Svenska Dagbladet ljuger om friskolorna

31 March, 2013 at 20:25 | Posted in Education & School | 6 Comments

På ledarsidan i Svenska Dagbladet skriver idag dess politiske chefredaktör att “det finns mycket” som pekar i riktning mot att fler friskolor leder till bättre resultat. Under åberopande av en studie genomförd av Anders Böhlmark och Mikael Lindahl påstås också att “[ä]ven elever i kommunala skola gör bättre ifrån sig tack vare konkurrensen.”

Det låter ju jättefint. Problemet är bara att det är ljug!

Låt mig förklara varför jag anser att Svenska Dagbladet ljuger om friskolorna och samtidig reda ut vad forskning och data verkligen säger om friskolornas effekter på skolors och elevers resultat.
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Trickle-down – the USA and Sweden show how it looks in reality

30 March, 2013 at 17:44 | Posted in Economics, Politics & Society | 4 Comments

In a post up today on his blog, Paul Krugman notices that there “doesn’t seem to be much trickle-down going on” in the USA.

Unfortunately we can see the same pattern developing in Sweden. Look at the figure below, which shows how the distribution of mean income and wealth (expressed in year 2009 prices) for the top 0.1% and the bottom 90% has changed in Sweden for the last 30 years:


Source: The World Top Incomes Database

A society where we allow the inequality of incomes and wealth to increase without bounds, sooner or later implodes. The cement that keeps us together erodes and in the end we are only left with people dipped in the ice cold water of egoism and greed. It’s high time to put an end to this the worst Juggernaut of  our times!

Friskolorna och segregationen

26 March, 2013 at 14:12 | Posted in Education & School | 13 Comments

Förre chefredaktören och friskoleivraren Hans Bergström hade häromdagen en synnerligen illa underbyggd artikel på newsmill där han påstod att svenska friskolor minskar segregationen.

Sten Svensson – tidigare chefredaktör på Lärarnas tidning svarar på detta grodors plums och ankors plask med ett välargumenterat inlägg i dagens newsmill:

segregeringUnder sin tid som chefredaktör för Dagens Nyheter bedrev Hans Bergström en exempellös svartmålning av den svenska skolan. Den var slapp, flummig kunskapsfientlig och usel på alla upptänkliga sätt …

Nu har vi precis den skola som Bergström har strävat efter och ändå är det inte bra. Elevresultaten faller och allt flera forskarrapporter visar att den svenska skolan är på väg åt helt fel håll …

Bergström försöker bevisa att den svenska skolan inte är segregerad och att segregationen inte har ökat på grund det fria valet och de fristående skolorna. Han talar mot bättre vetande.

I Skolverkets rapport om skolans likvärdighet, som kom förra året, kan man läsa:

”Spridningen mellan skolors genomsnittliga resultat har ökat markant. Mellanskolsvariationen, det mått som används för att beskriva hur mycket resultaten skiljer sig mellan olika skolor, har från en i ett internationellt perspektiv låg nivåer mer än fördubblats sedan slutet av 1990-talet. 2011 låg mellanskolsvariation på över 18 procent enligt betygen. De internationella PISA-undersökningarna visar på samma utveckling. Även spridningen i resultat mellan elever har ökat men inte i samma omfattning som ökningen mellan skolor.” (Likvärdig utbildning i svensk grundskola? Rapport 374. 2012.)

Enligt skolverket har de ökade skillnaderna flera orsaker. En del förklaras med att eleverna är segregerade efter socioekonomiska grunder och en annan del förklaras av att eleverna segregeras efter grunder som inte syns i statistiken.

”Skolorna verkar däremot bli mer och mer segregerade efter egenskaper som inte visar sig i den vanliga statistiken, till exempel att mer studiemotiverade elever (oavsett socioekonomisk bakgrund) i större utsträckning tenderar att utnyttja det fria skolvalet och söka sig till skolor där det finns många andra studiemotiverade elever. På så sätt blir eleverna mer sorterade efter resultat och dolda egenskaper än efter konventionella mått på socioekonomisk bakgrund.”

Skolverket bedömer att likvärdigheten i den svenska grundskolan har försämrats och att ”Valfrihets- och decentraliseringsreformerna i början av 1990-talet har med stor sannolikhet bidragit till denna utveckling även om andra faktorer också kan ha spelat en viss roll.”

Efter sin tid som chefredaktör för Dagens Nyheter har Hans Bergström varit verksam inom friskolebranschen som delägare i ett skolbolag. Han tillhör därmed den grupp som tjänar pengar på en segregerad skola. Skolbolagens vinster kommer till stor del från att de har låg lärartäthet. Om aktiebolagsskolorna, trots låg lärartäthet, har hyfsade elevresultat beror det på att de har ett positivt elevurval. Eleverna har i större grad välutbildade föräldrar som kan stötta sina barn på olika sätt. Som skolverket visar ovan får de också välmotiverade och försigkomna elever som inte har välutbildade föräldrar. Skulle bolagsskolarna ha samma elevunderlag som en ordinär förortskola vore det omöjligt att få goda elevresultat med låg lärartäthet. Skolbolagens vinster kräver således en positivt segregerad skola och vinsterna driver på skolsegregationen.

Hans Bergström kritiserade hårt den gamla sammanhållna och likvärdiga skolan och hans mål var att avskaffa den. Nu är det genomfört och den likvärdiga skolan är avskaffad. Det har varit bra för Hans Bergström och friskolebranschen som kunnat tjäna pengar på systemet men för skolan och eleverna har utvecklingen varit katastrofal.

När det gäller frågan om friskolornas effekt på den svenska skolans kvalitet pekar yours truly i en artikel på Skola och samhälle (längre version här) att det mesta av forskningen tyder på att det inte går att fastslå att friskolorna haft en positiv inverkan.

Så segregationen ökar och kvaliteten ökar inte - vad ska vi då ha friskolorna för? Att bolagsskolornas ägare och direktörer skor sig på våra skattepengar är räcker inte som argument.

Of what use are RCTs?

25 March, 2013 at 13:00 | Posted in Theory of Science & Methodology | 1 Comment

In this video science philosopher Nancy Cartwright explains why using Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) is not at all the “gold standard” that it has lately often been portrayed as. control-group1As yours truly has repeatedly argued on this blog (e.g. here and here), RCTs usually do not provide evidence that their results are exportable to other target systems. The almost religious belief with which its propagators portray it, cannot hide the fact that RCTs cannot be taken for granted to give generalizable results. That something works somewhere is no warranty for it to work for us or even that it works generally.

Why the notion of austerity is a massive failure

25 March, 2013 at 10:07 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment

 

(h/t Jan Milch)

Om vikten av att skilja på risk och osäkerhet

24 March, 2013 at 18:07 | Posted in Economics | 2 Comments

riple På en punkt är det särskilt angeläget att uppgradera den finansiella kunskapen, och det är i förståelsen av osäkerhet …

Läroboken säger i praktiken att vi kan sopa osäkerheten under mattan. När den påstår att vi kan “precisera en sannolikhets-fördelning” försöker den om-vandla osäkerheten till risk …

Det är dags att inse hur farlig denna syn är. Finansmarknaderna är osäkra. Osäkerheten är inte kvantifierbar. Att försöka släta över osäkerheten och prata om risk som ett statistiskt mått är ansvarslöst, för i den sekund man formulerar en risksiffra är det många som börjar tro på den.

Bäst uttrycker kanske ändå postkeynesianernas grand old man – Paul Davidson – vikten och betydelsen av att som John Maynard Keynes (för att nu inte nämna Frank Knight och Gunnar Myrdal) skilja på probabilistisk risk och genuin osäkerhet:

uncertaintyroadUnfortunately as we have all learned in the world of experience, little is known with certainty about future payoffs of investment decisions made today. If the return on economic decisions made today is never known with certainty, then how can financial managers make optimal decisions on where to put their firm’s money and householder’s where to put their saving today?

If theorists invent a world remote from reality and then lived in it consistently, then Keynes [1936, p.16] argued these economic thinkers were “like Euclidean geometers in a non-Euclidean world who discover that apparent parallel lines collide, rebuke these lines for not keeping straight. Yet, in truth there is no remedy except to throw over the axiom of parallels and to work out a non-Euclidean geometry. Something similar is required to-day in economics” …

As any statistician will tell you, in order to draw any statistical (probabilistic risk) inferences regarding the values of any population universe, one should draw and statistically analyze a sample from that universe. Drawing a sample from the future economic universe of financial markets, however, is impossible. Simply stated the ergodic axiom presumes that the future is already predetermined by an unchanging probability distribution and therefore a sample from the past is equivalent to drawing a sample from the future … Assuming ergodicity permits one to believe one can calculate an actuarial certainty about future events from past data.

Efficient market theorists must implicitly presume decision makers can reliably calculate the future. The economy, therefore, must be governed by an ergodic stochastic process, so that calculating a probability distribution from past statistical data samples is the same as calculating the risks from a sample drawn from the future. If financial markets are governed by the ergodic axiom, then we might ask why do mutual funds that advertise their wonderful past earnings record always note in the advertisement that past performance does not guarantee future results …

This ergodic axiom is an essential foundation for all the complex risk management computer models developed by the “quants” on Wall Street. It is also the foundation for econometricians who believe that their econometric models will correctly predict the future GDP, employment, inflation rate, etc. If, however, the economy is governed by a non-ergodic stochastic process, then econometric estimates generated from past market data are not reliable estimates that would be obtained if one could draw a sample from the future …

In sum, the ergodic axiom underlying the typical risk management and efficient market models represents, in a Keynes view, a model remote from an economic reality that is truly governed by non-ergodic conditions. Keynes, his Post Keynesian followers, and George Soros all reject the assumption that people can know the economic future since it is not predetermined. Instead they assert that people “know” they cannot know the future outcome of crucial economic decisions made today. The future is truly uncertain and not just probabilistic risky.

Paul Davidson

How to be more European

24 March, 2013 at 10:25 | Posted in Varia | 1 Comment

 
we-could-be-unemployed

Sunday morning and The Telegraph obits

24 March, 2013 at 09:34 | Posted in Varia | Leave a comment

One of yours truly’s Sunday morning rituals is reading the obituary column of The Telegraph. Today this obit caught my eyes:

Peter Scott, who has died aged 82, was a highly accomplished cat burglar, and as Britain’s most prolific plunderer of the great and good took particular pains to select his victims from the ranks of aristocrats, film stars and even royalty.

Peter Scott, 'King of thee Cat Burglers'According to a list of 100 names he supplied to The Daily Telegraph, he targeted figures such as Soraya Khashoggi, Shirley MacLaine, the Shah of Iran, Judy Garland and even Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother — although he added apologetically that, in her case, the authorities had covered up by issuing a “D-notice ”.

In 1994 Scott wrote to the newspaper to say that he would consider it “a massive disappointment if I were not to get a mention in [its] illustrious obituary column”. He explained that he derived much pleasure from reading accounts of the exploits of war heroes, adding: “I would like to think I would have fronted the Hun with the same enthusiasm as I did the fleshpots in Mayfair.” He added that he had been a Telegraph reader since 1957, when newspapers were first allowed in prisons, “on account of its broad coverage on crime”.

In the course of thieving jewellery and artworks from Mayfair mansions, Bond Street shops and stately homes, Scott also served Fleet Street as handy headline fodder, being variously hailed the “King of the Cat Burglars”, “Burglar to the Stars” or the “Human Fly”. He identified a Robin Hood streak in himself, too, asserting in his memoirs that he had been “sent by God to take back some of the wealth that the outrageously rich had taken from the rest of us”.

“I felt like a missionary seeing his flock for the first time,” he explained when he recalled casing Dropmore House, the country house of the press baron Viscount Kemsley, on a rainy night in 1956 and squinting through the window at the well-heeled guests sitting down to dinner. “I decided these people were my life’s work.”

Always a meticulous planner, Scott bought a new suit before each job, so that he would not look out of place in the premises he was burgling. Fear, the possibility of capture, excited him.

During one break-in “a titled lady appeared at the top of the stairs. ‘Everything’s all right, madam,’ I shouted up, and she went off to bed thinking I was the butler.” On other occasions, if disturbed by the occupier, he would shout reassuringly: “It’s only me!”

In all, by his own reckoning, Scott stole jewels, furs and artworks worth more than £30 million. He held none of his victims in great esteem (“upper-class prats chattering in monosyllables”). The roll-call of “marks” from whom he claimed to have stolen valuables included Zsa Zsa Gabor, Lauren Bacall, Elizabeth Taylor, Vivien Leigh, Sophia Loren, Maria Callas and the gambling club and zoo owner John Aspinall. “Robbing that bastard Aspinall was one of my favourites,” he recollected. “Sophia Loren got what she deserved too.”

Scott stole a £200,000 necklace from the Italian star when she was in Britain filming The Millionairess in 1960. Billed in the newspapers as Britain’s biggest jewellery theft, it yielded Scott £30,000 from a “fence”. After Miss Loren had pointed at him on television saying: “I come from a long line of gipsies. You will have no luck,” Scott lost every penny in the Palm Beach Casino at Cannes.

In the 1950s and 1960s he pinpointed his targets by perusing the society columns in the Daily Mail and Daily Express. Nor did he ease up with the approach of middle-age; in the 1980s he was still scaling walls and drainpipes. In one Bond Street caper alone he stole jewellery worth £1.5 million, and in 1985 he was jailed for four years. On his release he expanded his social horizons by becoming a celebrity “tennis bum”, a racquet for hire at a smart London club where — as he put it in his autobiography — he coached still more potential “rich prats”.

By the mid-1990s, Scott had served 12 years in prison in the course of half a dozen separate stretches, and claimed to have laid down his “cane” [jemmy] and retired from a life of crime.

But in 1998 he was jailed for another three and a half years for handling, following the theft of Picasso’s Tête de Femme from the Lefevre Gallery in Mayfair the year before. To the impassive detectives who arrested him, Scott quoted a line from WE Henley: “Under the bludgeonings of chance, my head is bloody but unbowed.” He often drew on literary allusions, quoting Confucius, Oscar Wilde and Proust.

Scott was also a past-master in self-justification of his crimes and misdemeanours: “The people I burgled got rich by greed and skulduggery. They indulged in the mechanics of ostentation — they deserved me and I deserved them. If I rob Ivana Trump, it is just a meeting of two different kinds of degeneracy on a dark rooftop.”

In his memoirs, Gentleman Thief (1995), Scott admitted to an even stronger motivation than fear as he contemplated another “job”: “Even now, after 30 years, it was a sexual thrill.” There was the additional satisfaction in his assumption that the millions reading about his exploits in the papers were silently cheering him on.

John Maynard Keynes on graphs and statistics

23 March, 2013 at 17:49 | Posted in Statistics & Econometrics | Leave a comment

In his review in 1938 of Historical Development of the Graphical Representation of Statistical Data, by H. Gray Funkhauser, for The Economic Journal, the great economist writes:

“Perhaps the most striking outcome of Mr. Funkhouser’s researches is the fact of the very slow progress which graphical methods made until quite recently … In the first fifty volumes of the Statistical Journal, 1837-87, only fourteen graphs are printed altogether. It is surprising to be told that Laplace never drew a graph of the normal law of error … Edgeworth made no use of statistical charts as distinct from mathematical diagrams.

Apart from Quetelet and Jevons, the most important influences were probably those of Galton and of Mulhall’s Dictionary, first published in 1884. Galton was indeed following his father and grandfather in this field, but his pioneer work was mainly restricted to meteorological maps, and he did not contribute to the development of the graphical representation of economic statistics.”

So far so good. But then comes the kicker:

“Mr. Funkhouser has made an extremely interesting and valuable contribution to the history of statistical method. I wish, however, that he could have added a warning, supported by horrid examples, of the evils of the graphical method unsupported by tables of figures. Both for accurate understanding, and particularly to facilitate the use of the same material by other people, it is essential that graphs should not be published by themselves, but only when supported by the tables which lead up to them. It would be an exceedingly good rule to forbid in any scientific periodical the publication of graphs unsupported by tables.”

I’m ok with that—if they also forbid the publication of all tables unsupported by graphs. Also if they allow graphs by themselves. Then I’m totally on board.

Andrew Gelman

Well, actually, I think Keynes was more right than wrong, considering how difficult it was back in the 1930s to get hold of other people’s data. Including tables made the data available to other researchers and thereby made it easier to evaluate the validity of the statistical analysis.

Cypern som eurosystemrisk

23 March, 2013 at 12:12 | Posted in Economics | 1 Comment

Men det handlar inte om den direkta ekonomiska smällen som en krasch på Cypern orsakar. Hela det cypriotiska banksystemet är hälften så stort som svenska SEB.

Faran ligger i något helt annat. Ett tänkbart scenario som uppenbarligen diskuterats i EU-kretsar de senaste dagarna är att Cypern faktiskt lämnar valutasamarbetet. Därmed skulle eurobunkerns igenmurade nödutgång, den som en enig politikerarmé deklarerat måste förbli stängd om så helvetet startar skridskoskola, plötsligt börja stå och slå på vid gavel. Befolkningarna i Spanien, Portugal och andra krisländer skulle ju kunna få för sig ett och annat.

Skulle de försöka fly euron skulle det få desto större konsekvenser för Europa …

Precis så är det med hela eurokrisen. Intressen ställs mot varandra. Sunda principer möter en kompromisslös verklighet. Det som verkar klokt i Berlin låter sinnesjukt i Madrid, London eller Nicosia. För varje lösning på ett problem uppstår två nya. Och därför får också till synes små avgöranden oproportioneligt stor betydelse.

Andreas Cervenka

Det börjar med andra ord bli läge för Carl Bastiat Hamilton att åter föreslå att Sverige ska gå med i eurosamarbetet …

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