Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, September 13, 2010

Professors comment in media

La Follette School faculty are commenting in the media about federal stimulus dollars, teacher evaluation, property taxes and urban long-range planning.

Doug Harris

Formula to Grade Teachers' Skill Gains Acceptance, and Critics, August 31, 2010, New York Times

Not by "Value-Added" Alone, August 25, 2010, Voices in Education

Grading teachers on value-added measures falls short, August 25, 2010, UCLA Today

Putting Teachers to the Test, August 20, 2010, Wall Street Journal

A right way and a wrong way to link teachers and student test scores?, August 17, 2010, Christian Science Monitor

Andrew Reschovsky

Stimulus gives Wisconsin a shot of federal money, September 2, 2010, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MPS would have gotten more with unused formula, August 20, 2010, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

State property values fall 3.1%, August 13, 2010, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Mark Copelovitch

U.S. Pressures I.M.F. to Expand Role of Growing Economies, September 9, 2010, New York Times

Professor's book explores IMF decision-making, crisis management, July 27, 2010, La Follette School News

Menzie Chinn

The world is enough for US Treasuries (maybe), August 17, 2010, Financial Times

Deficit is far from infinitely sustainable, August 29, 2010, Everett (Washington) Herald

Secondary Sources: Deflation, Authoritarian Growth, Manufacturing, August 10, 2010, Wall Street Journal

CBO on Health Reform, August 7, 2010, New York Times

Dennis Dresang

10-year plan: Big plans can present big risks, August 24, 2010, Racine Journal Times

A New York Times article about a statistical method to rank teachers includes a comment from education policy expert Douglas N. Harris, who joined the La Follette School this fall. The method uses student test scores to evaluate teachers by calculating the value teachers add to student achievement through score changes from year to year and comparisons among students in the same grade. Harris observed that many factors can lead to inaccuracies when individual teachers are evaluated. Different analysts can arrive at different results, depending on which student characteristics each considers. For example, one might factor in whether students were eligible for free lunch, and the other might not. Harris reports the Christian Science Monitor, Wall Street Journal and Education Week also picked up the story.

The federal stimulus bill has done well by Wisconsin, economist Andrew Reschovsky tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Wisconsin garnered a 50 percent increase in its receipt of federal funds. "'In a period of slow economic growth, the impact is quite substantial,' said Andrew Reschovsky, an economist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has written about the stimulus law and its effect on state and local governments. 'We would be in worse economic shape with higher unemployment rates if we hadn't had this infusion.'" Wisconsin traditionally has ranked near the bottom among states for the share of federal funds it receives per person, but in 2009 it ranked 21st, a new U.S. Census Bureau report notes.

Reschovsky was one of a group of experts who conducted a seminar on the latest trends and issues relating to the property tax at the International Association of Assessing Officers conference in Orlando, Florida, on August 30. He discussed work in examining whether property taxes force older adults out of their homes. The analysis is available as a La Follette School working paper co-authored with Rebecca Boldt and Bradley Caruth of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

Reschovsky also commented in the Journal Sentinel about the decline in Wisconsin property assessments, noting it suggests that the state did better than other parts of the country. He predicted that most communities will increase their property tax rates to make up the loss in value of the properties being taxed. In other stories, he commented on school funding in the Journal Sentinel and tax-free bonds in the Superior (Wisconsin) Telegram.

Mark Copelovitch comments in the New York Times about U.S. efforts to increase the influence of non-European economies on the International Monetary Fund. He is the author of the newly published book The International Monetary Fund in the Global Economy: Banks, Bonds, and Bailouts.

Menzie Chinn's recent working paper on financing U.S. debt caught the attention of a Financial Times blog entry and an economist in Washington state who writes a column for the Herald in Everett. The columnist agreed with Chinn and co-author John Kitchen of the U.S. Treasury Department's assessment that other countries are likely going to tire of financing the U.S. debt. Their La Follette School working paper examines the potential role for foreign official holdings of U.S. Treasury securities and the associated implications for Treasury security interest rates, international portfolio allocations, net international income flows and the U.S. net international debt position, using a baseline outlook of current and projected U.S. budget deficits and growing debt.

In other media, the Wall Street Journal cited Chinn's blog entry that says part of the population is experiencing deflation. Paul Krugman in the New York Times noted Chinn's comments on the Congressional Budget Office's analysis of health reform. The Times, the Economist and the Wall Street Journal continue to quote Chinn's blog, Econbrowser.

Dennis Dresang commented in the Racine (Wisconsin) Journal Times about the pros and cons of elected officials drafting 10-year plans for their cities.

"While it might sound good, a 10-year plan doesn't acknowledge the political reality of elected office. … Ten years is a long time for a plan to unfold, Dresang said. An elected official may have as few as four years in office or fewer. While they're in office, a lot is out of their control. It's not uncommon for a candidate to talk, not so much about a plan but a vision, Dresang said.

"'It is highly unusual for an individual and particularly an elected official to write THE plan. Typically the process is important,'" Dresang said. 'Ideally elected officials should be leading a serious dialogue with the community about what kind of community do we want to have and is it realistic.'"

"It's a good idea for an elected official to have a plan - for budgeting purposes and to tell people the direction they're headed - but it presents some risks, Dresang said.

"'They are giving us a yard stick to measure them by,' Dresang said. 'That yard stick doesn't say whether they really have enough control over all of the variables so indeed they can accomplish (their plan).'"

Racine's mayor hopes his 10-year plan will help the city become a Top-10 spot in Kiplinger's Personal Finance Magazine. "'It sounds good. It has a nice ring to it, but I would want to answer the question, whose top 10? It sounds more jazzy than candidates who are running against government,' Dresang said. 'Is it realistic to meet those criteria and are those criteria that mean the most to you.'"