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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

This is it for me, at least for this chapter.  I am off to join some people who don’t much appreciate voices singing out of key, and while they might be able to get over my public disdain for coaches who punt in opposing territory, it would be rather awkward to continue to point out the incompetence of the administration.  So for now, it’s probably best to hang it up.

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Even by off-cycle election standards, this was an odd one.  Perhaps it’s just payback for such a good election last year.  I’ll trade watching Chris Christie do his Sopranos impression for never having had to listen to this:

It’s been just 68 days since that afternoon in Dayton, Ohio, when Senator McCain introduced me as his running mate. He is truly the maverick. He took a chance on me. I will always be grateful for that. It will be the honor of a lifetime to work him as vice president of the United States. And I pledge to govern with integrity, and goodwill, and clear conviction, and a servant’s heart.

When the Democratic Party finishes licking its wounds, I hope it learns at least one lesson: when you win an election, you are expected to do something.  Asking the genie for three more wishes is not something. (more…)

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William Voegeli has an LA Times article on the two different models of large state – Texas and California:

California and Texas are not perfect representatives of the alternative deals, but they come close. Overall, the Census Bureau’s latest data show that state and local government expenditures for all purposes in 2005-06 were 46.8% higher in California than in Texas: $10,070 per person compared with $6,858. Only three states and the District of Columbia saw higher per capita government outlays than California, while those expenditures in Texas were lower than in all but seven states. California ranked 10th in overall taxes levied by state and local governments, on a per capita basis, while Texas, one of only seven states with no individual income tax, was 38th.

California is not exactly a high-tax, high-service state – it is more of a high borrowing, medium service state, at least when compared with the corner solutions (CT, NJ, HI) – but the contrast with Texas is apt.  What is the root of the difference? (more…)

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Mike Konczal has an interesting post that is popping up all over the place (here, here, and here, and probably somewhere else by now) analyzing a throwaway human interest piece on a woman named Karen King from the Wall Street Journal:

Her biggest chunk of debt, $26,000, stems from student loans to pay for her two-year associate’s degree from a community college — loans now in the hands of collectors. The remaining $10,000 or so includes old credit-card balances, debt to a store that rents furniture, utility bills and back taxes. Another obligation is $400 a month she contributes to the rent on her grandfather’s two-bedroom apartment, where her mother, uncle and sister also live. (more…)

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Edward Glaeser (courtesy Stephen Dodson and Ben Casnocha) asks what went wrong with Argentina:

A century ago, there were only seven countries in the world that were more prosperous than Argentina (Belgium, Switzerland, Britain and four former English colonies including the United States)… In 1909, per capita income in Argentina was 50 percent higher than in Italy, 180 percent higher than Japan, and almost five times higher than in neighboring Brazil. Over the course of the 20th century, Argentina’s relative standing in world incomes fell sharply. By 2000, Argentina’s income was less than half that of Italy or Japan.

It is one of the great mysteries of human development. (more…)

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Steven Brill has a fantastic article in the New Yorker about the New York City Public Schools.  As will not surprise anyone who has ever been in a big city public school, the workforce has all the responsiveness of a late-70s auto assembly plant:

The document that dictates how Daysi Garcia can—and cannot—govern P.S. 65 is the U.F.T. contract, a hundred and sixty-six single-spaced pages. It not only keeps the Rubber Roomers on the payroll and Garcia writing notes to personnel files all day but dictates every minute of the six hours, fifty-seven and a half minutes of a teacher’s work day, including a thirty-seven-and-a-half-minute tutorial/preparation session and a fifty-minute “duty free” lunch period. It also inserts a union representative into every meaningful teacher-supervisor conversation. The contract includes a provision that, this fall, will allow an additional seven hundred to eight hundred teachers to get paid for doing essentially no teaching…the number of teachers staying on reserve for more than nine months is likely to exceed eleven hundred by next calendar year and cost the city more than a hundred million dollars annually. Added to the six hundred Rubber Roomers, that’s seventeen hundred idle teachers—more than enough to staff all the schools in New Haven.

The only way to fix the New York City public schools is to break the United Federation of Teachers.  Unfortunately, doing so would require political abilities almost certainly beyond the capacity of any mayor or governor.

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