Commentary On The Rigor Of Los Angeles Schools’ Credit Recovery Courses

Los Angeles Times:

The big issue is the lack of accountability. The district has a vested interest in raising graduation rates and making the A-G policy look good. But who checks that students are getting enough online coursework to receive a meaningful education? Who sets the standard, if there is any standard, for the minimum amount of work that must be put into an online course to receive credit?

A UC official also was surprised to learn that students might be pre-testing out of most of the units in any course. Monica Lin, associate director for undergraduate admissions, said UC doesn’t supervise how local school districts use their courses and doesn’t have the time and resources to conduct regular audits even if it wanted to. She added that the university would reconsider approval if it knew that large numbers of students were pre-testing their way through most of the course.

Her instincts are right. If large numbers of students are indeed testing out of significant portions of these courses — which is difficult to ascertain — and if they’re skipping writing assignments on a regular basis, then those students are being done a serious disservice. If they’re just reading one book in a year in what’s supposed to be the equivalent of a junior-year English course, that’s unacceptable too — and raises worrisome questions about the rest of the credit-recovery courses being offered as well.

Our kids can’t read, but we’re talking about haircuts

Citizen Stewart::

I remembered Iverson last week when I saw the major league dragging Dr. Steve Perry got after suggesting in Tweets that a group of young black men had been made job-ready by scalping themselves and getting tight fade lines.

Charges of respectability politics ricocheted and Perry stood thigh high in Twittershit.

Race hashtagger Jose Vilson took it home in a post on Medium. He accused Perry of being an anti-black charlatan. The piece was called “How Dr. Steve Perry Sells Black Kids To The Highest Bidder.” Vilson isn’t clear on who Perry is selling black kids to, or who is bidding on them, but his argument boils down to this: Perry brags too much about his supposed success, and celebrities with no classroom experience eat far too much of it.


Sorry, Everyone: The American Middle Class Is Winning

David Harsanyi:

According to research by Stephen Rose at the Urban Institute, in 1979 38 percent of families in the United States were in the middle class compared to only 32 percent in 2014. Despite the endless political chatter about stagnant wages, Rose adjusted thresholds for inflation going back to 1979 and found that those moving into the middle class were earning more, and earning it through contemporary middle-class vocations.

Making the Grade in America’s Cities: Assessing Student Achievement in Urban Districts

Kristan Blagg:

Many US education reform efforts have focused on the performance of students in large, urban school districts. Compared with their suburban and rural counterparts, urban school districts enroll larger proportions of students of color, and more of their students are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch (Sable, Plotts, and Mitchell 2010). Moreover, the achievement gap is larger within large city districts than for public school districts nationally. For example, on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in 2015, the average gap between black and white student scores was 20 percent larger in large city districts, and the gap between Hispanic students and white students was nearly 25 percent larger.

Recognizing the importance of understanding student achievement in large cities, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has conducted biennial assessments of fourth- and eighth-grade reading and mathematics, known as the Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) program, since 2002. The TUDA, which assessed 21 school districts in 2015, is an extension of the NAEP assessment program the “Nation’s Report Card,” which also provides national and state data on student achievement.

Analysis: NY Senate Blasts Mayor De Blasio on School Oversight, While Tossing Lifeline to NYC’s Charters

Derrel Bradford:

An opening observation: Folks who are normally violently opposed over education reform or the pace of change in the city’s schools were, oddly, aligned on this year’s extension.

Supporters of charter schools and school choice, for instance, who have little reason to support Mayor Bill de Blasio as he implements an agenda many of us deem anemic, supported an extension of his authority. Like Churchill once offered about democracy, mayoral control is the worst form of governance…except for all the others.

What We Cannot Know

The Economist:

field of mathematics. If people cannot know everything about the physical world, then perhaps they can at least rely on mathematical truth? But even here there are limits. Mathematicians have shown that some theorems have proofs so long that it would take the lifetime of the universe to finish them. And no mathematical system is complete: as Kurt Gödel, an Austrian logician, showed in the 1930s, there are always true statements that the system is not strong enough to prove.

Where does this leave us? In the end, Mr du Sautoy has an optimistic message. There may be things people will never know, but they don’t know what they are. And ultimately, it is the desire to know the unknown that inspires humankind’s search for knowledge in the first place.

The Greek clock

The Universe of Discourse:

In former times, the day was divided into twenty-four hours, but they were not of equal length. During the day, an hour was one-twelfth of the time from sunrise to sunset; during the night, it was one-twelfth of the time from sunset to sunrise. So the daytime hours were all equal, and the nighttime hours were all equal, but the daytime hours were not equal to the nighttime hours, except on the equinoxes, or at the equator. In the summer, the day hours were longer and the night hours shorter, and in the winter, vice versa.

Some years ago I suggested, as part of the Perl Quiz of the Week, that people write a greektime program that printed out the time according to a clock that divided the hours in this way. You can, of course, spend a lot of time and effort downloading and installing CPAN astronomical modules to calculate the time of sunrise and sunset, and reading manuals and doing a whole lot of stuff. But if you are content with approximate times, you can use some delightful shortcuts.

First, let’s establish what the problem is. We’re going to take the conventional time labels (“12:35” and so forth) and adjust them so that half of them take up the time from sunrise to sunset and the other half go from sunset to sunrise. Some will be stretched, and some squeezed. 01:00 in this new system will no longer mean “3600 seconds after midnight”, but rather “exactly 7/12 of the way between sunset and sunrise”.


Why Handwriting Is Still Essential in the Keyboard Age

Perri Klass:

But can we actually stimulate children’s brains by helping them form letters with their hands? In a population of low-income children, Dr. Dinehart said, the ones who had good early fine-motor writing skills in prekindergarten did better later on in school. She called for more research on handwriting in the preschool years, and on ways to help young children develop the skills they need for “a complex task” that requires the coordination of cognitive, motor and neuromuscular processes.

“This myth that handwriting is just a motor skill is just plain wrong,” Dr. Berninger said. “We use motor parts of our brain, motor planning, motor control, but what’s very critical is a region of our brain where the visual and language come together, the fusiform gyrus, where visual stimuli actually become letters and written words.” You have to see letters in “the mind’s eye” in order to produce them on the page, she said. Brain imaging shows that the activation of this region is different in children who are having trouble with handwriting.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Trust in government: 1958-2015


The public’s trust in the federal government continues to be at historically low levels. Only 19% of Americans today say they can trust the government in Washington to do what is right “just about always” (3%) or “most of the time” (16%).

Trust – 1Fewer than three-in-ten Americans have expressed trust in the federal government in every major national poll conducted since July 2007 – the longest period of low trust in government in more than 50 years. In 1958, when the American National Election Study first asked this question, 73% said they could trust the government just about always or most of the time.

Galbraith unveils $45.4 million plan for free state college tuition

Jasper Craven:

The plan would grant free tuition to the five state colleges — including Vermont Technical College — while offering free or reduced tuition for University of Vermont students who qualify for Pell Grants.

Galbraith said free tuition would keep more young people in the Green Mountain State. He added that the plan would reduce or eliminate college debt for many, which he said could spur investments in homes and create new Vermont families.

If enacted, the plan would be available to all Vermont high school graduates, roughly 8,000 students.

The $45.4 million required to pay for tuition would come mostly from repealing tax breaks for the wealthy.

Galbraith has identified a handful of tax breaks he vowed to end as governor, totaling $25.4 million in annual state revenue. The largest chunk of tax revenue — $4 million — would come from applying Vermont sales tax to online cloud-based services.

He would get an additional $2 million by scrapping the Vermont Employment Growth Incentive, which rewards businesses financially for staying in the state. Galbraith would instead like to see VEGI money allocated as loans

Ten Simple Rules for Effective Statistical Practice

PLOS Computational Biology:

A big difference between inexperienced users of statistics and expert statisticians appears as soon as they contemplate the uses of some data. While it is obvious that experiments generate data to answer scientific questions, inexperienced users of statistics tend to take for granted the link between data and scientific issues and, as a result, may jump directly to a technique based on data structure rather than scientific goal. For example, if the data were in a table, as for microarray gene expression data, they might look for a method by asking, “Which test should I use?” while a more experienced person would, instead, start with the underlying question, such as, “Where are the differentiated genes?” and, from there, would consider multiple ways the data might provide answers. Perhaps a formal statistical test would be useful, but other approaches might be applied as alternatives, such as heat maps or clustering techniques. Similarly, in neuroimaging, understanding brain activity under various experimental conditions is the main goal; illustrating this with nice images is secondary. This shift in perspective from statistical technique to scientific question may change the way one approaches data collection and analysis. After learning about the questions, statistical experts discuss with their scientific collaborators the ways that data might answer these questions and, thus, what kinds of studies might be most useful. Together, they try to identify potential sources of variability and what hidden realities could break the hypothesized links between data and scientific inferences; only then do they develop analytic goals and strategies. This is a major reason why collaborating with statisticians can be helpful, and also why the collaborative process works best when initiated early in an investigation. See Rule 3.

‘There’s a mathematical angle to almost anything’

Hannah Fry:

Dr Hannah Fry is quickly becoming the UK’s best-known mathematician, having appeared as an expert and presenter on BBC4’s Climate Change by Numbers, Radio 4’s The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry, and City in the Sky, an in-depth study of the aviation industry, currently on BBC2. Far from being a mere pop scientist, however, Fry is a much-published researcher and a lecturer at UCL’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA), where she specialises in the mathematics of urban and social systems. After gaining her PhD in fluid dynamics five years ago, she has published papers combining mathematics with criminology and architecture, as well as her 2015 book The Mathematics of Love, which applies statistical and data-scientific models to dating, sex and marriage. The accompanying TED talk has been viewed nearly 4 million times.

In City in the Sky, you look at the maths behind the aviation industry. Are you concerned about the way that industry is expanding?
Passenger numbers are set to double over the next 20 years, so there are definitely challenges facing the industry. We do have a section [in the show] looking at where air travel might go in the future: electric-powered planes is one thing and smaller planes are more efficient, surprisingly. It is astonishing that there are a million people in the air at any one time and sustaining that does require international co-operation on a scale that you really don’t see in other settings.

On Chomsky and the Two Cultures of Statistical Learning


I take Chomsky’s points to be the following:

Statistical language models have had engineering success, but that is irrelevant to science.

Accurately modeling linguistic facts is just butterfly collecting; what matters in science (and specifically linguistics) is the underlying principles.

Statistical models are incomprehensible; they provide no insight.

Statistical models may provide an accurate simulation of some phenomena, but the simulation is done completely the wrong way; people don’t decide what the third word of a sentence should be by consulting a probability table keyed on the previous two words, rather they map from an internal semantic form to a syntactic tree-structure, which is then linearized into words. This is done without any probability or statistics.
Statistical models have been proven incapable of learning language; therefore language must be innate, so why are these statistical modelers wasting their time on the wrong enterprise?

Education and the election: it’s still all about the money

Lucy Clark:

A legally blind Indigenous boy who started at Merrylands broken, angry, having suffered unthinkable life trauma, who has been turned around by targeted teaching and individual attention, now thriving. Another student with no family support structure, who is finally able to come to school, able to engage with learning, able to locate some hope in his life.
Or the refugee kids who were too scared to come to school now eager to learn. Or the teachers making time after school to teach literacy and numeracy to parents who don’t speak English. Or the immigrant parents walking into a university for the first time in their lives, to see where their children are going to go. All thanks to extra resources funded by Gonski money.
This is the heart of equity in education for the school’s principal, Lila Mularczyk, who has overseen a wholesale cultural change at her low-SES high-LBOTE (language background other than English)school. Merrylands has introduced individual learning plans for each student, special engagement teams to work with children in need and increased professional learning for staff

Why isn’t the fundamental theorem of arithmetic obvious?


Answer 1. If you think it’s obvious, then you’re probably assuming what you need to prove.

If you say, “we can simply work out its prime factorization,” you are already assuming that that factorization is unique. Otherwise, you would have had to say, “we can simply work out a prime factorization for it”. Of course, if you say it that way, it suddenly doesn’t seem quite as obvious that there’s only one. If you’re trying to argue that it’s obvious and you ever utter the phrase, “the prime factorization,” then you are begging the question, since implicit in those words is the assertion that there is only one prime factorization.

I worried people would forget about me’: can teenagers survive without social media?

Rosie Ifould:

In 2001, the US author Marc Prensky invented the term “digital native” to describe the post-millennial generation who would grow up in an online world. “Our students today are all ‘native speakers’ of the digital language of computers, video games and the internet,” he wrote. The term quickly became shorthand for describing the experience of children and adolescents, but it also became open to misinterpretation.

Wayne State drops math as general ed requirement

David Jesse:

Wayne State University has subtracted mathematics from the list of classes all students must take to graduate.

Up until now, students had to take one of three different math classes before they could earn their degree.

Now, depending on their major, students may be able to squeak through college without taking math. The university is leaving it up to the individual departments to decide whether math will be a required part of a degree’s curriculum.

That means the nursing program will be responsible for setting one level of math students must pass in order to graduate, while the journalism department could set a completely different standard.

“We felt the math requirement was better left to the various programs and majors to decide and to decide what levels of mathematics would be needed,” Monica Brockmeyer, associate provost for student success, told the Free Press.. “We still continue to support mathematics at Wayne State.”

Indeed, in a note sent out late last month to students announcing the change, the university said it “strongly encouraged” students to take mathematics as an elective. The note said two of the foundation classes are still important to take for students looking to go into STEM fields and that the Mathematics in Today’s World class “does an excellent job in introducing students to many important applications of mathematics.”

Related: Math Forum.

Will the Internet Make Most Languages Go Extinct?

Alex Mayasi:

If you ever find yourself at an Internet cafe in the Middle East, you may be surprised to find that you can read the letters on people’s screens—even if you don’t know Arabic.

It’s not just that many young people write in English. It’s that they often text and email in Arabic using latin characters. Rather than write مبروك, which means congratulations, they’ll write “mabrook.” They simply transliterate every word, writing Arabic in the same alphabet that English uses. Many shop signs in capital cities like Cairo and Amman do the same.

Observing this while living in Cairo, this author wondered whether the use of Arabic script would decline, like cursive writing in the United States.

A number of nonprofits and scholars are devoted to studying and protecting the world’s linguistic diversity. They focus on languages with dwindling numbers of native speakers, and try to preserve a record of tongues that die out.

Why Are Mexican Teachers Being Jailed for Protesting Education Reform?

David Bacon:

On Sunday night, June 12, as Ruben Nuñez, head of Oaxaca’s teachers union, was leaving a meeting in Mexico City, his car was overtaken and stopped by several large king-cab pickup trucks. Heavily armed men in civilian clothes exited and pulled him, another teacher, and a taxi driver from their cab, and then drove them at high speed to the airport. Nuñez was immediately flown over a thousand miles north to Hermosillo, Sonora, and dumped into a high-security federal lockup.

Just hours earlier, unidentified armed agents did the same thing in Oaxaca itself, taking prisoner Francisco Villalobos, the union’s second-highest officer, and flying him to the Hermosillo prison as well. Villalobos was charged with having stolen textbooks a year ago. Nuñez’s charges are still unknown.

Both joined Aciel Sibaja, who’s been sitting in the same penitentiary since April 14. Sibaja’s crime? Accepting dues given voluntarily by teachers across Oaxaca. Sección 22, the state teachers union, has had to collect dues in cash since last July, when state authorities froze not only the union’s bank accounts but even the personal ones of its officers. Sibaja was responsible for keeping track of the money teachers paid voluntarily, which the government called “funds from illicit sources.”

Undercommoning within, against and beyond the university-as-such

undercommon collective:

No specter is haunting the university; the university is haunting us.

While we are accustomed to imagining “the university” as an enlightening institution that works in the public interest, we, The Undercommoning Project, hold that: in an age of skyrocketing tuition prices, soaring student debt, the hyperexploitation of precarious service workers, the proliferation of highly-paid senior administrative positions and the increased commercialization and corporatization of higher education, universities today are anything but a public good.

Indeed, we insist the university-as-such has never been a bastion of progress, learning, and fairness; it has always excluded individuals and communities on the basis of race, class, gender, sexuality, citizenship and politics. Indeed, it is implicated in the past and present of slavery and colonial genocide in North America.

Inside the growing movement against campus militarization

Shane Burley:

As the student leaders of the Portland State Student Union, or PSUSU, began leading chants to “disarm” the university, hundreds of students and community leaders had already begun circling the steps of the library. The rally was the meeting point for a planned student and faculty “walkout” on May 10, where more than 400 students promised to leave class to protest the Board of Trustees’ decision to arm campus police officers — which organizers see as just a piece of the larger trend towards the militarization of police officers around the country.

“Our incarceration system is a continuation of slavery,” said Portland Jobs With Justice coalition organizer Andrea Lemoins. “It targets people of color. It targets people in the LGBTQ community. It targets people who are traditionally oppressed, and we are here fighting oppression.”

Portland Jobs With Justice, which is an action coalition of over a hundred community groups and unions, was only one of the dozens of community sponsors that endorsed PSUSU’s campaign to confront the use of lethal armaments on the urban campus for the state university.

Quality control has failed to keep pace with the growth of science.

Jerome Ravetz:

As noted already in the Guardian’s science pages, there is no lack of initiatives to tackle science’s crisis in all its aspects, from reproducibility to the abuse of metrics, to the problems of peer review. This gives good grounds for hope that the crisis will eventually be resolved, and that it will not become a general crisis of trust in science. Should that occur, and ‘science’ ceases to be a key cultural symbol of both truth and probity, along with material beneficence, then the consequences could be far-reaching. To that end, we should consider what lies behind the malpractices whose exposure has triggered the crisis over the last decade.

It is clear that a combination of circumstances can go far to explain what has gone wrong. Systems of controls and rewards that had evolved under earlier conditions have in many ways become counterproductive, producing perverse incentives that become increasingly difficult for scientists to withstand. Our present problems can be explained partly by the transformation from the ‘little science’ of the past to the ‘big science’ or ‘industrialised science’ of the present. But this explanation raises a problem: if the corrupting pressures are the result of the structural conditions of contemporary science, can they be nullified in the absence of a significant change in those conditions?

We should explore how these new conditions lead to these new pressures. There are two familiar qualitative aspects of the steady quantitative growth of the scientific enterprise. The first is the loss of ‘Gemeinschaft’, where all communities and sub-communities have become so large that personal acquaintance no longer dominates in the professional relationships. The old informal systems of rewards and sanctions are no longer effective. Under the new ‘Gesellschaft’ conditions, such intimate tasks of governance must be made ‘objective’. Ironically, applying a ‘scientific’ methodology to the tasks of governance of science leads directly to corruption, since any such system can be gamed. Allied to that development is a second one, the hugely increased capital-intensity of science, so that the typical context of discovery is no longer the scientist with his test-tube, but a large lab with division of labour on an industrial scale. In the absence of the discipline of customers for a product (however corrupted that might be), there is nothing to ensure quality control except those informal systems that are already obsolete.

Some charter schools close in wake of Ohio reform law

Associated Press:

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown on Monday asked federal regulators to examine how Ohio charter schools that received money through a grant program stack up against their counterparts in other states before giving the state any more money.

In a letter to Education Secretary John King, the Democrat said he remains concerned Ohio charter schools lack adequate oversight.

“Ohio’s current lack of oversight wastes taxpayer’s money and undermines the ostensible goal of charters: providing more high-quality education opportunities for children,” Brown wrote. “There exists a pattern of waste, fraud and abuse that is far too common and requires extra scrutiny.”

Boffins achieve breakthrough’ in random number generation

Katyanna Quach:

method of generating random numbers that could shake up computer encryption.

University of Texas computer science professor David Zuckerman and PhD student Eshan Chattopadhyay have found that a “high-quality” random number could be generated by combining two “low-quality” random sources.

You can read their report, Explicit Two-Source Extractors and Resilient Functions, here.

Random number generation is used for a variety of applications including cryptography and scientific modelling.

Turkish students up in arms over Islamization of education


Development Party (AKP) took power in 2002, Turkey has had six education ministers, each of whom made major changes to the education system, some argue to turn students into guinea pigs. The most significant change, bulldozed through parliament amid fistfights and protests in March 2012, expanded the imam-hatip religious schools and introduced Quranic studies and the life of the Prophet Muhammad as elective courses in public schools, among other changes. The opposition has long decried the Islamization of education, while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted on raising a “devout generation,” lauding imam-hatip schools, which train Muslim clergy and offer extensive Quranic studies.

The limited value of a computer science education

thoughts from the red planet:

There are people who take the extreme positions, that a computer science education is totally useless or that a computer science education is completely essential. My position is that a computer science education is overvalued, though not useless. The vast majority of what a programmer does, forming good abstractions and avoiding complexity, is almost completely untouched by computer science curriculums.

A handful of times in my career, I encountered problems which I don’t think I would have solved without my computer science education. These all related to algorithms in distributed systems that required formal proofs to be confident of their correctness. These few cases happened to be critical to their respective systems – for example, this algorithm is what made Storm possible. So in that sense, I personally have gotten a lot of benefit from my computer science education.

Do Schools Matter for High Math Achievement? Evidence from the American Mathematics Competitions

Glenn Ellison and
Ashley Swanson

This paper uses data from the American Mathematics Competitions to examine the rates at which different high schools produce high-achieving math students. There are large differences in the frequency with which students from seemingly similar schools reach high achievement levels. The distribution of unexplained school effects includes a thick tail of schools that produce many more high-achieving students than is typical. Several additional analyses suggest that the differences are not primarily due to unobserved differences in student characteristics. The differences are persistent across time, suggesting that differences in the effectiveness of educational programs are not primarily due to direct peer effects.

“location-related searches are growing 50% faster than all mobile searches”

Linda Kinstler:

Of all Google searches, says McClendon, approximately 30% are local in nature, and 10% are maps- related. These days, the company reports, location-related searches are growing 50% faster than all mobile searches. In 2013, a report commissioned by Google estimated that the value of Geo services is between $150 to $270 billion in revenue annually—in addition to 1.1 billion hours saved per year by keeping people from getting lost or “avoiding wasted journey time.”

Walter Reuther’s careful management of shop-floor politics shapes the UAW’s relationship to student workers today.

Barry Edlin:

Things are looking up for student worker unionism. For decades, the legions of graduate and undergraduate teaching and research assistants whose labor is critical to the daily functioning of universities have fought to establish a basic claim: the work they do is, in fact, work — it’s not just part of their education.

Now, it appears likely that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) will rule later this year that these workers are in fact workers, and therefore entitled to union protections.

The decision would overturn the board’s 2004 Brown decision, which declared that student workers at private universities were students, not workers, and therefore ineligible to unionize. (Student workers at public universities in several states have had collective bargaining rights for decades, while other states prohibit any public sector workers from unionizing.)

This would be a long-overdue step forward for workers’ rights in academia. As university administrations model themselves more and more on corporations, and universities rely more and more on contingent labor, unions have become critically important for those in their employ.

The Canon Is Sexist, Racist, Colonialist, and Totally Gross. Yes, You Have to Read It Anyway.

Katy Waldman

Hello, Yale students. It’s me, a random internet writer. I have some unfortunate news for you, but first, let me step back and catch everybody up.

Recently, the requirements for the Yale English major have come under fire. To fulfill the major as it currently stands, a student must take either the two-part “major English poets” sequence—which spans Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Donne, Milton, Pope, Wordsworth, and Eliot—or four equivalent courses on the same dead white men. Inspired in part by articles in the Yale Daily News and Down magazine, Elis have crafted a petition exhorting the college to “decolonize” its English curriculum. Their demands: abolish the major English poets cycle and revise the remaining requirements “to deliberately include literatures relating to gender, race, sexuality, ableism, and ethnicity.” “It is your responsibility as educators to listen to student voices,” the letter concludes. “We have spoken. We are speaking. Pay attention.”

Letter: Tony Evers did not object to DOJ dropping DPI as a client in lawsuit

Molly Beck:

But in a May 25 letter to Walker’s office, DPI’s chief legal counsel, Janet Jenkins, said Evers had no objection to DOJ withdrawing from a federal lawsuit over a transportation dispute with a private school in Hartford.

“I don’t think he objected to them withdrawing but objected to the manner with which they withdrew,” DPI spokesman Tom McCarthy said Friday when asked about the letter.

While Evers did not object to DOJ’s withdrawal, Jenkins did inform the governor’s office of the DOJ’s handling of the case — noting in a May 16 letter that DOJ told DPI it would no longer represent the agency in the case three days before the deadline to respond to the lawsuit’s complaint and that DOJ would not provide details to DPI about why representation was discontinued.

The Work of Humanities


A few weeks ago, the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations celebrated its 50th anniversary, alongside 60 years for The Committee on Southern Asian Studies, and more generally a record of excellence in research on South Asia dating back to the foundation of University of Chicago in 1892.

These are good times for the study of India at the University of Chicago. Just two years ago, with much fanfare, the University opened a Center at Delhi (to go along with other global centers in Paris, Beijing etc.). A few years before that the Indian Cultural Ministry put in $1.5 million to install the Vivekananda Visiting Chair. Earlier this year, was another major gift– The Anupama and Guru Ramakrishnan Professorship in Sanskrit Studies– a Chair that will be held by Gary Tubb.

At Texas A & M, Diversity Increases Without Affirmative Action

Matthew Watkins & Neena Satija:

But a surprising shift has occurred at A&M over the last decade. Despite its reluctance to formally consider the race of its applicants, the university has worked hard to convince black and Hispanic students to apply and enroll. Since 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the legality of affirmative action in college admissions, A&M has continued not using it, yet the share of black and Hispanic students has more than doubled at its College Station campus — from 10.8 percent to 23.1 percent.

Civics: Venezuelans Ransack Stores as Hunger Grips the Nation

Nicholas Casey:

Economsts say years of economic mismanagement — worsened by low prices for oil, the nation’s main source of revenue — have shattered the food supply.

Sugar fields in the country’s agricultural center lie fallow for lack of fertilizers. Unused machinery rots in shuttered state-owned factories. Staples like corn and rice, once exported, now must be imported and arrive in amounts that do not meet the need.

In response, Mr. Maduro has tightened his grip over the food supply. Using emergency decrees he signed this year, the president put most food distribution in the hands of a group of citizen brigades loyal to leftists, a measure critics say is reminiscent of food rationing in Cuba.

The ‘Tiger Mother’ Has a Contract for Her Cubs

Amy Chua:

The contract was signed by all four of us and went into legal force two weeks ago, and I can now say with confidence that I highly recommend this approach for parents with grown children—at least in America, a land where the laws and social norms heavily favor children over parents. The last time Jed and I showed up at the apartment, the refrigerator was stocked with orange juice, the master bedroom looked duplicitously unused, and our daughters greeted us with spontaneous joy and gratitude.

Can Liberal Education Save the Sciences?

Lorraine Daston:

Some of you may be mentally re-parsing my title to something more like “Can Liberal Education Be Saved from the Sciences?” For today’s embattled humanities, the sciences have come to stand for the antithesis of what is now understood to constitute the content and values of a liberal education, namely: the cultivation of the intellectual and artistic traditions of diverse cultures past and present, the assertion of the generalist’s prerogatives over those of the specialist, and the defense of non-utilitarian values as preparation for civic engagement in the cause of the commonweal. In contrast, what are currently known as the STEM disciplines—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—stand for knowledge that is presumed universal and uniform, for narrow specialization and, above all, for applications that are useful and often lucrative. A comparative glance at the budgets for the sciences and for the disciplines that constitute the core of the Core seems to tell it all: it’s not the sciences that need saving, most certainly not by the likes of liberal education, a minnow—a starving minnow, at that—sent out to rescue a fat and sassy whale.

Every Federal Worker is Above Average

Charles Hughes:

A new report from the Government Accountability Office finds that virtually every one of the 1.2 million employees in their study received a rating at or above “fully successful,” compared to only 0.1 percent who were deemed “unacceptable,” which might be surprising given the scandals that have rocked multiple agencies in recent years and the fact that these employees are people, prone to making mistakes or every day struggles like everyone else. Milton Friedman once asked “where in the world you find these angels who are going to organize society for us?” If these performance ratings are to be believed, they’re already in the federal workforce, which might surprise anyone who has followed the developments at the VA or TSA. The extremely skewed distribution of ratings highlighted in the report highlight the shortcomings of the current evaluation system, which makes it harder to actually address any real problems with the performance of federal employees.

For poor children to succeed, rich ones must fail

Sarah O’Connor:

Researchers at the Bank of Italy have used surnames (which are relatively region-specific) as a proxy to inspect the fortunes of Florentine families since the 1427 census. They found the top-five earning surnames in 2011 were also the elites six centuries ago, when they were lawyers or members of the wool, silk and shoemaker guilds. The researchers found evidence of dynasties in some elite professions, such as banking and law.

That is not to say there was no mobility. Lower-class people had a fairly good chance of rising to a higher position, but there seemed to be a “glass floor” that stopped the upper classes from sliding to the bottom.

Florence is not unique. Studies (often using rare surnames to track families through generations) have found similar stories in countries as varied as Sweden and China. In the UK, the effect seems to last about six generations before finally petering out.

Bill Gross warns over $10tn negative-yield bond pile

Robin Wigglesworth and Joel Lewin:

Even a relatively modest rise in yields could cost investors dearly. Goldman Sachs recently estimated that an unexpected 1 percentage point rise in US Treasury yields would trigger $1tn of losses, exceeding the financial crisis losses from mortgage-backed bonds.

Negative-yield debt breaks $10tn level for first time
A close-up of the front of the US 10-dollar bill bearing the portrait of Alexander Hamilton, America’s first Treasury Secretary, is seen on December 7, 2010 in Washington, DC

Sovereign paper with sub-zero yield up 5% month on month, buoyed by rising prices

Mr Gross joins a mounting chorus of big investors who fret that this phenomenon will end in tears. Capital Group — which manages about $1.4tn — has warned that negative interest rates were distorting financial markets and economies, and might lead to “potentially dangerous consequences”.

Jeffrey Gundlach, the head of Los Angeles-based bond house DoubleLine, recently told a Swiss newspaper that negative interest rates “are the stupidest idea I have ever experienced”, and warned that “the next major event [for markets] will be the moment when central banks in Japan and in Europe give up and cancel the experiment”.

Million-dollar babies 

The Economist:

THAT a computer program can repeatedly beat the world champion at Go, a complex board game, is a coup for the fast-moving field of artificial intelligence (AI). Another high-stakes game, however, is taking place behind the scenes, as firms compete to hire the smartest AI experts. Technology giants, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Baidu, are racing to expand their AI activities. Last year they spent some $8.5 billion on deals, says Quid, a data firm. That was four times more than in 2010.

The highest paid Duke University employee in 2014? Not Coach K

Jason DeBruyn:

In 2014, Dzau received a total compensation of $8 million and Krzyzewski received $5.6 million. Krzyzewski’s total compensation includes $1.5 million in deferred payments, making his take-home pay for the year slightly more than $4 million. Dzau’s $8 million total compensation for the year includes $3.1 million in deferred compensation that had accrued for the past decade. He also received more than $4 million in bonus and incentive compensation. Dzau’s final day at Duke was June 30, 2014, meaning the reported compensation came in the final six months of his employment with the university.

As an academic institution, Duke files as a tax-exempt organization and must report specific financial information. Although most of the financial data contained in the report coincide with the school year, the 2014-15 school year in this case, compensation data is measured for calendar year 2014.


Robert I. Lerman and W. Bradford Wilcox:

e retreat from marriage—a retreat that has been concentrated among lower-income Americans—plays a key role in the changing economic fortunes of American family life. We estimate that the growth in median income of families with children would be 44 percent higher if the United States enjoyed 1980 levels of married parenthood today. Further, at least 32 percent of the growth in family-income inequality since 1979 among families with children and 37 percent of the decline in men’s employment rates during that time can be linked to the decreasing number of Americans who form and maintain stable, married families.
2– Growing up with both parents (in an intact family) is strongly associated with more education, work, and income among today’s young men and women. Young men and women from intact families enjoy an annual “intact-family premium” that amounts to $6,500 and $4,700, respectively, over the incomes of their peers from single-parent families.

3– Men obtain a substantial “marriage premium” and women bear no marriage penalty in their individual incomes, and both men and women enjoy substantially higher family incomes, compared to peers with otherwise similar characteristics. For instance, men enjoy a marriage premium of at least $15,900 per year in their individual income compared to their single peers.

4– ese two trends reinforce each other. Growing up with both parents increases your odds of becoming highly educated, which in turn leads to higher odds of being married as an adult. Both the added education and marriage result in higher income levels. Indeed, men and women who were raised with both parents present and then go on to marry enjoy an especially high income as adults. Men and women who are currently married and were raised in an intact family enjoy an annual “family premium” in their household income that exceeds that of their unmarried peers who were raised in nonintact families by at least $42,000.

College courses without textbooks? These schools are giving it a shot.

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel:

A community college reform group has selected a handful of schools in Virginia and Maryland to develop degree programs using open-source materials in place of textbooks, an initiative that could save students as much as $1,300 a year.

Such open educational resources — created using open licenses that let students download or print materials for free — have gained popularity as the price of print textbooks have skyrocketed, but courses that use the materials remain a novelty in higher education. Achieving the Dream, an education advocacy group based in Silver Spring, Md., aims to change that by offering $9.8 million in grants to support the development of open-source degree programs at 38 colleges in 13 states.

The managerial destruction of academic freedom

Russell Marks:

Like all university managements, La Trobe employs a small number of employment lawyers. In consultation with them, Dewar determined that La Trobe would suspend Ward on full pay pending disciplinary action for ‘serious misconduct’. In a statement Dewar sent to La Trobe staff, he confirmed that the disciplinary process was based on ‘alleged breaches of the University’s code of conduct’. Within 48 hours of La Trobe’s letter being sent to Ward, all hell broke loose. Ward and her union, the NTEU, had passed the letter to New Matilda, which published most of it verbatim.

Civics: A Hong Kong Bookseller


reunion-with-the-motherland thing isn’t going any better in Hong Kong, where one of the five abducted booksellers returns after eight months in captivity, and speaks out. When Lam Wing-kee reappeared in Hong Kong three days ago, it seemed he would behave as three other returnees have done – look traumatized, ask the police to shut the case, and drop out of public view. Most people could guess what had happened: they had been abducted, held in a secret Mainland location, interrogated, forced to make false confessions, subjected to blackmail or threats against family, and eventually, stressed and terrified, dropped off in Hong Kong.

A Mathematician’s Lament

Paul Lockhart:

In their wisdom, educators soon realize that even very young children can be given this kind of musical instruction. In fact it is considered quite shameful if one’s third-grader hasn’t completely memorized his circle of fifths. “I’ll have to get my son a music tutor. He simply won’t apply himself to his music homework. He says it’s boring. He just sits there staring out the window, humming tunes to himself and making up silly songs.”

In the higher grades the pressure is really on. After all, the students must be prepared for the standardized tests and college admissions exams. Students must take courses in Scales and Modes, Meter, Harmony, and Counterpoint. “It’s a lot for them to learn, but later in college when they finally get to hear all this stuff, they’ll really appreciate all the work they did in high school.” Of course, not many students actually go on to concentrate in music, so only a few will ever get to hear the sounds that the black dots represent. Nevertheless, it is important that every member of society be able to recognize a modulation or a fugal passage, regardless of the fact that they will never hear one. “To tell you the truth, most students just aren’t very good at music. They are bored in class, their skills are terrible, and their homework is barely legible. Most of them couldn’t care less about how important music is in today’s world; they just want to take the minimum number of music courses and be done with it. I guess there are just music people and non-music people. I had this one kid, though, man was she sensational! Her sheets were impeccable— every note in the right place, perfect calligraphy, sharps, flats, just beautiful. She’s going to make one hell of a musician someday.”

The War On Stupid People

David Freedman:

As recently as the 1950s, possessing only middling intelligence was not likely to severely limit your life’s trajectory. IQ wasn’t a big factor in whom you married, where you lived, or what others thought of you. The qualifications for a good job, whether on an assembly line or behind a desk, mostly revolved around integrity, work ethic, and a knack for getting along—bosses didn’t routinely expect college degrees, much less ask to see SAT scores. As one account of the era put it, hiring decisions were “based on a candidate having a critical skill or two and on soft factors such as eagerness, appearance, family background, and physical characteristics.”

The 2010s, in contrast, are a terrible time to not be brainy. Those who consider themselves bright openly mock others for being less so. Even in this age of rampant concern over microaggressions and victimization, we maintain open season on the nonsmart. People who’d swerve off a cliff rather than use a pejorative for race, religion, physical appearance, or disability are all too happy to drop the s‑bomb: Indeed, degrading others for being “stupid” has become nearly automatic in all forms of disagreement.

Here’s your chance to start a really black-led education movement, and it comes with money

Citizen Education:

frustrated with the lack of progress for black children. You have great ideas about how to change the game for them. You know that a solid education makes a world of difference, but public education has failed the children of low-income and working-class families.

Now what? How do you turn your ideas into action?

Simply put, you need money? Every good plan needs resources and now you have a shot at the funding to turn your good ideas into action.

Civics: Un-Googled: Trudeau government had Harper web pages removed from search results

Elizabeth Thompson:

Dozens of government web pages related to former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s time in office have been removed from all Google search results at the new Liberal government’s request.

In fact, the requests on behalf of the Privy Council Office to remove sites such as Harper’s site and the former PMO’s 24seven video website from search results began Nov. 4, 2015 – the day Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government was sworn into office.

The Money Letter That Every Parent Should Write

Ron Lieber:

The Money Talk, capital “M” and capital “T,” is overrated. As with the Sex Talk, children can sense that one is coming. And if they get antsy, your words will go in one ear and out the other.

Tempted to hand over a notecard instead? Your first principles may fit on it, and making one for a new graduate is a fine thing to do. But there isn’t much space for storytelling.

So in this season of transitions, consider the old-fashioned letter. It’s long enough to tell some tales to bolster your advice, and if it’s written with enough soul, there’s a good chance the recipient will keep it for a long time. Plus, it’s a literal conversation piece, since the good letters will inspire more curiosity about how the writers oversee their own financial affairs.

Mendel and the Rules of Genetic Lottery

open mind:

The year was 1900 and the quantum mysteries inside atoms had begun to be unraveled. However, the sharpest minds on the planet could still not explain how it was possible that a person could have flat feet, but not his parents. Suddenly three scientists, a Dutchman, a German and an Austrian, believed that they had discovered, on their own, how children inherit the physical traits of their parents. And before they could even begin fighting to get this recorded in the history books, it was discovered that their supposed scoop had already been recorded 35 years earlier by an Austrian monk whose research with pea plants had almost passed unnoticed.

Some university presidents get houses, cars, chauffeurs, bonuses, paychecks for spouses and guaranteed jobs after their terms end

Douglas Belkin:

Salaries of college and university presidents have been escalating for years to the consternation of students and their parents, who are shouldering rising tuition and debt.

Less well documented is the rising value of presidential perks—during and after their terms.

Contracts obtained for a new academic study and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal offer a rare glimpse into these presidential compensation packages. Highlights include guarantees to make presidents the most well paid professor on campus after they leave office, six-figure annual retention bonuses, $500,000 sabbaticals and a second contract—and paycheck—for spouses.

In 2013, the last data available, private college presidential pay jumped 5.6% from the year before to an average of $436,429, according to an annual survey of compensation by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Public school presidents saw a 7% increase to $428,250. A total of 34 school presidents—32 from private schools, two from public ones—earn more than $1 million a year.

But a new wrinkle in those contracts are the perks that began to show up in the last few years, said James Finkelstein, a professor at George Mason University who has been reviewing presidential contracts since 1998.

Commentary On Virtual Schools

Alisha Kirby:

(Colo.) Students enrolled in virtual or blended learning schools are graduating on time at half the rate of traditional schools, even as online learning continues to grow rapidly in popularity, according to recent research.

Blended schools—in which students spend some time in a classroom—had a four-year graduation rate of 37.4 percent in 2013-14, and full-time virtual schools at 40.6 percent, the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder reported. The national average is 81 percent.

“The rapid expansion of virtual schools and blended schools is remarkable given the consistently negative findings regarding student and school performance,” authors of the report wrote. “The graduation rates for virtual schools have worsened by 3 percentage points over the past few years, even as graduation rates in the country have been improving 1 percentage point each year.”

In debates over school choice, virtual learning is often considered a means for students to work at their own pace. In 2014, 30 states and the District of Columbia offered statewide, full-time online schools, while 26 states had virtual schools in operation, according to a study published by Evergreen Education Group, a Colorado-based education-technology consulting firm.

Chicago Schools Governance, Finance And Achievement Commentary

Valerie Strauss:

In September 2015, the Chicago Tribune ran an editorial that wondered whether the Chicago Public School District would collapse under the weight of its mind-numbing financial problems. It hasn’t yet, but money mismanagement, inadequate funding and failed education policy are combining with a host of other factors to raise the issue of whether the nation’s third-largest school district is in existential danger.

Chicago spent $14,336 per student during the 2015-2016 school year or

Psychologists recommend children be bored in the summer


Do you entertain your kids with chess camp, art school, cooking classes, or tennis lessons during the unstructured summer months? Or perhaps all of them?

There are activities and summer camps galore to fill children’s time and supply much needed childcare when kids are out of school. But psychologists and child development experts suggest that over-scheduling children during the summer is unnecessary and could ultimately keep kids from from discovering what truly interests them.

Market Signals: How Do DC Parents Rank Schools, and What Does It Mean for Policy?

Steven Glazerman and Dallas Dotter:

This brief describes (1) what parents look for when they choose a school and (2) how these preferences affect the sorting of students into schools under different school-choice policies. The findings are based on lists of preferred schools submitted by over 20,000 applicants to a citywide lottery for more than 100 traditional and charter public schools in Washington, DC. The results confirm previous findings that commuting distance, school demographics, and academics play important roles in school choice. However, we also found considerable variation in parents’ preferences.

More, here.

On Governance, Rigor & Achievement Gaps

Jay Matthews:

uselessness of our fascination with achievement gaps better illustrated than in two lists from an admirable paper by Stanford University researchers, which that university’s Center for Education Policy Analysis published in April.

“The Geography of Racial/Ethnic Test Score Gaps” was written by Sean F. Reardon, Demetra Kalogrides and Ken Shores. It identifies the 20 U.S. school districts with the smallest white-black and white-Hispanic achievement gaps in 2009 to 2012, based on standardized reading and math tests in elementary and middle schools.

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

My son has Asperger’s and wants to attend a rigorous college— why shouldn’t he?

Beth Hawkins:

A few days into the eighth grade my son Corey taught himself the Pythagorean theorem. It’s not typically taught until ninth grade, but he loves baroque language and was drawn to the unit when it popped up on the self-paced math curriculum on his computer. He began by taking the quiz at the end of the lesson and reverse-engineered his way through the parts he didn’t understand.

Corey is 14 and has a voracious thirst for knowledge. His favorite author is H.G. Wells. He loves Japanese calligraphy. Last year he produced a documentary about William Higinbotham, a member of the team that produced the first nuclear bomb and the inventor of the first computer game.

State Cuts to Higher Education Threaten Quality and Affordability at Public Colleges

Michael Mitchell, Michael Leachman, and Kathleen Masterson:

Years of cuts in state funding for public colleges and universities have driven up tuition and harmed students’ educational experiences by forcing faculty reductions, fewer course offerings, and campus closings. These choices have made college less affordable and less accessible for students who need degrees to succeed in today’s economy.

Years of cuts have made college less affordable and less accessible for students.Though some states have begun to restore some of the deep cuts in financial support for public two- and four-year colleges since the recession hit, their support remains far below previous levels. In total, after adjusting for inflation, of the states that have enacted full higher education budgets for the current school year, funding for public two- and four-year colleges is $8.7 billion below what it was just prior to the recession.

How Stories Told Of Brilliant Scientists Affect Kids’ Interest In The Field


VEDANTAM: Exactly. So the genius needed help from someone else. Now, a third group of students was told how scientists had to struggle not just with the science but with various personal obstacles. So Marie Curie, whom you mentioned, the famous physicist, was excluded from colleges because she was a woman. Michael Faraday was not part of the old boys’ club in England. These people were outsiders. They had to fight just to get heard.

The U.S. has ‘worst elections of any long-established democracy,’ report finds

Rick Noack:

What do Argentina, Costa Rica and Brazil have in common?

They all outranked the United States in a comparison of election standards and procedures conducted by the Electoral Integrity Project. The United States ranked 47th worldwide, out of 139 countries.

The survey is a measure of dozens of factors, including voter registration, campaign financing rules, election laws, the voting process and vote count.

Overall, one in six elections around the world were considered electoral failures. But in general, countries in the Americas and central and eastern Europe, as well as in Asia, were considered to be on the winning side in terms of electoral integrity, with Scandinavian and Western European nations topping the lists.

The Mercenary University

Lucas Wyman:

At three o’clock in the morning on April 8, 2011, Emirati blogger and activist Ahmed Mansoor was awoken by three police officers at his front door. The men said they wanted to question him about his car and asked Mansoor to come with them.

Mansoor refused — and for good reason. A vocal proponent of an elected parliament, he had repeatedly called for more transparent governance and the curbing of censorship in the United Arab Emirates.

He was afraid he was going to be kidnapped, or that the men would use the opportunity to plant incriminating evidence. Eventually, the police left.


Shiri Shalmy:

The three of us had recently learned about the 1968 Antiuniversity of East London through a Hackney Museum research project and wanted to explore the potential relevance of the historical movement to the current state of higher education.

In 1968 young people across the world protested against a stagnant and violent political system and a conservative education system which reproduced out-of-date knowledge with no critical reflection, ignoring the real concerns of young people. From the Black Panthers and the Anti Vietnam War movement in the US to students and workers occupations in France, from Mexico to Prague, a generation was fighting against racism, sexism, colonialism and state violence. A new world order called for a new academic order.

Very much a product of its time, the original Antiuniversity was set up in February ‘68 in Shoreditch, then a working class neighbourhood and now a fully gentrified part of London. It was led by American academic Joseph Berke who, Inspired by the Dialectics of Liberation conference held the previous year at the Roundhouse in Camden, gathered a group of academics, writers and artists to establish a new type of institution.

On The Singularity

Vernor Vinge:

Another symptom of progress toward the Singularity: ideas themselves should spread ever faster, and even the most radical will quickly become commonplace. When I began writing science fiction in the middle ’60s, it seemed very easy to find ideas that took decades to percolate into the cultural consciousness; now the lead time seems more like eighteen months. (Of course, this could just be me losing my imagination as I get old, but I see the effect in others too.) Like the shock in a compressible flow, the Singularity moves closer as we accelerate through the critical speed.

And what of the arrival of the Singularity itself? What can be said of its actual appearance? Since it involves an intellectual runaway, it will probably occur faster than any technical revolution seen so far. The precipitating event will likely be unexpected — perhaps even to the researchers involved. (“But all our previous models were catatonic! We were just tweaking some parameters….”) If networking is widespread enough (into ubiquitous embedded systems), it may seem as if our artifacts as a whole had suddenly wakened.

The Push And Pull Of Chicago’s $5.687B School Budget

Gina Caneva:

Even if our state and city find a way to move forward and equitably fund education, inequities would still exist between states. This fractured way of funding public education will only lead to more inequity. Of course, the most comprehensive, equitable solution is also the most far-fetched and would take a constitutional amendment—the U.S. should make public education funding universal. Countries like Finland, South Korea, and Singapore all rank higher education-wise than the U.S., and all have equity in educational funding.

Since such change is not likely to occur anytime soon, change at Illinois must begin at the state level. As our state lawmakers continue into their special session, they must act against the status quo of inequitable funding. Regardless of what happens in Springfield, Chicago needs to invest in our public schools as urgently as we invest in tourism. Our students are performing at high levels despite being fiscally abandoned at every level of government. If these cuts in CPS do happen, it will show the failure of our American local, state, and national government to support high quality, public education to our most vulnerable group of children.

We must rethink our goals as a nation and choose education for our children as a priority instead of poorly investing in our nation’s future. It’s time that we give Chicago students and poor students across our nation equal opportunities through equitable funding.

Chicago spent $5.687B during the 2015-2016 school year for 396,683 students or $14,336 per student. Madison spends more than $17k per student.

Understanding the benefits of Failure

Joe Brockmeier:

every email I’ve received that included an apology for “poor English,” I’d be within shouting distance of a comfortable retirement. But there’s no apology necessary, and that needs to be said rather loudly. I want to see more bad English on mailing lists!
First of all, no one should feel the slightest shame or embarrassment about making a good faith effort to have a productive conversation with someone else. There may be room for improvement, and people should be admired for making a continual effort to learn new languages or improve their language skills.

Second, people who are embarrassed with their ability to communicate are likely to speak up less. To hold back questions for fear that they’re not going to be understood. To hold back expressing ideas because they might not get the point across as well the first time. One of the great things about the time I spent with Novell was that I had the opportunity to meet and speak with many people around the world who love free and open source software, and being part of the larger community.

Unfortunately, far too many of the people I met where embarrassed by their proficiency with English. Several contributors I’ve spoken to have admitted reluctance to participate in discussions because they were embarrassed by their skill level with English, or because they feared they wouldn’t be understood.

Autism Treatment Offerings Expand In Madison

David Wahlberg:

Nationally, 1 in 68 school-age children are identified as having autism spectrum disorder, the CDC reported in March. That is unchanged from 2014 but up from 1 in 88 two years earlier and 1 in 110 two years before that.

The national rate is based on surveys in parts of 11 states — including Wisconsin, where Dane County and nine other southern counties take part.

In the most recent report, Wisconsin’s rate is 1 in 92, which is lower than the national rate. But the state’s rate is up from two years ago, when it was 1 in 102.

Much more on autism, in Madison, here.

China Tries to Redistribute Education to the Poor, Igniting Class Conflict

Javier Hernandez:

Cheng Nan has spent years trying to ensure that her 16-year-old daughter gets into a college near their home in Nanjing, an affluent city in eastern China. She wakes her at 5:30 a.m. to study math and Chinese poetry and packs her schedule so tightly that she has only 20 days of summer vacation.

So when officials announced a plan to admit more students from impoverished regions and fewer from Nanjing to local universities, Ms. Cheng was furious. She joined more than 1,000 parents to protest outside government offices, chanting slogans like “Fairness in education!” and demanding a meeting with the provincial governor.

“Why should they eat from our bowls?” Ms. Cheng, 46, an art editor at a newspaper, said in an interview. “We are just as hard-working as other families.”

CUNY On The Brink

Ann Larson:

Today the New York Times published a startling (if you haven’t been inside a CUNY campus lately) exposé on the shameful financial state of the City University of New York. Reporter David Chen describes an institution with a “proud legacy” in severe decline. Thanks to state budget cuts, tuition has risen 33% since 2008 and campuses are falling apart. Writing about City College, Chen tells of “leaking ceilings [that] have turned hallways into obstacle courses of buckets. The bathrooms sometimes run out of toilet paper.”

I am familiar with such conditions. As an adjunct at Hunter College, I and dozens of other part-time teachers toiled in dirty, overcrowded offices with mice droppings scattered around.

Crumbling buildings are not the only sign of a university on the brink. The NYT also reported that courses have been cancelled due to lack of funds. One campus library received a book budget of only $13,000 for the entire year, down from $60,000 ten years before.

While reports about what austerity has wrought at CUNY are usually welcome, the NYT piece promotes a mythology about higher education that requires some correction.


Is There a Student Debt Crisis?

Max Eden:

Student debt is a convenient target in a presidential election year, but it obscures the true crisis: high dropout rates from low-quality postsecondary institutions and the unmanageable debt borne by students of those institutions. And despite rising student debt, monthly loan payments as a share of income have remained steady, added earnings having more than offset the cost of debt for most borrowers, and Income-Based Repayment (IBR) plans offer borrowers protection from ballooning monthly payments.

U.S. Births Remain Low as the Great Recession Wanes: More Than Three Million Fewer Births and Still Counting

Kenneth Johnson:

Nor do new data just released show any evidence of an upturn in births. National Center for Health Statistics data for 2015 show the lowest general fertility rate on record and only 3,978,000 births last year. There were 338,000 (8 percent) fewer births in 2015 than in 2007, just before the Recession began to influence fertility. This decline in births is entirely due to reduced fertility rates. The number of women in their prime childbearing years (20 to 39) actually increased by 2.5 million (6 percent) between 2007 and 2015. With more women of child-bearing age, the expectation would be for more babies. Yet the larger cohort of childbearing age women in 2015 produced fewer births than the smaller 2007 cohort did. If the fertility rates of 2007 had been sustained through 2015, the larger cohort of women of childbearing age would have been expected to produce nearly 600,000 more children in 2015 than were actually born.

CDC abortion data.

Great teaching has long been seen as an innate skill. But reformers are showing that the best teachers are made, not born

The Economist:

a new way of training teachers. Rather than spending their time musing on the meaning of education, he and his peers have been drilled in the craft of the classroom. Their dozens of honed techniques cover everything from discipline to making sure all children are thinking hard. Not a second is wasted. North Star teachers may seem naturals. They are anything but.

. Related: MTEL, NCTQ and “When A Stands for Average“.

What Matters In School Is Teachers; Fortunately, Teaching Can Be Taught

The economist:

FORGET smart uniforms and small classes. The secret to stellar grades and thriving students is teachers. One American study found that in a single year’s teaching the top 10% of teachers impart three times as much learning to their pupils as the worst 10% do. Another suggests that, if black pupils were taught by the best quarter of teachers, the gap between their achievement and that of white pupils would disappear.

But efforts to ensure that every teacher can teach are hobbled by the tenacious myth that good teachers are born, not made. Classroom heroes like Robin Williams in “Dead Poets Society” or Michelle Pfeiffer in “Dangerous Minds” are endowed with exceptional, innate inspirational powers. Government policies, which often start from the same assumption, seek to raise teaching standards by attracting high-flying graduates to join the profession and prodding bad teachers to leave. Teachers’ unions, meanwhile, insist that if only their members were set free from central diktat, excellence would follow.

Related: nctq and, when a stands for average.

With iPhones and computer models, do we still need weather forecasters?

Eric Berger:

near one night last month, the chief meteorologist of Birmingham’s ABC-affiliate began to get worked up. Balding and characteristically attired in suspenders, James Spann is one of the most recognizable and respected local TV meteorologists in the country. But he had a familiar problem. The day had been pleasant in Alabama, and more of the same temperate spring weather lay ahead—so what the heck was he going to talk about?

“I’ve got 2 minutes and 30 seconds to fill,” Spann explained. “Everyone in my audience is going to know what the weather is going to do. Except maybe my mom. She’s 85 years old. But most everybody has looked on their phone or some other device already. So what am I going to do? Am I just going to rehash everything they already know?”

Looking past negatives, school year offered much to celebrate

Alan Borsuk:

Many people are ending the school year to the music of “Pomp and Circumstance.” Congratulations to all the graduates and their families on reaching these important, good milestones.

But I’m ending the school year with a movement from Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” playing in my head.

Somewhat inevitably, the focus in these columns (and in much of the news) is on problems, difficulties and “bad news.” This week, I offer nothing about low test scores, budgets, fighting over enrollment “market share” or even what will emerge from the Opportunity Schools/Milwaukee County Executive furor.

I offer instead snapshots of good news and good things I’ve seen and heard this year when it comes to local education.

French kids know how to play: American parents’ obsession with structured playtime is stifling our kids

Rebecca Givens Roland:

As the American mother of a 4-year-old girl, with a French husband, I’ve gotten a chance to see playtime from both sides of the pond. Over the years, I’ve also gained a new set of both French and American “mommy friends,” who often pepper me with questions about whether the French truly parent better, as Pamela Druckerman argues in her book “Bringing Up Bebe.” While I’m hesitant to take part in such a “who’s better than whom” parenting war, there’s one place where French parents have it right: that is, in their attitudes and rules about children’s play.

Withheld UW System budget was finalized last week

Karen Herzog:

The annual operating budget that University of Wisconsin System officials refused to release publicly until 90 minutes before the Board of Regents approved it was actually finalized last week, contrary to what a system spokesman implied while explaining the delay to reporters, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has learned.

The time stamp of the final modification to the budget document is contained in its meta data, which summarizes basic information about the document’s creation. The document was last modified June 3 at 2:07:58 p.m., and was released to the public six days later, at 1:58 p.m. on Thursday.

Within an hour of its public release, while the regents were actively discussing the budget in their meeting at UW-Milwaukee, an individual concerned about the way it was being handled opened a PDF of the document and traced the final modification through its meta data. That employee shared the information with Eric Sandgren, a professor in the UW-Madison Veterinary School.

Sandgren independently confirmed it, and so did the Journal Sentinel.

“I understand partisanship, I understand disagreement, and I understand PR and public persuasion, but I cannot accept when folks lie,” Sandgren told the newspaper. “This whole UW System support story has brought out the worst in a lot of people. I wish I could win the Lotto and give the system half a billion.”

The decision to withhold details of the $6.23 billion operating budget prior to the regents discussing and voting on it was delivered to reporters shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday.

UW System spokesman Alex Hummel notified the news media that the budget document, which includes details of student fee increases and drawdown of fund balances, would not be released as previously promised, and consistent with past practice.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: $2,139,254,000,000: FY2016 Taxes Set Record Through May; $14,164 Per Worker; Feds Still Run Deficit of $407,099,000,000

Terence P. Jeffrey:

The U.S. Treasury took in a record of approximately $2,139,254,000,000 in tax revenues in the first eight months of fiscal 2016 (Oct. 1, 2015 through May 31, 2016), according to the Monthly Treasury Statement released today.

That is up about $15,347,130,000–in constant 2016 dollars—from the approximately $2,123,906,870,000 in constant 2016 dollars the Treasury collected in the first eight months of fiscal 2015.

‘A Black Man’s Guide to Survival’

Carl Stoffers:

When Eric Broyles was nine years old, recklessly riding a bike through his Hamilton, Ohio, neighborhood, he had a tense encounter with a police officer: he fell off his bike, sending it rolling into the street, nearly hitting a passing police car. In response, the officer chastised him, using a racial slur.

Broyles, now an attorney, wrote about the incident — one of two unpleasant police encounters that he details — in his new book, “Encounters With Police: A Black Man’s Guide to Survival.” “I was stunned,” he wrote. “I was so terrified because I did realize that I could have been run over and then I was mortified by the police officer’s racial slur.”

Those experiences, as well as the recent spate of high-profile police shootings, inspired Broyles — who co-authored the book with his friend, Adrian Jackson, a 25-year veteran of an Ohio police department — to provide African-American men a guide for handling their own interactions with police. Below, he reflects on recent shootings, the reasons why police encounters escalate, and why his book’s message, “comply now and contest later,” couldn’t be more relevant.

What made you want to write this book?

Related: An Homage to “Cecil”.

We’ve Hit Peak Human and an Algorithm Wants Your Job. Now What

Hugh Son:

Consider venerable State Street, a 224-year-old custody bank that predates the steam locomotive and caters to institutional investors such as pensions and mutual funds. In February, State Street executives told analysts that after spending five years upgrading technology systems, they realized how much more could be done. “We have 20,000 manual interventions on trades every day,” said Michael Rogers, president of the Boston bank. “There’s a huge opportunity to digitize that and move it forward electronically.”

But one person’s opportunity is another person’s exit package. State Street had 32,356 people on the payroll last year. About one of every five will be automated out of a job by 2020, according to Rogers. What the bank is doing presages broader changes about to sweep across the industry. A report in March by Citigroup, the fourth-biggest U.S. bank, said that more than 1.8 million U.S. and European bank workers could lose their jobs within 10 years.

Hamilton: Create A Forever Memory

NBC Sports:

Elizabeth is one of several million people — so many of them teenagers — who have become obsessed with the Broadway show “Hamilton.” It is funny, if you think about it. Kids all over America are smitten by a show about a previously minor Founding Father who probably would have gotten chucked off the $10 bill had it not been for the genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda. When I was Elizabeth’s age, we all wore Rush and Black Sabbath T-shirts and sang about how Mommy’s alright and Daddy’s alright, they just seem a little weird.

Student may be punished for insulting vegetarian

Mike Deak:

A school district is allowed to discipline a sixth-grader for bullying because he made disparaging remarks about a classmate’s vegetarianism.

In a case that climbed up the legal ladder, the state Commissioner of Education’s office has ruled that the Montgomery school district can give detention to the student who told the other sixth-grader that “vegetarians are idiots.”

The case rose to the commissioner’s office because the student’s parent contested the district’s finding that the remarks about vegetarianism constituted bullying, a finding that was later backed by a state administrative law judge.

The case began on Oct. 30, 2014, when the two 11-year-old sixth-graders were having lunch in the cafeteria of Montgomery’s Lower Middle School. One of the students, identified in court papers as C.C., made the comments to another student, K.S., about his decision not to eat meat.

The investigation by the school’s anti-bullying specialist, guidance counselor Lesley Haas, found that C.C. told K.S. that “it’s not good to not eat meat” and that “he should eat meat because he’d be smarter and have bigger brains,” according to court papers.

The First Amendment:

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble, or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

In Pursuit of Political Equality

Alexandra Wolfe:

After writing an article critical of Donald Trump a few months ago, the political theorist Danielle Allen received dozens of racist tweets and emails from his supporters, one with a picture of a noose. But it hasn’t stopped her from being heartened by one aspect of this election cycle: the increased voter turnout that helped Mr. Trump become the presumptive Republican nominee for president. She has long argued for more civic participation and engagement in the political system—and not just for people who share her own political views.

Dr. Allen responded to some of her critics directly and to others in open letters published online. She advised them to read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Federalist Papers, and to think about issues like the character of public officials and the principles of constitutionalism. If Americans were better equipped to reflect on their laws and the promises of politicians, she believes, they would elect more thoughtful and less divisive leaders.

Dr. Allen, 44, a government professor at Harvard University and director of its Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, is a big proponent of political equality—the idea that every American should play an active role in the workings of our democracy.

DEA Wants Inside Your Medical Records to Fight the War on Drugs

Chistopher Moraff:

information that is… more deserving of Fourth Amendment protection,” Haggerty said. “By obtaining the prescription records for individuals like John Does 2 and 4, a person would know that they have used testosterone in particular quantities and by extension, that they have gender identity disorder and are treating it through hormone therapy.

“Although there is not an absolute right to privacy in prescription information… it is more than reasonable for patients to believe that law enforcement agencies will not have unfettered access to their records,” he added.

The Obama administration disagrees, and argues that since the records have already been submitted to a third party (Oregon’s PDMP) that patients no longer enjoy an expectation of privacy.

In an affidavit, one of the plaintiffs said he already faces difficulty obtaining the injectible testosterone he’s required to take and that “increased scrutiny by law enforcement, including the DEA, erects another obstacle to obtaining treatment.”

“I would be fearful of being investigated or harassed without reason,” he testified. “I would feel like I was constantly looking over my shoulder.”

Last year, after the charges against Marlon Jones were dropped, a Utah senator introduced a bill that would require police to obtain a warrant to search the database.

The Diversity Profession

James Pierson and Naomi Schaefer Riley:

Today, most of the ferment on campus comes not from academic departments—even the most politically charged ones—but from diversity centers and the faculty and administrators who staff them. At Yale, for instance, the Afro-American Cultural Center hosts a “Black Solidarity” conference each year. Its Social Justice programming includes a Black Lives Matter series. The emphasis of these centers is not just academic study but social action.

Another such diversity outfit at Yale is the Intercultural Affairs Council, which sparked a controversy last October with an email to students warning them not to wear racially or culturally insensitive Halloween costumes. One contrarian lecturer made the mistake of disagreeing. Protests ensued. By the time the fuss was over, the university had committed $50 million for diversity training and recruiting.

Inspired by Genius: How a Mathematician Found His Way

John Pavlus:

For the first 27 years of his life, the mathematician Ken Ono was a screw-up, a disappointment and a failure. At least, that’s how he saw himself. The youngest son of first-generation Japanese immigrants to the United States, Ono grew up under relentless pressure to achieve academically. His parents set an unusually high bar. Ono’s father, an eminent mathematician who accepted an invitation from J. Robert Oppenheimer to join the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J., expected his son to follow in his footsteps. Ono’s mother, meanwhile, was a quintessential “tiger parent,” discouraging any interests unrelated to the steady accumulation of scholarly credentials.

This intellectual crucible produced the desired results—Ono studied mathematics and launched a promising academic career—but at great emotional cost. As a teenager, Ono became so desperate to escape his parents’ expectations that he dropped out of high school. He later earned admission to the University of Chicago but had an apathetic attitude toward his studies, preferring to party with his fraternity brothers. He eventually discovered a genuine enthusiasm for mathematics, became a professor, and started a family, but fear of failure still weighed so heavily on Ono that he attempted suicide while attending an academic conference. Only after he joined the Institute for Advanced Study himself did Ono begin to make peace with his upbringing.

Choosing a School for My Daughter in a Segregated City

Nikkole Hannah-Jones:

I grew up in Waterloo, Iowa, on the wrong side of the river that divided white from black, opportunity from struggle, and started my education in a low-income school that my mother says was distressingly chaotic. I don’t recall it being bad, but I do remember just one white child in my first-grade class, though there may have been more. That summer, my mom and dad enrolled my older sister and me in the school district’s voluntary desegregation program, which allowed some black kids to leave their neighborhood schools for whiter, more well off ones on the west side of town. This was 1982, nearly three decades after the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that separate schools for black and white children were unconstitutional, and near the height of desegregation in this country. My parents chose one of the whitest, richest schools, thinking it would provide the best opportunities for us. Starting in second grade, I rode the bus an hour each morning across town to the “best” public school my town had to offer, Kingsley Elementary, where I was among the tiny number of working-class children and the even tinier number of black children. We did not walk to school or get dropped off by our parents on their way to work. We showed up in a yellow bus, visitors in someone else’s neighborhood, and were whisked back across the bridge each day as soon as the bell rang.

Madison is expanding its least diverse school….

Why I Offered My Kids Unlimited Screen Time

Ann Kirby Payne:

As a freelancer who makes her own hours, I’ve learned a few things about personal momentum. I’m a morning person, and my peak productive time is before 10:00 AM. If I start my day by sitting at the desk at, say, 5:00 AM, and digging in on actual work, I’ll keep going all day. If I start the day by, say, cleaning the kitchen or folding laundry or phaffing about on the interwebs, I’m in trouble. And if, God forbid, I sit on the couch and flip on The Today Show, all bets are off; I’m not moving until bedtime. I think of it as Newton’s Law of Personal Momentum, for I am an object that will either stay at rest or stay in motion, based on where I am at 5:30 AM.

Curated Education Information