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Schooling Scholars on Classroom Success

Teachers are workers who, like the rest of us, need and deserve better working conditions and better pay. What’s good for teachers is good for the rest of us.

Moshe Adler, TruthDig

Beverly Wilson leads her kindergarten class through a song at Lakewood Elementary School in St. Albans, W. Va., in September 2007 AP / Jeff Gentner

These days everyone seems to think teachers need improving—even people who uncover evidence to the contrary. A group of economists from Berkeley, Harvard and Northwestern recently made headlines when they published a study that was ostensibly about the relationship between teacher quality and student success as adults. The economists made three observations. The first is that when children are assigned to kindergarten classes randomly, test scores in some classes are higher than in others. The authors argue that these differences must be due to differences in teacher performance (as well as peer effects). The second observation is that children who attend high-score kindergarten classes earn more money in their adult life. Based on these two observations, the economists conclude that we should invest in raising the quality of teachers, and The New York Times goes a step further and argues that teachersshould be paid according to their performance.

However, the economists also made a third observation that they dismissed as having no bearing on their conclusions: Children who attend high-score classes in kindergarten perform only negligibly better on standardized tests than other students in later years. Why? The authors claim this finding isn’t important. As Raj Chetty of Harvard, one of the economists who produced the study, told the New York Times, “We don’t really care about test scores. We care about adult outcomes.”

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Section(s): 

The air-conditioned Puritan

  • Why Americans, and those who are employed to write about them, cannot enjoy holidays
  • The scandal of "vacation deprivation."
  • America: The Grim Truth

The Economist

“Let's take a boat to Bermuda, Let's take a plane to St Paul, Let's take a kayak to Quincy or Nyack, Let's get away from it all.” That may be all very well if you are not Lexington. For reasons only the flinty-hearted editor of this newspaper can explain, there will be no summer break this year for your columnist. True, Lexington has been allowed to saddle up his ultimate driving machine and motor north to join friends in a cabin in the Adirondacks. But get away from it all? No sir, this is a space that must be filled week in and week out this summer, come what may.

In a way, of course, it is fitting that a Brit writing about America should not be allowed actual relaxation on a summer holiday. Having a complete break would make it harder to understand the natives. As all the world knows, Americans find taking time off, let alone filling that time with leisure, painfully hard. One travel website, expedia.com, believes (what a surprise) that “everyone deserves and needs a vacation.” Indeed, it has compiled comparative international data on the scandal of “vacation deprivation”. These show that in 2009 the average American adult received about 13 days of holiday, whereas the average Briton enjoyed a luxurious 26. The average “working” Frenchman, infuriatingly, had 38 days. Worse yet, more than a third of Americans do not even take all the days they are allowed. In 2009, harrumphs Expedia, Americans “gave back” a total of 436m vacation days. In fairness, America does indulge its children: their school year is one of the shortest in the world, as is their school day. But the indulgence ends with adulthood.
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Related:

America: The Grim Truth, Lance Freeman, Axis of Logic

  • I am not writing this to scare you. I write this to you as a friend. If you are able to read and understand what I’ve written here, then you are a member of a small minority in the United States. You are a minority in a country that has no place for you.
  • These Empty Spaces
  • America Goes Dark
  • We Are A Nation Of Sheep Being Led By Wild Dogs

Section(s): 

The air-conditioned Puritan

  • Why Americans, and those who are employed to write about them, cannot enjoy holidays
  • The scandal of "vacation deprivation."
  • America: The Grim Truth

The Economist

“Let's take a boat to Bermuda, Let's take a plane to St Paul, Let's take a kayak to Quincy or Nyack, Let's get away from it all.” That may be all very well if you are not Lexington. For reasons only the flinty-hearted editor of this newspaper can explain, there will be no summer break this year for your columnist. True, Lexington has been allowed to saddle up his ultimate driving machine and motor north to join friends in a cabin in the Adirondacks. But get away from it all? No sir, this is a space that must be filled week in and week out this summer, come what may.

In a way, of course, it is fitting that a Brit writing about America should not be allowed actual relaxation on a summer holiday. Having a complete break would make it harder to understand the natives. As all the world knows, Americans find taking time off, let alone filling that time with leisure, painfully hard. One travel website, expedia.com, believes (what a surprise) that “everyone deserves and needs a vacation.” Indeed, it has compiled comparative international data on the scandal of “vacation deprivation”. These show that in 2009 the average American adult received about 13 days of holiday, whereas the average Briton enjoyed a luxurious 26. The average “working” Frenchman, infuriatingly, had 38 days. Worse yet, more than a third of Americans do not even take all the days they are allowed. In 2009, harrumphs Expedia, Americans “gave back” a total of 436m vacation days. In fairness, America does indulge its children: their school year is one of the shortest in the world, as is their school day. But the indulgence ends with adulthood.
More...

Related:

America: The Grim Truth, Lance Freeman, Axis of Logic

  • I am not writing this to scare you. I write this to you as a friend. If you are able to read and understand what I’ve written here, then you are a member of a small minority in the United States. You are a minority in a country that has no place for you.
  • These Empty Spaces
  • America Goes Dark
  • We Are A Nation Of Sheep Being Led By Wild Dogs

Section(s): 

Auto comeback celebrated, but there’s a cost

Right-wingers have no answer for today's problems in the auto industry, where the situation is far different from a year ago. The dust has settled but it came at a cost.

John Rummel, People's World

President Obama visited a General Motors in Hamtramck and a Chrysler plant in Detroit Friday (August 13) to celebrate the comeback of the two auto companies. But the comeback has come with a cost.

The president received enthusiastic receptions from workers at both plants. Over a thousand at Chrysler's North Jefferson plant gathered to hear him.

At GM's Hamtramck plant, where the new electric Chevy Volt is being made, Obama told cheering workers, "It's estimated that we would have lost another million jobs if we had not stepped in."

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Warehouse workers suffer while Wal-Mart rakes in cash

"Major companies are making millions of dollars, like Wal-Mart, and they're far from broke. In fact they treat their workers bad in order to increase their profits while some guy working at a warehouse can't feed his kids. It's just wrong."

Pepe Lozano, People's World

Tory Moore of Warehouse Workers for Justice.

Tory Moore, 37, from Kankakee, Ill., worked as a temp warehouse worker in the southwest suburbs of Chicago for six years before he was fired in December 2009, after standing up for his rights.

Moore said he asked for a pay raise each year and noticed that his paychecks were consistently short. So naturally he complained.

"That's why I got fired," he said.

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