Volume 3 (2006)

Beyond the Basics: The Effects of Non-core Curricular Enrichment on Standardized Test Scores at Public Secondary Schools

Susan Catron and Robert W. Wassmer

Standardized test scores for school sites, like California’s Academic Performance Index (API), are intended to measure student performance in what have been labelled the core learning areas of “reading, writing and arithmetic” and have become the focus of public concern. Some have argued that this focus has de-emphasized the pursuit of curricular enrichment of anything besides these “Three Rs.” In this paper we assess whether such a de-emphasis could hurt the pursuit of high standardized test scores. We do this through a regression analysis of factors that are expected to cause differences in recent API scores from 188 public high schools and 184 middle schools in 14 northern California counties, and find that the ratio of offerings in Health/PE, Fine Arts and Foreign Language exerts a positive effect on API scores depending on the average parent education level at a school site. The major implication is that curricular inputs must be used strategically to achieve the desired outcome. Notably, the less academic forms of enrichment are expected to enhance scores in schools serving disadvantaged student populations (as defined by a low average parent education level). These findings suggest caution in pursuing curricular changes designed to boost a school site’s standardized test scores.

Achieving EEO Compliance through Compliant Reporting – Can the No Fear Act Be Effective?

James N. Szymalak

Standardized Responding to public pressure concerning federal agency civil rights compliance, Congress passed the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination and Retaliation Act of 2002 (No FEAR). This law was intended to make federal agencies more accountable for their violations of employment discrimination and whistleblower protection laws by requiring the publication of EEO complaint data on agency websites. Congress and the EEOC believed that this public disclosure would induce managers to improve equal opportunity and anti-discrimination practices in the workplace. However, the limited research on “information inductance theory,” which posits that requiring the reporting of information induces people to change their behavior, shows that information reporting produces no inductive effect on the data senders. This paper analyzes information inductance in relation to the EEO complaint process, and concludes that the reporting requirements imposed by the No FEAR Act yield no inductive effects on managers to improve their behaviors vis-à-vis the agency’s civil rights program. Before continuing to rely upon information inductance to modify behavior, Congress and the EEOC must thoroughly research and study the effects of such policies; otherwise, federal EEO policy risks becoming ineffective and, even worse, possibly destructive in the organizational management setting.

The Transportation of Hazardous Materials (Hazmat) and the Need for Heightened Security

Jack K. Wheeler

The catastrophic events of 9/11 exposed the vulnerability of critical infrastructure and key assets to terrorist attack, and since then the U. S. government has engaged in a concerted effort to significantly bolster the protection and preparedness of these entities. Various means of transportation of individuals, commodities, and substances, all of which play a vital role in the operation of modern society, have received particular emphasis. With attention focused on the multitude of threats facing the nation and the ability of critical infrastructures to confront such dangers, many experts have become increasingly concerned with the transportation of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) within U.S. borders. These materials, when stored in large enough quantities, present the possibility of a cataclysmic loss of life if failure or attack were to occur. Federal agencies such as the Department of Transportation and the Transportation Security Administration have taken important steps to strengthen the protection of HAZMAT transit. However, this critical infrastructure still remains extremely vulnerable. As a result, lawmakers and other officials must immediately address the dangers that the transportation of HAZMAT present and take all appropriate policy measures to ensure the adequate security of this sector.

Remittance Mechanisms: Regulatory Policies in a Globalized Financial Market

Daniel M. Rothschild

Although annual migrant worker remittances have surpassed the quarter-trillion dollar mark and are a vital part of international economic development, developed country regulators remain unsure of if and how to regulate their transfers through informal networks. Informal money transfer services (IMTSs), most notably hawala, account for worldwide currency flows of between $100 and $300 billion annually and provide a low-cost and reliable method for transferring small sums of money internationally. Additionally, informal systems serve as a liberalized currency market and help mitigate the deleterious effects to developing country residents of tariffs and currency controls. This paper discusses how IMTSs operate, explains their comparative advantages, notes the disadvantages of formal systems, and weighs the costs and benefits of various forms and degrees of regulation by regulators in developed countries. The author concludes that, in order to promote international economic development and the free movement of migrant workers’ earnings, informal systems should be regulated gently with an eye to ease of compliance. The unintended consequences of zealous regulation of IMTSs are likely to create problems much worse than those that exist in the absence of regulation.

Raising a Holy Ruckus: How Religion Trumps Our Classical-Liberal Heritage in the Debate Over Gay Marriage

Randall Sampson

This essay seeks to explore the triangular relationship between religion, Classical Liberalism, and the controversial issue of gay marriage1 in America today. It posits that, to the extent religion and religious beliefs drive opposition to gay marriage, that opposition is inconsistent with America’s political heritage of Classical Liberalism and particularly its mainstay principle of individual rights and autonomy.