Morning Ed: Education {2017.07.10.M}

[Ed1] Matt Reed wants to know why we subsidize meal plans at elite universities but not cafeterias at community colleges.

[Ed2] Was a UCLA instructor canned for having the wrong politics, or was he just a bad teacher?

[Ed3] This has a bit of an “everything old is new again” vibe, as it describes the IT sector becoming what it used to it.

[Ed4] Weed is, apparently, not so good for the academics.

[Ed5] California’s economy is good, revenues are up, and there are no Republicans in power there to blame for anything, but here they are.

[Ed6] San Diego school district’s online tests are really easy to cheat on. All of the incentives for everybody involved are for the kids to graduate.We all remember that time when they were riding those kids-friendly scooters around the block and now they´re on the podium receiving their certificate.

[Ed7] An interesting glance at a high school’s math curriculum debate, and the compromise that was reached.

[Ed8] Richard Black is worried that Corbyn’s “student bribes” are going to wreck Britain’s future. Stephen Bush says that the plan to abolish tuition is good politics for Labour, even while it’s not great policy for them (or the country).


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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57 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Education {2017.07.10.M}

  1. Ed1: another thing is many community colleges don’t have cafeterias. From my experience, it’s only the “posher” ones that do. (And as someone pointed out in the comments: students who are over 18, on their own, and struggling financially are probably eligible for SNAP).

    At my uni there are a number of students in tough financial circumstances. I have no idea if assistance is offered for the cafeteria (I never eat there: it’s expensive for faculty and cheaper for me to carry a lunch from home). But we do have a small food pantry with things like single-serve meals and tuna and peanut butter for students who have more month left at the end of their money. It makes me sad that we have to do that, but I guess we do.

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      • Oh, absolutely. But I think part of the issue is that lots of places who deal with students of more precarious finances may not have the infrastructure in place. I know if we didn’t already have a cafeteria, right now we would never have money to build one.

        (There are also several church groups that do hot meals once a week or so, with really no “proselytizing” beyond a blessing at the start of the meal)

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  2. Ed7 – good for them, and it’s nice to read about high school math teachers who either have a background in math, or have developed a solid understanding of it.

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  3. Ed5 That looks to me like inflation is finally showing up. I’m sure we’ll figure out how to cope with it. I think it’s worth noting that the piece is in the San Jose Mercury News, and all the schools mentioned are in the Bay Area, mostly the South Bay. This represents growing pains from the most recent tech surge. Probably a lot of those expenses are from property value surges.

    If I wanted to blame Republicans, I can still point to Prop 13, though. That was one of the worst policies ever made.

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    • It appears that one of the things that is absolutely killing them is having to make up through contributions for lack of returns in the pension funds. Certainly this is true about Colorado’s public pension system. The systems were set up under the assumption that 7-8% annual returns on safe investments were routine. Greenspan and Bernanke killed that deader than a door nail.

      Many of the old private defined benefit pensions that are still around are struggling with the same problem. Of course, private businesses get to declare bankruptcy and screw the retirees (see, eg, almost the entire airline industry).

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      • I think states declaring bankruptcy is a good thing, for being able to restructure existing pension obligations.
        There are a lot of people here already collecting three public pensions and working on the fourth.
        Enron folding was a tragedy. To cut the bottom-feeders off the dole would be celebratory.

        Publishing maps that show locations of such persons, that they may be specifically targeted in riot incidents, is another viable option.
        Any violence done to state employees pales in comparison to the violence they have already done to the public-at-large.

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    • If I wanted to blame Republicans, I can still point to Prop 13, though. That was one of the worst policies ever made.

      The overall tax burden in CA is already really high, the problem isn’t a lack of taxes.

      More than a decade ago CA made some pro-union pension changes based on staggeringly unrealistic assumptions, they’ve never revisited that or rolled it back. Having created entitlements based on the idea that future politicians would find the money, the problem now is that “future politicians” are the current ones.

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      • Similarly, the Kansas legislature’s decision was pre-emptiveley rejected by Brownback when it over-rode his veto on tax increases to fund essential state infrastructure. Pragmatics, bro.

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        • Pragmatics, bro.

          Any contract that relies on future politicians doing what current ones can’t is “pragmatically” a problem. That’s especially true when we’re talking about scary high tax increases.

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  4. Ed2: It looks to me that the question is not whether this guy was fired for his politics, or for attacking his employer? As a career-disenhancing move, this transcends politics.

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  5. Hey, Will, thanks for linking my piece.

    Oscar–high school math teachers have to pass a very demanding series of tests through calculus–or, if they aren’t up to the tests, they have to major in math. I’m an English major, so I passed the demanding series of tests that required me, among other things, to prove the “4” multiplication rule, and prove the quadratic formula. The credential tests keep a lot of teachers from teaching. So it’s the norm, not the exception, that high school math teachers know a lot of math.

    ED5 isn’t about inflation. As was mentioned in the article, California is undergoing a huge teacher shortage, is upping salaries tremendously, and still short teachers–so still upping salaries. That is making the increased pension requirements even more difficult to meet. Moreover, many districts are unable to hire new teachers, so they are “stealing” experienced teachers. Contracts usually have a limit on how many years of seniority will be granted–this has long been agreed upon throughout the country as a way to ensure districts aren’t constantly poaching new teachers.

    So normally, a district might cap seniority at 5 years, meaning an entering teacher, no matter how senior, will only end up on the fifth year of the “step and ladder”. If you’re a teacher with 20 years seniority, you wouldn’t change districts because you’d lose tons of money.

    But as Edsource and this article point out, districts are so desperate for teachers that they’re removing the cap. Suppose you have 20 years seniority in a district that gives you an hour commute and it’s a bit behind in raising salaries. You’re impatient. Along comes a district near you, offering you full seniority and they have a higher salary scale. More money, better commute. You’re gone.

    The poaching is going to go on for a few years–or maybe always, as teachers jump ship to take advantage of whatever district has just revisited their salary scale the most recently. And all of this means that the average salary increases dramatically, while the pension payments also increase accordingly.

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  6. Will Truman again tries to sneak in a link to a white supremacist alt-right website without disclosing it. Is Will a closet supporter of the Alt-Right?

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      • That’s how you always defend yourself. You have linked to far too many race pseudoscience blogs for it to be a conscience, you clearly read the blogs because you agree with them.

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        • Hi T and J. I’ve read some of those links you posted from ER’s site. No harm was caused or beliefs changed by reading them. It doesn’t imply belief to read stuff from varying points of view. I don’t find his arguments persuasive or all that strong but his contributions here seem fine. You aren’t covering yourself with glory in this exchange. If person has weak arguments then confront them or mock them directly but just calling him out as some such bad person doesn’t really get anywhere.

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          • Will Truman has repeatedly linked to alt-right websites including Steve Sailer and usually no one calls him on it. It’s clear that he’s an Alt-Rightist pretending to be something else and needs to be exposed.

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            • He has discussed linking to guys like Sailer. I don’t like that myself since i don’t think Sailer has any redeeming value. However part of the point of this place is to come in to contact with lots of varying views. It is by examining opposing views you clarify your own and see the strengths and weaknesses of all. The race “realist” HBD stuff is weak sauce relying poor logic, strawman arguments, and a general lack of understanding of many different subject areas often to dress up some ugly views in scientific clothing.

              I don’t see that in Will. Just linking to some crap doesn’t imply belief in that. We are, well most of us, capable of separating the wheat from the chaff. Some of the links are just conversation starters which is just fine. Will can defend himself, but i’ve never seen any of the dark alt-right carp in him. And i’ve been plenty cynical, and ultimately correct, about the views of plenty of the conservative voices we’ve had here. This is not a place where just calling names really gets anywhere. It was, and still is disgusting, when conservatives just hurl vile insults. Gosh knows they have been doing that for decades. Lets be better than that.

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            • Story time!

              So my ethnic studies professor (I mentioned her before) was awesome. Right before I started at the UW, I had been working as a CNC stone cutter, and one of my co-workers gave me a book he said was enlightening. I don’t remember what it was called, but I didn’t have to read past the introduction to figure out it Aryan Nation pap dressed up in intellectual clothes. I took the book to class and asked her about it. Her response was that she not only knew the book, but it was one of her favorites! She disagreed with the author 100%, but he was such a compelling writer that it was worth reading through it just to appreciate his style, and think about how to counter it.

              It is more than possible to offer up, and even admire, the opposing viewpoint for it’s merits as an argument, even if you disagree with it. And when you do, there is no requirement to present a resounding dismissal of the thesis. It is more useful at times to not bias the readership with such opinion, and allow them to come at the argument unsullied.

              But, again, that requires things like restraint, and understanding nuance and subtlety …

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            • Of all the people who participate in this community, you’re calling Will Truman an alt-righter?

              Just in recent memory, he wrote in criticism of American right-wingers using a child in the British single-payer medical system as a political prop, took time to offer a suggestion for a more politically achievable role for expanding governmental support of healthcare and health insurance even than Obamacare, not to mention that he recognized the necessity of increased protections for workers employed by large employers.

              I wouldn’t call Will a “liberal” or a “progressive,” all things considered. If you said he was “right of center,” okay, but “alt-right” is definitely unfair. No one says you have to read the link, nor that you have to like an author whose work is linked to. I often include links to people I dislike and opinions I disagree with all the time.

              And the point of a link compendium is to offer up ideas for discussion, not whipping boys for personal attacks. Will is better at this than anyone, precisely because he isn’t afraid to seek out someone else’s ideas and say, “Hey, that’s interesting,” whether or not he finds the idea appealing or whether or not the author enjoys a good or a bad reputation. Posting the link should not be taken as a sign of endorsement, but rather as an indicator that there’s something potentially worth thinking about there. The idea is that you engage with the idea, not the person.

              So out of the literally hundreds of links Will offers up every week, ignoring the dozens and dozens of left-leaning links or apolitical links represents a very fine example of cherry-picking the evidence — in this case, for the apparent purpose of calling our managing editor a name.

              It’s not a fair cop.

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      • I will say that it’s nice to see an actcual troll show up.

        Not that this will stop people claiming that Jaybird is a troll. But, y’know. At least there’s an example.

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        • DD,
          Trolling, when done well, is enlightening.
          I do believe I’ve posted one trollish comment today.
          It’s also pretty difficult to do, and requires knowing your audience thoroughly.

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    • I don’t need to say this for the benefit of the regulars hereabouts, but for & anyone quietly nodding along to them:

      The fact that any given person has ideological points of contact with some group or another does not mean that they are members of that group, or even necessarily fellow travelers. There is (AFAIK) no hard & fast rule for how many ideological points have to map one-to-one before you can make that claim, but I would suggest it’s more than single digits, unless you can make the case that core values map directly.

      So when I was talking about exceptional evidence, this is what I meant. If the claim of being a Nazi or Alt-Right is to be supported, key (widely accepted) ideological beliefs have to be demonstrated in sufficient quantity to support it.

      You can not just point to a blog post that discusses something that is vaguely associated with Nazi beliefs and claim the author is a Nazi.

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      • Anecdata: I regularly follow multiple sites that are known for deep theological diving. As I’ve stated here more than once, I have no belief whatsoever in a knowable creator deity. If you picked those few data points and made the naive assumption, you’d have a serious misapprehension on your hands.

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  7. I’m not a Nazi. Not a white supremacist. Not alt-right.

    I even wrote about what the alt-right was, here: Defining the alt-right

    But don’t let facts fuss you.

    Oscar, lots of teachers teach directly from the book even knowing the math. It’s just how they roll. 20 years ago, even rural teachers had to be pass the same tests as everyone else.

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  8. Will forgot to mention that I’m charming and quite funny, which is why people put up with me.

    I forgot to mention that community college meals *are* subsidized by the feds, in the same way that meal plans are. You get loan money based on college expenses, and most community colleges include meals as part of expenses.

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  9. Hey, that E7 article was pretty good.

    I was privileged enough to have about 90ish percent of all of my teachers be as passionate as the ones in the meeting described there. Even when I had teachers who had different teaching philosophies on the things that need to be covered from one year to the next, they all cared deeply about making sure that I left knowing the things (they thought) I needed to know.

    And, lucky for me, I left knowing the things (they thought) I needed to know. Well, enough to get a 3 on the AP exam.

    I suspect we have a lot of schools out there who do not have students as privileged as I was.

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