News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

November 19, 2012

STATE OF THE STATEHOUSE: Maybe Nate Silver can explain Ritz’s victory

INDIANAPOLIS — Political forecaster Nate Silver is a rock star in the world of statistical analysis, having earned well-deserved celebrity for his nearly spot-on predictions of how voters in each state would cast their ballots in the 2008 and 2012 presidential and Senate races.

In his new book, “The Signal and the Noise,” he dives into the world of prediction to explain how to distinguish true signals in an atmosphere filled with noisy data. He writes about the poor understanding most of us have about probability and uncertainty, and most strikingly, about how easy it is to mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones.

That leads Silver to write about the “prediction paradox”: A counter-intuitive notion that says the more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the better job we’ll do in forecasting the future.

Silver’s prescription for humility struck a deep chord with me this past week as I worked my way through scores of emails prompted by last column. In that column, I recapped the startlingly dismissive response from Republican leaders in the Statehouse to the surprise victory of Democrat Glenda Ritz in the race for state schools superintendent.

Her upset win over incumbent Tony Bennett caught them — and many of us in the media off-guard. So I asked for column readers who voted for Ritz — especially Republican voters — to help me understand why they cast their vote the way they did.

I’m still making my way through the responses — including from a Parke County school board member — and more are coming in each day, but I wanted to share a glimpse of them here (and will share more in columns to come.) Many were detailed in response, for which I’m grateful: It will help me in coming weeks and months as I report on the education overhaul occurring in Indiana.

There were common themes: Concerns about how private-school vouchers were siphoning money from public schools, widespread scorn for the hard-to-understand A-to-F grades handed out to schools, fears about the fast-and-furious pace of high-stakes testing, and real anger about how teachers and administrators had been treated with what was seen as contempt.

I received a significant number of emails from people who described themselves as stalwart Republicans — people who’d rather eat dirt than vote for a Democrat, but were more than happy to vote for Ritz, a longtime Republican schoolteacher who switched parties to take on Bennett.

Here’s an excerpt from an email from Wilma Wooten, a self-described registered Republican from Parke County, with words that I heard echoed again and again that were directed to GOP Gov.-elect Mike Pence and the Republicans who control the legislature.

“I am a retired public school teacher, current school board member, and now work part-time as a local coordinator in adult education. I voted for Ritz as a way to retire Bennett and slow down the intensity and pace of educational reform in Indiana and to ensure that the reforms are working to the benefit of students and public education,” she wrote. “I voted for Pence to maintain fiscal sanity in Indiana — NOT as an affirmation of all the educational reforms.”

More to come in future columns.

Maureen Hayden is the Indiana Statehouse bureau chief for CNHI, the parent company of the Tribune-Star. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com.

 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Raw: MH17 Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball 98-Year-Old Woman Left in Parked Truck Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law Bodies of Malaysia Jet Victims Leave Ukraine Raw: Rescue Workers at Taiwan Plane Crash Site
NDN Video
LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB'
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity