Friends have passed along two great pieces. David Warsh suggests that the best place to start on education reform is with the very young:
Once [economist James] Heckman launched into the subject, he discovered that enriched early childhood intervention programs have their biggest effect not on test scores but on non-cognitive skills: motivation, self-control, and ability to work toward long-term goals. He demonstrated in one skein of work after another that social and emotional skills were essential to producing successful people – that intervention had to be early, very early, if it was to work at all. And if it all sounds obvious, it is.
Read the whole piece, it’s much better than this excerpt. And, from Kim Schoenholtz, an op ed by David Goldhill about what you’re paying for healthcare:
Even after decades of financial engineering, … the American health care system can be called successful mainly in its ability to hide its enormous cost. My new [young healthy] employee thinks she is paying $2,600 for health care in her first year on the job — her $500 deductible plus her $2,100 share of the company’s health insurance premiums. In fact, she’s paying more than $10,000 into the country’s health care system. As her employer, our company will pay $6,190 of her health care costs, money that might otherwise go to her in salary. She is also paying more than $1,500 in federal and state taxes to finance Medicare and Medicaid.
Update (Feb 21): Charles Murray with a different view of early-childhood education.
Update (Feb 25): Heckman at PBS, via Landsburg.