Category Archives: Education

Rethinking police education in the United States

Source: Gary Cordner, Police Practice and Research: An International Journal, Volume 20 no. 3, 2019
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From the abstract:
Higher education for police in the United States began as police science and police administration in the early-to-middle 1900s but morphed into criminal justice starting in the 1960s, continuing in that mold to the present. This paper examines curricula at a handful of universities to provide a snapshot of U.S. police education today, illustrating that modern criminal justice programs do not focus very much on police at either the undergraduate or graduate level. The paper then considers alternative models that could provide students a more in-depth encounter with the now-robust policing body of knowledge, something that barely existed 50 years ago but could, at this point, serve as the foundation for a respectable and relevant academic and professional education.

Work of the Past, Work of the Future

Source: David Autor, NBER Working Paper No. 25588, February 2019
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From the abstract:
Labor markets in U.S. cities today are vastly more educated and skill-intensive than they were five decades ago. Yet, urban non-college workers perform substantially less skilled work than decades earlier. This deskilling reflects the joint effects of automation and international trade, which have eliminated the bulk of non-college production, administrative support, and clerical jobs, yielding a disproportionate polarization of urban labor markets. The unwinding of the urban non-college occupational skill gradient has, I argue, abetted a secular fall in real non-college wages by: (1) shunting non-college workers out of specialized middle-skill occupations into low-wage occupations that require only generic skills; (2) diminishing the set of non-college workers that hold middle-skill jobs in high-wage cities; and (3) attenuating, to a startling degree, the steep urban wage premium for non-college workers that prevailed in earlier decades. Changes in the nature of work—many of which are technological in origin—have been more disruptive and less beneficial for non-college than college workers.

The radical plan to change how Harvard teaches economics

Source: Dylan Matthews, Vox, May 22, 2019

Raj Chetty has an idea for introducing students to econ that could transform the field — and society…..

….Chetty has made his name as an empirical economist, working with a small army of colleagues and research assistants to try to get real-world findings with relevance to major political questions. And he’s focused on the roots and consequences of economic and racial inequality. He used huge amounts of IRS tax data to map inequality of opportunity in the US down to the neighborhood, and to show that black boys in particular enjoy less upward mobility than white boys.

Ec 1152 is an introduction to that kind of economics. There’s little discussion of supply and demand curves, of producer or consumer surplus, or other elementary concepts introduced in classes like Ec 10. There is no textbook, only a set of empirical papers. The material is relatively cutting-edge. Of the 12 papers students are required to read, 11 were released in 2010 or after. Half of the assigned papers were released in 2017 or 2018. Chetty co-authored a third of them.

And while most economics courses at Harvard require Ec 10 as a prerequisite, Ec 1152 does not. Freshmen can take it as their first economics course…..

….If this were just a pedagogical shift at Harvard, that would be one thing. But Chetty is aiming to make the course a model for other schools. After the financial crisis, many economists have concluded that Econ 101 is broken across the university system and is not preparing students for a world where markets frequently fail. Chetty’s class offers a new way to teach an introductory course, yet at the same time is more closely aligned with what contemporary economic research looks like. The course’s lecture videos are already available online, for students at other institutions to use…..

Oregon: Legislation increases school funding via new corporate tax, credit positive for state and school districts

Source: Patrick Liberatore, Baye Larsen, Eva Bogaty, Nicholas Samuels, Emily Raimes, Timothy Blake, Leonard Jones, Moody’s, Sector Comment, State government and public K-12 schools districts, May 23, 2019
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On May 16, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed legislation that increases preK-12 education spending by a projected $1.2 billion for the state’s 2019-21 biennium starting July 1, 2019. Growth in state support is credit positive for Oregon school districts because it will increase resources as education costs continue to rise. The added funding comes from a dedicated state corporate activity tax established by the legislation. Besides generating more school funding, the tax is credit positive for the state because it will diversify its revenue sources, which are heavily reliant on volatile personal income taxes….

California: Revised budget increases funding for school districts and community colleges, a credit positive

Source: Helen Cregger, Eric Hoffmann, Leonard Jones, Moody’s, Sector Comment, Public K-12 school districts and community colleges, May 22, 2019
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On May 9, California Governor Gavin Newsom released a revised version of the state’s fiscal 2020 budget, which includes a substantial increase in minimum funding levels for K-12 public schools and community college districts, a credit positive. The new budget also benefits K-12 schools with the state agreeing to kick in added funds to help school districts with pension payments to the California State Teachers’ Retirement System….

Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession, 2018–19

Source: American Association of University Professors, May 2019

From the summary:
For our annual Faculty Compensation Survey, the AAUP collected data from more than 950 colleges and universities across the US, including community colleges, small liberal arts colleges, and major research universities. The 2018-19 data cover more than 380,000 full-time faculty members, and also include salaries for senior administrators and pay for part-time faculty members.

On average, salaries for full-time faculty members at US colleges and universities are 2 percent higher in 2018-19 than they were in the preceding academic year. But with prices in the economy as a whole growing by 1.9 percent during the year, faculty salaries barely budged when adjusted for inflation. This is the third successive year that increases in average full-time faculty salaries have barely outpaced inflation….

Influence without Bargaining: Unionization at the University of Wisconsin, 1930–1957

Source: Timothy Reese Cain, Philip J. Wilkinson, Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, Vol. 16 no. 2, May 2019
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From the abstract:
Through a historical case study of the University of Wisconsin Teachers Union (American Federation of Teachers Local 223) this article considers the roles that early unionized faculty could play in influencing their institution without ever pursuing a contract. It argues that the Wisconsin local effectively used research and political power to improve conditions for instructional workers and to affect funding patterns across the institution. It did so while only ever attracting a minority of faculty to join. In addition to its important salary work, which was often focused on improving the conditions of the instructors and others at the lowest ranks, Local 223 addressed an array of educational and societal issues. As such, it had elements of what in the modern era might be considered social movement unionism, combining both efforts to aid members and activities designed for broader social change.

Growing school pension burdens will require more state support

Source: Matthew Butler, Joshua Grundleger, Emily RaimesMoody’s, Sector In-Depth, State government – US, April 9, 2019
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Recent actions by states signal growing recognition that as pension burdens — unfunded liabilities and annual costs — escalate for K-12 school districts, state assistance will likely need to increase. California (Aa3 positive), Indiana (Aaa stable) and Oregon (Aa1 stable) all recently proposed budget legislation that would boost school funding by making increased payments to teacher pension plans on behalf of districts. The proposals call for one-time contributions to the pension plans rather than recurring pension contribution support on behalf of local districts like Colorado (Aa1 stable) and Michigan (Aa1 stable) have recently committed to provide. Additional states are likely to increase funding for teacher pensions,reflecting the growing credit risks underfunded plans present.

Right Cause, Wrong Method? Examining the Politics of State Takeover in Georgia

Source: Richard O. Welsh, Sheneka Williams, Shafiqua Little, Jerome Graham, Urban Affairs Review, Volume: 55 issue: 3, May 2019
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From the abstract:
A growing number of states are using state-run school districts to take over and improve persistently underperforming schools. This article uses Georgia to examine the politics of state takeover. We analyze the supporting and opposing coalitions as well as the alignment between state takeover and charter schools in the campaign for the constitutional amendment to create a statewide turnaround district. Our findings show that corporate interests, the governor, and nonprofit organizations supported state takeover, whereas educators, parents, and community organizations opposed state takeover. There was bipartisan support across coalitions and a crisscrossing of interests regarding local control and the path to school improvement. There are divergent views on charter schools, with supporters of state takeover favoring charter schools.