Could You Pass Sixth Grade Economics?

Nina Sovich:

April Higgins knows even the sharpest students can get tripped up on a complex subject.

“What is the basic economic problem all societies face?” Ms. Higgins asks her class. Ava Watson, raises her hand: “Scarcity.”

The class responds in unison. “People have unlimited wants but limited resources.”

Not bad for a bunch of sixth-graders.

Scarcity, elasticity, marginal returns are now being taught in some schools to children as young as 10 years old. The push, educators say, was spurred by the 2008 financial crisis and is designed to help students become more comfortable with economics, financial planning and entrepreneurship. Catch them young, the thinking goes, and adult activities like balancing a checkbook or taking out a loan will be easier.

Father and 12 year old son go to Greece to help migrants


Kids normally go out with their mates or play football during their half term break, but twelve year old Zakariah spent his holidays in the Greek islands with his dad Malik. Not as a short holiday though, but to visit the refugee camps in the islands of Samos and Chios to help give out food and clothing. The refugees have come from places like Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and await their documentation in these camps before being able to travel across Europe. Malik and his 12 year old son Zakaria tell Nihal why they decided to go to Greece.

The Allure of ‘Matrix-Style Learning’ Blog Logo

Audrey Watters:

it’s hardly a surprise that a press release issued by HRL Laboratories, a research center jointly owned by Boeing and General Motors, would invoke the film to boast about research it’s published in the February 2016 issue of Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

In the press release, HRL Laboratories claims that, akin to the technology in The Matrix, it has “discovered that low-current electrical brain stimulation can modulate the learning of complex real-world skills” and that “subjects who received brain stimulation via electrode-embedded head caps improved their piloting abilities.” “It’s possible that brain stimulation could be implemented for classes like drivers’ training, SAT prep, and language learning,” the lead researcher speculates.

The press release and accompanying video have been picked up by the media, most of whom have done very little to verify the findings, or hell, even read the journal article in question. From Techcrunch, for example: “Researchers Create Matrix-Like Instant Learning Through Brain Stimulation.” From The Telegraph: “Scientists discover how to ‘upload knowledge to your brain’.”

Remembering war: A few thoughts after walking the Vicksburg battlefield at night, and before drinking with Charlie Rich

Thomas E Ricks:

One day last week I drove 500 miles and as the sun set I really needed to stretch my legs. So when me and my little dog got to the Vicksburg battlefield, and the sign said the battlefield road was closed, we just parked across the street and headed out overland. We walked up the Federal line, and then, under the stars, with only the deer and the crickets for company, down the Confederate line.A few things struck me:— If you get a chance to walk a Civil War battlefield at night, do so. There is nothing like being alone on a battlefield at night.— I think I have mentioned before that the older I get, the less ghosts bother me, and the more I welcome their company. These days they feel like old friends who simply got there before me. In the moonless night the deer moved like ghosts, barely perceptible in the haze off the Mississippi until you bumped into them.

In 90 of the largest 95 U.S. cities, more students of color than whites attend school with mostly poor or low-income peers.

Jane Boschma:

In a modern-day tale of two cities, in virtually every major U.S. metropolitan area students of color are much more likely than whites to attend public schools shaped by high concentrations of poverty, an analysis of federal data has found.

In all but five of the 95 largest cities by population for which data is available, more minority than white students attend public schools where most of their classmates qualify as poor or low-income, according to the analysis of data from the National Equity Atlas. In a full three-fourths of cities, the share of minority students attending mostly poor or low-income schools is at least 20 percentage points greater than the share of white students. In 29 of the cities, the gap is at least 40 percentage points.

Across a wide range of cities, the numbers point to a massive racial imbalance in exposure to concentrated poverty. In St. Louis, 92 percent of black, but only 27 percent of white, students attend schools where most of their classmates qualify as poor or low-income. In Dallas, 38 percent of white, compared to 95 percent of black and 97 percent of Latino students, attend mostly low-income schools. In Los Angeles, the numbers are 49 percent for whites, 85 percent for African Americans, and 96 percent for Latinos.

Are NJ public-school students underprepared, in trouble?


There are more than 2,500 schools in nearly 600 school districts in the state of New Jersey. There are more than 1.37 million students enrolled in public schools in the state. There are more than 113,000 teachers charged with the future of these students.

The numbers are astounding. The job of preparing these students is daunting.

How do you prepare them? How do you evaluate them? How do you evaluate the preparation?

According to the United States Census Bureau, individuals achieve the following degree levels earned the following median annual salaries: PhD’s, $100,000 or more; master’s, $63,000; bachelor’s, $55,700; associate’s, $42,000; high school diploma, $32,500. In addition, on average, bachelor’s degree holders earn about $2.3 million over their lifetime, while those with advanced degrees, including master’s, doctoral and professional degrees earning $2.7 million, $3.2 million and $3.7 million, respectively.

MBA diary: Why you probably don’t need an MBA


$33,800), distance learning, over three years. You get books and some tuition, but mostly you are on your own. Students get together to form study groups; some work hard while others are busy with their jobs and families. Everyone passes.

I managed to find £8,000 for the first year. Then the second year came around and I struggled. I spoke to my student support officer who offered little support. I should have had all the money sorted, he said. Welcome to the real world.

I was working in a bar at the time to pay for the course. Most of my cohort were funded by their companies and then locked into contracts for a few years. That is the way to do an MBA: your firm pays and then guarantees you a job.

Why Math Word Problems Fail

AK Whitney:

They too often evoke dread in math students. Just as frequently, math teachers — particularly if they’re new to the business — have trouble understanding why.

Ben Orlin, an Oakland-based high school math teacher and writer, describes this phenomenon in his popular blog Math With Bad Drawings: “I was shocked to find how fervently my students despised the things they called ‘word problems,’” he writes in the aptly titled post “The ‘Word Problem’ Problem.” “They treated ‘word problems’ as some exotic and poisonous breed.” His students felt that word problems “had nothing to do with the main thrust of mathematics, which was apparently to chug through computations and arrive at clean numerical solutions.”

Encouraging Students of Color to Code Could Lead to Further Segregation in Education

Melinda Anderson:

For its most ardent champions, enthusiasm for coding comes close to evangelism. From Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt—“Let’s get the whole world coding!”—and the actor Ashton Kutcher, to the NBA player Chris Bosh and the rap royalty Snoop Dogg—“support tha american dream n make coding available to EVERYONE!!”—teaching kids to code has gained high-profile support and widespread acclaim.

Perhaps for good reason. Jobs in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math are among the fastest-growing and highest-paying careers for college graduates, and with the pervasiveness of technology in our daily lives, learning to code is increasingly seen as foundational and essential for learning—not unlike reading, writing, and arithmetic. President Obama in a January weekly radio address latched onto the comparison: “In the new economy … it’s a basic skill, right along with the three ‘Rs.’” And the White House has put a lot of stock in that idea, reserving $4 billion in its 2017 federal budget proposal for states to bolster computer-science education, and $100 million of those funds targeted for school districts to establish and expand computer science in classrooms across the country.

Poor Kids

PBS Frontline

FRONTLINE spent months following three young girls who are growing up against the backdrop of their families’ struggles against financial ruin. At a time when one in five American kids lives below the poverty line, Poor Kids is an is an intimate portrait of the economic crisis as it’s rarely seen, through the eyes of children.

Common Core’s Surprisingly Deep Roots

Robert Pondiscio:

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz reliably wins applause with a call to “repeal every word of Common Core.” It’s a promise he will be hard-pressed to keep should he find himself in the White House next January. Aside from the bizarre impracticality of that comment as phrased (Which words shall we repeal first? “Phonics?” “Multiplication?” Or “Gettysburg Address?”), the endlessly debated, frequently pilloried standards – love ’em or hate ’em – are now a deeply entrenched feature of America’s K-12 education landscape.

How Moving Is Linked to Losing Friends

Julie Beck:

And a new paper by Omar Gillath at the University of Kansas and Lucas Keefer at the University of Dayton suggests that the more someone moves from place to place, the more likely they are to think of their relationships as disposable—because they’re used to thinking of things as disposable.

Gillath and Keefer did a series of small studies where people took questionnaires about their willingness to dispose of things and people and their history of moving from place to place. They found that people who’d moved around a lot were more willing to get rid of objects (presumably because they have to do a culling of their possessions when they move), and being willing to get rid of things was associated with being willing to cut social ties. And in an experimental study where they primed people to think about moving in the future before they took the “willingness to dispose” survey, even if they didn’t have a nomadic history, they saw the same results.

Kicked Out in America!

Jason DeParle:

Seeking distraction one winter afternoon, a Milwaukee boy takes to some old-fashioned mischief and hurls snowballs at passing cars. A driver gives chase and kicks in the door of the house where the boy lives with his mother and younger brother. The landlord puts the family out. Thus begins an odyssey that in Matthew Desmond’s gripping and important book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, exposes the harrowing world of the ten million or so low-income households that pay half or more of their income for rent and utilities, a long-overlooked population whose numbers have recently soared.

The mother, Arleen, finds a house she likes, and it consumes only 84 percent of her cash income. But the city condemns it. So she moves the teen, Jori, and his brother, Jafiris, to a place she calls “Crack Head City” and then to a duplex where the rent, $550 a month, requires 88 percent of her income. She falls behind and gets evicted two days before Christmas, but the new tenant lets her stay until she finds a place. Living with a stranger causes friction, and Arleen calls ninety landlords before finding a place, from which she is again evicted. The situation worsens. She and the boys double up with a neighbor who is turning tricks. They rent a place where they are robbed at gunpoint. When Arleen’s next apartment takes 96 percent of her welfare check, she can’t keep the lights on. Her worst fear comes to pass: child welfare takes the kids.

Who Are Really the Biggest Donors in US Politics?

Nelson Albino:

EspañolMany progressives in the United States have turned billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch into bogeymen of electoral politics, accusing them of having candidates in their pockets.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, for instance, singles out the Koch brothers almost every time he advances his socialist policies. He would have voters believe that they are the face of “Wall Street greed” and the cause of inequality in the United States.

Both progressives and socialists within the Democratic Party constantly rant about the “evil” Kochs, but they don’t bother to check whether the brothers really are the main donors in US politics.

Official records and serious research paint a very different picture than what Democrats want to believe. Journalist Bill McMorris looked into the matter and found that that no less than 18 unions donate more money to Super PACs than Koch Industries.

University seeks to increase merit aid, expert says its’s an ‘arms race’ for enrollment

Xiani Zhong:

University of Wisconsin is looking at increasing its non-need-based financial aid for students earlier in their academic career, but some say it is just another move in the “arms race” among schools competing for top students in the nation.

Historically, UW’s non-need-based aid, or merit aid, has sat at the lower end among Big Ten schools, according to Inside Higher Ed. The competitive higher education market, however, calls UW to adjust its financial aid policy to maintain its appeal to high-performing students, both in Wisconsin and out of state, Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in the article.

In Praise of Idleness

Bertrand Russel:

Like most of my generation, I was brought up on the saying: ‘Satan finds some mischief for idle hands to do.’ Being a highly virtuous child, I believed all that I was told, and acquired a conscience which has kept me working hard down to the present moment. But although my conscience has controlled my actions, my opinions have undergone a revolution. I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached. Everyone knows the story of the traveler in Naples who saw twelve beggars lying in the sun (it was before the days of Mussolini), and offered a lira to the laziest of them. Eleven of them jumped up to claim it, so he gave it to the twelfth. this traveler was on the right lines. But in countries which do not enjoy Mediterranean sunshine idleness is more difficult, and a great public propaganda will be required to inaugurate it. I hope that, after reading the following pages, the leaders of the YMCA will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Equality in Marriages Grows, and So Does Class Divide (note Teachers)



Researchers say the rise in assortative mating is closely linked to income inequality. The two have increased in tandem, Dr. Schwartz, the sociologist from the University of Wisconsin, said: “People who are married tend to be more advantaged, and on top of that, more advantaged people are marrying people like themselves, so those people tend to be doubly advantaged.”

The effects could become more pronounced in future generations. Studies tell us that parents’ income and education have an enormous effect on children’s opportunities and achievements — and children today are more likely to grow up in homes in which parents are more similar than different.

Why private-college police forces are a new front in the fight over public records

Chava Gourarie and Jonathan Peters:

IN 2014, Paula Lavigne, a reporter for ESPN’s Outside the Lines program, began investigating college athletes and the justice system. Lavigne wanted to know whether prominent athletes receive preferential treatment during criminal inquiries, and to that end, she requested incident reports involving football and basketball players over a five-year period from campus police departments at 10 universities. After some haggling, she ultimately received documents from nine of them—but she got nothing from Notre Dame, the only private school on her list.

On Socialism And Capitalism

Gary Kasparov: I’m enjoying the irony of American Sanders supporters lecturing me, a former Soviet citizen, on the glories of Socialism and what it really means! Socialism sounds great in speech soundbites and on Facebook, but please keep it there. In  practice, it corrodes not only the economy but the human spirit  itself, and the ambition and achievement that made modern capitalism possible and brought billions of people out of  poverty. Talking about Socialism is a huge luxury, a luxury that was paid for by the successes of capitalism. Income inequality  is a huge problem, absolutely. But the idea that the solution is more government, more regulation, more debt, and less risk is  dangerously absurd. 

Carry Kasparov  

Yes, please take Scandinavia as an example!

Implementing some socialistic elements AFTER becoming a wealthy capitalist economy only works aslong as you don’t choke off what made you wealthy tobegin with in the process. Again, it’s a luxury item that shouldn’t be confused with what is really doing the work, as many do. And do not forget that nearly all of the countless 20th-century innovations and industries that made the rest of the developed world so efficient and comfortable came from America, and it wasn’t …..


More from Fabius Maximus

US student debt: Lessons to last a lifetime

Barney Jopson and Sam Fleming:

Jennifer Char went to Westwood College in Atlanta, dreaming of becoming a graphic artist. Today she is selling beauty products and wondering whether the two years she spent at the school, which will permanently close its doors next month, were worthwhile.

“I felt that some of the classes were more like electives [optional courses] for high school, or unnecessary for my degree,” she says, explaining that she left the course with too small a portfolio of work to show employers. “It was very upsetting. Why am I paying for something that is not going to be worth it?”

One legacy that Ms Char has not shaken off from her time at Westwood is debt. She says loan repayments of $400-$500 a month are consuming around half of her take-home earnings. She benefits from a forgiving landlord — her mother — but her difficulties with student debt are far from unique.

Flogging A Dead Degree

Nick Cohen:

On the face of it, there has never been a better time to break into the arts, television, music or journalism. Look at the universities, and you can think that all the bragging about London being the creative capital of Europe, and British cultural dominance replacing British imperial dominance, is a simple statement of fact.

Our institutes of higher education offer training for every type of creative career. You can learn how to act, paint and play classical music, as you always could. But universities now train students for careers that no one imagined needed an academic qualification until recently. Every variety of print and television journalism is on offer up to and including sports journalism. (The pedagogues at the University of East Anglia have stepped forward to intellectualise this rough trade.) Every variety of film-making is covered too. Then we have courses on game design, game development, creative writing (both poetry and prose), animation, popular music (this at London’s Goldsmiths University), arts administration, children’s literature, creative and cultural entrepreneurship (“to commercialise on your creative and cultural practices and/or knowledge” — Goldsmiths again), musical theatre (Guildford University offers both the singing and the dancing), and arts festival management (a niche occupation filled by sharp-eyed dons at Leicester’s De Montfort university).

The wrong Way To Teach Math

Andrew Hacker:

HERE’S an apparent paradox: Most Americans have taken high school mathematics, including geometry and algebra, yet a national survey found that 82 percent of adults could not compute the cost of a carpet when told its dimensions and square-yard price. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development recently tested adults in 24 countries on basic “numeracy” skills. Typical questions involved odometer readings and produce sell-by tags. The United States ended an embarrassing 22nd, behind Estonia and Cyprus. We should be doing better. Is more mathematics the answer?

In fact, what’s needed is a different kind of proficiency, one that is hardly taught at all. The Mathematical Association of America calls it “quantitative literacy.” I prefer the O.E.C.D.’s “numeracy,” suggesting an affinity with reading and writing.


Jennifer DuBois:

When I was twenty-three, I was hired by the CIA. I was working at a Catholic school at the time, coaching squash and teaching seventh-grade social studies—which was funny, since I had never before seen a squash game before and was not even so much as a lapsed Catholic. I lived behind the school in a former convent where the only consistently functioning lights were a pair of glowing red exit signs. My prevailing feeling that year was one of intense personal absurdity, and it was in this spirit that I applied to the CIA (I liked international relations, and who knew they had an online application?) and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (I liked writing stories, and what the hell?). These things certainly didn’t make any less sense than coaching squash and living in a convent—though they weren’t really ambitions as much as gestures: reflections of my general hope that I would, someday, do something else. Each was something in between a dice roll and a delusion, a promissory note and a private joke to no one but myself.

Why do students pay for the research professors do?

Daniel Lemire:

Universities require their professors to publish research papers. Yet publishing your research has little to do with most of the teaching that goes on in universities. And with online teaching, we can almost completely separate teaching from research. Yet we are typically happy to dismiss these concerns by pointing out that universities have also a research purpose. But this answer is not entirely satisfying: who gets to decide what universities should do beside provide degrees and teaching?

There was a long student boycott in Quebec in 2012 that attracted worldwide attention. Students asked for free higher education. One of their core arguments for cheap tuition was that much of the university budget goes to support research. Apparently, many students would rather not pay for research. That is, if universities have to do research, then it is up to the government (or to industry) to fund it.

Will Saudi Student Boom End?

Elizabeth Redden:

With the drop in oil prices compelling the Saudi Arabian government to make steep spending cuts, U.S. colleges and universities are closely watching what will happen with the government’s foreign university scholarship program, which has sponsored tens of thousands of students to study overseas since 2005 and has stimulated a more than seventeenfold increase in the number of Saudi students at U.S. universities in that time. The nearly 60,000 Saudi students studying at U.S. universities in 2014-15 represent the fourth-largest group of international students by country of origin at U.S. universities, after students from China, India and South Korea.

The scholarship program is popular with Saudi youth and with U.S. universities, which have grown to depend on an increasing flow of Saudi students to meet their enrollment targets. A recent analysis from Moody’s Investors Service on the impact of reduced funding and stricter eligibility requirements for the scholarship program noted that “even modest enrollment fluctuations could have a meaningful effect on some universities.”

Rich People Will Not Stop Giving Huge, Unnecessary Donations to Rich Colleges

Hamilton Nolan:

Phil Knight, the billionaire founder of Nike, is giving $400 million to Stanford—a school that already has an endowment of more than $22 billion, and that just last year received more donations than any other school in America. This is the academic charity equivalent of giving a donation to a Michael Bloomberg election campaign: it’s not necessary, and it could do a lot more good elsewhere.

Knight’s grand idea is to establish an endowment for a graduate program that will “attract the best graduate and professional students from around the world.” They’ll receive a full ride to come to Stanford and “commit to working on important issues in small, multidisciplinary teams.” (In a hilarious demonstration of the self-awareness level of the average billionaire, the example Knight uses as a problem that these students might study is Mark Zuckerberg’s failed $100 million gift to the Newark public school system. Judge not lest ye be judged, Phil.)

Disrupting Education

Rebecca Mead:

Seen from the outside, AltSchool Brooklyn, a private school that opened in Brooklyn Heights last fall, does not look like a traditional educational establishment. There is no playground attached, no crossing guard at the street corner, and no crowd of children blocking the sidewalk in the morning. The school is one floor up, in a commercial building overlooking Montague Street. On the building’s exterior is a logo: a light-blue square, with rounded corners, bearing the word “alt.” It looks like an iPhone app awaiting the tap of a colossal finger.

Inside, the space has been partitioned with dividers creating several classrooms. The décor evokes an IKEA showroom: low-slung couches, beanbags, clusters of tables, and wooden chairs in progressively smaller sizes, like those belonging to Goldilocks’s three bears. There is no principal’s office and no principal. Like the five other AltSchools that have opened in the past three years—the rest are in the Bay Area—the school is run by teachers, one of whom serves as the head of the school. There is no school secretary: many administrative matters are handled at AltSchool’s headquarters, in the SOMA district of San Francisco. There aren’t even many children. Every AltSchool is a “micro-school.” In Brooklyn Heights, there are thirty-five students, ranging from pre-kindergarten to third grade. Only a few dozen more children will be added as the school matures. AltSchool’s ambition, however, is huge. Five more schools are scheduled to open by the end of 2017, in San Francisco, Manhattan, and Chicago, and the goal is to expand into other parts of the country, offering a highly tailored education that uses technology to target each student’s “needs and passions.” Tuition is about thirty thousand dollars a year.

Civics: The technology at the heart of the Apple-FBI debate, explained

Christopher Soghoian:

The author is the Principal Technologist with the Speech, Privacy & Technology Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

What if the FBI could force Samsung to covertly turn on the video camera in your smart TV? Or force Google to deliver a malicious security update to your web browser which actually spied on you and transmitted your passwords and other sensitive information back to the FBI? Sound like something from a dystopian sci-fi movie? If Apple loses its high-profile legal fight with the US government, these scenarios could become a reality. This will also threaten the security of all Internet users.

Academia Losing Its Mind

Peter Dreier:

It’s not just right-wing populists who are worried that some academic humanities and social science fields are veering into irrelevance. The latest issue of the left-of-center magazine American Prospect has a depressing report by the leftist Occidental professor Peter Dreier on his experience submitting a bogus paper to a humanities conference and getting it accepted. . . .

Here’s one representative sentence: “Self-delusion and self-discipline inhibits the reflective self, the postmodern membrane, the ecclesiastical impulse forbidden by truth-seeking and sun worship, problematizing the inchoate structures of both reason and darkness, allowing knowledge, half-knowledge, and knowledgelessness to undermine and yet simultaneously overcome the self-loathing that overwhelms the Gnostic challenge facing Biblical scribes, folksingers, and hip-hop rappers alike.” He also includes examples of the type of real humanities work that led him to undertake this experiment (he saw sentences elsewhere like: “Given the attitudes generated by our sense of a place, critical perspectives that only target overt structures within city systems are incomplete” and “Theoretical, conceptual and methodological choices must be framed in relation to concrete explanatory and interpretive dilemmas, not ontological foundations.”)

To make matters worse, most of this “postmodern” analysis is taking place within the context of a hermetically sealed political bubble. As our friends at Heterodox Academy have pointed out, just four percent of American academics in the humanities identify as conservative. This total homogeneity may be one reason that so much work in the humanities has become utterly disconnected from what the general public might consider to be valuable scholarly exploration.

Do kids learn more when they trade in composition books for iPads?

Donna St. George:

One winter morning, Spark Matsunaga Elementary School teacher Greta Fitch asks her fourth-graders to consider the world outside their door — specifically, the businesses that line their suburban streets. What sorts of stores and services and restaurants are there? Is anything missing?

On each desk is a Chromebook, a lightweight laptop that students use to search Germantown, Md., using Google Maps as if they were driving the streets. Fitch says that in coming days she will ask the students to put themselves in the shoes of the diverse town’s residents. What businesses might they want? she asks. What do they not see?

Matthew O’Brien shoots up his hand. The energetic 10-year-old says he’s been looking for sporting goods stores and has come up empty for a certain retailer. He points out that the popular Maryland SoccerPlex is in Germantown, and he has spotted a vacant property beside it where a sports store could be built.

“You’ve even found a location?” Fitch asks.

“People who go to the SoccerPlex would go,” he says.

Fitch smiles. She’s not new to teaching or technology. But she finds that some of its best uses involve student discovery. She tries to be open to the unexpected. Matthew made connections more quickly than she imagined — a sign, she believes, that the lesson is more engaging, more meaningful, than the way she taught it before.

Just two years ago, the class would have visited the school’s computer lab once, but most of the multi-week project on economics would have involved handouts, discussion and a printed list of businesses.



stumbled across an article in the Financial Times the other day revealing why Philadelphia’s infrastructure is crumbling, with absolutely zero possibility of reversing the downward spiral. I find it fascinating a foreign publication had to uncover the ugly truth, while the liberal rag Phila. Inquirer is completely silent on the issue. They just spout the mantra of how the Feds and PA need to give Philadelphia more money. It’s always for the children. The hundreds of billions poured into the public education system in this country over the last decade has been a complete waste of time, mainly because a huge portion of the money doesn’t go towards education, but bloated pensions and administration costs.

More mediocre teachers, more government control, more social engineering, more free breakfasts and lunches, more catchy slogans and more promises have achieved steady declines in SAT scores across the board. The next solution is to phase out SAT scores. Measuring failure isn’t allowed in our politically correct, trophy generation, safe spaces world. Reporting declines in scores on a test that has been an accurate predictor of college success for generations is a micro aggression against the intellectually stunted morons being matriculated through the government run public education system. The $14,000 to $20,000 per student per year spent by the taxpayers across this country just isn’t enough according to those of a liberal ilk. The children would be smart if we just upped the ante by another $2,000 per kid. They’d hire more below average education majors into the teacher’s union. That’s a can’t miss solution.

The Problem With Evidence-Based Policies

Ricardo Hausman:

example, rich people wear fancy clothes. Would distributing fancy clothes to poor people make them rich? This is a case where correlation (between clothes and wealth) does not imply causation.
Harvard graduates get great jobs. Is Harvard good at teaching – or just at selecting smart people who would have done well in life anyway? This is the problem of selection bias.

RCTs address these problems by randomly assigning those participating in the trial to receive either a “treatment” or a “placebo” (thereby creating a “control” group). By observing how the two groups differ after the intervention, the effectiveness of the treatment can be assessed. RCTs have been conducted on drugs, micro-loans, training programs, educational tools, and myriad other interventions.

Philadelphia’s $5.7bn ‘quiet crisis’

Attracta Mooney:

This is the case when speaking to Rob Dubow, director of finance for the City of Philadelphia, the US local authority, and chairman of the city’s pension fund board.

The numbers for the city’s municipal pension fund are so troubling that there seems to be no point in adopting a softly-softly approach.

This is a scheme with a funding hole of $5.7bn; it owes far more money to present and future pensioners that it has in its coffers. The fund has less than half what it needs, with assets of $4.8bn in mid-2014.

The scheme, which manages the retirement funds of 64,000 current and former employees for the Pennsylvanian city, has been branded one of the worst-funded pension funds in the US. Its financial position has long been labelled the “quiet crisis” of Philadelphia.

Although gently spoken, Mr Dubow does not mince his words when asked about the funding gap. “The unfunded liability is one of the biggest financial challenges we face [in Philadelphia] and we have to figure out how to manage that,” says the 57-year-old.

The former journalist adds that the problems with the pension fund, which was set up in 1915 and now includes 18 separate retirement plans, “developed over decades”.

“We have a very mature pension fund. We have more retirees than we have active members. That imbalance is a big cause of our problem. Also, we got hit in 2008/2009,” he says, speaking by phone from the local government offices.

Chicago State University Sends Layoff Notices To All Employees


With state funding cut off due to the ongoing budget impasse, Chicago State University has announced all 900 employees, including the university president, are receiving layoff notices.

CSU President Thomas Calhoun Jr. said the university has reached a point where it can’t continue to function as it has since the school year began last fall, so layoff notices have been sent to all faculty, staff, and administrators.

“We have the legal responsibility to communicate to our employees that, should our statehouse fail to fund us, and put us in a position where we have to be compromised, we would need to have the flexibility and the legal position such that a reduction in force could take place,” he said.

Eroding Democracy

Michael Meranze & Christopher Newfield:

We’ve been told that public colleges and universities have entered a New Normal. It’s supposed to be stable and sustainable. It gives colleges less–to make them learn to do more. Happy scenes like commencement at San Francisco State, at left, are to carry on unimpeded, with lower costs but no loss of learning or research.

This week, this insidious narrative was again undone by several stories about San Francisco State, UC Berkeley, and their private cousin Stanford University.

1. Defunding Democracy

First, a rehearsal: The democratic vision of U.S. higher ed was that the burgeoning masses could get a degree that was cognitively the same as that of elites, even though they lacked the latter’s social networks and private resources. Twins separated at graduation, one going to Stanford, say, and one to UC Berkeley, with a sibling already enrolled at San Francisco State, would have student experiences that would differ in trappings but not essentials. The great faculty and facilities at the two public universities would allow them to offer cognitive gain that was functionally similar to that received by the Stanford twin, who would have social but not intellectual advantages. No one thought they were dooming public university students to second- or third-tier status in a secret caste system.