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April 2004

The president of Leslie University predicts that the No Child Left Behind Act will foster school violence, horrific school violence:

Across the country, schools are reporting that the pressures of No Child Left Behind-required testing regimes are crowding out teacher time and forcing cutbacks in such "frills" as art, music, physical education and recess. In their place: more test prep and drills and increasing levels of regimentation, student alienation and teacher stress. . . .

Performing well on math and literacy tests is not the only predictor of how one will perform as a member of society. The likelihood that a large proportion of the nation's schools will be labeled "underperforming" by the No Child Left Behind's narrow measures will raise the stakes even more. Teachers will be pressured to concentrate still more of their efforts on drills and tests rather than on developing broadly educated students who will become responsible and engaged citizens.

The danger is not just that the lessons of Columbine are being lost because of No Child Left Behind but that they may have to be taught to us again - at painful cost.

For sure, if poor Dylan and Eric had just had some more music, art, and recess, they wouldn't have killed all those people.

The Liberal mind is endlessly astonishing. (Link via Joanne Jacobs.)

An article that describes the tough life of humanities Ph.D.s. A wonderful article to use in an introductory economics course to make two points.

1. You ignore market signals at your peril.

2. What are compensating differentials? Let a Ph.D. in comparative literature from Yale who's read a little economics tell you: "He refers to the 2001 book The Invisible Heart by feminist economist Nancy Folbre, which describes how the work that is most important to a society tends to be the most undervalued. 'Teachers, nurses, people who do things they really care about, get shafted.'"

Harvard is considering revising its undergraduate curriculum. According to the AP

--"[T]he university would give graduates until the middle of their sophomore year to declare a major, rather than in the freshman year, and require fewer core course requirements for a major."

--"The recommendations would set aside the month of January for students to pursue experimental programs, and create small classes, including a required 'small-group, faculty-led seminar' in the first year."

And here's a stunning surprise. Make sure you're sitting down before you read this last one:

"The changes would mean a significant increase in the size of the faculty."

Damn! Who would have guessed that?

Richard P. Phelps cries from his heart: what's happened to the literature search in academic research?

I would argue that the skill of literature searching, in general, may be approaching extinction. One would think that the wonderful improvements in data bases and computer search engines over the past quarter century would have dramatically improved literature searching. Instead, they may have made it worse. My conclusion derives from reading several too many research articles on standardized testing with a wholly erroneous assessment of the research base on the topic. This happens routinely, despite the fact that any new study is just one study among many, whereas a literature review is supposed to summarize the entirety of the research done on a topic. Which of these two aspects of the research process—the data analysis or the literature search--is more important to have done correctly?

Also interesting is Mr. Phelps's "If 'Mainstream' Educators Trained Olympic Athletes."