Measuring Competency

Paul Fain:

Southern New Hampshire University used an outside testing firm to assess the learning and skills in areas typically stressed in general education that were achieved by a small group of students who are halfway through an associate degree program at the university’s College for America, which offers online, self-paced, competency-based degrees that do not feature formal instruction and are completely untethered from the credit-hour standard.

The university was the first to get approval from the U.S. Department of Education and a regional accreditor for its direct-assessment degrees. A handful of other institutions have since followed suit. College for America currently enrolls about 3,000 students, most of whom are working adults. It offers associate degrees — mostly in general studies with a concentration in business — bachelor’s degrees and undergraduate certificates.

Resume Tips

Austin Gunter:

The best resumes have a number of statements that look exactly like the above. If your bullets meander, or don’t have specific deliverables and quantified results, then you need to go back and re-work them.

If you’ve never done this before, it will be difficult because you may not have thought about your career in terms of deliverable results. However, this is exactly how a business will think about you. When you are hired, you are an asset to the business that can deliver a very specific sort of value, and you should be aware of this and be ready to explain how you have delivered similar value in the past, and how you can deliver even greater value to your future company.

Young ‘to be poorer than parents at every stage of life’


Worse off than their parents? Young people will not be as rich as earlier generation says the IFS.

Young people are on track to be poorer than their parents at every stage of their lives, according to a new report.

The study, by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), added that households actually grew richer during the financial crisis.
But it said that the reason for the growth between 2006-12 was the increase in pension values over the period.

And the slow rate of growth in overall wealth suggested that young people would lag behind earlier generations.

Dave Innes, a research economist at the IFS and an author of the report said: “Despite the financial crisis, household wealth on average increased in real terms over the late 2000s, driven by increases in private pension entitlements.”

“Rapidly expanding charters” – Washington, DC. Expensive one size fits all reigns in Madison

Caroline Bermudez:

In a city with the greatest economic inequity in the country and with a rapidly expanding charter school now serving nearly half of the city’s students, D.C. is one of the few traditional public school districts in the country with enrollment gains and is on track to exceed 50,000 students by 2017. Much of the credit goes to Henderson’s leadership.

Henderson’s relentless energy and boundless public praise in support of her teachers and principals has created positive morale and considerable buy-in among classroom educators to what is one of the most ambitious reform agendas in the country.

She has also maintained labor peace even while driving an aggressive teacher quality agenda that links evaluation and compensation in part to student growth, something few other urban superintendents can claim.

Madison rejected a proposed IB charter school several years ago.

“An emphasis on adult employment“.

What Belonging at Yale Really Means


Imagine you are green, and most of the people in your country, particularly people in positions of power, are blue.

Your first week as a freshman at one of the most powerful institutions in your country, you walk into the huge hall, called Commons, with its colossal blue and white banner bearing a single word: YALE. It’s beautiful. Your heart swells with pride when you see it.

And then you scan the room. There are roughly 60 tables with about 10 people per table. Fifty-eight of those tables are filled with mostly blue people, with a few orange, purple and green people mixed in. Two of those tables, front left, are full of green people. A green person motions for you to come over. You smile widely.

It is the first time in almost a decade you have had enough fellow green people at your school to fill two whole tables. Two tables out of sixty. You are excited about this.

You glance over at the people clearing tables and serving food. As you expected, they are mostly green like you.

The Myth of the Ever-More-Fragile College Student

Jesse Singal:

Over the last two weeks, the news has been dominated by coverage of two very different instances of campus turmoil at Yale and the University of Missouri. In both cases, students are protesting over what they see as administrations that turn a blind eye to the problems faced by marginalized students on their campuses. Some of the students involved have gotten upset or confrontational, leading to dramatic YouTube videos that are hard to watch.

For many observers, these incidents only proved what they already knew: College students are getting increasingly fragile and prone to meltdowns. Too emotional and skewed in their thinking, they latch on to petty issues and scream and cry until they get their way. “Yalies Whining for Protection, Not Fighting Adversity” was a Hartford Courant columnist’s headline. “College Is Not for Coddling,” scolded the Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus. In a piece that was picked up by Fox News, the Manhattan Institute’s Heather McDonald decried the “pathological narcissism” of college students today. “This isn’t the behavior of people who are capable of weighing opposing ideas, or of changing their minds when they are confronted with evidence that suggests that they are wrong,” USA Today’s Glenn Reynolds wrote of students on both campuses.

How Should We Talk to AIs?

Stephen Wolfram:

Not many years ago, the idea of having a computer broadly answer questions asked in plain English seemed like science fiction. But when we released Wolfram|Alpha in 2009 one of the big surprises (not least to me!) was that we’d managed to make this actually work. And by now people routinely ask personal assistant systems—many powered by Wolfram|Alpha—zillions of questions in ordinary language every day.

Commentary on Wisconsin’s K-12 Governance Model

Chris Rickert:

The case heard by the state Supreme Court on Tuesday pits Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s administration against Evers and public education backers who object to the 2011 Act 21. That law gave the governor power to approve or reject the administrative rules state agencies create to implement statutes.

A court blocked the law from applying to Evers’ Department of Public Instruction in 2012, ruling that it unconstitutionally elevated the governor’s authority over the state superintendent’s. An appeals court agreed in February. Lawmakers continue to review rules as they did before the law was signed, but they have not had the power to reject them without passing a law to that effect.

As you might imagine, administrative rule-making doesn’t usually come with the high political drama that lawmaking does.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction brought us decades of low academic standards via the oft-criticized WKCE.

Bringing Up Genius

Paul Voosen:

Before Laszlo Polgár conceived his children, before he even met his wife, he knew he was going to raise geniuses. He’d started to write a book about it. He saw it moves ahead.

By their first meeting, a dinner and walk around Budapest in 1965, Laszlo told Klara, his future bride, how his kids’ education would go. He had studied the lives of geniuses and divined a pattern: an adult singularly focused on the child’s success. He’d raise the kids outside school, with intense devotion to a subject, though he wasn’t sure what. “Every healthy child,” as he liked to say, “is a potential genius.” Genetics and talent would be no obstacle. And he’d do it with great love.

China prepares to rank its citizens on ‘social credit’

Julie Makinen:

Internet users in America voiced outrage this fall over the imminent launch of a Yelp-style app intended to let anyone post public reviews of their friends, acquaintances and yes, enemies — with no opt-out option.

The outbursts prompted the creators of the app, Peeple, to reconsider. But in China, government authorities are hard at work devising their own e-database to rate each and every one of the nation’s 1.3 billion citizens by 2020 using metrics that include whether they pay their bills on time, plagiarize schoolwork, break traffic laws or adhere to birth-control regulations. And there’s no opt-out option.

On Urban Charter School Success

Susan Dynarski:

Charter schools are controversial. But are they good for education?

Rigorous research suggests that the answer is yes for an important, underserved group: low-income, nonwhite students in urban areas. These children tend to do better if enrolled in charter schools instead of traditional public schools.

There are exceptions, of course. We can’t predict with certainty that a particular child will do better in a specific charter or traditional public school. Similarly, no doctor can honestly promise a patient she will benefit from a treatment.

Teens can’t tell the difference between Google ads and search results

James Vincent:

familiar narrative of teens and technology is one of natural proficiency — that young people just get technology in a way that older generations don’t. But research suggests that just because children feel at home using smartphones, it doesn’t mean they’re more aware of the nuances of how the web works. In a new report published by the UK’s telecoms watchdog Ofcom, researchers found that only a third of young people aged 12 to 15 knew which search results on Google were adverts, while this figure was even lower — less than one in five — for children aged 8 to 11.

“The internet allows children to learn, discover different points of view and stay connected with friends and family,” Ofcom’s director of research, James Thickett, told the Financial Times. “But these digital natives still need help to develop the knowhow they need to navigate the online world.”

Education is for Everyone Unless You are Special

Giovanni Tiso and Hilary Stace (PDF):

When meeting with the parents of a prospective student with a learning disability or other impairments, a school principal has a range of options. If the child comes from outside the school’s zone, they can refuse admission outright, or make it subject to the school’s special enrolment conditions. Otherwise, the Education Act 1989 gives disabled children the same access to compulsory education as others. The question then becomes: how inclusive should the school be? A school not wishing to burden itself with children with disabilities can adopt a soft approach. The principal can, for instance, be less than totally welcoming at the pre-enrolment interview, or complain about the lack of funding, or praise the great work that the school down the road does in this area, or point to a drab, uninviting special room. Parents of children with special needs are quick to pick up on these signals and will look elsewhere.

MA Replaces PARCC with PARCC: Tea Party and Teacher Unions Cheer

Laura Waters:

Today’s New York Times features a doomsday article on the demise of the PARCC assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards in Massachusetts. In language that would have warmed the cockles of Cotton Mather’s heart (fun fact: the Puritan Boston preacher predicted the end of the world in 1697), the Times describes the “dizzying” and “strange” alliance between the Pioneer Institute, a conservative, Koch Brothers-funded think tank that decries the Common Core and PARCC, in part, because they use an “unproven approach to teaching Euclidean geometry,” and the Massachusetts Education Association, which has waged a relentless campaign against the aligned tests in order to protect teachers from performance-based evaluations.

Time to cry out for academic freedom

Colin Macilwain:

Nowhere is this more true than in the United Kingdom, where reforms instigated by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher 30 years ago have enabled vice-chancellors to extend their grip over matters that were once controlled by academics, such as what subjects to teach, which kinds of grant to chase and criteria for hiring staff. By shifting decision-making to committees dominated by their close allies, many vice-chancellors now operate as if they were chief executives.

This managerial approach, and the growing reach and expanse of administrative staff that has accompanied it, is gathering pace worldwide. That is largely because British and US universities dominate international university league tables, and many countries’ higher-education policies seek to emulate their model. Germany’s Excellence Initiative, for example, has selected a small number of promising institutions and given them the money to build up stronger central administrations.

Madison Schools’ three-year history of kindergarten attendance and chronic absenteeism

The tables below show a three-year history of kindergarten attendance and chronic absenteeism (attendance less than 90%) across the seven HERE! Schools together (Allis, Falk, Lapham, Leopold, Mendota, Midvale, and Orchard Ridge).

PDF Version.

Background links.

NPR (November 12, 2015), Getting kids to show up.

Molly Beck on MMSD Attendance Report for 2013-14 (WSJ) (August, 2014)

MMSD 2013-14 Attendance Report.

Via a kind reader.

As schools grow more diverse, educators strive for stability

Alan Borsuk:

“For us, stability is key.”

Mark Flaten, principal of Green Bay West High School, said that to 10 members of the state Assembly when they visited last week at the school as part of the work of a legislative task force on urban education.

Flaten was talking about challenges faced at the school, where about a quarter of the students come or go during a school year or between school years, not counting incoming ninth-graders and graduating seniors.

Flaten could have been speaking for many educators across Wisconsin and beyond who every day face the challenges of trying to create educational stability in the lives of students whose circumstances aren’t so stable, sometimes in big ways.

In short, stability is a big plus when it comes to educational success, but change, both good and bad, is part of our times and the lives of large numbers of children. One central challenge for schools is to provide as much of the former as possible, given the high degree of the latter.

The notion that kids enroll in a school and stay there until they move up to the next level of schooling is not what it used to be. That’s the case across the board, but it is particularly true at schools serving a higher percentage of low-income students and students who are new to the United States.

If you think this is “a Milwaukee problem,” you’re right and wrong. It certainly is a big issue in Milwaukee, where thousands of students have unstable personal circumstances.

Paly student tells of school stress: ‘Students are gasping for air’

Carolyn Walworth:

As I sit in my room staring at the list of colleges I’ve resolved to try to get into, trying to determine my odds of getting into each, I can’t help but feel desolate.

As a junior at Palo Alto High School, and a student who has been through the entire PAUSD system, I feel qualified to speak about problems at our schools.

My stress began in elementary school, where students were segregated into separate class meetings as “early” and “late” readers. Although we were just elementary schoolers, we perceived this as a differentiation between the less and more advanced students and either felt superior due to our intellect or shamed for a “lack” thereof.

The Space Doctor’s Big Idea

Randall Munroe, via a kind Richard Askey email:

There once was a doctor with cool white hair. He was well known because he came up with some important ideas. He didn’t grow the cool hair until after he was done figuring that stuff out, but by the time everyone realized how good his ideas were, he had grown the hair, so that’s how everyone pictures him. He was so good at coming up with ideas that we use his name to mean “someone who’s good at thinking.”

Two of his biggest ideas were about how space and time work. This thing you’re reading right now explains those ideas using only the ten hundred words people use the most often.1 The doctor figured out the first idea while he was working in an office, and he figured out the second one ten years later, while he was working at a school. That second idea was a hundred years ago this year. (He also had a few other ideas that were just as important. People have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how he was so good at thinking.)

The first idea is called the special idea, because it covers only a few special parts of space and time. The other one—the big idea—covers all the stuff that is left out by the special idea. The big idea is a lot harder to understand than the special one. People who are good at numbers can use the special idea to answer questions pretty easily, but you have to know a lot about numbers to do anything with the big idea. To understand the big idea—the hard one—it helps to understand the special idea first.

Commentary On Wisconsin’s K-12 Tax and Spending Climate; Madison’s Above Average Spending

Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

Is it misguided, inefficient and wasteful to compel school districts to resort to referenda for authority to meet the rising costs of school operations? Not everyone thinks so. For example, Republican Jeremy Thiesfeldt, chair of the Assembly Committee on Education, does not see a problem with government by referendum. “A school district, if they decide that they need additional money to provide a quality education, what is wrong with them having to sell this to the providers of the tax dollars, the voters?” Thiesfeldt says.

We shouldn’t require our school boards to win voter approval for their annual budgets any more than we should hold a statewide referendum every other year so voters can weigh in on the biennial budget. Representative Thiesfeldt voted in favor of requiring a civics test for high school graduation so he should know that our government does not operate by plebiscite. We have a representative democracy and elect office holders to make decisions so that the voters don’t have to.

Voters become understandably irritated if they are called to the polls every year for a referendum on school district spending. There are dedicated volunteers in every school district, but other community members have other priorities and would not welcome the obligation to educate themselves every year on school district finances in order to cast an informed vote on a referendum. That’s the kind of thing they elect school board members to take care of.

Madison spends $16,700 per student, substantially more than the national average. This, despite long standing, disastrous reading results.

Much more on Ed Hughes, here.

The right to fright

The Economist:

HALLOWEEN is supposed to last for one night only. At Yale University (motto: “Light and Truth”) it has dragged on considerably longer. As happens at many American universities, Yale administrators sent an advisory e-mail to students before the big night, requesting them to refrain from wearing costumes that other students might find offensive. Given that it is legal for 18-year-old Americans to drive, marry and, in most places, own firearms, it might seem reasonable to let students make their own decisions about dressing-up—and to face the consequences when photographs of them disguised as Osama bin Laden can forever be found on Facebook or Instagram. Yet a determination to treat adults as children is becoming a feature of life on campus, and not just in America. Strangely, some of the most enthusiastic supporters of this development are the students themselves.

The fight over K-12 education appears headed back to the states

Lyndsey Layton:

With Congress poised to pass a law that would shift power over K-12 public school policy from the federal government back to the states, the debate about improving schools is shifting from Washington to the 50 state capitals.

Congress is expected to take a final vote on a bill to replace No Child Left Behind, the current federal law, after Thanksgiving. House and Senate conferees endorsed the new legislation 39 to 1 on Thursday, and while some conservatives are unhappy with it, the bill is expected to pass and the White House has indicated that President Obama will sign it.

Autism’s rise tracks with drop in other childhood disorders

Nicholette Zeliadt:

The latest estimate of autism prevalence in the U.S., released last week, suggests the condition is even more common than previously thought. But the apparent rise in autism coincides with a decline in other developmental disorders, highlighting the complexity folded into this seemingly simple statistic.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 45 children have autism, up from 1 in 80 in 20131. The new figure is based on the annual door-to-door National Health Interview Survey, which asks parents whether a doctor has ever told them their child has autism, intellectual disability or another type of developmental delay.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Comparing The States

Wall Street Journal:

At the back of the pack are, in ascending order from the bottom, New Jersey, New York, California, Minnesota, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Ohio and Maryland. The only state to recently break out of this hall of tax shame is North Carolina, which in 2013 slashed its top 7.75% income tax to a flat 5.75% and its corporate rate to 5% from 6.9%. The former 44th is now ranked 15th.

By contrast, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy earlier this year quarterbacked a major corporate tax hike and bumped the top income tax rate to 6.99% from 6.7%. Fairfield-based General Electric is now threatening to sign with another state. As Governor of Maryland from 2007 to 2015, Democrat Martin O’Malley increased some 40 taxes including the corporate rate to 8.25% from 7% and the sales tax to 6% from 5%. This may be one reason he’s warming the bench in the Democratic primaries.

In fairness, some high-tax states are trying to improve. New York last year trimmed its corporate rate to 6.5% from 7.1% while zeroing it out for upstate manufacturers. The reform catapulted the Empire State 12 spots in the corporate tax ranking to 12th, but its sky-high state and local income taxes are still second only to California.

University is a privilege but not all jobs need a degree

Michael Skapinker:

“All officers ‘should have degrees’,” was the BBC headline. An adviser to the College of Policing, which sets standards for police training in England and Wales, said: “We are looking to have degree-level qualifications for constable and masters for superintendent.”

The college said that France and Spain already demanded that new-entry police officers have degrees and that inspectors have masters degrees.

The college said professions such as medicine, nursing, law and social work all required university qualifications. The high level at which police officers operated today meant UK forces needed to consider degrees too.

It is easy to understand what the college is talking about. Dealing with cross-border terrorism, cyber crime and financial fraud needs sophisticated skills. Police forces that can attract graduates will probably benefit. But the idea that every officer needs to be a graduate seems wrong-headed.

24. Bringing it all together | Graphical Linear Algebra

Graphical Linear Algebra:

We are on the home stretch. In this episode we complete the set of equations of Interacting Hopf monoids, the technical name for the equational theory behind graphical linear algebra. Afterwards, we will not see any new equations for some time. Instead, we will explore what this equational theory is good for. In the next few episodes I hope to convince you that I haven’t been wasting your time with all of this!

Take out loans to live on campus or lose out on a collegiate rite of passage?

Michelle Singletary

Many colleges and universities require freshmen to live on campus, knowing that many will have to borrow to do so. (Schools often waive the requirement under certain circumstances, including “extreme” financial hardship or if a student will live nearby with a parent or guardian.)

In pitching the benefits, schools argue that students who live in residence halls have an easier transition to college life.

For in-state students living on campus at public four-year colleges and universities this school year, room and board represented an average of 42 percent of their estimated budget, according to the College Board. Tuition and fees constituted 39 percent.

Against Students

Sara Ahmed:

What do I mean by “against students”? By using this expression I am trying to describe a series of speech acts which consistently position students, or at least specific kinds of students, as a threat to education, to free speech, to civilization, even to life itself. In speaking against students, these speech acts also speak for more or less explicitly articulated sets of values: freedom, reason, education, democracy. Students are failing to reproduce the required norms of conduct. Even if that failure is explained as a result of ideological shifts that students are not held responsible for – whether it be neoliberalism, managerialism or a new sexual puritanism – it is in the bodies of students that the failure is located. Students are not transmitting the right message, or are evidence that we have failed to transmit the right message. Students have become an error message, a beep, beep, that is announcing system failure.

The Politics of Education Reform

Paul Hill
Ashley Joachim:

On The Lens today, Paul Hill and Ashley Jochim write: Creating and transforming schools is the core work of education reform. But educational change is inevitably political. It requires adults to work differently, threatens some jobs, empowers parents with new choices, and makes schools’ existence depend on enrollment and academic performance. As education reform efforts in some cities have shown, bypassing local politics is not a sustainable solution.

Beyond Measure Film Screening

Madison Teachers, Inc (PDF), via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email:

“Beyond Measure” a film, sponsored by MTI & WEAC, paints a positive picture of what is possible in American Education. Ruth Conniff, Editor of The Progressive magazine, will facilitate a discussion following the film. The film begins at 7:00 p.m., at the Barrymore Theater. There is no charge to attend. Tickets are going fast, but can be reserved via:

The Rise of the College Crybullies

Roger Kimball:

For more than a week now, the country has been mesmerized, and appalled, by the news emanating from academia. At Yale the insanity began over Halloween costumes. Erika Christakis, associate master of a residential college at Yale, courted outrage by announcing that “free speech and the ability to tolerate offense are the hallmarks of a free and open society” and it was not her business to police Halloween costumes.

To people unindoctrinated by the sensitivity training that is de rigueur on most campuses today, these sentiments might seem unobjectionable. But to the delicate creatures at Yale’s Silliman College they were an intolerable provocation. What if students dressed as American Indians or Mexican mariachi musicians? Angry, hysterical students confronted Nicholas Christakis, Erika’s husband and the master of Silliman, screaming obscenities and demanding that he step down because he had failed to create “a place of comfort, a home” for students. The episode was captured on video and went viral.

When the College Madness Came to My Campus

Charles Kesler:

Claremont McKenna College was once deliberately out of step with academic fashion. I used to tell prospective students and their parents, liberal or conservative, that one of the best things about CMC was that it refused to enforce the little catechism of political correctness. Regardless of political beliefs on campus, I assured them, students did not have to worry about speaking up in class or being persecuted for their opinions.

That is now very much in doubt. Last week the turmoil stirred at Yale and the University of Missouri swept my campus. A coalition of self-proclaimed “marginalized” students presented a catalog of “microaggressions” they had suffered, demanding new forms of “institutional support” in compensation. Demonstrators, who included both CMC undergrads and a few unfamiliar, skulking adults, denounced the dean of students and humiliated her in an open-air trial. Two students went on a hunger strike. Within days, Claremont McKenna—a place I have been proud to call my employer for more than three decades—surrendered ignominiously. How and why did it happen?

Uber Considers Steering Drivers To “Vocational Training” As Cars Go Autonomous

Josh Constine:

But Friday night, Kalanick offered new potential options for drivers while speaking on stage at the Summit At Sea getaway conference boat off the coast of Miami. The boat, which had little connectivity, just returned to port.

After an on stage discussion with Google/Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt, a nervous audience member bluntly asked Kalanick about the fate of Uber’s drivers as autonomous vehicles hit the road. At first, Kalanick launched into a summary of why the act of driving is fundamentally bad. He cited that 30,000 people a year die of car accidents, billions of hours are spent “decreasing quality of life” during the stressful act of driving, and traffic hurts people’s efficiency. He sees driverless technology as a solution to many of these problems.

Why I left NC district schools to teach in a charter school

Mamie Hall:

My 10 years teaching in the public schools can best be described as a roller coaster of inspiration, innovation and disappointment.

After college, I began working in a pilot year-round middle school program. We had smaller class sizes and a lot of freedom. We set our own schedule, made our own policies and took our students on team-building exercises in the mountains and celebrations of success at nearby attractions. Yes, there were challenges, but being able to use our own creative methods to address those led to a sense of professionalism and accomplishment.

The icing on the cake, not that this is my main measure of my success as a teacher, was that our test scores were higher than any other in the district.

We Dissent

Claremont Independent:

The student protests that have swept through Claremont McKenna College (CMC) over the past few days—and the ensuing fallout—have made us disappointed in many of those involved.

First, former Dean Mary Spellman. We are sorry that your career had to end this way, as the email in contention was a clear case of good intentions being overlooked because of poor phrasing. However, we are disappointed in you as well. We are disappointed that you allowed a group of angry students to bully you into resignation. We are disappointed that you taught Claremont students that reacting with emotion and anger will force the administration to act. We are disappointed that when two students chose to go on a hunger strike until you resigned, you didn’t simply say, “so what?” If they want to starve themselves, that’s fine—you don’t owe them your job. We are disappointed that you and President Chodosh put up with students yelling and swearing at you for an hour. You could have made this a productive dialogue, but instead you humored the students and allowed them to get caught up in the furor.

The Myth of the Unemployed Humanities Major

Wilson Peden

For the last time: No, earning a degree in English, philosophy, art history, name-your-humanities-discipline will not condemn you to a lifetime of unemployment and poverty.

Actually, this is probably not the last time I will write some version of those words. It’s certainly not the first time I have written them. (See, for instance, the lede from another blog post I wrote almost exactly a year ago: “Good news for recent graduates who majored in the arts or humanities: you are not doomed to a lifetime of poverty and unemployment.”) But I feel compelled to keep writing these words because, in the face of all evidence, the myth of the unemployed humanities major persists. It may be more prevalent than ever: Florida Senator Marco Rubio has made snarky remarks about the job market for philosophy majors a trademark of his campaign speeches for the Republican presidential nomination.

There’s a good reason protesters at the University of Missouri didn’t want the media around

Terrell Jermaine Starr:

Video of a confrontation between a news photographer and protesters at the University of Missouri on Monday led to a dispute between journalists and the activists’ sympathizers beyond the campus walls. In response to a series of racial issues at the university, a circle of arm-linked students sought to designate a “safe space” around an encampment on the campus quad. When they blocked journalist Tim Tai from photographing the encampment, reporters complained that media were denied access to a public space.

Certainly, Tai – like any journalist – had a legal right to enter the space, given that it was in a public area. But that shouldn’t be the end of this story. We in the media have something important to learn from this unfortunate exchange. The protesters had a legitimate gripe: The black community distrusts the news media because it has failed to cover black pain fairly.

Homeschooled with MIT courses at 5, accepted to MIT at 15

Laurie Everett:

Ahaan Rungta and his family moved from Calcutta, India, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2001, the same year MIT announced OpenCourseWare (OCW), a bold plan to publish all of MIT’s course materials online and to share them with the world for free. Little did his parents realize at the time that their two-year-old son — already an avid reader — would eventually acquire his entire elementary and secondary education from OpenCourseWare and MITx, and would be admitted to the MIT class of 2019 at the age of 15.

“When I was five years old my mom told me ‘there’s this thing called OCW,’” says Rungta, who was homeschooled. “I just couldn’t believe how much material was available. From that moment on I spent the next few years taking OCW courses.”

When most kids are entering kindergarten, Rungta was studying physics and chemistry through OpenCourseWare. For Rungta’s mother, the biggest challenge to homeschooling her son was staying ahead of him, finding courses and materials to feed his insatiable mind.

How to Write a “Political Correctness Run Amok” Article

Julia Serano

And here is how you will do it:

1) Make it clear from the very beginning that you are an open-minded, social justice supporter, preferably on the left side of the political spectrum. This will contrast your take on “political correctness run amok” from those of right wing commentators — you know, those hypocrites who are pro-free speech when it comes to white, straight, Christian people making fun of minorities, but against free speech when it comes to #BlackLivesMatter, or discussions about sex education and women’s reproductive rights, or secular holiday celebrations, or homosexuals and their so-called “agenda.” You are nothing like those hypocrites! Plus, you are pitching your soon-to-be-trending article to someplace like The Nation or The Atlantic, so you will most certainly need to win over liberal readers.

How College Students Are Funding the Athletics Arms Race

Brad Wolverton, Ben Hallman, Shane Shifflett and Sandhya Kambhampati:

A river of cash is flowing into college sports, financing a spending spree among elite universities that has sent coaches’ salaries soaring and spurred new discussions about whether athletes should be paid. But most of that revenue is going to a handful of elite sports programs, leaving colleges like Georgia State to rely heavily on students to finance their athletic ambitions.

In the past five years, public universities pumped more than $10.3 billion in mandatory student fees and other subsidies into their sports programs, according to an examination by The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Huffington Post. The review included an inflation-adjusted analysis of financial reports provided to the NCAA by 201 public universities competing in Division I, information that was obtained through public-records requests.

When Free Speech Becomes a Political Weapon

Kate Manne and Jason Stanley:

Students at the University of Missouri recently succeeded in pressuring the institution’s president and chancellor to step down. At other campuses across the country, we are witnessing a wave of similar protests. Frequently, however, the students protesting are being misrepresented and belittled in the news media as childish and coddled. More worryingly still, they are held to be attacking freedom of speech rather than exercising it to call for institutional reform — political action of the very kind this freedom aims at protecting.

What explains this apparent paradox? In a word, propaganda. The notion of freedom of speech is being co-opted by dominant social groups, distorted to serve their interests, and used to silence those who are oppressed and marginalized. All too often, when people depict others as threats to freedom of speech, what they really mean is, “Quiet!”

K-12 Governance Question Before The Wisconsin Supreme Court

Patrick Marley:

In 1996, the high court unanimously ruled the elected superintendent is in charge of education, finding the governor and lawmakers could not strip the office of those powers. Now, the court is being asked to overturn that decision.

Justice David Prosser was the speaker of the state Assembly during the legal battle two decades ago, and in that capacity he filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing the Legislature had greater powers over schools.

He lost that argument, but as a member of the court he will get to revisit it.

The case now before the Supreme Court is meant to determine whether the governor can have a say in the administrative rules written by the superintendent’s Department of Public Instruction. Lower courts ruled the governor could not.

Overturning the 1996 decision wasn’t at issue when the case was before the lower courts but was raised when it got to the state Supreme Court. Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel is arguing for reversing the decision, as is Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, a business lobbying group that filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case.

Evers argues the decision should not be reversed because courts are supposed to follow precedent and there are no new facts or conflicting rulings that should prompt the court to reverse course.

The Seduction of Safety, on Campus and Beyond 265

Roxane Gay:

As a writer, I believe the First Amendment is sacred. The freedom of speech, however, does not guarantee freedom from consequence. You can speak your mind, but you can also be shunned. You can be criticized. You can be ignored or ridiculed. You can lose your job. The freedom of speech does not exist in a vacuum.

Many of the people who advocate for freedom of speech with the most bluster are willing to waste this powerful right on hate speech. But the beauty of the freedom of speech is that it protects us from subjectivity. We protect someone’s right to shout hateful slurs the same way we protect someone’s right to, say, criticize the government, or discuss her religious beliefs.

And so the students at Mizzou wanted a safe space to commune as they protested. They wanted sanctuary but had the nerve to demand this sanctuary in plain sight, in a public space. Rather than examine why the activists needed safe space, most people wrapped themselves in the Constitution, the path of less resistance. The students are framed as coddled infants, as if perhaps we should educate college students in a more spartan manner — placing classrooms in lions’ dens.

3 Lessons From University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe’s Resignation

Dave Zirin:

I n shocking news that comes in utter contradiction to a statement released just yesterday, University of Missouri President Tim Wolfe has announced his resignation.

The move comes after incidents of bigotry and racial vandalism that scarred the Columbia campus, followed by weeks of protest, a hunger strike by grad student Jonathan Butler, as well as the announcement that faculty members would not be showing up for work.

Yet the tipping point for Wolfe’s departure was the announcement Saturday night that the black football players at Mizzou would be refusing to practice or play until the school president was gone. Their announcement was followed the next day by a widely circulated photo of most of the team, including many white players, sitting with head coach Gary Pinkel, and the statement that the players had full support of the coaching staff in their efforts. Tim Wolfe makes $459,000 a year and the school would have to forfeit $1 million just for missing this weekend’s game against BYU. In other words, math was not on Tim Wolfe’s side and he was as good as gone.

Why journalists have the right to cover the University of Missouri protests

Jonathan Peters:

Hundreds of students, faculty, and staff gathered on the Carnahan Quadrangle to support the 1950 group, whose name is a nod to the year black students were first allowed on Mizzou’s campus. The president’s resignation—and later the chancellor’s—followed weeks of unrest at the state’s flagship university. One grad student declared a hunger strike, and the football team refused to compete as long as the president kept his job, all while the 1950 members camped out in tents on campus. The protests were sparked by anger that administrators had not acted more quickly to address recent expressions of racism directed at black students.

Eric Lundgren on Part of Our Lives : A People’s History of the American Public Library

Human Google

FIRST, THE GOOD NEWS. On the first page of Wayne A. Wiegand’s Part of Our Lives: A People’s History of the American Public Library, a stunning statistic from the Pew Research Center’s 2013 Internet and American Life Project: 91 percent of respondents over the age of 16 said that public libraries were “very” or “somewhat” important to their communities; 98 percent identified their public library experience as “very” or “mostly” positive; and 94 percent of parents believed that libraries were important to their children. The report also grouped the library with the military and first responders as the only major institutions not to fall in public esteem over the previous decade.

It’s worth pausing for a second to ponder this baffling consensus. In the polarized and paranoid America of the 21st century — these days I picture Uncle Sam with one hand on his concealed weapon, his other hand on his wallet — it’s hard to imagine 90 percent of us agreeing on anything, much less coming together to support an open, tax-funded, socialistic institution devoted (at least traditionally) to the distribution of books.

How This Teen Uses an iPhone To Manage His Diabetes

Christina Farr:

Blake Atkins receives regular messages from his mom when he’s at school. But unlike most teenagers, he doesn’t seem to mind.

That’s because Atkins, 15, who lives in San Carlos, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes four years ago. His mom, Lori, sends him a text whenever his blood sugar levels are out of the normal range.

“I do like that my mom can look at my numbers,” Atkins says. “It keeps me sane. It helps keep her sane.”

While enlisting caregivers might seem like a logical way to manage diabetes, it’s only recently that such tools have been available. Health experts say sophisticated devices to monitor blood sugar have been around for years, but it’s been a challenge to share health data securely with a smartphone — and from there, add it to a patient’s medical record.

College is the last place that should be a ‘safe space’: A voice of protest against student protests

By Hannah Oh, Steven Glick and Taylor Schmitt:

The student protests that have swept through Claremont McKenna College (CMC) over the past few days—and the ensuing fallout—have made us disappointed in many of those involved.

First, former Dean Mary Spellman. We are sorry that your career had to end this way, as the email in contention was a clear case of good intentions being overlooked because of poor phrasing. However, we are disappointed in you as well.

We are disappointed that you allowed a group of angry students to bully you into resignation.

We are disappointed that you taught Claremont students that reacting with emotion and anger will force the administration to act.

No One Has a Monopoly On “Beating the Odds”

Michael DeArmond:

We recently released a report that looked at nine indicators to measure educational improvement and opportunity in 50 cities across America. Despite a few bright spots, the results paint a sobering picture of the state of urban public education today, especially for students from low-income households and students of color.

With few exceptions, students eligible for free and reduced-price lunch and students of color in the 50 cities were less likely than more advantaged students to enroll in a high-scoring elementary and middle school, take advanced math classes in high school, and sit for the ACT/SAT. Equally important, the odds of a student being in a supercharged school where these education gaps might be wiped out were slim: overall, only about 8 percent of all students in the 50 cities enrolled in a school that “beat the odds” and outpaced demographically similar schools statewide. How can city leaders address these problems? Although the report can’t provide any answers, it offers some clues.

Closing the Discipline Gap

Bethany Gross:

Why would changing school discipline rank among the reforms recommended for a city where the most egregious injustice has played out in law enforcement and the court system? In a recent NPR story, Reverend Starsky Wilson, the co-chairman of the group of leaders known as the Ferguson Committee, explained:

The perception of our police is the same as many teachers who see young black men, particularly, as older than they actually are, as more dangerous than they present. And then they treat them differently with their use of consequences. So in the classroom, it’s out-of-school suspensions, and on the street, it’s extrajudicial killings.

That’s a stark statement, but the link between getting into trouble in and out of school is a reality for many students, so much so that people refer to a “school-to-prison pipeline” that moves students from school into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Commentary On Teacher Merit Pay

Jim Schutze:

The problem there, up until recently, has been that you can’t really do much research on a thing that doesn’t exist yet. So, for example, how does Ravitch know already that merit pay will turn teachers against each other?

Back to journalism and elephants: Just now, in fact, merit pay systems are up and running in a few major districts. Our own Dallas school district may even have the most comprehensive and sophisticated merit pay system in the country, a direct legacy of the tenure here of former Dallas school Superintendent Mike Miles.

This year is the first when we have had two years to compare in order to spot trends. But in most of its recent coverage of what is called the “Teacher Excellence Initiative” or TEI (merit pay) system here, The Dallas Morning News has focused only on the criticism of the system brought forward by the teachers unions.

English is not normal

John McWhorter:

English speakers know that their language is odd. So do people saddled with learning it non-natively. The oddity that we all perceive most readily is its spelling, which is indeed a nightmare. In countries where English isn’t spoken, there is no such thing as a ‘spelling bee’ competition. For a normal language, spelling at least pretends a basic correspondence to the way people pronounce the words. But English is not normal.

What’s a ‘safe space’? A look at the phrase’s 50-year history

Malcolm Harris:

But what is a “safe space” and why shouldn’t a university be one? This tweet from Dawkins would have been a psychotic response to a school shooting or campus rape, but that’s not the kind of safety he’s talking about. The safe spaces that Dawkins doesn’t like are encroachments onto his turf by queer and feminist activists. All of the sudden a self-styled public intellectual like Dawkins has to use “they” as a singular gender-neutral pronoun or risk censure. He signed up for science, not social studies.

And Dawkins isn’t alone in his frustration. At the University of Missouri, the president and chancellor have both been forced to resign by student protesters who accused them of failing to create a safe space for Black students. At Yale, a residential “master” earned national condemnation after he and his wife stood up for the principle of racially offensive Halloween costumes. “Safe space” has become a rallying cry for student activists who want to change the way their campus communities operate, but it has an older history.

How Marcuse made today’s students less tolerant than their parents

April Kelly-Woessner

When Samuel Stouffer first wrote on political tolerance during the McCarthy era, he concluded that Americans were generally an intolerant bunch. Yet, finding that younger people were more tolerant than their parents, he also concluded that Americans would become more and more tolerant over time, due to generational replacement and increases in education. However, Stouffer did not predict the rise of the New Left, which I argue has reframed our collective notions about free expression, resulting in a significant decline in political tolerance among America’s youth. I develop this argument in a chapter I wrote for Stanley Rothman’s last book, The End of the Experiment, (Rothman, Nagai, Maranto, and Woessner, 2015) My findings are outlined below.

First, I make the case that young people are less politically tolerant than their parents’ generation and that this marks a clear reversal of the trends observed by social scientists for the past 60 years. Political tolerance is generally defined as the willingness to extend civil liberties and basic democratic rights to members of unpopular groups. That is, in order to be tolerant, one must recognize the rights of one’s political enemies to fully participate in the democratic process. Typically, this is measured by asking people whether they will allow members of unpopular groups, or groups they dislike, to exercise political rights, such as giving a public talk, teaching college, or having their books on loan in public libraries.

Who’s really demanding to be coddled on campus? Yale students aren’t the spoiled brats for refusing to be racially trolled on Halloween

Silpa Kovvali Silpa Kovvali:

In December of 2012, many Harvard students woke to an unpleasant surprise that had been slid under their doors. A flyer, circulated by anonymous parties, was seemingly a parodic invitation to a final club. “Inclusion. Diversity. Love.” it read, with footnotes clarifying “Jews need not apply. Seriously, no fucking Jews. Coloreds okay. Rophynol.” (Final clubs are Harvard’s version of fraternities: they are very wealthy, very old, and bear a long tradition of elitism and sexism.)

In response, the (now former) Dean of the College, Evelynn M. Hammonds issued a statement. “I find these flyers offensive,” it said. “Even if intended as satirical in nature, they are hurtful and offensive … and do not demonstrate the level of thoughtfulness and respect we expect at Harvard when engaging difficult issues within our community.” That week, two Harvard House Masters, Nicholas A. and Erika Christakis, wrote a histrionic Time op-ed in which they described the school as a “a free-speech surveillance state.” Their sole evidence was the administration’s response to the anonymous gesture: Hammonds’s declaration that she, for one, did not care for it.

How to Be Smarter With a ‘529’ Account

Chana Schoenberger:

Many parents and grandparents love “529” accounts to save for college. But like anything involving money and taxes, not everyone uses them in the most efficient way.

These state-sponsored savings plans, which typically invest in mutual funds, hold a record amount of assets—$258.2 billion in 12.3 million open accounts, says the College Savings Plans Network, a state treasurers’ group.

The attraction is that they come with years of tax-free growth, as well as tax-free withdrawals as long as the funds are used to pay for qualified education expenses.

In effect, these plans are a hedge against the wave of student-loan debt engulfing many recent graduates.

“It is much less expensive to save for college than to borrow for college,” says Angie O’Leary, senior vice president with U.S. Bancorp Investments.

Here are some tips from consultants and other experts on how to use these plans in the best way:

Madison Government Schools Charter (and Innovation) Climate

Julie F. Mead & Preston C. Green III

This policy brief addresses the challenge of using charter school policy to enhance equal educational opportunity. Three overriding assumptions guide the brief’s recommendations: (1) charter schools will be part of our public educational system for the foreseeable future; (2) charter schools are neither inherently good, nor inherently bad; and (3) charter schools should be employed to further goals of equal educational opportunity, including racial diversity and school success. The creation of charter schools is just one among a variety of policy tools at the disposal of local, state, and national policymakers. As with all educational policy tools, one challenge is to wield the tool in a manner that will enhance equity and opportunity. Part I of this brief provides an overview of equal educational opportunity and its legal foundations and offers a review of prior research documenting issues concerning charter schools and their impact on equity and diversity. Part II presents detailed recommendations for charter school authorizers, as well as state and federal policymakers for using charter schools to advance equal educational opportunity. Separately, we are publishing a companion document based on these detailed recommendations, providing model statutory code language that can be employed by state policymakers to ensure that charter schools attend to long-established policy goals.

Madison Schools’ charter policy (pdf).

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School several years ago, despite long term disastrous reading results.

Fostering Innovation in the Madison Government Schools.

Wisconsin Reading Coalition Newsletter

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email:

Dr. Louisa Moats defends the use of the word “dyslexia” in this article: Defending the “D” Word.

Two resources are available for teaching bi-dialectal fluency for African American English speakers: Toggle Talk for kindergartners and Code Switching Lessons: Grammar Strategies of Linguistically Diverse Writers for older students. These programs are linguistically and culturally responsive practices designed to boost literacy outcomes for African American students.

The Legal Case Unions Fear They Cannot Win

Steve Malanga:

It has been a difficult five years for government-employee unions, and the Supreme Court appears poised to strike another blow. During the current term, the justices will hear Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case challenging rules in 23 states—including California, Illinois and New York—that force government workers to pay hefty “agency fees” to unions that they have no interest in joining.

Labor activists call these “fair share fees,” on the theory that nonunion workers, even if they don’t pay full dues, still benefit from collective bargaining—for example, from a wage increase negotiated by union representatives. In a brief filed last week with the Supreme Court, the California Teachers Association argued that such fees are vital “to avoid labor strife, to secure economic stability, to insure the efficiency and continuity of state and local governments.”

Study on the rise of autism wins Samuel Johnson Prize

Lorien Kite:

A study of autism has won the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize, the UK’s most prestigious award for non-fiction writing.

Neurotribes, by the US investigative journalist Steve Silberman, began life in 2001 as an article in Wired magazine that sought to explain higher-than-average rates of the disorder among the children of programmers and engineers in Silicon Valley.

Combining contemporary reportage with a history of medical approaches and social attitudes towards the disorder, the book that emerged tackles the question of why there has been such a rise in diagnoses in recent decades.

Anne Applebaum, the historian and journalist who chaired the five-strong judging panel, described Neurotribes as “a tour de force of archival, journalistic and scientific research”.

Madison Government Schools’ Vision 2030 Research Report

PDF Slides

Madison has changed significantly in the past few decades, and likely will continue to change in the years to come. Since 1990, residents in poverty and residents of color have increased citywide, while MMSD students receiving free/reduced lunch and MMSD students of color have increased even faster.

Looking forward to 2030, Madison likely will look different in other ways – from the technology that affects our daily lives to the type of jobs that drive our economy. The Madison region has a history as a research and innovation hub; recent growth in the bioscience and information technology sectors as well as entrepreneurial start-ups will continue to shape our community’s economy. Although no one can know exactly what changes the next fifteen years will bring, creating a clear vision for MMSD’s future will anchor our work in constantly changing times.

Released in 2013, the MMSD Strategic Framework is a living document that gives the district a vision – that every school will be a thriving school that prepares every student for college, career, and community – and, more important, a strategy for moving forward towards this vision, including a focus on school improvement planning, a common learning agenda, and five priority areas to guide the work of central office. Working with the community, the district has set out to close the gaps in opportunity that lead to disparities in achievement, and to be a model of what a strong successful public school district looks like.

But research suggests that the greatest long-term improvement occurs when organizations know where they are headed and keep finding ways to improve. To maintain momentum, MMSD needed to create something to define clearly the components of its vision, including college, career, and community ready graduates, thriving educators and schools, and family and community partnerships.

The Vision 2030 process was our way to accomplish this goal, bringing life and specificity to these components. By doing so, MMSD can create a vision for the district that serves as an ambitious yet attainablestatementofwhereweareheaded,avividandaspirationalpictureofwhatMMSDcanbe. Thisvisionwill work in concert with the Strategic Framework to guide actions, both big and small, and serve as a beacon to which the district can align our actions and direct our growth in years to come.

Explaining Your Math: Unnecessary at Best, Encumbering at Worst

Katherine Beals & Barry Garelick:

“In general, there is no more evidence of “understanding” in the explained solution, even with pictures, than there would be in mathematical solutions presented in a clear and organized way. How do we know, for example, that a student isn’t simply repeating an explanation provided by the teacher or the textbook, thus exhibiting mere “rote learning” rather than “true understanding” of a problem-solving procedure?

“Math learning is a progression from concrete to abstract. The advantage to the abstract is that the various mathematical operations can be performed without the cumbersome attachments of concrete entities—entities like dollars, percentages, groupings of pencils. Once a particular word problem has been translated into a mathematical representation, the entirety of its mathematically relevant content is condensed onto abstract symbols, freeing working memory and unleashing the power of pure mathematics. That is, information and procedures that have been become automatic frees up working memory. With working memory less burdened, the student can focus on solving the problem at hand. Thus, requiring explanations beyond the mathematics itself distracts and diverts students away from the convenience and power of abstraction. Mandatory demonstrations of “mathematical understanding,” in other words, can impede the “doing” of actual mathematics.”

Related: Math Forum: audio/video.

Milwaukee School Takeovers?

Alan Borsuk:

School takeovers? Who said anything about school takeovers?

Well, Republicans in the Legislature did. Which means it’s in state law.

And a lot of other folks did, including opponents, led by the Milwaukee teachers union. The union campaigned energetically on a theme of “not one school” being taken away from the Milwaukee Public Schools system and put under the control of a charter school operator who would answer to a Milwaukee commissioner of education who would answer to Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

But the law doesn’t say school takeovers are required, you know. It just opens the way for them.

Last week’s appointment by Abele of Mequon-Thiensville School Superintendent Demond Means as the first Milwaukee school commissioner means the way is closed, at least for the 2016-’17 school year.

Officially known as the Opportunity Schools Partnership Program, the new effort looked initially like a mini version of the New Orleans Recovery School District, which basically replaced that city’s traditional school system with an all-charter system.

But the Milwaukee initiative emerged last week with a sharply different identity. It looks to me like it has a lot more in common with the initiative known as “community schools” than it has in common with takeovers of public schools. And the community schools idea has been backed by MPS leaders and the teachers union in the last couple years. How interesting.

Baby boomers and the end of higher education

Jeffrey Sellingo:

Fifty years ago this week, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Higher Education Act, ushering in an era of massive federal support for college students through a flurry of new programs: tuition grants, guaranteed student loans, and work-study funds. The law allowed a much greater swath of Americans to earn a college degree regardless of their family income. During the following decades, enrollment at campuses across the country grew threefold, to some 20 million students.

But today, Johnson’s vision of the Higher Education Act as a great equalizer in the American economy is at risk. Indeed, the divide between the haves and have-nots in higher education is almost as great today as it was in the mid-1960s. In the past decade alone, the percentage of students from families at the highest income levels who received a bachelor’s degree has grown to 82 percent, while for those at the bottom it has fallen to just 8 percent.

The Rise of the College Crybullies

Roger Kimball:

For more than a week now, the country has been mesmerized, and appalled, by the news emanating from academia. At Yale the insanity began over Halloween costumes. Erika Christakis, associate master of a residential college at Yale, courted outrage by announcing that “free speech and the ability to tolerate offense are the hallmarks of a free and open society” and it was not her business to police Halloween costumes.

To people unindoctrinated by the sensitivity training that is de rigueur on most campuses today, these sentiments might seem unobjectionable. But to the delicate creatures at Yale’s Silliman College they were an intolerable provocation. What if students dressed as American Indians or Mexican mariachi musicians? Angry, hysterical students confronted Nicholas Christakis, Erika’s husband and the master of Silliman, screaming obscenities and demanding that he step down because he had failed to create “a place of comfort, a home” for students. The episode was captured on video and went viral.

An Adult on Campus Mitch Daniels offers a lesson to college administrators.

Wall Street Journal:

It deserves to be quoted at length: “Events this week at the University of Missouri and Yale University should remind us all of the importance of absolute fidelity to our shared values. First, that we strive constantly to be, without exception, a welcoming, inclusive and discrimination-free community, where each person is respected and treated with dignity. Second, to be steadfast in preserving academic freedom and individual liberty.

“Two years ago, a student-led initiative created the ‘We Are Purdue Statement of Values,’ which was subsequently endorsed by the University Senate. Last year, both our undergraduate and graduate student governments led an effort that produced a strengthened statement of policies protecting free speech. What a proud contrast to the environments that appear to prevail at places like Missouri and Yale. Today and every day, we should remember the tenets of those statements and do our best to live up to them fully.”

So a commitment to tolerance can coexist on campus with a commitment to free speech and open debate. What a concept.

In an era of diminishing state support, what makes UC Berkeley a public institution?

Sahil Chinoy and Chloee Weiner:

In 1960, California passed the Master Plan for Higher Education, which established a framework for public higher education in the state. It envisioned a University of California without tuition that guaranteed access for the top one-eighth of the state’s high school graduates, funded by taxpayers who believed in the university as a source of economic and social mobility.

UC Berkeley, in particular, as an elite public school, has aimed to reconcile its responsibility to the state’s people with its status as a highly selective academic institution — a challenge faced by few others.

Today, state disinvestment, rising tuition costs, more out-of-state students, increased private research funding and a greater emphasis on alumni giving have left some questioning whether UC Berkeley is drifting farther from the public ideal of the Master Plan and closer to the private universities with which it has always competed.

What the Right Couldn’t Take: MTI’s Ability to Collaborate

Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter, via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email (PDF):

The present condition of politics in education is gloomy. School workers report high levels of stress, health problems, and thoughts of abandoning their career. Numerous teachers in Wisconsin already have, and it’s caused a teacher shortage nationwide. Many pinpoint the source – a lack of respect for the professional by far-right legislators and governors, and that has become the new normal. However, a ray of hope broke its way through the malaise, with the announcement this fall of what has been accomplished with the Madison Metropolitan School District Employee Handbook. It is evidence of what the Right couldn’t take. While Act 10 destroyed a 50 year history of collective bargaining for Wisconsin’s public employees, save police and firefighters, it couldn’t take away the voice or the spirit of MTI’s collaborative ability. There is still power in Union.

The Employee Handbook was a result of the Union and District management working together to map out a path for the future of our students, our schools, and workers. One of the most powerful aspects of this Handbook is that it continues a grievance procedure which provides for a mutually-selected independent hearing examiner.

Also, within the Handbook is a process for its modification. Any modification will be the result of a joint employer/employee committee coming together to make a recommendation to the Board of Education. This follows a procedure similar to the process used to create the original Handbook. It honors collaboration and emphasizes the importance of workers’ voices in the workplace.

Purdue vs. Yale and Mizzou

Scott Jaschik:

The Wall Street Journal couldn’t have been much more excited about what Mitch Daniels said Wednesday about the protests at Yale University and the University of Missouri. “We’ve been wondering all week what happened to the grown-ups on American university campuses, and it appears we have a sighting. Mitch Daniels, the president of Purdue University, spoke up Wednesday about the children’s revolt at Yale and Missouri,” said the Journal in an editorial.

While many conservatives joined in praising Daniels, his comments angered many black students at Purdue and some critics elsewhere. A rally is planned at Purdue today.

Why Students Need to Sit Up and Pay Attention

Eva Moskvitz:

Success Academy Charter Schools, New York City’s largest network of free charter schools, has recently been the center of controversy over its policies on student behavior. Our critics accuse us of pushing out children who might pull down our test scores, and in doing so creating what some call “a kindergarten-to-prison pipeline.” In reality, our attrition rates are lower than those of the district schools. How then do our students, chosen by lottery and mainly children of color, routinely outperform even students from wealthy…

Mizzou leaders squarely at fault for campus fiasco

Charles Smth:

In the history of higher education in our nation, today was gut check time. Both the president and the chancellor at the University of Missouri have now bitten the dust.

This incredibly consequential event is being widely interpreted as a victory for a college football team. No question, the actions taken by the Missouri football team and coach tipped the balance in the ultimate decision. However, make no mistake, the problems at the University of Missouri were much greater than the grievances of a group of football players.

UPDATE: MU director of Greek Life put on leave; Title IX complaint filed against her and Click

Ruth Serven & William Schmitt:

One of the MU employees seen physically forcing a freelance photographer to move at a Concerned Student 1950 camp Monday has been placed on administrative leave, effective immediately.

Mark Lucas, director of the Department of Student Life, sent the following statement late Wednesday afternoon: “Effective Nov. 11, 2015, Janna Basler has been placed on administrative leave and relieved of her duties as Director of Greek Life while we conduct an investigation regarding her recent actions.”

In a video by MU student Mark Schierbecker, which has been widely circulated, Basler is seen with her arms outstretched walking toward and eventually touching Tim Tai, a student photojournalist on assignment for ESPN. Basler issued an apology Tuesday night, saying she regretted how she handled the tense situation at the campsite and that she respected journalists. Schierbecker is a senior photographer for The Maneater, a student newspaper at MU.

Welding vs. Philosophy: College Has Jumped the Shark

Heather Wilhelm:

In Tuesday’s Republican debate, Sen. Marco Rubio offered one of the more memorable lines of the night: “For the life of me, I don’t know why we have stigmatized vocational education,” he said, discussing ways to boost American wages. “Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.” The audience burst into enthusiastic applause.

By Wednesday morning, however, the applause had morphed into a chorus of studious media tsk-tsking. “Sorry, Marco Rubio,” ran a Washington Post headline. “Philosophy majors actually make way more than welders.” CNN International led off with a sizzling welding pun: “Marco Rubio’s quip about welders gets torched.” The more grammar-oriented, always ready to correct, helpfully reminded Rubio that he really meant “fewer” philosophers, not “less.”

‘Grow up,’ tweets former Mizzou football star to students who slammed ‘hero’ professor

Michael Miller:

“If you don’t feel safe coming to class, then don’t come to class,” Dale Brigham replied in an e-mail that appears to have been sent to his entire class. “I will be there, and there will be an exam administered in our class.

“If you give into bullies, they win. The only way bullies are defeated is by standing up to them. If we cancel the exam, they win; if we go through with it, they lose.

“I know which side I am on,” Brigham wrote. “You make your own choice.”

A College-Rankings World

Alia Wong:

It seems that nearly every major media publication in the United States these days wants to rank colleges. The latest outlet to get on board? The Economist, which scores higher-education institutions based in part on how much graduates earn. But lots of publications’ rankings look at future earnings and, more generally, ROI—return on investment. The Daily Beast’s “Down & Dirty Guide to the Best Colleges,” for example, uses data on graduates’ salaries to inform its “Best ROI” list (which appears to be far less popular than the guide’s “25 Sexiest Colleges” list). And then there’s Money, whose notably nuanced rankings system recently got a shout-out from the (rankings-less) Washington Post for “[coming] the closest” to “[cracking] the code on answering the ROI question.”

Mizzou, Yale and Free Speech

Nicholas Kristof:

This is sensitivity but also intolerance, and it is disproportionately an instinct on the left.

I’m a pro-choice liberal who has been invited to infect evangelical Christian universities with progressive thoughts, and to address Catholic universities where I’ve praised condoms and birth control programs. I’m sure I discomfited many students on these conservative campuses, but it’s a tribute to them that they were willing to be challenged. In the same spirit, liberal universities should seek out pro-life social conservatives to speak.

More broadly, academia — especially the social sciences — undermines itself by a tilt to the left. We should cherish all kinds of diversity, including the presence of conservatives to infuriate us liberals and make us uncomfortable. Education is about stretching muscles, and that’s painful in the gym and in the lecture hall.

One of the wrenching upheavals lately has unfolded at Yale. Longtime frustrations among minority students boiled over after administrators seemed to them insufficiently concerned about offensive costumes for Halloween. A widely circulated video showed a furious student shouting down one administrator, Prof. Nicholas Christakis. “Be quiet!” she screams at him. “It is not about creating an intellectual space!”

The coming campus revolution

Ashe Schow:

We may be seeing the beginnings of a full-blown campus revolution. Not a revolution based on actual oppression, but a revolution stemming from perceived oppression and a desire to attain victimhood status.

The seeds of the revolution sprouted in full force this week, with protests at Yale and the University of Missouri. At Mizzou, students began protesting alleged incidents of racism. In addition to whatever true allegations there might be, false ones have contributed to the mass hysteria, as when Mizzou’s student president was forced to retract a Facebook post informing students that the Ku Klux Klan was on campus.

Racial Hysteria Triumphs on Campus

Heather Mac Donald:

the pathological narcissism of American college students has found a potentially devastating new source of power in the sports-industrial complex. University of Missouri president Timothy Wolfe resigned Monday morning in the face of a threatened boycott by black football players of an upcoming game. Wolfe’s alleged sin was an insufficient appreciation for the “systematic oppression” experienced by students of color at the university. Campus agitators also alleged that racial slurs had been directed at black students and feces had been smeared in the shape of a swastika in a dormitory.

Study on the rise of autism wins Samuel Johnson Prize

Lorien Kite:

A study of autism has won the 2015 Samuel Johnson Prize, the UK’s most prestigious award for non-fiction writing.

Neurotribes, by the US investigative journalist Steve Silberman, began life in 2001 as an article in Wired magazine that sought to explain higher-than-average rates of the disorder among the children of programmers and engineers in Silicon Valley.

Combining contemporary reportage with a history of medical approaches and social attitudes towards the disorder, the book that emerged tackles the question of why there has been such a rise in diagnoses in recent decades.

Anne Applebaum, the historian and journalist who chaired the five-strong judging panel, described Neurotribes as “a tour de force of archival, journalistic and scientific research”.

Bonfire of the Academy As liberal adults abdicate, the kids take charge on campus.

Wall Street Journal:

By bonfire of the academy we mean a conflict of values about the idea of a university that now threatens to undermine or destroy universities as a place of learning. Exhibit A is the ruin called the University of Missouri.

In the 1960s—at Cornell, Columbia, Berkeley and elsewhere—the self-described Student Left occupied buildings with what they often called “non-negotiable” demands.

Growing Up at Yale

James Kirchick

In 2003, I was a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshman at Yale when the Afro-American Cultural Center invited the late Amiri Baraka to speak under its auspices. Baraka (né LeRoi Jones) had been a founder of the Black Arts Movement, Black Power’s artistic arm, but had more recently gained notoriety for his Sept. 11 themed poem “Somebody Blew Up America?,” a long-winded, malevolent tirade whose most infamous verse asked, “Who told 4000 Israeli workers at the Twin Towers/ To stay home that day/ Why did Sharon stay away?” Calls came to revoke from Baraka the honor of Poet Laureate of New Jersey, and, legally prevented from stripping him of the title individually, the New Jersey state legislature abolished the position altogether.

Naturally, the decision to host Baraka upset many people on campus, not least Yale’s Jewish community. Appeals to the Afro-American Cultural Center to reconsider its invitation were dismissed. As a 19-year-old Jew from the affluent suburbs of Boston, whose only direct, personal knowledge of anti-Semitism had been as the recipient of elementary school joshing for not celebrating Christmas, I was therefore privileged to witness an eminent Jew-hater being welcomed to an institution I venerated and that I hoped would be my home.

When the campus PC police are conservative: why media ignored the free speech meltdown at William & Mary

Max Fisher:

There is one thing William & Mary does have in common with Yale: Both have recently endured tumultuous and painful internal fights over the line between free speech and cultural sensitivity. Ours culminated in formal hearings at the state legislature, student protests, a brief faculty strike, and, ultimately, the firing of the college president.

Yet you have probably never heard about what happened at William & Mary. There’s any number of reasons for this. Social media had not quite taken off at the time, so students had less of a platform. Our school doesn’t inspire the same fascination as the Ivies. Where Yale’s dispute is over racism, ours was somewhat different.

I have another theory as well, one that has made it difficult for me to digest the barrage of articles warning that left-wing illiberalism and student intolerance are suffocating campus freedoms: The people limiting free speech and punishing ideological transgression on our campus were right-wing adults rather than left-wing students, and this does not fit into the media narrative du jour of terrifying campus political correctness.

Campus Activists Weaponize ‘Safe Space’

Conor Friedersdorf:

At the University of Missouri, student activists succeeded this week in forcing the resignation of President Timothy M. Wolfe, charging that he has not done enough to address persistent racism on campus. Tim Tai, a University of Missouri student, got a freelance assignment from ESPN to photograph the reaction of victorious activists at the tent city they set up in a public area of campus. As a matter of law, he had an indisputable First Amendment right to photograph events transpiring outdoors on public property.

But student activists did not want their tent city or the people in it photographed, and forcibly prevented him from taking pictures. “We ask for no media in the parameters so the place where people live, fellowship, and sleep can be protected from twisted insincere narratives,” a Twitter account associated with the activists later declared, adding that “it’s typically white media who don’t understand the importance of respecting black spaces.” Tim Tai is Asian American.

Fascism at Yale

Bill Parlow:

Usually, we at Harvard are more than happy to see Yale students make fools of themselves on camera. The video that emerged this week of Yale students screaming down one of their professors might make for a good laugh, if its implications were not quite so serious. It’s a scene we’ve seen played out far too often at college campuses in recent years, and it deserves to be called by what it is: a nascent form of fascism.

In case you haven’t heard, Yale has recently endured a firestorm of protest after a lecturer that presides over one of the undergraduate colleges questioned whether concerns about the offensiveness of Halloween costumes had gone too far in impinging on free speech.

In response, hundreds of protesters gathered on the quad, calling for Nicholas and Erika Christakis to be removed from their roles. Nicholas voluntarily came to discuss the matter with them, and soon, a crowd of students enveloped him.

Why I will never pursue cheating again

Panos Ipeirotis:

Last Fall, it was my first semester of teaching as a tenured professor. It was also the semester that I realized how pervasive cheating is in our courses. After spending a tremendous amount of time fighting and pursuing all the cheating cases, I decided that it makes no sense to fight it. The incentive structures simply do not reward such efforts. The Nash equilibrium is to let the students cheat and “perform well”; in exchange, I get back great evaluations.

But let me give you the complete story, as it contains tidbits that I found, in retrospect, highly entertaining.

U-Va. fraternity files $25 million lawsuit against Rolling Stone

T. Rees Shapiro:

The Phi Kappa Psi fraternity chapter at the University of Virginia filed a $25 million lawsuit Monday against Rolling Stone magazine, which published an article in 2014 that alleged a freshman was gang raped at the house during a party.

The lawsuit focuses on a Rolling Stone article titled “A Rape on Campus,” which detailed a harrowing attack on a freshman named Jackie at the Phi Psi house on Sept. 28, 2012. The article, written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely, described how Jackie was raped by seven men while two others watched in a second floor bedroom while a fraternity party raged downstairs. The article alleged that the attack was part of a hazing ritual at the long-time U-Va. fraternity.

Who Killed The Liberal Arts?

Heather MacDonald:

What in the world happened to the liberal arts? A degree in the humanities used to transmit the knowledge and wisdom imbued in the works of great Western artists, writers, musicians and thinkers like Shakespeare and Mozart. But today, that same degree stresses Western racism, sexism, imperialism, and other ills and sins that reinforce a sense of victimhood and narcissism. So, what happened? Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute explains.

More from Roger Scruton. Ángel Lamuño.

Yale’s Little Robespierres

Wall Street Journal:

Someone at Yale University should have dressed up as Robespierre for Halloween, as its students seem to have lost their minds over what constitutes a culturally appropriate costume. Identity and grievance politics keeps hitting new lows on campus, and now even liberal professors are being consumed by the revolution.

On Oct. 28 Yale Dean Burgwell Howard and Yale’s Intercultural Affairs Committee blasted out an email advising students against “culturally unaware” Halloween costumes, with self-help questions such as: “If this costume is meant to be historical, does it further misinformation or historical and cultural inaccuracies?” Watch out for insensitivity toward “religious beliefs, Native American/Indigenous people, Socio-economic strata, Asians, Hispanic/Latino, Women, Muslims, etc.” In short, everyone.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Ex-GAO head – US debt is three times more than you think

Bradford Richardson

The former U.S. comptroller general says the real U.S. debt is closer to about $65 trillion than the oft-cited figure of $18 trillion.

Dave Walker, who headed the Government Accountability Office (GAO) under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said when you add up all of the nation’s unfunded liabilities, the national debt is more than three times the number generally advertised.

“If you end up adding to that $18.5 trillion the unfunded civilian and military pensions and retiree healthcare, the additional underfunding for Social Security, the additional underfunding for Medicare, various commitments and contingencies that the federal government has, the real number is about $65 trillion rather than $18 trillion, and it’s growing automatically absent reforms,” Walker told host John Catsimatidis on “The Cats Roundtable” on New York’s AM-970 in an interview airing Sunday.

The former comptroller general, who is in charge of ensuring federal spending is fiscally responsible, said a burgeoning national debt hampers the ability of government to carry out both domestic and foreign policy initiatives.

A Revolt of the Coddled

Noah Rothman:

It has been said that college is where students go to learn how to learn. That is increasingly looking like an assumption based only in faith. The crisis of enforced intellectual homogeneity on America’s college campuses has been an acute one for several years. Despite the public’s growing concern for the integrity of American higher education, it is a crisis that seems only to get worse.

Colleges have courted a reputation not for shaping young minds and molding them in preparation for entering the workforce, but for mollycoddling a student body that seems forever engaged in one long, defensive, threat display. It is a true paradox that institutions with the mission of exposing students to new ideas, which will inevitably include some offensive or even dangerous ideas, are increasingly under fire for doing their job. Prospective campus speakers like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Christina Hoff Sommers, and Condoleezza Rice, are perfect examples of this phenomenon. These women of stature who fail to comport to the stereotype of victimization to which women and minorities are, in the progressive mind, supposed to conform were disinvited from their respective speaking engagements following a revolt of the coddled. It wasn’t enough for those students to retreat to the Orwellian-named “safe spaces” that shield oversize children from discomfort. No, these aspiring totalitarians had to ensure that no one else could be exposed to these speakers’ ideas or the example that they as role models set.

The New Intolerance of Student Activism

Mizzou And Yale Show Why It’s Time To Burn Universities To The Ground

Robert Tracinski

Tim Wolfe, the president of the University of Missouri—known as Mizzou—resigned early today, brought down by…well, it’s kind of hard to say.

A helpful timeline of the case indicates that it started with two cases in which black students at Mizzou said they had racial epithets shouted at them, and one in which a swastika was scrawled on the wall of a bathroom in a university building. In all three of these cases, nobody knows who did it or why. But they were taken as proof of “systemic racism” at the university, and protesters howled for Wolfe’s resignation. Throughout the case, Wolfe issued condemnations of racism, acknowledgements of the justice of the protester’s cause, and apologies for not seeming to take them seriously enough—which, as we should know by now, are all the signs that he’s doomed and will eventually be forced to resign.

The digital revolution in higher education has already happened. No one noticed.

Clay Shirky:

Thr digital revolution in higher education has happened. In the fall of 2012, the most recent semester with complete data in the U.S., four million undergraduates took at least one course online, out of sixteen million total, with growth up since then. Those numbers mean that more students now take a class online than attend a college with varsity football. More than twice as many now take a class online as live on campus. There are more undergraduates enrolled in an online class than there are graduate students enrolled in all Masters and Ph.D. programs combined. At the current rate of growth, half the country’s undergraduates will have at least one online class on their transcripts by the end of the decade. This is the new normal.

Critical Algorithm Studies: a Reading List

Microsoft Research:

This list is an attempt to collect and categorize a growing critical literature on algorithms as social concerns. The work included spans sociology, anthropology, science and technology studies, geography, communication, media studies, and legal studies, among others. Our interest in assembling this list was to catalog the emergence of “algorithms” as objects of interest for disciplines beyond mathematics, computer science, and software engineering.

As a result, our list does not contain much writing by computer scientists, nor does it cover potentially relevant work on topics such as quantification, rationalization, automation, software more generally, or big data, although these interests are well-represented in these works’ reference sections of the essays themselves.

This area is growing in size and popularity so quickly that many contributions are popping up without reference to work from disciplinary neighbors. One goal for this list is to help nascent scholars of algorithms to identify broader conversations across disciplines and to avoid reinventing the wheel or falling into analytic traps that other scholars have already identified. We also thought it would be useful, especially for those teaching these materials, to try to loosely categorize it. The organization of the list is meant merely as a first-pass, provisional sense-making effort. Within categories the entries are offered in chronological order, to help make sense of these rapid developments.

Curated Education Information