## Thursday, December 26, 2013

### Is the lottery a smart bet?

It is said that the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math. What is intended by this is that the odds of winning the lottery as so miniscule that a rational cost-benefit analysis would recommend against participation. But is this always true? Since the jackpot “rolls over” and accumulates for successive drawings, is there some threshold at which the value of a lottery ticket exceeds the price?

Let’s consider the Megamillions lottery played Tuesday night. As has been well documented elsewhere, the probability of buying a winning number for a particular draw can be calculated thus:

Lottery Math

 Number of balls in main cage: 75 Number of balls drawn from main cage: 5 Number of balls in Megaball cage: 15

Number of possible combinations of the six balls:

Probability of drawing correct number:

It follows that if the net present value of the lottery jackpot exceeds \$N, then a \$1 lottery ticket becomes a good investment. Correct?

First, consider that the net present value of the lottery jackpot is not the advertised jackpot. The one-time payout for last week’s \$636M jackpot is only \$340M, whose value is then diminished by federal, state, and local income taxes at (roughly) 45%. So the winner’s after-tax take is only \$187M.

Yet not even this is the net present value. We must also consider the probability that, as happened last night, the jackpot is shared between multiple winners. What is that probability?

Number of Tickets sold: T

The probability that at least one winning lottery ticket (i.e., w ≥ 1) would be sold: p(T)

Each successive ticket t purchased adds to the total probability of a winning ticket p(t) the probability P multiplied by the probability that none of the earlier tickets were successful, which is 1 – p(t-1). Thus:

Last week’s drawing had 336M participants. Thus:

,

for P as calculated above.

We included in that that 73% probability the chance that multiple winning tickets were selected. But since multiple tickets means splitting the prize, then the expected value of the prize is the jackpot divided by the expected (e.g., the average over multiple trials) number of winners. Can this be calculated?

In general, the formula for the expected value of random variable W is

,

i.e., the sum, over all possible values of w, of the product of w and the probability of w. In this case, W is the random variable describing the number of winners, w is a specific number of winners, and p(w) is the probability of that w winners.

Given P as calculated above, let’s shift variables and designate p(T,w) as the probability of exactly w winners given T tickets sold.

The probability of one winner when one ticket is sold: p(1,1) = P

The probability of one winner when two tickets are sold:

The probability of one winner when three tickets are sold:

In our application, the number of tickets T is presumably fixed and known. We are also interested in knowing how the probability changes with w, the number of winners. Each ticket is an independent event, so:

The probability of two winners when two tickets are sold: p(2,2) = PP = P2

The probability of two winners when three tickets are sold:

“Wait a second!” the astute among you are saying about now, “that’s starting to look like the binomial theorem!” Indeed it does. In fact, we can generalize that for exactly k winners among T tickets sold, the probability is:

,

i.e., the product of the probabilities of all winners and losers and the number of ways we can combine them.

In our calculation of the expected value, it would be nice if we could apply the binomial theorem,

,

but we can’t, because we must weight the terms by as written, because we must weight the terms by w:

Unfortunately, I’m not good enough at math enough to figure out a closed-form solution to the summation above without knowing the answer in advance. And the usual way of evaluating , with factorials as show above, won’t work when T is hundreds of millions of tickets sold; no computer generates factorials that large. But the Wikipedia article suggests using iteration and logarithms to calculate for large T, which I have done in Matlab here:

%%
% Parameters
n = 75; % Number of balls in main bin
v = 5;  % Number of balls drawn from main bin
m = 15; % Number of balls in MegaBin
N = m*nchoosek(n,v); % Number of possible lottery combinations
P = 1/N; % Probability of receiving the winning number
%
% Calculate the binomial coefficients with logarithms
%
T = N;   % Arbitrarily set the number of number of tickets sold to 239E6; we vary this number over multiple runs
i = 1:T; % A vector containing all integers between 1 and T
logi = log(i); % Calculate the logarithm of all integers between 1
% and T
logu = 0;
logl = 0;
for k = i,
logu = logu + logi(T-k+1);
logl = logl + logi(k);
logBC(k) = logu – logl; % the natural log of the binomial coefficient, i.e. log[(T k)]
end;
% Calculate the expected value
logP = log(P);
logQ = log(1-P);
% natural log of the product of k wins and the probability of k wins
logwpw = logi + logBC + i*logP + (T-i)*logQ;
EW = sum(exp(logwpw)); % Calculate the antilog and sum
display(EW);

Fortunately, on a Xeon X5672 at 3.2GHz, this algorithm can be executed in a few minutes; note, however, that I optimized it for speed by minimizing the contents of the for loop.  The tradeoff is that I have several N-length floating-point vectors that managed to take up 18GB of memory.  Proceed at your own risk!

I ran the program for several values of T, and convinced myself that E[W] = T/N = PT. Now that I know the answer, I’d like a second crack at a closed form solution:

I will now resort to a bit of hand-waving:  given values of T in the hundreds of millions, the value for E[W] is not measurably diminished by conditioned on a given number of winners.  This is analogous to the probability of rolling double-sixes given that you already rolled one six.  (Answer:  1/6, not 1/36.)  So given that you won the jackpot, the number of additional expected winners is still PT.

Applying this to the problem at hand, it follows that the after-tax value of last night’s jackpot must be divided through by 1 (i.e., you) + 336/259 (the other winners), reducing the value of your jackpot share to \$81M.

Now, it is theoretically possible that, given a high enough jackpot, that \$81M could increase to the \$259M necessary to make the expected value of the lottery ticket greater than the dollar you’re paying for it.  But remember that the number of tickets T for any given drawing will probably go up with the increasing jackpot, diminishing its value to an individual player.  And even if it didn’t, it wouldn’t follow that buying multiple tickets would be a good idea.  I will leave working the math out to the reader, but you would be assured of buying duplicate tickets, and thereby playing against yourself, after a few tens of thousands of tickets purchased, and the model would need to be extended to account for this.

(NOTE:  The foregoing was for entertainment purposes only.  Those wishing to invest their life savings in lottery tickets should consult a qualified dissipation professional.)

## Wednesday, December 25, 2013

### Merry Christmas

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

## Tuesday, December 24, 2013

### Christmas Eve Poem

Forwarded via email:

FIRST CHRISTMAS CARD

Twas the month before Christmas

When all through our land,

Not a Christian was praying

Nor taking a stand.

Why the PC Police had taken away

The reason for Christmas - no one could say.

The children were told by their schools not to sing

About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.

It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say

December 25th is just a ' Holiday'.

Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit

Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!

CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-Pod

Something was changing, something quite odd!

In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.

As Targets were hanging their trees upside down

At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.

At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears

You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.

Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty

Are words that were used to intimidate me.

Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen

On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!

At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter

To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.

And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith

Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace

The reason for the season, stopped before it started.

So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'

Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.

Choose your words carefully, choose what you say

Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS,

not Happy Holiday!

Please, all Christians join together and

wish everyone you meet

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Christ is The Reason' for the Christ-mas Season!

## Monday, December 23, 2013

### The Morning After

From NBCNews.com:

### 'Huge win for victims of sexual assault': Congress sends defense bill to Obama

By Donna Cassata, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- The women of the Senate who led the fight to change how the military deals with sexual assault in its ranks are hailing passage of a comprehensive defense bill that now heads to President Barack Obama for his signature.

The legislation would strip military commanders of their ability to overturn jury convictions, require a civilian review if a commander declines to prosecute a case and require that any individual convicted of sexual assault face a dishonorable discharge or dismissal. The bill also would provide victims with legal counsel, eliminate the statute of limitations for courts-martial in rape and sexual assault cases, and criminalize retaliation against victims who report a sexual assault.

The bill also would change the military's Article 32 proceedings to limit intrusive questioning of victims, making it more similar to a grand jury, a change backed by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, especially Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and McCaskill, grilled the chiefs about whether the military's mostly male leadership understands differences between relatively minor sexual offenses and serious crimes that deserve swift and decisive justice.

"Not every single commander necessarily wants women in the force. Not every single commander believes what a sexual assault is. Not every single commander can distinguish between a slap on the ass and a rape because they merge all of these crimes together," Gillibrand said. [Emphasis added.]

Lots of good (i.e., bad) stuff here.  As near as I can tell, Congress is addressing the difference between “sexual assault” and rape by punishing them the same?  They continue to turn morning-after regrets into criminal rape?

Like everything else our government does these days, this legislation is evil and stupid.  But it isn't like I have a dog in this fight, after all. The counterpart to my advice on how to avoid rape -- don’t be a drunken slut -- is my advice on how to avoid false rape accusations -- don’t patronize the company of drunken sluts. It's really that simple.

Questions:

• For how many other offenses is a dishonorable discharge required by federal law?
• For how many other categories of victims is legal counsel provided?
• For how many other categories of victims are there limitations on cross-examination?
• Does the legislation prevent the overturning of all courts-martial convictions or only for sex assault?
• Does the legislation require civilian review of decisions to decline prosecution for all criminal allegations, or just sexual assault?

## Thursday, December 19, 2013

### Brooklyn Residents Hold Rally Calling For End To ‘Knockout Game’ Assaults

###### NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Brooklyn residents are taking a stand against the so-called “knockout game,” a violent trend in which youths sucker-punch unsuspecting strangers for kicks.

Community leaders and local residents held a rally in East New York on Friday in the hope of bringing an end to the assaults.

. . . .

Online videos from various cities show young suspects randomly punching innocent victims.

Community activist Tony Herbert from the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network said they are calling on social media companies and their advertisers to stop showing images of these attacks.

“The one thing we do denounce is the opportunity of folks to use social media like World Star Hip Hop and YouTube to proliferate this kind of stupidity,” Herbert said.

Mustn’t let the common people get off-Narrative.  Justice-for-Trayvon Forever!!!

## Monday, December 16, 2013

### The Governor Returns

Back in 2010, I abandoned the AMC series The Walking Dead as mired in its own political correctness.  It was the episode where the principal protagonists come into conflict with a Latino gang in Atlanta . . . and the gang turns out to be protecting a nursing home full of white, black, and Asian old people.  Because protecting strangers of other races is what Latino gangs do in times of crisis, right?

I mean, on one level, I can understand the writers’ desire to inoculate themselves from the charge the Zombie Apocalypse is a metaphor for race riots.  But this was just too much!

I started watching it again this year about the time that Merle, the N-word spewing tweaker from Episode 2, reappeared in the company of “The Governor”, the murderous honcho of a nearby survivor settlement.  As it happened, Merle turned out not to be a racist.  He was just an a\$\$hole, and racism was just another tool in his toolbox of a\$\$holery.  Ultimately, Merle redeems himself in time for the Governor to kill him, but you should watch the show for the details.

One of the things that struck me is how little manifestation there is in the show’s day-to-day events of what I will call the procreative instinct.  Writers for network-quality (i.e., bad) TV shows often get carried away with will-they-or-won’t-they storylines, and I can appreciate how AMC’s writers want to avoid becoming a soap opera.  But that said, the only time I’ve seen a character show something of a normal sex drive is a rescued convict who incompetently but harmlessly expresses an interest in, alternately, Beth and Carol . . . and then the Governor shoots him.  People die pretty regularly on the show.

Otherwise, Glenn and Maggie pair off, and the Governor’s insanity doesn’t appear to hold him back.  But Rick?  Daryl?  Tyreese?  It doesn’t seem to cross their minds.  Even young Carl is coming of age without showing any sign of teenage horniness, and this despite the presence of the young, beautiful, and unattached Beth.

## Thursday, December 12, 2013

### Diversity and Honor

From the Colorado Springs Gazzette, via Military.com, an article describing how law enforcement works, not according to the theoretical niceties of the Constitution, but in real life:

### Honor, Deception Amid Air Force's Cadet Spy System

Facing pressure to combat drug use and sexual assault at the Air Force Academy, the Air Force has created a secret system of cadet informants to hunt for misconduct among students.

Cadets who attend the publicly-funded academy near Colorado Springs must pledge never to lie. But the program pushes some to do just that: Informants are told to deceive classmates, professors and commanders while snapping photos, wearing recording devices and filing secret reports.

For one former academy student, becoming a covert government operative meant not only betraying the values he vowed to uphold, it meant being thrown out of the academy as punishment for doing the things the Air Force secretly told him to do.

Eric Thomas, 24, was a confidential informant for the Office of Special Investigations, or OSI — a law enforcement branch of the Air Force. OSI ordered Thomas to infiltrate academy cliques, wearing recorders, setting up drug buys, tailing suspected rapists and feeding information back to OSI. In pursuit of cases, he was regularly directed by agents to break academy rules.

The whole article is a compelling story (Aquilla remarked that it read like an episode of NCIS), but I should also note that USAFA released a response to the article that casts Thomas in a somewhat less favorable light than implied by the Gazzette. (Weird, though, that the response isn't on the USAFA/PA website; while I can vouch for its authenticity, this is apparently the only place on the web where the statement appears in its entirety.)

But what I want to comment on is this:

The records show OSI uses FBI-style tactics to create informants. Agents interrogate cadets for hours without offering access to a lawyer, threaten them with prosecution, then coerce them into helping OSI in exchange for promises of leniency they don’t always keep. OSI then uses informants to infiltrate insular cadet groups, sometimes encouraging them to break rules to do so. When finished with informants, OSI takes steps to hide their existence, directing cadets to delete emails and messages, misleading Air Force commanders and Congress, and withholding documents they are required to release under the Freedom of Information Act.

The program also appears to rely disproportionately on minority cadets like Thomas.

Whatever we might think of "FBI-style tactics", this last part isn't hard to figure out. The article doesn't come out and say so, but I'm betting that "insular cadet cliques" means ethnic minority gangs, against which White informants would be pretty useless. But the issue that goes unaddressed is: how are these students gaining admission to the Air Force Academy in the first place.

The likely answer is that USAFA's long-running pursuit of "!Diversity!" resulted in lower standards, and this is the predictable consequence. If challenged on this, I would predict USAFA would respond that running covert operations against the cadets (and faculty too, apparently) to "separate the wheat from the chaff" is an acceptable price to pay for increased diversity. Kind of like how abrogating the 4th Amendment is an acceptable price to pay for immigration from Muslim countries.

An alternative possibility, though perhaps less likely, is that even facially neutral standards that ignore class and family background are picking up more undesirables, and these are disproportionately minority.

## Monday, December 09, 2013

### Judge Refuses to Deport Obama’s Uncle

At a deportation hearing on Tuesday, an immigration judge granted the president’s illegal alien uncle, Onyango “Omar” Obama, status as a legal permanent resident in the United States.  Although Kenyan national Omar Obama had lied about his employment, defied multiple deportation orders, and was arrested for drunk driving, Judge Leonard Shapiro found that the president’s uncle had “good moral character,” a prerequisite to obtaining his green card.

This story brought to mind the case of John Demjanjuk, the Ukrainian-American autoworker whom the U.S. government accused of lying on his immigration request and twice stripped him of citizenship and deported, the first time to Israel, the second to Germany.

The Wikipedia article on Demjanjuk (worth reading in its entirety) documents at length his 35-year fight with the U.S. State Department, which in 1975, based on claims originating with Soviet newspapers, accused Demjanjuk of having been a camp guard at Sobibor.  I had not realized, until reading this article, that many of the Nazi concentration camps were staffed primarily with Soviet and East European POWs who had been offered a devil’s bargain:  serve as death camp guards, or be cast themselves into POW camps that for East-bloc soldiers were little better.  (Somehow, this aspect of the concentration camps was never mentioned in the popular accounts from which I drew what I thought I knew about the holocaust.)

But Demjanjuk was accused of being not just any camp guard, but “Ivan the Terrible”, whose enthusiastic torment of Jewish captives beggars the imagination.  The the trial that stripped Demjanjuk of his citizenship didn’t establish that he had committed any specific crimes, only that he had lied on his immigration request some thirty years earlier.  Demjanjuk was deported to Israel to stand trial as Ivan the Terrible.  (In this, he was lucky.  Feodor Fedorenko was deported for the same reason to the Soviet Union, where he was summarily shot.)

Demjanjuk’s 1988 conviction in Israel was ultimately overturned by the Israeli Supreme Court based on new testimony and evidence suggesting the SS ID card bearing Demjanjuk’s likeness was a Soviet forgery.  This passage from the Wikipedia article is worth quoting:

Demjanjuk was released to return to the United States. In 1993, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Demjanjuk was a victim of fraud on the court, as United States federal government trial lawyers with the Office of Special Investigations had recklessly failed to disclose evidence, and the extradition order previously granted was rescinded.[62] In a report submitted to the Sixth Circuit prior to the Israeli acquittal, federal judge Thomas A. Wiseman, Jr. concluded that American federal officials had erred in asserting that Demjanjuk was Ivan the Terrible, but that evidence instead pointed to Demjanjuk being a lesser SS agent.[54] After the Court of Appeals remanded the matter to Judge Wiseman, Judge Wiseman dismissed the denaturalization petition proceedings in 1998, effectively restoring Demjanjuk's citizenship.[63]

Demjanjuk’s troubles were far from over, however.

On 19 May 1999, the Justice Department filed a new civil complaint against Demjanjuk. No mention was made in the new complaint of the previous allegations that Demjanjuk was Ivan the Terrible. Instead, the complaint alleged that Demjanjuk served as a guard at the Sobibór and Majdanek camps in Poland under German occupation and at the Flossenburg camp in Germany.

Demjanjuk lost his citizenship a second time in 2002, but it wasn’t until 2008 that Germany agreed to accept his extradition for trial.  (Israel, God bless her, had enough integrity not to want anything more to do with him.)  This was an unprecedented development, marking the first time that anybody was tried for merely being a camp guard independent of any specific atrocities.  (The exact charge of 27,900 counts of accessory to murder.)

This paragraph is also worth quoting:

On 12 April 2011, a 1985 FBI report that had been marked secret for the previous 25 years was declassified and found by reporters of the Associated Press News Media in the National Archives. It brought to light a judgement that the Trawnicki ID card that had been provided by a Soviet source to the U.S. was "quite likely fabricated" evidence.[117]

Demjanjuk was convicted one month later anyway, given a suspended sentence, and died the next year while appealing his conviction.

## Creepy Joe Biden Now Asking Random Japanese Women If They’re Married

Please tell us there’s some video of these baffled Japanese women asking who this strange man is. It’s almost a wonder that he didn’t ask where their geisha outfits were.

During a tour of a Japanese Internet company Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden asked a group of women, “Do your husbands like you working full-time?”

According to the White House pool report, Biden asked the question of five women while sitting with them in the cafeteria at the company called DeNA. It’s located in Tokyo’s Shibuya section, which has been regarded as the Japan’s IT hub.

Biden asked if they were married, and three said they are, the report said. He also asked if they had kids.

“Can anyone work from home?” Biden asked. “Yes, under certain conditions,” one woman replied.

Biden made the visit in an attempt to promote the company’s embrace of women in the workforce. Japan has lagged behind in integrating more women because of problems with its aging population, the report noted.

I like Jammie. But nothing about his characterization of Biden's visit is fair or trenchant. First of all, the women were certainly briefed on who Joe Biden was. They probably volunteered to eat lunch with him in response to a DeNA mass email: "Who wants to have lunch with the American vice-president?" (When I was at ISAF, we got those emails all the time, although they usually specified citizens of particular states.) And on what basis are we to assume that the women were creeped out? (I will concede that the question might be perceived as . . . advancing in other contexts.)

That said, the issue of "integrating more women" is one that leaves be particularly demotivated. And even that aside, the article is pretty stoopid -- shouldn't it read, "in spite of problems with its aging population"? But I kind of like having a vice-president willing to go off script and actually try to learn something about other people. It's what I would do . . . until the bad press beat it out of me.

But I will concede this much: substitute "Joe Biden" in the story with "Sarah Palin" and I guarantee I wouldn't have found out about it fom Jammie! We'd all have heard about it from CNN or NYT.

## Monday, December 02, 2013

### Ed Comes Clean

Education Realist provides a 13 point plan list of issues that should be discussed regarding public education.

1. The public, not the parent, is the intended beneficiary of public education.

Historically speaking, this isn't quite as insane as it sounds. When the idea of centralized government-run schools was being put forward in the mid to late 19th Century, its advocates were quite candid about their state-uber-alles, all-your-child-are-belong-to-us intellectual premises, and in language that I personally find quite horrifying, especially given what the state has become. But they got their centralized government schools anyway, so it must have seemed like a good idea at the time, perhaps because its intended targets were either in no position to resist or weren't that involved with their offspring anyway.

But I would raise two points. First, public education hasn't been marketed like that for a very long time. And today, neither "the public" nor parents would stand for it. A more moderate position is that the public and parents and teachers and employers and colleges are all stakeholders in the public education enterprise, a view I will stipulate for the time being.

Second -- and I realize that much of this list, especially the parts I support, is a fantasy at present, but a government that ever brought it to fruition would be one that I would, rightly or wrongly, believe to be not quite as hostile to my interests and values as the government that gives us the present public education regime. Still: Ed would do well to consider the possibility that if this first point succeeded while the others did not, and public school students really did become the "mere creatures of the state" that the original government school advocates believed them to be, yet all the other values implied by the policies that both Ed and I despise remained in place? Well, Ed should ask herself whether or not the end result would not be an improvement over the present arrangements.

2. The state should be able to charge immigrants, both legal and illegal, for their K-12 education.

I couldn't have said it better myself. Indeed this is more ambitious than even I dare hope for in my wildest dreams.

3. The state should not be responsible for the education of English Language Learners, whether immigrants or not.

Again, exactly. And while public school bilingualism isn't dead, we have at least stalled its advance.

4. We should consider centralized schools, possibly federal, for educating the organically retarded or any students with physical disabilities requiring significant financial support. The familial retarded should remain as a local responsibility.

As I have written before, while special provision for handicapped students is worthwhile for reasons of humanity, the present policy of higher levels of government mandating that local school districts provide them with a specific level of service without providing funding to support that service is, well, an unfunded mandate that should be abolished. Ed's idea is a perfectly reasonable substitute.

5. Public schools should be able to organize their students by cognitive or demonstrated ability without consideration of race, class, religion, or gender.

So, tracking. Yes. However . . . .

As I have written before, I would probably qualify, by many people's reckoning, as a segregationist, in that I believe (as long as we're dreaming up policies that have zero chance of success) that no white student should be forced into minority status in her own country and that local authorities should be free to protect white students from black ones unencumbered by the Civil Rights Act, whether by black quotas in white schools, vouchers to private schools, or what have you. (Since this is enough for you to hate me already, it probably won't make much difference, but I will state for the record that I am not an absolute segregationist: I do not object to the presence of blacks that meet median white behavioral norms.)

6. High school diplomas should denote tiers of ability, to better reflect a diverse population with a broad range of cognitive abilities.

Transcripts and grades should mean something. If your transcript says "AP Calculus", then you shouldn't have spent the semester reviewing Algebra. And you shouldn't have received an "A" for "C"-level performance and knowledge.

7. Publicly funded college should be restricted as described in this essay, and restricted to the top two tiers of high school diplomas.

Well said. With the possible exception of Harvard, we do no favors to URMs by admitting them to colleges for which they are underqualified, even if they eventually take enough basket-weaving classes to graduate.

8. Adult education, as opposed to college, should be an offering for those who haven’t met the top two tiers.

Good plan. Most hip-hop / gang-banger career aspirations don't pan out well. When that lesson sinks in, there ought to be some provision for allowing the burnouts a second go at the education they blew off the first time around.

9. Immigration’s impact on public education and the job opportunities of the cognitive spectrum’s lower half should be a matter of national attention and debate.

Exactly.

10. Public K-12 education should not include charters, magnets, gifted student schools, or any other specialized resource school that can restrict access.

I'm not exactly sure why separate classes via tracking is A-OK, but separate schools via charters is so anathema. I will speculate (and I should hasten to disclaim that Ed always rejects my characterization of her positions even when I'm quoting her own words back to her) that her objection is that separate schools are more expensive. But I quite honestly don't see how that is possible given that charters receive smaller public per-student contributions to their operations than do regular schools, making up the difference with private funds.

11. Select schools should be reserved for incorrigible students who disrupt education for others—and these school should be educational, but not terribly fun. Hey. We could call them “reform” schools!

At a sufficiently high behavioral threshold, and freed from considerations of disparate impact, this policy could obviate (much of) the need for out-and-out racially segregated schools.

12. Private school tuition should be tax deductible, with a cap. Benefits of deduction should accrue primarily to middle income savers, not the rich. (I’m in favor of this approach for tuition and other investments in education.)

Thank you! In the absence of vouchers and credits, a deduction might be the best we can do. But you have to make a fair amount of money to pay enough taxes to benefit from itemized deductions to which you could add this. So . . . why no vouchers and credits?

13. The federal government’s role in education should be limited to data collection and investigation. I would like very much to learn what, exactly, we can teach people with IQs lower than 100, for starters.

Well said. I would add that since data collection necessarily involves testing, the federal government should have tiers of tests tailored to the school's mission. It doesn't make sense for, say, schools for retarded students, juvies, and the white middle class to all take the same test.

In summary, my sense of it is that Education Realist and I agree on more than we disagree. We both want much of the same thing: changes that recognize that the variation between schools and populations is mostly a function of differences in cognitive ability.