UW Today

This is an archived article.

December 1, 2010

Blog profile: An economist looks at education reform

News and Information

UW economist Dick Startz writes about education in his blog.

UW economist Dick Startz writes about education in his blog.

Members of the UW community are increasingly expressing themselves in personal blogs about their interests, professional matters or some combination of the two. UW Today will occasionally feature brief profiles of these blogs and their authors. This installment looks at ProfitOfEducation.org, a blog written by Dick Startz, professor of economics. Startzs book, Profit of Education, was published in October 2010 by ABC-CLIO Inc.

Q: How long have you been writing this blog, and how did it get its start?

My first post on ProfitOfEducation.org was on Halloween. Thanksgiving approaches, and so far, so good. The blog started as an extension of my recently released book, similarly titled Profit of Education. The blog and the book are intended to offer up the scientific evidence on K-12 education reform, particularly the economics of education, to a wide audience.

Q: Who is your intended audience?

I think of the audience as readers of The New York Times. Im especially interested in educators and the education reform community.

Q: Have you had any interesting interactions with readers, through comments or e-mails?

My most interesting exchange was with Joel Klein, just before he stepped down as chancellor of the New York City school system. Joel thought I was missing an important issue about teacher pensions. Just to be doubly annoying, my labor economist wife (Shelly Lundberg) had already tried to explain the same point to me. The exchange produced a nice follow-up post expanding on the subtleties. Im going to miss having Joel running the nations largest school system. Fortunately, Ill be able to keep Shelly.

Q: What are your best — or worst — experiences in writing a blog?

The best experience has definitely been the nice notes Ive gotten from several of the worlds best academic researchers.

So far the worst experience is making one post where I just plain read the source backwards. My editor caught the error right after the post, but I kept missing the point. Eventually, I clued in. I decided the right thing to do was leave the original post with an extra note explaining that Id gotten it wrong.

This points to one of the decisions I made in designing both the blog and the book. Im going to keep this academically honest. Scientific evidence is often not one-sided, and sometimes the frontier of evidence changes positions over time. My writing is intended to be simple, but not simple-minded.

Q: Do you have any plans for where you’ll take the blog in the future?

My current plan is to write one post each work day. Thats a lot of writing. I hope the blog will become a quick stop for people around the world to keep up with the best evidence on K-12 education reform.

Suggest a profile: Do you know of a blog written by a member of the UW community that would be of interest to UW Todays faculty and staff  readers? Drop us a line at uweek@u.washington.edu.

Recent blog profiles:

  • J. Patrick Dobel, professor of public affairs in the Evans School and adjunct professor of political science, talks about sports in his blog, the Point of the Game. Read our story here.
  • Derek Belt, communications and media specialist for the UW Alumni Association, talks about the UWAA blog he maintaings, Blog Down to Washington. Read our story here.