared with other affluent nations. But noted liberal scholars Irwin Garfinkel, Lee Rainwater, and Timothy Smeeding challenge such simplistic ideas in their book Wealth and Welfare States: Is America a…

  • Backgrounder posted September 16, 2015 by Robert Rector Poverty and the Social Welfare State in the United States and Other Nations

    It is generally argued that the U.S. has a small social welfare system compared to other rich nations and far more poverty. Contrary to conventional wisdom, however, noted liberal scholars Irwin Garfinkel, Lee Rainwater, and Timothy Smeeding conclude in Wealth and Welfare States: Is America a Laggard or Leader? that “Welfare state programs are quite large in the United…

  • White Paper posted September 15, 2015 by Robert Rector The Redistributive State: The Allocation of Government Benefits, Services, and Taxes in the United States

    Introduction Each year, families and individuals pay taxes to the government and receive back a wide variety of services and benefits. A fiscal deficit occurs when the benefits and services received by one household or a group of households exceed the taxes paid. When such a deficit occurs, other households must pay, through taxes, for the services and benefits of the…

  • Backgrounder posted July 20, 2015 by James Sherk, Lindsey Burke Automation and Technology Increase Living Standards

    Many Americans worry that automation will significantly reduce the need for human employees. Historical experience should help to alleviate many of these concerns. Technological advances have eliminated specific jobs and reduced prices, but the historical record shows this has left consumers with more money to spend elsewhere, increasing the demand for human labor in…

  • Backgrounder posted June 22, 2015 by Lindsey Burke Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act: No Place for Expanded Preschool and Childcare Subsidies

    President Obama has proposed spending $75 billion over the next decade to establish a new federally funded preschool program to serve all four-year-old children. Some Members of Congress have also expressed interest in new federal preschool programs and spending, and have turned to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), currently known as No Child Left Behind…

  • Commentary posted June 12, 2015 by Lindsey Burke Building student-centered education

    Imagine being able to create a tailored, made-to-order education for your child. Perhaps you know that the private school one neighborhood over has an excellent high school mathematics program. It allows students who don't attend full time to take individual courses there, so your daughter takes an Algebra II class there three days a week. In the afternoons, she joins a…

  • Commentary posted June 8, 2015 by Lindsey Burke Nevada Enacts Universal School Choice

    On Tuesday night, Nevada governor Brian Sandoval signed into law the nation’s first universal school-choice program. That in and of itself is groundbreaking: The state has created an option open to every single public-school student. Even better, this option improves upon the traditional voucher model, coming in the form of an education savings account (ESA) that parents…

  • Commentary posted May 1, 2015 by Lindsey Burke Anti-Common Core bill deserved veto: Letter

    So, the governor has killed the “Anti-Common Core Bill” (“Bryant vetoes Common Core bill…,” April 23). Good. It was pretty much a sham reform anyway. The surest way to accomplish nothing is to create a government commission — and that’s all the bill would have done. Yes, the Mississippi Commission on College and Career Readiness would have studied the Common Core…