George Wythe Review, Fall 2015

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Editor-in-Chief: Timothy Wier Associate Editor: Ashlyn Olson Publication Editor: Megan Elliott Research Editor: Jeremy Tjia Faculty Supervisor: Dr. Michael Haynes

PATRICK HENRY COLLEGE Purcellville, Virginia

Copyright © 2015 ISSN 2153-8085 (print)

The George Wythe Review is an undergraduate journal dedicated to the integration of faith and reason in American domestic public policy. The editors of this journal recognize that contemporary domestic public policy is navigating the uncharted waters of rapidly advancing technology, an increasingly globalized political environment, and a bureaucratic federal government. The journal is a response to this climate, providing undergraduate students at Patrick Henry College with a venue to engage this climate through quality academic papers. In the vein of the journal’s namesake, the editors are committed to fostering an environment for discussion that enhances both the Government: American Politics and Policy major and the mission of Patrick Henry College. The George Wythe Review is published twice during the academic year by the American Politics and Policy students of Patrick Henry College. Direct all correspondence to the address below. Essays in the journal do not necessarily represent the views of Patrick Henry College, the editors, or the editorial board. The responsibility for opinions and the accuracy of facts in the essays rest solely with the individual authors. Patrick Henry College 10 Patrick Henry Circle Purcellville, VA 20132 (540) 338-1776 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise—without the prior written permission of the copyright owner. Authors of the respective essays in this publication retain copyright privileges. Copyright © 2015• Printed in the United States of America.

CO NTENTS ________________ Volume 7 • No. 1 • Fall 2015

Letter from the Editor


Self-Defense and the Duty to Retreat: Natural Law Considerations


Adam Lebbs Stand Your Ground laws remove individuals’ duty to retreat in places where they legally have the right to be, broadening the scope of self-defense. The principle of self-defense has its origins in natural law principles and is broadly supported. However, there is no bright line for when a self-defensive killing becomes a murder. This study examines whether the duty to retreat is justified under natural law and Biblical considerations.

Opportunity for Change: The Economic Impacts of the DC Opportunity Scholarship


Meridian Paulton In 2004, Congress authorized the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), providing vouchers for DC’s poorest students to attend private schools instead of their failing public schools. This study seeks to answer the question of economic benefits, specifically looking at the impact of the program on the American economy. The study finds that the OSP does provide economic benefit to the American economy, partly because it allows taxpayers to save money and use the funds as they wish.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act


Matthew Hoke This study evaluates the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, focusing on the primary goal of the law: decreasing the rate of childhood obesity in the United States. This study will evaluate the diverse causes of childhood obesity in the United States, examine the provisions of the HHFKA, and evaluate the unforeseen reactions to the implementation of this policy.

The Road to Nowhere: Assessing the Effectiveness of Common Core Standards in Producing Optimal Education Outcomes


William Bock IV According to the Washington Post, the CCSSI is, “so dense, so politicized and so boring that it begs for explainers and analyses and charts.� This paper addresses whether Common Core standards actually encourage excellence or mediocrity, whether there is a relationship between national standards and enhanced student achievement, and whether Common Core will make the United States more competitive in the global market.


Letter From the Editor Welcome to the Fall 2015 edition of the George Wythe Review! As with every semester, we are once again excited to bring present you with well-researched papers contributing to the field of American domestic public policy. In the pages that follow, you will find three papers analyzing the intents, effects, and unintended consequences of three different education policies. These papers each look at a different aspect of the education debate, allowing this journal to engage in a holistic discussion of our nation’s education system and the different areas we need to examine in order to secure our children’s future. Before we examine our education policy papers, we will be featuring a paper addressing the ethical and moral foundations of our public policy. In his paper Self-Defense and the Duty to Retreat, Adam Lebbs addresses Stand Your Ground laws through the lenses of natural law and the Judeo-Christian ethic. Kicking off our discussion on education policy, Meridian Paulton pens Opportunity for Change, examining the DC Opportunity Scholarship and attempts to bring low-income students into schools located in higher-income districts. The policy has been touted to be economically beneficial; Ms. Paulton examines whether this is actually the case. Moving to a very different area of education policy, Matthew Hoke conducts a thorough analysis of The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA). His analysis takes the current policy—which addresses school lunch programs exclusively—and questions whether those programs are effective in curbing child obesity, due to the large number of factors that impact childhood obesity that fall outside of the school environment. Wrapping up the discussion with perhaps the most controversial education issue of this decade, William Bock examines the concept of national educational standards— specifically, the Common Core State Standards Initiative—in his paper The Road to Nowhere. His paper concludes that national standards are ineffective and that only unilateral school choice provides optimal educational outcomes. I would be remiss if I did not recognize the dedication and excellence exhibited by the George Wythe Review’s editorial board—Jeremy Tjia, Megan Elliott, and our new Associate Editor, Ashlyn Olson. I count it a privilege to work with this team.

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Additionally, I would like to recognize the contributions of our three new Staff Editors who are training to replace this team upon our departure from Patrick Henry College. Christian McGuire, Shane Roberts, and Keith Zimmerman have all been an integral part of this journal, and we are pleased to have them join our team. Finally, many thanks to you, the readers of the George Wythe Review, for supporting us and taking advantage of the research published here. We hope that you enjoy this edition, and that it is useful to you as you examine the field of American domestic policy. For the George Wythe Review, Timothy W. Wier Editor-in-Chief

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Abstract Stand Your Ground laws remove individuals’ duty to retreat in places where they legally have the right to be, broadening the scope of self-defense. Several high profile shootings, such as that of Trayvon Martin in Florida, have drawn further attention to these laws. The principle of self-defense has its origins in natural law principles and is broadly supported. However, there is no bright line for when a self-defensive killing becomes a murder. The duty to retreat arose later in the English common law tradition and imposed an additional requirement that the person must retreat “to the wall” before using lethal violence. This study examines whether the duty to retreat is justified under natural law and Biblical considerations. In order to determine whether the duty to retreat is justified, the study examined various natural law sources and relevant just war theory principles in regards to anticipatory self-defense. This study finds that Stand Your Ground laws are justified by natural law and Biblical principles because they allow individuals to use the best tools available and do not force retreat when it may be unsafe to do so. ___________________________________

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Introduction As Trayvon Martin was walking home from a convenience store, another man began to follow him, trailing him by car and then on foot. Eventually, there was a confrontation, which ended in Martin’s death. The man who shot him, George Zimmerman, was the captain of the local neighborhood watch and suspected Martin was possibly a burglar. After calling the police to report Martin’s suspicious activities, Zimmerman was told to cease following him, but disregarded the request. As a result of this incident and the accompanying controversy, Florida’s Stand Your Ground law became an item of national interest. Zimmerman’s defense was based in the principle of self-defense, which itself is based in the natural law. This study examines whether natural law mandates the duty to retreat. If natural law supports the duty to retreat, then Stand Your Ground laws are not justifiable. Possibly, the natural law tradition is unclear and the subject requires further attention.

Literature Review Natural Law and Self-Defense Natural law is founded on the idea that a morality common to all people can be understood through reason. One fundamental principle of natural law is that all humans have the right to life by “being of that natural kind whose mature representatives normally do exercise [the rational capacity], and of which the individual is an instance” (Budziszewski, 2009). Because the individual possesses inherent value as a unique and rational being, there is a right to continued existence. This right consistently applies, even if the use of force is necessary to continue existence, “since one’s intention is to save one’s own life… seeing that it is natural to everything to keep itself in being, as far as possible” (Aquinas, 2006). Later, social contract thinkers like John Locke (1986) incorporated the principle of self-defense into the state of nature. In the state of nature—which exists prior to the formation of government—certain rights, such as self-defense, are natural to the human being. Government is formed to secure these rights for those who cannot adequately defend themselves. Other rights may be incorporated in the formation of the social contract, but they are subordinate to natural rights because they are merely a societal convention. Although the people may alter the social contract to reflect changes in society, natural rights cannot be overwritten; their basis is fundamental. To safeguard against the misuse of self-defense, natural law imposes certain limitations on it. Aquinas (2006) establishes the principle of proportionality, noting self-defense “may be rendered unlawful, if [the force used] be out of proportion to

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the end.” The founder of modern natural law thought, Hugo Grotius, focused on the imminence of physical harm. Mere fear of harm was an insufficient standard because “many wrongs proceed from fear.” For example, a man might attack another who poses no danger and means no harm, merely out of fear. Rather, “when an assailant seizes any weapon with an apparent intention to kill me, I have a right to anticipate and prevent the danger” (Grotius, 1901). Proportionality and immediacy are key elements in the legitimacy of self-defense. The principle of self-defense applies not only to interpersonal relations, but also to international relations. As Yoram Dinstein (2005) notes, “from the dawn of international law, writers sought to apply this concept [of self-defense] to inter-state relations, particularly in connection with the just war doctrine…” The just war theory began with Augustine (Dods, 1993), but was furthered developed by the Scholastics, such as Aquinas, in the medieval era. Because it flowed from the natural law conception of self-defense, Just War theory shares striking commonalties with self-defense principles developed at the time, such as proportionality, war as a last resort, and the jus ad bellum (Dougherty and Pfaltzgraff, 2001). Controversy in the Just War theory regarding the justification of anticipatory attacks of self-defense mirrors the controversy in self-defense over the duty to retreat and Stand Your Ground laws. Duty to Retreat The duty to retreat dictates that one must take all reasonable precautions to avoid conflict before taking the life of another. According to Richard Brown (1991), this principle goes “back to the ancient English common law doctrine that it was necessary to retreat ‘to the wall’ at one’s back before one could legitimately kill in self-defense.” The United States largely adopted English common law principles via William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1979). He limited the right of self-defense with the duty to retreat, fearing the right of self-defense would be translated into the right to kill if there was no duty to retreat. However, an exception to the duty to retreat was made for when a man was in his own home. This led to the development of the modern Castle Doctrine. Because a man’s home is his castle, he has no duty to retreat while within its walls. The duty to retreat did not survive long in the energetic young nation of America, particularly in its Western territories. Brown (1991) asserts that “one of the most important transformations in American legal… history occurred in the nineteenth century when the nation as a whole repudiated the English common-law tradition [of the duty to retreat] in favor of the American theme of no duty to retreat…” For a time, the Supreme Court held the contradictory view that a man does not have to flee from danger and that he must exhaust all means possible, including nonlethal violence, before killing another man (Beale, Jr., 1903). The duty

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to retreat was eventually repudiated in the 1921 Supreme Court decision of Brown v. United States. In his ruling on that case, Justice Holmes wrote, “If a man reasonably believes that he is in immediate danger of death or grievous bodily harm from his assailant, he may stand his ground, and that, if he kills him, he has not succeeded the bounds of lawful self-defense.” For the first time, Stand Your Ground principles were enshrined in the criminal law of the United States. However, the principle was not incorporated into the legal codes of states until recent years. Prior to those laws, defendants had to claim the right in the court of law, putting the burden on them to show they were justified. Recent laws, such as Stand Your Ground laws, change the presumption from the defendant to the prosecutor, requiring a higher standard of evidence to be met before a person can be charged with homicide. Stand Your Ground laws Currently, states vary on the legality of the duty to retreat. Most states have adopted some form of the Castle Doctrine, which holds, as the 1914 People v. Tomlins decision articulates, “It is not now, and never has been the law that a man assailed in his own dwelling, is bound to retreat. If assailed there, he may stand his ground, and resist the attack.” However, outside of the context of the home, there is a split between jurisdictions where there is a duty to retreat and jurisdictions where there is not. Some hold that if a person is under attack, he can stand his ground, while others demand retreat if at all possible (Carpenter, 2003). While the duty to retreat had primarily been a judicial concern, legislatures have recently joined the debate. This has particularly important ramifications from the perspective of natural law, as McLean (2000) points out, “We do not make laws with the intention of forcing men to believe that the value proclaimed by the law is right and proper, but with the intention of obliging them to respect that value with their actions.” Starting in 2005, Florida and several other states adopted Stand Your Ground laws, which “extend the right to self-defense, with no duty to retreat, to places outside the home such as a vehicle, workplace, or anywhere else a person has a right to be” (Jansen and Nugent-Borakove, 2007). Expanding the Castle Doctrine, the laws differed in several aspects from the common law standards (Jansen and Nugent-Borakove, 2007). First, they replaced the “reasonable person” standard, which originally rested on the defendant to prove, with a presumption of fear or reasonableness, shifting the burden to the state to prove the defendant was not acting reasonably. Additionally, deadly force could now be used in cases where only property was involved and the threat was not imminent. While the specifics of the law may change from state to state, the overall purpose and intent of the laws has remained the same.

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Research Just War Theory In the context of just war theory, the issue of war as a last resort is closely tied to the duty to retreat in self-defense. War may be allowed at some point after less severe options have been tried, but before all possible actions have been taken. Just war theorists dispute the meaning and implications of the principle of last resort. Some hold that all alternative courses of action must first fail; others believe that all practical options must fail (Fixdal and Smith, 1998). Joseph McKenna (1960) writes, “War as a means of correcting the injury must be the last resort, utilized only when all less drastic steps have failed.” According to this view, if peace can be achieved with less violent methods, those methods are morally preferable to violence. Even “an ultimatum or a formal declaration of war [can be a resort prior to war], since these are the last measures of persuasion short of force itself.” This view almost categorically rejects the use of war as a tool in statecraft. As Michael Walzer (1977) points out, there is always some measure other than war that can be attempted, a fact which renders just war effectively impossible. To prohibit the use of force in its entirety would impel a nation unable to defend itself and subject it to the mercy of any enemies who do not abide by the same moral code. This view violates the sovereignty of states by rendering their territory and citizens defenseless. Brad Roberts (1998) argues that “[t]he moral obligation requires an assessment of all means available to meet a particular threat… and, of those deemed sufficient to do so, a preference for means other than war.” Rather than wasting time with measures that are insufficient and unlikely to succeed, states may make war if it is the last viable option. In certain cases, “[t]rying the alternatives first, thus proving their ineffectiveness, could be worse than pointless” (Smith, 1994). Because a nation’s first priority is the best interests of its citizenry, war may be preferable to less violent methods if it would result in less net harm to civilians. Some see the principle of last resort as moot if there is a just cause. “If war is a just resort at all, it makes no sense to deny nations its use as a last resort. Once the killing has been sanctioned in the first place, moral discussion… takes on the aura of Pentagon calculations” (Wells, 1969). Under this view, any cause extreme enough to justify war automatically eliminates the moral need to avoid conflict. The state has a free license to rectify the harm and restore order. The differences between these various positions can be seen best in the specific issue of anticipatory self-defense. The current debate over anticipatory self-defense asks when nations can defend themselves against foreign invasion

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and how distant a threat has to be before a nation reacts with force to it. The commonly accepted standard for anticipatory self-defense in international law is founded on the Caroline Doctrine. Based on a series of letters between U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster and British Lord Ashburton in the early 19th century, the doctrine holds that a legitimate claim of anticipatory self-defense must “show a necessity of self-defense, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation” (Webster, 1842). This doctrine has often been reduced to a three-part formula: necessity, immediacy, and proportionality. In order for a preemptive strike to be justified, it must meet all three criteria. Yoram Dinstein argues for the morality of interceptive strikes by using a slightly more expansive interpretation of the Caroline Doctrine. “Interceptive self-defence is lawful… for it takes place after the other side has committed itself to an armed attack in an ostensibly irrevocable way…. The blow is ‘imminent’ and practically ‘unavoidable’” (Dinstein, 2005). Both Dinstein and the Caroline Doctrine accord closely with Grotius’ view that lethal self-defense is justified when the attacker grasps his weapon to attack, but not before. Walzer (1977) argues, “preemption on this view[, the Caroline Doctrine,] is like a reflex action, a throwing up of one’s arms at the very last minute…Even the most presumptuous aggressor is not likely to insist, as a matter of right, that his victims stand still until he lands the first blow.” According to this view, the Caroline Doctrine is wrong because war is allowed only at the uttermost peril, when the enemy is prepared and ready to strike, rather than allowing for the use of force when the threat is not so dire. The criticism is founded on the principle of proportionality, which argues the risk to civilians should be minimized. Fighting the enemy on his terms means fighting when he is at his strongest, which will inflict more damage on the defender’s civilians and soldiers. Thus, Dinstein’s view and the Caroline Doctrine align closely with a stricter view of the permissible use of force. “When the UN Charter was adopted in 1945, it enshrined a complete prohibition on the use of force in inter-state relations, except when action is taken in self-defense against an armed attack or under authorization of the UN Security Council” (Murphy, 2009). A final view holds a more expansive view of anticipatory self-defense. While generally accepting the Caroline Doctrine, it sees the definition of imminence set forth in the Doctrine as flawed. “At least in the realm of WMD, rogue nations, and international terrorism, however, the test for determining whether a threat is sufficiently ‘imminent’ to render the use of force necessary at a particular point has become more nuanced than Secretary Webster’s nineteenth-century formulation” (Yoo, 2003). A similar reformulation comes

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from Walzer (1977): “The line is… going to be drawn at…the point of sufficient threat…[which] covers three things: a manifest intent to injure, a degree of active preparation that makes that intent a positive danger, and a general situation in which waiting, or doing anything other than fighting, greatly magnifies the risk.” These lines push the threat back from the point of imminent attack to sufficient threat, lengthening the time frame for nations to respond to threats. Natural Law Under the principles of natural law, the morality of Stand Your Ground laws is disputed. Those who defend Stand Your Ground laws argue that these laws merely extend the principles of self-defense to areas outside the home. In the heat of the situation, they argue, it is difficult to judge whether someone poses a threat and retreat. Stand Your Ground allows people to defend themselves without fear that they will be prosecuted for doing so. Those who favor the duty to retreat argue that natural law’s respect for life demands that man must avoid taking the life of another except when absolutely necessary. The most important natural law critique of Stand Your Ground laws is that removing the duty to retreat encourages people to take aggressive action rather than a merely defensive posture. “The failure to impose a duty to retreat when safely possible effectively permits private actors to commit violence on the basis of subjective fears (or use SYG to justify their acts of violence under a claim of self-defense), even when another avenue to defuse the conflict, short of force or deadly force, may exist” (Abuznaid, et. al, 2014). The shift of presumption from the defendant to the state incentivizes people to use violence because proving that their actions were unreasonable—especially when they are the only witness remaining—is difficult for the state. If this argument is correct, then a rise in violence in states with Stand Your Ground laws can be expected. Using police reports for justified homicides, Hoekstra and Cheng (2013) found that homicides increased by about 8 percent, or 600 deaths, in states with Stand Your Ground laws. Another study by McClellan and Tekin (2012) found increases in homicides among white males and an increase in firearm related injuries in states with Stand Your Ground laws. These studies support the hypothesis that Stand Your Ground laws remove disincentives to aggression and weaken incentives for nonviolent resolutions. In response to the above argument, natural law supporters of Stand Your Ground laws focus on the principle of double effect. Looking at Catholic doctrine and the writings of Aquinas in particular, Skiba (2014) concluded that current Stand Your Ground laws align with natural law principles because they allow the innocent to defend themselves. However, such laws risk an overly broad

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interpretation that allows for killing on the basis of revenge rather than defense. As such, judicial considerations of Stand Your Ground laws would require an analysis of the defendant’s intent behind the use of lethal force. Such an approach closely aligns with the principle of self-defense, which focuses on the intent of the defender in the principle of double-effect. The act of self-defense has two effects: saving one’s life and slaying the attacker. The intention behind the act of self-defense is of utmost importance. If the intention is to defend oneself, the act is lawful; if the intention is to kill another human being, the act is not lawful. Grotius’ view is based on action, demanding that self-defense be the last resort, avoiding conflict if at all possible. Christian View Although the Christian Bible contains passages that impose a prohibition on killing (Exodus 20:13), a right to lethal self-defense is supported. The strongest statement of this principle can be found in Luke 22:36, where Jesus, shortly before the arrest leading to his crucifixion, commands his disciples, “If you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” The sole purpose of a sword is to carry out acts of violence. Since murder is forbidden, the sword can have only one legitimate purpose: to be used in self-defense. Proverbs 25:26 also implies there is a duty to resist attack, stating, “Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked.” However, the right to defend oneself does not necessarily translate into the right to kill your attacker. Exodus 22:2 states, “If a thief is caught breaking in at night and is struck a fatal blow, the defender is not guilty of bloodshed…” While this verse has traditionally been used to justify lethal self-defense, as in the writings of Aquinas and others, the verse also continues on to say, “but if it happens after sunrise, the defender is guilty of bloodshed.” The difference is primarily in the ability of the defender to determine the intention of his assailant. In the day, intentions can be discerned better than in the night, allowing for more courses of action. There are also several examples of when God Himself permitted lethal self-defense. In Nehemiah 4:11-14, while the Israelites seek to repair the wall and are threatened by their enemies, Nehemiah permits them to carry weapons in order to defend themselves. In Esther 8 and 9, when Haman’s plot reaches its climax to cleanse the Jews from the Persian empire, the Jews successfully took up arms against their attackers with sanction from the Persian king. These incidents suggest there is strong support for self-defense, particularly within the home.

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Conclusion Returning to Just War principles, the morality of Stand Your Ground laws is largely dependent on the principle of last resort. A strict interpretation of the principle, which would require all alternatives to be tried and fail, is not consistent with the duty to retreat because it demands conflict avoidance even if defending oneself is a better option—one more likely to result in peace. The peace strived for is not the peace of the dead, where there is peace because one’s enemy is dead, but the peace that comes from order when both parties are mutually satisfied by the resolution (Codevilla and Seabury, 2006). Rather, the interpretation of last resort as the best available means fits more closely into the natural law paradigm. War is not necessarily the preferred option; rather, if it is the best tool for achieving peace, it should be used. Both the duty to retreat and Stand Your Ground laws can be justified under this interpretation. Under the duty to retreat, violence is used only if there is no other option. While restricting the ability to use force, it does not disallow its use. Stand Your Ground laws are more closely aligned with this principle as they allow the person to use force even if there are other options because it is the best option for upholding the right of a person to defend his life. Again, these issues can be better examined in the context of the specific issue of anticipatory self-defense. The view that a nation can only respond to an armed attack after it has been attacked is not in accordance with natural law principles. It violates just war principles because “even genuinely preemptive resorts to force are disallowed,” a “possibility Grotius took in account in allowing preemption” (Johnson, 1998). When applied to personal self-defense, it would require that a person not respond to an attack until they have already received an injury, which is contrary to the right of self-preservation. Neither the duty to retreat nor Stand Your Ground laws mandates such a requirement. A person, like a nation, has the right to defend himself against a blow that he sees coming. The view espoused by the Caroline Doctrine and Dinstein, that a nation can respond to an attack in advance when there is an imminent threat, more closely accords with natural law principles. As Grotius (1901) wrote, “when an assailant seizes any weapon with an apparent intention to kill me I have a right to anticipate and prevent the danger.” However, the question of whether the line is closer to the Caroline Doctrine or if the line is further out, at the point of sufficient threat as Walzer calls it, is unclear under the principle of last resort. The Caroline Doctrine holds the threat must be imminent and the defensive actions necessary and proportionate to the threat. Walzer focused on identifying when the threat reached a critical point with his criterion of an intent

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to injure, preparations that will actualize that intent, and a situation in which waiting increases the risk of attack. Under Grotius’ statement cited above, Walzer’s criterion is closer to natural law principles. Rather than waiting until the last moment to avert the crisis, Walzer would have a nation defend itself when the threat of harm becomes irreversible. The attacker is preparing his weapon, so the individual must respond in order to prevent the harm from occurring. Applying Walzer’s criterion to the principle of last resort, it appears to be a matter of using the best available means to address a situation in order to achieve peace. If it can be accomplished through means other than war, they should be used. However, if war is coming and there is a growing threat on the horizon, a nation may legitimately attack in self-defense, such as Israel did during the Six Days War in 1967. Once it became clear the Arab countries were going to attack, Israel preemptively and successfully attacked their military bases, crippling their armies. While it devastated the Arab armies, the Israeli attack was appropriate as the Israeli civilian population did not suffer as much as waiting for the Arab countries to attack would have, as evidenced by the later Yom Kippur War. Connecting this principle to Stand Your Ground laws, this study finds that such laws are justified because they allow a person to act in self-defense when they are threatened in a place they have a right to be. Stand Your Ground laws allow the person to exercise their discretion in how to respond to a threat, rather than placing them in a potentially dangerous situation by forcing them to retreat. When the law sets the expectation that people are to retreat, they will try to do so, even in situations in which it may not be safe. Broader natural law concerns about Stand Your Ground laws are also a concern. There is a potential for the laws to be used as a license to kill rather than as a tool of self-defense. While Stand Your Ground laws respect the right of the person to defend himself, they also run into the problem that Grotius described; people may act illicitly out of fear rather than in response to a genuine threat. Thus, the courts must be careful to enforce the laws in a way that does not allow mere fear of a threat to become a justification for self-defense, but should require a serious threat to the life or bodily integrity of the attacked in order for the self-defense claim to be justified. On behalf of the citizen, care needs to be taken to use proportionate means. Lethal self-defense should only be used in situations where serious bodily harm or death is a factor. Using a gun when the attacker is merely trying to beat you is not a reasonable response and violates the principle of proportionality. When he pulls out a knife or gun though, there is justification for the attacked to use lethal measures. Measures should escalate proportionately to the situation, which may include a display of force, such as displaying one’s weapon, to deter the attacker.

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With proportionality in mind, Stand Your Ground laws can be justified under Biblical self-defense principles. Exodus 22:2-3 can make sense only in the context of proportionality. During the night, it is impossible for the citizen to determine the intentions or threat that an invader poses to his home, so he is justified in taking his life. However, during the day, the citizen can determine the intent of the invader and is bound not to kill the thief. The overriding consideration is using the appropriate level of force for the situation. In neither case is the citizen obligated to retreat, but he is required to use different levels of force depending on the level of the threat. In conclusion, Stand Your Ground laws are justifiable under Just War theory, natural law, and Biblical principles. While violence is to be a last resort, sometimes it is the only effective means available. Having the duty to retreat forces the citizen to flee from a situation rather than allowing them to exercise their judgment about the course of action, a problem rectified by Stand Your Ground laws. In either system, the subjective perception of threat is going to be an issue, trying to determine either if it is safe to flee or if violence should be used. Because preserving life, particularly innocent life, is an essential feature of natural law, Stand Your Ground laws are justified as they allow citizens to fully exercise their right to self-defense.

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References Abuznaid, Ahmad, Bettinger-López, Caroline, Cassel, Charlotte, & Jagganath, Meena. (September 10, 2014). “Stand your ground” laws: International human rights law implications. University of Miami Law Review, 68(4), 1129-1170. Aquinas, T. (1274). Summa Theologica, Part II-II (Secunda Secundae) Translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Project Gutenberg. Beale, Jr., Joseph H. (June 1903). Retreat from a murderous assault. Harvard Law Review, 16(8), 567-582. Blackstone, W. (1769). Commentaries on the Laws of England. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Brown, Richard M. (1991). No duty to retreat: Violence and values in American history and society. New York: Oxford University Press. Brown v. United States, 256 U.S. 335 (1921). Budziszewski, J. (2009). The line through the heart: Natural law as fact, theory, and sign of contradiction. Wilmington, DL: ISI Books. Carpenter, Catherine L. (2003). Of the enemy within, the castle doctrine, and self-defense. Marquette Law Review, 86(4), 653-700. Codevilla, Angelo, & Seabury, Paul. (2006). War: Ends and means (2d ed.). Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books. Dinstein, Yoram. (2005). War, aggression, and self-defence (4th ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Dods, M. (1993). The City of God. New York: Modern Library. Dougherty, James E., & Pfaltzgraff, Robert L. (2001). Contending theories of international relations: A comprehensive survey (5th ed.). New York: Longman. Fixdal, Mona & Smith, Dan. (November 1998). Humanitarian intervention and just war. Mershon International Studies Review, 42(2), 283-312. http://www.

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Grotius, Hugo (1901). The Rights of War and Peace, including the Law of Nature and of Nations, translated from the Original Latin of Grotius, with Notes and Illustrations from Political and Legal Writers, by A.C. Campbell, A.M. with an Introduction by David J. Hill. New York: M. Walter Dunne. Retrieved March 17, 2015 from the World Wide Web: http://oll.libertyfund. org/titles/553 Hoekstra, Mark, & Cheng, Cheng. (2013). Does strengthening self-defense law deter crime or escalate violence?: Evidence from expansions to castle doctrine. Journal of Human Resources, 48(3), 821-853. http://dx.doi. org/10.1353/jhr.2013.0023 Jansen, Steven, & Nugent-Borakove, M. Elaine. (2007). Expansions to the castle doctrine: Implications for policy and practice. Alexandria, VA: American Prosecutors Research Institute. Johnson, James T. (1998). Just cause revisited. In Elliott Abrams (Ed.), Close calls: Intervention, terrorism, missile defense and “just war” today (83-107). Washington, D.C: Ethics and Public Policy Center. Locke, J. (1789). The Second Treatise on Civil Government. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books. McClellan, C., & Tekin, E. (2012). Stand Your Ground Laws, Homicides, and Injuries. NBER Working Paper No. 18187. Retrieved from http://www.nber. org/papers/w18187 McLean, Ian T. (2000). Criminal law and natural law. In Edward B. McLean (Ed.), Common truths: New perspectives on natural law (259-289). Wilmington, DE: ISI Books. McKenna, Joseph C. (September 1960). Ethics and war: A catholic view. The American Political Science Review, 54(3), 647-658. http://dx.doi. org/10.2307/1953943 Merriam, John J. (April 14, 2010). Natural law and self-defense. Military Law Review, 206, 43-87. Murphy, Sean D. (2009). Protean jus ad bellum. Berkeley Journal of International Law, 27(2).

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People v. Tomlins, 107 N.E. 496 (NY Court of Appeals 1914). Roberts, Brad. (1998). NBC-armed rogues. In Elliott Abrams (Ed.), Close calls: Intervention, terrorism, missile defense and “just war” today (83-107). Washington, D.C: Ethics and Public Policy Center. Skiba, Rebekah. (2014). Returning to the roots of the castle doctrine: Why recent stand your ground laws are in line with the natural law. SSRN Electronic Journal. Smith, D. (May 1, 1994). Just war, Clausewitz and Sarajevo. Journal of Peace Research, 31(2), 136-142. Walzer, Michael. (1977). Just and unjust wars: A moral argument with historical illustrations. New York: Basic Books. Webster, D. (1842). British-American Diplomacy: The Caroline Case. Retrieved April 18, 2015, from Wells, Donald A. (December 4, 1969). How much can “the just war” justify? The Journal of Philosophy, 66(23), 819-829. Yoo, John. (January 1, 2003). International law and the war in Iraq. The American Journal of International Law.

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Abstract In 2004, Congress authorized the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), providing vouchers for DC’s poorest students to attend private schools instead of their failing public schools. Because the program costs less to the taxpayers than the DC Public School System does, it seems safe to assume that the program is economically beneficial. This study seeks to answer the question of economic benefits, specifically looking at the impact of the program on the American economy. The study finds that the OSP does provide economic benefit to the American economy, because it allows taxpayers to save money and use the funds as they wish. Additionally, it provides further opportunity for students in the poorer districts in DC, giving them a better chance for economic advancement. ___________________________________

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Introduction In 2014, approximately 3,600 DC high school students should have been on schedule to graduate high school. Sadly, 41.7% of that graduating class—totaling 1,500 students—dropped out or failed to complete their high school education in four years (District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education, 2015). Although there have been many attempts to solve this crisis and to cure the DC educational system, there is no conclusive evidence that any such attempts have worked. Measuring the impact of specific programs is a difficult task in these communities because many non-educational, socioeconomic factors contribute to educational success. In 2004, Congress authorized the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), providing vouchers for DC’s poorest students to attend private schools in lieu of their likely failing public schools. After a brief period of inactivity, the program was reauthorized in 2011. Since that time, it has received well over 11,000 applications (D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, 2011-2014). Currently, 1,442 students are enrolled in 47 participating private schools. The program offers a great measure of hope and reduces the cost for taxpayers (The Heritage Foundation, 2005). It is certainly intuitive to assume that providing students with a private school education would give them better career prospects than giving them a public school education. Furthermore, because the program costs less to taxpayers than the DC Public School system does, it seems a safe assertion that the program is an economically beneficial policy. However, as previously mentioned, a true analysis must necessarily account for the pre-existing socioeconomic factors that contribute to a child’s education, which provides difficulty in measuring the success of specific educational programs. This study attempts to account for these factors in order to accurately assess the economic impact of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program. First, this study will look at the socioeconomic statuses of applicants and participants in the program, focusing specifically on crime and income. It will then look at what impact, if any, the program makes on education, specifically focusing on graduation rates and related factors. Finally, the paper will consider the economic impacts of both pre-existing socioeconomic conditions and of education. A careful examination of these factors will answer the question, “What is the economic impact of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program?”

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Literature Review Jobs build economies of scale, and crime tears down those same economies. Both jobs and crime are outputs of other factors, including education. This paper considers the link between the DC Opportunity Scholarship and the economy, through the lenses of jobs and crime. To achieve this goal, this section will ask nine questions: 1. What is the DC economy like and who are its contributors? 2. What is the cost and educational state of the public schools? 3. Among members of the public schools, who qualifies for and participates in the OSP? 4. What is the cost of the program? 5. How great are its academic gains? 6. What are the impacts of those types of academic gain? 7. In particular, how do academic gains affect crime and job rates? 8. What are the economic effects of crime and job rates? 9. Ultimately, given all the numbers, what is the impact of the DC Opportunity Scholarship on the American economy? The first eight questions have in some way been previously addressed in other studies. This paper examines the final question. Two relevant sources addressed the issue of the DC economy. The first was titled Widespread but Slower Growth in 2013: Advance 2013 and Revised 1997-2012 Statistics of GDP by State (Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2014). This compilation of census data looked at the current size of the DC economy, and further analyzed the information according to various types of economic activities. Because the Opportunity Scholarship targets lower-class residents of the District, a study about poverty rates must supplement the GDP statistics. This study is the DC Fiscal Policy Institute’s Poverty Rates Remain High for Some Groups of DC Residents (Reed, 2013). Based on the theory that DC economic changes aren’t reaching everyone in the District, this study looked at DC government economic statistics. It contained several relevant findings. For instance, in 2012, 1 in 4 children in DC lived below the poverty line (as opposed to 30% in 2011). 1 in 3 people in the District who are without a college degree live below the poverty line, and 1 in 4 black residents as well as 22% of Latino residents live below the poverty line. The study concluded that economic changes are not reaching particular minorities in the District. These two studies provide an adequate understanding of the DC economic condition, which enables later measurements of the Scholarship Program’s economic impact. This paper requires a broad overview of the DC public school system’s costs and educational effectiveness. The Finance Project’s Cost of Student Achievement: Report of the DC Education Adequacy Study combined both per-student

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cost and institutional effectiveness (Brown et al., 2013). This study was conducted through a professional judgment panel, evidence-based approach, and a small degree of “successful schools study.” It focuses largely on maintenance and operation costs, and performed a comparison of traditional public and charter schools. The study attempts to find a balance between cost and effectiveness and is useful in comparing the difference, if any, that the DC Scholarship makes on educational achievement. Additionally, it is necessary to examine the difference in crime between public and private schools in DC. The Heritage Foundation’s study titled School Safety in Washington, D.C.: New Data for the 2007-2008 School Year provides helpful information on this topic (Lips, Muhlhausen, & Soifer, 2009). In the study, Metropolitan Police Department data—obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request—shows that in the 2007-2008 school year, there were 1,338 property crimes in public schools and only 131 in private schools. Unfortunately, the Heritage Foundation study poses three problems for this research project. First, it does not consider the possibility that students from poor neighborhoods could bring criminal behavior with them into their new private schools. Second, the study is biased in favor of the DC Opportunity Scholarship. Finally, its data is seven years old. However, the information that it presented is crucial to understanding the proportional difference of crime in DC’s public and private schools. The two questions of who qualifies for and participates in the OSP, and what the program’s cost is, demand complex analysis. The D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, which operates the Scholarship Program, produced a Program Summary and a Program Fact Sheet (2014, a, b). These reports containinformation about program costs, as well as economic and demographic information about applicants and participants. Although these reports provide helpful data, there is more detail to consider. The Government Accountability Office conducted two studies on the topic. In 2007, it produced a report titled District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program: Additional Policies and Procedures Would Improve Internal Controls and Program Operations (Government Accountability Office, 2007). In 2013, the GAO again wrote on the subject, titling the report, District of Columbia Opportunity Scholarship Program: Actions Needed to Address Weaknesses in Administration and Oversight (Government Accountability Office, 2013). These largely qualitative figures looked at ways people can be taken advantage of in the program’s setup. The GAO finds that many program participants do not come from the schools which the program was meant to target. The Heritage Foundation’s special report Expanding Education Choices: From Vouchers and Tax Credits to Savings Accounts largely agrees with this data interpretation (Burke & Butcher, 2013). Both studies are helpful in understanding where there may be errors or oversights in the program.

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In answering the question of the program’s cost, comparing the cost to taxpayers of traditional public schools and of the OSP is also helpful. A study by the Cato Institute and Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice did exactly this (Aud & Michos, 2006). The report, titled Spreading Freedom and Saving Money: The Fiscal Impact of the D.C. Voucher Program, finds that at the time of the study, the OSP saved taxpayers $8 million annually. This provides a basic understanding of the comparative difference the OSP creates. However, the nine years that have elapsed between the study and the present will limit its effectiveness. The Heritage Foundation’s 2005 study, How School Choice Programs Can Save Money, produced similar findings, and had comparable strengths and weaknesses (Johnson, 2005). Because both studies are older, data from the previously mentioned reports of the D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation will be invaluable. The question of the program’s gains is complex, because there are many ways to measure institutional growth and several factors which contribute to such measurement. In 2006, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research conducted a study titled An Evaluation of the Effect of D.C.’s Voucher Program on Public School Achievement and Racial Integration after One Year (Greene & Winters, 2006). Although the study focused on competition between public and private schools, its application of multivariate regression techniques to census data provided helpful information. Its most relevant information pertained to the impact the OSP has on students of particular ethnicities. When combined with D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation data, this is useful for understanding where the program’s impacts truly occur. However, the study is nine years old, limiting its applicability. A study entitled Test-Score Effects of School Vouchers in Dayton, Ohio, New York City, and Washington, D. C.: Evidence from Randomized Field Trials examines the impact of an early version of the DC Scholarship on test scores (Campbell, Howell, & Peterson, 2000). By tracking randomized participants of various minorities and comparing them to a control group, the study finds that African-American students had 8-9% higher test scores than the control group (after two years of participation). While this study provides information about the impact of this sort of program on test scores, it will be used sparingly for the purposes of this paper because its data is fifteen years old One of the most important studies that dealt with the effects of the Scholarship Program was Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Final Report (Carr et al., 2010). The Institute of Education Sciences conducted this study for the Department of Education, providing information about graduation rates and school approval ratings. It objectively obtains information from government sources regarding graduation rates. This information is invaluable in understand-

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ing the impact of the Opportunity Scholarship. The same organization’s 2007 study Evaluation of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program: Impacts after One Year produces similar findings (Eissa et. al, 2007). Several studies aid in understanding the effects of the OSP’s results. First, the Justice Policy Institute conducted a study entitled Education and Public Safety (2007). This report looks at the relationship between educational achievement and crime. Its methodology is straightforward and perhaps faulty, as it takes government statistics on criminal educational background and attempts to make correlations between education and crime. However, it provides many useful statistics and insights, and is helpful when attempting to link education with crime. Perhaps the most important study for understanding the effects of the DC Scholarship Program is the Alliance for Excellent Education’s study Saving Futures, Saving Dollars: The Impact of Education on Crime Reduction and Earnings (2013). This study synthesizes previous data and utilizes a variety of methods to determine the practical effect of better education and educational indicators like test scores and graduation rates on future criminal activity and job placement. The recent date, multiple angles, and variety of data synthesized in this report make its impact on our study invaluable. The next issue is the economic impact of crime and job placement. Three reports sufficiently analyze this topic. The first is the Department of Health and Human Services’ report, Youth from Low-Income Families (2009). This panel study follows a sample of adolescents in 1997 through adulthood. It tracks the impact of past crime exposure and adolescent economic status on likelihood of crime and poverty in adulthood. However, perhaps the most helpful study is The Cost of Crime to Society: New Crime-Specific Estimates for Policy and Program Evaluation (Fang, French, & McCollister, 2010). This study creates a methodology that utilizes both the “cost-ofillness and the jury compensation methods,” and yields “cost estimates for more than a dozen major crime categories, including several categories not found in previous studies.” Its crime-specific estimates rose as high as $8.9 million for a single murder. A study linking these types of statistics to DC specifically is the Justice Policy Institute’s study titled The Education of D.C.: How Washington D.C.’s investments in education can help increase public safety (2012). This study examines both educational spending and crime in DC. When combined, these three studies effectively and systematically develop a basis for understanding the impact of crime on the economy. All these studies help answer the ultimate question: what is the economic impact of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program on the economy? However, no study actually answers the question. That is the purpose of this study. Utilizing all the aforementioned studies, and conducting further research where there are information gaps, this study attempts to link DC’s education with the economic environment.

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Preexisting Economic, Demographic, and Educational Circumstances It is useful for the purposes of this study to understand the background of OSP participants, and the economic context in which the program operates. First, a brief look at the overall DC economy provides a basic understanding of how large any economic impact of the OSP would be. In the DC Metropolitan Area, the per capita real GDP was $73,461 in 2013 (Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2015). This is more than $20,000 above the 2013 national average of $53,042 (World Bank, 2015). Simply obtaining an average can be misleading, because there are significant outliers on both the high and low ends of the spectrum. However, according to The Economist in 2011, “At 5.9%, Washington’s unemployment rate is easily the lowest among America’s large metropolitan areas” (The Economist, 2011). Thus, the DC economy is quite successful on the whole, if for no other reason than the many very wealthy people who populate it. Still, many of the city’s residents are not as affluent. Because the following discussion relies somewhat on 2010 demographic data, “low-income” is defined as a total income of $64,400 or less in a household of four. This is in accordance with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s guidelines for low-income limits (2010). The Department of Health and Services defines poverty as households of four with incomes of $22,050 or less. (2010). The National Center for Children in Poverty noted in 2005, “There are 23,000 low-income families living in DC, and 34 percent of them have a preschool-aged child (under age 6)” (Cauthen, Dinan & Lazere, 2005). These are the people whom the OSP targets. Of DC’s eight wards, a sizeable number of OSP participants come from wards 4, 7, and 8.1 Thus, a brief look at the demographics in each ward is useful for understanding the economic context of the OSP (D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, 2014). According to the 2010 census data, 96% of Ward 7 residents are black non-Hispanics, as compared with 65% of DC overall. Among families with children, 73% are female-led households, compared with 50% in DC The poverty rate is 18%, with 29% of children living in poverty. In Ward 7, 18% of persons do not possess a high school diploma, as opposed to 12% in DC overall. With an average income of $59,161, 26% of the population is in poverty, including 39% of children. In 2011, there were 17 violent crimes and 42 property crimes per 1,000 persons, compared with 12 violent crimes and 43 property crimes in DC overall. In Ward 7, the number of charter schools has risen from 6 to 17, while the number of DC Public Schools (hereafter DCP schools or DCPS) has decreased from 25 to 16. Thus, the number ___________________________________ 1

About 20% of the OSP student population comes from each of these wards.

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of schools has risen from 31 to 33 from 2000 to 2013. Even so, school enrollment has decreased from 12,623, to 11,758. There seems to be no correlation in the data between the year that OPS was introduced and the fluctuation in school enrollment in Ward 7 (Neighborhood Info DC, 2010). In Ward 8, 94% of residents are black non-Hispanics. 73% of families with children are female-led households. Poverty is at 37% including 51% of children. 20% of residents do not have a high school diploma. This particular number is important, because it is the highest rate of individuals without a diploma anywhere in DC. This ward also has the highest number of families receiving food stamps and other government assistance. There are 19 violent crimes per 1,000 people (highest), though property crimes are at a middle-range 38 per 1,000 persons. Ward 8 also has the lowest number of occupied housing units and lowest homeownership rates in DC. However, it does have the highest number of schools in DC (41), including the highest of both public schools (19) and charter schools (22). (Neighborhood Info DC, 2010). In Ward 4, 59% of residents are black non-Hispanics. 37% of families with children are female-headed households. Poverty is at 14%, with 19% of children in poverty. 15% of residents do not have a high school diploma, though the residents typically have a close-to-average income (over $116,000). A lower number of residents than average receive food stamps, and the ward has a significantly lower crime rate than normal for DC (Neighborhood Info DC, 2010). Essentially, this data indicates that in the three wards from which the highest number of OSP participants hail—especially in wards 7 and 8—the economies tend to be relatively poor, and often the crime rates are high and investment rates are low. There is a tendency in these neighborhoods for households to be headed by single mothers. Especially in the cases of wards 7 and 8, there is a significant black non-Hispanic population. Among all students who participate in the OSP, the demographics seem similar to the ward-specific demographics. The families of participants in the OSP have an average annual household income of $20,575 (D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, 2014). Over 83% of students are African-American, and 14% are Hispanic. Only .3% identify as white. 61% of students receive other government assistance. Students receiving these benefits typically come from single-parent homes with three children. The remaining 39% of OSP participants typically come from two-parent, two-child homes. These numbers are slightly economically worse than the numbers for the wards at large, but are still fairly representative of the populations from which the majority of OSP students come. There are participating schools in all of DC’s wards (D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, 2013). Unfortunately, though, there is no data detailing where students from each ward go to school. The largest number of participating private schools are in Ward 3, closely followed by Wards 4, 5, and 8. Thus, while it

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seems likely that students would try to attend schools in their own area, there is no way of confirming this, and any measurement of improvement based on transfer to a safer or more economically stable ward is unavailable. Though it would be convenient to look at the DC Public School System on a ward-by-ward basis, because there is limited available information about which wards OSP students actually choose to attend school in, the following section will discuss the DC Public Schools in the aggregate. However, for purposes of illustration, the image below depicts the locations of OSP applicants as compared with the locations of schools. It implies that there is necessarily some movement between wards to enable the success of OSP. The DC Public Schools (DCPS) are in poor condition, with a 2014 high school graduation cohort rate of 58.3%.2 This is a 22.7-point disparity when compared with a national high school graduation rate of about 81% (in 2012) (National Center for Education Statistics, 2014). Likewise, test scores are often significantly lower than the national average. Though this has improved in recent years, there has been a trend nationally of improved test scores, so the relative gains in DC are marginal (National Center for Education Statistics, 2013). In Grade 4 Mathematics testing, DC students are 11 points (about 5%) behind the national average. By Grade 8, they are 19 points (or 6.7%) behind the national average. Similar trends appear in Reading and Writing evaluations. But perhaps the most alarming disparity is in Grade 8 Science testing, where DC students average 39 points (25.9%) behind their peers across the nation (Ibid).3 The context in which the OSP operates has three relevant findings. First, the OSP exists in a large DC economy, but one which seems to be offset by significant outliers, as the predominately affluent DC has many residents who are quite poor. Second, over 60% of OSP students come from three of DC’s poorest wards, where ___________________________________ 2

The four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate is the number of students who graduate in four

years with a regular high school diploma divided by the number of students who form the adjusted cohort for the graduating class. For any given cohort, students who are entering grade 9 for the first time form a cohort that is subsequently “adjusted” by adding any students who transfer into the cohort later during the next three years and subtracting any students who transfer out, emigrate to another country, or are deceased during that same period. The percent of students graduated divided by the total cohort of students it eh adjusted cohort graduation rate. In the case of the five year rate, the cohort can be modified only for permanent incapacitation and death and additional graduates are added regardless of what school or sector they graduate from. (taken from attachments/2014_ACGR_summary_wnongrad.pdf) 3

All of these point differences are based on a scale system of 500 points, and do not represent

percentage scores on tests. Additionally, the numbers have improved quite dramatically over the past two decades. However, the numbers presented represent the current data.

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crime is high and investment is low. In these neighborhoods, single-mother homes are common, and income is generally low. The OSP student population is fairly representative of this, perhaps even representing a slightly lower standard of living than is typical for these wards. Finally, the DCPS have a dramatically high dropout rate and alarmingly low standardized test scores, clearly suggesting that something is not working properly in the system.

The OSP: Costs and Fiscal Impacts Funding for DC students is based on a Uniform Per-Student Funding Formula (UPSFF), which designates a certain amount of money that must be spent on each student based on their grade level. This amount increases with the student’s grade level (Aud & Michos, 2006). The OSP operates under a different funding structure, and thus does not require the same federal funds to be applied to each student. Instead, under OSP, a scholarship is given to the student to cover a maximum of $8,381 in grades K-8 and $12,572 in grades 9-12 (DC Investment Trust Corporation, 2015). Thus, in a traditional funding structure, the OSP saves a significant amount of money. In 2006, the Cato Institute calculated $7,958,402 in annual savings to DC. At this time, scholarship amounts were somewhat smaller and fewer students were enrolled, so it is quite probable that this number would now be increased (Aud & Michos, 2006). However, that does not consider the actual cost of the voucher program. It seems logical that federal spending on private schools would cost taxpayers substantially more than public schools. Yet the DC scholarship ends up being overall cheaper than traditional DCPS funding. According to a report of the DCPS: DCPS is initially planning to spend $488M to directly fund schools in FY12. The average per pupil expenditure* breaks down as follows: • Elementary: $10,569/student • K-8: $10,899/student • Middle School: $10,888/student • High School: $9,796/student *Per Pupil funding is determined by dividing total student enrollment by total budget allocation. The minimum per pupil funding is $8,400/student. No school will fund their students below this level. (District of Columbia Public Schools, 2011). These figures can be compared to the previously-stated amounts of a maximum of $8,381 in grades K-8 and $12,572 in grades 9-12. On average, a student in grades K-8 costs DC $2,518 less per year when enrolled in OSP than when enrolled in

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DCPS. A student in high school costs about $2,776 more per year when enrolled in OSP than when enrolled in DCPS. Thus, a student using the OSP only in high school, and additionally for as much as four years prior to high school, costs DC additional money. However, if students are enrolled at any point in grades K-8, they save DC money. These savings can also apply in high school, provided the student was enrolled in the OSP for at least five years in grades K-8 (or less if the student does not remain enrolled for all four years of high school). According to a U.S. Department of Education report, 77.5% of applicant parents whose children are in grades K-5 will accept the scholarship, as opposed to 68.8% of those in grades 6-8, and 50.6% in grades 9-12 (Betts et al., 2014). Though the numbers are unavailable regarding how many students apply in each of these categories, it is certain that parents of younger students are far more likely to accept the scholarship than others. Regardless of how long these younger students stay in the program, they will save DC money. Older students will vary their savings depending on when they join the program, and for how long they stay. A potential problem with measuring the true economic effects of the OSP in this manner is that although students from particularly poor schools and neighborhoods are given priority, the program does not prevent others from applying, so long as they fall within the general guidelines. According to the Department of Education, students who previously attended a private school are significantly more likely to accept a scholarship offer than those who come from schools in need of improvement (Betts et al., 2014). Additionally, the money is given directly to parents. This certainly creates a high level of risk. The Government Accountability Office was concerned about this funding method, and a number of other issues within the structure of the OSP internal framework. A brief look at these concerns helps explain the larger financial structure of the OSP. The GAO found in 2007 that sometimes tuition fees were paid to schools which would not have normally accepted tuition from poor students. This violated the established internal controls, and demonstrated the need for stronger internal regulation. Additionally, rapid turnover of staff and growth of the program increased the risk of further irresponsible action. Because the changes happened so quickly, the Washington Scholarship Fund (WSF), which administers the OSP, used manual data entry rather than automated entry. This substantially increased the risk of mismanaged funds and misrepresented numbers. There were also some concerns about fraudulent spending (Government Accountability Office, 2007). However, this report was issued in 2007. In 2013, the GAO produced another report. In this report, the concerns about tuition payments and fraudulent spending seem to have been mostly addressed, and many of the concerns of rapid turnover were also addressed.

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However, manual data entry remained a concern. More importantly, the GAO was very concerned about whether participant schools were compliant with government regulations (Government Accountability Office, 2013). There was also concern that the internal regulations were not followed by the WSF. The primary concern of the GAO was that schools were not checked for compliance with safety regulations. Outside the scope of the WSF’s control, the GAO noted that the Department of Education did not provide assistance which it had offered to the OSP administrators, especially in relation to detailed information about participating private schools for potential OSP families. Each of these concerns points to potential abuse within the system. Parents could use money fraudulently, data could be entered incorrectly, and schools could violate regulations. Any benefit from the program must certainly be weighed against the potential harm. However, there is little data to validate these concerns.

Academic and Economic Effects There are several academic effects that should be addressed in a discussion of the OSP. However, it is very important to recognize first that the OSP accepts few new students each year, so the population representation remains somewhat stagnant. In 2014, of 3,672 applicants—including 1,898 returning students—1,442 students used awards at participating OSP schools. Only 176 were new award students, although 285 new awards were distributed, meaning that some students did not return for some period of time after previously using the scholarship, but returned for the present school year (D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation, 2014 a). This means that any impacts that are found will tend to be limited in their reach, because few new students are affected each year. Yet it also means that impacts are more measurable. There seem to be three possibilities for students transferring from public to private high schools. First, students could find private schools too rigorous and as a result experience a higher likelihood of dropping out of school and lowered test scores. Second, students could receive much more attention and a better academic atmosphere, thus causing them to improve their test scores and likelihood of graduation. Finally, these outside factors could be too weak to mitigate past educational experience and home environments, making any effect so small it would be almost unnoticeable, if not nonexistent. Examination of this data informs and interpretation of the more indirect economic effects of the OSP. An extensive 2010 Department of Education-commissioned report examined the academic effects of the OSP by comparing the academic performance of applicants who did and did not receive the scholarship. After three

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years, those with scholarships performed much higher on reading tests in five of ten subgroups (showing an additional three to four months worth of additional learning in the same thirty month time frame). However, this was not true of students who entered the program with lower achievement levels, and was specific only to reading, not math or writing. Science tests were not examined in this study (Institute of Education Sciences, 2010). Another portion of the study examined six subgroups based on previous school performance, past student academic performance, and student gender. After four years in the program, those most positively affected by the OSP were students from somewhat better schools, those with higher academic performance, and female students. These students were only affected in their reading scores. Other students were unaffected (Institute of Education Sciences, 2010). Three caveats must be placed on an understanding of this research. First, the study notes that these may not be accurate discoveries. Second, this study did not consider race or income in their own subgroups. Third, it is imperative to note that there was an overall upward trend of reading scores, when subgroups were disregarded. Perhaps the most measurable discovery of the 2010 study was that use of a scholarship raised a student’s likelihood of graduation by 21 percentage points (and 12 points simply if the offer of a scholarship was made). This was especially noticeable among students from schools in need of improvement (SINI), and among higher-performing students and females (Institute of Education Sciences, 2010). This is extremely important, especially since the OSP administrators report that 98.1% of OSP enrollees would otherwise attend a SINI (D.C. Investment Trust Corporation, 2014). The 2013-2014 Program Summary also noted that 89% of 12th grade students attending OSP schools graduated in 2014. Of these graduates, 98% chose to attend two-year or four-year college. It is unclear whether the report is suggesting that these numbers are about OSP students specifically, or all students at the school. This ambiguity does cast uncertainty on the numbers. Still, the data is much better than at DCPS. These findings pose significant economic ramifications. In 2011, the Alliance for Excellent Education published a report considering the economic impact of high school dropouts by evaluation of income and employment rate. Using 2009 data, the study noted that “the average annual income for a high school dropout was $19,540, compared to $27,380 for a high school graduate, a difference of $7,840.” The number increased to $46,930 for those with bachelor’s degrees, a $27,390 difference from high school dropouts. Unemployment rates were at 14.3% for dropouts, as compared with 9.6% for high school graduates, and 4.3% for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher,

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a 10 percentage point difference between high school dropouts and bachelor degree-holders. Though these numbers are not adjusted for inflation and are not specific to DC, they do point to a general trend of dropouts having difficulty with job placement (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2011). Higher pay means a higher GDP, higher government revenue from taxes, higher employment rates, and a higher quality of life. The economic significance, then, of such a dramatically increased high school graduation rate, cannot be ignored, though it must be explored with great care. High school graduation can also serve as a safeguard against high-risk behaviors. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2009, youth from low-income families are far more likely than their peers to be charged with an adult crime by age 24: 20% of low-income youth will be charged with adult crimes, as opposed to 16% of youth from middle-income families and only 12% of youth from high-income families (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2009). Many OSP students come from this group, making these statistics very economically relevant, due to the high cost of crime. However, it is difficult to control for home environment, so other, more controllable factors must also be considered. It is therefore useful to recognize that “67 percent of inmates in America’s state prisons, 56 percent of federal inmates, and 69 percent of inmates in local jails did not complete high school” (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2013). Although this data does not provide a direct link between the two factors, the overwhelmingly high percentages do seem to suggest the likelihood of a relationship between education and crime. According to the same study, if DC saw a five-percent increase in male high school graduation rates, the crime-related savings would be $18.5 million, and the additional earnings would be $1.8 million, for a total benefit to the District of $20.3 million. This was based on a consideration of incarceration costs, crime anticipation costs, and other related costs. Thus, though the evidence is currently inconclusive, there is a possibility of a very positive impact on crime and job rates from the OSP.

Conclusion The OSP is an innovative initiative with economically complex inputs and outcomes. It attempts to solve the educational woes of DC’s poorest families by a new means. But, with all the data laid out, we can now analyze the economic impact of the program. Although the DC economy at large is relatively affluent, about 23,000 residents are still classified as low-income. OSP students come from this economic group. A sizeable percentage of OSP students (about 40%) come from

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DC wards 7 and 8, which are the poorest areas in the District. The students who come from these wards are somewhat representative of the area’s poverty, though they arguably are even slightly poorer than the typical family from their ward. Furthermore, the DC Public School system at large is failing—a problem likely exacerbating the difficult situation for poor students. Within the DCPS system, only slightly more than half of entering freshman will graduate high school in four years. This system costs $10,000 to $11,000 per student per year. Meanwhile, the Opportunity Scholarship Program, currently limited in its scope, takes students from the worst schools and provides them with scholarships to attend the best schools. This costs as much as about $8,000 per student per year in elementary and middle school, and as much as $12,575 per student per year in high school. Thus it is fiscally beneficial in elementary and middle school. It is more expensive in high school, but this effect may be mitigated and even reversed by extended participation in the program prior to high school. The academic results of the program are marginal when measured by test scores. However, when measured in terms of graduation rate, the results are extremely positive. One study found the likelihood of high school graduation to be around 20%. An official report of the OSP administrators suggested that of those who do graduate, nearly all (98%) will attend college. The implied effects of these findings are encouraging: increased pay and savings in crime could save the District millions. However, to do so would require a broadened program or other efforts to increase graduation rates across the board. Moving forward, two areas of study in particular would be helpful in determining the impacts of the program. First, where do students from each ward end up attending school, and how does that impact the school? It seems probable that bringing in students from poor neighborhoods and failing schools would have some impact on the school at large. This study would also provide better information for understanding the impact of location on performance, as opposed to the impact strictly of educational improvement. Second, where are students employed after graduation? Clearly there are significant improvements in graduation rates. Graduation creates a higher likelihood of improving job rates and lowering crime. However, there is no conclusive evidence that this is the case in DC. Further study would provide insightful information. It is clear that the Opportunity Scholarship provides a chance to save taxpayers money and allow them to use it as they wish. It benefits not only the taxpayer, but also the student by potentially opening up large new op-

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portunities for them. Currently, nearly half of DC’s students drop out of high school, or otherwise do not complete high school in four years. Perhaps the Opportunity Scholarship is an opportunity to make that reality a thing of the past.

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References Alliance for Excellent Education. (2013). Saving futures, saving dollars: The impact of education on crime reduction and earnings. Retrieved from: http:// Aud, S. L., & Michos, L. (2006). Spreading freedom and saving money: The fiscal impact of the D.C. voucher program. Cato Institute and Milton & Rose D. Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. Retrieved from: http://www. Betts, J., Dynarski, M., Feldman, J., Gutmann, B., Lucas-McLean, J., & Silverberg, M. (2014). Evaluation of the DC opportunity scholarship program: An early look at applicants and participants under the SOAR act. Retrieved from: Brown, A., Griffin, S. S., Hayes, C. D., Katz, I., Myers, J., Ravindranath, N., & Silverstein, J. (2013). Cost of student achievement: Report of the DC education adequacy study. The Finance Project. Retrieved from: http://dme. ADEQUACY%20STUDY_FULL%20REPORT.pdf. Bureau of Economic Analysis. (2014). Widespread but slower growth in 2013. Department of Commerce. Retrieved from: newsreleases/regional/gdp_state/gsp_newsrelease.htm. Bureau of Economic Analysis. (2015). Regional data: GDP & personal income. Retrieved from: #reqid=70&step=10&isuri=1&707=2013&7093=levels&7090=70&7035=1&7036=-1&7001=21000&7002=2&7003=1000&7004=nai cs&7005=1&7006=47900. Burke, L., & Butcher, J. (2013). Expanding education choices: From vouchers and tax credits to savings accounts. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved from: Campbell, D. E., Howell, W. G., Peterson, P. E., & Wolf, P. J. (2000). Test-score effects of school vouchers in Dayton, Ohio, New York City, and Washington, D.C.: Evidence from randomized field trials. Retrieved from: http://www.

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Carr, M., Eissa, N., Gutmann, B., Kisida, B., Puma, M., Rizzo, L., Wolf, P. (2010). Evaluation of the DC opportunity scholarship program: Final report. Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved from: pubs/20104018/pdf/20104018.pdf Cauthen, N. K., Dinan, K. A., & Lazere, E. (2005). Low-income families in the District of Columbia: Results from the family resource simulator. Retrieved D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation. (2013). Participating school directory. Retrieved from: uploads/2013/10/School-Directory-13-14-English.pdf D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation. (2014). Program fact sheet: D.C. opportunity scholarship program 2014-15. Retrieved from: http:// Fac%20Sheet%20-%20SY%202014-15%20-%202014_11_19.pdf. D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation. (2014). Program summary: D.C. opportunity scholarship program 2013-14. Retrieved from: Data/2014_06_03%20DC%20OSP%20Program%20Summary.pdf. D.C. Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation. (2015). How it works. Retrieved from: District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education. (2015). DC 2014 Adjusted cohort 4-year graduation rate: (2010-11 9th grade class). Retrieved from: publication/attachments/2014_ACGR_summary_wnongrad.pdf. District of Columbia Public Schools. (2011). Fast facts: Budget FY12. Retrieved from: Budget+and+Finance/FY12+Fiscal+Report+Card/Fast+Facts. Economist, The. (2011). Blooming. Retrieved from: node/18561085 Eissa, N., Gutmann, B., Puma, M., Silverberg, M., & Wolf, P. (2007). Evaluation of the DC opportunity scholarship program: Impacts after one year. Institute of Education Sciences. Retrieved from:

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Fang, H., French, M. T., & McCollister, K. E. (2010). The cost of crime to society: New crime-specific estimates for policy and program evaluation. Drug Alcohol Depend. Retrieved from: articles/PMC2835847/ Government Accountability Office. (2007). District of Columbia opportunity scholarship program: Additional policies and procedures would improve internal controls and program operations. Retrieved from: http://www.gao. gov/new.items/d089.pdf Government Accountability Office. (2013). District of Columbia opportunity scholarship program: Actions needed to address weaknesses in administration and oversight. Retrieved from: assets/660/658416.pdf Greene, J. P., & Winters, M. A. (2006). An evaluation of the effect of D.C.’s voucher program on public school achievement and racial integration after one year. Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. Retrieved from: http:// Johnson, K. A. (2005). How school choice programs can save money. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved from: reports/2005/04/how-school-choice- programs-can-save-money Justice Policy Institute. (2007). Education and public safety. Retrieved from: educationandpublicsafety_ps-ac.pdf Justice Policy Institute. (2012). The education of D.C.: How Washington D.C.’s investments in education can help increase public safety. http://www. pdf Lips, D., Muhlhausen, D. B., & Soifer, D. (2009). School safety in Washington, D.C.: New data for the 2007-2008 school year. The Heritage Foundation. Retrieved from: research/reports/2009/09/school-safety-in-washington-dc-new-datafor-the-2007-2008-school-year. National Center for Education Statistics. (2013). State profiles: District of columbia. Retrieved from:

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National Center for Education Statistics. (2014). Public high school graduation rates. Retrieved from: Neighborhood Info DC. (2010). Neighborhood profiles: 2012 Council wards. Retrieved from: Reed, J. (2013). Poverty rates remain high for some groups of DC residents. DC Fiscal Policy Institute. Retrieved from: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2009). Youth from low-income families. Retrieved from: index.shtml U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). The HHS poverty guidelines for the remainder of 2010: August 2010. Retrieved from: http:// U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (2010). Uniform act (URA) income limits. Retrieved from: ura/ura10/map/DC_URA.pdf. World Bank. (2015). GDP per capita: US$. Retrieved from: http://data.

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Appendix A

Source: Betts et al. (2014)

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THE HEALTHY, HUNGER-FREE KIDS ACT Matthew Hoke Abstract From 2009-2010, the rate of obesity among children and adolescents in the United States was 16.9% (CDC NCHS Data Brief, 2012). In light of this problem, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) into law on December 13, 2010. This study will evaluate the HHFKA, focusing on the primary goal of the law: decreasing the rate of childhood obesity in the United States. This study will evaluate the diverse causes of childhood obesity in the United States, examine the provisions of the HHFKA, and evaluate the unforeseen reactions to the implementation of this policy. This study will utilize both qualitative and quantitative data to conduct this evaluation. ___________________________________

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Introduction The bell rings. It is the end of another school day at New Oxford Middle School. The freezing wind and snow of December make it impossible to play soccer outside. As a result, Freddy walks to the locker room to change for indoor soccer practice. However, he is embarrassed that he has to change with the rest of the soccer players. Like 16.9% of children and adolescents in 2010, Freddy is obese (CDC NCHS Data Brief, 2012). He tires of being teased during soccer practices. When other kids tell him that he is too slow or his coach tells him to get after the ball like he would a Big Mac, Freddy becomes even more discouraged and depressed. For kids like Freddy, every day is a struggle as they wrestle with the emotional, physical, and social stress that accompany obesity. However, Freddy does not know that on that December morning, President Barack Obama signed a law titled the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. At the signing of the bill, the President stated the following: At a very basic level, this act is about doing what’s right for our children. Right now, across the country, too many kids don’t have access to school meals. And often, the food that’s being offered isn’t as healthy or as nutritious as it should be. That’s part of the reason why one in three children in America today are either overweight or obese. And we’re seeing this problem in every part of the country in kids from all different backgrounds and all walks of life. As a result, doctors are now starting to see conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes in children…And this bill is also about doing what’s right for our country, because we feel the strains that treating obesity-related health conditions puts on our economy (Obama, 2010). The Federal Government recognized the plight of these children and decided to do something about the prevelence of childhood obesity. Fast forward to two years since that winter day. Freddy is now a freshman at New Oxford High School. While he has not lost any weight, he still plays soccer. All of the problems associated with his weight that plagued him in 2010 continue to plague him in 2012. However, Freddy has noticed a shift in the menu options of the school cafeteria. The a la carte line that used to sell the pizza and candy bars that he readily consumed has been removed. Instead, Freddy is required to eat the new healthy lunches regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Every lunch, Freddy is required to place an apple on his tray.

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Because of the influence of his parents, Freddy never liked fruit. So, instead of eating the apple, he tosses it into the box designated for Mrs. Gates’ horse. The paltry lunch that Freddy is given hardly satisfies him. Although Freddy struggles with hunger throughout the day, he refuels when he goes home, where there is a large amount of unhealthy, calorie laden food. What did the HHFKA stipulate? What are the causes of childhood obesity? What have been the immediate results of the HHFKA’s implementation? This study seeks to answer these questions. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) put forth nutrition standards in compliance with the HHFKA on January 26, 2012 (USDA, 2014), a little over three years ago. However, three years is too short of a time frame to evaluate whether or not the HHFKA has decreased the rate of childhood obesity in the United States. Yet, by analyzing the causes of childhood obesity and the HHFKA’s implementation, is it likely that the HHFKA will succeed in decreasing the rate of childhood obesity in the United States? The hypothesis of this study is that the HHFKA will fail to reduce the rate of childhood obesity in the United States.

Literature Review One of the goals of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 was to reduce the rate of childhood obesity in the United States (Public Law 111–296, 2010). The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines an obese child as any individual from 2-19 years old whose BMI is at or exceeds the 95th percentile for individuals of the same gender and age (CDC, 2012). In addition, the CDC defines an overweight child as any individual from the ages of 2-19 years old whose BMI is at or above the 85th percentile, while being lower than the 95th percentile, for individuals of the same age and gender (CDC, 2012). The rate of childhood obesity, according to the CDC, was 16.9% in 2009-2010 for children and adolescents ages two to nineteen (2012). Since obesity increases the risk of health issues including type-two diabetes, hypertension, and adverse lipid concentrations, obesity is a dangerous phenomenon to the well being of the United States (NCHS Data Brief, 2012). In addition to its adverse health effects, obesity incurs giant healthcare costs. According to the American Diabetes Association, the cost of diagnosed diabetes in 2012 was $245 billion, an increase from $174 billion in 2007. For these two reasons, danger to the health of children and the great financial cost of diabetes, the Federal Government became involved in the fight against childhood obesity with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. President Obama blamed the deficiency of nutrition in school lunches as one of the reasons for childhood obesity in the United States, implying that schools have an effect on childhood obesity.

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However, it is uncertain whether or not schools have this stated effect. Robert Colin Carter (2002) argues that schools have a role to play in the prevention of childhood obesity. He cites the fact that since “more than 25 million students use the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) daily,” and “approximately 7 million utilize the National School Breakfast Program (NSBP) daily,” schools can have a considerable influence on the weight of children. Carter also advocates for “school programs that encourage physical activity” since such programs may encourage activity later in life. A later study, however, examines the effect that schools have on the Body Mass Index (BMI) of a sampling of 5,380 children in 310 schools (Von Hippel, Downey, & Rowland, 2007). The study shows that the BMI of children increased more during the summer between their kindergarten and first grade year than during the time they spent in school. The causes of childhood obesity are diverse and complex. Child eating habits can be related to a number of variables, including a child’s food preference, the availability of food; the parent’s attitude toward food; the parent’s modeled food patterns; and the family’s meal structure, feeding structure, and ethnic influences (Patrick and Nicklas, 2005). In addition, influences outside the classroom may impact the eating habits of teenagers. The categories of influences are individual, interpersonal, community, and societal (Story, Neumark-Sztainer, & French, 2002). These external factors may play a greater role in the development of childhood obesity. Like any legislation, the implementation of the HHFKA has its supporters and detractors. Supporters of the law have showcased schools successfully promoting the legislation through new healthy lunch recipes, reinvented old lunch items, school projects on healthy food, and held a healthy food cooking competition (Rice, 2011). Additionally, Ethan A. Bergman et al. (2014) analyzes the nutrient intakes of school lunches from four elementary schools in Washington that had been recipients of the Healthier U.S. School Challenge (HUSSC) in 2012, before the implementation of HHFKA and in 2013, after the implementation of HHFKA. The results of this study lead the researchers to conclude that, “The current study indicates that the HHFKA is generally improving the quality of the diet offered to children in elementary schools” (Ibid.). However, the opposition to the HHFKA argues that it poses a potential risk to schoolchildren. First, the requirements of the HHFKA will increase expenses, resulting in lower participation in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). Some schools have, therefore, withdrawn from the NSLP to avoid the new rules imposed by the HHFKA. This may result in children who were eligible for NSLP no longer having access to free or reduced price meals, putting them at greater risk for food insecurity. Second, because of the stringent guidelines on the con-

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tent of school meals, kids may be less likely to eat what is served, resulting in a decline in the number of free meals actually consumed. Third, for many disadvantaged children lunch is the main meal of the day. So, while children with sufficient food availability will be able to make up for the deficiency of calories in school lunches, less affluent children will not. In addition, the healthy meals propagated by the HHFKA may not result in a decrease in obesity for two reasons. First, children from food-secure families will be able to replenish the calories that they did not receive in their school meals. Second, the decrease in school participation in the NSLP will result in students packing lunches to take to school. If kids are consuming healthier food through packed lunches or local restaurants than the food in school lunches, these children may not be at risk for obesity. However, if the packed lunches or other meal options are not healthier than school lunches, these children may be at risk for obesity (Gunderson, 2014).

Data and Methods In order to understand whether the HHFKA will reduce childhood obesity, this study divides the research into two sections. The first section will examine whether a child’s characteristics, family, or community cause childhood obesity, utilizing a model anchored in Ecological Systems Theory (EST). EST asserts that, “development, or change in individual characteristics, cannot be effectively explained without consideration of the context, or ecological niche, in which the person is embedded” (Davison and Birch, 2001). The manifestation of EST for the child is that, “development occurs as a result of interactions within and among these contexts; that is, characteristics of the child interact with processes in the family and the school, which themselves are influenced by characteristics of the community and the society at large” (Ibid.). Davison and Birch’s study discusses childhood obesity and child overweight simultaneously and does not clearly differentiate between them. However, they are not the only researchers to analyze child overweight and obesity in the same study (Evans, Finkelstein, Kamerow, & Renaud, 2002 and Kropski, Keckley, and Jensen, 2008). The first section of the research will focus solely on studies analyzing childhood obesity since that is what the HHFKA explicitly addresses; the focus is not on child overweight (Public Law 111–296, 2010). Yet, a study discussing child overweight with childhood obesity and assigning the same causes to each is still beneficial to the research. Figure 1.1 illustrates EST when applied to childhood obesity:

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Figure 1.1 EST Applied to Childhood Obesity

Davison and Birch consider the bolded words in the first ring to be “child risk factors” and the italicized words in the first ring to be mitigating factors on the “child risk factor” (2001). In addition, the outer two rings influence the development of the child risk factors. Our study will utilize a concept derived from Figure 1.1 and an observation to form the structure of the first part of the research. The concept from Figure 1.1 is that all three levels affect childhood obesity. Our study will look at which level affects obesity more. It is clear from this model that the causes of childhood obesity are diverse and complex. The first section of the research will seek to answer these questions and illustrate this complexity. The second section of the research will focus on unforeseen effects in the implementation of the HHFKA.

Research Child, Family, and Community The HHFKA is an expansive bill addressing seven federal food programs, including WIC, SNAP, all CN Programs, a Child and Adult Care Food Program, a Summer Food Service Program, the National School Breakfast Program (NSBP), and the National School Lunch program (NSLP). It is outside the scrope of this

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study to attempt to discuss all of the provisions in this large bill and the changes made to each federal food program. Therefore, this study will only examine the provisions that fall under Title II, Subtitle A—the NSLP (Public Law 111–296, 2010). However, the provisions in this subtitle would also apply to the NSBP. The purpose of this study is to see whether the HHFKA will reduce childhood obesity. The only way to reduce childhood obesity is to directly address the subject of the problem: children, their family, and their community. Since the provisions in Subtitle A directly address children, the nutritional content of school meals, and the amount of exercise they receive in school, it is the sole object of examination for this paper (Public Law 111–296, 2010). Section 201 “requires the USDA to publish a proposed lunch pattern regulations within eighteen months” of the enactment of the bill and to publish “interim or final regulations” on school lunches within eighteen months after the proposal (USDA, 2014). In addition, this section offers a reimbursement of six cents per lunch to School Food Authorities (SFAs) that are in compliance with the final nutritional regulations. According to the USDA, a school food authority is “the governing body which is responsible for the administration of one or more schools; and has the legal authority to operate child nutrition programs therein or be otherwise approved by USDA to operate the programs” (US Legal, 2015). In addition, Section 202 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act removes the need for schools to offer liquid milk in a variety of fat contents. In place of the former provision, schools are now required to offer milk in accordance with the National Nutrition Monitoring and Related Research Act of 1990 (Public Law 111–296, 2010). Section 203 requires that schools involved in the National School Lunch Program have free drinking water available for students at all school meals. These provisions all apply to both the NSLP and the NSBP. Section 204 of the HHFKA mandates that the U.S. Department of Agriculture establish regulations for local wellness policies (Public Law 111–296, 2010). According to the HHFKA, schools participating in the National School Lunch Program—either because of the HHFKA or the Child Nutrition Act of 1966—implement those policies. The minimum requirements for educational institutions’ wellness policies include “goals for nutrition promotion and education, physical activity, and other school-based activities that promote student wellness,” as well as the guarantee that all food on campus conforms to the regulations of the HHFKA or the Child Nutrition Act. Section 205 addresses “equity in school lunch pricing,” requiring that, beginning on July 1, 2011, schools “charge students for paid meals at a price that is on average equal to the difference between free meal reimbursement and paid meal reimbursement” (USDA, 2014). In addition, this provision requires “schools that currently charge less to

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gradually increase their prices over time until they meet the requirement” (Ibid.) Lastly, “schools may choose to cover the difference in revenue with non-Federal funds instead of raising paid meal prices” (Ibid.). Section 206 applies only to the NSLP and requires that all non-reimbursable foods sold by the school food service must generate revenue at least equal to their cost” (HHFKA summary). Section 207 authorizes the Secretary of the USDA to establish an evaluation system to ensure that schools that participate in the NSLP or NSBP are in compliance with the nutritional standards required under each program (Public Law 111–296, 2010). Section 208 requires the USDA to establish national nutrition standards for all foods sold during the school day. The law directed the USDA to align their nutritional standards to the “Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” In addition, the HHFKA mandated that the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture consider “authoritative scientific recommendations for nutrition standards,” “existing school nutrition standards” at the state or local level, the “practical application of nutrition standards,” and an exemption to foods sold in school fundraisers, as long as they are infrequent and approved by the school. Section 209 requires the public dissemination of information relating to food safety inspection, participation in school meal programs, the quality of program meals, and local wellness policies (Public Law 111–296, 2010). This provision may promote the overall health of American children because parents may imitate positive aspects of the NSLP and NSBP. Additionally, the dissemination of this information would allow parents to speak out against problems with implementation or abuses in the program. Section 210 directs the USDA to establish an “Organic Food Pilot Program,” by providing competitive grants to SFAs who increase the “quantity of organic foods provided to schoolchildren” (Ibid.). In deciding which SFA to give the grant to, the Secretary of Agriculture must give preference to SFAs who have 50% or more of its students beneath the poverty line. Additionally, he must consider the commitment of SFAs to improving the nutritional content of school meals, to run programs that bring about the health and wellness of the children, and to evaluate the result of the organic food pilot program (Public Law 111–296, 2010). Finally, he must consider whether the SFAs have met any criteria that he has determined to be necessary (Public Law 111–296, 2010). After examining the provisions of the law, we can see clearly the singular strategy of the bill. The HHFKA only addresses the first level of the three-level model: child characteristics and child risk factors. The provisions discussed above only address the children’s dietary intake and physical activity. The requirement for the dissemination of information may indirectly affect the second ring of the model, parenting style and family characteristics. Yet, the probability of this

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statement cannot be established. Thus, the HHFKA does not address the two other levels of the model. This is problematic because the other levels impact childhood obesity as well. While poor nutritional diets and physical inactivity play a role in the current epidemic of childhood obesity, they are not the sole causes. As a result, addressing these two factors will not fix the childhood obesity epidemic in the United States. A study titled The Effects of School on Overweight in Childhood: Gain in Body Mass Index During the School Year and During Summer Vacation points to causes of childhood obesity beyond the school year. In order to conduct their study, the researchers utilized “data from a survey administered by the National Center for Education Statistics: the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Cohort (ECLS-K)” (Von Hippel, Powell, Downey, & Rowland, 2007). This survey was composed of “17,212 children in 992 schools” who “were followed from the beginning of kindergarten in fall 1998 to the end of first grade in spring 2000” (Von Hippel, Powell, Downey, and Rowland, 2007). According to the CDC: Body Mass Index (BMI) is a number calculated from a person’s weight and height. BMI is a fairly reliable indicator of body fatness for most people. BMI does not measure body fat directly, but research has shown that BMI correlates to direct measures of body fat, such as underwater weighing and dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA).1, 2 BMI can be considered an alternative for direct measures of body fat (CDC, 2015). The BMI measurements of these students during kindergarten, the summer between kindergarten and the first grade, and during the first grade were compared. What this study found was that the average BMI for children entering kindergarten was 16.205 units (Von Hippel, Powell, Downey, and Rowland, 2007). During kindergarten, children gained an average of .020 BMI units each month (Von Hippel, Powell, Downey, and Rowland, 2007). During summer vacation, children gained an average of .076 BMI unites each month (Von Hippel, Powell, Downey, and Rowland, 2007). Lastly, in first grade, children gained an average of .033 BMI units each month (Von Hippel, Powell, Downey, and Rowland, 2007). As a result, the authors make the inference that perhaps schools cannot be completely blamed for the BMI increases of children from these minority groups (Von Hippel, Powell, Downey, and Rowland, 2007). Figure 2.1 shows the findings of Von Hippel, Downey, and Rowland:

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Figure 2.1 Rates of Childhood Obesity from Kindergarten to the First Grade

The findings of this study demonstrate that the first level—child characteristics and risk factors—does not affect childhood obesity by itself. Something outside of school, where obesity prevention programs focus on a child’s nutritional intake and activity, caused the increase in the BMI of the children in the study. That something is nurture, the influence of family and society. It is outside the scope of this paper to discuss all the causes of childhood obesity. However, it is completely possible to examine one cause from each of the three levels of influence—the child’s characteristics, the family, and the society that the child resides in. We will first examine one cause from the level of child characteristics and risk factors—the dietary intake of children. James and Kerr (2005) conclude that soft drink consumption has a great effect on childhood obesity. David Ludwig, Karen Peterson, and Steven Gortmaker (2001) analyzed a group of 548 students over a two year; after adjusting for “anthropometric, demographic, dietary, and lifestyle variables, they find that for each additional serving of a sugar-sweetened beverage, soda, fruit drinks, or tea consumed BMI and the frequency of obesity increased. In addition, each “additional sugar sweetened drink consumed each day” increased the odds ratio of becoming obese by 1.6 times (James and Kerr, 2005). Clearly, the impact of these beverages on childhood obesity shows that

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the dietary intake of children effects childhood obesity. The HHFKA seeks to address the dietary intake of the United States’ schoolchildren by requiring the USDA to promulgate regulations concerning healthy meals. Thus, the HHFKA does address the effect of dietary intake on childhood obesity. However, the causes of childhood obesity do not only spring from all levels of the model. One influence on childhood obesity found in the second level of the model is the type of food available in the home. Parents play a large role in instilling healthy eating patterns in their children, as they are the ones who determine what foods are offered, how the food will be prepared, and how often the family will eat out (Golan and Crow, 2004). In addition, the conditioning to certain flavor preferences in food with a high energy density may be the greatest among families that have such readily available. This is important because the HHFKA does not address the foods and types of foods that children will be consuming at home. As discussed above, the HHFKA addresses the dietary intake of kids in schools. It does not address the nutritional quality and quantity of the food in the home, nor the food patterns that parents establish. All that the HHFKA does to influence the second level of the model is requiring information about the program and its success to be disseminated (Public Law 111–296, 2010). Thus, perhaps parents will see the successes of the HHFKA and want to implement healthy changes into their families’ diets. Yet, this is only probable and, if it does not occur, the types of food that are available in the homes of schoolchildren could continue to influence childhood obesity. The final level of the model is community, demographic, and societal characteristics. The effect of socioeconomic status on childhood obesity falls in this level. In a study on this topic, M.S. Tremblay and J.D. Willms (2003) examined the impact of physical activity, socioeconomic status, and family structure on the weight of children ages seven to eleven years old in 13,439 Canadian households. What they found was that higher socioeconomic status resulted in a lower percentage of obesity. In addition, Tremblay and Willms say the following about their findings: Obesity and overweight are both significantly related to SES and family structure. Participation in organized sports is more strongly related to SES and family structure than other forms of activity/ inactivity. Watching TV less than 2 h/day, and more than 3 h/day is also strongly related to family background, while playing video games and watching TV 2–3 h/day are weakly related to family background. Overall, this analysis shows that SES, family structure, and activity and inactivity are ‘overlapping’ risk factors (2003).

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Figure 2.2 Relation of Obesity, Overweight, and Activity/Inactivity with Socioeconomic Status and Family Structure

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As one can see in Figure 2.2, the rate of childhood obesity is 6.4% lower in the highest quartile of society than it is in the lowest quartile of society (Tremblay and Willms, 2003). The HHFKA does not address this factor, since it focuses mainly on the causes of child nutrition and activity. Without focusing on the third level in general and socioeconomic status in particular childhood obesity in the United States will likely continue. A recent example of a dramatic decrease in childhood obesity occurred in New York City. “From 2006-2007 to 2010-2011, obesity prevalence among NYC public school students in kindergarten through eighth grade (students aged five to 14 years) decreased from 21.9% to 20.7%” (Farley and Dowell, 2014). Additionally: Obesity prevalence decreased in all age and racial/ethnic groups and in children of all school neighborhood poverty levels. Decreases in obesity prevalence were greater… in schools in neighborhoods in which fewer than 10% of residents were below the federal poverty level (7.8%) than in schools in neighborhoods in which at least 30% of residents lived in poverty (2.9%) (Ibid.). Proposed causes for this decrease include demographic changes, city-sponsored school food and physical activity changes, changes in the WIC program, day care and physical activity changes, citywide obesity prevention programs, and changes in breastfeeding (Farley and Dowell, 2014). It is impossible to attribute this reduction of childhood obesity to one cause. However, the authors say that, “the most plausible explanation is changes in food consumption at home, prompted by media messages and reinforced by school and child care center policy changes” (Ibid.). The significance of this statement is that the authors are not crediting the reduction of childhood obesity to one factor, say school programs. Rather, the success is credited to the result of three factors: school and child care center policy changes, changes in home food consumption, and media messages that prompted the change in the home. If policymakers wish to reduce childhood obesity in the United States, they must formulate a holistic policy that addresses the causes of childhood obesity found in the levels of child, family, and society. From a policy perspective, it would be nearly impossible to address all of the causes of childhood obesity listed in diagram of the model. However, perhaps all it takes to slightly reduce childhood obesity is to address a cause from each level of the model, like Farley and Dowell hypothesized in the case of New York City. Yet, the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act on its own will fail to reduce childhood obesity because it fails to address any causes of childhood obesity beyond the first level of the causes of childhood obesity.

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Unforseen Effects As mentioned in the previous section, the HHFKA does address children’s dietary intake by requiring the USDA to publish new nutrition guidelines for all foods sold in schools. However, this section of the research will focus on the regulations for school lunches, since that is where the conflict exists. According to a Government Accountability Office report, “the regulations now include maximum calorie levels for lunches, require that lunches include no trans-fat, and set future targets to reduce sodium in lunches (GAO, 2014). To that end, the USDA published its final regulations for school meals on January 26, 2012. Figures 3.1a and 3.1b illustrate the new nutritional requirements for lunches. Figure 3.1a

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Figure 3.1b

These diagrams show that the USDA’s regulations address the dietary intake of children. However, students may be dropping out of NSLP because of the new nutritional requirements. According to the GAO, the number of students who participated in the NSLP dropped by 1.2 million students (3.7%) between 2010 and 2013 (GAO, 2014). The GAO stated that “Several factors likely influenced the recent decreases in lunch participation, and while the extent to which each factor affected participation is unclear, state and local officials reported that the decreases were influenced by changes made to comply with the new lunch content and nutrition standards” (GAO, 2014) Of these factors, the GAO highlights student dislike for the new food guidelines, an increase in paid school lunches as a result of the HHFKA section 205, negative media attention, and short lunch periods (GAO, 2014). Figure 3.2 below illustrates the decrease of students participating in the National School Lunch Program.

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Figure 3.2

In addition, the GAO discovered through a survey of states that “321 SFAs in 42 states stopped participating in the National School Lunch Program in school year 2012-2013” (GAO, 2014). According to the GAO, 27 of these 42 states “reported that the new lunch requirements were a factor in some SFAs’ decisions not to participate.” Another problem with the implementation of the USDA’s regulations is that of “plate waste.” “Plate waste” can be defined by a student being required to pick up

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a fruit or vegetable with his meal as part of the school lunch but then choosing not to eat it. Out of 50 states, 48 reported that their SFAs struggled with plate waste as a result of the implementation of the USDA’s nutrition guidelines. Figure 3.3 shows the number of states whose SFA’s struggled with “plate waste.” Figure 3.3

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These facts are important because the HHFKA addressed only dietary intake and physical activity. If kids continue to drop out of the NSLP, schools continue to drop out of the NSLP, and kids that are in the NSLP continue to waste the food they are required to eat, then the HHFKA’s goal of promoting healthy eating and combating childhood obesity will be hampered. As the GAO says, “such a trend [decrease in student participation in the NSLP] would hinder the program’s ability to improve the diet and overall health of all schoolchildren” (GAO 14-104, 2014). Thus, the HHFKA is failing in one of the two causes of obesity it addressed.

Conclusion In the end, the HHFKA fails to address the three levels of impact upon childhood obesity and is also failing to address one of the two causes of childhood obesity, the dietary intake of children. As a result, the HHFKA will fail to reduce the rate of childhood obesity in the United States of America. When analyzing an issue as complex as childhood obesity, policymakers must take into consideration the levels of impact on and various causes of this epidemic. If a holistic approach is adopted, one that addresses all three levels of the model, perhaps a decrease in childhood obesity will result.

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References Bergman, Ethan A., Englund Tim, Taylor, Katie W., Watkins, Tracee, Schepman, Steven, & Rushing, Keith. (Fall 2014). School lunch before and after implementation of the Healthy Hunger-Fee Kids Act. The Journal of Child Nutrition & Management, 38(2). Carter, Robert C. (November 6, 2002). The impact of public schools on childhood obesity. JAMA, 288(17). doi:10.1001/jama.288.17.2180-JMS1106-6-1 CDC. (2012, April). Basics About Childhood Obesity. Retrieved from http://www. CDC. (2015, February). Healthy Weight – it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle! Retrieved from Davison, K. K., & Birch, L. L. (August 2001). Childhood overweight: A contextual model and recommendations for future research. Obesity Reviews, 2(3), 159171. Farley Thomas A., & Dowell, Deborah. (September 2014). Preventing childhood obesity: What are we doing right? American Journal of Public Health, 104(9), 1579-1583. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.302015 Gunderson Craig. (August 12, 2014). The potentially negative consequences associated with the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Policy Matters. Golan, Moria, & Crow, Scott. (January 2004). Parents are key players in the prevention and treatment of weight-related problems. Nutrition Reviews, 62(1), 39-50. James, J. and Kerr, D. (September 2005). Prevention of childhood obesity by reducing soft drinks. International Journal of Obesity, 29, S54-S57. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0803062 Ludwig, David S., Peterson, Karen E., and Gortmaker, Steven L. (February 2001). Relation between consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks and childhood obesity: A prospective, observational analysis. The Lancet, 357(9255), 505-508.

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Moses, S. (2014, June 30). CNY school district tells feds to keep their lunch money, healthy meal push isn’t working. Syracuse News Group. Retrieved from http:// opts_out_of_national_school_lunch_program_for_its.html National Center for Health Statistics. (2012, January). Prevalence of Obesity in the United States, 2009–2010 (No. 82). Retrieved from data/databriefs/ db82.html Obama, B., & Obama M. (2010). Remarks by the President and First Lady at the Signing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. Retrieved from https://www. Patrick, Heather, & Nicklas, Theresa A. (April 2005). A review of family and social determinants of children’s eating patterns and diet quality. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 24(2), 83-92. 24.2005.10719448 Public Law 111–296, 111th Cong., 124 STAT. 3183 (2010) (enacted). Rice, Nancy. (April 2011). Secrets to success in school nutrition. School Business Affairs, 77(4), 15-17. Song, S. (2014, May 8). Suburban School District Drops Out of Federal Lunch Program. CBS Chicago. Retrieved from http://chicago.cbslocal. com/2014/05/08/suburban-school-district-might-drop-out-of-federal-lunchprogram/ Story, Mary, Neumark-Sztainer, Dianne, & French, Simone. (March 2002). Individual and environmental influences on adolescent eating behaviors. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 102(3), S40-51. http://dx.doi. org/10.1016/s0002-8223(02)90421-9 Tremblay, M.S., & Willms, J.D. (September 2003). Is the Canadian childhood obesity epidemic related to physical inactivity? International Journal of Obesity, 27(9), 1100-1105.

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GAO: Report to Congressional Requesters. (2014).School lunch: implementing nutrition changes was challenging and clarification of oversight requirements is needed (GAO-14-104). Retrieved from products/GAO-14-104 USDA. (2014, March). Summary of Provisions by Program. Retrieved from http:// US Legal. (2015). School Food Authority Law & Legal Definition. Retrieved from Van Hook, J., & Altman, C.E. (August 8, 2011). Competitive food sales in schools and childhood obesity: A longitudinal study. Sociology of Education, 85(1), 23-39. Von Hippel, Paul T., Powell, Brian, Downey, Douglas B., & Rowland, Nicholas J. (April 2007). The effect of school on overweight in childhood: Gain in body mass index during the school year and during summer vacation. American Journal of Public Health, 97(4), 696-702. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2005.080754 WGAL News 8. (Producer). (2015). Some students opt for pizza over healthy school lunches [Video]. Available from

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THE ROAD TO NOWHERE: ASSESSING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF COMMON CORE STANDARDS IN PRODUCING OPTIMAL EDUCATION OUTCOMES William Bock IV Abstract The argument in support of national school curriculum standards sounds simple: set high standards, make all schools meet them, and watch American students achieve at high levels. It drives one of the most significant education reforms in decades: the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI). However, according to the Washington Post, the CCSSI is, “so dense, so politicized and so boring that it begs for explainers and analyses and charts.” This paper addresses whether Common Core standards actually encourage excellence or mediocrity, whether there is a relationship between national standards and enhanced student achievement, and whether Common Core will make the United States more competitive in the global market. This study concludes that the policy hinders student achievement, demonstrating that successful education comes not from universal standards but universal school choice. Only competitive federalism can produce the mix of high standards, accountability, and flexibility that is essential for optimal educational outcomes. ___________________________________

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Introduction The story of the controversy concerning the Common Core State Standards Initiative starts with Heather Crossin, an Indiana mother who sent her children to a private Catholic school. In September 2011, Heather suddenly noticed a sharp decline in the math homework her eight-year-old daughter was bringing home from school. “Instead of many arithmetic problems, the homework would contain only three or four questions, and two of those would be ‘explain your answer,’” she said in an interview conducted by the National Review. “Like, ‘One bridge is 412 feet long and the other bridge is 206 feet long. Which bridge is longer? How do you know?’” She found she could not help her daughter answer the latter question: The “correct” answer involved heavy quotations from Common Core language. This program, which was designed to encourage thought, had in actuality ended up deemphasizing performing procedures and requiring rote memorization not of math, but of scripts about math. These same problems caused Stanford mathematics professor R. James Milgram to withhold his approval from the Common Core math standards. Professor Milgram was the only mathematician on the Validation Committee reviewing the standards. He concluded that the Common Core standards are, as he told the Texas state legislature, “in large measure a political document that…is written at a very low level and does not adequately reflect our current understanding of why the math programs in the high-achieving countries give dramatically better results” (Milgram, 2011). Heather was not alone in questioning the new approach. Many parents at the school complained that the principal brought in a representative from Pearson, a textbook company, to speak to the parents. “She told us we were all so very, very lucky, because our children were using one of the very first Common Core-aligned textbooks in the country,” said Heather. But the parents did not buy what the representative was selling. “Eventually,” Heather recalled, “our principal just threw his hands up in the air and said, ‘I know parents don’t like this type of math but we have to teach it that way, because the new state assessment tests are going to use these standards’” (Gallagher, 2013). Heather’s experience—and that of many other parents—highlights an important education policy question: Do these national standards help or hinder student achievement? This study will assess the effectiveness of Common Core Standards in producing optimal education outcomes by examining their impact on student learning measures, their relation to enhanced international test scores, and the implementation of this new education approach across America.

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Literature Review Since the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983, there have been many theories explaining why U.S. students fail to rank highly on international education assessments (U.S. Department of Education, 1983). These theories assert that U.S. public schools—and, therefore, the students therein—simply have not been held to sufficiently high standards of knowledge and understanding (Weingarten, 2009). Recommendations of improved standards include those voluntarily adopted by states, adopted with monetary incentives from Washington, or with or without accompanying tests. However, there has been a growing desire to have a nationwide standard. Thus, the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices (“NGA Center”) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (“CCSSO”)—both based in Washington, D.C.—created the Common Core State Standards Initiative (National Education Association, 2010). Advocates of the Common Core standards argue that the standards align with college and work expectations; are clear, understandable and consistent; are built upon strengths and lessons of current state standards; are “internationally benchmarked;” and based in evidence (Eitel & Talbert, 2012). William H. Schmidt of Michigan State University presented research on the effectiveness of CCSSI at the National Press Club on May 3, 2012. Schmidt co-authored a similar paper with Richard T. Houang, which was published in Educational Researcher in October 2012. This study (also referred to as the “MSU study”) provided support for the CCSSI when the controversy surrounding it had just begun. It demonstrated that states with math standards similar to the CCSSI, after controlling for other potential influences, registered higher National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores in 2009 than states with different standards, implying that the CCSSI math standards would boost state math performance on NAEP. The Brown Center Report on American Education, published by the Brookings Institution (2014), re-evaluated Schmidt and Houang’s findings in light of newly released NAEP scores for 2011 and 2013. The study found that states with standards most similar to CCSSI in 2009 gained little in subsequent years. On the contrary, the standards had almost no long-term effect on student achievement, as the quality or rigor of state standards is unrelated to state NAEP scores. Croft and Whitehurst (2009) write that, when indexed by NAEP scores, differences among states in academic achievement do not seem to be related to differences in the quality of state content standards or the difficulty of passing the state assessment. A later study comprehensively evaluated the relationship between implementation of the CCSSI and higher international test scores, finding the claim to be inconclusive (Porter, et. al., 2011).

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An alternative to national standards is universal school choice with robust voucher systems for elementary and secondary education. This solution was first advocated for by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman (1979/1980). Nearly three decades later, a group of researchers found that the students who participated in school choice showed marked improvement and the competitive pressure improved public school education as a whole and lowered expenses as well (Burke, et. al., 2013). Neal McCluskey (2010) found similar results, concluding that the key to enhancing student achievement appears to be giving education funding to parents, allowing schools autonomy, and making schools respond to the needs and demands of parents and children.

Data and Methods This study will test the hypothesis that the Common Core standards produce a uniform tendency toward mediocrity instead of establishing excellence in education. In order to do so, we will test the converse of the main hypothesis—that there is a statistically significant relationship between national standards and enhanced student achievement. If the relationship cannot be demonstrated, then the null hypothesis, which is also the main hypothesis, will be demonstrated to be true. The study must also find no statistically significant relationship between the Common Core and an increased academic & economic competitiveness between America and other countries. The study will place special emphasis on studies developed by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, the CCSSI, the Brookings Institution, and education experts who sat on the Common Core Validation Committees. Quantitatively, the study questions whether there is a link between improved NAEP, as well as international test scores, and the establishment of the CCSSI. This study will compare gains in scores from national and international education assessments with the focus and coherence of national standards in not just the U.S. and global educational systems. Qualitatively, the study examines what impediments to implementation such standards face by considering cost, culture, politics, and diversity. Finally, this study compares the outcomes of education systems around the world based on how freely consumers and suppliers interact.

The Common Core’s Effect on Student Achievement Scores Research and Analysis To understand the Common Core’s impact on students’ learning, we must empirically assess the association between the quality of content standards and student achievement. Schmidt and Houang (2012) did this by using state NAEP scores on the 2009 eighth grade math assessment to model the potential effective-

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ness of the CCSS. They first developed a scale to rate the degree of congruence of each state’s standards with the CCSS. The key dimensions measured in the MSU ratings were “focus” and “coherence.” “Focus” refers to limiting topics in the math curriculum to the most important topics and teaching them in depth. “Coherence” refers to organizing topics in a manner that reflects the underlying structure of mathematics, allowing knowledge and skills to build sequentially. In a National Press Club talk, Schmidt presented a chart showing how the states fell on the congruence measure, demonstrated in Figure 1.1: Figure 1.1 Existing State Standard’s Consistency with the CCSS for Mathematics

States toward the top of the chart had standards most like the CCSS math standards, while states at the bottom of the chart had standards least like the CCSS. The MSU authors used the continuous form of the congruence ratings along with demographic covariates in a regression equation that predicted state NAEP scores. The congruence rating was statistically insignificant; they found no relationship to achievement. An analysis of residuals, however, revealed two distinct sets of states (referred to as “Group A” and “Group B”). Regression equations incorporating membership in these two groups did produce statistically significant coefficients for the congruence rating. Figure 1.2 clearly shows two upward sloping regression lines:

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Figure 1.2 Scatter Plot with Estimated Regression Lines for Groups A and Be Relating Congruence to 2009 NAEP

The MSU authors concluded that it was time to end the debate over the wisdom of the Common Core and that the CCSS in math “deserve to be seriously implemented” (Schmidt & Houang, 2012). NAEP scores for 2011 and 2013 have been released since the MSU study, allowing other researchers to re-examine their findings. In the 2014 Brown Center on Education Report, Tom Loveless, a former sixth-grade teacher and Harvard

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policy professor, examined gain scores—specifically, the change in state scores since 2009—to evaluate the predictive capacity of the 2009 MSU analysis. His study reveals “no systematic relationship between the states’ MSU ratings and changes in NAEP from 2009-2013” (Loveless, 2014). Indeed, states with standards most different from the CCSS gained the most on NAEP, as illustrated by Table 1.1: Table 1.1 State NAEP Changes, by MSU’s Rating of Congruence with CCSS

Loveless concludes that “no statistical relationship is evident” between implementation of the Common Core and enhanced NAEP scores because “no linear pattern emerges across the categories” (Loveless, 2012). This is as a result of the fact that “a statistically significant finding from an analysis of state-level NAEP scores, the variation among states being relatively small, often fades to insignificance when considered in the more practical, real world terms of how much math students are learning.” The ultimate impact here is that “the CCSS will have little to no impact on student achievement.” Reviewing the data for the “high” standards and the “low” standards states illustrates the lack of a systematic relationship. Grover J. Whitehurst, the former director of the Institute of Education Sciences within the U.S. Department of Education, conducted such a review, noting that:

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Massachusetts, for instance, has high standards according to both the Fordham Foundation and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and high NAEP scores. However, New Jersey has low quality content standards on both the Fordham Foundation and on the AFT scales, but scores comparably to Massachusetts on NAEP. California is given the highest Fordham Foundation rank and has high gains in NAEP scores. Arkansas, which receives a very low Fordham Foundation rank, has almost identical gains to California on NAEP from 2000 to 2007 (Whitehurst, 2009). Whitehurst’s conclusion is that there is: Weak to no association between state performance on NAEP and the stringency of performance standards for state assessments. In other words, when indexed by NAEP scores, differences among states in academic achievement do not seem to be related to differences in the quality of state content standards or the difficulty of passing the state assessment (Ibid.). These results correspond closely to those from a study by the National Center For Education Statistics (2008), which found substantial differences among states in the amount of information needed to demonstrate mathematic proficiency in the state’s own assessment. However, there was virtually no relation between the level of the standard and the mathematic achievements of its students. The absence of a correlation between the quality of standards and student achievement, and between the difficulty of state standards and student achievement, raises the possibility that better and more rigorous content standards do not lead to higher achievement. Perhaps standards are, as Whitehurst (2009) terms them, “such a leaky bucket with respect to classroom instruction that any potential relationship dissipates before it can be manifest.” Discussion and Conclusions Supporters of the Common Core argue that strong, effective implementation of the standards will produce lasting, significant gains in student learning. So far, there are no signs that such standards do so. Loveless (2012) explains why this is the case, saying, “Standards in education are best understood as aspirational, and like a strict diet or prudent plan to save money for the future, they represent good intentions that are not often realized.”

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In the 1970s, researchers from the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) first sketched the concept of “opportunity to learn” using international test score data, drawing distinctions among the intended, implemented, and achieved curriculums. The intended curriculum is embodied by government standards. The differences articulated by state governments in this regard are frequently trivial. However, the distance between the intended curriculum and how it is actually actualized in the classroom is important. According to the 2014 Brown Center Report on Education: The implemented curriculum is what teachers teach. Whether that differs from state to state is largely unknown; what is more telling is that it may differ dramatically from classroom to classroom in the same school. Two fourth-grade teachers in classrooms next door to each other may teach multiplication in vastly different ways and with different degrees of effectiveness. State policies rarely touch such differences. The attained curriculum is what students learn. Two students in the same classroom and instructed by the same teacher may acquire completely different skills and knowledge. One student understands and moves on; another struggles and is stuck. And that even happens in classrooms with outstanding teachers. The whole system is teeming with variation. Policies at national, state, district, and school levels sit on top of these internal differences, but they rarely succeed in ameliorating them. Consequently, as Loveless (2012) writes, “the Common Core will have little to no effect on student achievement. The quality or rigor of state standards is unrelated to state NAEP scores. Moreover, most of the variation in NAEP scores lies within states, not between them.”

The Relationship between National Standards and Enhanced International Test Scores The case for national curriculum-content standards is that such standards are necessary for student success in a global marketplace. As American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten (2009) writes, “the countries that consistently outperform the United States on international assessments all have national standards.” In an attempt to generate similar success and create a system that would “lead to college and career readiness at an internationally competitive level,” the CCSSI establishes standards that are “internation-

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ally benchmarked,” declaring that “standards from top-performing countries played a significant role in the development of the math and English language arts/literacy standards” (The Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2015). Furthermore, Achieve, the organization contracted to develop the mathematics framework for the Programme for International Student Assessment 2012, has compared Common Core math and ELA standards to similar standards in Singapore, Canada, Japan, and New South Wales. Achieve found that “overall, the CCSS are well aligned to these countries education syllabi. Policymakers can be assured that in adopting the CCSS, they will be setting learning expectations for students that are similar to those set by Singapore, Canada, Japan, and New South Wales in terms of rigor, coherence and focus” (2010). Neal McCluskey (2010), a critic of national standards, argues that while most nations that outperform the United States on internationally benchmarked tests have national standards, most nations that have done worse on the same tests also have national standards. For instance, on the 2007 eighth-grade TIMSS mathematics assessment, the eight countries that outperformed the United States had national standards. However, 33 of the 39 nations that scored lower than the U.S. also had national standards (Hoar, 2010). The correlation is absent even when looking only at countries belonging to OECD. Generally, these are economically advanced nations. Out of all the OECD members that took the test, all but the U.S. and Australia had national standards. However, four OECD members outperformed the United States, and the other six performed worse (Effrem & Osbourne, 2013). In the 2007 TIMSS eighth-grade science assessment, all ten nations that outperformed the U.S. had national curricula; however, 33 of the 37 lesser performers and the nine lowest performers did as well (McCluskey, 2010). Among OECD members, five posted better scores than the United States, and five posted worse scores (Effrem & Osbourne, 2013). Therefore, according to McCluskey (2010), there is “paltry direct empirical evidence” to show that the establishment of national standards and assessments causes a country’s international educational competitiveness to rise. Moreover, numerous education policy experts have called into question the meaning and validity of the claim that Common Core standards are “internationally benchmarked.” Christopher Tienken (2011) translates CCSSI’s claim that the standards “are mirrors of standards from high-performing countries and states so that all U.S. students are prepared to succeed in a global economy and society,” to mean: We copied some language from some of the best test-taking nations but we have no evidence that the ideas we copied will have any positive influence on creativity, innovation, or overall student learning in the U.S. and we have not considered any unintended consequenc-

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es. We do not even match specific CCSS standards to specific countries. Thus, we leave you, educators and the general public, wondering which standards are benchmarked and to which countries those benchmarks belong (Ibid.). Shortly after releasing the international benchmarking standards, the CCSSO helped to fund a study demonstrating that the standards are not, in fact, closely aligned with the standards of nations that score higher on international tests. In mathematics, for example, the nations with the highest test scores—Finland, Japan, and Singapore—devote about 75% of instruction to “perform procedures” compared to the CCSS emphasis at about 38% (Porter, et. al., 2011). Similarly, Ze’ev Wurman, a former Department of Education official, and Professor Sandra Stotsky (2012), the only literacy expert on the Common Core Validation Committee, found that by eighth grade Common Core’s ELAR standards were “a year or two behind the National Mathematics Advisory Panel’s recommendations, leading states, and . . . international competition.” Marina Ratner (2014) from the University of California, Berkeley, has argued, “The Common Core fails any comparison with the standards of high-achieving countries.” Additionally, Professor Jonathan Goodman (2010) from the Courant Institute at NYU, noted that Common Core “has significantly lower expectations with respect to algebra and geometry than the published standards of highly achieving Asian nations.” Professor William McCallum (2010) from the University of Arizona and one of the three writers of the math standards affirmed this, saying that “the overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison [with] other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.” Professor R. James Milgram (2012), the only mathematician on Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign on to them writing in his refusal letter that: Mathematically, there is no good reason to adopt the Common Core Math Standards…The Common Core standards claim to be ‘benchmarked against international standards’ but this phrase is meaningless. They are actually two or more years behind international expectations by eighth grade, and only fall further behind as they talk about grades 8-12. Indeed, they don’t even fully cover the material in a solid geometry course, or in the second year algebra course (Ibid.). In short, according to Common Core critics, not only are these standards far from internationally benchmarked, they actually would cause students to be one to two years behind top achieving nations in math and ELAR.

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Furthermore, Diane Ravitch (2013) asserted that, “the U.S. has never been first in the world, nor even near the top, on international tests. Over the past half century, American students have typically scored at or near the median, or even in the bottom quartile.” International testing began in the mid-1960s with a mathematics test (Medrich & Griffith, 1992). The First International Mathematics Study tested 13-year-olds and high-school seniors in twelve nations. American 13-yearolds scored significantly lower than students in nine other countries and ahead of students in only one. On a test given only to students currently enrolled in a math class, the U.S. students scored last, behind those in the eleven other nations (Ravitch, 2013). On a test given to seniors not currently enrolled in a math class, the U.S. students again scored last. The First International Science Study was given in the late 1960s and early 1970s to 10-year-olds, 14-year-olds, and seniors (Medrich & Griffith, 1992). The 10-year-olds did well, scoring behind only the Japanese; the 14-year-olds were about average. Among students in the senior year of high schools, Americans scored last of eleven school systems. In the Second International Mathematics Study (1981-82), students in fifteen systems were tested (Ravitch, 2013). The students were placed into two groups: a younger group of 13-year-olds, and an older group of high school seniors. The younger group of U.S. students placed at or near the median on most tests. The American seniors placed at or near the bottom on almost every test. According to Curtis C. McKnight (1987), the “average Japanese students achieved higher than the top 5 percent of the U.S. students in college preparatory mathematics” and “the algebra achievement of our most able students (the top 1 percent) was lower than that of the top 1 percent of any other country.” Thus, the U.S. is doing about the same now on PISA as it has done for the past half century (Ravitch, 2013). Keith Baker (2007), a researcher at the U.S. Department of Education, decided to investigate what happened to the twelve nations that took the First International Mathematics test in 1964. He examined the per capita gross domestic product of those nations and found that “the higher a nation’s test score 40 years ago, the worse its economic performance on this measure of national wealth” (Ibid.). He found no relationship between a nation’s economic productivity and its test scores. Nor did the test scores bear any relationship to quality of life or democratic institutions. And when it came to creativity, the U.S. “clobbered the world,” with more patents per million people than any other nation. Baker claims that a certain level of educational achievement may be: …a platform for launching national success, but once that platform is reached, other factors become more important than further gains in test scores. Indeed, once the platform is reached, it may be bad

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policy to pursue further gains in test scores because focusing on the scores diverts attention, effort, and resources away from other factors that are more important determinants of national success (Baker, 2007). What has mattered most for the economic, cultural, and technological success of the U.S., he says, is a certain “spirit,” which he defines as “ambition, inquisitiveness, independence, and perhaps most important, the absence of a fixation on testing and test scores.” He concluded that, “standings in the league tables of international tests are worthless.” The most likely reason for this is, as education policy expert Neil McCluskey (2010) noted, “the general American discomfort with centralization and easily tested knowledge.” Many Americans simply do not subscribe to centralized government control of institutions—including education—or of test-driven, factand-skill-centered learning. Testament to these proclivities are the popularity of child-centered Montessori and other pedagogically progressive schools, the nation’s long tradition of “local control” in education, and, arguably, the general unpopularity of the No Child Left Behind Act (Hoff, 2008). As McCluskey (2010) notes, “It is, in fact, quite possible that centralized control of education, desire to perform well in easily tested subjects and on standardized tests, and focusing on academic pursuits at all are broadly at odds with American culture.” Centralized control of education, for instance, goes against the grain of what sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset (2000) famously labeled “American exceptionalism—a culture grounded in individual liberty and laissez-faire governance. Similarly, non-academic ethos of the colonist, frontiersman, and entrepreneur is central to the American narrative. While U.S. culture might be generally averse to centralization and standardized education, other cultures are not. This seems very much the case for East Asian nations, which typically dominate international tests. Historian J. M. Roberts (1993) notes that in China “an enlarged bureaucracy was to survive many periods of disunity…and remained to the end one of the most striking and characteristic institutions of imperial China” (Ibid.). Education is what allowed one to enter this bureaucracy. Roberts also reports that despite “rich variety in culture and custom . . . all the East Asian peoples are similar in seeming to show great industry and enterprise, and a willingness to accept a marked subordination of the individual to the group” (Ibid.). There is, indeed, a significant cultural difference between Americans and other students. American schools and students tend to focus more on “critical thinking” and other less concrete and measurable outcomes than mathematical and scientific skills and knowledge (Loveless, 2001). Americans also tend to put less emphasis on schooling and academics than the people of other industrialized

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nations, and much greater emphasis on extracurricular activities and part-time employment. Specifically looking at elementary and secondary education, Stevenson, Chen, and Lee (1993) examined the attitudes toward education of children and parents in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sendai, Japan, and Taipei, Taiwan, in 1980, 1984 and 1990. In all three years, despite significant publicity about the high achievement of Japanese and Chinese students and the low standing of Americans, the researchers found that Chinese and Japanese parents were much less satisfied with their schools than were their American counterparts. Similarly, they found that Chinese and Japanese parents and students stressed the importance of hard work to achieve academic success, whereas Americans attributed academic excellence much more to innate ability. Finally, there is the difference in academic performance between Asian students in the United States and other U.S. racial/ethnic groups. McCluskey writes: Understanding that “Asian” is a designation that includes people as diverse as ethnic Japanese and Hmong, Asian students outperform all other U.S. students by sizable margins, even after adjusting for socioeconomic status, on mathematics assessments. And since all these groups are in the same education system, this strongly suggests that culture is a powerful force regardless of the educational structure (2010). Much of this explains why comparative research on national standards is inconclusive. Nations vary markedly not just in terms of economics and politics, but culture and other variables that are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to control. It is hardly a settled question that test scores such as those used in studies which support Common Core standards even encompass all the most desired educational outcomes.

The Case for Universal School Choice Culture, politics, diversity—all of these forces have served to undermine the effectiveness of Common Core standards in the United States. The ultimate question moving forward then is, as McCluskey (2010) puts it, “what type of reform can both successfully navigate the cultural, political, and diversity shoals on which so many public-schooling reforms have run aground and deliver optimal educational outcomes?” The answer, according to economist Milton Friedman (1979/1980), is to replace public schooling—in which government not only ensures that all children can access education, but also provides the schools—with true public education. Let parents control education funds either through vouch-

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ers or personal and donation tax credits, and let them freely choose among autonomous schools and other educational options. Let education work as a free market, in which consumers purchase services and products according to their individual needs and desires, and suppliers compete through quality, specialization, price, and innovation. Unlike the CCSSI, the empirical evidence supporting universal school choice is broad and convincing. First and foremost, there is a wealth of evidence showing that free markets, overall, meet the needs and desires of people much better than command economies, which is essentially what public schooling is (Norberg, 2003). More specifically, ten prominent empirical studies have analyzed voucher programs using the “gold standard” social science technique of randomly assigning subjects to “treatment” or “control” groups. Nine of those studies found that at least one subgroup of students receiving vouchers performed better on academic assessments than those who applied for but did not receive vouchers, while in no subgroup did voucher students do worse (Greene, 2008). In the tenth study, the results were unclear and described by one expert as “a wash” (McCluskey, 2010). Comparing the outcomes of education systems around the world based on how freely consumers and providers can interact also provides compelling evidence in support of universal school choice. Reviewing 65 studies that reported over 156 separate statistical findings, Andrew Coulson (2009) found that findings favoring free-market provision of education outnumbered those favoring government monopoly by a ratio of 15-to-1. Virtually all of these studies compared school systems in close proximity to one another within individual nations, which would mitigate the potentially confounding effects of cultural and other difficult-to observe variables (Coulson, 2009). Similarly, education professor James Tooley (2009) has found low-cost private schools to be ubiquitous in many of the world’s poorest slums, and that they regularly outperform “free” government schools on assessments of such things as native-language mastery, English, and mathematics. Choice produces better results on achievement assessments. However, allowing people not to fixate exclusively on easily tested outcomes would also enable them to focus on other pursuits or skills best suited to their abilities and ultimate desires (McCluskey 2010). As already discussed, Americans typically express a greater degree of happiness than their peers in nations with more centralized, test-driven education systems. If enabling people to maximize their happiness is the end goal of education, then allowing students to freely pursue their own educational interests, with the guidance of parents or other advisers, would likely produce the best educational outcomes, if not necessarily the best test scores.

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Neil McCluskey (2010), in advocating for universal school choice, analyzes recent actions in countries that often do quite well on international examinations —nations that many national standards advocates hope to emulate—finding that these nations themselves are perhaps finding that education cannot and should not be reduced simply to test scores. He notes specifically that Japan as early as the 1970s started encouraging schools to put more emphasis on soft skills like “critical thinking” (Ibid.). In 2002, Japan shrank its school week from six days to five, and reduced the content of its national curriculum by about 30 percent (Bjork & Tsuneyoshi, 2005). It also introduced a class called “Integrated Studies” that features more independent, student-driven work. McCluskey (2010) also cites Singapore, another top education performer, who starting in 1999 reduced its national curriculum by about a third, doing so in order to “provide room for teachers to implement the key initiatives announced in 1997, namely the infusing of thinking skills and integrating the use of Information Technology in lessons.” In 2001, Singapore further reformed its curriculum, focusing it even more on teaching students to “think creatively and apply knowledge innovatively.” It also introduced ability-based tracking. Finally, funded in part by Korean education ministries, Korean teachers have been regularly coming to the United States to learn how to teach creativity and critical thinking in their schools (McCluskey, 2010). Movement away from strict standards and testing does not prove anything, of course. These nations likely still strongly support centralized standards and testing, and parents might vehemently object to softening curricula. Still, that these nations with long, proven track records of supporting tough centralized standards and testing have moved to loosen their systems must not be ignored. As McCluskey (2010) notes, “it could mean that they have recognized real shortcomings of their systems.” Japan, for instance, suffered the “lost decade” of the 1990s: a long period of economic malaise that many experts have at least partially attributed to the nation’s lack of creative thinking and hidebound social structures (Tamamoto, 2009). Bolstering this is the fact that Japan has not been outpacing the United States economically, its significantly higher test scores notwithstanding (Tamamoto, 2009). In 1980, Japanese GDP per capita, adjusted for purchasing power, was $8,901 (International Monetary Fund, 2009). In the United States it was $12,255 (International Monetary Fund, 2009). Since then, per capita Japanese GDP has grown about $855 per year, versus almost $1,180 in the United States (International Monetary Fund, 2009). In addition to enabling individuals to pursue educational options best suited to their desires and needs, universal school choice avoids the political fighting that has often doomed standards-based reforms. By taking control of education away from government, much of the politics that undermines the delivery of education

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would automatically be removed. Currently, because all taxpayers have to support government schools, almost every education decision is politicized. District budgets constantly spark conflict (McCluskey, 2010). There are incessant curricular and pedagogical battles over everything from the grade at which students start to use calculators to what reading programs schools employ. And there is what the Cato Institute calls an “asymmetrical power problem, in which the people employed by the public schools have disproportionate power compared to those people whom the schools are supposed to serve” (Ibid.). Giving parents control over education dollars and letting them choose among autonomous schools would diminish these problems considerably. District budgets would be irrelevant because schools would be funded based on their ability to attract customers, not their allocations of public dollars. Curricular and pedagogical battles would peter out as schools independently chose the curricula they thought best and parents selected the schools with programs they thought most effective for their children. The last major barrier that makes improving government schooling very difficult is diversity—ethnic, religious, and ideological. It has led to the weakening of public school curriculum and the removal of potentially contentious—but also important and interesting—content from the nation’s schools. As Ravitch (2003) has documented, drives to eliminate objectionable content from curricula have come from all across the social and political spectrum, with conservatives generally attacking morally objectionable, or insufficiently “American” content and liberals decrying anything that could be considered critical or insensitive to various minority groups. This has resulted in textbooks that are devoid of engaging content and curriculum designed to skirt controversy. Furthermore, based on widespread anecdotal evidence, it appears that to avoid conflict many teachers skip over controversial topics such as the theory of evolution, even when state standards require that they be taught (Keeter & Horowitz, 2009). Perhaps that is why, despite religious instruction having long been banished from public schools, close to half of all Americans believe that human beings and other living creatures were created, most likely by God, in their present forms. Universal school choice people select educational options compatible with their diverse norms and backgrounds rather than requiring them to fight for control of a single system. Parents who want their children to learn religious explanations for human origins would be able to patronize like-minded schools, as would the most ardent atheists. Hispanic families that desire instruction in Hispanic history and language could seek schools that teach them. Black Americans would be able to do so as well. Rather than prohibiting any and all children hearing things that are potentially controversial, diversity would be fully accommodated and children would be able to receive coherent instruction.

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One of the most common objections to choice is that universal school choice would result in an absence of standards. According to some critics, it would create a state of relativistic, educational anarchy (Weingarten, 2009). It is true that choice would potentially let “a thousand flowers bloom” and that ideas and knowledge that might turn out to be incorrect would and could be taught. This latter possibility is something that national standards advocates implicitly assert that they could prevent by choosing the “best” curriculum for everyone. However, no state school board or federal bureaucrat has a monopoly on truth, and the best system to deal with such imperfection is one in which power is diffused, not concentrated. This allows ideas to compete, and those that turn out to be wrong would not have been imposed on everyone. Universal school choice would establish a marketplace of ideas. Moreover, it is incorrect to assert that widespread standards could not be adopted in a system of universal school choice. Consider the long period of American history—from the arrival of the first British colonists to the common-schools movement in the mid-1830s—during which most education was delivered in homes, by churches, and in other nongovernmental arrangements (Urban & Wagoner, 2009). During that time the very “American” language that we speak was standardized by just a few commercially available tools. Noah Webster was explicit in his aims to create a standard American language and forge a unique American culture with his American Spelling Book and American Dictionary of the English Language, and he achieved great success in that endeavor. Indeed, he had sold 20 million copies of his speller by 1829, although by 1830 the total U.S. population was less than 13 million (Urban & Wagoner, 2009). Several other people also wrote and sold readers during this time; McGuffey’s Reader, for instance, was published in 1836 (Urban & Wagoner, 2009).

Conclusion The road to successful education reform appears not in the top-down control afforded by the Common Core State Standards Initiative, but in giving education funding to parents, allowing schools autonomy, and, as a result, making schools respond to the needs and demands of parents and children. Such a policy would solve the asymmetrical power problem, forcing educators to satisfy customers rather than use politics to get their way. It would prevent paralyzing cultural, religious, or ethnic conflicts that force lowest-common-denominator standards. And it would lead to standards that would be meaningful, but also sufficiently flexible so that unproven ideas could compete, and inevitable human failures would not be inflicted on everyone. Only competitive federalism in a free market can produce the mix of high standards, accountability, and flexibility that is essential to achieving optimal educational outcomes.

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Thanks The George Wythe Review would like to gratefully recognize the Collegiate Network for their contribution to the success of our publication.

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