Monthly Archive for June, 2011

This is the best thing I’ve read on Higher Education in a while…

Check out this article in The Chronicle, my favorite part:

That unquenchable thirst for resources, which is by no means unique to Harvard, has spread throughout the larger body of American higher education. Every state and city has its would-be Ivies now, striving for ways to build a heap of cash, not admit as many undergraduates as possible, and charge more tuition to those who remain.

Undergraduates are increasingly being used as decoration, passing strangers handy for photographs in brochures. That’s why admissions officers work so hard to get them in all manner of shapes, sizes, and colors. And that’s why nobody wants to admit more of them—you only need so many to fill out a brochure, and the more applicants you reject the more awesomely selective and unattainable—and thus attractive—you seem.

But, please, do go read the whole thing.

More higher education…

Wisdom from Arnold Kling:

Or, perhaps, college filters out people with low cognitive ability, low conscientiousness, and other adverse traits. I want to see an experiment, in which some people are randomly chosen to go to college and others are chosen not to go to college. Then, proceed to compare outcomes. Meanwhile, nonexperimental data is of little or no value.

He’s referring to this NYT story: Even for Cashiers, College Pays Off.

Leonhardt presents strong arguments and evidence.  Consider this chart:

Also, Leonhardt has this to say:

Then there are the skeptics themselves, the professors, journalists and others who say college is overrated. They, of course, have degrees and often spend tens of thousands of dollars sending their children to expensive colleges.

He’s right on this point too.  While it is easy for me to see the waste, when everybody else who is smart and on the ball is going to college, how can I not follow along and do the same for my children?  I will be happy if my children go a different route and I will support them in their choices, but they are under the same peer group pressure I am subject to.

My instincts tell me Arnold is correct, but it will be hard to any particular individual to go against the trends.

Higher Education in Texas…

The Morning News again: Jeff Sandefer is making unproductive professors whine:

Vedder’s first analysis, which received wide news coverage in Texas, showed that 20 percent of the UT-Austin faculty taught 57 percent of the students and that the same proportion, 20 percent, generate 99.8 percent of the outside research funding.

I’m all for this sort of increased scrutiny on the professors of our public institutions.

I am not in favor of one strong proponent with money locking in his vision of education and forestalling all others.  It does not appear, yet, that Sandefer is trying to do what I would be against.  He has also put his money where his mouth is, he has opened his own school: Acton MBA.  It is interesting that he does follow some of the conventional aspects of higher education, having an arrangement with Hardin-Simmons for accreditation.

I would be money the accreditation arrangement is done only so that the students can get financial aid.

The sorry state of education…

We are going to have a new mayor soon here in Dallas.  Mike Rawlings won the election last week.  He’ll be sworn in tomorrow.

The Morning News ran a column today on what Rawlings should do about education.  Rawlings did run on the promise of paying more attention to education.  Although the Dallas mayor is powerless when it comes to the DISD, he did say he would work on education and people voted for him.

Note (I could say I’m pissed, but really who noticed the original posts besides possibly my wife?) none of the editorial suggests any of my ideas.  The entire article essentially claims we just need the right people in charge.  There is no mention of incentives to perform.  There is no mention of student/parent choice.  It really claims that the people running the schools, let’s call them Team Nike, have been in charge and have not done a good job.  The article then claims we need to put Team Reebok in charge and that will fix everything.

Pretty simple!  Why didn’t the last mayor think of that?

Back when I used to vote…

I voted against the DART bond issue back in the 90′s.  From today’s Dallas Morning News we learn that 7,200 people are daily riders on the Green Line.  From DART’s own press release we learn the Green Line cost $1.8 billion to construct.

Let me do the math for you: that’s $250,000 per rider.  And since I’m not spending a bunch of time researching actual construction costs, we can be certain that the real cost of the completed line that opened in December of ’10 (the press release cited is from the Spring of ’09), is higher than was project in the press release.

Coyote has made the claim that with the money spent on light rail construction the transit authorities building these systems could instead buy all the riders a Toyota Prius.  He has made the further claim that the operating subsidies could instead be used to buy these new Prius owners there gas and insurance.  Since the operating subsidy for DART light rail is $6.38 per mile.

My vote against that bond issue long ago was the correct vote.  The bond issue was defeated, but that didn’t stop the political class from building their shiny

There is only one comment worth making…

On the The Dallas Morning News Sunday editorial page feature claiming the internet is ruining our ability to concentrate, pay attention and think critically: TLDR.

The grinding of gears…

I get so aggravated by systems and people that prevent me for doing what I want to do.  I am not talking about anything that is wrong in any sense of the word.  It has just been decided that what I want is not allowed.  Not because what I want is dangerous, noisy, polluting, addictive, lights up the night sky, a fire hazard, contains partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, is un-pastureized, not anything.  I’m just not allowed to do what I wish.

One other note: I am willing to pay for this with my own money.

In case you were wondering, the government is involved.

This is mostly unelected bureaucrats deciding they know best for me.  What I want never enters the calcuation.

Last night at dinner…

The conversation drifted for a few minutes into talk about the Casey Anthony trial.

I have to keep my mouth shut all the time.  I am considered such a crank by my relatives (mostly sisters-in -law, I have six of them), that the consider me a broken record.

I have no idea what the woman is accused of, I have no opinion of guilt or innocence.  But when I hear that a “scent” has been introduced into evidence, I get nervous.  I don’t even have to ready what Radley Balko has to say about the science behind scents as evidence, I just cringe.  I hope I never get arrested.

My sister-in-law that was talking spoke of the entertainment value of the televised trial.  I’ll let Ken tell you what’s wrong with trials as entertainment

New camera technology…

Take a look at this article from The New York Times: A Start-Up’s Camera Lets You Take Shots First and Focus Later.

Very interesting idea.  I have a lot of otherwise good shots that could be fixed with technology like that described.

This story is perfect…

You can be the typical liberal (defined as a conventional Democrat) or the typical conservative (defined as the conventional Republican) and enjoy this story from the Gaston Gazette.

It’s beautifully written.  Red meat for everyone.

It also allows me to think about my particular gripes about our current healthcare regime.  And in case you are behind, in my mind it all comes down to eliminating the third party payee and increasing the supply of healthcare services available.