Gaming the System One Click at a Time

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Be in the boardroom in 10 minutes,” reads the E-mail from Senior Vice President Alan Young. The CEO is out on his boat, and a storm has knocked out all communication. Worse, there has been a massive fire in the call center in South America. “We could lose billions,” Young says. The board has given senior staff emergency powers. You’re a top manager who has been called in to help. What do you do?   No, it’s not a bad TV movie but rather the final scenario in a new computer-based simulation called Virtual Leader. Mixing educational content with a … Read More

Gardner Heist Anniversary: An update on investigative angles

A reader pinged me the other day asking for an update on the Gardner heist, and with the 24th anniversary of the theft coming up in a few days, here are a few developments. I’ve cribbed in places from earlier posts here and elsewhere.   The Bulger angle. Whitey Bulger was arrested in 2012. He does not appear to have made any mention of the art to prosecutors before or after his recent trial, and in the end, there are not any concrete clues of a Bulger angle to the Gardner heist. All of Bulger’s old associates—Stevie Flemmi, Kevin Weeks,  John … Read More

In the Quest to Improve Schools, Have Teachers Been Stripped of Their Autonomy?

Over the past few years, there has been an ever-growing chorus of pundits who argue that teachers have grown to deeply dislike their jobs. They argue that teachers are unhappy with their lack of control and freedom. These pundits believe that discouraged educators have been fleeing the profession in droves. Take, for instance, teacher and education blogger Vicki Davis who recently argued in TheWashington Post that many educators are leaving schools because of cookie-cutter approaches to teaching and learning. “Many U.S. teachers don’t even have the authority to upgrade their web browser or fix a printer,” Davis wrote. Or consider UCLA education management … Read More

Sorry Legacy of the Founding Fathers

In 1784, five years before he became president of the United States, George Washington, 52, was nearly toothless. So he hired a dentist to transplant nine teeth into his jaw–having extracted them from the mouths of his slaves. That’s a far different image from the cherry-tree-chopping George most people remember from their history books. But recently, many historians have begun to focus on the role slavery played in the lives of the founding generation. They have been spurred in part by DNA evidence made available in 1998, which almost certainly proved Thomas Jefferson had fathered at least one child with … Read More

Does School District Size Matter?

When it comes to education, not all spending is equal. Some education dollars are spent more productively than others. In other words, some school districts use their resources well and show higher levels of student achievement for the same amount of spending compared to other districts. At the same time, policymakers have begun to rethink the fundamental design of our education system. Our education-governance structures were built in a different era, and in many states, little attention has been given to improving the organization and design of states’ education systems. Indeed, over time many states have allowed some exceedingly odd systems … Read More