The NY Times has a nice graph comparing how 15-year-old girls and boys did on a science test in different countries. It shows that in certain regions boys did better than girls on average (for example, in most of the Americas and Western Europe), but girls did better in other regions (much of Asia and the Middle East). This is another point that seems to imply that much of the difference is probably social, so it’s more evidence that Larry Summers was wrong (to be fair, he said that the difference might be due to a difference in the spread, but there has also been some evidence against that).
05 Feb 2013 Leave a Comment
17 Dec 2012 1 Comment
This really is a great quote:
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”
and Fred Rogers really was a great man.
09 Dec 2012 Leave a Comment
Let’s see what’s new on the education reform front:
The new standards, which are slowly rolling out now and will be in place by 2014, require that nonfiction texts represent 50 percent of reading assignments in elementary schools, and the requirement grows to 70 percent by grade 12.
“I’m struggling with this, and my students are struggling,” said Highfill, who was named 2011 middle school teacher of the year in her state. “With informational text, there isn’t that human connection that you get with literature. And the kids are shutting down. They’re getting bored. I’m seeing more behavior problems in my classroom than I’ve ever seen.”
But the chief architect of the Common Core Standards said educators are overreacting as the standards move from concept to classroom.
“There’s a disproportionate amount of anxiety,” said David Coleman, who led the effort to write the standards with a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Coleman said educators are misinterpreting the directives.
Yes, the standards do require increasing amounts of nonfiction from kindergarten through grade 12, Coleman said. But that refers to reading across all subjects, not just in English class, he said. Teachers in social studies, science and math should require more reading, which would allow English teachers to continue to assign literature, he said.
In practice, the burden of teaching the nonfiction texts is falling to English teachers, said Mark Bauerlein, an English professor at Emory University: “You have chemistry teachers, history teachers saying, ‘We’re not going to teach reading and writing, we have to teach our subject matter. That’s what you English teachers do.’ ”
Sheridan Blau, a professor at Teachers College at Columbia University, said teachers across the country have told him their principals are insisting that English teachers make 70 percent of their readings nonfiction. “The effect of the new standards is to drive literature out of the English classroom,” he said.
Timothy Shanahan, who chairs the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said school administrators apparently have flunked reading comprehension when it comes to the standards.
“Schools are doing some goofy things — principals or superintendents are not reading,” Shanahan, who was among the experts who advised Coleman on the standards, said.
There’s this common perception that people in higher education don’t know how things work in the real world. I don’t believe that in most cases, but it’s true here. Do the people who wrote these new standards really believe that teachers in other subjects would increase the amount of reading in their class? In theory they can and perhaps even should, but given the increasing role of standardized testing in all the subjects it would mean time away from material being tested. And since schools, and increasingly teachers, are judged on these standardized tests, it wouldn’t make sense to shift time away from material on the tests. Mr Shanahan who thinks administrators have flunked reading comprehension doesn’t seem to know how the real world works–you could say he has flunked the real world.
25 Oct 2012 Leave a Comment
Well this sounds fun:
The lawsuit claims Meridian police routinely arrest students without determining whether there is probable cause when a school wants to press charges, and the students are routinely jailed. The lawsuit says the students are sent more than 80 miles to the Rankin County youth detention center because the one in Lauderdale County closed earlier this year “because of longstanding legal battles over the conditions of confinement.”
Once arrested, the students end up on probation, sometimes without proper legal representation, according to the lawsuit. If the students are on probation, future school violations could be considered a violation that requires them to serve the suspension incarcerated in the juvenile detention center.
That means students can be incarcerated for “dress code infractions such as wearing the wrong color socks or undershirt, or for having shirts untucked; tardies; flatulence in class; using vulgar language; yelling at teachers; and going to the bathroom or leaving the classroom without permission.”
It makes me wonder if anyone is making money off this as they did in Pennsylvania.
30 Sep 2012 Leave a Comment
It seems that gender bias is alive and well:
In a randomized double-blind study (n = 127), science faculty from research-intensive universities rated the application materials of a student—who was randomly assigned either a male or female name—for a laboratory manager position. Faculty participants rated the male applicant as significantly more competent and hireable than the (identical) female applicant. These participants also selected a higher starting salary and offered more career mentoring to the male applicant. The gender of the faculty participants did not affect responses, such that female and male faculty were equally likely to exhibit bias against the female student.
This is another data point showing overt bias, as opposed to genetics, is what leads to gender differences.
22 Aug 2012 Leave a Comment
Here’s the type of dissonance you get with high stakes testing:
According to the scores, Mission High is among the lowest-performing 5 percent of schools in the country, and it has consistently failed to meet the ever-rising benchmarks set by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The law mandates universal “proficiency” in math and reading by 2014—a deadline that weighs heavily on educators around the nation, since schools that don’t meet it face stiff penalties.
After a few weeks of talking to students, I failed to find a single one who didn’t like the school, and most of the parents I met were happy too. Mission’s student and parent satisfaction surveys rank among the highest in San Francisco.
One of the most diverse high schools in the country, Mission has 925 students holding 47 different passports. The majority are Latino, African American, and Asian American, and 72 percent are poor. Yet even as the school was being placed on the list of lowest-performing schools, 84 percent of the graduating class went on to college, higher than the district average; this year, 88 percent were accepted. (Nationally, 32 percent of Latino and 38 percent of African American students go to college.) That same year, Mission improved Latinos’ test scores more than any other school in the district. And while suspensions are skyrocketing across the nation, they had gone down by 42 percent at Mission. Guthertz had seen dropout rates fall from 32 percent to 8 percent. Was this what a failing school looked like?
And here’s what happens when the school tests badly:
As a low-performing school, Mission qualified for additional funding—but only if it agreed to undergo a major restructuring. Options included replacing the principal and either revamping the curriculum or replacing half the staff; closing the school; or turning it into a charter. Guthertz had been promoted to his job less than two years earlier, and the district was allowed to report this change to the federal government as a replacement of the principal—a loophole that bought Mission some time. But San Francisco’s oldest comprehensive public high school, founded in 1890, would still have to show dramatic growth in scores by 2014 or face more interventions, including possible closure.
One of the things to know is that closing schools doesn’t seem to help the students:
Overall, we found few effects, either positive or negative, of school closings on the achievement of displaced students. The lack of a more substantial positive effect of transferring students out of these schools is likely due to the types of receiving schools that students transferred into. Displaced students who enrolled in receiving schools with strong academic quality or with high levels of teacher support had higher learning gains than displaced students who enrolled in other receiving schools. However, the number of displaced students who attended these strong schools was small. Only 6 percent of displaced students enrolled in academically strong schools, while 42 percent of displaced students continued to attend schools with very low levels of academic achievement.
You should also know that today’s students are not doing worse. You’re probably shocked by that given what you see in the news.
08 Aug 2012 Leave a Comment
A Louisiana charter school is changing a policy that kicked pregnant students out of class and required them to be home-schooled, the school’s board chairman said Wednesday.
No one at Delhi Charter School in rural northeast Louisiana realized there was anything wrong with the policy until the American Civil Liberties Union’s state chapter threatened to sue, said chairman Albert Christman. The policy has gotten “everybody up in a roar,” he said.
The school required students who were suspected of being pregnant to take a pregnancy test. If they refused, or tested positive, they had to be home-schooled. The ACLU said the policy violated Title IX of the 1972 federal education law, which requires equal opportunities for both sexes.
Too many schools do not realize pregnant students should receive equal treatment, the National Women’s Law Center said in a June report.
Gee, I wonder what would happen to a student at the school who broke one of the school’s policies–perhaps the people who enacted this policy should be kicked out of the school system. The policy is here and here’s the full policy on pregnancy (go to page 130):
If an administrator or teacher suspects a student is pregnant, a parent conference will be held. The school reserves the right to require any female student to take a pregnancy test to confirm whether or not the suspected student is in fact pregnant. The school further reserves the right to refer the suspected student to a physician of its choice. If the test indicates that the student is pregnant, the student will not be permitted to attend classes on the campus of Delhi Charter School.
If a student is determined to be pregnant and wishes to continue to attend Delhi Charter School, the student will be required to pursue a course of home study that will be provided by the school. Students engaged in home study will be required to meet all of the school’s ordinary, high academic standards in order to be promoted.
Any student who is suspected of being pregnant and who refuses to submit to a pregnancy test shall be treated as a pregnant student and will be offered home study opportunities. If home study opportunities are not acceptable, the student will be counseled to seek other educational opportunities.
In an interesting bit, the section on sex education includes this:
Whenever sex education is offered, such education will be available also to any student in the school, regardless of the student’s grade level, who is pregnant or who is a mother or father.
I guess it wasn’t updated.
I also think this guy needs to find another job:
Louisiana Department of Education spokesman Barry Landry said he did not know the state’s policies for pregnant students or whether they apply to private and religious schools getting tuition vouchers.
31 Jul 2012 1 Comment
The primary purpose of a for-profit company is to make money. Like here:
But for-profit colleges have failed to support those students, the report states, by prizing recruitment over retention. The colleges studied spent 23 percent of their revenue on marketing and recruiting, and 17 percent on instruction.
The publicly traded companies that operate for-profit colleges yielded an average profit margin of 20 percent in 2009 and paid an average of $7.3 million to their chief executives.
The companies are successful largely because they charge high tuition. Associate degree programs at for-profit colleges cost at least four times as much as comparable programs at public community colleges, $34,988 versus $8,313, the report said. Internal company documents showed tuition hikes were enacted ‘‘to satisfy company profit goals,’’ rather than to cover increased costs of educating students.
There are two basic ways that a company can do well: have a really good product; have really good marketing. As far as the company is concerned either is ok, but only one is better for the rest of us. That means if the product is important, then there needs to be regulation. That’s why there is an FDA, OSHA, and many other federal agencies–the collective we has decided that we want there to be basic requirements for food, medicine, workplace safety and other things (we do not want a company to be able to sell diseased meat for example). We have to decide whether a college needs to have basic requirements in the same way. I think the collective we will decide it’s in our best interests to have these requirements. And it’s also in the best interests of the colleges: if the abuses get too bad at a few colleges, then all of them will suffer. Done well, government regulations help private industry by giving consumers some basic trust that the products they buy have minimum standards.
12 Jul 2012 1 Comment
Louisiana’s mission to fund religious schools is fun to watch (ok, not really since it will hurt a lot of children). The latest:
Superintendent John White and Commissioner of Administration Paul Rainwater made just such a claim, saying that enacting an injunction on the voucher program, for which 8,000 students have already applied, would lead to a $3.4 billion hole in the state’s education budget.
However, as Brian Blackwell, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said, “That’s just kind of crazy. … There’s no way that not spending money can cause a deficit. When you don’t fund something, you can’t have a deficit. There’s no deficit if you can’t spend.” Blackwell pointed out that the funds have already been sent to the Department of Education and that an injunction would merely prevent the money from being distributed.
The reason this is coming up:
There are also concerns about how the program might meld government and religion. Of the 120 private schools approved by the state government, the majority are Christian-based and monitored far more loosely by the state than their public counterparts, according to Reuters.
The school willing to accept the most voucher students – 314 — is New Living Word in Ruston, which has a top-ranked basketball team but no library. Students spend most of the day watching TVs in bare-bones classrooms. Each lesson consists of an instructional DVD that intersperses Biblical verses with subjects such chemistry or composition.
The Upperroom Bible Church Academy in New Orleans, a bunker-like building with no windows or playground, also has plenty of slots open. It seeks to bring in 214 voucher students, worth up to $1.8 million in state funding.
At Eternity Christian Academy in Westlake, pastor-turned-principal Marie Carrier hopes to secure extra space to enroll 135 voucher students, though she now has room for just a few dozen. Her first- through eighth-grade students sit in cubicles for much of the day and move at their own pace through Christian workbooks, such as a beginning science text that explains “what God made” on each of the six days of creation. They are not exposed to the theory of evolution.
“We try to stay away from all those things that might confuse our children,” Carrier said.
I guess Eternity Christian isn’t going to be teaching much since almost everything might confuse a child. And no worries about those pesky standards for these schools:
In Louisiana, Superintendent of Education John White said state officials have at one time or another visited all 120 schools in the voucher program and approved their curricula, including specific texts. He said the state plans more “due diligence” over the summer, including additional site visits to assess capacity.
In general, White said he will leave it to principals to be sure their curriculum covers all subjects kids need and leave it to parents to judge the quality of each private school on the list.
This stuff looks bad, so the state is trying to divert attention:
A tiny private school in a remote part of the state is turning into a big headache for Louisiana’s governor and its top education official. In the latest twist, emails have surfaced showing state Superintendent John White laying out a plan aimed — at least in part — at “muddying up the narrative” reporters have been telling about the school.
The problem is that details like this keep coming out:
New Living Word, a school that has been approved for more voucher students than any other school in the state. The Rev. Jerry Baldwin, the school’s principal, told the newspaper that although he had neither the facilities nor the teachers to accommodate that many students, he was moving ahead “on faith” with the expansion plans.
The newspaper also reported that tuition for voucher students would be set at $8,500, just under the cap, while the rest of the school’s students are on a “tuition assistance program.”
That’s despite the fact that private schools in the program are not allowed to charge the state more than they do the rest of their students.
Rep. Kenneth Havard, R-Jackson, objected to including the Islamic School of Greater New Orleans in a list of schools approved by the education department to accept as many as 38 voucher students. Havard said he wouldn’t support any spending plan that “will fund Islamic teaching.”
“I won’t go back home and explain to my people that I supported this,” he said.
Hmm, so it’s only supposed to fund Christian schools–wouldn’t that be basically establishing a state religion?
-The Loch Ness Monster disproves evolution
- Science Proves Homosexuality is a Learned Behavior
- The Second Law of Thermodynamics Disproves Evolution
- No Transitional Fossils Exist
- Humans and Dinosaurs Co-Existed
- Evolution Has Been Disproved
- A Japanese Whaling Boat Found a Dinosaur
- Solar Fusion is a Myth
10 Jul 2012 Leave a Comment
Charles Pierce notes that there was quite a big anniversary this year:
On July 2, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law what was known as the Morrill Act. The new law authorized the creation of what became known as “land-grant colleges,” the purpose of which, as described in the Act was: “…without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactic, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the States may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life.”
This was one of the most important pieces of legislation to ever pass, bringing college education to the masses. As Pierce notes, the arguments against the act are similar to the ones against national healthcare:
Democratic Senator Clement Clay of Alabama was by far the most eloquent to stand against it. He insisted that the land grants were a “magnificent bribe” to encourage Alabama to “surrender to the federal power her original and reserved right to manage her own domestic and internal affairs.” He argued that public lands were never meant to support such arrangements. This was followed with a long, vivid picture of judicious forefathers building limitation after limitation into the Constitution concerning the powers of the Federal Government. With the last stroke of his brush, Clay asked if one could believe that such a careful limitation was only a sham, that through deliberate intent or stupidity these great men had provided a means to circumvent their careful limitation of federal power.
Change a few words and this is the argument against Obamacare–I wonder if we can charge plagiarism? I can’t imagine that this type of legislation could pass today.
09 Jul 2012 Leave a Comment
Gee, what a surprise, Romney prefers banks over students:
Mitt Romney promises to usher private lenders back into the federal student loan market in a bid to decrease default rates and increase efficiency if he becomes president, but such a move could cost taxpayers tens of billions of dollars over a decade without saving students money, according to several higher education analysts.
The prime beneficiaries, critics say, would be banks and loan companies that stand to reap a financial boon through subsidies to make nearly risk-free, government-backed loans. They are the same firms that benefited from the system that existed for decades before 2010, when President Obama required that the government issue all federal student loans.
Bill Hansen, a Romney adviser on higher education policy, said in an interview the presumed Republican nominee does not intend to replicate the old system, which entailed the government paying banks billions of dollars in subsidies and fees to cover their exposure in making student loans at low rates.
Although Hansen said new private programs would not necessarily be government-subsidized, he added that the campaign has yet to discuss the parameters, so it remains unclear how much money Romney’s plan would cost or save.
Another surprise, Romney has a plan that he says will save money … but he provides no details. And this is priceless (still Hansen):
“The current framework is a one-size-fits-all government solution that will never be customer-friendly and is totally subject to the political winds of the day.”
He’s correct, Republicans want to cut almost all discretionary spending and will cut this program given the opportunity … for example, if Romney is elected.
23 Jun 2012 Leave a Comment
Today is the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing, one of the great minds of the twentieth century–a leader in both math and computers. Despite the fact that he helped win WWII by being one of the leading code-crackers for England (cracking the German code, meant the Allies often knew what the Germans were planning, while the Germans weren’t able to crack the Allies’ code), the fact that he was gay was deemed more important. In 1952 he was given the choice of prison or chemical castration, he chose the latter and committed suicide two years later. Letters of Note has a letter by him around the time of the trial which ends with this:
I’m afraid that the following syllogism may be used by some in the future.
Turing believes machines think
Turing lies with men
Therefore machines do not think
One of the reasons Larry Summers said he didn’t believe there was discrimination against women at universities was that it would put a university at a competitive disadvantage, that didn’t seem to stop England going against Alan Turing.
07 Jun 2012 Leave a Comment
One of the large and persistent arguments by people who want to reduce the deficit in the US is that we’re saddling the younger generations with huge debt. Paul Krugman points out the other side of this:
Everything we know says that this generation will never — never — recover from the terrible job market into which it has graduated. But hey, we can’t do anything about that; we must have austerity, for the sake of the next generation.
Taken as a whole, the results suggest that the labor market consequences of graduating from college in a bad economy are large, negative and persistent.
Kevin Drum says probably means half a million dollars over their career. I’m not sure where he’s getting that number, but I remember him posting about this earlier (I’ll add the link if I find it).
For this generation of young people, the future looks bleak. Only one in six is working full time. Three out of five live with their parents or other relatives. A large majority — 73 percent — think they need more education to find a successful career, but only half of those say they will definitely enroll in the next few years.
Before now, I had never really understood how the 1930s could happen. Now I do. All one needs are fragile economies, a rigid monetary regime, intense debate over what must be done, widespread belief that suffering is good, myopic politicians, an inability to co-operate and failure to stay ahead of events. Perhaps the panic will vanish. But investors who are buying bonds at current rates are indicating a deep aversion to the downside risks. Policy makers must eliminate this panic, not stoke it.
Set Honest Goals: Cap Spending At 20 Percent Of GDP
Any turnaround must begin with clear and realistic goals. Optimistic projections cannot wish a problem away, they can only make it worse. As president, Mitt’s goal will be to bring federal spending below 20 percent of GDP by the end of his first term:
- Reduced from 24.3 percent last year; in line with the historical trend between 18 and 20 percent
- Close to the tax revenue generated by the economy when healthy
- Requires spending cuts of approximately $500 billion per year in 2016 assuming robust economic recovery with 4% annual growth, and reversal of irresponsible Obama-era defense cuts
Take Immediate Action: Return Non-Security Discretionary Spending To Below 2008 Levels
Any turnaround must also stop the bleeding and reverse the most recent and dramatic damage:
- Send Congress a bill on Day One that cuts non-security discretionary spending by 5 percent across the board
- Pass the House Republican Budget proposal, rolling back President Obama’s government expansion by capping non-security discretionary spending below 2008 levels
This means massive cuts in spending on social issues (the poor), but even he has started to back away from talking about making huge cuts now given how badly austerity is doing in Europe. Otherwise, it’s all magical thinking. If you look at what Romney says, what you’ll see is this:
The plan would reduce the six current income tax rates by one-fifth, bringing the top rate down from 35 percent to 28 percent and the bottom rate from 10 percent to 8 percent. The accompanying repeal of the AMT would increase the tax savings from the rate cuts—without that repeal, the AMT would reclaim much of the tax savings.
The plan would recoup the revenue loss caused by those changes by reducing or eliminating unspecified tax breaks, thereby making more income subject to tax. Gov. Romney says that the reductions in tax breaks, in combination with moderately faster economic growth brought about by lower tax rates, will make the individual income tax changes revenue neutral compared with simply extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. He also promises that low- and middle-income households will pay no larger shares of federal taxes than they do now.
At the corporate level, the Romney plan would make two major changes: 1) reduce the corporate income tax rate from 35 to 25 percent and 2) make the research and experimentation credit permanent, It would also extend for one year the full expensing of capital expenditures and allow a “tax holiday” for the repatriation of corporate profits held overseas. The plan does not specify, however, whether repatriated earnings would face any tax and, if so, at what rate. In the longer run, Gov. Romney would reduce the corporate rate further in conjunction with base broadening and simplification and would move the corporate tax to a territorial system.
Gov. Romney would also permanently repeal the 0.9 percent tax on wages and the 3.8 percent tax on investment income of high-income individual taxpayers that were imposed by the 2010 health reform legislation and are scheduled to take effect in 2013.
Yup, that’s some honest goals there.
16 May 2012 Leave a Comment
The Catholic Church is strongly protesting having Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speak during graduation:
Since Sebelius was announced earlier this month as one of the speakers for this week’s Georgetown graduation ceremonies, about 27,000 people have signed a petition, circulated by a conservative Catholic think tank, urging the university to withdraw the invitation. Sebelius was a key architect of the 2010 health-care law, and she authored the requirement that employers, including most religious ones, provide their employees with contraception coverage.
and is really laying it on thick (bold added):
On Tuesday, the archdiocese of Washington, led by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, criticized Georgetown President John J. DeGioia for remarks he issued a day earlier — apparently to address the controversy — saying DeGioia had mischaracterized the issue as being about birth control. As the region’s top Catholic official, Wuerl is responsible for making sure Catholic institutions, including Georgetown, follow church teachings.
DeGioia “does not address the real issue for concern — the selection of a featured speaker whose actions as a public official present the most direct challenge to religious liberty in recent history,” reads the statement from the archdiocese, which covers the District and suburban Maryland.
In a statement Tuesday, the Archdiocese of Washington called the decision unfortunate and even charged that the Public Policy Institute was supporting a “radical redefining of ministry.”
“Given the dramatic impact this mandate will have on Georgetown and all Catholic institutions, it is understandable that Catholics across the country would find shocking the choice of Secretary Sebelius, the architect of the mandate, to receive such special recognition at a Catholic university,” reads the statement. “It is also understandable that Catholics would view this as a challenge to the bishops.”
Just for fun they throw in a silly bit:
“Contrary to what is indicated in the Georgetown University President’s statement, the fundamental issue with the HHS mandate is not about contraception. As the United States Bishops have repeatedly pointed out, the issue is religious freedom,” its statement said.
Religious freedom to not allow contraception–it’s like how the Civil War was not about slavery, it was about states’ rights, mainly the states’ right to allow slavery.
This is all part of the growing conservatism in the Catholic Church based on statements such as:
Thus, in his address to the visiting American bishops, the pope stressed that Catholic universities are supposed to be helping the church defend its teachings, in an age in which they are constantly under attack.
The goal, said Benedict, is for Catholic schools to provide a “bulwark against the alienation and fragmentation which occurs when the use of reason is detached from the pursuit of truth and virtue. …
“Catholic institutions have a specific role to play in helping to overcome the crisis of universities today. Firmly grounded in this vision of the intrinsic interplay of faith, reason and the pursuit of human excellence, every Christian intellectual and all the church’s educational institutions must be convinced, and desirous of convincing others, that no aspect of reality remains alien to, or untouched by, the mystery of the redemption and the Risen Lord’s dominion over all creation.”
In case you think the Catholic Church is strict in all aspects, Georgetown does have a ROTC chapter which would seem to go against Church beliefs
26 Mar 2012 Leave a Comment
With the 1970s advent of collective bargaining in higher education, this began to change. The result has been more equitable circumstances for college faculty, who deserve salaries comparable to those of other educated professionals. Happily, senior faculty at most state universities and colleges now earn $80,000 to $150,000, roughly in line with the average incomes of others with advanced degrees.
Not changed, however, are the accommodations designed to compensate for low pay in earlier times. Though faculty salaries now mirror those of most upper-middle-class Americans working 40 hours for 50 weeks, they continue to pay for teaching time of nine to 15 hours per week for 30 weeks, making possible a month-long winter break, a week off in the spring and a summer vacation from mid-May until September.
Unfortunately, the salaries and the workloads applied to the highest echelons of faculty have been grafted onto colleges whose primary mission is teaching, not research. These include many state colleges, virtually all community colleges and hundreds of private institutions. For example, Maryland’s Montgomery College (an excellent two-year community college) reports its average full professor’s salary as $88,000, based on a workload of 15 hours of teaching for 30 weeks. Faculty members are also expected to keep office hours for three hours a week.
Critics may argue that teaching faculty members require long hours for preparation, grading and advising. Therefore they would have us believe that despite teaching only 12 to 15 hours a week, their workloads do approximate those of other upper-middle-class professionals. While time outside of class can vary substantially by discipline and by the academic cycle (for instance, more papers and tests to grade at the end of a semester), the notion that faculty in teaching institutions work a 40-hour week is a myth.
So, in how many ways is he lying and/or misleading?
First, notice that he is giving the salary for the highest paid professors at the university–’senior faculty’ or full professors. Let’s explore this a bit:
But the report found a widening pay gap between public universities, where full professors averaged $118,054 and assistant professors $69,777, and private institutions, where full professors’ average salary was $157,282 and assistant professors’ $86,189.
Hmm, the pay for full professors is quite a bit more than assistant professors, although assistant professors still do pretty well. But wait (bold added):
The most recent data available from the US Department of Education, collected in fall 2009, indicate that the number of contingent appointments among all instructional staff continued to grow between 2007 and 2009. Figure 1 depicts the trend over more than three decades. The proportion of tenured and tenuretrack faculty members shrank dramatically between 1975 and 2009, from more than 45 percent to less than 25 percent. In all, graduate student employees and faculty members serving in contingent appointments now make up more than 75 percent of the total instructional staff. The most rapid growth has been among part-time faculty members, whose numbers swelled by more than 280 percent between 1975 and 2009.
So, he’s using the pay of the highest paid full-time faculty as the typical pay of people teaching at a university. Part-time instructors get paid a lot less and usually get no benefits–they make up 40% of university faculty now. They are not overpaid.
Second, let’s compare faculty pay to university president pay: at public institutions the presidents’ salary went up by 11.5% from 2007-8 to 2010-11, while full-time faculty salary increased by 5.4%; at private institutions it was 14.4 against 5.7%. I can’t wait for his column about president pay. And spending on administration has gone up faster than spending on instruction:
A comprehensive study published by the Delta Cost Project in 2010 reported that between 1998 and 2008, America’s private colleges increased spending on instruction by 22 percent while increasing spending on administration and staff support by 36 percent.
Third, he assumes that professors work much less than 40 hours per week with no proof whatsoever. Let’s look at a random community college (it was at the top of a Google search for community college workload):
A minimum of 30 hours will be scheduled on-campus or at other instructional sites. These hours can be used for student contact time, including teaching, course prep, course development, lab maintenance and other professional development, and institutional and community service activities. Time beyond the scheduled 30 hours may be on-campus, off-campus, or a combination of the two as negotiated with the supervisor.
These remaining hours are not necessarily scheduled hours, as they are the additional hours needed for course prep, course development and to attend to other program business and may vary from week to week. Each faculty member, during negotiations with their supervisor, will identify personal and professional development and institutional and community service components. However, it is assumed that additional time will be such that the instructor is working at least the equivalent of a 40-hour week as jointly determined by both faculty and supervisor. On occasion, faculty members will be expected to spend non-scheduled time on the campus for special activities.
I have known quite a few people who work at community colleges and this is fairly typical–the amount of work is rigorously figured out and it is 40 hours a week or more. In terms of work outside of class, most people I know think that an average of 2 hours outside of class for each hour teaching is fairly typical–this is anecdotal, but still much better than his statistic that seems to be completely made up.
There is a huge problem with tuition, the price of college is going up too fast and that’s unsustainable. Something does need to be done, but the pay of professors/instructors is not the main reason tuition has gone up so fast.
Personally, I like teaching at a university and I’m not complaining about my workload or pay (I’m a full-time, non-tenured instructor, so my pay is a bit less than those full professors). I will complain when some idiot lies about my pay to make a point.
19 Mar 2012 Leave a Comment
There have been a lot of articles like this one (you can’t see the whole article unless you subscribe, but it has the part I’m interested in):
From the Pioneer Valley to the North Shore to Southeastern Massachusetts, manufacturers say they can’t find workers with skills needed for a modern manufacturing industry that focuses on advanced products for technology, medical, aerospace, and defense sectors. While Governor Deval Patrick and President Obama pursue policies to expand manufacturing, companies say the shortage of skilled labor is making it harder for them, the industry, and ultimately the state’s economy to grow.
These type of articles confuse me a bit. When did it become accepted that the state has to train workers for companies? If a company can’t find a worker who has the skills necessary, why can’t they train them? I thought it was only us liberals that believed in government solutions to problems?
21 Feb 2012 Leave a Comment
Rick Santorum has decided that he’s not going to be out crazied. He is, of course, anti-abortion but he’s also anti-contraception and there’s this:
Already one of his party’s most ardent abortion rights foes, Santorum, in his 2005 book “It Takes a Family,” advocated an old-school role for women in the home and accused “radical feminists” of undermining families by telling women “professional accomplishments are the key to happiness.” Santorum says his wife authored that section.
He is, obviously, against rights for gays:
We have laws in states, like the one at the Supreme Court right now, that has sodomy laws and they were there for a purpose. Because, again, I would argue, they undermine the basic tenets of our society and the family. And if the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything. Does that undermine the fabric of our society? I would argue yes, it does.
It’s obvious that he wouldn’t believe in evolution or global warming, but he even goes extreme for people with these beliefs:
The surging presidential hopeful fleshed out this argument further this Sunday on CBS Face The Nation, when asked to justify his recent controversial claim that President Obama has a “phony theology” that’s not “based on the Bible.” He said the President sides with “radical environmentalists” who don’t understand what God intended to be the relationship between humans and the planet.
“When you have a worldview that elevates the Earth above man and says that we can’t take those resources because we’re going to harm the Earth; by things that frankly are just not scientifically proven, for example, the politicization of the whole global warming debate — this is all an attempt to, you know, to centralize power and to give more power to the government,” Santorum said.
Santorum said Obama and his allies want to frighten people about alleged dangers of petroleum-extraction techniques, including hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which might lower energy prices. He said these officials seek to “get your dollars, turn it to politicians who can win elections so they can control your lives.”
“Understand what’s at stake, folks,” Santorum said. “It’s your economic liberty. It’s your religious liberty. It’s your freedom of speech.” He said government has accumulated power “by weakening the institutions that people rely upon in their lives.”
That’s seriously crazy stuff.
He’s also against public colleges (of course he didn’t mention this when he was speaking at a public college):
”It’s no wonder President Obama wants every kid to go to college,” he said at a Baptist church downstate in Naples on Wednesday. “The indoctrination that occurs in American universities is one of the keys to the left holding and maintaining power in America. And it is indoctrination.”
and public schools in general:
In the nation’s past, he said, “Most presidents homeschooled their children in the White House.… Parents educated their children because it was their responsibility.”
“Yes, the government can help,” he continued, “but the idea that the federal government should be running schools, frankly much less that the state government should be running schools, is anachronistic.”
He said it is an artifact of the Industrial Revolution, “when people came off the farms where they did homeschool or had a little neighborhood school, and into these big factories … called public schools.”
He’s even come up with a reason to be against prenatal testing:
One of the things that you don’t know about ObamaCare in one of the mandates is they require free prenatal testing. Why? Because free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and, therefore, less care that has to be done, because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society. That too is part of ObamaCare — another hidden message as to what president Obama thinks of those who are less able than the elites who want to govern our country.
And he’s upset that us awful liberals think Christians were the aggressors during the Crusades, really:
“The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical,” Santorum said in Spartanburg on Tuesday. “And that is what the perception is by the American left who hates Christendom.”
He added, “They hate Western civilization at the core. That’s the problem.”
The fact that he has won primaries to be the President of the United States says something very bad about the state of the country.
Update: Here’s a long interview with him and you can see his worldview. You can see he’s very conflicted about Muslims. On the one hand, they’re not Christian and so are evil. On the other hand:
I’m sure you folks watch CNN, and you watch the mainstream media, and you watch what Hollywood comes out with, and that is the view that many of you will have of America. And it isn’t pretty from the standpoint of a person of faith, that this is what we want to expose ourselves to.
The jihadis have a very different point of view, and they use the culture as a way to motivate believers. But I think they have a much more fundamentalist view that irrespective of whether American culture is good or bad or whether Christendom is good or bad, it’s bad because it’s not what we believe.
I think the rest of the Islamic world, the “moderates” – that’s always a very tricky term in the Islamic world – can see the pluses and minuses of becoming Western, and the slippery slope that Europe has been on. Europe is dead. Western Europe is dead. There’s no faith. It’s gone, and I don’t see how it comes back. And I can’t imagine that a faithful Muslim would see that as a positive for their country. It would be anathema to them, that faith would disappear as it has in Europe.
The very people who don’t see this as a problem, who are just “Why don’t these folks just be like us?”, don’t understand that they’re the problem that makes it hard for them to be like us.
You can see that he has much more respect for the Muslim fanatics than he does for those European secularists.
08 Jan 2012 Leave a Comment
Republicans in New Hampshire seem to want to capture the craziness vote. They think there isn’t enough democracy in education:
Under the terms of the bill, which was sponsored by state Rep. J.R. Hoell (R-Dunbarton), a parent could object to any curriculum or course material in the classroom. The parent and school district would then determine a new curriculum or texts for the child to meet any state educational requirements for the subject matter. The parent would be responsible for paying the cost of developing the new curriculum. The bill also allows for the parent’s name and reason for objection to be sealed by the state.
Hoell stressed the new law could allow parents to address both moral and academic objections to parts of the curriculum. The lawmaker said he could imagine the provision being utilized by parents who disagree with the “whole language” approach to reading education or the Everyday Math program.
“What if a school chooses to use whole language and the parent likes phonics, which is a better long-term way to teach kids to read?” Hoell said to HuffPost.
I’d be curious to see what happens if some parents object to a ”whole language” approach and others object to phonics–would they not teach reading at all?
On the other hand, they think there’s too much democracy in elections (Kingsbury says he is a libertarian–I thought that meant he would want less government, but not when it might go against his wishes I guess):
The lawmakers have introduced a bill calling for state legislative caucuses to select candidates for the Senate primaries, ending an almost century-old practice of Granite State residents filing to run in Senate races. State legislatures elected senators until the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1913.
“This is original intent,” said state Rep. Bob Kingsbury (R-Laconia), the bill’s lead sponsor.
Kingsbury said the bill would align the state with the original intent of the Constitution by letting the legislature play a role in the selection of Senate candidates. He stressed that the bill would be in the same spirit as the 17th Amendment because it would leave the final say up to the voters.
The original intent of the Constitution was to allow slavery and not allow women to vote, will Kingsbury push to get rid of those amendments next?
They also think that separation of powers is for the birds:
A group of Republican lawmakers in New Hampshire have recently proposed state constitutional amendments that have the goal of overhauling aspects of the court system. The bills would give the state legislature the power to dissolve the state’s Supreme Court and Superior Court and raise the minimum age to be a state judge to 60. Proponents said these proposals would allow for a check on the courts and for more experienced judges in office.
New Hampshire used to be the old-fashioned conservatives (as in, don’t change things)–obviously they felt left out from all the craziness that’s taken over the Republican party.
18 Nov 2011 Leave a Comment
Nelson had traveled to Romania to take part in a cutting-edge experiment. It was ten years after the fall of the Communist dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, whose scheme for increasing the country’s population through bans on birth control and abortion had filled state-run institutions with children their parents couldn’t support. Images from the orphanages had prompted an outpouring of international aid and a rush from parents around the world to adopt the children. But ten years later, the new government remained convinced that the institutions were a good idea—and was still warehousing at least 60,000 kids, some of them born after the old regime’s fall, in facilities where many received almost no meaningful human interaction. With backing from the MacArthur Foundation, and help from a sympathetic Romanian official, Nelson and colleagues from Harvard, Tulane, and the University of Maryland prevailed upon the government to allow them to remove some of the children from the orphanages and place them with foster families. Then, the researchers would observe how they fared over time in comparison with the children still in the orphanages. They would also track a third set of children, who were with their original parents, as a control group.
They came to the obvious conclusion: the children who were taken out of the orphanages did better. Then:
This past May, a team led by Stacy Drury of Tulane reported a similar finding—with an intriguing twist. The researchers found that telomeres, which are protective caps that sit on the ends of chromosomes, were shorter in children who had spent more time in the Romanian orphanages. In theory, damage to the telomeres could change the timing of how some cells develop, including those in the brain—making the shorter telomeres a harbinger of future mental difficulties. It was the clearest signal yet that neglect of very young children does not merely stunt their emotional development. It changes the architecture of their brains.
This adds to research done on animals and in observational studies that have shown that things that happen eary (in the first two years of life for people) can lead to permanent problems. That’s why this statistic is so disappointing:
The annual federal investment in elementary school kids approaches $11,000 per child. For infants and toddlers up to age two, it is just over $4,000.
Of course, in the US there is nothing like the Romanian orphanages but the article notes that much of the daycare in the US isn’t very good and a fair percent is quite bad. The science therefore suggests that we should be spending more on very young children. What do you think the chances are for this?
As an aside, when I teach intro stats I will note that many types of studies can not be run as experiments and I would have thought this was one. The fact that it could be done here (and that it helped the situation) doesn’t speak well about the state of humanity.
17 Nov 2011 Leave a Comment
The final version of a spending bill released late Monday would unravel school lunch standards the Agriculture Department proposed earlier this year, which included limiting the use of potatoes on the lunch line and delaying limits on sodium and delaying a requirement to boost whole grains.
The bill also would allow tomato paste on pizzas to be counted as a vegetable, as it is now.
But it’s also instructive in how current Republicans think and act. First there’s a good summary of the background here:
Congress authorized USDA to improve the nutritional quality of school meals seven years ago (which was already long overdue). USDA commissioned a report from the IOM to help the agency do exactly that, based on the best available science. USDA subsequently proposed regulations, has taken public comment, and should then come out with final regulations. (It’s Civics 101, folks: Congress makes the laws and the executive branch carries them out). Agencies such as the USDA are the experts, not Congress. That is why the legislature delegates authority to the agency in charge. But the food industry didn’t get what it wanted through the normal channels, so it went to Congress, which usurped the entire process.
In other words, a chnage that was started under a Republican president and passed by a Republican Congress is being decried by Republicans. Here are the Republican positions:
Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee said the changes would “prevent overly burdensome and costly regulations and to provide greater flexibility for local school districts to improve the nutritional quality of meals.”
But it really doesn’t cost much more:
But barring the USDA from cutting back on tomato paste and starchy vegetables “will have little to no effect on the cost of the new standards” for school meals, said Aaron Lavallee, a USDA spokesman.
As the USDA presses forward on finalizing its school meals proposal — without the tomato and potato language — it maintains that it will more than offset the costs associated with its plan by adopting revenue-raising measures.
Really, I think they just want to cut money that helps the poor (in related news, they also want to cut food stamps).
Republicans also are all for choice:
Food companies that produce frozen pizzas for schools, the salt industry and potato growers requested the changes, and some conservatives in Congress say the federal government shouldn’t be telling children what to eat.
Well, they do if the industry gives them lots of money.
I also have a feeling Republicans are doing this because the Obama administration is for it and they think it will upset liberals. Those two things seem to be the driving force behind much of Republican actions these days.