Ben Bernanke (President Bush's pick to lead the Federal Reserve) wasn't the only economist receiving front-page, above-the-fold treatment in the Wall Street Journal this week. Monday's edition featured a long article about Harvard's school-choice scholar Caroline Hoxby and her "academic row" with Jesse Rothstein, scion of union activist Richard Rothstein (see here, here, and here). The focus of the debate? Streams. As in waterways. Dive into her 2000 American Economic Review paper, "Does Competition Among Public Schools Benefit Students and Taxpayers?," for an explanation of the role that streams play in her analysis, but the bottom line is that Hoxby found an ingenious way to show that metro areas with more school districts (and thus more competition) enjoy greater student achievement than metro areas with fewer school districts. Rothstein finds her techniques flawed, especially her stream-counting methods. Says fellow school-choice researcher John Witte "They're fighting over streams." Well, yes, and the third rail of American education.
"Novel Way to Assess School Competition Stirs Academic Row," by Jon E. Hilsenrath, Wall Street Journal, October 24, 2005 (subscription required)