Monday, July 1, 2019

Blue team candidates as history department

Humor at the intersection (pun very much intended) of politics and academia.

I have wisely resisted the temptation to map the descriptions into names of former colleagues in this post, but of course did so in my head.

Hat tip: ASAK

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The sadness of cancellation

Modern-day mourning from McSweeney's.

Paper: Expertise and Independence on Governming Boards


Expertise and Independence on Governing Boards:Evidence from School Districts
Ying Shi and John Singleton
IZA Discussion Paper No. 12414

Abstract: In this paper, we study the roles of expertise and independence on governing boards in the context of education. In particular, we examine the causal influence of professional educators elected to local school boards on education production. Educators may bring valuable human capital to school district leadership, thereby improving student learning. Alternatively, the independence of educators may be distorted by interest groups. The key empirical challenge is that school board composition is endogenously determined through the electoral process. To overcome this, we develop and implement a novel research design that exploits California’s randomized assignment of the order that candidates appear on election ballots. The insight of our empirical strategy is that ballot order effects generate quasi-random variation in the elected school board’s composition. This approach is made possible by a unique dataset that combines election information about California school board candidates with district-level data on education inputs and outcomes. The results reveal that educators on the school board causally increase teacher salaries and reduce district enrollment in charter schools relative to other board members. We do not find accompanying effects on student test scores. We interpret these findings as consistent with educators on school boards shifting bargaining in favor of teachers’ unions.

This sounds like a clever way to produce some good evidence on an old and important question. Plus it confirms my prior.

Book: Mao Zedong by Jonathan Spence

Spence, Jonathan. 1999. Mao Zedong. Penguin Lives.

I have read several of the Penguin Lives mini-biographies and enjoyed them all for what they are. This one left me much more informed about Mao's life prior to the communist takeover in 1949 but not as informed as I would have liked about Mao's intellectual development in the years leading up to his serious involvment in the communist party. The good news is that several much thicker biographies await in the bookcase.

Amazon book page
Barnes and Noble book page

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Fertility thought for the day


From the Byward Market in Toronto, a few years ago.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Milwaukee Art Museum


It is hard to see, but the artist on this lovely glass object is called "Toots", which is a truly excellent (and surely under-used) name for an artist.

We really enjoyed our fist visit to the museum yesterday. The collection is rich and varied, the staff have a low-key Wisconsin vibe, the building is astounding, and it is, as it turns out, a great place to watch a thunderstorm roll over Lake Michigan (as you can see a bit in the background of the photo).