In the AI Age, “Being Smart” Will Mean Something Completely Different

Ed Hess::

Many experts believe that human beings will still be needed to do the jobs that require higher-order critical, creative, and innovative thinking and the jobs that require high emotional engagement to meet the needs of other human beings. The challenge for many of us is that we do not excel at those skills because of our natural cognitive and emotional proclivities: We are confirmation-seeking thinkers and ego-affirmation-seeking defensive reasoners. We will need to overcome those proclivities in order to take our thinking, listening, relating, and collaborating skills to a much higher level.

I believe that this process of upgrading begins with changing our definition of what it means to “be smart.” To date, many of us have achieved success by being “smarter” than other people as measured by grades and test scores, beginning in our early days in school. The smart people were those that received the highest scores by making the fewest mistakes.

Longest ever personality study finds no correlation between measures taken at age 14 and age 77

Christian Jarrett:

Imagine you’ve reached the fine age of 77 and you hear news of a school reunion. You’re going to have the chance to meet up with several of your former classmates who you haven’t seen since you were fourteen-years-old. They’ll look a lot different, of course, but what about their personality? Will they be broadly the same as they were back then?

Past research that’s looked at trait changes from adolescence to mid-life has shown there tends to be a moderate amount of stability, so too research that’s looked at changes from mid-life into old age. Put these two sets of data together and you might expect to see at least some personality stability across an entire lifespan. Your classmates probably won’t have changed completely.

Demond Means’ parting words as he exits the Milwaukee education scene

Alan Borsuk::

My verdict is kinder. In urban areas that have less severe problems than Milwaukee, the overall climate around education is a lot healthier and more cooperative than around here. Means said the 13,000-student district he will lead in Georgia (four times the size of Mequon-Thiensville) has a wide-range of students, but there is community-wide support for making schools and students successful. He smiled as he said that.

In the Milwaukee area, there have been some positive steps toward working together in recent years, mostly at the grassroots level. But especially in the city, this remains a place where unfriendly competition between sectors and schools, life in organizational silos, and just plain unhappy politics are alive and well. Our motto is not, “We’re all in this together.”

Maybe Means is right that talking together more would be a step forward, especially if it were the right conversation. He asked, “If you’re not having that conversation (on improvement), then what are you doing?”

Wisconsin lawmakers advance bill to suspend or expel students who disrupt campus speakers

Derek Hawkins:

Conservative media commentator Ben Shapiro was just a few minutes into a lecture at the University of Wisconsin last fall when more than a dozen student protesters rose from the audience and began chanting “shame!” and “safety!” in hopes of drowning him out.

Some of the protesters made their way to the front of the room and stood in front of Shapiro, a former Breitbart News editor who was giving a speech titled “Dismantling Safe Spaces,” as the university’s independent student newspaper reported at the time. Eventually, campus police arrived and the group exited, allowing Shapiro to carry on.

Under a new bill approved Wednesday night by the Wisconsin State Assembly, such student protesters in the UW system could be suspended or even expelled if they repeatedly disrupt campus speakers they disagree with.

A fraternity was told it was ‘appropriating culture.’ Administrators won’t say which.

Catherine Rampell:

Don’t blame college students for their hostility to free expression. The fault ultimately lies with cowardly school administrations, who so often cave to student demands for censorship. Or as some now prefer to call it, “empowering a culture of controversy prevention.”

Those are the actual, Orwellian words of an official at American University.

Several weeks ago, a fraternity at AU, Sigma Alpha Mu, began planning a fundraiser for a veterans’ organization. Student groups often center fundraisers on athletic tournaments, fraternity president and sophomore Rocco Cimino told me, but all the popular sports had already been claimed. The fraternity members decided to go with . . . badminton.

Civics: Does US have right to data on overseas servers? We’re about to find out

David Kravets:

The Justice Department on Friday petitioned the US Supreme Court to step into an international legal thicket, one that asks whether US search warrants extend to data stored on foreign servers. The US government says it has the legal right, with a valid court warrant, to reach into the world’s servers with the assistance of the tech sector, no matter where the data is stored.

The request for Supreme Court intervention concerns a 4-year-old legal battle between Microsoft and the US government over data stored on Dublin, Ireland servers. The US government has a valid warrant for the e-mail as part of a drug investigation. Microsoft balked at the warrant, and convinced a federal appeals court that US law does not apply to foreign data.

The Politics & Partisanship of America’s Education Reform Debate: A Growing Blue-Red Divide

Darrell Bradford:

In previous columns, I wrote about the political and policy problems we face as people fighting for change in the education space. But that’s only part of what ails our reform effort.
We also have a partisan problem.

This may be the one that’s easiest to see — though it is perhaps toughest to fix — and it spilled out into the street in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s presidential defeat. It now charges the national debate, around all policy, with a third-rail-like electricity on both sides of the aisle.

Party allegiance is the new litmus test not just for political philosophy, but for personal belief and social inclusion. Answering the wrong way on the wrong question not just on reform — but on anything — carries the weight of possible ostracism from both the left and the right. My own lens on this is through the tribe of Democrats, because those are the primaries in which I vote and the affiliation of most of the folks who are close to me. Folks I admire and from whom I seek counsel and direction during difficult times.

Madison Schools 2017-2018 $494,652,025 Budget Documents

Madison School District Administration (PDF)::

June Preliminary Budget Financial Status

Balanced Operating Budget: $390,045,697

All Funds Budget: $494,652,025

All Funds Budget: $494,652,025

Total Tax Levy $298,495,588

Tax Rate Increase from $11.92 to $12.03 per $1,000 of home value

Tax Impact on Avg. Home Valued at $258K is estimated at $74.57

Under-Levy of $2.0 million (Not Using Full Levy Authority)

2017-2018 Budget Summary (PDF)

Plenty of Resources“.

Madison School District tax and spending history.

Per student spending is approaching $20k (!), far above most public school districts.

Shakespeare’s Politics

Robert Cooper:

The reason we know little of Shakespeare’s politics is that he was a master playwright. He does not lecture. His characters speak, and we can only guess which of them, if any, speak for him. But some themes recur; and some messages in the action of his plays are too powerful to miss.

Such themes are most abundant in the four plays written at the height of Shakespeare’s powers. In Polonius’s classification, they are tragical-comical-historical. They are about the state in moments of stress, and about individual men acting politically. In these four plays, six themes emerge: the importance of order; the perils of regicide; the qualities of the king; the dangers of ambition; the volatility of crowds; and the risks of ungoverned power.

Baby born without an immune system benefits from lessons learned decades ago

Mike Hixenbaugh:

The doctor’s call came in late February, a week after Blanca Romero and her husband brought their third child home from the hospital. She was busy changing newborn Sebastian’s diaper and didn’t notice the phone ringing a room away.

She heard it a few minutes later, but this time it was her husband, Emil, calling from work. He’d just spoken with the pediatrician, he told her, his voice shaky, then added: “You should sit down.”

Sebastian had been born around Valentine’s Day, a hearty 8 pounds, 9 ounces, with a head of thick black hair and chubby cheeks. Now her husband was saying something about the results of his newborn blood screening.

Millennials are the most likely generation of Americans to use public libraries

Abigail Geiger:

A new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data from fall 2016 finds that 53% of Millennials (those ages 18 to 35 at the time) say they used a library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months. That compares with 45% of Gen Xers, 43% of Baby Boomers and 36% of those in the Silent Generation. (It is worth noting that the question wording specifically focused on use of public libraries, not on-campus academic libraries.)

All told, 46% of adults ages 18 and older say they used a public library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months – a share that is broadly consistent with Pew Research Center findings in recent years.

Members of the youngest adult generation are also more likely than their elders to have used library websites. About four-in-ten Millennials (41%) used a library website in the past 12 months, compared with 24% of Boomers. In all, 31% of adults used a library website in the past 12 months, which is similar to the percentage that reported using library websites in late 2015.

Civics: Facebook knows what you’re doing during commercial breaks

Peter Kafka:

On the other hand, since it’s only measuring Facebook usage, it probably understates the case. If you factor in Twitter, texting, Clash of Clans and everything else you can do with your phone when a commercial comes on, those spikes would likely be much sharper.

Those graphs come via a longer blog post/op-ed from Facebook today, which is theoretically about the state of video advertising, and which offers advice about how to make effective ads.

It also includes some new video stats from the company. Among them: On average, Facebook users watch autoplay video for 16.7 seconds per clip; they watch autoplay video ads for 5.7 seconds.

Indiana University’s Brad Wheeler explains how his institution is ditching the college textbook and replacing it with digital alternatives that are accessible to students from day one.

Dian Schaffhauser:

The idea that students could still be over-paying for course materials all over the country really burns Brad Wheeler, the vice president for IT and CIO of Indiana University. A big part of the problem, he believes, is that it’s taken a long time for textbook publishers to own up to the “fundamental flaw” of their industry: “They are obsessed with counting their gross margins on the things they actually do sell.” And, he added, they ignore the enormous amounts they lose through the other 75 percent of the market made up of used and rented books and other kinds of substitutes. Because of those blinders, the publishers have “long pursued a model that has been failing, year over year.”

Wheeler has arguably been one of the loudest voices telling textbook companies to change their ways. In 2009, his university began piloting an e-textbook program that eventually pollinated to numerous institutions and started a movement that led to the founding of an organization dedicated to helping schools reclaim ownership of their decisions and data.

What would “data literature” look like?

Jeni Tennison:

My eldest daughter is now in secondary school and, while she enjoys and is good at Maths, what she really loves studying is History and English. Watching the critical thinking and analysis skills that she is learning and using for those subjects, I have started to wonder if we should be approaching data literacy from a different angle.

The need for children and adults to be equipped with data skills is well recognised. The Nesta paper Analytic Britain: Securing the Right Skills for the Data-Driven Economy contains some recommendations, for example. However, much of this work focuses on the development of what I would frame as data science skills: the basic skills like the ability to clean data, analyse it, display it in graphs and maps, and the more advanced skills of machine learning and interactive visualisations. Data literacy becomes equated with the ability to do things with data.

The Brave New World of Gene Editing

Matthew Cobb

Whether we like it or not, the Dor Yeshorim database and other similar initiatives, such as genetic tests for sickle-cell anemia, which largely affects African-Americans, are enabling us to deliberately change the frequency of certain human genes in the population. This is the technical definition of eugenics and might seem shocking, since eugenics is forever associated with the forced sterilization of the mentally ill and Native Americans in the US or the murder of those deemed genetically defective by the Nazis. But the ability to use genetic testing when deciding whether or not to have children is clearly a form of soft eugenics, albeit one carried out voluntarily by…

Why the Liberal Elite Will Never Check Its Privilege

William Voegeli:

Karen Kipple’s “greatest wish in the world” is that her eight-year-old daughter Ruby will “have a good life.” At the same time, in “accordance with [her] politics and principles,” she aspires to “a life spent making a difference and helping those less fortunate than herself.” Apart from their love for Ruby, Karen and her husband Matt are united by little beyond the same “political outlook and commitment to social justice, combined with their willingness to impugn those who [don’t] share it.”

This tension between maternal love and political ideals propels Class, Lucinda Rosenfeld’s new novel. Its central dilemma concerns how, and where, to educate Ruby. New York City private schools are notoriously expensive. Karen and Matt do own a two-bedroom Brooklyn condominium worth more than $1 million — but only because its value has doubled in the three years since they moved to a gentrifying neighborhood. Karen is a professional fundraiser for Hungry Kids, whose cause is made clear by its name, while Matt is starting a nonprofit of his own after two decades as an attorney “fighting for tenants evicted by greedy landlords.”

Civics: On Twitter

Damon Linker:

Far more fundamental is the way Twitter intensifies and amplifies pathological social tendencies among those who act within, report on, and write about the political world. It turns politicians, political staffers, reporters, editors, pundits, and analysts into petty, vain, childish, showoffy, hostile, vindictive, dogmatic, impulsive, careless versions of their best and most professional selves. This makes Twitter horrible for our politics and equally bad for journalism. The single best thing for both politics and journalism would be for Twitter to go out of business tomorrow.

Would I miss it? You bet I would! Twitter for me is partly a 21st-century teletype machine providing the latest breaking news in real time 24 hours a day; partly an endless, gossipy cocktail party with my peers in the media; and partly an incomparable means of promoting my work and interacting with readers and critics. (If you use Twitter mainly to follow celebrities or communicate with friends, your experience is undoubtedly very different than mine.)

Is American Childhood Creating an Authoritarian Society?

Pratik Chougule:

American childhood has taken an authoritarian turn. An array of trends in American society are conspiring to produce unprecedented levels of supervision and control over children’s lives. Tracing the effects of childrearing on broad social outcomes is an exercise in speculation. But if social scientists are correct to posit a connection between childrearing and long-term political outcomes, today’s restrictive childhood norms may portend a broader regression in our country’s democratic consensus.

Since the early 1980s, American childhood has been marked by a turn toward stringent adult control. Support for “free range” childhood has given way to a “flight to safety” characterized by unprecedented dictates over children’s routines.

More so than any other generation, parents and educators have instilled in millennials the idea that, as Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt put it, “life is dangerous, but adults will do everything in their power to protect you from harm.” Indeed, strong social pressures have so hardened against parents who believe in the value of a free, unsupervised childhood that psychologist Peter Gray likens them to past Chinese norms on foot binding.

DPI Plans To Reduce Wisconsin’s Teacher Content Knowledge Requirements

Wisconsin department of public instruction, via a kind reader:

Through its work with stakeholder groups, the Department has identified administrative rule changes that help school districts address teacher shortages, beginning with CHR 16-086 which became effective on June 1, 2017. Additional changes to PI 34 are being advanced by the Department which build upon the changes made by CHR 16-086 in this emergency rule. In order to continue implementing solutions that help school districts address staffing difficulties, the emergency rule provides further flexibility, transparency, and clarity around the teacher licensing process by doing the following:

• Creating a one-year License with Stipulations (replacing emergency licenses and permits) for:

• Teachers and pupil services professionals from another state who have not met Wisconsin testing requirements;

• Speech Language Pathologists who hold a valid license from DSPS; and

• If a district cannot find a fully licensed teacher or pupil services professional, an individual with a bachelor’s degree.

• Creating a three-year License with Stipulations as part of a district-sponsored pathway for experienced teachers to receive another teacher license in a new subject or developmental level.

• Issuing licenses to teachers from another state who have successfully completed the edTPA or the National Board process (Foundations of Reading Test still required).

• Starting January 1, 2018, allowing Initial and Professional Educators to use professional growth goals and work in Educator Effectiveness as another option to renew or advance their license.

• Allowing educator preparation programs flexibility in their admissions policies by removing specific testing (Praxis CORE) and GPA requirements from rule.

• Allowing teacher and pupil services candidates to demonstrate content knowledge with a 3.0 or higher GPA in license area or by successfully completing a content-based portfolio.

• Removing the master’s degree requirement for the Library Media Specialist License and make it a stand-alone license based on completion of a major.

• Creating a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps teaching license allowing someone who has been certified as a JROTC instructor by a branch of the military to teach JROTC courses in a high school.

Summary of, and comparison with, existing or proposed federal regulations: N/A
Comparison with rules in adjacent states: N/

A Summary of factual data and analytical methodologies:

PI 34 contains the current administrative rules governing the licensure of school personnel. Section 115.425, Wis. Stats., and PI 34.36, Wis. Admin. Code, provide the duties of the Professional Standards Council for Teachers, which advises the State Superintendent of Public Instruction on matters pertaining to the licensure of teachers. In its advisory capacity, the Professional Standards Council reviews and makes recommendations for administrative rules related to teacher preparation, licensure and regulation. The PSC developed a strategic plan for addressing school staffing challenges in Wisconsin with the goal of developing, supporting, and retaining teachers, and some of those recommendations were used in this rule development. Such strategies include fewer licenses with greater flexibility, easing the licensing process for out-of-state license holders, reducing the testing burden, and expanding pathways into the profession. Without this emergency rule, the current rule would still be in effect and the Department would continue to administer school personnel licensure as it exists in PI 34.


Public comments and a hearing on July 6, 2017.

Wisconsin takes a baby step toward teacher content knowledge requirements using one aspect of Massachusetts’ policy (MTEL).

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

How did Wisconsin Teacher candidates perform on the “Foundation of Reading” requirement? Have a look.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: $251B Unfunded Pension Liabilities (Illinois)

John Kass:

Bills pile up; Moody’s Investor Service says taxpayers are on the hook for $251 billion in unfunded public union pension liabilities.

Boss Mike Madigan, king of the Democrats who control things, wants tax increases but no real structural reform to bring stability to The Venezuela of the Midwest.

And the whispers of bankruptcy won’t help the average (remaining) taxpaying chumbolones like you and me who don’t want to leave our homes but who’ll get stuck with the bills.

Since our neighboring states are doing better, taking Illinois jobs and businesses and Illinois workers and taxpaying families, they might as well just take the rest of Illinois, too, dammit.

Wisconsin can have Chicago and begin calling it “South Milwaukee.”

Naturally, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will fight this. He needs a job. And he’ll most likely beg his friends at The New York Times and the Washington Post to write angry editorials to save him. And these will be full of concern for the republic and those dispossessed Midwestern salt-of-the-earth taxpaying Americans, as if.

Sadly, Wisconsin probably won’t want Rahm, either. So to spare hurt feelings, I propose carving out 40 acres around the mayor’s home so Rahm might be prince of his own country:


And Cook County Board President Toni “Taxwinkle” Preckwinkle will fight it, too, so she needs something to soothe her ambitions:

Here’s what American universities can learn from Germany

Joseph Parilla and Martha Ross:

In the United States, educators and employers generally operate in separate spheres. We spend less on active labor-market support — policies that provide direct support like training and job-search assistance — as a share of our economy than all but two countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. As a consequence, young people largely navigate the labor market unassisted. The OECD reports that the share of U.S. youths who are not employed, in school or in training programs is about five percentage points higher than in other advanced economies such as Germany and Japan.

Both workers and the economy suffer due to this lack of structure to help young people enter the workforce. A recent report by an association of human resource officers called the school-to-work transition a “long, painful process,” noting, “(many) employers are reluctant to hire recent college graduates because so many fail at their first, second, and even third jobs.” Employers struggle to fill 5.5 million jobs nationwide, hindering overall economic growth.

My Last Index

Judith Pascoe

A casual reader of authors’ acknowledgment pages will encounter expressions of familial gratitude that paper over years of spousal neglect and missed cello recitals. A keen reader of those pages may happen upon animals that were essential to an author’s well-being—supportive dogs, diverting cats, or, in one instance, “four very special squirrels.” But even an assiduous reader of acknowledgments could go a lifetime without coming across a single shout-out to a competent indexer.

That is mostly because the index gets constructed late in the book-making process. But it’s also because most readers pay no mind to indexes, especially at this moment in time when they are being supplanted by Amazon and Google. More and more, when I want to track down an errant tidbit of information about a book, I use Amazon’s “Search inside this book” function, which allows interested parties to access a book’s front cover, copyright, table of contents, first pages (and sometimes more), and index. But there’s no reason to even use the index when you can “Look Inside!” to find anything you need.

Beijing protesters in rare clash with police over school dispute


About a hundred protesters clashed on Wednesday with police in downtown Beijing after authorities abruptly reassigned their children to a school in a rough neighborhood, a rare display of public anger in the Chinese capital.

Large protests are rare in heavily-guarded and affluent Beijing, but the reassignment plan comes at a time when educational resources have become increasingly stretched, while home prices have soared.

During their hours-long standoff, protesting residents of the city’s northwestern district of Changping skirmished several times with more than 20 unarmed police officers outside the office of the Beijing municipality.

“Our kids need to go to school! We demand a response!” shouted some of the gathered protesters.

On Charter School Accomplishment


CREDO is the best national quasi-experimental data source we have, and its methodology holds up well in comparisons with experimental data.

To the extent you’re suspicious of CREDO or of quasi-experimental design, Rand also did a national study on charters that looked exclusively at experimental studies. The authors found:

“Consistent with many previous studies that have focused on broad sets of charter schools, we found no evidence that, on average, attending charter schools had a positive impact on student achievement. The estimated impact of attending the average charter school in the study was negative but not statistically signicant after adjusting for the multiple hypotheses tested. However, the average impact of attending charter schools in large urban areas or those serving lower achieving or more disadvantaged students was large and positive.”

Surveillance business models: How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Sends You Letters about Your Medical Condition

Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu:

Yet there’s some medical information that Acurian doesn’t have to guess about: The company pays Walgreens, which uses a privacy exemption for research, to send recruitment letters to its pharmacy customers on Acurian’s behalf, based on the medications they’re using. Under this arrangement, Acurian notes that it doesn’t access the medical information directly; the customers’ identities remain private until they respond to the invitations.
 And that is not the entire story. An investigation by the Special Projects Desk has found that Acurian may also be pursuing people’s medical information more directly, using the services of a startup that advertises its ability to unmask anonymous website visitors. This could allow it harvest the identities of people seeking information about particular conditions online, before they’ve consented to anything.

Teachers, Philly schools reach tentative contract agreement: “described the deal as “expensive” and said it “may require layoffs to fund it.”

Kristen A. Graham:

After four years and a state Supreme Court battle, and with the clock ticking to the end of the school year, the Philadelphia School District and its teachers’ union have reached a tentative contract agreement.

The deal, which comes 1,383 days after the last contract expired, would run through 2020. It was struck with handshakes Thursday night with both sides determined to meet their self-imposed deadline of the end of the term — Tuesday for students, Wednesday for teachers.

Madison School District celebrates its first class of graduates to earn state’s new Seal of Biliteracy

Amber Walker:

After 13 years of dual-language instruction, the Madison Metropolitan School District’s first class of graduates walked across the stage this spring with Wisconsin’s new Seal of Biliteracy, certifying their mastery of a foreign language during high school.

Forty-five students from Madison La Follette High School earned the seal of biliteracy in Spanish. All of the students were a part of the first class of 50 kindergartners at Nuestro Mundo Elementary School’s dual-language immersion program. The majority of the cohort continued with the DLI program at Sennett Middle School and followed the required course of study at La Follette to earn the seal.

Starting next school year, students across the district will have the chance to earn the biliteracy seal with their high school diplomas. With the expansion, MMSD expects the number of qualified students to expand exponentially.

South Carolina Announces $250,000 Fellowships For Educators to Launch Top-Notch Charter Schools

Naomi Mix:

Attention aspiring charter school leaders: South Carolina policymakers are looking to award hundreds of thousands of dollars to talented educators with the skills to launch their own charter schools.
The South Carolina Public Charter School District is starting an incubator program aimed at cultivating high-performing charter schools to educate underserved, low-income and minority students.

While some of the state’s existing charter schools show “promising results” and employ “promising practices,” there are no schools in the state that have achieved the same level of success as well-known networks in other parts of the country — such as those that win the the Broad Prize For Urban Education — said South Carolina Public Charter School District Superintendent Elliot Smalley.

Germany plans to fingerprint children, spy on personal messaging


Germany is planning a new law giving authorities the right to look at private messages and fingerprint children as young as 6, the interior minister said on Wednesday after the last government gathering before a national election in September.

Ministers from central government and federal states said encrypted messaging services, such as WhatsApp and Signal, allow militants and criminals to evade traditional surveillance.

“We can’t allow there to be areas that are practically outside the law,” interior minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters in the eastern town of Dresden.

Militant attacks in France, Britain and Germany have prompted European governments to tighten up on surveillance of suspected militants. Britain has proposed forcing messaging services to let authorities access encrypted communications.

The Espionage Act’s Troubling Origins

Priscilla Guo:

One hundred years ago, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Espionage Act into law, and since then it has been used to criminalize the disclosure of national defense and classified information.

Dissent-Stifling Roots

At the turn of the 20th century, anti-immigrant, xenophobic sentiments dominated national rhetoric and was consequently reflected in the legislation crafted. On September 25, 1919, the 28th President of the United States Woodrow Wilson gave his final address in support of the League of Nations in Pueblo, CO and in his speech, he spoke of American immigrants with hyphenated nationalities: “Any man who carries a hyphen around with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready.” Wilson specifically targeted Irish-Americans and German-Americans, whom he perceived to be disloyal immigrants and potential spies. In fact, many state governments banned the teaching of German in schools, since it was “a language that disseminates the ideas of autocracy, brutality, and hatred.” The nativism movement continued to grow from the “Know-Nothing” party to the Palmer raids as concerns about espionage and disloyalty swirled.

Google (and Facebook), not GCHQ, is the truly chilling spy network

John Naughton:

During the hoo-ha, one of the spooks with whom I discussed Snowden’s revelations waxed indignant about our coverage of the story. What bugged him (pardon the pun) was the unfairness of having state agencies pilloried, while firms such as Google and Facebook, which, in his opinion, conducted much more intensive surveillance than the NSA or GCHQ, got off scot free. His argument was that he and his colleagues were at least subject to some degree of democratic oversight, but the companies, whose business model is essentially “surveillance capitalism”, were entirely unregulated.

He was right. “Surveillance”, as the security expert Bruce Schneier has observed, is the business model of the internet and that is true of both the public and private sectors. Given how central the network has become to our lives, that means our societies have embarked on the greatest uncontrolled experiment in history. Without really thinking about it, we have subjected ourselves to relentless, intrusive, comprehensive surveillance of all our activities and much of our most intimate actions and thoughts. And we have no idea what the long-term implications of this will be for our societies – or for us as citizens.

Analysis: Janus Ruling Could Force Unions to Compete for Members

Mike Antonucci:

Last week, attorneys for the plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME filed for review in the U.S. Supreme Court. If the court accepts the case and rules in favor of Janus, it would end the practice of public-sector unions charging agency fees to non-members for costs associated with collective bargaining and other operations.

The media and analysts have focused on the potential effect of an adverse ruling on union membership and finances. Given the choice, as has happened in some states, a significant number of public employees opt out of membership. But there is also the possibility that once freed from financially supporting their old union, public employees will join — and financially support — a different union or professional organization.

When It Comes to Trying to Shake Up K-12, Is College the Problem?

Jen Curtis:

In California, once home to the nation’s most-prized higher education system, the stress of college starts early. “Even at the middle school level, there is pressure,” says Jessica Lura, director of strategic initiatives and partnerships at the K-8 Bullis Charter School in Los Altos, Calif. “Parents worry their child is going to fall behind because they know the [University of California] system is looking for certain requirements.”

Bullis is a progressive charter school with a project-based model that values mastery and student choice over blind promotion. But as college admission throughout California gets more competitive—and parents’ concerns about placement become more salient—system-wide changes can become difficult, even at the elementary and middle school level.

Baby Genome Sequencing for Sale in China

Antonio Regaldo:

Boston-based DNA sequencing company is offering to decode the complete genomes of newborns in China, leading some to ask how much parents should know about their children’s genes at birth.

Veritas Genetics says the test, ordered by a doctor, will report back on 950 serious early- and later-life disease risks, 200 genes connected to drug reactions, and more than 100 physical traits a child is likely to have.

Use And Abuse Of Data

Cliff Maas:

The writer of the story, Lynda Mapes, could not have been more explicit:

The cause of death was climate change: steadily warming and drier summers, that stressed the tree in its position atop a droughty knoll.

So, lets check the data and determine the truth. My first stop was the nice website of the Office of the Washington State Climatologist (OWSC), where they have a tool for plotting climatological data. Here is the summer (June-August) precipitation for the Seattle Urban Site, about a mile away from the tree in question. It indicates an upward trend (increasing precipitation) over the period available (1895-2014), not the decline claimed by the article.

Or lets go to the Western Region Climate Center website and plot the precipitation for the same period, considering the entire Puget Sound lowlands (see below) using the NOAA/NWS climate division data set and for June through September. Very similar to the Seattle Urban Site. Not much overall trend, but there is some natural variability, with a minor peak in the 70s and 80s.


Van Hise’s “special sauce”

Ben Rhodes rhetoric, media and governance

Madison’s English 10 experiment.

Ignoring Educational Productivity Is Immoral (Madison Spends About $18k/student Annually, Far More Than Most)


I. The Morality of Productivity

What if we knew a way to increase educational opportunity at no additional cost?

The benefits would be enormous. We could give more children the education they deserve.

And, by not having to increase educational spending, we could spend these saved tax dollars on families in need, or paying off government debt, or keeping money in the hands of working families.

Increasing educational productivity is one of the great moral issues of our time.

Unfortunately, increasing educational productivity in our country has been enormously difficult to accomplish.

II. Inequity in the City

Madison’s far above average spending has yet to address its long standing disastrous reading results.

Los Angeles Charter Uprising

Wall Street Journal::

One reason public schools in big cities are so lousy is union control of local school boards. This has long been true in Los Angeles, but last week charter-school advocates dealt a major blow to the failing status quo by winning a majority on the district’s Board of Education.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has some of the country’s lowest-performing public schools. In 2015 only one in five fourth-graders rated proficient on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. While Los Angeles boasts more charter schools than any district in the country, they still account for merely 16% of enrollment. Two years ago the Great Public Schools Now initiative, which is backed by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, set a goal of enrolling 50% of the district’s students in charters. The unions naturally went nuts.

As union schools lose students (and thus taxpayer funds) to charters, the school board has become even more reactionary. Last month the board voted to support three bills before the state legislature in Sacramento that aim to limit autonomy for charter schools. One would prevent charters from appealing rejections by local school boards to county and state boards. The appeals process is one reason charters in Los Angeles have been able to expand despite school-board resistance.

A Favorite Subject Returns to Schools: Recess

Tawnell Hobss::

Three kindergarten girls looked close to taking a spill as they sat on the high back of a playground bench at Oak Point Elementary. Feet away, several administrators didn’t make a move to stop them because at this school outside Dallas, playtime is revered.

“As long as they’re safe, we allow kids to be kids,” said Daniel Gallagher, assistant superintendent for educational services in the Little Elm Independent School District.

That’s the mantra in this small school district, where schoolchildren are transitioning from one daily 30-minute recess to one hour a day, taken in 15-minute increments. School officials say children are better focused with more unstructured breaks and do better in school.

School districts throughout the country are reassessing recess—with some bringing back the pastime or expanding it, citing academic and health benefits.

The Minneapolis school board on Tuesday approved a proposal to require 30 minutes of daily recess in elementary schools, moving away from just recommending 20 minutes daily. And in Florida, parents are hoping the governor will soon sign an education bill that includes a required 20 minutes of daily recess for elementary-school students in traditional public schools.

Federalism And Civil Rights Governance

Jessica Huseman and Annie Waldman

The Department of Education has laid out plans to loosen requirements on investigations into civil rights complaints, according to an internal memo sent to staff on June 8 and obtained by ProPublica.

Under the Obama administration, the department’s office for civil rights applied an expansive approach to investigations. Individual complaints related to complex issues such as school discipline, sexual violence and harassment, equal access to educational resources, or racism at a single school might have prompted broader probes to determine whether the allegations were part of a pattern of discrimination or harassment.

The new memo, sent by Candice Jackson, the acting assistant secretary for civil rights, to regional directors at the department’s civil rights office, trims this approach. Jackson was appointed deputy assistant secretary for the office in April and will remain as the acting head of the office until the Senate confirms a full-time assistant secretary. Trump has not publicly nominated anyone for the role yet.

The office will apply the broader approach “only” if the original allegations raise systemic concerns or the investigative team argues for it, Jackson wrote in the memo.

White Professor Fired From Black College Gets $4.9 Million

Joe Harris:

A trial jury awarded Elizabeth Wilkins $1.35 million in compensatory damages and $3.5 million in punitive damages on her claim that she was fired in favor of less senior black teachers. She also claimed Dr. Latisha Smith, the temporary co-chair for Harris-Stowe’s Teacher Education Department, repeatedly proclaimed her belief in “black power” in emails.

Harris-Stowe’s defense was crippled by the fact that it deleted emails in Smith’s account, in violation of a court order.

Public school officials push back on bills aimed at slowing referendums

Annysa Johnson:

A handful of supporters also testified, urging lawmakers to pass the measures.
“These referendums are just out of control. We’re spending way too much money, and our taxes are way too high,” said conservative activist Orville Seymer of the group Citizens for Responsible Government.
The two were among more than a dozen witnesses who testified before the education panel and the Senate’s Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection, whose chairman, Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg), is spearheading what he calls the “referendum reform initiative” and is the lead sponsor of some of the bills.

These Maps Reveal the Hidden Structures of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Books

Sarah Laskow:

Reading a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book can feel like being lost in a maze and running through twists and turns only to find dead ends, switchbacks, and disappointment. In the books—for those not familiar with them—you read until you come to a decision point, which prompts you to flip to another page, backward or forward. The early books in the series, which began in 1979, have dozens of endings, reached through branching storylines so complex that that trying to keep track of your path can seem hopeless—no matter how many fingers you stick into the book in order to find your way back to the key, fateful choice. You might end up back at an early fork again, surprised at how far you traveled only to reemerge at a simple decision, weighted with consequences that you couldn’t have imagined at the beginning.

Civics: Ruminating On Governance

James Howard Kunstler:

Note: it’s now deemed illicit for US government officials to talk to Russian diplomats. I wonder what would happen if government officials in other lands decided that it was improper to talk with US diplomats. The Democratic Party seems to be building a case that the world would be better off without diplomats cluttering up each other’s capital cities. Hey hey, ho ho, Di-plo-macy has got to go! Now that’s a most progressive idea! Apparently, AG Sessions riled Senator Harris by pointing out that the Soviet Union collapsed nearly thirty years ago — a typical white privilege thing to say, right?

Next up was Senator Mark Warner (D – Va), Vice-Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who grilled Sessions about Russia’s electronic warfare capability. Say what? First of all, wouldn’t Senator Warner find more enlightenment on the subject by calling the Secretary of Defense, or the top military brass, or the NSA Director to the witness table? Does he know where the duties of the US Attorney General begin and end?

Secondly, Is there anybody in this country with an IQ above room temperature who thinks that the USA is not similarly disposed to carry out electronic warfare? Or that all the advanced nations of the world are not toying with internet intrusions into each other’s cyber space? Perhaps this is a manifestation of the political neurosis called American Exceptionalism, the idea that we’re so unlike people in other lands that they might as well be space aliens. (A sweet idea for a new Twilight Zone episode.)

Report: How Amazon’s Tightening Grip on the Economy Is Stifling Competition, Eroding Jobs, and Threatening Communities

Olivia LaVecchia:

For all of its reach, Amazon, the company founded by Jeff Bezos in 1995 as an online bookstore, is still remarkably invisible. It makes it easy not to notice how powerful and wide-ranging it has become. But behind the packages on the doorstep and the inviting interface, Amazon has quietly positioned itself at the center of a growing share of our daily activities and transactions, extending its tentacles across our economy, and with it, our lives.

Today, half of all U.S. households are subscribed to the membership program Amazon Prime, half of all online shopping searches start directly on Amazon, and Amazon captures nearly one in every two dollars that Americans spend online. Amazon sells more books, toys, and by next year, apparel and consumer electronics than any retailer online or off, and is investing heavily in its grocery business. Its market power now rivals or exceeds that of Walmart, and it stands only to grow: Within five years, one-fifth of the U.S.’s $3.6 trillion retail market will have shifted online, and Amazon is on track to capture two-thirds of that share.


Ed Reform:

If education reformers are honest with one another, we must admit that our efforts have a hit a wall, according to a new book published today by the Center for Education Reform. The hard reality is, more was accomplished in the first nine years of the movement than in the past 16.

Charting a New Course: The Case for Freedom, Flexibility, and Opportunity Through Charter Schools presents a collection of essays by eight education experts. The book compares the approaches of the two main groups in the charter-school world: those who want to empower bureaucrats and politicians, and those who want to empower parents. The essays were edited by Jeanne Allen, of the Center for Education Reform; Cara Stillings Candal, of the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education; and Max Eden, of the Manhattan Institute.

The first school of reformers — those who want to empower bureaucrats and politicians — make decisions on the basis of standardized test scores. As a result, which schools can open and which must close are the exclusive province of spreadsheets.

rump’s education cuts aren’t ‘devastating,’ they’re smart

Williamson M. Evers and Vicki E. Alger::

At the behest of the Education Department, the Mathematica Policy Research Group studied a TRIO program and found weaknesses, which it first reported in 2004. The final report found “no detectable effects” on college-related outcomes, including enrollment and completion of bachelor’s or associate’s degrees. In a striking acknowledgement that these programs don’t hold up under scrutiny, lobbyists for the programs got Congress to ban the Education Department from setting up control-group evaluations of TRIO and GEAR UP.

Another sign of dysfunction is that — despite a demonstrable lack of success — grants to run TRIO and GEAR UP programs almost always get renewed. For example, in California, 82% of those who had grants in 2006 to manage this “no detectable effects” TRIO program still had those grants a decade later.

The K-12 programs proposed for elimination in the Trump budget are similarly ineffective.

In 1994, the Clinton administration started the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which promised to provide disadvantaged children with after-school enrichment to improve their academic performance. Nearly $18 billion spent over two decades later, there’s scant evidence of success. “It’s a $1.2 billion after-school program that doesn’t work,” according to Mark Dynarski of the Brookings Institution. He should know.

Dynarski worked at the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton administration and directed the 21st Century Community Learning Centers’ national evaluation while he was a researcher at Mathematica Policy Research. The three evaluations published between 2003 and 2005 concluded that the achievement of participating students was virtually the same, but their behavior was worse, compared with their peers who weren’t in the program.

Leader Tracking Systems:Turning Data Into Information for School Leadership

Leslie M. Anderson | Brenda J. Turnbull | Erikson R. Arcaira:

School districts can improve the chances that a new principal will be ready for success on the job by managing systems of principal preparation, selection, and support. And the management of this kind of principal pipeline, like other work that school districts do, can draw on data to inform decisions.

But just as the idea of intentionally crafting a principal pipeline is a relatively new one for school districts, bringing data together to inform pipeline management is also new. This report explores the possibilities. It describes work already being done in the six districts participating in The Wallace Foundation’s Principal Pipeline Initiative:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, North Carolina

Denver Public Schools, Colorado

Gwinnett County Public Schools, Georgia

Hillsborough County Public Schools, Florida

New York City Department of Education, New York

Prince George’s County Public Schools, Maryland

These districts have taken steps to define what they want from their principals and to improve the chances that principals will be able to deliver (Turnbull, Anderson, Riley, MacFarlane, & Aladjem, 2016). The idea of crafting data systems to support work on principal pipelines had its origins in the practical needs of the evaluation of the initiative, which gathered extensive data from the districts on principals and schools over many years before and during the operation of the initiative. But then, as the districts took more and more intentional approaches to managing the career opportunities of their aspiring and sitting principals, they took advantage of these Leader Tracking Systems (LTSes) in a number of ways. Compelling displays of in- formation are helping district leaders address issues of school leadership.
This report discusses not only ways to use LTSes but also hard-won insights about how to build them and roll them out. It draws on interviews with system developers, directors of talent development, and other district leaders in fall and winter 2016-17. This report is not intended as an evaluation of the districts’ work. Our analysis is intended to inform other practitioners about the lessons learned and the opportuni- ties revealed in the process of building and using an LTS.


Ginger Thompson:

But unlike most places in Mexico that have been ravaged by the drug war, what happened in Allende didn’t have its origins in Mexico. It began in the United States, when the Drug Enforcement Administration scored an unexpected coup. An agent persuaded a high-level Zetas operative to hand over the trackable cellphone identification numbers for two of the cartel’s most wanted kingpins, Miguel Ángel Treviño and his ​brother Omar.

Then the DEA took a gamble. It shared the intelligence with a Mexican federal police unit that has long had problems with leaks — even though its members had been trained and vetted by the DEA. Almost immediately, the Treviños learned they’d been betrayed. The brothers set out to exact vengeance against the presumed snitches, their families and anyone remotely connected to them.
Their savagery in Allende was particularly surprising because the Treviños not only did business there — moving tens of millions of dollars in drugs and guns through the area each month — they’d also made it their home.
For years after the massacre, Mexican authorities made only desultory efforts to investigate. They erected a monument in Allende to honor the victims without fully determining their fates or punishing those responsible. American authorities eventually helped Mexico capture the Treviños but never acknowledged the devastating cost. In Allende, people suffered mostly in silence, too afraid to talk publicly.

Rolling Stone Settles With University Of Virginia Fraternity Over Rape Hoax Article

Chuck Ross:

A source involved at the national level with the fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, tells TheDC that Rolling Stone will pay $1.65 million to settle the defamation suit.

The magazine’s decision follows a settlement in April with Nicole Eramo, a University of Virginia associate dean who was also smeared in the article, which was written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely.

In the piece, “A Rape on Campus,” Erdely relayed the story of Jackie Coakley, a Virginia woman who claimed she was brutally raped by a group of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity members during a party in Sept. 2012.

Nashville Charter Parents Want to Know Why School Board Members Didn’t Attend Meeting

Amanda Haggard:

At Tuesday’s Metro Nashville Board of Education meeting, the night started with more than half of its members absent from the board floor.

Granted it wasn’t a heavy agenda compared to other meetings, but a large slate of charter school parents, advocates and students were scheduled for public comment and board member Mary Pierce had a resolution item up for a vote. Until Christiane Buggs showed up near the end of public comment, the board didn’t have a quorum and couldn’t have voted on the consent agenda nor Pierce’s resolution.

Pierce says the resolution’s intention was to reiterate a portion of the board’s current policy of advocating for Metro Nashville Public Schools and all of its students. Language in the resolution points to the board supporting charter schools the same way they would support traditional district schools. (You can find the full resolution on Pg. 19 of Tuesday’s agenda.)

Jill Speering missed the meeting because of an ongoing illness, and says she would’ve been there otherwise.

Amy Frogge and Sharon Gentry did not respond to calls requesting comment, but Will Pinkston, while saying he had more pressing commitments Tuesday night, also didn’t feel he was missing anything by being out of the room.

Pinkston says Pierce’s resolution was “intended to put a muzzle on one or more board members. Ultimately, the arbiter of what individuals can say is a matter of the constitution, and that’s what I’ll say when it comes to the floor. But I don’t know how I’ll vote on it.”

Pierce pulled the resolution and pushed it to the board’s meeting on June 27, saying that she felt it was important for all members of the board to be present to discuss and vote on the resolution.

“The resolution is simply a recommitment to our policy (GP3) to advocate for the organization and all of the students it serves,” Pierce said Wednesday when asked to comment on her colleagues’ absences. “Any further comments should be first discussed on the board floor.”

Madison lacks governance diversity.

The Grocery Store Of The Future Is Mobile, Self-Driving, And Run By A

Adele Peters:

For consumers, it’s designed to be an easier way to shop. To use the store, called Moby, you download an app and use your phone to open the door. A hologram-like AI greets you, and, as you shop, you scan what you want to buy or place it in a smart basket that tracks your purchases. Then you walk out the door; instead of waiting in line, the store automatically charges your card when you leave (Amazon is testing a similar system). The tiny shop will stock fresh food and other daily supplies, and if you want something else you can order it using the store’s artificial intelligence. The packages will be waiting when you return to shop the next time. When autonomous vehicles are allowed on roads, the store could also show up at your home, and the company is also testing a set of drones to make small deliveries.

Robot helps children with autism spectrum disorder learn life-skills at elementary school

McKenna Oxenden::

Logan Lucas always had trouble making friends.

Escorted by enthusiastic teachers, Logan’s mother, Nicole Lucas, walked into school ready to meet her son’s newest friend. Instead of a human, she was met with a plastic, smiling face — Milo the robot.

Standing at just 2 feet tall with funky chocolate brown hair and an outfit resembling a Power Ranger, there’s more to Milo than meets the eye.

People with autism spectrum disorder have a difficult time understanding social cues such as facial expressions that most of us take for granted. Milo helps children understand what a smile or frown means, how to calm down and handle themselves when upset and develop lead taking skills, like saying hello to people.

The DEA’s drug slang dictionary is tremendous

Christopher Ingraham:

t’s meant to help law enforcement officials know the difference between Purple Haze (pot) and Purple Rain (PCP), or Scooby Snacks (MDMA) and Kibbles & Bits (Ritalin).

But slang is a tricky, ever-changing thing, and drug slang all the more so. Some of the terms feel hopelessly antiquated, like “Reefer” or “Wacky Tobacky” for marijuana. Others seem ridiculous or highly improbable, like “Movie Star Drug” for cocaine or “Smoochy Woochy Poochy.” (We’ll tell you what that one is later.)

The DEA acknowledges these difficulties. “Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information presented. However, due to the dynamics of the ever-changing drug scene, subsequent additions, deletions, and corrections are inevitable,” the report’s authors write.

Still, the colorful dictionary is a testament to the ingenuity of the illicit drug trade, from Angel Powder to Zapapote. Think you’re up on your drug slang? Try our 10-question quiz below.

CTA Prepping Charter School Moratorium Resolutions for Local School Boards

Mike Antonucci:

The California Teachers Association approved a new business item that reads:

CTA will develop and promote resolutions that local associations can introduce at school board meetings calling for county-wide and statewide moratoriums on new charter school authorizations.
The union has promoted limits on the number of charter schools since the charter law was passed in 1992 but I believe this is the first time it will formally call for a moratorium.

Some unions love moratoriums, but they are rarely put into effect.

Wright Middle School Brings Home National Championship at AAHCB in New Orleans

David Dahmer:

I think at this point it would be hard not to call Madison a national powerhouse on the African American History Challenge Bowl scene. This past weekend, Wright Middle School brought home Madison’s 5th national championship in 23 years, emerging victorious at the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. 31st Annual International Conference and National Competition in New Orleans.

“On top of the five championships, I think we’ve come in second at least three or four times, too,” says 100 Black Men of Madison’s Enis Ragland, who has been involved with the Challenge Bowl since its inception more than 20 years ago. “We’re known now as one of the national powerhouse chapters of the African American History Challenge Bowls.

Much more on the African American History Challenge Bowl, here.

The Old Are Eating the Young Around the world, a generational divide is worsening

Satyajit Das:

Edmund Burke saw society as a partnership between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are yet to be born. A failure to understand this relationship underlies a disturbing global tendency in recent decades, in which the appropriation of future wealth and resources for current consumption is increasingly disadvantaging future generations. Without a commitment to addressing this inequity, social tensions in many societies will rise sharply.

Central to the issue is that the rapid rise in living standards and prosperity of the past 50 years has been largely based on rising debt levels, ignoring the costs of environmental damage and misallocation of scarce resources.

A significant proportion of recent economic growth has relied on borrowed money — today standing at a dizzying 325 percent of global gross domestic product. Debt allows society to accelerate consumption, as borrowings are used to purchase something today against the promise of future repayment. Unfunded entitlements to social services, health care and pensions increase those liabilities. The bill for these commitments will soon become unsustainable, as demographic changes make it more difficult to meet.

Civics: “Political Hospice”

Jonathan Capeheart::

Listen to the podcast to hear this important and provocative conversation about how economic dislocation and demographic changes are fueling discomfort and desperation among white working-class voters. While Gest says that both Republicans and Democrats have exploited these voters, he sees a way forward.

“The only way of addressing their plight is a form of political hospice care,” he said. “These are communities that are on the paths to death. And the question is: How can we make that as comfortable as possible?”

Curriculum Matters

Liana Loewus, via Will Fitzhugh::

[FIRST: make sure students read nothing, so they will have nothing to write about. SECOND: focus on skills, so they will not care about what they are writing. THIRD: repeat until they hate writing and remain unable to do it well—WF]
Students have a lot of free-writing in journals. They have a writing period where they’re given [a prompt] like, “Should we have a longer recess?” and they’re writing about that.

Q&A: ‘The Writing Revolution’ Encourages Focus on Crafting Good Sentences

By Liana Loewus on June 12, 2017 9:37 AM

Judith C. Hochman has long seen holes in writing instruction.

“We’re very good at assigning writing,” she explains. “We’re not very good at teaching kids how to write.”

While working as head of a private school for students with disabilities more than two decades ago, she devised a program to teach the explicit skills she’d found many students to be missing—how to expand sentences using words like because, but, and so; how to combine sentences using conjunctions; how to write a focused topic sentence. Students learn these writing skills within the science, history, and other subjects they are studying.

In 2012, the Hochman Method, as it was known, was featured in an Atlantic article about a struggling Staten Island high school that saw huge gains in writing after implementing the program. Hochman was quickly overwhelmed with requests for training, and soon formed a nonprofit to provide courses and partner with schools and districts. The group’s advisory board includes some well-known yet divisive education figures—David Coleman, who crafted the Common Core State Standards for literacy and is now president of the College Board, and Doug Lemov, author of Teach Like a Champion.

And now Hochman, with the help of education writer Natalie Wexler, has written a book. The Writing Revolution, which shares the name of both the Atlantic article and the nonprofit, will be released in July.

I spoke with Hochman and her co-author Wexler recently about their recipe for writing instruction and why they think it works. (The Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.)

You two come from the perspective that writing instruction is failing students. What are the problems you see in the way students are being taught to write?

Hochman: It’s self-centered….Students have a lot of free-writing in journals. They have a writing period where they’re given [a prompt] like, “Should we have a longer recess?” and they’re writing about that.

The instruction…is almost nonexistent. Our students write the way they speak, and they don’t really learn the difference between the structures of how we speak versus the structures of how we write.

The answer really is not to teach grammar in isolation. You can diagram sentences from now to Tuesday and it really isn’t going to inform composing. Children should learn [the parts of speech], but they should learn them embedded in writing instruction.

Wexler: As we we say in the book, you can’t write well unless you know what you’re writing about well. You can’t really separate the skill of writing from knowledge of what you’re writing about.

Schools also don’t really focus on the sentence level that much. Certainly beyond elementary school, students are not mastering the art of crafting a sentence. And if you can’t write a good sentence, you can’t write a good paragraph, and you can’t write a good essay.

There are a few grammatical structures that you focus on having students learn, such as appositives.

Hochman: Yes. “The Writing Revolution, a not-for-profit organization, is headquartered in New York.”

With an appositive [such as the clause “a not-for-profit organization” in that sentence], you’re presenting more information about the subject.

Explain how you have students learn appositives.

Hochman: It might start in elementary school as a simple matching exercise, where they’re looking at the subject and matching it to the appositive device in the sentence. And then we might give them a sentence with a blank in it and tell them to add an appositive. And then we might say we want to see a topic sentence with an appositive in it.

What are some other writing devices you teach explicitly?

Hochman: We give them very discrete ways to write topic sentences. So we might say one of the ways to start a topic sentence, and a very useful way, is to use a subordinating conjunction. “While many teachers want to stress creative writing, others believe that an emphasis on expository writing will be more productive for students.” That word “while,” and putting [the writer’s] position last, that’s important for students to know.

We also teach starting sentences with dependent clauses. “Although there are many fine educational publications, Education Week is outstanding for many reasons.”

That beginning [“although”] is a dependent clause, which is not the way we speak. This will help them navigate these dependent clauses when they have to read original documents or classic literature or literature that they’re assigned routinely to read. It’s enabling them to process language at a much higher level.

A criticism of the technique you’re using is that it’s too constricting, there’s too much of a focus on process, that it stifles students’ creativity. What’s your response?

Hochman: If they mean by ‘creativity’ the notion of personal memoirs—four and five paragraphs in 4th or 5th grade—or writing poems, or other activities like that, we feel there’s very limited instructional time in schools, and we’ve got to teach where the returns are going to be the greatest.

We try to use the strategies that have the highest leverage for shifting them from oral structures to written structures within your content.

The way we teach children to write introductions and conclusions, for example, some people might say it’s formulaic. Our response to that is: Do you go into a kitchen and start to bake a cake without a recipe? Once you learn how to use the recipe and you bake a pretty good cake, you may come up with variations that are appropriate.

Wexler: Writing is an extremely complex process, so if you’re trying to think about the mechanics and master those at the same time you’re trying to express yourself, you have less creativity left over to think about your content—what it is you want to say.

But if you’ve got those tools of crafting interesting sentences under your belt so they become more or less automatic, then you can unleash your creativity and really focus your limited brainpower on what you want to say.

What’s wrong with turning students loose to write freely every so often? Can’t that help foster a love of writing?

Hochman: We usually love what we do well. Most people don’t love what they hate to do. So the people who talk about kids loving writing, the possibility of them loving something that’s pretty widely recognized as something that they don’t do well is very remote.

Right after the common core was published, there was a lot of talk, including in the Atlantic article, about how the standards upped the ante for what’s required of student writers, and would therefore change how writing is taught. Do you think that’s happened?

Hochman: I think the answer is no. Because [the standards] tell you what’s expected, but they don’t tell you how to get there.

What you see is much more challenging assignments. So you go into an elementary school and you see all these multi=paragraph compositions, and if you look closely, they don’t have the coherence and organization that one would expect.

These kids are being asked to do things at a much younger age, but they’re not being shown how to do it. And that’s a frustration for the teachers, parents, and kids.

Wexler: The standards go grade by grade and they assume that once you’ve gotten to middle school or high school, we don’t have to worry about your ability to write a sentence because we took care of that in elementary school. But in fact that hasn’t happened with a lot of kids.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Rush to College Might Be a Mistake

Douglas Belkin::

U.S. policy-makers have long pushed more high-school students to go to college, citing data showing that college graduates earn more money over their lifetime, pay more taxes, enjoy better health and are more likely to vote.

But in reality, students who rush into college, incur debt and drop out without a degree can be worse off than those who didn’t go at all—fueling an increasing backlash to the one-size-fits all push for students to go straight from high-school to the college quad.

A new Gallup report released Thursday highlights the amount of buyers’ remorse many people feel about their college experience.

Twelve seconds of gunfire

John Woodrow Cox:

Recess had finally started, so Ava Olsen picked up her chocolate cupcake, then headed outside toward the swings. And that’s when the 7-year-old saw the gun.

It was black and in the hand of someone the first-graders on the playground would later describe as a thin, towering figure with wispy blond hair and angry eyes. Dressed in dark clothes and a baseball cap, he had just driven up in a Dodge Ram, jumping out of the pickup as it rolled into the chain-link fence that surrounded the play area. It was 1:41 on a balmy, blue-sky afternoon in late September, and Ava’s class was just emerging from an open door directly in front of him to join the other kids already outside. At first, a few of them assumed he had come to help with something or say hello.

Jury finds against retired Germantown teachers who lost benefit after Act 10

Bruce Vielmetti::

A lawyer for 90 retired Germantown teachers asked a jury Monday to award them more than $9 million in damages from their former employer, who the retirees say took their affordable long-term care insurance in a political power play after passage of Wisconsin’s Act 10 law.

The district’s attorney urged jurors to reject liability under all three of the plaintiffs’ theories. “They ignored it (a warning that the insurance plan could terminate) and now they want to blame the school district,” Kevin Pollard said.

The lawyers’ closing arguments came after a weeklong trial, but it took the jury just an afternoon to decide the district owed nothing to the retirees.

The district added the benefit in 1998 but terminated its contract with WEA Trust in 2012. By then, the plaintiffs had been paying their own monthly premiums toward a paid-up policy after 30 years. Some came up with lump sums of $35,000 to $40,000 to pay up the policies, but 46 others did not, and forfeited about $200,000 in premiums for no coverage.

The retired teachers saw the right to continue paying the group-term rates as a vested benefit yanked out from beneath them.

Much more on Act 10, here.

The False Promise of ‘Community’ on Campus

Naomi Schaefer Riley:

“The primary reason we wanted to do this is we really wanted to come together to celebrate Harvard black excellence and brilliance. … This is really an opportunity for students to build fellowship and build a community.”

That was Michael Huggins, president of the Harvard Black Graduate Student Alliance, explaining why the group has organized a separate graduation ceremony for black students this week. There are plenty of reasons to balk at the event — the segregationist tendency, for starters. But there is also reason to wonder why it is that students who have spent four years or more at one of the most comprehensive, most exclusive universities in the country are still struggling to find “fellowship” and “community.”

University administrators like to throw around the word community. There is the African-American community, the Latino community and the mixed-race community, not to mention the Jewish community, the Muslim community and the Wiccan community. There is the LGBT community, the athletic community, the scientific community and the arts community.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: How Illinois became America’s failed state

Natasha Korecki::

It’s increasingly possible that Rauner — who promised that he carried negotiation credibility and the know-how to fix the state’s finances — could complete his four-year term in office without ever having passed a budget. At that point, economic forecasts indicate the state’s unpaid bill pile would soar beyond $20 billion. The bill backlog was at about $6 billion when Rauner first took office.

To put it into perspective, the Republican-dominated Kansas Legislature just overrode a veto by its governor from the same party that reversed the governor’s tax cuts and created $1.9 billion in revenue. Lawmakers there panicked after the state found itself $900 million in the hole — a drop in the bucket compared to Illinois.

Few Illinois state pols seem to be panicking. That could be a reflection of voters who don’t seem rattled.

Instead of voting on full-fledged budgets, including possibly increasing revenue, the governor and the General Assembly have signed off on stopgap spending plans. That means they’re cherry picking certain areas to fund — keeping schools open and roads paved.

“This impasse has been sort of cleverly positioned to diminish the immediate, obvious impacts on your middle-class voters,” said Andrea Durbin, chief executive officer of Illinois Collaboration on Youth. “Those voters are being deceived, because every single one of us is going to pay more every single day that this goes on. Having the DMV open, state parks, highway construction and K-12 open, it allows your sort of average middle-class voter to be deceived about what is going on.”

Illinois was creative in how it pays its bills long before Rauner took office. It has for years taken the politically palatable option of avoiding tax hikes while borrowing from pension funds, allowing its pension backlog to balloon and failing to sock away money for emergencies. Illinois is just one of nine states to not have a rainy day fund, according to the National Association of State Budget Officers.

Last month, a group of protesters was so fed up with the stalemate that it took drastic measures to draw attention to the crisis. They walked 200 miles from Chicago to Springfield, stopping in towns along the way to talk about the budget. Once inside the capital, some demonstrators were dragged from the House chamber. In the evening, another group tied their wrists together, chanted traditional protest chants and sat in a circle outside the governor’s office before about three dozen were arrested.

Rockwell and Manpower team up to train new generation of digital-age manufacturing workers

John Schmid:

Such workers are deemed essential for any industrial economy that wants to be competitive, including manufacturing-heavy Wisconsin.

And they are in woefully short supply.
ManpowerGroup Inc., a global staffing firm, and Rockwell Automation Inc., which supplies tech-driven industrial productivity systems, on Tuesday announced they are collaborating to train what they call a new breed of “advanced digital manufacturing” workers.
The two Milwaukee-based companies promise to focus on U.S. military veterans who are re-entering the civilian workforce. Rockwell and Manpower are ramping up a joint training program and aim to “upskill” 1,000 workers each year, starting next year and continuing into the foreseeable future, Manpower said.

Oxford ‘takeaway’ exam to help women get firsts

Sian Griffiths and Julie Henry:

History students will be able to sit a paper at home in an effort to close the gap with the number of men getting top degrees

Oxford University is to change its exam system to help women do better amid figures showing men are much more likely to get a first-class degree.

One of Oxford’s five final-year history exams will be replaced by a paper that can be done at home to try to improve results for female students.

The move, which begins in the next academic year, comes as statistics showed 32% of women achieved a first in history at Oxford, compared with 37% of men. Cambridge University — where the average gender gap is nearly nine percentage points across all subjects — is reviewing its exam system “in order to understand fully any variations and how we can mitigate them effectively”.

The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI

Will Knight:

ast year, a strange self-driving car was released onto the quiet roads of Monmouth County, New Jersey. The experimental vehicle, developed by researchers at the chip maker Nvidia, didn’t look different from other autonomous cars, but it was unlike anything demonstrated by Google, Tesla, or General Motors, and it showed the rising power of artificial intelligence. The car didn’t follow a single instruction provided by an engineer or programmer. Instead, it relied entirely on an algorithm that had taught itself to drive by watching a human do it.

Getting a car to drive this way was an impressive feat. But it’s also a bit unsettling, since it isn’t completely clear how the car makes its decisions. Information from the vehicle’s sensors goes straight into a huge network of artificial neurons that process the data and then deliver the commands required to operate the steering wheel, the brakes, and other systems. The result seems to match the responses you’d expect from a human driver. But what if one day it did something unexpected—crashed into a tree, or sat at a green light? As things stand now, it might be difficult to find out why. The system is so complicated that even the engineers who designed it may struggle to isolate the reason for any single action. And you can’t ask it: there is no obvious way to design such a system so that it could always explain why it did what it did.

The Algorithm Made Me Do It

Rebecca Wexler:

Right now, in Loomis v. Wisconsin, the U.S. Supreme Court is deciding whether to review the use of COMPAS in sentencing proceedings. Eric Loomis pleaded guilty to running away from a traffic cop and driving a car without the owner’s permission. When COMPAS ranked him “high risk,” he was sentenced to six years in prison. He tried to argue that using the system to sentence him violated his constitutional rights by demoting him for being male. But Northpointe refuses to reveal how it weights and calculates sex.

We do know certain things about how COMPAS works. It relies in part on a standardized survey where some answers are self-reported and others are filled in by an evaluator. Those responses are fed into a computer system that produces a numerical score. But Northpointe considers the weight of each input, and the predictive model used to calculate the risk score, to be trade secrets. That makes it hard to challenge a COMPAS result. Loomis might have been demoted because of his sex, and that demotion might have been unconstitutional. But as long as the details are secret, his challenge can’t be heard.

What surprised me about the letter from Eastern was that its author could prove something had gone very wrong with his COMPAS assessment. The “offender rehabilitation coordinator” who ran the assessment had checked “yes” on one of the survey questions when he should have checked “no.” Ordinarily, without knowing the input weights and predictive model, it would be impossible to tell whether that error had affected the final score. The mistake could be a red herring, not worth the time to review and correct.

The Voucher Fight Isn’t Clear-Cut

Robin Lake, via a kind email:

When my son attended our neighborhood public elementary school, he hid under a desk every day. His teacher regularly yelled at the mostly low-income students and typically ignored him – under that desk, he was out of sight, out of mind.

He tested as profoundly gifted, but a constellation of emotional and social issues caused him to shut down in the classroom. Some public schools are successful in educating children like ours, but this one wasn’t. Our son was helped by a full-time aide and a certified assistant teacher, both kind but badly educated about how to work with him. He was lagging academically and faced being funneled into a dead-end, segregated classroom. We were desperate.

We considered private school, but the only ones that welcomed students with special needs – not to mention one who hid under his desk all day – were much more expensive than typical private schools.

I’m an education researcher and policy analyst, and before that point I’d been firmly opposed to school vouchers, for all the typical reasons: their track record, concern about government money going to religious schools, equity issues and a sense that private schools weren’t accountable to parents in the same way public schools are. The voucher debate has long been cast as one between opponents and supporters of public schools, and I was – and still am – in the latter camp: someone who has always believed that public schools matter, should be funded better and have the potential (and duty) to serve all students well.

Much more on vouchers here, and here.

Schools? The Mall of the Future Will Have No Stores

Esther Fang:

When Starwood Capital Group LLC bought Fairlane Town Center in 2014, the investment firm had a lot of work to do.

The Dearborn, Mich., mall was only 72% leased, and among the vacant space was a sprawling former anchor store.

A chance call to Ford Motor Co. to sell some mall advertising turned out to be a game changer. In April, Ford moved its entire engineering and purchasing staff into space once inhabited by department-store chain Lord & Taylor. Ford is now the mall’s largest tenant, with 240,000 square feet of space.

How Big Data Mines Personal Info to Craft Fake News and Manipulate Voters

Nina Burleigh:

The speaker, Alexander Nix, an Eton man, was very much among his own kind—global elites with names like Buffett, Soros, Brokaw, Pickens, Petraeus and Blair. Trouble was indeed on the way for some of the attendees at the annual summit of policymakers and philanthropists whose world order was about to be wrecked by the American election. But for Nix, chief executive officer of a company working for the Trump campaign, that mayhem was a very good thing.

He didn’t mention it that day, but his company, Cambridge Analytica, had been selling its services to the Trump campaign, which was building a massive database of information on Americans. The company’s capabilities included, among other things, “psychographic profiling” of the electorate. And while Trump’s win was in no way assured on that afternoon, Nix was there to give a cocky sales pitch for his cool new product.

“It’s my privilege to speak to you today about the power of Big Data and psychographics in the electoral process,” he began. As he clicked through slides, he explained how Cambridge Analytica can appeal directly to people’s emotions, bypassing cognitive roadblocks, thanks to the oceans of data it can access on every man and woman in the country.

After describing Big Data, Nix talked about how Cambridge was mining it for political purposes, to identify “mean personality” and then segment personality types into yet more specific subgroups, using other variables, to create ever smaller groups susceptible to precisely targeted messages.

This is not a new topic: see Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

If Silicon Valley Re-Invented the Law School


What would a Silicon Valley-inspired law school look like? I ask because I have been spending the last few years studying disruptive technologies, and, I wondered – as a thought experiment – how Silicon Valley entrepreneurs might rethink how to teach law for the digital age.

Law schools are tradition-bound institutions. For decades, law school classes have been taught in a way that would at least be familiar to the students who went to law school in earlier generations. Obviously, numerous innovations have occurred with the advent of clinical education, experiential opportunities, and clear advances in diversity, teaching methods, and some classroom technology. But, at some basic core, the process of legal teaching and learning has remained relatively unchanged. The books from which I teach look a lot like the textbooks I learned from, and the ones my parents, and grandfather learned from.

In other industries, disruption has occurred. If you brought the highest tech worker from 1960 and brought them to a successful San Francisco tech office, with open spaces, pods, laptops, ping pong tables, free goodies, and a corporate mission to sell digital widgets globally, via the internet or the Internet of Things, it would not look at all familiar. Workspaces, work, and how we think about work has changed.

Fetuses Prefer Face-Like Images Even in the Womb

Ed Long::

It is dark in the womb—but not that dark. Human flesh isn’t fully opaque, so some measure of light will always pass through it. This means that even an enclosed space like a uterus can be surprisingly bright. “It’s analogous to being in a room where the lights are switched off and the curtains are drawn, but it’s bright outside,” says Vincent Reid from the University of Lancaster. “That’s still enough light to see easily.”

But what exactly do fetuses see? And how do they react to those images? To find out, Reid shone patterns of red dots into the wombs of women in the third trimester of their pregnancies, and monitored the babies within using high-definition ultrasound. By looking at how the babies turned around, Reid showed that they have a preference for dots arranged in a face-like pattern—just as newborn infants do.

Say goodbye to Uncle Sam’s tuition-inflation program, and his support for colleges that don’t offer value.

Michael Falk::

F COLLEGES PROVIDE VALUE, then let’s make them warranty their offerings. Make the colleges be the lenders—responsible for the loans they approve. Goodbye to Uncle Sam, his tuition-inflation program, and his support for colleges that don’t offer value.

In order to be able to lend, colleges would need to capitalize their assets, such as their endowments and all of the human capital represented by their graduates’ future earning power. This would be a useful exercise for those institutions that haven’t been paying attention to the value of their products. The quality of classes they offer could improve and become more relevant as a result.

Some colleges might reduce the variety of degrees they offer, while other colleges might specialize in fields of study that attract cash-based or independently financed students.

Lending colleges ought to improve their career counseling to manage their new risky assets—the students. Students might also receive other benefits, such as more and better placement services through alumni or local businesses, since the colleges would have vested interests in their success.

An additional feature on the proposition for colleges as lenders could be to offer adjustable-rate debt agreements based on students’ final grade-point averages. Rates could be discounted for grades at or above B average and raised for lower grade averages. Students should find a direct incentive to invest in academic success.

An equity-conversion option could also offer students protection for times when quality employment opportunities aren’t plentiful for their degrees. College lenders could grant an option to graduates for an equity conversion within the first three years after graduation.

Exercising the option would convert a student’s fixed debt payment into a fixed equity interest for a lender, such as a claim on 10% of the student’s income for the next 20 years. Over a couple of decades, payments from highly successful students who converted should offset low payments from those less successful. These equity conversions could provide colleges with a form of automated endowment growth.

Intellectual Protectionism

Grant Addison:

Back in my early days of college, I complained often and loudly about any professor who had the temerity to include attendance as part of the course grade. “Not only am I capable of making my own decisions about going to class,” I’d explain haughtily, “my tuition and fees pay his salary, so I should really get to choose how I’m graded.” I eventually learned the inherent flaws of this opinion – thanks in no small part to several well-meaning professors more than happy to use ample amounts of that mandatory class time disabusing me of this and myriad other asinine notions.

Unfortunately, my consumer-based justification for why I “deserved” to be given a bespoke educational experience – I pay your salary – is quite common on college and university campuses. Rather than consider postsecondary education an undertaking of self-improvement or intellectual exploration, many students approach college as more akin to ordering off a fast-food menu: I already know what I want, and since I’m paying, I expect it served to me just as I asked, immediately.

CS Interview – CS Topics To Study

Tomer Ben David:

Below is a list of topics to study for cs interview. If you have any comments please let us know.

The topics include data structures, sorting, search, graph search, math, compression, security, web, recursion, general programming, data science: kafka, hadoop, storm, UML, java, scalability, multithreading.

For each topic we have a status column, use it for our own to track the status of your progress in the study this topic. In addition, we have a tutorial column where we point to the best video or tutorial for study this topic, this doc is a work in progress, please let us know for any suggestion.

Why Aren’t American Teenagers Working Anymore?

Ben Steverman:

This summer American teenagers should find it a little easier to get a job—if they want one.

The U.S. unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent in May, the lowest in 16 years, so teens started looking for summer jobs in the best labor market since the tech boom of the early 2000s. The May unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds was 14.3 percent, but teens usually find it harder to find jobs than their more experienced elders. Back in 2009, the teenage jobless rate hit 27 percent.

A CareerBuilder survey of 2,587 employers released last month found that 41 percent were planning to hire seasonal workers for the summer, up from 29 percent last year.

The math gift myth


My May post is more than a little late. The initial delay was caused by a mountain of other deadlines. When I did finally start to come up for air, there just did not seem to be any suitable math stories floating around to riff off, but I did not have enough time to dig around for one. That this has happened so rarely in the twenty years I have been writing Devlin’s Angle (and various other outlets going back to the early 1980s in the UK), that it speaks volumes against the claim you sometimes hear that nothing much happens in the world of mathematics. There is always stuff going on.
 Be that as it may, when I woke up this morning and went online, two fascinating stories were waiting for me. What’s more, they are connected – at least, that’s how I saw them.

Politics and K-12 Tax & Spending Policy

Molly Beck::

Assembly Republicans introduced last week their own K-12 spending plan that counters Walker’s proposal, which Senate Republicans support.

The Assembly proposal has a smaller increase in funding that is paid to districts on a per-student basis than what Walker proposed and an increase in the amount of property taxes districts that have low-caps on their revenue limits can raise.

Bales said public school officials rallied around Walker’s proposal, but now feel like they are being pitted against each other. Groups advocating for public schools sent a letter to Walker and lawmakers Friday asking them to support both proposals.

“It’s not helpful to sort of seduce district leadership into picking sides,” Bales said. “(Budget) delays don’t help us either and I think there are places for compromise, and dividing and pitting districts against another isn’t going to be productive for education in the end.”

Walker said he’s going to continue to lobby lawmakers to support his funding increase.

“I’m going to do what I’ve done since (proposing it), I’m going to go off to schools across the state to remind people how important this is for student success,” Walker said.

Madison spends more than most, now around $18,000 per student.

50 Years After Loving v. Virginia, Colleges Embrace Segregation

Jason Riley:

June 12 marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1967 ruling in Loving v. Virginia, which held that states could no longer prohibit marriages on racial grounds.

“Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State,” wrote Chief Justice Earl Warren. Like an earlier landmark decision on race, Brown v. Board of Education (1954), the Loving opinion was unanimous and brief—just 10 pages long. It was also unsurprising.

For starters, nearly two decades earlier, in 1948, the California Supreme Court had already ruled that the state’s antimiscegenation law violated the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment. Court rulings aside, polling showed that racial attitudes among whites nationwide had shifted significantly in the postwar period. Between 1942 and 1963, white support for school integration grew to 62% from 30%, and white backing for neighborhood integration jumped to 64% from 35%. By the early 1960s, 79% of whites supported integrated public transportation, up from 44% in the early 1940s.

Wisconsin law doesn’t seek equal funding for every school child. Here’s why.

Alan Borsuk::

State Rep. John Nygren, the Marinette Republican who co-chairs the Legislature’s budget committee, told a news conference Tuesday that details of Wisconsin’s school funding system “would probably glaze most people’s eyes over.”

How true. Maybe that’s one of the reasons the funding system is what it is. Who can bear to think about changing it?

But, in line with my motto (“Dare to be boring!”), let us turn our attention to questions such as these:

Why does the education of a kid who lives in, say, the 3400 block of N. Cramer St. get almost $1,200 less in public support than the education of a kid who lives in the 3500 block of N. Cramer St.? Is there something magical in the concrete in E. Edgewood Ave. that makes reality prettier on one side of the street?

Or is it just a historical thing because one block is in the city of Milwaukee and the other in Shorewood?

There are literally thousands of ways across the state of Wisconsin that you could pose such questions, some more dramatic than this example. The state’s 424 school districts each have their own “revenue limits,” which is to say, how much money, under state law, they can receive each year from state aid and local property taxes (and a few other smaller sources, but we’re really talking about state aid and property taxes).

Professor Caveman

Richard Schiffman:

Their anthropology professor, Bill Schindler—who somehow looked ruggedly handsome despite the fact that he hadn’t shaved in days and was wearing an odd necklace made of seal bone, African baobab seeds, and beads cast from copper he had smelted himself—grinned. “With a simple flake that you can create in a second,” he said proudly, “you have transformed that deer into food for you, rather than just something to look at while you starve.” This is high praise, coming from Schindler, who says that fewer people have mastered basic survival skills today than at any other time in human history. Over the course of this semester-long class, Experimental Archaeology and Primitive Technology, Schindler’s students learn to build fires with wooden hand drills, make rope from plant fibers, and gather tree nuts, among other things. Although most of us no longer rely on these skills, Schindler argues that they are essential to understanding what it means to be human, and should be a part of our educational curricula.

Michelle Obama at WWDC: Bad Math Teachers Drove My Daughters Out of STEM

“I have two daughters now who are perfectly good in math, but they had one or two bad math teachers and they are done. That’s what happens to girls. They walk away from tech and science. And there’s something going on that is not just about the girls. There’s something going on with how these subjects are taught.”


Math Forum

Discovery Math

Connected Math

Singapore Math

Remedial Math

Commentary on Madison Schools $18k/student spending priorities

Jennifer Wang:

Last November, the citizens of Madison supported a referendum to offset the drastic budget cuts forced upon our schools in recent years. The Madison Metropolitan School District has let class sizes expand for the past few years to cope with funding shortfalls. In this first budget cycle after the referendum, I ask the Madison School Board to use this money to reduce class sizes at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

The advantages of small class size are unassailable. Over the last decade, my three children have benefited enormously from the small classes at Midvale and Lincoln elementary schools. In 2007, when my daughter started kindergarten, she flourished in a class of 14 with enough additional support staff to produce a teacher/student ratio that rivaled any private school in the area. My children have spent their formative years in classrooms of between 15 and 18 with dedicated teachers who knew them well, who could assess their learning styles and differentiate lesson plans to meet their needs. These small classes allowed my children to thrive and set them up for success in middle and high school. Unfortunately, today many children in Madison’s schools, including some of our highest-poverty schools, are in classrooms that are much too large.

Madison’s budget and long term, disastrous reading results.

Midvale Lincoln.

MAP assessment results.

Tense Days for Union Time on the Taxpayer Dime

Real Clear Investigations:

This practice – known as “official time” – is coming under renewed attack by Republicans in Congress who see it as wasteful and inefficient, and who have undoubtedly noticed that unionized federal workers tend to align with Democrats. They argue that if employees like McDargh did the work they were hired to do, the federal government would do a better job too.

One bill, which passed the House on May 24, would require an annual report to Congress on the use of official time by federal employees. The second piece of legislation, awaiting a floor vote, would disincentivize union work by curbing time credited toward retirement for those who work on union matters more than 80 percent of the time.

“Federal employees are free to engage in union activities on their own time, and they are free to use union resources and dues to fund those activities,” that bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Jody Hice, a Georgia Republican, told RealClearInvestigations. “However, taxpayer dollars should be used for public, not private, needs. Simply put, paying federal employees to do union work interferes with providing the services that taxpayers deserve.”

Union official time on the job has been allowed since the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978. And government workers do not consider it a boondoggle. If taxpayers feel abused by an imperious federal bureaucracy, how do you think they feel working at the whims of a sprawling, 2.7-million-strong Leviathan? Because federal employees need representation, they say, official time may be the best way to handle union matters expertly and efficiently.

Lee Stone, a scientist at NASA and vice president for the Western Federal Area of the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers, calls Hice’s bill “mean-spirited” because it punishes workers for engaging in government-approved activity.

Michigan Pension Reform

Kathleen Gray

Lawmakers in the House and Senate forged ahead today with a plan to cut new teachers out of pensions and switch them to a 401(k)-type plan, despite a lack of progress between the Republican leadership in the Legislature and Gov. Rick Snyder on how to reform Michigan’s teacher pension system.

Rep. Thomas Albert, R-Lowell and Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair, introduced bills that would close off the Michigan Public Schools Employee Retirement System – or MPSERS – to new teachers, beginning on Sept. 30 and put them into a defined contribution plan in which the state would contribute 4% of a teacher’s wages toward the retirement fund.

The employee could then contribute up to another 3%, which would be matched by the employer — for a total of up to 10% each year. The employer match would be covered by the state. Teachers currently in the MPSERS system would continue to get their pension benefits.

What Causes High Tuition? Don’t Trust Your Intuition

Preston Cooper:

A typical student in an American public college pays thousands of dollars more in tuition than just a decade ago. Students and parents are worried and frustrated, and many point the finger at state legislators, who have cut funds to state schools. During last year’s presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton blamed “state disinvestment” in higher education for soaring tuition and declared her support for “free college.”

While the “disinvestment” narrative is simple and appealing, it collapses under scrutiny. If state funding to public colleges falls by $100 per student, it seems logical to conclude that tuition must go up by $100 to compensate. But that isn’t what happens. When the Great Recession began in 2008, funding at public colleges fell, as declining tax revenue forced states to make budget cuts. Tuition went up. In the mid-2000s, when the economy was strong, state funding to public colleges rose. Tuition went up then, too.

The Tyranny Is The Administrative State

John Tierney:

Sometimes called the regulatory state or the deep state, it is a government within the government, run by the president and the dozens of federal agencies that assume powers once claimed only by kings. In place of royal decrees, they issue rules and send out “guidance” letters like the one from an Education Department official in 2011 that stripped college students of due process when accused of sexual misconduct.

Unelected bureaucrats not only write their own laws, they also interpret these laws and enforce them in their own courts with their own judges. All this is in blatant violation of the Constitution, says Mr. Hamburger, 60, a constitutional scholar and winner of the Manhattan Institute’s Hayek Prize last year for his scholarly 2014 book, “Is Administrative Law Unlawful?” (Spoiler alert: Yes.)

“Essentially, much of the Bill of Rights has been gutted,” he says, sitting in his office at Columbia Law School. “The government can choose to proceed against you in a trial in court with constitutional processes, or it can use an administrative proceeding where you don’t have the right to be heard by a real judge or a jury and you don’t have the full due process of law. Our fundamental procedural freedoms, which once were guarantees, have become mere options.” ​

Indeed: Mission vs organization.

Lessig’s Governance Game

Jordan Pearson:

Lawrence, in an op-ed explaining your presidential run , you wrote that democracy is not a utopia. There are concrete antagonisms to address and steps to be taken in order to dig ourselves out of the hole we’re in. Is Seed a game about political utopias, or political fantasies?
LL: I don’t think it’s utopian in any sense. The effort in creating and maintaining communities in Seed is real effort—it’s not a simple gift. But I think we can learn a lot about what sorts of governance structures help people to flourish in these spaces. Maybe that doesn’t translate to the real world, but maybe it does. I think that the opportunity to have this massive experiment in different forms of governance, simultaneous and real, is pushing us in the direction of improving our forms of governance or at least giving us a map of how to improve them. That’s what’s most interesting to me.

Morristown High removes Trump satires from school art show

Kevin Coughlin:

Morristown High School junior Liam Shea got called into the principal’s office on Thursday.

His offense: Political satire.

School officials removed Shea’s five-foot graphic depicting a porcine President Trump clutching a snarling pussycat from the annual MHS Art & Design Show.

Also removed was a painting of Trump on a missile, taking a selfie. Students were given an hour at Wednesday’s opening reception to whip up something for the theme “America Takes a Selfie.”

All About The Kids?

Peter Cook:

When Arsement claims education reform supporters “demonize” teachers, what he means is that they actually expect teachers to do the work they’re paid to do. While this may seem draconian to someone who can apparently skip entire days of work and get away with it, this is not a radical concept to most of us. When taxpayers hand over their hard-earned money to pay for public education, they expect teachers to teach. When parents send their children off to school, they expect their kids will actually spend the day learning. When Arsement instead takes a bunch of sick days to lobby lawmakers for lower standards and less accountability, he’s breaking the social contract and possibly the law. Worst of all, he’s doing a tremendous disservice to the young people in his classroom – kids who need the most help.

This Is How College Bureaucrats Pettily Tyrannize A Professor Who Crosses Them

Peter Wood:

Dennis Gouws again. You remember him: the English professor at Springfield College who got into trouble with campus feminists because he taught a course titled “Men in Literature.” I’ve been tracking his travails for over a year, and summarized them for The Federalist in March.

Gouws stands as a near-perfect example of feminist-inspired tyranny in American higher education. Even at a small New England college of modest reputation, one voice of dissent is one too many, and the entire apparatus of the college administration moves to silence him.

The end of the semester provides a good moment to bring the story up to date. When last we heard, Springfield’s dean of arts, sciences, and professional studies had placed Gouws on “Official Warning Status.” This was a preliminary step towards firing the tenured professor. Of course, the dean, Anne Herzog, had her reasons—all of them procedural irregularities stemming from Gouws’ refusal to be steamrolled.

He was accused of denying “the Department Chairperson” admittance to his classroom.(Actually she arrived uninvited and walked out). He was accused of refusing to meet with the dean herself. (Actually he said yes, but wanted to bring a witness, which she refused to allow.) And he was accused of failing to provide a doctor’s note to verify an illness that prevented him from attending a meeting. (Gouws dutifully provided the doctor’s note.)

I repeat the petty details just to capture their sheer pettiness. This is what academic deans do? Well, this is what academic deans do when faced with a renegade professor who keeps trying to slip “men in literature” into his English courses.

The Diminishing Returns of a College Degree

Richard Vedder & Justin Strehle:

In the 375 years between 1636, when Harvard College was founded, and 2011, college enrollments in the United States rose almost continuously, rarely undergoing even a temporary decline. When the American Revolution began in 1775, only 721 students attended the nine colonial colleges. By 2010 enrollments had surpassed 20 million.

Yet from 2011 to 2016, the National Student Clearinghouse reports, total higher education enrollments declined every fall, falling to 19 million from 20.6 million. Although the declines were concentrated in community colleges and for-profit institutions, even many traditional four-year schools saw previously steady enrollment growth come to an end. Many smaller schools have even missed their annual enrollment goals.

Marquette Elementary fourth-graders end school year with ‘kindness rocks’

Karen Rivedal:

Fourth-graders at Marquette Elementary ended the school year Thursday with a call to kindness enabled through a rock-painting project suggested by a student’s mom.

As part of a school celebration day spent mostly doing crafts, sports and games over a beautiful morning in Orton Park, parent Michelle Weber’s offering let students be “creative, helpful and kind” by decorating small, colored rocks with words, designs and images of happiness and good cheer, Weber said. The students planned to later hide the finished rocks in plain sight around town to hopefully improve the mood of anyone who found them.

Madison’s Cherokee Middle School yearbooks to be reprinted to remove racial slurs, offensive material

Karen Rivedal:

Cherokee Middle School yearbooks will be reprinted to remove racial slurs and other offensive material, district officials confirmed Thursday.

In addition, the school’s one-person approach to putting out the book will change when future editions are produced, officials said.

“We had a process that worked for us and then we came upon a situation this year that was really unfortunate,” school Principal Sarah Chaja-Clardy said in an interview. “We are definitely making changes for the future. Our yearbook is a reflection of our school and it absolutely has to reflect the values of the school.”

Augmenting Madison’s $18k Per Student Budget

Karen Rivedal:

As executive director of the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools, Melinda Heinritz leads a staff of five committed to increasing material resources and community support for local public education.

Since its creation in 2001 by a group of community leaders and former educators, the foundation has awarded $1.28 million in grants to schools and individual teachers for innovative projects that would not otherwise be supported by the Madison School District’s core budget.

The foundation has also set up endowment funds for each of the district’s 50 schools, and most schools have one or more community partners paired up with them under the foundation’s signature Adopt-A-School program.

Much more on Madison’s approximately $460M budget, here

Curated Education Information