Unionized Teachers Are Better Teachers

The author of this paper (pdf) observes (boldface mine):

By demanding higher salaries for teachers, unions give school districts a strong incentive to dismiss ineffective teachers before they get tenure. Highly unionized districts dismiss more bad teachers because it costs more to keep them. Using three different kinds of survey data from the National Center for Education Statistics, I confirmed that unionized districts dismiss more low-quality teachers than those with weak unions or no unions. Unionized districts also retain more high-quality teachers relative to district with weak unionism. No matter how and when I measured unionism I found that unions lowered teacher attrition. This is important because many studies have found that higher quality teachers have a greater chance of leaving the profession. Since unionized districts dismiss more bad teachers while keeping more good teachers, we should expect to observe higher teacher quality in highly unionized districts than less unionized districts – and this is exactly what I found. Highly unionized districts have more qualified teachers compared to districts with weak unionism.

Oddly enough, crappy wages–which happen to coincidence with the loss of union power–lower teacher quality:

Indiana, Idaho, Tennessee and Wisconsin all changed their laws in 2010-2011, dramatically restricting the collective bargaining power of public school teachers. After that, I was able to compare what happened in states where teachers’ bargaining rights were limited to states where there was no change. If you believe the argument that teachers unions protect bad teachers, we should have seen teacher quality rise in those states after the laws changed. Instead I found that the opposite happened. The new laws restricting bargaining rights in those four states reduced teacher salaries by about 9%. That’s a huge number. A 9% drop in teachers salaries is unheard of. Lower salaries mean that districts have less incentive to sort out better teachers, lowering the dismissal rate of underperforming teachers, which is what you saw happen in the those four states. Lower salaries also encouraged high-quality teachers to leave the teaching sector, which contributed to a decrease of teacher quality.

Most importantly, it’s good for the students:

Since there’s currently no data on student performance by school district levels with nationally representative samples, I use high school dropout rates as a measure of student achievement. My study found that unions reduce the dropout rates of districts. This is where my study differs from some earlier ones that found that unionism either had no impact or had a negative effect on the dropout rate. I define unionism more broadly than those earlier studies. It’s not just collective bargaining that matters, it’s the union density of teachers in a district that’s important. Union density measures the strength of the union, because even when teachers can’t engage in collective bargaining they can use their collective *voice* to influence the educational system. What I found was that union density significantly decreased the high school dropout rate, even in districts without collective bargaining agreements.

But teachers unions are the greatest evil known to mankind. Or something.

Also worth noting this study came out months ago. Oddly enough, it didn’t make the news…

Posted in Education, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Links 7/21/16

Links for you. Science:

Did snakes evolve from ancient sea serpents?
Zika epidemic will end in three years, study suggests
How ‘digitizing you and me’ could revolutionize medicine. At least in theory
Elsevier has started destroying SSRN
Dinosaurs Literally Reshaped The Planet


Public Health Takes a Hit Even as Uruguay Prevails in Infamous Philip Morris Investor-State Attack
The controversial GMO labeling bill that just passed Congress, explained
Can the middle class lifestyle my Seattle grandparents had ever be achievable again?
This Week In Chutzpah: Senator Wants To Futz With D.C.’s Job Licensing Rules
DC will have even fewer vacant properties if a new law makes these changes
Where Books Are All But Nonexistent (though Mount Pleasant isn’t low income, not by a long shot)
How charter schools in Michigan have hurt traditional public schools, new research finds
How Exactly Does One Make America, America, Again?
An Open Letter To Tiny House Hunters
An expert on fighting poverty makes the case against a universal basic income
The myth of the Democratic rift: Despite media hot air, the data show Sanders supporters will embrace Clinton
Racism, Stress, and Black Death
How a teacher bombed the SATs
‘There’s No Detox When You’re Dead’: Boston Wants Users To Get High Under Medical Supervision
Rajiv Sethi: On Arrest Filters and Empirical Inferences
One Reason School Segregation Persists
French Artist Creates Mind Blowing Trompe-L’oeil Illusions

Posted in Lotsa Links | 2 Comments

Government Schools Versus Government-Contractor Schools

Apparently, conservatives, in line with their scorched earth approach to governance, have decided to call public schools ‘government schools’ (boldface mine):

Somewhere along the way, the term “government schools” entered the lexicon in place of references to the public school system…

The use of the term has set off alarms even among some Republicans, who fear that it signals still less support, financially and otherwise, for the public schools in a state that had long felt pride over the quality of its education system. The recent adoption of a school finance plan that was acceptable to Mr. Brownback, the Legislature and the Kansas Supreme Court has not entirely assuaged those concerns.

Davis Merritt, a columnist for The Wichita Eagle, said in a column in May that state legislators’ “deaf and blind” ideology was threatening public schools.

Some have begun to call public schools ‘government schools,’ a calculated pejorative scorning both education and anything related to government,” he wrote…

He [John Locke] suggested, somewhat tongue in cheek, that swapping “government” for “public” could become a trend, with references to “government libraries,” “government parks” — even “government universities.”

“It’s austere,” Dr. Locke said. “It has an oppressive ring to it. It sounds rigid, the opposite of open or friendly or charming or congenial. The people who use that term are hoping those words will come to mind.”

But what do conservative want to replace “government schools” with? Charter schools–which is to say government contractor schools. If we’re going to play at semiotics, then let’s go all the way.

After all, charters have cost control and embezzlement issues, they often fudge their numbers, they are deeply intertwined with government (and exert undue influence on government), they externalize ‘cost-losers’ (also known as at-risk children), skimp on costs to their ‘customers’, and, when it comes to building construction, have de facto ‘cost-plus’ contracts.

Charters Government-contractor schools too often are the educational equivalent of Bechtel or Lockheed. So if conservatives are going to play the word game, let’s hit them back. Because the only thing liked less than “government” are government contractors on the make.

Posted in Bullshit As a Load Bearing Structure, Conservatives, Education | 2 Comments

Links 7/20/16

Links for you. Science:

How Australia fails mid-career scientists
Why It Took Social Science Years to Correct a Simple Error About ‘Psychoticism’
D.C.’s summer heat is rapidly becoming more oppressive, analysis finds
Columbia University busted for taking too much overhead on NIH grants
One striking chart shows why pharma companies are fighting legal marijuana


How Donald Trump Is Helping White Christian America Commit Suicide
For Trump, it’s (white) America First
One group is responsible for America’s culture of violence, and it isn’t cops, black Americans, Muslims or rednecks. It’s men
This national disorder is who we really are
Germany finally apologizes for its other genocide—more than a century later
How Gov. Mike Pence worked to undermine the will of Indiana’s voters
Cheap Money Talks
Bernie Sanders’s Philosophical Victory
Building support for DC statehood—DC’s best hope for democracy
Nice Attack: Has a Bisexual Muslim Hustler Put France on the Path to Civil War? After Charlie Hebdo, the French took to the streets to preach unity. Now a rampage by an ‘instant jihadist’ with an address book full of johns may push the country over the edge.
What’s Going On? Thoughts on the Murder of the Police
RNC forced to close online convention chat after anti-Semites turn it into a Jew-bashing hatefest
Trump backer speaking at RNC, billed as boss of 100,000, employs zero workers
As Maine Goes
China Unveils Epic 1,320-Ton God Of War Statue
Stupid/Evil Venn Diagram

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment

Norovirus, The GOP, And Public Health Policy, Oh My!

Admittedly, the norovirus outbreak at the Republican National Convention has led to all sorts of ‘shitshow’ jokes, but there really are policy and political angles to this.

As we’ve noted many, many, many, many times, the greatest norovirus vector–in English, from whom you get it–is food workers. Just to give you an idea, what I’m talking about, here’s the CDC (boldface mine):

Ill staff members in health-care facilities and food handlers should be excluded during their illness and for 48–72 hours following resolution of symptoms. Asymptommatic food-service workers who have tested positive for norovirus, which might occur during an outbreak investigation, also should be excluded or restricted per the FDA Food Code (10). Regulatory authority approval might be required for excluded food-service workers to return to work (10), although requiring negative stool results prior to returning to work is not recommended. Sick pay and sick leave policies that do not penalize ill workers might help to facilitate such staff exclusion.

Guess who opposes paid sick leave? Yup, conservatives! Because freedom. In fact, some of them are so far down the batshitloonitarian rabbit hole, they espouse ‘free-market’ solutions:

In a week packed with news over concerns for public health, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) described his own history of opposing certain health and hygiene regulations, including those that require employees to wash their hands after using the bathroom….

“I was having a discussion with someone, and we were at a Starbucks in my district, and we were talking about certain regulations where I felt like ‘maybe you should allow businesses to opt out,’” the senator said.

Tillis said his interlocutor was in disbelief, and asked whether he thought businesses should be allowed to “opt out” of requiring employees to wash their hands after using the restroom.

The senator said he’d be fine with it, so long as businesses made this clear in “advertising” and “employment literature.”

“I said: ‘I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says “We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom,” Tillis said.

“The market will take care of that,” he added, to laughter from the audience.

Yuk Yuk! In more ways than one. Snark aside, we could greatly reduce the spread of norovirus if sick food workers were able to stay home.

There are policies here we could adopt to improve our health. And one party is standing athwart a bucket of puke, yelling “free market.”

Posted in Conservatives, Food, Fucking Morons, Public Health, Viruses | 2 Comments

Links 7/19/16

Links for you. Science:

History credits this man with discovering Ebola on his own. History is wrong
Why Turtles Evolved Shells: It Wasn’t For Protection
Fighting a Hospital Superbug Reveals an Unexpected Benefit
Wildlife officials want to shoot vaccine-laced M&Ms from drones to save ferrets (DO THIS WITH HUMANS)
The Value Of Collaborative Research


How Western media would cover Baton Rouge if it happened overseas
Police Use of Force: Notes on a Study
Cuomo declines to throw his weight behind Democrats’ bid to retake state Senate (I assume all of the people who were butthurt over Sanders ‘not doing enough for Democrats’ will be jumping all over Cuomo…)
The Invisible Danger Donald Trump Poses to Our Democracy
Literally Just 23 Pictures Of Boris Johnson
In An Age of Trump, We Need Woody Guthrie
Henry Rollins: White America Couldn’t Handle What Black America Deals With Every Day
No Bernie’s Not Going to Be President, Stop Crying
Should Colleges Really Eliminate the College Lecture?
Faroe Islands Enlist Sheep To Create Their Own 360-Degree Street Views
To reduce suicides, look at guns
What We Know from the 28 Pages
Jill Stein Promotes Homeopathy, Panders On Vaccines
Democrats Have a Plan to Register 50 Million New Voters

Posted in Lotsa Links | 1 Comment

Who Is The Tolstoy Of The Republicans?

Unbelievable (boldface mine):

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) on Monday challenged the other participants on an MSNBC panel to name a “subgroup” that contributed more to civilization than white people.

That smoking hot take came moments after Esquire writer Charles Pierce declared that the 2016 Republican National Convention would be the last time “old white people” would command the attention of the Republican Party.

“This whole business does get a little tired, Charlie,” King said. “I would ask you to go back through history and figure out where are these contributions that have been made by these other categories of people that you are talking about, where did any other subgroup of people contribute more to civilization?”

“Than white people?” MSNBC host Chris Hayes interjected.

“Than—than western civilization itself that’s rooted in western Europe, eastern Europe and the United States of America, and every place where christianity settled the world,” King said. “That’s all of western civilization.”

“But what about Africa, what about Asia?” reporter April Ryan asked.

King won a majority of votes in his district.


Posted in Conservatives | 12 Comments