Archives for Chicago



Will Rahm Emanuel’s Merit-pay System Work Where Others Haven’t?

Last week, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that he’s rolling out a merit pay program specifically for school principals, using $5 million in donated funds. The plan is particularly bold considering its announcement comes on the heels of quite a bit of evidence, from research to scandals, showing the faults of merit pay.

In March, we wrote about Harvard economist Roland Fryer‘s study on New York City’s failed merit pay experiment, the Schoolwide Performance Bonus Program, which was shutdown last month. A subsequent RAND report echoes much of Fryer’s findings:

…the theory underlying school-based pay-for-performance programs may be flawed. Motivation alone might not be sufficient. Even if the bonus here had inspired teachers to improve, they might have lacked the capacity or resources — such as school leadership, expertise, instructional materials, or time — to bring about improvement.

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Levitt Is Apparently Now a “Visionary”

At least in his hometown, where Chicago magazine has named him one of the town’s top 40 pioneers from the past 40 years. Read More »



Chicago Economists on the Crisis

Earlier this week, Dubner linked to a terrific New Yorker piece by John Cassidy, which explores the state of the “Chicago School.” Following up, Cassidy has posted some very revealing interview transcripts. All the interviews are with truly great economists. The very best come across as trying to build insight that is both rigorous, and empirically relevant. Read More »



How Hidden Connections Nearly Sank Chicago

One morning in 1992, a Chicago radio reporter looked into the river and, stunned, told listeners he saw “swirling water that looks like a giant drain … I think someone should wake up the mayor!” Read More »



Beyond Belief

I have not seen the film Beyond Belief by Beth Murphy, but I have heard spectacular things about it. The film tells the story of two Sept. 11th widows who are working to help widows in Afghanistan. Here is the trailer. For those of you in Chicago, the local chapter of the United Nations Development […] Read More »



Chicago to New York: Drop Dead

Just as blog comments are often more interesting than blog posts, I have long thought that some of the best stories in newspapers and magazines are published in the letters-to-the-editor section. The Dec. 3, 2007, edition of BusinessWeek contains one of the most fascinating letters I’ve ever seen. (Click here and then scroll down to […] Read More »



Two Good Lectures This Week If You Live in Chicago

Michael Shermer, a noted skeptic who writes a monthly column for Scientific American, is visiting the University of Chicago campus tonight to talk about his new book, The Mind of the Market. I’m halfway through the book, which explores how evolution has shaped the way people interact with the modern economy. It is extremely interesting, […] Read More »



Sin in the Second City

Rarely do I get to the end of a book and wish that it had still more chapters. On the rare occasion when this does happen, the feeling usually passes quickly. When my longing for a book persists, I know I really liked the book. By this measure (as well as any other), I loved […] Read More »