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Submitted by Fred Rossoff on Thu, 2012-11-01 09:23

Here is Samuel Butler's satire on education, from his book Erewhon. It's a little prolix, like most 19th century english literature, but hits the nail fairly on the head:

"...This is due chiefly to the schools of Unreason, where a boy is taught upon hypothetical principles, as I will explain hereafter; spending years in being incapacitated for doing this, that, or the other (he hardly knows what), during all which time he ought to have been actually doing the thing itself, beginning at the lowest grades, picking it up through actual practice, and rising according to the energy which is in him.

Submitted by Fred Rossoff on Mon, 2012-09-24 16:21

Quartz, a new online business magazine for mobile platforms, has launched, and I thought it might be worthwhile for the New Learning Times (NLT) team to take a look, if only to compare their stylistic and user interface choices.

I don't particularly like their web-interface, but maybe somebody with an iPhone or other newfangled gadget can let us know if their mobile interface is more successful.

Submitted by Fred Rossoff on Thu, 2012-07-19 16:50

A strong driver of the national conversation around our educational system (or lack thereof) is how the U.S. ranks on international tests of student ability. Our middling performance exacerbates 21st century economic and political insecurity, reinforcing a growing narrative of decline built on our sluggish recovery and China-envy.

The tireless Eric Hanushek, along with co-authors Paul Peterson and Ludger Woesmann, has a report out from Harvard's Kennedy School that brings us up to speed on how we've been doing, and where we're going, in the crowded field of international education.

Submitted by Fred Rossoff on Sat, 2012-07-14 12:28

If you were wondering which hour-long academic discussion of America's educational system you were going to watch this weekend, look no further. Charles Murray, the controversial right-wing political scientist, recently gave a provocative and wide-ranging talk at the Fordham Institute on education, class, and social mobility, which you can watch here. In it, he covers issues he raised in The Bell Curve, Coming Apart, and even his little-known Real Education.

Submitted by Fred Rossoff on Tue, 2012-07-10 15:15

Carnevale, A. P., Rose, S. J., & Hanson, A. R. (June 2012). Certificates: Gateway to Gainful Employment and College Degrees. Georgetown University, Center on Education and the Workforce.

Although there are many voices calling for the creation of more flexible alternatives to the 4-year bachelors paradigm, most of the discussion seems to be prospective, rather than descriptive. A helpful report published by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce last month on the use of certificates does a great deal to fill this gap.

Submitted by Fred Rossoff on Fri, 2012-07-06 15:42

Governor Scott Walker, still confident from his recall victory, has announced a proposal to create the “University of Wisconsin Flexible Degree Program”. Although the public education system is, by and large, no fan of Governor Walker, this proposal is a promising new entry in an increasingly stale and sclerotic higher education system (and, in any event, more threatening to the burgeoning for-profit higher education world).

Submitted by Fred Rossoff on Wed, 2012-06-20 13:01

The burgeoning field of online education has come under a lot of suspicion, and a prospective student can have a lot of trouble sorting out legitimate schools from degree-mills and scams. GetEducated is an online college review website that attempts to provide a little guidance in sorting these issues out.

Submitted by Fred Rossoff on Fri, 2012-05-25 15:39

This week Mitt Romney released the plan for his prospective education policy, titled “A Chance for Every Child.” As the New York Time emphasizes in its reporting, there isn't a great deal of daylight between elite policy prescriptions for education across the two main political parties. Both parties have a similarly apocalyptic view of the failures of our educational system, particularly when it comes to minority achievement, and both parties are working to reform teachers unions and increase charter schools and student choice.

Romney admittedly goes farther than Obama would in this direction with his proposal that poor and special needs students would be able to take their allotted schooling funds to any school they choose, including “digital courses”. The plan also pushes back on the federal drive towards accountability that has characterized education reform for the past decade (e.g. No Child Left Behind).

Submitted by Fred Rossoff on Fri, 2012-05-11 15:30

Joe Klein has an article in Time magazine on vocational education, an idea that seems to be gaining momentum. Klein points out that although vocational education is a “tough sell” (costs too much money for the Republicans, Democrats would prefer to send everyone to college), the potential gains are not limited to the direct on-the-job training vocational education provides. By teaching students through the far more motivating lens of hands-on learning, Klein argues, vocational training also improves general student abilities.

Klein's article is heavy on anecdote and light on data, but vocational education seems to be becoming attractive to schools caught in the vice of both increasingly rigorous national standards and demands to maintain or increase graduation rates. Programs that give mediocre, marginal, or unmotivated students direct working experience, allowing them to transition directly into their careers without the expense and risk of a college education, look like a good way out of the current impasse.

Submitted by Fred Rossoff on Mon, 2012-05-07 15:56

Edwards, Finley. (2012). Do Schools Begin Too Early. 12 EducationNext 3.

Every high school student knows the pain of unnaturally early schooldays, but it's hard to get much traction for reform by arguing that you're tired. Finley Edwards, an economist at Colby College, adapts his job market paper to offer a more serious quantitative evaluation of the damages of early start times.