"Carmen Fariña’s ugly lie about which kids charters help"

NYC charter school parent answers the Schools Chancellor, who should darn well know better.

In a radio interview last week, Fariña said: “When you look at the parents who make it their business to enter a lottery, that already predetermines a certain section of the population.”

The teachers union and other critics of charter schools often make this charge to imply that the academic gains made by students have nothing to do with the school — and that charters are shutting out disadvantaged students in the process.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

"Remembering Robert Conquest"

I don't know the late Mr. Conquest's writings, but this bit of his verse made me laugh.

“Those teach who can’t do” runs the dictum,

But for some even that’s out of reach:

They can’t even teach—so they’ve picked ’em

To teach other people to teach.

Then alas for the next generation,

For the pots fairly crackle with thorn.

Where psychology meets education

A terrible bullshit is born.

"Study shows college textbook prices up an insane 1,041% since 1977"

Yeah, yeah, but how does this fit with my experience? I have one observation to report. I purchased my undergraduate econometrics text, Jan Kmenta's  Elements of Econometrics, which I struggled with and grew to dislike intensely, but for unaccountable reasons have kept all these years (maybe as a reminder to stay humble, very humble), for spring semester of my junior year, so early 1977. The price--not stamped, not stickered, and, of course, not bar-coded--is written in pencil on the inside, first sheet after the cover: "$19.95". 

While a second edition of Kmenta is, apparently, still in print, I will ignore that. I can't imagine any university professor assigning it in 2015 given that there are many better choices available. One such better option is Stock and Watson's Introduction to Econometrics. Amazon quotes a list price of $260, but they'll sell it to you for $185.37. 

So at the list price, there's been an increase of 1203%; at the preferable transaction price, the increase is 829%. Either percentage is reasonably close to 1041%, or as they say in D.C., "close enough for government work". 

But--and this is an important "but"--Stock and Watson is a much better text. Is it eight times better than Kmenta, 1st edition? It's hard to say, but probably . . . close enough.

"College Calculus: What is the Real Value of Higher Education"

John Cassidy provides an interesting, up-to-date look at the question, including evidence that, at least at first glance, seems less consistent with the human capital story and more consistent with signaling.

But Mr. Cassidy does not explore one partial answer to the question he poses: the possibility that in many field, declining standards, including rampant grade inflation, have made a college degree worth less under either theory.