‘A feature, not a bug’: George Church ascribes his visionary ideas to narcolepsy

Sharon Begley:

Church stood throughout an interview last week in his office at Harvard Medical School — where his lab’s past and current projects range from using DNA for data storage to resurrecting the wooly mammoth, from creating mini-brains on plates to doing a gut renovation of pig genomes so their organs might be transplantable into people. For the first time, he opened up about his journey with narcolepsy: when he realized he had it, how he copes, why he’s avoided the standard drugs, the virtues of parking brakes, what happened when he and his daughter (who also has narcolepsy) both fell asleep while speaking with her teacher … and how his narcolepsy underlies his creativity and scientific achievements.

Church said “almost all” of his visionary ideas and scientific solutions have come while he was either asleep or quasi-asleep, sometimes dreaming, at the beginning or end of a narcoleptic nap. Such as? The breakthrough during graduate school that ushered in “next gen” genome sequencing, a fast and cheap way to “read” DNA. “Writing genomes,” or constructing them from off-the-shelf molecules as a way to improve on what nature came up with. Innovations in editing genomes.

These brainstorms, and more, occurred while he was “either daydreaming or night dreaming or in that period when I’m really refreshed right afterward,” said Church, who will be 63 in August. “It took me until I was 50 or 60 years old” to realize that narcolepsy “is a feature, not a bug.”

Some advice for journalists writing about artificial intelligence

togelius:

Keep in mind: AI is a big field, and very diverse in terms of topics and methods used. (True, it’s not as diverse as it should be in some other senses.) The main AI conferences (such as IJCAI, AAAI, ICML and NIPS) have thousands of attendees, and most of them only understand a small part of what goes on in the conference. When I go to one of these conferences, I can perhaps follow maybe 20% of the talks and get something out of them. While I might be a bit dim myself, it’s rare to find anyone who can keep up to date with sub-fields as diverse as constraint propagation, deep learning and stochastic search.

Recommendation: Do not assume that researchers you talk to knows “what’s going on right now in AI”. Even more importantly, if someone says they know what’s going on right now in AI, assume that they only know a small part of the big picture. Double-check with someone working in another field of AI.

Brain gains

The Economist

IN 1953 B.F. Skinner visited his daughter’s maths class. The Harvard psychologist found every pupil learning the same topic in the same way at the same speed. A few days later he built his first “teaching machine”, which let children tackle questions at their own pace. By the mid-1960s similar gizmos were being flogged by door-to-door salesmen. Within a few years, though, enthusiasm for them had fizzled out.

Since then education technology (edtech) has repeated the cycle of hype and flop, even as computers have reshaped almost every other part of life. One reason is the conservatism of teachers and their unions. But another is that the brain-stretching potential of edtech has remained unproven.

Today, however, Skinner’s heirs are forcing the sceptics to think again. Backed by billionaire techies such as Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates, schools around the world are using new software to “personalise” learning. This could help hundreds of millions of children stuck in dismal classes—but only if edtech boosters can resist the temptation to revive harmful ideas about how children learn. To succeed, edtech must be at the service of teaching, not the other way around.

Related: Frederick Taylor.

California Teachers Association Has A $188M Budget

Mike Antonicci:

Just as local chapters are preparing for the loss of fair share fees, CTA also has the responsibility to prepare for this reality. There are currently two legal cases moving through the courts with the goal of reaching the U.S. Supreme Court as early as next year. We know losing fair share fees will have an immediate $7.7 million impact on the CTA budget. CTA is committed to maintaining services to our members and wants to avoid the staff layoffs of up to 50 percent experienced in Wisconsin and Michigan when they lost agency fee. This means we must plan ahead and that’s what we’re doing.

Related: WEAC: Four Senators for $1,570,000.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Another blow for heartland workers: Slashed pensions

Ed Leefeldt:

February was a bad month for Larry Burruel and thousands of other retired Ohio iron workers. His monthly take-home pension was cut by more than half from $3,700 to $1,600.

Things have been rough in the Rust Belt, but this was a particularly powerful punch in the pocketbook for Burruel, who started in the trade at 19 and worked 36 years before opting for early retirement to make way for younger workers. Unfortunately, this sagging industry doesn’t have enough younger workers to pay for retirees like Burruel, whose pension plan is in what the U.S. Treasury Department calls “critical and declining status.”

Burruel and the 400,000 members of his Central States Pension Fund are the canaries in the coal mine as far as pension cutbacks go. At least 50 Midwestern pension plans — mostly the kind jointly administered by trustees for a labor union and a group of employers — are in this decrepit condition. Several plan sponsors have already applied to the Treasury D

Civics: JEFF SESSIONS WANTS TO MAKE “LEGALIZED THEFT” GREAT AGAIN

Alex Emmons:

DONALD TRUMP’S JUSTICE Department revived a federal program on Wednesday that gives state and local law enforcement more power to seize property from people who haven’t been charged, let alone convicted, of a crime.

The practice — known as “civil asset forfeiture” — became widespread as part of the drug crackdown in the 1980s, after Congress passed a law in 1984 that allowed the Department of Justice to keep the property it seized. At the time, forfeiture was billed as a way to undermine the resources of large criminal enterprises, but law enforcement saw it as a way to underwrite their budgets, and have overwhelmingly gone after people without the means to challenge the seizures in court.

The practice has become so widespread that in 2014, law enforcement officers took more property from American citizens than all home and office burglaries combined.

Civil liberties organizations have called asset forfeiture “legalized theft,” and as the practice has become more widespread, it has become deeply unpopular. According to a poll last year by the Cato Institute, 84 percent of Americans oppose property seizures from people not convicted of a crime. Most states have passed laws restricting the practice, or banning it outright.

A solar eclipse is coming in August. Here’s what it will look like where you are.

Jon Schleuss:

Most Americans won’t see this year’s total solar eclipse, the first in the Lower 48 states since 1979.

But a partial eclipse will be visible in every state on Aug. 21. Just don’t look directly at it without eye protection specifically designed to do so.

The countdown has begun. Based on the time zone of the device you’re using to read this, the eclipse will start in:

Telecom Lobbyists Downplayed ‘Theoretical’ Security Flaws in Mobile Data Backbone

Joseph Cox::

In a white paper sent to members of Congress and the Department of Homeland Security, CTIA, a telecom lobbying group that represents Verizon, AT&T, and other wireless carriers, argued that “Congress and the Administration should reject the [DHS] Report’s call for greater regulation” while downplaying “theoretical” security vulnerabilities in a mobile data network that hackers may be able to use to monitor phones across the globe, according to the confidential document obtained by Motherboard. However, experts strongly disagree about the threat these vulnerabilities pose, saying the flaws should be taken seriously before criminals exploit them.

SS7, a network and protocol often used to route messages when a user is roaming outside their provider’s coverage, is exploited by criminals and surveillance companies to track targets, intercept phone calls or sweep up text messages. In some cases, criminals have used SS7 attacks to obtain bank account two-factor authentication tokens, and last year, California Rep. Ted Lieu said that, for hackers, “the applications for this vulnerability are seemingly limitless.”

In May, the DHS published an in-depth, 125-page report on government mobile device security, which noted that SS7 “vulnerabilities can be exploited by criminals, terrorists, and nation-state actors/foreign intelligence organizations.” DHS noted that it currently doesn’t have the authority to require carriers to perform security audits on their network infrastructure, or the authority to compel mobile carrier network owners to provide information to assess the security of these communication networks.

CTIA took several issues with the report. In its own white paper responding to the DHS, CTIA told US politicians in May that focusing on some SS7 attacks is “unhelpful,” said the report “focuses on perceived shortcomings” in the protocol, and claimed that talking about the issues may help hackers, according to the white paper obtained by Motherboard. Specifics from the paper were discussed by Motherboard with CTIA officials. l

‘Charter czar’ prepares launch as charter popularity plateaus

Chris Rickert:

It can be easy to forget about the “charter czar.”

More than two years after his office was created within the University of Wisconsin System and more than a year after he was hired, the czar has yet to authorize a single charter school. His office doesn’t even have a website.

Education reformers can have some confidence he hasn’t just been loafing around these last 16 months, even as state education data suggest the popularity of charters could be waning.

The czar — also known as former legislative staffer and elementary school teacher Gary Bennett — said the website is slated to go up next week, as are two requests for proposals. One will be for a so-called recovery school aimed at letting teen addicts continue their education while getting treatment; the other will be for straight-up charter schools in either Milwaukee or Madison.

Bennett acknowledged getting familiar with the recovery school concept took some time. Among the funding models he’s looked at are those used by Hope Academy in Indianapolis and Insight Recovery School in Minnesota. To cover the $12,000 to $24,000 per-student cost generally seen at recovery schools, they have used city and district money, respectively, to augment state funding.

Recovery School District RFP.

Money isn’t the problem facing Wisconsin schools

Will Flanders and Rick Esenberg:

Let’s look at the long run and the short run. Since 1993, per-pupil spending, after adjusting for inflation, has increased by 7.2%. Although measures of student performance have been flat over that time period, the long-term trend in spending has clearly been up.
And the short term is no different. Here is an oft-overlooked fact. Since Gov. Scott Walker took office in 2011, nominal per-student spending in Wisconsin has increased in every year but one. The one exception to annual per-student increases was 2012. In that year, the state began to feel the effects of the end of the federal stimulus package that had infused more than $700 million into the state’s education coffers, and cuts were required across state government.

Indeed, Act 10, which substantially reduced school personnel costs, was, in part, an attempt to manage that decline in revenue while minimizing a reduction in services. But revenue has rebounded and so has spending.

Madison K-12 spending is up significantly, now near $20k/student.

This, despite long term, disastrous reading results.

Oregon’s New Bike Tax and the Future of Transportation Taxes

Jared Walczak::

Oregon’s new $5.3 billion transportation package includes an interesting wrinkle: a bicycle tax. Although it represents a miniscule share of the new revenues adopted under House Bill 2017, the $15 excise tax undeniably captured the attention of cycling enthusiasts in Oregon and elsewhere. It also inspired others, with a Colorado legislator floating the idea of a $15 a year tax, though a negative response was enough for him to lay on the brakes.
 
 Oregon’s tax is an excise on the purchase of bicycles with a retail price of $200 or more and a wheel diameter of at least 26 inches—in other words, adult bikes, and not the inexpensive ones you might find in a big box store. The briefly floated Colorado tax proposal would have taken the form of a tangible personal property on a specific class of property, namely bicycles.
 
 A bike tax is unusual—currently, only the city of Colorado Springs imposes a bike tax—but it plays into a larger debate about how states should navigate the taxation of preferred policy outcomes. Many advocates would like to see more people biking to work, just as many would like to see more people driving electric cars. So do you tax bicycles (and electric cars) or not?
 
 A lot depends on why you think the taxes exist in the first place.
 
 Revenue is a big part of it, of course, but if a secondary priority is to get people out of standard vehicles and into electric cars or onto a bicycle, then one might favor substantial tax preferences for those other modes of transportation. On the other hand, one might just as well conceptualize these taxes as paying for the roads (or bike paths) used and the wear-and-tear of traffic, and perhaps to help “price” contributions to congestion. In that case, the preferences make less sense.

Where in the privacy cost of “free apps”

appcensus:

AppCensus is created by an international collaboration of researchers with combined expertise in the fields of networking, privacy, security, and usability. We’re centered in Berkeley, California.
 
 Our mission is to give app users better transparency into how their mobile apps use and misuse their personally identifying information. We want to explore whether apps are following standard best practices when handling private data. We hope that by giving out this transparency, we will foster a better mobile app ecosystem, because users are exposed to hidden privacy costs and app developers are better made aware of best practices for their future apps.
 
 

Why are some D.C. schools underreporting student suspensions?

Washington Post Editorial (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns the Post):

AFTER POST reporters raised questions about the accuracy of suspension rates in some D.C. public schools, a warning went out to principals. “Inappropriate, unprofessional and fraudulent” was how the system’s instructional superintendent described failure to accurately record students barred from classes. It’s good that such practices were soundly denounced, but more needs to be done to determine the extent of the problem as well as possible solutions.

D.C. schools, like a growing number of districts across the country, have recognized that more harm than good is done in suspending students from school. There are situations in which a student’s conduct is so egregious or dangerous that the only option is removal from school. But suspending students for minor misbehavior such as running in the hallways, being late for class and using profanity is counterproductive, often worsening behavior problems and leading to academic failure. The question that emerges from The Post’s investigation is whether the push to reduce suspensions caused some officials to camouflage students who had been excluded from instruction.

Related: Police calls near Madison Schools: 1996-2006.

Background and a gangs/school violence forum.

Commentary on Diversity and Academic Goalposts

Ed Hughes:

Madison West students did better in every category where there is a basis for comparison. (The number of Madison West students of two or more races who took the test was below the threshold for DPI to calculate an average score.) So why does Middleton have the higher overall average? This outcome is completely determined by the demographics of the schools. There are more West students than Middleton students in the lower-scoring categories, and this effect overwhelmed West’s clear superiority in the category-by-category comparisons.

There is more evidence of diversity’s negative impact on school comparisons all around us. For example, Google “best schools in Dane County.” You’ll get greatschools.org, or perhaps Zillow, which incorporates GreatSchools ratings. GreatSchools assigns a rating on a 1-to-10 scale to every school around. From all that appears, the GreatSchools ratings are the most commonly referred to sources of information about the relative quality of schools available to newcomers to our area or those contemplating relocation.

The GreatSchools rankings of Dane County schools appear to be entirely based on the results of standardized tests, undifferentiated by school demographics, income levels, or anything else. Not surprisingly, there is a substantial diversity deduction in these rankings. To understand why, we need to focus on how the ratings reflect the achievement levels and preponderance of white students at our schools.

Looking at the standardized test scores of white students provides an evenhanded if partial basis for comparison, unaffected by the schools’ differing demographics. In addition, it is the white families in the Madison area who are in the best position to affect the level of diversity in our schools, primarily through their choices of whether to enroll their students in Madison public schools or suburban or private alternatives. In light of this, it makes sense to tailor the analysis to the considerations that would be most relevant for them, in part so that we can have some basis to assess the validity of a “school quality” explanation for choosing a non-MMSD school.

The following tables shows three data points for the high schools in the Madison area: 2015-16 average composite scores for white students taking the ACT Statewide exam administered to all students in grade 11; percentage of the student body comprised of white students; and GreatSchools ranking on its 1-to-10 scale.

Paul Fanlund commentary. Mr. Hughes served three terms on the Madison School Board. His candidacies were unopposed in each election!

He ran for a fourth term earlier this year in a three way primary, but, withdrew prior to the spring general election.

Ed Hughes (2005): :

This points up one of the frustrating aspects of trying to follow school issues in Madison: the recurring feeling that a quoted speaker – and it can be someone from the administration, or MTI, or the occasional school board member – believes that the audience for an assertion is composed entirely of idiots.

A few notes on Mr. Hughes’ words:

a. Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results (Mr. Hughes on the District’s reading results in 2016). I see no benefit to muddying the achievement waters until we see substantial improvements in what should be the District’s core mission: reading, writing, math, history and science.

b. Why did he and a majority of the Madison School Board support the expansion of our least diverse schools, rather than addressing the substantial diversity gap in those buildings?

How a Guy From a Montana Trailer Park Overturned 150 Years of Biology Biology textbooks tell us that lichens are alliances between two organisms—a fungus and an alga. They are wrong.

Ed Yong:

In 1995, if you had told Toby Spribille that he’d eventually overthrow a scientific idea that’s been the stuff of textbooks for 150 years, he would have laughed at you. Back then, his life seemed constrained to a very different path. He was raised in a Montana trailer park, and home-schooled by what he now describes as a “fundamentalist cult.” At a young age, he fell in love with science, but had no way of feeding that love. He longed to break away from his roots and get a proper education.

At 19, he got a job at a local forestry service. Within a few years, he had earned enough to leave home. His meager savings and non-existent grades meant that no American university would take him, so Spribille looked to Europe.
M

“No institution in America has done more to perpetuate segregation than public schools”

Peter Cunningham:

No institution in America has done more to perpetuate segregation than public schools. Until 1954, segregated schools were legal in America and it was the standard practice in much of the South.

Less recognized, but equally pernicious, is the structural segregation all across America, where zoned school systems maintain racial and economic segregation. Some parents of color have been jailed for trying to enroll their children in schools where they don’t live.

Today, one of America’s most segregated school systems is in New York City, where Randi Weingarten once ran the teachers union. As a recent fight on the Upper West Side of Manhattan shows, even white progressive parents resist integration.

School systems across America and the colleges and universities that prepare teachers have also done a terrible job recruiting people of color into the teaching profession and an even worse job keeping the few they have. Nationally, the student body is over 50 percent people of color, but the teaching profession is just 17 percent people of color. Only about two teachers in 100 are Black males.

The roots of this institutional racism in the teaching field go back to the 1950s, when the Supreme Court ruled segregation illegal. Tens of thousands of Black teachers working in all-Black schools could not find work in integrated schools.

Madison has recently expanded its Least diverse schools.

ILLINOIS STATE WORKERS HIGHEST PAID IN NATION

Ted Dabrowski, John Klingner

AFSCME’s demands ignore four significant facts about Illinois state-worker compensation:

• Illinois state workers are the highest-paid state workers in the country

• AFSCME workers receive Cadillac health care benefits

• Most state workers receive free retiree health insurance

• Career state retirees on average receive $1.6 million in pension benefits

It’s not fair that Illinois residents, struggling with stagnant incomes in one of the nation’s weakest economies, continue to subsidize AFSCME benefits to such an extent.

Many other unions that contract with the state have recognized that taxpayers can’t withstand higher taxes to fund workers’ pay and benefits. Officials from more than 17 unions, including the Teamsters, understand the depth of Illinois’ fiscal crisis and have been willing to compromise and come to affordable contract agreements with the state.

AFSCME, which represents a mere 0.5 percent of Illinois’ total labor force (35,000 state workers out of a total 6.5 million workers), is putting undue pressure on the state and its finances.

Advocating K-12 governance choice

Volume & Light:

You see, I was fortunate to join a 150-strong group of #PowerfulParents on a trip from Tennessee to Cincinnati, where the NAACP vote was being held. I was one of a small group of Nashvillians picked up en route—most of the parents were from Memphis and members of a take-no-prisoners parent advocacy organization called The Memphis Lift.

These uber-committed parents left their families to embark on a 34-hour, one-thousand mile mission: to make a statement and ensure the message was received.

Peaceful, but battle-ready (and tested), these men and women were properly revved. I sat beside a Memphis dad, who told me, understandably exhausted from the long trip, “I just want to get a shower, talk to my kids and get ready for tomorrow.”

I listened to parents, grandparents and great-grandparents express blinding pride in their children and the schools they’ve chosen for them. I watched organizers lovingly plan meals and lodging, problem-solve and nurture, while preparing to execute their mission. The commitment to successfully execute and return home with a win was palpable.

The ages of distraction Busy, distracted, inattentive? Everybody has been since at least 1710 and here are the philosophers to prove it

Frank Furedi

The rise of the internet and the widespread availability of digital technology has surrounded us with endless sources of distraction: texts, emails and Instagrams from friends, streaming music and videos, ever-changing stock quotes, news and more news. To get our work done, we could try to turn off the digital stream, but that’s difficult to do when we’re plagued by FOMO, the modern fear of missing out. Some people think that our willpower is so weak because our brains have been damaged by digital noise. But blaming technology for the rise in inattention is misplaced. History shows that the disquiet is fuelled not by the next new thing but by the threat this thing – whatever it might be – poses to the moral authority of the day.

Many of the papers now judged most original and significant rely on massive compute resources, usually beyond the financial reach of academia. So where does that leave academic research?

Libby Kinsey:

Last week, I travelled to the South of France (such a hardship) to attend deep learning conference ICLR (International Conference on Learning Representations*).
Lots to take away, but one thing struck me in particular — many of the papers deemed most significant relied on massive compute resource that is usually unavailable to academics. I wondered — what avenues remain open for compute-limited academic contribution? I try to answer that question below. (I also wondered whether this will soon be a moot question, when GAFA et al have finished recruiting all the academics!).

In Milwaukee, steady as she goes replaces boldness in the school scene

Alan Borsuk::

It’s a good thing we don’t need to change much about the overall success of students in Milwaukee because there really isn’t much change coming these days.

Fewer than 20% of students in both Milwaukee Public Schools and the 100-plus private schools in the publicly funded voucher program were rated as proficient in reading in the most recently released results.

Fewer than 15% of students in both MPS and the voucher schools were rated as proficient in math.

Fewer than 60% of MPS kids graduated high school in four years in the most recent data (Class of 2015) and the percentage has declined a notch each year, starting with the Class of 2011.

Oh, well. What can you do?

Not too much different. At least that seems like a reasonable summary of the answers emerging as a new school year comes close.

China Unrisen

John Robb

I was just got back from a great conference in Singapore. A central theme of the conference was that China (and Asia in general with substantial US help) isn’t ‘rising’ anymore, it has risen (again), and that the US and much of the rest of the world hasn’t recognized this yet. This makes sense. China has risen economically with India is soon to follow and it will require a big rethink in terms of how we manage the world (the UN, IMF, etc.).

The California Bar Exam Is The Tip Of The Lawyer Licensing Iceberg

Nicolas W. Allard:

Traditional bar exam and licensing practices have outlived their sell-by date. In their present state they are increasingly hard, if not impossible, to justify as serving the best interests of the profession or the public.

Dissatisfaction with “take it or leave it” business as usual by the bar testing industry is not a local phenomenon in just the Golden State. Although the particular circumstances are unique that are precipitating the still to be finalized California judicial intervention, it is likely a forerunner of other major tectonic shifts. This is because, if for no other reason, the progress in California signals that major changes are possible.

Legal educators, professionals, judges and regulators across the country increasingly are asking themselves after years and years of concerns, and when they gather together professionally they are seriously discussing, a simple powerful question: Can we do better?

The answer for a rapidly growing number of knowledgeable people is obvious. The bar exam is only offered twice a year although we live in an on demand 24/7/365 world. The exam is a “one time, all or nothing” ordeal rather than effectively testing knowledge and skills as they are acquired. In New York State, the courts have imposed many other requirements and paths for determining readiness for practice. Consequently, the ritual, burdensome testing covered in much of the traditional bar exam seems like an unnecessary, quaint but expensive redundancy. It also is fair to ask why it is necessary for graduates to pay the profitable cram course industry thousands of dollars to prepare for an exam when earning a JD already required them to undergo constant rigorous testing after studying exactly what the ABA, local bar associations, state courts and law faculties require a law student to learn.

Graduates even have to pay to use their own laptop to take the test — like in Lord Nelson’s old-time British Navy, the perversely cruel practice of forcing sailors to braid the Cat-O’-Nine-Tails used for their own lashing. The exorbitant fee charged to use your own laptop, which everyone needs to do, seems to bear even less relationship to the cost of the special security software licensing needed to take the exam than the high price of the crummy lunches bar takers or their school must pay for or go without in our state. Unlike tests in other professions, for law grads it takes waiting months, often without paychecks, to get bar exam results and longer still to go through the process of the character and fitness review of candidates and finally be admitted to practice. (Parenthetically, the LSAT is offered more often and results come out faster, but not as fast as results in other learned professions.) While it has been commonplace to blame bar exam failure rates on educators and the test takers themselves, there has been too little attention paid to the relevance, or lack thereof, of the bar exam to the increasingly strong practical education and training that today’s law students receive everywhere, as everyone agrees they should. Similarly, the need persists to credibly determine through objective, independent, well designed and verifiable studies whether or not there is a disparate impact of the exam on test takers based on their gender, economic background, race and other factors.

Ph.D.-Level Position, $28K Salary

Nick Roll:

The average monthly rent for an apartment in Chicago is $1,770, according to real-estate website Zillow.

If you were to take a recently advertised position at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and take an apartment at the average rate, you’d have about $600 left over after paying rent each month, not including money that goes to taxes or food.

The position in question is described as a “visiting lecturer-German basic language program director for AY 2017-2018.” The position is listed with a preference for a candidate holding a Ph.D., and one with experience in language direction experience, although those still working on their dissertations are welcome to apply.

And it pays $28,000 a year.

The job is billed as a “67 percent” position, meaning it’s not quite a full workload. But based on the work description, some are calling that into question, as well as the salary for a position based in a major city.

More families expect kids to go to college, but don’t have a plan to pay for it as students pay more

Katen Herzog:

Through a combination of work, savings and borrowing, students covered 30% of college costs for the 2016-’17 academic year, while parents picked up 31%, according to the 10th annual Sallie Mae “How America Pays for College” survey of undergraduate families.

The report also says that while 9 in 10 families always knew their child would go to college, fewer than 4 in 10 actually created a plan to pay for it by saving, researching costs and identifying sources of funding, the survey found.

Those who have a plan to pay for college save more and borrow less, according to Sallie Mae surveys through the years.

Too many people believe that slavery is a “peculiar institution.”

Walter E Williams:

That’s what Kenneth Stampp called slavery in his book, “Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Ante-Bellum South.”

But slavery is by no means peculiar, odd, or unusual. It was common among ancient peoples such as the Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Hittites, Greeks, Persians, Armenians, and many others.

Large numbers of Christians were enslaved during the Ottoman wars in Europe. White slaves were common in Europe from the Dark Ages to the Middle Ages. It was only after A.D. 1600 that Europeans joined with Arabs and Africans and started the Atlantic slave trade.

As David P. Forsythe wrote in his book, “The Globalist,” “The fact remained that at the beginning of the 19th century an estimated three-quarters of all people alive were trapped in bondage against their will either in some form of slavery or serfdom.”

Wisconsin Superintendent’s Race Cost $1 Million

Wisconsin democracy campaign:

Spending by the candidates and outside special interest groups in the state school superintendent’s race last spring totaled about $1 million, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign review found.

Fundraising and spending reports filed this week show the three candidates spent about $767,650.

Candidate spending was led by incumbent School Superintendent Tony Evers, whose campaign doled out about $553,000 to win reelection to his third four-year term. Evers’ general election opponent, Lowell Holtz, spent about $143,900. The third candidate John Humphries, who lost in the February primary, spent $70,680 through March 20. There was no campaign report available for Humphries for the latest fundraising and spending period through June 30.

Rhode Island Governor Vetoes Bill To Extend Expired Teacher & Municipal Contracts Indefinitely

Katherine Gregg

Gov. Gina Raimondo’s veto of a bill to extend expired municipal and teacher contracts indefinitely has sparked an override campaign by teachers unions, ending whatever temporary peace she may have forged with them.

“I think that the classified ad is out: ‘Real Democrat wanted for governor of Rhode Island,”’ Robert Walsh, executive director of the National Education Association Rhode Island, said Thursday.

Alleging that Raimondo told him face-to-face, in a private meeting, that she intended to veto the contract-extension bill because her “donors don’t like it,” Walsh said his union feels obligated to actively recruit a candidate to run against Raimondo in a 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Walsh named several up-and-coming Democrats, suggesting they may have awakened on Thursday morning to the realization they don’t have to wait until 2022 for their next big political move.

“I think there are 10,000 scenarios out there where people of ambition are now looking at timing and saying this may be their time, and I don’t think that was the case three months ago,” he said.

Raimondo’s spokesman David Ortiz responded: “This isn’t a partisan issue.”

“The governor deeply respects the important role that organized labor plays in our shared efforts to grow the economy and provide opportunity for every Rhode Islander and she firmly supports collective bargaining,” he said.

But “the governor is most urgently concerned with protecting Rhode Island’s taxpayers. Mayors, town managers and school leaders from every corner of Rhode Island — most of them Democrats — urged the governor to veto this legislation.”

Student facing beheading in Saudi Arabia was to attend Western Michigan

David Jesse:

A Saudi Arabian student who was arrested five years ago as he was about to fly to Michigan to attend college is believed to be facing imminent execution by beheading, officials say.

Mujtaba Al-Sweikat, who was 17 when he was detained at King Fahd International Airport in 2012, was moved Friday from detention in Dammam to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where executions by beheading customarily take place.

Earlier that year, Al-Sweikat allegedly attended a pro-democracy rally, which led to his arrest.

More: Muslim mom responds to Kalkaska official; he responds, too

Al-Sweikat intended to visit Western Michigan University, where he had applied as a student, according to Reprieve, an international human rights group that has offices in New York and London and operates with partners around the world. He was later accepted by the university as a student. The Free Press has seen a copy of the acceptance letter from Western.

Recovery School Request for Proposal (Draft)

Office of Educational Opportunity (PDF):

Identifying Information

Name of Organization:

Year Founded:

Revised 5/31/2017, 11:30 a.m.

Recovery School Request for Proposal

First and Last Name of Primary Applicant:

Mailing Address:
Preferred E-Mail Address
Preferred Phone Number:

Attach the names, professional affiliation, and role in the proposed school for all school leaders and board members.

Summarize the purpose and brief history of the organization. (For instance, is this a new non profit created for this proposed school, or is it an existing nonprofit seeking to expand or replicate its portfolio?)

Evidence of Incorporation in Wisconsin and IRS status

Organizational Background

Do you currently operate a school, if yes where for how long and how is it operated (public district, private, other)?

Is your proposal a fresh start campus, replication campus, or a conversion campus?

If it is a conversion campus, why are you seeking to reorganize your operations into a public charter school?

Have you applied for charter status before? If yes with what authorizer, what was the outcome, and what reasons were given for the outcome?
May we contact the authorizer to discuss your prior application?

Much more on Gary Bennett’s Wisconsin – non traditional government school district – charter school authorizing body.

Related: A majority of the Madison School rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter School. Also rejected: the Studio School.

This University of Wisconsin system office has the authority to authorize Charter schools in Madison and Milwaukee.

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

Note that charter and voucher schools must operate on less than half of Madison’s per student spending. They receive only redistributed state tax dollars, nothing from local property taxes or other typical government sources.

Civics: Fusion Gps Illuminates The Brave New World Of Manufactured News For Her

Lee Smith:

Yet at the same time that Fusion GPS was fueling a campaign warning against a vast Russia-Trump conspiracy to destroy the integrity of American elections, the company was also working with Russia to influence American policy—by removing the same sanctions that Trump was supposedly going to remove as his quid pro quo for Putin’s help in defeating Hillary. Many observers, including the press, can’t quite figure out how the firm wound up on both sides of the fence. Sen. Chuck Grassley wants to know if Fusion GPS has violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

As the founders of Fusion GPS surely understand, flexibility is a key recipe for success—and the more room you can occupy in the news cycle, the bigger the brand. After all, they’re former journalists—and good ones. Fusion GPS is the story of a few journalists who decided to stop being suckers. They’re not buyers of information, they’re sellers.

***

Fusion GPS was founded in 2009—before the social media wave destroyed most of the remaining structures of 20th-century American journalism—by two Wall Street Journal reporters, Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch. They picked up former colleagues from the Journal, Tom Catan, and Neil King, Jr., who were also well-respected by their peers. When the social media wave hit two years later, print media’s last hopes for profitability vanished, and Facebook became the actual publisher of most of the news that Americans consumed. Opposition research and comms shops like Fusion GPS became the news-rooms—with investigative teams and foreign bureaus—that newspapers could no longer afford.

As top reporters themselves, the principals of Fusion GPS knew exactly what their former colleagues needed in order to package and sell stories to their editors and bosses. “Simpson was one of the top terror-finance investigative reporters in the field,” says one Washington-based journalist, who knows Simpson professionally and personally, and who asked for anonymity in discussing a former reporter. “He got disillusioned when Rupert Murdoch took over the Journal because there was less room for the kind of long-form investigative journalism he thrived on.”

Joyce in Court and The Ulysses Trials review – the law, murder and obscenity

Colm Toibin::

In October 1899, James Joyce, aged 17, attended all three days of the trial in Dublin of Samuel Childs for the brutal murder of his brother. This allowed him later to stitch references to the case throughout his novel Ulysses, including a moment when his protagonist Leopold Bloom and others are on their way to Paddy Dignam’s funeral in Glasnevin cemetery and pass Bengal Terrace, where the murder occurred: “Gloomy gardens then went by: one by one: gloomy houses.” When one man says: “That is where Childs was murdered … The last house,” Simon Dedalus replies: “So it is … A gruesome case. Seymour Bushe got him off. Murdered his brother. Or so they said.”

This, as Adrian Hardiman writes in his fascinating, painstaking book on Joyce and the law, “is the first mention in Ulysses of the Childs murder case. In one way or another the case or its protagonists are referred to more than 20 times in the text, sometimes very plainly, at other times obscurely. The case thus emerges as just one of the numerous threads, often submerged but constantly recurring, that form the fabric of the novel.”
Is James Joyce’s Ulysses the hardest novel to finish?
Read more

Hardiman takes us through a number of law cases that are referred to in this way in Ulysses with such clarity and vivid use of detail that it is easy to imagine how they preoccupied the characters as they wandered in Dublin on 16 June 1904.

Mind the Gap: The State of Skills in the U.S.

Rachel Stephens:

Third Way conducted an original, multi-dimensional analysis of skill gaps across the country using five kinds of data to identify patterns in industry labor markets.
The health care sector stands out as having the most dire skills shortages nationwide, and they’ll only get worse as our population continues to age.
Education and tech-related jobs are also facing serious skilled labor shortages across the country.
Manufacturing labor shortages are not quite as bad as some say, but the shortage will worsen before it improves due to a pending wave of Baby Boomer retirements.
Other shortages, such as those in construction or transportation jobs, vary by region and will also change with retirements.
Many jobs with these shortages are middle-skill jobs that don’t necessarily require a college degree but do require training and a credential. Stigma, poor delivery of information to students, and an education finance system focused on four-year degrees push too many people away from these jobs.

How AWS Cloud is demolishing the cult of youth

James Governor:

“A distinguished engineer not only leads; they also take responsibility. A distinguished engineer will not throw any of his or her team under the proverbial bus to protect themselves, nor will the make technical decisions that involve a massive pay back later (technical debt) without explaining why and getting buy in and understanding for the decision.”

His description fits the people AWS is currently hiring quite well. The company puts such a premium on independent groups working fast and making their own decisions it requires a particular skillset, which generally involves a great deal of field experience. A related trend is hiring seasoned marketing talent from the likes of IBM.

IQ costs Oregon parents their kids, but is that fair? (Column)

Samantha Swindler:

The nursery in Amy Fabbrini and Eric Ziegler’s home is filled with unread children’s books and unworn baby clothes. A Winnie the Pooh blanket lies untouched inside a crib where a child has never slept.

For nearly four years, the Redmond couple has been fighting to prove to the state of Oregon that they are intellectually capable of raising their children. The Department of Human Services has removed both of their boys, saying the parents are too mentally limited to be good parents.

Fabbrini, 31, and Ziegler, 38, lost custody of their older son, Christopher, shortly after he was born. Five months ago, the state took their second child, newborn Hunter, directly from the hospital. Both are now in foster care.

“I love kids, I was raised around kids, my mom was a preschool teacher for 20-plus years, and so I’ve always been around kids,” Fabbrini said. “That’s my passion. I love to do things with kids, and that’s what I want to do in the future, something that has to do with kids.”

Hedge Fund Uses Algae to Reap 21% Return

Vincent Bielski:

Desmond Lun’s AI trading model draws on computational biology

Biologists are ‘kicking butt’ in data science, professor says

Hedge fund manager Desmond Lun’s 21 percent average return over the last four years springs from an unlikely source — a petri dish of algae.

Lun, 37, is a new kind of quant, combining AI wizardry with old-school biology to trade futures. Although his Taaffeite Capital Management is small, Lun makes a big claim: His research into one of the natural world’s most byzantine systems — the biological cell — has given him an edge in untangling the secrets of financial markets.

Saving the Future: The Importance of Teaching Ethnic Studies in School

David McGuire::

The KKK chapter of Indiana had major influence in the areas of prohibition, politics, and education. This caused Indianapolis to build a school, Crispus Attucks, for black students that they assumed the students would fail in. Despite being 100 plus years removed from these injustices, we live in a country where there is a lack of trust and divide between our black teenagers and the police. Times like this call for a need to ensure we are educating the future adults of our state to understand those who are different from them.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Charter School Conference in Indiana.

2016-17 Summary of Results and 2017 Employee Handbook Member Survey

Madison Teachers, Inc::

As we prepare for the start of this summer’s Employee Handbook review discussions which will lead into the 2017-18 school year, we are sharing with you:

Our MTI Summary of Results from 2016-17. Last year was a significant one for MTI as we transitioned from Collective Bargaining Agreements to an Employee Handbook, and from payroll deduction of dues to direct payment of dues. Our successes this past year would not have been possible without a committed and engaged membership who supports the work of their union. Please take a few moments to review this summary. We think that you’ll agree that we have collectively made some significant progress.

Our 2017 MTI Employee Handbook Survey. Each summer, the MMSD and MTI get together to review the Employee Handbook and discuss potential revisions. This summer we will discuss potential changes which will take effect for the 2018-19 school year. Agreed upon revisions are then forwarded to the Board of Education for action. This link provides a summary of those items we plan to discuss and offers you the opportunity to provide your input on other issues that you would like us to address. Please review this summary and provide any feedback you would like us to consider by July 28, 2017.

Thank you for all you do for Madison’s students, and thank you for your continued support of MTI.

much more on Madison Teachers, Inc.

Extreme Commuting

Bryan Miller:

“My wife always waits up, which is nice,” Mr. Ubert said. “Our little guy goes to bed at 9 p.m., which is not so cool, but he loves the backyard and neighborhood, so it’s completely worth it.”
 
 At first Mr. Ubert thought he would hate the commuting life, but that soon changed. “It’s really not so bad, and what we get in return is amazing.” What they get in return is a 3,100-square-foot, five-bedroom, four-bath colonial on one rustic acre, for which they paid $375,000 last year.
 
 “It’s true, we are living the American dream, with deer running around in our yard, and bald eagles, too.”

Continuing to grow Madison School $pending: now nearly $20k / student

Karen Rivedal:

But board members Mary Burke and TJ Mertz offered cautions, urging the administration to be sure every possible building efficiency has been achieved before going to the voters again and every proposed project in any referendum under the plan truly advances the district’s central mission of providing a good education.

“My guess is if you asked parents, the vast majority of parents would give up the shiny-new for the best teacher (for their children) that that school had,” Burke said.

“We haven’t built a lot and we have a very high tax base per pupil,” Barry said. “That doesn’t mean (any potential renovations and upgrades) are free. But it does mean that from a balance-sheet perspective, we can support a reasonable amount of debt.”

The district’s plan also would expand the types of repairs and renovations tackled beyond traditional building and HVAC maintenance, facilities director Chad Wiese said. Instructional program needs also could be considered, such as library renovations and the creation of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) spaces, along with athletic and co-curricular program needs, such as swimming pools and artificial turf.

Board members asked for a November update with more specifics, with a possible vote on the plan later in the coming school year. Staff members also are working on a list of possible bigger-ticket improvements — new school construction or major renovations — that could be paid for in referendums using bonds with 10- to 20-year payoffs.

Madison school spending and tax history (current budget is just under $500,000,000, or nearly $20,000 per student).

We spend far more than most, despite long term, disastrous reading results.

Globalisation: the rise and fall of an idea that swept the world

Nikil Saval:

The annual January gathering of the World Economic Forum in Davos is usually a placid affair: a place for well-heeled participants to exchange notes on global business opportunities, or powder conditions on the local ski slopes, while cradling champagne and canapes. This January, the ultra-rich and the sparkling wine returned, but by all reports the mood was one of anxiety, defensiveness and self-reproach.

The future of economic globalisation, for which the Davos men and women see themselves as caretakers, had been shaken by a series of political earthquakes. “Globalisation” can mean many things, but what lay in particular doubt was the long-advanced project of increasing free trade in goods across borders. The previous summer, Britain had voted to leave the largest trading bloc in the world. In November, the unexpected victory of Donald Trump, who vowed to withdraw from major trade deals, appeared to jeopardise the trading relationships of the world’s richest country. Forthcoming elections in France and Germany suddenly seemed to bear the possibility of anti-globalisation parties garnering better results than ever before. The barbarians weren’t at the gates to the ski-lifts yet – but they weren’t very far.

Harvard University Faculty Group Proposes Banning All Social Clubs

Lukas Mikelionis:

A Harvard University task force has advised banning all students from joining any “fraternities, sororities, and similar organizations” in a bid to phase out the social groups entirely by 2022.

According to a faculty committee report released on Wednesday and obtained by The Crimson, the group suggests the ban could replace rules and penalties for students engaging in social clubs that are set to come into effect this coming fall. The report urges the ban be introduced in the fall of 2018.

“All currently enrolled students including those who will matriculate this fall will be exempt from the new policy for the entirety of their time at Harvard,” the report reads. “This will lead to a transition period, whereby USGSOs would be phased out by May 2022.”

The university has already announced a new policy prohibiting members of single-sex organizations from leadership roles and disqualifying them from academic fellowship recommendations.

New Wisconsin K-12 standards intended to spur interest in computer science careers

Jordan C. Axelson:

To address the need, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers last month approved Wisconsin’s Computer Science Standards for K-12 education. Wisconsin is the 10th state to establish such a model.

Each school district will have the choice to accept the standards in full, use them as a foundation to write their own version, or disregard them.

The document outlines learning objectives for students, but each district will decide on how to develop their own programs. Nationally, only 40% of schools now offer computer programming — and the standards are intended to help change that.

The standards propose integrating fundamental computer science concepts, such as using numbers or symbols to represent objects, into elementary school classrooms and progressing to technical courses in high school.

“It’s really important to start early,” said Dennis Brylow, associate professor of math, statistics and computer science at Marquette University and co-chair of the Computer Science Standards Writing Committee.

In middle school, students already begin to set themselves on STEM tracks or to pursue other career paths. “We really need students to not be afraid of these courses in th

Fascinating.

Reading progress?

Is higher education biased against traditional Christians?

Robert Maranto;

In “Inside Graduate Admissions,” her study of graduate admission decisions at elite universities, University of Southern California education professor Julie Posselt relates the case of “Maria,” a minority applicant from a historically black college. Posselt observed a committee of professors judging Maria and other applicants. Although Maria scored in the 99th percentile on the verbal section of the Graduate Record Exams and the 82nd percentile of the quantitative section, “her educational background clearly had induced skepticism, and they subjected her file to a more stringent review.”

In jocular fashion, the committee chair and other professors berated Maria’s college and questioned her intellectual fitness, discounting standardized test scores and other objective criteria. Not surprisingly, the faculty rejected Maria, and though reluctant to judge fellow academicians, Posselt lamented, “whether Maria had received a fair hearing was debatable.”

New Kids on the Block: Understanding Developers Entering the Workforce Today

Julia Silge:

Another academic year has recently ended, bringing with it a new season of graduations to celebrate and a new crop of freshly-minted graduates entering the software industry. The 2017 Stack Overflow Developer Survey provides context and data for understanding developers who are just entering the workforce compared to more experienced developers. Let’s use this year’s survey results to gain a deeper understanding of these new graduates.

Not all professional software developers go to college, but most do. In our survey, 77.5% of professional developers had a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 92.4% had at least some college or higher. For this post, we want to look at new developers at the beginning of their careers, so we’ll look at professional developers with less than 1 year of experience (or in some cases, 1 or 2 years). The vast majority of these developers have college degrees or some college education, but it’s important to keep in mind that a university degree is not the only path to a career as a developer.

My University Treated Me Like a Criminal Over a Joke

Trent Bertrand:

For the past six years, I have taught an undergraduate course on international economics at Johns Hopkins University. Most of my students thought it was a very good course. So I was shocked when, on December 6, 2016, I was met at the door of my classroom by Johns Hopkins security personnel and barred from entering.

The next day, I received a letter from my dean suspending me from my teaching duties—just three classes before the end of the semester.

What had I done to cause such a reaction by the administration? I had told a joke when discussing off-shoring, the practice of firms shifting work abroad, often in search of lower wages. Here it is:

An American loses his job due to his work being off-shored. He is very depressed and calls a mental health hot line. He gets a call center in Pakistan where the call center employee asks, “What seems to be the problem?” The American responds that he has lost his job due to the work being sent overseas and states, “I am really depressed and actually suicidal.” The call center employee says, “Great. Can you drive a truck?”

The lecture on off-shoring took place several weeks earlier. The stated reason for my suspension was that three students (out of 68) complained that my joke had created a “hostile learning environment” in the class. That’s a charge most college administrators now take with the utmost seriousness.

The First Amendment.

“I keep my eyes on the scorecard,”

Monte Reel , Kae Inoue , John Lippert , Jie Ma , and Ania Nussbaum:

“I keep my eyes on the scorecard,” Ghosn tells them. Production, profit, growth—the bottom line. Diversions constantly arise, but he’s learned to manage the distractions, which he says assume different forms in different parts of the world. “In Japan,” he says, “people have a tendency to preserve other people. But if you start to look at people, and not your scorecard, you’re going to be in trouble. If you start to say, ‘He’s not very good, but, hey, he’s such a good person, and he’s nice, and he’s a stand-up guy,’ then you’re compromising.”
 
 It doesn’t take long for an indirect challenge to rise from the crowd: Can’t a modern executive do more than protect his bottom line? A Thai business consultant asks him to consider the example of driverless cars and the potential they have to ease congestion. Nissan is a leader in the field; it’s already selling its Serena model, with driver assistance, in Japan. But maybe, the man suggests, companies such as Ghosn’s should first introduce them to Bangkok and other underdeveloped cities, where rapid globalization has brought increased mobility but also haphazard urbanization and murderous traffic. Conventional business wisdom says companies should first test them in places with advanced infrastructures, but why shouldn’t Ghosn focus on the places where they’d do the most good? “Change the entire society,” the man urges Ghosn. “Disrupt!”

Another Big Enrollment Drop For Chicago Schools Drives Down Budget

Sarah Karp:

A WBEZ analysis of CPS data found that almost 200 principals asked for a share of the funds. But only $3.5 million of $20 million available was doled out to 43 schools. The analysis also showed that the small number of white, middle-class schools succeeded more than majority poor, black and Latino schools in getting the money back.

Last year, school district leaders were sharply criticized when they overhauled how money was given to schools. Rather than separate money for special education students, principals were given a lump sum of cash and told to use it to pay for both general education and special education students.

Madison spends just under $20k/student annually, about 29% more than Chicago.

Chicago plans to spend about $5.4B during 2017, or about $14,160 per student (381,349 students).

Maryam Mirzakhani’s Pioneering Mathematical Legacy

Siobhan Roberts::

The Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani, who died on Friday, at the age of forty, was known to her colleagues as a virtuoso in the dynamics and geometry of complex surfaces—“science-fiction mathematics,” one admirer called it—and to her young daughter, Anahita, as something of an artist. At the family’s home, near Stanford University, Mirzakhani would spend hours on the floor with supersized canvases of paper, sketching out ideas, drawing diagrams and formulae, often leading Anahita, now six, to exclaim, “Oh, Mommy is painting again!”
Mirzakhani could be private and retiring, but she was also indomitable and energetic, especially at the blackboard. According to Roya Beheshti, an algebraic geometer at Washington University in St. Louis, and a lifelong friend—the two talked math, read math, and did math, sometimes competitively, for several years growing up—Mirzakhani’s passion was evident early on. “Maryam’s work was driven by a certain pure joy,” Beheshti told me. “A lot of people have been saying how humble she was, and that’s true. She was very humble. She was also really, really ambitious. From the very beginning, from a very young age, it was clear that she had very big goals.” When Mirzakhani was in sixth grade, in Tehran, a teacher discouraged her interest in mathematics, noting that she was not particularly talented, not at the top of the class. A quarter century later, in 2014, she became the first woman (and the first Iranian) to win the Fields Medal, math’s highest honor.

The Great Retail Apocalypse

Die Worker:

And therein lies the story of men’s knitwear. Over the last 75 years, the center of the industry has moved away from Scotland and gone to China and Italy. China competes on price; Italy competes on design. Scotland has struggled because it hasn’t been very good at either, instead just banging out the same classics year after year. The story isn’t too dissimilar from the one Antonio Ciongoli told me a few weeks ago, when I interviewed him about how he designs clothes. When he did his first Eidos collection, he found that the worst sellers included the quarter-zip sweaters and five-pocket chinos everyone told him he had to make. The reason is because they were buried under a mountain of all-too-similar designs from other brands. Today, his best sellers include a unique field jacket and belted cardigan, both of which are distinctive to an Eidos look.
 
 There’s a word for this: commodification. It’s when a market is so competitive products become nearly indistinguishable, so they primarily compete on price. Think of the difference between a blank white t-shirt and a Rick Owens “unstable” tee. There a million options for the first, so the price ceiling is low. Rick Owens’ tee, on the other hand, is much more unique, so it’s able to command higher prices.
 
 The difference is that now everything is being commodified. Fast fashion retailers can ripoff a runway look within a month; trends pass through the fashion ecosystem at light speed; and consumers can more easily comparison shop. When a guy is looking at a field jacket at J. Crew, he can compare it against the hundreds of options online, even while he’s in the store. All he needs is a WiFi connection.

Advocating K – 12 governance diversity

Molly Beck:

The office’s first charter school will be one aimed at helping teenagers recover from drug abuse, which was created by legislation passed this year. It will likely open next year.

Two UW System schools and other entities can now create charter schools throughout the state. The Senate budget would let Bennett’s office, any System college and any Technical College District Board authorize charter schools statewide.

The proposal also gives the UW Board of Regents oversight over donations given to Bennett’s office and how they are spent.

Stephanie Marquis, spokeswoman for the UW System, said UW officials “continually look for ways to expand educational opportunities across Wisconsin, and the proposal would empower the (office) to be a part of our statewide (services to) Wisconsin students, families and communities

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison preparatory academy IB charter school.

What libraries lost when they threw out the card catalog

Michael Lindgren:

This book about card catalogues, written and published in cooperation with the Library of Congress, is beautifully produced, intelligently written and lavishly illustrated. It also sent me into a week-long depression. If you are a book lover of a certain age, it might do the same to you.

“The Card Catalog” is many things: a lucid overview of the history of bibliographic practices, a paean to the Library of Congress, a memento of the cherished card catalogues of yore and an illustrated collection of bookish trivia. The text provides a concise history of literary compendiums from the Pinakes of the fabled Library of Alexandria to the advent of computerized book inventory databases, which began to appear as early as 1976. The illustrations are amazing: luscious reproductions of dozens of cards, lists, covers, title pages and other images guaranteed to bring a wistful gleam to the book nerd’s eye.

Not adding up: Madison’s diverse student body is not matched by its teachers

Amber Walker:

MMSD also implemented new interviewing practices that assess not only a potential teacher’s knowledge in her content area, but her culturally responsive practices, including setting high and clear expectations for all students, acknowledging all students and connecting to students’ lives and cultural identity.

Hargrove-Krieghoff said the new competency and performance measures were a “game changer” for the district.

“We designed our overall set of competencies with those things in mind,” Hargrove-Krieghoff said.

In an emailed statement to the Cap Times, Cheatham reiterated her commitment to diversifying the district’s teaching staff.

“It is important to us as a district to have a staff that represents the diversity of our student population. It is common sense that students will benefit from interacting with and learning from teachers who look like them at school, and research supports it,” she said. “The benefits for African-American students to have even one African-American teacher in elementary school are long-lasting.”

Although Cheatham’s administration aims to increase the number of teachers of color in the district overall, some teachers are worried that change is not happening fast enough, particularly for African-American students.

Civics: Public Sector Unions and Elections

Bill Glauber:

The union provided to a USPS labor relations official lists of letter carriers to participate in the AFL-CIO’s Labor 2016 program. That program sought to “elect Hillary Clinton and pro-worker candidates across the country.”

The lists were sent to USPS middle managers, who interpreted them as directives, the investigation found. Despite objections by some local postal supervisors, the mid-level managers instructed those on the lists be allowed to take a leave.

Ninety-seven carriers participated in the program, mainly in six states, Wisconsin, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Letter carriers were reimbursed for the leave by the union’s political action committee.

Kopp, a union member, said he was concerned that his office in Marshfield would be short-staffed when a fellow employee announced he was going to take a leave for five weeks to do union activity. Kopp said a supervisor told him that he was going to deny the request because of staffing issues. Later, Kopp said the supervisor told him that “people higher up the chain” gave instructions to let the employee take a leave.

Dem Pitches Manufacturing as a ‘Cool’ Career Path

Karl Herchenroeder::

Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) argued Wednesday that America should push receptive young people toward careers in manufacturing, an industry severely rattled by the Great Recession that represents about 9 percent of the workforce.

“We have to stop telling every young person that they’re going to go to college,” Cicilline said during a discussion at the Brookings Institution that touched on the industry’s decline in jobs and surging production.

President Trump’s appeal to the manufacturing sector during his presidential campaign was a deciding factor in the 2016 election, particularly in the Midwest, where discouraged workers continue to struggle in finding secure employment.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, manufacturing unemployment was reported at 4.6 percent in January 2007, it climbed to 10.9 percent in January 2009 and hit a 10-year high at 13 percent in January 2010.

Bureau records also show that there were 17.5 million employed in manufacturing in 1987, but today there are only 12.4 million. Prior to the recession, in 2007, the industry counted 14 million workers. Though many experts are skeptical that those millions of jobs are ever coming back, due to automation and globalization, it’s anticipated that over the next decade the U.S. will be in need of 3.5 million manufacturing jobs, partly because of the Baby Boomer generation leaving the workforce. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, about 2 million of those jobs will go unfilled because of a skills gap.

This Is The Current State Of The American Workplace

Lydia Dishman:

According to the latest Gallup report on the American Workplace, a record 47% of the workforce says now is a good time to find a quality job, and more than half of employees (51%) are searching for new jobs or watching for openings. That may be due in part to lack of enthusiasm for their current job. Only one-third of U.S. employees said they are engaged in their work and workplace and about one in five fault their managers for failing to motivate them. But they also say that their employers aren’t really giving them compelling reasons to stay, with 91% reporting the last time they changed jobs, they left their company to do so.

Other top reasons workers are jumping ship, according to Glassdoor, are company culture, salary, or getting stuck in the same job for too long. On average, a 10% higher base pay is associated with a 1.5% higher chance the employee will stick around.

Just don’t look at millennials solely as the job-hoppers. A new report from Namely, an HR management platform, analyzed data from over 125,000 employees that busted this myth. Baby boomers are most likely to switch jobs, with a median tenure of just 2.53 years.

Sesame Workshop and IBM team up to test a new A.I.-powered teaching method

Sarah Perez:

The app also personalizes itself to individual children using adaptive assessments to determine the child’s current vocabulary range, then delivers learning experiences that focus on specific words. As the child continues to use the app, it will also adapt further to focus more heavily on those words and other areas that require additional attention.

The pilot program was the first phase of a longer term process that will examine whether or not a learning experience like this can demonstrably improve a child’s vocabulary. However, the initial findings are promising – after collecting 18,000 assessments from multiple choice questions over a two-week period, students appeared to have acquire new vocabulary as a result of the app.

THE INCREDIBLE LOST HISTORY OF HOW “CIVIL RIGHTS PLUS FULL EMPLOYMENT EQUALS FREEDOM”

Jon Schwarz

The combination of these two things is truly bizarre, because the Fed has more power than any institution over everything about work in America.

Here’s how the Fed does it:

The Fed largely sets short term interest rates. If it lowers interest rates it heats up the economy, because cheap money makes it easier for entrepreneurs to start new businesses, for old businesses to expand, and for everyone to borrow to buy expensive stuff like homes or cars. That in turn generates new jobs and lowers the unemployment rate. And low unemployment takes leverage away from employers and gives it to employees, making it far, far easier for everyone to get raises and demand decent working conditions.

Meanwhile, the 0.1 percent who actually own and operate the country generally do not want full employment — and keep a close eye on the Fed to make sure it doesn’t make it happen. Why? Straightforward class conflict. For instance, a current Ohio business owner who’s feeling pressure to raise wages to attract workers recently told the New York Times, “I sometimes wish there was actually a higher unemployment rate.” Full employment would also tend to raise the rate of inflation, thereby reducing the value of government and consumer debt — which is largely owned by the creditors at the top of the economic pyramid – and relieving the burden on all the debtors down below.

So the Fed sits right at the center of American politics. Yet for most of us, it might as well be invisible.

How can this be?

The explanation is a phenomenon known in anthropology as “social silence.” Here’s how Gillian Tett, the U.S. managing editor of the Financial Times, describes it:

Longtime Educator Offers Last Rites, Lays to Rest Tired Debate on Public School Choice

Dia Jones::

And this is why the Charter vs. Traditional School Argument is Dead.

Parent choice is a choice for educational freedom. Freedom, my brothers and sisters! Freedom for parents to enroll their children into the school of their choice despite location, race, ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation, income, sexual orientation, sexual choice, nationality or disability.

So, everyone… Everyone who wants to remove the shackles of academic oppression of all children – gather ’round. Pick up a rose, a lily, because, yes, He’s the Lily of the Valley…Amen?

Or grab a handful of dirt and throw it on this pine box where this argument now resides. May

Why Americans Think So Poorly of the Country’s Schools

John Schneider:

Consider the impact on policy. If the nation’s schools are generally doing well, it doesn’t make much sense to disrupt them. But if they are in a state of decline, disruption takes on an entirely new meaning. Seizing on the presumed failures of the education system, reform advocates have pushed hard for contentious policies—expansion of charter schools, for instance, or the use of value-added measures of teacher effectiveness—that might have less traction in a more positive policy climate.

Perception also shapes the decisions people make about where to enroll their children. If the quality of public education is generally poor, then parents must compete for a small number of adequate schools—a competition that will be won by those with the greatest access to resources. As research reveals, residential segregation by income has increased in the past 20 years—driven chiefly by families with children seeking home in “good” school districts. If the average public school is of C or C- quality, this is rational behavior. But if most schools are good, segregation is being exacerbated by misperception.

“Continuing struggles in K-12 mean a lot of those young people are not college-ready.” One University President’s Candid Take On The Future Of Higher Ed

Anya Kamanetz::

Mitch Daniels went from running the state of Indiana, as its two-term Republican governor, to running its top flight public university, Purdue University, based in West Lafayette.

Since Daniels began his tenure in 2013, Purdue has made plenty of headlines. First, the school partnered with Gallup on an ambitious project touted as “the largest representative study of college graduates in U.S. history.” The goal? To find out what graduates really value about their educations. The takeaway: Fancy degrees don’t mean much for people’s well-being.

Earlier this year, Daniels also dropped a bombshell when he announced Purdue’s acquisition of Kaplan University. It was an unprecedented move for a public university to take over a for-profit, online college, especially given the for-profit sector’s recent regulatory troubles. Negotiations were conducted in secret, which Daniels said was necessary under federal investment rules.

Why Kaplan? It’s part of Purdue’s broader innovation agenda to offer students a more affordable, accessible, world-class education, says Daniels, though the deal’s critics saw things differently.

NPR sat down with Daniels to talk about how he sees his responsibility toward Indiana’s students today and in the future. The conversation has been edited and condensed.

Jane Jacobs on Transportation, Government Monopolies

The use of “gravy train” to describe public investment will resonate with those readers familiar with Toronto’s disgraced former mayor Rob Ford. Indeed, the general tone of Jacob’s piece – questioning the wisdom of public management of transportation – is more reminiscent of writing from the political right than the political left. As demonstrated frequently throughout Vital Little Plans, one of the most satisfying elements of Jacobs’ writing is her ability to scramble simplistic assumptions about political alignment and urban policy.

So if not the traditional right/left political divide, what motivated Jacobs’ pointed and repeated criticism of public transport management? Reading through the various selections in Vital Little Plans, it becomes clear that the common enemy she is attacking is top-down, centralized control of complex systems.

For followers of Jacobs, this should not come as a surprise. The founding ethos of her seminal work, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, is that city success flows from the bottom up. There, she casts the villain as government planners who have a utopian vision of what cities should look like; they destroy functioning urban fabric because they are too far removed from its use to even notice that it is succeeding.

Here, in various selections from Vital Little Plans, Jacobs’ argument against public monopoly control of transportation is similar: a single government agency is liable to miss opportunities for innovation, be biased to the status quo, and ignore changing consumer demands.

Given her love of bottom-up organization and distributed decision making, I suspect that Jacobs would have been a supporter of ‘informal transit’ systems like collectivos, matatus, dollar vans, or jeepneys, although there’s no writing about them in this volume. Those systems tend to be composed of thousands of independent actors, each with a financial incentive to meet consumer demand, and without centralized control of routes or individual driver behavior. While that has often made them the enemy of public authorities, I imagine it would have made Jacobs a fan.

Andrew Salzberg

Monthly Federal Spending Tops $400B for First Time

Terence Jeffrey:

So far in fiscal 2017 (which began on Oct. 1, 2016 and will end on Sept. 30, 2017), the Treasury has brought in $2,507,820,000,000 in taxes and spent $3,030,903,000,000—running a deficit of $523,082,000,000.

Last year in June, the federal government spent $323,320,000,000—or $328,303,590,000 in constant 2017 dollars. The record $428,894,000,000 that the federal government spent this June is $100,590,410,000 more (in constant 2017 dollars) than last June’s spending.

The dramatic increase in spending from last June to this June was driven by increases in spending by the Departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development and Health and Human Services. It was also helped by the fact that the first day of July fell on a Saturday rather than a business day.

In June 2016, the Department of Education spent $12,096,000,000 and by that point in fiscal 2016, it had spent $59,457,000,000. This June, the Department of Education spent $45,691,000,000 and so far this fiscal year, it has spent $90,206,000,000.

This year’s June Department of Education spending is $33,595,000,000 more than last year’s.

Paying Professors: Inside Google’s Academic Influence Campaign

Brody Mullins and Jack Nicas:

Google operates a little-known program to harness the brain power of university researchers to help sway opinion and public policy, cultivating financial relationships with professors at campuses from Harvard University to the University of California, Berkeley.

Over the past decade, Google has helped finance hundreds of research papers to defend against regulatory challenges of its market dominance, paying $5,000 to $400,000 for the work, The Wall Street Journal found.
Some researchers share their papers before publication and let Google give suggestions, according to thousands of pages of emails obtained by the Journal in public-records requests of more than a dozen university professors. The professors don’t always reveal Google’s backing in their research, and few disclosed the financial ties in subsequent articles on the same or similar topics, the Journal found.

David Brooks and the language of privilege

Robert Pondisco:

We are ruining America, notes dour New York Times columnist David Brooks, suddenly and considerably alarmed by a standard feature of American life, if not human nature—the tendency of the privileged and powerful to guard jealously every advantage they have been handed or earned. Brooks takes up his pen to offer a stinging rebuke: Members of the college-educated class, he writes, “have become amazingly good at making sure their children retain their privileged status. They have also become devastatingly good at making sure the children of other classes have limited chances to join their ranks.”

Brooks focuses his concern on the parenting style of privileged Americans, coining a brilliant neologism in the process, “pediacracy,” by which he means the determination of affluent parents to give their kids a leg up. “As soon as they get money, they turn it into investments in their kids,” he writes. Next come zoning laws that keep the poor and poorly educated out of well-off neighborhoods and excellent schools. Finally there’s access to elite colleges that cement the grip of top quintile families on the brass ring of their advantage.

Brooks, I think, confuses effects for causes. Mating, motherhood, and Middlebury are not the arenas where battles for opportunity are fought. They are the spoils of war accrued by those who’ve already won. He hits closer to the mark when he draws attention to “informal social barriers that segregate the lower 80 percent.” His Timesman’s bubble thick as armor, he virtue signals, chiding himself for insensitivity when describing how he took “a friend with only a high school degree” (note to Times copy desk: it’s called a “diploma”) to a gourmet sandwich shop. “Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named ‘Padrino’ and ‘Pomodoro’ and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican,” Brooks writes.

An overdose, a young companion, drug-fueled parties: The secret life of USC med school dean

Paul Pringle, Harriet Ryan, Adam Elmahrek, Matt Hamilton and Sarah Parvini:

A week after the hotel overdose, a witness filed an anonymous complaint through a city website urging Pasadena authorities to investigate Puliafito and the police handling of the incident, according to a copy of the complaint obtained through the California Public Records Act.

Three days later, the same witness phoned the office of USC president Nikias and told two employees about Puliafito’s role in the hotel incident. The witness spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity.

Phone records confirm that the witness made a six-minute call to Nikias’ office on March 14, 2016, 10 days after the overdose.

A week and a half later, Puliafito resigned as dean.

Concerned that Pasadena police were not investigating, the witness then approached The Times. The newspaper asked the Police Department for its report on the overdose.

Harvard Law School Task Force Releases Findings, Students Dissent

Jamie Halper:

A year after racially-focused protests rocked Harvard Law School, a student, faculty, and alumni task force has recommended changes to improve diversity and inclusion across the school.

Though the task force was appointed by former Law School Dean Martha L. Minow, the school’s new dean, John F. Manning ’82, sent the report to Law School affiliates July 5, writing that he is “delighted” to have the opportunity to make use of the report’s findings. The report recommends that the school take additional steps to bolster advising programs, mental health resources, and financial aid at the school.

Manning wrote in an emailed statement that the report’s findings were extensive and gave him a significant amount to work with as he began his tenure as dean.

“The Task Force did a tremendous amount of work and made extensive findings and recommendations across a wide range of subjects touching on our academic community,” Manning said.

Law School professor Bruce H. Mann, who chaired the committee, said that the Task Force focused on identifying the opportunities and challenges that a law school as large and diverse as Harvard faces.

“The opportunities lie in bringing together people of different races, genders, ethnicities, gender identities, nationalities, political views, religious affiliations, incomes, career aspirations, and experiences to learn from and alongside one another and to engage in the free exchange of ideas that is essential to the rigorous pursuit of knowledge,” Mann said. “The challenges lie in creating the conditions that foster inclusion and respect for differences and that enable everyone to discuss, debate, and disagree on difficult issues and topics.”

The Easiest Way To Improve Test Scores That Has Nothing To Do With Studying

Rep Tim Ryan (Ohio):

Salad bars are one of the easiest ways for schools to meet nutrition standards. They empower students to try new fruits and vegetables and have been shown to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables. Combined, these efforts create the conditions for students to learn that carrots can be a substitute for candy bars and that it’s better to eat some hot peppers instead of a hot pocket.

My efforts are based on programs that I have seen up close and in person, like the Eatiquette program in Philadelphia where students participate in preparing, serving and cleaning up after the meal. They pass food around and engage in conversations to help them develop the pro-social skills future employers are looking for. Not only do these nutrition education programs benefit students by decreasing the number of overweight youth and increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables they are eating, they also help students develop healthy eating habits so that they can do better in school because they are more energized and alert. Programs like this have been shown to improve the overall health of the student body and will create the opportunity to develop a healthier generation.

When 20 percent of school-aged children are obese and our country is losing over $240 billion in diabetes related costs, we have to prioritize our investments and policy to improve student health and wellness. Congress must act now so our children can succeed.

Data?

The cholesterol and calorie hypotheses are both dead — it is time to focus on the real culprit: insulin resistance

Maryanne Demasi,Robert H Lustig and Aseem Malhotra

Emerging evidence shows that insulin resistance is the most important predictor of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Aggressive lowering of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) has been the cornerstone of preventative cardiology for decades. Statins are widely used as the go-to solution for the prevention of heart disease owing to their ability to slash LDL-C levels, a ‘surrogate marker’ of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Indeed, statins are one of the most widely prescribed class of drugs in the world. But this phenomenon begs two questions: is the enthusiasm for aggressive lowering of LDL-C justified; and is pharmacotherapy superior to lifestyle intervention?

Over the years, medical guidelines have continually expanded the number of individuals for whom statin therapy is recommended. Proponents argue that statins are ‘life-savers’ and that ‘people will die’ if they discontinue their medicine[1],[2]. Prominent researchers from reputable universities have declared that ‘everyone over 50’ should be on a statin to reduce their risk of CVD and that even children with high LDL-C as young as 8 years should be afforded statin therapy[3].

Many Are Left Out of Teacher Union Decision-Making

Mike Antonucci:

I’m often asked why teacher unions skew so heavily towards the Democratic Party. This isn’t a mystery. Liberals are more active in the union, and though 12 years have passed since I wrote The NEA Pyramid, I believe it is still true that the larger a teacher union is, the more likely its leaders are to be liberal. If the overwhelming majority of decision-makers are Democrats, they are going to support Democratic policies and donate PAC money to Democrats. To expect them to support Republicans according to the percentage of Republican union members is naive.

Political leanings aside, the share of members who are actively involved in union activities is small. The last NEA survey I saw reported only 15 percent were “quite a bit” or “a great deal” involved. A full 36 percent were “not at all” involved.

How to (actually) keep your child’s brain safe

Nico Dosenbach:

As a society, we could do a lot more for the safety of our children if we focused on accident prevention instead of being consumed by irrational fears.

I am a child neurologist and neuroscientist, as well as the parent of a 4-year-old and a 19-month-old. My research and patient care revolve around childhood brain injury and how to prevent it.

Since having kids, I have noticed that my parenting concerns are strikingly different from those of many other parents. My kids get to eat loads of candy. They get to stay up late if they want to. They’re allowed to watch cartoons till they’ve had their fill. I don’t care if they use swear words. When they fall down, I don’t pick them up. If they’re eating dirt, I don’t stop them. I don’t really care if they get bitten by other kids at daycare – but if they do, I’d like them to bite back.

The truth about children and social media

Madhumita Murgia:

A few weeks ago, a report on the impact of social media on British children’s mental health caught my eye. In a survey of 1,500 young people across the UK, the Royal Society for Public Health explored how platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook stoked anxiety, depression and poor sleep in children.

The survey grabbed my attention because, over the past few months, I’ve been talking to schoolchildren and young teens about their digital lives in order to better understand what it means to be born into an online world.

Young people are tech insiders, but in a very different sense from those I am used to interviewing. They are social-media critics, digital-content connoisseurs, mobile natives. They aren’t loyal to the big technology giants such as Facebook or Microsoft. They have an encyclopedic knowledge of YouTube’s catalogue and Snapchat shortcuts, and are the harshest critics and earliest adopters of new consumer apps.

AI and “Enormous Data” Could make tech giants hard to topple

Tom Simonite::

ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER record-breaking AI research study released by Google—this time with results that are a reminder of a crucial business dynamic of the current AI boom. The ecosystem of tech companies that consumers and the economy increasingly depend on is traditionally said to be kept innovative and un-monopolistic by disruption, the process whereby smaller companies upend larger ones. But when competition in tech depends on machine learning systems powered by huge stockpiles of data, slaying a tech giant may be harder than ever.
Google’s new paper, released as a preprint Monday, describes an expensive collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University. Their experiments on image recognition tied up 50 powerful graphics processors for two solid months, and used an unprecedentedly huge collection of 300 million labeled images (much work in image recognition uses a standard collection of just 1 million images). The project was designed to test whether it’s possible to get more accurate image recognition not by tweaking the design of existing algorithms but just by feeding them much, much more data.

How I lost my 25-year battle against corporate claptrap

Lucy Kellaway:

The first example I can find comes from 1994 when I wrote an article mocking ugly business jargon, arguing that language had got so stupid that the pendulum must soon swing back and plain talking about business would shortly reassert itself. The words I objected to back then? Global, downsize, marketplace and worst of all, the mathematically nonsensical “110% committed”.

What an innocent age that was.

Fast forward to July 2017, and an entrepreneur sits down to write a blog post about his company. “We are focused 1,000,000% on positive, move forward, actionable efforts to help facilitate change.” When someone sent me this bilge last week, I read it and shrugged.

Over the past two decades, two things have happened. Business bullshit has got a million% more bullshitty, and I’ve stopped predicting a correction in the marketplace. I’m 110% sure there won’t be one.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Trustees Show Need for Social Security, Medicare Reforms

Concord Coalition:

According to the trustees, the general revenue subsidies for Social Security and Medicare will total $311 billion in 2017 — $27 billion for Social Security and $284 billion for Medicare. By 2027, the general revenue subsidy for both programs combined jumps to $971 billion.

The rising costs can be attributed to large numbers of retiring baby boomers, the lengthening American lifespan, and the continuing growth of health care costs. All this means the government must pay more each year just to provide the same level of services to more beneficiaries.

The trustees’ projections on how long the Medicare and Social Security trust funds will remain solvent often receive considerable public attention. Today’s reports say the Social Security trust funds will be exhausted in 2034, the same as last year’s report, while Medicare’s Hospital Insurance fund will be exhausted in 2029, one year later than projected last year.

It is important to remember, however, that the trust funds are merely internal government accounting mechanisms that do not provide meaningful information about these two programs’ sustainability as their growth puts increasing pressure on the overall federal budget.

A’s on the rise in U.S. report cards, but SAT scores founder

Greg Toppo:

Recent findings show that the proportion of high school seniors graduating with an A average — that includes an A-minus or A-plus — has grown sharply over the past generation, even as average SAT scores have fallen.

In 1998, it was 38.9%. By last year, it had grown to 47%.

That’s right: Nearly half of America’s Class of 2016 are A students. Meanwhile, their average SAT score fell from 1,026 to 1,002 on a 1,600-point scale — suggesting that those A’s on report cards might be fool’s gold.

The new findings come courtesy of two researchers: Michael Hurwitz of the College Board, the folks who bring you the SAT; and Jason Lee, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education.

Hurwitz called the rise of the A average “really stunning.”

The revelation comes as the USA’s public high schools graduate a record number of students: The average high school graduation rate now tops 83%, according to federal statistics.

Related: When A stands for average.

Middle school report cards. deja vu

=Replacing My Kid’s College Fund with a “Start Something” Fund

Robbie Allen::

Recently, I wrote about how the future job prospects for my two-year-old son may not be the rosiest. Also, I don’t have the best opinion about the future of our higher education system even though I decided to go back to get my third post-undergraduate degree. That’s led me to rethink how to position the future, post-high school world to my kids.

Entrepre-what?
The first time I heard the word entrepreneur was after I left college. My father worked in manufacturing at AT&T (and Lucent) for thirty years. My mom worked at a hosiery plant. Needless to say, we didn’t have a very entrepreneurial family. I was the first person in my family to go to a four-year college. In my family, you graduated high school (or not — my father made it to 10th grade), get a job at the local plant down, and wait for retirement.

Education Department Civil rights office will return to being a ‘neutral’ agency

Caitlin Emma::

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said she is “returning” the Office for Civil Rights “to its role as a neutral, impartial, investigative agency.”

In a July 11 letter to Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, DeVos asserted that the department’s civil rights arm under the Obama administration “had descended into a pattern of overreaching, of setting out to punish and embarrass institutions rather than work with them to correct civil rights violations and of ignoring public input prior to issuing new rules.”

As part of the changes she is implementing, the civil rights office would no longer issue “new regulations via administrative fiat,” as the Obama administration did, she wrote.

DeVos’ letter, which lays out a far less activist philosophy for the civil rights office, came in response to a letter sent late last month by 34 Senate Democrats, who blasted her for a series of actions they said had “diminished” civil rights enforcement. The lawmakers asked DeVos for a host of information by July 11, including a list of civil rights investigations that have been closed or dismissed since the Trump administration began. DeVos didn’t provide any of the information in her response.

Murray sent DeVos another letter on Friday repeating her request for the information. She did not address DeVos’ assertions about the actions taken by the Obama-era civil rights office.

DeVos wrote that the agency is “unwavering in its commitment” to defend students’ civil rights. But during the Obama administration, the office “all too often handled individual complaints as evidence of systematic institutional violations,” she wrote. Candice Jackson, the acting assistant secretary for civil rights, told the office’s regional directors in June to stop doing just that.

The other problem with cultural codes in a meritocracy

Daniel Drezner::

Based on my own conversations, it would seem that most traditional D.C. wonks look at most of the Trump family and see a bunch of wealthy, not-very-bright boors who do déclassé things like eat their steaks well-done and with ketchup. Indeed, there is a whole conservative genre defending the Trumps for some of their gauche tendencies. Most of the Trumps gleefully ignore the cultural codes that Brooks describes, because they are rich enough to not care.

Then we get to Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, and the narrative switches.

The rest of the Trumps might scream bridge and tunnel, but Jared and Ivanka have undeniably mastered the cultural codes of the educated class. It is hard to read a profile of either of them without words like “polished” or “poised” appearing.

Take the opening sentences to Jill Filipovic’s Politico essay from May: “Ivanka Trump is the poised, polished face of a chaotic White House, a bright young mother who many suspect is a voice of reason and moderation among the Steve Bannon acolytes in the West Wing, whispering socially liberal values in her daddy’s ear.” Look at the Post’s Style Section profile of Ivanka from this month: “Ivanka Trump’s office: clean, white, quiet. A zone of punctual start times and promptly offered water bottles, and a conference table at which she conducts meetings. A short, winding walk away from her father’s Oval Office downstairs.” Or as T.A. Frank noted in Vanity Fair, “let’s agree that one of the finest qualities of Jared Kushner is his tailoring. The fit is so good. Even with bespoke work, that’s hard to achieve.”

What makes maths beautiful?

Cal Flyn:

Maryam Mirzakhani did not enjoy mathematics to begin with. She dreamed of being an author or politician, but as a top student at her all-girls school in Tehran she was still disappointed when her first-year maths exam went poorly. Her teacher believed her – wrongly – to have no particular affinity with the subject.

Soon that would all change. “My first memory of mathematics is probably the time [my brother] told me about the problem of adding numbers from 1 to 100,” she recalled later. This was the story of Carl Gauss, the 18th-century genius whose schoolteacher set him this problem as a timewasting exercise – only for his precocious pupil to calculate the answer in a matter of seconds.

The obvious solution is simple but slow: 1+2+3+4. Gauss’s solution is quicker to execute, and far more cunning. It goes like this: divide the numbers into two groups: from 1 to 50, and from 51 to 100. Then, add them together in pairs, starting with the lowest (1) and the highest (100), and working inwards (2+99, 3+98, and so on). There are 50 pairs; the sum of each pair is 101; the answer is 5050. “That was the first time I enjoyed a beautiful solution,” Mirzakhani told the Clay Mathematics Institute in 2008.

How economics became a religion Its moral code promises salvation, its high priests uphold their orthodoxy. But perhaps too many of its doctrines are taken on faith. By

John Rapley:

Although Britain has an established church, few of us today pay it much mind. We follow an even more powerful religion, around which we have oriented our lives: economics. Think about it. Economics offers a comprehensive doctrine with a moral code promising adherents salvation in this world; an ideology so compelling that the faithful remake whole societies to conform to its demands. It has its gnostics, mystics and magicians who conjure money out of thin air, using spells such as “derivative” or “structured investment vehicle”. And, like the old religions it has displaced, it has its prophets, reformists, moralists and above all, its high priests who uphold orthodoxy in the face of heresy.

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Over time, successive economists slid into the role we had removed from the churchmen: giving us guidance on how to reach a promised land of material abundance and endless contentment. For a long time, they seemed to deliver on that promise, succeeding in a way few other religions had ever done, our incomes rising thousands of times over and delivering a cornucopia bursting with new inventions, cures and delights.

Author shelves California teacher tenure bill; surprise alternative emerges

John Fensterwald:

The latest attempt in the Legislature to lengthen the probation period for new teachers has stalled for the year. On Wednesday, the author of a bill to add an optional extra probationary year pulled her bill amid the surprise emergence of a competing bill by Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, D-Richmond, a candidate for state superintendent of public instruction.

Thurmond’s Assembly Bill 1164 adopts the position of the California Teachers Association, which is expected to support his candidacy, and appeared last week as an alternative to a bill by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego. Her bill would extend the standard two-year probation to a third year for those teachers “on the bubble,” showing potential but needing further help and supervision. Thurmond’s bill also would permit a third probationary year, but contains conditions and restrictions, advocated by the teachers’ unions but criticized by school districts, that aren’t in Weber’s bill.

Education specialist Qiana Holmes-Abanukam wants to ‘plant a seed’ in homeless youth

Amber walker:

Currently, I am the education specialist for The Road Home. Before, I was a housing case manager, but I spent a half of my time with homeless families trying to connect them to the schools, advocating for their kids in the schools, and helping them find resources in the neighborhood, community centers and other programs around the city. Other case managers were also doing a lot of work around education, too.

I just thought it would be great if we worked to have a holistic approach to end homelessness so our clients could have someone who navigated education full-time and be able to answer their questions.

I go to meetings (at schools) with parents, and if a parent can’t make it, they usually give me a release of information to go on their behalf. Attending meetings takes away a lot of time from a parent’s work day, especially if they don’t have flexible schedules. I hear a lot of educators thinking parents don’t want to be involved, but the reality is we don’t live in a society where every parent has a flexible schedule.

Free robot lawyer helps low-income people tackle more than 1,000 legal issues

Katie DuPere:

Shady businesses, you’re on notice. This robot lawyer is coming after you if you play dirty.

Noted legal aid chatbot DoNotPay just announced a massive expansion, which will help users tackle issues in 1,000 legal areas entirely for free. The new features, which launched on Wednesday, cover consumer and workplace rights, and will be available in all 50 states and the UK.

The Taylor Review Of Modern Working Practices

Matthew Taylor::

The work of this Review is based on a single overriding ambition: All work in the UK economy should be fair and decent with realistic scope for development and fulfilment. Good work matters for several reasons: • Because, despite the important contribution of the living wage and the benefit system, fairness demands that we ensure people, particularly those on lower incomes, have routes to progress in work, have the opportunity to boost their earning power, and are treated with respect and decency at work. • Because, while having employment is itself vital to people’s health and well-being, the quality of people’s work is also a major factor in helping people to stay healthy and happy, something which benefits them and serves the wider public interest.• Because better designed work that gets the best out of people can make an important contribution to tackling our complex challenge of low productivity.

The nation’s whole K-12 education system is artificial, so why not give automatons a chance?

Tyler Cowen:The pioneer in robot education so far is, not surprisingly, Singapore. The city-state has begun experiments with robotic aides at the kindergarten level, mostly as instructor aides and for reading stories and also teaching social interactions. In the U.K., researchers have developed a robot to help autistic children better learn how to interact with their peers.

I can imagine robots helping non-English-speaking children make the transition to bilingualism. Or how about using robots in Asian classrooms where the teachers themselves do not know enough English to teach the language effectively?

A big debate today is how we can teach ourselves to work with artificial intelligence, so as to prevent eventual widespread technological unemployment. Exposing children to robots early, and having them grow accustomed to human-machine interaction, is one path toward this important goal.

In a recent Financial Times interview, Sherry Turkle, a professor of social psychology at MIT, and a leading expert on cyber interactions, criticized robot education. “The robot can never be in an authentic relationship," she said. "Why should we normalize what is false and in the realm of [a] pretend relationship from the start?” She’s opposed to robot companions more generally, again for their artificiality.

Do Kids Care If Their Teachers Are Certified? Should Parents

Alina Adams:

Last week, New York City schools received two pieces of contradictory news, which made for an interesting contrast in how teachers are viewed.

In the first, the Department of Education will now require principals to staff vacancies with teachers from the Absent Teacher Reserve, also known as “the rubber room,” where pedagogues who have been let go from previous positions and haven’t managed to find another are paid their full salary to sit and do nothing because they cannot be fired, even in cases of misconduct or incompetence.

In the second, SUNY proposed regulations that would allow some charter schools to certify their own teachers, rather than requiring Education Master’s degrees and certification exams, the way that traditional public schools do.

The response to the latter was predictably hysterical.

But at no point were the following realities addressed:

Related: MTEL.

DHS Goes Biometric, Says Travelers Can Opt Out Of Face Scans By Not Traveling

Techdirt::

The DHS has decided air travel is the unsafest thing of all. In the wake of multiple fear mongering presidential directives — including a travel ban currently being contested in federal courts — the DHS has introduced several measures meant to make flying safer, but in reality would only make flying more of a pain in the ass.

The government has argued in court that flying is a privilege, not a right, and the DHS seems hellbent on making fliers pay for every bit of that privilege. We’ve seen laptop bans introduced as a stick to push foreign airports to engage in more security theater and a threat to rifle through all travelers’ books and papers to ensure nobody’s reading explosive devices.

You’re Not the Customer; You’re the Product

Quote Investigator:

Richard Serra? Carlota Fay Schoolman? Steve Atkins? Tom Johnson? Andrew Lewis? blue_beetle? Tim O’Reilly?
 
 Dear Quote Investigator: For decades the most powerful mass medium has been television. The internet has dramatically shifted our access to information. Nowadays, society reflects upon itself by using internet search engines. Yet, both of these fundamental channels of communication, access, and synthesis are primarily supported by advertising. A pithy expression explicates the resultant skewed perspective:
 
 You’re not the customer; you’re the product.

It’s not just Republicans who feel increasingly sour on colleges and universities

Emily Jashinsky::

But among all adults, not just self-identified Republicans, Pew found 36 percent also say colleges and universities are having a negative effect on the way things are going in the country — that’s up 10 percent since 2010. Similarly, the percent of all adults who say colleges and universities are having a positive effect on the way things are going in the country has declined from 61 to 55 percent in the same time period.

While tuition is frozen for University of Wisconsin campuses, student fees and room and board keep climbing

Karen Herzog:

University of Wisconsin students and their families also pay for room and board at least the first year, plus about $1,000 more a year toward student unions, recreation centers, organizations and services such as mental health counseling.
Add up “other” costs beyond tuition — not including books and miscellaneous expenses — and a year at UW-Madison or UW-Milwaukee this fall will cost 8% more than it did in fall 2013, when tuition for resident undergraduates was first frozen. Costs have gone up 10% at both UW-Green Bay and UW-Eau Claire, and 13% at UW-Stevens Point. The average for four-year campuses is up 8.5%.
The details of little-known mandatory student fees — which have been rising along with room and board on UW campuses against the backdrop of a much-touted, five-year tuition freeze — are buried in complex operating budgets most families never see.

Students from elite colleges march off to jobs at the big banks and consulting firms less by choice than because of a rigged recruiting game that the schools themselves have helped to create.

Amy Binder:

In 2010, Bastian Nichols moved into his freshman dorm at Harvard without much thought of what he would do after graduation. He felt sure that in time he’d find a career that matched his passions (among them, journalism and travel), but while in college he would experiment at becoming “a more interesting person.”* His concentration in psychology and comparative literature matched his general philosophy. So did his choice of summer jobs, which ranged from leading a bike trip through Austria and working in a theater in Croatia to doing post-production work in an Italian film company.

Yet, as senior year approached, Nichols began to feel anxious about life after Harvard. He described being “scared because I was like, ‘Crap, I’ve got a year left, and I just don’t even know what I could possibly do.’” Feeling he had few choices, in the early weeks of his senior year Nichols began working with Harvard’s Office of Career Services to find a job in management consulting. Much to the dismay of peers who thought that at least he would be a holdout, he will begin his job at one of the country’s top three consulting firms this fall.

The Decline of Marriage

契約結婚:

By abandoning the norm of marriage we end up with fewer children. This ultimately leads to economic crisis, as fewer workers translates to reduced growth and not enough tax revenue to support social welfare systems. Governments may try to mitigate this by taking in immigrants to replace natives who refuse to have children, but this solution too involves a number of trade-offs. A nation may get some cheap workers to bolster the economy. It may also get more economic inequality, the destruction of working class industries, ethnic strife, and eventually cultural dilution and degradation.

In theory the government could drastically cut spending and the wider society could choose not to take in immigrants and instead adjust itself to a reduced population without economic strife. This is extremely difficult but technically possible. The problem is that it is at best a temporary solution. Japan for example will see it’s population reduced by half by the end of the century. Eventually, the society will simply cease to exist. Adjusting to a shrinking population is the equivalent of a society rolling over and dying, but making itself comfortable first. If a civilization seeks to have a future, it eventually has to solve the problem of birthrates and get to a replacement level.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE THE NEXT DIGITAL FRONTIER?

McKinsey::

In this independent discussion paper, we examine investment in arti cial intelligence (AI), describe how it is being deployed by companies that have started to use these technologies across sectors, and aim to explore its potential to become a major business disrupter. To do this, we looked at AI through several lenses. We analyzed the total investment landscape bringing together both investment of large corporations and funding from venture capital and private equity funds. We also reviewed the portfolio plays of major internet companies, the dynamics in AI ecosystems from Shenzhen to New York, and a wide range of case studies. As part of our primary research, we surveyed more than 3,000 senior executives
on the use of AI technologies, their companies’ prospects for further deployment, and AI’s impact on markets, governments, and individuals. This report also leverages the resources of McKinsey Analytics, a global practice that helps clients achieve better performance through data. The research was conducted jointly with Digital McKinsey, a global practice that designs and implements digital transformations.

In addition to identifying a gap between AI investment and commercial application, which
is typical of early technology development curves, we found that the new generation of AI applications is based on the foundation of digitization. Leading sectors in digital tend to be leading sectors in AI, and these are predicted to drive growth. We also found that AI has the potential to accelerate shifts in market share, revenue, and pro t pools—all hallmarks of digitally disrupted sectors. This report leverages two MGI analyses of digitization, Digital America: A tale of the haves and have-mores, published in December 2015, and Digital Europe: Pushing the frontier, capturing the bene ts, published in June 2016. These reports introduced the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) Industry Digitization Index, which combines dozens of indicators to provide a comprehensive picture of where and how companies are building digital assets, expanding digital usage, and creating a more digital workforce. This report also builds on MGI’s work on advanced analytics, The age of analytics: Competing in a data-driven world, published in December 2016, and on automation, A future that works: Automation, employment, and productivity, published in January 2017, as well as Arti cial intelligence: Implications for China, published in April 2017; and an April 2017 Digital McKinsey report, Smartening up with arti cial intelligence (AI): What’s in it for Germany and its industrial sector?

Tim Slekar: Next Step in Wisconsin’s War on Teachers

Diane Ravitch Blog, via a kind reader:

“The TEACHERS OUR CHILDREN DESERVE will never enter our schools through the dismantling process of deregulating the profession and intentionally lowering standards. The standards were put in place to guarantee a level of expertise.

“In summary,

“WE DON”T HAVE AN EMERGENCY THAT REQUIRES DUMBING DOWN THE PROFESSION OF TEACHING.

“WE HAVE AN EMERGENCY THAT REQUIRES COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP!”

Tim Slekar testified to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction that the teacher shortage is a “manufactured crisis” and it will not be solved by lowering standards.

He is a one-man crusade, fighting for the integrity of the teaching profession in a state led by hostile actors. The people of Wisconsin deserve better leadership but they won’t get it until they vote Scott Walker and his malignant enablers out of office.

Dean of Yale Law School: Campus Free Speech Is Not Up for Debate

Heather Gerken:

In this, the summer of our discontent, many college presidents are breathing a sigh of relief that they made it through a politically fraught spring without their campuses erupting. Nobody wants to be the next Middlebury or Claremont McKenna, where demonstrations disrupted controversial speakers.

Law deans, in sharp contrast, have reason to be cheery. Their campuses have been largely exempt from ugly free-speech incidents like these. Charles Murray, the controversial scholar whose speech drew violent reaction at Middlebury, has spoken at Yale Law School twice during the past few years. Students and faculty engaged with him, and students held a separate event to protest and discuss the implications of his work. But he spoke without interruption. That’s exactly how a university is supposed to work.

Don’t Get it Twisted, Professor

Erika Sanzi

And now she is the Mom-in-Chief and Executive Director of Massachusetts Parents United, an organization she founded based on the belief that ordinary parents are not being heard or even included in hugely important conversations that involve their children. She decided, based on her experience, that there wasn’t an organization doing an effective enough job actually “speaking parent” and in order to make a real difference for kids, she wanted that to change. And even after just a few short months, MPU is making a difference.

Why Education?

Keri came to believe in education reform because of her own personal experience as a mother of a child who had a terrible kindergarten experience. He was suspended from school more than 25 times during that first year of school and the school’s inability or unwillingness to meet his needs drove her into education advocacy. Yes, a former union organizer decided that she would battle anyone and everything who stood in the way of children getting the schools they deserve, including unions. And her commitment has been unwavering ever since.

In favor of K-12 Governance Diversity

Nicholas Kristof::

So far, it seems it can — much better. An interim study just completed shows Bridge schools easily outperforming government-run schools in Liberia, and a randomized trial is expected to confirm that finding. It would be odd if schools with teachers and books didn’t outperform schools without them.
 
 If the experiment continues to succeed, Liberia’s education minister would like to hand over “as many schools as possible” to private providers. Countries in Asia and others in Africa are also interested in adopting this model.
 
 The idea of turning over public schools to a for-profit company sparks outrage in some quarters. There’s particular hostility to Bridge, because it runs hundreds of schools, both public and private, in poor countries (its private schools in other countries charge families about $7 a month).

Madison, unfortunately, continues with a non diverse K-12 system, now spending nearly $20k annually per student. This, despite long term disastrous reading results.

Curated Education Information