Mike Klein Online

The New American Parliament: It’s No Longer a Two-Party Game

Mike Klein

Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize in Economics recipient and he is perhaps even more celebrated as a left wing thinker – some might say extremist.  His economic and political writings have been a staple inside The New York Times for a dozen years.  Krugman is widely quoted, he is often a broadcast media guest and overall, the guy really knows his economics.

However, sometimes even bright guys miss the mark and I would offer that his recent New York Times column “The Centrist Cop-Out” missed the mark.  In Krugman’s World, Republicans are evil, sinister and ghastly.  Democrats are good and Barack Obama is a centrist.  Krugman does not recognize that it is no longer about just two political parties.  That day is gone or nearly gone as we move closer to an American Parliament akin to European and Israeli models.

Krugman’s opening sentence: ““The facts of the crisis over the debt ceiling aren’t complicated.  Republicans have, in effect taken America hostage, threatening to undermine the economy and disrupt the essential business of government unless they get policy concessions they would never have been able to enact through legislation.”

Krugman’s closing sentence: “The problem with American politics right now is Republican extremism, and if you’re not willing to say that, you’re helping make that problem worse.”

Between his open and close, Krugman names others who like himself believe President Barack Obama is a moderate conservative and he disabuses the notion of a centrist uprising.  Krugman writes, “As I see it, it’s coming from people who recognize the dysfunctional nature of modern American politics, but refuse, for whatever reason to acknowledge the one-sided role of Republican extremists in making our system dysfunctional.”

Paul Krugman, New York Times Columnist

Krugman misses the much larger point.  The two-party American political system is moving toward extinction.  We already have at least three political parties and others could emerge as new groups recognize opportunities and rise to challenge customary power elitists.

For starters, we still have traditional Democrats and Republicans.  The Tea Party sometimes acts like traditional Republicans and sometimes does not.  Plus you have to consider that what Republicans already experienced could easily happen to Democrats.

A Democratic style Tea Party could challenge traditionalists and assert its power or split from the party.  This splinter group could rise because of dissatisfaction with the President or with the new debt relief committee that must identify at least $1.2 trillion in spending cuts.  That will require butchering sacred cows and Democrats will have their hands on the cleaver.

Republicans and Democrats – for the better part of a full century – have stuck to their historical scripts and comfortably played the same game over and over.  Occasionally there was a political hiccup like Ross Perot but by in large, the players were the players and the rules were the rules.  Often times it has been hard to distinguish any differences between them on many national issues.

What we’re witnessing now is being played out on one stage, the debt ceiling deal stage, but you can certainly see how it might expand.  Nobody in the voter world or equally important in the media world is used to more than two political parties or has any background in how to interpret what is happening.

Nearly everyone wants to stick to old rules which would mean not having to acknowledge that what we are witnessing is the beginning of the American Parliament – a multi-headed political entity in which coalitions will vie for power, majorities will disappear and pluralities will dominate.

You have to at least consider the possibility.

(Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation)

August 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Ivy Prep Academy Will Open Two DeKalb County Charter Schools

Mike Klein

Two new state special charter schools will open this month and there is a very good chance their names sound familiar – Ivy Preparatory Academy at DeKalb (for girls) and Ivy Preparatory Young Men’s Leadership Academy at DeKalb.

Monday morning the state board of education approved special school charters for Ivy Prep to offer kindergarten-to-6th grade boys and girls schools in the former Peachtree Hope Charter School location on Memorial Drive in DeKalb County.  Ivy Prep will continue to operate its original 6th-to-9th grade all-girls Academy in Norcross.

Ivy Preparatory Academy was among 15 schools whose charters became invalid three months ago when the Georgia Supreme Court ruled the state charters commission was unconstitutional.  That ruling set off a firestorm nationally and it created a significant challenge for 15,000 students who planned to attend those schools this fall.

Some former commission schools applied for local school district charters; others opted for state special school charters.  Ivy is unique; it will operate in Norcross with a Gwinnett local charter and in DeKalb as a state charter because the DeKalb school board turned down the Ivy application.  Ivy applied to the state only after the local board rejection in a July 11 vote.

Ivy expects to enroll about 600 girls this fall in Norcross.  The state charters will allow Ivy to enroll up to 265 boys and 265 girls in the new DeKalb academies.  Some are expected to be former Peachtree Hope Charter students.  “A lot of the Peachtree parents were asking about this,” said Louis Erste, director at the state charter schools division.

State special charters receive between $2,800 and $3,500 per pupil state funds but no local dollars so per pupil funding is lower than local charter schools or traditional brick-and-mortar schools receive.  Differences also occur because elementary students are funded at higher levels than high school students.  There is also an adjustment for special education students.

Today is also the applications deadline for organizations that are seeking state special school charters to open in fall 2012.  At mid-morning the state Department of Education had received four applications, including two new KIPP Academy schools in Atlanta.  DeKalb Preparatory Academy submitted an application, as did a proposed Latin Academy Charter in Atlanta.

The charter schools division was awaiting possible 2012 applications from Chattahoochee Hills Charter School in south Fulton County, and also Heron Bay Academy in Locust Grove.

(Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation)

August 1, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment