the texan tribune

On the Media, an NPR show about, big shocker, the media, re-ran an episode about data last week. One article was about The Texas Tribune, a non-profit and non-partisan media organization, which compiles data from Texas. The data is posted on their site both in raw form and with analysis from The Texas Tribune. Lots of interesting information there.

For example, the annual salaries for Texas government workers can be found there now. Posting government employees salaries, as I ponder it more, however, seems akin to the Sweedish custom of posting everyone’s tax returns online. The practical effects of this policy are reviewed by an admittedly biased writer for The Telegraph in this article.

As they say though, sunshine makes the best disinfectant, so let there be light. (Is that even true? I will run that down next…)

the real csi

How reliable is the forensic evidence collected and analyzed by crime scene investigators? Forensic science is an essential part of the criminal justice system and a staple of American TV culture. It’s easy to see the appeal. Clever investigators whose expert eye and powerful techniques for collecting and analyzing data compel powerful inferences about right and wrong. But PBS Frontline’s “The Real CSI” offers a very different picture. Continue reading

routines, continued

In a long-winded and slightly off-topic comment responding to Nicole’s review of Habit, I noted that interest in habits and routines runs deep in thinking about government and organizations. I also mentioned recent scholarship by Martha Feldman and others looking at routines not only as sources of stability in organizations, but also of endogenous change and adaptation. Continue reading

the hidden costs of reform?

The contemporary rhetoric of education reform says that a new emphasis on “results” – defined chiefly by student standardized test scores – will help school administrators improve performance by rewarding effective and rooting out ineffective teachers. In other words, teacher turnover improves performance by removing the deadweight. What happened to the value of experience? Mark Simon points to recent study, “How teacher turnover harms student achievement,” linking teacher turnover to reduced test scores in math and English among 4th and 5th graders in the New York City public schools particularly among low-performing and minority students. Simon writes: Continue reading

bureauphile celebrates the life of a great scholar

We are sorry to see the passing of the 2009 Nobel winner, Dr. Elinor Ostrom. Lin made critical contributions to the fields of economics, political science, and public administration. Her work and her perspective rejected the stove-piped nature of our disciplines, and we are all better for it. Today, take some time to reorient yourself with Dr. Ostrom’s seminal work.

Our sympathies to her colleagues, friends, and family.