Monthly Archives: April 2016

Argumentum Verbosium Pt. II: On “All Things Being Equal”

Today we welcome our first guest post here on the blog—an analytical commentary by Minnesota native and longtime education policy wonk Dan Wick, who left the late lamented Twin Cities nonprofit Charter School Partners a couple of years ago to pursue graduate studies at Princeton.

Wick drafted his post in response to one I penned in the wake of a couple of local judicial decisions in twin school integration proceedings that some have perceived to be, in essence, Trojan horses containing frontal attacks on parental rights to school choice. In my piece, I suggested that Myron Orfield, the controversial University of Minnesota professor who has churned out stacks of anti-choice, anti-charter research, is in the habit of tossing out scholar-speak that intimidates critics while not actually proving his points.

Well, turns out Wick can perform a regression analysis, too, as well as see through one. What follows is Wick’s compulsively readable critique—complete with footnotes—of the 2013 study in which Orfield claims to show that charter schools are failing impoverished Twin Cities students.


Argumentum Verbosium Pt. II: On “All Things Being Equal”

Statistical jargon is an awful combination of boring and inaccessible. Myron Orfield’s Institute for Metropolitan Opportunity “Failed Promises” analysis uses this jargon to try to prove that charter schools are a bad option for Twin Cities families. In simple terms, I will attempt to explain why this is intuitively and statistically incorrect.

What on earth is regression analysis and how can I use it to state my policy conclusions with infallible certainty? Continue reading

Meet One of the New Orleans Teens Crusading to End School “No Promo Homo” Laws

Niante Ricks was a few slides into “Bullying and discrimination towards LGBT youth in schools,” the PowerPoint she created for her high school’s senior seminar, when she paused and, almost imperceptibly, drew a deep breath.

The slide projected behind her anchored the “why” section of her presentation. There were supposed to be multiple personal stories illustrating the need for laws empowering schools to protect gay and lesbian teens.

But the three other seniors at Sci Academy who worked on the project with Ricks had other commitments that day. So she inhaled and explained that when she came out to her family in sixth grade, her mother disapproved. So much so that Ricks has been homeless off and on since then.

With marriage equality the law of the land, popular wisdom is that gay rights are now protected. But the changes in society have had a paradoxical impact on LGBT youth. Kids are coming out at much younger ages than in past generations, making them more vulnerable to harassment. And more are declaring their gender different from the one they were assigned at birth.

School, then, can be a daily ordeal where a child is brutalized or driven to suicide. Or it can be safe haven, particularly for someone like Ricks who is in need of adult acceptance and support.

You can read the rest of Niante’s amazing, impactful story at

Photo: From left to right, Sci Academy seniors Stephany Gonzalez and Niante Ricks, courtesy Collegiate Academies.