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The mystique of merit pay

By on March 1, 2021

first_imgThe questions of whether to tie teachers’ pay to classroom performance, and whether that might lead to improved student achievement, have long been subjects of intense debate.The issue is again at the forefront of the national dialogue in the wake of President Barack Obama’s “Race to the Top” education initiative, a $4 billion competitive grant program that rewards states that develop academic reforms to boost school improvement, and encourages states to embrace merit-pay plans.In a two-day seminar at Harvard last week (June 3-4), scholars, politicians, and educators gathered at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) to discuss the value and feasibility of performance pay. The Harvard Program on Education Policy and Governance at HKS organized the conference, which was called “Performance Pay: Will it Work? Is it Politically Viable?”While there is evidence suggesting that some merit-pay initiatives can improve student performance, the experts agreed that support for such programs is mixed, and that much research needs to be done to evaluate their overall effectiveness.Obama’s position on performance pay has grown increasingly supportive, said Andrew Smarick of the American Enterprise Institute and Thomas B. Fordham Institute, who explored the political dimensions to the merit-pay debate. Smarick said that Arne Duncan, Obama’s secretary of education, supported performance-pay programs while he was chief executive of the Chicago Public Schools, and also backed its inclusion in “Race to the Top” applications.But the Obama administration favors merit-pay programs, said Smarick, as part of a “range of personnel and policy decisions” to help school performance.“They like performance pay, but it’s going to be part of a wide network of different activities that improve the teaching profession,” said Smarick, adding, “It’s clear that they are trying to build this new policy framework of trying to make sure that evaluations and student test data, and this whole suite of reforms, are integrated together.”Yet getting teacher unions to support merit-pay plans broadly will be difficult, said Smarick, who noted that only Delaware (one of the two states to receive grants in the first round of “Race to the Top” applications) had full union support.“This deference to unions is just something you can’t get around, in my view,” he said.Responding to Smarick’s comments, Roberto J. Rodríguez, who serves on the White House Domestic Policy Council as special assistant to the president for education, agreed that performance pay plays an important part in the administration’s broader educational reform agenda.“We really are seeking to … challenge the status quo in our schools … and have really sought to bring folks together around performance-based compensation reform, as well as around a whole host of our education reform platforms, and really look at how we can drive change for kids.”The seminar included a series of papers that addressed a variety of merit-pay topics, including programs operating in American school districts and in other countries.In addition, research by Sarena Goodman and Lesley Turner of Columbia University examined a New York City bonus-pay program. According to Goodman, the initiative had little impact on teacher effort or student achievement largely because of its group-based structure that led to “free-riding” behavior by some participants who did not embrace the program.“What we argue with this paper is that the structure of this bonus program, in particular … school-level bonuses, led to ‘free riding,’ which significantly reduced incentives for teachers to change their behavior,” said Goodman.Responding to the paper’s findings, Elena Llaudet, a graduate student and research associate at Harvard’s Department of Government, called for more analysis of such programs to determine their true value.“We need more pilot programs … implemented and evaluated,” she said, “so that we can tease out which structures of merit-pay programs work and which don’t.”last_img read more

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B’way Grosses: The Book of Mormon Stands Strong in Summer Months

By on January 18, 2021

first_imgThe Book of Mormon has no intention of turning it off on the Great White Way any time soon. The perennial box office favorite secured the top spot in terms of capacity—a position usually reserved for Fun Home in recent months. In their final week on the Main Stem, Penn and Teller, along with Broadway’s latest whopper Hamilton and usual suspects The Lion King, Wicked and Aladdin led the pack as the top five grossing shows. On the other end of the spectrum, last year’s Best Musical winner, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, only brought in $517,799, making it the fifth lowest grossing show of the week. Another Tony-winning tuner showing signs of decline is Hedwig and the Angry Inch, but it is possible that numbers will rise as the latest star to don the wig, Taye Diggs, settles into the role and that a low running cost will keep the show afloat.Here’s a look at who was on top—and who was not—for the week ending August 16:FRONTRUNNERS (By Gross)1. The Lion King ($2,165,067)2. Wicked ($1,913,037)3. Aladdin ($1,778,618)4. Hamilton ($1,459,314)5. The Book of Mormon ($1,448,473)UNDERDOGS (By Gross)5. A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder ($517,799)4. On the Town ($435,180)3. Hedwig and the Angry Inch ($400,061)*2. Amazing Grace ($298,798)1. Hand to God (273,184) FRONTRUNNERS (By Capacity)1. The Book of Mormon (101.89%)2. Hamilton (101.31%)3. Fun Home (101.25%)4. Mamma Mia! (100.43%)5. Aladdin (100.04%)UNDERDOGS (By Capacity)5. Penn and Teller (71.90%)4. Jersey Boys (66.41%)3. Hand to God (63.49%)2. Amazing Grace (56.13%)1. On the Town (54.21%)* Number based on seven regular performancesSource: The Broadway League from $69.00 The Book of Mormon View Comments Related Showslast_img read more

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Egypt teams up with Vestas for 250MW wind farm in the Gulf of Suez

By on December 31, 2020

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享ReNews.biz:The government of Egypt has signed an agreement with Vestas and other European partners to develop a 250MW wind project located in the Gulf of Suez.The project’s investment cost will total €228m, to be financed through an umbrella agreement between the Arab Republic of Egypt, the French Development Agency, the EU, the European Investment Bank and the German Construction Bank.Mohamed Shaker, minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, witnessed the signing of the contract for the project, between the New and Renewable Energy Development and Use Authority and the Vestas Alliance, in the presence of Svend Olling, Ambassador of Denmark to Egypt, plus representatives from the European partners and investors.The wind farm will be built on land allocated to the New and Renewable Energy Development and Use Authority on the western coast of the Gulf of Suez in the Red Sea Governorate, which benefits from high wind speeds.The wind farm will be built within 35 months and will create around 4000 temporary job opportunities during the construction phase and around a hundred permanent job opportunities throughout the lifetime of the wind farm.More: Government of Egypt, Vestas sign 250MW wind deal Egypt teams up with Vestas for 250MW wind farm in the Gulf of Suezlast_img read more

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CUNA MAP webinar to highlight Campaign for Common-Sense Reg

By on December 18, 2020

first_img 8SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr continue reading » Credit unions that are part of CUNA’s Member Activation Program (MAP), and those who want to learn more about MAP, are invited to a free webinar Aug. 22 for an update on CUNA’s Campaign for Common-Sense Regulation, as well as other MAP resources. Registration is currently open, and the webinar is scheduled for 3 to 4:30 (ET) Aug. 22.MAP helps credit unions educate their employees or members about credit union issues and activates them to call on lawmakers through the use of customizable email templates and other tools.The program has a notable history of success. Most recently, MAP CDFI credit unions used it to successfully push their Members of Congress to fund Community Development Financial Institution through fiscal year 2017.During the webinar, CUNA staff will provide an update on the campaign, and where action in Congress currently stands. It will also review MAP and the MAP toolkit, and credit unions will be invited to share success stories.last_img read more

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Dutch pension funds fear ‘long uncertainty’ in wake of Brexit

By on September 29, 2020

first_imgThe Dutch Pensions Federation has said it expects a “long period of uncertainty” in the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, pending negotiations on new treaties between the two.Bram van Els, its spokesman, also lamented that the Netherlands would “lose an ally on pension matters in the EU”.He cited shared interests as a consequence of the fact most British pensions are also capital-funded, and that both countries often worked closely together in European pensions talks.In the Federation’s opinion, however, it is too early to say whether the British will also leave lobbying organisation PensionsEurope, according to Van Els. “This would depend much on the treaties that are to be concluded,” he said. “Norway – as a non-EU member, for example – is compliant with EU pensions legislation.”Harmen Geers, spokesman for the €417bn asset manager APG, sought to put the effects of a Brexit into perspective by pointing at pension funds’ long-term horizons.“Quite recently, there was significant market volatility because of developments in China,” he said. “This seems, however, to have largely disappeared.”Geers noted that, last week, markets were up by more than the initial drop in the FTSE 100 this morning, and that the value of UK government bonds had risen following falling yields.APG has a €3.9bn stake in UK government paper, he said.Geers also observed that pension funds that had hedged the downward risk of the UK pound would achieve a positive result.He declined, however, to provide details of APG’s hedging policy.In an official statement, APG – also speaking on behalf of the €359bn civil service scheme ABP – added that the outcome of the referendum had “increased uncertainty and instability at a moment that the European economy was recovering”.It predicted this would have a “negative affect for pension funds over the long term”.Both Mercer and Aon Hewitt said Brexit would have a significant impact on Dutch pensions.Average funding of Dutch schemes is likely to fall by 3 percentage points to 94% as a direct result of the referendum, they predicted.In early afternoon Friday (24 June), Aon Hewitt noted a 0.15-percentage-point drop in the 30-year swap rate relative to its level of 1.07% on Thursday.Dennis van Ek, actuary at Mercer, predicted pension funds with insufficient funding or interest hedges would have to cut pension rights, or would be unable to grant indexation next year.He added that this would affect “millions of participants”.Frank Driessen, chief commercial officer at Retirement & Financial Management, said the combined liabilities of Dutch pension funds had risen by more than €30bn as a result of falling interest rates.He noted, however, that, despite equity losses in Europe and the US of 5% and 3%, respectively, the net loss for pension funds would be limited to no more than “a couple of billions”.“Losses in the US have largely been cancelled out by a stronger dollar, while falling interest rates had a positive effect on the value of government bonds,” he said.Meanwhile, Geert Wilders, of the anti-Europe Freedom Party (PVV), has called for a Dutch referendum on EU membership.Such a referendum is already expected to become a main issue in the Netherlands during political campaigning for the national elections in March.last_img read more

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Chart of the Week: Institutions pump money into ETFs

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first_imgOther influences on the growth of ETFs included investors’ ongoing search for “low-cost beta”, Greenwich said, as well as a wave of ETF launches focused on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) themes.Greenwich’s research revealed that Spanish asset owners had the highest allocation on average to ETFs at 26% of overall assets, based on a sample size of six. Italian investors allocated an average 20% to ETFs, while Swiss investors dedicated 18%.Average allocation to ETFs by country (%)Chart MakerOf the investors polled by Greenwich, 36 said they had used ETFs as a direct replacement for other investment vehicles. Nearly three quarters (72%) of these said they had replaced active mutual funds, while ETFs were also a popular replacement for index mutual funds (39%) and directly held bonds (33%) and equities (31%).“Due in large part to [the] trends of portfolio repositioning and growing demand for index strategies, ETF allocations surged in both equity and fixed income last year,” Greenwich said.A third of investors – 26 firms – currently using ETFs planned to increase their allocations, with 11 planning to up their holdings by more than 10%. One in five fixed income ETF users said they would increase their allocations in 2019.BlackRock’s iShares ETF unit was the most popular among European investors, with 94% of the 89 respondents using the firm’s products. DWS’ X-trackers arm was second favourite with 56%, while Lyxor came in third.Most used ETF providersChart Maker Further reading IPE’s 2018 ETFs GuideCan investors rely on established and emerging big players to keep costs down and to continue innovation? IPE looks in depth at the issues and opportunities shaping the fast-growing ETF sector, from regulation and implementation to smart beta products, ESG indices, and even cryptocurrencies.center_img European institutional investors increased their allocations to exchange-traded funds (ETFs) dramatically in 2018, according to research by Greenwich Associates.The US-based data provider said in a report published this week that institutional allocations to ETFs grew by 50% in 2018 compared with a year earlier.Inflows into the vehicles totalled $315.8bn (€277.6bn), the second-highest figure recorded by Greenwich’s annual survey after the $467.1bn recorded in 2017.“As institutions repositioned their portfolios to address heightened volatility and risk, they made wide use of ETFs to implement specific modifications,” the company said. “Institutions are utilising ETFs as both tactical tools and as a strategic, longer-term staple in the portfolio.”last_img read more

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How Single Motherhood Hurts Kids

By on September 27, 2020

first_imgNew York Times 8 February 2014The last few weeks have brought an unusual convergence of voices from both the center and the left about a topic that is typically part of conservative rhetorical territory: poverty and single-parent families. Just as some conservatives have started talking seriously about rising inequality and stagnant incomes, some liberals have finally begun to admit that our stubbornly high rates of poverty and social and economic immobility are closely entwined with the rise of single motherhood.But that’s where agreement ends. Consistent with its belief in self-sufficiency, the right wants to see more married-couple families. For the left, widespread single motherhood is a fact of modern life that has to be met with vigorously expanded government support. Liberals point out, correctly, that poverty rates for single-parent households are lower in most other advanced economies, where the welfare state is more generous.That argument ignores a troubling truth: Single-parent families are not the same in the United States as elsewhere. Simply put, unmarried parents here are more likely to enter into parenthood in ways guaranteed to create turmoil in their children’s lives. The typical American single mother is younger than her counterpart in other developed nations. She is also more likely to live in a community where single motherhood is the norm rather than an alternative life choice.The sociologist Kathryn Edin has shown that unlike their more educated peers, these younger, low-income women tend to stop using contraception several weeks or months after starting a sexual relationship. The pregnancy — not lasting affection and mutual decision-making — that often follows is the impetus for announcing that they are a couple. Unsurprisingly, by the time the thrill of sleepless nights and colicky days has worn off, two relative strangers who have drifted into becoming parents together notice they’re just not that into each other. Hence, the high breakup rates among low-income couples: Only a third of unmarried parents are still together by the time their children reach age 5.http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/02/08/how-single-motherhood-hurts-kids/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&hp&rref=opinion&_r=1last_img read more

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Coogan eyes more Navan joy

By on September 21, 2020

first_imgTrainer James Coogan believes there is more to come from Theyturnedmedown when the in-form sprinter aims for a course-and-distance double at Navan. Coogan, who hails from Friarstown, in Co Kildare, said: “He’s in very good form and is well drawn in stall one, which helps at Navan. “He’s gone up a few pounds but Leigh (Roche) gets on really well with him – he’s won three times on the horse – and takes off another 3lb. “Everything has gone well with him since the last day and we hope there’s a bit more to come. “He won his first race this time last year off a mark of 49 and is now 82, so he’s clearly still progressing – like all good sprinters do.” Theyturnedmedown faces nine rivals in the 20,000 euro heat, including Regal Power, who returned from a long absence to take a decent prize at the Curragh on Sunday. Six Of Hearts chased home Coogan’s inmate on his penultimate start and renews rivalry. Coogan said: “Six Of Hearts would be the one I’m most concerned about. He finished strongly behind us last time and is the big danger.” The five-year-old gelding was a tidy half-length scorer at the Co Meath venue in May and returns for another go in the Follow Navan On Facebook Handicap over just shy of six furlongs. Theyturnedmedown is 6lb higher for this assignment, but connections of the son of Captain Rio remain optimistic of a solid display. center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

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Iranian clubs threaten to withdraw if competition resumes

By on September 20, 2020

first_imgTehran: Disciplinary Committee of the Football Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran (FFIRI) has urged the teams not to withdraw from the Iran Professional League (IPL) if the competition resumes. In a letter sent to the FFIRI on Monday, seven teams — including Tractor, Machine Sazi, Shahr Khodro, Paykan, Naft Masjed Soleyman, Nassaji, and Pars Jonoubi — announced that they will withdraw from the league if the competition resumes, reports Xinhua news agency. The Iran Football League Organisation announced earlier that the league, which has been suspended for four months amid the COVID-19 pandemic, will resume on June 24. “Any provocative interviews as well as making false and untrue statements about the resumption of the Iranian football league will be considered a disciplinary violation according to the regulation … and will result in the suspension of the offending person or team,” said by Abolfazl Hassanzadeh Mohammadi, head of the FFIRI’s disciplinary committee. IANS Also Watch: In an exclusive conversation with Diptanil Barua only on The Sentinel Assamlast_img read more

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