Monday’s winter storm forced school systems across the region to cancel school for yet another day, adding to what were already high snow day totals for many. With classroom instruction disrupted again, WAMU’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show decided to look into the question of “the snow day effect” and how it can impact classroom performance.
Public Policy Professor and Graduate Program Director Dave Marcotte was a guest on Monday’s show and discussed a multi-year study he conducted to look into winter weather’s impact on schools in several states. One of the key findings was that a week’s worth of snow days reduced the number of students who passed state math assessments by as much as two percent.
“Math is a skill that is most exclusively learned in school,” Marcotte said. “So kids who are staying home today are probably reading books, Harry Potter or something else, but probably none of them are doing math right now. So taking them out of the classroom is really where you can have an effect on that subject in particular.”
Marcotte also discussed how the relationship between snow days and classroom performance can be complicated because adding school days onto the end of the year to make up for lost time isn’t necessarily a solution.
“We don’t really know the extent to which that is going to help solve the problem. As teachers and parents likely know, time in June in the classroom is very different than time in February. So how to solve the problem is not obvious,” Marcotte added.
Marcotte was a guest on the program along with Superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools Joshua Starr. You can listen to the full discussion on The Kojo Nnamdi Show here.
Many school districts up and down the East Coast and in the Midwest have been forced to cancel several school days this winter, and some districts in the Northeast have already announced students will forgo part of their spring breaks to make up for lost time.
Public Policy Professor and Graduate Program Director Dave Marcotte was cited in two recent articles in The Atlanta Journal Constitution and Bloomberg Businessweek for a study he did on the impact of winter weather on schools.
“Dave Marcotte, in a 2010 online article for Education Next, found that each additional inch of snow reduced the percentage of third-, fifth-, and eighth-grade students on math assessments by from one-half to seven-tenths of a percentage point,” reads the Bloomberg Businessweek article.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution article cites Marcotte’s research while examining the impact on learning a significant loss of time due to snow days can have on students.
“To put that seemingly small impact in context, Marcotte reports that in winters with average levels of snowfall (about 17 inches) the share of students testing proficient is about 1 to 2 percentage points lower than in winters with little to no snow,” the article stated.
You can read about Marcotte’s research in The Atlanta Journal Constitution here and Bloomberg Businessweek here.
In an op-ed published February 17 in Fox News Latino, Justin Vélez-Hagan, Public Policy Ph.D. student and Executive Director of The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, argues recent policies put forth by Puerto Rico’s government are not the solution for long-term economic growth and development.
Vélez-Hagan writes Puerto Rico’s “Jobs Now Act” was intended to grow the economy by offering tax exemptions and credits along with incentives for hiring underemployed groups, but the cost to hire and train new employees far outweighs the benefits of the new policy.
“It’s especially surprising given the latest employment numbers,” writes Vélez-Hagan. “According to the Government Development Bank of Puerto Rico, employment trends have yet to improve. While unemployment actually fell by a full percentage point in 2012, it completely reversed this trend in the first year of this administration, climbing from 14.6 percent to 15.4 percent by December.”
In the column, Vélez-Hagan offers alternative solutions for improving Puerto Rico’s economy and creating jobs.
“Even if they are finally able to balance their budget, the governor is going to have to push beyond his political limits to focus on incentives for growing businesses in Puerto Rico, such as rolling back the higher tax rates, expanding the incentive for foreign investment, and explicitly targeting companies in high-growth industries for residency in Puerto Rico,” he adds.
You can read the full article titled “Puerto Rico Still Doesn’t Get What Makes an Economy Tick” on Fox News Latino’s website here.
A recent article in The Washington Times reviews states that have experienced glitches after rolling out health exchange websites as part of the Affordable Care Act. The article mentions the Maryland website which experienced software defects, causing state officials to offer retroactive coverage to users who couldn’t purchase plans in time for the start of the new year.
In the article, Public Policy Professor and Chair Donald Norris offered insight into how the health exchange website problems could affect the upcoming Democratic primary in the race for governor. He said Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown will likely win despite being the target of criticism for the website’s problems.
“If he does win and the website continues to have problems the GOP nominee, whoever that is, will certainly use [Obamacare issues] against him, though I can’t imagine that that alone would cause him to lose,” Norris said.
To read the full article in The Washington Times, click here.
Maryland State Delegate Heather Mizeur is considered a long shot to win the Democratic nomination for governor. But in a story that aired on WYPR Wednesday, February 12, Mizeur said she’s confident given her strong army of volunteers despite running against two candidates with more name recognition and money.
Public Policy Professor and Chair Donald Norris was interviewed for the story and commented on Mizeur’s prospects in the race. He said there is no chance she can win because her campaign doesn’t have the finances or statewide recognition to overcome Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Attorney General Douglas Gansler.
“It is impossible in that situation,” Norris said, “going up against two well known, well-funded candidates for her to win unless both candidates are in a head on collision with each other and they both die.”
You can listen to the full story on WYPR here.
Interested in getting a graduate degree at UMBC? Learn about the UMBC Master’s Degree in Public Policy (MPP) at an information session on Monday, March 10 at 7:00 p.m. in Room 438 of the Public Policy Building. Enjoy a light dinner and talk with faculty and current students about the field of public policy, career opportunities, and how to apply to our MPP and combined BA/MPP program. Those interested in the PhD degree are also welcome to attend.
This event is open to prospective students on and off campus. To register, e-mail your name, year and major to Sally Helms (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has said he is laying the groundwork for a possible presidential bid in 2016, but has yet to formally announce he is running.
Public Policy Professor and Chair Donald Norris was interviewed by WJZ-TV about what a potential White House campaign would mean for O’Malley.
“He’s got to raise a lot of money and he’s got to raise his name recognition considerably,” Norris said.
A recent poll showed Hillary Clinton as the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic nomination, but Norris said anything can happen for O’Malley with the presidential election more than two and a half years away.
“Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. They were in the same position at some point when they started running and nobody gave them any chance whatsoever,” Norris said. “All three became president.”
You can watch the full interview on WJZ-TV here.
Puerto Rico’s creditors are meeting in New York this week to discuss concerns over inevitable debt default. Puerto Rico has more than $70 billion in outstanding debt and its debt per capita is nearly $19,000.
Justin Vélez-Hagan, Public Policy Ph.D. student and executive director of The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, recently wrote an op-ed in Fox News Latino about the Puerto Rican debt crisis and provides suggestions for turning the economy around.
“The initial step should be a more effective marketing campaign centered on the tax, labor, environmental, and Latin American and American market access opportunities that are second to none in the Western Hemisphere,” Vélez-Hagan writes.
Vélez-Hagan also suggests Puerto Rico should start marketing to industries experiencing strong growth, noting long-term benefits from employment will outweigh investment over time.
“Outside of industrial jobs, attracting firms in the growing science, technology, and healthcare sectors will instigate job growth that is simultaneously synergistic with Puerto Rico’s already educated and trained workforce,” he adds.
You can read the full op-ed titled “Lenders Meet to Discuss Puerto Rico’s Fate. Is There Still Hope?” here.
Larry Hogan, the leader of watchdog group Change Maryland and former appointments secretary under Gov. Robert Ehrlich, kicked off his campaign in the Republican primary for governor on Wednesday.
Public Policy Professor and Chair Donald Norris was interviewed for an article in The Washington Post about Hogan’s announcement. He said whoever the winner of the Republican primary is faces an uphill battle unless a serious mistake is committed by the Democratic candidate.
“In a statewide race in Maryland, a good Democrat running a good campaign beats a good Republican running a good campaign every time,” Norris said.
You can read the full article in The Washington Post here.
There has been growing speculation in recent weeks that Rep. John Delaney (D-MD) has plans on entering the Maryland race for governor. Delaney is a first-time lawmaker and a former banking executive.
Donald Norris, public policy professor and chair, was interviewed for an article published January 22 in The Baltimore Sun about the possibility of Delaney entering the race. He commented that Delaney is likely attempting to boost his recognition for a statewide race some time in the future.
“Because it’s this late, it would suggest to me that he won’t do it,” Norris said. “Were he to do it — and throw his considerable wealth into it — I think that automatically makes him a formidable candidate.”
There are already three Democrats in the governor’s race: Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, Attorney General Douglas Gansler and Del. Heather Mizeur.
You can read the full article in The Baltimore Sun here.