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About Spartan Ideas

Spartan Ideas is a collection of thoughts, ideas, and opinions independently written by members of the MSU community and curated by MSU Libraries


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R.I.P. Coalition of Essential Schools

When was the last time you heard anything about the Coalition of Essential Schools (CES)? Have you ever? According to the headline of an Education Week article posted January 20, 2017, “Iconic School-Reform Group Ends 33-Year Run.” The article lead identifies the CES as “a progressively oriented school reform network” that “will cease its national …



Heroes play a crucial role by showing us what we, individually and collectively, can accomplish and demonstrating that we can do great things despite long odds. Heroes play a crucial role by showing us what we, individually and collectively, can accomplish and demonstrating that we can do great things despite long odds. For many Americans …


Independent Streams (week of February 13)

Our weekly roundup of policy-relevant reads and IPPSR-connected research Problems ‘Children Are Not Blueberries’ What A Trump/DeVos Administration Would Mean For Local Schools (link is external) IPPSR Affiliate David Arsen discusses the potential impact of a DeVos nomination on school funding. Black History Month: MSU Scholar Explores Impacts Of Oppression On U.S. Innovation (link is …


On the military balance of power in the Western Pacific

Some observations concerning the military balance of power in Asia. Even “experts” I have spoken to over the years seem to be confused about basic realities that are fundamental to strategic considerations. 1. Modern missile and targeting technology make the survivability of surface ships (especially carriers) questionable. Satellites can easily image surface ships and missiles …


Empty Seats

What might the travel ban mean for university campuses? The last several weeks have been very busy in the world of immigration policy. The anxiety on campus, especially for graduate students making summer research plans, is palpable. The new travel ban, although suspended at the moment, could mean that international graduate students from the seven …


Ratchets Within Rachets

For those interested in political philosophy, or Trump’s travel ban, I recommend this discussion on Scott Aaronson’s blog, which features a commenter calling himself Boldmug (see also Bannon and Moldbug in the news recently ;-) Both Scott and Boldmug seem to agree that scientific/technological progress is a positive ratchet caught within a negative ratchet of societal and …


Asking for a Skeptic Friend

I sometimes get email from people asking, in one way or another, whether our long-term evolution experiment (LTEE) with E. coli provides evidence of evolution writ large – new species, new information, or something of that sort. I try to answer these questions by providing some examples of what we’ve seen change, and by putting …


Independent Streams (Week of February 6)

Our weekly roundup of policy-relevant reads and IPPSR-connected research Problems Republican-Led Michigan Grapples With Uncertainty About Medicaid Expansion (link is external) IPPSR policy forum panelist and former Michigan Medicaid Director Steve Fitton talks Medicaid Expansion’s uncertain future. In Bid To Eliminate Michigan Income Tax, Fears Of Another Kansas (link is external) IPPSR Affiliate Charles Ballard …


Baby Universes in the Laboratory

This was on the new books table at our local bookstore. I had almost forgotten about doing an interview and corresponding with the author some time ago. See also here and here. The book is a well-written overview of some of the more theoretical aspects of inflationary cosmology, the big bang, the multiverse, etc. It also …


Feds and States and Widgets—Oh My!

The Feds For nearly seven years the Obama Department of Education (USDOE), through its Race to the Top (RttT) program and its issuance of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers, pushed states to establish “rigorous” teacher evaluation systems that incorporated student achievement evidence, the results of which would then be used in personnel decisions. The …


Wedgwood Ceramics on MSU’s Historic Campus

Last week I spent some time in the CAP lab with Campus Archaeologist Lisa Bright resorting and accessioning artifacts from the 2008 and 2009 Saint’s Rest rescue excavation. This excavation uncovered many ceramic artifacts (among other items) including plates, bowls, and serving dishes. Among the many fragments of whiteware, Lisa showed me one fragment that …


Independent streams (Week of January 30)

Our weekly roundup of policy-relevant reads and IPPSR-connected research Problems Michigan’s Stumbling Middle Class (link is external) IPPSR Affiliate Charles Ballard, director of the State of the State Survey, discusses a stagnating economy and persistent income inequality in Michigan with Bridge Magazine. Teacher Applicants Not Meeting State Expectations (link is external) IPPSR Affiliate Sarah Reckhow …


Racial Bias in U.S. Soccer Culture?

Is there an implicit racial bias in Major League Soccer and other U.S. leagues? A piercing SB Nation story this week grappled with the implications of a recent study‘s disturbing findings “that black players are 14 percent more likely to be called for cautions than their non-black counterparts.” The study by Paste magazine also found that …


Preparing Teachers for Middle School

Teachers must be prepared for the additional challenges of middle school. Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks. Middle school is a challenging time for young people. Adolescents straddle the line between childhood and adulthood, struggling to assert their independence and form their identities while also still relying on parents and other adults. The brains of middle school …


Independent Streams (week of January 23)

Our weekly roundup of policy-relevant reads and IPPSR-connected research Problems Betsy DeVos’ Accountability Problem (link is external) IPPSR Affiliate David Arsen comments on charter school organization in light of President Donald Trump’s pro-charter school education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos. Senate Hearing, DeVos Shows Ignorance Central Debate Over How To Measure Schools (link is external) IPPSR …


Fischetti on Benders Decomposition

I just came across slides for a presentation that Matteo Fischetti (University of Padova) gave at the Lunteren Conference on the Mathematics of Operations Research a few days ago. Matteo is both expert at and dare I say an advocate of Benders decomposition. I use Benders decomposition (or variants of it) rather extensively in my …


Ninth Circuit Holds Consumer Financial Protection Act Applies to Tribes

  Here is the opinion in Consumer Financial Protection Board v. Great Plains Lending. An excerpt: We have consistently held in our post-Stevens precedent that generally applicable laws apply to Native American tribes unless Congress expressly provides otherwise. In the Consumer Financial Protection Act, a generally applicable law, Congress did not expressly exclude tribes from …