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July 29, 2015

"The Hidden Costs of Tenure"

An instance of the more general point: if you make it hard to fire people, you'll make it harder to hire them.

July 27, 2015

"Suggested Texts for the University of Chicago Ph.D. Economics & Finance 1st-Year Courses 2014-2015"

Alexander K. Zentefis, a Ph.D., student at the U. of Chicago, recommends books for graduate study in economics. Useful for undergraduates thinking of going, beginning graduate students, maybe even faculty planning courses.

Also useful for those folks: John Cochrane's eight links to writing resources.

July 23, 2015

"Why College Kids Are Avoiding the Study of Literature"

You know the drill: guess. Go ahead, guess.

July 20, 2015

"How New Orleans Made Charter Schools Work"

From the Washington Monthly, no less: "Since Katrina, the Crescent City’s schools have produced what some experts believe to be the most rapid academic improvement in American history . . ."

As Stuart Scott might have said to the teachers' unions, "Ring the bell. School is out!"

July 16, 2015

"10 things not enough kids know before going to college"

With the possible exception of #7, an excellent list.

July 15, 2015

"43 Free Career-Advancing Courses You Can Take (and Actually Finish) This Summer"

Get some skills to pay the bills.

July 07, 2015

If you can't lose your excess weight, just change the scale!

The U.S. educational system seems to particularly fond of this dopey advice. A case in point: "There's going to be a new SAT, and it will be easier than ever". This change is awesomely crazy:

1. No Obscure Vocabulary

The new version of the SAT will be easier because there will no longer be obscure vocabulary to trip up test takers, Patel told Business Insider. High school students will no longer have to study massive vocabulary lists with obscure words. 

Instead, the College Board made the measured decision to focus on vocabulary words that students will encounter on a regular basis in college and in future jobs. On the College Board's website they reference their decision saying, "No longer will students use flashcards to memorize obscure words, only to forget them the minute they put their test pencils down."

June 29, 2015

"Improving Higher Education Through Professor Specialization"

Troy Camplin makes an excellent point:

Every economist will tell you about the benefits from specialization. We have known about that since Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations. But for some reason, this knowledge is thrown out when it comes to specialization in academia. 

I am talking about the requirement for tenure-track professors to engage in research. 

The comments are highly entertaining. Some folks seem to think this is crazy, but it's clearly not.

My take is that good teaching and research are clearly complementary for some faculty, but are just as clearly not for others. It would be difficult to even estimate the proportions. 

But there's a very important fact Camplin doesn't discuss: good research is reasonably cheap to quantify: publications--even quality-adjusted--and citations can be counted. But good teaching is much more costly to assess and quantify. (Student evaluations, alas, are only a tiny bit better than nothing.)

June 23, 2015

"New York teachers unions’ ‘choice’ charade"

Beware of unions endorsing "a parent's right to choose".

June 17, 2015

"College is Biased"

Mike Munger points us toward the funny video clip, "Are Standardized Tests Biased Against Students Who Don't Give a Shit?"

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