Monday, April 18, 2005

Berkeley Economist Mugged by Reality

On the same day Time magazine recognizes the virtues of beautiful and brainy Republican lawyers, we learn that there is a limit to Democrats' loyalty to special interest groups.

When their own children's futures are endangered: would be very surprising if competition for students did not have an effect on school quality, and if school quality did not have some effect on outcomes.

The public middle school my children go to--Stanley School, in Lafayette, California--is truly excellent (even if massively underfunded by any objective standard, as all California public schools these days are). It's principal, Fred Brill, is extremely highly regarded. Nevertheless, if there had been another equivalent school that we and other parents could have voted-with-our-feet to send our children to, there is no way in the world that Fred Brill would have dared put the teacher he did in charge of my son's sixth-grade core class. No way at all.

Further, we are sure Professor DeLong will be delighted to learn that Carolyn Hoxby has found that the major reason for the decline in public school teacher aptitude is the teacher unions

...the higher was the ratio of teacher earnings for one's aptitude group to mean teacher earnings, the more likely one was to teach. The ratio rose by 0.33 natural log points for the lowest aptitude group and fell by 0.45 natural log points for the highest aptitude group. Therefore, pay compression increased the share of the lowest aptitude female college graduates who became teachers by about 9 percentage points and decreased the share of the highest aptitude female college graduates who become teachers by about 12 percentage points.

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