On football, tailgating, and student athletes

NC State has a home football game Thursday night at 7:30pm.  I have class on Thursday that ends at 2:45.  The majority of students wanted me to cancel a class that ends nearly 5 hours before kick-off.  Why?  Apparently they think they need at least that much time to “tailgate” and get drunk before the game.  I don’t often editorialize to my students on what I think of their drunken debauchery, but this was a case for it and I let them know what I would think about anybody who felt they had to miss class to have an extra hour or two to get drunk.

For the first time in ages, I also have a football player in my class in a Fall semester.  The player showed me his excuse form for Thursday.  I don’t have that big a problem with the football player missing class, but I asked him how much time they were actually expected to show up before the game.  Apparently, they’ll be spending Wednesday night in a hotel for their Thursday home game and treating the day as a Saturday.  Ummm… give me a break!  Forget for a minute the total waste of money involved, what kills me is the absolute disdain for the idea of the players being student athletes.  Somehow, you can’t go to class on the same day you actually play a football game?  Something tells me volleyball players, tennis players, baseball, soccer, you name it, manage to be in a class that ends at 2:45 on the same day they have a home 7:30 competition.  Are football players just too fragile?

End rant.

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How not to make a political speech

This is truly something else.  Get this man some Xanax!!

Chart of the day (early education)

One of the most frustrating things about public policy is the things which are so obvious and have so much bang for the buck, but we simply fail to do.  Case in point, we should have way more investment in early childhood education.  Few public investments offer as a great a long-term payoff.  Here’s a nice chart (and a little commentary) via Ezra last week:

Nevertheless, I was glad to see the group publish a new report on the importance of investing in early childhood education. Every piece of evidence I’ve seen suggests that this is probably the biggest free lunch in American policy. Investing in very young kids produces huge gains, but because infants don’t vote, we wildly underinvest in it.

Consider the amount of energy we expend trying to improve K-12, which is extremely hard and expensive and will have uncertain results vs. guaranteeing everyone gets preschool, which is straightforward and would have huge benefits. The Chamber’s report, in fact, has a great graph on this. It’s a graph, actually, that should really inform a lot more of our policy choices than it does:

rateofreturneducation.png

Sadly, there’s just not much of a constituency for any given policy just because it’s smart, efficient, and clearly the right thing to do.  Why invest in early education when there’s prisoners to lock up, Muslims to be scared of, gays to keep from marrying, and tax cuts to be had?  This kind of investment is good for everybody.  All of society benefits when a kid is turned from being a potential drain as an adult (think prisoner or drug addict) to a productive, tax-paying member of society.  Alas, that would actually require your average American to think long-term, a hope which appears pretty much fantastical these days.

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