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January 2012

"School kids catch a break"

Kinda. According to a new study by the nonprofit research group MDRC: "When the city [New York City] shutters large, bad schools and puts kids in smaller, specialized ones, graduation and college-readiness rates climb, and much of the racial-achievement gap vanishes."

The catch? 

With this success so evident, you’d expect to see the teachers unions lining up to support the model. Not exactly.

Instead, the unions file suit every time the Department of Education tries to close or restructure a failing school.

What unions? You know, the "we're all about the kids" unions.

More evidence for Newmark's Second-Best Solution for Improving K-12 Schools: smaller classes, smaller schools, smaller school districts.

(Wait: isn't this MDRC a rabid, right-wing nut organization? No, not even close. It is affiliated with the Ford Foundation. The Board of Directors is chaired by Robert Solow. Among the other members of the board are John Reed, former chair of Citigroup, and noted scholars Lawrence Katz, Richard Murnane, and Cecilia Rouse. The study is here.)

"Inequality and Skills"

Agree or disagree: "One of the leading reasons for rising U.S. income inequality over the past three decades is that technological change has affected workers with some skill sets differently than others."

According to a panel of the cream of the U.S. economics profession--Harvard, MIT, Chicago, Stanford, Yale, Princeton, Berkeley--81% either "Agree" or "Strongly Agree".