[imgcontainer right] [img:BigHill.jpg] [source]Gary Norad[/source] While the Midwest and South are covered in water, rain and wind, West Texas continues to battle wildfires. Here is a beautiful shot from earlier in the month, looking down from Big Hill on FM 170 west of Lajitas in the Big Bend country of Texas. Smoke from fires clouds the horizon. [/imgcontainer]
The way the federal government distributes extra money for schools with high percentages of poor students is unfair.
The formula used to distribute Title 1 money under the Elementary and Secondary Education act is tilted to favor districts with large numbers of poor students. So, urban districts with large numbers of poor students get a higher per pupil rate of Title 1 money than smaller (often rural) districts that have higher percentages of poor students.
The Formula Fairness Campaign has been pointing out this craziness for some time. Recently, they produced a report showing that “only two of the 340 school districts with the highest disadvantaged student rate nationally benefit from the number weighting provision.” The Formula Fairness Campaign reports:
In fact, 281 of these highest poverty districts would be better off if all districts had their student eligibility count weighted using only the percentage and not the number of disadvantaged students. Fifty-seven districts merely break even with the addition of number weighting.
But what is truly astonishing is that 83 of the 281 highest poverty districts who are hurt by the presence of number weighting in the formula are hurt so badly that they would be better off if there were no weighting system at all – neither number weighting or percentage weighting. These districts would be better off if Congress had not tried to target districts with “high concentrations” of poverty.
• Missouri farmer and Yonder columnist Richard Oswald writes in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch today about a recent law passed in Missouri that will limit the liability of large hog feeding operations for damages to the air, water and their neighbors’ property.
Ironically, not only the air we breathe, our farms, rural homes, ponds and wells, but entire communities and the roads linking them now may have lower values brought about by the expanded presence of a permanent nuisance. That works for Big Pig to the detriment of everyone in our state.
Rural Missouri property rights may never be the same.
• Demand for metallurgical coal is the strongest in 20 years, according to a vice president for Norfolk Southern rail lines.
TriCities.com reports that at a meeting of the Eastern Coal Council in Kingsport, Tennessee, coal officials were upbeat about worldwide demand for steel, and thus for met coal.
• Democrat Kathy Hochul won a special election in a western New York Congressional district that’s a bit more rural than the national average.
Hochul, the Erie County Clerk, had 48 percent of the vote with 90 percent of the vote counted. Republican State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin had 42 percent and independent Jack Davis had 9 percent.
New York’s District 26 has 28% of its voters living in rural areas, making it the 151st most rural out of 435 districts. The district lies between Buffalo and Rochester.
• Walmart has saturated the suburbs and rural areas with stores, so now the Bentonville, Arkansas, company is building smaller stores in bigger cities.
• Nebraska and Kansas legislators have passed bills that would outlaw a system that allowed doctors to distribute abortion pills remotely.
The system is used in several Great Plains states. A doctor in a city can talk with a patient in a remote clinic through a videoconference. If the doctor assents, the patient can push a button that opens a drawer, making the pills available. More than 2,000 patients have used this system at 16 Iowa sites, according to the Des Moines Register’s Tony Leys.
The Iowa legislature has not moved to outlaw this setup.
• The American Farm Bureau Federal estimates that nearly 3.6 million acres of farmland have been harmed by flooding in the South. Some 40% of the rice crop has been affected.
• A veterinarian group finds that there is no shortage of vets in rural areas after all.
The American Association of Bovine Practitioners Ad Hoc Committee on Rural Veterinary Practice has found that there are pockets of rural areas that are under served, but that the problem in most of these areas is a poor economy, not a shortage of docs.
“The committee is extremely concerned that the perception by veterinary schools and the public that there continues to be a shortage of rural practitioners is leading to increased class sizes at veterinary schools and the creation of new veterinary schools. Continuing to increase the number of veterinarians interested in serving rural areas will not solve this problem,” the committee says. “In fact, creating an ‘over supply’ of food supply veterinarians will lead to widespread unemployment or underemployment of food-supply private practitioners and will have a significant detrimental effect on salaries for all veterinarians.”