Teach for America's Youth Is Being Served

Teach for America (TFA) recently announced it is receiving $100 million from four philanthropists to start its first endowment. The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, one of the "Big Three" Education philanthropists, pledged the first $25 million, which encouraged matching donations from three others. "A few years ago we embraced the priority of making Teach For America an enduring American institution that can thrive as long as the problem we're working to address persists," said Wendy Kopp, the founder of TFA. "I think it's only appropriate in our country - which aspires to be a place of equal opportunity - that we have an institution which is about our future leaders making good on that promise."

Those Cheating Teachers! A New Freakonomics Marketplace Podcast

This year alone has seen teacher-cheating scandals in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Atlanta, and elsewhere; in this week's Times, Sharon Otterman reports how New York State is trying to curtail cheating and offers some specific instances of past cheating:

A charter school teacher warned her third graders that a standardized test question was “tricky,” and they all changed their answers. A high school coach in Brooklyn called a student into the hallway and slipped her a completed answer sheet in a newspaper. In the Bronx, a principal convened Finish Your Lab Days, where biology students ended up copying answers for work they never did.

This comes as little surprise to Steve Levitt, who several years ago recognized what most legislators and school administrators were unable (or unwilling?) to foresee: that the introduction of high-stakes testing would create incentives that might encourage some teachers (especially bad ones) to cheat on behalf of their students. So he developed an algorithm to catch cheaters, which was so successful that then-Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan brought Levitt in to help identify and fire cheating Chicago teachers.

Better Schools, or Better Teachers?

How much does school choice matter? Probably less than you think, as Levitt has previously argued. Now, in an analysis of seven years of test-score data from 6,000 Los Angeles teachers, the L.A. Times and the Rand Corp. have found teacher effectiveness to be three times more influential than school attendance on student performance.

Poor Economics in an Economics Department

Three weeks until classes start, including my 500-student section of micro principles. Unlike in past semesters, I won't be assigned any smart undergrads to lead review sessions. Budgets are limited, but all other "large" sections--some less than half the size of mine--have undergrad assistants assigned. "Why not?" I ask. I'm told it's because I do a good job and don't need the sessions.

Our Daily Bleg: Keep Your Hands Off My Ghana!

A reader named Karisa Cloward, a school teacher, needs your help. Her dilemma calls to mind earlier blegs about roommates/rent and dividing up a loved one's earthly goods.

Cheating Teachers Are a Global Problem

Australian teachers cheat too.

Fish Gotta Swim, Teachers Gotta Cheat?

Remember the story about the cheating schoolteachers in Chicago? The theory was that high-stakes testing, by putting more pressure on students to pass, creates a stronger incentive for teachers to not leave those students behind - and that a fraction of those teachers, generally the worse ones, went so far as to cheat on behalf of their students.

Looks like it may have been happening in Springfield, Mass., too.

Quantifying Teacher Effectiveness

Teach for American (TFA) is known for putting recent college graduates in low-income public schools for two-year teaching stints, a mission that has produced a lot of passionate debate. The organization's founders hope that these young teachers will eventually become education leaders and advocates - and many of them have.

Tweeting Teachers

The Chronicle of Higher Education raises an interesting question: should professors be tweeting with their students? Or is it a poor substitute for face-to-face interaction?

Securitizing Teens

What's the best way to pay teachers based on performance? One Planet Money listener suggests tying teacher pay to their students' future earnings, turning the students into "investments." The scheme is reminiscent of Monetizing Emma, a play that recently ran in New York, about a future when Wall Street traders invest in smart schoolkids in return for a substantial share of their future earnings.