March 1st, 2012

atheist teacher

The effect of good teachers

Hahvahd & Columbia study on 'high value added' [ugh] teachers shows that "If an elementary school student has an excellent teacher even for a single year, it boosts their income by an average of about 2 percent per year. ... To put that in perspective, if we can find a way to raise gross domestic product (GDP) by 2 percent, you’re talking about nearly ending the Great Recession every year. By economic standards, it’s a huge deal."

Unfortunately, it's not easy to determine what makes a good teacher, except in retrospect.

“There’s been a lot of research on what exactly makes a good teacher,” Friedman says. “Frankly, it hasn’t been all that helpful. There’s one predictor of value-added, which is teacher experience. In the first couple of years, teachers’ value-added goes up quite a bit. Beside that, people who have more-advanced degrees, [have] higher SAT scores, graduated from a better college, are certified versus uncertified — none of these things are strong predictors of value-added.”

Historical adventures in racial classification and anti-miscegenation laws

I stumbled across a 1931 court case, Roldan v. Los Angeles County, in which a Filipino man successfully won the right to marry a white woman. The state anti-miscegenation law forebade unions "between white persons and 'negros', 'mulattos', or 'Mongolians'". So in good legal fashion, the court had to determine whether Filipinos are Mongolians or not. The court sided with the theory of anthropolgist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach rather than with the theory of anthropologist Ales Hrdlicka, and judged that Filipinos are not Mongolian, but Malay. And thus the nuptials were held, since the law didn't bar such a union.

Reacting to this grotesque loophole, the state legislature acted in 1933 to prevent marriage between whites and members of the Malay race.

Fifteen years later, Perez v Sharp struck down bans on interracial marriage in California -- the first state to do so since a flurry of states did in the post-Civil War era -- and it was another 19 years before Loving v Virginia hit the Supreme Court and struck down the remaining bans in the South.