Grassroot Perspective – March 11, 2003-Hit Them Where They Ain’t; School Choice Works – The Case of Sweden

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”Shoots (News, Views and Quotes)”


– Hit Them Where They Ain’t

Reports that Al Qaeda wants to hijack planes and crash them into ships and subs at Pearl Harbor is — once the shock of the sheer audacity wears off — actually very good news. If accurate, the reports would indicate that Al Qaeda responds predictably to changes in conditions. And predictability is the first step to being caught.

One of the key intelligence failures leading up to 9/11 was missing the role domestic flights could play in acts of terror. Security around domestic flights and at airports in the U.S. was, on balance, much less stringent than that found elsewhere in the world. Anyone looking to hijack planes would eventually come to the conclusion that the best odds were with domestic U.S. flights.

Now that security around U.S. flights and airports has been ramped up, including all manner of bogus approaches that do little to actually improve security, those looking to hijack flights have to reassess. Domestic flights are no longer the low-hanging fruit. Today it is likely that overseas flights originating in the bustling airports of Asia provide the best opportunity for hijacking. Add in the fact that Al Qaeda operatives appear adept at moving in and out of places like the Philippines, and using Asian flights for terror becomes even more likely.

So if your best bet at gaining control of a plane lies somewhere in
Asia, what can you do with it? You want a uniquely U.S. target,
preferably on U.S. soil. That points you to Hawaii and once Hawaii
becomes a goal, Pearl Harbor is the obvious target.

This kind of target selection process shows that terrorists are
opportunists. Instead of fixating on single target or means of attack, they adapt and try to give themselves the best chance at success. Counter-terrorist planners in Washington need to recognize this and realize that there is limited utility to making any single means of attack impossible. That is Maginot Line thinking and just as easy to route around.

A better approach would be to make the most vulnerable avenues of attack incrementally harder to breach. With luck, the changes would trip up terrorist cells before they have a chance to move and cause them to make mistakes that will expose them.

Above is quoted from Reason Express 3/4/03

– School Choice Works – The Case of Sweden

Historically Socialist Sweden Advances Milton Friedman’s Voucher Vision Leaving behind centralized control of schools, for-profit independent schools flourish

Jan. 6, 2003, Indianapolis, IN–The Indianapolis-based Milton and
Rose D. Friedman Foundation, a leading national group that advocates
school choice, has released a study of Sweden’s ten-year-old school
financing reforms, finding that they have dramatically advanced parental freedom and improved education in Sweden. Sweden’s government is predominantly based on socialist structures, with high taxation and publicly financed medical care and retirement.

School Choice Works: The Case of Sweden, written by prominent Swedish public policy researchers Fredrik Bergstrom and Mikael Sandstrom, reveals that independent school funding reform passed in 1992 has resulted in the number of independent schools available to parents quintupling, and enrollment in independent schools quadrupling.

Meanwhile, government schools have not suffered, but have improved. Swedish law since 1992 mandates that the government separate the financing of schools from the administration of schools, as Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman proposed in 1955. Sweden’s independent schools are now financed on par with municipal schools, so long as they are approved. Since the reform, Sweden has shown the following advances:

*Competition created by this new supply of schools has increased performance in Sweden’s municipal (government-run) schools.

*Most independent schools in Sweden are run by for-profit educational companies, with no detrimental effects.

*There is absolutely no evidence that the new “voucher system” has created a scenario where the rich are supplemented in their private choices. In fact, poorer Swedes choose independent schools at higher rates than do wealthy families.

*Teachers’ unions in Sweden support the reform measures and indicate that they prefer to work in independent schools, where working conditions are better.

In Sweden now, as in many northern European countries, parents are given a large range of educational options, public and private, parochial and secular. The researchers concluded that: “The main lesson to be learned from the Swedish reforms is that school choice works.{T}he Swedish example can indicate what would happen if a country, for example the USA, introduced more freedom of choice for students and parents and thus more competition between schools.”

The Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation is a non-profit organization promoting public understanding of the need for major reform in K-12 education and of the role that competition through educational choice can play in achieving that reform.

Above article is quoted from The newsletter of the Milton & Rose D.
Friedman Foundation The School Choice January 2003

”Roots (Food for Thought)”

A story posted on on Tuesday of this week says the leadership of the National Education Association, the national affiliate of the Florida Education Association, the state’s teachers union, “is so far removed from ordinary classroom environments they can no longer relate to the tasks facing working-class teachers.”

The story quotes Carl Gibson, a spokesman for the Olympia-based
Evergreen Freedom Foundation, who said, “The new leaders of the National Education Association tout themselves as classroom teachers on leave to represent their colleagues.”

Gibson went on to say, “We did a little digging around to see what kind of classroom experience they have. Turns out none of them have worked in a classroom during the last decade. For some, it’s been far longer.”

This got me wondering about the leadership of Florida’s teachers union. FEA’s current president, Maureen Dinnen, hasn’t been in a K-12 classroom since the 1970s. She taught at Broward Community College for some time after that, but according to that school’s
personnel records office, she has not taught there since 1997. Her
predecessor at the helm in the union is Pat Tornillo, who served as FEA president from the late 1970s to 2000, and is currently the local teacher union president in Miami-Dade County. He has been out of the classroom for more than 25 years. The union’s vice president for
financial affairs, Bob Lee, has also been out of the classroom for more than 25 years and the first vice president, Andy Ford, who is in line to become the next FEA president, has not taught in about a decade.

The WorldNetDaily report also looked at compensation of NEA’s top
executives. The NEA’s incoming president, Reg Weaver, is being paid more than $231,000 and his pay will rise to more than $237,900 next year, according to the story. Additionally, it states, “Each of the
three executive officers gets an additional 20 percent of salary as a
cash ‘living allowance,’ plus another 20 percent of salary for
benefits.” That should total another $92,000.

In Florida, FEA president Dinnen was paid 112,014, plus an additional $60,309 in expenses and benefits according to the union’s 1998 report to the IRS. The following year, her salary jumped remarkably to $158,548-a pay increase of $46,534-more than
40 percent.

Consider that a $46,500 single-year pay increase is about $10,000 more than the average annual pay for a teacher in Florida. The union has since refused requests for salary information covering years 2000 and 2001. During that time, the two state unions merged and one must wonder-if this merger effectively doubled the size of the now-combined union, did Dinnen’s salary jump again?

The state president is a higher level position than a local union
president. It would seem odd if the state president were not paid more than the highest paid local union president.

According to documents on file with the Public Employees Relations
Commission, the agency to which unions are required to file financial disclosures, Tornillo is the highest paid local union president. The financial disclosure forms report that Tornillo was paid more than $225,429 in salary last year, with an additional $17,700 in expenses. If the state president were paid more than any local president, that could place this salary and benefits in excess of $243,000.

This all strikes me as hypocritical. These same union bureaucrats moan about the low pay of teachers. But at the same time, they create these outrageous financial perks for themselves at the expense of the same teachers for whom they claim to be advocates. How can these union leaders sleep at night, knowing they force union teachers to pay as much as $830 a year in dues so that they, the union bureaucrats, can grant themselves financial perks that add up to as much as eight times more than the average annual salary of the teachers from whom they are taking?

No wonder union membership has been plummeting. In some counties in Florida, only 3 percent of the teachers are now union members. Perhaps they were once blind but now they see.

Gary Landry is a policy analyst at The James Madison Institute and may be contacted via email at

Above article is quoted from The James Madison Institute, Point of View Aug. 23, 2002. See

”Evergreen (Today’s Quote)”

“The danger of minding people’s business is twofold. First, there is the danger that a man may leave his business unattended to; and, second, there is the danger of an impertinent interference with another’s affairs. The “friend of humanity” almost always run into both dangers.” — William Graham Sumner

”’Edited by Richard O. Rowland, president of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. He can be reached at (808) 487-4959 or by email at:”’ ”’For more information, see its Web site at:”’