Textbook Pricing is Out of Control

It’s an older story, but here’s one on textbook prices and what we can do about it. The short version is that even your professor thinks the $300 price tag on a textbook is ridiculous and we need better solutions. Some professors are creating custom textbooks or bulk purchasing arrangements. Almost all of UMUC has gone to online learning resources that are freely available. It’s had some downsides, but the upside is there, too. When I taught public finance for the University of Baltimore, I reviewed four or five textbooks and one was head-and-shoulders above the rest. Of course, it

Read My Article, “Public Financial Management” in Syllabus

Excellent news, everyone. My paper, “Public Financial Management” has just been published by Syllabus, an open access and peer-reviewed journal that publishes original syllabi, assessment instruments, assignments and activities, and articles related to college teaching. The paper here focused on my public financial management class, PUAD 701 at the University of Baltimore. In that course, we developed an original nonprofit organization to provide a hands-on tool for students to use to learn about the financial management process. While our nonprofit was ultimately not successful, the lessons learned and general approach may help other financial management professors in developing their courses.

On teaching public finance to public administrators

Tonight is my last night of teaching public finance for the semester.1 Over the next two weeks or so, my students are working on a group paper analyzing options for alleviating food deserts in Baltimore, as the syllabus requires. But the last night of instruction is tonight, and we are covering wealth taxes. This semester has been interesting. I have run the class as flipped classroom, which is probably fairly unusual in graduate classes. But I found it was very helpful. First, in a flipped classroom, students are supposed to review material ahead of the class and the homework is

Classroom Regulation

NPR’s article is the latest in a series that asks how professors deal with cellphones and laptops in the classroom. I don’t include anything in my syllabi about it, but I usually make a brief announcement on the first class of the semester explaining my policy. See, it’s different when you’re teaching adult learners. At UMUC and the University of Baltimore, both, my students have been adult learners, or even graduate students, generally working adults with family. Class is one night a week, 1900-2145 at UMUC or 2015-2245 at UB, and that means a night out. And that means keeping

Mobile Farmers Markets for Food Deserts

As part of my public finance course course for public administrators, we have been looking at the problem of food deserts in Baltimore. There was an interesting story on Marketplace on Tuesday about how Dayton is building a farmer’s market at a bus stop in order to reach more people. In Dayton, taking fresh food to the bus stop Recent research has shown that even if people have access to higher quality food, they won’t necessarily purchase it. Dayton is expanding on the idea by bringing courses on cooking into these neighborhoods. I am not sure that will work, but

Voting, Ice Cream, and the Classroom

In my public finance class, last night we got to public choice theory. I find public choice to be the hardest part of the class. I also kind of think that public choice is the quantum mechanics of economics. If you are not completely confused by it, you didn’t understand it. Now, by this same analogy, macroeconomics is astrology. But nevermind that drive-by insult, for now. So rather than giving what passes for a lecture in my classroom, I asked everyone to pull out a sheet of paper and divide it in ballot. We were making ballots. And on the