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Charter Schools Lag, Study Finds

From an article of the same title by Jay Mathews in The Washington Post:

Fourth-graders in traditional public schools nationwide did somewhat better on average than those in charter schools in reading and mathematics in 2003, a long-awaited federal report said yesterday... The center looked at 6,764 traditional public schools and 150 charter schools, which are public schools that operate independently. It said traditional schools scored 4.2 points higher in reading and 4.7 points higher in math on the 500-point National Assessment of Educational Progress test for fourth-graders, after adjusting for such student characteristics as family income... The study emphasized that the results could have been distorted by several factors it could not adjust for, such as the lack of a random sample, different levels of parental support and different levels of learning before the students reached fourth grade.

The report is online here and in the summary says:

[The] analysis showed that in reading and mathematics, average performance differences between traditional public schools and charter schools affiliated with a public school district were not statistically significant, while charter schools not affiliated with a public school district scored significantly lower on average than traditional public schools.

There's also an article in the NY TImes here.

From NPR This Week

A couple of recent interesting NPR audio segments: Preaching to the Pocketbook (via Mike Cope's blog):

All Things Considered, August 7, 2006 · Commentator Robert Franklin, a professor at the School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, is disturbed by the sermons he hears from "prosperity preachers." Listen

Iraq Still Manages to Shock (via Andrew Sullivan's blog):

Morning Edition, August 7, 2006 · Sectarian strife continues to worsen in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. John Hendren is wrapping up the latest of more than a dozen visits to the war zone since early 2003. He sends us this reporter's notebook about Iraq. Listen

Police Escorts

Every wondered how to get a police escort? Me neither, but Daniel Engber's explainer on the subject is an interesting read or listen.

Smart Places to Live

Using the criteria of good value in home prices, a reasonable cost of living, and a great quality of life, Kiplinger's Personal finance and Bert Sperling, co-author of Cities Ranked & Rated and host of, compiled a list of the best places to live:

Among other things, we looked for places where you could buy an attractive house for $300,000 to $400,000 or less. Access to quality health care was also a must, as was a strong economy. Next, we traveled to the cities that bubbled to the top of the list, to speak with residents and savor the flavor of their neighborhoods. Based on our experiences, we ranked our top-ten picks... #1 Nashville, Tenn. Our top pick offers affordable homes, a mild climate and a phenomenal entertainment scene that goes far beyond country. #2 Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. The Twin Cities offer a hip and progressive atmosphere with a midwestern sensibility, multiple cultural outlets, pro teams in all four major sports, a dozen universities and colleges, and a diverse economy. #3 Albuquerque, N.M. This laid-back city offers resort-town ambience, a boomtown economy and cow-town prices. #4 Atlanta, Ga. The capital of Georgia is a vibrant city with a rich history, good health care, a great cultural scene and genteel neighborhoods shaded by magnificent dogwood and magnolia trees. #5 Austin, Tex. Home to the University of Texas, the state capitol, the Zachary Scott Theatre and the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, Austin is a sophisticated salsa of culture, history and politics. #6 Kansas City This city split along state lines offers something for everyone: from stately houses to downtown lofts and world-class museums to barbecue. #7 Asheville, N.C. A virtually franchise-free downtown, world-class cuisine, amazing crafts, live music venues and fine arts make this city tucked into the Blue Ridge mountain range one of a kind. #8 Ithaca, N.Y. True, it's in the Finger Lakes boonies of central New York, but Ithaca is an Ivy League outpost with great food, beautiful scenery and Naderite politics. #9 Pittsburgh, Pa. Currently undergoing a renaissance, this hidden gem has distinctive neighborhoods, tree-lined streets, glittering skyscrapers, upscale shops and a diversified economy. #10 Iowa City, Iowa An oasis on the prairie, this wholesome middle-American city is bursting with creative and intellectual energy.

Theme Park RFID/DVD

From a BBC News article:

Visitors to Alton Towers could soon be tagged and tracked by cameras in a new system to video their entire day that could also tighten security. The Staffordshire theme park will offer entrants wrist bands containing tiny Radio Frequency Identification chips. Guests would be watched as they use the park and will be filmed on rides, which the creators say would also cut crime. At the end of the day they would then be given the option to buy the footage in a personalised DVD.


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