International Tests Show Rising, But Mixed, Math and Science Performance

Sarah Sparks

U.S. students are generally improving in math and science, along with their peers around the globe, but the latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study results—including a longitudinal look for the 20th anniversary of the tests—show more of a slow uphill slog than a breakout performance.

“The [United States] is a large and diverse country, so it’s difficult to see a large increase over a short time,” said Michael O. Martin, a co-executive director of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement’s TIMSS and PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College. The center has conducted the TIMSS in the United States, with the National Center on Education Statistics, every four years since 1995.

Related: Stretch Targets.

China using AI to censor sensitive topics in online group chats

Nathan Vanderklippe

China appears to have massively upgraded its powerful online censorship apparatus, using it to more severely block sensitive topics in group conversations while allowing freer rein in private chats – a sign, one expert says, of a dramatic leap in the use of artificial intelligence to silence speech that falls afoul of the Communist Party.

The growing sophistication of China’s Internet blocking, uncovered by researchers at the University of Toronto, offers a window into how the country’s authoritarian regulators are growing savvier at choking out what they see as undesirable speech – while limiting the anger their deletions stir both domestically and abroad.

UW-Green Bay Using Snapchat To Inform Students Of Acceptance

Patty Murray

It’s an almost immediate way to let students know of their acceptance, said UW-Green Bay Social Media Specialist Jena Richter Landers, who works out of the admissions department.

“We see that they’re screenshotting them,” Landers said. “We’ll see that they’re sharing them in their own personal stories. We’ll get excited selfies back. It’s a great way to celebrate with them.”

This fall marks the first time the university is using the app to alert applicants they’ve been accepted.

Katie Vlachina, the admissions department’s social media intern, said using apps such as Snapchat is a good, modern way to communicate. Plus, it’s fun.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Are Industrial Policy Is The F – 35

Marcy Wheeler

With the news of Donald Trump’s deal to keep 1,100 of 2,100 Carrier jobs in Indiana, coastal elites appear to have just discovered tax-supported Midwestern manufacturing jobs, even as they continue to ignore tax-supported defense contractor (manufacturing) jobs.

As best as I can understand it from the details released so far, the deal may be best understood as a mix of typical state-level efforts combined with the leverage of a federal level effort. Over 25% of the jobs saved will be engineer and headquarter jobs — important for retaining technological capacity in the US, but not a big help to blue collar workers.

The package is reportedly substantially similar to one IN Governor and soon to be Vice President Mike Pence already offered.

Wisconsin Act 10 to go National?

Dave Umhoefer:

“If you really want to drain the swamp, as Trump says, that would be a way to do it,” Walker said in an interview.

Walker added: “It’s the work rules, the seniority, all those things. If they could tackle that in a similar way to what we did, long term it would be a major, major improvement.”

Most federal employees only have bargaining rights over working conditions. Wages and benefits were not part of bargaining, unlike in Wisconsin, where until Walker’s 2011 legislation public-sector unions had full bargaining rights.

Two federal unions sounded ready to fight to hold their ground.

Trump has some good ideas, but if he targets working people after promising to “drain the swamp,” it will be the biggest bait and switch ever, said Randy Erwin, national president-elect of the National Federation of Federal Employees.

Much more on Act 10, here.

Charter Schools and Milwaukee K-12 Governance

Alan Borsuk:

Just when it seemed like the annual trends involving the education landscape of Milwaukee had become predictable and boring, a couple of unpredicted things happened.

Around this time every year since 2008, I’ve put together a chart showing where Milwaukee children are getting a publicly funded education, sector by sector. I try not to get too hung up on “sector wars,” but the trends for school enrollment are crucial to understanding our complicated education scene.

In summary, the percentage of students enrolled in the conventional Milwaukee Public Schools system was falling by 1 to 2 percentage points almost every year. Use of publicly funded vouchers to attend private schools, almost all of them religious, was rising each year (this year, just under a quarter of the city’s students are in the voucher program). Enrollment in non-MPS charter schools was rising each year. And the number of Milwaukee children going to public schools in the suburbs rather than in MPS, using the state’s open enrollment law, was rising substantially.

Emory Reviews ‘Sanctuary Campus’ Petition; Assesses Options

Zak Hudak and Julia Munslow:

Emory administrators are “developing a strategy on how to protect undocumented students” in response to a petition signed by more than 1,500 members and 17 organizations of the Emory community requesting that the University become a “sanctuary campus,” Senior Vice President and Dean of Campus Life Ajay Nair said.

The petition — sent to Nair, University President Claire E. Sterk and Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Stuart Zola — came 12 days after Republican Donald J. Trump won the presidential election and amid uncertainty surrounding the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The Student Government Association (SGA) endorsed the petition Monday by a vote of 26-2, with one abstention.

Israeli government’s call for mandatory biometric ID system met with backlash

Israeli interior minister Aryeh Deri has called for all Israeli citizens to obtain a mandatory biometric identity card, with their personal information stored on a national digital database, according to a report by The Times of Israel.

As detailed in a memorandum, in the next two weeks citizens will be permitted to comment on the new ID system.

Following this period, the bill will go to a ministerial committee, and if approved, it will be put to a vote in the Knesset.
“The biometric database is crucial to prevent identity theft of Israeli citizens, and it is protected and secured at the highest level,” Deri said.

The biometric card will store the cardholder’s data — their personal information, fingerprints, photo and facial profile — on an embedded chip, with all information also stored in a secured database.

One App, Two Systems: How WeChat uses one censorship policy in China and another internationally

Lotus Ruan, Jeffrey Knockel, Jason Q. Ng, and Masashi Crete-Nishihata

Keyword filtering on WeChat is only enabled for users with accounts registered to mainland China phone numbers, and persists even if these users later link the account to an International number.

Keyword censorship is no longer transparent. In the past, users received notification when their message was blocked; now censorship of chat messages happens without any user notice.

More keywords are blocked on group chat, where messages can reach a larger audience, than one-to-one chat.

Keyword censorship is dynamic. Some keywords that triggered censorship in our original tests were later found to be permissible in later tests. Some newfound censored keywords appear to have been added in response to current news events.

The Crime of Speech: How Arab Governments Use the Law to Silence Expression Online

Eva Galperin:

Since the revolts that took the region by storm in 2010 and 2011, the Arab world continues to face a diverse set of sociopolitical challenges. Each of the countries studied in this report–Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia–has responded to the uprisings differently. Government reactions range from the expansion of rights, to social upheaval, to civil war. Additionally, the rise of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) poses a threat to all four countries.

In reaction to fundamentalist groups often relying on the Internet for propaganda and recruiting, several governments in the Arab world have passed shortsighted cybercrime and counterterrorism laws­–ostensibly to combat these groups on the digital front.1 It is unclear what kind of motivation lies behind these laws; however, as it stands, national security appears to give lawmakers a convenient excuse to crack down on rights.

Research has found that each country’s law enforcement uses a wide range of mechanisms to stifle dissent. These laws do little to prevent activity by terrorist groups such as ISIS. Instead, they frequently explicitly criminalize speech that the government finds threatening to its legitimacy, and are often used to supplement other totalitarian practices to target and stifle unwanted or politically critical speech.

The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens

Ferris Jabr

In a viral YouTube video from October 2011 a one-year-old girl sweeps her fingers across an iPad’s touchscreen, shuffling groups of icons. In the following scenes she appears to pinch, swipe and prod the pages of paper magazines as though they too were screens. When nothing happens, she pushes against her leg, confirming that her finger works just fine—or so a title card would have us believe.

The girl’s father, Jean-Louis Constanza, presents “A Magazine Is an iPad That Does Not Work” as naturalistic observation—a Jane Goodall among the chimps moment—that reveals a generational transition. “Technology codes our minds,” he writes in the video’s description. “Magazines are now useless and impossible to understand, for digital natives”—that is, for people who have been interacting with digital technologies from a very early age.

A competitive Madison School Board Race?

Madison School Board members Ed Hughes and Michael Flores said Thursday they’ll run for re-election — Hughes for a fourth term, Flores for a second.

Candidate filing for the seats began Thursday and ends Jan. 3. Terms are for three years.

Hughes (Seat 7) and Flores (Seat 6) are the only members of the seven-person board whose terms expire in 2017. Members are elected districtwide but must run for specific seats.

Hughes has run unopposed each of his prior three campaigns but appears to have picked up a challenger this time. Juvenile attorney Nicki Vander Meulen announced on Facebook that she plans to seek Seat 7. She could not be reached for comment.

The nonpartisan general election is April 4. If a primary is needed, it will be Feb. 21.

Hughes, 64, is a lawyer and former board president. He was very visible this fall advocating for a referendum — approved overwhelmingly by voters Nov. 8 — that will provide the district with more operating money. He has been a frequent and pointed critic of the state’s funding of public education and of many Republican-led education efforts, such as the expansion of the state’s private-school voucher program.

Homeschooling as a right, and a needed practical alternative


Education in Victoria is succeeding in some areas, but failing in many others – we have new school buildings, but they are overflowing and the school rolls climbing so quickly that teachers and principals have no bandwidth left for improving educational outcomes. Schools are adapting to technology, but failing to handle the wide range of ability and rates of learning our kids have. The system is not flexible enough to handle the needs of low achievers and high achievers in specific areas.

Every couple of months there is a new study showing how badly Australia is doing compared to other countries in areas such as Math. We know there are approaches that have worked elsewhere but we seem unwilling or unable to change and adopt them.

Homeschooling is an important right for Victorians – in many cases it is the only way to solve problems with bullying, with low achieving students and with high achieving students. Homeschooling is a rising demographic which serves as an important barometer of how well our schools are serving students and parents.

Virginia schools ban ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ ‘Huckleberry Finn’ for racial slurs

Brianna Chambers

The decision to remove “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain and “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee came after a parent filed a complaint, WAVY reported. The parent cited excessive racial slurs as the reason for wanting the books banned, Superintendent Warren Holland told the news station.

The parent, whose son is biracial, said that her concerns are “not even just a black and white thing.”

Commentary On K – 12 School Governance

Annysa johnson

Jensen and Underwood squared off as part of a discussion on the lessons learned from a quarter century of school vouchers in Wisconsin, moderated by Alan Borsuk, a longtime education journalist and fellow at the law school.

Wisconsin’s is the largest voucher program in the country with 261 schools and more than 33,700 students taking part. As part of the program, students receive state-funded vouchers of $7,232 or $7,969, depending on the grade, to attend private schools, most of them religious.

“Nearly a quarter of all children in the city of Milwaukee receiving a publicly funded education are doing so through

Voucher schools spend substantially less per student than traditional K-12 schools.

Madison’s traditional public schools spend about $18,000 per student, well Wisconsin voucher schools spend less than that.

Civics: FBI and NSA Poised to Gain New Surveillance Powers Under Trump

Chris Strohm

The FBI, National Security Agency and CIA are likely to gain expanded surveillance powers under President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress, a prospect that has privacy advocates and some lawmakers trying to mobilize opposition.

Trump’s first two choices to head law enforcement and intelligence agencies — Republican Senator Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Republican Representative Mike Pompeo for director of the Central Intelligence Agency — are leading advocates for domestic government spying at levels not seen since the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Princeton University Math Club

Course Guide

The guide is split up into nine sections. One section is on introductory courses, while the other eight correspond to major branches of math. Each section starts with an overview, which discusses the subject covered by the section as well as how the subject is taught at Princeton. Following the overview is a listing of relevant courses in the subject. Most courses will have a detailed description of the course content that goes beyond the descriptions provided by the registrar or the math department. In addition to this, most overviews and course descriptions will also provide useful commentary and advice. You will find that many topics in math spill over into other departments, most notably COS, ORF, and PHI. We have provided descriptions of the relevant courses in these other departments as well.

Undergrad Math Tips

Jessica Purcell

This guide was written with the calculus student in mind, though the tips are applicable to many undergraduate math classes. In the type of course this guide addresses, you will be successful if and only if you can do well on the exams. So essentially, this guide gives tips for doing well on your math exams.

The first thing to realize in this course is that you can’t cram for your math exams. To be successful, you basically have to start at the beginning of the quarter and put in a lot of mathematical effort each week. In fact, if you follow the tips suggested, you may even find yourself working harder than you’ve ever worked before in a class. However, you’ll feel your work paid off after your first successful exam.

With ‘pathways’ initiative, Madison looks to fundamentally change its high school experience

Doug Erickson:

A major educational restructuring is underway in the Madison School District with the potential to fundamentally change the high school experience for all district students.

Beginning next fall, the district will start phasing in “personalized pathways,” described as a way for students to explore college and career options and to learn more about their passions.

The concept will start relatively small the first year, with 120 to 150 freshmen at each of the district’s four main high schools voluntarily opting into a health services pathway.

Eventually, the approach could become the new reality for all high school students. District administrators say their “current vision” is for the initiative to become compulsory by school year 2022-23, when it would be fully built out. There would be four to six pathways by then.

Before that happens, though, there is expected to be a crucial trigger point — probably midway through the second year — where administrators and School Board members will take what’s been learned and decide whether to keep moving toward full implementation.

Using global trends to chart our course


There’s so much change happening around us these days that it’s easy to forget the speed at which things are changing.

We now have more computing power in our pocket than all of NASA had in 1969 to put the first man on the moon. India sent a spacecraft to Mars for less money than it took Hollywood to make the movie Gravity.1 It took Uber a mere four years to hit $10 Billion in gross revenue.2 And Artificial Intelligence took just 42 hours to solve the 100-year-old mystery of how flatworms regenerate body parts.3
This pace of change will continue to accelerate at warp speed, with more change expected in the next 15 years than in all of human history to date.

So how does a company like HP stay ahead of all this change, to innovate, adapt, reinvent and engineer experiences for a future that promises to look very different from today?

While we can’t know what the future will hold, we can look to the major socio-economic, demographic and technological trends occurring across the globe to help guide us: megatrends that we believe will have a sustained, transformative impact on the world in the years ahead – on businesses, societies, economies, cultures and our personal lives.
At HP, we’ve identified four major megatrends: Rapid Urbanization, Changing Demographics, Hyper Globalization, and Accelerated Innovation.

Steven Strogatz interview on math education

Elena Holodny

Or in the case of birds. They are flying around in three dimensions, and they’re very aware of how close their neighbors are, how fast the neighbors are going, which directions the neighbors are pointing. They don’t have eyes on the backs of their heads, so they’re not so aware of who’s behind them.

But, like I said, there are simple rules about what a bird will do in response to a neighboring birds based on how fast they’re going, how close they are, and which directions they’re pointing. And then if you make computer simulations of what you’d expect, each bird is following these simple rules. You get behavior that looks exactly like what real flocks look like, including if they’re flying around obstacles such as buildings or trees. You don’t need a leader.

On K – 12 Governance

Greg Forster

And of course that will be the death of us. Because then we really will have turned a blind eye to racism.

We should keep the focus where it belongs: on the states. If we’re offered a big federal push to impose choice on the states, we should say “thanks, but no thanks.” On the merits, yes, and for other reasons, too.

As someone once said on this issue, you can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding.

We can work with Trump (on, for example, choice in DC and other federal jurisdictions) the same way we might work with any bad person who holds office. But with the demonization of conservatives in the movement and the big opportunities for choice that Trump will soon likely be offering us, the temptation will be to forget what we spent the last generation saying: That school choice will die if it doesn’t build a trans-partisan, trans-ethnic coalition.

3 Out of Every 4 Millennials Have Received Financial Help from Parents After College


Every generation has a reputation. The Baby Boomers brought the “American Dream” to our collective imagination and Generation X brought an increasing number of women into the workforce. Now, millennials are bringing a revolution to how they handle money and how they perceive their parents’ role in managing that money.

Millennials tend to look at their parents and others in the Baby Boomer generation as friends and mentors, with three out of four in the younger generation indicating that their families provided them with financial assistance after college. Of these, more than two-thirds say they couldn’t get by without their parents’ help.

Civics: Washington Post Disgracefully Promotes a McCarthyite Blacklist From a New, Hidden, and Very Shady Group

Ben Norton, Glenn Greenwald:

Yet the article is rife with obviously reckless and unproven allegations, and fundamentally shaped by shoddy, slothful journalistic tactics. It was not surprising to learn that, as BuzzFeed’s Sheera Frenkel noted, “a lot of reporters passed on this story.” Its huge flaws are self-evident. But the Post gleefully ran with it and then promoted it aggressively, led by its Executive Editor Marty Baron:

When Finnish Teachers Work in America’s Public Schools

Timothy Walker

“You give people more autonomy when you’re confident that they can do the job if they have it,” he said. “And the countries that give [teachers] more autonomy successfully are countries that have made an enormous investment in changing the pool from which they are selecting their teachers, then they make a much bigger investment than we do in the education of their future teachers, then they make a much bigger investment in the support of those teachers once they become teachers. If you don’t do all those things, and all you do is give more autonomy to teachers, watch out.”

Can a Campus Be a Sanctuary?

Elizabeth Redden:

The election of Donald Trump to the presidency has prompted a growing number of petitions signed by students, faculty members and alumni at colleges and universities across the country calling on their institutions to limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement authorities and to declare theirs “sanctuary campuses.”

“Given what is on the horizon, the promise [by Trump] to deport up to three million people, not to mention the recent history of deportation and detention already occurring in the United States, there needs to be a clear message sent to our immigrant students that UIUC is going to be a sanctuary,” said Gilberto Rosas, an associate professor in the departments of anthropology and Latina/Latino studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and co-author of a petition that, among other requests, asks Illinois’ administration to “guarantee student privacy by refusing to release information regarding the immigration status of our students and community members” and to “refuse to comply with immigration authorities regarding deportations or raids.”

Who is the Genius Behind Merriam-Webster’s Social Media?

Emily Temple

In case you hadn’t noticed, Merriam-Webster’s Twitter game is strong—topical, funny, smart, and informative while also being relentlessly irreverent. Not what you’d necessarily expect from the social media account of a dictionary. (This is putting aside the fact that we now generally expect things like dictionaries to have social media accounts, of course.) But if you were ever a nerd who thought of the dictionary as your best friend (just me?)—well, this is sort of like that dictionary has finally come to life and loves you back and also tweets about words all the time. To find out more about this glorious sentient dictionary, I reached out to the folks behind the tweets to ask them about words, social media, and the place of dictionaries in 2016.

Professors Aren’t Good at Sharing Their Classroom Practices. Teaching Portfolios Might Help.

Jeffrey Young

At the height of the buzz around MOOCs and flipped classrooms three years ago, Bridget Ford worried that administrators might try to replace her introductory history course with a batch of videos. She agreed that something should change: Drop-outs and failures were high in the 200-person class—at about 13 percent. But the assistant professor of history at California State University at East Bay wanted something less drastic than giving up on live lectures entirely.

Teacher unions smarting after many members vote for Trump

Greg Toppo

How substantially? About one in five American Federation of Teachers (AFT) members who cast a ballot voted for Trump, the union’s leader estimated. Among the larger National Education Association (NEA), which comprises more than 3 million members, more than one in three who voted did so for the billionaire developer, early data show.

AFT President Randi Weingarten, whose union represents about 1.6 million teachers and other workers, said some of the reason for Clinton’s defeat was timing — and perhaps sexism.

“Frankly I was always concerned about whether the country was ready to have a female president,” she said. “There was an intensity of hatred that male political figures never get. So I think we’re never really going to understand it.”

Most of the USA’s largest labor unions endorsed Clinton as early as 2015, including NEA, AFT, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Adapting To American Culture As A Chinese Student

Bernard Wang

(Note: I was born and raised in the U.S. until I was 10, moved to Beijing and attended local school for 5 years, then came back to America for high school and college. I have experienced culture shock and discrimination upon entry into Beijing and re-entry into America, but eventually gained acceptance into society each time and made a bunch of great local friends in both places.)

Let me start with a personal story: One time in college, I roomed with a group of students who were all non-Asian, who all grew up in America. They lived with one another before, and at the time, I was the only one new to the group. The housing staff sent a email to them saying that “Bernard Wang”(me) would be their new roommate, and upon noticing my Chinese last name, they began to mock me. In the group text, they joked that I would stay in my room and play video games all day, never socialize with anyone, sleep at 10 PM every night, and even joked that they should all move out because of me – after only seeing my Chinese last name from an email. Eventually, after meeting one another, we all became very close, and the jokes came out. When I first heard about these jokes, I was a bit disappointed in my roommates, but decided not to hold it against any of them and use it as an opportunity to, instead, teach them about my culture instead.

Racism against foreign Asian students, especially Chinese students, is becoming a prevalent social issue for many high-ranking U.S. institutions. There has been a mass influx of highly capable foreign students from China coming in, partly due to institutions using higher foreign tuition rates as a means to obtain more money, partly due to the U.S. wanting to attract more STEM workers, and partly due to the general academic excellence of Chinese students who come in, and a plethora of other reasons. However, there is a huge cultural chasm between the local students and the foreign Chinese students, resulting in distant American and Chinese social circles. At the end of the day, this issue is a two way street, with local American students unwilling to socially accept foreign Chinese students, but also foreign Chinese students culturally maladjusted to integrate into American social circles.

Uganda to shut down Zuckerberg-funded schools

A legal tug-of-war between Ugandan authorities and a for-profit international chain of schools has led to the education provider being ordered to shut down in a matter of weeks, leaving the lives of thousands of pupils in limbo.

Uganda’s High Court has described the Bridge International Academies (BIA) — which is funded by the likes of Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg — as unsanitary and unqualified, and has ordered it to close its doors in December because it ignored Uganda’s national standards and put the “life and safety” of its 12,000 young students on the line.
The Director of Education Standards for the Ministry, Huzaifa Mutazindwa, told CNN that the nursery and primary schools were not licensed, the teachers weren’t qualified and that there was no record of its curriculum being approved.

Educators Grapple with ‘History Deficit’ in N.H. Elementary Students

Jason Moon

In the large, stately lobby of the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, a group of fourth graders is ushered up a set of marble stairs.

Peggy Halacy, a museum teacher with the Historical Society, captures their attention and begins motioning toward the artifacts that adorn the walls.

“Now I’d like you to look over here at the eagle. This is the actual, real eagle that was on top of the state house when it was built in 1818.”

These students, from McClelland Elementary School in Rochester, are on a field trip that fourth graders in New Hampshire have been going on since 1964. Each year, about 70 percent of all fourth graders in the state visit the Historical Society. For many schools this fieldtrip to the Historical Society is a capstone to a year’s worth of curriculum on New Hampshire state history.

6 new technology rules that will govern our future

Vivek Wadhwa

Technology is advancing so rapidly that we will experience radical changes in society not only in our lifetimes but in the coming years. We have already begun to see ways in which computing, sensors, artificial intelligence and genomics are reshaping entire industries and our daily lives.

As we undergo this rapid change, many of the old assumptions that we have relied will no longer apply. Technology is creating a new set of rules that will change our very existence. Here are six:

1. Anything that can be digitised will be

Digitisation began with words and numbers. Then we moved into games and later into rich media, such as movies, images and music. We also moved complex business functions, medical tools, industrial processes and transportation systems into the digital realm. Now, we are digitising everything about our daily lives: our actions, words and thoughts. Inexpensive DNA sequencing and machine learning are unlocking the keys to the systems of life. Cheap, ubiquitous sensors are documenting everything we do and creating rich digital records of our entire lives.

Why is Machine Learning Hard?

S. Zayd Enam:

However, machine learning remains a relatively ‘hard’ problem. There is no doubt the science of advancing machine learning algorithms through research is difficult. It requires creativity, experimentation and tenacity. Machine learning remains a hard problem when implementing existing algorithms and models to work well for your new application. Engineers specializing in machine learning continue to command a salary premium in the job market over standard software engineers.

This difficulty is often not due to math – because of the aforementioned frameworks machine learning implementations do not require intense mathematics. An aspect of this difficulty involves building an intuition for what tool should be leveraged to solve a problem. This requires being aware of available algorithms and models and the trade-offs and constraints of each one. By itself this skill is learned through exposure to these models (classes, textbooks and papers) but even more so by attempting to implement and test out these models yourself. However, this type of knowledge building exists in all areas of computer science and is not unique to machine learning. Regular software engineering requires awareness of the trade offs of competing frameworks, tools and techniques and judicious design decisions.

Civics: Trump will have vast powers. He can thank Democrats for them.

Glenn Greenwald:

Yet, beginning in his first month in office and continuing through today, Obama not only continued many of the most extreme executive-power policies he once condemned, but in many cases strengthened and extended them. His administration detained terrorism suspects without due process, proposed new frameworks to keep them locked up without trial, targeted thousands of individuals (including a U.S. citizen) for execution by drone, invoked secrecy doctrines to shield torture and eavesdropping programs from judicial review, and covertly expanded the nation’s mass electronic surveillance.

Blinded by the belief that Obama was too benevolent and benign to abuse his office, and drowning in partisan loyalties at the expense of political principles, Democrats consecrated this framework with their acquiescence and, often, their explicit approval. This is the unrestrained set of powers Trump will inherit. The president-elect frightens them, so they are now alarmed. But if they want to know whom to blame, they should look in the mirror.

Obama’s approach to executive power flipped so quickly and diametrically that it is impossible to say if he ever believed his campaign-era professions of restraint. As early as May 2009, Jack Goldsmith, a Justice Department official under George W. Bush, celebrated Obama’s abandonment of his promises to rein in these authorities, writing that “the new administration has copied most of the Bush program, has expanded some of it, and has narrowed only a bit.” He added that the “Obama practices will be much closer to late Bush practices than almost anyone expected in January 2009.”

Trump’s Emerging Higher Ed Platform

Scott Jaschik:

Donald Trump has been quiet about higher education policy during his triumphant march through the Republican presidential primaries. That could be ending soon.

Sam Clovis, the national co-chair and policy director of Trump’s campaign, outlined for Inside Higher Ed the ideas that the presumptive GOP nominee is preparing to put forth. While final decisions have not been made on when the ideas will be formally unveiled, not to mention many details worked out, Clovis said the Trump campaign expects higher education to be a major issue in the fall general election.

Some of the ideas under consideration could be “revolutionary,” Clovis said. Proposals currently being prepared would upend the current system of student loans, force all colleges to share the risk of such loans and make it harder for those wanting to major in the liberal arts at nonelite institutions to obtain loans. And even if some of the proposals would face a skeptical Congress, these ideas could gain considerable attention if Trump uses them to parry with his Democratic opponent.

‘Millennium’ is full of gratitude for the staggering advances of 1,000 years

Steve Donoghue

Pause for a moment from your rapt attention to this review of Ian Mortimer’s terrific new book Millennium and look up. Look around you. Try to see the layers of time that blanket every feature of your world. It’s a gambit that Mortimer employs often throughout his study of “how civilization has changed over a thousand years,” and it’s unfailingly instructive.

You’re able to read this at all, in the first place, whereas for most of the previous thousand years, you probably wouldn’t have been able to, unless you were a member of the clerical or landed elite. You’re reading it in English, which no national publication would have used in the 11th century or for a good deal of time afterwards. The review is about a book, which scarcely anybody would have owned. Likewise the review assumes a common readership, which would have been forbidden – sometimes by fire or the rack – for more than half of the centuries under Mortimer’s consideration. And if you’re reading this on some kind of electronic device, we suddenly exclude all of history right up until the last twenty years.

The Need to Read

Will Schlabe

And then one day, she asked him what he was reading. He had just started “The Hunger Games,” a series of dystopian young-adult novels by Suzanne Collins. The grandmother decided to read the first volume so that she could talk about it with her grandson the next time they chatted on the phone. She didn’t know what to expect, but she found herself hooked from the first pages, in which Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the annual battle-to-the-death among a select group of teens.

The book helped this grandmother cut through the superficialities of phone chat and engage her grandson on the most important questions that humans face about survival and destruction and loyalty and betrayal and good and evil, and about politics as well. Now her grandson couldn’t wait to talk to her when she called—to tell her where he was, to find out where she was and to speculate about what would happen next.

K-12 Tax And Spending Climate:

Gene Epstein

While granting tax breaks to big corporations goes against the grain of American populism, so should ceding the economic advantage of lower corporate rates to every other major industrialized country. And given the huge sums involved, it’s not hard to see why American companies operating abroad actively shop for low-tax jurisdictions.

Take corporate “inversions,” which many lawmakers deride as un-American. In an inversion, a U.S. multinational company is acquired by a company domiciled in a low-tax country, such as Ireland or Canada, where top rates are 12.5% and 26.7%, respectively. Profits earned in the U.S. continue to be taxed at the domestic rate, while those made elsewhere are subject to lower rates.

Democrats have cynically sought to outlaw inversions, rather than lower domestic tax rates, which would solve the problem by eliminating the reason companies seek out other residences. In effect, it’s a form of protectionism, and it doesn’t work.
Another tax-avoidance strategy is to locate subsidiaries in low-tax jurisdictions and to keep accumulated profits offshore; hence the roughly $2 trillion held abroad by U.S. corporations that are loath to repatriate this money because it would be subject to high U.S. taxes. Here again, a lower rate would bring revenue back to the U.S., rather than stranding it abroad.

Pence accomplished what Trump wants for national education: Vouchers and charters

Emma Brown and Perry Stein:

The push toward school choice is deeply unpopular with advocates for traditional public schools, including teachers unions.

“The general population of the United States of America needs to be watchful, and needs to be making sure there’s accountability there for where this money goes,” said Teresa Meredith, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association.

Unions mounted a legal challenge against Indiana’s voucher program, which Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) signed into existence in 2011. But courts put an end to that challenge shortly after Pence took office in 2013, and he led the charge to expand the program, getting rid of a cap on the number of recipients and loosening eligibility requirements for students.

Now nearly 60 percent of Indiana children — including those from low-income families and from the middle class — are eligible for the vouchers, which average about $4,000 per year.

For unions in Wisconsin, a fast and hard fall since Act 10

Dave Umhoefer:

Dave Weiland, an Oconomowoc school district teacher and local union leader, thinks the state union was stuck in a 1920s mentality.

“The gravy train was running, and they didn’t see the curve,” he said.

Indeed, two years prior to Walker’s election, the path appeared to be moving in a different direction.

Bolstered by union might and money, Democrats swept to control of the state Capitol, then opened 20,000 more jobs to union representation and repealed limits on teacher compensation.

One group that got the power to organize: Home child-care workers — at a time when their industry was under scrutiny for fraud that cost taxpayers millions.

Two years later, Republicans were in charge.

Related: WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators.

Table set for major school choice push

Alan Borsuk:

We already have hefty private school voucher programs in Milwaukee and Racine and a growing voucher scene in the rest of the state, plus a new special-education voucher program, and a convoluted but fairly lively charter school scene, particularly in Milwaukee. What more could be done?

It’s a time when school choice insiders are pulling out their wish lists and brain storming. The special ed vouchers and the statewide voucher program could be given bigger pushes. Maybe something could happen to increase the number of charter schools statewide, but charters always seem to play back-up to private schools in state politics.

Ideas such as “education savings accounts,” discussed in this column recently, are increasingly likely to emerge. Such accounts could offer parents more flexible ways to select education programs for their children, potentially including several providers. No one so far has gotten specific about what this could mean, but there’s serious interest.

The States That College Graduates Are Most Likely to Leave

Quoctrung Bui

This year’s election has forced Americans to take notice of class divisions between workers. And while these divisions may at first ring of lazy stereotypes — the rural Rust Belt worker without a college degree and the coastal urban college-educated worker — they’re rooted in a real dynamic. Many of the most skilled workers — young people with college degrees — are leaving struggling regions of America for cities, specifically for cities in Southern and coastal states.

Labor Unions And Inequality

David Trilling:

Study summary: Unions have been shown to increase members’ wages. As a result, firms with large union membership among their workers have less money available to hire new workers, possibly increasing unemployment. Thus, many economists believe the net effect of unions on the distribution of income is unclear. But as unions recede, other trends are becoming apparent.

Notes and links on Madison Teachers, Inc, WEAC.

US states’ FY 2015 net pension liabilities reach $1.25 trillion, with more growth to come


Total US state aggregate adjusted net pension liabilities (ANPL) totaled $1.25 trillion, or 119% of revenue in fiscal 2015, Moody’s Investors Service says in a new report. The results, based on compliance with new GASB 68 accounting rules, set a new ANPL baseline and are poised to rise for the next two fiscal years as market returns fall below annual targets.

“The median return for public pension plans in FY 2016 was 0.52% compared to an average assumed investment return of 7.5%,” Moody’s Vice President — Senior Credit Officer Marcia Van Wagner says. “We project that aggregate state ANPL will grow to $1.75 trillion in FY 2017 audits.”

Moody’s new report also introduces a new “Tread Water” benchmark, which measures whether states’ annual contributions to their pensions are enough to keep the unfunded net liability from growing. For FY 2015, states were evenly divided between falling short and exceeding the benchmark.

The report “States — US: Medians – Low Returns, Weak Contributions Drive Continued Growth of State Pension Liabilities,” says there were several states whose pension contributions were notably below the Tread Water mark, including Kentucky (Aa2 stable), New Jersey (A2 negative), Illinois (Baa2 negative), and Texas (Aaa stable).

Open Enrollment Survey and Data Update – Madison School District

Madison School District Administration (PDF):

In total, MMSD has 365 open enrollment enterers and 1294 open enrollment leavers for 2016-17; among those 1294 leavers, 58% have never enrolled in an MMSD school.

2. The net effect of open enrollment decreased by 70 students. The number of open enrollment leavers decreased by 21 students and the number of open enrollment enterers increased by 49 students.

3. The number of new leavers decreased by 51 students.

4. The most common grades for new open enrollment leavers are 4K, KG, and ninth grade. The most common grades for new open enrollment enterers are 4K, eleventh, and twelfth grade. Open enrollment leavers are disproportionately white while enterers are disproportionately students of color.

5. Open enrollment leavers are clustered around the outskirts of the district and most often attend the closest suburban district to their home.

2016 Surveys: “Leavers” “Enterers“.

1. The two most common reasons parents cited for transferring their children out of MMSD were the school has a better academic environment, 26%, followed by the school has a better culture or climate, 23%.

2. The top two programs in the other district that influenced parents’ decisions to leave MMSD were Advanced learner programming, 22%, and Advanced Placement courses, 15%.

3. The most common districts parents transferred their children to were: Monona, 21%, McFarland, 17%, Verona, 14% and Other District, 13%.

Much more on open enrollment, including the 2009 survey, here.

Madison School District Middle School Math Specialist Program

Madison School District Administration (PDF):

Project Description: MMSD has provided funding to support coursework in the content and teaching knowledge of middle school teachers of math. Toward that goal, a partnership was formed back in 2010 between the District, the UW-Madison School of Education, the UW- Madison Department of Mathematics, and the University of Wisconsin Extension – Office of Education Outreach and Partnerships. MMSD will continue this for the 2016-17 school year and continue to offer math coursework for teachers to participate. The courses consists of a five course sequence (Number, Ratio, Geometry, Algebra, and Experimentation, Conjecture & Reasoning) with two courses being offered each semester. MMSD will continue to provide some financial support for teachers in each class with priority determined by; 1) middle school teacher working with an existing condition of employment, 2) middle school math teachers, and 3) teachers who began the program in previous years.

NOTE: There is a significant reduction in the estimate of this program from the 2015-2016 school year to the 2016-2017 school year. As a reminder, the change for this program and financial support moving forward was shared with the Board April 2016. The model continues the five course MSMS Program using non-credit courses for teachers currently enrolled in the program. This reduces the annual operating budget to $27,000. In addition, the full-time Math teacher leader’s responsibilities have been repositioned to provide support and professional development for middle school math teachers and for algebra teachers.

Talent management has been working with principals to select best candidates for current and future hiring. Middle school math teachers are now provided with standards aligned curricular resources and job embedded coaching.

Related: Singapore Math, Math Forum, Connected Math, Discovery Math.

Madison School District Administration (PDF):

The University of Wisconsin System is exempt from complying with the requirements of the District’s Contract Compliance Plan.

Madison School District “Capacity Report”

Madison School District Administration (PDF):

1. Most MMSD schools are not over capacity. One elementary school and no middle or high schools had a Third Friday enrollment above their calculated capacity as currently configured.

2. Eighteen of the 32 elementary schools, three of the 12 middle schools, and one of the five high schools had a Third Friday enrollment above the ideal 90% of capacity.

A recent tax and spending increase referendum funded the expansion of our least diverse schools: Van His elementary and Hamilton Middle Schools.

Enrollment projections (PDF).

Credentialism: Licensing Laws Cause 31,000 Fewer Jobs, Cost Consumers $2 Billion in Wisconsin

Nick Sibilla

Occupational licenses are “one of the most substantial barriers to opportunity in America today,” a new study by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) found. According to WILL’s estimates, licensing laws raise prices for consumers by $1.93 billion each year and results in roughly 31,000 fewer jobs. Over the past two decades, the number of license holders has jumped by 34 percent in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, the number of occupational licensing categories has soared by 84 percent.

“While some credentialing serves to protect public health and safety,” report authors Collin Roth and Elena Ramlow note, “much is rank protectionism – a device to ‘fence in’ those who already have permission to work and ‘fence out’ those who do not.”

Civics: Facebook Said to Create Censorship Tool to Get Back Into China

Inside Facebook, the work to enter China runs far deeper.

The social network has quietly developed software to suppress posts from appearing in people’s news feeds in specific geographic areas, according to three current and former Facebook employees, who asked for anonymity because the tool is confidential. The feature was created to help Facebook get into China, a market where the social network has been blocked, these people said. Mr. Zuckerberg has supported and defended the effort, the people added.

In the future, will farming be fully automated?

Padraig Belton

In the not-too-distant future, our fields could be tilled, sown, tended and harvested entirely by fleets of co-operating autonomous machines by land and air.

And they’ll be working both day and night.
Driverless tractors that can follow pre-programmed routes are already being deployed at large farms around the world.

Drones are buzzing over fields assessing crop health and soil conditions. Ground sensors are monitoring the amount of water and nutrients in the soil, triggering irrigation and fertiliser applications.
And in Japan, the world’s first entirely automated lettuce farm is due for launch next year.

Computer Science Video Lectures

Developer Y

Focus would be to keep the list to the point so that it is readable and usable. To access syllabus/notes/assignments, please visit link to the course or use Google search with course number/name.

Only MOOCs with comprehensive lecture material which may be equivalent to a standard University course will be added.
NPTEL contains large number of good Computer Science courses. To check courses by Indian IIT’s, please refer nptel site.

On Federal Education Governance

Kate Zernike

It is hard to find anyone more passionate about the idea of steering public dollars away from traditional public schools than Betsy DeVos, Donald J. Trump’s pick as the cabinet secretary overseeing the nation’s education system.

For nearly 30 years, as a philanthropist, activist and Republican fund-raiser, she has pushed to give families taxpayer money in the form of vouchers to attend private and parochial schools, pressed to expand publicly funded but privately run charter schools, and tried to strip teacher unions of their influence.

A daughter of privilege, she also married into it; her husband, Dick, who ran unsuccessfully for governor of Michigan a decade ago, is heir to the Amway fortune. Like many education philanthropists, she argues that children’s ZIP codes should not confine them to failing schools.

But Ms. DeVos’s efforts to expand educational opportunity in her home state of Michigan and across the country have focused little on existing public schools, and almost entirely on establishing newer, more entrepreneurial models to compete with traditional schools for students and money. Her donations and advocacy go almost entirely toward groups seeking to move students and money away from what Mr. Trump calls “failing government schools.”

Madison School District internal Transfer Report Fall 2016

Madison School District Administration (PDF):

At the elementary school level, the percentage of students living in each attendance area who transfer out of their attendance area ranges from a low of less than 1%, at Shorewood, to a high of 25.8%, at Mendota. Elementary schools with the most negative net transfers (net loss of students to internal transfer) are Mendota (-61), Schenk (-59), and Falk (-59). Schools with the highest net transfers (net gain of students to internal transfer) are Glendale (87), Shorewood (52), and Stephens (36). Mendota and Falk had less negative net transfers this year for the second year in a row (Fall 2014-15: Mendota (-106) and Fall 2015-16: Mendota (-88)). Glendale and Stephens had higher net transfers then last year (Fall 2015-16: Glendale (58) and Stephens (31)), while Shorewood had lower net internal transfer (Fall 2015-16: Shorewood (67)).

At the middle school level, the percentage of students living in each attendance area transferring to a different school ranges from a low of 3.4%, at Hamilton, to a high of 19.4%, at Sherman. The middle school with the most negative net transfers is Sherman (-35), Black Hawk (-32), and Cherokee (-31) and the schools with the highest are O’Keeffe (57) and Hamilton (31). The number of net leavers at Cherokee decreased from -56, the most negative during the 2015-16 school year and Hamilton decreased for the second year in a row, from 65 during the 2014-15 school year and 52 during the 2015-16 school year.

At the high school level, the percentage of students living in each attendance area who transfer out of their attendance area ranges from 5.6%, at West, to 8.5%, at Memorial, if we exclude students attending alternative programs. If we include students attending alternative programs as transfer students, then the percentage ranges from 8.6%, at West, to 16.1%, at East. The high school with the most net entering transfers was West (322) and the school with the most net leaving transfers was East (-128). This was similar to the previous school year with West increasing from 293 net incoming transfers and East decreasing from 129 net leaving transfers.

Madison Schools’ English Language Learner Monitoring Snapshot 2015-16

Madison School District Administration (PDF):

As part of MMSD’s Evaluation and Review Cycle, major plans in the district have an anual monitoring snapshot of simple and consistent quantitative data. This snapshot shows key characteristics of students in the group indicated above, as well as progress on Strategic Framework Milestones and indicators from the School Targeted Asistance Tol (STAT) system used to monitor schools during the year.

Madison School District Administration (PDF)

Some themes from the English Language Learner Annual Monitoring Review are:

The percentage of ELLs enrolled in the district increased in the past two years by 1% from 26% to 27%.

Spanish and Hmong continue to be the two top languages in the district.

There was an increase in the number of students reclassified to ELP level 6.

When the ACCESS test moved from paper-and-pencil to an online format, new cut scores were implemented. Therefore, we have a new baseline of data.

The demographic breakdowns for the ELL Student Demographic stayed uniform for the last two years. There is an increase of 1% in the students who qualify for special education services.

Participation in World Languages courses increased by 3% from 43% to 46%.

Out of school suspensions increased from 137 incidents to 180.

Chronic absenteeism decreased slightly from 17% to 16%.

Madison Schools’ Dual Language Learner Data Snapshot (PDF).

Modifications to the Madison School District Employee Handbook

Add an additional training day for new teachers (for a total of 3) to better meet the needs of
and provide information to staff new to the District.

Eliminate the language requiring a 10 day winter break and a 6 day spring break in order to provide flexibility when determining the school calendar.

Provide the District with discretion to add up to two additional professional development days during the school year as a means of offering more training opportunities without incurring additional costs.

Madison School District Administration (PDF):

Create language to provide for a $25 per hour rate for working on Central Office developed curriculum and attending Central Office professional development that is aligned to District priorities. The purpose of paying a higher hourly rate than the extended employment rate is to encourage participation and recognize the importance of Central Office curriculum work and professional development on District priorities.

Authenticity in the Age of the Fake

Phillip Ball:

Yet what if it were true that diamonds really can be manufactured? When GE revealed the discovery, the stock of the De Beers diamond cartel in South Africa, which dominated the global market, plummeted. It seemed like a rare and precious commodity was about to be supplanted by an artificial form that could be fabricated by the ton, mirroring a millennia-old concern about the devastating power of fakes. Concerns over the devaluation of gold currency led the Roman emperor Diocletian to ban alchemy in the third century, and worries about counterfeiting and debased coinage also lay behind the condemnations of the art by Pope John XXII in 1317 and of King Henry IV of England in 1403.

This, though, was no alchemy: The GE diamonds were perfect chemical replicas of the real thing. Was it the end of a billion-dollar market?

Is Engine of Innovation in Danger of Stalling?

Christopher Mims

This is a special time for technology. Five of the world’s seven most valuable companies are U.S. tech firms. But the core innovations underlying Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc., Microsoft Corp., Inc. and Facebook Inc. are decades old.

The transistor was born in the 1940s at AT&T’s Bell Labs. The internet was nurtured by the U.S. Defense Department in the 1960s. Many important, but less foundational inventions, such as GPS, were products of the Cold War.

Civics: Signal for Beginners

Martin Shelton

It’s not only convenient, but security experts recommend Signal for a few different reasons. Signal is end-to-end encrypted, meaning that no one but your device and conversational partner’s device can read the messages you send. The team behind the software, Open Whisper Systems, is a privacy-centered nonprofit and relies on grants and donations. Perhaps most importantly, Signal is open source, meaning that the code is publicly viewable. It can be examined for potential security holes, and has stood up to auditing. All of these features make Signal one of the best options for boosting your communication security.

Prediction will become free, the value of judgement will increase.

Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans and Avi Goldfarb:

Today we are seeing similar hype about machine intelligence. But once again, as economists, we believe some simple rules apply. Technological revolutions tend to involve some important activity becoming cheap, like the cost of communication or finding information. Machine intelligence is, in its essence, a prediction technology, so the economic shift will center around a drop in the cost of prediction.

The first effect of machine intelligence will be to lower the cost of goods and services that rely on prediction. This matters because prediction is an input to a host of activities including transportation, agriculture, healthcare, energy manufacturing, and retail.

When the cost of any input falls so precipitously, there are two other well-established economic implications. First, we will start using prediction to perform tasks where we previously didn’t. Second, the value of other things that complement prediction will rise.

Statistical Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Adrian Sampson

Computer scientists in systemsy fields, myself included, aren’t great at using statistics. Maybe it’s because there are so many other potential problems with empirical evaluations that solid statistical reasoning doesn’t seem that important. Other subfields, like HCI and machine learning, have much higher standards for data analysis. Let’s learn from their example.

Here are three kinds of avoidable statistics mistakes that I notice in published papers.

Wisconsin school-choice supporters cheer DeVos pick

Erin Richards:

With her deep ties to Wisconsin’s private-school choice movement and disdain for unions thwarting reforms, Betsy DeVos, president-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Education Secretary, was a name that sent shock waves through the state’s education circles Wednesday.

“It is completely jazzing the entire school-choice community nationwide,” said Jim Bender, president of advocacy group School Choice Wisconsin. “It’s like, game on.”

Gov. Scott Walker congratulated DeVos, whom he called his friend, on Twitter while Democratic Wisconsin Congressman Mark Pocan tweeted the nomination was “really bad news for public schools.”

DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, and both are heirs to the fortune amassed by Michigan-based direct sales company Amway, which was co-founded by Dick’s father, Richard DeVos. Betsy DeVos was active in Republican politics and has focused on schools as board chair of her national advocacy group, American Federation for Children, based in Washington, D.C. The group has funneled millions of dollars into campaigns around the country to elect school choice friendly lawmakers and to lobby aggressively for school choice legislation.

The Curse of the Modern Office

Kris de Decker

Our so-called information economy mainly serves to manage an ever faster, larger and more complex production and consumption system, of which we have only outsourced the manufacturing part.
 Consequently, without the information economy — without the office — the industrial system would collape. Without the industrial system, there would be no need for the information society or the office — in fact, office work could be like it was before 1850, when the biggest bank in the US was run by just three people with a quill. [1]
 The sustainable image of the information society — as contrasted to the dirty image of the industrial society — is built on an obsession with dividing energy use into different statistical categories, fiddling around with figures on electronic calculating tools. In other words, it’s a product of office work, hiding the true nature of office work.

Related: The Transportationist.

US auto industry installed 135,000 robots and added 230,000 jobs

Frank Tobe

In the last six years, (2010–2015), according to the IFR (International Federation of Robotics), US industry has installed around 135,000 new industrial robots. The principal driver is automation in the car industry. During this same period, (2010–2015), the number of employees in the automotive sector increased by 230,000.
 This news affirms the conclusions of a study conducted by the market research firm, Metra Martech, “Positive Impact of Industrial Robots on Employment,” that there will be growth in robot use over the next five years resulting in the creation of one million high-quality jobs around the world. “Robots, in addition to the auto industry, will help to create jobs in some of the most critical industries of this century: consumer electronics, food, solar & wind power, and advanced battery manufacturing to name just a few.”

After a decade on meth, a young woman tries to begin again. But will cancer cut her life short?

Naomi Martin:

Two months later, a judge learned of Monica’s relapse. She was sent to prison for violating probation from an earlier meth conviction.

Her time locked up was dark, but it forced her to stay clean. At night, she would lie awake, worrying about her cyst, imagining the cancer spreading. She asked to see a doctor, she says, but was never allowed. (The Texas Department of Criminal Justice would not comment, saying only that it provides all prisoners “comprehensive health care.”)

Now, she’s ready to start her life over. She has been out of prison three weeks, living at a Dallas shelter. She receives free health care in the parking lot, on a Parkland Memorial Hospital bus. It feels like a regular doctor’s office, with a sterile smell and fluorescent lighting. It’s just much smaller.

Are You Too Old to Be Brilliant?

Keith Sawyer

A new study gives us the answer: None of the above. There’s no relationship between age and creative scientific contribution. The authors of the study analyzed 2,856 physicists, working from 1893 to the present. They found that the best predictor of exceptional creativity is productivity. It’s lots of hard work. The scientists who do the most experiments, and test the most hypotheses, are the ones with the big contributions. The researchers found that once they’d controlled for productivity, age doesn’t add any additional predictive power.

The researchers identified a second variable that’s related to scientific impact: They called it Q, and it includes intelligence, motivation, openness to ideas, ability to write well. Another surprise: The variable Q doesn’t change over your career. (Otherwise, you’d be back to the theory that age predicts creativity.)

How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently

Maria Popova

“In disputes upon moral or scientific points,” Arthur Martine counseled in his magnificent 1866 guide to the art of conversation, “let your aim be to come at truth, not to conquer your opponent. So you never shall be at a loss in losing the argument, and gaining a new discovery.” Of course, this isn’t what happens most of the time when we argue, both online and off, but especially when we deploy the artillery of our righteousness from behind the comfortable shield of the keyboard. That form of “criticism” — which is really a menace of reacting rather than responding — is worthy of Mark Twain’s memorable remark that “the critic’s symbol should be the tumble-bug: he deposits his egg in somebody else’s dung, otherwise he could not hatch it.” But it needn’t be this way — there are ways to be critical while remaining charitable, of aiming not to “conquer” but to “come at truth,” not to be right at all costs but to understand and advance the collective understanding.

This Analysis Shows How Fake Election News Stories Outperformed Real News On Facebook

Craig Silverman

In the final three months of the US presidential campaign, the top-performing fake election news stories on Facebook generated more engagement than the top stories from major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, NBC News, and others, a BuzzFeed News analysis has found.

During these critical months of the campaign, 20 top-performing false election stories from hoax sites and hyperpartisan blogs generated 8,711,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook.

Within the same time period, the 20 best-performing election stories from 19 major news websites generated a total of 7,367,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook. (This analysis focused on the top performing link posts for both groups of publishers, and not on total site engagement on Facebook. For details on how we identified and analyzed the content, see the bottom of this post. View our data here.)

Public Universities Pay More Attention to Research Than Students –

Mikhail Zinshteyn

Since the 1970s, a “doom loop” has pervaded higher education, writes Christopher Newfield in his new book The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them. Newfield, a professor of American studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, calls this loop “privatization”—the hidden and overt ways that “business practices restructure teaching and research.”

It’s a cycle in which colleges spend more and more money chasing research projects, building luxury dorms and academic centers to attract wealthy students, and engaging in activities that compel them to compete against each other, rather than focus on their own students. Newfield says he saw this first-hand while serving on the University of California’s planning-and-budget committee.
One consequence, according to Newfield: After decades of public universities raising tuition, legislatures have learned to rely even more on tuition increases to enable them to cut funding for public higher education.

Families suffer, of course, but the long-term impact transcends that. “The converting of public funding into higher tuition focuses the student on assuring her future income to cover higher costs and debt,” he writes. At stake, he believes, is a citizenry that sees college not as a place for in-depth learning and inquiry, but as a means to economic security, forcing colleges to conduct themselves more like a business and less like a public good that all students can afford

Who Will Command Our Robot Armies?

Idle words

When John Allsopp invited me here, I told him how excited I was discuss a topic that’s been heavy on my mind: accountability in automated systems.

But then John explained that in order for the economics to work, and for it to make sense to fly me to Australia, there needed to actually be an audience.

So today I present to you my exciting new talk:

One City Early Learning 2016 Investors Report

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email (PDF):

Our children all come into the world with similar bright eyes. For most of them, it takes more than their parents to pave the way and light a path for them. Thank you for being a part of our children’s community of support. We are living our name – One City – because of you. It truly does take a village to raise a child.

Because of you and our growing community of supporters, we made great
progress in our first year of operation. It was quite the journey to get to where we are today, but with hundreds of helping hearts and hands pitching in their time, money and expertise to help us move One City from an idea to a reality, we were able to achieve many awesome milestones with our children, team, families and school.

At the same time, as with any new project, our pathway to success hasn’t always been easy or smooth. The development, opening and first year of One City was not without its challenges. In this report, we decided to do something different than you might typically see in an annual report. As an investor in One City, we want you to know about our accomplishments and how we are doing. We want you to know where we are succeeding, what we are learning, what our challenges are, and how we are addressing them. We also want you and others to learn with us: to learn about the development and operation of our preschool and the unique program and revenue model we are implementing.

“The need for entrepreneurs of all sorts to emerge is ever more urgent.

Steve Denning

Why are established organizations listing towards reliability and exploitation? Perhaps the clearest explanation came from Nicholas Colin, Associate Professor in business strategy, Université Paris-Dauphine, who pointed to the shifting power relationships between workers, executives, shareholders and customers.
 In the 1960s, Colin explained, workers were in a strong position. But in the 1970s, the situation changed. Capital was both more mobile and more concentrated and could now exert pressure on corporations and obtain higher returns over shorter periods.

MSU: Payment sought after employee, student data compromised

Matt Mencarini:

The affected database was accessed on Sunday and was taken offline within 24 hours of the hack, according to a university statement. The database contained about 400,000 records, but the university said records for only 449 people were confirmed to have been accessed.

University spokesman Jason Cody said the hacker or hackers sent an email to the university and “there was an attempt to extort money.” He added that the university didn’t pay any money and didn’t lose access to any affected records.

Cody said the email helped the university identify the breach and that he isn’t sure if there was additional communication from the hacker or hackers.

“They’ve got our home phone numbers, our cell numbers, our emails, our Facebook”

Betsy Russell

In U.S. history, only 157 electors have been “faithless” electors, failing to vote for the candidate their state endorsed.

Sixty-three of those came when Democratic nominee Horace Greeley died after the election in 1872 but before the electoral college convened; those 63 abstained.

The most recent incident of a faithless elector came in 2004, when one Minnesota elector voted for the same candidate for both president and vice president.

Most Students Don’t Know When News Is Fake, Stanford Study Finds

Sue Shellenbarger

Preteens and teens may appear dazzlingly fluent, flitting among social-media sites, uploading selfies and texting friends. But they’re often clueless about evaluating the accuracy and trustworthiness of what they find.

Some 82% of middle-schoolers couldn’t distinguish between an ad labeled “sponsored content” and a real news story on a website, according to a Stanford University study of 7,804 students from middle school through college. The study, set for release Tuesday, is the biggest so far on how teens evaluate information they find online. Many students judged the credibility of newsy tweets based on how much detail they contained or whether a large photo was attached, rather than on the source.

Reading skills are obviously important.

Fixing America’s Nearsighted Press Corps

Andrew McGill:

A critique is most devastating when it is true. The American journalistic class has certainly diverged sharply from the country it covers. In 1960, nearly a third of reporters and editors had never attended a single year of college; in 2015, only 8.3 percent could say the same, according to Census figures extracted with the help of the University of Minnesota’s IPUMS project. That year 46 percent of adults 25 and older nationwide had never attended a university.

Improve Your Writing With A Single Click – Altucher Confidential

james Altucher

The Flesch-Kincaid score determines what grade level you are writing. If your score is 10, you are writing at a 10th grade reading level. If your score is 12, you are writing at a 12th grade level. And so on.

The F-K score is calculated by words per sentence (lower is better), syllables per word (lower is better), and a few other factors.

Good sales writers aim for as low a level as possible. Anything greater than 8 is considered bad sales writing. People get fired over it.

Wannabe Data Scientists! Learn the basics with these 7 books!

Tomi Mester

In the last few years I spent a significant time with reading books about Data Science. I found these 7 books the best. These together are a very valuable source of learning the basics. It drives you through everything, you need to know.
Though they are very enjoyable, none of these is light reading. So if you decided to go with them, allocate some time and energy. It is worth it! If you combine this knowledge with the free practical data courses, that I wrote about earlier, it’s already a good-enough level for an entry level Data Scientist position. (In my opinion, at least.)

Universities’ Unfunded Pensions Exceed Debt

Rick Seltzer:

Unfunded pension liabilities are higher than capital-related debt at the country’s public universities, according to a report Moody’s Investors Service issued Friday.

Moody’s said adjusted net pension liabilities will represent more than 60 percent of total adjusted debt by the end of the 2017 fiscal year. Unfunded pension liabilities totaled more than $183 billion across the sector after two straight years of investment returns below actuarial assumptions and after contributions to funds have remained weak.

Currently, pension expenses are just 3 percent of universities’ reported expenses, Moody’s said. But it anticipated pension expenses rising along with liabilities, putting more pressure on university finances. Moody’s also predicted that some states will shift pension burdens onto universities by lowering allocations to pay for other operating expenses. Certain states that currently make some or all employer pension contributions on behalf of universities are at risk. Moody’s pointed to Illinois and New Jersey as having substantial unfunded pension liabilities and budget imbalances, while Oklahoma and West Virginia are under budget pressure because of low energy prices.

What American law professors forgot and what Trump knew

Stephen B. Presser:

It was lonely being a Donald Trump supporter in the legal academy. Of my thousands of colleagues teaching law in this country, I don’t think more than a few dozen believed that he would have made a better president than Hillary Clinton, and not more than a handful of us were willing to go public with our support.

It has always been a risk to be a Republican teaching in a law school, where many teachers see a thin line between support for the GOP and bigotry or insanity. And yet, enough Americans liked what they saw in Trump to give him a smashing Electoral College victory.

How did it come about that law professors grew so out of touch with much of America?

To a hammer everything looks like a nail, and to a law professor everything is a problem in jurisprudence. Accordingly, it’s my guess that the legal academy, over the past 80 years or so, began to wander too far from common sense, or, to be more precise, to depart from the essentials of the rule of law. Law professors forgot the most important notion that undergirds our legal system — the basic principle endorsed by the framers, that ours is a government of laws, not men (or women).

OAE’s and FIDS, Antarcticans Database Project – Pictures and Experiences

Cool Antarctica:

For some time I have had a section on this site where people who have worked in Antarctica in the past can register their details to find old friends, the links to the sections are in the margin to the right.

There are a couple of recurring themes I see from people who post their details looking for old friends they went south with other than wanting to re-make contacts.

1 – The first is that many have lost pictures that they used to have or simply didn’t have many in the first place and would like some for themselves or to show to friends and especially family who came along long after they left Antarctica.

Do you have pictures from your time in Antarctica that you would like to share that are maybe languishing in a drawer or cupboard somewhere? I am happy to assemble such pictures and publish them by location and date on (it will give me a reason to rearrange the ones I already have). If you can do this, then please send me scans that are large as possible (up to max 4000px in the largest dimension) as jpgs. I can clean them up to some degree (the cleaner they are to start with the better), adjust horizons and balance colour etc. before publication. The easiest way to send them is via DropBox, let me know when you are ready and I will create a folder and send you the link by email to upload your pictures, alternatively, they could be sent by email or dvd. Information with the pictures is also of great use, as much as possible. I can also scan a limited number of slides, though this will involve posting them here and back again.

Facebook, Google and now Verizon are accelerating their tracking efforts despite consumers’ privacy concerns

Jason Kint

Verizon has topped itself by playing Russian roulette with consumer trust in an attempt to compete with the advertising businesses of Google and Facebook. In an email announcement last Sunday night to select subscribers, Verizon signaled how it intends to compete with those two powerhouses, outlining its plan to combine offline information, such as postal address, email address and device type, with AOL browser cookies, Apple and Google advertising IDs, and their own unique identifier header. Coupled with all of their customers’ browsing history and app usage, this mass of customer data will make for a rich competitive product to Facebook and Google.

Civics: Facebook Is Collaborating With the Israeli Government to Determine What Should Be Censored

Glenn Greenwald

LAST WEEK, A MAJOR censorship controversy erupted when Facebook began deleting all posts containing the iconic photograph of the Vietnamese “Napalm Girl” on the ground that it violated the company’s ban on “child nudity.” Facebook even deleted a post from the prime minister of Norway, who posted the photograph in protest of the censorship. As outrage spread, Facebook ultimately reversed itself — acknowledging “the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time” — but this episode illustrated many of the dangers I’ve previously highlighted in having private tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google become the arbiters of what we can and cannot see.


Trump On Education, School Choice

Stephanie Saul

When it comes to predicting how President-elect Donald J. Trump’s administration will affect America’s schools and universities, education experts say they are struggling to read the tea leaves.

“The fundamental issue is that nobody really knows what the Trump administration is about” on education, said Frederick M. Hess, a conservative education policy expert. At a panel discussion in Washington last week, he joked that Mr. Trump’s trademark educational achievement thus far, creating the controversial Trump University, placed him in history alongside another president, Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the University of Virginia.

“He’s been all over the map on a number of these questions,” Mr. Hess, the director of education policy studies for the American Enterprise Institute, said during a panel discussion on Wednesday at the Shanker Institute, an education nonprofit.

Yes, You’re Right, Colleges Are Liberal Bubbles. Here’s the Data.

Shannon Najmabadi and Katherine Knott

ampuses tend to be viewed as enclaves of liberalism — bubbles or oases, depending on your view, set apart from the rest of America.

In the counties that are home to public flagship universities, only nine favored Donald J. Trump over Hillary Clinton, according to a Chronicle analysis of voting data. In the 49 counties included in the analysis, Mrs. Clinton beat Mr. Trump, on average, by about 18 percentage points. In counties with a public flagship, the percentage of voters favoring Mrs. Clinton was 11 points, on average, higher than her statewide percentage.

Suggestions for government, and other important matters; Reactionless Thrust?!

Jerry pournelle

The first is worth considering, but I would suggest it should be considered by the states, not the Federal Government, which ought to abandon the notion of telling the states how to educate their children. Wise states would then delegate that responsibility to local schools and locally elected school boards. Most would not adopt your proposed curriculum, but a few might. It would be worthwhile establishing such a school as a voluntary magnet in the District of Columbia (Congress certainly has that power) as example for the states to consider. There is no chance that the Congress would impose such a classic curriculum on all schools everywhere, and such a Federal imposition would rightly be considered an act of tyranny. Of course you know that.

Dictating to everyone because the government knows what’s best is not constitutional even when what is dictated may be wise and certainly better that current practice, and would not have the consent of the governed.

Nebraska school urges students not to fly American flags on their cars, ‘out of an abundance of caution’

Eugene Volokh:

I think having more legal immigration to America is important to continued American greatness. (I say this as an immigrant myself, but I think non-immigrants have reason to take the same view.) But if immigration means reduction in our rights as Americans — the right to fly American flags, whether as a sign of patriotism or as an expression of sentiments critical of immigration, the right to own guns, or other rights — then those costs to freedom may well outweigh the benefits that immigration might provide.

If our leaders make clear that they will act boldly to defend our rights, whether against threats from recent immigrants (or the children of recent immigrants) or from the native-born, then we might feel that our rights will indeed remain secure. But if their reaction is to urge people to refrain from exercising their rights, “out of an abundance of caution” — on the theory that flying our country’s flags might yield “personal confrontation or property damage” because it “could be misinterpreted in light of the divisive election and anxiety like that expressed by Nebraska Latinos in a recent news story” — then we have legitimate cause to worry about the consequences of immigration for our freedoms.

Geologists discover how a tectonic plate sank

Quantum Bits

New information about conditions that can cause Earth’s tectonic plates to sink into the earth has been released in a new report.

In a paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) Saint Louis University researchers report new information about conditions that can cause Earth’s tectonic plates to sink.

John Encarnacion, Ph.D., professor of earth and atmospheric sciences at SLU, and Timothy Keenan, a graduate student, are experts in tectonics and hard rock geology, and use geochemistry and geochronology coupled with field observations to study tectonic plate movement.

Progress Isn’t Natural

Joel Mokyr

How and why did the modern world and its unprecedented prosperity begin? Many bookshelves are full of learned tomes by historians, economists, political philosophers and other erudite scholars with endless explanations. One way of looking at the question is by examining something basic, and arguably essential: the emergence of a belief in the usefulness of progress.

Such a belief may seem self-evident today, but most people in the more-remote past believed that history moved in some kind of cycle or followed a path that was determined by higher powers. The idea that humans should and could work consciously to make the world a better place for themselves and for generations to come is by and large one that emerged in the two centuries between Christopher Columbus and Isaac Newton. Of course, just believing that progress could be brought about is not enough—one must bring it about. The modern world began when people resolved to do so.

Jefferson’s legacy is worth defending

Robert Turner:

At the risk of offending 469 University faculty colleagues and students who protest University President Teresa Sullivan’s practice of quoting University founder Thomas Jefferson “in light of Jefferson’s owning of slaves and other racist beliefs,” I would submit another Jefferson quote:

“This institution [the University] will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.”

Jefferson did not want to suppress “error,” but to allow competing claims to the truth to do battle in the intellectual marketplace of ideas. We call that “academic freedom.”

Facts affirm the wisdom of Jefferson’s vision in this instance. Censoring Sullivan’s references to Jefferson would impoverish our students and faculty alike, and — as is so often the case with censorship advocates — it is premised upon ignorance.

Police are using software to predict crime. Is it a ‘holy grail’ or biased against minorities?

Justin Jouvenal:

Sgt. Charles Coleman popped out of his police SUV and scanned a trash-strewn street popular with the city’s homeless, responding to a crime that hadn’t yet happened.

It wasn’t a 911 call that brought the Los Angeles Police Department officer to this spot, but a whirring computer crunching years of crime data to arrive at a prediction: An auto theft or burglary would probably occur near here on this particular morning.

Hoping to head it off, Coleman inspected a line of ramshackle RVs used for shelter by the homeless, roused a man sleeping in a pickup truck and tapped on the side of a shack made of plywood and tarps.

“How things going, sweetheart?” he asked a woman who ambled out. Coleman listened sympathetically as she described how she was nearly raped at knifepoint months earlier, saying the area was “really tough” for a woman.

Soon, Coleman was back in his SUV on his way to fight the next pre-crime. Dozens of other LAPD officers were doing the same at other spots, guided by the crime prognostication system known as PredPol.

Confirmed: The U.S. Census Bureau Gave Up Names of Japanese-Americans in WW II

JR Finkel

Despite decades of denials, government records confirm that the U.S. Census Bureau provided the U.S. Secret Service with names and addresses of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
The Census Bureau surveys the population every decade with detailed questionnaires but is barred by law from revealing data that could be linked to specific individuals. The Second War Powers Act of 1942 temporarily repealed that protection to assist in the roundup of Japanese-Americans for imprisonment in internment camps in California and six other states during the war. The Bureau previously has acknowledged that it provided neighborhood information on Japanese-Americans for that purpose, but it has maintained that it never provided “microdata,” meaning names and specific information about them, to other agencies.

Higher Education Hysteria

George Will:

Academia should consider how it contributed to, and reflects Americans’ judgments pertinent to, Donald Trump’s election. The compound of childishness and condescension radiating from campuses is a reminder to normal Americans of the decay of protected classes — in this case, tenured faculty and cosseted students.

As “bias-response teams” fanned out across campuses, an incident report was filed about a University of Northern Colorado student who wrote “free speech matters” on one of 680 “#languagematters” posters that cautioned against politically incorrect speech. Catholic DePaul University denounced as “bigotry” a poster proclaiming “Unborn Lives Matter.” Bowdoin College provided counseling to students traumatized by the cultural appropriation committed by a sombrero-and-tequila party. Oberlin College students said they were suffering breakdowns because schoolwork was interfering with their political activism. California State University at Los Angeles established “healing” spaces for students to cope with the pain caused by a political speech delivered three months earlier . Indiana University experienced social-media panic (“Please PLEASE PLEASE be careful out there tonight”) because a Catholic priest in a white robe, with a rope-like belt and rosary beads, was identified as someone “in a KKK outfit holding a whip.”

A doctoral dissertation at the University of California at Santa Barbara uses “feminist methodologies” to understand how Girl Scout cookie sales “reproduce hegemonic gender roles.” The journal GeoHumanities explores how pumpkins reveal “racial and class coding of rural versus urban places.” Another journal’s article analyzes “the relationships among gender, science, and glaciers.” A Vassar College lecture “theorizes oscillating relations between disciplinary, pre-emptive and increasingly prehensive forms of power that shape human and non-human materialities in Palestine.”

Milwaukee College Prep sets impressive mark

Alan Borsuk:

We need to talk about Milwaukee College Prep. In fact, however much people have talked about this set of four charter schools over the years, we need to talk about Milwaukee College Prep more and more — and learn more and more from what the success of these schools.

There was an amazing fact within the mountain of school reports cards released by the state Department of Public Instruction on Thursday, namely this:

Five schools in Milwaukee were given the five-star top rating, also known as “significantly succeeds expectations.”

One of them was Cooper School, a Milwaukee Public Schools kindergarten through eighth-grade school at 5143 S. 21st St. Cooper is a very good school with a praiseworthy track record of striving to get better in innovative ways, including drawing on outside help that has been beneficial. In 2015-’16, Cooper had 421 students, 60% of them “economically disadvantaged” and 22% having disabilities. Half of the students were white, a third Hispanic.

Locally, Madison continues with it’s non diverse K-12 structure.

TV And Videogames Rewire Young Brains, For Better And Worse

Jon Hamilton

There’s new evidence that excessive screen time early in life can change the circuits in a growing brain.

Scientists disagree, though, about whether those changes are helpful, or just cause problems. Both views emerged during the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego this week.

The debate centered on a study of young mice exposed to six hours daily of a sound and light show reminiscent of a video game. The mice showed “dramatic changes everywhere in the brain,” said Jan-Marino Ramirez, director of the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Curated Education Information