Posted on Leave a comment

December Links: Dubious Education Policies, FEMA, Writing, School Reform, Manufacturers, Quiet, Dan Savage, the Security Ratchet, and More!

* This is not an Onion story: “Florida’s plan to measure students by race riles education experts.”

* From an interview with Michael Bloomberg:

If every time you want to do something, they demand the final results, when you’re just sort of feeling your way and trying to evolve, it’s hard to govern. When we live in a world — in medicine, or in science, you go down a path and it turns out to be a dead end, you really made a contribution, because we know we don’t have to go down that path again. In the press, they call it failure. And so people are unwilling to innovate, unwilling to take risks in government.

Your nonprofit or public agency is subject to the same forces. Don’t be seduced by a program or RFP’s stated desire for innovation: in the vast majority of federal and state grant programs, the funding agency expects you to do exactly what everyone else is doing (remember: grant writing is about “thinking inside the box“). We’re not endorsing these perverse incentives, but we are noticing them. Our post “What to do When Research Indicates Your Approach is Unlikely to Succeed: Part I of a Case Study on the Community-Based Abstinence Education Program RFP” also discusses these issues.

* The Joy of Quiet, which I often seek and too little find.

* How manufacturers and community colleges are teaming up, German-style, to create high-paying factory jobs. Good! We’ve pretty clearly got a problem with the way we treat college education in the United States.

* SAMHSA finally discovers, about eight years late.

* Obama phones? That, at least, is what they’re called in the community.

* If “The Bipartisan Security Ratchet” doesn’t scare you, it should:

The United States government, under two opposed increasingly indistinguishable political parties, asserts the right to kill anyone on the face of the earth in the name of the War on Terror. It asserts the right to detain anyone on the face of the earth in the name of the War on Terror, and to do so based on undisclosed facts applied to undisclosed standards in undisclosed locations under undisclosed conditions for however long it wants, all without judicial review.

* Anti-poverty volunteer keeps profit from homeless New Jersey man’s house sale.

* A couple years ago, we almost worked for these guys, who are now, unfortunately, declaring bankruptcy. At the time we had too many other clients to accept their assignment.

* “Why school reform is impossible.” Maybe.

* “As we watch computing become a central part of the language of science, communication, and even the arts and humanities, we will realize that students need to learn to read and write code because — without that skill — they are left out of the future.

* “How American Health Care Killed My Father,” and what to do about it. Unfortunately, we haven’t done the things we should have done and should be doing, as discussed in the article.

* “Write My Essay, Please! These days, students can hire online companies to do all their coursework, from papers to final exams. Is this ethical, or even legal?” This supports Bryan Caplan’s theory that much of education is about signaling.

* It was only a matter of time: Tuition by Major.

* “You Should Repeatedly Read Cochrane’s ‘After the ACA.’

* “Dan Savage: The Gay Man Who Teaches Straight People How to Have Sex.”

* “Another ex-chairman rebuffs CalOptima’s demand for money” shows how corruption can work in nonprofits; the more interesting question is why and how the story ended up in The Orange County Register. That story can often be as interesting as the corruption story itself, but it isn’t told here.

* “Overall, I am for betting because I am against bullshit. Bullshit is polluting our discourse and drowning the facts. A bet costs the bullshitter more than the non-bullshitter so the willingness to bet signals honest belief.” That’s from Tyler Cowen, “A Bet is a Tax on Bullshit.”

* The FEMA office in Jersey City was closed because of the storm.

* Ian McEwan: “Some Notes on the Novella.” Wow. Sample: “How often one reads a contemporary full-length novel and thinks quietly, mutinously, that it would have worked out better at half or a third the length. I suspect that many novelists clock up sixty thousand words after a year’s work and believe (wearily, perhaps) that they are only half way there. They are slaves to the giant, instead of masters of the form.” Yes.