Obfuscating Madison K-12 Spending, redux


Overall, the district’s operating budget for the 2017-2018 school year would rise $8.4 million over the current school year to $389.7 million, according to the proposal.

The budget for the first time also will include spending made possible through a referendum that voters approved in November to permanently raise the district’s annual revenue limit authority by $26 million over four years.

Revenues also will be boosted by an extra $9.27 million through a new agreement with the city of Madison giving the school district access to surplus funds being generated by a successful Downtown tax incremental district.

Revenues from both sources will be “critically important,” Barry said, in funding instruction and stabilizing school staffing levels after back-to-back years of personnel reductions totaling about 150 jobs.

An increase in school funding from the state for next year also is possible, if Walker’s two-year budget plan — calling for $200 more per student in the first year of the biennium and $404 in the second year — is adopted by lawmakers this summer. However, the school district would only receive that added money, estimated at $16 million over two years, if the board complies with Walker’s concurrent directive to require employees to pay no less than 12 percent of their health insurance premiums.

Taxpayers fund the district’s entire budget, which was about $460,000,000 last year. That’s around $18k/student, far more than most K-12 organizations, despite long standing, disastrous reading results.

I wonder why Ms Rivedahl did not tell the complete story.

We Few, We Miserable Few

Heather MacDonald:

Black students at Pomona College and neighboring schools in Claremont, California, have published an open letter declaring their hostility to free speech—other people’s free speech, that is. The letter shows that the faculty of the Claremont colleges are failing in their most basic educational duties.

The manifesto, written by “We, few of the Black students here at Pomona College and the Claremont Colleges,” was triggered by a statement on academic freedom by outgoing Pomona College President David Oxtoby. Oxtoby’s statement in turn responded to a student blockade that tried to shut down a talk on policing I was supposed to give at Claremont McKenna College on April 6. Leave aside for a moment the signatories’ unblemished ignorance regarding free speech and the role of unfettered discourse in creating their own liberties. Viewed purely formally, the letter is a major embarrassment to the faculty of Pomona and the Claremont colleges.

Facebook’s algorithm isn’t surfacing one-third of our posts. And it’s getting worse

Kurt Gessler:

Starting in January of this year, we at the Chicago Tribune started to anecdotally see a fairly significant change in our post reach.

We weren’t seeing a huge difference in post consumption or daily average reach, but we were just seeing more misses than hits. At the Tribune, we have a fairly stable and predictable audience. We had around a half million fans at the end of March and have seen slow but steady growth in the last year. Most Facebook posts fell into the 25,000 to 50,000 reach range — with a few big successes and few spectacular failures each day, usually based on the quality of the content or the quality and creativity of the share.

But starting earlier this year, we started to see far more misses. And not reaches in the low 20,000’s but 4,000 reach or 6,000 reach. Digital Editor Randi Shaffer was one of the first to notice.

America is Regressing into a Developing Nation for Most People

Lynn Paramore:

You’ve probably heard the news that the celebrated post-WW II beating heart of America known as the middle class has gone from “burdened,” to “squeezed” to “dying.” But you might have heard less about what exactly is emerging in its place.

In a new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, Peter Temin, Professor Emeritus of Economics at MIT, draws a portrait of the new reality in a way that is frighteningly, indelibly clear: America is not one country anymore. It is becoming two, each with vastly different resources, expectations, and fates.

Two roads diverged

In one of these countries live members of what Temin calls the “FTE sector” (named for finance, technology, and electronics, the industries which largely support its growth). These are the 20 percent of Americans who enjoy college educations, have good jobs, and sleep soundly knowing that they have not only enough money to meet life’s challenges, but also social networks to bolster their success. They grow up with parents who read books to them, tutors to help with homework, and plenty of stimulating things to do and places to go. They travel in planes and drive new cars. The citizens of this country see economic growth all around them and exciting possibilities for the future. They make plans, influence policies, and count themselves as lucky to be Americans.

Madison currently spends about $18k/student, far more than most taxpayer funded school districts.

California Panel endorses bill aimed at reducing number of college students in remedial classes

Larry Gordon:

Reformers have scored legislative progress in their efforts to enroll many more California community college students in credit-bearing courses instead of remedial classes, with placements based on high school grades rather than just placement exams.

Critics decry remedial classes as dead ends that often lead to students dropping out. Students too often feel trapped in remedial courses even though they might have done well if they were admitted directly into credit classes that count toward their diplomas, according to researchers.

The Crucible of the Application Process

Dillon Bowen:

This essay is about my experience with the application process—specifically how I was repeatedly encouraged to alter my applications to conform with far-Left political ideology. These alterations would ostensibly bolster my chances of being accepted to and receiving funds for graduate programs.

It’s worth noting, at this point, that my political ideals tend to lean left. I’ve voted for the Democratic candidate in every national election since age 18, I’m deeply concerned about social issues including women’s rights, LGBT+ issues, and racial discrimination, and I believe that redistributing wealth through government intervention is fundamental to a healthy economy. At the same time, I don’t think the political Left is correct about everything and often find myself disagreeing with the far-Left narrative, especially as it is currently instantiated in the world of academia. Unfortunately, my experience with the applications process convinced me that the viability of my candidacy was largely predicated on hiding these disagreements from applications reviewers.

As a brief disclaimer, none of what I say here should be interpreted as a criticism of my advisors – not of their job performance and especially of their personal predilections. If anything, I think they did their jobs well. Given what I perceive as the entrenched far-Left political ideology in the world of academia, I’m confident that their advice improved my applications in the eyes of review committees. I can honestly say that by the end of the process, I felt as if the only way to be considered a serious candidate – by the Rhodes Trust, Harvard Admissions, etc – was to present myself and my proposed research as conforming entirely to a far-Left political narrative.


Micah Lee & Lauren Feeney:

Planning on going to a protest? You might not be aware that just by showing up, you can open yourself up to certain privacy risks — police often spy on protesters, and the smartphones they carry, and no matter how peaceful the demonstration, there’s always a chance that you could get detained or arrested, and your devices could get searched. Watch this video for tips on how to prepare your phone before you go to a protest, how to safely communicate with your friends and document the event, and what to do if you get detained or arrested.

Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy (Chromebooks)

Frida Alim, Nate Cardozo, Gennie Gebhart, Karen Gullo,
and Amul Kalia:

Case Study: A California Parent Caught Off-Guard by Chromebooks

Katherine W. was seven years old, in the third grade, when her teacher first issued Google Chromebooks to the class. Katherine’s father, Jeff, was concerned. Jeff feared that Chromebooks and G Suite for Education use might come at the cost of his daughter’s privacy. He negotiated with his daughter’s teacher so she could use a different computer and not have to use a Google account. But as third grade came to a close, the district made clear that there would be no exception made the next year.

Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the data that students often use to log into Google services—like name, student number, and birthday—can’t be shared with third parties—including Google—without written parental consent.

But the district never sought written consent from Jeff or his wife. The district provided no details about the types of devices students would be required to use or the data that would be collected on students. Rather than allowing Jeff to sign his daughter up for the Chromebook program, the district consented on his behalf, making the device mandatory for Katherine—with no ability to opt out. This means that Katherine is required by the school to use Google with a personalized Google account, and Google can create a profile of her—that is, a dossier of information that vendors collect on users for advertising, market research, or other purposes—and use it for commercial purposes the moment she clicks away from G Suite for Education.

Jeff went through several emails and a tense meeting before the district agreed to provide Katherine with a non-Google option for fourth grade—but once again declared that such an accommodation would not be possible for fifth grade.

That’s when EFF reached out to the district. Our legal team drafted a letter to the district to outline the privacy concerns associated with school-issued Chromebooks. The letter urged the district to permit “all students—if their parents so decide—to use alternative devices, software, and websites, for the upcoming school year and every year.”

For Jeff, the biggest concern isn’t just the data Google collects on students. It’s the long-term ramifications for children who are taught to hand over data to Google without question.

As Jeff explained it, “In the end, Google is an advertising company. They sell ads, they track information on folks. And we’re not comfortable with our daughter getting forced into that at such an early age, when she doesn’t know any better.”

3. Parent Concerns About Data Collection and Use

When parents’ questions went unanswered, they were left with serious data concerns, particularly when devices and ed tech programs came home with students. Parents who responded to the survey were particularly concerned about personally identifiable information (PII) that could be used to identify a specific student, such as first/last name, birth date, student ID, graduation date, address, etc.

One Utah public school parent summed up a range of concerns:

Schools should not require students to use tools that involuntarily, or without express parental permission, collect data on students. This includes internal processing of data in order to “improve products,” understanding user behavior to promote advertising, and sharing data with third parties.

A parent from a Maryland public school had suspicions about data collection, retention, and eventual use by ed tech companies:

They are collecting and storing data to be used against my child in the future, creating a profile before he can intellectually understand the consequences of his searches and digital behavior.

Parents were also conscious of the possibility that their children’s data would be shared, sold, or otherwise commodified in the “untapped industry of selling students’ information for advertising and profiling.” The details were generally unclear, as school privacy policies said “not a word about how our kids’ learning is essentially becoming Google’s data.” One Maryland parent wrote:

The school system does not even acknowledge that our child’s data is being collected and possibly sold.

Within schools themselves, respondents observed practices that threatened to reveal students’ PII on a smaller scale. Poor login and password management practices using PII were of particular concern. One California public school used students’ birthdates as passwords. According to another parent:

The passwords are defaulted to student ID. Students are not allowed to change these passwords, and they have received emails stating that students are to stop attempting to change passwords. The student ID numbers are printed, unredacted, on schedules handed out to students and, per my child, “follow a pattern that is easily guessed.”

When students came home with their school-issued devices and online homework, parents’ data concerns extended from students’ data to the family’s home networks and devices. In addition to imposing surveillance on students at home as well as in the classroom,14 ed tech had the potential to make other members of the household feel vulnerable. One public school parent in Pennsylvania wrote about their student accessing ed tech services on a personal device:

I have no idea how to find out the extent of information they [ed tech providers] have access to on our personal computers.

Another parent in a Virginia public school was concerned about their student using a school-issued device at home:

The students are required to use the laptops at home for assignments, but that could expose our home networks to the school system.

Parents’ concerns above highlight the extent to which student privacy violations may go beyond the classroom. Student data—or, more broadly, data collected on students in the course of educational activities at school, at home, and elsewhere—may interact with advertising, drive inferences and profiles about individual students, or be shared with third parties.

Calculus Made Easy (1914)

Silvanus P Thompson PDF Book:

CONSIDERING how many fools can calculate, it is surprising that it should be thought either a difficult or a tedious task for any other fool to learn how to master the same tricks.

Some calculus-tricks are quite easy. Some are enormously difficult. The fools who write the text— . books of advanced mathematics—and they are mostly clever fools—seldom take the trouble to show you how easy the easy calculations are. On the contrary, they seem to desire to impress you with their tremendous cleverness by going about it in the most diflicult way.

Being myself a remarkably stupid fellow, I have had to unteach myself the difficulties, and now beg to present to my fellow fools the parts that are not. hard. Master these thoroughly, and the rest wm follow. What one fool can do, another can.



THE preliminary terror, which chokes ofl’ most fifth- form boys from even attempting to learn how to calculate, can be abolished once for all by simply stating what is the meaning—in common-sense terms—of the two principal symbols that are used in calculating.

These dreadful symbols are: (1) d which merely means “a little bit of.”

Thus dm means a little bit of w; or du means a little bit of u. Ordinary mathematicians think it more polite to say“ an element of,” instead of “ a little bit of.” Just as you please. But you will find that these little bits (or elements) may be considered to be indefinitely small.

(2) I which is merely a long S, and may be called (if you like) “ the sum of.” Thus Ida: means the sum of all the h’ttle bits

Where did language come from?

Cormac McCarthy:

call it the Kekulé Problem because among the myriad instances of scientific problems solved in the sleep of the inquirer Kekulé’s is probably the best known. He was trying to arrive at the configuration of the benzene molecule and not making much progress when he fell asleep in front of the fire and had his famous dream of a snake coiled in a hoop with its tail in its mouth—the ouroboros of mythology—and woke exclaiming to himself: “It’s a ring. The molecule is in the form of a ring.” Well. The problem of course—not Kekulé’s but ours—is that since the unconscious understands language perfectly well or it would not understand the problem in the first place, why doesnt it simply answer Kekulé’s question with something like: “Kekulé, it’s a bloody ring.” To which our scientist might respond: “Okay. Got it. Thanks.”

Why the snake? That is, why is the unconscious so loathe to speak to us? Why the images, metaphors, pictures? Why the dreams, for that matter.

A logical place to begin would be to define what the unconscious is in the first place. To do this we have to set aside the jargon of modern psychology and get back to biology. The unconscious is a biological system before it is anything else. To put it as pithily as possibly—and as accurately—the unconscious is a machine for operating an animal.

The E-Scraper and E-Monopsony

Ariel Ezrachi and Maurice Stucke:

An e-monopsonist and his cousin the e-scraper are robbing an upstream bank. The alarm is triggered. The nearby antitrust enforcer, seeing them holding bags of cash, asks: ‘Have you seen any suspects running away from the scene?’
Let us unpack this tale’s moral.

With the rise of Google, Amazon, Facebook and other ‘super-platforms,’ we tend to look down rather than up. It seems like Google, Amazon, and Facebook are using their power in the marketplace to deliver great value to us — wrestling lower prices from producers in the case of Amazon, bringing news onto a single platform in the case of Facebook, and organizing the world’s information, in the case of Google.

While these companies appear to be furthering our interests, a closer look reveals how these super-platforms may wield their power downstream to harm us, the consumer. As our book Virtual Competition explores, the super-platforms can use our personal data to better price discriminate and their disincentive to protect our privacy (and promote technologies that do).

Less discussed, but of significant concern, are the upstream effects of these super-platforms. They are in fact harming many of the companies from whom they buy or acquire content — and that harm ultimately harms us. Our competition laws deal with this kind of buyer power. These concerns, however, are often low on the enforcement agenda due to the indirect effects on consumer welfare. In the digital age, that urgently needs to change.

Many schools and universities use Google, amazon and Fakebook services, including Madison.


Rachel Chanter

Printing and the Mind of Man (PMM) is a landmark publication in the study of books and their place in culture. First published in 1967, PMM was based on the 1963 exhibitions of the same name held in London which sought to examine the the impact of printed books on the development of western civilisation. It included over 650 examples of printing and printing technology documenting the influence of print on the development of Western world. It soon became an important reference work for book collectors and remains an indispensable resource for booksellers, librarians and bibliophiles today. You can find very fine illustrated copies of PMM, complete with protective slip case, here.

Tracing Spam: Diet Pills from Beltway Bandits

Brian Krebs:

According to Guilmette, whoever Dan is or was at Gtacs.com, he got his account compromised by some fairly inept spammers who evidently did not know or didn’t care that they were inside of a U.S. defense contractor which specializes in custom military-grade communications. Instead, the intruders chose to use those systems in a way almost guaranteed to call attention to the compromised account and hacked servers used to forward the junk email.
 “Some…contractor who works for a Vienna, Va. based government/military ‘cybersecurity’ contractor company has apparently lost his outbound email credentials (which are probably useful also for remote login) to a spammer who, I believe, based on the available evidence, is most likely located in Romania,” Guilmette wrote in an email to this author.
 Guilmette told KrebsOnSecurity that he’s been tracking this particular pill spammer since Sept. 2015. Asked why he’s so certain the same guy is responsible for this and other specific spams, Guilmette shared that the spammer composes his spam messages with the same telltale HTML “signature” in the hyperlink that forms the bulk of the message: An extremely old version of Microsoft Office.

“what will save workers is educational reform” – Perhaps, Given Governance Diversity

Entique Dans:

Society’s approach to the relationship between men and robots, taking the definition of robot as broadly as possible, tends to be somewhat apocalyptic: robots will steal our jobs and create a dysfunctional society where manual labor and tasks of little added value or the three Ds have been replaced: in short, a largely negative vision of the future.

And then of course there are those people who still ask whether we are really in the midst of a process of replacing people with robots? Of course we are. In fact, robots have been taking work away from people for many years.

Madison has continued to support non diverse K-12 governance despite long term, disastrous reading results and spending more than most, now around $18,000 per student.

A majority of the Madison school board rejected the proposed Madison preparatory academy IB charter school and the studio school.

To What Extent Does Your State Rely on Property Taxes?

Morgan Scarboro:

As a colleague explained last year, states tax real property in a variety of ways. Some states impose a rate or millage on the full fair market value of the property, while others impose it on a given percentage of the market value or even based on income potential.

Reliance on property taxes also varies across states. North Dakota (which derives much of its revenue from severance taxes) relies the least on property taxes, at only 11.5 percent of its state and local tax collections. New Hampshire, by contrast, relies most heavily on property taxes, at 66.1 percent of total state and local tax collections.

However, a heavy reliance on any given tax does not equate to a high tax burden overall. New Hampshire, for example, has the highest reliance on property taxes but the 44th lowest tax burden in the country, as the state does not levy a sales tax or a tax on wage income. Texas, the state with the fifth highest reliance on property taxes, has the 46th lowest tax burden in the country. Texas does not levy a corporate or individual income tax (though it does have a harmful business tax in the form of the Margin Tax).

Opinion: House Members (all Politicians) Should Take Civics Tests

Jonathan Allen:

“I pay for myself,” an annoyed Mullin said when one of the attendees suggested that he worked for the folks in the district. “I paid enough taxes before I got there [to Congress] and continue to, through my company, to pay my own salary. This is a service. No one here pays me to go.”

Marie Antoinette couldn’t have put it better.

His buffoonish and politically tone-deaf assertion that he’s doing constituents a favor by working for them is actually one of two recent examples of lawmakers failing to understand the nature of their jobs. It follows on the equally absurd claim by Florida GOP Rep. Ted Yoho that House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes works for President Donald Trump.

Telling children ‘hard work gets you to the top’ is simply a lie

Hashi Mohamed:

t is a common promise made to the next generation. “If you work hard, and do the right thing, you will be able to get on in life.” I believe that it is a promise that we have no capacity to fulfil. And that’s because its underlying assumptions must be revisited.

Imagine a life living in quads. You attend a highly prestigious school in which you dash from one quad to the next for your classes. You then continue on to yet another prestigious institution for your tertiary education, say Oxford or Cambridge University, and yet more quads with manicured lawns. Then you end up in the oasis of Middle Temple working as a barrister: more manicured lawns and, yes, you guessed it, more quads. You have clearly led a very square and straight life. Effortlessly gliding from one world to the next with clear continuity, familiarity and ease.

Now contrast the above oasis with the overcrowded and under-performing schools of inner cities, going home to a bedroom which you share with many other siblings. A home you are likely to vacate when the council can’t house you there anymore. Perhaps a single-parent household where you have caring duties at a young age, or a household where no one works. A difficult neighbourhood where the poverty of ambition is palpable, stable families a rarity, and role models very scarce.

Madison’s achievement gap: a stubbornly ‘stable trend’

Abigail Becker:

The state of education in Madison is stuck.

For the past eight to 10 years, data and test scores have consistently shown disparities between black and white students that are closely linked to socioeconomic divides.

The achievement gap—a disparity in test scores between the performance of students in groups broken down by race, ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status—is moving forward little by little in Madison but not for enough students.

Madison schools are showing there are more students who are proficient in reading and math, according to a second annual school district report released July 27, although a significant racial achievement gap remains.

“Everything we do in our district is aimed at raising student achievement for all and addressing the gaps in opportunity that we believe lead to gaps in student achievement,” Cheatham said at a press conference held in Elvehjem Elementary School’s library. “We want to be a model for what a successful thriving public school district looks like, and together I believe we’re well on our way.”

Millennials aren’t job-hopping any faster than Generation X did

Richard Fry:

In January 2016, 63.4% of employed Millennials, the generation born between 1981 and 1998, reported that they had worked for their current employer at least 13 months. In February 2000, somewhat fewer 18- to 35-year-olds (59.9%) – most of whom are today’s Gen Xers – reported similar job tenure. Looking at young workers with longer tenures, 22% of Millennial workers had been with their employer for at least five years as of 2016, similar to the share of Gen X workers (21.8%) in 2000.

One factor that may be contributing to Millennials staying with employers longer is their relatively high levels of education, which is typically associated with longer tenure. Among 25- to 35-year-old workers in 2016, 38% of Millennial men and 46% of Millennial women had completed at least a bachelor’s degree. The Gen X workforce back in 2000 had significantly lower levels of educational attainment: 31% of male 25- to 35-year-old workers had finished college, as had only 34% of female workers.

Can Parents Sue If Their Kid Is Born With the ‘Wrong’ DNA?

Kristen Brown:

It’s a nightmare scenario straight out of a primetime drama: a child-seeking couple visits a fertility clinic to try their luck with in-vitro fertilization, only to wind up accidentally impregnated by the wrong sperm.

In a fascinating legal case out of Singapore, the country’s Supreme Court ruled that this situation doesn’t just constitute medical malpractice. The fertility clinic, the court recently ruled, must pay the parents 30% of upkeep costs for the child for a loss of ‘genetic affinity.’ In other words, the clinic must pay the parents’ child support not only because they made a terrible medical mistake, but because the child didn’t wind up with the right genes.

At a time when rapidly advancing science and technology puts things like genetically engineering embryos to prevent disease in the realm of reality, the case sets an intriguing precedent. First, it places a monetary value on the amount of DNA that a child shares with their parents. And it suggests that the base genetic makeup of a child can actually be ‘wrong.’

Why Do Ivy League Schools Get Tax Breaks? How The Richest US Colleges Get Richer

David Sirota and Josh Keefe:

During his successful quest to win Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, Donald Trump told the state’s voters that colleges are fleecing taxpayers and enriching Wall Street.

“What a lot of people don’t know is that universities get massive tax breaks for their massive endowments,” he told a crowd in suburban Philadelphia. “These huge multi-billion dollar endowments are tax-free, but too many of these universities don’t use the money to help with tuition and student debt. Instead, these universities use the money to pay their administrators, or put donors’ names on buildings, or just store the money away. In fact, many universities spend more on private equity fund managers than tuition programs.”

Trump promised to make universities’ tax breaks contingent on schools’ willingness to reduce tuition prices — and lawmakers are now considering bills to do just that. New data released this week could fuel those legislative initiatives.

According to a study by Stanford University scholar Charlie Eaton, universities are using their endowments to haul in more than $19 billion in tax subsidies every year. The analysis, which compiled data from 1976 to 2012, found that as the tax expenditures have flowed to college endowments, those endowments have exponentially grown — and have funneled billions to Wall Street money managers who make big fees off the pools of cash.

Despite the tax breaks and the flood of cash to Wall Street, many of the universities that benefit from the subsidies have refused to use their additional endowment resources to expand enrollment, admit more low-income students or lower their tuition rates.

Related: Ivy League Summary: Tax Break Subsidies And Government Payments.

Teachers, Police Priced Out of America’s Big Metro Areas

Laura Kusisto:

Rising home prices are putting America’s largest metropolitan areas out of reach for teachers, police officers and other big slices of the U.S. workforce.

Teachers in the Denver and Austin metro areas could afford just 13% of the homes for sale in those markets, according to a study released Wednesday by real-estate website Trulia. That is down from 20% and 16%, respectively, in 2014.

In all, teachers can afford less than 20% of the homes for sale in 11 of the 93 major U.S. metro areas studied.

The numbers underscore the challenges major metro regions face as home prices shoot beyond what workers in many industries can afford. It essentially leaves workers with a choice of leaving those areas or facing long commutes to work.

Stunning College Dorms, Preposterous Luxury | Raising Teenagers

Jane Parent:

If you’ve been on a college campus recently, you may have noticed that college dorms have definitely changed since you went to college. Not to sound like one of those embroidered pants-wearing curmudgeonly alums walking around campus grumbling about how good we had it and how we had to walk ten miles uphill in the snow to get to class, but one thing really irks me—the luxury college dorms and amenities are ridiculous. Lazy rivers, granite counter tops, omelet stations, en suite bathrooms, free on demand cable. As a parent and tuition payer, I can’t help but wonder: have we all gone insane? Why are we funding this extravagance?

The absurdity of it all really hit me this spring when we toured the honors housing at a large public university. The prospective students and parents were shown into the college dorms demo suite. We parents all gazed, mouths agape, at the two bedroom suite: each room had a double bed, its own closet, and opened into a spacious furnished living space, with a granite counter kitchenette on one side, and on the other a granite counter double sink bathroom, with its own private shower and toilet (so your student is spared that nasty inconvenient walk down the hall to the communal bathroom).

Black college students could benefit from Trump’s worker visa order

William Douglas:

Science and technology students at the nation’s historically black colleges could get a boost from President Donald Trump’s executive order aimed at altering a visa program that brings highly skilled workers to the United States.

Leaders and advocates for historically black colleges and universities have been monitoring the immigration and jobs debate, telling the Trump administration and congressional lawmakers that so-called science, technology, engineering and math graduates from HBCU schools are readily available to fill high-tech jobs that are currently going to foreign workers.

Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., who hosted a gathering of black college presidents in Washington, said Trump’s order “as a byproduct could help some of the HBCU graduates.”

“I think it can be a good thing,” added Walker, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, whose district includes N.C. A&T State University. “I want to see what comes of this, and maybe later on this year we’ll have a better idea.”

Trump signed an order Tuesday dubbed “Buy American, Hire American,” which instructs the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Labor and State to recommend new rules to prevent immigration fraud and abuse.

Universities require scholars pledge commitment to diversity

Kate Hardiman:

Universities are increasingly relying on “diversity statements” for faculty hiring and promotion, according to a new report from the Oregon Association of Scholars.

These statements have strong ties to liberal ideology, such as the assumption of group victimization and claims for group-based entitlements, effectively making them “partisan litmus tests” to “weed out non-left wing scholars,” the association states in its report.

The association notes that many schools now link to articles explaining how to craft a diversity statement, which include affirmations that a professor will “keep the white students from dominating all classroom discussions,” or “reflect a commitment to queer visibility,” or teach students “not to thoughtlessly reproduce the standard white and Western model of legitimate knowledge.”

Mission Versus Organization: Instead of debating charters vs. public schools, focus on educating kids

Dan Katzir and Marcia Aaron:

There is one reason that someone chooses to dedicate his or her life to education as a teacher, administrator or community advocate: a sincere, deeply held belief that making a difference in the lives of children is the best way to build equity and move our society forward. Every educator and advocate shares that goal.

Why, then, do we so often fall into the trap of treating education as just another partisan fight?

On both sides of the charter vs. traditional public school debate, heated political rhetoric has infiltrated the speech of people who should be united by a desire to help kids. On behalf of four public Charter School Networks – Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy, Green Dot Public Schools and KIPP LA – representing over 35,000 students in some of our most economically distressed neighborhoods, we are calling for a ceasefire.

Commentary On The Recent Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Election

John Nichols:

The DeVos interventions are not about improving public education; they are about pushing a political agenda that is rooted in ideological obsessions rather than an understanding of how to improve schools. As the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights noted with regard to DeVos: “She has never been an educator or worked directly with children and families in public schools. She has never led a school, district or state agency tasked with educating students. She has never been a public school parent or a public school student. This lack of experience makes her uniquely unfamiliar with the challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s students, families, educators and schools.”

DeVos and her ilk have succeeded in politicizing the education debate to such an extent that historically nonpartisan contests have seen clear divides between candidates who defend public education (and are often backed by Democrats, progressives and teacher unions) and candidates who align with the DeVos agenda (and who are often backed by Republicans, social conservatives and corporate interests that favor privatization).

Much more on Tony Evers, here.

How are Wisconsin students doing?


Mission Vs Organization: Shades Of Cutting Strings….

Valerie Strauss:

“Their priorities are distorted. We need to make a decision to put kids first. Especially when they’re savings is about $500,000 to $750,000, when they’re paying out a million dollars on, on public relations specialists and on lobbyists, a million dollars.”

Former Superintendent Art Rainwater frequently attempted to kill Madison’s strings program.

Like Albuquerque, Madison long had a lobbyist. Do they have one today?

Madison, with “plenty of resources” spends about $18,000 per student annually – well above the national average.

An emphasis on “adult employment“.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: eneral Motors plant closes, residents emerge from the Great Recession into an uncertain future

Alyssa Shuman:

Television crews from as far away as the Netherlands and Japan had come to film this moment, when the oldest plant of the nation’s largest automaker turned out its last.

Janesville, Wis., lies three-fourths of the way from Chicago to Madison along Interstate 90. The county seat of 63,500 people is the home town of House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R) — an old United Auto Workers town in a state led by a new generation of conservative, Gov. Scott Walker (R). It is a Democratic town still, though the economic blow that befell Janesville is the kind of reversal of fortune that drove many working-class Americans to support Donald Trump for president.

The assembly plant began turning out Chevrolets on Valentine’s Day 1923, and, for 8½ decades, the factory, like a mighty wizard, ordered the city’s rhythms. The radio station synchronized its news broadcasts to the shift change. Grocery prices went up along with GM raises. People timed their trips across town to the daily movements of freight trains hauling in parts and hauling away finished cars, trucks and SUVs.

And so, when the plant stopped in the midst of the Great Recession, the people of Janesville — even as they began to reinvent themselves and their town — clung to a faith that GM would reopen the plant so their future could be like their past. Over time, though, people began to confront a question they had not considered before: What choices to make when there were no more good choices left?

The De-Professionalization of the Academy

Alex Southwell:

In the fall of 2005, I began working as a full-time faculty member in the General Studies program at Hudson University. I was promoted to full Professor last year. Thus, the tale I tell does not represent sour grapes. Rather, what follows is a jeremiad decrying the direction that academia has taken in order to underscore the threats posed to academic integrity and institutional legitimacy. Over twelve years, I have watched with increasing dismay and incredulity as academic integrity, fairness, and intellectual rigor have eroded, with the implicit endorsement of administration and faculty alike. I have witnessed the de-professionalization of the professoriate—hiring policies based on tokenized identity politics and cronyism, the increasing intellectual and ideological conformity expected from faculty and students, and the subsequent curtailment of academic freedom.

Just to be clear, most of my faculty colleagues are well-educated, bright, and dedicated teachers. Some are also worthy scholars or creative authors. Yet, in addition to cronyism, the program’s hiring practices have been significantly compromised, especially as a result of the premium that the university has recently placed on “diversity.”

How many jobs really require college?

Devin Helton:

It is the conventional wisdom in some circles that we need to send even more people to college. As Bill Gates wrote, “America is facing a shortage of college graduates…By 2025, two thirds of all jobs in the US will require education beyond high school.”

I am very skeptical of this point of view. In a previous post, I argued that many professional jobs (architect, manager, lawyer) have no natural need to require three to seven years of tertiary schooling. Rather, the strict requirements are due to credentialing laws that restrict entry into the profession and prop up wages.

For this post, I decided to go through a master spreadsheet of employment in the United States and make my own assessment of what percent of jobs truly require college. I sorted each occupation in one of the following buckets:

Grade School or Less Needed – Beyond reading, writing and basic math, no education is needed for this job. Any job specific training takes less than six months. Examples: truck driver, cook, massage therapist, hair stylist, or orderly.

School Choice Commentary

Jason Blakely:

Buoyed by Donald Trump’s championing of a voucher system—and cheered on by his education secretary Betsy DeVos—Arizona just passed one of the country’s most thoroughgoing policies in favor of so-called “school of choice.” The legislation signed by Governor Doug Ducey allows students who withdraw from the public system to use their share of state funding for private school, homeschooling, or online education.

Making educational funding “portable” is part of a much wider political movement that began in the 1970s—known to scholars as neoliberalism—which views the creation of markets as necessary for the existence of individual liberty. In the neoliberal view, if your public institutions and spaces don’t resemble markets, with a range of consumer options, then you aren’t really free. The goal of neoliberalism is thereby to rollback the state, privatize public services, or (as in the case of vouchers) engineer forms of consumer choice and market discipline in the public sector.

The Real Reason Black Kids Benefit From Black Teachers

David Jackson:

For black students, having even one black teacher can make a huge difference. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which found that that black boys who had a black teacher during their elementary school years were less likely to drop out of high school. It also linked the presence of black teachers to kids’ expectations of attending college.

I wasn’t surprised to hear this. I’m one of a small fraction of black teachers in my district. I know that, as much as many would like to think that good intentions and talent are the only important qualities for educators, students respond differently to teachers whom they can relate to.

The week before the study was released, I showed my ninth graders a film about Kalief Browder, a black teenager who was arrested at age 16 for allegedly stealing a backpack, spent three years on Rikers Island without being convicted of a crime and died by suicide after his release. I was moved by the impassioned mini-essays about police brutality and stop-and-frisk my students produced and the honest experiences they shared. I realized it’s not just that my students live these topics every day. It’s also that they are teenagers who have seen me interact with law enforcement during our trips off campus. They trusted me because they knew I lived them as well.

On Madison’s lack of K-12 Diversity and choice

Karen Rivedahl:

“The best thing my office can do is increase access to educational opportunities and increase equity,” he said. “The worst thing it can do is create fights for fights’ sake.”

Independent charter schools, while funded by state taxpayers, operate outside most traditional public school rules in a way that supporters say make them more effective and perhaps better able to address long-standing challenges, such as raising test scores for low-income and minority students.

Detractors counter they are a financial drain on the public school system with no guaranteed ability to offer students any better education.

The Madison School District, which already has the power to authorize independent charter schools but so far has not done so, remains in the detractors’ ranks.

“Gary knows how I feel about his office — that I think it’s unnecessary, that our board, like any school board, ought to be making decisions about how to serve students,” Cheatham said. “Our goal is to make that office obsolete

Much more on Gary Bennett, here.

Madison has continued to support non diverse K-12 governance despite long term, disastrous reading results and spending more than most, now around $18,000 per student.

A majority of the Madison school board rejected the proposed Madison preparatory academy IB charter school and the studio school.

Live blog recap: Public speaks out on efforts to turn last schools in New Orleans into charters

Marta Jewson:

More than 100 people came out Tuesday night to tell the Orleans Parish School Board whether two organizations should convert the city’s last five traditional schools to charters.

ExCEED Network Schools Charter Management Organization wants to take over the district’s three traditional elementary schools: Benjamin Franklin Mathematics and Science School, Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School of Literature, and Technology and Mahalia Jackson Elementary School.

It also wants to take over Eleanor McMain Secondary School and McDonogh 35 Senior High School. InspireNOLA, a three-school charter network, has been approved to “replicate” its A-rated high school at one of those sites.

Tuesday, InspireNOLA won the support of McMain’s alumni group; several alumni spoke in favor of its application.

Teaching a Class With Big Ability Differences

Todd Finley:

How do you teach the same concepts and skills to students with diverse abilities and interests? Different learning profiles? And how do you do that in real classrooms, with limited time to plan?

Differentiated instruction is one answer that has been extensively documented (see “Recommended Resources” at the end of this post). I want to share two fundamental tenets of DI before describing specific tactics:

Charles Murray’s ‘Provocative’ Talk

Wendi Williams & Stephen Ceci:

The talk that the political scientist Charles Murray attempted to deliver last month at Middlebury College in Vermont must have been quite provocative — perhaps even offensive or an instance of hate speech. How else to explain the vehement opposition to it?

Before Mr. Murray’s arrival on campus, an open letter to the college from several hundred alumni protested that his scholarly opinions were “deceptive statistics masking unfounded bigotry.” And when it came time for Mr. Murray to give his speech, which was based on his 2012 book, “Coming Apart,” an analysis of the predicament of the white working class in the United States, he was shouted down by student and faculty protesters. In chants they accused him of being a racist and a white supremacist. Some of the protesters became unruly and physically violent, forcing Mr. Murray to flee.

Mr. Murray ended up giving a version of his talk later that day, via livestream, from another room. How extreme were his views?

We have our own opinion, but as social scientists we hoped to get a more objective answer. So we transcribed Mr. Murray’s speech and — without indicating who wrote it — sent it to a group of 70 college professors (women and men, of different ranks, at different universities). We asked them to rate the material on a scale from 1 to 9, ranging from very liberal to very conservative, with 5 defined as “middle of the road.” We also offered them a chance to explain why they gave the material the score they did.

Wisconsin GOP lawmakers take aim at mounting school referendums

Annysa Johnson:

The bills would:

Eliminate so-called recurring referendums for operating expenses — those that raise taxes indefinitely — and cap non-recurring referendums at five years.

Dock a district’s state aid by an amount equal to 20% of whatever it generates in an operating referendum. So, if voters approve, say, $5 million, they lose $1 million in aid.

Require all referendum questions be placed on a spring or fall general election.

Limit when school districts can decide to go to referendum. A school board could vote on an operating referendum only during a regularly scheduled board meeting, and on a debt issue only at the annual meeting where the tax levy is set.

Require districts to disclose the costs of debt service and interest payments on any debt issue.

And provide a 50% match for district funds placed in a long-term capital improvement trust fund, so-called Fund 46, to encourage cash financing of maintenance and construction projects.

Wisconsin school districts have increasingly turned to referendums — to raise operating funds and take on debt for capital projects — as their budgets were squeezed by a combination of revenue caps, declining enrollments and hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to state aid in recent years. Last year alone, voters agreed to borrow $1.35 billion for capital projects, 10 times more than in 2011 and the most since 1993, according to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance. Similarly, there were 71 requests to exceed revenue caps last year, up from an average 41 annually between 2009 and 2013.

Locally, Madison has turned to referendums a number of times, augmenting it’s $460M annual budget (about $18k/student).

American students lose interest in China studies

Paul Mooney:

BERKELEY, U.S. – Early in his presidency, Barack Obama set a goal to vastly increase the number of Americans studying Chinese and taking part in academic programs in China.

Eight years later, Obama is gone and so is much of the academic momentum. Though China looms ever larger in U.S. economic and security concerns, American universities are experiencing a decline in the enrollment in Chinese language courses and study abroad programs. The growing sense that work opportunities in China are harder to come by is compounding worries about pollution and other living conditions.

Stanford University announced in January it would indefinitely suspend its undergraduate program in Beijing as of May. The school’s student newspaper reported that enrollment had fallen by around two-thirds from 2004 to just eight last year. The university had earlier merged its Chinese and Japanese language degree programs into a single East Asian studies course.

The number of U.S. students in language courses in China began to rise ahead of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, when dozens of programs were started to meet increasing demand. Obama announced the 100,000 Strong Initiative in late 2009 to send over that number of students within five years.

How Chinese schools discriminate against 65% of the population

The Economist:

LAST year some images went viral on the internet in China. They showed children descending an 800-metre (2,600-foot) rock face on rickety ladders made of vines, wood and rusty metal. Their destination: school. The photographer was told by a local official that “seven or eight” people had died after losing their grip. Yet the children did this regularly—there is no school at the top of the mountain in Sichuan province where they live. The photographs conveyed two striking aspects of life in the Chinese countryside: a hunger for education so strong that children will risk their lives for it, and a callous lack of government attention to the needs of rural students.

In many ways, education in China is improving. Since 2000 the annual tally of students graduating from university has increased nearly eightfold, to more than 7.5m. But many rural students are neglected by China’s school system, and they are not the only ones. So, too, are the children of migrants who have moved to the cities from the countryside and poor students who want to go to senior high school.

This is not only unfair; it is also counterproductive. China faces a demographic crunch: its workforce is shrinking and it can no longer depend on cheap, low-skilled migrant labour to power its growth. Its young—especially those with rural roots—need to become more skilled. That calls for better education.

The government has not been completely blind to the need to ensure that rural people have enough schooling to work in factories, but it has shown little sense of urgency. The schoolchildren from Sichuan are a case in point. So perilous was their journey to school that officials arranged for them to board, like tens of millions of children in rural China. They travel back home only every few weeks.
That may sound like progress. Since the population of young people in the countryside is falling so smaller schools are closing. Better to board than to trek for miles every day to one that is still open. But conditions at these boarding schools are often appalling (see article). Many children do not get enough to eat, which affects their health and their ability to learn. So poor is their nutrition that they are often shorter than their counterparts at day schools.

EFF’s “Spying on Students” Report Highlights Tech Companies’ Data Collection, Parents’ Frustrations

Electronic Frontier Foundation

Surveillance Culture Starts in Grade School, Schools Fail To Protect Kids’ Privacy
San Francisco—School children are being spied on by tech companies through devices and software used in classrooms that often collect and store kids’ names, birth dates, browsing histories, location data, and much more—often without adequate privacy protections or the awareness and consent of parents, according to a new report from Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

EFF’s “Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy” shows that state and federal law, as well as industry self-regulation, has failed to keep up with a growing educational technology industry. At the same time, schools are eager to incorporate technology in the classroom to engage students and assist teachers, but may unwittingly help tech companies surveil and track students. Ultimately, students and their data are caught in the middle without sufficient privacy protections.

One-third of all K-12 students in the U.S. use school-issued devices running software and apps that collect far more information on kids than is necessary, the report says. Resource-strapped school district can receive these tools at steeply-reduced prices or for free as tech companies seek a slice of the $8 billion dollar education technology, or ed tech, industry. But there’s a real, devastating cost—the tracking, cataloguing, and exploitation of data about children as young as five years old.

United Air Lines – an OODA loop perspective

Chet Richards:

I’m not too good at reading minds, much less corporate minds, but one thing stands out: For all practical purposes, domestic airlines in the US today are monopolies. They have left just enough market share at their primary hubs to avoid the threat of federal action, and this limited capacity means that open skies treaties won’t significantly increase competition.
 When your orientation says “monopoly,” you act like a monopoly. In particular, without the threat of the marketplace, you have a lot of flexibility in the levels of service you provide — your quality — and in what you can charge. Play this game well and you can maximize the amount of money to be paid out to the the people who control the organization and to those who can fire them.
 However, as Tom Peters once pointed out, in Thriving on Chaos as I recall, after some point, it’s impossible to order cost cuts without also damaging the customer experience.
 Back in the pre-Toyota US auto industry, they had a similar orientation: Customers didn’t appreciate quality and wouldn’t pay for improvements in quality over what Detroit was already producing. As I said, that was pre-Toyota. But weren’t Toyotas cheaper than their American competitors? They were indeed less expensive, but their quality in terms of manufacturing defects and ride experience, was much higher. Detroit claimed “Dumping!” but extensive studies showed that Toyota had evolved a manufacturing system that reduced waste thereby lowering costs organically, rather than just arbitrarily cutting costs by leaving out things.

Income Tax And Then And Now

Americans for tax reform:

As Americans finish yet another tax filing season, let’s take a look at the 104-year history of the income tax:

In 1913 the top marginal income tax bracket was 7% — today it is 39.6%.

In 1913 the marginal income tax bracket range was 1% – 7%. Today the range is 10% – 39.6%.

In 1913 there were 400 pages in the tax code. Today there are 74,608 pages in the code.

In 1913 the family standard deduction was $98,425.45 in today’s dollars. The family standard deduction now is just $12,600.

When the income tax started in 1913, only 358,000 Americans had to file a 1040. Today 148,606,578 Americans file 1040s.

Lawmakers may order audit of UW System foundations

Nico Savage:

State lawmakers may order an audit this week of the relationships between University of Wisconsin System institutions and the private, nonprofit foundations that support them financially.

It’s the latest fallout from accusations in January that former UW-Oshkosh officials illegally used public money to help the university’s foundation finance several development projects, which led to the firing of the foundation’s president and a lawsuit against two since- departed administrators.

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee will hold a public hearing and vote Thursday on whether to order the audit.

A memo the Legislative Audit Bureau sent to lawmakers Monday said such an investigation could look into whether other UW institutions have given public money to their foundations, as well as whether System officials have provided sufficient oversight of those relationships.

UW System President Ray Cross is expected to testify at the hearing, System spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said.

A ‘Free Speech Area’ in Los Angeles

James Freeman:

Watching the daily violations of liberty and common sense on American college campuses sometimes makes one wonder why anyone wants to attend, even with a taxpayer subsidy. The Journal’s William McGurn describes in our pages today the mob that descended on our contributor Heather Mac Donald when she showed up to speak at Claremont McKenna, a private college east of Los Angeles. About 50 miles to the west of Claremont, free speech is coming under attack on yet another campus. But Constitutional liberty seems to have at least a few allies left.

Recently this column noted the refreshing defense of the First Amendment rights of pro-life activists by the pro-choice writers of the Los Angeles Times editorial board. Now the Times’ left-leaning editorial columns are distinguishing themselves again by defending the free-speech rights of a college student who advocates for limited government.

Kevin Shaw is the president of a Young Americans for Liberty chapter at L.A.’s Pierce College. According to a lawsuit he filed on March 28 against officials of the school and the Los Angeles Community College District, he was distributing Spanish-language copies of the U.S. Constitution on campus last November when a college employee forced him to stop and also ordered him not to discuss his political views with other students. According to Mr. Shaw’s filing, he was then escorted to a campus office and “forced to complete a permit application” to use the college’s “Free Speech Area.”

Millionaire teachers: Rising standards have led to a lucrative online marketplace for lesson plans

Carolyn Thompson:

Despite worries from some educators, such online marketplaces are booming, driven by rising standards and the willingness of teachers to pay out of their own pockets for classroom-tested materials.

“I am so thankful and blessed that it came into my life and that my passion and career can kind of mesh into one,” says Miss Kindergarten, aka 32-year-old Hadar Hartstein, of Lake Forest, Calif., who says she has earned more than $1 million in sales over the past six years, enough to take this year and maybe the next few off from her teaching job to be with her newborn daughter.

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Her more than 300 offerings on the popular Teachers Pay Teachers site range from free alphabet flash cards and a $1.50 Popsicle party counting activity to a $120 full-year unit on math and literacy, all of them widely promoted on her blog and social media accounts.

“You definitely have to look at it as another full-time job,” she says. “You have to put a lot of effort into it.”

Our Very Own Grand Challenge

Chris Grundling:

On February 15, Udacity selected the group of 18 talented engineers (out of hundreds of applicants) to form the Self-Racing Cars team. Our team was composed of individuals with largely varying backgrounds from all over the world, with the commonalities that we were all enrolled in the Udacity Self-Driving Car Nanodegree program, and extremely passionate about autonomous vehicles. The team was given six weeks to develop the software to drive an autonomous vehicle around the track at Thunderhill Raceway for the Self-Racing Cars event. We were partnered for the event with the awesome team at PolySync who provided us with a Kia Soul vehicle outfitted with their Open Source Car Controls kit (OSCC). Our team would not have access to the car until 2 days before the event, so the six-week lead-up was all about getting familiar with the PolySync software and building our own autonomous models/system that would communicate to the OSCC to control the vehicle.

The PolySync vehicle had a single forward-facing Point Grey Black Fly camera and a Swift Navigation GPS. The car was also outfitted with Radar and Lidar, but we did not use these systems for the event. Our team decided early on that we wanted to develop an end-to-end deep learning-type autonomous system, and rely on GPS as little as possible. GPS waypoint followers are fairly commonplace, but to develop a vision-based deep learning approach using the single forward-facing camera as the only input is at the cutting edge of autonomous vehicle development.

Digital innovation and robots are opening new possibilities for workers across the U.S. economy.

Michael Milken and Igor Tulchinsky:

New technologies tend to disrupt old businesses, but also to create more jobs than they destroy. That’s little solace, though, to the workers who lack either the skills or flexibility to find better opportunities.

From the factory floor to the Wall Street trading desk, advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and smart robots are already affecting millions of Americans in dozens of job categories. Across the country, especially in rural areas, workers and labor-force dropouts are suffering. Tragically, the death rate for middle-age whites—unlike other groups—has increased in recent years. Homelessness, disabilities, mental distress, pain and opioid addiction are all too common. Without help, many workers will sink further into isolation and despair.

This January, the McKinsey Global Institute reported that almost half of paid work can be automated with current technologies. That would increase productivity growth by an estimated 0.8% to 1.4%, compounded every year—a substantial economic boost. Unfortunately, it could also leave many more workers behind, without a chance for upward mobility.

The Silencing of Heather Mac Donald

William McGurn:

No one who knows her could ever describe Heather Mac Donald as a victim.

Still, last Thursday night the Manhattan Institute scholar became the latest target of the latter-day Red Guards bringing chaos to so many American campuses. Ms. Mac Donald had been invited to talk about her book “The War on Cops” at Claremont McKenna College’s Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum. Among her arguments is that if you truly believe black lives matter, maybe you should recognize “there is no government agency more dedicated to the proposition” than the police who protect the law-abiding minority residents of high-crime neighborhoods.

You can imagine how well that goes over. At City Journal, Ms. Mac Donald offers a first-person account of that ugly evening. The day before, she says, event organizers told her they were considering changing the venue to a building with fewer glass windows to break. Such are the considerations these days on the modern American campus.

School Choice Deniers Critics hype a pair of studies while ignoring other evidence on education vouchers.

Wall Street Journal:

President Trump has made a cause of public and private school choice, and liberals who oppose evaluating teachers based on student achievement are now hyping a few studies that have found vouchers hurt student performance. A closer look still supports the case for giving parents choice.

More than 400,000 students in 30 states and Washington, D.C., participate in private-school choice programs whose designs and funding sources vary. Over the last two decades dozens of studies have sought to measure these programs’ impact on student growth. Those with the most rigorous methodologies have produced positive findings.

A meta-analysis last year by the Friedman Foundation found that 14 of 18 empirical studies analyzing programs in which students were chosen at random by lottery found positive academic outcomes. Two demonstrated no visible effect, while two recent studies of Louisiana’s voucher program found negative effects. The Louisiana studies are disconcerting since voucher proponents have hailed the program, and the negative effects were large. Math scores declined in one study by 0.4 standard deviations after one year in private schools, representing a 50% increase in likelihood of failing the state test.

Book Review: LOCKING UP OUR OWN Crime and Punishment in Black America

Jennifer Senior:

James Forman Jr. divides his superb and shattering first book, “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America,” into two parts: “Origins” and “Consequences.” But the temptation is to scribble in, before “Consequences,” a modifier: “Unforeseen.” That is truly what this book is about, and what makes it tragic to the bone: How people, acting with the finest of intentions and the largest of hearts, could create a problem even more grievous than the one they were trying to solve.

Forman opens with a story from 1995, when, as a public defender in Washington, he unsuccessfully tried to keep a 15-year-old out of a juvenile detention center with a grim reputation. Looking around the courtroom, he realized that everyone associated with the case was African-American: the judge, the prosecutor, the bailiff. The arresting officer was black, as was the city’s police chief, its mayor and the majority of the city council that had written the stringent gun and drug laws his client had violated.

Peking University Calls Out Fake Affiliates

Fan Yiying:

Peking University, one of the top academic institutions in China, exposed 124 fake schools on Tuesday, saying that the imposters have no association with the university even though their names suggest otherwise.

Most of these schools recruit students for continuing education or other non-degree programs. Their names — “Peking University Seminar,” “Peking University Enterprise Management Training,” “Peking University Business Online,” and so on — and website addresses all incorporate the name of their prestigious non-relation.

Some of the websites could no longer be accessed on Thursday.

When contacted by Sixth Tone on Thursday, an admissions officer surnamed Li of “Peking University CEO Training” said the courses on e-commerce would be held on the campus of Peking University. Li added that tuition is paid to a Peking University bank account, and that invoices are provided by the institution’s finance department.

Chicago Schools Miss Out On Retirement Incentive Savings

Sarah Karp:

Chicago Public Schools officials confirmed Tuesday that too few teachers and staff have enrolled in a retirement incentive program that would have saved the district substantial cash over time. The retirement incentive program is part of the Chicago Teachers Union’s contract that was settled last October.

The retirement incentive program was one way the district tried to sell the contract as a good deal for taxpayers. Initially, it would have cost the district as it paid out bonuses to retirees, but getting veteran, higher-paid teachers and aides off the district’s payroll could have produced up to $90 million, CPS originally estimated. Districts have since reduced their estimates to $63 million.

To make the program work,1,500 teachers and 600 aides had to sign up. But only 840 teachers and 300 aides raised their hands by the March 31 deadline, according to CPS.

School Board Dynamics

Zachary Olson:

“If you guys spent as much time working on solving the problems as you do covering them up, there wouldn’t be any problems,” Speed said, later adding, “You’ve got the public buffaloed, absolutely buffaloed on the stuff that’s going on around here.”

Censuring Speed does not jeopardize his place on the board.

April 25 will mark the one-year anniversary of Speed taking his spot on Onalaska’s School Board. He won the April 5, 2016, election after challenging the validity of incumbents Ann Garrity and Tim Smaby’s nomination papers. The Government Accountability Board granted Speed’s challenge, and so removed Garrity and Smaby’s names from the ballot, leaving just the La Crosse Tea Party founder’s name on the ballot.

Hidden Money: The Outsized Role of Parent Contributions in School Finance

Catherine Brown, Scott Sargrad, and Meg Benner:

In 2014, parents of students at Horace Mann Elementary School in Northwest Washington, D.C., spent over $470,000 of their own money to support the school’s programs.1 With just under 290 students enrolled for the 2013-14 school year, this means that, in addition to public funding, Horace Mann spent about an extra $1,600 for each student.2 Those dollars—equivalent to 9 percent of the District of Columbia’s average per-pupil spending3—paid for new art and music teachers and classroom aides to allow for small group instruction.4 During the same school year, the parent-teacher association, or PTA, raised another $100,000 in parent donations and collected over $200,000 in membership dues, which it used for similar initiatives in future years.5 Not surprisingly, Horace Mann is one of the most affluent schools in the city, with only 6 percent of students coming from low-income families.6

Horace Mann is not unique. Throughout Washington, D.C., and around the country, parents are raising hundreds of thousands—even millions—of dollars to provide additional programs, services, and staff to some of their districts’ least needy schools.7 They are investing more money than ever before: A recent study showed that, nationally, PTAs’ revenues have almost tripled since the mid-1990s, reaching over $425 million in 2010.8 PTAs provide a small but growing slice of the funding for the nation’s public education system. While the millions of dollars parents raise is equivalent to less than 1 percent of total school spending, the concentration of these dollars in affluent schools results in considerable advantages for a small portion of already advantaged students.9
This situation risks deepening school funding disparities, which already exacerbate inequities. In many states, state and local funds allocate more money to affluent districts and schools than neighboring districts and schools that have higher rates of poverty. According to a U.S. Department of Education report based on 2008-09 data, 40 percent of schools that received Title I money received significantly less state and local money than non-Title I schools.10 Twenty-three states spent more on affluent districts than high-poverty districts. In Pennsylvania, for example, the districts with the highest levels of poverty received 33 percent less state and local funding for education than affluent districts.11

Federal funding goes a long way to compensate for these discrepancies. When considering federal, state, and local spending, nationwide, the highest-poverty districts spend about the same amount—only 2 percent less—per student as the most affluent districts.12 In the majority of states, per-pupil spending in high-poverty districts is about equal or more than per-pupil spending in affluent districts.13
These numbers, however, do not illustrate the full picture of funding discrepancies. Average district per-pupil spending does not always capture staffing and funding inequities.14 Many districts do not consider actual teacher salaries when budgeting for and reporting each school’s expenditures, and the highest-poverty schools are often staffed by less-experienced teachers who typically earn lower salaries.15 Because educator salaries are, by far, schools’ largest budget item, schools serving the poorest children end up spending much less on what matters most for their students’ learning.

Why Talented Black and Hispanic Students Can Go Undiscovered

Susan Dynarski:

Public schools are increasingly filled with black and Hispanic students, but the children identified as “gifted” in those schools are overwhelmingly white and Asian.

The numbers are startling. Black third graders are half as likely as whites to be included in programs for the gifted, and the deficit is nearly as large for Hispanics, according to work by two Vanderbilt researchers, Jason Grissom and Christopher Redding.

New evidence indicates that schools have contributed to these disparities by underestimating the potential of black and Hispanic children. But that can change: When one large school district in Florida altered how it screened children, the number of black and Hispanic children identified as gifted doubled.

That district is Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale and has one of the largest and most diverse student populations in the country. More than half of its students are black or Hispanic, and a similar proportion are from low-income families. Yet, as of 10 years ago, just 28 percent of the third graders who were identified as gifted were black or Hispanic.

“They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT!

Newark School Board Election

Laura waters:

In less than two weeks Newark voters will elect three new members of their Board of Education and the stakes have never been higher. After twenty-two years of state control, city representatives will once again oversee every aspect of New Jersey’s largest and most politically-convoluted school district. As if this set of circumstances weren’t challenging enough, the education community’s spanking-new solidarity is in danger of fracture.

For many decades Newark board members have been beholden to powerful politicos — the Mayor and Ward leaders — who typically endorse slates of three candidates. For example, in both 2014 and 2015 Mayor Ras Baraka, who won his own election by warping his campaign into a referendum on then-Superintendent Cami Anderson, ran a slate called “Children First.” But last year a new powerhouse rode into town, a pro-charter organization called PC2E, which magically finagled a “Unity Slate” — one candidate chosen by Mayor Ras Baraka, one chosen by charter advocates, and one chosen by Councilman Anibal Ramos of the North Ward.

PC2E’s 2016 strategy was to buy time in order to avoid a political war with Mayor Baraka, who favors a charter school moratorium and called the parent-hailed expansion of KIPP and Uncommon “highly irresponsible.” The slate was comprised of Kim Gaddy, (PC2E’s choice), Tave Padilla (Councilman Ramos’ choice), and Leah Owens, a decidedly anti-choice candidate chosen by Baraka who is one of the founders of the Newark Education Workers Caucus, the militant arm of the Newark Teachers Union, and works for New Jersey Communities United, which opposes school choice.

Good Schools, Affordable Homes: Finding Suburban Sweet Spots By 


For better or worse, it’s common for city-dwelling families that reach a certain size to make the leap to the suburbs for more space and better schools.

But even among comparable suburban neighborhoods, seemingly arbitrary school district boundaries can lead to huge differences in price. There are many factors in a home price, of course, but economists have estimated that within suburban neighborhoods, a 5 percent improvement in test scores can raise prices by 2.5 percent. And for many cities, this is largely the pattern — prices rise with school quality. But there are some districts that break this pattern: schools that deliver on quality with homes that are relatively cheap.

Using home price data from Redfin, a national real estate brokerage, and school quality data based on test scores from the Stanford Education Data Archive, we developed a set of charts that look at school quality, home price and commute. For instance, in the Boston area (where many suburban school districts are considered first-rate), more expensive school districts like Brookline, Mass., tend to have strong scores and relatively short commutes. Equally good districts, like Lexington, may be cheaper, but people living there face longer commutes.

Starting With the “Why” in Personalized Learning

Bethany Gross:

Last spring, on our first visit to 35 schools committed to personalized learning, teachers often told us they weren’t sure what they were supposed to be doing to personalize learning. Revisiting the same schools this fall, we realized a more fundamental issue was at play: many teachers didn’t seem entirely sure why they were personalizing learning in the first place.

The teachers we interviewed certainly had clear goals for their students: to be ready for college and career, to be lifelong learners and successful adults. And most described the specific objectives for knowledge, skills, and attitudes their students would need to reach these goals. But only rarely could teachers tell us how the activities they do to personalize learning would deliver on these objectives. The problem is, without starting with that end in mind, it’s nearly impossible to build a coherent personalized learning (PL) approach.

Born to Be Wild: Texas kids spend 7.17 hours per day in a classroom, longer than students in any other state.

Dan Oko:

In Texas, shifting demographics are largely to blame for this detachment from nature. We’re predominantly urban now and our cities have swelled with newcomers; fewer and fewer Texans have roots that trace back to the ranching and farming families that once quite literally shaped our state as they worked the land. And then there’s our overtaxed educational system. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, Texas kids spend 7.17 hours per day in a classroom, longer than students in any other state.

In 2009, using Louv’s research as a rallying cry, Carter Smith, the executive director of Texas Parks and Wildlife, worked with a team of educators, legislators, and nonprofit leaders to form Texas Children in Nature, a private-public network of more than three hundred organizations that aims to make it easier for families to find al fresco activities. “Getting kids outdoors is a necessity, not a luxury,” says Smith, who speaks as both a father and a seventh-generation Texan. “With growing competition for discretionary leisure time, we really need to find ways for our kids to enjoy nature.” So how do we re-wild the next generation?

Here’s The Fine Print On The Country’s Biggest-Ever Free College Plan Listen· 3:46

Any Kamenetz:

New York state has passed legislation that would create the largest experiment in the country to offer free tuition at two- and four-year colleges. The Excelsior Scholarship, approved over the weekend as part of the state budget, would cover full-time students in the State University of New York system, which totals 64 campuses and 1.3 million students.

Fact-Check: Bernie Sanders Promises Free College. Will It Work?
Fact-Check: Bernie Sanders Promises Free College. Will It Work?
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, appeared with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and state education leaders in an event hailing the new program, which would begin this fall and is estimated to cost $163 million per year.

Students from families making up to $100,000 a year would be eligible in the program’s first year, and by the third year that would increase to $125,000 a year.

University of Wisconsin Faculty Find Widespread Bullying

Colleen Flaherty:

Some 35 percent of faculty members who completed a survey on work-life issues at the University of Wisconsin at Madison reported having been bullied by colleagues within the last three years, The Cap Times reported. “The measure of incidence of hostile and intimidating behavior is rather surprising,” reads a new report on survey results prepared by the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute at Madison.

The same survey found that 91 percent of respondents said major budget cuts due to decreased state funding lowered morale. Some 72 percent of respondents said controversial new tenure policies adopted after changes to the state statute on tenure lowered morale. The survey involved tenured and tenure-track faculty members and saw a 59 percent response rate.

About half of women and faculty members with disabilities said they’d experienced bullying. Professors with tenure and those in the social sciences also were more likely to report having been bullied than participants over all. Some 42 percent of respondents also said they’d witnessed bullying, defined in the survey as “hostile and intimidating behavior.”

The institute has conducted the work-life survey five times since 2003, but the most recent survey, conducted last spring, was the first to ask about bullying. Hostile and intimidating behavior was also a factor in 16 percent of cases brought to Madison’s Ombuds Office in 2015-16, according to an annual report. Reports included bullying from supervisors and peers. In 2014, the UW Madison Faculty Senate and Academic Staff Assembly adopted policies defining hostile and intimidating behavior and establishing informal and formal processes for reporting it, according to The Cap Times.

Ohio CPS took 7-year-old from parents without cause

The Blaze:

Do you think you know what’s best for your kids? You could end up battling the state for your child like this Ohio family.

On Thursday, Glenn Beck and the guys talked to Ohio parents Christian and Katie Maple, who have been fighting the state to get back their 7-year-old son, Camden. Their son’s school called Child Protective Services (CPS) after the family refused to have their typically “rambunctious” son evaluated for mental health.

After a month-long battle, dad Christian and stepmom Katie finally have their child back in their home, but they are still entangled in a court fight that is costing the family emotionally as well as financially. The couple, who welcomed their sixth child to the family in January, have set up a GoFundMe page to help with legal expenses.

Christian described Camden as “creative” and smart, tending to finish his classwork early and then act up due to boredom.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Obama’s Debt Interest Bomb

Wall Street Journal:

If that seems small, consider that interest payments rose $28 billion for the six months of fiscal 2017 to $152 billion. That’s a 22.2% increase, among the biggest in any single spending item highlighted by CBO. The increases reflect the growing debt but in particular the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise interest rates after years of near-zero rates.

While Mr. Obama was doubling the national debt over eight years, the Fed’s monetary policies spared him from the fiscal consequences. The Fed’s near-zero policy kept interest rates at historic lows that reduced net interest payments even as the overall debt increased. The Fed’s bond-buying programs also earned money that the Fed turned over to Treasury each year, reducing the size of the federal budget deficit by tens of billions of dollars.

This not-so-free Fed lunch is starting to end. CBO estimates that $160 billion more spending will be required each year over the next decade if interest rates are merely one percentage point higher than in its current projections. As interest rates rise, the Fed will also have to pay banks more to keep excess reserves parked at the central bank. After its latest rate increase in March, the Fed now pays banks 1% on reserve balances or about $20 billion a year, and that will go up.

Locally, Madison continues to increase K-12 tax and spending.

The cost of California’s public pensions is breaking the bank. Here’s one reason this problem is so hard to fix

Judy Lin:

More than 20 times in the last 15 years, political leaders looking to control California’s fast-growing public pension costs have tried to put reform initiatives before the voters.

None of the proposals has made it onto the ballot.

Often, advocates could not raise enough money for signature gathering, advertising and other costs of an initiative campaign. Some of the most promising efforts, however, ran into a different kind of obstacle: an official summary, written by the state attorney general, that described the initiative in terms likely to alienate voters. Facing bleak prospects at the polls, the sponsors abandoned the campaigns.

Taxpayer advocates contend that the attorneys general — Democrats elected with robust support from organized labor — put a finger on the scale, distilling the initiatives in language that echoed labor’s rhetoric.

Asking people to show up on time is not inclusive, says Clemson employee training

Mitchell Gunter:

The invoice, labelled, “Department: Chief Diversity Officer,” refers to Chief Diversity Officer Lee Gill, who, according to publicly provided salary information, earned $185,850 per year as of October 1, 2016.

Campus Reform reached out to Gill for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

“Employees who have not completed the training will receive two automated reminders,” the email continues.

The online training presents a variety of scenarios featuring fictional characters. In one scenario between “Henry” and “Maxine,” Maxine thinks that inclusion and diversity training are about “political correctness,” and are a distraction, in response to which the training suggests that Henry should “discuss how diversity can lead to better decisions,” and “decrease employee turnover,”

The incorrect answer, it notes, is to “say nothing” and assume Maxine is correct.

When You need to Explain to Your Kid the Internet Is not Safe

Carolina Milanesi:

Last week was time for me to explain to my child the internet isn’t a safe place. It wasn’t pretty. My nine-year-old daughter has been going online on a parental controlled browser and to play multi-gamer Minecraft with her friends but nothing else — or so I thought. Last week, she mentioned playing with these “friends” on an app that lets you create a family of dogs. I remained calm as I explained we had discussed this issue before and that she was not allowed to go online because people on the internet are not always who they seem to be and they might ask her questions that are personal. With a somewhat annoyed tone, she replied that she is not naïve and that when “this boy” asked her how old she was and where she lived she did not reply. That is when I freaked out. I took a deep breath and started explaining.

Just because You are not Face to Face with Someone, doesn’t make it Safer

While not being physically in the same room or playground might mean you do not get punched or pushed or mocked, it does not mean they cannot hurt you. Just because you do not see them, it does not mean they are not real. That was the easy part.

“But mom, they are just kids like me!” My heartbroken daughter whispered. That was when the hard part started. Explaining that people online can pretend to be kids and they might be interested in her the way grownups are interested in each other was the hardest thing I ever had to explain. Much harder than explaining where babies come from. Within a couple of minutes, my daughter went from my sweet little girl to the potential victim of an online predator. I know I might be overreacting. I know there are more genuine kids online than there are predators but there are also numbers. According to the US Department of Justice, approximately 1 in 7 (13%) youth internet users received unwanted sexual solicitations. One in 25 youths received an online sexual solicitation in which the solicitor tried to make offline contact. So, forgive me but it’s my baby and I am not taking any chances. As much as I think she is too young to fully understand what I am talking about, it is my duty as a parent not to scare her but to make her aware of the risks. This is no different than telling your children they should not talk to strangers the first time they are somewhere without you at their side.

You won’t believe how much money colleges make on rejected applications

Chelsie Arnold

As of fall 2017, Harvard University dropped the Law School Admissions Test as a requirement for law school applicants.

This won’t lead to more people being admitted — but it just might increase the number of submitted applications. (After all, the whole idea behind Harvard deciding to accept the GRE instead of the LSAT is to make the law school more accessible and save students money.)

And at $75 per application, Harvard could stand to benefit too, in the form of more revenue.

Already, Harvard alone makes nearly $3 million in gross profits off of rejected applications each year, according to a new study conducted by UCEazy, a company that assists first generation immigrants with the college application and admission process.

An Interview With Robert Caro

New York Review of Books:

Did you grow up in a house full of books?

No. My mother got very sick when I was five, and she died when I was eleven. My father was a Polish immigrant. He wasn’t really a reader. Books were not part of the house, but my mother, before she died, had my father promise to send me to Horace Mann. When I think of my childhood, it’s Horace Mann.

I was the editor of the school newspaper. Every Friday, I’d take a trolley up to Yonkers with a rotating cast of the other editors. We’d get off at Getty Square, take all our copy over to a Linotype shop, and then we would stay there while the hot type came out, and when the page was complete they’d ink it and put a piece of paper over it with a roller, and that’s how you’d read it.

The nicest thing that’s happened to me, really, is that four years ago Horace Mann said they wanted to name a prize after me. I said that would be great, so long as they made it for something that I really wanted to be studied. And they said, Well, what is that? I said, I want students to learn that writing, the quality of the prose, matters in nonfiction, that writing matters in history. So they created the Robert Caro ’53 Prize for Literary Excellence in the Writing of History. My wife, Ina, is always saying, when I win awards, You’re not excited. I say, I’ll pretend to be excited if you want. It’s like those awards are happening to somebody else, you know? But to go back up there to that school that I loved and to see tacked up on the door of every classroom, deadline for the caro prize—you say, My God, that’s exciting.

The Math Trick Behind MP3s, JPEGs, and Homer Simpson’s Face

Aatosh Bashia:

Nine years ago, I was sitting in a college math physics course and my professor spelt out an idea that kind of blew my mind. I think it isn’t a stretch to say that this is one of the most widely applicable mathematical discoveries, with applications ranging from optics to quantum physics, radio astronomy, MP3 and JPEG compression, X-ray crystallography, voice recognition, and PET or MRI scans. This mathematical tool—named the Fourier transform, after 18th-century French physicist and mathematician Joseph Fourier—was even used by James Watson and Francis Crick to decode the double helix structure of DNA from the X-ray patterns produced by Rosalind Franklin. (Crick was an expert in Fourier transforms, and joked about writing a paper called, “Fourier Transforms for birdwatchers,” to explain the math to Watson, an avid birder.)

Metamorphabet: Imaginative ABC’s


Metamorphabet is a playful, interactive alphabet for all ages. Poke, prod, drag, and spin each of the 26 letters of the alphabet to reveal surprising and luminous transformations.

• Easy-to-use interface
• Responsive, organic, toy-like design
• Kids are invited to explore the alphabet and expand their vocabulary
• Adults will be engaged by the fluid, rich interactions and beautifully crafted universe

Metamorphabet contains NO in-app purchases.


Parents need more information to hold schools accountable

Susan Olivieri:

This week, states begin submitting their implementation plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act and they find themselves in the driver’s seat to ensure that the public has access to clear and accurate information about schools in their community.

The challenge for states will be to find the political will to do the right thing when it comes to accountability. And to do the right thing for parents, especially as federal and state policymakers increasingly promote the expansion of school choice.

They’re all rich white kids and they’ll do just fine, NOT!

Invisible Manipulators of Your Mind

Tamsin Shaw:

We are living in an age in which the behavioral sciences have become inescapable. The findings of social psychology and behavioral economics are being employed to determine the news we read, the products we buy, the cultural and intellectual spheres we inhabit, and the human networks, online and in real life, of which we are a part. Aspects of human societies that were formerly guided by habit and tradition, or spontaneity and whim, are now increasingly the intended or unintended consequences of decisions made on the basis of scientific theories of the human mind and human well-being.

How States Can Promote Local Innovation, Options, and Problem-Solving in Public Education

Jordan Posamentier, Robin Lake and Paul Hill:

State policy plays a critical role in determining whether and how well local education improvement strategies can be implemented. As states rework their education policies under ESSA, state and local leaders need a way to assess their current policy environment and identify the changes needed to encourage local innovation and problem solving.

To identify the legal and regulatory barriers to local autonomy, CRPE researched 14 states that already have one or more large cities pursuing local innovation strategies. We find that:

The accretion of state law over the years has constrained local education leaders’ ability to innovate, improve, and transform their schools.
States have set up command-and-control frameworks, viewing districts rather than schools as public education’s first responders, which is at odds with school-level efforts to address the particular needs of students and communities.

Schools Rack Their Brains as Bus Driver Jobs Go Begging

Valerie Bauerlein:

In the past three years, Wake County has cut one in five bus routes, bumped children off the bus who live within a mile of their school, required others to walk farther to the bus stop, and now is considering starting some schools earlier in the morning.

Why? A shortage of school bus drivers.

Wake County, one of North Carolina’s biggest, is contending with a school system that has grown 25% to 160,000 pupils in the past decade and a supply of drivers that has fallen 18% to 740 in the same period. Supervisors regularly have to fill in.

New York Fed chief warns on US student debt

Jennifer Bissell:

A top Federal Reserve policymaker warned on Monday about the long-term consequences of student debt on home ownership and consumer spending, saying that college loan delinquency rates remained stubbornly high.

William Dudley, president of the New York Fed, said seriously delinquent student debt rates across the US — the highest of any category of household debt by far — increased to 11.2 per cent in the last three months of 2016. The next category — serious credit card debt — remained at 7.1 per cent. Seriously delinquent is debt that is 90 days or more past due for payment.

Aggregate student loan balances, meanwhile, stand at $1.3tn, a 170 per cent increase from 2006, according to the New York Fed, as more students take out larger loans and after states have reduced their financial support to colleges.

Rules of memory ‘beautifully’ rewritten

James Gallagher:

What really happens when we make and store memories has been unravelled in a discovery that surprised even the scientists who made it.

The US and Japanese team found that the brain “doubles up” by simultaneously making two memories of events.

One is for the here-and-now and the other for a lifetime, they found.

It had been thought that all memories start as a short-term memory and are then slowly converted into a long-term one.

Experts said the findings were surprising, but also beautiful and convincing.

‘Significant advance’
Two parts of the brain are heavily involved in remembering our personal experiences.

Emanuel To Meet With Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Wednesday


“We were surprised to discover how much CPS has saturated charter schools in neighborhoods with declining school-age populations,” said Roosevelt Associate Professor of Sociology Stephanie Farmer in a March press release when the report was published. “We believe this decision is a strong contributing factor to the current strain on CPS’ finances.”
The report found that 20 new charter schools located within a 1.5-mile walking radius of a school closed for low enrollment have opened since 2013. Additionally, 71 percent of new charter schools opened between 2000 and 2012 were within a 1.5 mile radius of the 49 schools that closed in 2013 due to low enrollment. An audit of CPS charter schools filed with the Illinois State Board of Education in 2015 found that some 27 percent had a combined outstanding debt of $227 million (independent of CPS’s overall debt), which will be paid back with taxpayer dollars.

The Chicago Mayor appeared in an interesting Propublica article on influence and airline mergers.

How I Learned to Take the SAT Like a Rich Kid

Dylan Hernandez:

The summer before my junior year of high school, I boarded an airplane for the first time. Three hours later I was in picture-perfect New England, where I was soon to be surrounded by a diverse and extremely accomplished group of peers. I had been awarded a generous scholarship to attend the Phillips Exeter summer semester — five weeks of classes and sports, with some optional SAT prep mixed in.

I’m from Flint, Mich., and even though I recently transferred to a private Catholic high school in my city, top tier-education is new to my family. Neither of my parents went to college, and in Rust Belt regions like the middle of Michigan, education is falling behind the rest of the country. Stanford researchers found, for example, that sixth graders in our town are two to three grade levels behind the national average. They are almost five grade levels behind students in more prosperous counties 30 miles away.

The friends I made at Phillips Exeter were from fancy-sounding towns and seemed to have it all. Most attended prestigious private or highly ranked public schools. They were impossibly sporty, charming and intelligent, with perfect smiles and impeccably curated Instagram profiles. The program we attended costs around $10,000, so they were clearly affluent, but they also came from diverse backgrounds. They had been on exotic vacations and had volunteered for the needy. They were truly interesting people.

Why Many Universities Make Free Speech a Low Priority

John McGinnis:

My friend Heather Mac Donald is the latest speaker to be prevented from presenting on a college campus—this time at Claremont McKenna. Heather’s talk was to show how policing saves citizens’ lives, including those of African-Americans. Heather is the one of the most eloquent speakers I know. It is outrageous that some students prevented her from speaking. But perhaps not surprising: they fear that she may persuade their fellow students that it is some of their preferred policies, not the police, that are the greater danger to minority communities.

After the suppression of Heather’s talk a Vice-President at Claremont voiced bureaucratic regret in the manner that has become familiar after similar such incidents across the country. But it is generally a mistake to believe that university administrators at these universities or many others will do what it takes to defend free speech and thus free inquiry at their institutions of learning. The best evidence of the low priority they place is that students who prevent talks are almost never disciplined, let alone expelled or prosecuted for their interference. As Robert George reminds us every day, no has yet been held accountable for the assault on Charles Murray and his host that occurred at Middlebury. No one has yet been disciplined for the recent violence at Berkeley over a speaker either.

Book Pins Corporate Greed on a Lust Bred at Harvard

Andrew Ross Sorkin:

If you were to look for one ingredient that binds together the nation’s chief executives, top managers and boards of directors, you’d find a remarkably consistent commonality, now and in generations past: A disproportionate number of them are graduates of Harvard Business School.

An M.B.A. from H.B.S., as those in the know refer to it, has long been the ultimate Good Housekeeping stamp of approval on any résumé. Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase, Jeffrey Immelt of General Electric, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook — and the list goes on and on. The number of Fortune 500 chief executives who earned their business degrees at Harvard is three times the total from the next most popular business school, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

It is hard to overstate the school’s influence on corporate America.

Related: Ivy League payments and entitlements cost taxpayers $41.59 billion over a six-year period (FY2010-FY2015).

A Quarter Century of Changes in the Elementary and Secondary Teaching Force: From 1987 to 2012


This report looks at changes in several key characteristics of the teaching force between the 1987-88 and 2011-12 school years, including the number of teachers, the level of teaching experience, and the racial/ethnic diversity of the teaching force. The report focuses on how these demographic changes varied across different types of teachers and schools.

Among the findings about changes in the teacher workforce over this 25 year period:

The teacher work force grew by 46 percent between 1987-88 and 2011-12. Above average growth was seen among teachers in the fields of English as a Second Language, English language arts, mathematics, foreign language, natural science, and special education. Below-average growth was seen in the fields of general elementary education, vocational-technical education, and art/music;

The growth in the teaching force varied across different types of schools. The teaching force in high-poverty public schools grew by nearly 325 percent while the number of teachers in low-poverty schools declined by almost 20 percent. The number of teachers in private schools grew at a higher rate than in public schools. However, private school teachers still account for only about 12 percent of the teacher work force; and

The teacher force became more diverse. While minority teachers remain underrepresented in the teaching force, both the number and proportion of minority teachers increased. Between 1987–88 and 2011–12, the number of minority teachers grew by 104 percent, compared to 38 percent growth in the number of White teachers. The percentage of teachers who belonged to all minority groups increased from 12.4 percent in 1987-88 to 17.3 percent in 2011-12.

Teachers who sexually abuse students still find classroom jobs

Steve Reilly:

By 2005, administrators at Orangefield Independent School District, about a two-hour drive from Houston, had investigated complaints by six different students.
When it came time to deal with the Orangefield High School football coach, administrators didn’t fire McFarlin or report him to police. They didn’t even notify Texas education officials who had the power to take away his teaching license.
Instead, they let him become someone else’s problem.

They hid his behavior from state regulators, parents and coaches.

The Roots of the New Urban Crisis

Richard Florida:

Cities, it seems, are imprinted in my DNA. I was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1957, back when it was a thriving city, bustling with iconic department stores, morning and evening newspapers, libraries and museums, a busy downtown, and a large middle class. My parents, like millions of other Americans, moved to the suburbs when I was a toddler. They chose the small town of North Arlington, about a fifteen-minute drive from Newark. They did so, as they often reminded me, because of the good schools the town offered, particularly the Catholic school, Queen of Peace, which they believed would prepare my brother and me for college, putting us on a path to a better life. Even though we had moved out of Newark, we still visited the old neighborhood on most Sundays, joining my grandmother and the rest of the family who still lived there for large Italian suppers.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: 2017 Minnesota Tax Incidence Study Analysis of Minnesota’s household and business taxes.

Minnesota Department of Revenue:

I am pleased to transmit to you the fourteenth Minnesota Tax Incidence Study undertaken by the Department of Revenue in response to Minnesota Statutes, Section 270C.13 (Laws of 1990, Chapter 604, Article 10, Section 9; Laws of 2005, Chapter 151, Article 1, Section 15).

This version of the incidence study report builds on past studies and provides new information regarding tax incidence. Previous studies have estimated how the burden of Minnesota state and local taxes was distributed across income groups from a historic perspective. This study does that by displaying the burden of state and local taxes across income groups in 2014. It includes over 99 percent of Minnesota taxes paid, those paid by business as well as those paid by individuals. The study addresses the important question: “Who pays Minnesota’s taxes?”

The report also estimates tax incidence across income groups for Minnesota state and local taxes for 2019. By forecasting incidence into the future, it is possible to give policymakers a view of the state and local tax system that reflects tax law changes enacted into law to date. Studies that concentrate only on history would not reflect the most recent changes to Minnesota’s tax system. The 2019 projections also reflect the impact of the forecast for economic growth and expected changes in the distribution of income on the tax system. This version of the 2019 projections is based on the November 2016 economic forecast from the Department of Management and Budget.

Conclusions of the research are:

Of the total $30.0 billion in 2014 taxes, 83.6 percent of the burden ultimately falls
on Minnesota residents ($25.0 billion). The remaining $4.9 billion of the tax burden
is “exported” to nonresident consumers or nonresident owners of capital.

In 2014, the state and local tax burden on Minnesota households averaged 12.0
percent of income, up from 11.5 percent in 2012.

The local tax share of tax revenue fell from 29.7 percent in 2012 to 28.1 percent in
2014, but is projected to rise to 28.8 percent in 2019. The state tax share rose from 70.3 percent in 2012 to 71.9 percent in 2014 and is projected to fall to 71.2 percent in 2019.

The share of state and local revenue derived from taxes on income rose from 36.5 percent in 2012 to 38.6 percent in 2014 and is projected to rise to 39.2 percent in 2019. The property tax share fell from 32.4 percent in 2012 to 30.1 percent in 2014, but is projected to rise to 30.5 percent in 2019. The consumption tax share rose slightly between 2012 and 2014, from 31.1 percent to 31.3 percent, but is projected to fall to 30.3 percent in 2019.

The business tax share of total tax revenue rose from 33.2 percent in 2012 to 34.2 percent in 2014 but is projected to fall to 32.8 percent in 2019.

After allowing for the shifting of business taxes, the Minnesota tax system in 2014 remained regressive (as it had been in 2012). The full-sample Suits index, a measure of the progressivity or regressivity of a tax or tax system, rose (toward zero) from -0.052 in 2012 to -0.029 in 2014. This change reflects a substantial decrease in overall regressivity.

Minnesota’s refundable income tax credits and property tax refunds for homeowners and renters substantially reduce overall regressivity. In their absence, the 2014 Suits index would fall from -0.029 to -0.054.

Total Minnesota income is expected to grow by 22.6 percent between 2014 and 2019. Tax receipts and tax burdens on Minnesotans are each forecast to grow more slowly (at 19.6 and 20.5 percent), so the overall effective tax rate is projected to fall from 12.0 percent to 11.8 percent of income.

The full-sample Suits index is projected to rise (toward zero) from -0.029 in 2014 to -0.024 in 2019. Income growth rates are expected to outpace tax growth rates, thereby reducing effective tax rates in every decile except the 9th (where the increase is only 0.03 percent of income).
The fourteen biennial tax incidence studies cover a 26-year period. Comparison with earlier reports provides some historical context for the results of the current study. Figures E-1 and E-2 below show how effective tax rates and Suits indexes have changed over time. The effective tax rate is the ratio of tax burden to total household income. For the Suits index, positive values reflect progressivity and negative values show regressivity. To allow comparability to earlier studies, Figure E-2 shows population-decile Suits indexes as well as the more accurate full-sample Suits indexes, which were not reported until tax year 2004. Chapter 1 provides further explanation for these trends.

The Right Number To Flunk

Scott Greenfield:

Law is hard, but not that hard. After three years of study at an accredited law school, it’s not unreasonable to believe that one would have the ability to pass the bar exam. And yet, many don’t.

Graduates who fail face losing jobs already started, not getting jobs that were promised, debt, embarrassment and more debt. Simply taking the exam again costs more than $700, and add to that the cost of further bar review classes, living expenses in the meantime and income lost. All told, thousands more dollars may be piled onto law school debt that is increasingly well above $100,000.

Most of those who fail their first attempt eventually pass the bar on the second or third try. After each attempt, however, these graduates do not learn to be better lawyers, they simply learn how to beat the test. And the damage done from the initial failure can be great. In addition to the financial costs, they may find themselves timed out of promising professional opportunities that never reappear. Finally, there are the emotional and psychological costs that are possibly the most overwhelming consequence of even one failed attempt.

This is all true, a veritable laundry list of terribles that come from failing the bar exam. But notably, it’s all one-sided, the narrative of the failed. As Dean of UC Hastings School of Law, David Faigman is likely smart enough to have deliberately tried to fool readers by this narrative. But it’s in his best interest as a law school dean to try to game the discussion.

After all, his job is to fill empty seats with paying butts, and if young people realize that after three years of education and a couple hundred thousand dollars of tuition, they won’t get to call their moms to say they’re lawyers, that’s going to be really hard to do.

Milwaukee Public Schools expands AP course access through video conferencing

Brittany Carloni:

It’s 9:30 a.m. at Milwaukee’s Vincent High School as nine students file into their Advanced Placement statistics class. They grab computers, sit at wooden tables and wait for instructions.

But their teacher, Nick Dlapa, isn’t in the room.

Dlapa is at Riverside High School with Riverside students who are in the same AP statistics class as the students at Vincent. Through video conferencing technology called Telepresence, Dlapa can teach the AP course to students at both schools.

Milwaukee Public Schools began using the technology last year to expand AP course offerings. Two AP statistics classes were the first offered through it: one from Washington High School to Bay View High School, and one from Riverside to Milwaukee School of Languages.

This year, the district is also using Telepresence for AP classes in Spanish language, calculus, world history, macroeconomics, microeconomics and government. It added courses in health and linguistics this spring.

“We had some schools that had several AP courses, but you had schools that either didn’t have offerings or had one or two offerings,” said Tonya Adair, MPS Chief Innovation Officer. “If students are exposed to more rigorous courses, then they will go on to complete college successfully.”

Deliveroo accused of ‘creating vocabulary’ to avoid calling couriers employees

Sarah Butler:

Managers at Deliveroo have been given a list of dos and don’ts setting out how to talk to the firm’s food delivery riders, using terms that appear designed to fend off claims that they are employees.

In a six-page document seen by the Guardian, Deliveroo says its couriers, who deliver takeaways, should always be referred to as “independent suppliers” – self-employed workers with few employment rights – rather than as employees, workers, staff or team members.

The business models of gig-economy companies such as Deliveroo and taxi app Uber are based on using thousands of self-employed contractors rather than employees – a move that saves them millions of pounds in holiday pay, sick pay and tax. The workers have no right to the minimum wage.

PTA Gift for Someone Else’s Child? A Touchy Subject in California

Dana Goldstein:

Of all the inequalities between rich and poor public schools, one of the more glaring divides is PTA fund-raising, which in schools with well-heeled parents can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars a year or more.

Several years ago, the Santa Monica-Malibu school board came up with a solution: Pool most donations from across the district and distribute them equally to all the schools.

This has paid big benefits to the needier schools in this wealthy district, like the Edison Language Academy in Santa Monica, where half the children qualify for free or reduced-price lunch. The campus is decorated with psychedelic paintings of civil rights icons such as Cesar Chavez and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the work of the school’s art teacher, Martha Ramirez Oropeza, whose salary is paid by the pooled contributions. That money has also funded the school’s choral program, teacher aides, a science lab and a telescope.

Related: Madison recently expanded its least diverse school.

The best ways to visualize the impact of the decline in bar passage scores

Derek Muller:

I’ve visualized a lot about the decline in bar pass scores and bar passage rates in the last few years, including a post on the February 2017 decline here. For some reason, this post in particular drew criticism as being particularly deceptive. It caused me to think a little more about how to best visualize–and explain–what the decline in multistate bar exam (“MBE”) scores might mean. (I’ll channel my inner Tufte and see what I can do….)

In the February 2017 chart, I didn’t start the Y-axis at zero. And why should I? No one scores a zero. The very lowest scores are something in the 50s to 90s. And the score is on a 200-point scale, but no one gets a 200. So I suppose I could visualize it on the low to high ends–say, 90 to 190.

WikiLeaks Docs Reveal How The CIA Targets Windows Users

Nathanial Mott:

WikiLeaks published new documents from what it calls the Vault 7 trove describing how the CIA targets Windows users. The files pertain mostly to Grasshopper, a framework used to build custom installation executables, and the agency’s use of the Carberp malware in its Stolen Goods persistence mechanism. This leak puts the spotlight on another of the CIA’s internal tools and on how it repurposes public malware to suit its own purposes.

Grasshopper’s user guide explains that it was used to build and execute custom malware. Operators could use various installers, target devices based on what version of Windows they use or what antivirus software is installed, and decide if the malware should create a log file when it’s run. This would theoretically improve the agency’s chances of compromising their target while reducing the odds of getting caught or affecting other people.

FAILING BLACK BOYS: Last week, we wrote about #blackdegreesmatter. A public school principal weighs in by calling on schools to do more

Hilderbrand Pelzer:

The true cost of failing to meet the needs of black male students hit me several years ago, when I was principal of a Philadelphia public school inside Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility. One day, I met a former student from a public high school I had led several years earlier. I remembered that I had repeatedly suspended the young man from school for repeatedly cutting class. I felt it was the right thing to do at the time, for the sake of the school. But he was now an inmate, and still had not graduated from high school. I felt I had contributed to his circumstance.

“They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT!.

Giving All NYC Families the Same School Choice That The Deputy Mayor Has

Alina Adams:

On April 3, 2017, The New York Post broke the story of how Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, with the help of Chancellor Carmen Fariña, pulled strings to get his son into Park Slope’s top middle school. This is a blatant violation of rules that all families, connected or not, are expected to follow.

And here is what’s funny: In March, when Buery gleefully tweeted out the news that his son had gotten into Brooklyn Technical High-School, I responded that since Buery’s boss, the Mayor, once asserted the only way to get into any of NYC’s Specialized High-Schools was to “game the system” (this despite de Blasio’s own son being a Brooklyn Tech graduate), I looked forward to hearing how Buery had done so for the benefit of his child. I guess now we know.

After going through the Kindergarten admissions process with my three kids, and high school for my oldest, I wrote two books, Getting Into NYC Kindergarten and Getting Into NYC High-School, as well as started doing open to the public workshops and producing free podcasts and webisodes on the subject.

Entitlement Mentality


Recently Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor sat down with Aspen Institute’s Latinos and Society Program Executive Director Abigail Golden-Vazquez for a chat about civic engagement, Latinos, and opportunities. I will say I agree with her on the importance of education and civic engagement – not just for Latinos, but for everyone! The issues she discussed aren’t endemic to just Latinos. When she says, “None of us can afford to be bystanders in life. We create our community, and we create it by being active participants in our community,” it shouldn’t be limited to Latinos, or to anyone of a particular ethnicity, religious affiliation or lack thereof.

A lot of the challenges with a lack of civic participation are not limited to Latinos. When Sotomayor says, “If you’re working 14 hours a day at your job, it is hard to make time for civic participation. And for many Latinos, that’s the quality of their life. We have to engage with that reality,” this is not an insurmountable problem faced only by Latinos. It’s one that plagues much of the working class. Latinos aren’t the only ones working multiple jobs more than 14 hours per day and the weekends. But we make time, and we do what we can. And sometimes we don’t get a lot of sleep. And many times we don’t have free time on the weekends. That’s just the way it is, but we sacrifice for the things that are important. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that.

And no, it’s not fair that some people inherit immense wealth, giving them opportunities to attend the best schools without accruing massive debt.

Power, Policy and Prayer: My Eye-Opening Phone Call With Betsy DeVos

Marilyn Anderson Rhames:

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog expressing my exasperation with my children’s public school education and my attraction to school vouchers. To my surprise, United States Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke about that blog in a speech, and her staff later invited me to the Department of Education (DOE) to meet and talk about schools. It was an on-the-record discussion, and I wrote about it too.

Then last Wednesday, I had an exclusive, eye-opening conversation with the secretary.

DeVos called me on my cell phone from a restricted line at precisely 10:00 a.m. To help me relax and talk to her straight, I decided to stay in bed and take the call wearing my fuzzy pajamas with my night scarf still on. (Whatever works, right?)

The call was arranged just 24 hours earlier, so overnight I had reached out to a core group of family and friends to ask them to pray for me to have wisdom and to also send me questions for her. It was my duty, I felt, to voice the needs of my community—low- and middle-income African-American families—to the most powerful person in public education.

What surprised me was that DeVos seemed to have called not to talk, but to listen. Our 30-minute call turned into an hour, and she didn’t seem to mind. She was gracious, granting me on-the-record permission to blog about our conversation even though I admitted that I hadn’t taken many notes or recorded the phone call.


Here’s a paraphrasing of part of our discussion:

DeVos: Do you think empowering parents to choose what schools to send their children to would change the dynamics of schooling?

Me: Yes. Schools need to work for students, not the other way around. That said, there must be some safeguards in place to ensure that the school choices are high quality, otherwise we’ll have a situation like in Detroit where most of the school choices are bad.

Get Up, Stand Up: All who cherish free expression, especially on campuses, must combat the growing zeal for censorship.

Heather Mac Donald:

Where are the faculty? American college students are increasingly resorting to brute force, and sometimes criminal violence, to shut down ideas they don’t like. Yet when such travesties occur, the faculty are, with few exceptions, missing in action, though they have themselves been given the extraordinary privilege of tenure to protect their own liberty of thought and speech. It is time for them to take their heads out of the sand.

I was the target of such silencing tactics two days in a row last week, the more serious incident at Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, and a less virulent one at UCLA.

The Rose Institute for State and Local Government at Claremont McKenna had invited me to meet with students and to give a talk about my book, The War on Cops, on April 6. Several calls went out on Facebook to “shut down” this “notorious white supremacist fascist Heather Mac Donald.” A Facebook post from “we, students of color at the Claremont Colleges” announced grandiosely that “as a community, we CANNOT and WILL NOT allow fascism to have a platform. We stand against all forms of oppression and we refuse to have Mac Donald speak.” A Facebook event titled “Shut Down Anti-Black Fascist Heather Mac Donald” and hosted by “Shut Down Anti-Black Fascists” encouraged students to protest the event because Mac Donald “condemns [the] Black Lives Matter movement,” “supports racist police officers,” and “supports increasing fascist ‘law and order.’” (My supposed fascism consists in trying to give voice to the thousands of law-abiding minority residents of high-crime areas who support the police and are desperate for more law-enforcement protection.)

Via Will Fitzhugh.

Test Prep Comes Out of the Closet: What’s Really Behind Some of NYC’s High Test Scores?

Alina Adams:

New York City kids have just finished sitting for the 2017 English Language Arts state tests and so this seems like a good time to talk about the tutoring epidemic that goes beyond four-year-olds prepping to ace Gifted & Talented screenings, and teens cramming for the Specialized High School Admissions Test.

Those exams are for accelerated programs and require going above and beyond what’s taught at the average public school. But thousands of students are also getting outside help to prepare for the English and Math state tests, which are supposed to measure how much they’ve learned during the year. In this case, tutoring obscures school quality and skews NYC’s important attempts at true accountability.

How do I know that there is massive tutoring going on?

To start with, new tutoring companies wouldn’t be popping up literally every day if there wasn’t a market for them. All anyone has to do is walk by a Kumon, Huntington, Bright Kids, or FasTracKids tutoring center, peek in the window, and see all the kids with their state test prep books. When my oldest son, now a senior in High-School, was younger, tutoring was still an under-the-radar thing. Kids who mentioned they had a tutor were quickly shushed by their parents, who would apologetically stammer, “They’re only having trouble with this one thing. It’s just until he/she catches up with the rest of the class.”

Curated Education Information