TJ Mertz to run for re-election to Madison School Board (2019)

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Mertz said he will look to highlight his record during the campaign, and also talk about building trust and accountability in the Madison Metropolitan School District.

“In order for us to provide our students the education they deserve, we need to work to repair the breakdowns of trust we see manifested in the divisions within our schools, within our community, and between too many of our families and our schools,” Mertz said. “We need to respect each other, assume the best intentions, and work together with honesty and hope.”

Notes and links:

Ananda Mirilli

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The Debt Threat to the Economy

Phil Gramm & Michael Solon:

The same driving forces have propelled every strong American economic recovery since World War II: a sustained rise in business investment and increases in new-home building. The resulting increases in the demand for credit have driven up interest rates. As the current recovery builds and extraordinarily low interest rates normalize, the economy will begin to feel for the first time the effects of the unparalleled borrowing of the past decade. Exploding debt-servicing costs and the new federal borrowing could crowd out private borrowing at levels never before experienced in any of the 10 previous postwar recovers.

During the weak Obama recovery, business investment lagged behind the norm, and new-home construction remained at the recessionary level. Today business investment is at the highest level in a decade, and housing starts are up 42% from the average level of the Obama era. With the economy now growing at the average postwar rate of 3.5%, interest rates also should be expected to rise toward their postwar norms as government and the private sector compete for available credit.

Nominal interest rates in the postwar period were highly affected by inflation, which rose at an annual rate of 3.8% from 1948-2008. Interest rates surged when inflation approached double-digit levels from 1977-82, and Treasury borrowing costs reached their highest postwar levels, averaging 10.6%. If that six-year period is set aside as an anomaly, the Treasury’s average borrowing cost from 1948-2009 was 4.8%. For the entire 1948-2008 period, real Treasury borrowing costs—the nominal borrowing costs minus the inflation rate—were 1.2%.

Inside a Google Summit on Diversity and Inclusion

Joseph Klein:

A number of the panelists also praised unconscious bias training for employees. As of 2015, 20 percent of companies provided such workshops. The notion of “unconscious bias” is based on implicit-association tests, which ask participants to look at pictures of members of various identity groups and then measure their response time in matching images with either pleasant or unpleasant words. Such tests have been subject to an abundance of criticism—most notably that the tests don’t measure bias, but unrelated things such as the time it takes to switch tasks. It’s also the case that many people with strong negative implicit-association test results don’t show any overt racism in their actions.

Unconscious bias training is based on an unproven and cynical worldview: Deep down, everyone is at least a little bit bigoted. This perspective may serve to delude bigoted people into justifying their prejudices as “normal.” Some research explicitly suggests unconscious bias training may actually create a norm for stereotyping and thus increase its prevalence.

Mr. Kazmierczak also referred to the T. Rowe Price Associates board of directors as having “over 40 percent diversity,” as if an individual can be measured as diverse. In Mr. Kazmierczak’s telling, a board made up entirely of black women would be 100 percent diverse. That’s not the definition of diversity; the word means having “variety” or “difference” in relation to a larger group. In practice, labeling an individual as diverse “others” members of minority groups, which weakens the concept of a larger unified humanity, and encourages individuals to silo themselves according to tribal notions of group membership.

The panelists claimed that to be competitive, businesses must hire and promote for a diversity of identities and ethnicities, but in fact, research shows the most valuable sort of diversity in hiring is diversity of thought. Intellectual diversity can sometimes correlate with diversity of identity group membership and end up increasing demographic variety as a side effect, but it doesn’t need to.

The Unwritten Story of Chicago’s Charter School Teacher Strike: Unions See Walkouts as Survival Tool

Mike Antonucci:

The Acero charter school network and the Chicago Teachers Union reached a tentative agreement on a four-year contract early Sunday, bringing to an end a four-day teacher strike. It was the first strike of charter school employees in U.S. history.

This singular event garnered a great deal of press coverage. Several narratives were popular, which involved tying the strike to:

● the stalling of the charter school movement in Chicago and Illinois in general;

● the statewide teacher strikes last spring in West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona;

● the Chicago Teachers Union strike of 2012;

● the growing union success in organizing charter school teachers; and

● a union show of force in defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Janus ruling.

The primary purpose of a strike is to extract concessions from an employer when other methods fail. The Acero teachers were successful in this regard, and so perhaps the strike was justified. But there are charters in 43 states and some have been unionized for years. Teacher unions have opposed charters since the first one opened in 1992. So why did the first strike occur in Chicago in 2018?

No reporter delved into that question.

Related

Civics: Facebook Censors at Random

Daniel Gallant:

If you used Facebook in late November, you probably saw a stream of fundraising campaigns for charities and cultural organizations. That’s because Facebook offered up to $7 million in matching donations for nonprofits that used its platform to raise funds on Giving Tuesday. But this gesture masks the negative impact Facebook’s newly adopted advertising policies have had on nonprofit organizations that rely on social media.

In response to public scrutiny stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal this year, Facebook has implemented enforcement measures aimed at improving election security and discouraging anonymous political messages. These measures have been poorly executed and inconsistently applied. They unfairly burden charitable organizations and small businesses, yet are easy for organized or well-funded actors to circumvent.

Several paid advertising campaigns run by my colleagues and clients have been inexplicably obstructed by Facebook’s policing in the past several months. Facebook refused to allow my New York cultural nonprofit, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, to pay to promote a post encouraging people to vote in the midterms because our page was not “authorized to run ads related to politics.” A campaign promoting a lecture about sculpture at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts was blocked because Facebook’s censors mistakenly believed it was intended to influence an election in Ireland.

Similarly, Arts Japan 2020, an entity that highlights Japan-related cultural programs in the U.S., was unable to promote a post celebrating an award given by the emperor of Japan to an American arts curator. Facebook claimed the topic was of “national importance.” These harmless posts remain on Facebook in unpromoted form, but unpromoted content has a limited reach.

Our Nation’s Health: Obesity Rate at All-Time High; Childhood Poverty Continues to Decline

Associated Press:

-The nation’s obesity rate has reached the highest-ever level this year, according to the United Health Foundation’s 2018 . Obesity is a leading contributor to cardiovascular disease, cancer and other conditions. Additionally, an increase in drug deaths, suicides and cardiovascular disease deaths is contributing to an increase in premature death.

In its 29 th year, the America’s Health Rankings Annual Report also reveals bright spots, including the reduced rate of childhood poverty and an increased number of mental health providers and primary care physicians per 100,000 people. Key findings include:

Obesity Prevalence Reaches All-Time High; Premature Deaths Continue to Increase
The obesity rate exceeded 30 percent of the adult population for the first time in America’s Health Rankings history, up 5 percent in the past year (from 29.9 percent to 31.3 percent). Premature deaths increased 3 percent (from 7,214 to 7,432 years lost before age 75 per 100,000 people).

Suicide Rate Increases
The suicide rate has increased 16 percent since 2012 (from 12.0 to 13.9 deaths per 100,000 people). The suicide rate is 3.5 times lower in New Jersey – the state with the lowest rate for this measure – with 7.5 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with Montana, the most at 26.0 deaths per 100,000. The suicide rate is much higher among males: 22.2 deaths per 100,000 compared with females at 6.2 deaths per 100,000.

Louisiana School Made Headlines for Sending Black Kids to Elite Colleges. Here’s the Reality.

Erica Green and Katie Benner:

Bryson Sassau’s application would inspire any college admissions officer.

A founder of T.M. Landry College Preparatory School described him as a “bright, energetic, compassionate and genuinely well-rounded” student whose alcoholic father had beaten him and his mother and had denied them money for food and shelter. His transcript “speaks for itself,” the founder, Tracey Landry, wrote, but Mr. Sassau should also be lauded for founding a community service program, the Dry House, to help the children of abusive and alcoholic parents. He took four years of honors English, the application said, was a baseball M.V.P. and earned high honors in the “Mathematics Olympiad.”

The narrative earned Mr. Sassau acceptance to St. John’s University in New York. There was one problem: None of it was true.

“I was just a small piece in a whole fathom of lies,” Mr. Sassau said.

T.M. Landry has become a viral Cinderella story, a small school run by Michael Landry, a teacher and former salesman, and his wife, Ms. Landry, a nurse, whose predominantly black, working-class students have escaped the rural South for the nation’s most elite colleges. A video of a 16-year-old student opening his Harvard acceptance letter last year has been viewed more than eight million times. Other Landry students went on to Yale, Brown, Princeton, Stanford, Columbia, Dartmouth, Cornell and Wesleyan.

U.S. Income More Equal Than Advertised

Wall Street Journal:

Remember the 2014 bestseller “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” by French economist Thomas Piketty? … The dismal tale of exploding inequality and capitalist failure has been a recurring theme in political chatter ever since. But a new report highlights just how poorly Mr. Piketty’s thesis has held up under further study.

This column should note that some scholars saw problems right from the start. … Chris Giles of the UK’s Financial Times examined Mr. Piketty’s work and found that “the rock-star French economist appears to have got his sums wrong.” …

Now a new report from the Urban Institute goes back further, to Mr. Piketty’s influential research with University of California, Berkeley professor Emannuel Saez published in 2003. Stephen Rose writes:

Piketty and Saez’s findings garnered tremendous attention and were cited repeatedly. But many researchers eventually found problems with Piketty and Saez’s approach and developed income inequality measures that led to different findings.

Surviving College Application Season

Sue Schellenbarger $$$:

It’s a monthslong ordeal that could change the course of a high school senior’s life, leading to a choice that could cost tens of thousands of dollars or more. No wonder the college-application season can torpedo the holidays for teens and their parents.

Many students labor to meet early-winter deadlines for college applications, often under the anxious eyes of their parents. The resulting stress can damage family relationships if parents fail to set good boundaries and keep their own anxieties in check.

“Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks can pretty much be ruined by a poor college-application process,” says Stephanie Meade, an educational consultant in Sherman Oaks, Calif. “Parents talk about how it’s the last year the student will be living under their roof, and the last thing they want to do is to be fighting with them.”

The path is often rockiest for the oldest child. Pavanaja Reddy of New York was frustrated when her older daughter, now 20, resisted her suggestions on where to apply. “She could get into the Ivies. But that’s not what she had in her mind. It was a really bad time for both of us,” says Dr. Reddy, a physician. “There was a constant struggle with me telling her, ‘I’m the parent, I know what’s best for you,’ and her saying, ‘I know what’s best for myself.’ ”

Looking back, Dr. Reddy says, “I was thinking about what I would do rather than what she would do.” She sees now that her daughter, a junior at Case Western Reserve University, was well-informed and well-equipped to make her own decision.

Is our constant use of digital technologies affecting our brain health?

Brian Resnick, Julia Belluz, and Eliza Barclay:

With so many of us now constantly tethered to digital technology via our smartphones, computers, tablets, and even watches, there is a huge experiment underway that we didn’t exactly sign up for.

Companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, even Vox (if we’re being completely honest) are competing for our attention, and they’re doing so savvily, knowing the psychological buttons to push to keep us coming back for more. It’s now common for American kids to get a smartphone by age 10. That’s a distraction device they carry in their pockets all the time.

The more adapted to the attention economy we become, the more we fear it could be hurting us. In Silicon Valley, we’re told more parents are limiting their kids’ screen time and even writing no-screen clauses into their contracts with nannies. Which makes us wonder: Do they know something we don’t?

New Parents Complain Amazon Baby-Registry Ads Are Deceptive

Rolfe Winkler and Laura Stevens:

Kima Nieves recently received two Aveeno bath-time sets and a box of Huggies diapers through her baby registry on Amazon. The only problem? The new mother didn’t ask for the products, or even want them.

Instead, Johnson & Johnson JNJ 1.58% and Kimberly-Clark Corp. KMB 1.73% each paid Amazon.com Inc. AMZN +0.03% hefty sums to place those sponsored products onto Ms. Nieves’s and other consumers’ baby registries. The ads look identical to the rest of the listed products in the registry, except for a small gray “Sponsored” tag. Unsuspecting friends and family clicked on the ads and purchased the items, assuming Ms. Nieves had chosen them.

“Very sneaky,” said the 28-year-old health-care analyst from Fredericksburg, Va. “That’s friends’ and family’s money going somewhere we didn’t approve of.”

Amazon in recent years has charged into advertising, building the third-largest digital ad business in the U.S. after Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL +0.76% Google and Facebook Inc., according to eMarketer. Its ad revenue is on pace to double this year, to $5.8 billion, eMarketer estimates.

Kaleem Caire adds to political diversity in Madison School Board races (2019)

Chris Rickert:

Caire, 47, is a Madison native who in 2011 mounted a contentious and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to get the School Board to approve what was initially conceived as an all-male public charter school serving those who have long struggled in Madison’s traditional public schools: poor children and children of color.

In an interview, Caire said he’s open to the School Board approving charters, but is “not a charter purist.” His preschool, One City Early Learning on the city’s South Side, was approved as a charter this year by the University of Wisconsin System’s Office of Educational Opportunity.

“I’m less concerned about what we call it,” he said. “I’m more concerned with what we get done.”

He also said he’s in favor of keeping Madison police officers, called educational resource officers, in Madison’s four main high schools and that he’d like to see a Madison public school focused on the performing arts and one focused on science, technology, engineering and math — the so-called STEM disciplines.

Madison also “needs upgraded facilities,” he said. “We’ve got to do more than just patchwork on our facilities.”

Caire’s entrance into the race for Seat 3 brings to five the number of non-incumbents seeking seats on the seven-member board. There are three seats up for a three-year term in the April 2 spring election. If more than two candidates vie for a seat, the field would be pared to two in a Feb. 19 primary.

Notes and links:

Kaleem Caire

Cris Carusi

Dean Loumos

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Civics: France: Understanding the Gilets Jaunes Uprising

QuodVerum:

Arrogance & Ignorance : A Toxic Mix

Notice Macron’s age, when he became a senior civil servant – 27 years of age. That’s important.

The French elites are young men and women, who have been told that they are not just the intellectual creme de la creme, but morally superior. Better human beings, than their inferiors.

These people are arrogant. But they are also ignorant. Raised in very wealthy families and cosseted in the networks those families are part of, they have no understanding of ordinary people and their real lives.

Arrogance and ignorance is a very toxic mix. Macron’s tone-deaf appeal to climate change to justify the rise in diesel taxes, as well as his outrageous suggestion that ordinary French folk must drive less, is a classic example of the problem.

Just 27 years old.

The antidote to civilisational collapse

The Economist:

His latest film, “HyperNormalisation” (the trailer of which is below) argues that stability has been preserved by ideas that are somehow both difficult to believe and almost impossible to escape. As part of The Economist’s Open Future initiative, we interviewed Mr Curtis at his work studio in London. The conversation glided from individualism and data to populism and “this sense of doom” that people feel. Fittingly for a discussion that touched upon the superficiality of media, we are publishing the transcript with only the lightest of edits. It is 8,500 words, or around 35 minutes to read. The less committed can google “youtube epic card trick” and affirm Mr Curtis’s theses instead.

Search is on for Google workers leaking secrets

Tom Knowles:

Google workers are at each other’s throats over leaks emerging from the search engine giant, according to a former senior employee.

Jack Poulson, a former research scientist at Google, has described a culture in which the “number one priority” among senior managers is to stop leaks to the media.

Employees at the company’s headquarters near San Jose, California, are encouraged to monitor their colleagues and list on a web page within Google called “Stopleaks” any confidential information that they see externally. Anyone who is caught revealing information to the press is fired.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts, including Madison, use Google srrvices.

The ‘perfect babysitter.’ Must pass AI scan for respect and attitude.

Drew Harwell:

When Jessie Battaglia started looking for a new babysitter for her 1-year-old son, she wanted more information than she could get from a criminal-background check, parent comments and a face-to-face interview.

So she turned to Predictim, an online service that uses “advanced artificial intelligence” to assess a babysitter’s personality, and aimed its scanners at one candidate’s thousands of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts.

The system offered an automated “risk rating” of the 24-year-old woman, saying she was at a “very low risk” of being a drug abuser. But it gave a slightly higher risk assessment — a 2 out of 5 — for bullying, harassment, being “disrespectful” and having a “bad attitude.”

The system didn’t explain why it had made that decision. But Battaglia, who had believed the sitter was trustworthy, suddenly felt pangs of doubt.

“Social media shows a person’s character,” said Battaglia, 29, who lives outside Los Angeles. “So why did she come in at a 2 and not a 1?”

The Case Against Meritocracy

Ross Douthat:

But then the WASPs themselves decided to dissolve their own aristocracy, and transform their once-Protestant universities into a secular mass-opportunity system — a more democratic way of education, in which anyone with enough talent could climb the ladder, and personal achievement and technical expertise would be prized above all else.

This was meritocracy, the system that we now take for granted. And for several reasons it didn’t work as planned.

First, meritocracy segregates talent rather than dispersing it. By plucking the highest achievers from all over the country and encouraging them to cluster together in the same few cities, it robs localities of their potential leaders — so that instead of an Eastern establishment negotiating with overlapping groups of regional elites (or with working-class or ethnic leaders), you have a mass upper class segregated from demoralized peripheries.

Second, the meritocratic elite inevitably tends back toward aristocracy, because any definition of “merit” you choose will be easier for the children of these self-segregated meritocrats to achieve.

Measuring the “Filter Bubble”: How Google is influencing what you click

Spread Privacy:

Over the years, there has been considerable discussion of Google’s “filter bubble” problem. Put simply, it’s the manipulation of your search results based on your personal data. In practice this means links are moved up or down or added to your Google search results, necessitating the filtering of other search results altogether. These editorialized results are informed by the personal information Google has on you (like your search, browsing, and purchase history), and puts you in a bubble based on what Google’s algorithms think you’re most likely to click on.

The filter bubble is particularly pernicious when searching for political topics. That’s because undecided and inquisitive voters turn to search engines to conduct basic research on candidates and issues in the critical time when they are forming their opinions on them. If they’re getting information that is swayed to one side because of their personal filter bubbles, then this can have a significant effect on political outcomes in aggregate.

Back in 2012 we ran a study showing Google’s filter bubble may have significantly influenced the 2012 U.S. Presidential election by inserting tens of millions of more links for Obama than for Romney in the run-up to that election. Our research inspired an independent study by the Wall Street Journal (paywall):

U.S. Life Expectancy Falls Further

Betsy McKay:

Life expectancy for Americans fell again last year, despite growing recognition of the problems driving the decline and federal and local funds invested in stemming them.

Data the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Thursday show life expectancy fell by one-tenth of a year, to 78.6 years, pushed down by the sharpest annual increase in suicides in nearly a decade and a continued rise in deaths from powerful opioid drugs like fentanyl. Influenza, pneumonia and diabetes also factored into last year’s increase.

Economists and public-health experts consider life expectancy to be an important measure of a nation’s prosperity. The 2017 data paint a dark picture of health and well-being in the U.S., reflecting the effects of addiction and despair, particularly among young and middle-aged adults, as well as diseases plaguing an aging population and people with lower access to health care.

The world’s first gene-edited babies

Anjana Ahuja, Nicolle Liu and Louise Lucas:

“Off-target effects” are when an edit intended for one location in the genome accidentally crops up elsewhere, like a stray comma. Such mistakes could litter the girls’ germlines in perpetuity. A single gene, moreover, might juggle several roles in a genomic balancing act that has evolved over millennia. This, experts say, is possible with CCR5: a mutation may protect against HIV but research suggests it may also increase vulnerability to West Nile virus and influenza. 

Given that the CCR5 mutation has been tentatively associated with improved brain function, Mr He’s self-funded handiwork might even come to be seen as an exercise in genetic enhancement.

Prof Collins says there is now an urgent need for a binding scientific consensus; otherwise “a technology with enormous promise for prevention and treatment of disease will be overshadowed by justifiable public outrage, fear, and disgust.”

Jennifer Doudna, the University of California Berkeley professor widely considered a founder of gene-editing and tipped for a Nobel Prize, said she was “horrified and stunned” by the development. Things may get worse: researchers examining Mr He’s work have suggested the enterprise might have been botched, with the girls carrying a mix of edited and unedited cells — something that would have unknown long-term effects. 

Kaleem Caire announces run for Madison School Board (2019)

Negassi Tesfamichael:

“I’ve been working in the field ever since,” Caire said in an interview with the Cap Times. “The number one thing is that I’ve been really frustrated about how little attention is focused on young people in our city and country.”

One City Schools, which expanded from One City Early Learning Center, is one of the state’s first 4K and kindergarten charter options authorized by the University of Wisconsin’s Office of Educational Opportunity.

Caire has deep roots in education. When he was CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison in 2010, he worked to submit a proposal to the Madison School District to charter Madison Preparatory Academy, a school for black boys in sixth through 12th grades. However, the School Board voted 5-2 against the charter proposal in Dec. 2011.

Caire dismissed the notion that he would have conflicts of interest because he runs a public charter school.

“There’s no conflict. We’re not chartered by the school district,” Caire said. “We’re chartered by the University of Wisconsin.”

Notes and links:

Kaleem Caire

Cris Carusi

Dean Loumos

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

How to Make a Fortune in Public Education: America’s Looming Pension Disasters

James Freeman:

The story doesn’t necessarily look better when one examines some of the specific beneficiaries of government pension systems. Steve Cortes writes in RealClearPolitics:

I grew up in Park Forest, Ill., a working-class suburb of Chicago. In my youth, Park Forest was pleasantly middle-class — a solid community of well-kept lawns, strong churches, and active sports. Unfortunately for my hometown, times have been tough over the years, reflected by a jobless rate about twice the national one and a poverty rate 43 percent higher than the state of Illinois average. As a consequence, Park Forest has lost almost a third of its peak population of 30,000 since the 1970s.
But like many such struggling communities, one class of people has found a way to prosper: public employees. Recently, Fox affiliate Channel 32 and Open the Books detailed the exorbitant pay package for part-time interim school Superintendent Joyce Carmine. She retired in 2017 making $398,000 annually, the highest-paid superintendent in Illinois, in a community where the median household income is $44,000. She will receive, courtesy of taxpayers, a pension of just under $300,000 for the rest of her life. Adding insult to injury, the school district hired this retiree back as a consultant at the rate of $1,200 per day for a total of 100 days, bringing her pay this year to $419,000 total for part-time work. Given the modest $75,000 median home price in Park Forest, her salary equates to 5.5 home purchases…per year.
If you can believe it, the story gets worse. According to Mr. Cortes, most students in the school system don’t meet state academic standards and by the time “those students matriculate to the local Rich East public high school, only 16 percent meet expectations and a truly shocking 0 percent exceed them.”

The photo accompanying today’s column shows a 2011 political demonstration in Illinois and a poster created by a government employees union which reads, “Defend the Middle Class.” But as in other states, many government workers in the Land of Lincoln have long since left the middle class. Mr. Cortes adds:

Google’s lobbying

Google:

Below is a listing of politically-engaged trade associations, independent third-party organizations and other tax-exempt groups that receive the most substantial contributions from Google’s U.S. Public Policy and Government Affairs team. We are committed to updating this information on a regular basis.

Many taxpayers supporter K-12 school districts utilize Google services, including Madison.

Using DNA from mothers and children to study parental investment in children’s educational attainment

Jasmin Wertz, Terrie E. Moffitt, Jessica Agnew-Blais, Louise Arseneault, Daniel W. Belsky, David L. Corcoran, Renate Houts, Timothy Matthews, Joseph A. Prinz, Leah S. Richmond-Rakerd, Karen Sugden, Benjamin Williams, Avshalom Caspi:

his study tested implications of new genetic discoveries for understanding the association between parental investment and children’s educational attainment. A novel design matched genetic data from 860 British mothers and their children with home-visit measures of parenting: the E-Risk Study. Three findings emerged. First, both mothers’ and children’s education-associated genetics, summarized in a genome-wide polygenic score, predicted parenting — a gene-environment correlation. Second, accounting for genetic influences slightly reduced associations between parenting and children’s attainment — indicating some genetic confounding. Third, mothers’ genetics influenced children’s attainment over and above genetic mother-to-child transmission, via cognitively-stimulating parenting — an environmentally-mediated effect. Findings imply that, when interpreting parents’ effects on children, environmentalists must consider genetic transmission, but geneticists must also consider environmental transmission.

Inside China’s audacious global propaganda campaign

Louisa Lim and Julia Bergin:

As they sifted through resumes, the team recruiting for the new London hub of China’s state-run broadcaster had an enviable problem: far, far too many candidates. Almost 6,000 people were applying for just 90 jobs “reporting the news from a Chinese perspective”. Even the simple task of reading through the heap of applications would take almost two months.

For western journalists, demoralised by endless budget cuts, China Global Television Network presents an enticing prospect, offering competitive salaries to work in state-of-the-art purpose-built studios in Chiswick, west London. CGTN – as the international arm of China Central Television (CCTV) was rebranded in 2016 – is the most high-profile component of China’s rapid media expansion across the world, whose goal, in the words of President Xi Jinping, is to “tell China’s story well”. In practice, telling China’s story well looks a lot like serving the ideological aims of the state.

Ivy League mania warps students and colleges alike

Christine Emba:

T.M. Landry College Preparatory, a scrappy independent school in Breaux Bridge, La., gained fame over the past five years for sending many of its underprivileged African American students off to Ivy League colleges. The school’s YouTube videos of acceptance notifications frequently went viral (one, of an admission to Harvard, has been viewed more than 8 million times). Its inspirational students were fodder for feel-good morning TV shows.

But last month, the New York Times published a report that revealed Landry was not all it seemed. As it turned out, the school’s administration forged transcripts and confected harrowing life stories to appeal to college admissions officers, and abused its students in pursuit of high test scores while neglecting to teach some of the basics of writing and math. Its founder, Michael Landry, pitted black and white students against each other, forced students to kneel for long periods, and at times choked and hit them.

Even so, Landry remained defiant. “Write whatever you want to write about us,” he told a Times reporter. “But at the end of the day, my sister, if we got kids at Harvard every day, I’m going to fight for Harvard.”

The story is appalling, and it appeared at a moment when it is clear that our obsession with elite education is out of control. America’s deification of schools like Harvard, Princeton and Yale distorts everything in their orbit — and far too much is.

T.M. Landry was able to go unnoticed because it hid behind our most favored marker of success: Ivy League admissions. The school sent 50 graduates over five years to Stanford, Princeton, Harvard and Brown, among other top universities, so it must have been doing something right. (Brett Kavanaugh went to Yale! Shouldn’t we all aspire?)

Civics, K-12 Governance & Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results: The Smart Technocats And Benevolent Dictators Always Fail

Points and figures

Have you heard of Bill Easterly? He is an economics professor at NYU. He wrote a book, The Tyranny of Experts. I’d suggest that you read it. It seems as though everyone is quoting from Hillbilly Elegy these days and I think I’d rather see them pick up the ethos of this book and put it into practice.

Top down solutions to big problems don’t work. In fact, when it comes to stamping out poverty, the top down solution becomes an excuse for technocrats, bureaucrats, the smart people, the elites and “benevolent dictators” to keep trampling upon the poor all the while making themselves feel good and important. They enrich themselves as well.

Easterly prefers free markets. I read this article about him this morning. Here is a quote.

He sees the development establishment—philanthropic organizations, multilateral institutions, many of his fellow academics—as shortsighted and inured to failure. He emphatically criticizes the field’s leaders for being enamored with central planning, so-called benevolent dictators, and their own technocratic genius.

Microeconomics 101 tends to work when you let it. Those principles are ingrained into human DNA.

If I look at what is going on in my own community, it’s full of central planners. The smart people. Deciding for us. Deciding for you. Charting the course. Stamping out dissent. Creating or enforcing a closed network. Trying to control outcomes.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.
Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

 2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

NYPD Gang Database Can Turn Unsuspecting New Yorkers into Instant Felons

Alice Speri:

Shenery, who had only three nonviolent misdemeanor arrests on his record from when he was a teenager, could have been released that night on his own recognizance with a misdemeanor charge. He had no idea why prosecutors would call him a gang member and strongly denied the accusation. But as his case has dragged in court for nearly two years, prosecutors labeled him a gang member over and over — telling a judge, but providing no evidence, that he belonged to Harlem’s Cash Money Boys, “a violent narcotic sale crew based out of 1990 Lenox,” according to court files.

More than a year after his April 21, 2017, arrest, Shenery learned that prosecutors appeared to be basing their accusation on his inclusion in a database of more than 42,000 New Yorkers that the New York Police Department considers as “gang members.”

As The Intercept has reported, the NYPD’s gang database was massively expanded in recent years, even as gang-related crime dropped to historic lows. The information on the secretive list is available to prosecutors but not to those named in the database, who often learn that the police have labeled them gang members only if they are arrested and slammed with inexplicably harsh charges or excessive bond. The database has been widely criticized as arbitrary, discriminatory, and over-inclusive — with no clear process in place to discover or challenge one’s alleged gang affiliation. Like Shenery, an overwhelming majority of people in the database are young black and Latino men.

When the Tech Mythology Collapses

Alexis Madrigal:

Think back a few years, before the Amazon HQ2 sweepstakes, before Susan Fowler’s viral blog post, before the #MeToo movement, before the 2016 election. Across the nation, Silicon Valley was the crown jewel of the economy. The companies were youthful and ambitious. The culture was loose and exciting. The capabilities they put into the world’s pockets were astonishing: talk to anyone, know everything, buy anything, all with a few little taps on glass. Yes, this had unleashed unprecedented surveillance possibilities, as Edward Snowden revealed, but these were still the most beloved companies in the country. Their founders were legends.

The past several weeks have been like the past two years in miniature. First, The New York Times released a blockbuster article about Google’s sexual-harassment problems that placed the blame both on the institution itself and on the co-founder and current CEO, Larry Page. Then, Amazon selected its new headquarters, releasing a torrent of criticism of the deals: Why were municipalities subsidizing the richest man in the world in their race to the bottom? And finally, yesterday, the Times put out a 50-source story about Facebook’s obliviousness to its own platform’s darker possibilities. (In a statement today, Facebook’s board of directors called the story “grossly unfair.”)

At home in Northern California, San Francisco voters overwhelmingly passed a tax designed to extract money from tech companies to help ease homelessness in the city. Across the Bay, Oakland voters passed a progressive property-transfer tax, which was another way of taxing the enormous wealth that’s poured into the Bay Area.

U.S. News Rejects Democratic Senators’ Demand To Change Its Rankings Methodology

Chris Quintana:

A handful of Democratic senators want an influential ranker of colleges to reconsider what’s important in higher education.

Specifically, the six senators wrote in a letter to U.S. News & World Report, compiler of the most prominent college rankings in the country, that more weight should be given to institutions that open their doors to students from underrepresented backgrounds.

“We urge U.S. News to use its influential platform to better align its rankings with the three longstanding goals behind federal financial aid: improving college access, supporting student success, and providing every talented student a pathway to economic stability and meaningful participation in our country’s economic, social, and civic life,” they wrote in the letter, released on Monday.

Charles Emerson Riggs

Will Fitzhugh:

The Concord Review this week welcomed its new editor, Charles Emerson Riggs, to the organization. Mr. Riggs succeeds TCR editor William Hughes Fitzhugh, who will remain Head of the parent organization he founded, The Concord Review, Inc.

Mr. Riggs, who is currently finishing his doctorate in American History at Rutgers University, is a graduate of Harvard College, summa cum laude, in History. He has more than a decade of experience as an editor, researcher, historian, and educator, having worked for Morgan Reynolds Publishing, Let’s Go Publications, The Immigrant Learning Center, and Rutgers University. In the summer of 2018, he acted as dean of The Concord Review’s summer programs in San Francisco, Boston, and Seoul, a role he will continue to occupy in 2019 and beyond.

A native of North Carolina and a descendent of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mr. Riggs is a scholar of American intellectual history. His Ph.D. dissertation, which he recently completed and will be defending this spring, is about the confluence of religion, existentialism, and psychoanalysis in mid-twentieth-century American thought, with a focus on the German-born theologian and philosopher Paul Tillich.

His first task at TCR will be editing the Review’s 120th issue, to appear in the Spring of 2019. Under Mr. Fitzhugh, The Concord Review has published 1,307 student academic research papers in History from more than 40 countries on a quarterly basis since 1987. Incidentally, that is also the year of Mr. Riggs’s birth.

Mr. Fitzhugh expressed his congratulations on the arrival of the new editor. “I am very glad that Charles Emerson Riggs has a deep commitment to both History and to academic expository writing, and he understands and believes in the mission of The Concord Review to encourage and celebrate the achievements of secondary students around the world in both areas.”

K-12 Housing climate: Minneapolis vs Shorewood Hills

Henry Grabar:

“Large swaths of our city are exclusively zoned for single-family homes, so unless you have the ability to build a very large home on a very large lot, you can’t live in the neighborhood,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey told me this week. Single-family home zoning was devised as a legal way to keep black Americans and other minorities from moving into certain neighborhoods, and it still functions as an effective barrier today. Abolishing restrictive zoning, the mayor said, was part of a general consensus that the city ought to begin to mend the damage wrought in pursuit of segregation. Human diversity—which nearly everyone in this staunchly liberal city would say is a good thing—only goes as far as the housing stock.

It may be as long as a year before Minneapolis zoning regulations and building codes reflect what’s outlined in the 481-page plan, which was crafted by city planners. Still, its passage makes the 422,000-person city, part of the Twin Cities region, one of the rare U.S. metropolises to publicly confront the racist roots of single-family zoning—and try to address the issue.

“A lot of research has been done on the history that’s led us to this point,” said Cam Gordon, a city councilman who represents the Second Ward, which includes the University of Minnesota’s flagship campus. “That history helped people realize that the way the city is set up right now is based on this government-endorsed and sanctioned racist system.” Easing the plan’s path to approval, he said, was the fact that modest single-family homes in appreciating neighborhoods were already making way for McMansions. Why not allow someone to build three units in the same-size building? (Requirements on height, yard space, and permeable surface remain unchanged in those areas.)

Shorewood Hills rejects low income apartments (2010).

Shorewood Hills is part of the Madison School District.

We have long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Finally, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools, one of which supports Shorewood Hills (Hamilton Middle School). 18.8% of Hamilton’s student population are classified as low income, according to the Madison School District – far below the organization’s average.

Outspoken conservative blogger to run for seat on liberal Madison School Board (2019)

Chris Rickert:

It starts with safety and discipline,” said Blaska, who on his blog has been sharply critical of the district’s deliberations over whether to continue stationing Madison police officers in the high schools.

Despite raucous protests by the activist group Freedom Inc., a committee of the board recommended on Sept. 26 that the police officers, called educational resource officers, or EROs, remain in the schools. Protests against EROs by the same group shut down a School Board meeting on Oct. 29 to approve the budget. It was approved two days later in a special meeting.

Blaska also criticized the district’s Behavior Education Plan as “too bureaucratic” and the “product of too many administrators and too many meetings.” The plan — which was rolled out in 2014 and runs to 77 pages for elementary schools and 82 pages for middle and high schools — is largely an attempt to move away from “zero tolerance” policies and reduce the disproportionately high number of students of color who are expelled or suspended. It is undergoing revisions this year.

He said he would try to get the BEP down to about eight pages while giving teachers and administrators more discretion over how they handle student behavior in their schools.

Incumbent Dean Loumos, who chaired the ERO committee, said he was “not at all” vulnerable to criticism about the way he has handled security issues.

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Blaska has frequently criticized members of Freedom Inc., the local social justice advocacy group that has spoken out at recent School Board meetings against the use of educational resource officers in the city’s four comprehensive high schools.

Protests that broke out during the public comment period at the School Board’s October meeting led to a vote to adjourn the meeting early. Blaska has lamented that some do not feel safe attending School Board meetings because of the “far-left mob.”

Blaska in recent blog posts has called on Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne to prosecute the the protesters who shut down the October meeting.

Notes and links:

Dean Loumos

Cris Carusi

David Blaska

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

“it troubles me that the American people seem to want to know so little about issues, that they are satisfied with a 128 characters“

Sergio Chapa:

“I will be honest with you, it troubles me that the American people seem to want to know so little about issues, that they are satisfied with a 128 characters,” Tillerson told Schieffer.

Tillerson voiced those concerns even further in his conversation.

“I don’t want that to come across as a criticism of him,” Tillerson said. “It’s really a concern that I have about us as Americans and us as a society and us as citizens”

Related: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

‘Gender gap in STEM’? Women are majority of STEM grad students and they earn a majority of STEM bachelor’s degrees

Mark Perry:

And yet according to some data that I recently discovered from several sources, there might not be such a shortage of women in STEM after all, at least overall. In fact, according to several measures, women are actually slightly over-represented in STEM graduate programs and earn a majority of STEM college degrees. A lot depends on how we define “Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)” and that definition is fairly fluid and subject to various interpretations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics “The definition of STEM can vary, depending on the group using it.”

1. The table above displays data on total graduate school enrollment in 2017 from the most recent annual report from the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) on “Graduate Enrollment and Degrees: 2007 to 2017” (see Table B.13). If the CGS category “Health and Medical Sciences” is included as a STEM field (e.g., graduate degrees in Nursing, Kinesiology, Occupational Therapy, Health Sciences, Physical Therapy, Physician Assistant, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nutrition Sciences, Environmental Health, Audiology, etc., see Appendix D “Taxonomy of Fields of Study”) there are slightly more women currently enrolled in STEM graduate programs (335,346) in the US (master’s and doctoral degrees) than men (326,846).

Renu Khator Is Working Nonstop to Turn a Commuter School Into a World-class University

Michael Hardy:

Apart from its early-eighties Phi Slama Jama men’s basketball team and a top-ranked creative writing program, the University of Houston has largely stayed under the national radar as a solid if unexciting commuter school since its founding, in 1927, as Houston Junior College.

The city’s largest public university in the country’s fourth-largest city finally asserted itself in 2008, when Renu Khator was hired as the university president and chancellor of the University of Houston System. Khator, who was born and raised in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, immigrated to the United States in 1974, earning her PhD in political science and public administration at Purdue University before being hired as a professor by the University of South Florida, where, over the next two decades, she worked her way up to provost before being tapped for the top job at UH.

In Houston, Khator immediately set about transforming a school derisively called Cougar High into an academic and athletic powerhouse. To revive campus life, she added several new residence halls, spent $80 million expanding the student center, erected a new football stadium, and renovated the basketball arena. Khator’s relentless fundraising (the university is nearing the end of a $1 billion capital campaign) and faculty recruiting bore fruit in 2011, when UH became the fourth university in Texas to earn Tier One status from the Carnegie Foundation, putting it in the company of Rice and UT-Austin. In 2015 the university was awarded a coveted Phi Beta Kappa chapter.

Napoleon’s “Englich” Lessons

Public Domain Review:

Napoleon had had a rollercoaster eighteen months. First he had been forced to abdicate as Emperor of France and exiled to the island of Elba. Then he had managed to escape, march on Paris, and retake the throne. Finally a crushing loss at Waterloo had led to exile once again, this time to a far more remote island called Saint Helena. The watery walls of his new South Atlantic prison were at least a thousand miles thick in every direction.
The British had agreed to provide Le Petit Caporal with plentiful wine, meat, and musical instruments, but he could not have what he most craved — family, power, Europe. To make matters worse, he had virtually nothing to read. Newspapers were banned, and those he did manage to get his hands on were nearly all in English. That was the main reason why, on January 16, 1816, three months after landing on the island, he decided to learn the language of his captors. For the following three months he studied nearly every afternoon. The daily labour produced a mixed bag of verbal fruit; a sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet taste of his time on the island where he would end his days, six years later, aged 51.

Far more than rote learning conjugations, declensions, and articles, Napoleon enjoyed scribbling his thoughts in French and then translating them into English. The results were often wistful:

An old thought that won’t die: Schools that are doing great work are problems and not solutions

Alan Borsuk:

One of my all-time favorite Milwaukee School Board anecdotes is from maybe a dozen years ago when Reagan High School on the south side was a rising star. Student success was impressive and enrollment was increasing quickly. The school started out as part of a “small high school” initiative and had grown to more than 1,000 students because so many parents and students wanted to enroll.

At a meeting, one School Board member demanded to know who authorized the school to grow so big. How did this happen? The school’s success was treated like a problem, not a solution.

Algebras we love

kubuszok:

If you work with anything that can be modeled mathematically, you most likely know that many things you work can be expressed with algebras. However, if you are not a graduate of a computer science course or similar you might not know how ubiquitous they are and how often you rely on some of them. (And I don’t mean F-algebras and FP-concepts). So what are algebras and where can we meet some most common of them?

C.S. Lewis On The Reading of Old Books

Reasonable Theology:

There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. Thus I have found as a tutor in English Literature that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about “isms” and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said.

The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility. The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face. He feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only knew, the great man, just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modern commentator.

The simplest student will be able to understand, if not all, yet a very great deal of what Plato said; but hardly anyone can understand some modern books on Platonism. It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that firsthand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than secondhand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire.

This mistaken preference for the modern books and this shyness of the old ones is nowhere more rampant than in theology. Wherever you find a little study circle of Christian laity you can be almost certain that they are studying not St. Luke or St. Paul or St. Augustine or Thomas Aquinas or Hooker or Butler, but M. Berdyaev or M. Maritain or M. Niebuhr or Miss Sayers or even myself.

What comes after postmodernism?

Peter Boghossian & James Lindsay:

ostmodernism shifted us away from objective Truth and Enlightenment values like free inquiry, open expression, progress, and scientific methodologies. It valorized notions of subjectivity and lived experience while deprecating the idea of an objectively knowable world.

But not everyone’s lived experiences became equally privileged—the experiences of the marginalized received particular status and deference. The more marginalization, oppression, and discrimination one experiences—or one’s ancestors experienced—the more one is attributed a clear, accurate understanding of reality. Old social hierarchies of dominance and subordination are thus inverted to become new hierarchies of credibility and distrust.

The legacy is a widespread internalization of the unsettling values governing our age: victim-based identity politics and intersectionality. In contemporary identity politics, people of a certain race or religion, or who share other identifying characteristics, form alliances based around demographic identities. These identities intersect in complex ways to construct individuals’ self-understandings. The more claim one can make to being a victim—perhaps belonging to multiple oppressed groups—the greater one’s social status and the more secure one’s claim to speak the truth. In short, perceived victimization becomes a new type of epistemology.

Cris Carusi announces run for Madison School Board 2019

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Carusi, who has been a district parent for more than a decade and was an active parent-teacher organization member, will seek to unseat incumbent School Board member Dean Loumos, who currently holds Seat 3.

Carusi ran in the 2017 primary for Seat 6, which opened up after current mayoral candidate Michael Flores decided not to run for re-election. Carusi received 28.9 percent of the vote, but did not advance to the general election that featured GSAFE co-executive director Ali Muldrow and the now-School Board member Kate Toews. Muldrow won the primary, while Toews won the general election.

Carusi said she gained valuable experience during her first campaign in 2017.

“As a first-time political candidate, the 2017 primary was a tremendous learning experience for me, and I emerged with better organizing and leadership skills,” Carusi said. “I’ve since worked with families, students and educators to advocate for better learning conditions in our schools.”

Notes and links:

Dean Loumos

Michael Flores

Ali Muldrow

Kate Toews

Cris Carusi

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Ananda Mirilli is running for Madison School Board (2019)

Negassi Tesfamichael:


A second candidate has announced that she will run for a seat on the Madison School Board this spring.
Ananda Mirilli, who first ran for School Board in 2013, filed paperwork with the city clerk’s office Wednesday announcing she will run for Seat 5, which is currently held by TJ Mertz.
Mirilli finished third in the 2013 primary for Madison School Board, while Mertz and Sarah Manski advanced to the general election. Manski, however, abruptly withdrew from the race, clearing the way for Mertz.
Mertz, as well as fellow School Board members James Howard, Seat 4, and Dean Loumos, Seat 3, all ran unopposed in 2016 and are up for re-election this spring.
With Carusi and Mirilli now in the race, two of the incumbents will now have a challenger.


Notes and links:

TJ Mertz


Sarah Manski


Ananda Mirilli

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Beyond Taming the Tech Giants

Wendy Liu:

My contribution to this panel will be less about the details [of how to tame the tech giants] and more about the bigger picture of what’s wrong with the way things are. I don’t know a lot about trade policy or international regulation. Instead, I’d like to take a step back to analyse the [broader] problems with the increasingly dystopian world we live in today. And in this analysis, I see the problems with the tech giants as requiring larger structural transformations [than merely “taming” the tech giants]. Transformations that require changing the way this discussion is framed altogether.

There’s a tendency, in the discourse around technology regulation, to implicitly accept the terms that these corporations set. We buy into the narrative that they want us to believe1: that these corporations are the only possible stewards of innovation, and so deserve to profit handsomely as a result. This creates a situation where even if we try to rein in their worst excesses, rarely do we doubt their right to exist in the first place.

And I think this constrains our imagination. It limits possible solutions to things like codes of ethics2, more taxation, more consumer rights. But rarely do these solutions go beyond cosmetic tweaks. The underlying causes of the problem – their accumulated power and their role in propping up an increasingly lopsided economy – remain untouched.3

So what’s actually happening, behind the scenes? These companies have made use of technological advances – often funded ultimately by the state4 – and capitalised on them, quite literally. Through a combination of early mover advantage, network effects, and zero marginal costs of production, they’ve established themselves as middlemen to the digital realm. They dictate our terms of access in a way that has proven extremely lucrative, accumulating not just wealth but also power. Over users, over competitors, over whole industries. And they’re pouring their massive resources into developing technology not according to social need, but according to what they think will eventually make them money.

What We’re Watching: Do Field Trips Have Educational Value?

Rick Hess:

Field trips can get pushed aside when schools decide to focus on math and reading skills in order to boost standardized test scores. Is anything lost as a result?

In this 60-second video produced by AEI, Rick Hess takes a look at rigorous research by University of Arkansas professor Jay Greene on the benefits of culturally enriching field trips.

Jay Greene’s first study on this topic, co-authored with Brian Kisida and Daniel Bowen, was “The Educational Value of Field Trips,” which appeared in the Winter 2014 issue of Education Next.

The promise and challenge of the age of artificial intelligence

McKinsey:

A starting point for addressing the potential disruptive impacts of automation will be to ensure robust economic and productivity growth, which is a prerequisite for job growth and increasing prosperity. Governments will also need to foster business dynamism, since entrepreneurship and more rapid new business formation will not only boost productivity, but also drive job creation. Addressing the issues related to skills, jobs, and wages will require more focused measures. These include:

Evolving education systems and learning for a changed workplace by focusing on STEM skills as well as creativity, critical thinking, and lifelong learning.

Stepping up private- and public-sector investments in human capital, perhaps aided by incentives and credits analogous to those available for R&D investments.

Improving labor market dynamism by supporting better credentialing and matching, as well as enabling diverse forms of work, including the gig economy.

Rethinking incomes by considering and experimenting with programs that would provide not only income for work, but also meaning and dignity.
Rethinking transition support and safety nets for workers affected, by drawing on best practices from around the world and considering new approaches.

Reading by fourth grade vital to success

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques:

Thank you for your excellent article on the increase in juvenile crime in our city. May we suggest a followup story?

It is well known that students who are not reading proficiently by fourth grade — when “learning to read” becomes “reading to learn” — do not fare well. For example, they are four times more likely to drop out of school and two-thirds of them will end up in prison or on welfare.

Here are the fourth-grade reading data for the MMSD going back to 2005-06.

We can’t help but wonder if the students we fail to teach to read in early elementary school are the same ones who are “acting out” behaviorally in middle and high school.

If so, might they be trying to tell us something?

Apparently the Madison Police Department sees the same connection between reading level and behavior that we do because it has a new fund — the “Community Reading Fund” — aimed at supporting the educational needs of at-risk students. Readers can make an end-of-year donation to the fund at madisoncommunitypolicingfoundation.org or by sending a check (made out to “MCPF — Community Read”) to the Madison Community Policing Foundation, P.O. Box 44246, Madison, WI, 53744.

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques

Madison

Related: Madison Wisconsin High School Graduation Rates, College Readiness, and Student Learning.

Madison Wisconsin High School Graduation Rates, College Readiness, and Student Learning

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques 2MB PDF full presentation to the Simpson Street Free Press:

Individual slides (tap for larger versions):

More here.

Related: The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2013: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Madison spends far more than most taxpayer funded school districts. Details, here.

A Collector of Math and Physics Surprises

Erica Klarreich:

Well, Igor takes out a scratch sheet of paper and starts doing calculations, but somehow he can’t get it. Landau says, “Igor, you regard yourself as an educated adult, yet you’re incapable of performing such a simple task.”

When I read this, I took it as a personal criticism. I regarded myself, rather arrogantly, as a very educated person, but I had never heard of calculus in my life. I hadn’t the slightest idea what this sequence of symbols meant.

I decided, as a personal revenge on Landau, to study the subject up to the point where I could solve this exercise. Landau said, in the biography, “Don’t waste your time on mathematicians and lectures and so on — instead, find a book with the largest number of solved exercises and go through them all. That’s how you learn mathematics.” I went back to the library and found the mathematics book with the largest number of problems. The book was in Russian, and I didn’t know Russian, but a young linguist is not afraid to pick up another language.

So I devoted a whole winter to this, and after maybe a month and a half, I came to the point where I could actually do this integral. But I had inertia, so I kept going. I couldn’t stop. And toward the end of about three months, I realized two things. Number one, I was fairly good at this kind of silly manipulative exercise. Number two, maybe this is not the only way to study mathematics. So I looked around and found I could take a two years’ leave of absence from my job.

Fewer foreign students coming to United States for second year in row: survey

Yeganeh Torbati:

New enrollments for the 2017-18 school year slumped 6.6 percent compared with the previous year, according to an annual survey released by the Institute of International Education. That follows a 3.3 percent decline in new international students tallied in the 2016-17 academic year.

Several factors are driving the decrease. Visa and immigration policy changes by the Trump administration have deterred some international students from enrolling, college administrators and immigration analysts said.

A strong dollar has made U.S. college tuition relatively more expensive, Canadian and European universities are competing fiercely for the same students and headlines about mass shootings also may have deterred some students, said Allan Goodman, president of IIE.

“Everything matters from safety, to cost, to perhaps perceptions of visa policy,” Goodman said. “We’re not hearing that students feel they can’t come here. We’re hearing that they have choices. We’re hearing that there’s competition from other countries.”

Harper Lee and Mark Twain banned by Minnesota schools over racial slurs

Rozina Sabur:

Novels by Harper Lee and Mark Twain have been pulled from school syllabuses in Minnesota over fears their use of racial slurs will upset students.

The Duluth school district said it was removing To Kill a Mockingbird and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn from its curriculum because their content may make students feel “humiliated or marginalised”.

The school district, which includes more than 20 schools, said it will keep copies of the classic novels in its libraries but will be removing the texts on its curriculum for its ninth and 11th-grade English classes in the next academic year.

Michael Cary, the district’s curriculum director, said that its schools planned to replace the novels with texts that “teach the same lessons” without using racist language.

Both To Kill a Mockingbird, a Pulitzer-prize winning novel depicting racial injustice in Alabama, and Huckleberry Finn, which deals with slavery in pre-Civil War America, include racist characters who regularly use offensive language, including the N-word.

The ACLU Is Quietly Abandoning Civil Liberties

Brittany Hunter:

To prove someone’s guilt through a preponderance of evidence, the accuser must convince a judge or jury that there is a greater than 50 percent chance that their claims are true. From a legal perspective, this sets a much lower bar for convicting people accused of crimes and misconduct.

The Obama-era guidelines also instructed campuses to prohibit any cross-examinations of the accuser in order to avoid causing any further trauma. However, while this gave stronger protections to the accuser, it downplayed the importance of due process for the accused—who stand to lose a great deal even if the allegations turn out to be false.

Under the Department of Education’s new proposed guidelines, the preponderance of evidence standard can still be used. But if the new proposed guidelines are adopted, campuses are also free to use the stricter standard of “clear and convincing evidence,” which is one step below beyond a reasonable doubt. Clear and convincing proof means that the evidence provided by the accuser has a higher probability of being true than it does of being false. The new rules would also mandate that the accuser be subject to cross-examination.

Insuring Against Drop in Chinese Students

Ellie Bothwell:

Jeff Brown, dean of the Gies College of Business, told Times Higher Education that the insurance would be “triggered” in the event of a 20 percent drop in revenue from Chinese students at the two colleges in a single year as a result of a “specific set of identifiable events.”

“These triggers could be things like a visa restriction, a pandemic, a trade war — something like that that was outside of our control,” he said.

Tuition revenue from Chinese students makes up about a fifth of the business college’s revenue.

Brown said that the insurance would cover the colleges’ losses if the decline was temporary and buy the university time to “make some adjustments to where we recruit” if it became a longer-term issue.

“Hedging the risk that we face gives us more confidence to be able to continue proactively investing in the very strong relationships that we have in China,” he added.

“We chose the $60 million figure because that roughly is our exposure across the two colleges. If demand had actually completely disappeared, we’d be ‘made whole’ for that year.”

Office of the Chief Privacy Officer’s Processing of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Complaints

Bryon Gordon:

Attached is the subject final audit report that consolidates the results of our review of the Office of the Chief Privacy Officer’s processing of Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act complaints. We have provided an electronic copy to your audit liaison officer. We received your comments agreeing with the finding and recommendations in our draft report.
U.S. Department of Education policy requires that you develop a final corrective action plan within
30 days of the issuance of this report. The corrective action plan should set forth the specific action items and targeted completion dates necessary to implement final corrective actions on the finding and recommendations contained in this final audit report. Corrective actions that your office proposes and implements will be monitored and tracked through the Department’s Audit Accountability and Resolution Tracking System.

In accordance with the Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended, the Office of Inspector General is required to report to Congress twice a year on the audits that remain unresolved after 6 months from the date of issuance.

We appreciate your cooperation during this review. If you have any questions, please contact Ray Hendren, Regional Inspector General for Audit, Sacramento Audit Region at (916) 930-2399 or ray.hendren@ed.gov.

Nice syntax! – Popular languages’ syntaxes compared

Arek Nawo:

There are many different programming languages – everybody knows it. They are tools for developers for creating awesome software, but each tool is different and serves a different purpose. Programming languages vary in functionality, ecosystem, paradigms, goals, syntax and few other factors. In this post, I’d like to take a look at syntaxes of some popular/industry-leading programming languages. For this purpose, I’ll compare trivia aspects that every language has ( e.g. variable declaration ) and standard Hello World! code. Also from this point on, every time I write language I mean programming language (obviously)

Mind Control in China Has a Very Long History

James Liebold:

China has built a vast network of extrajudicial internment camps in the western region of Xinjiang, where Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are made to renounce their culture and religion, and are forcibly subjected to political indoctrination. After long denying the camps’ existence, the government now calls them benign training centers that teach law, Mandarin and vocational skills — a claim that has been exposed as a disingenuous euphemism and an attempt to deflect criticism for gross human rights abuses.

But the camps, especially their ambition to rewire people, reveal a familiar logic that has long defined the Chinese state’s relationship with its public: a paternalistic approach that pathologizes deviant thought and behavior, and then tries to forcefully transform them. The scale and pace of the government’s campaign in Xinjiang today may be extraordinary, but the practice and its methods are not.

As far back as the third century BCE, the philosopher Xunzi argued that humanity was like “crooked timber” and that an individual’s character flaws needed to be scraped away or straightened out in the pursuit of social harmony. Mencius, a rival thinker, believed for his part in the innate goodness of human beings, but he too stressed the importance of self-improvement.

In stark contrast to Western liberalism, Confucianism — and Chinese political culture more broadly — hinges not on individual rights, but on the acceptance of social hierarchy and the belief that humans are perfectible. In Chinese thought, humans are not equally endowed; they vary in suzhi (素质), or quality. A poor Uighur farmer in southern Xinjiang, for example, sits at the bottom of the evolutionary ladder; an official from the ethnic Han majority is toward the top.

The Central European University under Siege

Joan Scott:

On Tuesday, Nov 27, I joined a group of protestors outside the Parliament, on Kossuth Square in Budapest. There, a coalition of students denouncing “attacks on academic freedom” had convened a week-long Open University (Szabad Egyetem). The protest was taking place in three small white tents, dwarfed by the towering Parliament building—it felt a bit like David and Goliath. The tents, in which the students stay all night, rotating shifts, were equipped with heaters; the largest of them had chairs and benches, with a long table at the front for the speakers who came to address them. I had agreed to talk about threats to academic freedom in the U.S. There was a schedule announcing each day’s discussions, musical performances, and cultural events—it reminded me of nothing so much as the teach-ins organized in the 1960’s to protest the Vietnam War. Faculty and students had joined together (now as then) to produce knowledge as a form of political protest.

Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy

Gennie Gebhart:

Students and their families are backed into a corner. As students across the United States are handed school-issued laptops and signed up for educational cloud services, the way the educational system treats the privacy of students is undergoing profound changes—often without their parents’ notice or consent, and usually without a real choice to opt out of privacy-invading technology.

Students are using technology in the classroom at an unprecedented rate. One-third of all K-12 students in U.S. schools use school-issued devices.1 Google Chromebooks account for about half of those machines.2 Across the U.S., more than 30 million students, teachers, and administrators use Google’s G Suite for Education (formerly known as Google Apps for Education), and that number is rapidly growing.3

Student laptops and educational services are often available for a steeply reduced price, and are sometimes even free. However, they come with real costs and unresolved ethical questions.4 Throughout EFF’s investigation over the past two years, we have found that educational technology services often collect far more information on kids than is necessary and store this information indefinitely. This privacy-implicating information goes beyond personally identifying information (PII) like name and date of birth, and can include browsing history, search terms, location data, contact lists, and behavioral information. Some programs upload this student data to the cloud automatically and by default. All of this often happens without the awareness or consent of students and their families.

Inclusive Teaching Seminar

Columbia University:

Conversations about inclusive teaching are increasingly more common on college campuses. Instructors are tasked with understanding and responding to issues of diversity in their classrooms and with articulating their own approach to teaching with an inclusive framework. How can instructors create classroom environments that set up all students for success? How can instructors help their students learn through the diversity of experiences and perspectives they bring to the classroom? Join a community of Columbia University graduate student instructors to reflect on your teaching experiences and commit to creating inclusive classroom environments that engage all students.

Civics: Meet New York City’s highest-earning official. He’s a debt collector for predatory lenders.

Zachary R. Mider and Zeke Faux:

In theory, Barbarovich’s reach ends at the city limits. In practice, it spans the nation. From a third-floor office near Coney Island in Brooklyn, he has grabbed cash from a physician in California, a roofer in Florida and a cattle auctioneer in Illinois. Borrowers say he and other marshals routinely push the limits of their authority.

“How could they pull all that money? I’ve never even been to New York,” says Jose Soliz, a masonry contractor near Amarillo, Texas, who had more than $56,000 taken from his bank account by Barbarovich last year. “It’s a con.”

Barbarovich, who declined to be interviewed, said in an email that he follows the rules for issuing legal demands. Michael Woloz, a spokesman for the New York City Marshals Association, said his members aren’t responsible for their clients’ business practices. “Marshals simply enforce court judgments,” he said.

The companies making Barbarovich rich advance money at rates that can top 400 percent annualized. To get around state laws designed to stamp out loan sharking, they say they aren’t making loans but buying the money that businesses will likely make in the future at a discounted price. Courts have generally recognized this distinction, and the industry, known as merchant cash advance, has grown to an estimated $15 billion a year.

A City Marshal’s Fortunes Rise

What happens when the predicted disruption didn’t occur?

John Warner:

In 2012, Sebastain Thrun, co-founder of Udacity, declared “In 50 years, there will be only 10 institutions in the world delivering higher education.”

If this is to come true, it seems clear that Udacity isn’t going to be one of them, not just because they’re shedding employees, but because Udacity continues to “pivot” away from education and towards corporate training, helping companies “upscale their talent” in Thrun’s parlance.

“MOOC” does not appear once in the news of the layoffs. The Udacity nanodegree job guarantee program is currently on hold, perhaps never to return.

So MOOCs aren’t going to kill higher education institutions. This disruption isn’t to be.

You know what else isn’t being disrupted? Independent bookstores.

In fact small bookstores are “booming.”

Sometimes, change requires a few more years, or decades.

In academia, censorship and conformity have become the norm

Deborah Soh:

A new academic journal, titled The Journal of Controversial Ideas, launching in the new year, will be peer-reviewed and offer a diverse range of viewpoints, calling upon liberals, conservatives, as well as those who are religious and secular, to submit their work. Most notably, it will allow academics to publish under pseudonyms.

Much of the response to this journal has been criticism alleging that only academics with hateful ideas would require the option to publish under a pseudonym. In truth, facts today are deemed controversial if they deviate from accepted narratives, and professors must self-censor out of fear of being condemned and losing their jobs.

Based on conversations I’ve had with colleagues still working in academia and from what I can tell about recent cases of censorship, the antagonism is primarily from left-leaning colleagues attacking other liberals. The problem has been increasing and was the reason I chose to leave the field of sex research.

“When You Get That Wealthy, You Start to Buy Your Own Bullshit”: The Miseducation of Sheryl Sandberg

Duff McDonald:

The ongoing three-way public-relations car wreck involving Washington, Facebook, and Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s powerful C.O.O., begs a question of America’s esteemed managerial class. How has someone with such sterling Establishment credentials—Harvard University, Harvard Business School, the Clinton administration—managed to find herself in such a pickle?

The answer won’t be found in the minutes of Facebook board meetings or in Sandberg’s best-selling books, Lean In and Option B, which cemented her position in the corporate firmament as a feminist heroine. Rather, it starts all the way back in 1977, when Sandberg was just eight years old and the U.S. economy was still recovering from the longest and deepest recession since the end of World War II. That’s the year that Harvard Business School professor Abraham Zaleznik wrote an article entitled, “Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?” in America’s most influential business journal, Harvard Business Review. For years, Zaleznik argued, the country had been over-managed and under-led. The article helped spawn the annual multi-billion-dollar exercise in nonsense known as the Leadership Industry, with Harvard as ground zero. The article gave Harvard Business School a new raison d’être in light of the fact that the product it had been selling for decades—managers—was suddenly no longer in vogue. Henceforth, it would be molding leaders.

Which brings us back to Sheryl Sandberg, the ostensible exemplar of what Harvard Business professor Bill George calls Authentic Leadership. Before the wheels started to fall off at Facebook, Sandberg was profiled in George’s book, Discover Your True North, as a model of the kind of authentic leader H.B.S. claims to churn out. Sandberg, after all, has led something of a charmed educational and corporate life, palling around with the likes of Larry Summers, working at McKinsey & Company (which also claims to be a leadership-factory nonpareil), then Google, and now Facebook. Indeed, there is no question that Sheryl Sandberg is one of the premier managers of her time—she oversaw stupendous growth of ad-driven sales organizations at both Google and Facebook. But as new evidence emerges regarding Facebook’s maddeningly foot-dragging response to scandals ranging from data abuse to election interference, the pertinent question is whether she was ever really a leader.

Fearing espionage, U.S. weighs tighter rules on Chinese students

Patricia Zengerle and Matt Spetalnick:

The Trump administration is considering new background checks and other restrictions on Chinese students in the United States over growing espionage concerns, U.S. officials and congressional sources said.

In June, the U.S. State Department shortened the length of visas for Chinese graduate students studying aviation, robotics and advanced manufacturing to one year from five. U.S. officials said the goal was to curb the risk of spying and theft of intellectual property in areas vital to national security.

But now the Trump administration is weighing whether to subject Chinese students to additional vetting before they attend a U.S. school. The ideas under consideration, previously unreported, include checks of student phone records and scouring of personal accounts on Chinese and U.S. social media platforms for anything that might raise concerns about students’ intentions in the United States, including affiliations with government organizations, a U.S. official and three congressional and university sources told Reuters.

“Universities today are as corrupt as the Catholic Church of 500 years ago,” Thiel said.

Jennifer Kabbany:

Standing before a room full of nearly 100 right-of-center student journalists on Friday night, he told the crowd “we are not on the losing side of history.”

But a “reformation” needs to happen first, the billionaire tech mogul and libertarian philanthropist said.

“Universities today are as corrupt as the Catholic Church of 500 years ago,” Thiel said.

During his speech, he spoke of an academia that has shut down debate, excommunicated conservative scholars, and insisted a college degree is the only way to “salvation,” that being a good job and solid future.

“The reformation is going to happen,” Thiel added, noting it won’t come from within, but from the “outside.”

Thiel made the comments in a keynote speech at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s Collegiate Network editors’ conference. The group funds independent and conservative-minded campus news outlets at universities across the nation, and Thiel is an alumnus of the 39-year-old nonprofit, founding the Stanford Review in the late 1980s.

Thiel is no stranger to criticism of higher education. He’s famous for his program that has students skip college or drop out to follow their entrepreneurial dreams with a grant.

In his speech, Thiel told the college journalists that the greatest political problem today is the “narrowing of debate.” As it relates to college campuses, he pointed out that the vast majority of scholars only think “one way.”

“At some point, if it’s 100 to zero, you start to suspect you’re in North Korea,” he said. He pushed back against that “madness of the crowd.”

“Does the unanimity mean you’ve gotten to the truth, or does it mean you’re in a totalitarian state,” Thiel said.

“We have this illusion that all sorts of important decisions have been decided,” he said, encouraging the students not to accept that narrative.

“The idea that we are on the losing side is a form of psychological warfare,” Thiel said.

‘Emerging’ as a Writer — After 40

Jenny Bhatt:

I. Separation Rites (Phase 1)

“All my life I have lived and behaved very much like [the] sandpiper — just running down the edges of different countries and continents, ‘looking for something’, having spent most of my life timorously seeking for subsistence along the coastlines of the world.”

— Elizabeth Bishop; Words in Air

In early 2012, I was at a dinner with my work team in Silicon Valley. It was an unusually warm late-winter evening in shimmering downtown San Francisco as we settled around our large center table in a popular and packed Italian restaurant. We’d had a long few days at an off-site conference working through some complex issues related to a newly announced business transformation program. Amidst the clinking of dinnerware and happy chatter all around us, the much-needed glasses of wine helped ease us into lighter non-work banter. Someone — it might even have been me — started a conversation asking everyone what they would do work-wise if they had the absolute freedom of choice. That is, if money, time, talent, and skill were no object, what would they rather be doing instead?

Slowly, shyly, each one of these people, with whom I worked daily, opened up about their deeper joys: gourmet cooking; ice-cream making; theatrical singing/performing; organic farming; fashion blogging, etc. The animated faces, wistful voices, resigned smiles, and gentle shrugs — their entire range of honest emotions will stay with me forever. It was one of those sudden time-stood-still moments and, within it, we had stumbled unexpectedly onto a crucial personal connection: the universal human desire for deeper meaning and purpose in our lives.

Helping Teenagers to Be Safer Drivers

:

My 16-year-old grandson, who lives in suburban Los Angeles, is on the verge of getting a driver’s license and, quite frankly, I’m terrified. Driving around L.A. is scary even for very experienced adult drivers. Does a 16-year-old boy, whose navigation skills are limited to the internet, have the judgment, attention span and ability to process a dozen different inputs simultaneously necessary to avoid an accident?

Mind you, learning to drive was not my grandson’s idea, but his parents are tired of chauffeuring the kids everywhere, and options to walk, cycle or take public transportation, which suited my 18-year-old grandsons in New York City just fine, are lacking where they live.

If I could make the rules, no one under 20 would be behind the wheel of a motor vehicle without an experienced licensed adult in the passenger seat. Even compared to 18-year-olds, the brain of a 20-year-old is more mature and less likely to succumb to risk-taking. Crash investigations have shown that “the cause of teenage crashes is not the skill with which they can drive, but the judgment they exercise while driving,” according to an editorial in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Although the number of teenagers killed in motor vehicle crashes has dropped by almost 50 percent in the last decade, crashes remain the leading cause of adolescent death and injury in the United States. And since 2014, along with the use of electronic devices, teenage motor vehicle fatalities have risen, according to a new policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Do we need to hide who we are to speak freely in the era of identity politics?

Andrew Anthony:

A little over 400 years ago, the committee that translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek (and some Aramaic) into English gathered to do its work in this very place. What they produced became known as the King James Version, a scholarly and aesthetic achievement that amounted, in the late Christopher Hitchens’s words, to “a giant step in the maturing of English literature”. “It’s a lot to live up to,” jokes McMahan, as we settle down as near to the electric radiator as possible.

The King James Version was a vital part of a revolution in religious learning, which was the main academic discipline of the time, helping to remove power from the priesthood and, in its own way, hasten the spread of literacy. Only a generation or two earlier, translating the Bible was a capital offence – William Tyndale, whose own groundbreaking translation the King James Version built on, was strangled and burned for heresy.

Four centuries on, we in Britain live in a more open and tolerant society in which the pursuit of learning is untrammelled by the threat of death – at least from governmental authorities. But the modern dangers that academics face don’t need to be state-sanctioned, or indeed lethal, to have an effect on their work. According to McMahan, and a number of his colleagues, there is a new climate of intellectual caution developing as a result of intimidation from both outside and within the academy.

Going to university does not broaden the mind

The Economist:

GOING TO UNIVERSITY is supposed to be a mind-broadening experience. That assertion is presumably made in contradistinction to training for work straight after school, which might not be so stimulating. But is it actually true? Jessika Golle of the University of Tübingen, in Germany, thought she would try to find out. Her result, however, is not quite what might be expected. As she reports in Psychological Science this week, she found that those who have been to university do indeed seem to leave with broader and more inquiring minds than those who have spent their immediate post-school years in vocational training for work. However, it was not the case that university broadened minds. Rather, work seemed to narrow them.

Youngest kids in class may be over-diagnosed with ADHD

Serena Gordon:

Does being the youngest in the class up your child’s odds of being erroneously diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)?

It might. New research suggests these kids appear to be about 30 percent more likely to receive a diagnosis of ADHD. However, it probably doesn’t change a child’s actual risk of developing ADHD.

So if your child was an August baby and your school district has a Sept. 1 birth date cutoff for school admissions, your child will be one of the youngest in class. And, particularly in the early grades, those age gaps can make a big difference in behavior, researchers said.

Civics: Resisting Law Enforcement’s Siren Song: A Call for Cryptographers to Improve Trust and Security

Cindy Cohn:

The world is waking up to something that digital security experts have known for a very long time: Digital security is hard.

Really hard. And the larger and more complex the systems, the more difficult it is to plug all the security holes and make them secure and trustworthy. Yet security is also increasingly important in systems ranging from the smartphones in our hands to our power grids. So why isn’t everyone—especially the governments of the Five Eyes countries—promoting, supporting, and celebrating important security work? In part, it’s because law enforcement in each of these countries wants to take advantage of the same security holes that criminals do—a result that puts us all at risk. Even worse, many of these governments are now pushing companies—both through both law and through nonlegal pressure—to ensure that any future technology that the public relies on continues to have security holes they (and criminals) can use.

The drumbeat of the daily headlines on cybersecurity incidents shows us that the risks of weak digital security are already here. We’ve heard about phishing attacks by foreign governments aimed at undermining our democracy and ransomware attacks on hospitals. We’ve seen nation-state level attacks on corporations like Sony and on sensitive government employee databases like the one maintained by the federal Office of Personnel Management. Corporate data breaches like the ones suffered by Equifax and Target have affected tens of millions of users. Countless others have suffered from identity theft, malware, and more recently, spouseware—malware used by domestic abusers. Meanwhile, we’ve seen more research proving how easy it is to break into many U.S. voting systems. The attacks and undermining strategies are different in each of these, but the underlying problem is the same: Our digital systems are not secure enough, and our current security techniques are not up to the task.

Creating systems of trust and real security for users should be all hands on deck, from government to the private sector. We need to encrypt the web, secure data at rest and in transit, and ensure that homes, cars and anything that can be connected to the internet are safe and trustworthy. The array of options is poor since security architects have to bolt security onto insecure systems. But that’s all the more reason to encourage people who understand how computer security works (and how it fails) to help. After all, there are only so many hours in the day, and the more attention we pay to these problems, the faster and better we can address them.

Vermont Act 46: State Board of Education’s Final Report of Decisions and Order on School District Consolidation

Vermont Agency of Education:

The State Board of Education’s Final Report of Decisions and Order on Statewide School District Mergers is a requirement of Act 46. It is the conclusion of a multiyear process to create more sustainable and efficient school governance structures and improve access to quality PreK-12 education for all Vermont students.

Creating the Plan
In crafting the Final Report of Decisions and Order, the Board paid careful attention to the goals and requirements of Act 46. Additionally, the Board encouraged input and testimony from all affected districts and from the citizens of Vermont. While there were many tough decisions, the Board was careful to adhere to the Vermont General Assembly’s requirements as laid out in the law.

By the Numbers
The goal of Act 46 is to improve education outcomes and equity by creating larger and more efficient school governance structures. The Board’s Final Report of Decisions and Order has:

Merged 45 districts in 39 towns to form 11 new union school districts.
Enlarged 3 existing union school districts.

Created a net reduction of 34 districts.

Conditionally required an additional 4 districts to merge with 4 existing union districts.

When the impacts of Act 46 are combined with those of predecessor legislation (Act 153 of 2010 and Act 156 of 2012), the results are:

206 districts in 185 towns have formed 50 new union school districts (a reduction of 156) districts.
63% percent of Vermont K-12 students will live in a new union school district created by Acts 46, 153 and 156 (as of July 1, 2019).
84.4% of students will reside in a new union school district or a pre-existing supervisory district (preferred structure) such as Burlington or Springfield SDs.

Graduate School Can Have Terrible Effects on People’s Mental Health

Alia Wong:

Ph.D. candidates suffer from anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation at astonishingly high rates.

“I was always gung ho about going to graduate school for some reason,” reflects Everet Rummel, a data analyst at the City University of New York. “That was naive.”

Rummel was indeed gung ho, embarking on a doctoral program in economics immediately after completing both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in just four years. He was only 22 years old. And Rummel was indeed naive, at least in his own telling of his plans for a two-year doctoral degree. That plan—which for the average doctoral candidate takes roughly eight years—ended quickly, not because of Rummel’s characteristic efficiency but because he never completed it. “I dropped out,” he explains, attributing the decision to a lot of different factors, many of them not directly related to his studies, but each pointing back to the all-encompassing, unforgiving stress of his Ph.D. program.

One major stressor, he says, was the requirement that all first-year Ph.D. economics students take the same three courses. But other major stressors are likely to resonate with graduate students in all kinds of disciplines. The doctoral-degree experience often consists of intense labor expectations for little pay and a resulting lack of sleep and social life. In addition, there is the notorious hierarchy of academia, which often promotes power struggles and tribalism.

Hide, deny, spin, threaten: How the school district tried to mask failures that led to Parkland shooting

Brittany Wallman, Megan O’Matz and Paula McMahon:

Immediately after 17 people were murdered inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the school district launched a persistent effort to keep people from finding out what went wrong.

For months, Broward schools delayed or withheld records, refused to publicly assess the role of employees, spread misinformation and even sought to jail reporters who published the truth.

New information gathered by the South Florida Sun Sentinel proves that the school district knew far more than it’s saying about a disturbed former student obsessed with death and guns who mowed down staff and students with an assault rifle on Valentine’s Day.

After promising an honest assessment of what led to the shooting, the district instead hired a consultant whose primary goal, according to school records, was preparing a legal defense. Then the district kept most of those findings from the public.

Related: Seeing the Forest: Unpacking the Relationship Between Madison School District (WI) Graduation Rates and Student Achievement.

Bryan Caplan on Learning across Disciplines

Tyler Cowen:

“No single paper is that good”, says Bryan Caplan. To really understand a topic, you need to read the entire literature in the field. And to do the kind of scholarship Bryan’s work requires, you need to cover multiple fields. Only that way can you assemble a wide variety of evidence into useful knowledge.

But few scholars ever even try to reach the enlightened interdisciplinary plane. So how does he do it?

Tyler explores Bryan’s approach, including how to avoid the autodidact’s curse, why his favorite philosopher happens to be a former classmate, what Tolstoy has that science fiction lacks, the idea trap, most useful wrong beliefs, effective altruism, Larry David, what most economics papers miss about the return to education, and more.

White liberals dumb themselves down when they speak to black people, a new study contends

Isaac Stanley-Becker:

This racial and political disparity is among the discoveries made by a pair of social psychologists in a paper forthcoming in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a peer-reviewed scientific journal published by the American Psychological Association. Cydney Dupree, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management, and Susan Fiske, a professor of psychology and public affairs at Princeton, documented what they call a “competence downshift” exhibited by white liberals in interactions with racial minorities, and with black people in particular.

The findings, based on what the authors stress is “preliminary evidence,” raise difficult questions about aspirations for a so-called post-racial society. The results reveal how subtle forms of discrimination may coincide with progress toward equal treatment, or what the paper identifies as “a significant reduction in the expression of explicit prejudice and endorsement of negative stereotypes.”

The psychologists further discovered that white liberals rarely admit to the goal of appearing less competent, a fact that highlights the role of implicit bias and “the covert nature of the competence downshift strategy.”

“White liberals may unwittingly draw on negative stereotypes, dumbing themselves down in a likely well-meaning, ‘folksy,’ but ultimately patronizing, attempt to connect with the outgroup,” argues the paper, titled “Self-Presentation in Interracial Settings: The Competence Downshift by White Liberals.”

The findings could provide a new arrow in the quiver of those who decry identity politics practiced by liberals, and yet the paper hardly applauds conservatives for their approach, reasoning that they are simply “less motivated to affiliate with racial minorities.” In other words, the paper states, white conservatives “would not bother.”

“It’s somewhat counterintuitive,” said Dupree, who is the lead author and whose research was supported by the National Science Foundation as well as by Princeton’s Joint Degree Program in Social Policy. “The idea that people who are most well-intentioned toward racial minorities, the people actually showing up and wanting to forge these connections, they’re the ones who seem to be drawing on stereotypes to do so.”

Perhaps fittingly, Madison has long spent far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, yet we have simultaneously tolerated long term, disastrous reading results.

Related:

Seeing the Forest: Unpacking the Relationship Between Madison School District (WI) Graduation Rates and Student Achievement.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter school (2011).

“They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT! (2006)

When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before (2005)

Ofsted considers using social media to monitor schools

BBC:

Ofsted has raised the prospect of using Facebook and Twitter posts to analyse how schools are performing.

The schools watchdog said it was exploring “the possibility of using near-real-time data and information from social media and other sources to predict and prevent decline in school performance”.

The organisation said the frequency and content of social media posts about a particular school could help it decide whether an inspector should visit sooner than planned.

Schools ranked “outstanding” do not have routine inspections unless there are concerns that standards may be slipping, while “good” schools have short inspections every three years.

Mark Orchison, the managing director of 9ine Consulting, which advises schools on everything from safeguarding to cybersecurity, said it seemed likely the exercise would involve gathering real-time data about what people were saying about individual schools.

He said it could be useful in terms of supporting work that Ofsted already does looking into parental perceptions of their children’s schools, but it was also potentially dangerous.

Trans groups under fire for huge rise in child referrals

<a href=”https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/trans-groups-under-fire-for-huge-rise-in-child-referrals-2ttm8c0fr”>Andrew Gilligan</a>:<blockquote> At Dorothy Stringer School in Brighton, the wind of gender change is blowing hard. Hailed by Tatler magazine as the coolest state secondary in town, with a “liberal vibe” to fit its progressive catchment area, Dorothy Stringer is at the forefront of something very cool indeed.

According to the school’s “equality information report” this spring, no fewer than 40 pupils — children aged between 11 and 16 — “do not identify as [the] gender presented at birth”. A further 36 are gender-fluid, not identifying with their birth gender “all the time”.

The head teacher, Richard Bradford, said the figures, the highest yet revealed in any school in the country, were from a survey of his students by the local council. The number of “openly trans… </blockquote> 

Facebook flagged a University of Georgia teaching assistant after a post in which he bashed “crappy white people.”

<a href=”https://www.campusreform.org/?ID=11553″>Andrew Lawrence</a>:<blockquote> A University of Georgia teaching assistant was flagged by Facebook  after a post in which he slammed “crappy white people.”

The social media platform suspended UGA graduate student and TA Irami Osei-Frimpong, claiming a post from his personal account violated community standards policy, according to a tweet from the TA.

“What I don’t understand is OF COURSE we make crappy white people. Georgia has always made crappy white people.   

“We can talk about voter suppression,” Osei-Frimpong had said in the Facebook post following the Nov. 6 midterm election. “We can talk about ID laws. But all of this begins and ends with the fact that we make crappy White people. So if we are serious, we have to dismantle the institutions that make crappy white people. Their churches, their schools, their families.” </blockquote> 

A Simple Formula to Increase Learning: Read, Write, Read More, Write More

Robert Holland:

The never-ending quest for magic formulae that universally educate all children brings to mind this lyrical lament from a 1980 Johnny Lee country tune: “I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places.”

Rarely does anything loveable, or even merely useful, come from wandering the maze of government agencies, huge foundations, textbook publishers, and assorted ed-tech or pedagogical soothsayers. A reviewer of a century’s worth of grandiose schemes, designs, and boondoggles—Common Core being the latest—would be hard-pressed to identify more than a few that have succeeded.

By contrast, a spark of inspiration for helping children can emanate from an individual who has no institutional axe to grind and is willing to sacrifice for the cause.

Will Fitzhugh fits that mold perfectly.

Three decades ago, Fitzhugh quit his job as a history teacher in Concord, Massachusetts, cashed in his small pension, and put all his energies into creating a quarterly journal to be filled with the finest history essays written by high school students. His mission was to show students—and the rest of the world—what they are capable of producing.

Operating without the gargantuan grants that fuel the merchants of ed-biz faddism, The Concord Review has published 1,307 scholarly articles under the bylines of student authors from 45 states and 40 countries. Fitzhugh imposes no arbitrary word limit on submissions. Published essays average 7,500 words, complete with endnotes and bibliography.

The Concord Review is the only quarterly journal in the United States [in the world] devoted exclusively to publishing secondary students’ writing about history. The range of topics is eclectic and the writing is engaging. Here is a small sampling of topics over the past year: “Machine Politics,” “Black-Jewish Relations,” “The Scopes Trial,” “Food Guide Pyramid,” “Coups in Pakistan,” “Sino-Soviet Split,” “Roaring Twenties,” “Chinese Feminism,” “Abraham Lincoln’s Brigade,” “Mussolini’s Vision,” and “Habermas in Korea.”

Fitzhugh’s blog makes plain how The Review’s essayists have justified his confidence in them. Many students have written him to say they reached a point in reading about history that they strongly felt a need to tell people what they had discovered.

In short, as Fitzhugh put it, “reading and writing are inseparable partners.” When motivation springs from knowledge gained, writing can follow a natural progression of writing, reviewing a draft, revising for clarity and correcting omissions, reading for additional content, and rewriting again.

In other words, The Review’s authors exhibit “all the natural things that have always led to good academic writing, whether in history or any other subject.”

Unfortunately, in most high schools, writing is a heavily regulated and restricted process far removed from the ideal of students being able to express something they have learned. Fitzhugh describes the current practice:

“When teaching our students to write, not only are standards set very low in most high schools, limiting students to the five-paragraph essay, responses to a document-based question, or the personal (or college) essay about matters which are often no one else’s business, but we often so load up students with formulae and guidelines that the importance of writing when the author has something to say gets lost in the maze of processes.”

Learn something then write about it. Now there is a novel concept.

Fitzhugh has developed a Page Per Year Plan© (and even copyrighted it) that, if ever implemented widely, could lead to substantially increased time devoted to student reading and writing.

His idea is that all public high school seniors would be expected to write a 12-page history research paper. However, that requirement would not just be plopped on them. They would have written an 11-page paper as juniors, a 10-pager as sophomores, and so back down the year-by-year ladder to a 5-page paper in fifth grade, and even a one-pager on a topic other than themselves in the first grade.

With a Page Per Year Plan© in place, Fitzhugh figures that “every senior in high school will have learned, for that 12-page paper, more about some topic probably than anyone else in their class knows, perhaps even more than any of their teachers knows about that subject. They will have had in the course of writing longer papers each year, that first taste of being a scholar which will serve them so well in higher education and beyond.”

It is highly doubtful that a government-run school system would ever adopt anything as rigorous, yet sensible, as this page-per-year ladder to writing success. Perhaps there are private-sector innovators including homeschoolers bold enough to give it a try.

Meanwhile, anyone looking to find evidence of a love of writing by inspired students will continue to find it every three months in the pages of The Concord Review.

Madison Memorial High School students set to publish book about immigration experiences

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Students at Memorial got a chance to reflect on their immigration experiences for about a month prior to the recordings this week. They then will work with teachers to turn their stories into personalized essays that eventually make it into the books, whose proceeds go entirely toward funding the next set of books.

Getting a chance to talk about her own experiences was empowering, Salgado said.

“I thought it was an amazing opportunity to tell kids that there are people like you, and that we should empower our fellow people of color,” Salgado said.

Salgado has been extremely busy as a student since arriving in Madison. She’s been involved in a slew of sports including soccer, basketball and cross country, as well as leading AVID Student Council and Scholars of Color, a club for students of color who are taking Advanced Placement or honors classes.

Salgado has applied to seven colleges, and is still waiting to hear back from two of her top choices. During her recording session, she explained how she wants to pursue a degree in environmental science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and eventually go to law school to work on environmental policy issues.

The writer does not address achievement data.

Cortical control of a tablet computer by people with paralysis

<a href=”https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0204566″>Paul Nuyujukian, Jose Albites Sanabria, Jad Saab, Chethan Pandarinath, Beata Jarosiewicz, Christine H. Blabe, Brian Franco, Stephen T. Mernoff, Emad N. Eskandar, John D. Simeral, Leigh R. Hochberg, Krishna V. Shenoy, Jaimie M. Henderson</a>:<blockquote> General-purpose computers have become ubiquitous and important for everyday life, but they are difficult for people with paralysis to use. Specialized software and personalized input devices can improve access, but often provide only limited functionality. In this study, three research participants with tetraplegia who had multielectrode arrays implanted in motor cortex as part of the BrainGate2 clinical trial used an intracortical brain-computer interface (iBCI) to control an unmodified commercial tablet computer. Neural activity was decoded in real time as a point-and-click wireless Bluetooth mouse, allowing participants to use common and recreational applications (web browsing, email, chatting, playing music on a piano application, sending text messages, etc.). Two of the participants also used the iBCI to “chat” with each other in real time. This study demonstrates, for the first time, high-performance iBCI control of an unmodified, commercially available, general-purpose mobile computing device by people with tetraplegia. </blockquote> 

W.E.B. Du Bois’ Visionary Infographics Come Together for the First Time in Full Color

<a href=”https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/first-time-together-and-color-book-displays-web-du-bois-visionary-infographics-180970826/”>Jackie Mansky</a>:<blockquote>

After graduating with a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University, W.E.B. Du Bois, the prominent African-American intellectual, sought a way to process all this information showing why the African disapora in America was being held back in a tangible, contextualized form. ”It is not one problem,” as Du Bois wrote in 1898, “but rather a plexus of social problems, some new, some old, some simple, some complex; and these problems have their one bond of unity in the act that they group themselves above those Africans whom two centuries of slave-trading brought into the land.”

To accomplish this goal, Du Bois turned to the burgeoning field of sociology. Sociology’s scope in history, statistics, and demographics held the potential to quantifiably reveal “life within the Veil,” as Du Bois called the structural forces of oppressions that separated black and white populations, whether that came to educational attainment, voting rights or land ownership.

And so, almost two decades before Robert E. Park and the Chicago school were conducting ethnographic field work and statistical analysis, Du Bois pioneered a new way to use sociology: to use those methodologies to contextualize the historical realities resonating among African-Americans. </blockquote>  Continue reading

Mental health programs help Madison-area schools address behavior causes

<a href=”https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/health-med-fit/mental-health-programs-help-madison-area-schools-address-behavior-causes/article_4a55309a-fc7a-5132-b84b-84ee3daedb44.html”>David Wahlberg</a>:<blockquote> Catholic Charities of Madison operates both programs, and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin also started to help run Behavioral Health in Schools this year. 

While Building Bridges doesn’t provide therapy in schools, the 90-day program helps families secure proper food and housing, navigate insurance plans, get transportation to therapy appointments and advocate for themselves during and after appointments, among other support services, said Jerilyn Robinson, director of family programs at Catholic Charities.

“We break down all of those barriers,” Robinson said.

Through Building Bridges, four two-person therapist teams work in the Madison School District, with each team serving one of the district’s four high school attendance areas. Dane County is spending nearly $1 million this year on the program, with matching funds contributed by the school districts. </blockquote> 

Future-proofing your child’s education

<a href=”https://valueofknowledge.ft.com/videos/future-proofing/?utm_source=FT&utm_medium=PP&utm_content=future”>The Financial Times</a>:<blockquote>Theoretical neuroscientist Vivienne Ming explains why, when it comes to learning, many parents are taking the wrong approach if they want to future-proof their children’s education.</blockquote>

Who Will Fix Facebook?

<a href=”https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/who-will-fix-facebook-759916/”>Matt Taibbi</a>:<blockquote> James Reader tried to do everything right. No fake news, no sloppiness, no spam. The 54-year-old teamster and San Diego resident with a progressive bent had a history of activism, but itched to get more involved. So a few years ago he tinkered with a blog called the Everlasting GOP Stoppers, and it did well enough to persuade some friends and investors to take a bigger step.

“We got together and became Reverb Press,” he recalls. “I didn’t start it for the money. I did it because I care about my country.”

In 2014, he launched Reverb, a site that shared news from a pro-Democratic stance but also, Reader says, took great care to be correct and factual. The independent watchdog site mediabiasfactcheck.com would declare it strongly slanted left but rated it “high for factual reporting, as all news is sourced to credible media outlets.”

The site took off, especially during the 2015-16 election season. “We had 30 writers contributing, four full-time editors and an IT worker,” Reader says. “At our peak, we had 4 million to 5 million unique visitors a month.” </blockquote>  Continue reading

Another IRS Free Speech Scandal

<a href=”https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2018/11/another-irs-free-speech-scandal.html”>David Rickin and Randal John Meter</a>:<blockquote>

The Internal Revenue Service infamously targeted dissenters during President Obama’s re-election campaign. Now the IRS is at it again. Earlier this year it issued a rule suppressing huge swaths of First Amendment protected speech. The regulation appears designed to hamper the marijuana industry, which is still illegal under federal law although many states have enacted decriminalization measures. But it goes far beyond that.

The innocuously named Revenue Procedure 2018-5 contains a well-hidden provision enabling the Service to withhold tax-exempt status from organizations seeking to improve “business conditions . . . relating to an activity involving controlled substances (within the meaning of Schedule I and II of the Controlled Substances Act) which is prohibited by federal law.” That means that to obtain tax-exempt status under any provision of the Internal Revenue Code’s Section 501—whether as a charity, social-welfare advocacy group or other type of nonprofit—an organization may not advocate for altering the legal regime applicable to any Schedule I or II substance.

Marijuana is a Schedule I substance, meaning the Food and Drug Administration has found it has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Schedule II drugs include such widely prescribed medications as Adderall, Vyvanse, codeine and oxycodone. The IRS can deny tax-exempt status to any organization that seeks to improve the “business conditions” of a currently prohibited activity involving these medications. That could include simply advocating for a change in the law or regulation forbidding the possession, sale or use of marijuana or other Schedule I substances. It would also encompass advocacy for relaxing the regulatory regime currently governing the production, distribution or prescription of Schedule II medications. </blockquote> 

K-12 Tax & Spending Policy Commentary

Michael Lechman, Kathleen Masterson and Eric Figueroa:

The data in this paper on state “formula” funding for K-12 education through the current school year come from a review of state budget documents CBPP conducted in the summer of 2017. An education funding expert in each state, often a budget expert with the state’s education department, reviewed our figures and edited them when necessary.

The figures on both total state and local education funding reflect all state and local revenues dedicated to K-12 education, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. The enrollment figures used to analyze total state and total local education funding were taken from the National Center for Education Statistics. Additional adjustments were made to reflect the following state-specific policies or data limitations:

Locally, Madison spending grows annually. We spend around $20,000 per K-12 student, far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

Yet, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results, while substantive questions have been raised about increasing graduation rates combined with decreasing achievement data.

The Vanishing History Major

Colleen Flaherty:

History has seen the steepest decline in majors of all disciplines since the 2008 recession, according to a new analysis published in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives on History.

“The drop in history’s share of undergraduate majors in the last decade has put us below the discipline’s previous low point in the 1980s,” reads the analysis, written by Benjamin M. Schmidt, an assistant professor of history at Northeastern University.

Some numbers: there were 34,642 history degrees conferred in 2008, according to federal data. In 2017, the most recent year for which data are available, there were 24,266. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, there was a 1,500 major drop-off. And even as overall university enrollments have grown, “history has seen its raw numbers erode heavily,” Schmidt wrote, especially since 2011-12.

“Of all the fields I’ve looked at, history has fallen more than any other in the last six years,” he says. The 2012 time frame is significant, according to the analysis, because it’s the first period in which students who experienced the financial crisis could easily change their majors.

How Surveillance Inhibits Freedom of Expression

<a href=”https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2018/11/how_surveillanc_1.html”>Bruce Schneier</a>:<blockquote> In my book Data and Goliath, I write about the value of privacy. I talk about how it is essential for political liberty and justice, and for commercial fairness and equality. I talk about how it increases personal freedom and individual autonomy, and how the lack of it makes us all less secure. But this is probably the most important argument as to why society as a whole must protect privacy: it allows society to progress.

We know that surveillance has a chilling effect on freedom. People change their behavior when they live their lives under surveillance. They are less likely to speak freely and act individually. They self-censor. They become conformist. This is obviously true for government surveillance, but is true for corporate surveillance as well. We simply aren’t as willing to be our individual selves when others are watching.

Let’s take an example: hearing that parents and children are being separated as they cross the US border, you want to learn more. You visit the website of an international immigrants’ rights group, a fact that is available to the government through mass Internet surveillance. You sign up for the group’s mailing list, another fact that is potentially available to the government. The group then calls or e-mails to invite you to a local meeting. Same. Your license plates can be collected as you drive to the meeting; your face can be scanned and identified as you walk into and out of the meeting. If, instead of visiting the website, you visit the group’s Facebook page, Facebook knows that you did and that feeds into its profile of you, available to advertisers and political activists alike. Ditto if you like their page, share a link with your friends, or just post about the issue.</blockquote> 

Without Standards and Accountability, There Can Be No Innovation, Personalization, Flexibility — or Education Reform

<a href=”https://www.the74million.org/article/kress-without-standards-and-accountability-there-can-be-no-innovation-personalization-flexibility-or-education-reform/”>Sandy Kress</a>:<blockquote> I think I got a peek last week into why student achievement has turned stagnant in America.

It was, ironically, at a conference sponsored by a fine education policy organization. Indeed, many of the attendees were solid policymakers and practitioners. Yet to my considerable surprise, several participants made worrisome comments that received little pushback.

I want here to describe and rebut those comments. Further, I want to suggest the hypothesis that when such comments are made in an ed reform setting without serious opposition, it’s no wonder reform itself is on the wane. Finally, I want to challenge those who are truly committed to improvement to get fully back on track with standards-based reform so we can return to the days of steady gains in student achievement.

The first surprise at the conference came when it became clear that some folks have become mushy about the meaning of high learning standards for all. Most still agree standards are important. But some now seem to believe that standards can vary and be set by providers in each community. </blockquote> 

How to Talk to People, According to Terry Gross The NPR host offers eight spicy tips for having better conversations.

Jolie Kerr:

It all started in the early 1970s, when, floundering a bit in her post-college life, she landed a gig at WBFO, a radio station in Buffalo. There she would call subjects and interview them for the program she hosted, “This Is Radio.” She moved to Philadelphia in 1975 to host “Fresh Air,” the brainchild of a colleague from WBFO.

Ms. Gross brings a combination of empathy and rigorous preparation to the job. “I read, watch or listen to as much of the person’s work as possible, so I have an understanding of what makes them, or their story, important,” she said. “I try to clarify in my own mind why this person matters, and why it’s worthy of our listeners’ time.”

One thing she does not allow of her interview subjects, however, is input on the edit. “When the interview is over, you don’t have a chance to call back and say, ‘Well I like my answer to this, I don’t like my answer to that, can you edit that out,” she said. (As someone who has been interviewed by Ms. Gross, I would like to say that I wish I hadn’t insisted that her cats hate her. That said, I never asked for my comment to be removed from that particular episode of “Fresh Air.”)

In a subsequent chat, our roles reversed, Ms. Gross offered her thoughts on how to have a good conversation.

HS Graduation Rates Go Up Even as Students and Teachers Fail to Show Up

Max Diamond

Phelps reflects a national trend in which high schools across the country have both high absenteeism and high graduation rates. A recent national study by the U.S. Department of Education showed that about one in sevenstudents missed 15 days or more during the 2013-14 school year – the year before the national high school graduation rate hit an all-time high of 84 percent.

Students aren’t the only ones not showing up – absenteeism is also common among teachers. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank, foundthat in 2013-2014, at least one-fifth of traditional public-school teachers missed more than 10 days in 32 of the 35 states studied. According to federal data, in 2015, more than 41 percent of Rhode Island’s teachers were absent more than 10 days of the year. That was an increase from under 40 percent in 2013, but Rhode Island’s graduation rate nevertheless has hit an all-time high.

“It’s really easy to graduate more kids,” said David Griffith, a policy associate at the Fordham Institute. “You just graduate them.”

RealClearInvestigations contacted departments of education in all 50 states seeking to compare their school attendance rates with their graduation rates. Eleven provided comparable school-by-school data for 2016-2017, and in almost all of them, the same trend was present: Many schools had high rates of chronic absenteeism – students missing 10 percent or more of the school year for any reason – while still reporting high rates of students who graduated from high school in four years.

Among those states – California, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Tennessee – it wasn’t hard to find schools where roughly a third of the students were chronically absent:

Seeing the Forest: Unpacking the Relationship Between Madison School District (WI) Graduation Rates and Student Achievement

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Retirement in America? Too Expensive.

Max Holleran:

The new book Gringolandia: Lifestyle Migration Under Late Capitalism by Matthew Hayes explores the little-discussed phenomenon of migration from North to South by retirees, focusing on the historic city of Cuenca, Ecuador. In this city, as many as 12,000 North Americans have arrived in recent years to enjoy the colonial Spanish architecture and low cost of living. The movement of “snowbird” pensioners from cold Northern countries to warmer, Southern ones, illustrates that maintaining middle-classness into one’s golden years is getting more and more difficult. It is also the story of the stark inequality between wealthy countries that produce “expats” and poorer countries that send “migrants.”

Hayes, a Canadian sociologist, explores what makes people leave their communities at the end of their lives, when relocating to a place with a different culture and language is a daunting undertaking. Half a million social security checks are mailed internationally each month but far more elderly Americans live abroad than that. Some of Hayes’s informants, like Mary from Australia, moved to Cuenca because “life seems to be narrowing” at home as friends pass away. “By contrast, she saw a potential move to Cuenca,” Hayes writes, “as an ‘expansionary thing to do.’” Others felt that they had been deprived of travel during their working years and wanted to go all out now by relocating and immersing themselves in a new culture.

Adventure is often the story that expats tell about themselves to assuage the embarrassment of outsourcing their own retirement to a cheaper place. Many of the Americans interviewed by Hayes moved because of divorce, job loss, and inadequate pensions. Particularly women, who entered the labor market in the 1970s but accumulated far less wealth due to unequal pay, liked the option of an offshore retirement. Many international retirees say they’re seeking a late-in-life challenge, in order to show that they still have agency and can navigate their own lives. Yet, in an era in which worker insecurity is heralded as flexibility and freedom, “challenges,” “agency,” and “optimization” have become less-than-reassuring neoliberal buzzwords for making do with less.

Locally, Madison spends far more than most, now around $20,000 per K-12 student, annually. Yet, we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Israeli intervention in US elections ‘vastly overwhelms’ anything Russia has done, claims Noam Chomsky

<a href=”https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/israel-us-elections-intervention-russia-noam-chomsky-donald-trump-a8470481.html”>Andrew Buncombe</a>:<blockquote> Veteran activist Noam Chomsky has accused Israel of “brazenly” interfering in US electoral politics in a way that vastly outweighs any efforts that may have been carried out by Russia.

In comments in which he accused much of the media of concentrating on stories he considered marginal and ignoring issues such as the “existential threat” of climate change, the 89-year-old linguist said in much of the world, the US media’s focus with Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 was “a joke”. 

“First of all, if you’re interested in foreign interference in our elections, whatever the Russians may have done barely counts or weighs in the balance as compared with what another state does, openly, brazenly and with enormous support,” he said. 

Speaking to Democracy Now, Mr Chomsky added: “Israeli intervention in US elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done, I mean, even to the point where the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the president, and speaks to Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the president’s policies – what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015.” </blockquote> 

Too big to fail: FT editor Lionel Barber on the future of financial journalism

Lionel Barber:

And finally let’s look at the growth of PR compared to the decline of newsrooms.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2000 there were 65,900 news reporters and 128,600 public relations people.

In 2015: 45,800 news reporters, and 218,000 public relations people

So, 15 years ago, there were two PR people for every reporter in the country. Now there are 4.8 PR people for every reporter.

David Simon, former Baltimore Sun staffer and creator of the HBO series The Wire offered his own perspective on the stats. “This is how a republic dies. Not with a bang, but a reprinted press release.”

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