California has announced a plan to create standards for plasma TV's, which are part of a suite of household appliances the California Energy Commission refers to as "vampires." Vampires include just about anything with a charger--cellphones, computers, cordless phones, etc--and collectively they may devour as much as 10 percent of a household's electricity consumption without actually doing anything. (Actually, they are doing something. They produce heat. It's nuts, but the best way to figure out if your appliances are sucking you dry is to walk around the house and touch the transformers. If they're hot, they're Nosferatu.)
One: The manufacturers association is fighting the standards, perhaps because they're aware that California's efficiency standards usually change norms around the world. In the 1970's, California began regulating the electricity consumption of refrigerators, which lead to the imposition of national standards. It also lead to bigger, better, cheaper fridges that use a third of the energy they did before. More importantly, those fridges proliferated around the world. In China, for example, they're saving half the electricity produced by the Three Gorges Dam.
Two: Why only plasma TV's and not the more popular LCD's, as well as all of the phone chargers and the annoyingly hot transformer on my apple laptop right here?
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is currently working on their 2009 "Budget Options" publication. This report, which is published in odd numbered years, contains cost or savings estimates for numerous possible changes to federal programs.
In the last three publications, CBO estimated the cost of a significant change to the Child Nutrition Program - eliminating federal reimbursement to school districts for full-price breakfasts and lunches for students whose family incomes are more than 350 percent of poverty. At the same time, it would increase the reduced-price breakfast and lunch subsidy by $0.20.
In 2007 CBO estimated that such a change would save more than $2.5 billion over five years and better "target" federal funding to poor children. While the report recognized this change could undermine the finances of school nutrition programs, it failed to discuss the cost of identifying students whose families make more than 350 percent of poverty.
The Maine legislature passed a school district consolidation plan last week—but in a form dramatically watered down from Governor John Baldacci's original proposals. Maine has one of the most complicated, decentralized school governance systems in the country, and as a result spends far more than the national average on school administration.
By reorganizing the system into larger districts (while also maintaining a degree of local control), the consolidation legislation could lead to a much more efficient system that sends more education funds directly to Maine's classrooms—but only if Maine's school districts agree to participate. Ed Money Watch hopes that local communities will recognize the benefits of consolidation as they decide whether or not to adopt the legislation's reforms.
Maine is an Administrative Mess
Durham, North Carolina. It's a medium-sized, old tobacco and textile city best known for housing Duke University. Most national media coverage of Durham focuses on the ivory tower that is Duke, its highly-ranked undergraduate and graduate programs, and of course Duke's basketball team. Rarely does anyone outside North Carolina get an accurate (or any) picture of the city itself and its own educational issues.
In the shadow of an elite institution of higher education, Durham’s K-12 public education system is struggling and often failing to educate its students. Only six schools out of 45 made Adequate Yearly Progress (met No Child Left Behind achievement goals) last year. Some 19 of Durham’s 26 Title I elementary schools are in school improvement status, meaning they have failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress for at least two consecutive years. Only 56 percent of Durham students graduate from high school.
There are obviously a lot of factors contributing to Durham’s poor achievement levels and high drop-out rate. But let’s take a closer look at the money going into Durham’s schools and see how its funding compares to similar districts in North Carolina.
Durham is spending $8,269 per pupil, which ranks 29th out of 115 school districts in North Carolina. About $519 of that spending comes from the federal government in the form of a NCLB Title I grant and IDEA special education grant.