A nice response to that David Simon post by everyone's favorite painter/programmer/essayist, Maciej Cegłowski.
On NPR this morning, I heard this report, Study: Teacher Prep Programs Get Failing Marks, and it set off all kinds of warning bells. For example, the person running the study uses lots of "consumer" language and talks about how if failing teacher prep programs can't produce results, then they'll lose customers and go out of business. Also, they were criticized for over-reliance on course descriptions and not looking at how the teachers actually fared once they were in the classroom. Finally, they measured whether or not teachers were being taught how to raise test scores. IMHO, most self-respecting teacher prep programs do not focus on teaching teachers how to raise test scores, mostly because the professors (especially those who have been running the programs since before NCLB) don't have much respect for standardized testing.
OTOH, I haven't been involved in many institutions, so what do I know? So I went and looked up the actual report, and started with Methodology.
Check this out:
Data collection The field of teacher preparation has much to gain from an independent evaluation intent on spotlighting strong performers. And since most of the institutions in our sample cooperate with our partner, U.S. News & World Report, in developing its annual rankings of colleges and universities, we anticipated that they would work with us as well.
As it turned out, we faced a nationwide boycott of our effort. Ultimately, only 114 institutions chose to freely cooperate with the Teacher Prep Review (meaning that they provided us with the data we needed upon request without us having to resort to open-records requests). U.S. News & World Report received 39 letters representing approximately 700 institutions taking issue with our methods and goals. Other institutions either sent terse declines or did not respond at all to our repeated entreaties.
We were thus forced to look for alternative ways to collect legitimate data.
Surveys often have low response rates, but what's up with the phrase "nationwide boycott"? It sounds like there's a lot of hostility circulating between teacher prep programs and the people working the study.
(I'm sending it to my teacher ed friend who is well-informed on these things, because I don't actually have an insider's perspective myself. Also I have to take the cat to the vet, so I can't take the time to figure it out.)
They asked their readers to send in answers to the question "Are women passive when it comes to sex?" and stunningly found that literally every response that was worth publishing was "Yes, yes women are passive." That settles that, then.
Do you think the Slate staff actually uses the word 'trolling' to describe their editorial philosophy when they talk to each other privately?
For some reason the mayor of NYC spoke at Stanford's commencement yesterday, and for some reason he said this:
"I believe that more and more Stanford graduates will find themselves moving to Silicon Alley, not only because we're the hottest new tech scene in the country, but also because there's more to do on a Friday night than go to the Pizza Hut in Sunnyvale," he said. "And you may even be able to find a date with a girl whose name is not Siri. Stanford graduates thrive in New York City-because both places thrive on innovation and entrepreneurialism."
You might find that an odd remark until you remember that Stanford replaced all of its humanities distribution requirements with compsci coursework and also stopped admitting straight women.
He apparently went on to say something inane about "disruption".
I said this in a recent comment thread:
When I was about 18, I bought a book called Replica in the airport that was so bad that I decided at that point not to consider pursuing writing, professionally (which I'd been vaguely considering). My thinking went "If this utter slop can get published, then there is no merit system whatsoever, and I'll go nuts." I kept the book as a reminder to myself of the very important lesson I'd learned. I'm pretty sure I have it somewhere.
Gregory Mankiw writes Defending The 1%. It basically serves the same function as Replica for why one should not go into Economics. Hell no I'm not going to read all 26 pages after reading the first page or two:
Imagine a society with perfect economic equality. Perhaps out of sheer coincidence, the supply and demand for different types of labor happen to produce an equilibrium in which everyone earns exactly the same income... Because people earn the value of their marginal product, everyone is fully incentivized to provide the efficient amount of effort...
Then, one day, this egalitarian utopia is disturbed by an entrepreneur with an idea for a new product. Think of the entrepreneur as Steve Jobs as he develops the iPod, J.K. Rowling as she writes her Harry Potter books, or Steven Spielberg as he directs his blockbuster movies. When the entrepreneur's product is introduced, everyone in society wants to buy it. They each part with, say, $100. The transaction is a voluntary exchange, so it must make both the buyer and the seller better off. But because there are many buyers and only one seller, the distribution of economic well-being is now vastly unequal....
In my view, this thought experiment captures, in an extreme and stylized way, what has happened to US society over the past several decades. Since the 1970s, average incomes have grown, but the growth has not been uniform across the income distribution. The incomes at the top, especially in the top 1 percent, have grown much faster than average. These high earners have made significant economic contributions, but they have also reaped large gains. The question for public policy is what, if anything, to do about it.
OH MY GOD I HATE YOU SO.
Via Kieran Healy, elsewhere
The white American population is shrinking.
Jocelyn Plums: I wish I was a little bit shorter I wish I was a hoarder I wish there was a bed made of cats I could order.