This is a cliché by now, but the public schools where I live are producing test-takers: pretty good ones, as far as the numbers show. At parent night at the beginning of the school year, we were introduced to a curricular program explicitly built around “assessments”—the new euphemism, I gather; maybe it intimidates less. A new study now purports to show that testing doesn’t enhance cognition. I’m not sure it was supposed to, but in any event, the critique is that teaching to the test fails to improve learning outcomes. I’m inclined—warning: this is anecdotal—to believe it does improve them, but toward the bottom, where massive investments are being made. What we may be losing in the bargain is what these tests don’t capture: excellence at the top. Welcome to Tocqueville’s democratic equality.
Ted Frank, founder of the Center for Class Action Fairness, comes to Liberty Law Talk to discuss class action abuse and the need for reform of much of the current system. The Fallacies of States' Rights or the problems created by John Marshall's nationalism? Adam Tate considers both notions in this week's review essay, "The Fallacies of Marshallian Nationalism." Getting education right in America: Russ Roberts talks with Eric Hanushek of Stanford on the costs of having a mediocre education system. JP Morgan's 4 parts: investment banking, traditional banking, asset management, and private equity are worth more separately than their present combination: So…
Indiana has emerged, once again, in the national spotlight of states willing to buck national trends and go it alone for the good of its citizens and future citizens who might take root in its borders. Already a leader in freeing up its tax and labor policies, making it a standout in the Midwest, the Hoosier state halted last week its implementation of the Common Core (CC) education standards. Currently, 45 states have adopted the CC, and it has been championed by leading “reform” minded conservatives like Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, and former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. CC was tied to Obama’s stimulus funds and his “Race to the Top” initiative that promoted charter schools and tied increased education funding to a state’s adoption of the CC. So much for free choice and competitive state policies.
The Friedman Foundation has published an intriguing report on The School Staffing Surge: Decades of Employment Growth In America’s Public Schools. The numbers are astounding:
Between fiscal year (FY) 1950 and FY 2009, the number of K-12 public school students in the United States increased by 96 percent while the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) school employees grew 386 percent. Public schools grew staffing at a rate four times faster than the increase in students over that time period. Of those personnel, teachers’ numbers increased 252 percent while administrators and other staff experienced growth of 702 percent, more than seven times the increase in students.
Increases between 1992 and 2009: students, 17%; teachers, 32%; staff, 46%. In 2009, the nation’s public school systems employed 3.2 million teachers and 3.1 million non-teaching staff. All this, for what appears to be essentially no net gain in educational achievement.