Here, Piggy Piggy Piggy!

Woo hoo! GO Virginia!

by James A. Bacon

Any time business leaders, university presidents and legislators agree on a great new spending initiative, I put my hand on my pants pocket to make sure my wallet is still there. When their brilliant idea slides through the General Assembly without a dissenting voice, or even a word of skepticism from the news media, I take out my wallet to make sure my cash hasn’t disappeared. The GO Virginia initiative — $36 million allocated over two years to incentivize regional cooperation in economic development — inspires that reaction.

I don’t adamantly oppose GO Virginia — I don’t know enough to form a strong opinion. What worries me is that the proposal has been subjected to so little critical analysis.

Thankfully, Attorney General Mark R. Herring issued a legal opinion yesterday finding that the Virginia Growth and Opportunity Act faces a “significant risk” of being found unconstitutional on the grounds that it violates the separation-of-powers doctrine by giving the General Assembly the power to appoint a majority of the board’s 22 members as well as a legislative veto over its grants. (See the Richmond Times-Dispatch reporting here.) Gov. Terry McAuliffe has until Sunday to amend or veto the legislation, which he originally supported.

It’s nice to see that someone has taken a serious look at the bill. Herring raises a critical point. If anyone needs an example of what can happen when legislators insert themselves into the executive function, one need look no further than the shenanigans of the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission.

According to the GOVirginia website, the project was the brainchild of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council (VBHEC) and the Council on Virginia’s Future “to foster private-sector growth and job creation through state incentives for regional collaboration by business, education, and government.”

Why is the program needed? Backers argue the following:

Because Virginia is a large and diverse state, the opportunities for private-sector growth vary significantly from one part of our state to another, requiring collaborative innovation among employers, entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, educators, governments, and other leaders in each region. Too often this cooperation has been lacking, causing Virginia to lag behind other states.

State government can solve the problem:

The State can and must do more to encourage strategic, job-focused collaboration in each region. Significant state funds currently flow to localities, schools, and higher education institutions; the Commonwealth should use such resources to promote joint efforts on economic and workforce development and to encourage collaboration that can improve performance and reduce costs.

The original concept behind GOVirginia was to fund the program through “use of growth revenues, re-purposed dollars, and efficiency savings” — not new taxes, mandates or layers of government. Somewhere along the way, the initiative morphed into a program supported by $36 million in state funds over the two-year budget. The concept may well have morphed in other ways beyond its original formulation, although, judging from Travis Fain’s reporting for this Daily Press article, the legislative package of four bills has stayed fairly true to the original vision.

Here is how the money would be distributed:

The plan includes $5.5 million a year for the first two years to stand up the regional councils, vet project proposals and study various aspects of regional economies, particularly the gaps in education and skills training needed to support desired industries.

Beyond that, $15 million would be up for grabs, with regional councils competing to get the state board to fund their projects. The remaining $12.4 million would also go toward project-specific grants, but it would be broken down between the regions based on population.

Bacon’s bottom line:

It’s a little late in the game, I’ll concede, but let’s get the conversation going. Is this a worthwhile expenditure of $18 million a year?

Let’s start by looking at the new overhead created: $11 million, or 30% of the funds allocated, would go to setting up the administrative structure for the program. That’s pretty much a waste. Don’t higher-ed institutions have mechanisms for discerning the job-training needs of local industry already? What can these new studies possibly add?

Then consider the how the money is distributed geographically. Funds will be distributed amongst a number of regional councils reflecting the diversity of the state’s economy. Let’s assume that roughly $15 million a year would be made available for actual grants. How would the sum be divvied up? By the merits of the projects? What if all the high-ROI projects were located in, say, Northern Virginia? Would the other councils feel short-changed? Conversely, what if the money were distributed evenly between regions, would some high-ROI projects be denied funding?

Next, consider the pork barrel aspects. Fain quotes House Majority Leader Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, a local project – the Aviation Academy at Denbigh High School – as a good example of projects that would get funding.

The Newport News school system runs the school at the Newport News/ Williamsburg International Airport. It would get $100,000 a year under Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s proposed budget, but Del. David Yancey, R-Newport News, wants another $2 million next year and $1.5 million the year after that to expand the school.

Yancey will go before the House Appropriations Committee to ask for that funding, but with limited time during session to vet these proposals, Cox said he’d rather see projects like this bubble up through the regional councils.

Pork by any other name still smells like pork.

There is a vast gap between the airy and idealistic justification of GOVirginia and the ugly implementation guided by legislators toward their pet projects. If the Newport News project is a good example of what would get funding, I hate to see a bad example. I foresee GOVirginia funding projects that couldn’t raise the money from either the private sector or existing government programs, thus creating new programs of marginal value that will be dependent upon government for funding, and creating new constituents that lobby for government hand-outs year after year.

To some degree, I’m playing devil’s advocate — filling a role that no one else has seen fit to play. I’m open to arguments in favor of the program. But so far, I haven’t seen anything that persuades me and a lot to make me keep checking my wallet.

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28 responses to “Here, Piggy Piggy Piggy!”

  1. JOHN BR Avatar

    “… the Commonwealth should use such resources to promote joint efforts on economic and workforce development and to encourage collaboration that can improve performance and reduce costs.”
    While government has many important functions, showing businesses how to improve performance and reduce costs is not one of them.
    Someone is going to do well by this. But it won’t be the taxpayers or non-crony-capital businesses.

  2. John B Avatar

    JBR, not only that but I wonder to what funding level it will have soared by 2116.

  3. “Because Virginia is a large and diverse state …”

    Large? No. Diverse? Not particularly. But, for the sake of argument, let’s say that Virginia is more regionally diverse than most states. Wouldn’t that argue for dividing up the money and giving it to regional committees to disburse based on the needs of the region? Why would you form a central committee where people from NoVa could vote on agricultural ideas? This sounds like a single 22 person board which must allocate funds by population rather than regional boards. Or, a central committee in charge of regional boards. If so, stupid!

    Jim Bacon writes, “Let’s start by looking at the new overhead created: $5.5 million, or 15% of the funds allocated, would go to setting up the administrative structure for the program.” That’s not my math.

    “The plan includes $5.5 million a year for the first two years to stand up the regional councils, vet project proposals and study various aspects of regional economies, particularly the gaps in education and skills training needed to support desired industries.”

    I get a two year total of $36m of which $11m will be spent on setup and vetting. BTW – what are these “regional councils”? There’s a 22 person central committee and then a bunch of regional councils to boot? By my calculations – over the two years of funding there is a whopping 31% of the funds spent on overhead. That’s a lot of Bombay Sapphire martinis.

    Meanwhile two arch pseudo-Republican, pseudo-conservatives … House Majority Leader M. Kirkland Cox, R-Colonial Heights and Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr., R-James City are the primary sponsors. Let’s see – we take taxes by wealth but distribute these funds by population. Do you think these two Feel the Bern?

    Let’s see … the ICSR (Imperial Clown Show in Richmond) appoints 15 of the 22 central committee members. That’s 15 thank you notes right there for gift givers, campaign donors and possible future politician employment providers. I assume the governor reserves the remaining 7 for his thank you note purposes. They each average $250,000 per year in setup funds. That should make things comfortable.

    The ICSR also reserves the right to veto any funding allocation decisions despite having appointed a majority of the central committee. You can never be too careful. There is always that slight chance that they will accidentally appoint 12 honest people to the central committee. If so, how would the ICSR get the remaining $12.5m per year to the right cronies? Best to have a failsafe against accidental honesty.

    1. Don, if the $36 million is a two-year total, and the $5.5 million in administrative overhead is a two-year total, overhead amounts to 15.2%. Are you conducting a different calculation?

      1. “The plan includes $5.5 million a year …” From your post. $5.5m a year, not $5.5m over two years.

        1. You are absolutely right. My bad. Thus, $11 million is consumed by administrative, accounting for 30% of expenditures.

          That one fact should disqualify the program.

  4. Cville Resident Avatar
    Cville Resident

    This is a pretty sad way of saying that Virginia’s system of local government is dysfunctional. Independent cities are almost unique to Virginia.

    Just this week, I asked: Did Virginia Beach consult Norfolk or Chesapeake about the proposed “biomed park”? It doesn’t appear so. Which is ridiculous. A project like that needs all of Southside Hampton Roads on board to succeed. But there is no regional cooperation. That’s because there’s really no regional structure to Virginia local government. There should be.

    But rather than reforming the local government structure as should be done, the fools in the General Assembly come up with this Rube Goldberg contraption. What a farce!!!

    1. Virginia has no system of local government. The state is so hard over on Dillon’s Rule there is effectively no local autonomy. In Virginia a locality can’t even decide how long the grass can grow in a median strip …

      If Virginia really is a diverse state then a strict implementation of Dillon’s Rule is just plain dumb.

  5. LarrytheG Avatar

    this is pretty stupid.

    we have existing planning districts already.

    take the money and make them compete – as regions – by submitting proposals similar to the way the VDOT HB2 program works.

    that will make the regions work – as a region – and to actually do something concrete – and BETTER than the other regions if they are to get the money.

    the current method just encourages more money grubbing for the sake of money grubbing.

    1. The best thing Virginia could do would be to fund the state universities in population centers to strengthen their STEM programs. George Mason, VCU and ODU. The state could give student loans to talented (and perhaps needy) students in STEM majors which could be paid back at a discount so long as the student was employed in Virginia.

      Talent is the best economic development plan.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        good GAWD – Don – have you gone total leftist!

        I could not agree with you MORE!!!

        the VERY BEST economic development is to get your citizens educated – not just 4yr college but for what the economy wants… and that include the spectrum of education from higher Ed to Technical, voc ed, occupational certificates, etc.

        that’s what employers are looking for as much or more so than “bribes” to locate.

        Here in BR – a certain number of folks still treat economic development and education as if they are separate issues.. each with it’s own incompetent govt issues…

        we argue truly inane and ignorant things also – like the “disabling” influence and futility of people’s “genes” and “IQ”s in gaining an education… and apparently prefer that such hapless souls instead just become wards of taxpayers even as we threaten to “cut” entitlements to those shiftless and lazy “takers”.

        and Gawd Forbid this be a legitimate focus of govt – in the first place!

        …. but I digress…

      2. LarrytheG Avatar

        good GAWD – Don – have you gone total leftist!

        I could not agree with you MORE!!!

        the VERY BEST economic development is to get your citizens educated – not just 4yr college but for what the economy wants… and that includes the full spectrum of education from higher Ed to Technical, voc ed, occupational certificates, etc.

        that’s what employers are looking for as much or more so than “bribes” to locate; that’s what foreign companies want H1B visas for.

        Here in BR – a certain number of folks still treat economic development and education as if they are totally separate and independent issues.. each with it’s own unique “incompetent”, “corrupt” govt issues…

        we argue truly inane and ignorant things also here in BR – like the “disabling” influence and futility of people’s “genes” and “IQ”s in gaining an education… and apparently prefer that such hapless souls instead just become wards of taxpayers even as we threaten to “cut”off entitlements to those shiftless and lazy “takers”.

        and Gawd Forbid this be a legitimate focus of govt – in the first place!

        …. but I digress… again….

        I’m betting that Don has a lot of company in NoVa with respect to his views.

      3. TooManyTaxes Avatar

        Spin off UVA and William & Mary. Increase funding for GMU, VCU, VT & ODU. Push for more integration of VT with Roanoke and Lynchburg.

        Entice a major outstate university to open a grad school/research center in Tidewater to work with the military similar to Carnegie Mellon’s operations at Moffett Field in California.

  6. This isn’t ‘pork.’ This is BBQ served on a bun! Thanks, JB, for shining the light on it.

  7. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
    Reed Fawell 3rd

    This now is BBQ on a bun served to pigs and citizens nationwide:

    It use to be not so long ago that private interests bribed public officials for government favors and preferential treatments. Now it is the reverse.

    Now, America’s government officials bribe all sorts of people, groups and institutions within American society. Those getting bribes or “offers they cannot refuse” range from very poor people to very rich people, and include everybody and group, organization and thing in between the rich and poor.

    These government officials bribe all these people, groups and industries in order to buy their own reelection and also to gain long term power and control over an ever larger constituency that then is beholden to the Governments, its politicians, and one of the two political parties.

    In this way officials use other peoples money (the public’s money) to buy and own and dictate the conduct, direction and results of the work that those constituencies do, and how they do that work, and what are the acceptable results of that work. Hence the constituencies of the politicians become supplicants to the politicians where properly should be the peoples servants instead. So now we as a people have traded our freedom for a place in line where we can feed off public monies dolled out by our masters, and so thereby gain our security and livelihood so long as we produce for our political masters, the government elites that now feed and addict us to our own money now seized from us and controlled by our government.

    This dirty money used to be called bribes. It is now called government backed bonds, loans, and grants. It’s often funded with Grand Federal and state initiatives driven by ideology and the concurrent quest by ideologues in the Federal and state governments to expand their own power by expanding the Federal and state government control. Public money is used in tandem with Administrative laws and regulations, a carrot & stick routine.

    Hence, George Mason recently called itself the largest research institution in Virginia. Hence revelations that concerning JWU had reversed of its own finding that alleged charges against a male student were ill founded and retroactively convicted that male student instead so as to appease a Federal government witch hunt launched by the White House and Department of Education. See “JMU’s War on Men” article on this website.

    And that’s only a drop in the Ocean. Government money is now everywhere corrupting everything. It started on steroids with nearly $trillion of peoples money spent on non-existent shovel ready projects. Then it build a website that did not work, despite more than half a billion dollars spent to advertise the $multi-trillions the Federal government is now using to buy and utterly control and dictate to America’s health care industry, and its patients. This in turn is now being used to generate huge amounts of free cash floating around to buy and control American’s health and science research results.

    With our governments growing out of control like Mobsters, everybody and everything living and working in this nation are being dragged into racket. “Non Profit” institutions now are tasked to produce and promote and rubber stamp the results the Federal Government wants, for example.

    Institutions that used to be independent and privately run are now sucked into the maul of Government regulation and coercion, if only driven by their need to buy their own “Government’s protection.” Otherwise they can’t compete, or even survives. These hostages now that we use to call “our hospitals, our research centers, our colleges and our universities.” See for example Steve Case’s book The Third Wave’s take on Government’s growing involvement in everything will do, and it buying up of everything we use to own and operate ourselves.

    Now the state enablers are plunging in. Like Virginia’s Governor giving the people of Virginia’s money away to private corporations while he refused to tell the people why he is giving their money away or where it goes.

    These was adapted and expanded from:

    1. I totally agree, Reed, this is what is happening. The rot runs deep, and I see no hope of reversing it. Taking the long view, I expect our society will continue to erode until it approaches collapse, and only then in desperation will people have the clarity and will to change their institutions. Of course, you and I are a couple of old guys, and old guys are always lamenting how bad things are compared to the good old days. I hope we’re wrong.

      1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
        Reed Fawell 3rd

        Jim says: “Of course, you and I are a couple of old guys, and old guys are always lamenting how bad things are compared to the good old days. I hope we’re wrong.”

        I agree how “Old Guys” often recall the “Good old days” through rose colored glasses.

        In cases where I have spend much time digging into what really happened during certain earlier events I am always surprised at how venal, corrupt, incompetent, and often brutal most of the leaders were during those earlier events. Hence, for example, the American Government between roughly 1914 and 1933 – the incompetence, venality, lack of vision, blindness and/or corruption of our leaders that led us into the Second War that easily could have been avoided, and for which we easily could have been well prepared even if it were unavoidable.

        My increased worry here is the awful speed at which events move today. And the awful weapons daily spreading so rapidly into so many uncontrollable hands. Our margin for error narrows as the incompetence and corruption of our government, and its consequences, grow by leaps and bounds.

  8. LarrytheG Avatar

    I actually think the emphasis on higher ED is wrongheaded and distorts what we ought to be doing – starting in high school.

    Not every kid – should be headed to a 4 year institution and I’m not just talking about the folks not destined for 4 year from the get go.

    we have as many as half of the kids “destined” for 4 year – as not ready , not having the education they need – to be successful – they actually need remedial work and I’m not just talking about the economically disadvantaged either.. many middle and upper class fall into this also.

    worse than that – they’ve signed up for massive loans to pay for the remedial courses and even worse than that – they’re not pointed to degrees for which there is demand in the economy.

    that’s on top of the way that kids not bound for 4 year are treated – academically… by many schools which basically is get them out the door with a diploma and wash their hands of what happens next – as opposed to explicitly preparing those kids to be able to graduate then go to a 2 year or occupational certificate school – to end up – with a job.

    Our schools – if you look at many of them – spend millions of dollars over and above what the state requires for core academic and what that money is actually spent for – is largely unknown by the folks paying for it.

    what we know it’s not being spent on – is kids bound for 4 year schools who have to take remedial courses just to be able to pass Freshman year – AND many (Fairfax is an exception) do not really have a formal program for kids not bound for 4year college to get enough education to get a job in the economy.

    what are we actually spending that local discretionary money on ?

    For the hell and fury about the lack of transparency and accountability blathered on almost daily in BR – almost no one is asking what high schools are spending discretionary money on nor addressing the problem of remedial needs for – middle class high school grads.

    in short – we’re not really focused on the issue.. we scream and lot and engage in all manner of ideological and partisan histrionics but at the end of the day – our high schools largely suck and the usual cast of complainers could care less.. unless of course it serves as some parable about bad genes or low IQs or lazy and irresponsible parents.. Gawd Forbid we talk about middle class kids who cannot get into college without remedial courses.

  9. LarrytheG Avatar

    the biggest threat to economic development is this:

    “Remedial classes have become a hidden cost of college

    What’s striking about the report is it dispels the widely held belief that only low-income or community college students are saddled with remedial courses. As it turns out, 45 percent of students enrolled in such classes hail from middle- and upper-income families. ”

    ” Along with per-student estimates on out-of-pocket costs (i.e. after financial aid) associated with remedial courses, the researchers conclude that first-year remedial college students and families spent $1.5 billion on tuition and living expenses, including $380 million in loans, for content and skills they should have learned in high school.”

    So what in the dooda were these parents doing when their kids where in High School planning on going to college – and apparently NOT taking the courses in sufficient depth needed for college?

    How do these kids pass the SOLs, take AP and SAT and end up not ready for college?

    Finally, are these some of SAME parents who are telling their kids to borrow up to their eyeballs at the same time they are blathering political outrage about the national debt and saddling their kids with it….??

    good grief!!!!

    1. Larry, I agree with you about this. There is something very wrong with the K-12 system that churns out supposedly college-ready kids who wind up needing remediation, something wrong with colleges that accept them, and something wrong with parents who let their kids borrow thousands of dollars to receive an education for which they are not prepared.

      The problem has reached the scale of a national crisis, yet very few people seem willing too talk about it. Too many peoples’ oxes will be gored, I suppose.

  10. LarrytheG Avatar

    more from this report that might surprise:

    “Higher income students pay the most

    One in four college freshmen pay on average an extra $3,000 and borrow nearly an extra $1,000 for remedial coursework in their first year of college. However, students from families in the top income quintile that attend more expensive private nonprofit four-year colleges pay on average an extra $12,000 for remedial classes.

    While underprepared students average two remedial courses each during their first year, higher-income students at expensive private nonprofit four-year colleges take more remedial classes than lower-income students at those same colleges, suggesting these schools enroll many lower-achieving but higher-income students.”

    so what this tells me is that the higher income folks – who COULD private high school – BETTER than the public schools – and – oh by the way -the fundamental premise behind the school choice folks advocacies –

    tells me that higher income parents ALSO don’t insure that their kids are getting a GOOD education that does insure success in college.

    next – the jobs of the 21st century REQUIRE the fundamental core academics that these kids are not getting – and need ‘remedial’ work to just achieve minimum standards. What kind of degree are they going to pursue that actually does incorporate these core academics – which is REQUIRED for Critical thinking about solving problems – the skill that all of Europe, Asia, Australia , etc beat our American schools at?

    and one more –

    most local schools systems spend far more that the state requires with the mandated state match – to go for teaching the core academics, the SOLs.

    what in the world are Virginia schools spending these million of dollars extra – of local discretionary money – on – if not to insure the kids are “college and career ready”.

    You’ve written often on this area but I don’t think you’ve every really addressed this issue – both the fact that half the kids, including the middle and upper income, have to get remedial classes to just meet minimum standards AND what local schools are spending local discretionary money on.

    Instead you’ve focused more on what’s happening with low income kids and parents , non-public choice schools, and high tution and loan costs.

    how about focusing on this issue. Perhaps that study or others actually detail specific Virginia data.

    Perhaps this guy “cranky” you often refer to – has some relevant thoughts since he seems to worry about transparency and the lack of data from DOE and local schools.

    so how many kids in Va have to take remedial college courses before they can enroll in actual college-level courses and what are their SOL scores and from what schools in Va do we see this issue?

  11. so how many kids in Va have to take remedial college courses before they can enroll in actual college-level courses and what are their SOL scores and from what schools in Va do we see this issue?

    That’s a really good question. I wonder if the answer resides in the Virginia Longitudinal Data System? I wonder if ordinary citizens can access that database to find out the answer.

    1. Reed Fawell 3rd Avatar
      Reed Fawell 3rd

      I suspect we are climbing the wrong tree on Education. Government, Federal and/or State, will never fix education. Only parents will.

      As explained in First Things, and I quote:

      “As the late Al Shanker, former head of the American Federation of Teachers, observed:

      It’s time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody’s role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It’s no surprise that our school system doesn’t improve: it more resembles the Communist economy than our own market economy.

      Why don’t we apply democratic capitalism to education? There must be a very good reason for such a gross inconsistency.

      It is not that the American founders wanted it this way. For the first 230 years of our history, parents, not government, were in charge. Competition kept quality high and costs low. Competence in reading, writing, and arithmetic was nearly universal at the time of the American Revolution. But by the mid-nineteenth century, a band of reformers led by Horace Mann of Massachusetts replaced our founding, free-market education system with a system of state-run education, with compulsory attendance and standardized curriculum.

      It is not the case that, while the rest of America steams ahead on democratic capitalist principles, education flourishes on others. Education is far from flourishing. Despite a fourteen—fold increase in inflation—adjusted spending since 1920, longer school years, doubling of teachers’ salaries, and smaller class sizes, a quarter of young Americans have little to no grasp of written English, test scores have stagnated or declined, international rankings are beyond embarrassing, and census data show that public schools have become the second most likely place in America for a violent crime to be committed.

      We should not be surprised. We’ve known forever that monopolies don’t work. We’ve known that the democratic “capitalist model” while not perfect—is vastly better than the centralized, state-run models that countries are abandoning, one by one, around the world. So why is education exempted from the model we apply to everything else in America? And how do we go about connecting education to the energy, creativity, and drive that powers democratic capitalism?

      The answer is simple: put parents in charge. You can’t have a monopoly system if parents are in charge. The two simply cannot coexist. Parents will not voluntarily continue to send their children to schools that cannot teach or protect their children. Parents will not all choose the same, acme-brand education product. They will choose schools as various and unique as their children’s personalities, abilities, and dreams. And as newly energized, newly involved parents choose from multiple education suppliers, new sources of supply will emerge, and all will compete on cost, quality, and innovation.

      Without parents in charge, no amount of “reform” is ever going to fix the monopoly. Seven waves of national reform have washed over an impervious education establishment, yet schools seem to get worse, not better, after every one. Without parents in charge no amount of money is ever going to be enough. Over a hundred studies have tried to show a connection between increased spending and increased learning; not one has succeeded. Without parents in charge, no increase in the number of school days is ever going to be enough, as even a cursory glance at international experience will confirm. Hong Kong, with its short school year, beats Japan in every math and science competition. Israel, with its long school year, can’t keep up with Belgium, which has the shortest school year in the world. Yet our politicians continue to propose longer school years—most recently, California Governor Gray Davis’ proposal to keep kids in school for an extra thirty days, and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s call for weekend classes in science …”


  12. LarrytheG Avatar

    Does DOE keep track of the graduates that have to take remedial courses?

    but the thing is – the Federal DOE keeps a lot of data – AND releases it than VDOE actually has (and reports to the Feds) but does not release or easily release.

    Many education groups go directly to the Feds for the data –

    per this study: “.. Our estimate looks specifically at rising
    college freshmen that graduated from high school the summer
    prior to enrolling in the fall and comes from our analysis of the
    U.S. Department of Education’s National Postsecondary Student Aid
    Study (NPSAS: 2011-12). We believe this to be the most accurate
    estimate of rising college freshmen and one that is in line with
    previous estimates by the U.S. Department of Education for first-year
    undergraduates ages 15-23. See:

    I’d give the link to the study but it probably will put this post to moderation…

  13. LarrytheG Avatar

    here’s the study:

    more excerpts:

    ” Private nonprofit and for-profit colleges are increasingly
    a bad bet for students underprepared for college-level
    work. Because of much higher tuition and net prices,
    students who must initially take remedial coursework pay
    and borrow much more at private colleges than they
    would have had they attended a public four-year or
    two-year college: net tuition expenses at private colleges
    are three times higher than those at public four-year
    colleges and over 10 times higher than those at
    community colleges. Ultimately, while private colleges
    represent only 11 percent of the total first-time freshmen
    remedial population, they account for over three times
    as much remedial course-associated student and parent
    loan debt.

    • In addition to remedial course costs, students who were
    not adequately prepared in high school are also more
    likely to delay college completion – or drop out all

    this is a scandal… both from a State level of kids passing the SOLs, then again at the SAT level then again at the college level where they admit the kid – when he is not qualified for admission AND the govt apparently lets the kid borrow money – to pay for the remedial courses.

    maybe we should spend more time on this than we’ve bee spending on bad genes and IQs of low income kids alone, eh?

  14. LarrytheG Avatar

    I stand corrected on the VLDS (Virginia Longitudinal Data System).

    It’s not a VDOE-only system… it’s actually a big data app started and funded – not by the dunderheads in the Virginia General Assembly – nope – but instead by the big nasty intrusive Federal Dept of Ed:

    ” VLDS (Virginia Longitudinal Data System) is a pioneering collaboration for Virginia’s future, giving the Commonwealth an unprecedented and cost-effective mechanism for extracting, shaping and analyzing partner agency data in an environment that ensures the highest levels of privacy.

    Funded by the 2009 Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems Grant Program of the United States Department of Education, VLDS is comprised of several component technologies that support secure, authorized research addressing today’s top policy and state program questions. VLDS is the result of a shared effort by several Virginia government agencies. Under the IT Initiatives category, VLDS won the 2013 Governor’s Technology Award in Cross-boundary Collaboration for the first-in-the-nation collaboration among four founding state agencies.”

    and not too surprising, when the Va General Assembly was asked to sign on and fund it – they have other things to do :

    you know – you’d think the folks who talk a blue streak in this blog and others about transparency and accountability would have talked about this effort and advocated for it – pointed out the feckless response of the Va GA – right?


    where are the folks who want more transparency and accountability?

    not a whimper about how this effort came from the Feds – and the GOP in Va refused to support it

    1. I don’t know who you’re talking about when you refer to “the folks who talk a blue streak in this blog and others about transparency and accountability,” but I for one have praised the VLDS on a number of occasions, as can be seen here:

      Also, in this article I explain how the VLDS originated with a federal grant from the “stimulus” bill.

  15. LarrytheG Avatar

    somehow missed your article -including this part:

    ” Virginia, he says, is one of 20 states participating in a federal initiative funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (widely known as the “stimulus” bill). ”

    In other words – this is not only NOT a Virginia initiative , it was funded from what you and others have condemned as money wasted, right?

    and yes, you have praised VLDS but you have not given sufficient acknowledgement as to where the funding came from – and the fact that our own General Assembly has refused to nurture and expand it even as you have, again and again, talked about us going to hell in a handbasket over deficit spending.

    I have ALWAYS felt that spending is about ROI as you do but I also think it is about priorities and investments in things that produce value as you cannot get an ROI from this effort – but surely it looks to be a significant way for us to actually determine what IS and what IS NOT producing results that in turn start to get into actual ROI.

    Then when one compares this on substance to things like the Bell Curve and using SOL results to indict entire classes of folks who live in low income neighborhoods and go to poorly performing schools – instead of using data to get to the reasons – we jump the shark by blaming lazy parents, bad teachers, and advocate voucher schools – without any such data collection – just the concept that a non-public school would do better .. just a belief.. apparently.

    Further – to the title of this blog post – this IS about economic development and WHY Virginia and it’s elected , our public policy is still based on obsolete and ignorance about the relationship between education and economic development – INCLUDING how we measure effectiveness – no matter whether govt or private sector is delivering education.

    In other words – if we advocate for vouchers and competition for public schools why not REQUIRE that they ALSO be included in this data collection and analysis so we actually do find out what works – better and start to move away from the bad genes, bad teachers, bad parents meme and get onto real issues of merit?

    thanks.. for listening to my grump.

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