Friday Roundup: Global teaching, record low home ownership in U.S., Ireland addresses its housing problems, and more

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

The Brookings Institution: Teacher cognitive ability around the world (Author Dick Startz is a former University of Washington economics professor now teaching at UCSB.)

 If you think the skills of American teachers don’t stack up to those of teachers in other countries, you’re wrong—American teachers are perfectly mediocre. Well, in fairness, American teachers seem to be a touch above average in literacy skills and noticeably below average in numeracy. They shine in neither area. “Mediocre” means middling. I guess some country has to be in the middle, but that’s not how we Americans like to picture ourselves. For me, American teachers being middle-of-the-pack isn’t good enough…

If this reads like a knock against American teachers, that’s not quite the intention. It is intended as a knock against American policymakers. We in fact get much better teachers than we pay for.

The Columbian: A Taxing Commute

We need real dialogue between our leaders and their Oregon counterparts. We share a metro area. We need to be flexible and willing to accept ideas, not ideology, from both sides of the river. Like it or not, we need to consider mass transit capacity, including light rail. We need to accept that users will have to pay a toll, rather than shift the entire burden onto the general base of taxpayers.

On the other side, Oregon’s leaders need to accept this bridge will have a lot of lanes for freight and passenger vehicles, even those with just one occupant.

The Lens: Higher Education Attainment in 50 States: A Data Visualization 

Using the maps, you will be able to see how the states rank against each other, and against national averages. The measures are percent of population with a two-year degree or more, and percent with a high school diploma or equivalent.

…By 2023, more than three-quarters of projected jobs in Washington will require education beyond high school. Yet little more than four of ten Washingtonians has a two-year degree or higher, based on the most recently available five-year average.

Seattle Times: U.S. home ownership rate of 62.9 percent matches a 51-year low

The trend appears most pronounced among millennial households, ages 18 to 34, many of whom are straining under the weight of rising apartment rents and heavy student debt. Their homeownership rate fell 0.7 percentage point over the past year to 34.1 percent. That decline may reflect, in part, more young adults leaving their parents’ homes for rental apartments.

New Geography: Ireland Adopts Plan to Increase Housing Supply and Improve Affordability

Rebuilding Ireland notes that “Excessive housing costs have demographic impacts, including a tendency for households to defer important lifecycle choices in order to prioritise home purchase” (such as having children).

Further, as Rebuilding Ireland indicates: “Rising prices for residential accommodation impact adversely on competitiveness. The attractiveness of Ireland as a potential investment location and, of course, the cost base for existing businesses will be impaired should price inflation continue, as rising prices place upward pressure on wages, deter inward migration and impede the labour market.”