The 2016 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship marked the ninth consecutive “Final Four” tournament appearance for the University of Connecticut (UConn). UConn reigns supreme in women’s basketball; the team claimed its fourth consecutive national championship and its sixth undefeated season this year, but they were also a force in the classroom as well.
According to a recent Time magazine article referencing a ranking from New America, a think tank headquartered in Washington, DC, UConn placed first in academics among the 64 teams in the women’s tournament. “New America compiled the rankings by beginning with each school’s football graduation success rate (GSR). The GSR is an NCAA measure that, unlike the federal graduation rate, doesn’t penalize schools for having players who transfer or leave for the pros – as long as those players depart in good academic standing.”
Moriah Jefferson, one of UConn’s brightest stars and winner of the 2016 Nancy Lieberman Award, came to UConn from a non-traditional education route. Her parents, Lorenza and Robin Jefferson, made the decision to home school their children instead of sending them to public schools in the De Soto, Texas school district. As homeschooled student, Moriah joined the Texas Home Educators Sports Association (THESA) Riders, a homeschool basketball team that competed against public and private schools.
Teams such as the THESA Riders have become more popular across the United States in recent years, along with a rise in the popularity of homeschooling. More parents than at any time in recent history are choosing to pursue freedom in education and withdraw their children from government schools, because the quality of government-run education in America has fallen dramatically in recent decades and because parents want to customize what their children learn in the classroom.
Andy Torbett, reported in a recent Heartlander article, “More parents than ever are turning to homeschooling as an alternative to enrolling their children in failing government schools, and colleges and universities are now adapting their admissions processes to better accommodate homeschooled children’s unique backgrounds and skills.”
Many states regulate homeschooling, but a number of states have rejected state laws imposing on homeschooling parents curriculum standards and home visits by state officials. Currently, Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Texas have no state requirements mandating homeschooling parents initiate contact or receive permission from a government body in order to educate their children.
William Estrada, director of federal relations at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), a nonprofit “advocacy organization established to defend and advance the constitutional right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children,” says the boom in homeschoolers heading off to college is the result of significant growth in homeschooling nationwide.
“As homeschooling has become more popular, colleges and universities have gone from skeptical of homeschooled graduates to welcoming them with open arms,” Estrada said. “The system is working and does not need to be changed.”
The benefits of parental choice in education apply to all parents and children, regardless of income, race, or religion. All parents, therefore, should be free to choose. Contrary to the claims made by some, homeschooled children do succeed in nontraditional environments and often have exceptional talents worthy of attention, and Geno Auriemma, head coach of the women’s basketball team at the University of Connecticut, recognized that talent in Moriah Jefferson.
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Budget & Tax
Research & Commentary: Hiking Missouri’s Gas Tax Will Not Solve Road Funding Woes
Missouri legislators are now considering a substantial increase in their state’s motor-fuel tax. The tax hike, proposed by state Sen. Doug Libla (R-Poplar Bluff) recently passed in the state’s Senate and is expected to receive a final vote in early April. The current proposal, if approved by voters in a statewide referendum in November, would increase the state motor-fuel tax by 5.9 cents, increasing the tax from 17 cents per gallon to 22.9 cents per gallon.
In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans argues Missouri will need to explore more modern and efficient ways to fund road construction and traffic infrastructure, which should include privatizing roads and establishing toll systems. In several cities, transportation agencies are using congestion pricing – varying toll prices based on congestion – to manage demand and limit traffic problems. Read more
Indiana Lawmakers Call for Constitutional Reform
Luke Karnick writes in the Heartlander about the Indiana General Assembly’s recent approval of a joint resolution calling for a national constitutional convention to draft and enact a federal balanced budget amendment, impose term limits on members of Congress, and create reforms that would reduce federal regulations. Karnick speaks with several constitutional experts on how and why Article V efforts could change the balance between state and federal governments. Read more
Research & Commentary: Colorado Education Income Tax Credits
A proposal that would establish scholarship tax credits for parents sending their children to a private school has been introduced in the Colorado State Senate. Modeled on Arizona’s Original Income Tax Credit Scholarship Program, parents whose children are leaving the public school system or are entering the system for the first time would be able to claim a tax credit equal to 50 percent of the previous year’s average per-pupil expenditures. This tax credit would also be open to anyone who helps pay the tuition of a student moving from a public school to a private school. Parents who homeschool their children would also be able to claim a tax credit worth up to $1,000. In this Research & Commentary, Policy Analyst Tim Benson wrote, “Because none of the funds become the property of the state, the proposal would not violate state constitutional provisions against public funds being used for religious or sectarian schooling. In 2015, the Colorado General Assembly’s Legislative Council estimated roughly 6,600 students would take advantage of the program in 2017.” Read more
Energy & Environment
Heartland Daily Podcast: James Taylor Debates Global Warming
In this edition of the Heartland Daily Podcast, Senior Fellow James Taylor takes part in a debate about global warming on Fairness Doctrine, hosted by Tampa’s WMNF radio. Topics discussed during the debate include the 97 percent “consensus,” nuclear power, fossil fuels, fracking, and many other subjects. Listen here
Research & Commentary: Tennessee Considers Opening Doors to Direct Primary Care
Direct primary care (DPC), also known as “retainer medicine,” is a health care provider model that has become increasingly popular for doctors and patients alike and could serve to revitalize the U.S. primary care system. Under a direct primary care model, patients pay a monthly membership fee, typically ranging from around $50 to $80. As part of the membership, patients receive a more generous allocation of appointments than they would under most traditional plans, even allowing in some instances for same-day appointments or house calls.
Tennessee currently defines direct primary care providers as “risk bearing entities,” which places these doctors under the same regulatory and licensing system as insurers. In this Research & Commentary, Senior Policy Analyst Matthew Glans discusses a new proposal from Tennessee state Sen. Kerry Roberts (R-Springfield) that, if passed into law, would specify direct primary agreements do not constitute insurance, a major change that would free doctors and patients from many expensive regulations imposed under the state’s insurance code. Read more
From Our Free-Market Friends
Mercatus Center at George Mason University Releases New Alabama Report
Alabama at the Crossroads: A Guide to an Economically Sustainable Future was released one week ago by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. The report highlights retirement systems of Alabama and corruption and gives additional solutions from Mercatus. John A. Dove, assistant professor of economics, and Daniel J. Smith, associate professor of economics, state in the report, “The funded ratio of the Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA) has dropped precipitously as the actuarial value of assets in the Teachers’ Retirement System, the Employees’ Retirement System, and the Judicial Retirement Fund have declined while their liabilities have increased. The declining funding health of the RSA has prompted a reliance on increasing state and employee contributions to the system. In response to its declining funding health, the RSA has also increased its investment risk exposure – an exposure that taxpayers ultimately bear.” Read more