Three organizations recently released new education rankings of states. Education Week’s Quality Counts is a comprehensive analysis of states’ education policies and student outcomes, conducted by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center. New this year is a ranking report from StudentsFirst, under the leadership of former DC schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, which looks at how “reform-minded” states are, as defined by policies such as expanding the charter school sector and tying teacher and principal evaluation to student performance. The National Council on Teacher Quality’s State Teacher Policy Yearbook hones in on teacher preparation systems. An older, fourth report – the Foundation for Child Development’s Child Well-Being Index – puts all three new rankings in perspective, by taking a deep dive into a variety of factors that affect student learning, both within and outside of the classroom. …
Produced for the Indiana Transportation Association, this trio of studies examines options for public transit, methods of funding, and the impact of fixed-route bus transit in Indiana.
–Public Transportation in Indiana: An Analysis of Ridership Surveys by Dagney Faulk, Michael Hicks, Kevin Kroll
–The Effect of Gasoline Prices on Public Bus Ridership in Indiana by Michael Hicks, Dagney Faulk
–Fixed Route and Demand-Response Systems: Funding Methods, Benefits, and Costs in Indiana by Michael J. Hicks, Dagney Faulk, and Kevin Kroll
From the abstract:
In response to pressure from various stakeholders, many transnational businesses have developed codes of conduct and monitoring systems to ensure that working conditions in their supply chain factories meet global labor standards. Many observers have questioned whether these codes of conduct have any impact on working conditions or are merely a marketing tool to deflect criticism of valuable global brands. Using a proprietary dataset from one of the world’s largest social auditors, containing audit-level data for 31,915 audits of 14,922 establishments in 43 countries on behalf of 689 clients in 33 countries, we conduct one of the first large-scale comparative studies of adherence to labor codes of conduct to determine what combination of institutional conditions promotes compliance with the global labor standards embodied in codes. We find that these private transnational governance tools are most effective when they are embedded in states that have made binding domestic and international legal commitments to protect workers’ rights and that have high levels of press freedom and nongovernmental organization activity. Taken together, these findings suggest the importance of multiple, robust, overlapping, and reinforcing governance regimes to meaningful transnational regulation.
From the abstract:
The Municipal Equality Index (MEI), the first ever rating system of LGBT inclusion in municipal law, finds that while many U.S. cities lag behind in protections for LGBT people, some of the most LGBT-friendly policies in the country have been innovated and implemented at the municipal level, including in states with laws that are unfriendly to the LGBT community.
The MEI rates cities based on 47 criteria falling under six broad categories: non-discrimination laws; relationship recognition; the municipality’s employment practices; inclusiveness of city services; law enforcement; and municipal leadership. Key findings from the MEI create a snapshot of LGBT equality in 137 municipalities of varying sizes drawn from every state in the nation – these include the 50 state capitals, the 50 most populous cities in the country, and the 25 large, 25 mid-size, and 25 small municipalities with the highest proportion of same-sex couples. Seattle and other 100-point cities serve as shining examples of LGBT inclusivity, with excellent policies ranging from non-discrimination laws, equal employee benefits, and cutting-edge city services.
Full-length, detailed scorecards
From the summary:
This study challenges the common perception of family caregiving as a set of personal care and household chores that most adults already do or can easily master. Family caregivers have traditionally provided assistance with bathing, dressing, eating, and household tasks such as shopping and managing finances. While these remain critically important to the well-being of care recipients, the role of family caregivers has dramatically expanded to include performing medical/nursing tasks of the kind and complexity once only provided in hospitals.
Source: Matt Fellowes, Katy Willemin, HelloWallet, January 2013
Well over half of U.S. employers use 401(k)’s and other defined contribution (DC) programs to encourage their employees to save for retirement, now collectively spending over $118 billion in match contributions and encouraging employees to save another $175 billion every year. Yet, over 25 percent of households that use a DC plan for retirement have withdrawn, or breached, their DC balances for non-retirement spending needs, amounting to over $70 billion in annual withdrawals. These trends challenge key legal and financial assumptions used to govern the DC retirement market …
…The findings indicate that employers are subsidizing an expensive retirement benefit that a large, and growing, share of workers do not use for retirement, signaling a broader misalignment between the advanced financial needs subsidized by employers and the basic, unmet financial needs of workers. Furthermore, because retirement plan breaching is not among the metrics reported by plan managers, this growing problem is largely invisible to employers sponsoring retirement benefits. Among our recommendations, we encourage employers and regulators to promote access to more personalized Total Rewards and talent management programs—with an increased focus on holistic money management needs —which more effectively align benefit spending with the actual benefit needs of their population. This will reduce costs for employers, improve worker engagement, and ultimately increase Rewards efficacy.
From the abstract:
Guidelines exist that recommend specific vaccines for health care personnel and supporting documents provide guidance for program development and implementation, but the extent to which those guidelines have been implemented in health care personnel immunization programs has not been fully explored. This project aimed to evaluate current practices in US health care facilities concerning health care personnel immunization programs. … Results of the survey have identified a number of education and training opportunities that can be addressed by professional associations using available evidence-based and proven implementation materials as resource documents. …
From the abstract:
Only limited data are available on businesses’ experiences related to the 2009 H1N1 pandemic in terms of interventions implemented, staffing shortages, employees working while ill, and H1N1 vaccination policy. A questionnaire was administered to human resource professionals during May-July 2011 to assess US businesses’ experiences related to the 2009 pandemic. …In all, 471 human resource professionals participated. Most did not work while ill. Twelve percent reported staffing shortages, 2.1% needed to hire temporary staff, and fewer than 1% reduced workload or closed during the pandemic. From logistic and linear regressions, determinants of providing employees H1N1 influenza training, respiratory hygiene education, offering H1N1 vaccine to employees, and higher infection prevention intervention scores were size of the business (with larger businesses implementing more interventions, such as providing education and vaccine, than smaller businesses) and being a health care agency…. Businesses should continue to improve business continuity and pandemic plans to prepare for the next biologic event (ie, pandemic, bioterrorism attack, or emerging infectious disease outbreak)….
Business continuity and pandemic preparedness: US health care versus non-health care agencies
Source: Terri Rebmann, Jing Wang, Zachary Swick, David Reddick, Corina Minden-Birkenmaier, AJIC: American Journal of Infection Control, published online 21 January 2013
…What is newer and was less widely anticipated is the upward redistribution of income that we have seen over the last three decades. This affects the program in two ways. First it has a direct effect in that a larger share of wage income has gone over the taxable maximum (currently just over $113,000). In 1983, the Greenspan commission set the cap at a level where 90 percent of wage income would be subject to the tax, meaning that 10 percent would escape taxations.
Since that date, the upward redistribution of wages has increased the portion of wage income over the cap to 16.8 percent, with just 83.2 percent of wage income subject to the cap. The share going over the wage cap is projected to rise further, reaching 17.5 percent of wage income in a decade. In this way, the upward redistribution of income directly worsens the finances of the program….
…The country is in a bad mood, and legitimately so. Our task is to help people find the clarity and courage to direct their anger at those responsible for their misery. …
…There is no Master Plan that guarantees victory. But here are a few steps unions can take to move politics forward in 2013:
Focus on the states….
Put workplace organizing at the center of our political operation….
…Since most unions’ political staffs come out of electoral politics, they often don’t understand workplace internal organizing. To do politics right, we must bring together political and organizing staffs that often operate on separate tracks.
Recruit members to serve as public ambassadors….
Campaign against the corporate lobbies….
Run offensive campaigns….