Archive for March, 2013

How Important Are School Districts?

Two very recent reports from The Brookings Institution:  Do School Districts Matter? and School Districts and Student Achievement (Technical Paper) attempt to create a dialog on this topic. The former document states that: “When we turn from policies that assume the importance of school districts to empirical evidence on their impact, we move from a rich to a sparse landscape.”(5) The report examines school districts in Florida and North Carolina, posits questions, explains caveats, and delineates limitations of the study. It concludes: “…differences between school districts in effectiveness are large enough at the extremes to represent more than a half-year difference in schooling.”(17) The technical paper supplies a more formulaic version of the research involved. An important read as the 14,000 school districts in this country are the recipients of $500 billion in funding annually.


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How Much Are Baseball Teams Worth? What Are Players Paid?

A lot. Not surprisingly, the Yankess top the list at $2.3 billion. For a listing of the other teams and the rationale behind the valuations, please come here. On a related note, come here to find out ballplayers’ salaries.

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Transcripts and Audio Files of Oral Arguments Before the Supreme Court

All oral arguments before the Supreme Court are now readily available on the Court’s website. You can retrieve both a printed transcript of the arguments as well as audio files. And these are made availavle within 24 hours. For example; the arguments on March 26 dealing with same-sex marriage are already online. SCOTUSblog maintains a Twitter feed on the arguments as well as providing fabulous secondary coverage; i.e., links to various other sources. C-SPAN also provides an audio feed.

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New Jersey Takes Over Camden School District

For the fourth time in history and for the first time during the Christie administration, the state is taking over the supervision of a school district – Camden. This administrative order initiates the process in a school district that is consistently failing its students and details the poor showings in many assessment tools and tests; this document states that: “The District as a whole  exhibits a lack of leadership and mismanagment.”(7) A state intervention plan has already been drawn up. Here is the press release from the Governor’s office; a video of his announcement is also available from NJTV. Analysis and news coverage is at: NJ Spotlight, The Star-Ledger, CNN, and PolitickerNJ

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Mayor Healy and Councilman Fulop on the Radio Today

Both of these candidates will appear this morning on the Brian Lehrer Show. if you can’t listen live, consult the show’s archives.

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“Hispanic” Just Doesn’t Mean Cuban, Mexican, or Puerto Rican

Nor can we lump all Hispanics together; each culture has a unique voice and perspective. According to the 2010 Census, while Hudson County has an Hispanic population of 42%, only 3.5% are Mexican, 8.9% hail from Puerto Rico, and Cuban accounts for 4.5%. The other 25.7% are from elsewhere such as the Dominican Republic, and Central and South America. These latter three groups form what is known as the “New Latinos.” A timely report – Hispanics in the United States: Not Only Mexican – from Brown University provides an overview of this topic with charts and statistics to buttress its argument.(On page four of this report will be found population estimates of all Hispanic groups.) Another place to find a plethora of information is the highly-regarded Pew Hispanic Center, and one should not ignore the excellent work of the Migration Policy Institute.

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Video Lectures on the Civil War

C-SPAN’s American History TV presents an ongoing series of presentations on a vast array of Civil War topics from emancipation to naval technology. Each lecture is presented by an historian or scholar; additional informational links are presented in a sidebar. There are almost one hundred lectures available and while they vary in length, most last at least an hour. Venues range from the New-York Historical Society to the Smithsonian. YouTube hosts Yale Courses on The Civil War and Reconstruction(27 videos); the Virginia Historical Society has audio/video lectures on diverse Civil War topics; Echoes of the Civil War video series was presented at Augustana College; dozens of lectures by distinguished scholars can be viewed at Civil War Multimedia from the Gilder Lehrmann Institute for American History; and Lowell Lecture Series: Remembering the Civil War  from Boston Public Library highlights half a dozen presentations by experts on this conflict.

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