Episode VII, Special Edition

December 4, 2014

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

Ladies and gentlemen, humor is now concluded. We have a winner.

(You won’t get it if you haven’t seen this yet, but then, if so there’s no hope for you anyway.)

Jason Bedrick, Editorial Slayer

December 4, 2014

Over at Education Next, Jason Bedrick has one of the most devastating take-downs of an editorial I’ve ever seen.  The Sun-Sentinel recently published an editorial opposing the state’s scholarship tax credit program.  Almost everything in the editorial was a factual error or grossly distorted.

Given that journalists and newspapers are supposed to trade in facts and accurate information, it is a wonder that the editorial writers at the Sun-Sentinel could be so incredibly awful at their jobs.

Weissmann: Look for Law Schools to Start Closing

December 3, 2014

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

It’s not just at the pump where people are saving: law school applications have declined 24% and prices are dropping.

Arts Research Needs Funding

December 3, 2014

Brian Kisida, Cari Bogulski, Anne Kraybill, Collin Hitt, Dan Bowen, and I have a new piece in Education Week about our studies measuring the effects of culturally enriching art experiences on students.  The piece summarizes our research on what students learn from going on field trips to an art museum as well as to see live theater.  It also goes into greater detail on how those experiences affect critical thinking and the desire to become cultural consumers (people who go to art museums and the theater when they grow up).  This article is part of a special section Education Week has published on arts education.

But the main thrust of our new Ed Week article is the argument that arts education badly needs funding for quality research on how the arts affect students.  We write:

None of this research will occur, however, until defenders of the arts recognize the need for it. Arts advocates can no longer rely on weak studies that simply compare students who participate in the arts with those who don’t. Such studies are pervasive, and the claims they make are likely overblown. Skeptics can correctly wonder whether the research truly demonstrates that the arts make people awesome, or if awesome people are simply attracted to the arts. To convince skeptics of how the arts can influence a student’s trajectory, future studies will have to adopt rigorous research designs that can isolate causal effects.

Art collectors are bidding up prices, and enormous fortunes are devoted to acquiring and displaying art. It makes little sense for arts patrons to spend a fortune acquiring and commissioning masterpieces, while failing to demonstrate the benefits of the arts with quality research. To determine whether there are important social benefits derived from arts activities, money should be invested in funding rigorous research, which can be expensive.

If the arts and culture are to remain a vibrant part of children’s education, arts patrons will need to step forward to help pay for the kind of quality research that shows not only what those benefits are, but just how significant they can be.

The Anti-Testing Zombie Apocalypse

December 1, 2014

Grrrrrr….testing ruin flavor of BRAINSSSZZZSSSS!!!!

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

While some of the strongest supporters of standardized testing have allowed their minds to wander to counter-productive uses of overstretched waiver authority in the already dying days of a lame-duck administration, rumors have reached my ears of growing support for eliminating annual testing as a requirement under NCLB in Congress.

This may seem implausible to some, but after watching a 30+ year bipartisan consensus on transparency fold like a house of cards in Texas, nothing seems impossible. Discuss among yourselves…

The hour is later than you think…

The Lego Movie’s Think Tank Captures PLDD Perfectly

November 24, 2014

I finally got a chance to watch The Lego Movie and it was great fun.  I particularly enjoyed the movie’s description of a “think tank.”

The villain, President Business, has imprisoned almost all of the Lego Universe’s master builders, including Superman, Green Lantern, William Shakespeare, and Shaquille O’Neal, in his think tank.  In the think tank the captured creative heroes are forced to “come up with all the instructions for everything in the universe.”  That is, they are supposed to develop a plan for how everything is supposed to done from which no one may deviate.  And the perfect order of the plan will be made permanent once Preisdent Business can use the Kragle (Krazy Glue) to freeze everything in place.

I’m glad the folks at Lego are aware of how the scourge that is known as PLDD has infected many of the nation’s leading think tanks.  And if this is the impression that popular culture has of think tanks, no amount of web hits, Tweets, or donor dollars will restore their policy influence.  Think tanks had better find the Piece of Resistance before it’s too late.

SNL brings back School House Rock

November 23, 2014

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Congratulations Bill…now you are irrelevant!




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