Public School Teachers, Private School Kids

From The Entrepreneurial Mind: Watch What They Do; Don’t Listen to What They Lobby For.

Competition in domains that were once thought to be permanent governmental monopolies is proving to be effective in many arenas. Certainly schools have been one of the modern success stories of privatization. In today’s Tennessean it seems that public school teachers in Nashville (yes, those same public school teachers who fight the creation of charter schools and lobby for more and more and more money without any accountability) agree that competition and markets really do work.

“More than one out of every four Metro teachers, or 28.6%, send their children to private school, according to a study released last week.”

So, how does this compare to the overall population in Nashville? Teachers are twice as likely to send their kids to private schools as the average family in Nashville.

What could possibly be the reason behind this startling statistic?

Read the whole thing.

Personally, I am a fan of Milton Friedman’s idea of a voucher system. Instead of their children being forced to attend a specific public school, parents should receive a voucher for some dollar amount that they can spend any school they wish, public, private, or parochial. Schools that provide poor education will go under, of course, but then the taxpayer-provided capital funds that are being used to prop it up will be released to other schools that provide better education; the neat thing is that the magic of the voucher-driven market will perform that action automatically without extra government interaction.

Vouchers provide real accountability. Right now, if a public school is doing poorly, that is often used as a claim that they need more money; this is because they are accountable to another government agency, not to the parents directly. If the parents themselves get to directly choose which school their child attends, they money follows the child; as such, schools that do poorly get less money and eventually go away, leaving an opportunity for other schools to take up the students (and an opportunity to open a new school under better management).

More on this later, as I refine my ideas. Really, all the best work is from Milton Friedman, whom I will link extensively in the future. For now, get your hands on “Free to Choose” which goes over much more than just school vouchers.

Rules for the Obsessive-Compulsive Sociopath

All the other rules derive from Rule Number 1. What is Rule Number 1? You’ll have to read the post. 😉

This is from goobage (but Blogspot won’t take you to the right post, scroll down to Mon 13 Sep).

If anything can go wrong, FIX IT! (To Hell with Murphy!)

When given a choice, take both!

Multiple projects lead to multiple successes.

Start at the top and work your way up.

Do it by the Book — but be the author!

When forced to compromise, ask for more.

If you can’t beat them, join them, then beat them.

If it’s worth doing, it’s got to be done RIGHT NOW.

If you can’t win, change the rules.

If you can’t change the rules, ignore them.

Perfection is not optional.

When faced without a challenge, make one!

“No” simply means begin again, one level higher.

Don’t walk when you can run.

Bureaucracy is a challenge to be conquered with a righteous attitude, a tolerance for stupidity, and a bulldozer when necessary.

When in doubt, THINK!

Patience is a virtue, but persistence to the point of success is a blessing.

The squeaky wheel gets replaced.

The faster you move, the slower time passes, the longer you live.

To these I must add my personal “Rules”:

Rule Number 1: “Other people suck.” This is not as harsh as it sounds; you might expand it to “Until proven otherwise, other people suck.” What this means is that, if you expect people to be nice and happy and give you everything you want without argument, you will be very unsatisfied. However, if you go into things expecting that other people will cause you trouble, you can plan for it. When they prove they are not trouble, it’s a good thing — that way all surprises are good surprises. And remember — to other people, you suck, so go out of your way to prove you don’t.

Rule Number 2: “No good deed goes unpunished.” If you do the right thing, that action will have to be its own reward, because I guarantee that others will find a way to use it against you. This is because of Rule Number 1.

Rule Number 3: “It is easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission.” Because other people suck, they won’t give you permission — but once you do whatever it is you want, they are very likely to forgive you “as long as you don’t do it again.” Which you won’t — for a while, anyway.

Rule Number 4: (From Al Bundy.) “It is wrong to Be French.” It is fine to be from France, or in France, or have French heritage, but if you “Are French” and Act Frenchy, well, that’s wrong. Rule Number 1 applies doubly to those who Are French. (It’s funny, laugh. 😉

Rule Number 5: “The reward for good work is more work.” Once you prove you can do good work, other people will continue to pile work on you, either becuase it’s easier than doing it themselves or because it’s easier than finding someone else to do it. Why is this? See Rule Number 1.

(UPDATE, 2008-01-21: 2 and 3 were reversed; fixed.)

(UPDATE, 2008-09-14: The source for rule 4 has been corrected.)

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow

Perfect. Movie.

I wish I could review it properly, but I cannot. It is simply outstanding. Imagine a CGI homage to all the sci-fi cliffhanger reels from the 30s, throw in more modern references to Star Wars and Indiana Jones (which themselves were modeled after those same films), and add way-cool impossible-but-spectacular retro-technology like Flying Aircraft Carriers and submarine fighter planes. Just breathtaking. I will have to go see it again, on a bigger screen and with better sound, if I can find it.

My Rating: worth full evening price, twice.

(Note: as this is the first movie I’ve posted here, my rating scheme is based on how much you have to pay to see it. Worst rating, of course, is “avoid”. Next best is “only see it if someone else pays”, then “matinee”, then “full evening.” Films you need to see more than once on the big screen are “full evening price, twice.” Sky Captain rates the highest. Great way to get started.)

Why Americans hate foreign policy

An excerpt from the Telegraph: Why Americans hate foreign policy by P. J. O’Rourke.

Being foreigners ourselves, we Americans know what foreigners are up to with their foreign policy – their venomous convents, lying alliances, greedy agreements and trick-or-treaties. America is not a wily, sneaky nation. We don’t think that way.

We don’t think much at all, thank God. Start thinking and pretty soon you get ideas, and then you get idealism, and the next thing you know you’ve got ideology, with millions dead in concentration camps and gulags. A fundamental American question is: “What’s the big idea?”

Americans would like to ignore foreign policy. Our previous attempts at isolationism were successful. Unfortunately, they were successful for Hitler’s Germany and Tojo’s Japan. Evil is an outreach programme. A solitary bad person sitting alone, harbouring genocidal thoughts, and wishing he ruled the world is not a problem unless he lives next to us in the trailer park.

In the big geopolitical trailer park that is the world today, he does. America has to act. But, when America acts, other nations accuse us of being “hegemonistic,” of engaging in “unilateralism,” of behaving as if we’re the only nation on earth that counts.

We are.

Link via NRO.

F. A. Hayek and Bloggers

This fits in very nicely with complex adaptive systems, emergent phenomena, dynamism, and so on.

TCS: Tech Central Station – Hayek Smiled: Why Blogging Works

If Nobel Prize winning economist F.A. Hayek had been watching last week as bloggers spontaneously responded to fraudulent documents aired by the program “60 Minutes”, he would’ve grinned in humble satisfaction. Hayek’s work centered on the effectiveness of spontaneous, decentralized organization, which is precisely what occurred on PowerlineBlog on September 9th.  Regardless of the political consequences of the Killian Memo controversy, Hayek’s work has been vindicated and his critics undermined.

Hayek’s work focused on how it is that complicated and reliable systems of cooperation come about without any centralized direction. When they do, they outperform systems of “command”, systems that rely on central direction.

Hayek theorized that markets worked better primarily because of their ability to facilitate the use of ‘on the spot’ knowledge, knowledge that is very unique to a particular person or place. … Everyone has something he knows more about than just about anyone else, even if that something is as basic as his own car. A command system requires the person with the knowledge to wait on the guy without it. A market system gives the person with knowledge the freedom and power to act on it.

Oh, just read the whole thing. It’s good stuff.

Dropped Marketing Research

I just dropped the Marketing Research Methodology class. With it, I was taking 9 hours of night classes, which frankly was killing me. How ironic that the one class I wanted most to take, because of the professor, is the one that I should drop — but it was an elective after all, and the other two are required (and required together) for the program.

Wikis in Education

See this Educause article about wikis; hat tip to Many2Many for the link.

Indeed, an instructor could structure and regulate interaction to such an extent that the wiki is effectively transformed into a stripped-down course management system. But doing so risks diluting the special qualities that make wikis worth using in the first place, with the result being, in the words of Heather James, “pumped-up PowerPoint.” James has described the experience of using wikis in her teaching as her “brilliant failure.” She regrets that she “changed the tool, but did not change the practice,” and failed to account for the “great potential in this tool to be completely disruptive (in a good way) to the classroom setting.” With the benefit of hindsight, she concludes that for wikis to fulfill their promise, “the participants need to be in control of the content—you have to give it over fully.”26 This process involves not just adjusting the technical configuration and delivery; it involves challenging the social norms and practices of the course as well.