Title IX: How a Good Idea Became Higher Education’s Worst Nightmare

William Anderson:

The law was not controversial at first. Female college enrollment grew (today, the female-male undergraduate ratio is 57 percent to 43) and women’s collegiate sports were just catching on. Title IX helped increase female participation in college sports, which became the law’s main focus for more than 30 years.

I was on the University of Tennessee men’s track team in the early 1970s, which received substantially more support than the women’s program. We stayed in nice facilities on road trips, while the women piled numerous athletes into one room. Those not lucky enough to have a bed slept on the floor.

After the U.S. women’s soccer team defeated China in the 1999 world championships, broadcaster Robin Roberts claimed Title IX was largely responsible for the team’s success, and most people agreed.

But despite its apparent successes, Title IX—or, more specifically, the government’s interpretation of Title IX—has helped turn college campuses into battlegrounds.

Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity

Sean Stevens:

A new book by education professor Joanna Williams explores how changing ideas about the purpose of a university have altered the concept of academic freedom and provided a foundation for student censorship in the U.K. The book is called “Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity: Confronting the Fear of Knowledge” and Williams was recently interviewed by Inside Higher Ed.

In the interview Williams discusses her model of academic freedom as a “marketplace of ideas” where even the most controversial, contentious, and/or reprehensible views are given a public hearing:

The Increasing Problem With the Misinformed


When discussing the future of newspapers, we have a tendency to focus only on the publishing side. We talk about the changes in formats, the new reader behaviors, the platforms, the devices, and the strange new world of distributed digital distribution, which are not just forcing us to do things in new ways, but also atomizes the very core of the newspaper.

But while the publishing side of things is undergoing tremendous changes, so is the journalistic and editorial side. The old concept of creating a package of news was designed for a public that we assumed was uninformed by default, but this is no longer the case.

The public is no longer uninformed. They are misinformed, and that requires an entirely different editorial focus. When writing for the uninformed, your focus is to report the news, which is what every newspaper is doing today. But when focusing on the misinformed, just reporting the news doesn’t actually solve the public’s needs. Now your focus must be on explaining the news instead.

Purity and Tolerance: The Contradictory Morality of College Campuses

Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning::

Increasingly college students throughout the United States complain of perceived slights they call microaggressions, they demand safe spaces where they can be protected from harmful ideas, and they ask for trigger warnings to alert them to course material that might cause discomfort. We have argued that these are all manifestations of victimhood culture — a morality in which people display a high sensitivity to slight, handle conflicts by appealing to authorities, and seek to portray themselves as weak and in need of help. Older moral injunctions to ignore minor and unintentional offenses get cast aside, and those who successfully identify as victims or allies of victims gain a kind of moral status.

Moral cultures reflect their social structures, and victimhood culture is no different: It occurs in a context where there is cultural diversity, social equality, and stable authority. Victimhood culture thrives on modern college campuses because these conditions are present. Yet as the contributors at Heterodox Academy have pointed out, the diversity of race, ethnicity, and gender expression at college campuses is counterbalanced by a homogeneity of political views. And though this is not something we’ve discussed previously, we believe the presence of one form of homogeneity amid other forms of diversity shapes conflict on college campuses and is crucial to understanding the moral climate we see there. To see why, consider how the presence or absence of diversity shapes morality.

Why So Many Chinese Students Come to the U.S.

Te-Ping Chen and Miriam Jordan:

As a high-school student in this eastern Chinese city of 4.6 million, she dreamed of going to college and studying education. But most Chinese universities are uninspiring, she said. She heard cheating was pervasive and that many people skip class. Students are required to study “Mao Zedong thought.”

Just getting in takes years of study for the gaokao entrance exam, which is like the SAT on steroids. Students must memorize poetry tracing back to the 7th century. Few of the millions who take it get into China’s top universities, with competition in Ms. Fan’s home province of Jiangsu particularly fierce.

Going through such a process “where I don’t learn anything” would be soul-crushing, said Ms. Fan, 20 years old. “There’s no meaning there.”

There was another option: America. She had heard it was dangerous and wondered if she’d need to carry a knife. Her parents were against it.

The high school to college track — is it for everyone?

Laurie Futterman:

everyone had the desire and ability to complete a four-, six- or eight-year college program, how would that impact society? Who would maintain America’s transport systems? Who would build its skyscrapers, and space shuttles? Who would wire and plumb our structures? Who would take our X-rays, build and fix the engines that keep our cities running?

Preparing high school youth for success in the world today requires a vastly different educational experience than a generation ago. Today, many of America’s students are not meaningfully engaged or motivated in their high school academic experience. And as they grow closer to the launch pad, students are fraught with anxiety. For some, it’s the stress of being accepted into a university, for others, it is a time to match skills with interest as they prepare to enter the workforce.

Our society and educational systems over-emphasize college entrance while noticeably disregard the merit of trade and vocational career achievement. It is unfair and impractical to think that every high school student desires or is able to attend a four-year university right out of high school. Some students need time to explore before deciding on higher education pursuits, some may not be able to meet the rigors of academic challenge, and others may have a distinct calling altogether. Whatever the reason, choosing vocation over college should be a decision made with the same resources and in the same regard as choosing.

Inequality in the Promised Land: Race, Resources and Suburban Schooling

R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy:

neighborhoods of varying degrees of affluence, suburban public schools are typically better resourced than their inner-city peers and known for their extracurricular offerings and college preparatory programs. Despite the glowing opportunities that many families associate with suburban schooling, accessing a district’s resources is not always straightforward, particularly for black and poorer families.

Moving beyond class and race-based explanations, Inequality in the Promised Land focuses on the everyday interactions between parents, students, teachers, and school administrators in order to understand why resources seldom trickle down to a district’s racial and economic minorities.


Wisconsin’s Charter “Czar”

Doug Ericsson:

Gary Bennett wants to assure you he’s not out to destroy the Madison School District.

The former legislative staffer leads the new Office of Educational Opportunity at the University of Wisconsin System. That makes him the unofficial “charter czar,” the guy who now has the ability to bypass local school boards and authorize independent charter schools in Madison and Milwaukee.

It’s a controversial idea, deemed by opponents as unnecessary at best, poisonous at worst. Critics believe independent charter schools siphon money and resources from traditional public schools. Supporters contend they’re needed to stimulate innovation and correct failures in the current system.

In an interview, Bennett acknowledged that his new role is viewed negatively by some, but he suggested he’s not the enemy. At times, he spoke rather kindly of the Madison School District.

“We have good schools here,” said Bennett, 33, who has lived in Madison since moving to the city in 2008 to attend UW Law School. “We just need more good schools in more areas.”

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

Teens enter vocational school, come out with jobs, no debt

Eun Kyung Kim:

When he decided against going to a traditional high school, Warner Adams got teased. But now he’s getting the last laugh.

“People always make fun of vocational schools, but now they’re like, ‘Oh man, I wish I went there,’” said Adams, now a junior at Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School, where every recent graduate found a job upon graduating.

In Massachusetts, where the school is located, the average starting salary in manufacturing is about $45,000. “I can make as much money as someone going to college, coming straight out of high school, and I don’t have to pay for college loans or anything like that,” Adams said.

Pathfinder is a beneficiary of a program called “Amp It Up,” a Massachusetts initiative to encourage students to explore careers in advanced manufacturing. Instead of offering dark and dusty shops full of woodworking or table saws, many vocational schools are now full of state-of-the art machines and computers that teach students code, programming and design skills.

On “Safe Spaces”, “Trigger Warnings” And The Rise Of The Administrator Class

Michael Bloomberg:

The most useful knowledge that you leave here with today has nothing to do with your major. It’s about how to study, cooperate, listen carefully, think critically and resolve conflicts through reason. Those are the most important skills in the working world, and it’s why colleges have always exposed students to challenging and uncomfortable ideas.

The fact that some university boards and administrations now bow to pressure and shield students from these ideas through “safe spaces,” “code words” and “trigger warnings” is, in my view, a terrible mistake.

The whole purpose of college is to learn how to deal with difficult situations — not run away from them. A microaggression is exactly that: micro. And one of the most dangerous places on a college campus is a safe space, because it creates the false impression that we can insulate ourselves from those who hold different views.

We can’t do this, and we shouldn’t try — not in politics or in the workplace. In the global economy, and in a democratic society, an open mind is the most valuable asset you can possess.

The Overprotected Kid

Hanna Rosin:

A trio of boys tramps along the length of a wooden fence, back and forth, shouting like carnival barkers. “The Land! It opens in half an hour.” Down a path and across a grassy square, 5-year-old Dylan can hear them through the window of his nana’s front room. He tries to figure out what half an hour is and whether he can wait that long. When the heavy gate finally swings open, Dylan, the boys, and about a dozen other children race directly to their favorite spots, although it’s hard to see how they navigate so expertly amid the chaos. “Is this a junkyard?” asks my 5-year-old son, Gideon, who has come with me to visit. “Not exactly,” I tell him, although it’s inspired by one. The Land is a playground that takes up nearly an acre at the far end of a quiet housing development in North Wales. It’s only two years old but has no marks of newness and could just as well have been here for decades. The ground is muddy in spots and, at one end, slopes down steeply to a creek where a big, faded plastic boat that most people would have thrown away is wedged into the bank. The center of the playground is dominated by a high pile of tires that is growing ever smaller as a redheaded girl and her friend roll them down the hill and into the creek. “Why are you rolling tires into the water?” my son asks. “Because we are,” the girl replies.

The Science of Making Friends

Elizabeth Bernstein:

I’ve been going on a series of dates lately.

I exchanged numbers with the person sitting next to me at a Cabernet tasting at my favorite wine bar and went for a coffee with a neighbor I met walking my dog. I reached out to people from my past I haven’t seen in years, to see if they’re newly available.

I’m trying to make new friends.

A body of research shows that people with solid friendships live healthier, longer lives. Friendship decreases blood pressure and stress, reduces the risk of depression and increases longevity, in large part because someone is watching out for us.

Post Middle Class

Charles Homans:

On April 12 last year, Hillary Clinton formally announced her run for the presidency by posting a two-­minute video on YouTube. For the first minute and a half, Clinton was nowhere to be seen. Instead, the video showed a montage of a dozen or so Clinton supporters: a ­middle-­aged white woman tending to her garden; two Hispanic brothers starting a business; a pregnant young black woman and her husband unpacking boxes in a sun-­dappled suburban living room; a burly, bullet-headed white man surveying an American-­flag-­draped warehouse.

It was a carefully constructed portrait of the American middle class, or the parts of it that tend to vote Democratic — like the patchwork of Carhartt and Ann Taylor that Barack Obama gathered around himself for a speech in Cincinnati early in the 2012 campaign, when he proclaimed himself a “warrior for the middle class.” American politicians genuflect toward the middle class so reflexively that failing to do so in a speech or a statement about the economy seems almost heretical — which it turned out was the most remarkable thing about Clinton’s video.

Welcome to Italy: this is what a real immigration crisis looks like

Nicholas Farrell

Let us suppose that along the coast of Normandy up to one million non-EU migrants are waiting to be packed like sardines in small unseaworthy vessels and to cross the English Channel.

Let us suppose that first the Royal Navy, then the navies of a dozen other EU countries, start to search for all such vessels in the Channel right up to the French coast, out into the North Sea and the Atlantic even, and then ferry all the passengers on board to Dover, Folkestone, Hastings, Eastbourne and Brighton in a surreal modern-day never-ending version of the Dunkirk evacuation of 1940. Would the British government agree to take them all? What of the British people? And if they did agree, what would the British government and people do with all the migrants? How would they cope?

Well, Italy has been invaded in just this way, by migrants from many nations all coming over here from Libya. And Italy’s unelected government has agreed to take them all. This makes the Italian people — who are among the least racist in Europe — very angry. It’s hard to blame them.

Learning styles: what does the research say?

Dylan Williams:

Since the beginning of Psychology as a field of study, psychologists have been categorizing people: as introverts and extroverts, in terms of their conscientiousness, their openness to experience, and so on. While many of these classification systems examine general personality, a number of classifications look specifically at the way people think—what is sometimes called their cognitive style. When solving problems, for example, some people like to focus on getting the evidence that is most likely to be relevant to the problem at hand, while others have a tendency to “think out of the box.”

Family support or school readiness? Contrasting models of public spending on children’s early care and learning

Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst:

In the United States, public policy and expenditure intended to improve the prospects of children from low-income families have focused on better preparing children for school through Head Start and universal pre-K. This school readiness approach differs from the dominant model of public support for early care and learning in Northern Europe, which places more emphasis on supporting families. It also differs from other government programs in the U.S., such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, that support low-income parents of young children by boosting income. Empirical comparisons of the impact on school achievement of boosting family income vs. providing free pre-K for four-year-olds, summarized in this paper, suggest that supporting family income is a more cost effective expenditure. A policy midpoint between more money for families vs. more money for pre-K is more money for families to spend on their young children. All these policy options should be on the table and subject to test as the nation moves towards increased attention to and investment in the early years.

China’s Robot Revolution

Ben Bland:

Nine robots now do the job of 140 full-time workers. Robotic arms pick up sinks from a pile, buff them until they gleam and then deposit them on a self-driving trolley that takes them to a computer-linked camera for a final quality check.

The company, which exports 1,500 sinks a day, spent more than $3m on the robots. “These machines are cheaper, more precise and more reliable than people,” says Chen. “I’ve never had a whole batch ruined by robots. I look forward to replacing more humans in future,” he adds, with a wry smile.

Has the way universities teach economics changed enough? – the guardian

Daniel Cullen:

In the years following the global financial crisis, the academic study and teaching of economics has come in for a bashing. In fact, it has faced the kind of fundamental criticism rarely directed towards entire disciplines.

The apparent failure of economists to predict, let alone prevent, the 2008 crash has led to accusations that conventional economic teaching cannot adequately explain the complex dynamics and risks of modern economies.
Among those championing reform have been disgruntled students, who have demanded that a more “pluralist”, diverse, range of theories be taught on their undergraduate degrees

Bloomberg EIC: Automation is ‘crucial to the future of journalism’

Benjamin Mullen:

Bloomberg has become the latest news organization to place bets on automation as a measure to cover so-called “commodity news” and free up time for enterprise journalism.

In a memo to Bloomberg’s staff Wednesday, Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait announced that the data-driven news organization is creating a 10-person team to determine how automation can be used throughout the company’s portfolio of editorial products.

Small Colleges, Harsh Lessons About Cash Flow

Anemona Hartocollis:

Still, he said, “I breathed a sigh of relief.”
In the last few years, small liberal arts colleges have been under financial siege, forced to re-examine their missions and justify their existence. Even several established and respected ones — Bard College, Yeshiva University, Mills College and Morehouse College, among others — have received negative financial ratings.
Not that long ago, colleges across the country enjoyed a seemingly endless supply of candidates and were pouring money into expansion plans. Some added costly luxury amenities like rock-climbing walls to seem more attractive. Some increased tuition on the theory that high tuition connotes prestige, but then cut their cash flow by giving out generous scholarships and grants to lure students despite their price. (At Franklin Pierce not a single student pays the sticker price.)
Now, as times change, the colleges are fighting over a dwindling pool of applicants. In parts of the country, the number of high school graduates is dropping. At the same time, students and parents have started to question the choice of expensive private schools that leave them with high debt and no clear job prospects, taking a second look at public universities. And the reduction in demand is making it harder to pay for some of the overbuilding.

One City Learning Invites You to a Special Event

Via a kind Kaleem Caire email:

Mobilizing One City: Early Experiences Elevate Everything

High quality preschool education contributes significantly to a child’s long-term success. Their first 1,000 days of life set the stage for the rest of their lives. We can close the achievement gap that’s holding back children if we start early. Join us as Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, MD discusses how preschool makes a big difference, and how you can help.

Are Engineers Designing Their Robotic Replacements?

Robert Lucky:

“The robots are coming for your jobs!” That was the gist of numerous news reports following the release of the 2016 U.S. Economic Report of the President. My first thought on reading this was that anyone who saw the videos of clumsy robots falling helplessly during the recent DARPA Robotics Challenge must have been incredulous: “That’s what’s coming after my job!?”

My second thought was more sobering. Robots are, after all, only a subset of the computerization leading to the automation of traditional jobs. As engineers we can see steady progress in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data. Contemplating this, it suddenly occurred to me to worry about engineering jobs. Are they threatened as well?

President Obama Makes The Case For Education Reform

Andrew Ross Sorkin:

He continued: “If we can’t puncture some of the mythology around austerity, politics or tax cuts or the mythology that’s been built up around the Reagan revolution, where somehow people genuinely think that he slashed government and slashed the deficit and that the recovery was because of all these massive tax cuts, as opposed to a shift in interest-rate policy — if we can’t describe that effectively, then we’re doomed to keep on making more and more mistakes.”

2019 is D-Day’ to reunite New Orleans schools, committee votes


Under Peterson’s bill, the Recovery system would give back oversight of its 52 schools, all of them now charters, as well as control of campuses, enrollment, truancy and expulsion services.

The school system would be reunified, but radically reimagined, like whittling Lincoln Logs to Tinkertoys. The bill would not restore the muscular School Board and superintendent that were undercut in the state takeover; instead, the Recovery schools would return as independent charters run by nonprofit boards, as they are now. The Orleans Parish School Board would be largely an oversight body that sets benchmarks for charters to meet and intervenes to revoke charters if necessary. In fact, the bill includes a provision to give existing Orleans Parish charters the option of gaining more financial autonomy.

And the new system would likely involve some of the same people now in charge. “We will be working to recruit individuals who are currently working at RSD to become OPSB staff,” Lewis said. “That’s part of what needs to happen.”

The bill was a group effort, Peterson said, “heavily negotiated” for more than a month. Lewis and Dobard submitted some of the language themselves, she said, to ensure the compromise would work. Supporters include the Urban League of Greater New Orleans, Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, Stand for Children and numerous Recovery charter schools and networks.

Social stigma affecting college reputations

Jessica Wong:

Many high school students face pressure from classmates, peers and parents to work towards attending the best university possible post-graduation, regardless if the school is a world-renowned university or community college. Every year, on May 2, the majority of Palo Alto High School seniors follow the tradition of proudly donning the colors and logos of their destinations for the fall, signifying the end of the exhaustive college process and celebrating the beginning of a new, exciting chapter in their lives. However, even after beginning college, students may face scrutiny for their school of choice, based solely on name and reputation. Those who choose to attend universities notorious for having active party scenes are sometimes looked down upon by others — their accomplishments reduced to the reputation of a college.

Who’s downloading pirated papers? Everyone

John Bohannon:

last month in Iran, Meysam Rahimi sat down at his university computer and immediately ran into a problem: how to get the scientific papers he needed. He had to write up a research proposal for his engineering Ph.D. at Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran. His project straddles both operations management and behavioral economics, so Rahimi had a lot of ground to cover.

But every time he found the abstract of a relevant paper, he hit a paywall. Although Amirkabir is one of the top research universities in Iran, international sanctions and economic woes have left it with poor access to journals. To read a 2011 paper in Applied Mathematics and Computation, Rahimi would have to pay the publisher, Elsevier, $28. A 2015 paper in Operations Research, published by the U.S.-based company INFORMS, would cost $30.

How Sweet Briar Came Back from Financial Ruin and Proved Women’s Colleges Are Still Relevant

Lisa Birnbach:

In what could be described as a huge breach of trust, on March 3, 2015, the president of the all-female Sweet Briar College, a 114-year-old mainstay of southern liberal-arts schools, announced that the college would be closing—for good—after graduation a few months later. Citing “insurmountable financial challenges,” he and his board voted to give up and bail out. The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other media covered it closely. The public (many of whom had been unaware that a place called Sweet Briar still—or ever—existed) assumed that a college for women in rural Virginia meant … what? Iced tea on a porch? D.A.R. meetings in a columned house? Had women’s colleges officially become archaic in this post-feminist, gender-fluid, college-debt-laden era

The cost of college: Delayed gratification


COLLEGE degree has never been more necessary: graduates earn, on average, 80% more than high-school graduates. Yet ever more Americans are taking on serious debt in exchange for that diploma. Between 2004 and 2014, student-loan balances more than tripled to nearly $1.2 trillion. The average debtor leaves college owing around $27,000.

Some of this mounting debt is good news. More Americans are going to college—undergraduate enrolment rose by nearly 40% between 2000 and 2010, according to the National Centre for Education Statistics. Many are also staying around for a second degree. But the cost of college has also risen sharply, as state spending on higher education has plummeted. Average tuition fees have surged 40% in the decade to 2015-16 for full-time students at public four-year colleges, and 26% at private ones. Those who take longer to graduate—as many increasingly do—simply rack up more loans.

Money, Race and Success: How Your School District Compares

Motoko Rich, Amanda Cox and Matthew Bloch:

Why racial achievement gaps were so pronounced in affluent school districts is a puzzling question raised by the data. Part of the answer might be that in such communities, students and parents from wealthier families are constantly competing for ever more academic success. As parents hire tutors, enroll their children in robotics classes and push them to solve obscure math theorems, those children keep pulling away from those who can’t afford the enrichment.

“Our high-end students who are coming in are scoring off the charts,” said Jeff Nash, executive director of community relations for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools.

The school system is near the flagship campus of the University of North Carolina, and 30 percent of students in the schools qualify for free and reduced-price lunch, below the national average.

The wealthier students tend to come from families where, “let’s face it, both the parents are Ph.D.s, and that kid, no matter what happens in the school, is pressured from kindergarten to succeed,” Mr. Nash said. “So even though our minority students are outscoring minority students in other districts near us, there is still a bigger gap here because of that.”

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

In San Francisco, Colleges and Universities Struggle to House Students

Erika Cruz Guevarra:

The hardest thing about being homeless for George Perez was acting like he wasn’t homeless.

During the day, Perez would study at school, go to class or clean up in the campus gym.

At night, the 39-year-old sophomore at City College of San Francisco was downtown, sleeping at BART stations to keep warm.

“No one knew I was homeless,” said Perez, who’s studying business administration and social science and behavior. “I would act like I was OK, but I really wasn’t. At the end of the day it was hard, because I had nobody to talk to.”

National Teacher of the Year: I was a teen mom, and teachers changed my life

Emma Brown:

Jahana Hayes always knew she wanted to be a teacher, but she didn’t always believe she could be one.

She grew up surrounded by poverty, drugs and violence in the fading industrial city of Waterbury, Conn. But she loved school, and her teachers told her she could someday go to college. Even when she became pregnant at 17, her teachers refused to give up on her. They showed her how she could continue her education.

She graduated from high school and seven years later enrolled in a community college. She went on to earn a four-year degree, and then she realized her dream: She became a high school history teacher in the same town where she grew up.

Career Minded

Bourree Lam:

According to admissions departments’ informational pamphlets, the primary reason for attending college is rather noble: Campus is a place to discover one’s interests and strengths, a place for both personal and intellectual development. But in recent years, another narrative has taken hold—that what matters is return on investment. In other words: What kind of job-market value does a graduate get from a college degree?

Post-college job considerations have always been part of the equation. But with the rapidly rising tuition costs, the national student-debt crisis, and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs encouraging some students to drop out altogether and enter the job market, this question has taken on new urgency. And it’s an important one, because it begets a whole slew of other anxieties about college. If one of the goals of higher education is to ensure that graduates go on to be financially stable, then a bunch of figures matter: how they fare in the labor market, what they’re paid, and what their loan-repayment and default rates are, to name a few

“Why I’m Sticking to the Union – and Others Should Too”

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter (PDF), via a kind Jeanie Kamholtz email:

(By Andrew McCuaig, English teacher, LaFollette High School)

Joining a union is an act of faith: a belief that people coming together with similar daily work lives can have an impact on those people who may have goals that don’t take into account anything but the bottom line. By joining a union, you are asserting that you were not put on this earth merely to do what you were told, but that you believe you should have a say in your own livelihood. But more than that, as a union member you believe that wealth should be more evenly
distributed, that supervisors should not have absolute power, and that the details of the actual work should be mutually agreed upon, because you cannot get that coal out of the ground, that car made, or that student to graduate without a contract that respects both sides. Renew at www.madisonteachers.org

But joining a union is also a practical matter. Wherever unions exist, wages are higher. That is one reason why corporate interests throughout history have tried to weaken unions whenever they can. Fair wages, vacation days, sick leave, maternity leave, overtime, seniority, even the notion of a 40 hour work week – all exist because of the Labor Movement, and all cut into a company’s bottom line. When you pay union dues, you are supporting a staff that bargains on your behalf, that defends you when you require defending, or, more likely, defends someone else you might not even know who has your same job and is being treated unfairly. If the accused has truly screwed up, they get due process and what’s coming to them. If they haven’t, they are not simply fired in a Donald Trump dreamworld but are given their job back. The employer, meanwhile, is given a message not to abuse its authority.

Madison teachers are now actively responding to two union-busting rules justified by our state legislature’s notion of fairness: the elimination of automatic dues deductions by employers, and the option for teachers to not pay their “fair share” dues once our contract expires on June 30th. “Fair share” dues refers to the decades-old court ruling that workers who choose not to join a union must still pay for those services that they benefit from. The recent 4-4 Supreme Court deadlock on “fair share” upholds this practice for private sector unions but doesn’t affect Wisconsin’s teachers and other public employees under Act 10. Starting this month, teachers in every Madison school will be encouraging each other to continue their membership with MTI by supplying their bank’s routing number to pay dues. Some will need convincing, and some will want to pocket their dues now that they can. This will surely cause tension among colleagues. Also causing tension will be the teacher who keeps the money and then finds himself unfairly disciplined and in need of union representation he is now not entitled to. It’s a nice divide and conquer ploy, and those responsible deserve credit for their meanness.

On the other hand, heading into this new, mean work environment gives Madison teachers a chance to come together in solidarity, to freshly justify our existence, and to educate a new generation of teachers why we have just cause, paid sick days, and other things we now take for granted. The continued existence and influence of MTI will no doubt keep the meanest politicians up at night, which is just another reason to sign up.

April 11 and April 18 editions.

Athletics and Student Outcomes: The Madison School District

The Effect of Interscholastic High School Athletics Participation on Student Outcomes for the Classes of 2012-2014 (PDF):

Key Findings

Across MMSD, approximately 50% of all students in the 2012, 2013, and 2014 graduating cohorts participated in interscholastic athletics at some point during their high school careers. Of those participants, 11% participated for one year and 38% participated for 2+ years.

Overall, students who participated in interscholastic athletics at any point in their high school careers demonstrate better academic, behavior, and graduation/postsecondary outcomes than those who did not, with differences particularly pronounced for students who participated in 2+ years of athletics.

MMSD interscholastic athletes outperformed similar non-athletes on all academic and behavioral outcomes.

During 2015, athletics has been a topic of interest for MMSD’s Board of Education. Athletics participation ties directly into MMSD’s Strategic Framework Goal #2: Every student has access to a challenging and well-rounded education, which is measured in part by access and participation data for extra-curricular and co-curricular activities like athletics. In particular, the Board has asked questions regarding whether high school students who compete in school-sponsored athletics show different outcomes than non-participants, in an effort to understand how to prioritize athletic program funding. In this report, we investigate the following questions of interest:

1. For the 2012-2014 graduating cohorts, who participated in interscholastic high school athletics?

2. What are the academic and behavioral outcomes for interscholastic high school athletics participants?

3. How do academic and behavioral outcomes for interscholastic high school athletics participants compare to similar non-participants?

Nationwide, approximately 7.8 million high school students participated in school athletics during 2014-15. Of these participants, about 42% are female, a share that continues to increase over time. The most popular sports for boys are football, track, and basketball, while the most popular for girls are track, volleyball, and basketball. Wisconsin ranks 14th in the nation in athletics participation, with more than 185,000 student athletes (National Federation of State High School Associations, 2015). The four conventional MMSD high schools participate in the Big 8 Conference, which includes 10 local high schools, and are members of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA).

Additional documents:

Principals Are Not at the Top of States’ Talent Agenda—But They Should Be

Christine Campbell, via a kind Robin Lake email:

Teachers have been at the center of most states’ talent discussions to date. Although principals play a critical role in virtually all school-improvement reform efforts, most states lack a coherent school leadership strategy. This is a major oversight.

But a few forces are afoot that may help refocus state attention on principals:

Education policy leaders increasingly realize that policy alone won’t trigger desired changes in schools and student performance. Principals are a key lever to influence any policy’s success since they sit at the nexus between policy and practice: implementation starts with principals.

A growing body of research demonstrates real inequities for students when they are not taught by educators of similar races and backgrounds. While roughly 40 percent of public school students are black or Latino, just 17 percent of principals are, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. States have a vested interest in ensuring their pipelines deliver the number, quality, and diversity of school leaders needed.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: End of Golden Era for Investors Spells Troubles for Millennials

Rich Miller:

The next two decades won’t be nearly as lucrative, even on the optimistic assumption that the world economy snaps out of its recent funk and resumes growing at a faster clip, according to the McKinsey Global Institute report titled “Diminishing Returns: Why Investors May Need to Lower Their Expectations.”
“We’ve had a wonderful 30-year period in terms of returns, way more than the 100-year average,” said Richard Dobbs, a McKinsey director in London. “That era is coming to an end.”

Bond investors have already reaped much of the benefits from declines in inflation and interest rates from the sky-high levels that prevailed in the 1970s.

Getting to the root of cultural understanding in Brussels

Veronique Mistiaen:

For me the most moving moment is when children turn their [family] trees upside down and the roots become branches – branches that will help them grow and blossom,” says Racines founder Vinciane Hanquet.

Racines (or Roots) is a Belgium-based multicultural school programme that helps pupils trace their family history. Through activities such as building a genealogical tree, drawing migration maps and collecting stories and mementos from family members, they discover and learn to value their identity.

A teacher with 40 years of experience, Hanquet wanted a tool that would both help children feel more comfortable with who they are and be more understanding of people from different backgrounds.

Civics & Economics: Puerto Rico And Illinois

George Will:

The United States actually needs to have a salutary crisis in Illinois. It will be salutary because it will be a cautionary example for other states if Illinois suffers, without offloading pain on taxpayers elsewhere, the severe consequences of decades of ruinous choices. And Puerto Rico’s troubles will benefit America if the bond market, sobered by a demonstration that government bonds can be risky, becomes a restraint on state legislatures by raising the cost of borrowing where the legislatures are most irresponsible.

Email Is Not Secure: Email privacy bill unanimously passes U.S. House

Dustin Volz:

Privacy Act, which updates a decades-old law, authorities would have to get a warrant to access emails or other digital communications more than 180 days old. At present, agencies such as the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission only need a subpoena to seek such data from a service provider.

Supporters of the legislation say it is needed to update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). Technology companies and privacy advocates say that statute was written before the rise of the Internet and so is outdated.

The issue of law enforcement access to private electronic communications has been at the center of an international debate.

Plutocrats at Work: How Big Philanthropy Undermines Democracy

Joanne Barkan:

Big philanthropy was born in the United States in the early twentieth century. The Russell Sage Foundation received its charter in 1907, the Carnegie Corporation in 1911, and the Rockefeller Foundation in 1913. These were strange new creatures—quite unlike traditional charities. They had vastly greater assets and were structured legally and financially to last forever. In addition, each was governed by a self-perpetuating board of private trustees; they were affiliated with no religious denomination; and they adopted grand, open-ended missions along the lines of “improve the human condition.” They were launched, in essence, as immense tax-exempt private corporations dealing in good works. But they would do good according to their own lights, and they would intervene in public life with no accountability to the public required.
From the start, the mega-foundations provoked hostility across the political spectrum. To their many detractors, they looked like centers of plutocratic power that threatened democratic governance. Setting up do-good corporations, critics said, was merely a ploy to secure the wealth and clean up the reputations of business moguls who amassed fortunes during the Gilded Age. Consider the reaction to John D. Rockefeller’s initial request for a charter from the U.S. Senate (he eventually received one from New York State):

The real reasons you procrastinate — and how to stop

Ana Swanson:

Have you ever sat down to complete an important task — and then suddenly discovered you were up loading the dishwasher or engrossed in the Wikipedia entry about Chernobyl? Or perhaps you suddenly realize that the dog needs to be fed, emails need to be answered, your ceiling fan needs dusting — or maybe you should go ahead and have lunch, even though it’s only 11 a.m.?

Next thing you know, it’s the end of the day and your important task remains unfinished.

How Hyperconnected Cities Are Taking Over the World, According to Parag Khanna

Tanva Misra:

In the medieval period, empires battled and colluded with each other in the quest for land. The resulting system, in which nations became the main actors on the global stage, is perhaps the one most of us know best. But it’s changing.
 We’re now moving toward a new era where insular, political boundaries are no longer as relevant. More and more people are identifying as “global citizens,” and that’s because we’re all more connected than we’ve ever been before. As a result, a “systems change” is taking place in the world today in which cities—not nations—are the key global players, argues Parag Khanna in his new book, Connectography: Mapping the Future of the Global Civilization. In it, Khanna, who is a global strategist and world traveler, writes:

Who Was Ramanujan?

Stephen Wolfram:

They used to come by physical mail. Now it’s usually email. From around the world, I have for many years received a steady trickle of messages that make bold claims — about prime numbers, relativity theory, AI, consciousness or a host of other things — but give little or no backup for what they say. I’m always so busy with my own ideas and projects that I invariably put off looking at these messages. But in the end I try to at least skim them — in large part because I remember the story of Ramanujan.

On about January 31, 1913 a mathematician named G. H. Hardy in Cambridge, England received a package of papers with a cover letter that began: “Dear Sir, I beg to introduce myself to you as a clerk in the Accounts Department of the Port Trust Office at Madras on a salary of only £20 per annum. I am now about 23 years of age….” and went on to say that its author had made “startling” progress on a theory of divergent series in mathematics, and had all but solved the longstanding problem of the distribution of prime numbers. The cover letter ended: “Being poor, if you are convinced that there is anything of value I would like to have my theorems published…. Being inexperienced I would very highly value any advice you give me. Requesting to be excused for the trouble I give you. I remain, Dear Sir, Yours truly, S. Ramanujan”.

U.S. high school seniors slip in math and show no improvement in reading

Emma Brown

The nation’s high school seniors have shown no improvement in reading achievement and their math performance has slipped since 2013, according to the results of a test administered by the federal government last year.

The results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, also show a longer-term stagnation in 12th-grade performance in U.S. public and private schools: Scores on the 2015 reading test have dropped five points since 1992, the earliest year with comparable scores, and are unchanged in math during the past decade.

“These numbers are not going the way we want,” said William J. Bushaw, executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board, an independent panel established by Congress to oversee NAEP policy. “We have to redouble our efforts to prepare our students.”

The sobering news, released Wednesday, comes at the same time the nation is celebrating its highest-ever graduation rate, raising questions about whether a diploma is a meaningful measure of achievement.

Eighty-two percent of high school seniors graduated on time in 2014, but the 2015 test results suggest that just 37 percent of seniors are academically prepared for college course­work in math and reading — meaning many seniors would have to take remedial classes if going on to college.

Related: Math Forum audio/video links.

College Prep for All: Will San Diego Students Meet Challenging New Graduation Requirements?

Julian R. Betts, Sam M. Young, Andrew C. Zau, Karen Volz Bachofer

Several of California’s major urban school districts have adopted ambitious new high school graduation requirements, making college preparatory coursework mandatory. This analysis—which focuses on San Diego—finds that the new requirements are likely to help many students but may damage the prospects of others. San Diego and other districts can take steps to help lower-achieving students meet the new graduation goals.

It sounded like my child’: the ‘virtual kidnappers’ scamming Americans

Sam Levin:

driving with a friend to their writers’ group in a suburb of Los Angeles when she got a terrifying call on her cellphone from a number she didn’t recognize. A hysterical girl was screaming on the other end of the line.

“Mommy, please help me! Someone grabbed me, and I’m in a van. I don’t know where I am!”

It was 4.45pm on 22 March, and it was immediately clear to Holczer that she was experiencing the most unimaginable horror any parent could comprehend: her 14-year-old daughter, Maddy, whom she had left at home 30 minutes earlier, had been kidnapped.

The shuffling of mathematics problems improves learning

Doug Rohrer Æ Kelli Taylor:

In most mathematics textbooks, each set of practice problems is comprised almost entirely of problems corresponding to the immediately previous lesson. By contrast, in a small number of textbooks, the practice problems are systematically shuffled so that each practice set includes a variety of problems drawn from many previous lessons. The standard and shuffled formats differ in two critical ways, and each was the focus of an experiment reported here. In Experiment 1, college students learned to solve one kind of problem, and subsequent practice problems were either massed in a single session (as in the standard format) or spaced across multiple sessions (as in the shuffled format). When tested 1 week later, performance was much greater after spaced practice. In Experiment 2, students first learned to solve multiple types of problems, and practice problems were either blocked by type (as in the standard format) or randomly mixed (as in the shuffled format). When tested 1 week later, performance was vastly superior after mixed practice. Thus, the results of both experiments favored the shuffled format over the standard format.

Why Are Schools Abandoning Literature?

Stephanie Cohen:

recently spent time with a class of fourteen-year-olds, talking about words, specifically words strung together to form speech. I started out by asking them whether they thought words could make people act in a particular way. “Can words lead to action?” I asked. There was some thinking and mulling over.

We spent several weeks discussing, reading, and studying many of the greatest (and infamous) words read aloud: the Gettysburg Address, Ronald Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech in Germany, John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, a host of Winston Churchill speeches from World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor speeches, and some of the best contemporary commencement addresses given in the US in recent years. Many of these speeches were written in reaction to events, and most of them called on their respective audiences to do something (be calm, have fortitude, ensure victory, reach for success). Whether or not the words we read actually shaped (or changed) history can be debated, but the more important question is whether words can shape conscience, which affects not just one action but a lifetime of actions. This is something teachers have long relied on the power of literature to do.

How Online Courses Will Disrupt Higher Education

AJ Agrawal:

Disruption is happening more and more with the continuing dominance of the Internet and what’s going on in the online world. Online courses are on the edge of disrupting higher education in a number of ways. It will demonstrate that this is no longer the preserve of colleges and universities.

So why will your exam preparations soon happen from an online interface, rather than a college library?

Experience Over Education

The big problem with a lot of conventional education programs is that they are not sufficiently preparing people for the real world of work. There are so many organizations that are increasingly turning away from traditional degrees because they want candidates with real skills.

GSoM German Summer Camp

Via a kind email:

Dear German School Families and Friends,

Our German Summer Camp is open for registration! The camp cost will go up after April 15th!

All summer camp participants registered ON or BEFORE April 15th will receive GSoM summer camp t-shirts. We cannot guarantee t-shirts sizes for kids registered after April 15th.

1st Camp:
Monday-Friday, June 13th-17th from 9 am to 12 noon
at Bethany United Methodist Church
The cost for the entire week is only $150! ($175 after April 15th)

2nd Camp:
Monday-Friday, August 22nd-26th from 9 am to 12 noon
at Bethany United Methodist Church
The cost for the entire week is only $150! ($175 after April 15th)

To register you can click on the link below to go to the GSoM website and click on the link to our Google registration form:

The registration is ONLY complete after we have received both the online registration and the payment for the camp.

More information on the attached flyer. Please contact us with any questions.


Chris Tabisz

German School of Madison-Deutsche Schule Madison, Inc.
Madison, Wisconsin
Email: GermanSchoolofMadison@gmail.com
Visit our website at: www.GermanSchoolofMadison.org
Themenlogo ZFA

Following the Money in Personalized Learning

Robin Lake, via a kind Deb Britt email:

Our center has taken the first systematic look at what implementing personalized learning schools costs, how school leaders are spending their funds, and what it might take to make personalized learning financially sustainable with public dollars. We studied 16 charter elementary and secondary schools with a wide range of personalized learning models from across the country (we hoped to include district schools, but the data were not available). All of these schools received financial support through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Next Generation Learning Challenges, the earliest and most significant philanthropic investment in personalized learning to date. (The Gates Foundation also funded our study.)

While we can’t make overly sweeping generalizations from our research (we looked at a particular set of schools with particular characteristics), this first analysis of personalized learning finances enables educators and policymakers to learn from these early frontrunners and, ideally, to more clearly understand potential fiscal implications.

You’re The Parent, Start Acting Like One.

Abby Scachter:

Last weekend, our five-year-old daughter yelled at an adult friend of ours. When I found out about it later that day, I made my daughter call and apologize for yelling. It was very hard for her to do (oh, the waterworks!). She has a strong personality and doesn’t like to say sorry—at all. But I also found it difficult because when I got back on the phone with our friend, he sounded more pained than my daughter about the exchange. His response led me to rethink the whole thing. Had I gone overboard? Trying to enforce rules for respecting others is tough and I started to think that it wasn’t worth it.

But an amazing thing happened just three days later. I got a call from a parent in my two-year-old son’s class telling me that his son needed to speak to my boy. Why? Because the son needed to apologize for biting my kid. It was cute to hear my boy’s little friend say sorry and my son say (distractedly, because he was watching TV), “It’s OK. Bye!” Beyond cute, it was also meaningful because I immediately felt validated for my own efforts to instill and demand respect for others. Turns out, I needed the reinforcement.

Parents Are Bankrupting Themselves to Look Adequate

Megan McArdle:

people seem to save any money? The number of people scraping along from paycheck to paycheck is astonishing; surveys routinely find that somewhere between a third and half of all Americans don’t have the savings to fund ordinary emergencies — a moderately large repair, a month with no income. These are not the kind of astonishing runs of bad luck that no one could realistically expect to cover, like a $100,000 medical bill, or a multi-year illness that makes it impossible to work. They’re just the normal vicissitudes of regular life, and somehow, Americans are unprepared.

After inflation, NC teacher pay has dropped 13% in past 15 years (not unique to teachers)


Ben Casselman:

The government’s release last week of income and poverty data for 2013 brought renewed attention to the apparent stagnation of the American middle class — not just since the financial crisis hit six years ago this month, but for much of the decade that preceded the crash. The report showed that the economic recovery has yet to translate into higher incomes for the typical American family. After adjusting for inflation, U.S. median household income is still 8 percent lower than it was before the recession, 9 percent lower than at its peak in 1999, and essentially unchanged since the end of the Reagan administration.

10 Best Math Apps for Adults

Geek and Nerd:

our lives without smartphones and laptops. They help us in solving various problems from getting up on time (alarm clocks) to checking grammar mistakes in our academic papers and business reports. We also use them as calculating tools to make our life less complicated. Besides, downloading the right app can make you forget about complicated math problems. If you need some help with difficult calculations or simply like playing math games and solving logical problems, these applications are exactly what you need.

The Class of 2015 Despite an Improving Economy, Young Grads Still Face an Uphill Climb

By Alyssa Davis, Will Kimball, and Elise Gould • May 27, 2015:

The Great Recession has had lasting effects on employment prospects of young people entering the workforce after graduating from high school or college. Despite officially ending in June 2009, the recession left millions unemployed for prolonged spells, with recent workforce entrants such as young graduates being particularly vulnerable. The slow pace of the recovery means that seven classes of students have graduated into an acutely weak labor market and have had to compete with more-experienced workers for a limited number of job opportunities. This is on top of the fact that graduates since 2000 have confronted suboptimal labor market conditions, resulting in stagnant wages and limited job opportunities. While recent improvements in economic conditions have finally begun to brighten young graduates’ job prospects, the labor market is still far from recovered from the Great Recession.

Why So Many Smart People Aren’t Happy

Joe Pinsker:

There are three things, once one’s basic needs are satisfied, that academic literature points to as the ingredients for happiness: having meaningful social relationships, being good at whatever it is one spends one’s days doing, and having the freedom to make life decisions independently.

But research into happiness has also yielded something a little less obvious: Being better educated, richer, or more accomplished doesn’t do much to predict whether someone will be happy. In fact, it might mean someone is less likely to be satisfied with life.

Fears Grow About Toxic Environments in Chinese Schools

Te-Ping Chen:

Fear gripped parents across China this week after national media reported that hundreds of students in separate schools had fallen ill after classroom exposure to toxic fumes emitted from chemical plants.

The latest worries surfaced in eastern China, where scores of students at a primary school said they had begun to develop rashes, itching, nosebleeds and stomach pains. Their parents suspected a link to a nearby industrial park where they said chemical plants emitted a pungent odor.

“It’s such a good school, with great teachers,” said a mother whose 7-year-old son had recently broken out with spots on his face and itchy skin. “But now we just feel pained because of this issue. It’s like all the good has been offset.”

Civics: only 6% expressed “a lot of confidence” in the press”


There is no incongruity in the fact that a new poll conducted by the Media Insight Project, a joint project of the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, finds the American media’s popularity way down with that of Washington politicians. With 2,014 adults surveyed, only 6% expressed “a lot of confidence” in the press.

That’s because they correctly view the major media as virtually indistinguishable from that same political establishment. No wonder that when Woodward himself began turning critical of the Obama administration, and questioned the president’s trustworthiness, the same media filled with reporters who wanted to be Woodward and Bernstein turned on their once-idolized elder statesman.

The public knows very well that most of the leading political reporters are not the intrepid crusaders for truth they claim to be, and whom Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman played in “All the President’s Men,” but rather ideological warriors devoted to one side winning and the other losing.

Why Do People Still Go To Grad School?

Fredrik deBoer:

ura McKenna’s piece is part of a perennial microgenre in the world of #Content: the “What Are They Thinking?” piece. It’s a type of essay that presents a certain group’s professional choices as daft and self-injurious, and asks (with more or less faux-sympathy, depending) why they persist. Don’t they know how deluded this is? Don’t they see? The secret sauce in this well-worn type of click-generation is that it provides people who don’t feel very good about their lives with some other group of people who, we are to imagine, feel even worse about theirs. I may never have written that novel; I may not have played past single-A ball; I may have never gotten further than Improv Olympic; but, by god, I’m not some sad French poetry PhD student. That person, that’s the real loser. The person set up as the object of greater scorn isn’t a gas station worker or someone on food stamps, because those people are seen as too lowly to be part of the competition in the first place. The targets have to be people who are seen as potential competition within aspirational culture. The ego-salving function of “What Are They Thinking?” pieces is what they call in the biz the “value added,” the click generator. It’s such a proven revenue generator that Slate hired Rebecca Schuman to do it full time.


Costly Broken Wind Turbines Give College Whopping Negative 99.14% Return On Investment

Andrew Follett:

Lake Land College recently announced plans to tear down broken wind turbines on campus, after the school got $987,697.20 in taxpayer support for wind power.

The turbines were funded by a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, but the turbines lasted for less than four years and were incredibly costly to maintain.

“Since the installation in 2012, the college has spent $240,000 in parts and labor to maintain the turbines,” Kelly Allee, Director of Public Relations at Lake Land College, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The college estimates it would take another $100,000 in repairs to make the turbines function again after one of them was struck by lightning and likely suffered electrical damage last summer. School officials’ original estimates found the turbine would save it $44,000 in electricity annually, far more than the $8,500 they actually generated. Under the original optimistic scenario, the turbines would have to last for 22.5 years just to recoup the costs, not accounting for inflation. If viewed as an investment, the turbines had a return of negative 99.14 percent.

“While they have been an excellent teaching tool for students, they have only generated $8,500 in power in their lifetime,” she said. “One of the reasons for the lower than expected energy power is that the turbines often need to be repaired. They are not a good teaching tool if they are not working.”

The Largest Voucher Program You’ve Never Heard About

James Ryan:

handful of states and cities around the country sponsor universal pre-K for four-year-olds, including Georgia, Oklahoma, and, most recently, New York City. Others, including Boston, are moving in that direction. Many believe, with justification, that these are wise investments, given the evidence that high-quality pre-K offers long-ranging benefits to students, which can more than make up for the cost of the programs. The nature and extent of these benefits are the subject of debate among scholars and advocates, but one fascinating aspect of these programs has gone largely unnoticed: the reliance on private providers who receive public funding.

College Sex-Assault Trials Belong in Court, Not on Campus

Philip Cohen:

s we endure scandal after scandal concerning sexual assaults on college campuses—scandals that repeatedly show administrators failing to properly investigate, punish, or educate their way out of the problem—I fear that we are drawing the wrong conclusions. Colleges don’t have the ability to investigate sex crimes or the right to properly punish them any more than they can enforce the law regarding robbery or homicide. Those failures compromise colleges’ most important obligation and best hope for solving the problem: educating students to change the culture around sexual violence.

Wargaming in the Classroom: An Odyssey

James Lacey:

Several years ago, as a new professor at the Marine Corps War College, I spent a huge amount of time putting together the best presentation on Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War ever presented at any war college at any time. After accounting for the 125-page a night reading limit, I had selected the perfect set of readings. These were reinforced by an unbelievably entrancing and informative lecture, and a slideshow employing stunning period visuals. My plan even set aside copious amounts of time for critical thinking, and what I knew would be an intense Socratic dialogue.

Schools are helping police spy on kids’ social media activity

Karen Turner:

The school system in Orange County, where Orlando is located, recently told the Orlando Sentinel that the program, which partners the school system with local police departments, has been successful in protecting students’ safety, saying that it led to 12 police investigations in the past year. The school district says it will pay about $18,000 annually for SnapTrends, the monitoring software used to check students’ activity. It’s the same software used by police in Racine, Wis., to track criminal activity and joins a slew of similar social media monitoring software used by law enforcement to keep an eye on the community.

The American Scientist Magazine Understands Nothing about the Traveling Salesman Problem

Michael Trick:

I like to think there are some solid foundations to my life. I will be able to do the Monday New York Times crossword and I will not be able to do the Thursday version. My dental hygienist will not be satisfied with the amount of flossing I do. I will get my favorite spaghetti meal served on my birthday.

And I can trust American Scientist to write articles that teach me science in an accessible, yet challenging, way. American Scientist is the magazine of the honor society Sigma Xi and is my favorite science magazine since the demise of The Sciences, my all-time favorite science magazine. Or it was.

On the University of California, II: Chancellors Gone Wild

Hank Reichman:

On March 5, I began a post on this blog entitled “Corporatizers Gone Wild!” with these words: “For those who don’t yet understand what academics mean when we talk about the ‘corporatization’ of the university, a good way to begin learning might be to take a look at recent events surrounding the University of California (UC) at Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, previously notorious for presiding over the pepper-spraying of her own students” in November 2011.

More than a month later the controversy surrounding Katehi continues. In case you missed it, Katehi initially came under fire for taking a board position with DeVry Education Group, a for-profit firm that offers college degrees online and on 55 campuses nationwide, including 13 in California, and is under federal scrutiny for allegedly exaggerating job placement and income statistics. She resigned that post and apologized soon after. Then it was revealed that Katehi had received a total of $420,000 in income and stock across the 2012-2014 fiscal years as a board member for John Wiley & Sons, a publisher of textbooks, college materials and scholarly journals. Her tenure came as students and state leaders sought to reduce the cost of textbooks and encouraged public colleges to use free, digital alternatives. Then it was revealed that Katehi had also moonlighted as a board member at a Saudi Arabian university that has been accused of buying its way to an impressive international ranking. Katehi served on the board of King Abdulaziz University (KAU) in Jeddah at about the time the university came under fire for its aggressive global recruitment of highly cited researchers with offers of $6,000 or $7,000 a month and free stays at five-star hotels.

How Chicago elites imported charters, closed neighborhood schools, and snuffed out creativity.

Rick Perlstein:

This past September, an award-winning Chicago Public Schools principal named Troy LaRaviere published a post on his blog that began, “Whenever I try to take a break from writing about CPS to focus on other aspects of my professional and personal life, CPS officials do something so profoundly unethical, incompetent and/or corrupt that my conscience calls me to pick up the pen once more.”

What had Principal LaRaviere going this time? We’ll get there eventually. But first we have to back up and survey what brought the Chicago Public Schools to this calamitous pass in the first place. It’s hard to know where to begin. Though when it comes to the failings of America’s institutions you can rarely go wrong by looking to the plutocrats.

It’s Time to Face the Whole Truth About the Atlantic Slave Trade

Sheldon M. Stern, via Will Fitzhugh::

The AMISTAD America website stresses the need to educate the public about the history of slavery “through common experiences and dialogue.” By “confronting the past” and promoting “reconciliation and social healing” the Amistad’s Atlantic Freedom Tour aims to help all people work toward “transforming the future.”

However, confronting the history of the Atlantic slave trade requires more than a sentence acknowledging that the Amistad prisoners “had been captured in Africa by Africans who sold them to European slave traders.” Website readers must understand that this terrible traffic in millions of human beings had been, as affirmed by the PBS Africans in America series, a joint venture: “During this era, Africans and Europeans stood together as equals, companions in commerce and profit. Kings exchanged respectful letters across color lines and addressed each other as colleagues. Natives of the two continents were tied into a common economy.”2

Clemson admin offers recusal after students questions relation to protest leader

Peter Fricke and Anthony Gockowski:

Several Clemson students got a hostile reception Thursday when they started asking questions about a possible conflict of interest in the school’s investigation of a racial bias incident.

The following day, the official in question declared that she had recused herself from the matter.

“It is also disturbing that there is a possibility of her own involvement in preventing the investigation of the arrested #Clemson5 under the student code of conduct.”

Students affiliated with an unofficial organization called “See The Stripes” began a sit-in last week at Sikes Hall, which houses the school’s administrative offices, demanding that the school take action in response to the discovery of a bunch of bananas hanging from a banner honoring African American history at Clemson. WYFF reports that they ended the occupation Thursday night, nine days and five arrests after it began, having determined that they had little prospect of securing additional concessions beyond those the school outlined that afternoon.

See The Stripes had issued a list of seven demands, including a commitment to prosecute “defamatory speech,” increased funding for minority student groups, and hiring more faculty of color.

A Tale of Two (New) Schools


the world today, there are two efforts to massively scale new school systems that are based on agile, technology focused learning systems. One has raised $133M and is currently educating about 750 students in six schools in three American cities; the other has raised $3M and is currently educating 7,500 students in 50 publicly (and privately) financed schools in three countries (The Netherlands, Spain and South Africa). You would be challenged to find out much about the latter, mainly because it hasn’t raised much money, which seems to have become the key metric for sexiness and media coverage.

There is nothing wrong with the grand vision of AltSchool, the company that has raised $133M. In fact, it really is a sexy story where the founder got frustrated looking for a school for his kids, so he started a new approach to schools. Fortunately, he had sold a company to Google so he had the money, experience and contacts to raise a huge amount of money and really go after the opportunity to transform education. Here are stories about AltSchool in The New Yorker, Huffington Post, The New York Times, and there are hundreds of others.

The rise of mostly-autonomous systems

The Foretellix Blog:

Take, for instance, future assistive robots (which assist the disabled / elderly, as I described here). They will be able to take the customer downstairs, take her to the movies, help her with some medical procedures and so on. This covers the vast majority of the time.

However, in some cases (e.g. the customer faints, or some policeman across the street hollers incomprehensible stuff at the robot, etc.) this mostly-autonomous robot should alert an operator. The operator would probably take over remotely, using the robot’s sensors (e.g. vision, hearing) and actuators (e.g. locomotion, grabbing) to understand the situation and “do the right thing”.

Gender—good for nothing

Lionel Shriver:

From childhood, I experienced being female as an imposition. Growing up between two brothers, I was the one who had to wear stupid dresses, and worry about (the horror, in my day) letting my panties show on the swings. My brothers got to take off their shirts during sultry North Carolinian summers, while I wasn’t allowed to, even during the years my chest looked just like theirs.

Yet the impositions were just beginning. Periods were hideous. Did my brothers get puffy once a month, suffer terrible back aches and go back to wearing smelly de facto diapers? I was the one, too, who had the fear of God put in her about getting pregnant. In comparison to their sons, my parents clearly had reduced expectations for my career prospects. Ruefully, at 87, my father finally conceded last year: “You know, we may have underestimated you.” He still hasn’t quite brought himself to admit why: I was the girl.

Guns on university campuses: The Colorado experience

David Kopel:

Texas appears poised to join the growing number of states allowing licensed, trained adults to carry concealed handguns for lawful protection on the campuses of public universities and colleges. In Texas, as elsewhere, opponents offer a parade of horribles about the supposed results: heated classroom discussion of Sophocles will result in gunfights; students will threaten to kill professors who gave them a bad grade, and so on. Since Colorado has had licensed guns on campus for over a decade, it may be helpful to look at the experience there.

For most of Colorado’s history, firearms were legal on public university campuses. That began to change in 1970, due to concerns about campus violence by terrorist organizations such as the Weather Underground.

What Would Tommy Do?

Marc Eisen

The disharmony stems in part from the tensions of a generally liberal-minded university working with a decidedly conservative state government. Further exacerbating the relationship is the obliqueness of UW System bookkeeping and the Republican belief it hid a huge slush fund. (This became a key factor in the GOP-enforced tuition freeze and UW budget cut.) Add in the troubling geographic complaints that the UW System is Madison-centric and shorts the rest of the state and Milwaukee in particular.

UW advocates, in turn, are reeling from the $250 million UW budget cut, the four-year tuition freeze, the stripping of tenure protection from state statutes and Gov. Scott Walker’s surprise attempt in an earlier budget to bowdlerize the “Wisconsin Idea” that guides the UW’s mission to the citizenry.

All this makes for an unpleasant stew of missed signals, aggravation, suspicion and wheel spinning. Not to mention a nagging sense that the state as a whole is grievously hurt by the failure of the pols and profs to make nice.

Somewhat related: theriselinggroup.com/about-us

State and Local Individual Income Tax Collections Per Capita

Jared Walzcak:

Individual income taxes are the single largest source of state tax revenue in the United States, accounting for 36.5 percent of all state revenue in fiscal year 2013 despite the fact that nine states forego a tax on wage and salary income. Among states (and the District of Columbia) imposing an individual income tax on wage income, the tax accounts for an average of 43.4 percent of all state collections.

Income taxes tend to be less important to local governments overall, accounting for 4.8 percent of local tax collections. Over 91 percent of all state and local income tax revenue flows to state governments. Low collections at the local level is at least partly due, however, to their lesser ubiquity. They represent 13.8 percent of collections in the thirteen states (and the District of Columbia) permitting local income taxes, ranging from de minimus collections in Oregon to 31.7 percent of local revenue in Maryland. Local governments in six states—Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania—generate more than 10 percent of their revenue from individual income taxation, as does the District of Columbia.

Stop Trashing Public Schools

Aim Collins:

Now that my girls are 10 (!) I look back and am so grateful and happy for the wonderful education they’ve received. I’ve been thinking about how important it is to share positive stories about my experience to counter the inaccurate and crazy-making rhetoric about how difficult it is to enroll in a “good” public school.

With this in mind, I recently posted some resources on NextDoor about the kindergarten enrollment process. I wanted to reassure parents who are just embarking on the kindergarten enrollment process that everything will work out great, and also share tips for any family (public or private) on how to ease the transition to kindergarten. In addition, I offered to be a resource to answer questions about local schools.

Initially, I got a few positive responses from local parents, chiming in on their great public school experiences. Unfortunately, as I have learned, you can’t get away posting anything on NextDoor without getting snarky comments from folks eagerly awaiting the chance to rain on your parade.

Madison Schools Share Data with Forward Madison

Agreement (PDF):

The data listed below will be made available to Forward Madison researchers upon request. There are two types of data potentially needed – individual-level data and aggregate by school. Individual, student-level data

Student demographics, including: o Student ID #
Special Education services required o ELL status
Advanced learner status
Student academic and behavior data, including:
Current school enrollment
PALS English and Espanol Grades 1-2 scores for Fall and Spring o MAP Grades 3-8 Reading and Math scores for Fall and Spring o ACT/Aspire Grades 9-11 scores
Out-of-School Suspensions

Aggregate data

MMSD Climate Survey data for staff, students, and parents by school Staff data – Year 4 Educator Effectiveness scores

Number of TEEM Scholars hired by MMSD
Student demographics (school level), Including:
Special Education services required o ELL status
Advanced learner status

Student academic and behavior data (school level), including:
PALS English and Espanol Grades 1-2 scores for Fall and Spring o MAP Grades 3-8 Reading and Math scores for Fall and Spring o ACT/Aspire Grades 9-11 scores
Out-of-School Suspensions

MMSD will provide this data to the Forward Madison research team at the end of each school year through 2022. See attached Forward Madison MOA for more details.

A plan for preventing others from viewing and using the data that addresses Confidentiality of Information and Security of the system:

Data will be stored in a University of Wisconsin-Madison Box account. Box adheres to the highest industry standards for security, including:

Content is stored on enterprise-grade servers that undergo regular audits and are monitored 24/7

Files are backed up daily to additional facilities

All files uploaded to Box are encrypted at rest using 256-bit AES encryption.

For files in transit, use RC4-128 encryption, currently considered safe and secure.

Name and contact Information of the researcher involved In day-to-day operation Involving use of data, and conducting the research and analysis.

Forward Madison is under the administrative lead of the Education Outreach and Partnerships Office (EOP), UW Madison School of Education, 264 Teacher Education Building, 225 N. Mills Street, Madison, WI 53706. Principal Investigator: Beth Giles-Klinkner; Project Coordinator: Ann Halbach. External evaluation will be conducted by Matthew Hora, Research Scientist, WI Center for Education Research, 960 Ed Sciences Bldg, Madison, WI 53706. Project Strand Evaluator – TBD


Campus Activism

Conor Friedersdorf:

The student activists had occupied a small room outside Katehi’s office, planning to stay until their chancellor resigned or was removed from her post. By the time they left 36 days later, a petition that now bears roughly 100 signatures of UC Davis students and staff were demanding that they prematurely end their occupation, criticizing their tactics, and alleging a number of grave transgressions: The signatories accused the student activists of sexism, racism, bullying, abuse, and harassment, complaining that many who used the administration building “no longer feel safe.” The student activists say that those charges are unfair.

The conflict illustrates a pattern that campus observers are likely see more and more in coming years: Insofar as progressives succeed in remaking campuses into places unusually sensitive to psychological harms, where transgressing against “safe spaces” is both easy to do and verboten, confrontational activism will no longer be viable.

Too many people feel upset by it.

Fingerless Russian Pianist Is Incredible

Tod Perry:

“Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right,” is a famous quote often attributed to automaker Henry Ford. In many respects, he’s right. Far too many of us live with limitations we’ve unfairly placed on ourselves or accepted from other people. But 15-year-old pianist Alexey Romanov of Zelenodolsk, Russia has defied all expectations by becoming an excellent pianist even though he has no fingers, and only one leg.

Romanov was born with a terrible illness that left him without hands and a leg. After being adopted four years ago, he fell in love with Mozart and Vivaldi and decided to learn how to play the piano. He has prosthetic arms, though he prefers not to use them while playing because he finds them uncomfortable. Sadly, his prosthetic leg is broken, but he still walks o

Should you be saving for college using a 529 plan or a Roth IRA?

Daniel Douglas-Gabriel:

Putting away money for your child’s education is a no-brainer in the era of five-figure student debt, but it can be a little tricky figuring out the best ways to save. While 529 plans are a go-to option for many families, Roth IRAs are emerging as a popular alternative investment vehicle to save for college.

Both accounts come with tax advantages and could grow your money, so which one is right for you? (Although investing is one of the best ways to increase your savings, be mindful of market volatility. You can lose as much as you gain.)

Named for a section of the U.S. tax code, 529 plans are designed specifically to save for college. The most popular plans function much like a 401k retirement account because the money you put in is invested in stocks, bonds or money market funds. Earnings on the plans are not subjected to federal taxes so long as you use the money for “qualified education” expenses — tuition, books, fees, room and board — at any accredited school. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and anyone else can contribute to these accounts. The plans can transfer to other members of a family, but the money must be used for education or withdrawals will come with tax consequences.

Dealing With Autism

The Economist:

IN AMERICA in 1970 one child in 14,000 was reckoned to be autistic. The current estimate is one in 68—or one in 42 among boys. Similarly high numbers can be found in other rich countries: a study in South Korea found that one in 38 children was affected. Autism is a brain condition associated with poor social skills. It has a wide spectrum of symptoms, from obsessive behaviour to hypersensitivity to sound, light or other sensory stimulation, the severity of which ranges from mild to life-blighting. The range of consequences is also wide. At one end, the autism of a computer scientist may be barely noticeable; at the other, a quarter of autistic children do not speak.

Autism is a condition that defies simple generalisations. Except one: the potential of far too many autistic people is being squandered. Although around half of those with autism are of average intelligence or above, they do far worse than they should at school and at work. In France, almost 90% of autistic children attend primary school, but only 1% make it to high school. Figures from America, which works harder to include autistic pupils, suggest that less than half graduate from high school. In Britain, only 12% of higher-functioning autistic adults work full time. Globally, the United Nations reckons that 80% of those with autism are not in the workforce.

Why Physics Is Not a Discipline

Philip Ball:

Have you heard the one about the biologist, the physicist, and the mathematician? They’re all sitting in a cafe watching people come and go from a house across the street. Two people enter, and then some time later, three emerge. The physicist says, “The measurement wasn’t accurate.” The biologist says, “They have reproduced.” The mathematician says, “If now exactly one person enters the house then it will be empty again.”

Hilarious, no? You can find plenty of jokes like this—many invoke the notion of a spherical cow—but I’ve yet to find one that makes me laugh. Still, that’s not what they’re for. They’re designed to show us that these academic disciplines look at the world in very different, perhaps incompatible ways.

Charted: The most tragically banal ways to begin a college application essay

Amy Wang:

Take pity on college admissions officers. Of the thousands of gushing essays from eager students that wash across their desks each year, a great number are virtually the same.

Per the Universities and College Admissions Service (UCAS), the UK organization that manages applications to British universities, far too many teenagers’ personal statements begin with “hackneyed phrases.” UCAS looked at submissions from 700,000 students who applied to British schools in the past year and found several opening lines being used again and again, which suggests that the subject matter is often drearily similar, too.

“The personal essay is supposed to be personal,” admonished UCAS chief executive Mary Curnock Cook. “Learning to write about yourself in a compelling way is a vital skill when applying for jobs.” Teens don’t seem to have gotten that message yet. Below are 10 most repeated first sentences from those 700,000 apps:

How referendums expand the gap between haves and have-nots

Alan Borsuk:

Nicolet High School serves students from Fox Point, Bayside, River Hills and Glendale. Nicolet is both a high-performing school and a high-spending one. This year’s budget works out to more than $18,000 per student.

On April 5, voters in those communities approved allowing Nicolet, for the next six years, to spend $3.15 million a year more than the revenue cap that the state imposes on public schools. A $2.15 million a year addition to school spending that has been in place for five years ends this year.

Without the voters’ approval in the referendum, Nicolet would have cut spending by 15%, cut a dozen teachers and increased class sizes from typically about 23 to about 30, Superintendent Robert Kobylski said. The approval means about $7 per $100,000 of home value in additional taxes annually for Nicolet-area residents.

Madison is spending more than $17k per student.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: A Complex Tax System Prevents Americans From Saving

Dave Brat & Jeff Flake:

Today, many lack the recommended savings level of three to six months of income. In fact, according to a recent Federal Reserve survey, only 53 percent of adults would be able to cover an emergency expense of $400 without selling an asset or borrowing.

Part of the problem is the tax code being too complex, making it difficult for people to understand their options to invest and save for the future. A more streamlined and flexible saving account to enable and encourage savings is needed. To that end, we have introduced the Universal Savings Account Act, legislation that will empower all individuals to set aside money for all of life’s challenges and opportunities.

Expanding Madison’s Least Diverse Schools: Exclusionary Zoning Robs Our Cities of Their Best Qualities

Sightline Institute:

What drew far less attention—and what is ultimately far more important—is the rest of HALA’s assertion. Those other 43 words point directly at local restrictions on housing construction in Seattle, prominently including its vast allocation of land to single-family lots as “among the largest obstacles to equity and affordability.”

Across North America, such statements are vanishingly rare in the official pronouncements of policymakers. Zoning, especially single-family zoning, is presumed sacrosanct. What may be surprising to those not steeped in land-use and urban economics, however, is that HALA’s words are not strong at all in light of the growing body of evidence that restrictive zoning undermines equity and social justice.

Much more, here.

Jobs Are Scarce for Ph.D.s

Laura McKenna:

If you’re a grad student, it’s best to read the latest report from the National Science Foundation with a large glass of single-malt whiskey in hand. Scratch that: The top-shelf whiskey is probably out of your budget. Well, Trader Joe’s “Two Buck Chuck” is good, too!

Liquid courage is a necessity when examining the data on Ph.D.s in the latest NSF report, “The Survey of Earned Doctorates,” which utilized figures from the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center. The report finds that many newly minted Ph.D.s complete school after nearly 10 years of studies with significant debt and without the promise of a job. Yet few people seem to be paying attention to these findings; graduate programs are producing more Ph.D.s than ever before.

Milwaukee Governance

Annysa Johnson:

The much-anticipated proposal by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and his appointed school commissioner to take control of some of Milwaukee Public Schools’ poorest performing schools drew sharp rebukes from board members this week, with at least one suggesting he will not sign off on the deal.

MPS board Director Terry Falk likened the plan, in which Mequon-Thiensville Superintendent Demond Means would operate the schools as a consultant to MPS, to “a shotgun marriage.”

“It’s almost impossible for us to walk down the aisle with you and say ‘I do,'” Falk told Means during a school board working session Thursday night in which Means laid out the proposal as Abele’s Opportunity Schools and Partnership Program commissioner.

You can now be identified by your ‘brainprint’ with 100% accuracy


Binghamton University researchers have developed a biometric identification method called Cognitive Event-RElated Biometric REcognition (CEREBRE) for identifying an individual’s unique “brainprint.” They recorded the brain activity of 50 subjects wearing an electroencephalograph (EEG) headset while looking at selected images from a set of 500 images.

The researchers found that participants’ brains reacted uniquely to each image — enough so that a computer system that analyzed the different reactions was able to identify each volunteer’s “brainprint” with 100 percent accuracy.

In their original brainprint study in 2015, published in Neurocomputing (see ‘Brainprints’ could replace passwords), the research team was able to identify one person out of a group of 32 by that person’s responses, with 97 percent accuracy. That study only used words. Switching to images made a huge difference.

This Parent’s Craigslist Ad For A Women’s Studies Tutor Proves America Is Over

John Daniel Davidson:

If you ever doubted that a single Craigslist ad could capture the decline and fall of Western civilization, doubt no more. A Craigslist ad posted over the weekend by a concerned helicopter parent in the upscale neighborhood of Bel Air, Los Angeles, seeks a tutor for his or her adult son, a 22-year-old student at the University of California-Los Angeles who is having trouble with his gender studies class.

How university students infantilise themselves

Jonathan Zimmerman

In June 1962, 59 student activists met in Port Huron, Michigan to draft a manifesto of their core principles. They condemned racism in the United States and the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. Most of all, though, they indicted their own institution, the modern US university, for ignoring and suppressing their voice. Students needed to ‘wrest control of the educational process from the administrative bureaucracy’, The Port Huron Statement declared. Otherwise, the empty suits who ran the university would drown its emancipatory potential in a sea of bland rituals and senseless rules.

US faces ‘disastrous’ $3.4tn pension funding hole

Attracta Mooney:

The US public pension system has developed a $3.4tn funding hole that will pile pressure on cities and states to cut spending or raise taxes to avoid Detroit-style bankruptcies.

According to academic research shared exclusively with FTfm, the collective funding shortfall of US public pension funds is three times larger than official figures showed, and is getting bigger.

Devin Nunes, a US Republican congressman, said: “It has been clear for years that many cities and states are critically underfunding their pension programmes and hiding the fiscal holes with accounting tricks.”

Mr Nunes, who put forward a bill to the House of Representatives last month to overhaul how public pension plans report their figures, added: “When these pension funds go insolvent, they will create problems so disastrous that the fund officials assume the federal government will have to bail them out.”

Large pension shortfalls have already played a role in driving several US cities, including Detroit in Michigan and San Bernardino in California, to file for bankruptcy. The fear is other cities will soon become insolvent due to the size of their pension deficits.

Curated Education Information