Strange public policy times

Strange public policy times

With much fanfare, Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) officials have announced an embryonic plan to “re-imagine” a district that is flailing academically, economically and ethically.

“Now it’s time to imagine PPS differently,” embattled Superintendent Anthony Hamlet told the school board’s education committee meeting recently.

If that means not raising taxes for worse academic performance and not continuing ethics-challenged practices in travel and contracting, the public should be all for it.

But we’ve seen grand visions come and go over many decades in the Pittsburgh district and, frankly, it appears that the grander the vision, the greater the failures have been.

Perhaps the grandest vision this district could have right now is to teach kids how to read, which is the foundation of everything else educational. A close second would be teaching them how to add, subtract, multiply and do long division.

Current “achievement” in all those areas mocks the word and, in another word, is pathetic.

In a manner of speaking, if you can’t even read the instructions detailing the calculations to light the rocket engine designed to take you to the moon, shooting for the moon, if not the stars beyond, remains a fool’s errand.

Further affirming that we live in strange public policy times:

In a simply embarrassing, if not intellectually appalling, commentary published in the Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O’Connor teams up with “progressive” activist Jennifer Rafanan Kennedy to demand “a $15 per hour minimum wage, unions for all and an end to Pennsylvania’s cynical preemption law.”

As if more than doubling the current state/federal dictated wage floor would not lead to either a reduction in hours for existing entry-level jobs and/or fewer such jobs (and, thus, hurting minorities the most).

As if having each and every local jurisdiction promulgating a hodge-podge of laws would not make it virtually impossible for any business to operate a business statewide.

Such policies certainly will not, as Kennedy and O’Connor claim, “help Pennsylvania grow together.”

But such economic and governance perversions surely will render any kind of “growth” into a quixotic notion.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).