Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Games being used in serious scientific research, education, and treatment

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A very nice collection of links to science-oriented (and science-helpful) games.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 December 2013 at 11:13 am

An interesting educational experiment

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I found this letter in the NY Times fascinating:

To the Editor:

“Zero tolerance” must be replaced with something. A simple school time-capsule project, started in Dallas in 2005, is providing that replacement.

Beginning in sixth grade, students write periodic letters to themselves about their plans and dreams for the future. They do it in response to letters from their parents and others who write about their dreams for these students. The letters go into a self-addressed envelope that goes into a 500-pound vault in the school lobby: the time capsule.

Every day, students pass the vault. Occasionally, they may think of their letters inside and what they say.

Letters are rewritten, with final letters left for a 10-year class reunion. Students know that at their reunions they will be invited to make their own recommendations to current students about what they would do differently if they were 13 again.

In the last nine years, graduation rates have doubled, discipline issues have been cut in half, and pregnancy rates cut to less than half. That is the power of a constant focus on the future.

BILL BETZEN
Dallas, Dec. 3, 2013

The writer is coordinator of the School Time-Capsule Project, Lulac National Educational Service Center, Dallas.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 December 2013 at 10:34 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

This is why the Right loves vouchers for education

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So they can spend taxpayer money on shit like this.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2013 at 2:36 pm

Posted in Education, Religion

Why Do We Spend So Much Money on the Education of Rich Children?

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Pacific Standard seems to run good articles. This one is by Lisa Wade:

“The United States is one of few advanced nations where schools serving better-off children usually have more educational resources than those serving poor students,” writes Eduardo Porter for the New York Times. This is because a large percentage of funding for public education comes not from the federal government, but from the property taxes collected in each school district. Rich kids, then, get more lavish educations.

This means differences in how much we spend per student both across and within states. New York, for example, spends about $19,000 per student. In Tennessee they spend $8,200 and in Utah $5,321. Money within New York, is also unequally distributed: $25,505 was spent per student in the richest neighborhoods, compared to $12,861 in the poorest.

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This makes us one of the three countries in the OECD—with Israel and Turkey—in which the student/teacher ratio is less favorable in poor neighborhoods compared to rich ones. The other 31 nations in the survey invest equally in each student or disproportionately in poor students. This is not meritocracy and it is certainly not equal opportunity.

In this connection, see this earlier post. We really need to level the educational playing field, not by degrading the education the well-to-do already enjoy, but bringing up the rest of the country’s education to that standard. A well-educated populace is a source of strength.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2013 at 1:29 pm

Posted in Education

M. Night Shyamalan makes some excellent points on education in the US

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Kevin Drum rightly praises M. Night Shyamalan’s take on education:

This is kind of weird. M. Night Shyamalan has apparently gotten a little bored with making movies, and has instead spent the past year or so writing a book. About education. And unlike other folks who parachute into the ed debates with the usual silver bullets (more charter schools! higher standards! fewer teachers unions!), he actually diagnoses the problem correctly:

You know how everyone says America is behind in education, compared to all the countries? Technically, right now, we’re a little bit behind Poland and a little bit ahead of Liechtenstein, right? So that’s where we land in the list, right? So that’s actually not the truth. The truth is actually bizarrely black and white, literally,which is, if you pulled out the inner-city schools — just pull out the inner-city, low-income schools, just pull that group out of the United States, put them to the side — and just took every other public school in the United States, we lead the world in public-school education by a lot.

And what’s interesting is, we always think about Finland, right? Well, Finland, obviously, is mainly white kids, right? They teach their white kids really well. But guess what, we teach our white kids even better. We beat everyone. Our white kids are getting taught the best public-school education on the planet. Those are the facts.

This is true. If you compare American white kids to, say, Finnish or Polish or German white kids, we do just as well. But we do an execrable job of teaching our black and Hispanic kids. In ed conversations, this usually gets referred to as the “achievement gap”—a deliberately watery term that Shyamalan has no use for. He calls it “education apartheid,” and what it means is that our schools qua schools are basically fine. It’s mostly our inner city schools with big low-income black and Hispanic populations that fail us:

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So what are Shyamalan’s solutions? He’s got five:

  • Get rid of the bottom 2-3 percent of truly terrible teachers.
  • Make the principal the chief academic and head coach. Let another person handle school operations.
  • Constant feedback to teachers and students.
  • Small schools (not small classes).
  • Increased instructional time. Extend the school day and do away with summer vacation.

I don’t want to pretend that Shyamalan has all the answers here, or that his five interventions are themselves silver bullets. But I’ll say this: based on my sense of the literature and the endless number of n-point plans I’ve read over the years, Shyamalan’s sounds pretty reasonable. At the very least, his book is a welcome addition to the debate.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 December 2013 at 11:48 am

Posted in Education

Scholarship and Politics: The Case of Noam Chomsky

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Stanley Fish has a nice essay in the NY Times, based on the John Dewey lectures that Noam Chomsky recently gave:

It’s not often that you get a public confirmation of views you’ve been pushing for years. But that’s what happened to me last week when I attended the 2013 John Dewey lectures given by Noam Chomsky under the auspices of the Columbia University philosophy department.

The views I have been peddling to various audiences (without notable success) are: (1) The academy is a world of its own, complete with rules, protocols, systems of evaluation, recognized achievements, agreed-on goals, a roster of heroes and a list of tasks yet to be done. (2) Academic work proceeds within the confines of that world, within, that is, a professional, not a public, space, although its performance may be, and often is, public. Accordingly, (3) academic work is only tangentially, not essentially, political; politics may attend the formation of academic units and the selection of academic personnel, but political concerns and pressures have no place in the unfolding of academic argument, except as objects of its distinctive forms of attention. (If academic work had no distinctive forms of attention, it would be shapeless and would not be a thing.) (4) The academic views of a professor are independent of his or her real-world political views; academic disputes don’t track partisan disputes or vice versa; you can’t reason from an academic’s disciplinary views to the positions he or she would take in the public sphere; they are independent variables.

Now, as everyone knows, Noam Chomsky is a distinguished academic, a scholar who pretty much single-handedly reconfigured the discipline of linguistics and a strong presence in the landscape of other disciplines — philosophy of mind, psychology, biology, literary criticism, to name a few. But Chomsky is also a prominent public intellectual whose opinions on a wide range of political topics — American foreign policy, the Middle East, capitalism, fossil fuels, education, etc. — are well known and often controversial. So the question was, which Chomsky was going to show up at Columbia, or alternatively, could you have one without the other? The answer, it turned out, is “yes.”

Chomsky gave three lectures under the general title “What Kind of Creatures are We?” The answer given in the first lecture — “What is Language?” — is that we are creatures with language, and that language as a uniquely human biological capacity appeared suddenly and quite late in the evolutionary story, perhaps 75,000 years ago. Language, then, does not arise from the social/cultural environment, although the environment provides the stuff or input it works on. That input is “impoverished”; it can’t account for the creativity of language performance, which has its source not in the empirical world, but in an innate ability that is more powerful than the stimuli it utilizes and plays with. It follows that if you want to understand language, you shouldn’t look to linguistic behavior but to the internal mechanism — the Universal Grammar — of which particular linguistic behaviors are a non-exhaustive expression. (The capacity exceeds the empirical resources it might deploy.)

In his second lecture (“What Can We Understand?”), Chomsky took up the question of . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 December 2013 at 12:54 pm

Posted in Education

The future prospects of the American public intellectual

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Christian Christensen has an interesting post at Informed Comment:

The Public Professor: Dissent in Commodified Higher Education
Or…What Kind of University Will My Daughter Attend in 2027?

The following is the text of my public Professorial Installation lecture given at Uppsala University. These lectures have been given at Uppsala University for centuries, and are intended for a broad audience.

In 1967, in a piece entitled The Responsibility of Intellectuals, Noam Chomsky wrote the following:

It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies. This, at least, may seem enough of a truism to pass over without comment. Not so, however. For the modern intellectual, it is not at all obvious.

About one week from today my daughter will celebrate her second birthday. This means that she will be entering university – should she choose to go – in the year 2027. Part of my talk will be about what I see as the role of the university professor in a highly mediated environment, and in relation to what Noam Chomsky said about public intellectuals. But, it is also in part about my daughter, and the future of universities in what is rapidly becoming a highly commercialized academic environment.

As a media and communications scholar, many people take it for granted that I am able to communicate effectively in public fora. Communication to the public is not, of course, the central role of the communications scholar. We analyze and investigate various phenomena related to media and communications, but that does not necessarily mean that we are “good communicators” ourselves. In actual fact, this is probably one of the weaknesses of those of us who work in academia: that is, our inability to take the fascinating and critical ideas that we discuss in our journal articles and in our books, and translate them into what we might want to call, “popular language.”

In the academic world, the presentation of intellectual material in popular form is generally looked down upon. I am educated in the United States, where the position of the “public intellectual” is significantly less defined (and respected) than it is here in Sweden and Europe. It is, I feel, a central duty for those of us working within academia to take the material that we do research on and to discuss it publicly, to make public – in some form and in some way – the knowledge that we have spent years gathering and shaping.

What does this issue – being a public professor – have to do with my daughter, and what does this have to do with social media? I see these three issues as inter-linked. One of the things that I am most worried about in relation to my daughter starting university in 2027 is whether or not the university will come to exist in a form that we recognize today. What I mean by this is: a space within contemporary society not entirely dictated by commercial interests and considerations. It is one of the things that I am grateful for: that, as an employee of a university, at least to some extent, I work within a space where my thinking can be divorced from purely profit-making and commercial considerations.

Spaces such as these are becoming increasingly rare. The media, urban spaces, politics are all zones where the communication that we encounter (from text to visuals to speech) are soaked in the logic of the commercial. We are surrounded by advertising, from the moment we wake up in the morning, to the time we spend walking on the streets, to the very logos that we wear on our bodies in the form of clothing. Our media systems are almost exclusively commercial, and even countries with a history of public service broadcasting have seen that history slowly erased, replaced with a commercialized reality.

As capitalism continues its march forward, there exists a drive to locate new elements of our existence that have yet to be turned into products to be bought and sold. Even our personal experiences have become fair game. The social media site Facebook essentially commodifies various elements of our private life: our thoughts, our pictures, our likes, our dislikes, our families, our friendships.

‘The media, urban spaces, politics are all zones where the communication that we encounter (from text to visuals to speech) are soaked in the logic of the commercial.’However, I do believe that social media – and I recognize that the very term “social media” is problematic – provide opportunities. I do not wish to stand here and sound like a techo-phobe or neo-Luddite, and one of the positive byproducts of the development of the internet, digital technologies and social media has been the ability of what we might wish to call “ordinary citizens” to make their voices heard. Now, again, let me say that this ability has been vastly overblown by the mainstream media. The vast majority of bloggers, videos on YouTube, postings to Facebook and tweets on Twitter, fall into digital black-holes, never to be seen or heard by the billions of users around the globe.

But, I myself have a blog. I use Facebook. I use Twitter. This is because opportunities do exist. Recent events in north Africa and the global Occupy Wall Street movement have shown that digital technologies can be utilized by ordinary citizens – those not wealthy or privileged enough to own a newspaper or television station – for the greater good. Digital media use is not the ONLY factor in these cases, but it is A factor that cannot simply be dismissed. In the same way I would argue that academics, those of us employed as public sector workers, should make the most of these technologies in order to spread the information that we gather. To spread the research, the knowledge, the critical thinking that we have spent years and years cultivating.

Universities have become increasingly commodified: universities in the UK charge students tuition fees, and we in Sweden have begun to charge international students tuition fees, things that have been done in my own country, the United States, for a number of years. Commodification was, for a long period, seen as anathema to higher education in Europe, but, as time as gone by, we have seen the increasing commodification of university life. In the same way, departments that are considered to be “unprofitable” – in other words, they do not have large numbers of students, or do not produce “cutting edge” research that attracts the interest of outside financers – simply begin to disappear. Language departments, and niche intellectual areas of inquiry struggle financially, and are therefore not “of value” to universities.

If we look forward to 2027, when my daughter will begin at university, then it is critical to ask if the departments that I have just discussed actually exist? Will the majority of universities, for example, have a French department? Will universities and their leaders be willing to stand up and defend the existence of departments that are, in fact, vital symbols of what a university SHOULD be in a modern society. That is: a space, a bastion for free thinking outside of market constraints and outside of market logic.

What will the 2027 university look like? . . .

Continue reading.

I have also noticed how activities and interests tend nowadays to be devalued and restricted if they aren’t part of some commercial enterprise.

Written by LeisureGuy

5 December 2013 at 9:57 am

Music Lessons Boost Emotional, Intellectual Development

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A very interesting finding. I suggest, however, that it is not the lessons but the practice—that is, not the teaching but the learning—that makes the difference. Tom Jacobs writes at Pacific Standard:

There is no longer any doubt that student musicians perform better than their peers on a variety of measures, including getting better grades. But the chicken-and-egg question lingers: Is this effect due to their musical training? Or are sharper, more motivated kids more likely to take up an instrument?

While it doesn’t provide a definitive answer, new research from Germany presents evidence that improved academic performance truly is a result of musical training.

“Even after controlling for a large number of parental background differences, learning a musical instrument is associated with better cognitive skills and school grades, as well as higher conscientiousness, openness and ambition,” report Adrian Hille and Jurgen Schupp of the German Institute for Economic Research.

Reverse causality is “highly unlikely to entirely explain our results,” they add.

Hille and Schupp used data from the German Socioeconomic Panel Study, which includes data on “the intensity and duration of music activities” on the part of youngsters, as well as detailed information on their academic achievements and family background. The researchers categorized youngsters as “musically active” if they “played a musical instrument at least between age 8 and 17, and who take music lessons outside of school.”

They found musically active kids are “more conscientious, open and ambitious” than their non-musical peers. In addition, they scored significantly higher on a standard cognitive skills test—an advantage that, somewhat surprisingly, “is driven by verbal rather than mathematical skills.”

Young musicians were about 15 percent more likely than non-musicians to report they were planning to attend a university after graduating from high school. “Adolescents of low or medium socioeconomic status with music training are more optimistic about their future chances of success,” the researchers write. “Other than that, results do not differ by socioeconomic origin.”

While other extracurricular activities were similarly linked to greater intellectual and emotional development, they found music had the strongest impact by far. “Music improves cognitive and non-cognitive skills more than twice as much as sports, theater or dance,” they write. . .

Continue reading.

I think that some of the benefit of musical training is the clear demonstration that practice improves performance: in effect, studying music inculcates a “growth mindset” (in the terms Carol Dweck uses in her (excellent and highly-recommended) book Mindset. Students learn that applied, conscious effort makes things that were initially difficult become easy, so perhaps that lesson is then applied in other contexts: facing serious difficulties in (say) learning calculus, those with a growth mindset buckle down to work, those with a “talent/gift” mindset decide that they must not have a talent/gift for calculus and drop out.

The reason music would teach so well that steady, applied effort produces improvement is that the students can readily hear the difference that practice makes.

Written by LeisureGuy

4 December 2013 at 8:46 am

Posted in Education, Music

More drawbacks from police in the schools

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Students get a rap sheet instead of being sent to the principal’s office. Lizette Alvarez reports in the NY Times:

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Faced with mounting evidence that get-tough policies in schools are leading to arrest records, low academic achievement and high dropout rates that especially affect minority students, cities and school districts around the country are rethinking their approach to minor offenses.

Perhaps nowhere has the shift been more pronounced than in Broward County’s public schools. Two years ago, the school district achieved an ignominious Florida record: More students were arrested on school campuses here than in any other state district, the vast majority for misdemeanors like possessing marijuana or spraying graffiti.

The Florida district, the sixth largest in the nation, was far from an outlier. In the past two decades, schools around the country have seen suspensions, expulsions and arrests for minor nonviolent offenses climb together with the number of police officers stationed at schools. The policy, called zero tolerance, first grew out of the war on drugs in the 1990s and became more aggressive in the wake of school shootings like the one at Columbine High School in Colorado.

But in November, Broward veered in a different direction, joining other large school districts, including Los Angeles, Baltimore, Chicago and Denver, in backing away from the get-tough approach.

Rather than push children out of school, districts like Broward are now doing the opposite: choosing to keep lawbreaking students in school, away from trouble on the streets, and offering them counseling and other assistance aimed at changing behavior.

These alternative efforts are increasingly supported, sometimes even led, by state juvenile justice directors, judges and police officers.

In Broward, which had more than 1,000 arrests in the 2011 school year, the school district entered into a wide-ranging agreement last month with local law enforcement, the juvenile justice department and civil rights groups like the N.A.A.C.P. to overhaul its disciplinary policies and de-emphasize punishment.

Some states, prodded by parents and student groups, are similarly moving to change the laws; in 2009, Florida amended its laws to allow school administrators greater discretion in disciplining students. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 December 2013 at 12:43 pm

Posted in Education, Law

So this KKK member walks up to a black musician in a bar

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Great story pointed out to me by a reader (thanks, Douglas!):

Daryl Davis is no ordinary musician. He’s played with President Clinton and tours the country playing “burnin’ boogie woogie piano” and sharing musical stylings inspired by greats like Fats Domino, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis. He’s a highly respected and electrifying performer who is currently an integral member of The Legendary Blues Band (formerly known as the Muddy Waters Band,) and he rocks the stage all over the nation.

Davis’ travels, of course, have always afforded him the opportunity to meet a huge range of diverse people, but perhaps nothing could have prepared him for the moment that would change his life.

It was 1983 and Davis was playing country western music in an (informally) all-white lounge. He was the only black musician in the place and when his set was over, a man approached him. “He came up to me and said he liked my piano playing,” says Davis, “then he told me this was the first time he heard a black man play as well as Jerry Lee Lewis.” Davis, somewhat amused, explained to the man: “Jerry Lee learned to play from black blues and boogie woogie piano players and he’s a friend of mine. He told me himself where he learned to play.” At first, Davis says, the man was skeptical that Jerry Lee Lewis had been schooled by black musicians, but Davis went on to explain in more detail. “He was fascinated,” says Davis, “but he didn’t believe me. Then, he told me he was a Klansman.”

Most people in this day and age probably would have turned and ran right out of that good ol’ boy’s bar, but not Davis. He stayed and talked with the Klansman for a long time. “At first, I thought ‘why the hell am I sitting with him?’ but we struck up a friendship and it was music that brought us together,” he says.That friendship would lead Davis on a path almost unimaginable to most folks. Today, Davis is not only a musician, he is a person who befriends KKK members and, as a result, collects the robes and hoods of Klansmen who choose to leave the organization because of their friendship with him.

The road to these close and authentic friendships, Davis says, involved . . .

Continue reading.

And while we’re touching on the subject of racism, it recently struck me that crime statistics and provide information on murder rate by race, violent crime by race, and so on—those are quite racist in that they have as a presumption that the race of the perpetrators is a key datum. I think seeing those statistics by income level would be more insightful and less racist. I would bet that the rate of violent crimes increases as income falls. I googled, and I found quite a bit—e.g., this study, whose abstract states:

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, several important reviews of the literature failed to establish a clear consensus on the relationship between economic conditions and violent crime. The research presented here applies the procedures of meta-analysis to 34 aggregate data studies reporting on violent crime, poverty, and income inequality. These studies reported a total of 76 zero-order correlation coefficients for all measures of violent crime with either poverty or income inequality. Of the 76 coefficients, all but 2, or 97 percent, were positive. Of the positive coefficients, nearly 80 percent were of at least moderate strength (>.25). It is concluded that poverty and income inequality are each associated with violent crime. The analysis, however, shows considerable variation in the estimated size of the relationships and suggests that homicide and assault may be more closely associated with poverty or income inequality than are rape and robbery.

When race is picked as a key variable, racism has an open door. From the KKK and the black musician story, the musician (Davies) recounts:

This Klansman and I were riding around in my car and the topic of crime came up. He made the remark that all black people had a gene that makes us violent. I said ‘Gary, what are you talking about?’ He said ‘Who’s doing all the shootings?’ I said ‘let me tell you something, I am as black as anyone you’ve ever seen and I’ve never done a drive by or a shooting.’ After a time I said ‘you know, it’s a fact that all white people have within them a gene that makes them serial killers. Name me three black serial killers.’ He could not do it. I said ‘you have the gene. It’s just latent.’ He said ‘well that’s stupid’ I said ‘it’s just as stupid as what you said to me.’ He was very quiet after that and I know it was sinking in.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 December 2013 at 11:22 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

Comments on education, by Charles Dickens

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Some of the abuses Dickens describes (in his preface to Nicholas Nickleby) seem still to be current and may perhaps increase as more and more of our public schools are converted to profit-making ventures for private corporations:

Of the monstrous neglect of education in England, and the disregard of it by the State as a means of forming good or bad citizens, and miserable or happy men, private schools long afforded a notable example. Although any man who had proved his unfitness for any other occupation in life, was free, without examination or qualification, to open a school anywhere; although preparation for the functions he undertook, was required in the surgeon who assisted to bring a boy into the world, or might one day assist, perhaps, to send him out of it; in the chemist, the attorney, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker; the whole round of crafts and trades, the schoolmaster excepted; and although schoolmasters, as a race, were the blockheads and impostors who might naturally be expected to spring from such a state of things, and to flourish in it; these Yorkshire schoolmasters were the lowest and most rotten round in the whole ladder. Traders in the avarice, indifference, or imbecility of parents, and the helplessness of children; ignorant, sordid, brutal men, to whom few considerate persons would have entrusted the board and lodging of a horse or a dog; they formed the worthy cornerstone of a structure, which, for absurdity and a magnificent high-minded LAISSEZ-ALLER neglect, has rarely been exceeded in the world.

We hear sometimes of an action for damages against the unqualified medical practitioner, who has deformed a broken limb in pretending to heal it. But, what of the hundreds of thousands of minds that have been deformed for ever by the incapable pettifoggers who have pretended to form them!

I make mention of the race, as of the Yorkshire schoolmasters, in the past tense. Though it has not yet finally disappeared, it is dwindling daily. A long day’s work remains to be done about us in the way of education, Heaven knows; but great improvements and facilities towards the attainment of a good one, have been furnished, of late years.

I cannot call to mind, now, how I came to hear about Yorkshire schools when I was a not very robust child, sitting in bye-places near Rochester Castle, with a head full of PARTRIDGE, STRAP, TOM PIPES, and SANCHO PANZA; but I know that my first impressions of them were picked up at that time, and that they were somehow or other connected with a suppurated abscess that some boy had come home with, in consequence of his Yorkshire guide, philosopher, and friend, having ripped it open with an inky pen-knife. The impression made upon me, however made, never left me. I was always curious about Yorkshire schools — fell, long afterwards and at sundry times, into the way of hearing more about them — at last, having an audience, resolved to write about them.

With that intent I went down into Yorkshire before I began this book, in very severe winter time which is pretty faithfully described herein. As I wanted to see a schoolmaster or two, and was forewarned that those gentlemen might, in their modesty, be shy of receiving a visit from the author of the “Pickwick Papers,” I consulted with a professional friend who had a Yorkshire connection, and with whom I concerted a pious fraud. He gave me some letters of introduction, in the name, I think, of my travelling companion; they bore reference to a supposititious little boy who had been left with a widowed mother who didn’t know what to do with him; the poor lady had thought, as a means of thawing the tardy compassion of her relations in his behalf, of sending him to a Yorkshire school; I was the poor lady’s friend, travelling that way; and if the recipient of the letter could inform me of a school in his neighbourhood, the writer would be very much obliged.

I went to several places in that part of the country where I understood the schools to be most plentifully sprinkled, and had no occasion to deliver a letter until I came to a certain town which shall be nameless. The person to whom it was addressed, was not at home; but he came down at night, through the snow, to the inn where I was staying. It was after dinner; and he needed little persuasion to sit down by the fire in a warm corner, and take his share of the wine that was on the table.

I am afraid he is dead now. I recollect he was a jovial, ruddy, broad-faced man; that we got acquainted directly; and that we talked on all kinds of subjects, except the school, which he showed a great anxiety to avoid. “Was there any large school near?” I asked him, in reference to the letter. “Oh yes,” he said; “there was a pratty big ‘un.” “Was it a good one?” I asked. “Ey!” he said, “it was as good as anoother; that was a’ a matther of opinion”; and fell to looking at the fire, staring round the room, and whistling a little. On my reverting to some other topic that we had been discussing, he recovered immediately; but, though I tried him again and again, I never approached the question of the school, even if he were in the middle of a laugh, without observing that his countenance fell, and that he became uncomfortable. At last, when we had passed a couple of hours or so, very agreeably, he suddenly took up his hat, and leaning over the table and looking me full in the face, said, in a low voice: “Weel, Misther, we’ve been vara pleasant toogather, and ar’ll spak’ my moind tiv’ee. Dinnot let the weedur send her lattle boy to yan o’ our school-measthers, while there’s a harse to hoold in a’ Lunnun, or a gootther to lie asleep in. Ar wouldn’t mak’ ill words amang my neeburs, and ar speak tiv’ee quiet loike. But I’m dom’d if ar can gang to bed and not tellee, for weedur’s sak’, to keep the lattle boy from a’ sike scoondrels while there’s a harse to hoold in a’ Lunnun, or a gootther to lie asleep in!” Repeating these words with great heartiness, and with a solemnity on his jolly face that made it look twice as large as before, he shook hands and went away. I never saw him afterwards, but I sometimes imagine that I descry a faint reflection of him in John Browdie.

In reference to these gentry, I may here quote a few words from the original preface to this book.

“It has afforded the Author great amusement and satisfaction, during the progress of this work, to learn, from country friends and from a variety of ludicrous statements concerning himself in provincial newspapers, that more than one Yorkshire schoolmaster lays claim to being the original of Mr. Squeers. One worthy, he has reason to believe, has actually consulted authorities learned in the law, as to his having good grounds on which to rest an action for libel; another, has meditated a journey to London, for the express purpose of committing an assault and battery on his traducer; a third, perfectly remembers being waited on, last January twelve-month, by two gentlemen, one of whom held him in conversation while the other took his likeness; and, although Mr. Squeers has but one eye, and he has two, and the published sketch does not resemble him (whoever he may be) in any other respect, still he and all his friends and neighbours know at once for whom it is meant, because — the character is SO like him.

“While the Author cannot but feel the full force of the compliment thus conveyed to him, he ventures to suggest that these contentions may arise from the fact, that Mr. Squeers is the representative of a class, and not of an individual. Where imposture, ignorance, and brutal cupidity, are the stock in trade of a small body of men, and one is described by these characteristics, all his fellows will recognise something belonging to themselves, and each will have a misgiving that the portrait is his own.

“The Author’s object in calling public attention to the system would be very imperfectly fulfilled, if he did not state now, in his own person, emphatically and earnestly, that Mr. Squeers and his school are faint and feeble pictures of an existing reality, purposely subdued and kept down lest they should be deemed impossible. That there are, upon record, trials at law in which damages have been sought as a poor recompense for lasting agonies and disfigurements inflicted upon children by the treatment of the master in these places, involving such offensive and foul details of neglect, cruelty, and disease, as no writer of fiction would have the boldness to imagine. And that, since he has been engaged upon these Adventures, he has received, from private quarters far beyond the reach of suspicion or distrust, accounts of atrocities, in the perpetration of which upon neglected or repudiated children, these schools have been the main instruments, very far exceeding any that appear in these pages.”

This came to mind because The Sister is reading Nicholas Nickelby and commented on how absorbing it is and how the story moves right along. That made me want to reread it, and I was struck by some contemporary counterparts to what Dickens describes in his preface.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 December 2013 at 10:14 am

Posted in Books, Education

Colleges are teaching economics backwards

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Mike Konczal in the Washington Post with an interesting idea:

“The world has changed, the syllabus hasn’t.” That’s the motto of the Post-Crash Economics Society, a group of students at the University of Manchester who demand reforms to the way undergraduate economics is taught in light of the worldwide economic crisis. Similar activism is occurring in other elite undergraduate institutions: There was the well-publicized Open Letter to Greg Mankiw from students in the introductory economics class at Harvard, during the height of the Occupy movement. Meanwhile, institutions like the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) are getting involved by launching a pilot program to revamp the undergraduate economics curriculum.

Economics professors sometimes respond to these demands for change by arguing that, though the crisis presents unique challenges, there’s still a core set of knowledge that needs to be taught. If students want, they can move on to advanced classes which give a more nuanced view of elements of economics. But in order to critique economics, either inside the discipline or outside of it, they need to know the basics.

These professors have a point. But the stakes of even basic economic education are high. The language of economics is the language of elite discourse, and revamping undergraduate economic curriculum has the potential to profoundly shift the ways the next generation understands economies and crises–for better or for worse.

So here’s one temporary fix for introductory economics: teach it backwards. Reversing the order in which introductory economic classes are taught today might be the easiest way to respond to the crisis in undergraduate education. Plus, the history of how it gets taught now is more interesting and more political than you might think.

Today, first-year undergraduate students typically start with microeconomics, or the study of individuals and individual markets. This begins with the study of abstract, decontextualized, markets, where supply and demand work perfectly, individuals exist in isolation, and they effortlessly trade with others in isolation of society, the law, and politics. Students are often asked to imagine Robinson Crusoe, stranded on his island, making choices about how to work, eat and play. Introductory studies then proceed, at the end, to situations where markets don’t work perfectly–for instance, when environmental pollution imposes costs on others, or when someone has monopoly power to set prices.

In their second class, students begin to learn macroeconomics, or what happens when you add up all those markets. After gathering the basics of the field, they study the concept of long-run growth first. Though hard answers are often unclear to expert economists, this course of study is meant to figure out how things in the long-run change. Then, if there’s time left in the term, the class may turn to short-run issues, particularly the topics of the business cycle, recessions, and involuntary unemployment.

Notice how this orients the casual student, the non-major who will only encounter economics once in this survey course. They start off with an abstract market that always works, versus having to see the messy parts when it doesn’t. They then proceed to the long-run, and only after everything else do they get to something that might help them understand why unemployment is so high for young college graduates. Only then might they be introduced to the institutions that make markets happen, if those are discussed at all.

So, what if we just reversed all that?

What if macroeconomics came first, before the study of individual markets? If were to reverse the typical curriculum, the first thing undergraduates would encounter wouldn’t be abstract theories about people optimizing, but instead the idea of involuntary unemployment and the idea that the economy could operate below its potential. They’d study the economy in the short-run before going to issues of long-term growth, with professors having to explain the theories on how the two are linked, bringing in crucial concepts like hysteresis.

Then, in the second class, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

30 November 2013 at 9:03 am

Posted in Business, Education

Perhaps the idea of police officers in all schools needs rethinking

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Jodie Gummow reports at AlterNet:

An Austin family is suing the Texas sheriff’s deputy and school district in federal court after their 17-year-old son was tasered last week by a police officer in the school hallway, leaving him in a coma and fighting for his life,  Courthouse News  reported.

Noe Nino de Rivera, had successfully stepped in to break up a fight between two girls at Cedar Creek High School when school officials called in Randy McMillan, a Bastrop County sheriff department deputy. McMillan told the boy to step back and the teen obliged, with his hands in the air.

Yet, in a vicious act of police brutality, McMillan tasered the boy anyway, who fell onto his face and was knocked unconscious. Rather than calling for emergency medical assistance, the cop put the comatose boy in handcuffs.

Eventually, school officials contacted emergency services and the boy was airlifted to hospital where he underwent brain surgery and was placed in a medically induced coma where he remains and is still unable to communicate with his family.

Students who saw the incident say McMillan’s response was a gross overreaction, according to  KXAN.

“There was a crowd watching and the kid was just trying to get the officers to listen to him. When he shot the taser, there was a crowd, and others could have been hit,” said one student.

Acosta says the school was negligent in allowing McMillan to work at the school, despite the fact that he had previously tasered another student a year ago.

The incident is under investigation. The family is now seeking damages for the police brutality.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 November 2013 at 4:46 pm

Posted in Education, Guns

Oops! Gates pushes Microsoft management technique onto school systems, then Microsoft abandons the technique as destructive

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Unfortunately, schools cannot simply abandon a bad technique if the technique is required by law. (See high-stakes testing.) David Morris reports at AlterNet:

Schools have a lot to learn from business about how to improve performance, Bill Gates declared [3] in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in 2011. He pointed to his own company as a worthy model for public schools.

“At Microsoft, we believed in giving our employees the best chance to succeed, and then we insisted on success. We measured excellence, rewarded those who achieved it and were candid with those who did not.”

Adopting the Microsoft model means public schools grading teachers, rewarding the best and being “candid”—that is, firing those who are deemed ineffective. “If you do that,” Gates promised [4] Oprah Winfrey, “then we go from being basically at the bottom of the rich countries to being back at the top.”

The Microsoft model, called “stacked ranking,” forced every work unit to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, then good performers, then average, then below average, then poor.

Using hundred of millions of dollars in philanthropic largesse, Bill Gates persuaded state and federal policymakers that what was good for Microsoft would be good for the public schools system (to be sure, he was pushing against an open door). To be eligible for large grants from President Obama’s Race to the Top program, for example, states had to adopt Gates’ Darwinian approach to improving public education. Today more than 36 states have altered their teacher evaluations systems with the aim of weeding out the worst and rewarding the best.

Some states grade on a curve. Others do not. But all embrace the principle that teachers continuing employment will depend on improvement in student test scores, and teachers who are graded “ineffective” two or three years in a row face termination.

Needless to say, the whole process of what has come to be called “high stakes testing” of both students and teachers has proven devastatingly dispiriting. According [5] to the 2012 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, over half of public school teachers say they experience great stress several days a week and are so demoralized that their level of satisfaction has plummeted from 62 percent to 39 percent since 2008.

Now, just as public school systems have widely adopted the Microsoft model in order to win the Race to the Top, it turns out that Microsoft realizes its model has led the once highly competitive company in a race to the bottom.

In a widely circulated 2012 article [6] in Vanity Fair, two-time George Polk Award winner Kurt Eichenwald concluded [7] that stacked ranking “effectively crippled Microsoft’s ability to innovate.” He writes, “Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees. It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”

This month Microsoft abandoned the hated system.

On November 12, all Microsoft employees received a memo from Lisa Brummel, executive vice-president for human resources, announcing [8]the company will be adopting “a fundamentally new approach to performance and development designed to promote new levels of teamwork and agility for breakthrough business impact.”

Brummel listed four key elements in the company’s new policy.

  • More emphasis on teamwork and collaboration.
  • More emphasis on employee growth and development.
  • No more use of a Bell curve for evaluating employees.
  • No more ratings of employees.

Sue Altman at EduShyster [9] vividly sums up the frustration of a nation of educators at this new development. “So let me get this straight. The big business method of evaluation that now rules our schools is no longer the big business method of evaluation? And collaboration and teamwork, which have been abandoned by our schools in favor of the big business method of evaluation, is in?”

Big business can turn on a dime when the CEO orders it to do so. But changing policies embraced and internalized by dozens of states and thousands of public school districts will take far, far longer. This means the legacy of Bill Gates will continue to handicap millions of students and hundreds of thousands of teachers even as the company Gates founded, along with many [10] other businesses, has thrown his pernicious performance model in the dustbin of history.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 November 2013 at 12:38 pm

The real reason law schools are raking in cash

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Very interesting article indeed in Salon by Benjamin Winterhalter:

Since at least 1985, the American Bar Association’s Section on Legal Education has published annual statistics about the rates of enrollment at American law schools, the costs of attendance, and the eventual employment of law graduates. Looking at how these numbers have changed since the financial crisis of 2008, one thing is clear: Law schools are doing quite well for themselves. Tuition at private law schools has steadily increased, climbing from a mean of $34,298 in 2008 to a mean of $40,634 today – an increase that, by my calculations, outpaces inflation by about $3,000. And although enrollment has declined slightly from its all-time peak of 52,488 new students in 2010, the general trend has been unmistakably positive.

But if you sought information about how law schools weathered the financial storm in the pages of the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal or the Atlantic, I would not have faulted you for coming to the conclusion that they must be undergoing a major crisis. As these publications have tirelessly (and accurately) reported, the picture for law graduates is rather bleak. Student debt is astronomical, with some law students borrowing upwards of $200,000 to finance their educations, and employment prospects are dismal, with even well-established, “white-shoe” law firms being forced to make massive cuts and layoffs.

As a straight value proposition, it seems, it is no longer clear that going to law school makes any sense. So, law schools, one might reasonably expect, surely must be feeling the pressure. College students, one could not be blamed for thinking, surely must be considering other careers. But it has not been thus.

Why? How, in other words, can we explain the fact that young people are still going to law school in droves? How are we to make sense of the fact that so many intelligent college graduates are, to all appearances, deciding to commit financial suicide? The accounting just does not add up.

A couple of answers suggest themselves. First, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

24 November 2013 at 12:57 pm

Brain benefits of bilingualism, with an idea

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Bilingual brains are less likely to decline into dementia, reports Barbara King at NPR:

The largest study so far to ask whether speaking two languages might delay the onset of dementia symptoms in bilingual patients as compared to monolingual patients has reported a robust result. Bilingual patients suffer dementia onset an average of 4.5 years later than those who speak only a single language.

While knowledge of a protective effect of bilingualism isn’t entirely new, the present study significantly advances scientists’ knowledge. Media reportsemphasize the size of its cohort: 648 patients from a university hospital’s memory clinic, including 391 who were bilingual. It’s also touted as the first study to reveal that bilingual people who are illiterate derive the same benefit from speaking two languages as do people who read and write. It also claims to show that the benefit applies not only to Alzheimer’s sufferers but also people with frontotemporal and vascular dementia.

Only when I read the research report itself, though, published in the journalNeurology and written by Suvarna Alladi and 7 co-authors, did I realize fully the brilliance of conducting this study in Hyderabad, India.

That choice of location, I believe, lends extra credibility to the study’s results.

Here’s why. India, as the researchers note, is a nation of linguistic diversity. In the Hyderabad region, a language called Telugu is spoken by the majority Hindu group, and another called Dakkhini by the minority Muslim population. Hindi and English are also commonly spoken in formal contexts, including at school. Most people who grow up in the region, then, are bilingual, and routinely exposed to at least three languages.

The patients who contributed data to the study, then, are surrounded by multiple languages in everyday life, not primarily as a result of moving from one location to another. This turns out to be an important factor, as the authors explain:

In contrast to previous studies, the bilingual group was drawn from the same environment as the monolingual one and the results were therefore free from the confounding effects of immigration. The bilingual effect on age at dementia onset was shown independently of other potential confounding factors, such as education, sex, occupation, cardiovascular risk factors, and urban vs rural dwelling, of subjects with dementia.

In other words, thanks in large part to the study’s cultural context, these researchers made great progress zeroing in on bilingualism as the specific reason for the delay in dementia symptoms.

What exactly is it about the ability to speak in two languages that seems to provide this protective effect? Alladi and co-authors explain: . . .

Continue reading. And note that being a polyglot offers no noticeable brain-health advantages over being bilingual.

Unfortunately, languages are learned most easily early in life, and yet in the US foreign language programs in the elementary schools are almost unheard of. It’s easy to understand why, given the current US mania to cut taxes and reduce government spending, which beggars our public schools at the same time that corporations are working hard to offer charter schools for profit.  Hiring specialized staff who are qualified to teach a foreign language is, today in the US, far beyond the capabilities of public elementary schools—these days, they are looking at getting rid of art and music classes and the school library, not take on new educational missions.

However, Esperanto is easy to learn, and as a second language it would offer not only the benefit of bilingualism as well as an excellent foundation (as shown by research studies) for learning a third language, presumably an evolved language (French, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, or the like). And parents could feasibly try speaking Esperanto to each other and let the child learn the natural way. In practice, I’ve read, if one parent always speaks to the child in one language (be it Spanish or Esperanto or French) and the other always speaks to the child in English, then the child from first babbling will automatically choose the language appropriate to the parent being addressed. It’s not a conscious decision in young children: they simply speak to Parent A in “Parent A talk” and to Parent B in “Parent B talk.”

So, at least in concept, a parent could learn Esperanto pretty easily (it’s made to be easily learned) and try for a bilingual toddler at home. Plus it’s often good to have a “secret language” when out in public with the kids.

Just a thought. It occurs to me because I’m revisiting (with enjoyment) my own Esperanto stash of books.

If you decide to try it, here are some resources:

Lernu!, a site that teaches Esperanto. (Lerni is the infinitive “to learn”; lernu is the imperative, so the site name is (in English) “Learn!”.

Anki, a free Web-based flash card system. Esperanto vocabulary is easy to acquire (because of the system of affixes: one root generates a panoply of words), but it is important to routinely review words to ensure that they are readily available when you want to speak or write. Anki is free, works on multiple platforms, and is highly capable. It has an add-on that takes care of Esperanto diacritics (the characters the characters ĉ, ĝ, ĥ, ĵ, ŝ, ŭ are typed cx, gx, hx, jx, sx, and ux and automatically corrected. (With OS X and Windows you can easily trigger the same automatic substitutions by the operating system. See, for example, the comment to this post.) The nice thing about Anki is that many “flash-card decks” (in many languages and disciplines) are available as downloadable files, though in fact in most cases it’s best to create your own deck as you go.

Here are the Anki Esperanto decks available for download. Note that a few include images or audio.

BTW, if you’re interested in other languages/disciplines, Anki offer a host of add-ons, all free. Specifically, note that the program is valuable in working with any set of facts or data you must learn, not simply language vocabulary. And it has a great magnitude of decks contributed by users.

As I write this, I see that it will work best with those with a certain sort of obsessive interest. Still, I wanted to mention the possibility, partly because I enjoy Esperanto. I do recognize that it’s never everyone’s cup of tea, though until you sip a bit you won’t know whether it’s for you or not. :)

UPDATE: Now I’m sidetracked in trying to get my Mac keyboard Esperanto-ized, and I came across this useful note on Ukelele.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 November 2013 at 7:44 am

You know Rand Paul. You went to high school with them.

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He’s the guy who aced courses by cheating, copying papers, and so on. When accosted my friends, he’d just scoff and say that it wasn’t that big a deal, for Chrissake—it’s just high school. Only, of course, the point is to develop an awareness of just how very serious such things are in the real world, a lesson Rand Paul is learning now. I can almost hear him: “What’s the big deal? I copied a few thoughts that I agreed with, that said just what I was thinking. So what? Why’s everyone making a stink? It’s just words. The ideas are mine.”

More plagiarisms reported.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 November 2013 at 1:28 pm

To Gov. Christie, From The Teacher He Screamed At

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Melissa Tomlinson, who asked a question and got a rage outburst instead of an answer (generally a sign that the question poked at things the person questioned wants to keep hidden: rage is the mask of fear), has penned an open letter in response:

Dear Governor Christie,

Yesterday I took the opportunity to come hear you speak on your campaign trail. I have never really heard you speak before except for sound bytes that I get on my computer. I don’t have cable, I don’t read newspapers. I don’t have enough time. I am a public school teacher who works an average of 60 hours a week in my building. Yes, you can check with my principal. I run the after-school program along with my classroom position. I do even more work when I am at home. For verification of this, just ask my children.

I asked you one simple question yesterday. I wanted to know why you portray New Jersey public schools as failure factories. Apparently that question struck a nerve. When you swung around at me and raised your voice, asking me what I wanted, my first response “I want more money for my students.” Notice, I did not ask for more money for me. I did not ask for my health benefits, my pension, a raise, my tenure, or even my contract that I have not had for nearly three years.

We got into a small debate about how much money has been spent on education. To me, there is never enough money that is spent on education. To invest in education is to invest in our future. We cannot keep short-changing our children and taking away opportunities for them to explore and learn. As more money is required for state-mandated curriculum changes and high-stakes standardized testing, it is our children that are losing. Programs are being cut all over the state as budget changes are forcing districts to cut music, art, after-school transportation, and youth-centered clubs.

But let’s put money aside for a moment. What do I want? What do ‘we people’ want?

We want to be allowed to teach. Do you know that the past two months has been spent of our time preparing and completing paperwork for the Student Growth Objectives? Assessments were created and administered to our students on material that we have not even taught yet. Can you imagine how that made us feel?

The students felt like they were worthless for not having any clue how to complete the assessments. The teachers felt like horrible monsters for having to make the students endure this. How is that helping the development of a child? How will that help them see the value in their own self-worth?

This futile exercise took time away from planning and preparing meaningful lessons as well as the time spent in class actually completing the assessments. The evaluations have no statistical worth and has even been recognized as such by the New Jersey Department of Education.

I am all for evaluation of a teacher. I recognize that I should be held accountable for my job. This does not worry me, as long as I am evaluated on my methods of teaching. I cannot be held wholly accountable for the learning growth of a student when I am not accountable for all of the factors that influence this growth.

Are you aware that poverty is the biggest determination of a child’s educational success. If not, I suggest you read Diane Ravitch’s new book Reign of Error. Take a moment and become enlightened.

Getting back to the issue of money. I am fully aware of our educational budget. Where is all of this money? To me it seems like it is being siphoned right off into the hands of private companies as they reap the benefits of the charter schools and voucher programs that you have put into place.

It certainly hasn’t gone to improve school conditions in urban areas such as Jersey City. The conditions that these students and teachers are forced to be in are horrifying. Yet you are not allowing the funds needed to improve these conditions. Are you hoping that these schools get closed down and more students are forced to go to private charter schools while the districts are being forced to pay their tuition?

I know for a fact that this is what has happened in Camden and Newark. Yet these charter schools are not held to the same accountability as our public schools. Why is that? . . .

Continue reading. You can see why Christie did not want these questions raised: they point in the direction of corruption and the undermining of public education.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 November 2013 at 9:04 am

In Public Education, Edge Still Goes to Rich

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Public education was a great innovation, but we now seem bent on its destruction. Eduardo Porter writes in the NY Times:

“There aren’t many things that are more important to that idea of economic mobility — the idea that you can make it if you try — than a good education,”President Obama told students at the State University of New York in Buffalo in August.

It is hardly a partisan belief. About a decade ago, on signing the No Child Left Behind ActPresident George W. Bush argued that the nation’s biggest challenge was to ensure that “every single child, regardless of where they live, how they’re raised, the income level of their family, every child receive a first-class education in America.”

This consensus is comforting. It provides a solution everyone can believe in, whether the problem is income inequality, racial marginalization or the stagnation of the middle class. But it raises a perplexing question, too. If education is a poor child’s best shot at rising up the ladder of prosperity, why do public resources devoted to education lean so decisively in favor of the better off?

The anguished and often angry national debate over how to improve American educational standards, focused intently on grading students and teachers, mostly bypasses how the inequity of resources — starting at the youngest — inevitably affects the outcome.

“The debate about education reform is a lot about process,” said David Sciarra, executive director of the Education Law Center in Newark, an advocacy group for disadvantaged students. “To a large extent it is a huge distraction. We never get to the question of what resources we need to get the students to meet the standards.”

The United States is one of few advanced nations where schools serving better-off children usually have more educational resources than those serving poor students, according to research by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Among the 34 O.E.C.D. nations, only in the United States, Israel and Turkey do disadvantaged schools have lower teacher/student ratios than in those serving more privileged students.

Andreas Schleicher, who runs the O.E.C.D.’s international educational assessments, put it to me this way: “The bottom line is that the vast majority of O.E.C.D. countries either invest equally into every student or disproportionately more into disadvantaged students. The U.S. is one of the few countries doing the opposite.” The inequity of education finance in the United States is a feature of the system, not a bug, stemming from its great degree of decentralization and its reliance on local property taxes.

“Decentralization was wonderful for the initial diffusion of high schools,” said Lawrence Katz, a professor of economics at Harvard who helped write “The Race between Education and Technology,” one of the most comprehensive analyses of the spread of the American educational system throughout the 20th century. “But it created big geographic inequality.”

Today, the federal government provides only about 14 percent of the money for school districts from the elementary level through high school, compared to 54 percent, on average, among other industrial nations. More than half the money comes from local sources, mostly property taxes, which is about twice the share in the rest of the O.E.C.D.

This skews the playing field from early on. In New York, for instance, in 2011 the value of property in the poorest 10 percent of school districts amounted to some $287,000 per student, according to the state’s education department. In the richest districts it amounted, on average, to $1.9 million.

The state government in Albany redresses part of the imbalance: In the 2010-11 school year it transferred $6,600 per student to the state’s poorest school districts, about four times as much as it sent to the richest. But it’s still a long way from closing the gap.

That year, the most recent for which comprehensive data is available, the wealthiest 10 percent of school districts, in rich enclaves like Bridgehampton and Amagansett on Long Island, spent $25,505 on average per pupil. In the poorest 10 percent of New York’s school districts — in cities like Elmira, which has double the nation’s poverty rate and half its median family income — the average spending per student was only $12,861.

Disparities across the country are even starker. In New York, schools spend an average of $19,000 per student. In Tennessee they spend $8,200. The Alpine school district in Utah spends only $5,321. And funding in some states is even more skewed than in New York. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 November 2013 at 11:50 am

Posted in Education, Government

Interview with the victim of Chris Christie’s bullying

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Written by LeisureGuy

5 November 2013 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Education, Politics

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