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What We’re Reading | December 14, 2012

Article by Jacqueline Lowe February 1, 2013 //   3 minute read

High-Quality Assessments Face Political Hurdles
This article by Matthew Chingos at the Brookings Institute examines the cost and quality of standardized tests across the country. Chingos argues that, despite what some might think, relatively little is spent on creating and administering tests - only about $34 per student out of over $13,000 spent annually - which may result in lower quality tests that our students should be taking. “The paltry amount spent on testing coupled with the increasingly prominent role played by testing in education policy raises the question of whether many states are not spending enough to get the high-quality tests needed to make such important judgments as which students are learning, which schools are failing, and which teachers should be rewarded for exceptional performance.”

Prescott and Ohanian: Taxes Are Much Higher Than You Think
In this Wall Street Journal op-ed, Edward Prescott and Lee Ohanian argue that raising tax rates, which the authors point out are already higher than people realize, will depress the economy further by reducing the incentive for workers to work longer and harder. The authors use the example of Europe which has seen a 30% decline in working hours as taxes have steadily risen. Higher taxes also have consequences for entrepreneurship and risk taking according to Prescott and Ohanian. "Economic growth requires new ideas and new businesses, which in turn require a large group of talented young workers who are willing to take on the considerable risk of starting a business. This requires undoing the impediments that stand in the way of creating new economic activity—and increasing the after-tax returns to succeeding." Prescott, a Nobel winner, has also contributed to the Bush Institute's 4% Growth Project, writing a chapter for the 4% Solution.

Imprisoned Iranian lawyer ends hunger strike
From FreedomCollection.org: The Chicago Tribune via Reuters reports that Nasrin Sotoudeh, an imprisoned human rights attorney in Iran, has ended her hunger strike after 49 days.  Sotoudeh ended the strike after authorities gave in to her demands, namely the end of travel bans placed on her family. Sotoudeh is serving a 6 year prison sentence on charges of endangering national security and spreading propaganda. This is the second hunger strike that she has undertaken since her sentence began.  The first was a protest against the lack of access for her family to visit her in prison. Both the United States and the United Nations have called for her release.