The Edward H. Arnold Institute for Policy Studies

The Dispute That Never Dies: Do Charter Schools Earn An A+ Or F-?

By David A. Atkinson Because there are no higher stakes than the future of our children, education debates are traditionally fraught and furious affairs. There are more theories on how to fix problems than channels in the standard cable package. For those sitting in the stands, education is easy. You know, the everything I learned […]

Accurate American History Was Made In Many Hues: It Should Be Remembered, Debated, And Taught That Way

By David A. Atkinson The education calendar features Black History Month, Women’s History Month, and Hispanic Heritage Month. These designations have become more controversial and less placating during this time of rising contention over how history is taught. On disputatious issues ranging from community policing to health care access to wealth accumulation to education inequity, […]

Adding Jack Daniels And Old Grand-Dad To Our Constitutional Rights

By David A. Atkinson Every state legislator takes an oath of office to support and defend the Constitution. Presumably, that oath is meant to include ensuring the integrity and functionality of our state Constitution. There are not fine-print exceptions for when legislating becomes hard, or for when the governor is difficult to negotiate with, or […]

Shuffling Cards No Guarantee State Universities Hold A Better Hand In Enrollment Poker Game; Fresh Dice Do Not Mean A Fairer Funding Craps Shoot

By David A. Atkinson Fourteen state-owned universities are not out of proportion to Pennsylvania’s population, economic stature, or legacy of affordable higher education options. If anything, this may well constitute underrepresentation. For a parallel, look to when the community colleges were created during the 1960s. The prospective map called for twenty-eight. Yet only fourteen were […]

Pennsylvania Benefits When The Religious-Minded Participate in Policy Debates

The intersection of religion and politics is never clear of emotional disputes over lanes and right of way. Even at that, there is growing intensity to debates these days about the appropriateness of religious groups and individuals motivated by faith setting up shop in the public square. This question requires sorting through prominent misconceptions. To […]

Team Play Concept in Politics Far Removed From Sports

By David A. Atkinson A recent quote from Erie state Senator Dan Laughlin reveals more about the troubles in state politics than he perhaps intended. His statement is a refreshingly candid assertion: “One of the things that disappoints me the most about politics is that it’s a little bit too much of a team sport. […]

National Lawsuits Should Reflect Pennsylvania Consensus

By David A. Atkinson No matter which party holds the governorship, and no matter the political philosophy of the individual occupying the position, Pennsylvania is indisputably a strong governor state. This causes natural tension between the chief executive and the legislature, because it tilts the balance of power. Additional friction occurs when governors invariably have […]

Farmland Preservation – The Economic Gift That Keeps On Growing

By David A. Atkinson A recent program on WITF public radio celebrated the success of farmland preservation in Lancaster County, a cutting edge leader in securing the development rights to prime agricultural land. Over the past 33 years, the Lancaster Farmland Trust has made a substantial investment in ensuring agriculture is a staple way of […]

In Chasing The Grail Of More Competitive Legislative Races, Consider Multi-Member House Districts

By David A. Atkinson As state government watchers know, this is the high anxiety time in the political cycle when congressional and state legislative districts are being redrawn.  With the outcome establishing the electoral template for ten years of races, there is abundant anguished commentary about fairness, competitiveness, and community interest.  Nearly everyone has a […]