Research Shows That Published Versions Of Papers In Costly Academic Titles Add Almost Nothing To The Freely-Available Preprints They Are Based On

Glyn Moody:

The open access movement believes that academic publications should be freely available to all, not least because most of the research is paid for by the public purse. Open access supporters see the high cost of many academic journals, whose subscriptions often run into thousands of dollars per year, as unsustainable for cash-strapped libraries, and unaffordable for researchers in emerging economies. The high profit margins of leading academic publishers — typically 30-40% — seem even more outrageous when you take into account the fact that publishers get almost everything done for free. They don’t pay the authors of the papers they publish, and rely on the unpaid efforts of public-spirited academics to carry out crucial editorial functions like choosing and reviewing submissions.

Academic publishers justify their high prices and fat profit margins by claiming that they “add value” as papers progress through the publication process. Although many have wondered whether that is really true — does a bit of sub-editing and design really justify the ever-rising subscription costs? — hard evidence has been lacking that could be used to challenge the publishers’ narrative. A paper from researchers at the University of California and Los Alamos Laboratory is particularly relevant here. It appeared first on in 2016 (pdf), but has only just been “officially” published (paywall). It does something really obvious but also extremely valuable: it takes around 12,000 academic papers as they were originally released in their preprint form, and compares them in detail with the final version that appears in the professional journals, sometimes years later, as the paper’s own history demonstrates. The results are unequivocal:

Defense against misinformation begins at the individual level (must be able to read)

David Stuckenberg:

opinion contributor
With the foundations of global stability being challenged by disruptive powers such as Russia and China, and rogues like North Korea and Iran, there’s scarcely been a more dangerous time to loose faith in each other and our government system. Yet, from social issues to economy and politics to defense, the U.S. struggles to deflect deliberate efforts to speed the loss of our national identity and unity. Make no mistake, “we the people” are the target in this diabolical campaign.

Consider an illustrative question/example. What’s more dangerous: an angry buffalo blocking a one-lane bridge, or a realistic hologram of an angry buffalo standing in the middle of a bridge?

Although only one can actually cause physical harm, either could cause traffic accidents; thus both are potentially dangerous. However, false images offer advantages over reality if the goal is chaos and strife. While a live buffalo could achieve the intended purpose, it takes far more resources. Furthermore, if someone found a buffalo on a bridge, it could be viewed as a “one-off” or freak event.

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

The life of Samuel Johnson, would-be attorney-at-law.

Richard Cohen:

Toward the end of his life, Samuel Johnson drew up a list of subjects that he would like to research. He projected forty-nine works in all; none was on any aspect of the law. According to James Boswell, Johnson’s celebrated biographer, almost the only subjects sure to dis­tress Johnson when raised were mortality, par­ticularly his own, and what might have trans­pired had he become a lawyer. Even when nearing seventy, he rounded on his friend William Scott, who had innocently commented, “What a pity it is, sir, that you did not follow the profession of the law. You might have been lord chancellor of Great Britain and attained to the dignity of the peerage.” According to Boswell, “Johnson, upon this, seemed much agitated; and in an angry tone exclaimed, ‘Why will you vex me by suggesting this, when it is too late?’ ” For here lay a curious paradox: of all great writers, in any language, Johnson was the one most consumed by the law, yet he never practiced it, and being relegated to the position of an outside observer brought him profound misery—even as he acknowledged his career could not have been otherwise.

For the young Johnson, actually studying the law in any formal way had proved im­possible. After leaving Oxford without a degree (he was too poor to continue beyond a bare thirteen months there), he cast around for suit­­able em­ployment, taking up a succession of me­nial teaching posts and then, in 1738, regular hack work for the London-based Gentleman’s Magazine. He would sign letters “Impransus”—the supperless one. About that time, he inquired of a legal friend “whether a person might be permitted to practice as an advocate” in the House of Commons without a degree in civil law. The authority he consulted, an Oxford contemporary, was confident that Johnson “would have attained to great eminence.” Johnson himself believed that he would have been a successful law­yer, one reason being his lightning ability to understand both (or many) sides of an argument. Boswell affectionately reports that there where times when the “Why, sir…” of later John­sonian replies was designed to give him a cru­cial extra second to decide which side of an ar­gu­ment to take that day. Hardly an unprejudiced observer, Boswell adds:

I cannot conceive a man better qualified to make a distinguished figure as a lawyer; for he would have brought to his profession a rich store of various knowledge, an uncommon acuteness, and a command of language in which few could have equaled, and none have surpassed him.

America’s technological hegemony is under threat from China

The Economist:

“DESIGNED by Apple in California. Assembled in China”. For the past decade the words embossed on the back of iPhones have served as shorthand for the technological bargain between the world’s two biggest economies: America supplies the brains and China the brawn.

Not any more. China’s world-class tech giants, Alibaba and Tencent, have market values of around $500bn, rivalling Facebook’s. China has the largest online-payments market. Its equipment is being exported across the world. It has the fastest supercomputer. It is building the world’s most lavish quantum-computing research centre. Its forthcoming satellite-navigation system will compete with America’s GPS by 2020.

America is rattled. An investigation is under way that is expected to conclude that China’s theft of intellectual property has cost American companies around $1trn; stinging tariffs may follow. Earlier this year Congress introduced a bill to stop the government doing business with two Chinese telecoms firms, Huawei and ZTE. Eric Schmidt, the former chairman of Alphabet, Google’s parent, has warned that China will overtake America in artificial intelligence (AI) by 2025.

When Politics Undermines Scholarship: A New “Analysis” from Julia Sass Rubin and Mark Weber

Laura Waters:

A new report is out called “New Jersey Charter Schools: A Data-Driven View – 2018 Update, Part I” by Julia Sass Rubin and Mark Weber. This study, draped with a Rutgers University banner, purports to be a scholarly analysis proving that charter schools are an untenable fiscal burden on traditional districts and enroll proportionally fewer special education students, English Language Learners, and low-income students than their sending district public schools. The report concludes with recommendations which, if implemented, would bring charter school growth to an abrupt halt.

Are you having a deja vu moment? I am. Sounds just like a report the Rubin and Weber wrote in 2014. That’s because it’s a duplicate updated with an increased proclivity for skewing statistics. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. First let’s look at the provenance of the report — an important factor when judging the credibility of the analysis — and then dig into the accuracy of the data.

Rubin is a professor at Rutgers’ Bloustein School and the founder of Save Our Schools-NJ, the Princeton-based anti-charter/accountability group that draws its members primarily from wealthy N.J. suburbs. She led the recent unsuccessful fight by Princeton Public Schools (with an assist from Weber) that sought to disallow the popular local charter to expand by 76 students. Weber, a Rutgers doctoral student under the tutelage of Bruce Baker, runs the anti-charter/accountability blog called Jersey Jazzman and was the 2017 annual convention keynoter at N.J.’s anti-charter/accountability union, NJEA. NJEA is an advertiser on his blog.

Get the picture? Let’s make it clearer

Now Inclusion Means Exclusion

Kyle Smith:

The survey doesn’t make sense unless you acknowledge this fact. “Free speech” and “in the name of diversity, everyone is allowed to say their piece” aren’t opposing ideas. “Free speech” vs. “shut up, heretic” are. When these students extol “inclusion” they aren’t talking about being welcoming to minorities, women, or unpopular viewpoints. They aren’t thinking about Jason Riley (a black author who was disinvited from a Virginia Tech speaking engagement because of the administration’s fear that he might spark protests) or Christina Hoff Sommers (who this month was blocked from entering the forum for her speech at the law school of Oregon’s Lewis & Clark College, then repeatedly shouted down and interrupted, then asked to cut off her remarks by the dean of diversity and inclusion because the students were getting “antsy”). They are portraying free speech as a zero-sum game in which the speech of X cancels out the speech of Y, who after all could have been appearing in that hall or on that op-ed page instead.

Or to put it another way, today’s digitally nurtured students are imagining speech as much like a book with a fixed number of pages: If there are only so many pages, then some must be set aside for the speech of the marginalized. Yet speech isn’t limited at all. It’s like the Internet, to which more pages are always being added. Of course today’s Internet-marinated students know this; the students of the Left simply pretend otherwise because they fear the spread of conservative ideas, and the only surefire way of winning an argument against a conservative is to prevent him from speaking.

Teaching And Learning Print This ‘A Different Kind of University’

Colleen Flaherty:

Well, you can imagine the mood in the College of Letters and Science, which houses the humanities,” said Michael Williams, chair of English at Stevens Point. Guessing that professors in the fine arts and communications are feeling similarly “grim,” Williams said he and his colleagues feel “dismayed, shocked and angry.”

Those in disciplines “directly affected are also apprehensive,” he added, “across all ranks, tenured and untenured, since most are able to see it as a clear opportunity for the administration to test the application of [University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents Policy Document] 20-24, the new rules governing tenure.”

A bit of history: before 2015, tenure was more protected on University of Wisconsin campuses than it was pretty much anywhere else in the U.S. — tenured faculty members only could be laid off in cases of true financial emergency. But with the legal weakening of tenure at the hands of the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature came the rewriting of related Board of Regents policies on tenure and program discontinuance

A Milwaukee high school is one of the lowest performing in the U.S. Is help on the way?

Alan Borsuk:

By the numbers, Milwaukee North Division High School is one of the lowest performing comprehensive public high schools in America.

Let’s start with a few numbers from the state Department of Public Instruction:

Daily attendance during the 2016-’17 school year: 62.3%.

Graduation rate, as of the 2016-’17 school year: Graduating after four years in high school, 31.7%. For those at the end of their fifth year, 30.1%. At the end of their sixth year, 53.2%.

The state report card for the school, issued last fall, says 7.5% of juniors who took the ACT test required by the state were proficient in language arts. Proficient in math: 0%.

The percentage of students whose scores were “below basic,” the lowest category: 80% in language arts and 87.5% in math.

The average ACT test score for the school was 13.3.

Teachers with Guns: Who Will Get Shot?


On a day when students across Madison and across the nation are walking out of their schools for National Walkout Day, we’re talking about guns in schools. If teachers have guns — who will get shot? Substitute host Harry Hawkins tackles gun violence in schools with Sherry Lucille, Retired School Counselor and Jalateefa Joe-Meyers, CEO of Sankofa Education.

Student stays in classroom, suspended

Shannon Gilchrist:

“‘The biggest problem, Dad, is that there shouldn’t be politics in the classroom… I may just sit in my seat. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the least intrusive of the choices I’ve been given,”’ Jacob said, according to his father. The boy also told him that he was far from the only student who felt that way.

Shoemaker told his son that he supported whatever decision he made, but he should know there might be consequences.

So Jacob did stay in his seat. About an hour after his lone act of civil disobedience, he was handed the out-of-school suspension for Wednesday for failing to follow instructions to either join students outside or those in the study hall.

“He stayed in the classroom, where he was supposed to be in the first place,” Shoemaker said. “It’s kind of ironic.”

Commentary on Yale Admissions

Walter aolson:

Jeremiah Quinlan, dean of undergraduate admissions at Yale, has written a letter to the Wall Street Journal responding to my opinion piece last week. Countering a claim I never made, he asserts that civic activism in an applying student is not “the only attribute we look for.”

Interestingly, Quinlan does not distance his office from, seek to explain, or mention at all, the earlier Yale admissions blog post on which my piece was based, which had said of accepted students: “we expect them to be versed in issues of social justice.” Instead, he summarily dismisses my analysis as “false” and wrong.”

Meanwhile, in Quinlan’s reworking, what had been a call for applicants to be “versed in issues of social justice” has turned into a thing more anodyne: Yale will “expect its students to be engaged citizens.”

But even that fallback ought to be controversial, if intended as a requirement for applicants rather than a plus. So a high school senior has mastered a field of study or performance, shown mature character and wide-ranging mind, but never spoken out on a public issue, marched, campaigned or even perhaps taken the time to vote? That’s an automatic “no” for an admissions committee?

‘More than your typical set of agency breakdowns’: Audit pans NYC’s handling of homeless students

Alex Zimmerman:

Education officials have allowed many of New York City’s homeless students to miss large swaths of school without required intervention from city personnel, according to a scathing audit issued Thursday by Comptroller Scott Stringer.

The report comes as city officials have struggled to address the growing student homelessness crisis: There were over 111,000 homeless students last year — or roughly one in 10 public school students. And while advocates have pushed for the education department to devote more resources to serving homeless students, Stringer’s audit offers new evidence that they often slip through the cracks.

“In violation of the Department of Education’s regulations, I can say they’re doing almost nothing to follow up with the parents when homeless students are absent,” Stringer told the New York Times, which first reported the audit’s findings. He added in a statement: “This audit shows more than your typical set of agency breakdowns.”

Here are three key findings from the report, which you can read in full here:

1. Students living in shelters sometimes miss an astonishing amount of school.

Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2018

Peter Wagner and Wendy Sawyer:

Can it really be true that most people in jail are being held before trial? And how much of mass incarceration is a result of the war on drugs? These questions are harder to answer than you might think, because our country’s systems of confinement are so fragmented. The various government agencies involved in the justice system collect a lot of critical data, but it is not designed to help policymakers or the public understand what’s going on. Meaningful criminal justice reform that reduces the massive scale of incarceration, however, requires that we start with the big picture.

This report offers some much needed clarity by piecing together this country’s disparate systems of confinement. The American criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 1,852 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 80 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories. And we go deeper to provide further detail on why people are locked up in all of those different types of facilities.

Howard Fuller withdraws proposal to locate charter school at Milwaukee North Division

Annysa Johnson:

Fuller’s co-location proposal was taken up by the school board’s Charter School Review Panel on Feb. 27, according to a notice provided Friday by MPS’ Office of Board Governance.

He declined to provide a copy of his proposal, and the district has yet to make it available in response to an open records request. Office of Board Governance Director Jacqueline Mann said Friday that charter school proposals may contain proprietary information and that she is working with the Milwaukee city attorney’s office to determine whether it can be released.

While the proposal considered by the advisory panel covered strictly a co-location arrangement — two schools operating in a single building — Fuller said he ultimately “wanted it to be one school.”

Women Lose Out to Men Even Before They Graduate From College

Jacki Gu:

For almost 40 years, women have outnumbered men on U.S. college campuses. They’re accepted to the same schools as men, study in the same degree programs and graduate at higher rates than men. So when female graduates enter the labor force, you’d expect that they would at least find the same opportunities as their male peers, if not better ones.

That hasn’t necessarily happened, though. Male and female graduates of the same college majors tend to veer toward different types of jobs, according to a Bloomberg analysis of American Community Survey data of educational attainment, occupation and income. Women are less likely than men to have careers aligned to their field of study. The jobs many women take typically have lower career earning potential.

The data capture occupations and pay for people at different stages of their career, whether someone graduated from college last year or 30 years ago. But the trends are clear. Even in traditionally pre-professional fields, such as business, science and economics, equal educational attainment doesn’t always correspond to similar career choices by men and women.

How Has Betsy DeVos Reshaped the Department of Education?

The Takeaway:

Betsy DeVos was thrust into the spotlight this weekend on an episode 60 Minutes, as she struggled to give satisfying answers to interviewer Lesley Stahl. DeVos has been appearing on several news programs recently, as the federal government assigned the secretary of education to head up a federal commission on school safety.

Long a champion of private education, DeVos has been vocal in her desire to see taxpayer funds spent at religious and charter schools through a system of school vouchers. In fact, DeVos claimed America’s public school system was a “dead end” at a speech in 2015.

Just Another Piece of Quit Lit

Joseph Conley:

A few years ago I quit my Ph.D. program. It was the second best decision I’ve ever made. They don’t write novels or make movies about us quitters. That honor is reserved for people who never gave up, believed in themselves, didn’t listen to all the naysayers, and persevered. However, with graduate-school attrition rates at around 50 percent, half of us never reach the Ph.D. promised land. I’m a quitter. And, honestly, I think some of you should be, too.

It is hard to tell people that you’ve quit something. I remember feeling a powerful terror, expecting people I told to cut ties with me. I know that sounds terribly hyperbolic, but since my parents had said they were proud of me for pursuing a doctorate, I assumed they would be ashamed of me for quitting. Over the years, my friends had overshot me in life markers, but that was easy to justify based on my “higher pursuits.” With that ego-crutch removed, I was forced to face what I hadn’t accomplished.

As it turned out, (almost) no one abandoned me because of my loss of faith in graduate study. Instead, my relational terror was replaced by an existential terror as I realized that all of those specialized topics we study so deeply for so long in graduate school are — for the most part — of zero interest to anyone else.

A Princeton sociologist spent 8 years asking rural Americans why they’re so

Sean Illing:

Robert Wuthnow, a sociologist at Princeton University, spent eight years interviewing Americans in small towns across the country. He had one goal: to understand why rural America is so angry with Washington.

Wuthnow’s work resulted in a new book, The Left Behind: Decline and Rage in Rural America. He argues that rural Americans are less concerned about economic issues and more concerned about Washington threatening the social fabric of small towns and causing a “moral decline” in the country as a whole. The problem, though, is that it’s never quite clear what that means or how Washington is responsible for it.

So I decided to speak with Wuthnow about what he learned and whether fears about America’s “moral decline” are really just a cover for much deeper fears about race and demographic changes.

A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

Civics: Is The DOJ Adhering To A Perjury Double Standard?

Beth Weingarten:

If we are a nation of laws and not of men, and if we believe in equal justice for all and special privileges for none, then our government has a funny way of showing it. As the Washington Examiner reports, the five year statute of limitations on perjury and/or false statement charges that could have been brought against former Obama administration Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper have now expired.

Clapper’s offending statements made in March 2013 concerned his denial of any National Security Agency (NSA) bulk data collection program, which was soon after exposed by Edward Snowden.

While giving congressional testimony under oath, Clapper responded untruthfully to a question from Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden about whether the NSA “collect[ed] any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans.

“No, sir,” he asserted. “Not wittingly.”

Equal protection imunder the law.

Teacher on Leave After Questioning Whether School Would Let Pro-Life Students Walk Out, Too

Robby Soave:

Rocklin High School in Rocklin, California, placed a teacher on paid administrative leave after she let students discuss the politics of the National School Walkout, which took place around the country yesterday morning.

Julianne Benzel told CBS13 that she suspects she got in trouble for suggesting that schools administrators who condoned the student walkout might be practicing a double standard.

“And so I just kind of used the example which I know it’s really controversial, but I know it was the best example I thought of at the time,” said Benzel. “[If] a group of students nationwide, or even locally, decided ‘I want to walk out of school for 17 minutes’ and go in the quad area and protest abortion, would that be allowed by our administration?”

Her students saw her point, and the discussion—which took place last week—was fruitful, according to Benzel. But on Wednesday, the teacher received a call that she had been placed on leave.

Officials did not specify what the problem was, but offered the following statement:

University of Michigan pours billions into funds run by contributors’ firms

Matthew Dolan and David Jesse:

Executives at some of the nation’s top investment firms donated hundreds of millions of dollars to the University of Michigan while the university invested as much as $4 billion in those companies’ funds, a Detroit Free Press investigation found.
More than $400 million of that amount was sent into funds managed by three alumni who advise the university on its investments. Critics worry Michigan’s approach of investing with some of its top donors, who also help guide the university’s nearly $11-billion endowment, creates a conflict.
Robert Jones, an MBA graduate from Michigan who helped lead Goldman Sachs Group’s quantitative equity fund management unit before helping to found his own firm, is a member of U-M’s Investment Advisory Committee, which advises the university’s investment staff.
Jones said in an interview last year his firm does not receive U-M investments. And he said he would worry about the appearance of a conflict of interest if his alma mater chose his firm.

Say goodbye to the information age: it’s all about reputation now

Gloria Origgi:

We are experiencing a fundamental paradigm shift in our relationship to knowledge. From the ‘information age’, we are moving towards the ‘reputation age’, in which information will have value only if it is already filtered, evaluated and commented upon by others. Seen in this light, reputation has become a central pillar of collective intelligence today. It is the gatekeeper to knowledge, and the keys to the gate are held by others. The way in which the authority of knowledge is now constructed makes us reliant on what are the inevitably biased judgments of other people, most of whom we do not know.

Let me give some examples of this paradox. If you are asked why you believe that big changes in the climate are occurring and can dramatically harm future life on Earth, the most reasonable answer you’re likely to provide is that you trust the reputation of the sources of information to which you usually turn for acquiring information about the state of the planet. In the best-case scenario, you trust the reputation of scientific research and believe that peer-review is a reasonable way of sifting out ‘truths’ from false hypotheses and complete ‘bullshit’ about nature. In the average-case scenario, you trust newspapers, magazines or TV channels that endorse a political view which supports scientific research to summarise its findings for you. In this latter case, you are twice-removed from the sources: you trust other people’s trust in reputable science.

Charter Schools Have Positive Impact on Nearby Schools, Study Finds

Ashley Bateman:

Charters have a “spillover” effect on nearby traditional government schools, and the closer the proximity to a charter school, the greater the positive effect on the students in the nearby schools, Sarah A. Cordes, assistant professor of policy, organizational, and leadership studies at Temple University, reports in “Charters and the Common Good: The spillover effects of charter schools in New York City,” published by EducationNext in spring 2018.

Cordes studied more than a decade’s worth of student achievement data for 876,731 students attending 584 elementary schools in community school districts in New York City (NYC) with at least one charter school serving children in similar grades.

“These findings shed new light on the public debate over the effects of charter schools on non-charter students,” Cordes writes. “Rather than sapping resources and putting students at district schools at a disadvantage, the data in New York City show that students do better when charters open nearby. In particular, students at co-located district schools, where their school shares a building with a charter school, experience the most sharply positive spillover effects. Importantly, the effects of co-location appear to be specific to charter schools, as students in district schools that are co-located with other district schools do not experience similar performance gains.”

Why Aren’t Gene Editing Treatments Available Yet For People With Genetic Disorders?

Kristen Hovet:

“EDS is a genetic tissue disorder that forces the body to make defective collagen,” Crisci told LeapsMag. Since collagen is the main component of connective tissue (bones, blood vessels, the gastrointestinal tract, skin, cartilage, etc.), and is the most abundant protein in mammals, EDS can affect virtually every part of the body. “This results in widespread joint pain, usually due to hypermobility, sometimes along with digestive issues such as inflammatory bowel disease, and prolapsed organs.”

Which Districts Get Into Financial Trouble and Why: Michigan’s Story

David Arsen, Thomas A. DeLuca, Yongmei Ni and Michael Bates:

Like other states, Michigan has implemented a number of policies to change governance and administrative arrangements in local school districts deem to be in financial emergency. This paper examines two questions: (1) Which districts get into financial trouble and why? and (2) Among fiscally distressed districts, are there significant differences in the characteristics of districts in which the state does and does not intervene? We analyze factors influencing district fund balances utilizing fixed effect models on a statewide panel dataset of Michigan school districts from 1995 to 2012. We evaluate the impact of state school finance and choice policies, over which local districts have limited control, and local district resource allocation decisions (e.g., average class size, teacher salaries, and spending shares devoted to administration, employee health insurance, and contracted services). Our results indicate that 80% of the explained variation in district fiscal stress is due to changes in districts’ state funding, to enrollment changes including those associated with school choice policies, and to the enrollment of high-cost, special education students. We also find that the districts in which the state has intervened have significantly higher shares of African-American and low-income students than other financially troubled Michigan districts, and they are in worse financial shape by some measures.

Michigan offers an interesting case of a state with a highly centralized school finance system in which the state sets per pupil funding levels for each district, and most operating revenues follow students when they move among districts or charter schools. Districts have very limited authority to raise additional tax revenues for school operations from local sources. Consequently local responses to financial stress focus primarily on efforts to reduce spending.
Roughly ten percent of Michigan’s 550 districts had operating deficits at the end of each fiscal year from 2012 to 2014. Thus far, three districts, each predominantly African-American and urban, have been placed under an emergency manager’s control, including the state’s largest district, Detroit Public Schools. Two more predominantly African-American districts were dissolved soon after PA 96’s passage. State review teams have recently declared financial emergency in two additional predominantly African-American, urban districts that are currently operating under consent decrees.2 These recent laws and their implementation provide state officials with much greater authority to reshape not only the finances and operations, but also the educational programs in districts serving many of Michigan’s highest-need students. They simultaneously greatly diminish the power of local citizens and educators in these districts to shape education service provision.

Although it has received limited attention, financial accountability could assume growing prominence in the accountability movement. Legislation such as Michigan’s emergency management law changes the politics of state intervention and governance reforms by providing state officials greater legitimacy to intervene in local districts (Arsen & Mason, 2013). To be viewed as legitimate, it is necessary to define the heart of the educational problem as administrative incompetence or the failure of local democratic governance structures. The legitimacy of state takeovers on academic grounds is sometimes undermined by concerns that test-based accountability penalizes schools for failing to overcome disadvantages related to students’ poverty over which they have little control. State takeovers of “academically failing” districts might be criticized, therefore, as unfairly targeting districts that face the greatest educational challenges or “blaming the victims” (McDermott, 2007).
In contrast, administrators and elected representatives in any local community, rich or poor, can be expected to handle public funds honestly and competently. If local officials lack the basic administrative competence to balance their budgets (like everyone else), it is hardly surprising that they also lack the capability to educate their students. By framing school failure in terms of financial accountability, state policy makers may undercut traditional education actors’ legitimacy over academic affairs and establish more politically salient grounds for changes in the control and operation of local schools.

Madison spends nearly $20,000 per student…

Community Interaction and Conflict on the Web

Srijan Kumar, William L. Hamilton, Jure Leskovec, Dan Jurafsky:

1% of all communities initiate 74% of all conflicts on Reddit. The red nodes (communities) in this map initiate a large amount of conflict, and we can see that these conflict intiating nodes are rare and clustered together in certain social regions.

“Come look at all the brainwashed idiots in r/Documentaries
Seriously, none of those people are willing to even CONSIDER that our own country orchestrated the 9/11 attacks. They are all 100% certain the “turrists” were behind it all, and all of the smart people who argue it are getting downvoted to the depths of hell. Damn shame. Wish people would do their research. Here’s the link.”

The above post in (now deleted) led to several members of r/conspiracy posting uncivil comments (starting a ‘raid’) on the linked post in

Therefore, in this research work (accepted and to be presented at World Wide Web conference, WWW 2018), we conduct a data driven analysis of how conflicts/raids occur between communities in Reddit, their impact, mitigation, and prediction.

Amazon Partnership with British Police Alarms Privacy Advocates

Ava Kofman:

Police in Lancashire, a county in northwest England, have rolled out a program to broadcast crime updates, photos of wanted and missing people, and safety notifications to Amazon Echo owners. Since February, the free app has been available to those using Alexa, a cloud-based voice assistant hooked up to the Echo smart speaker. The first of its kind in the U.K., the program was developed by the police force’s innovations manager in a partnership with Amazon developers.

The program marks the latest example of third parties aiding, automating, and in some cases, replacing, the functions of law enforcement agencies — and raises privacy questions about Amazon’s role as an intermediary. Lancashire County will store citizens’ crime reports on Amazon’s servers, rather than those operated by the police. “If we can reduce demand into our call centers via the use of voice recognition or voice-enabled technology, and actually give the community the information they need without them needing to ring into police, then that’s massive,” Rob Flanagan, Lancashire Constabulary innovations manager, told the College of Policing conference, according to TechSpot.

D.C. officials move closer to overhauling school discipline policy

Perry Stein:

The D.C. Council moved closer Tuesday to overhauling school punishment policy in a bid to address dramatic disparities in discipline rates among black and white students.

The council’s education committee voted unanimously in favor of restricting the circumstances when a school can suspend or expel a student.

The five members of that committee framed the disproportionate suspensions and expulsions of black students in the District as a civil rights issue. The legislation will now move to the full 13-member council.

Black students in D.C. schools are nearly eight times more likely to receive an out-of-school suspension than their white peers, according to city data.

Reading Comprehension Depends on Content Knowledge

Michael Zwaagstra:

Walk into an elementary school classroom and you will probably see a lot of books on the shelf. Take a closer look and you will often find a coloured dot, a number, or a letter on each book’s spine. Those dots, numbers, and letters show the reading level of each book.

Books are assigned these levels so students choose books that will challenge them without being too difficult for them. Instead of having the entire class read the same book, students pick books from their designated reading levels. Levelled libraries make it possible for students to find the best books to read. At least that is the theory, but the reality may be somewhat different.

In order for students to read a text effectively they must be able to do two things—decode the individual words and comprehend the sentences and paragraphs. Too often we focus on how students decode words (the ongoing phonics vs. whole language debate), but in that debate we neglect the importance of reading comprehension. A student may be able to “read” every word on a page and yet not understand what the text actually means.

I used to be an elementary school teacher so I remember doing running records with my students to assess their reading levels. However, it didn’t take long before I noticed that my students performed much better on the comprehension questions after reading an article about a sports game than after reading an article about Dr. Norman Bethune, the Canadian medical doctor who went to China in the early twentieth century, even though both articles were officially at the same reading level. The question is “Why?”

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

Students don’t know what they’re getting when they pick a college — data can fix that

Michelle Weise:

When it comes to higher education, so much of what we buy is a black box.

Most students don’t know how much they’ll pay prior to enrollment, let alone where their predecessors landed jobs after graduation. Were they able to pay off their debt? How meaningful did they find the work they were doing after they had graduated?

Besides slick brochures, television advertisements, and highway billboards, little exists beyond U.S. News and World Report’s often criticized rankings to help students and families make sense of what is often one of the largest investments of their lives.

Hidden for most is the fact that while

UW-Madison expands GIS professional programs to meet workforce needs

Dean Robbins:

Geographic information systems (GIS) are increasingly essential to our lives, as industries use spatial data in everything from smartphone apps to urban planning to farming.

With demand spiking for GIS experts, the University of Wisconsin–Madison is significantly expanding its flexible and accelerated GIS programs for busy working professionals.

Building on the success of its Online Master of Science in Cartography and GIS, the university is adding three options for fall 2018 that will train people at any stage in their careers. They include two online certificate programs—one basic and one advanced—and a face-to-face accelerated master’s degree.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: New Jersey’s New Budget Aims to Raise Taxes on Almost Everything

Elise Young:

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy proposed taxing online-room booking, ride-sharing, marijuana, e-cigarettes and Internet transactions along with raising taxes on millionaires and retail sales to fund a record $37.4 billion budget that would boost spending on schools, pensions and mass transit.

The proposal, 4.2 percent higher than the current fiscal year’s, relies on a tax for the wealthiest that has yet to be approved and lacks support from key Democrats in the legislature. It also reverses pledges from Murphy’s predecessor, Republican Chris Christie, to lower taxes in a state where living costs are among the nation’s highest.

Murphy, a Democrat who replaced term-limited Christie on Jan. 16, said his goal is to give New Jerseyans more value for their tax dollars. He has promised additional spending on underfunded schools and transportation in a credit-battered state with an estimated $8.7 billion structural deficit for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Thousands of Madison-area students walk out for gun control, school safety

Karen Rivedal:

While staff chose to hold some sort of commemoration, the walkout was planned by a small committee of students over the past two days, eighth grade social studies teacher Tracy Hamm Warnecke said.

“Middle schools are very aware of what’s going on in the world around them, especially eighth graders,” Hamm Warnecke said. “They’re already terrified about entering high school and that transition, and to think about that school shootings happen in this humongous building that there about to enter — they’re scared.”

More here and here.

Related: Gangs and school violence forum and Police calls, Madison Schools 1996-2006.

US sets new record for censoring, withholding gov’t files

Ted Bridis:

The federal government censored, withheld or said it couldn’t find records sought by citizens, journalists and others more often last year than at any point in the past decade, according to an Associated Press analysis of new data.

The calculations cover eight months under President Donald Trump, the first hints about how his administration complies with the Freedom of Information Act.

The surge of people who sought records but ended up empty-handed was driven by the government saying more than ever it could not find a single page of requested files and asserting in other cases that it would be illegal under U.S. laws to release the information.

People who asked for records under the Freedom of Information Act received censored files or nothing in 78 percent of 823,222 requests, a record over the past decade. When it provided no records, the government said it could find no information related to the request in a little over half those cases.

Math – Dave Ramsey has spent 25 years helping radio listeners climb out of debt. What does he see behind their economic anxiety?

Tim Alberta:

On a Tuesday afternoon in January, an audibly anxious young man—Chris from Midland, Texas—finds himself live on the air explaining his economic struggles to a perfect stranger. Chris, 28, is a truck driver and the family breadwinner; his wife is a stay-at-home mom. They have accumulated $14,600 in credit card debt and borrowed twice that much from their retirement account. They owe $59,000 on an SUV that is worth $46,000. His annual salary of $60,000 can’t buy a shovel big enough to dig out of the hole. Feeling strangled by the financial stress, Chris is turning to someone for help: Dave Ramsey, whose radio show a friend has recommended.

“The car is gone. It’s insanity. It’s absolutely nuts. It owns you,” Ramsey says in his cigar-smoky southern drawl. With millions of people listening, he orders Chris to sell the SUV and the couple’s other vehicle—a paid-off pickup truck with a value of $15,000. Then he instructs Chris to take out a $5,000 loan for a clunker to drive while paying down other debts. “You guys are in such bad shape that I’m scared for ya,” Ramsey says. But, he adds encouragingly, all is not lost. “When I was your age, I was going broke and going bankrupt. And I had to start completely over, with little babies, and my marriage was hanging on by a thread. And I was so scared, I couldn’t breathe,” Ramsey says. “You can clean this up, dude. And I can show you how, if you’ll do what I teach you to do.”

Eight reasons for America’s shameful number of wrongful convictions

John Grisham:

It is too easy to convict an innocent person.

The rate of wrongful convictions in the United States is estimated to be somewhere between 2% to 10%. That may sound low, but when applied to a prison population of 2.3 million, the numbers become staggering. Can there really be 46,000 to 230,000 innocent people locked away? Those of us who are involved in exoneration work firmly believe so.

Millions of defendants are processed through our courts each year. It’s nearly impossible to determine how many of them are actually innocent once they’ve been convicted. There are few resources for examining the cases and backgrounds of those claiming to be wrongfully convicted.

Can we handle the truth about student discipline issues and their potential consequences?

Erika Sanzi:

“You can’t handle the truth.” I’m beginning to think there was great wisdom in these five words uttered by Colonel Jessup, the character played by Jack Nicholson in the 1992 film “A Few Good Men.” While he was totally wrong in the context of the film, his words seem quite right when applied to America in 2018. Our politics have become so polarized that people avoid asking all the hard questions about the Parkland shooting, unwilling to accept that even a small part of the truth may not align with their preferred narrative.

The powerful pro-gun lobby, with the NRA as its leader, has done everything in its power to shut down research on gun violence for fear that it may lead to increased gun control. But how can we have an honest debate about gun violence if we can’t even study the issue?

Similarly, since 2013, schools have been under enormous pressure—for good reason—to lower their suspension, expulsion, and student arrest numbers. Broward County was part of the PROMISE program (Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Supports & Education), which was intended, according to the website, “to safeguard the student from entering the judicial system.” Sounds good to me.

But now we know that school resource officers never arrested Cruz, despite repeated violent behavior. Local outlets like The Sunshine State News and even Jake Tapper of CNN are asking very fair, and much-needed, questions about the possibility that the policy changes around school discipline made it too easy for Cruz to fly under the FBI’s radar, even when he was popping up constantly on the school district’s radar, including for what appear to be committed felonies.

Former school resource officer Robert Martinez claimed that he and others were instructed not to arrest students and that the pressure to keep arrest numbers down meant that even very serious—and violent—offenses were handled in-house instead of being turned over to police.

Life’s lessons learned the hard way

Chet Richards:

These may seem elementary, but we’re talking college students in the peace-and-love 1960s. Apparently, moms made the beds for many of these guys, and when they got to college, nobody did.

About number 4: He made it VERY clear to me that grabbing the broom and finishing an area myself was not what platoon-leaders-for-a-day do. Over the years, I figured out that something like mission command was the best idea


Joshia Geltzer:

When Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller against Russian operatives for interfering with the 2016 presidential election, descriptions of how the Russians used modern communications technologies were all too familiar. referred to the ways in which Russia “manipulated social-media platforms,” and tech company executives like Facebook’s Rob Goldman “how the Russians abused our system.”

Joshua Geltzer is executive director and visiting professor of law at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection as well as an ASU Future of War fellow at New America writing a book on the issues discussed here. From 2015 to 2017 he served as senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council.

This is standard fare. When Russia manipulates elections via Facebook, or ISIS recruits followers on Twitter, or racist landlords deny rentals to blacks and then offer them to whites through Airbnb, commentators and companies describe these activities as “manipulation” or “abuse” of today’s ubiquitous websites and apps. The impulse is to portray this odious behavior as a strange, unpredictable, and peripheral contortion of the platforms.

There Is No Case for the Humanities

Justin Stover:

T he humanities are not just dying — they are almost dead. In Scotland, the ancient Chairs in Humanity (which is to say, Latin) have almost disappeared in the past few decades: abolished, left vacant, or merged into chairs of classics. The University of Oxford has revised its famed Literae Humaniores course, “Greats,” into something resembling a technical classics degree. Both of those were throwbacks to an era in which Latin played the central, organizing role in the humanities. The loss of these vestigial elements reveals a long and slow realignment, in which the humanities have become a loosely defined collection of technical disciplines.

The result of this is deep conceptual confusion about what the humanities are and the reason for studying them in the first place. I do not intend to address the former question here — most of us know the humanities when we see them.

Instead I wish to address the other question: the reason for studying them in the first place. This is of paramount importance. After all, university officials, deans, provosts, and presidents all are far more likely to know how to construct a Harvard Business School case study than to parse a Greek verb, more familiar with flowcharts than syllogisms, more conversant in management-speak than the riches of the English language. Hence the oft-repeated call to “make the case for the humanities.”

Computational politics. Twitter, big data for sale or barter

Adam Townsend:

Computational politics are the analytical tools used to profile at the individual level. It is asymmetrical warfare. ‘They’ have a machine gun and ‘you’ have nothing, not even the awareness of all the battles you lose.

Broke: Survey questions, supplemented by a layer of “latent data” that gave correlational guidance at the group level but not precise individual targeting
Woke: User generated, persistent data collection. The always-on trail of harvestable imprints
Twitter is one supply line of the attack

Twitter narrowly defines ‘you’ and ‘your’ attributes including sexual orientation, ethnicity, religious and political views, intelligence, happiness, use of addictive substances, parental separation, age, and gender. These are the deepest parts of a person’s identity

US postsecondary enrollments in Mandarin fall

Pinyin News:

The last time I presented the figures for people studying Mandarin in U.S. colleges and universities, the strong but over-hyped growth of the first decade of the century had stalled.

In the newest figures, recently released by the Modern Language Association of America, the number of people in Chinese classes has fallen. Although the total enrollments in languages other than English fell 9.2% between fall 2013 and fall 2016 (the second-largest decline in the history of the MLA’s census), the decline in enrollments in Mandarin classes was significantly greater than that.

The MLA says the decline between 2013 and 2016 was 13.1 percent. The true amount is greater.

Tips for becoming your child’s best advocate

The Rhode Show:

If you notice your child may have some learning obstacles in school, but you are not sure where to begin or what will be best the support you can give your child, there are numerous options.

Tracy from The Children’s Workshop give us some tips and tricks to help you sort through this process.

Ask Questions:

If your child is old enough to answer questions, you may want to begin by asking any of the following: “What do you like/not like about school,” or “Tell me one thing you look forward to everyday when you go to school?” You will be surprised how much your child will begin to open up and start telling you that you were not aware of based on closed ended questions.

Studies have shown that children have higher self-esteem and do better in school when they have constructive, quality conversations with their parents.

Survey: Most people don’t understand science, want their kids to do it

John Timmer:

Recently, we had a look at a global survey of the state of science, which tracked the efforts different countries are putting into training scientists and pursuing research. That set of “science indicators” included a bit of information on how the public viewed science, even though that wasn’t the primary purpose of the report.

So we were happy to find out that someone had done a thorough job of looking into the global attitudes toward science. 3M, a company that views itself as research-driven, commissioned surveys in 14 different countries with a mix of developed and developing economies, and the results are pretty encouraging. Despite the many cultural differences, people consistently feel that science has an overall positive impact on global society, and they’re excited by what we learn.

But buried in the positives are a few areas of concern. Most people don’t recognize the impact that science has had on their daily lives and view it as something that their kids might be involved with. Yet younger people are more likely to view themselves as skeptical of science and not trusting of what scientists have discovered.

What’s Going Down in China is Very Dangerous

Michael Krieger:

One of the more concerning ramifications of China’s recent turn toward a more totalitarian stance at home is what it means for the geopolitical environment in the years ahead. Several people asked in the comment section of Part 1 why I care about what’s going on in China when we have so many serious problems in the U.S. The reason is because a major shift in the polices of the second largest economy in the world, populated with over a billion people and run by leadership intent on establishing a far more dominant position on the world scale militarily and politically, will affect everyone.

Government propaganda is one of the most insidious and dangerous things that regularly occurs within human society, and it’s been pervasive in essentially all civilizations to-date. The media’s always a key ally in the dissemination of propaganda, something much of the American public has finally come to understand. The election of Donald Trump despite the U.S media’s unanimous support of Hillary Clinton was the real wakeup call, and has led to incessant calls for platform monopolies like Google and Facebook to censor speech that questions the dominant intelligence agency narratives. There’s nothing more terrifying to an entrenched power structure than a loss of the narrative, and the election of Trump proved to them that they lost it. The American establishment isn’t really afraid of Trump, it’s far more concerned that his election signified a loss of narrative control.

Narrative is particularly important to lunatics who run a global empire, and the U.S. media’s almost always happy to oblige. For example, the media’s enthusiasm to swallow government propaganda is what led to the Iraq war disaster, in addition to so many other societal tragedies I write about here on a daily basis. While the marriage between U.S. government propaganda and a complicit corporate media has been a demonstrable danger to the world, we shouldn’t for a moment think American propaganda is the only threat. Other powerful governments use it as well, and China is no exception.

Is Gossip Grounds for Termination?

Colleen Flaherty:

While institutions are beginning to take more action on faculty misconduct, tenured faculty terminations remain rare and typically follow reports of serious misconduct. So the mysterious firings of two longtime, tenured professors of music at Dixie State University in Utah last week are attracting attention — including a petition to bring them back.

“Both are widely loved and known in their community and were fired for minor policy violations,” reads the petition, organized by a group called Full Disclosure DSU. “We believe that termination should be saved for the most severe actions, and their punishment does not fit their ‘crimes.’”

Even in scare quotes, “crimes” is probably too strong a word for the main claims against Glenn Webb, chair of music, and Ken Peterson, director of vocal activities: not liking a colleague and then discussing the vote on that colleague’s tenure bid.

Peterson, who did not respond to a request for comment, posted on Facebook his notice of dismissal, dated Friday. It accuses him of “professional incompetence, serious misconduct or unethical behavior” and “serious violation” of university rules and regulations.

Here’s how Oprah could get another good idea in Milwaukee — visit Penfield Montessori

Alan Borsuk:

Every student and family is involved in programs aimed at good behavior, emotional control, and engagement in school. A smaller number of students with more needs get more attention. And a few students need and get individualized help.

Kim Burg, one of the counselors who works at the school, said the school is teaching kids to do “hard things” that put them on good paths both for academics and behavior.

It requires teachers and counselors to do hard things, too. “There is no quick fix,” said Heather Rotolo, director of the behavior clinic at Penfield Children’s Center. “It takes hard work and determination and just plugging away.”

Alan Burkhard, a professor at Marquette University who works with Ph.D. candidates in counseling, is spending one day a week at Penfield Montessori this year, assessing what is working and helping shape the staff’s work.

It’s too early to have research results, but Burkhard is encouraged by the school’s substantial and continuous commitment to the behavior program.

“The longer you persist with this, the better the results you get,” he said. The payoff will be there when the students are in third or fourth grade, and beyond. Conversely, he said, if issues are not addressed early, effective help is much harder when kids are older – say, in high school.

Betsy DeVos on guns, school choice and why people don’t like her

Lesley Stahl:

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is a devout Christian grandmother from Michigan — who has spent most of her life trying to improve the quality of education for poor kids. So how in the world did she become one of the most hated members of the Trump Cabinet?

She is dedicated to promoting school choice but her critics say she really wants to privatize the public school system that she once called, quote, “a dead end.”

Now, after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, her portfolio is expanding. Monday, President Trump is expected to appoint her as head of a new commission on school safety charged with developing policies to prevent school violence.

Another view: Jason Linkins and Phil Lewis:

Begin with the family money. Before Betsy DeVos was a DeVos, she was a Prince — the daughter of Edgar Prince, to be specific. Prince père ran a successful auto parts manufacturing business in Holland, Michigan, which he had built into a billion-dollar empire by the time of his death. Prince used some of his personal wealth to bankroll what would become the organizational infrastructure of the religious right, providing vital seed money for conservative Christian advocacy groups like the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family.

Bringing about one of the largest mergers of conservative wealth, Betsy married into the DeVos family, whose patriarch — father-in-law Richard DeVos — had built a multibillion-dollar fortune as the co-founder of multilevel marketing behemoth Amway.

A 1980s study on juvenile crime in Japan sheds light on American gun culture

Annalisa Merelli:

In 1982, John Beck—a strategy advisor and former business professor at Harvard and UCLA—was a 22-year-old Harvard student working on his thesis on juvenile crime in Japan. In the 1980s, Japan had seen an uncharacteristic increase in juvenile crime, which was associated with bōsōzoku (暴走族), or biker gangs. These groups, Beck says, comprised between 20 and 50 youth, under the age of 21, who would have standoffs that involved beating and sometimes knifing each other.

Once the gang members turned 21—the age at which criminal records become permanent in Japan—the vast majority of them went through a solemn ceremony and returned to lawful citizenship. But a small percentage continued their criminal careers as part of the yakuza (ヤクザ).

Beck had been exposed to the phenomenon several years prior, while living in Japan as a Mormon missionary between the age of 19 and 21. He was fascinated by what he described to Quartz as a “nonconforming group within such a conformist society.” By 1980, according to the data he collected, nearly 15 minors every 1,000 were arrested—compared with an adult arrest rate of 3 every 1,000.

Related: Gangs and School Violence Forum.

Police calls, Madison Schools 1996-2006.

Can any composer equal Bach?


On BBC Radio 3’s Breakfast show we have a daily feature called Bach Before 7. Every weekday morning, just before 7.00, we play a piece of music by Johann Sebastian Bach – usually something requested by our listeners, who tune in from all over the globe. It’s inconceivable that another composer could take Bach’s place in that slot. Even Mozart or Beethoven wouldn’t cut it. And as for other giants of the musical canon, Monteverdi, Brahms, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Wagner, Mahler, Shostakovich, Bartok: forget it. Over the course of my show, between 6.30am and 9.00am, I will of course play many of these and indeed dozens of other composers of all different periods and styles, from Adès to Zemlinsky. But it’s Bach, and Bach alone, who could warrant his own daily slot.

This is not to say that JS Bach is everybody’s favourite composer – of course not. But he is the ultimate composer. Trying to explain why is a fool’s game: it’s like the famous quote attributed to several that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”. It’s hard to think of a more refined brain than Albert Einstein’s, and yet it was he who famously uttered, “This is what I have to say about Bach – listen, play, love, revere – and keep your trap shut.”

Oconomowoc schools impose limits on ‘privilege’ discussions after parents complain

Annysa Johnson:

That is troubling for Oconomowoc parent Amanda Hart, whose online petition calling on the district to maintain programming like the MLK Day assembly had attracted almost 1,000 signatures as of Friday.

“I don’t know how you can have a discussion about race without also discussing (privilege) to give our students a complete picture,” said Hart, a lesbian mother of three, including two biracial foster children.

“Even if you don’t agree with the concept of white privilege,” she said, “it’s part of helping students become critical thinkers.”

The timing of the board’s edict, just weeks before the February resignation of Principal Joseph Moylan, has fueled speculation that Moylan was pushed out in part for allowing the student-led exercise during the assembly Jan. 15.

Much more on Oconomowoc, here.

This is a tweetstorm about things that have surprised me having started a school, coming from a non-educational background

Austin Allred:

1. Students’ brains are broken by our existing system. We’ve been reworked purely for extrinsic reward and forgotten how to learn entirely. The most frequently asked questions we get are “is this required?” and “donwe get a certificate for this?” It’s sad
Most universities, surprisingly, have no way to measure their effectiveness, and most don’t try. If you can’t measure effectiveness you can’t fail.

3. Many academics believe you can’t learn online. Not that you can only learn a subset of things or that the learning is worse because it misses x y and z if not in person. They literally don’t believe it’s possible to have an effective online education.

Universities risk their reputations by failing to value teaching staff

Margaret Heffernan:

Across the UK, university lecture halls and seminar rooms have been silent as academic staff continue a wave of strikes. Taken at face value, the industrial action is a textbook case of bad industrial relations.

Lecturers have accepted relatively low pay and pretty poor working conditions in exchange for significant autonomy and relatively secure jobs and pensions. But, over the past decade, without negotiation, every aspect of that deal has been eroded. Autonomy has given way to increased teaching responsibilities, larger classes, more time spent grading and heavier management duties. Job security has been reduced by eliminating departments and cutting research funding. Pensions are failing to deliver on their promise.

While university leaders have awarded themselves huge pay increases, they allowed academic pay and standards of living to decline steadily. Nobody should be surprised that trust has broken down.

The Ignoble Lie

Patrick Deneen:

When I present the noble lie to students in my classes, it rankles—as Socrates predicted it would. They dislike the idea that the just polity must be based upon a deception. But what irritates them even more is the suggestion that the just city must be based upon inequality. As good liberal democratic citizens, they intensely dislike the suggestion that inequality might be perpetuated as a matter of birthright, and they identify with the injustice done to the underclass. Over twenty years teaching at Princeton, Georgetown, and Notre Dame, I can’t recall a single student who regards the myth as anything but troubling. Most find it repugnant.

When pressed on the question of why it will prove more difficult to persuade the ruling class of the truth of the noble lie, most students believe that the ruling class’s superior education and intelligence make them more resistant to propaganda, while the simple working people are likely to succumb to deception because they don’t adequately understand their own interests. My students implicitly side with Marx in believing that the less educated are likely to adopt “false consciousness.”

Plato intends us to understand the myth differently. Unlike Marx, he did not believe that the members of the lower class would be unlikely to know their own interests. The underclass is likely to accept the myth because they realize it works to their advantage. Its members are keenly aware of the fact of inequality. That part of the “lie” hardly seems false to them. What is novel, and what works to their advantage, is the idea that inequalities exist for the benefit of the underclass as well as the rulers. That is, members with noble metals in their souls are to undertake their work for the benefit of everyone, including those whose souls are marked by base metals. By contrast, members of the ruling class are likely to disbelieve the myth out of self-interest. They balk at the claim that every person, regardless of rank, belongs to the same family. They do not want the advantages that might solely benefit their class to be employed for the benefit of the whole.

Black Kids Don’t Want to Read About Harriet Tubman All the Time

Denene Miller:

I’m pretty sure I hadn’t even wiped the sonogram goop off my belly before I rushed off to pick out dresses and books for my unborn child. I was on a mission: My daughter was going to need all the pink dresses and all the books with brown babies.

Finding adorable dresses was easy. Finding children’s literature with pictures of children of color was not.

Books with white children and, like, ducks, were de rigueur, which I guess was fine for parents who were having white babies or ducks. But this was not going to work for my brown baby, who would spend a lifetime looking for her image in a pop cultural landscape that all but ignored children who looked like her. I wanted — needed — her to see her beautiful brown self reflected in the music and stories I hoped to feed to her as consistently as food. In my house, she would be visible.

Eventually, a friend helped me track down Ezra Jack Keats’s “The Snowy Day,” and the lovely “ ‘More More More,’ Said the Baby.” And my stepson gave his copy of Nikki Giovanni’s “The Sun Is So Quiet” to his baby sister. I eventually discovered the treasure trove that is Just Us Books, and works by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Eloise Greenfield. Still, the pickings were slim.

Why Is Academic Writing So Academic?

Joshua Rothman:

A few years ago, when I was a graduate student in English, I presented a paper at my department’s American Literature Colloquium. (A colloquium is a sort of writing workshop for graduate students.) The essay was about Thomas Kuhn, the historian of science. Kuhn had coined the term “paradigm shift,” and I described how this phrase had been used and abused, much to Kuhn’s dismay, by postmodern insurrectionists and nonsensical self-help gurus. People seemed to like the essay, but they were also uneasy about it. “I don’t think you’ll be able to publish this in an academic journal,” someone said. He thought it was more like something you’d read in a magazine.

Was that a compliment, a dismissal, or both? It’s hard to say. Academic writing is a fraught and mysterious thing. If you’re an academic in a writerly discipline, such as history, English, philosophy, or political science, the most important part of your work—practically and spiritually—is writing. Many academics think of themselves, correctly, as writers. And yet a successful piece of academic prose is rarely judged so by “ordinary” standards. Ordinary writing—the kind you read for fun—seeks to delight (and, sometimes, to delight and instruct). Academic writing has a more ambiguous mission. It’s supposed to be dry but also clever; faceless but also persuasive; clear but also completist. Its deepest ambiguity has to do with audience. Academic prose is, ideally, impersonal, written by one disinterested mind for other equally disinterested minds. But, because it’s intended for a very small audience of hyper-knowledgable, mutually acquainted specialists, it’s actually among the most personal writing there is. If journalists sound friendly, that’s because they’re writing for strangers. With academics, it’s the reverse.

Civics: States of Women’s Incarceration: The Global Context

Aleks Kajstura and Russ Immarigeon:

We already know that when it comes to incarceration, the United States is truly exceptional. As we have reported previously, the United States incarcerates 716 people for every 100,000 residents, more than any other country. Worldwide, and within the U.S., the vast majority of those incarcerated are men. As a result, women’s incarceration rates are overshadowed and often lost in the data. As a first step in documenting how women fare in the world’s carceral landscape, this report compares the incarceration rates for women of each U.S. state with the equivalent rates for countries around the world.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Skin in the Game

George Eaton:

“I consider myself in the same business as journalists,” Taleb says when I raise the subject of my trade. “But if you don’t take risks it becomes propaganda or PR.” Taleb, a man sometimes described as having praise only for himself, speaks admiringly of the New Statesman’s in-house philosopher John Gray. “My respect for him is so great… He, visibly, has skin in the game, he was not afraid to be a Thatcherite when it was unpopular and later an anti-Thatcherite when it was also unpopular.”

In Taleb’s universe, the fieriest circle of hell is reserved for bankers and neoconservatives. “The best thing that could happen to society is the bankruptcy of Goldman Sachs,” he tells me. “Banking is rent-seeking of industrial proportions.” Taleb, who became rich as a derivatives trader, is not a foe of capitalism but of “cronyism”. “If you’re taking risks, God bless you. This is why I accept inequality. I’ve seen people go from trader to cab driver and back again.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate

Legislatove Technology Service Bureau:

This interactive map shows the Wisconsin school districts that will benefit from Representative Nygren and Senator Marklein’s bill. Click on a district to see its revenue limit, projected low revenue adjustment, when the school district will become eligible for additional aid, and projected increased sparsity aid.

Via Molly Beck.

Madison spends far more than most, now nearly $20,000 per student.

University vice-chancellors are paid far more than public sector peers

Richard Adams:

Vice-chancellors’ pay at British universities has far outstripped that of their peers in senior leadership roles elsewhere across the public sector, according to research conducted by the Guardian.

Analysis of the salaries of vice-chancellors at leading universities shows they are paid well above the chief executives of NHS hospital trusts and local authorities in a number of cities in England.

The £185,000 pay of the chief executive of Birmingham city council – the largest local authority in Europe, with gross annual expenditure of £3bn – was less than half that of the University of Birmingham’s vice-chancellor, Sir David Eastwood, on £378,000.

Eastwood also chairs the Universities Superannuation Scheme – for which he earns an additional £90,000 – and is a board member of the Universities UK group, at the heart of the bitter dispute over staff pensions that has provoked strikes in more than 60 universities in recent weeks.

Controversy follows UW-Stevens Point decision to cut Humanities programs

Mark Sommerhauser:

The proposal also reignited questions about the value of higher education in an era of skyrocketing student debt and questions about U.S. worker productivity: Should universities cultivate niche specialties of academic subjects or offer a broad array of them? Should they teach students skills tied to specific occupations, or widen students’ worldview while honing broad skills of analysis, creativity and communication?

Critics say UW-Stevens Point is placing its bets on the first answers to both questions — at the risk of undermining educational quality and access.

Some, such as state Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, say it’s part of a broader effort by Republican lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker to transform the UW System.

Noel Radomski, who directs the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education at UW-Madison, said the plan could hurt the university’s reputation and hamper student and faculty recruitment. Few other universities that faced budget deficits took similar steps, he said, and for good reason.

MS-13 is ‘taking over the school,’ one teen warned before she was killed

Michael Miller:

The old minivan appeared near the school on a Tuesday morning, its Illinois plates the only thing out of place in the blue-collar suburbs of central Long Island. But as backpack-toting teenagers passed by on their way to Brentwood High, the van’s doors suddenly swung open.

Out sprang members of the violent street gang MS-13, armed with baseball bats.

They attacked three 16-year-old students they suspected of being rivals before driving off. When police spotted the van in the same neighborhood the following afternoon and surrounded it at gunpoint, the MS-13 members were in the midst of trying to abduct a fourth.


Gangs and School Violence Forum

Police calls, Madison Schools:1996-2006.

The Truth About the SAT and ACT

Nathan Kuncel and Paul Sackett:

Myths abound about standardized tests, but the research is clear: They provide an invaluable measure of how students are likely to perform in college and beyond

This Saturday, hundreds of thousands of U.S. high-school students will sit down to take the SAT, anxious about their performance and how it will affect their college prospects. And in a few weeks, their older peers, who took the test last year, will start hearing back from the colleges they applied to. Adm

Commentary on Culture and Masculinity

Allie Stuckey:

Confident, self-assured men – the kind our society needs – don’t rape women. They don’t harass their female employees. Brave men don’t bully their peers. Strong men don’t shoot up schools. They don’t patronize or hurt others to prove their masculinity.

Weak, insecure ones do.

That’s why 26 out of the last 27 deadliest mass shooters were fatherless. That’s why boys who grow up in single-mother homes are twice as likely to commit crimes than those who grow up with a present dad. That’s why both sons and daughters are more likely to become depressed without a strong relationship with their father. That’s why 71% of high school dropouts are fatherless.

Not because they had too much male strength in their lives, but because they didn’t have enough.

If masculinity were truly toxic, then wouldn’t boys and girls who grow up without dads be happier and healthier? If it were better that men were more like women, wouldn’t kids be just as content with a mom than with having a father, too?

Like it or not, masculinity — in its best, strongest form — is the kingpin of the family. Humble, strong leadership as expressed by a father is simply not, in most cases, adequately replaced by a mother. Those without a strong father tend to act out in aggression in their adolescent and adult years– not because they’re oversaturated with maleness, but because they’re starving for it.

The void caused by fatherlessness, along with its consequential damage, should be a pretty good indication that it’s not less or weaker men that we need, but more strong ones. If the family deteriorates because of a lack of a strong male figure, doesn’t it follow that society, too, falls apart without strong, honorable men?

If we know that kids who grow up without dads are more likely to be a threat to themselves and to others, shouldn’t we be trying to save masculinity, rather than kill it?

Fly on the Wall and a Faded Bumper Sticker

Kathryn Wisniewski:

It was a rough day yesterday for the College of Letters and Science at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

We all, staff, students and faculty alike, started our day with a death sentence. It was not unironic that it was a bulleted list that delivered the news. We didn’t even warrant a full sentence, just a bullet point, a bullet wound in the heart of the university, our alma mater.

Chancellor Bernie Patterson had the unfortunate job of pulling that trigger, under the subject line of “Reimagining the university.” At 10:32 a.m. on Monday, March 5, 2018, Patterson’s email delivered a digest of the proposal of upcoming changes to the programs at UWSP in order to address our declining enrollment and resulting budget crisis.

Do the Benefits of Collective Bargaining Include Giving Up a $10,000 Bonus?

Mike Antonucci:

But for the moment let’s suppose you were an exemplary New Mexico teacher paying agency fees to your exclusive bargaining agent. Then you read this:

This week, Gov. Susana Martinez signed off on a budget bill that provides for $5,000 and $10,000 bonuses for exemplary teachers in New Mexico. And while she used her line-item veto authority to strike the language giving teachers unions the ability to decide whether the school districts and charter schools they represent will participate, one union leader says her group might still be able to block the bonuses by invoking their collective bargaining rights under state law.

NEA-NM President Betty Patterson says “school employees can rest assured our local associations will use negotiations to locally determine whether their district will go forward with this wildly unpopular ‘merit pay’ program that undermines collaboration among school teams.”

Commentary on Madison’s recent black high school graduation rate changes

Karen Rivedal:

DPI’s data showed 73 percent of African-American students graduated on track from Madison public high schools last spring, compared with 59 percent who did the same in spring 2016. That’s by far the highest single rate and year-over-year jump posted for black students over the past five years in the district, with rates of 54 percent, 56 percent and 59 percent from 2012-13 to 2014-15.

But district officials were unable to say, for instance, where last year’s increase was more heavily weighted — in the district’s main high schools or in the alternative programs — or whether the rise was distributed proportionately across programs and schools.

“We still need to dig into that,” said Andrew Statz, the district’s chief accountability officer, noting the district typically gets graduation numbers from the state later in the year and releases its own detailed report in May.

Cheatham also pointed to the district’s six-year graduation rate for black students, which has risen more steadily over the past five years, from 72 percent in 2012-13 to 77 percent in 2016-17, with a high of 79 percent in 2015-16.

“We have been on a positive trajectory when it comes to graduation rates for the last several years,” she said. “The most positive part of our trajectory has been in the six-year rate, and because of that I wasn’t surprised to see the four-year rate is starting to see that similar uptick.

Civics: The CIA Democrats

Patrick Martin:

An extraordinary number of former intelligence and military operatives from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council and State Department are seeking nomination as Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections. The potential influx of military-intelligence personnel into the legislature has no precedent in US political history.

If the Democrats capture a majority in the House of Representatives on November 6, as widely predicted, candidates drawn from the military-intelligence apparatus will comprise as many as half of the new Democratic members of Congress. They will hold the balance of power in the lower chamber of Congress.

Both push and pull are at work here. Democratic Party leaders are actively recruiting candidates with a military or intelligence background for competitive seats where there is the best chance of ousting an incumbent Republican or filling a vacancy, frequently clearing the field for a favored “star” recruit.

A case in point is Elissa Slotkin, a former CIA operative with three tours in Iraq, who worked as Iraq director for the National Security Council in the Obama White House and as a top aide to John Negroponte, the first director of national intelligence. After her deep involvement in US war crimes in Iraq, Slotkin moved to the Pentagon, where, as a principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, her areas of responsibility included drone warfare, “homeland defense” and cyber warfare.

Why This Tech Executive Says Her Plan to Disrupt Education Is Different

Adam Baidawi:

At Lumineer Academy, a newly opened primary school in Williamstown, Australia, there is no homework. There are no classrooms, uniforms or traditional grades.

Instead, there are “creator spaces,” “blue-sky thinking” sessions and “pitch decks.”

If the school — furnished like a start-up with whiteboards and beanbag chairs — sounds like the idea of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, that’s because it is.

Civics: Sandvine, the first-Canadian, then-US company enabling Turkey, Syria, and Egypt to poison innocent users’ web traffic with spyware, threatened @Citizenlab to stop the report.


We have reviewed carefully your letter dated March 7, 2018.

The pending Citizen Lab report concerning the use of Sandvine’s PacketLogic Devices (“Report”) is a peer-reviewed, comprehensive research paper on a serious issue of significant public interest.

As is its standard protocol, Citizen Lab has engaged in best practices in conducting the research underlying the Report and in providing Sandvine with ample time and information to respond to the core findings of Citizen Lab’s research.

Specifically, before finalizing the Report, by letter dated February 12, 2018 Citizen Lab provided Sandvine with a detailed synopsis of the research findings, including core technical findings, and sought Sandvine’s comment or statement in response. Citizen Lab posed specific questions to Sandvine and committed to publishing, in full, any statement or clarification that Sandvine wished to provide. Citizen Lab remains committed to this position, and intends to publish the exchange of communication with Sandvine along-side the final report, including this letter.

The PowerPoint Philosophe

David Bell:

Enlightenment Now has few of these qualities. It is a dogmatic book that offers an oversimplified, excessively optimistic vision of human history and a starkly technocratic prescription for the human future. It also gives readers the spectacle of a professor at one of the world’s great universities treating serious thinkers with populist contempt. The genre it most closely resembles, with its breezy style, bite-size chapters, and impressive visuals, is not 18th-century philosophie so much as a genre in which Pinker has had copious experience: the TED Talk (although in this case, judging by the book’s audio version, a TED Talk that lasts 20 hours).

Like a TED Talk, Enlightenment Now is easy to summarize. Despite all the doom and gloom bandied about today, Pinker argues, things are good—in fact, the best they’ve ever been. More specifically, human beings today lead longer, safer, healthier, wealthier, and indeed happier lives than at any point in recorded history, and they do so thanks to the Enlightenment. The nay-saying that is so prevalent in our culture is simply an error, the product of cognitive biases compounded by the influence of foolish intellectuals and ignorant politicians.

Civics: Meet the campaign connecting affluent techies with progressive candidates around the country

Sarah Jeong:

Paul Spencer, a Congressional candidate in Little Rock, Arkansas, has never worked at a tech company. He doesn’t represent tech industry issues. He doesn’t even own a laptop or smartphone. He typically dictates the tweets on his campaign’s official Twitter account; occasionally he’ll type them out on a campaign staffer’s computer. Sometime last year, he was tagged in a tweet with someone going by the handle of @Pinboard, who was telling Spencer that he could raise money for him.

“I don’t know who this @Pinboard guy is,” he said to his staffers. The campaign ignored the tweet for a couple of days before someone decided they might as well send the guy a message. “We like to say it’s the most lucrative DM we’ve ever sent,” Reed Brewer, a spokesperson for the Spencer campaign, told me.

Spencer was being invited to be a beneficiary of the Great Slate, a fundraising campaign that raised nearly a million dollars in 2017, mostly through Twitter, for eight seemingly random congressional candidates from across the country. The Great Slate has no splashy slogans, no slick logos: just a bare-bones website, a donate button, and a lot of jokes on Twitter. It isn’t being run by the candidates, a PAC, or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). The fundraising is almost entirely driven by rank-and-file tech workers — some working for big companies like Google — living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Do Voters Want an A-F Rating for Schools? The Answer is Complicated

Morgan Polikoff & Kate Kennedy:

California is nothing if not a rebel. While more than 40 states have chosen to give schools summative/overall ratings in their new accountability systems, California is bucking that trend.

These overall grades—often on an A-F (e.g., Alabama, Florida, North Carolina), 0-100 (e.g., Connecticut, Wisconsin), or 1-5 (e.g., Oregon) scale—are intended to offer parents and other stakeholders a clear evaluation of school performance. An A-F rating, for example, might aggregate academic measures (e.g., reading and math test scores) with nonacademic factors, such as suspension and absenteeism rates. (Examples of states’ report cards, including California’s Dashboard, are presented throughout this post.)

Madison School Board candidate forum 2018

Capital Times Podcast:

From police in schools to racial disparities in the classroom, there’s no shortage of daunting issues that the Madison School Board is grappling with in 2018. At a forum on the city’s south side earlier this week, three candidates running for the board in this spring’s election weighed in.

The Cap Times collaborated with Delta Sigma Theta Alumnae and the Simpson Street Free Press on this event, hosted at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

You probably won’t remember this, but the “forgetting curve” theory explains why learning is hard

Nikhil Sonnad:

Learning has an evolutionary purpose: Among species, individuals that adapt to their environments will succeed. That’s why your brain more easily retains important or surprising information: It takes very little effort to remember that the neighbor’s dog likes to bite. Remembering the dog’s name is harder. One ensures safety, the other is just a random fact.

But today, the kinds of things humans want to learn are rarely focused on survival; we also use our adaptive, evolutionary memory to remember new languages, 11-step face-washing routines, obscure vocabulary words, and facts about Star Wars. The trick to doing so, once you’ve decided to acquire a new skill or build up your knowledge in a particular area, lies in convincing your brain that the information matters. In other words, you have to overcome the “forgetting curve.”

Oregon won’t allow 529 tax breaks for K-12 private school

Mike Rogoway:

Oregon parents won’t get a state tax break on money they save to pay for K-12 private schooling, lawmakers have decided. That’s despite a federal tax break approved in December as part of a congressional tax overhaul.

Traditional college savings plans known as 529 accounts have offered an incentive for families to save for college. Parents and students invest in 529s and, if the accounts increase in value, they can withdraw that increase tax free to pay for college expenses.

Ada Lovelace

NY Times:

A century before the dawn of the computer age, Ada Lovelace imagined the modern-day, general-purpose computer. It could be programmed to follow instructions, she wrote in 1843. It could not just calculate but also create, as it “weaves algebraic patterns just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.”

The computer she was writing about, the British inventor Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, was never built. But her writings about computing have earned Lovelace — who died of uterine cancer in 1852 at age 36 — recognition as the first computer programmer.

How Careful Data Analysis, Shoe-Leather Reporting Exposed Inflated Graduation Rates


It began with a feel-good story: A struggling high school in Washington, D.C., had turned itself around and was sending all its seniors to college. When a reporter dug deeper, however, she discovered that many students should not have qualified to graduate—one in five had even missed more than half the school year.

Using data collected from attendance records, class rosters, and internal emails, combined with dogged shoe-leather journalism, reporter Kate McGee of WAMU unraveled the narrative of Ballou High as a success story. This enterprising journalism opened the door to a government investigation that has revealed a broader pattern of inflated graduation rates across the city’s public school system.

The issues raised—about credit recovery, chronic absenteeism, and the pressure to deliver high graduation rates—are playing out in communities across the country. What kind of data should education reporters look for when shedding light on local school districts? Where should they turn for help? What questions should they ask?

Civics – Splitsylvania: State Secession and What to Do About It

Glenn Harlan Reynolds:

This short piece looks at the growing phenomenon of intra-state secession movements. From California, where plans have been floated to split the state into two, five, or six pieces, to more traditional secessionist movements in Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington, to plans to separate upstate New York and downstate Illinois from the large metropolitan areas that dominate state politics, various states are facing internal separatist movements. The paper looks at the sources of the dissatisfaction driving these movements, and suggests a number of solutions to address that dissatisfaction without amending the Constitution or adding stars to the flag.

The Geography of Millennial Talent

Richard Florida:

Contrary to popular perception, Millennials are fairly evenly distributed among urban areas, mature suburbs, and exurbs. However, the cohort in cities tends to be far more diverse in terms of race and ethnicity. Nearly three-quarters (72.3 percent) of Millennials in exurbs are white, and more than half (51.9 percent) of those in mature suburbs are too. But urban Millennials are majority-minority: Nearly 60 percent of them are non-white. As Frey puts it: “Suburban categories get less diverse as distance from the core increases.”

But which places are attracting the most Millennial talent—the recent college grads so frequently stereotyped and mischaracterized in popular media? Is this group really so different from previous generations of smart, young people who migrated to cities?

The map from the study below shows the big picture. In 60 of the largest 100 metropolitan areas, the share of college grads within the total Millennial population ranges between 30 and 45 percent. However, some metros have much higher shares. The gap between the leading and lagging metros on Millennial talent reflects the extreme spatial inequality and polarization that define, and increasingly plague, the United States today.

Turn Prisons Into Colleges

Elizabeth Hinton:

Imagine if prisons looked like the grounds of universities. Instead of languishing in cells, incarcerated people sat in classrooms and learned about climate science or poetry — just like college students. Or even with them.

This would be a boon to prisoners across the country, a vast majority of whom do not have a high school diploma. And it could help shrink our prison population. While racial disparities in arrests and convictions are alarming, education level is a far stronger predictor of future incarceration than race.

The idea is rooted in history. In the 1920s, Howard Belding Gill, a criminologist and a Harvard alumnus, developed a college-like community at the Norfolk State Prison Colony in Massachusetts, where he was the superintendent. Prisoners wore normal clothing, participated in cooperative self-government with staff, and took academic courses with instructors from Emerson, Boston University and Harvard. They ran a newspaper, radio show and jazz orchestra, and they had access to an extensive library.

Taxpayer Subsidies for massive college endowments

Alicia McElhaney:

Members of the House of Representatives introduced a bipartisan bill Thursday to eliminate the new excise tax on university endowments.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. John Delaney (D-Md.) and Bradley Byrne (R-Al.), would repeal the 1.4 percent excise tax under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act signed by President Donald Trump in December. The proposed legislation follows a letter that 49 college presidents sent yesterday to Congress, urging lawmakers to do away with the tax in order to preserve their resources.

The Delaney-Byrne Don’t Tax Higher Education Act would restore university endowments’ tax-exempt status to help ensure schools have the funding they need for scholarships, research and other student services.

“Colleges and universities rely on their endowments to provide essential funding for financial aid, support difference-making research and teaching and effectively manage complex long and short term costs,” Delaney said in a statement Thursday.

Endowments provide almost half of annual revenues at many schools, according to the letter sent by the universities to Congress. The letter was signed by presidents from Ivy League schools including Harvard University, Dartmouth College and Yale University, as well as colleges such as University of Notre Dame, the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins University.

The new tax will result in unprecedented damage to charitable resources, the presidents said.

Related: Taxpayer Ivy League subsidies and grants.

More on endowments from Brookings.

The Department of Education’s Obama-Era Initiative on Racial Disparities in School Discipline: Wrong For Students and Teachers, Wrong on the Law

Texas Review of Law & Politics, Forthcoming San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 18-321 :

On March 8, 2010, one year into the Obama Administration, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan gave a passionate speech in which he asserted (correctly) that African-American students are the subjects of school discipline at higher rates than white students. Although he did not mention it, it is also true that white students are the subjects of school discipline at higher rates than Asian American students and that male students are disciplined at higher rates than female students.

In response to the racial disparity he identified, Duncan promised that the Department of Education would be stepping up its enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In the years that followed, the Department of Education made good on that promise by opening numerous investigations based on statistical disparities. On January 18, 2014, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice jointly issued a “Dear Colleague Letter” on school discipline in which they asserted that the law prohibits not only actual discrimination in discipline on the basis of race, but also what they called “unjustified” disparate impact.

Nassim Taleb, Absorbent Barriers and House Money

Branko Blagojevic:

ut he goes one step farther. He says on a long enough time scale, as long as you have an absorbent barrier (e.g. no capital left to wager or death), then you will end in ruin unless you engage in these types of strategies. This is true even if you have the edge.

Taleb: … Actually, what I’m saying is even stronger. I am saying that even if you have the edge, in the presence of the probability of ruin, you will be ruined. Even if you had the edge … If you play long enough. Unless you engage in strategies designed by traders and rediscovered by every single surviving trader, very similar to what we call, something called the Kelly Criterion, which is to play with the house money. In other words, you start betting in a casino, the strategy is as follows: You go with $100, whatever you want; and you bet $1. If you lose your bet less than a dollar, you bet, say, 90 cents, or whatever; and if you make money, you start betting with the house money. And this is called, playing with the market money or playing with the house money. And so increase your bet as you are making money, and you reduce your bet as you are losing money. And that strategy is practically the only one that allows you to gamble or engage in risky strategy without ruin.
Normally we think about it the other way around. If we have a slight edge, we should just keep playing and in the long run, we’re better off since we have the edge. But what Taleb is saying is in the presence of absorbent barriers, we’ll eventually hit ruin using a naive strategy.

This makes sense in a way since. On a long enough time scale we’re all dead. Also, randomness doesn’t behave as people normally expect and long runs are more common than we anticipate.

Why being a loner may be good for your health

Christine Ro:

One key benefit is improved creativity. Gregory Feist, who focuses on the psychology of creativity at California’s San Jose State University, has defined creativity as thinking or activity with two key elements: originality and usefulness. He has found that personality traits commonly associated with creativity are openness (receptiveness to new thoughts and experiences), self-efficacy (confidence), and autonomy (independence) – which may include “a lack of concern for social norms” and “a preference for being alone”. In fact, Feist’s research on both artists and scientists shows that one of the most prominent features of creative folks is their lesser interest in socialising.

One reason for this is that such people are likely to spend sustained time alone working on their craft. Plus, Feist says, many artists “are trying to make sense of their internal world and a lot of internal personal experiences that they’re trying to give expression to and meaning to through their art.” Solitude allows for the reflection and observation necessary for that creative process.

A recent vindication of these ideas came from University at Buffalo psychologist Julie Bowker, who researches social withdrawal. Social withdrawal usually is categorised into three types: shyness caused by fear or anxiety; avoidance, from a dislike of socialising; and unsociability, from a preference for solitude.

A paper by Bowker and her colleagues was the first to show that a type of social withdrawal could have a positive effect – they found that creativity was linked specifically to unsociability. They also found that unsociability had no correlation with aggression (shyness and avoidance did).

The Art of Trade War (Hint: China Wrote the Book)

David Fickling:

The smarter move for China might be to stand pat. Despite Xi’s boasts at Davos and elsewhere, the country’s record on free trade is dismal, a potential handicap if matters degenerate into a wider trade war. The better policy would be to let Trump raise costs for American consumers with ill-advised tariffs; refuse to retaliate; then pose as the innocent victim.

Governments in Washington’s sphere of influence, motivated by strategic investments in the likes of Deutsche Bank AG and Brazilian utility CPFL Energia SA and taken aback by Trump’s aggressive stance, may be persuaded to regard Beijing as the friendlier ally.

That would be the greater victory for a Chinese president without term limits and with a view to posterity: To subdue the enemy without fighting, as the Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu wrote, is the supreme art of war.

Debussy: the musical genius who erupted out of nowhere

Philip Hensher:

He came out of nothing, and the eruption of his genius is a complete mystery. There was no musical tradition in his very ordinary family. Within two years of starting to play the piano he was admitted to the Conservatoire; and two years after that, aged 12, he was being given prizes for his performance of a Chopin concerto. Almost from the start, his own music was exquisitely formed, and even the earliest of the songs and piano pieces give a lot of pleasure.

When his mature period began in 1894, that satisfying form was filled with inventions of extraordinary beauty and, at first, strangeness — there are chords in the sumptuous ‘Les sons et les parfums’ prelude of extreme discord. Oddly enough, his music, apart from the etudes, is not difficult for pianists to play — even the showy ‘L’isle joyeuse’ is much easier to get round than most of Ravel. Nor is he difficult to listen to. He was the first composer I really loved when I was a boy, and I don’t think there’s anything in his work that would challenge any open-minded 12-year-old. He wrote to give pleasure, and the depth of the pleasure he gives is immense.

Like a generation of women, my unwed birth mother kept a lifelong secret: Me

Elizabeth (Betsy) Brenner:

In spring 1954, Judith Ann Hiller, a bright, promising 20-year-old senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was terrified.

She had grown up in a working-class, largely Jewish neighborhood on Milwaukee’s west side, where families valued academic achievement and wanted a better life for their children. At Madison, she was an active and popular student.

But some two months shy of graduation, Judy learned she was pregnant.

A baby meant shame, disgrace, expulsion from the university. It would shatter her dreams, and the dreams Sarah and Abe Hiller had for the third of their four daughters. Marriage was out of the question; she barely knew the father.

Judy said nothing to anyone but her parents and one close friend. She pushed through to graduation, then quickly moved to the farmlands of central Washington to stay with relatives.

During the summer, she lied to their neighbors in the tiny community of Ephrata, claiming to be the wife of a deployed soldier. She wore a fake gold wedding ring. It was arranged that she would deliver her baby in Seattle, some 200 miles away. The infant would be placed immediately with a Jewish couple through a private adoption service.

The Left-Handed Kid

Jamie Fisher:

Nominally a book that covers the rough century between the invention of the telegraph in the 1840s and that of computing in the 1950s, The Chinese Typewriter is secretly a history of translation and empire, written language and modernity, misguided struggle and brutal intellectual defeat. The Chinese typewriter is ‘one of the most important and illustrative domains of Chinese techno-linguistic innovation in the 19th and 20th centuries … one of the most significant and misunderstood inventions in the history of modern information technology’, and ‘a historical lens of remarkable clarity through which to examine the social construction of technology, the technological construction of the social, and the fraught relationship between Chinese writing and global modernity’. It was where empires met.

Safety and broader support for students are focus of School Board forum

Amber Walker:

“Now, more than ever, we need someone that has the pulse of our community serving on the School Board to have a voice for all of our students,” Reyes said.

Moffit, who also grew up in Madison, said she has a lifelong commitment to education, teaching for seven years before joining the board in 2015.

“I truly believe that education is the greatest equalizer that we can have in society to transcend the many barriers that exist for students in our district,” Moffit said.

Commentary on UW-Madison Student Fees

Campus Reform:

In the University of Wisconsin system, student fees are known as segregated university fees (SUF), and fall into two categories: non-allocable and allocable, with the former constituting 83 percent of SUF and “support commitments for fixed financial obligations,” and the latter providing “substantial support for campus student activities.”

In 2017, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed making allocable fees—which total $8,231,986.37—optional, though the proposal was ultimately nixed from his budget.

But student Jake Lubenow, chairman of both the Wisconsin Federation of College Republicans and the College Republicans chapter at UW Madison, told Campus Reform that the College Republicans organization “stands firm in its stance that allocable student fees should be made optional.”

The fees “force students to fund organizations they may find morally reprehensible,” Lubenow asserted, arguing that “compulsion is contrary to everything this country stands for.”

Although funding decisions must be made in a viewpoint neutral manner, in accordance with a 2000 Supreme Court ruling involving three UW Madison students who objected that the mandatory fees were used to fund groups they did not support, left-leaning organizations still wind up with more than 20 times the amount of funding allocated to conservative groups.

Portland State University Researchers May Have Violated Federal Law by Using the Personal Data of Thousands of Portland-Area K-12 Students

Katie Shepherd:

For two years, professors at PSU’s Graduate School of Education conducted a research project using unwitting K-12 students as subjects. The university has since acknowledged it failed to inform parents of the research and did not get their permission to access the student data. University officials say they are still examining whether any laws were broken.

Starting in 2016, two PSU graduate school professors asked teaching candidates to collect the personal data of students by taking it off school computers, including names, race, gender, disability status and whether they were learning English as a second language.

PSU says the aim of the study was to create better results for students of color, by changing teaching methods to reduce racial disparities in test scores.

But WW has exclusively obtained an internal report showing that in trying to reach that goal, PSU professors and grad students collected personally identifying data from minors without asking for the consent of their parents—as federal law typically requires.

Discredited hair-testing program harmed vulnerable families across Ontario, report says

CBC News:

A commission looking into child protection cases involving the Motherisk test lab says bad science removed vulnerable children from more than 50 families based on now-discredited hair analysis, but few parents have a chance of finding a satisfactory legal remedy.

The Motherisk Commission was set up by the Ontario government to analyze legal cases dating from 1990 to 2015. The cases involved flawed hair-strand drug and alcohol tests from a lab run by the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

On Monday, the two-year review into more than 1,200 child welfare cases involving hair tests concluded that in 56 cases the test results had a substantial impact, such as being used to pull children from their parents’ care.

Provincial court judge Judith Beaman led the independent commission, which said parents were often powerless in the face of tests imposed by children’s aids societies.

In seven of the 56 cases, families achieved a legal remedy. In four of those seven, children have been returned home.

One of the four whose children were returned is a woman that the Motherisk test suggested was having at least 18 drinks a day. CBC News can’t use her real name due to a publication ban.

The Real Fallout from High School Walkouts

Peter Wood:

The students at the Parkland high school who helped organize their own walkout and who have organized the coming national walkouts have been lionized in the media. David Hogg, Sara Imam, Cameron Kasky, and several other Parkland students have been featured in interviews on television and cited in news stories for their roles in calling on legislatures to adopt more stringent gun control measures and calling on fellow students across the country to walk out of class in protest.

Hogg, Imam, and the others may be perfectly sincere, but the story is a little more complicated than it first seemed. The students have received a great deal of help from a teachers’ union (it bussed the students to a protest in Tallahassee) and various progressive organizations, including the Women’s March and Conservative media responded with accounts such as David Hines’ “Why Did It Take Two Weeks to Discover Parkland Students’ Astroturfing?” and Charles Cooke’s “David Hogg Is Fair Game for Critics.”

In the meantime, college admissions offices across the country have been rushing out announcements that they will not penalize any students who walk out of their classes because of the protests. One such announcement came from Ken Anselment, dean of admissions and financial aid at Lawrence University in Wisconsin, who wrote:

Civics: ICE Shackled 92 Somalis for 40 Hours On a Failed Deportation Flight. That Was Just the Start of the Abuse.

Maryam Saleh:

For a brief moment in December 2017, the international spotlight shined on the case of 92 deportees who were on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement-chartered flight to Somalia. Most such flights unload their human cargo once they land, but this flight, for logistical reasons, returned home — and brought witnesses back with it.

The Somalis told of abuse on the flight, saying they were shackled with chains on their wrists, waists, and legs for more than 40 hours; forced to urinate in bottles or on themselves; and that ICE officers beat and threatened some passengers. (ICE has denied that it mistreated detainees on the flight.)

But even after the spotlight dimmed, the abuse continued. The Somalis are still being held at the Krome Detention Center and the Glades County Detention Center in Florida, as their lawyers try to fight their deportations. At Glades, where half the group is being held, they have complained of a litany of abuses, including violent assaults by guards, denial of medical care, lack of access to their lawyers, and racism.

“The guards and the administration up there at Glades, they think they’re immune. To me, it’s so brazen to be doing this. They know there’s a federal case. They know we’re up there all the time. They know there are investigators up there,” said Lisa Lehner, an attorney at Americans for Immigrant Justice, one of the groups representing the Somalis. “They called them ‘niggers.’ They called them ‘boy.’ They’ve said things like, ‘We’re sending you boys back to the jungle.’” An ICE spokesperson in Miami declined to answer questions about the complaints coming from Glades, citing pending litigation.

A whirlwind introduction to dataflow graphs

Fabian Giese:

While in the middle of writing “Reading bits in far too many ways, part 3”, I realized that I had written a lot of background material that had absolutely nothing to do with bit I/O and really was worth putting in its own post. This is that post.

The problem I’m concerned with is fairly easy to state: say we have some piece of C++ code that we’re trying to understand (and perhaps improve) the performance of. A good first step is to profile it, which will give us some hints which parts are slow, but not necessarily why. On a fundamental level, any kind of profiling (or other measurement) is descriptive, not predictive: it can tell you how an existing system is behaving, but if you’re designing something that’s more than a few afternoons worth of work, you probably don’t have the time or resources to implement 5 or 6 completely different design alternatives, pick whichever one happens to work best, and throw the rest away. You should be able to make informed decisions up front from an algorithm sketch without having to actually write a fleshed-out implementation.

US senator grills CEO over the myth of the hacker-proof voting machine

Dan Goodin:

A US senator is holding the nation’s biggest voting machine maker to account following a recent article that reported it has sold equipment that was pre-installed with remote-access software and has advised government customers to install the software on machines that didn’t already have it pre-installed.
 Use of remote-access software in e-voting systems was reported last month by The New York Times Magazine in an article headlined “The Myth of the Hacker-Proof Voting Machine.” The article challenged the oft-repeated assurance that voting machines are generally secured against malicious tampering because they’re not connected to the Internet.
 Exhibit A in the case built by freelance reporter Kim Zetter was an election-management computer used in 2016 by Pennsylvania’s Venango County. After voting machines the county bought from Election Systems & Software were suspected of “flipping” votes―meaning screens showed a different vote than the one selected by the voter―officials asked a computer scientist to examine the systems. The scientist ultimately concluded the flipping was the result of a simple calibration error, but during the analysis he found something much more alarming―remote-access software that allowed anyone with the correct password to remotely control the system.

Data show suspensions up in Madison schools for first semester

Amber Walker:

Out-of-school suspensions are up in the Madison Metropolitan School District at this point in the school year compared to last year.

On Monday, the Madison School Board received its midyear update on the Behavior Education Plan. District data shows 1,122 suspensions across the district so far this school year, compared to 892 at the same point last year, an increase of 230.

MMSD officials said the uptick in suspensions is isolated to four high schools and one middle school. The schools were not named, but represent half of all in-school and out-of-school suspensions. Freshman and sophomores account for 75 percent of all incidents at the high school level.

Realated: Gangs and school violence forum audio / video.

Police calls: Madison Schools 1996-2006.

Curated Education Information