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October 10, 2019 in History

By Editors

The idea of socialism—advocating for more public ownership of property and natural resources to ensure a more egalitarian society—has been around for centuries.

Socialism describes any political or economic theory that says the community, rather than individuals, should own and manage property and natural resources.

The term “socialism” has been applied to very different economic and political systems throughout history, including utopianism, anarchism, Soviet communism and social democracy. These systems vary widely in structure, but they share an opposition to an unrestricted market economy, and the belief that public ownership of the means of production (and making money) will lead to better distribution of wealth and a more egalitarian society.

How Socialism Emerged

Thomas More (1478-1535).

The intellectual roots of socialism go back at least as far as ancient Greek times, when the philosopher . Fall 2019 Edition, Edward N. Zalta (ed.)

Peter Lamb, Historical Dictionary of Socialism (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016)

Glenn Kessler, “What is socialism?” Washington Post, March 5, 2019.

…read more


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What Inspired 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow'?

October 10, 2019 in History

By Lesley Kennedy

The classic short story is considered an example of early American folklore. But tales of headless horseman have been around since the Middle Ages.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow resurfaces every year around Halloween. Washington Irving’s 1820 tale of a headless horseman who terrorizes the real-life village of Sleepy Hollow is considered one of America’s first ghost stories—and one of its scariest.

But Irving didn’t invent the idea of a headless rider. Tales of headless horsemen can be traced to the Middle Ages, including stories from the Brothers Grimm and the Dutch and Irish legend of the “Dullahan” or “Gan Ceann,” a Grim Reaper-like rider who carries his head.

Elizabeth Bradley, a historian at Historic Hudson Valley, says a likely source for Irving’s horseman can be found in Sir Walter Scott’s 1796 The Chase, which is a translation of the German poem The Wild Huntsman by Gottfried Bürger and likely based on Norse mythology.

American author Washington Irving (1783-1859).

“Irving had just met and become friends with Scott in 1817 so it’s very likely he was influenced by his new mentor’s work,” she says, “The poem is about a wicked hunter who is doomed to be hunted forever by the devil and the ‘dogs of hell’ as punishment for his crimes.”

READ MORE: The Dark Side of the Grimm Fairy Tales

According to the New York Historical Society, others believe Irving was inspired by “an actual Hessian soldier who was decapitated by a cannonball during the Battle of White Plains, around Halloween 1776.”

Irving’s story takes place in the New York village of Sleepy Hollow, in Westchester County. In it, lanky newcomer and schoolmaster Ichabod Crane courts Katrina van Tassel, a young heiress who is also being pursued by the Dutchman Brom Bones. After being rebuffed by Katrina at a party at the van Tassel farm where ghost stories are shared, Ichabod is chased by a headless horseman (who may or may not be his rival) who hurls a pumpkin at the man, throwing Ichabod from his horse. The schoolmaster vanishes.

Irving may have drawn inspiration for his story while a teenager in the Tarrytown region. He moved to the area in 1798 to flee a yellow fever outbreak in New York City, according to the New York Historical Society.

He “would have been introduced to local ghost stories and lore at an impressionable age,” Bradley says.“He cleverly weaves …read more


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Charter Schools Get Better Results with Less Money Than Government-Run Schools

October 10, 2019 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis

Corey A. DeAngelis

We all make mistakes. At the recent Democratic presidential debate in Houston, former San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro claimed, “It is a myth that charter schools are better than public schools. They’re not.”


In reality, Castro is the one spewing myths.

My new study, just published at the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, compares per-pupil revenues, expenditures, and performance levels in public charter schools to district-run public schools in Texas for the 2017-2018 school year and finds that public charter schools are 8% to 42% more cost-effective than traditional public schools in Texas.

In Castro’s hometown of San Antonio, for example, public charter schools are 41% more cost-effective than traditional public schools. Specifically, public charter schools have a 1.5 percentage point higher proportion of students who score at grade level or higher on all subjects on the state’s STAAR exams per $1,000 of per-pupil expenditures than traditional public schools in San Antonio.

Moreover, public charter schools in San Antonio have around a 0.7 percentage point higher proportion of students who master their grade levels on the STAAR test per $1,000 of per-pupil expenditures than traditional public schools with similar students. The data also show that public charter schools in San Antonio receive about $1,700 less, or about 15% less, per student than traditional public schools each year, even after accounting for differences in student populations between sectors.

Public charter schools in Houston exhibited a similarly large cost-effectiveness advantage of 40%, and the positive results generally hold across the eight largest cities in Texas as well.

When talking about positive student outcomes in charter schools, critics often claim that public charter schools outperform traditional public schools because they cherry-pick the “best” students. But that’s not true. Most public charter schools must accept all comers and use random admissions processes and lotteries when they are overcrowded. On the other hand, government-run magnet schools can use selective admissions processes to get the best and brightest, and traditional public schools regularly turn away disadvantaged students under the guise that they don’t happen to live nearby.

Although public charter schools enroll lower proportions of students with special needs, they enroll higher proportions of students identified as racial or ethnic minorities, ESL learners, and Title 1 students. Furthermore, Texas charter schools get lower proportions of gifted and talented students. …read more

Source: OP-EDS