links for 2011-09-13

  • Brill argues that American schools have been crippled by the power of the teachers’ unions. If only they could be neutralized, then principals could fire those who are incompetent or fail to raise test scores. Freed of the shackles imposed by the unions, the schools would dramatically improve their performance. He never explains why schools in non-union states fare poorly or have only middling records on federal tests, or why heavily unionized states—Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Jersey—are at the top. Charter schools are typically non-union, yet their performance on average is no better than that of regular public schools. Brill never has to confront that fact because he doesn’t acknowledge the wide variation in quality among our nation’s more than five thousand charter schools, or the studies showing that many charters have disproportionately small enrollments of children with special needs and children whose English is limited.
  • These past few years, the Republican line on job creation has been simple: Cut government spending, tame the deficit, and unemployment will fall. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not the day after, but soon.

    In a new paper for the International Monetary Fund, Laurence Ball, Daniel Leigh and Prakash Lounani look at 173 episodes of fiscal austerity over the past 30 years—with the average deficit cut amounting to 1 percent of GDP. Their verdict? Austerity “lowers incomes in the short term, with wage-earners taking more of a hit than others; it also raises unemployment, particularly long-term unemployment.”

    More specifically, an austerity program that curbs the deficit by 1 percent of GDP reduces real incomes by about 0.6 percent and raises unemployment by almost 0.5 percentage points. What’s more, the IMF notes, the losses are twice as big when the central bank can’t cut rates. Typically, income and employment don’t fully recover even five years after the austerity program is put in place.