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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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Adventures with TeX Live

Since I use the Linux Mint operating system, the obvious (if not only) choice for a LaTeX distribution is TeX Live. (If you are not familiar with, or are not interested in, the LaTeX typesetting system, you have already read too far in this post.) On Mint, Ubuntu and other Debian-type operating systems, you typically …


Robots Proctor Online Exams

For background on this subject, see How to beat online exam proctoring. It is easy for clever students to beat existing security systems for online exams. Enterprising students could even set up “cheating rooms” that make it easy for test takers to cheat. Judging by the amount of traffic this old post gets, cheating on …


After-School Programs and the Efficacy of School-Related Nutrition Programs

President Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, has faced criticism in the media for ostensibly claiming there is no evidence to suggest school-related nutrition programs benefit students’ academic achievement (see here and here). The specific statement that has come under fire is: So, let’s talk about after-school programs generally. They’re supposed to be educational programs, right? …


The Rush to Avoid Taxes

We now have less than 30 days to finish up our federal tax forms and get them to the IRS and state capitols. As I noted recently in this blog, “taxes are dues for living in a civilized society”. So why do we all seek every advantage to reduce those taxes? We want deductions for …


Are Teacher Residency Programs an Effective Approach to Improving the Teaching Workforce?

Most teachers are trained through traditional teacher preparation programs in colleges and universities, which typically include a heavy emphasis on coursework and a semester (or less) of student teaching. In 2015, 87% of students training to become teachers were enrolled in traditional programs, while the remaining 13% were enrolled in other alternative certification routes. Some …


Political Polarization Among Midwestern States

Despite increased polarization among the American people (link is external) and the US Congress (link is external) during the Obama administration, the Legislatures in Midwestern swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan featured relatively stable levels of polarization within the chambers of both the House and the Senate. These measures focus on the average polarization …


Independent Streams (week of March 20)

Our weekly roundup of policy-relevant reads and IPPSR-connected research. Problems An Import Tax Could Raise Car Prices By Thousands (link is external) IPPSR Affiliate Charles Ballard discusses potential effects of an import tax. Jack Lessenberry: Detroit’s Comeback May Be A Bit Overstated (link is external) IPPSR Affiliate Laura Reese’s research on Detroit’s comeback is discussed …


Everything is Heritable

  The figure above comes from the paper below. A quick glance shows that for pairs of individuals: 1. Increasing genetic similarity implies increasing trait similarity (for traits including height, cognitive ability, years of education) 2. Home environments (raised Together vs Apart; Adoptees) have limited impact on the trait (at least in relatively egalitarian Sweden). …


A Little History on Andrew Jackson and the Supreme Court (for Mike Huckabee)

Mike Huckabee invoked Andrew Jackson in encouraging the President to not comply with federal court orders striking the Muslim travel ban, saying “Hoping @POTUS tells Hawaii judge what Andrew Jackson told overreaching court-“I’ll ignore it and let the court enforce their order.”, invoking the aftermath of Worcester v. Georgia, in which the Supreme Court held …


Step Acuity

Please help me with a little science experiment. Measure your Step Acuity (SA) and report it here. Your SA is the number of steps before you hit a mark that you know whether you will hit the mark with your right or left foot. As you are walking down the street, choose a mark (a …


State of Michigan sues Hannahville Indian Community over Gaming Compact

The State of Michigan has filed a lawsuit against the Hannahville Indian Community.  The State is asserting that the Hannahville Indian Community’s class III gaming compact has expired (the agreement was executed in 1993). A copy of the complaint is here:Hannahville Complaint Hannahville’s Class III gaming compact is here: Hannahville Class III Compact The Hannahville Compact …


Bringing Paraprofessionals to the Front of the Classroom

In recent years, the responsibilities of paraprofessionals have expanded beyond basic tasks like monitoring school cafeterias. Paraprofessionals, also referred to as teacher’s aides, classroom assistants, and more colloquially as parapros or paras, have become an indispensible resource in our schools. While these individuals once only performed basic duties like lunchroom monitoring and copying papers for …


Independent Streams (week of March 13)

Our weekly roundup of policy-relevant reads and IPPSR-connected research. Problems MSU Education Professor Calls For Action To Help Detroit Schools (link is external) IPPSR Affiliate David Arsen creates video brief outlining how best to help Detroit schools. Schools Probably Won’t Be Impacted If Lansing Becomes Sanctuary City, Expert Says (link is external) IPPSR Affiliate Kristi …


Some Wrinkles in Time

Today is another milestone for the E. coli long-term evolution experiment—the LTEE, for short. I did the 10,000th daily transfer today at about noon. [Yours truly, doing the 10,000th LTEE transfers. Technician Neerja Hajela is keeping a close eye on me, and with good reason. Photo by Thomas LaBar.] Some of you will remember we …


Transgender Rights vs “Restroom Safety” in Education

The Trump administration has reversed transgender protections that allowed individuals in public schools to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identity rather than their biological sex. It seems there are several misunderstandings surrounding the issue of transgender experiences. This post will attempt to mediate the disagreement with available evidence.   Misunderstanding 1: The difference …


Let This Be the Beginning of a Trend

There is reason to be excited in the world of early childhood education. This blog has previously explored topics highlighting the importance and strong support for investing in early childhood education. Soon, the New Mexico Legislature will be voting on a constitutional amendment that would create a new funding source to support the state’s early …


Where Policy is Made: The State Budget Process

Each year around early February, after months of exhaustive work and late nights at the office, the State Budget Office releases the Governor’s Executive Budget Recommendation, formally kicking off Michigan’s annual budget process. And though it may seem that excitement surrounding the release of an appropriations document might be reserved to the number-crunching cubicle-dwelling bureaucrats …