Distributing innovative government services through coordinated legislative action


In my previous post, I lamented that we don’t have a mechanism for evaluating, propagating, and scaling successful state-level policy and legislation. I’ll try to propose such a mechanism here.

It would be great to a forum where legislators and policymakers could

  • Evaluate, based on evidence, which states have clearly winning approaches in vital areas like energy, education, food safety, labor, transportation, etc.
  • Collaborate to make winning approaches adaptable to other states.
  • Support presenting those winning approaches to new states for public debate, vote, and possible adoption.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I think the nation could benefit from adopting the energy efficiency standards of California and/or New York. The statues are writing, the required products are already available, the skills to implement the building codes and operational practices are known. What’s missing is a mechanism for encouraging adoption by other states.

There’s an analogous case currently happening in education that might shed some light on the forum I’m envisioning.

  • In 1993, Massachusetts passed a new set of standards in educations. (Education standards describe what students should know and be able to do at a certain grade level, but don’t specify what curriculum, instructional methods, or tests to use.)
  • Massachusetts rose to the top of the state education ranks in what some call the “Massachusetts Miracle.”
  • In 2010, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers published the Common Core State Standards in math and language arts, patterned in part on Massachusetts standards.
  • Forty five states adopted the Common Core, motivated in part by the Race to The Top competitions conducted by the Obama administration.

There are plenty of people who might contest this simplified timeline and question any causality or wisdom in Massachusett’s original education reform, the creation and adoption of the Common Core, and the federal government’s role in providing financial incentives to shape state policy. It’s also too soon to evaluate the educational outcomes of Common Core in those states that have adopted it.

My point here is to show one ad hoc mechanism for evaluating and propagating state policies.

Given the contention and misinformation that surrounds the Common Core today, and the missed opportunity of propagating currently successful state approaches, having a more established and transparent formum for conducting policy evaluation and propagation would be a welcomed change.

(I’d like to call my policy propagation forum something like the American Legislative Exchange Council, except that name is already taken by a group that helps corporations drive the legislative agenda at the state level. That’s not what I’m talking about.)

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