"No EmX" signs (off topic)

9/6/2011: I’ve got no ideas about the EmX vs “more buses everywhere” vs bikes vs electric nuclear-friendly cars debate. But who could oppose people posting signs protesting the EmX expansion, on their own property?

The city of Eugene, of course. Mark Baker of the RG has a great story on this. Your property taxes are already going to pay Jerry Lidz, the attorney the city has hired to defend their policy. Go here to offset them with a contribution to the Oregon ACLU’s efforts to keep political speech free.

match students and instructors by race

9/6/2011: Here’s a new carefully done study on the effects of matching the races of instructors and students. By three NBER economists with data from a CA community college. As paraphrased by Scott Jaschik at Insidehighered.com:

Among all nonwhite groups, the study found a gain of 2.9 percentage points in the proportion of students completing courses taught by instructors of the same race as students — cutting in half the gaps in minority vs. white course completion rates. (Among all students in all non-recreational courses, 24 percent of white students drop out, compared to 26 percent of Asian students, 28 percent of Latino students, 30 percent of black students and 28 percent of other, nonwhite students.)

Among students who don’t drop out, there are also gaps between the performance of white and Asian students and that of other groups, especially black students. For instance, of those students who don’t drop out, 89 percent of white and Asian students pass, compared to 82 percent of black students; and 68 percent of white and Asian students who complete courses earn at least a B, while only 53 percent of black students do. For black students taught by a black instructor, there was a gain of 13 percentage points — among those who completed the course — in the proportion earning a B or higher.

At the same time, the authors note that there were declines in various performance measures for white students taught by non-white instructors.

The logical policy conclusion is for more matching of students and instructors by race, i.e. more segregation. Or we could try to figure out what drives this effect, and help students and teachers offset it. Presumably both groups are already making some efforts to do this – but not entirely successfully. Or we could cry racism, bury our heads in the sand, and continue our current policies.

A 4-year degree for $10,000 total?

9/5/2011: Back in the day, that was about what I paid for tuition in real dollars, if you forget about that year in the ivy league, which I mostly have. This was not because college was cheap, it was because of heavy subsidies from the taxpayers. Those subsidies are gone forever, and Texas Governor Rick Perry is proposing to respond by lowering the cost of production of college degrees. The NYT has a long debate. The snarkiest professor award? “I hope the governor does not have plans for a $10,000 medical degree.”

Some people hope that computer based improvements in teaching technology will make Perry’s plan possible. As it happens, the NYT also recently had a long story on that (in K-12). Upshot? It’s not working. Schools have spent large amounts of money on technology, and have nothing to show for it.

"the doping, the raping and the shooting"

9/5/2011: That’s one college football coach’s summary of his experiences:

“Why did you recruit the guy who shot his roommate with a .22?” he begins. “Well, if I hadn’t, he would have been playing at Notre Dame, Texas or Texas A&M. He was the No. 1 defensive back in the state. Started as a freshman. He was a great player. Did a dumb-ass act, probably because he was on drugs …”

On to the raping …

“The first one, two or three she had sex with, that was OK,” Switzer says. “But the fourth or fifth or sixth, she says, ‘No,’ that becomes rape. She should have never been in the dorms. The guys who brought her in there, they went to prison and served their sentence.”

Switzer loses his place. “Oh, what was the other one?” he asks. The doping …

“Oh, Charles Thompson was set up – great player, great QB – in an FBI sting. Talked into doing it with a bunch of buddies, thugs that came from high school. Set him up because they were three-time losers and they had a bug on him. Basically, they were trying to get me and my program. He relented after turning them down a dozen times.”

From The Sacramento Bee, courtesy of Margaret Soltan.

And you thought the Duck/Beaver rivalry was nasty?

9/2/2011: Thanks to Margaret Soltan for the link:

Chapel Hill – The chairman of the Department of African and Afro-American Studies at UNC has resigned from the department’s top post amid a university investigation into academic irregularities, possibly involving two former football players. …

McAdoo, who was kicked off the team for academic misconduct, was found to have plagiarized large portions of a paper on Swahili culture assigned to him by Nyang’oro.

The university was embarrassed this summer after learning that the university’s student honor court had not discovered McAdoo’s plagiarism. The offense was discovered after N.C. State fans ran McAdoo’s paper through an online plagiarism checker.

"The Fall of the Faculty"

9/2/2011: is a much talked about book by Benjamin Ginsberg at Johns Hopkins on the growing power of administrators. He has a long summary in the Washington Monthly:

Between 1975 and 2005, total spending by American higher educational
institutions, stated in constant dollars, tripled, to more than $325
billion per year. Over the same period, the faculty-to-student ratio has
remained fairly constant, at approximately fifteen or sixteen students
per instructor. One thing that has changed, dramatically, is the
administrator-per-student ratio. In 1975, colleges employed one
administrator for every eighty-four students and one professional
staffer—admissions officers, information technology specialists, and the
like—for every fifty students. By 2005, the administrator-to-student
ratio had dropped to one administrator for every sixty-eight students
while the ratio of professional staffers had dropped to one for every
twenty-one students.  …

Before they employed an army of professional staffers, administrators
were forced to rely on the cooperation of the faculty to carry out tasks
ranging from admissions to planning. An administration that lost the
confidence of the faculty might find itself unable to function. Today,
ranks of staffers form a bulwark of administrative power in the
contemporary university. These administrative staffers do not work for
or, in many cases, even share information with the faculty. They help
make the administration, in the language of political science,
“relatively autonomous,” marginalizing the faculty.

some important advice

8/20/2011: From Yahoo sports:

Lyles, even while denying he intentionally guided Seastrunk to Eugene or funneled any money his way, admitted he helped Seastrunk’s grandmother become his legal guardian so she could sign his letter of intent to Oregon over his mother’s protests. 

The result: Seastrunk never appeared happy and Oregon faces serious scrutiny from the NCAA over a player who turned out to be entirely expendable. Maybe everyone should have just listened to momma in the first place.

Always. But why is Coach Kelly quoted as saying

“I wish him the best, told him we’ll assist him in any manner possible, and he can be released to any school he wants to.”

Because under NCAA rules, our “student athletes” are slaves. They can’t keep what they earn – can’t even sell their autographs – and they sure as hell can’t transfer to another school that will be better for their careers without their current coach’s owner’s permission. (Unless they sit out for a year.) Apparently Seastrunk had to use his sick grandmother as an excuse to get the right to transfer.

College athletics is broken and the people who are making their living off it need to change it.

we want more children

8/9/2011: From Insidehighered.com. PLoS ONE link here.

Nearly half of female faculty members in top science departments wish
they’d had more children, but didn’t because of their careers, while
about a quarter of their male counterparts feel the same way, according
to a new study.

This is a large but not commonly considered part of the sacrifices involved in an academic career. The solution is obvious: Count every kid as a publication and add it to the parents’ H-indices.