Friday, April 3, 2009

Today's Random Thoughts

Sorry for disappearing. Don't worry, I'm still alive -- I just got busy. I should be back in full swing next week. In the meantime, here are a few things that caught my eye.

-The NY Times has an interesting piece on ideology in medicine. I continue to wonder whether education research can ever truly be considered research or whether ideology will simply bias results. I always thought that research would be more reliable in fields like medicine and physics where there's little reason to take a rooting interest in a particular research outcome or to believe something works (or doesn't work) regardless of what the research says. According to David Neumann, I was wrong to believe that about medicine. He says that "The practice of medicine contains countless examples of elegant medical theories that belie the best available evidence."

-Meanwhile, a piece in Slate asks if you're hurting your local public schools by sending your kid to private school. Interesting question, easy answer -- of course you are. Unless, of course, your kid is some sort of detriment to their school (e.g. they have major behavioral problems). About 10% of students in the United States attend private schools. Would public schools improve if they didn't? Of course they would.

-In other news, the federal government has just announced grants of between $2.5 and $9 million dollars (a total of $150 million over five years) to 27 states to develop longitudinal data systems. On the one hand, this is good news. But, on the other, I have to wonder how much cheaper it would be for the DOE to develop one data system instead of paying states to develop 27.

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