Liam Julian

John Hood, president of the John Locke Foundation, writes in National Review a solid, sweeping article about higher education. It's currently available only to subscribers (they, and hackers, may read it here). Some good parts:

No one disputes that a four-year degree is a ticket to lucrative professions requiring advanced academic training, such as medicine, law, or academia itself. But most undergraduates are not training for these professions, and, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, more and more college graduates go into jobs that do not require diplomas. George Leef, vice president for research of the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, notes that a quarter of travel agents and retail-sales supervisors, a third of flight attendants, and nearly half of aerobics instructors have bachelor's degrees. That's fine - if they wanted to study Goethe or geology for personal edification, and were willing to spend four years and a lot of money doing so. But it's pointless if the idea was to boost their careers.

Using 2000 data on test scores and coursework, education researchers Jay Greene of the University of Arkansas and Greg Forster of the Friedman Foundation estimated that the number of high-school students prepared to study college-level material was about 40,000 lower than the number of students enrolling in college. The predictable result of this trend is that only a minority of American colleges and universities are truly selective anymore, with gut courses and grade inflation rampant on many campuses.

In a normal market, prices

Liam Julian

Boys are being left behind, the Economist tells us.

Or at least compassionate conservatism, of which NCLB is a cornerstone. So implieth Michael Gerson in this morning's Washington Post.

Gadfly Studios

Mike and Liam discuss Mike's controversial Gadfly article on the burdensome health care costs associated with teacher obesity.


The pressure high school students face to get into top colleges has intensified to the point that it's susceptible to some hilarious satirizing.

Did you know the Flypaper bloggers do other stuff during the day, in addition to blogging? We do. Ed policy research, charter sponsorship in Ohio, the weekly Education Gadfly newsletter, and more. You can see it all at the Fordham Institute website,, which has just received a handsome makeover.


SUBJECT: Asteroids!

Dear Roy,

Hey, how's it going? I see you were in Colorado yesterday; I guess Ed in 08's lawyers gave up trying to keep the initiative out of politics, eh?

But that's not why I'm writing. Look, I'm a little upset that you haven't taken my advice from a few weeks ago to heart. I see that your team is still using the "economics" argument to promote education reform. That's all wrong. Like I told you, those pocketbook issues are too fickle. The economy goes down but it also goes up.

What's not going away is the threat of an asteroid hitting the Earth and ending life as we know it. But here's the good news: just as I predicted, some good ole American students hold the key to saving the world. Check this out: American Fork students on asteroid watch. Get a load of this:

The 34 students on science teacher Curtis Craig's "Caveman team" of the Killer Astroid Project arrive to upload their star-measuring software and asteroid database long before school starts. Then begins the long, arduous process of observing telescopic images for asteroid activity. Taking three images shot 20 minutes apart, they sequence them in motion. A small change in the image may signal asteroid movement. Recording the coordinates of that movement on a grid,

Liam Julian

It's on. And with ESPN360, you don't have to miss a moment. A moment like this.

Update: Or this!

Liam Julian

We've documented how Wake County (Raleigh) is making a real mess of its public schools. (See here , here , here , and there's more where that came from, too.) Just a few weeks ago we noted that the district's school board--by taking to court parents who don't want their children to attend year-round schools--was acting in a way that will only alienate and offend its customers.

Now, we learn, the board has been forced to reverse its decision :

The board took this action in response to a state Supreme Court action last week that blocked a Court of Appeals ruling that eliminated the need for parental consent to send children to year-round and modified-calendar schools.

Liam Julian

Books like this are fine, but it's incorrect (title of book in question notwithstanding) to see them as diagnosing a "national problem." The temptation exists, of course, to find in their stories reflections of a country in which high school students don't eat lunch (no time!), in which parents will not remove themselves from their children's sides, in which kids are coddled and pampered and showered with gold stars for the straight-A's they receive. But what really ail U.S. youth are not the products of too much parental involvement, but the products of not enough parental involvement--more specifically, not enough solid guidance from adults (teachers, coaches, mentors, etc.).

The reviewer??makes another smart point:

...even as parents obsessively strap bike helmets on their kids' heads and squirt antiseptic gels on their hands, the adults themselves cavalierly break up families with divorce and tolerate the rampant sexualization of prepubescent girls. In short, we're focusing on the wrong risks.

True. What most worries me, though: Did they really wrap up that kid in yellow caution tape?