Thursday, February 02, 2006

Origins of the 65% Solution

As most readers are aware, the "65% solution" has been trumpeted as a way of "Driving Money into the Classroom." I thought a little background on its origins might be interesting for those who haven't followed it.

The primary person given credit for the "65% solution" is Patrick Byrne, CEO of Interestingly enough, this eccentric CEO was also the dubious winner of's "Dumbest Moment in Investor Relations for 2005. (To find the link you will have to click on 2006 Smart List and follow the "10 Dumbest Moments link at the top) Here is what had to say about Patrick Byrne.

Over the course of 2005, CEO Patrick Byrne issues increasingly shrill pronouncements about nefarious short-sellers driving the company's stock into the ground. After listening to an Overstock conference call with investors in August, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban posts to his blog a list of the topics Byrne covered: "Miscreants; an unnamed Sith Lord he hopes the feds will bury under a prison; gay bath houses; whether he is gay, does cocaine, both, or neither; phone taps; phone lines misdirected to Mexico; arrested reporters; payoffs; conspiracies; crooks; egomaniacs; fools; paranoia; which newspapers are shills and for who; money laundering; his Irish temper; false identities; threats; intimidation; and private investigators. All in 61 minutes." Cuban then short-sells 10,000 shares of Overstock.

Not to join Cuban in selling Patrick Byrne short, but I am not sure what else qualifies Byrne for knowing what each school system in America needs to spend as a specific percent on instruction. Nevertheless, the the 65% solution picks up steam.

George Will, in the Washington Post, thinks Byrne's 65% solution is a great one. Will writes in April of 2005...
His idea -- call it the 65 Percent Solution -- is politically delicious because it unites parents, taxpayers and teachers while, he hopes, sowing dissension in the ranks of the teachers unions...

So there you have it. "A politically delicious" idea from the eccentric Winner of "The Dumbest Moment in Investor Relations" for 2005.

Not to be outdone, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, comes out with a ringing endorsement of the 65% solution proposed by the group First Class Education. I guess Grover is in competition with Patrick Byrne for President of the "I-wish-I-hadn't-said-that-now Club."
Here is an old Norquist quote reported more recently in the Washington Post.

"What the Republicans need is 50 Jack Abramoffs...," Grover Norquist told National Journal in 1995.

There you have it. Expert testimony from two big name supporters of the 65% solution. The brains behind the idea is the Winner of 2005's Dumbest Moment in Investor Relations, and the leader of the Americans for Tax Reform organization who thinks Republicans "need 50 Jack Abramoff's."

Educators everywhere --- don't you feel better now knowing about two of the characters that help frame and define educational policy debate in America?


At Thursday, February 02, 2006, Anonymous smokehouse said...

It would appear to me that the "65% Solution" is more about driving wedges between school personnel than it is about driving dollars into the classroom. When people realize where those "additional" dollars are going to come from, they may have second thoughts about this "simple" solution. Perhaps that is why there is such a rush on the part of republican controlled state legislatures to ram the concept through.


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