Free “Freakonomics” for District 214 Students

Last week, I posted here about how a member of the school board in suburban Chicago’s District 214 wanted to have several books removed from the schools’ reading list. Among them was Freakonomics. The board member, Leslie Pinney, objected to the various books for various reasons, including pornography, vulgarity, and in the case of Freakonomics, the argument that legalized abortion led to a lower crime rate.

Last night, at an apparently raucous meeting, full of students and parents as well as board members, Ms. Pinney was the only board member voting to remove the books from the list.

So Freakonomics will not be tossed out after all. We’re pretty grateful for that. To be fair, there is some vulgarity in the book, and yes, I can see why parents want to have heavy input into what their kids are reading — but also to be fair, the vast majority of teenagers (and their parents) we’ve heard from have talked about how the frank discussion of various topical issues in Freakonomics have actually encouraged lots of good dialogue between kids and their parents, as well as kids and their teachers and kids and other kids.

Now that District 214 students are free to read Freakonomics, we thought it might be nice to send some copies their way. If you attend a District 214 school and want a free signed copy of Freakonomics, please send your name and address to FreakonomicsDistrict214@freakonomics.com. We’ll honor the first 50 requests.


Preston

It sounds like you're providing an economic incentive for school districts to threaten to ban your book...

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the threat did cause a sales bump around District 214...

Very savvy, Mister.

qualityg

SJD,

Great touch by you and Steven. I wonder what other books board member Leslie Pinney wanted to be removed.

Preston - No way is this a ploy for economic incentive by the "Freakmeisters."

If you want to know more about Stephen Dubner check out his other books and articles. I'll be savvy ...

http://qualityg.blogspot.com/2005/06/confessions-book-reading-by-dubner.html

qg

lukeq

You guys are cool.

Sony

I belong to the District 214 system and well whatever happens will affect me for another 2 years. I wrote to you, hoping that you know that we are doing this for your work to be heard. And now it is. I quoted my Journalism teacher within my speech and even pulled a line out of "Freakonomics." And wouldnt you know it? The room cheered for me and some even stood up. And also wouldnt you know it, my picture ended up in the Daily Herald. Words are everything to me. Without this book, I believe that I would not of had the same affect that I did. Thank you Mr. Dubner. You will be hearing from me again and hopefully other District 214 bodies.

SteveSailer

Perhaps for a little balance on the abortion-cut-crime theory they should also distribute Ted Joyce's new paper:

Further Tests of Abortion and Crime

Ted Joyce
Professor of Economics
Baruch College, City University of NY
& National Bureau of Economic Research
May 2006

The association between legalized abortion and crime remains a contentious finding with major implications for social policy. In this paper, I replicate analyses of Donohue and Levitt (2001, 2004, 2006) in which they regress age-specific arrests and homicides on cohort-specific abortion rates. I find that the coefficient on the abortion rate in a regression of age-specific homicide or arrest rates has either the wrong sign or is small in magnitude and statistically insignificant when adjusted for serial correlation. Efforts to instrument for measurement error are flawed and attempts to identify cohort from selection effects are mis-specified. Nor are their findings robust to alternative identification strategies. A convincing test of abortion and crime should be based on an exogenous change in abortion that had a demonstrable effect on fertility. Thus, I analyze changes in abortion rates before and after Roe to identify changes in unwanted fertility. I use within-state comparison groups to net out hard to measure period effects. I also follow Donohue and Levitt (2004) and average the effects of abortion on crime over 15 to 20 years of the life of a cohort to lessen the impact of the crack epidemic. I find little support for a credible association between legalized abortion and crime.

Read more...

Michael Nellis

Good evening, gentlemen.

Loved your book. Reading material that comes from outside the box is usual pleasant.

Qualityg wanted to know what other books had been challenged; the list is:

"Beloved" by Toni Morrison,
"Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut,
"The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien,
"The Awakening" by Kate Chopin,
"Freakonomics" by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner,
"The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World" by Michael Pollan,
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky,
"Fallen Angels" by Walter Dean Myers and
"How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents" by Julia Alvarez.

synapticmisfires

I was at that meeting. I'm a senior, but rest assured, I'm not here to ask for a book I already bought a copy, read it last summer, and took advantage of that free signed bookplate (speaking of which, thank you all very much)

Mrs. Pinney met a great deal of very passionate opposition. I think that the majority had grown a little complacent and this served as a wakeup call. Therefore, I don't expect any more board members to be elected on a platform similar to hers, and it seems that Illinois's 2nd largest district is now a safe place for Freakonomics.

synapticmisfires

Just to clarify. I meant a high school senior)

I didn't personally speak, because at some point it would have been redundant, but I daresay that friends of mine delivered some very eloquent speeches. As time went on, the proportions evened out a little more (there's a nice case study on demographics and the value of time), but initially the vast majority of speakers was against the restriction, and many were students.

knoepfle

Having graduated a few years ago from a District 214 high school (Prospect, specifically), I'm pleasantly surprised by the successful opposition--it's hard to overstate just how reactionary school officials can become when faced with the "concerns" of a small number of parents and administrators.

On a side note, I hope that the breadth and depth of the econ curriculum has improved since I graduated. In my senior year, only one or two schools in the district offered an advanced econ course, and only thanks to a very helpful teacher at Hersey was I able to take it. If Freakonomics inspires people to get interested in econ, they'll probably want to learn about more than intersecting supply and demand curves.

traveler

"These are the days when men of all social disciplines and all political faiths seek the comfortable and the accepted; when the man of controversy is looked upon as a disturbing influence; when originality is taken to be a mark of instability; and when, in minor modification of the scriptural parable, the bland lead the bland."
John Kenneth Galbraith
1908-2006
Affluent Society (1958), Chapter 1

The more things change, the more they stay the same...

Alane

OT, but the podcast of Steven Levitt's talk at Colorado College is now up on the CC website.

CC podcasts: http://www.coloradocollege.edu/podcast/

Direct link to Levitt m3u file: http://www.coloradocollege.edu/news_events/audio/StevenLevitt.m3u

I assume you might want to let your readers know. :-)

madhura

In my senior year, only one or two schools in the district offered an advanced econ course, and only thanks to a very helpful teacher at Hersey was I able to take it.
I use within-state comparison groups to net out hard to measure period effects. I also follow Donohue and Levitt (2004) and average the effects of abortion on crime over 15 to 20 years of the life of a cohort to lessen the impact of the crack epidemic. to see in brife vist http://www.sykinfo.com

Preston

It sounds like you're providing an economic incentive for school districts to threaten to ban your book...

In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the threat did cause a sales bump around District 214...

Very savvy, Mister.

qualityg

SJD,

Great touch by you and Steven. I wonder what other books board member Leslie Pinney wanted to be removed.

Preston - No way is this a ploy for economic incentive by the "Freakmeisters."

If you want to know more about Stephen Dubner check out his other books and articles. I'll be savvy ...

http://qualityg.blogspot.com/2005/06/confessions-book-reading-by-dubner.html

qg

lukeq

You guys are cool.

Sony

I belong to the District 214 system and well whatever happens will affect me for another 2 years. I wrote to you, hoping that you know that we are doing this for your work to be heard. And now it is. I quoted my Journalism teacher within my speech and even pulled a line out of "Freakonomics." And wouldnt you know it? The room cheered for me and some even stood up. And also wouldnt you know it, my picture ended up in the Daily Herald. Words are everything to me. Without this book, I believe that I would not of had the same affect that I did. Thank you Mr. Dubner. You will be hearing from me again and hopefully other District 214 bodies.

SteveSailer

Perhaps for a little balance on the abortion-cut-crime theory they should also distribute Ted Joyce's new paper:

Further Tests of Abortion and Crime

Ted Joyce
Professor of Economics
Baruch College, City University of NY
& National Bureau of Economic Research
May 2006

The association between legalized abortion and crime remains a contentious finding with major implications for social policy. In this paper, I replicate analyses of Donohue and Levitt (2001, 2004, 2006) in which they regress age-specific arrests and homicides on cohort-specific abortion rates. I find that the coefficient on the abortion rate in a regression of age-specific homicide or arrest rates has either the wrong sign or is small in magnitude and statistically insignificant when adjusted for serial correlation. Efforts to instrument for measurement error are flawed and attempts to identify cohort from selection effects are mis-specified. Nor are their findings robust to alternative identification strategies. A convincing test of abortion and crime should be based on an exogenous change in abortion that had a demonstrable effect on fertility. Thus, I analyze changes in abortion rates before and after Roe to identify changes in unwanted fertility. I use within-state comparison groups to net out hard to measure period effects. I also follow Donohue and Levitt (2004) and average the effects of abortion on crime over 15 to 20 years of the life of a cohort to lessen the impact of the crack epidemic. I find little support for a credible association between legalized abortion and crime.

Read more...

Michael Nellis

Good evening, gentlemen.

Loved your book. Reading material that comes from outside the box is usual pleasant.

Qualityg wanted to know what other books had been challenged; the list is:

"Beloved" by Toni Morrison,
"Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut,
"The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien,
"The Awakening" by Kate Chopin,
"Freakonomics" by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner,
"The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World" by Michael Pollan,
"The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky,
"Fallen Angels" by Walter Dean Myers and
"How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents" by Julia Alvarez.

synapticmisfires

I was at that meeting. I'm a senior, but rest assured, I'm not here to ask for a book I already bought a copy, read it last summer, and took advantage of that free signed bookplate (speaking of which, thank you all very much)

Mrs. Pinney met a great deal of very passionate opposition. I think that the majority had grown a little complacent and this served as a wakeup call. Therefore, I don't expect any more board members to be elected on a platform similar to hers, and it seems that Illinois's 2nd largest district is now a safe place for Freakonomics.

synapticmisfires

Just to clarify. I meant a high school senior)

I didn't personally speak, because at some point it would have been redundant, but I daresay that friends of mine delivered some very eloquent speeches. As time went on, the proportions evened out a little more (there's a nice case study on demographics and the value of time), but initially the vast majority of speakers was against the restriction, and many were students.