Break Time Over in the Faculty Lounge

Last week, NC Senators Tom McInnis and Andrew Brock introduced a bill (SB 593) to raise faculty workloads in the UNC system to eight courses per year. That is a gigantic increase over the roughly five per year they now teach on average. (It has some readers hopping mad over at UNC-Chapel Hill’s Daily Tar Heel). I’ve written a couple of reports on UNC system faculty teaching loads in the past 4 years, and it’s good that the legislature is tackling the issue. My recommendations were somewhat different than McInnis’s bill; I would like to see teaching standards differentiated between the different departments, as the state benefits very little from lots of the research that is produced, primarily in the humanities and social sciences, and benefits quite a bit from research in the scientific and technical fields. And I didn’t call for them to be increased quite that much. But there are indeed great cost efficiencies (and taxpayer dollars) to be captured by some changes to the faculty workload standards. Furthermore, students will benefit greatly by having  a renewed focus on teaching instead of research.

Obviously, if professors are more productive, the schools will need fewer teachers to teach the same number of students. But that should not even enter into the picture: the university system is not a jobs program for academics, and whether a bill reduces or increases the number of jobs is irrelevant. The goal is to provide a quality education as efficiently as possible, using the appropriate number of professors.

At the very least, introduction of the bill begins an important dialogue, and I commend the legislators for beginning it. Of course, the bill still has to go through committee hearings and may not be exactly the same at the end of the process.

How NC Spends over a Billion dollars in Information Technology each year

Total IT expenditures in North Carolina for fiscal year 2013-14 were circa $1.5 billion. The majority of the expenditures are for personnel related costs spread across more than two-dozen agencies, approximately 39 percent of total IT related expenditures. While this accounts for the largest expenditure, less than 25% of the State’s IT professionals work for the Office of Technology Services. The next largest expenditures are applications services at 20 percent, telecommunications at 9 percent and server at 8 percent.

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Intriguing: homeschooling on the rise among black families

Martin Morse Wooster writes about that development here. Evidently, more black families are coming to the conclusion that public schools are poor learning environments, especially for boys.

If this trend continues, the education blob will find itself badly weakened.

College students are in the best of hands!

At EconLog, Brian Caplan posts some disturbing results from a survey of professors at American universities: 18% of the social scientists in general, and 25% of sociologists in particular, described themselves as “Marxists.” As Brian notes:

If 18% of biologists believed in creationism, that would be a big deal. Why? Because creationism is nonsense. Similarly, if 18% of social scientists believe in Marxism, that too is a big deal. Why? Because Marxism is nonsense. Furthermore, if 18% of a discipline fully embrace a body of nonsense, there is also probably a large bloc of nonsense sympathizers – people who won’t swallow the nonsense whole, but nevertheless see great value in it. Suppose, plausibly, that there is one fellow traveler for every true believer. That would bring the share of abject intellectual corruption to fully 35% – and 51% in sociology.

I knew the professoriate was disproportionately left-leaning, but this is ridiculous.

Young Offenders Rehabilitation Act targets 16- and 17-year-old misdemeanor offenders

A bipartisan group of N.C. legislators unveiled this afternoon House Bill 399, the Young Offenders Rehabilitation Act. It aims to transfer misdemeanor offenses by 16- and 17-year-olds from the adult court system to the juvenile system.

Reps. Marilyn Avila, R-Wake, Jean Farmer-Butterfield, D-Wilson, Jonathan Jordan, R-Ashe, and Duane Hall, D-Wake, are the bill’s primary sponsors. Joining them in the 24-minute news conference below are Durham Chief District Court Judge Marcia Morey and former New Bern police chief Frank Palombo.

Little improvement on NAEP vocabulary assessment

Today the U.S. Department of Education released results of the vocabulary component of the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading assessment.  State-level data were not available.

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Veterans’ programs and how much NC spends each year

In 2014, the General Assembly’s Program Evaluation Division published a report that inventoried and described state programs and services available to veterans and their families. This report is the only known published summary of state programs and efforts for veterans. In fiscal year 2013-14 there were 23 State sponsored or supported programs for veterans that spent a total of $157.3 million.

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You might be a ‘progressive’ media outfit if …

… you write a story about a business owner on a town council getting the council to support his industry, then using that success to try to get the state to underwrite the town’s decision to support his industry, and not have one word about the obvious and rather blatant ethical problems and cronyism if the industry is also “progressive.”

Today in The News & Observer there is this:

Apex pursues solar grants
Town council wants N.C. legislature to help pay for renewable energy

Building on a statewide swell in support of solar energy, the town of Apex is asking the General Assembly to create state-funded grants for local governments that want to install solar panels.

Council member Bill Jensen, who owns a small solar company but is mostly retired, introduced the idea in February. He has since been emailing mayors and other leaders around Wake County to drum up support and said recently he might soon start appealing directly to lobbyists and lawmakers. …

The rest of the article reads like a press release for green energy. State grants and tax credits make solar’s costs suddenly affordable … solar is green and healthy … there’s a conservative pro-solar group now doncha know … hey, Cary’s doing it … North Carolina has a lot of solar and there’s one study that says it drives the whole economy or something.

Not one single word, not even from a designated “bad guy,” voices concern about conflict of interest here. There’s not one peep about cronyism and about government serving the interests of business instead of citizens.

This is a love story, not a news story. All the dramatic focus is on whether those two crazy kids can set aside their differences and come together since Everyone Knows They Are Made For Each Other.

Pick any other industry — tobacco, hog farms, fracking, anything — in a similar situation that would get this Hallmark Channel treatment.