Facebook Faces a New World as Officials Rein In a Wild Web

Paul Mozur,Mark Scott and Mike Isaac

On a muggy, late spring evening, Tuan Pham awoke to the police storming his house in Hanoi, Vietnam.

They marched him to a police station and made their demand: Hand over your Facebook password. Mr. Tuan, a computer engineer, had recently written a poem on the social network called “Mother’s Lullaby,” which criticized how the communist country was run.

One line read, “One century has passed, we are still poor and hungry, do you ask why?”

Mr. Tuan’s arrest came just weeks after Facebook offered a major olive branch to Vietnam’s government. Facebook’s head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, met with a top Vietnamese official in April and pledged to remove information from the social network that violated the country’s laws.

While Facebook said its policies in Vietnam have not changed, and it has a consistent process for governments to report illegal content, the Vietnamese government was specific. The social network, they have said, had agreed to help create a new communications channel with the government to prioritize Hanoi’s requests and remove what the regime considered inaccurate posts about senior leaders.

Report: Nearly 30 Percent of Public School Teachers Chronically Absent

Bill McMorris

Public school teachers are three times more likely to miss large chunks of school days than their peers at charter schools, which could hurt student learning, according to a new report.

An analysis by Thomas P. Fordham Institute senior research and policy associate David Griffith found that more than 28 percent of public school teachers miss at least 11 workdays a year.

Hawaii led the country in absenteeism with 79 percent of public school teachers taking off at least 10 days. Educators’ truancy rates are far higher than those in other industries. An average teacher will take eight personal or sick days each year compared to the nationwide average of three-and-a-half, according to the report, titled, “Teacher Absenteeism in Charter and Traditional Public Schools.

“The percentage of teachers in traditional public schools who take more than ten sick and personal days is almost four times higher than the percentage of employees in other industries who take at least ten sick days—despite the fact that teachers have significantly fewer work days than employees in other industries,” the report says.

High absentee rates are unique among public school teachers. About 10 percent of charter school teachers are chronically absent from work—closer to the national average of 7.7 percent of workers with access to paid sick leave.

ETC College Rankings Index

Educate to Career:

Workforce preparedness, maximizing earnings and employability are the primary reasons for a person to attend college. The ETC College Rankings Index quantifies and compares each college’s record for improving the labor market outcomes for students.

The ETC College Rankings Index is the only system that rates colleges by the Economic Value Added delivered to their graduates. Our patent pending methodologies analyze the labor market outcomes of graduates from 1250 four year colleges.

The ETC Index also makes available fee based data ($10 per school) which enables detailed analysis by college and major:

The average net cost – of every college. This is not the list price- this is the annual tuition that in state students actually paid. This information alone can save you $ thousands per year.

Jobs and salaries – for each college and major, we provide a list of the jobs that recent graduates actually landed, with starting salaries.

Loan default and grad rates – enhance your planning and analysis.

Facebook’s war on free will

Franklin Foer:

All the values that Silicon Valley professes are the values of the 60s. The big tech companies present themselves as platforms for personal liberation. Everyone has the right to speak their mind on social media, to fulfil their intellectual and democratic potential, to express their individuality. Where television had been a passive medium that rendered citizens inert, Facebook is participatory and empowering. It allows users to read widely, think for themselves and form their own opinions.

We can’t entirely dismiss this rhetoric. There are parts of the world, even in the US, where Facebook emboldens citizens and enables them to organise themselves in opposition to power. But we shouldn’t accept Facebook’s self-conception as sincere, either. Facebook is a carefully managed top-down system, not a robust public square. It mimics some of the patterns of conversation, but that’s a surface trait.

In reality, Facebook is a tangle of rules and procedures for sorting information, rules devised by the corporation for the ultimate benefit of the corporation. Facebook is always surveilling users, always auditing them, using them as lab rats in its behavioural experiments. While it creates the impression that it offers choice, in truth Facebook paternalistically nudges users in the direction it deems best for them, which also happens to be the direction that gets them thoroughly addicted. It’s a phoniness that is most obvious in the compressed, historic career of Facebook’s mastermind.

Mark Zuckerberg is a good boy, but he wanted to be bad, or maybe just a little bit naughty. The heroes of his adolescence were the original hackers. These weren’t malevolent data thieves or cyberterrorists. Zuckerberg’s hacker heroes were disrespectful of authority. They were technically virtuosic, infinitely resourceful nerd cowboys, unbound by conventional thinking. In the labs of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) during the 60s and 70s, they broke any rule that interfered with building the stuff of early computing, such marvels as the first video games and word processors. With their free time, they played epic pranks, which happened to draw further attention to their own cleverness – installing a living cow on the roof of a Cambridge dorm; launching a weather balloon, which miraculously emerged from beneath the turf, emblazoned with “MIT”, in the middle of a Harvard-Yale football game.

The hackers’ archenemies were the bureaucrats who ran universities, corporations and governments. Bureaucrats talked about making the world more efficient, just like the hackers. But they were really small-minded paper-pushers who fiercely guarded the information they held, even when that information yearned to be shared. When hackers clearly engineered better ways of doing things – a box that enabled free long-distance calls, an instruction that might improve an operating system – the bureaucrats stood in their way, wagging an unbending finger. The hackers took aesthetic and comic pleasure in outwitting the men in suits.

When Zuckerberg arrived at Harvard in the fall of 2002, the heyday of the hackers had long passed. They were older guys now, the stuff of good tales, some stuck in twilight struggles against The Man. But Zuckerberg wanted to hack, too, and with that old-time indifference to norms. In high school he picked the lock that prevented outsiders from fiddling with AOL’s code and added his own improvements to its instant messaging program. As a college sophomore he hatched a site called Facemash – with the high-minded purpose of determining the hottest kid on campus. Zuckerberg asked users to compare images of two students and then determine the better-looking of the two. The winner of each pairing advanced to the next round of his hormonal tournament. To cobble this site together, Zuckerberg needed photos. He purloined those from the servers of the various Harvard houses. “One thing is certain,” he wrote on a blog as he put the finishing touches on his creation, “and it’s that I’m a jerk for making this site. Oh well.”

Boys Are Not Defective Girls in the Middle East do better than boys in school by a greater margin than almost anywhere else in the world: a case study in motivation, mixed messages, and the condition of boys everywhere.

Amanda Ripley:

In fact, across the Arab world, women now earn more science degrees on a percentage basis than women in the United States. In Saudi Arabia alone, women earn half of all science degrees. And yet, most of those women are unlikely to put their degrees to paid use for very long.

This is baffling on the most obvious levels. In the West, researchers have long believed that future prospects incentivize students to invest in school. The conventional wisdom is that girls do better in school as women acquire more legal and political rights in society. But many Middle Eastern women do not go on to have long professional careers after graduating; they spend much of their lives working at home as wives and mothers. Fewer than one in every five workers is female in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman.

This spring, I went to the Middle East to try to understand why girls are doing so much better in school, despite living in quintessentially patriarchal societies. Or, put another way, why boys are doing so badly.

The incredible correlation between IQ & income

Pumpkin Person

In this post, I summarize all that I have learned about the actual test scores of different income levels. In particular, I compare actual psychometric data of seven U.S. economic classes: (1) the homeless, (2) welfare recipients, (3) median Americans, (4) self-made millionaires (5) self-made decamillionaires, (6) self-made billionaires, and (7) self-made decabillionaires, and largely confirm my repeated assertion that average IQ increases by 8-10 points for every ten-fold increase in income, though there may be a few major exceptions to this overall trend. Also, by analyzing the slope of the standardized regression line predicting IQ from income, I find evidence that the true correlation between IQ and income (at least in America) is much higher than the 0.23 reported in a 2006 meta-analysis and even higher than the 0.4 correlation asserted by Arthur Jensen, and may even approach 0.5.

I also find tentative but shocking evidence that the IQ gap between the richest and poorest Americans may exceed an astonishing 70 points!

In this analysis I am limiting myself entirely to test score data so IQ estimates based on ethnic composition or educational achievements of various economic classes are only occasionally mentioned to buttress the actual psychometric results. In several cases, the data is somewhat anecdotal, and speculative statistical inferences are sometimes made.

“We (Madison) cannot spend half a billion $ per year to produce the nation’s largest achievement gap”

Former Madison School Board candidate Ali Muldrow (about 35 minutes), speaking yesterday on WORT-FM’s A Public Affair (MP3 audio) – via a kind reader. (wort-fm.org)

A great discussion that included former Madison School Board Candidate Wayne Strong.

Madison has long spent far more than most government funded school districts (now nearly $20,000 per student), yet we’ve long tolerated disastrous reading results.

They are all rich white kids and they will do just fine – NOT!

Ali Muldrow notes and links: SIS and duckduckgo.

Yet, Madison’s non diverse governance model continues unabated, aborting the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter school and more recently a quasi Montessori charter proposal.

I found the discussion of Madison’s “factory style” (see Frederick Taylor) K-12 model informative and thought about then Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s 2009 speech: “An emphasis on adult employment“.

I hope all of the discussion participants run for school board. It is never too early to run!

The rise of tax credits: How Arizona created an alternative to school vouchers — and why they’re spreading

Matt Barnum:

With its recent adoption of a tax credit scholarship program, Illinois became the 18th state to adopt an innocuously named — but highly controversial — policy that critics have described as a “backdoor voucher.”

In some sense, the description is apt. But by injecting a middle layer into the government’s support of private school tuition, tax credits help avoid some of the legal and political obstacles that have dogged efforts by advocates, like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, to promote school choice through vouchers.

Eva Moskowitz, public education and the crisis of neoliberalism

Andrew O’Hehir:

Moskowitz is a powerful and unrepentant example of the oft-derided species “neoliberal,” signifying a belief in market-driven solutions, public-private partnerships and some degree of government downsizing and deregulation. (Most of her New York political battles have involved attempts to limit or shackle the immensely powerful teachers’ unions.) A longtime ally of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and supporter of Hillary Clinton — but also one who has praised President Donald Trump for his support of charter schools — Moskowitz is arguably one of the last and best of the uncloseted neoliberals. Whether or not you agree with her educational philosophy and her tactics, the case she makes is clear and strong.

No parent, as Moskowitz said in our conversation, can base their decisions on long-term questions of educational policy. They want the best possible education for their kids in the best possible schools, and Moskowitz believes she has cracked the code for doing that in some of New York’s most underprivileged neighborhoods. As I can testify (as the dad of two middle-school kids), any parent who hears Moskowitz talk about the central role poetry plays in the curriculum of Success Academy is likely to swoon a little. She insists that all children need recess every day, no matter how cold or hot it is outside or how the school day is going. She believes in art and drama and music, not as optional activities but regular classes. Her schools are rigorous but do not teach toward standardized tests, she says; her students are challenged but never abused. (To be clear, some of these claims would be contested by Moskowitz’s critics.)

The Black Family Is Struggling, and It’s Not Because of Slavery

Walter Williams:

That the problems of today’s black Americans are a result of a legacy of slavery, racial discrimination, and poverty has achieved an axiomatic status, thought to be self-evident and beyond question.

This is what academics and the civil rights establishment have taught. But as with so much of what’s claimed by leftists, there is little evidence to support it.

The No. 1 problem among blacks is the effects stemming from a very weak family structure.

Children from fatherless homes are likelier to drop out of high school, die by suicide, have behavioral disorders, join gangs, commit crimes, and end up in prison. They are also likelier to live in poverty-stricken households.

But is the weak black family a legacy of slavery?

In 1960, just 22 percent of black children were raised in single-parent families. Fifty years later, more than 70 percent of black children were raised in single-parent families.

Here’s my question: Was the increase in single-parent black families after 1960 a legacy of slavery, or might it be a legacy of the welfare state ushered in by the War on Poverty?

According to the 1938 Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, that year 11 percent of black children were born to unwed mothers. Today about 75 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers.

Is that supposed to be a delayed response to the legacy of slavery?

The bottom line is that the black family was stronger the first 100 years after slavery than during what will be the second 100 years.

How Are Minnesota’s Progressives Tackling School Inequity? By Choking Off Data Exposing Disparities

Beth Hawkins:

The other day my older son told me a revealing story about his final days as a student in Minneapolis Public Schools:

One day last spring, one of his teachers informed the class that if they wanted to take the state science exams, they were welcome to go down to the office and schedule a time. This was the International Baccalaureate section of a hard science course, a dozen kids who presumably would make Southwest High School and its teachers look shiny and successful. And who were all, at the time, prepping for a solid month of IB testing — something the school brags about in its marketing efforts.

As he talked, I looked up the recently released results of the assessments. At his school 43 kids, or a little more than a tenth of the class, took the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments in math. Sixty-one 10th-graders took the reading test. Results involving fewer than 10 students are not reported publicly for privacy reasons; too few 11th graders to count took the math test.

So consider for a moment: Only 104 of about 1,400 kids who were supposed to take the test did.

And what have we heard about it from the higher-ups? Zip.

This is the third year running in which district and state leaders have done nothing when confronted with abundant evidence that teachers are putting up roadblocks to the collection of data. Honestly, when fewer than 10 kids take the math test, how many people had to turn a blind eye — or collude — all the way up to the highest levels of the education system?

Veterans Administration throws suicide stats out the back door on Friday at 5 p.m.

Thomas Ricks

Veterans are about 20 percent more likely than nonveterans to kill themselves, according to a Veterans Affairs press release issued on Friday afternoon at the close of business. (Traditionally, that’s when Washington public affairs types put out bad news they don’t wish to discuss. Mainly they hope to see it tucked into Saturday newspapers that no one reads.)

Also, the suicide rate for female veterans is 250 percent that for female non-vets.

The document itself states that the study is quite significant. “This report is unprecedented in its comprehensive analysis of suicide rates among all U.S. Veterans,” it reads.

Public Money Should Produce Public Code

Timothy Volker:

The Free Software Foundation Europe and a broad group of organisations including Creative Commons are supporting the Public Money, Public Code campaign. The initiative calls for the adoption of policies that require that software paid for by the public be made broadly available as Free and Open Source Software. Nearly 40 organisations and over 6200 individuals have already supported this action by signing the open letter. You can sign it too.

We know that publicly funded educational materials and scientific research should be made available under open licenses for maximum access and reuse by everyone.

The same goes for the digital infrastructure of publicly-funded software. Unfortunately, governments around the world tend to procure mostly proprietary software, and the restrictive licenses that come with it limits our rights as citizens to use (and improve) these tools funded through the public purse and developed for the public good.

Make your voice heard today. The campaign organiser will deliver the signatures to European representatives who are debating software freedom in public administration.


Katherine M. Gehl and Michael E. Porter .

Many Americans are disgusted and concerned about the dysfunction and abysmal results from Washington, D.C., and so are we. However, this paper is not about adding to the depressing national dialog about politics, but about how to change the system by taking action that will work.
Too many people—including many pundits, political scientists, and politicians themselves—are laboring under a misimpression that our political problems are inevitable, or the result of a weakening of the parties, or due to the parties’ ideological incoherence, or because of an increasingly polarized American public. Those who focus on these reasons are looking in the wrong places. The result is that despite all the commentary and attention on politics in recent years, there is still no accepted strategy to reform the system and things keep getting worse.

We need a new approach. Our political problems are not due to a single cause, but rather to a failure of the nature of the political competition that has been created. This is a systems problem.

We are not political scientists, political insiders, or political experts. Instead, we bring
a new
analytical lens to understanding the performance of our political system: the lens of industry competition. This type of analysis has been used for decades to understand competition in other industries, and sheds new light on the failure of politics because politics in America has become, over the last several decades, a major industry that works like other industries.

We use this lens to put forth an investment thesis for political reform and innovation. What would be required to actually change the political outcomes we are experiencing? What would it take to better align the political system with the public interest and make progress on the nation’s problems? And, which of the many political reform and innovation ideas that have been proposed would actually alter the trajectory of the system?

Politics in America is not a hopeless problem, though it is easy to feel this way given what we experience and read about every day. There are promising reforms already gaining traction including important elements of the strategy we propose. It is up to us as citizens to recapture our democracy—it will not be self-correcting. We invite you to personally engage by investing both your time and resources—and by mobilizing those around you—in what we believe is the greatest challenge facing America today.

Free ESPN in Dorm Rooms Gives Comcast Access to Future Customers

Gerry Smith:

For two years, Northwestern University student Ben Pope and his friends have gathered in dorms, connected their laptops to TVs and computer monitors, and streamed multiple sports events at once.

While they were watching, so was Comcast Corp., using data from the online video service it markets on about 100 campuses to gain insights into young audiences who have so far eluded conventional pay-TV providers.

Minneapolis’ black families lead the way in fleeing to other schools


Once it was the biggest school district in the state. Now Minneapolis Public Schools is the biggest loser in Minnesota’s robust school-choice environment, surrendering more kids to charter schools and other public school options than any other district.

And unlike most other school districts in the state, most of the defections in Minneapolis are occurring among black families. The 9,000 departing black students make up more than half of the districtwide total, according to a Star Tribune analysis of state enrollment data.

Families cite a variety of reasons for leaving the city’s school system, ranging from safety concerns to a belief that academics elsewhere are better than in Minneapolis, which has struggled for years to close the more than 50-percentage-point gap between white and black student achievement.

Minneapolis schools officials say they’re confident they can reverse the trend and boost academic achievement so high that families will once again choose the city’s schools.

But some parents can’t wait for promised change. Jessica Rogers, a south Minneapolis mom who used to work for the district’s nonprofit arm, sent her son to a Robbinsdale-run elementary school and has picked Minnehaha Academy for middle school.

“He needs nurturing,” Rogers said. “That’s not going to happen at Minneapolis Public Schools.”


Open enrollment leavers.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

They are all rich white kids and they will do just fine – NOT!

Madison now spends nearly $20,000 per student….


John Freeman:

With each passing year, it struck me as a diminishment for literary culture to peer into the future of writing but immediately restrict its keyhole to a nationality—or a genre. What happens if you take these restrictions off, and start reading across generations?

In that spirit The Future of New Writing issue of Freeman’s was born, and for the past two years, sometimes haphazardly or by luck, but with increasing direction, I have gathered names (see below), called in texts, bought and borrowed books, and read with the goal of trying to find out who were the best emerging writers.

Passing what I liked or thought I liked on to Allison Malecha, we read the work of over 100 writers, and relied upon the advice of hundreds of writers and critics, translators, bookstore owners, festival directors, publishers and academics.

Kids Praised for Being Smart Are More Likely to Cheat

Inga Kiderra:

An international team of researchers reports that when children are praised for being smart not only are they quicker to give up in the face of obstacles they are also more likely to be dishonest and cheat. Kids as young as age 3 appear to behave differently when told “You are so smart” vs “You did very well this time.”

The study, published in Psychological Science, is co-authored by Gail Heyman of the University of California San Diego, Kang Lee of the University of Toronto, and Lulu Chen and Li Zhao of Hangzhou Normal University in China.

The research builds on well-known work by Stanford’s Carol Dweck, author of “Mindset,” who has shown that praising a child’s innate ability instead of the child’s effort or a specific behavior has the unintended consequence of reducing their motivation to learn and their ability to deal with setbacks.

The present study shows there’s also a moral dimension to different kinds of praise and that it affects children at younger ages than previously known. Even the kindergarten and preschool set seem to be sensitive to subtle differences in praise.

“It’s common and natural to tell children how smart they are,” said co-author Gail Heyman, a development psychologist at UC San Diego. “Even when parents and educators know that it harms kids’ achievement motivation, it’s still easy to do. What our study shows is that the harm can go beyond motivation and extend to the moral domain. It makes a child more willing to cheat in order to do well.”

Thirty Years from Now the Big University Campuses Will Be Relics. Universities Won’t Survive

Quote Investigator:

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous management guru Peter Drucker apparently made a provocative prediction about education:

Universities won’t survive.
Is this quotation accurate? Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1997 “Forbes” published an interview with Peter F. Drucker under the title “Seeing things as they really are” by Robert Lenzner and Stephen S. Johnson. The interviewers flew to Claremont, California and spent ten hours speaking with Drucker about the future. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Education. Now there’s a subject that interests everyone today. President Clinton says we should pump more money into the present educational establishment. Drucker says the current setup is doomed, at least so far as higher education is concerned.

“Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics. Universities won’t survive. It’s as large a change as when we first got the printed book.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

During the interview Drucker expressed concern about the escalating cost of education:

The short history of global living conditions and why it matters that we know it

Max Roser:

A recent survey asked “All things considered, do you think the world is getting better or worse, or neither getting better nor worse?”. In Sweden 10% thought things are getting better, in the US they were only 6%, and in Germany only 4%. Very few people think that the world is getting better.

What is the evidence that we need to consider when answering this question? The question is about how the world has changed and so we must take a historical perspective. And the question is about the world as a whole and the answer must therefore consider everybody. The answer must consider the history of global living conditions – a history of everyone.

I. Poverty

To see where we are coming from we must go far back in time. 30 or even 50 years are not enough. When you only consider what the world looked during our life time it is easy to make the mistake of thinking of the world as relatively static – the rich, healthy and educated parts of the world here and the poor, uneducated, sick regions there – and to falsely conclude that it always was like that and that it always will be like that.

Take a longer perspective and it becomes very clear that the world is not static at all. The countries that are rich today were very poor just very recently and were in fact worse off than the poor countries today.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Cost Of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Rises Toward $19,000 a Year

Anna Wilde Mathews:

The average cost of health coverage offered by employers pushed toward $19,000 for a family plan this year, while the share of firms providing insurance to workers continued to edge lower, according to a major survey.

Annual premiums rose 3% to $18,764 for an employer plan in 2017, from $18,142 last year, the same rate of increase as in 2016, according to an annual poll of employers performed by the nonprofit Kaiser Family…

UC Berkeley Faculty Calls for Campus-Wide Boycott of Class

Charles Russell::

Over 200 University of California, Berkeley professors and faculty are calling for the shutdown of classes and activities during “free speech week,” an event scheduled Sept. 24 to 27 that features some “alt-right” speakers.

In an open letter to Berkeley community and campus members, the group called for the boycott of classes and for the closing of all buildings, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Therefore, as faculty committed to the safety of our students and our campus, we are calling for a complete boycott of all classes and campus activities while these Alt-Right events are taking place at the very center of UC Berkeley’s campus,” the letter said.

The faculty believes the university should not ask students and staff to choose between “risking their physical and mental safety,” and coming to campus for class or work.

“As faculty we cannot ask students and staff to choose between risking their physical and mental safety in order to attend class or come to work in an environment of harassment, intimidation, violence, and militarized policing,” the letter said.

The study of languages has long been prone to nonsense. Why is linguistics such a magnet for dilettantes and crackpots?

Gaston Dorren:

h, for the days of fact-free linguistics! The pre-scientific era might have produced a lot of codswallop and hogwash, but how entertaining it is to look back upon. Scholars erred in ways that few modern linguists ever would. Today, their field of study is a respectable social science, exacting in its methods, broad in its scope and generous in its harvest. Without phoneticians, computers wouldn’t be able to process spoken English. Without sociolinguists, prejudice against dialects and non-Western languages would still be rife – or rather, rifer still. Forensic linguists help to solve crimes, clinical linguists treat people with language impairments, historical linguists shed light on language change and even on prehistoric culture and migration – the list goes on and on. As in other disciplines, pertinent questions and rigorous methods to answer them have been at the root of success.

When natural philosophy began to slowly develop into physics and other natural sciences, learned speculation in the human domain did not immediately follow suit. But it too gradually developed into what we now call the social sciences, and the study of language was one of the earliest adopters of the new methods. Its practitioners would pore over ancient texts written in long-dead languages and long-forgotten scripts, and compare them ever more systematically. This led to a breakthrough in the late 18th century, when there emerged new ideas about the historical origins of modern languages. Most of these ideas have stood the test of time.

Public ignorance about the Constitution

Ilya Somin:

A closer look at the First Amendment question reveals that 48% recalled that the Amendment protects the right to freedom of speech. The other rights protected by the Amendment (freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to petition the government, and freedom of assembly) are far less well-known. For example, only 15% remembered the right to freedom of religion.

These survey results do not come as a surprise to experts on political knowledge. They are largely consistent with previous data going back several decades, showing widespread ignorance on a wide range of legal and political matters, including the Constitution. As Cilliza points out, the Annenberg results paint an even bleaker picture than earlier polls. For example, surveys typically find that some 35-40% of Americans can name the three branches of government. The Annenberg figure of 26% is unusually low. But even if it is an aberration, the results from previous surveys are nothing to write home about.

Rising exodus of students puts more pressure on Minnesota schools

Anthony Lonetree and MaryJo Webster:

Heaser always considered herself an advocate for St. Paul’s public schools, but the East Side mother of three faced a dilemma a few years ago when her son approached middle-school age.

Stick with a St. Paul public school, or join the tens of thousands of Minnesota students who leave their home districts every year?

Today, Heaser’s seventh-grade son attends John Glenn Middle School in Maplewood, where he has the opportunity to take advanced math and language arts classes lacking in their St. Paul neighborhood schools.

“It has been a great fit so far,” Heaser said.

Minnesota students have had the right to attend school in other districts since 1990, but the number of elementary and high school students exercising that option is surging. Last year, about 132,000 Minnesota students enrolled in schools outside their home district, four times the number making that choice in 2000, a Star Tribune analysis shows.

School choice options — open enrollment and charter schools — have proved especially popular with nonwhite or minority students, according to the Star Tribune’s analysis of the racial breakdown of students who opt out of their home district. While white students represent 60 percent of all students who open enroll, a higher share of nonwhite students make that choice.

Because state education funding follows the pupil, the student exodus from their home district to other cities and charter schools is magnifying budget pressures in districts that lose more students than they gain. It’s also transforming the racial diversity of schools across the Twin Cities.

Open enrollment means some districts, like Columbia Heights and Brooklyn Center, have become revolving doors, losing nearly as many students as they take in from other districts. It means some districts, like Minnetonka, are able to fill classroom seats that would otherwise be empty, while others like Burnsville-Eagan-Savage and Osseo now struggle to attract students who live in the district.

Locally, open enrollment has found more studnts leaving the Madison School District.

The Washington Post’s robot reporter has published 850 articles in the past year

Lucia Moses:

It’s been a year since The Washington Post started using its homegrown artificial intelligence technology, Heliograf, to spit out around 300 short reports and alerts on the Rio Olympics. Since then, it’s used Heliograf to cover congressional and gubernatorial races on Election Day and D.C.-area high school football games, producing stories like this one and tweets like this:

UVA: “Only 15 percent of the student body comes from the bottom 60 percent of the income distribution”

David Leonhardt:

“It is safer to have a whole people respectably enlightened than a few in a high state of science and the many in ignorance.”

That quotation comes from Thomas Jefferson, and he believed it so deeply that he devoted much of his public life to creating the University of Virginia. It became one of the country’s greatest public universities. On Friday, U.Va, as it’s known, named a new president, James Ryan, the highly regarded dean of Harvard’s education school.

Ryan’s appointment is a good time to point out that, in a fundamental way, the University of Virginia is failing to live up to Jefferson’s ideals. It has for years been one of the least economically diverse colleges in the country — of any kind, public or private.

Gloria Ladson-Billings says students of color need teachers who ‘think they can do anything’

Lisa Speckhard Pasque

“Americans are still the greatest innovators in the world; we are the worst implementers,” she said.

But Wisconsin needs to keep working for better education systems, she said. African-American students make up a minority of students in Wisconsin, but their success affects us all, she said.

“It’s sometimes hard to get a largely white state to pay attention to the needs of small minority,” she said. “We have to develop a perspective that lets us see what I like to call ‘the least of these’ as our kids.

Locally, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Wisconsin’s schools seek to shorten the workforce pipeline

Matthew DeFour:

While schools are ramping up their focus on employment, fewer employers are offering training. Over the past two decades the percentage of American companies that train their employees has dropped from 35 percent to 20 percent, according to Ed Gordon, a Chicago-based economist and author of “Future Jobs: Solving the Employment and Skills Crisis.”

“We’re seeing the same problem across every major business sector,” Gordon said. “The number of well-trained individuals who have all the skills — there aren’t enough of them. The reason is the education system that was the best in the world really hasn’t changed a whole lot in terms of what it’s producing in terms of educated people. But the job market has changed dramatically.”

Madison’s Pathways
The Madison School District’s Personalized Pathways program may be going even further than many districts in emphasizing career readiness. This fall it is altering the high school experience for hundreds of freshmen by focusing classes on health services topics.

Online training has exploded…

Essayism review: Its own kind of self-made masterpiece

John Banville::

For those of us elders who went to school under the old dispensation, nothing was more surely calculated to make us detest the essay form than that stout textbook of English prose forced on us as part of the general memory test that in those days passed for education.

The piece from that ponderous compendium everyone remembers is Charles Lamb’s A Dissertation upon Roast Pig – children are always interested in food – but how many years had to pass before it dawned on us that the likes of William Hazlitt and Robert Louis Stevenson were surpassingly fine writers?

Clifton Fadiman Didn’t Mind Being Called Schoolmasterish

Danny Heitman:

In 1960, a new book promised to point Americans toward enough literature to last them for decades. In The Lifetime Reading Plan, author Clifton Fadiman surveyed roughly 100 celebrated literary works from antiquity to the modern age, providing brief essays on everything from Homer to Herman Melville to Aldous Huxley in hopes that readers would engage with them on their own.

Nearly six decades after its debut—and almost two decades after Fadiman’s death—his Reading Plan remains in print, now in its fourth edition. It’s the most visible legacy of a man who, in his heyday, used print, radio, and television to explain literature to the vast middle of moderately educated Americans, becoming a national celebrity along the way.

Fadiman’s resumé defies easy summary. He helped establish the Book-of-the-Month Club and served on its board for more than a half century. He was also a force in shaping Encyclopedia Britannica, served as book editor of the New Yorker, and moderated a game show, carried on radio and later TV, called Information, Please, in which an erudite panel of commentators fielded questions from audience members, who would win a set of the Britannica if they stumped the experts. Additionally, Fadiman worked in book publishing, as a magazine columnist, anthologist, and familiar essayist, his musings gathered in charming collections such as Party of One, Any Number Can Play, and Enter, Conversing. With typical self-deprecation, Fadiman called himself an “odd job man” in describing his Olympian output.

Artificial intelligence pioneer says we need to start over

Steve LeVine:

In 1986, Geoffrey Hinton co-authored a paper that, four decades later, is central to the explosion of artificial intelligence. But Hinton says his breakthrough method should be dispensed with, and a new path to AI found.

Speaking with Axios on the sidelines of an AI conference in Toronto on Wednesday, Hinton, a professor emeritus at the University of Toronto and a Google researcher, said he is now “deeply suspicious” of back-propagation, the workhorse method that underlies most of the advances we are seeing in the AI field today, including the capacity to sort through photos and talk to Siri. “My view is throw it all away and start again,” he said.
Keep reading 158 words

The bottom line: Other scientists at the conference said back-propagation still has a core role in AI’s future. But Hinton said that, to push materially ahead, entirely new methods will probably have to be invented. “Max Planck said, ‘Science progresses one funeral at a time.’ The future depends on some graduate student who is deeply suspicious of everything I have said.”

Civics: Has The New York Times Gone Collectively Mad?

Robert Parry:

What is stunning about the lede story in last Friday’s print edition of The New York Times is that it offers no real evidence to support its provocative claim that—as the headline states —“To Sway Vote, Russia Used Army of Fake Americans” or its subhead: “Flooding Twitter and Facebook, Impostors Helped Fuel Anger in Polarized U.S.”

In the old days, this wildly speculative article, which spills over three pages, would have earned an F in a J-school class or gotten a rookie reporter a stern rebuke from a senior editor. But now such unprofessionalism is highlighted by The New York Times, which boasts that it is the standard-setter of American journalism, the nation’s “newspaper of record.”

In this case, it allows reporter Scott Shane to introduce his thesis by citing some Internet accounts that apparently used fake identities, but he ties none of them to the Russian government. Acting like he has minimal familiarity with the Internet—yes, a lot of people do use fake identities—Shane builds his case on the assumption that accounts that cited references to purloined Democratic emails must be somehow from an agent or a bot connected to the Kremlin.

Strict Mothers Have Better Children (New Research Says)


Erica Rascon, a professor from the University of Essex has conducted a study which showed that strict mothers have successful children, and that successful people had highly demanding mothers. The research analyzed surveys of more than 15 000 children aged 13-14 between 2004 and 2010. According to Rascon, “the measure of the expectations in this study reflects a combination of aspirations and beliefs about the likelihood of access to higher education declared by the majority of parents, in most cases the mother.”

The children whose mothers had high expectations are much more confident and secure. The results of the study showed that daughters who had persistent and nagging mothers have 4% lower chances of getting pregnant prematurely. Children who had persistent mothers were also more likely to finish college and get a nice job. It may sound unrealistic, but demanding and strict mothers do have more successful children.

“In many cases we have success doing what they believe to be most convenient for us, even against our parents. “But no matter how much we esmeremos to avoid our parents, any recommendations form influence, albeit subtly in the decisions we make, but we believe t

Adult employment and the Madison School Board’s self interest

Chris Rickert:

Like the rest of the board, both also voted to approve the 304-page employee handbook that replaced union contracts beginning in summer 2016.

District legal counsel Dylan Pauly pointed to two board policies that include provisions related to managing conflicts of interest among board members.

One says board members should “avoid conflicts of interest and the appearance of conflicts of interest,” including those set forth in a state law that prohibits “any official action substantially affecting a matter in which the official, a member of his or her immediate family, or an organization with which the official is associated has a substantial financial interest.”

In such cases the board member should refrain from participating in discussions about or voting on such matters in work groups and regular board meetings, and can even choose to leave the room, according to the policy.

Pauly told me Tuesday that she was “not going to address any specific issue or question regarding conflicts of interest for any particular board member.” (She wouldn’t say if it’s district taxpayers, the media or this particular member of the media who can’t get an opinion on the behavior of taxpayer-paid, publicly elected board members from the taxpayer-paid lawyer for the school district.)

But two years ago she pointed to a 1997 opinion from the old state Ethics Board as reason why board members with close personal relations employed by the school district can vote, in some capacity, on policies that affect those close personal relations.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Preparatory IB Charter School and the more recent Montessori pseudo Charter School.

This, despite spending more than most, now nearly $20,0000 per student and tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.

An emphasis on adult employment, and what’s different this time.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Feds Collect Record Taxes Through August; Still Run $673.7B Deficit

Terence Jeffrey:

The federal government collected record total tax revenues through the first eleven months of fiscal 2017 (Oct. 1, 2016 through the end of August), according to the Monthly Treasury Statement.

Through August, the federal government collected approximately $2,966,172,000,000 in total tax revenues.

That was $8,450,680,000 more (in constant 2017 dollars) than the previous record of $2,957,721,320,000 in total tax revenues (in 2017 dollars) that the federal government collected in the first eleven months of fiscal 2016.

At the same time that the federal government was collecting a record $2,966,172,000,000 in tax revenues, it was spending $3,639,882,000,000—and, thus, running a deficit of $673,711,000,000.

Entering her 4th year at helm, Darienne Driver assesses state of Milwaukee Public Schools

Alan Borsuk:

So how is MPS doing? Maybe the best and broadest answer I’d give is: Somewhat better, probably better than a lot of people think, but there is still a mountain to climb and reasons to worry.

That’s not much different from the answer MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver gives. As she starts her fourth year at the top of the system, I asked her what shape things are in.

“Big-picture wise, we have definitely made some progress,” Driver said. “We’ve been willing to make some tough decisions around our infrastructure and how we are organized, how we are prioritizing things to get things done. But it’s clear we have a long way to go.”

Driver is an energetic booster for MPS. She can rattle off initiatives and changes that are encouraging — expansion of successful programs, new offerings, some improvements in ACT scores, attendance and suspension rates. The large majority of MPS schools now have policies for kids to wear uniforms and many schools started in mid-August, instead of in September.

Census Bureau: D.C. Suburbs Remain Nation’s Richest Counties

Terence Jeffrey:

T he three richest counties in the United States with populations of 65,000 or more, when measured by their 2016 median household incomes, were all suburbs of Washington, D.C., according to data released today by the Census Bureau.

Eight of the 20 wealthiest counties with populations of 65,000 or more were also suburbs of Washington, D.C.–as were 10 of the top 25.

Loudoun County, Va., with a median household income of $134,464, was nation’s wealthiest county, according to the Census Bureau.

Loudoun was also the wealthiest county in 2015. But from 2015 to 2016 its median household income increased by $8,564–rising from $125,900 to 134,464.

Howard County, Md., with a median household income of $120,941, was the nations’ second wealthiest county. Fairfax County, Va., with a median household income of $115,717, was the third wealthiest.

Civics & Domestic Spying

Jonathan Easley::

CNN reported on Wednesday that Rice told House investigators that in December — after Trump had won the election and before his inauguration — she authorized the unmasking of the identities of his advisers Michael Flynn, Stephen Bannon and Jared Kushner in an intelligence report, revealing them internally.

Rice said she did so because the three were meeting with United Arab Emirates (UAE) crown prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, who had apparently not informed the Obama administration that he was traveling to New York City. Nahyan was not required to do so, but Rice said it would have been standard diplomatic procedure at the time.

Rice says she ordered the unmasking to find out why Nahyan had come to the U.S. and that the revelation he was meeting with Bannon, Flynn and Kushner was incidental to that effort.

The New York meeting preceded an effort by the UAE to assist in setting up a back-channel line of communication between Trump’s team and Russia.

Related: Trump Administration Says It’s Classified If They Can Let The NSA Spy On Americans.

In prison for more than 20 years, was chosen for Harvard’s elite graduate history program — until the university decided her redemption was not enough.

Marshall Project

In a breathtaking feat of rehabilitation, Jones, now 45, became a published scholar of American history while behind bars, and presented her work by videoconference to historians’ conclaves and the Indiana General Assembly. With no internet access and a prison library that skewed toward romance novels, she led a team of inmates that poured through reams of photocopied documents from the state archives to produce the Indiana Historical Society’s best research project last year. As prisoner No. 970554, Jones also wrote several dance compositions and historical plays, one of which is slated to open at an Indianapolis theater in December.N.Y.U. was one of several top schools that recruited her for their doctoral programs. She was also among 18 selected from more than 300 applicants to Harvard University’s history program. But in a rare override of a department’s authority to choose its graduate students, Harvard’s top brass overturned Jones’s admission after some professors raised concerns that she downplayed her crime during the application process.

The Organisation of School Time in Europe. Primary and General Secondary Education – 2017/18


The school calendar contains national data on the length of the school year, the start and the end dates of each school year, the timing and length of school holidays and the number of school days. It covers both primary and general secondary education and key points are illustrated by comparative figures. The information is available for 37 countries.

Some variations in the number of the school days across Europe

The number of school days varies between 162 days in France (except in upper secondary education) and 200 days in Denmark and Italy. In around half the countries, it is between 170 and 180 days; in 15 countries, the number varies between 181 and 190 days. In general, the number of school days is the same in primary and secondary education but there are a few exceptions: in Belgium, France (upper secondary education) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (Republica Srpska), the number of schools days is higher in secondary education than in primary.
The opposite (fewer school days in secondary education than in primary education) is observed in Ireland, Greece, Cyprus and the Netherlands.

Professors told to report students who make campus ‘less inclusive’ to Behavior Assessment Team

Andrew Johnson:

Most recently, the dean’s office of Utah Valley University, a public institution located in the north-central part of Utah, distributed a guidance letter to all faculty encouraging them to report to the school’s Behavior Assessment Team any students who use “inappropriate language,” are “argumentative,” or who speak “loudly.”

The letter, titled “Recognizing and Responding to Students of Concern,” was provided to The College Fix by a professor at Utah Valley. The document instructs faculty on the various types of behaviors that merit concern, including stalking, angry outbursts and bullying, as well as the signs that a student may harm himself or others.

The guidance letter gave professors advice on how to respond to a wide range of student behaviors. Professors are instructed to use techniques ranging from “supportive gestures” to calling 911, depending on the severity of the situation.

A “Chicago high school serving detainees at the Cook County Jail falsely inflated its enrollment and attendance data and awarded course credits that were not earned”

Inspector General: Chicago Board of Education:

From the 2012–13 school year through the 2015–16 school year, 342 students were kept on the rolls improperly after their release from jail a total of 352 times

On average, those students were listed falsely as being enrolled at the school for 42 days following their release from jail In 54 instances those students were kept on the rolls for more than 100 days after their release.

The school also falsified attendance. During the 2015–16 school year alone, 45 students were reported falsely as being present for the full school day a total of 351 times after they were already released from the jail

The attendance of students still in the jail was inflated as well.

The school frequently awarded students credits when the students had not received enough classroom instruction to qualify for them.

One teacher told the OIG the school was a “credit mill.

First the diploma, then the date: how China’s educated elites find love

Zhuang Pinghui:

One afternoon in early September, Lucy Zhou decided to skip her usual Saturday lectures. Instead, the 34-year-old new media executive put on a traditional Chinese dress, let down her long hair and applied some light make-up: she was going to a group date in northern Beijing.

When she arrived, Zhou was asked to join other guests in a circle and was partnered with the man sitting next to her. After a brief conversation, their host invited each guest to introduce their partner to the 70-odd participants.

As some details were omitted and others played up, one thing that never went unmentioned was where these single people, mostly in their early 30s and some in their late 20s, received their education.

Like Zhou and the others at this matchmaking event, an increasing number of young people in China are prioritising an elite academic background over other considerations such as salary and looks when looking for a partner. Relationship experts said those with the most prestigious educations were more likely to find a match within their peer group.

The participants at the matchmaking event Zhou attended had graduated from top universities, either in China or in the United States or Britain, and many were postgraduates.

Mathematicians Measure Infinities, Find They’re Equal

Kevin Hartnett:

In a breakthrough that disproves decades of conventional wisdom, two mathematicians have shown that two different variants of infinity are actually the same size. The advance touches on one of the most famous and intractable problems in mathematics: whether there exist infinities between the infinite size of the natural numbers and the larger infinite size of the real numbers.

The problem was first identified over a century ago. At the time, mathematicians knew that “the real numbers are bigger than the natural numbers, but not how much bigger. Is it the next biggest size, or is there a size in between?” said Maryanthe Malliaris of the University of Chicago, co-author of the new work along with Saharon Shelah of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Rutgers University.

In their new work, Malliaris and Shelah resolve a related 70-year-old question about whether one infinity (call it p) is smaller than another infinity (call it t). They proved the two are in fact equal, much to the surprise of mathematicians.

Every Major Advertising Group Is Blasting Apple for Blocking Cookies in the Safari Browser

Marty Swant:

The biggest advertising organizations say Apple will “sabotage” the current economic model of the internet with plans to integrate cookie-blocking technology into the new version of Safari.
 Six trade groups—the Interactive Advertising Bureau, American Advertising Federation, the Association of National Advertisers, the 4A’s and two others—say they’re “deeply concerned” with Apple’s plans to release a version of the internet browser that overrides and replaces user cookie preferences with a set of Apple-controlled standards. The feature, which is called “Intelligent Tracking Prevention,” limits how advertisers and websites can track users across the internet by putting in place a 24-hour limit on ad retargeting.
 In an open letter expected to be published this afternoon, the groups describe the new standards as “opaque and arbitrary,” warning that the changes could affect the “infrastructure of the modern internet,” which largely relies on consistent standards across websites. The groups say the feature also hurts user experience by making advertising more “generic and less timely and useful.”
 “Apple’s unilateral and heavy-handed approach is bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by Adweek this morning. “Blocking cookies in this manner will drive a wedge between brands and their customers, and it will make advertising more generic and less timely and useful. Put simply, machine-driven cookie choices do not represent user choice; they represent browser-manufacturer choice.”

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: One in Five Californians Live in Poverty

Lisa Pickoff-White and Erika Aguilar

More Californians live in poverty than in any other state, according to a measure used by the U.S. Census Bureau that takes into account the cost of living and government assistance programs.

About 20 percent of Californians lived below the Census’ “supplemental” poverty measure from 2014 to 2016, according to data released by the Bureau on Tuesday.

The supplemental poverty measure factors in the government programs for low-income families and individuals, as well as housing costs, which are not included in the official poverty measure.

Locally, Madison spends nearly $20,000 per student (far more than most), despite long term, disastrous reading results.

A&M and TCU climb, Baylor and SMU slip in 2018 U.S. News college rankings

Matthew Watkins:

Rice University in Houston is by far the best college in Texas — and the 14th-best school in the nation — according to U.S. News and World Reports’ latest college rankings.

No other Texas universities broke the top 50 of the magazine’s influential rankings.

But five jockeyed for position in spots 50 to 80, including the University of Texas at Austin (second in Texas, 56th overall) and Dallas’ Southern Methodist University (61st overall).

Texas A&M University ranks fourth in the state this year, climbing from 74th in the nation last year to 69th this year. A&M surpassed Baylor University, which fell four spots this year to 75th overall. Texas Christian University climbed from 82nd to 78th in the country this year, and now ranks fifth in Texas.

Illinois’ student exodus should drive a higher ed overhaul

Chicago Tribune:

But be wary, Governor. You’ll have trouble convincing some special interests, including legislators from university towns, that a campus isn’t first and foremost a cash cow for the local economy. Illinois can’t continue to prop up so many schools that have duplicate administrators, duplicate overhead and duplicate curriculums. Too many campuses are competing for scarce resources to do what other universities are doing better.

Whenever you encounter pushback, keep repeating: “Nine university boards to oversee 12 schools.”

The idea isn’t to weaken already-faltering universities, but to strengthen and rationalize the statewide system. By making schools accountable to centralized oversight. By streamlining procurement and consolidating other business operations. By sending a larger chunk of cash into classrooms and labs, and a smaller chunk into overhead and administration.

Fix this system now, lawmakers, and give individual schools the missions that will let them shine. Or watch more students flee.

Sandra Boynton’s whimsical animals have been delighting kids for 40 years –

Ellen McCarthy:

Sandra Boynton lives on a farm in rural Connecticut. She works out of a converted barn, surrounded by pigs in overalls, frogs wearing cowboy hats, a clutch of bemused chickens and a few skeptical sock puppets.

Standing there, you get the feeling that at any moment they might all come alive and break into a high-stepping song-and-dance. Which they probably will. Because this is Boynton’s world, and in Boynton’s world, animals do whatever she wants. And what she wants them to do, mostly, is make her smile.

It’s nice that along the way the charming creatures have sold tens of millions of children’s books and hundreds of millions of greeting cards, recorded six albums, nabbed a Grammy nomination and co-starred in a music video with B.B. King. They’re not slackers, these furry and feathered friends. They always do their job — they make Boynton smile. And then they go out into the world and do the same for untold multitudes of kids.

Liberal Arts in the Data Age

JM Olejarz:

College students who major in the humanities always get asked a certain question. They’re asked it so often—and by so many people—that it should come printed on their diplomas. That question, posed by friends, career counselors, and family, is “What are you planning to do with your degree?” But it might as well be “What are the humanities good for?”

According to three new books, the answer is “Quite a lot.” From Silicon Valley to the Pentagon, people are beginning to realize that to effectively tackle today’s biggest social and technological challenges, we need to think critically about their human context—something humanities graduates happen to be well trained to do. Call it the revenge of the film, history, and philosophy nerds.

In The Fuzzy and the Techie, venture capitalist Scott Hartley takes aim at the “false dichotomy” between the humanities and computer science. Some tech industry leaders have proclaimed that studying anything besides the STEM fields is a mistake if you want a job in the digital economy. Here’s a typical dictum, from Sun Microsystems cofounder Vinod Khosla: “Little of the material taught in Liberal Arts programs today is relevant to the future.”

The Blind Traveler: How James Holman Felt His Way Around the World to Become History’s Most Prolific Explorer

Lucas Reilly:

Nobody aboard could see what had happened. It was midnight, and the HMS Saunders-Hill—a merchant vessel anchored along a sleepy bend of the River Thames—shuddered violently. Crewmen clambered from their beds and grasped at tilting walls. Cries filled the briny air. In the darkness, it was difficult to make sense of what had happened.

James Holman, one of the passengers who had rushed to the deck, expected to find the Saunders-Hill wrecked to splinters. Instead he felt the boat—the whole boat—lurch from its anchorage and drift into the middle of the Thames.

The anchor chain had snapped. An errant coal ship, Holman would learn, had collided with the Saunders-Hill, sending the schooner’s rigging—the cat’s cradle of ropes, cables, and chains strung from the masts—bobbing in the current.

The good news was that the heaving ship remained afloat. Holman, a former sailor in the Royal Navy, clutched a railing and inched his way toward the helm to assist the captain.

K-12 Governance Diversity: Nashville Edition (Madison lacks substantive choice)

We hope that our commitments set forth here will inspire you to make a similar commitment to do the job you were each elected to do. We look forward to seeing you commit to a focus on ensuring that ALL Nashville children have the ability to attend great public schools. We look forward to the day when a public school family knows that they can make the best choice for their children without receiving the worst treatment from our elected officials.

Thank you.

1,012 Proud Nashville Public Charter School Parents

Locally, a majority of the Madison School rejected the proposed Preparatory Academy IB Charter School and more recently a non independent Montessori Proposal.

Despite spending nearly $20k per student annually, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Conservatives, liberals unite against Silicon Valley

 Nancy Scola:

Simpson’s group has long criticized the country’s biggest tech companies, saying they abuse consumers on everything from privacy to pricing. But across Washington, liberals and conservatives are beginning to find common ground in the view that the industry’s power over American life has grown too vast and unchecked — and the new dynamic is upending traditional ideological alignments.
 Tech’s new critics include Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has begun sounding the alarm that Google has grown into “the most powerful company in the history of the world.”
 Carlson recently aired an interview with Matt Stoller, a member of an antitrust team that lost its jobs at the left-leaning think tank New America after praising a $2.7 billion fine that the European Commission levied against Google this summer for stifling competition. The New York Times reported that Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, a New America funder, had complained about the statement posted by Stoller’s team — a turn of events that Carlson described as a sign of Google’s “terrifying” power.
 Stoller, a former aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), later praised Carlson as “one of the few on TV willing to talk about it.”

Universities and colleges struggle to stem big drops in enrollment

Jon Marcus:

Behind the deceptive quiet of a small college campus in the summer, things are buzzing at Ohio Wesleyan University.

Faculty at the 175-year-old liberal-arts school, which has about 1,700 undergraduates, are preparing new majors in high-demand fields including data analytics and computational neuroscience. Admissions officers are back from scouting out prospective students in China, India and Pakistan. Recruiters have been on the road closer to home, too, in Cleveland and Chicago. In the athletics department, work is under way to add two sports and a marching band.

More money has been put into financial aid, the process of transferring to the college is being streamlined, and the ink is still wet on contracts with Carnegie-Mellon University and a medical school to speed Ohio Wesleyan students more quickly to graduate degrees. The number of internships is being expanded, along with short-term study-abroad opportunities. The university is considering freezing, lowering or slowing the rate of increase of its tuition and fees, which are now $44,690.

Reinventing America’s Schools: Creating a 21st Century Education System


A new book by the Progressive Policy Institute’s David Osborne, is a story of transformation.

It is a bracing survey of the most dramatic improvements taking place in urban public education today, in cities as diverse as New Orleans, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Indianapolis.
Read excerpts from Osborne’s new book.
Explore the cities on the forefront of innovation.

Meet some of the creators and changemakers leading the revolution.
Think about what the future of public education can hold for students.
Join us on this journey as we continue to share more stories of America’s changemakers in the coming months.

“I placed too much faith in underpowered studies:” Nobel Prize winner admits mistakes

Retraction Watch

What the blog gets absolutely right is that I placed too much faith in underpowered studies. As pointed out in the blog, and earlier by Andrew Gelman, there is a special irony in my mistake because the first paper that Amos Tversky and I published was about the belief in the “law of small numbers,” which allows researchers to trust the results of underpowered studies with unreasonably small samples. We also cited Overall (1969) for showing “that the prevalence of studies deficient in statistical power is not only wasteful but actually pernicious: it results in a large proportion of invalid rejections of the null hypothesis among published results.” Our article was written in 1969 and published in 1971, but I failed to internalize its message.

A Few Bad Scientists Are Threatening to Topple Taxonomy

Benjamin Jones

Before you go rushing to the hospital in search of antivenin, you’re going to want to look up exactly what kind of snake you’re dealing with. But the results are confusing. According to the official record of species names, governed by the International Commission of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN), the snake belongs to the genus Spracklandus. What you don’t know is that almost no taxonomists use that name. Instead, most researchers use the unofficial name that pops up in Wikipedia and most scientific journal articles: Afronaja.

This might sound like semantics. But for you, it could mean the difference between life and death. “If you walk in [to the hospital] and say the snake that bit you is called Spracklandus, you might not get the right antivenin,” says Scott Thomson, a herpetologist and taxonomist at Brazil’s Museum of Zoology at the University of São Paulo. After all, “the doctor is not a herpetologist … he’s a medical person trying to save your life.”

The Do-Not-Think Tank

Christine Rosen:

So when Lynn issued a press release on June 27, 2017, congratulating the European commissioner for competition, Margrethe Vestager, for fining Google $2.7 billion, it could hardly have come as a surprise to anyone at New America. “Google’s market power is one of the most critical challenges for competition policymakers in the world today,” Lynn wrote, and he called on U.S. regulators “to build upon this important precedent, both in respect to Google and to other dominant platform monopolists including Amazon.”

Yet it was a surprise to New America’s most-prominent donor, Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet. Google and Schmidt have given more than $21 million to New America in recent years, and Schmidt chaired the think tank’s board for eight years. So displeased was he by Lynn’s praise for the EU decision that, according to one of the current co-chairs of the board, Jonathan Soros, he asked to be removed as chairman emeritus. Days later, Lynn and his team of 10 full-time employees were out.

When a New York Times story about the ouster appeared online on August 30, Anne-Marie Slaughter immediately tweeted, “This story is false.” This was followed by another tweet a few hours later saying, “Let me be clearer in an era of fake news; facts are largely right but quotes are taken way out of context and interpretation is wrong.” She would later delete her first tweet.

Coming on the heels of the August firing of engineer James Damore for challenging what he described as an ideologically liberal “echo chamber” at the company, this episode has seen Google do the hardest thing possible in Washington—it’s brought left and right together to question the company’s power and generated a wave of anti-monopoly fervor.

The controversy also revives perennial questions about how think tanks operate: How do institutions that take tens of millions of dollars from corporations and wealthy individuals maintain their integrity? Can policymakers and the public trust the research that emerges? And in an age that demands transparency, in which missteps and scandals are instantly magnified thanks to social media, how can research institutions pursue both relevance and rectitude?

For two years, I received financial support—$50,000 a year—from New America to study and write about technology. After my fellowship ended in 2014, I was invited to continue my relationship with the foundation as an unpaid Future Tense fellow, part of a team that sponsored debates, panels, and book events on technology-related subjects in conjunction with Arizona State University and Slate. Everyone I know at New America is hardworking and intellectually curious.

Are elite universities ‘safe spaces’? Not if you’re starting a union

Thomas Frank:

Tough-minded columnists will sputter against fancy colleges that are covering up offensive sculptures and censoring offensive speakers. Readers will be invited to gape at the latest perversity served up by our radicalized professoriate and to mourn the decline of their dear old alma mater. What, oh what is this generation coming to, they will cry.

But while they weep, let us turn our attention to an entirely different aspect of life on the American campus that doesn’t fit into the tidy narrative of fancy colleges coddling the snowflake generation. Let us look instead into the actual conditions under which the work of higher education is done. Let us talk labor.

In August 2016, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington decided that graduate students who teach classes at private universities can be considered employees of those universities, eligible to form unions and bargain collectively with their employers. It was the end point of a decades-long process in which the Board has oscillated between ruling in favor of grad student unions and then against them.

In the aftermath of the NLRB decision, graduate student teachers at Columbia and Yale universities, both schools in the Ivy League, held elections and voted to form unions. More organizing elections are scheduled for the next few weeks at a number of other private universities, and as the school year gets under way grad students should rightfully be negotiating new contracts throughout the United States.

But here’s the catch: thanks to the election of Donald Trump last November, the NLRB will soon be under the sway of his extremely anti-union Republican party.

Once Trump’s members are seated on the Labor Board, there is every likelihood they will revisit the matter of graduate student teachers and reverse themselves on the question, which would in turn permit university administrations to refuse to negotiate and even to blow off the results of these elections.

Innovation in public schools key to Colorado’s future –

Denver Business Journal

Embracing innovation and taking calculated risks are two core values that successful companies encourage every day. Whether they are in Tokyo, Silicon Valley, London, Bangalore or Denver, companies that embrace the unknown and challenge conventional wisdom position themselves for a greatness traditional companies that play it safe will never experience.

We are fortunate to live in a state whose citizens embody this philosophy. Whether it is established financial services firms who see opportunity in the state’s highly educated workforce or entrepreneurs seeking high-quality partners to help them achieve their vision, Colorado has a spirit of innovation and opportunity that fosters a positive business environment

97 (!) Emergency Elementary Teacher Licenses Granted to the Madison School District in 2016-2017

Wisconsin Reading Coalition (PDF), via a kind email:

As we reported recently, districts in Wisconsin, with the cooperation of DPI, have been making extensive use of emergency licenses to hire individuals who are not fully-licensed teachers. Click here to see how many emergency licenses were issued in your district in 2016-17 for elementary teachers, special education teachers, reading teachers, and reading specialists. You may be surprised at how high the numbers are. These are fields where state statute requires the individual to pass the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test to obtain a full initial license, and the emergency licenses provide an end-run around that requirement.

These individuals did not need to pass the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test, which would be required for full initial licensure *districts include individuals that are listed only once, but worked in multiple locations or positions

Information provided by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

New Online Certificate Program
Now there is an even more misguided opportunity for districts to hire unprepared teachers. The budget bill, set for an Assembly vote this Wednesday, followed by a vote in the Senate, requires DPI to issue an initial license to anyone who has completed the American Board online training program. That program, for career switchers with bachelor’s degrees, can be completed in less than one year and includes no student teaching (substitute or para-professional experience is accepted). We have no objection to alternate teacher preparation programs IF they actually prepare individuals to Wisconsin standards. In the area of reading, the way to determine that is for the American Board graduates to take the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test (FORT). If they cannot pass, they should not be granted anything more than an emergency license, which is what is available to individuals who complete Wisconsin-based traditional and alternate educator preparation programs but cannot pass the FORT. Wisconsin should not accept American Board’s own internal assessments as evidence that American Board certificate holders are prepared to teach reading to beginning and struggling students.

Action Requested
Please contact your legislators and tell them you do not want to weaken Wisconsin’s control over teacher quality by issuing initial licenses to American Board certificate holders who have not, at a minimum, passed the Wisconsin Foundations of Reading Test. Ask them to remove this provision from the budget bill. Find your legislators and contact information here.

How Should Wisconsin Address Its Teacher Shortages?
As pointed out in a recent fact sheet from the National Council on Teacher Quality, teacher shortages are particular to certain fields and geographic areas, and solutions must focus on finding and addressing the reasons for those shortages. This requires gathering and carefully analyzing the relevant data, including the quality of teacher preparation at various institutions, the pay scale in the hiring districts, and the working conditions in the district.


Am emphasis on adult employment.

How People Approach Facts and Information

John Horrigan:

The Eager and Willing – 22% of U.S. adults
 At one end of the information-engagement spectrum is a group we call the Eager and Willing. Compared with all the other groups on this spectrum, they exhibit the highest levels of interest in news and trust in key information sources, as well as strong interest in learning when it comes to their own digital skills and literacy. They are not necessarily confident of their digital abilities, but they are anxious to learn. One striking thing about this group is its demographic profile: More than half the members of this group are minorities: 31% are Hispanic; 21% are black and 38% are white, while the remainder are in other racial and ethnic groups.
 The Confident – 16% of adults
 Alongside the Eager and Willing are the Confident, who are made up of the one-in-six Americans and combine a strong interest in information, high levels of trust in information sources, and self-assurance that they can navigate the information landscape on their own. Few feel they need to update their digital skills and they are very self-reliant as they handle information flows. This group is disproportionately white, quite well educated and fairly comfortable economically. And one-third of the Confident (31%) are between the ages of 18 and 29, the highest share in this age range of any group.
 The Cautious and Curious – 13% of adults

We need to nationalise Google, Facebook and Amazon. Here’s why

Nicole Smicek:

The platform – an infrastructure that connects two or more groups and enables them to interact – is crucial to these companies’ power. None of them focuses on making things in the way that traditional companies once did. Instead, Facebook connects users, advertisers, and developers; Uber, riders and drivers; Amazon, buyers and sellers.

Reaching a critical mass of users is what makes these businesses successful: the more users, the more useful to users – and the more entrenched – they become. Ello’s rapid downfall occurred because it never reached the critical mass of users required to prompt an exodus from Facebook – whose dominance means that even if you’re frustrated by its advertising and tracking of your data, it’s still likely to be your first choice because that’s where everyone is, and that’s the point of a social network. Likewise with Uber: it makes sense for riders and drivers to use the app that connects them with the biggest number of people, regardless of the sexism of Travis Kalanick, the former chief executive, or the ugly ways in which it controls drivers, or the failures of the company to report serious sexual assaults by its drivers.

Before You Study, Ask for Help

Sue Shellenbarger:

Many students will plunge into marathon study sessions this fall, rereading textbooks and highlighting their notes late into the night. The more effort the better, right?

Not so, new research shows. Students who excel at both classroom and standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT aren’t necessarily those who study longest. Instead, they study smart—planning ahead, quizzing themselves on the material and actively seeking out help when they don’t understand it.

Carl Wilke, a Tacoma, Wash., father of six children ages 4 to 22, sees the studying challenges that students face almost every school day. He coaches his children to pick out the main points in their notes rather than highlight everything, and to look for headings and words in bold type to find the big ideas in their textbooks.

Several months ago, his 18-year-old daughter Eileen tried to study for an advanced-placement exam. Eileen says she struggled with a practice test and realized that she didn’t know how to study. She asked her mother, Catherine, for help. Ms. Wilke sat with Eileen for two hours while Eileen used an answer guide for the test to explain why her answers were wrong on questions she’d missed, then discuss the correct ones. As they worked together, Eileen says, “I was teaching her while simultaneously teaching myself” the material—a study technique that enabled her to ace the test.

Arguments over free speech on campus are often seen as an issue of left v right. But the left v left battles can be just as vitriolic

The Economist

Many students have said privately that the campus has become a place where they are afraid to express dissenting opinions. Students who disagree with the protesters’ views, on social media, have been denounced as racists by activist leaders. A newly accepted international student was mocked when she asked her future classmates if there were any libertarian groups on campus. White students have complained that they have been told by other students that they are unjustified in speaking about race and identity in class. When one student voiced a dissenting opinion on social media, his classmate threatened to get him fired from his job at the college bookstore. “It’s an environment with limited representation of opinion, and it can be hostile to students who hold other views,” says Yuta Kato, a sophomore.

Yet at Reed College this term there are also signs of a counter-revolution. A professor of Muslim studies refused to lecture in front of protesters and taught his class of 150 students outside, under a tree. Some freshmen have shouted down protesters. One (black) student told them: “This is a classroom. This is not the place. Right now we are trying to learn. We are freshmen students.” The rest of his speech was drowned out by applause.

Teachers Union Document Reveals Master Plan for Unionizing Charter School Networks

Mike Antonucci:

Over the past few years we have seen major efforts to unionize teachers in charter schools in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Some have been successful, others not, but teachers unions and their allies continue to hope they can make significant inroads in the charter school movement.

These efforts face significant challenges, not the least of which is the unions’ continuing opposition to the establishment of new charter schools and hostility to many that currently exist.

In public statements the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers say they aspire to provide the best education for students and the benefits of collective bargaining for teachers. But if we want a more complete picture, we can find it in a remarkable document produced by the Pennsylvania State Education Association almost 17 years ago.

Contra the “McDonaldization” of Higher Education

LC Sheehan:

The term “McDonaldization” was coined by sociology professor George Ritzer in 1993. He meant for it to describe “the industrial process of rationalization that [was] expanding beyond industry into the cultural and educational spheres.”

Ritzer’s term caught on and in 2002, Dennis Hayes and Robin Wynyard applied it to higher education in a book they edited entitled The McDonaldization of Higher Education.

The book describes the attempt by education bureaucrats to improve higher education through the same processes of rationalization applied to industry, to make the university more efficient at delivering its “product” (degrees) to its “customers” (students).

For Hayes and Wynward, the effects of McDonaldization were negative. The point of a degree prior to McDonaldization was to signal that one had acquired a certain amount of knowledge, but after it, degrees lost their connection to education in a meaningful sense. The point of the McDonaldized degree is just to have the credential needed as an increasingly dubious means to a good job.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Where have all the workers gone? An inquiry into the decline of the U.S. labor force participation rate

Alan Krueger

The increase in opioid prescriptions from 1999 to 2015 could account for about 20 percent of the observed decline in men’s labor force participation (LFP) during that same period.

In “Where have all the workers gone? An inquiry into the decline of the U.S. labor force participation rate” (PDF), Princeton University’s Alan Krueger examines the labor force implications of the opioid epidemic on a local and national level.

Among other findings, the research suggests that:

Regional variation in opioid prescription rates across the U.S. is due in large part to differences in medical practices, rather than varying health conditions.

The Uncomfortable Truth About Campus Rape Policy

Emily Yoffe:

Kwadwo “Kojo” Bonsu, 23, was on track to graduate in the spring of 2016 with a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Bonsu, who was born in Maryland, is the son of Ghanaian immigrants. He chose UMass because it gave him the opportunity to pursue his two passions, science and music. He told me he hoped to get a doctorate in polymer science or chemical engineering. At UMass he was a member of the National Society of Black Engineers. He also joined a fraternity (he was the only black member), played guitar in a campus jazz band, and tutored jazz guitarists at a local high school.

Commentary on Madison’s lack of K-12 Governance Diversity

Chris Rickert:

I’d like to believe that the “us” in that statement refers not just to the adults who run and work in the schools, but the children who attend them.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending more than most, now nearly $20,000 per student annually.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School, and recently, the proposed Montessori Charter.


On the Way to a Rare-Disease Cure, Parents Tackle the High Price Tag of Research

Amy Dockser Marcus:

After Luke Rosen’s 3-year-old daughter, Susannah, was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition, he wanted to do what many parents increasingly have done—help accelerate the search for a treatment.

Mr. Rosen, an actor who doesn’t have a science background, quickly learned many of the steps he would need to build a research program to help Susannah and others with KIF1A-related disorder, a neurodegenerative condition that causes some children to lose the ability to walk and speak. Among the steps: set up a foundation; find…

I Failed To Prevent My Kid From Going to College

James Altucher:

I failed.

I dropped off my kid at college the other day. I didn’t want her to go to college.

In 2005 or 2006 I wrote a column in The Financial Times that nobody should go to college anymore. I then wrote a book, “40 Alternatives to College”.

For a long time that book was the #1 seller on Amazon in the category of…”College”.

A lot of people were upset at me about this. Everyone had an argument why college was a good thing and that kids should go.

Then people said to me, “Well you went to college so now you are trying to keep people beneath you by not having them go to college.”

And one person threatened to kill me. When I tracked him down it turned out he was a senior at Brown University. HIgher education.

And other people who had spent a lot of money on college stopped returning my calls because I was calling into question the decisions they had made for themselves their entire life.

School choice expansion continues in Wisconsin

Alan Borsuk:

Statewide vouchers: A big reason the voucher scene in Wisconsin is so complicated is that there are separate programs for Milwaukee, Racine and the rest of Wisconsin, each with its own rules. In this round of state budgeting, it was decided to make more people eligible for vouchers statewide by raising the maximum household income for qualifying from 185% to 220% of the federal poverty table. (For Milwaukee and Racine, the figure is 300%.) Last year, there were just over 3,000 voucher students in the statewide program. Expect that number to go up in the coming year. And an early bet: An issue in the budget two years from now will be listing the statewide income level to 300%.

Milwaukee and Racine vouchers: There wasn’t much new for these two programs in this budget. It’s easy to get vouchers in both cities and lots of families qualify. Last year in Milwaukee, more than 27,000 students used vouchers, almost a quarter of all the kids in the city getting a publicly funded education. In Racine, there were about 2,500 kids using vouchers. Enrollment in Racine United public schools was just over 19,000. How much will voucher use increase in these two cities in the next few years? Interesting question.

Charter schools: For the more independent type of charter schools (those that are to a large degree self-governed), the scene in Wisconsin is heavily concentrated in the Milwaukee area (more than 16,000 students from Milwaukee alone in such schools last year). The new budget includes ways such independent schools might expand statewide, but I recommend a wait-and-see attitude. One point to keep in mind: Charter schools cannot be religious; the large majority of voucher schools are religious.

Teacher brands

Natasha Singer

Ms. Delzer also has a second calling. She is a schoolteacher with her own brand, Top Dog Teaching. Education start-ups like Seesaw give her their premium classroom technology as well as swag like T-shirts or freebies for the teachers who attend her workshops. She agrees to use their products in her classroom and give the companies feedback. And she recommends their wares to thousands of teachers who follow her on social media.

“I will embed it in my brand every day,” Ms. Delzer said of Seesaw. “I get to make it better.”

Ms. Delzer is a member of a growing tribe of teacher influencers, many of whom promote classroom technology. They attract notice through their blogs, social media accounts and conference talks. And they are cultivated not only by start-ups like Seesaw, but by giants like Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, to influence which tools are used to teach American schoolchildren.

Wisconsin budget proposal opens the door to controversial online teacher prep program

Annysa Johnson:

The measure is one piece of the 2017-’19 budget proposal that will be taken up by the Assembly, then the Senate, beginning Wednesday.

It was not clear initially how the measure made its way into the budget. There was no free-standing bill with sponsors’ names attached. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau, which drafts the budget document on behalf of lawmakers, considers the drafting documents confidential under state law.

The chairs of the Joint Finance Committee — Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) — did not respond to requests for comment.

But Olmstead said Friday that American Board has been working with Darling and Rep. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) for the last year or two in an effort to get into Wisconsin.

Tony Evers, state Superintendent of Public Instruction and Democratic candidate for governor, said he was blindsided by the measure and called it an affront to collaborative efforts already underway “to develop legitimate solutions to our teacher shortage.”

How Many Years of Life Does That House Cost? The Relative Dreaminess of the American Dream…


Nationally, there is a wide range in the accessibility of home ownership. It’s a seemingly-simple mix of a local population’s income and the price of homes there. But there are loads of factors contributing to each of those variables. So places with lots of employment opportunity will naturally attract lots of employees. But where to fit them? Conversely, areas without booming economic growth may have residents with lower incomes but the homes are also commensurately affordable (and then some). I found myself in the exceptionally limited scenario of being among the working class in an elite playground.

The Debt Limit is More Trouble Than It’s Worth

Concord Coalition:

The original purpose of creating a statutory debt limit in 1917 was not to prevent the government from running up too much debt, but to remove the requirement that Congress authorize individual issuances of debt. The intent was to help ensure that sufficient and timely credit would be available to finance World War I.

One hundred years later, things are very different. The main use of the debt limit now is to prevent the government from paying its bills on time, putting the nation’s creditworthiness at risk and threatening a global financial crisis.

Twice in recent years, 2011 and 2013, the nation was needlessly driven to the brink as policymakers debated over conditions for a debt limit increase in order to avoid a partial default on government obligations.

Financial markets, government creditors and the public looked on with increasing horror and frustration. Yet, there is no guarantee that similar brinkmanship on the debt limit will not be used in the future.

Return of the city-state

James Bartlett:

If you’d been born 1,500 years ago in southern Europe, you’d have been convinced that the Roman empire would last forever. It had, after all, been around for 1,000 years. And yet, following a period of economic and military decline, it fell apart. By 476 CE it was gone. To the people living under the mighty empire, these events must have been unthinkable. Just as they must have been for those living through the collapse of the Pharaoh’s rule or Christendom or the Ancien Régime.

We are just as deluded that our model of living in ‘countries’ is inevitable and eternal. Yes, there are dictatorships and democracies, but the whole world is made up of nation-states. This means a blend of ‘nation’ (people with common attributes and characteristics) and ‘state’ (an organised political system with sovereignty over a defined space, with borders agreed by other nation-states). Try to imagine a world without countries – you can’t. Our sense of who we are, our loyalties, our rights and obligations, are bound up in them.

A History of Consumer Surveillance and Financial Identity in America

Josh Lauer

The first consumer credit bureaus appeared in the 1870s and quickly amassed huge archives of deeply personal information. Today, the three leading credit bureaus are among the most powerful institutions in modern life—yet we know almost nothing about them. Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are multi-billion-dollar corporations that track our movements, spending behavior, and financial status. This data is used to predict our riskiness as borrowers and to judge our trustworthiness and value in a broad array of contexts, from insurance and marketing to employment and housing.

In Creditworthy, the first comprehensive history of this crucial American institution, Josh Lauer explores the evolution of credit reporting from its nineteenth-century origins to the rise of the modern consumer data industry. By revealing the sophistication of early credit reporting networks, Creditworthy highlights the leading role that commercial surveillance has played—ahead of state surveillance systems—in monitoring the economic lives of Americans. Lauer charts how credit reporting grew from an industry that relied on personal knowledge of consumers to one that employs sophisticated algorithms to determine a person’s trustworthiness. Ultimately, Lauer argues that by converting individual reputations into brief written reports—and, later, credit ratings and credit scores—credit bureaus did something more profound: they invented the modern concept of financial identity. Creditworthy reminds us that creditworthiness is never just about economic “facts.” It is fundamentally concerned with—and determines—our social standing as an honest, reliable, profit-generating person.

Jeffrey Young:

In a time of towering tuition costs, it’s easy to criticize colleges for trying to differentiate themselves by building climbing walls, luxury dorms or lazy rivers. But as more colleges move to offer online programs, there’s another new cost that has nothing to do with delivering education: buying ads on Google and other online platforms to hook new students.

Colleges with significant online programs can spend millions each year trying to get their name out online. It’s a practice that was pioneered by for-profit colleges as they built their brands, but some college leaders worry that traditional colleges have now entered an arms race of marketing and advertising.

Pizza Over Privacy? A Paradox of the Digital Age

May Wong:

People say they want to protect their personal information, but new research shows privacy tends to take a backseat to convenience and can easily get tossed out the window for a reward as simple as free pizza.
 The study — co-authored by Susan Athey, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research — provides real-life evidence of a digital privacy paradox: a disconnect between stated privacy preferences and actual privacy choices. And it serves policymakers with some food for thought about how to regulate data sharing without creating more hassles for consumers.
 “Generally, people don’t seem to be willing to take expensive actions or even very small actions to preserve their privacy,” Athey says. “Even though, if you ask them, they express frustration, unhappiness, or dislike of losing their privacy, they tend not to make choices that correspond to those preferences.”

W hat maths are critical to pursuing ML/AI?

Chris Herd:

You absolutely need a solid grounding in multi-variable calculus, linear algebra, probability theory and information theory. It will also be helpful to be well versed in graph theory.
In my opinion one of the best starting points is “Information Theory, Inference and Learning Algorithms” by David MacKaye. It’s a bit long in the tooth now, but it is still one of the most approachable and well written books in the field.
Another old book that stands up very well is “Probability Theory: the Logic of Science” by E. T. Jaynes.
“Elements of Statistical Learning” by Tibshirani is also good.
“Bayesian Data Analysis” by Andrew Gelman is another great read.
“Deep Learning” by Ian Goodfellow and Yoshua Bengio is useful for getting caught up with recent advances in that field.

Tech companies endure near-doubling of requests for personal data

Aliya Ram:

The US and UK governments have almost doubled their requests to obtain data from technology, media and telecoms companies over the past three years, highlighting a growing regulatory burden for businesses that are preparing for many more requests, under tough new EU privacy rules.

The number of times 26 companies — including AOL, AT&T, Facebook, Google and LinkedIn — were asked to assist the UK and US governments with investigations in 2016 increased to 704,678, up from just 354,970 three years previously, according to an analysis of public data by Deloitte, the consultancy.

The surge will vindicate claims from some companies that they face an impossible task in dealing with requests for information. Technology groups have warned that this challenge will increase dramatically under the General Data Protection Regulation, which will give EU citizens more rights over their data.

“You’ve gone from a situation 15 to 20 years ago where these requests were few and far between but, over time, the number of requests has increased and alongside that the variety of requests,” said Peter Robinson, partner at Deloitte. “Dealing with them is quite time-consuming, risky and expensive.”

Two candidates for California state superintendent raise more than $2 million

Sarah Favot:

The election is 10 months away, but the two candidates for the state superintendent of schools have together raised more than $2 million.

Marshall Tuck, who narrowly lost the 2014 contest against Tom Torlakson, leads in fundraising, reporting $1.2 million in contributions from Jan. 1 through June 30, according to the latest reports filed with the Secretary of State’s Office. Torlakson was elected in 2010 and can’t run again due to term limits.

Tony Thurmond, a state assemblyman from Northern California, raised nearly $1.1 million in the same period.

Tuck’s past jobs include CEO of Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, a nonprofit formed by former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that runs struggling district schools. He was also CEO of Green Dot Public Schools, a charter school network in LA. Tuck was the first candidate to enter the race in March.

Betsy DeVos: The Era of Weaponized Title IX in Campus Rape Cases Is Over

Robby Soave:

“The era of ‘rule by letter’ is over,” her speech says, referencing the Obama-era Education Department’s infamous “Dear Colleague” letter, which fundamentally changed the way schools handle sexual misconduct issues. “Through intimidation and coercion, the failed system has clearly pushed schools to overreach.”

The Dear Colleague letter was released on April 4, 2011, by the Office for Civil Rights, an Education Department sub-agency charged with ensuring that federally funded schools comply with Title IX, which mandates equality between the sexes. The letter holds that sexual harassment and sexual violence are forms of gender inequality, and that it is thus the responsibility of colleges to vigorously investigate and adjudicate rape disputes rather than leaving such matters to the criminal justice system.

The new guidance encourages—and in some cases requires—university administrators to neglect the rights of accused students. It specifies, for instance, that colleges should use a “preponderance of the evidence” standard for determining guilt; officials need only be 51 percent sure an accusation is credible to expel an accused perpetrator. It also discourages officials from allowing students to cross-examine each other, because that might be too traumatizing for a survivor of sexual assault. Never mind that cross-examination is one of the best ways for an objective jury to determine who is telling the truth.

Department of education, why?

David Burkhead:

tion? Why?

In 1979, during the administration of President Jimmy Carter, the Federal Department of Education was created as a Cabinet Level department. In the 38 years since then, we have spent $1.5 trillion on this department. It was created in response to a study of Education in America that famously said “If a foreign nation imposed this system of education on us, it would be considered an act of war.” It was supposed to “fix” the problem and dramatically improve education in America. [Ed: The source where I got that information was apparently chronologically challenged as that quote was from the 1983 “A Nation At Risk” study. It was instead created apparently to fulfill a promise Carter made to the National Education Association gaining their support during his campaign]

New York’s Bad Teachers, Back on the Job

Marc Sternberg:

On Thursday, a million New York City children will return to school. Educators have long been concerned about a “summer slide” — the learning loss that often occurs when students are out of school for two months. It’s a serious problem. But it’s not just students who can slide backward during these months. Facing political and budgetary pressures, an entire school system can slide without strong leadership. That’s now happening in New York.

In July, two weeks after the State Legislature reauthorized mayoral control of the public school system, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration quietly announced a policy reversal: In the coming year, schools will once again be forced to hire teachers that no other school has wanted to hire. As a former principal of a high school in the Bronx, I find it hard to imagine receiving worse news.

The new policy concerns the approximately 800 teachers in the city’s Absent Teacher Reserve pool, a remnant of a teacher-placement system based on seniority, not what’s best for schools or children. These are teachers who, for whatever reason, have not gotten a job in any of the city’s 1,700 schools, sometimes for many years. The city is in this position because the union contract makes dismissing teachers a virtual impossibility. A result is that taxpayers spend more than $150 million a year to pay them not to teach. Given the alternative, though, it’s money well spent.

The Tradeoff Fallacy

Joseph Turrow, Michael Hennessy and Nora Draper:

New Annenberg survey results indicate that marketers are misrepresenting a large majority of Americans by claiming that Americans give out information about themselves as a tradeoff for benefits they receive. To the contrary, the survey reveals most Americans do not believe that ‘data for discounts’ is a square deal.

The findings also suggest, in contrast to other academics’ claims, that Americans’ willingness to provide personal information to marketers cannot be explained by the public’s poor knowledge of the ins and outs of digital commerce. In fact, people who know more about ways marketers can use their personal information are more likely rather than less likely to accept discounts in exchange for data when presented with a real-life scenario.

Our findings, instead, support a new explanation: a majority of Americans are resigned to giving up their data—and that is why many appear to be engaging in tradeoffs. Resignation occurs when a person believes an undesirable outcome is inevitable and feels powerless to stop it. Rather than feeling able to make choices, Americans believe it is futile to manage what companies can learn about them. Our study reveals that more than half do not want to lose control over their information but also believe this loss of control has already happened.

By misrepresenting the American people and championing the tradeoff argument, marketers give policymakers false justifications for allowing the collection and use of all kinds of consumer data often in ways that the public find objectionable. Moreover, the futility we found, combined with a broad public fear about what companies can do with the data, portends serious difficulties not just for individuals but also—over time—for the institution of consumer commerce.
Marketers justify their data-collection practices with the notion of tradeoffs, depicting an informed public that understands the opportunities and costs of giving up its data and makes the positive decision to do so. A 2014 Yahoo report, for example, concluded that online Americans “demonstrate a willingness to share information, as more consumers begin to recognize the value and self-benefit of allowing advertisers to use their data in the right way.”1 This image of a powerful consumer has become a way to claim to policymakers and the media that Americans accept widespread tracking of their backgrounds, behaviors, and lifestyles across devices, even though surveys repeatedly show they object to these activities.

Our study challenges the assertion that tradeoffs explains what most Americans are doing. With the help of Princeton Survey Research Associates International, we conducted a representative national cell phone and wireline phone survey of 1,506 Americans age 18 and older who use the internet or email “at least occasionally.” We presented them with everyday circumstances where marketers collect people’s data, phrasing the situations as tradeoffs— and learned that very many feel those tradeoffs are unfair.

Academia is too important to be left to academics

Maximillian Alvarez:

WHAT CAME FIRST,” in the immortal words of Nick Hornby, “the music or the misery?” During one of the most highly anticipated panels at the biggest academic conference of the year in my field, I’m sitting on the floor with a bunch of other eager dopes who didn’t show up in time to snag a seat. Everyone’s still in high spirits, though. One of the hottest names in “theory” today is running the panel and all the papers sound fascinating, in an obsessive hobbyist sort of way—it all promises to be a thunderous nerdgasm.

Then, halfway through the panel, it hits me: this is awful. The redeeming insights are just so few and far between, stranded between deserts of lame, forced conference humor and straightforward, even banal points dressed up in comically unnecessary jargon. And everyone in the audience keeps nodding. I’m annoyed first, then just overwhelmingly sad. Being overwhelmingly sad is, to be fair, a regular part of being an academic, and oftentimes it can feel like there’s just something about the profession that attracts overwhelmingly sad people. But, for the first time, I start to wonder if it’s not just me. In my head, all I can hear is Hornby by way of John Cusack . . . Did I join academia because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I joined academia?

Mother gives up custody of newborn at Waco firehouse under ‘Baby Moses’ law

Kristin Hoppa

Burnett said this is the first time a baby has been relinquished at a Waco fire station in his tenure. He said other firefighters could not remember another infant left at a Waco fire station. But the firefighters’ focus was on the health and well-being of the child and mother.

‘One of our youngest’
“We talked with her and made sure that she didn’t need medical attention either, but she said she was fine,” Burnett said. “In our job, it is our mission to take care of the oldest citizen down to the youngest, so we knew we would definitely be taking care of one of our youngest that night.”

Waco Fire Chief Bobby Tatum said the woman told firefighters that she did not know she was pregnant before the child’s birth. She said she had other children at home and brought a diaper bag with supplies for the baby, but she believed she could not properly care for the infant.

“I’ve been told this is the first child who has been taken to a fire station under the Baby Moses law (in Waco),” Tatum said. “The mom left minimal information, but we are very grateful that she left the baby at a safe place, because you always hear about situations about a baby being left in a Dumpster or in a dangerous situation.”

When the woman left the fire station, police and emergency medical professionals were called to retrieve the child. The baby was taken to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center for medical evaluation.

The law
Texas became the first state to enact safe haven laws in 1999, allowing a parent to bring an infant 60 days old or younger to a designated safe place, including a hospital, freestanding emergency medical care facility, fire station, or emergency medical services station. Officials will take temporary custody of the child and the parent’s identity will remain confidential, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services spokesman Patrick Crimmins said.

Unlearning the myth of American innocence

sSuzy Hansen:

When my best friend from Wall revealed one night that she hadn’t heard of John McEnroe or Jerry Garcia, some boys on the dormitory hall called us ignorant, and white trash, and chastised us for not reading magazines. We were hurt, and surprised; white trash was something we said about other people at the Jersey Shore. My boyfriend from Wall accused me of going to Penn solely to find a boyfriend who drove a Ferrari, and the boys at Penn made fun of the Camaros we drove in high school. Class in America was not something we understood in any structural or intellectual way; class was a constellation of a million little materialistic cultural signifiers, and the insult, loss or acquisition of any of them could transform one’s future entirely.

In the end, I chose to pursue the new life Penn offered me. The kids I met had parents who were doctors or academics; many of them had already even been to Europe! Penn, for all its superficiality, felt one step closer to a larger world.

Still, I cannot remember any of us being conscious of foreign events during my four years of college. There were wars in Eritrea, Nepal, Afghanistan, Kosovo, East Timor, Kashmir. US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam were bombed. Panama, Nicaragua (I couldn’t keep Latin American countries straight), Osama bin Laden, Clinton bombing Iraq – nope.

I knew “Saddam Hussein”, which had the same evil resonance as “communism”. I remember the movie Wag the Dog, a satire in which American politicians start a fake war with foreign “terrorists” to distract the electorate during a domestic scandal – which at the time was what many accused Clinton of doing when he ordered a missile strike on Afghanistan during the Monica Lewinsky affair. I never thought about Afghanistan. What country was in Wag the Dog? Albania. There was a typical American callousness in our reaction to the country they chose for the movie, an indifference that said, Some bumblefuck country, it doesn’t matter which one they choose.

$330,000 in financial aid bought me a slot in the American meritocracy. Now I see its flaws.

Andrew Granato:

I grew up attending public schools in Iowa and Ohio until increasing frustration with my schooling led my family and me to reply to a flier about boarding schools. Up until then, I believed boarding schools only existed in England; I had never heard of “Exeter” or “Andover.” I applied to four schools and chose to attend the Middlesex School in Concord, Massachusetts, despite knowing essentially nothing about the place, because it gave me full need-based aid.

I do not come from a low-income family; for most of my childhood, my family’s income was close to that of the median American household, which was $56,516 last year. However, at Middlesex, I had one of the lowest family incomes in the entire school: More than 70 percent of the student body did not receive any need-based aid at a school that cost over $50,000 a year for boarding students and over $40,000 a year for day students.

Many students came from families with storied histories. Many others, while not necessarily the kids of CEOs, had parents who were financiers, doctors, lawyers, professors, etc. In my senior speech to the school  —  part critique and part love letter  —  I talked about the culture clash between my upbringing in the Midwest and my years at an institution that has long been part of the Northeast’s WASP culture.

The economy does best when talented risk-takers are driven by the chance to strike it rich.

Noah Smith:

In the 1967 movie “The Graduate,” a middle-aged businessman has one word of life advice for our hero: “plastics.” He meant that the younger man should try to get rich by going into the booming plastics industry. In the 1960s, plastics and other technology industries of the day seemed like a gold rush. But they weren’t the first or the last.

From whale oil and the actual California gold rush in the 1800s, to the dot-com boom and the finance mania in recent decades, Americans have always been entranced by the idea of an industry where everyone can get rich quick. Like Bill Gates dropping out of college to start Microsoft Corp., millions of young entrepreneurs over the centuries have picked up and moved to where they saw opportunity.

Now, though, the U.S. economy looks like it might have run out of gold rushes. Overall, the economy is doing pretty well — unemployment is low, labor force participation is recovering, wages have risen and stock markets are at record highs. But if you’re a young, energetic American entrepreneur or talented worker looking to strike it rich, where do you go in 2017? The Wall Street and real estate booms of the 2000s are now ancient history. What’s left?

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