Thursday, November 7, 2013

One Year Anniversary.

(The background image for this blog...)
Image available at
The first blog post here was one year ago today, talking about Manchester United. For those of you just joining us (for example, the readers who have visited us this week from Hyderabad, Guwahati, Ho Chi Minh City, Seoul, Melbourne, Tallinn, Delmenhorst, Stockholm, and last but certainly not least Nairobi), I'd thought I point out some noteworthy posts from the last twelve months.  However, if you just want to jump right to the data on private school performance, it's here.

There have been 70 posts in the last year; there are another 23 drafts that haven't yet seen the light of dayBy far, the most visited posts have been those concerning education in Sonoma Valley.  The ones that someone would probably want to read who's coming into the story a bit late are as follows:

Jan. 4: Sonoma Valley's Elementary Schools Are Better Than Ever?  ("Sonoma's elementary schools are doing OK.")
Jan. 7: Coronagraphs and SVUSD ("The demographics of the elementary schools have changed.")
Jan. 25: The Streets Should Fit the Trees. ("Careful economic development's a great way to help increase school funding.")
Feb. 5: So How Are Things At Sonoma Valley High? ("Sonoma High's doing pretty well by its students.")
Feb. 13: The Philosophy of Data and Sonoma's SAT Scores. ("Sonoma High has cause to be proud of its SAT scores.")
June 11: Similar Schools, eh?  ("So, California's Similar Schools ranking is completely broken.")
Sept. 9: It's the Economy ("The Sonoma I-T's reporter kinda doesn't get how API scores work.")
Sept. 10: Hanlon's Razor ("No, really, I meant it, the reporter doesn't get it, it's even worse than it seems.")
Nov. 5: Private School Performance ("Wow, Sonoma High's kids get better grades in college than private high schoolers.")

There are a series of posts that relate generally to the issues that come up in the foregoing, but they're not exclusively about education.  One post concerns safety in schools ("Big Data," regarding Newtown), and another concerns how California, and Sonoma's schools are funded ("34 cents" ...).  The other popular posts concern transportation in Sonoma County, California's prison system, and Santa Rosa's local newspaper.

Nov. 18: So what was the Press Democrat's sale price? ("The Press Democrat's value fell by over 90%.")
Nov. 27: Sonoma County vs. Welwyn Garden City. ("When given two bad choices, Sonoma County picks both.")
Dec. 18 Obama: It's Time To Use Big Data To Protect Our Children. ("Newtown's Target knew about Adam Lanza.")
Jan. 20: A Society Can Be Judged By Entering Its Prisons. ("California's prisons are a disgrace.")
July 22: 34 Cents of Your Property Tax Dollar Goes To Our Schools. ("Development or higher taxes, pick ...")

Malala Yousafzai
Image available at
The hardest set of posts to write was the group I did this summer concerning California's future. They grew out of a set of very fruitful conversations with the members of a family summering in the Sonoma Valley, a group of dedicated public school teachers, one rather remarkable philanthropist, a particularly dynamic public official, a few fellow lawyers, and a set of very organized soccer parents. Those posts are:

Aug. 28: Nordic Success. ("It's all about public trust.")
Sept. 7: Beikoku and Eikoku. ("You need to empower women.")
Sept. 9: Glass Ceiling, Iron Lady. ("Consensus matters.")
Oct. 15: California, where Malala Yousafzai becomes Janet Yellen. ("Education, equal rights, & public trust.")

In the coming weeks, because of the very significant amounts of data I've managed to collect from the California State University system, I will probably upload and complete a Google Public Data Explorer site for all of the high schools in California illustrating their students' performance at CSU over the last 18 years.  If possible, I'll probably also cross-reference that with the historical API data and SAT score data on the same schools.  It will be interesting to see if the trends hold up statewide that are apparent in Marin, Napa and Sonoma Counties.  

Plus, a group of public officials in Redding have confirmed they are the test site for Anne Fernald's study discussed here, and I'm putting together a piece on that too.  

And there will certainly be further posts concerning data on local schools -- the overwhelmingly positive response (and thanks) from so many people has been particularly gratifying because, of course, this blog is a labor of love, and I always enjoy talking about it with readers and commenters (even when, yes, people sometimes disagree). 

And finally, I want to give a shout out to my wife, who is incredibly supportive, and whose fantastic food blog can be visited here. She's doing a series on Thanksgiving, and the dishes look awesome!