MIT Master’s Program to Use MOOCs as ‘Admissions Test’

Jeffrey Young:

MOOCs may soon become a prominent factor in admissions decisions at selective colleges, a way for students who may not do well on traditional measures like the SAT to prove they can hack it.
That’s the argument by officials at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which on Wednesday announced a plan to create what it calls an “inverted admissions” process, starting with a pilot project within a master’s program in supply-chain management.

Students who do well in a series of free online courses and a related online examination offered through MIT’s MOOC project, MITx, will “enhance their chances” of being accepted to the on-site master’s program, according to a university statement. Students who come to the program after first taking the MOOCs will then essentially place out of the first half of the coursework, so they can finish the degree in a semester rather than an academic year. That effectively makes the master’s program half the usual price.

Scholarship, Security and ‘Spillage’ on Campus

Barton Gellman:

Sure enough, someone filed a report with the above-mentioned Information Assurance Officer, who reported in turn to Purdue’s representative at the Defense Security Service. By the terms of its Pentagon agreement, Purdue was officially obliged to be shocked to find that spillage is going on at a talk about Snowden and the NSA. Three secret slides, covering perhaps five of my ninety minutes on stage, required that video be wiped in its entirety.
This was, I think, a rather devout reading of the rules. (Taken literally, the rules say Purdue should also have notified the FBI. I do not know whether that happened.) A more experienced legal and security team might have taken a deep breath and applied the official guidance to “realistically consider the potential harm that may result from compromise of spilled information.”


George Lorenzo:

Contrast Jessica and Zarni to Kaisa and Tapani Ruohonen from Tampere, Finland, who have two daughters, age two and five. Kaisa and Tapani are both working professional engineers for manufacturing companies. They too earn above-average incomes by Finnish standards.

Kaisa received 18 months of paid maternity leave (nine for each daughter) at about 70% of her salary. Tapani took 18 weeks (nine each) of a similarly paid paternity leave. Tapani also took advantage of an additional 11 months of leave when Kaisa went back to work—three with the first child and eight with the second child—taking a lesser-paid “parental allowance” under the Finnish government’s social welfare system—a subsidy that was equal to about 400 euros per month, taxable—or about $450 at the current exchange rate.

Former Chicago Public Schools chief to plead guilty to bribery scheme

Jason Meisner and Juan Perez Jr.:

The 23-count indictment alleges that almost immediately after Mayor Rahm Emanuel installed her as public schools chief in 2012, Byrd-Bennett began scheming with Gary Solomon and Thomas Vranas, co-owners of SUPES Academy, to secure the contracts to train principals and school administrators.

In return, Byrd-Bennett was promised a “signing bonus” of more than $250,000 and a job at SUPES once she stepped down as the public schools CEO, the indictment charges. She also was given meals and tickets to sporting events and expected to be reimbursed for a holiday party she hosted for CPS personnel, according to the charges.

Current Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s previous position was with the Chicago Public Schools.

Chinese University Tops MIT in Engineering


China’s prestigious Tsinghua University has bested the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to become the top school in the world for engineering research, according to a new U.S. News & World Report ranking, in a development that has renewed debate within China over the country’s educational system.
Tsinghua, which is often called “China’s MIT” and is renowned as one of the country’s top schools for studying sciences, came in first among 250 universities ranked by U.S. News in a report released this week, with Cambridge-based MIT ranking second.
Each school’s score is based on its number of publications and citations as well as its global and regional research reputation. U.S. News has released rankings of U.S. colleges for more than 30 years, but 2015 marks only the second year that it has scored universities across the globe.

China’s Nightmarish Citizen Scores Are a Warning For Americans

Jay Stanley:

China is launching a comprehensive “credit score” system, and the more I learn about it, the more nightmarish it seems. China appears to be leveraging all the tools of the information age—electronic purchasing data, social networks, algorithmic sorting—to construct the ultimate tool of social control. It is, as one commentator put it, “authoritarianism, gamified.” Read this piece for the full flavor—it will make your head spin. If that and the little other reporting I’ve seen is accurate, the basics are this:

College Applications, Parental Exasperations

Robert Sherrer:

‘If you’re in school, stay there.” I took to heart this 1960s public-service announcement: I went away to college at 18, became a professor and never left. So when my first child applied to college, I figured I would be an expert.

Wrong. Now that child No. 3 is embroiled in college applications, I’ve been driven over the edge. How has the admissions process exasperated me? Let me count the ways:

1. College visits.​When did looking for a college turn into a modern version of the 18th-century Grand Tour? The first time I saw my college was when my parents dropped me off to start my freshman year. Now a college search involves traipsing the width and breadth of the United States. All this, when getting information is easier than ever. My children can go online and learn the course requirements for any program at any university in a matter of minutes. They can look up the content of every class offered, and check out which ones are scheduled late enough to let them sleep until noon. So why the cross-country junkets?

One City Early Learning Center looks to help revitalize South Madison

David Dahmer:

Two facts that we know to be true: One, children who can read, who love to learn, and who can work effectively with others will be best prepared to lead happy lives and raise happy and healthy families as adults. Two, many children of color in low-income families don’t start their learning in accredited childcare centers and quickly fall behind their peers. Most never catch up.

Kaleem Caire, founder and president of One City Early Learning Center on Madison’s south side, knows that his new endeavor will help create opportunities for struggling young people and their parents. One City Early Learning Centers believes in the old adage that it takes a village to raise a child.

“It’s huge to be able to say that in South Madison we have this organically grown thing created by a native Madisonian from Fisher Street who was born and raised in the area,” Caire told Madison365. “It gives some inspiration to what we are doing, but the focus is really trying to get these kids ready for school.

Related: Kaleem Caire and the rejected Madison Preparatory academy IB charter school.

Online Test-Takers Feel Anti-Cheating Software’s Uneasy Glare

Natasha Singer:

Before Betsy Chao, a senior here at Rutgers University, could take midterm exams in her online courses this semester, her instructors sent emails directing students to download Proctortrack, a new anti-cheating technology.

“You have to put your face up to it and you put your knuckles up to it,” Ms. Chao said recently, explaining how the program uses webcams to scan students’ features and verify their identities before the test.

Friends don’t let friends misuse NAEP data

Morgan Polikoff:

At some point the next few weeks, the results from the 2015 administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) will be released. I can all but guarantee you that the results will be misused and abused in ways that scream misNAEPery. My warning in advance is twofold. First, do not misuse these results yourself. Second, do not share or promote the misuse of these results by others who happen to agree with your policy predilections. This warning applies of course to academics, but also to policy advocates and, perhaps most importantly of all, to education journalists.

much more of the NAEP scores here.

Beyond College Rankings A Value-Added Approach to Assessing Two- and Four-Year Schools

Jonathan Rothwell and Siddharth Kulkarni:

The choice of whether and where to attend college is among the most important investment decisions individuals and families make, yet people know little about how institutions of higher learning compare along important dimensions of quality. This is especially true for the nearly 5,000 colleges granting credentials of two years or fewer, which together gradu- ate nearly 2 million students annually, or about 39 percent of all postsecondary graduates. Moreover, popular rankings of college quality, such as those produced by U.S. News, Forbes, and Money, focus only on a small fraction of the nation’s four-year colleges and tend to reward highly selective institu- tions over those that contribute the most to student success.

Drawing on a variety of government and private data sources, this report presents a provisional analysis of college value-added with respect to the economic success of the college’s graduates, mea- sured by the incomes graduates earn, the occupations in which they work, and their loan repayment rates. This is not an attempt to measure how much alumni earnings increase compared to forgoing

a postsecondary education. Rather, as defined here, a college’s value-added measures the difference between actual alumni outcomes (like salaries) and predicted outcomes for institutions with similar characteristics and students. Value-added, in this sense, captures the benefits that accrue from both measurable aspects of college quality, such as graduation rates and the market value of the skills

a college teaches, as well as unmeasurable “x factors,” like exceptional leadership or teaching, that contribute to student success.

While imperfect, the value-added measures introduced here improve on conventional rankings in several ways. They are available for a much larger number of postsecondary institutions; they focus on the factors that best predict objectively measured student economic outcomes; and their goal is to isolate the effect colleges themselves have on those outcomes, above and beyond what students’ backgrounds would predict.

The surprising things Seattle teachers won for students by striking

Valerie Strauss:

Striking Seattle School District teachers and other educators walk a picket line Sept. 10 near Franklin High School in Seattle. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

Seattle teachers went on strike for a week this month with a list of goals for a new contract. By the time the strike officially ended this week, teachers had won some of the usual stuff of contract negotiations — for example, the first cost-of-living raises in six years — but also less standard objectives.

For one thing, teachers demanded, and won, guaranteed daily recess for all elementary school students — 30 minutes each day. In an era when recess for many students has become limited or non-existent despite the known benefits of physical activity, this is a big deal, and something parents had sought.

What’s more, the union and school officials agreed to create committees at 30 schools to look at equity issues, including disciplinary measures that disproportionately affect minorities. Several days after the end of the strike, the Seattle School Board voted for a one-year ban on out-of-school suspensions of elementary students who commit specific nonviolent offenses, and called for a plan that could eliminate all elementary school suspensions.

Related: Madison’s Schwerpunkt.

‘The 2015 Baltimore Uprising: A Teen Epistolary’ zine gathers tweets from teens during the uprising

Brandon Soderbergh:

Collectively, these tweets can teach us things. They send us back to those days when we didn’t know what was happening or what was going to happen next during the violence on Saturday, April 25 downtown, and the rioting on Monday, April 27, and amid the making-it-up-as-they-go-along week of protests prior to that. The tweets capture the larger thing that we keep calling “the uprising” and the “is a revolution happening before our very eyes” excitement and worry. One tweet just declares, “Looking at a lot of shit different now.”

These tweets counter “proper” media that for the most part totally screwed up its coverage and the kids’ candor is refreshing in the face of so much useless journalistic “objectivity.” It makes a case for teens—you know, kids not all that different from the ones who were stuck at Mondawmin because the buses all got shut down and then were confronted with police in riot gear—as a significant political voice during the uprising.

The geography of academic knowledge

Mark Graham

Our team recently had the opportunity of working with some submission data from SAGE journals. Amongst other things, the data tell us where authors of articles come from, and primary discipline of the journal they are submitting to.

We therefore decided to map out the geography of submissions for journals in five categories: Communication (n = 22), Clinical Medicine and Critical Care (51), Cultural Studies (7), Engineering and Computing (34), and Management and Organization Studies (28).

Protecting School Choice from the State

Jason Bedrick:

As economists have understood for more than half a century, government agencies charged with regulating industries are often subject to regulatory capture. Rather than protect consumers from bad actors in the industries they were created to oversee, regulators too often develop cozy relationships with industry leaders and work at their behest to advance their interests. In Free to Choose, Milton and Rose Friedman detailed a particularly egregious example: the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC).

Established in 1887, the ICC’s mission was to regulate the powerful railroad industry, which critics accused of engaging in cartel-like price fixing and market sharing. Instead, the railroad industry took almost immediate control of the ICC. The ICC’s first commissioner, Thomas Cooley, was a lawyer who had long represented the railroads and, as the Friedmans explained, many of the agency’s the bureaucrats “were drawn from the railroad industry, their day-to-day business tended to be with railroad people, and their chief hope of a lucrative future was with railroads.”

A new chapter in Nigeria’s literature

Tolu Ogunlesi:

The literary renaissance coincided with Nigeria’s return to democracy from 1999 after 16 years of military dictatorships. The newly elected civilian government introduced economic reforms, the most significant of which was breaking the monopoly of the state-run telecoms company by auctioning mobile phone licences to private companies. The reforms, combined with rising oil prices, generated growth and led to increased sponsorship budgets for banks, breweries and mobile phone companies, some of which pays for the proliferation of writing workshops, literary awards and festivals.

But much prosperity has failed to trickle down to the bulk of the population, more than half of whom live below poverty and literacy lines. Most Nigerian newspapers sell fewer than 40,000 copies a day to a population of 173m, and publishers consider a book that shifts 5,000 copies to be a bestseller.

“Structured Play” & Recess Consultants

Beena Raghavendran:

At the school, recess is made up of clear adult-facilitated activities.

On a day last week, a kindergartner said he wanted to play basketball. A recess coach explained that wasn’t a choice at the time; he decided to play another game.

Melissa Jackson, the principal at Forest, used Playworks when she was principal at Bethune Community School in Minneapolis.

She said she’s seen a positive impact on the school community.

After a few weeks at Concord, Playworks has become more routine. Students crawled through the play set and played jump rope games. A group of girls at Normandale acted out a game of television commercials on benches while others played four square.

Adults got involved in soccer and football games in other parts of the yard.

Away from direct supervision, some free-spirited girls at Normandale climbed on top of a spider structure, climbing higher and higher.

Related: Harrison Bergeron.

A Black Boy in Baltimore“If I fall, I need to get right back up because I don’t want to become the embodiment of what’s happening in my city.”

Melinda Anderson:

Sitting on the campus of a historically black college in July, Baltimore teen Scott Thompson II was in his comfort zone. In a stroke of luck and good timing, Scott’s mom, Myeisha Thompson, had been able to enroll the 13-year-old in the Maya-Baraka Writers Institute, a five-week intensive summer writing camp hosted by the college for the city’s youth. Infused with the spirit of the Institute’s namesakes—Maya Angelou and Amiri Baraka, two socially and racially-conscious black storytellers—Scott set out to write a verse expressing his take on school systems and police departments that only see young, black males as problems.

This privacy activist has just won an enormous victory against U.S. surveillance. Here’s how.

Henry Farrell and Abraham Newman:

The European Court of Justice, Europe’s highest court, has just ruled that the Safe Harbor, an arrangement between the European Union and the United States allowing for the transfer of personal data, is legally invalid. Few non-specialists have heard of the Safe Harbor. Even so, this ruling is going to send shock waves through both Europe and the United States. Here’s how it happened (we talk about the implications in a separate post).
 The Safe Harbor is the cornerstone of transatlantic e-commerce
 Over the last 15 years, major U.S. e-commerce firms, such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon, have developed big markets in Europe. They all rely on an arrangement called “Safe Harbor” to export personal data from Europe to the United States. The Safe Harbor was negotiated between Europe and the United States after a previous transatlantic dispute in which Europe threatened to stop transatlantic data flows. Europe has comprehensive legislation guaranteeing the privacy of E.U. citizens and preventing businesses from using their personal information in various potentially harmful ways. The United States does not have comprehensive privacy legislation (although it does protect the data of U.S. citizens against government intrusions, and provides some protections, e.g. for health data).

The Rise of Law Enforcement on College Campuses

Melissa Anderson:

Bill Taylor, the chief of police at Texas’s San Jacinto College, has spent four decades patrolling higher-education campuses. A veteran in the field, Taylor said his niche line of law enforcement dates to the 1960s and ‘70s—an era of widespread student unrest amid the Vietnam War and racial segregation, as well a growing concern that local and state police forces weren’t doing enough to mitigate the disorder. He’s seen lots of changes and improvements since then.

“What happened to students and people protesting? They got brutalized. Some of them got killed,” said Taylor, who also serves as president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, a professional trade organization. And that in turn prompted colleges and universities to rethink their approach to security. “I think a lot of places started thinking, ‘If we had a police force on the campus (it would be) more attuned to our student body … our community.”

End zero-tolerance school discipline

Malcolm Harris:

In the 2001 kids’ movie “Max Keeble’s Big Move,” the evil principal (played by Larry Miller) announces a new disciplinary policy on the first day of school. “I am upgrading my policy of zero tolerance to one of … subzero tolerance,” he says. It was funny at the time, but full decades into the zero-tolerance experiment, it’s hard to laugh: School discipline is out of control, and subzero tolerance is the reality.

When 14-year-old freshman Ahmed Mohamed was arrested and suspended from his Texas high school this month for making a clock that to some people appeared to be a bomb, the Internet couldn’t believe all those adults could act so unreasonably. But unreasonable has been the official policy of many American schools since the early 1990s. The zero-tolerance task force of the American Psychological Association (APA) defined zero tolerance as “a philosophy or policy that mandates the application of predetermined consequences, most often severe and punitive in nature, that are intended to be applied regardless of the seriousness of behavior, mitigating circumstances or situational context.”

Does the University of Illinois really need another medical school?

Deanna Isaacs:

On August 6, the same day a federal judge refused to dismiss professor Steven Salaita’s high-profile lawsuit against the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, chancellor Phyllis Wise abruptly resigned.

The next day the university released 1,100 pages of correspondence about university business from Wise’s personal e-mail, and the public got a look at why the ostensibly powerful chancellor of Illinois’s flagship campus had to go.

Tapping away on her private account, Wise had blithely (if mistakenly) explained that she was evading the reach of freedom of information requests.

“I may be getting paranoid, but since someone has FOIed…I am using my personal email,” she wrote, cautioning others to do the same. “I want us to be really careful.”

A Linguist Explains the Grammar of Shipping

Gretchen McCulloch

The word ship itself has an interesting enough grammar, not to mention its variants like OTP and broT3, but my favourite topic in the linguistics of shipping is one that has an actual academic paper written about it: The Fandom Pairing Name: Blends and the Phonology/Orthography Interface is a paper about ship names. You know, like Johnlock and Brittana and Dramione.* It was published in the Journal of Onomastics by Cara DiGirolamo, a linguist and also a friend. (To be honest, I’m pretty sure I decided we needed to become friends about 30 seconds after she mentioned she’d written this paper—and Toasties already owe her a debt of gratitude for helping me brainstorm the Bandycoot Cabbagepatch article.)

The Education of a Late Ottoman Naval Officer

Michael Talbot:

With the establishment of the Royal Naval College in 1873, Ottoman arrivals to Greenwich increased in the form of naval officers seeking education in all aspects of modern naval warfare. The Ottoman navy of the late nineteenth century was an expanding and dynamic force, and modernisation was the order of the day. In addition to bringing the imperial ships up-to-date, the Ottoman admiralty wanted their officers to be educated to the highest standard possible. It is for this reason that Ottoman naval officers were sent for education in Britain, which of course boasted a famously formidable navy in the nineteenth century, and links were developed through the efforts of Sir Henry Felix Woods, a former naval attaché to the British embassy in Istanbul and later an admiral in the Ottoman navy. One of those young officers sent to Britain was Ali Naci Bey, a sublieutenant in the early stages of his career.

A letter from the British Foreign Office to the Ottoman embassy in London from 27 September 1893 shows Ali Naci’s acceptance onto the prestigious course for foreign officers at the Royal Naval College:

The Worlds Most Multilingual Cities

Lindsey Galloway:

According to data from Ethnologue, a reference work documenting the world’s living languages, the countries with the largest number of spoken languages include Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Nigeria, India and the United States, all with more than 300 unique tongues spoken within their borders.

To understand how that language diversity impacts daily life, we sought out locals and expats in their most populous cities – where residents are most likely be exposed to a number of languages on a daily basis – and asked them what it’s like to live in a place where so many cultures and communities coincide everyday.
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Welcome to the Deep Learning Tutorial!


Description: This tutorial will teach you the main ideas of Unsupervised Feature Learning and Deep Learning. By working through it, you will also get to implement several feature learning/deep learning algorithms, get to see them work for yourself, and learn how to apply/adapt these ideas to new problems.

This tutorial assumes a basic knowledge of machine learning (specifically, familiarity with the ideas of supervised learning, logistic regression, gradient descent). If you are not familiar with these ideas, we suggest you go to this Machine Learning course and complete sections II, III, IV (up to Logistic Regression) first.

Madison’s English Language Learner Plan Hearings

via a kind reader:

Join us for this important opportunity for Spanish and Hmong-speaking families to provide input and make important decisions for their children’s education. Please help spread the word. Learn more about our draft English Language Learner Plan at and ask your school bilingual resource specialist for more information.

There are three information and feedback sessions for the community:

Oct. 7, 2015, 6-7:30 pm at Centro Hispano (810 W. Badger Rd.). In Spanish with English interpretation.

Oct. 14, 2015, 6-7:30 pm at Goodman Community Center (149 Waubesa St.). In English with interpretation in Spanish and other languages, as needed.

Oct. 15, 2015, 6-7:30 pm at Centro Hispano (810 W. Badger Rd.). In Spanish with English interpretation.

Letter to a calculus student – The Sequel

Devlin’s angle:

My name is Murray Pendergrass. I am a math student at Western Washington University, a small public liberal arts college in the Pacific Northwest where I am pursuing a BS in Mathematics.

Sometime around 2006 you authored a post on Devlin’s Angle titled “Letter to a calculus student” and I suppose someone in the math department at my school enjoyed it because it has been tacked to a bulletin board on the math floor for quite sometime. I would have only been going into the 8th grade when it was originally posted, with absolutely no idea that I would ever become interested in mathematics. I did take a calculus course my junior year of high school, but I don’t think I could even briefly explain what a derivative was by the time the course was over (time well spent, obviously).

I must have first seen your article either my sophomore or junior year of college, 2014 most likely. I would have either been in precalculus or calculus I (differential calculus), and still completely unaware that I would end up declaring a math major. At that time I would have still been a member of the business school. I was probably waiting outside a professor’s office for office hours when the title caught my eye,

College Students Have Forgotten How to Fight the System

Fredrik deBoer

I can’t say that I was surprised when I heard that the latest chapter of our perpetual conversation about campus politics was playing out at Wesleyan University. Having spent my childhood there, I knew enough to know that such a controversy was always a possibility. But I must admit disappointment when I heard the particular contours of this latest story. Activists at Wesleyan have pushed the university to defund the Argus, the school’s main newspaper, in response to a commentary that questioned the tactics of the Black Lives Matter movement. The piece in question suggested that the BLM movement was responsible for cop killings, and questioned whether its tactics were actually effective in creating change. Campus activists, in turn, started a petition to defund the paper, which was signed by some 170 students—not a large number, even on a campus of 2,900 undergraduates, but still concerning. I am not disappointed that students have reacted, forcefully, in this way. I am disappointed in how they have reacted, and how much campus life have changed there since my childhood—a change the reflects a broader evolution of college politics that troubles so many.

Even those who agree entirely with the presumed politics of campus activists should be concerned.

The 1990s were a heady time to grow up at Wes, as I did as the son of a professor of theater. The campus was, then as now, known as a haven for proud weirdos, artists, and free thinkers of every stripe. Indeed, from my vantage, the campus was likely even crazier then than it is today. (A perpetual Wesleyan student complaint is that the administration is trying to de-weird the university, a claim that has perhaps been more accurate recently than it traditionally has been.) The campus in those days, like today, was bustling with activists ready to protest at a moment’s notice And yet there were some key differences then as compared to now, and they are not entirely healthy. Even those who agree entirely with the presumed politics of campus activists should be concerned.

Freshman residency rules sometimes force students to pay prohibitive costs

Danielle Douglas-Gabriel

Housing and meal plans at many colleges and universities now cost more than tuition, and the dozens of colleges that require students to live in a campus dorm and eat in dining halls for at least a year are adding a sometimes-prohibitive cost for those who struggle to pay for higher education.

At least 87 U.S. colleges and universities make first-year students attending college full time live on campus, according to the U.S. Department of Education. A vast majority are private schools such as Georgetown University in the District or Washington and Lee University in Virginia. But a number are state schools, including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Missouri University of Science and Technology.

he Asian University for Women is educating an alumni of game changers

Sarah Lazarus:

As the first person in her family to go to university, Cherie Blair knows all about the transformative power of a good education.

“I wouldn’t be anywhere in my life had it not been for the opportunity to study,” says the wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair.

Cherie Blair, a leading barrister and Queen’s Counsel (QC), was in Hong Kong recently to establish a fundraising foundation and kick-start a global campaign to raise US$100 million for the Asian University for Women (AUW). A long-time champion of women’s rights, Blair has been chancellor of the university since 2011 and is one of its most passionate supporters.

The AUW is a unique institution. Located in Chittagong, a bustling seaport and Bangladesh’s second city, the university aims to offer a world-class liberal arts education to women from across the region. Its goal is to create a generation of capable and visionary female leaders.

In developing countries, universities are usually the preserve of the economic elite. AUW operates on a radically different model – it’s a meritocracy. Its mission is to educate the smartest girls, with the greatest potential, regardless of their families’ ability to pay fees. The majority of students are on full scholarships and AUW is currently entirely funded by donations.

“No Benefits From 4k”

David Kiro:

There’s still no evidence that the children benefited cognitively from preschool. They may be better socialized to school life — a skill, emphasized in preschool, that may well bring long-term benefits — but many of them haven’t mastered the three Rs. That’s terrible news, since being a proficient reader by third grade is widely regarded as the best predictor of high school graduation.

Pre-K critics will again pounce on the results. “Devastating for advocates of the expansion of state pre-K programs,” wrote Russ Whitehurst, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, commenting on the first-round evaluation. It’s an “I told you so” moment for Tennessee State Representative Bill Dunn, who slammed his state’s prekindergarten as “like paying $1,000 for a McDonald’s hamburger.”

When a nationwide evaluation of Head Start, the federal government’s preschool program, reported similarly disappointing outcomes three years ago, Mr. Whitehurst delivered a blistering critique. “The best available evidence raises serious doubts that a large public investment in the expansion of pre-K for 4-year-olds will have the long-term effects that advocates tout.” Pre-K was generally thought to be better than Head Start, but that doesn’t seem to be the case in Tennessee.

Have the claims made for early education been overblown? Not necessarily. Consider what’s happening in Boston. A randomized study showed that prekindergartners there gained between four and seven months’ progress in reading and math, and those gains persisted: 27 percent more of Boston’s preschool children scored “proficient” or better on the state’s rigorous third-grade exams.

Why Are Little Kids in Japan So Independent?

Selena Hoy:

It’s a common sight on Japanese mass transit: children troop through train cars, singly or in small groups, looking for seats.

They wear knee socks, polished patent leather shoes, and plaid jumpers, with wide-brimmed hats fastened under the chin and train passes pinned to their backpacks. The kids are as young as six or seven, on their way to and from school, and there is nary a guardian in sight.

Parents in Japan regularly send their kids out into the world at a very young age. A popular television show called Hajimete no Otsukai, or My First Errand, features children as young as two or three being sent out to do a task for their family. As they tentatively make their way to the greengrocer or bakery, their progress is secretly filmed by a camera crew. The show has been running for more than 25 years.

The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland

Tim Walker:

“The changes to kindergarten make me sick,” a veteran teacher in Arkansas recently admitted to me. “Think about what you did in first grade—that’s what my 5-year-old babies are expected to do.”

The difference between first grade and kindergarten may not seem like much, but what I remember about my first-grade experience in the mid-90s doesn’t match the kindergarten she described in her email: three and a half hours of daily literacy instruction, an hour and a half of daily math instruction, 20 minutes of daily “physical activity time” (officially banned from being called “recess”) and two 56-question standardized tests in literacy and math—on the fourth week of school.

The rise of the private coach at university

Emma Jacobs

One morning Madeleine Kasson received an email from an undergraduate, sent at 5am. Please write my essay — it is due in today, it requested. She declined the solicitation, as she does with all such requests from students. This is a common misunderstanding of her work as a private tutor to undergraduates.

This new breed of tutors catering to undergraduates is growing (admittedly from a low base). Once the guilty secret of schoolchildren seeking to get into selective schools or gain top marks in exams, private tutors are now helping British undergraduates and even postgraduates at universities. As many teenagers and twenty-somethings start their new university terms, some will be seeking the help of tutors, like Ms Kasson. Some even assist graduates applying for jobs in banks and professional services firms.

Edd Stockwell, co-founder of Tutorfair, a non-profit organisation that also provides tutoring to children whose parents cannot afford the fees, has seen the number of requests for degree-level tutorials double in the past year. Luke Shelley, director of Tavistock Tutors, says its services for undergraduates have grown “rapidly” in the past six years.

In extreme cases this might involve intensive tutoring throughout the degree course.

Adam Caller, founder of Tutors International, describes one case where a father had forced his daughter to enrol on a business degree — rather than her original choice of English — with the aspiration that she could one day take over the family business. In order to school her in a subject that she had little interest in, a tutor taught her for five hours every working day for three years. The bill came to more than £400,000. She graduated with a 2:1.

The model minority is losing patience

The Economist:

MICHAEL WANG, a young Californian, came second in his class of 1,002 students; his ACT score was 36, the maximum possible; he sang at Barack Obama’s inauguration; he got third place in a national piano contest; he was in the top 150 of a national maths competition; he was in several national debating-competition finals. But when it came to his university application he faced a serious disappointment for the first time in his glittering career. He was rejected by six of the seven Ivy League colleges to which he applied.
“I saw people less qualified than me get better offers,” says Mr Wang. “At first I was just angry. Then I decided to turn that anger to productive use.” He wrote to the universities concerned. “I asked: what more could I have done to get into your college? Was it based on race, or what was it based on?” He got vague responses—or none. So he complained to the Department of Education. Nothing came of it. “The department said they needed a smoking gun.”

Note education issues: The Hard Lessons of Kunduz and Syria Why U.S. efforts to train and equip friendly fighters around the world so often fail.

Rosa Brooks:

If I had to pinpoint the single most important reason recent U.S. train-and-equip efforts have failed, I’d say it’s this: We consistently fail to understand that other people want to pursue what they see as their interests and objectives, not ours. We go into complex foreign conflicts with a profound ignorance of history, language, and culture; as a result, we rarely understand the loyalties, commitments, and constraints of those we train. Sure, we undertake “vetting,” but it’s remarkably shallow: If there’s no evidence of actual collaboration or affiliation with groups we don’t like, and no evidence of participation in egregious human rights abuses, a trainee or military unit is good to go.

Secret Teacher: I can’t help but judge on parents’ evening

Secret Teacher:

The long hours crammed behind a desk. The hand-shaking. The attempt to hold a polite grin when you’re desperate for a loo break. Parents’ evenings aren’t usually popular with teachers, but I love them.

It’s not praising students in front of their families that I enjoy so much. It’s not the looks on my pupils’ faces – from joy to outright fear – when I whip out their exercise books as evidence. It’s not even the crucial progress we can make in a good parental meeting, where no one can dispute what was said because everyone was there.

No, what captivates me are the glimpses into my students’ home lives because so much of their behaviour in class can be explained by simple interactions with their parents. The non-verbal cues are often more telling than the words that are spoken; the angry looks, the interruptions and the accusatory, you’re-never-there stares when homework is discussed. I once watched a mother hand over the feeding of a wriggling infant to my pupil during the meeting and suddenly had a terrifying insight into the extent of her responsibilities at home. She was in year 8. The quiet and studious child put an immense amount of pressure on herself in class, but seeing how much she had to deal with at home I suddenly realised why.

Serving School Lunch Family Style

Anne Hoffman:

When Hannah was in fourth grade, she decided to skip her school’s free lunch every day. Even though it fit under the new National School Lunch program guidelines as a healthy meal, she still opted not to eat the chef’s salad with lite Italian dressing, the meatballs and sauce, or the serving of raw veggies or fruit. She didn’t like the way it tasted, and besides, the cafeteria was chaotic, with fights that broke out soon after lunch began.

Hannah, who is rail thin and sports a ponytail so flawless that other little girls stop her to comment on it, would arrive home around 3 o’clock with a rumbling stomach. She would typically ask her mom for an early supper.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: As America’s economic supremacy fades, the primacy of the dollar looks unsustainable

The Economist:

For decades, America’s economic might legitimised the dollar’s claims to reign supreme. But, as our special report this week explains, a faultline has opened between America’s economic clout and its financial muscle. The United States accounts for 23% of global GDP and 12% of merchandise trade. Yet about 60% of the world’s output, and a similar share of the planet’s people, lie within a de facto dollar zone, in which currencies are pegged to the dollar or move in some sympathy with it. American firms’ share of the stock of international corporate investment has fallen from 39% in 1999 to 24% today. But Wall Street sets the rhythm of markets globally more than it ever did. American fund managers run 55% of the world’s assets under management, up from 44% a decade ago.

Where Black Lives Don’t Matter A TV ad highlights the racial inequality of New York’s public school system.

William McGurn:

“The facts are the facts,” responds the executive director for Families for Excellent Schools, Jeremiah Kittredge. “A half million children, almost all of color, are being forced into failing schools with no escape.”

The United Federation of Teachers’ response was a feel-good video reminiscent of those old propaganda clips featuring happy, well-fed peasants talking about the blessings of Soviet collectives. In the UFT version, smiling teachers and students are filmed “celebrating the diversity and success of New York City public schools.”

In short, New Yorkers are being presented with two starkly different narratives.

The teachers-union narrative asks the city to celebrate the “success” of a school system in which there is no hint of any challenges. Families for Excellent Schools suggests that “success” is not the word for a school system in which half a million children—478,000 to be precise—languish in failure factories.

These are defined as schools where two-thirds of the students are failing, the city’s most rotten schools. Ninety percent of the kids in these schools are children of color. Families for Excellent Schools calls this system a “pipeline to failure,” noting that a child who starts in a failing elementary school has only a 1.6% chance of ever going on to a top-performing middle school.

Colleges Don’t Need to Pay Athletes Beyond Attendance Costs

Sharon Terlep:

A federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that the NCAA can keep a ban on compensating athletes beyond the cost of attending school, in effect nullifying last year’s landmark decision that such rules violate antitrust law.

The decision, by a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, came despite the trio’s assertion that the National Collegiate Athletic Association is “not above antitrust laws” and that its rules “have been more restrictive than necessary to maintain its tradition of amateurism in support of the college sports market.”


Judge: NCAA Can’t Ban Pay for Players
NCAA Weighing Next Steps After Ruling
The NCAA’s Curious Move

Honesty is the Best Policy: Early Smarter Balanced Results Provide Insight into How States Compare

Marianne Lombardo:

The Hibsty Map-when you’re given information that paints a rosier picture than what is the actual case – might be humorous if we’re talking about, but it isn’t when we’re talking about our children’s education.

The Obama administration has fought hard, against extensive criticism, to address the discrepancies between what states have been calling proficient and what students need to know and be able to do in order to enter college or a career successfully. This discrepancy is devastating for the 60 percent of students who are deemed not ready for college, frustrates the 30 percent of high school graduates who enter a job market where 40 percent of employers rate new entrants with a high school diploma as “deficient” in their workforce preparation, and even disastrous for our nation’s security as a whole: Nearly one-fourth of all high school graduates don’t get the minimum score needed to join any branch of the military.

Moody’s downgrades Haverford College, PA to A1; outlook stable


The downgrade to A1 is based on Haverford College’s relative weakening profile as very low revenue growth in recent years has contributed to ongoing operating deficits. As a result, financial resource growth has been stunted compared to peers and competitors. Operating deficits are expected to continue through at least 2017, albeit at lower levels as the college addresses current issues of fundamental financial imbalance. Financial reserves declined modestly in FY 2015 based on unaudited financial statements despite an ongoing fundraising campaign. Absent increased philanthropy and endowment growth, Haverford’s operating performance will continue to be challenged by its need-blind admissions policy.

The A1 rating positively acknowledges the college’s comparatively strong market position as an elite liberal arts institution in suburban Philadelphia. Liquidity remains ample, fundraising is good, and financial reserves still provide a strong cushion of debt and operations, providing Haverford with significant time to address its current financial imbalance.

Offsetting challenges include elevated financial leverage with minimal principal amortization until 2022 and modest cash flow providing thin debt service coverage.

“Most importantly, he appears willing to sacrifice minority children’s educational opportunities to stay within the good graces of UFT.” 

Laura Waters:

But you have to understand where I’m coming from. My parents were both UFT members (my dad was a high school teacher and my mom was a high school social worker) and we practically davened to Albert Shanker, AFT’s founder. I knew all the words to Woody Guthrie’s labor hymn, “There Once was a Union Maid” (who never was afraid of goons and ginks and company finks…). I sang it to my kids too. What do you expect from an education-obsessed New York Jew from a union household?

During the 1960’s, ‘70’s, and ‘80’s there was no divide between education reform and union fidelity. If you were a UFT member than you were devoted to improving student outcomes. Everyone, or almost everyone, was on the same side.

And now we’re here, fraught with division. De Blasio ran on a platform that explicitly opposed the “creation of new charter schools” or the “co-location of charter schools within public schools” despite a waiting list of 43,000 names. He’s made enemies of Gov. Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, almost entirely through divergent education agendas, and Eva Moskowitz, who runs the most outstanding and popular group of charter schools in the city. Most importantly, he appears willing to sacrifice minority children’s educational opportunities to stay within the good graces of UFT.

We live in a political world of lobbyists and special interests, of PAC’s and Citizens United. But elected representatives, especially the leader of one of the most educationally-troubled cities, have an absolute obligation to separate politics from policy. I think de Blasio is a good man but I think he’s crossed that line.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results despite spending double the national average per student.

Related: Madison’s schwerpunkt.

Children of the Yuan Percent: Everyone Hates China’s Rich Kids

Christopher Beam:

Emerging from a nightclub near Workers’ Stadium in Beijing at 1:30 a.m. on a Saturday in June, Mikael Hveem ordered an Uber. He selected the cheapest car option and was surprised when the vehicle that rolled up was a dark blue Maserati. The driver, a young, baby-faced Chinese man, introduced himself as Jason. Hveem asked him why he was driving an Uber—he obviously didn’t need the cash. Jason said he did it to meet people, especially girls. Driving around late at night in Beijing’s nightclub district, he figured he’d find the kind of woman who would be charmed by a clean-cut 22-year-old in a sports car.

Computer algorithm created to encode human memories

Clive Cookson:

Researchers in the US have developed an implant to help a disabled brain encode memories, giving new hope to Alzheimer’s sufferers and wounded soldiers who cannot remember the recent past.

The prosthetic, developed at the University of Southern California and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Centre in a decade-long collaboration, includes a small array of electrodes implanted into the brain.

The key to the research is a computer algorithm that mimics the electrical signalling used by the brain to translate short-term into permanent memories.

This makes it possible to bypass a damaged or diseased region, even though there is no way of “reading” a memory — decoding its content or meaning from its electrical signal.

“It’s like being able to translate from Spanish to French without being able to understand either language,” said Ted Berger of USC, the project leader.

American education is ripe for a technology revolution to prepare students for the 21st century

Christopher Mims:

Whatever your measure—the reading and math proficiency of high-school graduates, the skills gap in the nation’s labor market, or the real value of college—there can be little argument that America’s schools, as a whole, are failing to prepare students for the 21st century.

There are countless explanations why, but here’s a significant contributing factor: Until recently, we simply didn’t know how to use technology to make teachers and students happier, better engaged and more successful.

Think about it: In every field of human endeavor, from manufacturing to knowledge work, we’re figuring out how to use technology to make humans more successful—to raise the quality of their work, if not their measured productivity.

How much do big education nonprofits pay their bosses? Quite a bit, it turns out.

Valerie Strauss:

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently finalized a rule forcing businesses to share data with workers that expose how much more their chief executives make than they do.

In that spirit, let’s take a look at the compensation of the chief executives of three very large education non-profit organizations heavily involved in standardized testing — the College Entrance Examination Board, known as the College Board, which owns the SAT college admissions exam and the Advanced Placement program; the Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT and AP exams for the College Board as well as other assessments for other organizations); and ACT, Inc., which owns the ACT college admissions and also is responsible for other tests and programs.

It’s easy to mistake big non-profits such as these as for-profit companies, because they operate in similar fashion. They pay their top people a lot of money, charge fees for their services, make investments, market and lobby legislators. So how well do their executives do financially? Pretty darn well, it turns out. And many of their subordinates do just fine, too.

Life after MOOCs

Phillip Compeau, Pavel A. Pevzner:

Three years ago, Moshe Vardi published an editorial in Communications expressing concerns about the pedagogical quality of massive open online courses (MOOCs) and including the sentiment, “If I had my wish, I would wave a wand and make MOOCs disappear.”9 His editorial was followed by studies highlighting various limitations of MOOCs (see Karsenti5 for a review).

We share the concerns about the quality of early primitive MOOCs, which have been hyped by many as a cure-all for education. At the same time, we feel much of the criticism of MOOCs stems from the fact that truly disruptive scalable educational resources have not yet been developed. For this reason, if we had a wand, we would not wish away MOOCs but rather transform them into a more effective educational product called a massive adaptive interactive text (MAIT) that can compete with a professor in a classroom. We further argue that computer science is a discipline in which this transition is about to happen.

“our collective failure to even try to measure the impact professional development has on teacher performance in the first place”

Dan Weisberg:

In other words, it would be great if the biggest challenge around professional development were the exact teacher performance measures we should use to evaluate it. But we’re not even there yet. We still need school systems to ask the basic questions that these measures could help answer: Is the professional development you’re providing actually helping teachers improve? How do you know?

The good news is that those questions suggest a very practical path forward. Surely we’d be in a better place if, for example, school systems got concrete about what great teaching looks like (as Andy suggests), and made sure teachers and school leaders bought into that vision. We’d be better off if we started setting measurable goals for teacher development, aligned toward that vision of excellence, and kept track of which initiatives actually meet them. And we would do well to shed the long-held assumption that we know how to help 3.5 million individual teachers become masters of their craft, and started considering some new ideas about what schools or the teaching profession itself could look like—ideas that could have a much broader impact on instructional quality.

New Mathematica Study on KIPP Charter Schools as They Scale Up; FYI, They Don’t “Cream Off” Top Students

Laura Waters:

KIPP elementary schools have positive, statistically significant, and educationally meaningful impacts on three of four measures of reading and mathematics skills.

Consistent with prior research, KIPP middle schools have positive, statistically significant, and educationally meaningful impacts on student achievement in math, reading, science, and social studies. Average impacts of middle schools were positive and statistically significant throughout the 10-year period covered by the study, though higher in earlier years than recent years.

KIPP high schools have positive, statistically significant, and educationally meaningful impacts on student achievement for high school students new to the KIPP network. For students continuing to KIPP high schools from KIPP middle schools, impacts on achievement are not statistically significant. For this group of continuing KIPP students, KIPP high schools have positive impacts on a variety of college preparation activities and the likelihood of applying to college.

Understanding the Effect of KIPP as it Scales: Volume I, Impacts on Achievement and Other Outcomes.

Bubble Trouble for Standardized Testing


A few weeks ago, a new class of nearly 800 students arrived at Wesleyan University to begin their first year. Wesleyan is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s top liberal-arts colleges, and admissions are competitive.

But those who have made it to the school’s leafy campus in Middletown, Conn., look pretty much like their newly minted peers at any other college in the U.S. The interesting difference is one that doesn’t show. Nearly one-third of Wesleyan’s incoming class was admitted without an SAT score. Last year, the school dropped its requirement that applicants submit a standardized-entrance-exam score, and hundreds of would-be Wesleyan students from a wide range of backgrounds took advantage of the option.

In abolishing the mandate, Wesleyan joined a growing cadre of selective schools that includes other recent defectors such as George Washington University and Wake Forest. Today, nearly 200 of the roughly 2,968 degree-granting four-year colleges in the U.S. no longer require the SAT or the ACT, while 600 more have diminished their role in the admission process, according to the antitesting organization Fair Test. Those ranks include not only elite and expensive colleges like Bates and Smith but also major state schools like the University of Arizona and regional campuses including Montclair State in New Jersey and Weber State in Utah.

NCTQ Unveils ‘Consumer’s Guide’ to Colleges of Education

Stephen Sawchuck:

The National Council on Teacher Quality has unveiled Path to Teach, an online website billed as a consumer’s guide to colleges of education.

Teacher-candidates-to-be can look up college programs and alternative programs from across the nation, comparing them by tuition costs, enrollment numbers, location, and by a quality snapshot that looks at criteria like admissions selectivity, preparation to teach in different content areas, and student-teaching quality.

Path to Teach’s A-F grades are based on the NCTQ’s project to assess elementary, secondary, and special education programs in every education school. The rankings are often fairly unsparing (“This program will not prepare you to teach young children to read,” says the typical warning for an F grade for early reading.)

The series of problems in al-Khwārizmī’s Algebra

Jeffrey Oaks:

There are two collections of problems in al-Khwārizmī’s Algebra. The first is part of what I call the “algebra proper”, and consists of the thirty-nine worked out arithmetic problems in the first half of the book. This set of problems is the object of my study. It is not to be confused with the collection of inheritance problems that make up the second half of the book, after the chapters on business arithmetic and mensuration.

I have written much more than I expected, so I will summarize my arguments here and give links to my longer study and to my translation of the whole corpus. First, the links:

“The series of problems in al-Khwārizmī’s Algebra”. 13 pages, plus bibliography. here

The College President-to-Adjunct Pay Ratio

Laura McKenna:

Economists often calculate the income disparities between companies’ CEOs and their average workers with ratios, expressing concern when the gaps grow too wide. For example, a recent report from Glassdoor, a labor-market research firm, found that Chipotle CEO Steve Ellis earned $29 million total in 2014, while the median worker serving those yummy burrito bowls earned just $19,000. That would make the median CEO-to-worker pay ratio at Chipotle 1,522 to one.

The Riskiest Student Loans Are The Smallest Ones, Study Says

Molly Hensley-Clancy:

new analysis of student loan borrowers shows that, contrary to public perception, those who borrow the least are most likely to default on their loans.
The study, which examined borrowing by community college students in Iowa, found that 31% of those with loan balances of less than $5,000 defaulted, compared with 22% of those who owed between $10,000 and $15,000. The national average default rate across all educational institutions is less than 14%.

The study adds credence to a changing understanding of the $1 trillion student debt crisis, suggesting that the riskiest borrowers are not those who have taken out tens of thousands of dollars in loans to cover high tuition costs, but those who borrow in small amounts.

So far there has been little effort by the federal government to help such borrowers, according to the study, released Monday by the Association of Community College Trustees. But that could change: the Obama administration has recently made free community college a key part of its education agenda, proposing a national program and pushing states to adopt their own initiatives.

Is college worth the cost? Many recent graduates don’t think so.

Jeffrey Selingo:

In the coming weeks, tens of thousands of young adults who graduated from college last spring will get their first payment notice for their student loans. As they look at the bill — with an average monthly payment closing in on $400 and with a decade of payments ahead of them — they inevitably will ask the question: “Was my degree worth it?”

If the results of a national survey released on Tuesday are any indication, many of them will question their investment. Just 38 percent of students who have graduated college in the past decade strongly agree that their higher education was worth the cost, according to results of 30,000 alumni polled by Gallup-Purdue Index.

When Schools Overlook Introverts

Mchael Godsey:

When Susan Cain published Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking nearly four years ago, it was immediately met with acclaim. The book criticizes schools and other key institutions for primarily accommodating extroverts and such individuals’ “need for lots of stimulation.” Much to introverts’ relief, it also seeks to raise awareness about the personality type, particularly among those who’ve struggled to understand it.

Making a Point: The Pernickety Story of English Punctuation review – hissy fits about apostrophes

Sam Leith:

A couple of weeks ago I saw David Crystal give an after-dinner speech at the august annual conference of the Society of Indexers and the Society for Editors and Proofreaders. In it, he recalled having been an adviser on Lynne Truss’s radio programme about punctuation. She told him she was thinking of writing a book on the subject. He advised her not to: “Nobody buys books on punctuation.” “Three million books later,” he said, “I hate her.”

These students were ruined by predatory colleges. Now they’re getting even.

Susie Cagle:

Over the last few years, America’s for-profit college industry has come under increasing scrutiny, and in some cases, legal action. According to critics, programs offered by schools like Corinthian and its subsidiaries, scam students into expensive but ultimately worthless degree programs that leave them with high rates of loan default and low rates of graduate job placement. In the comic below, we meet some of these students — and the activists and organizers who support them — who, fed up with the slow response from the Department of Education, found one another online and decided to fight back against such loans…by refusing to pay them back.

Via Steve Crandall.

The Identity Crisis Under the Ink

Chris Weller:

Some weeks ago, during a bleary-eyed subway ride to work, I found myself staring at a young woman on the other side of the car. She wore business attire with a North Face jacket and flip-flops, and she had an infinity symbol tattooed along the outside of her left foot, only a portion of the loop had been left out to make room for the word Love. Next to her, a scruffy guy in t-shirt and jeans had ornate black and gray murals inked on each arm, one of which seemed to depict an alien fight scene, the other some sort of robot love story. To his left, squeezed in at the end of the bench, was a man thumbing his phone with quick, nervous jabs. When he turned his hand over, I saw the word Jasmine tattooed above his knuckles and a date printed beneath it.

The Woman Behind Latin America’s Literary Boom

Jonathan Bltzer:

One enterprising publisher in particular, Carlos Barral, who headed a press called Seix Barral, based in Barcelona, saw an opportunity. He presented a dense annual catalogue, with descriptions that were designed to anticipate the dictates of the censors while emphasizing—and exaggerating—his reach into international markets. He created a series of prizes to manufacture prestige for edgier contemporary works that otherwise might have piqued the regime’s censors, and he awarded the Latin Americans he hoped to publish (Jorge Luis Borges, Mario Vargas Llosa, Guillermo Cabrera Infante) as a way of putting them in distinguished international company (Arthur Miller, Samuel Beckett). He hired Balcells to round out his portfolio of foreign writers. Her special charge was to take care of foreign rights, which she diligently sold in the world’s major cultural capitals (Rome, New York, Paris, London). Before Balcells got to work, publishing houses in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, and Havana comprised a rough and disconnected patchwork of regional pockets short on scope and visibility. Her advocacy helped change that, bringing writers more fully into view.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Taxes And America’s Debt Binge

Tyler Cowen:

One point the authors emphasize is that, unlike after earlier episodes of American debt binges, America today has not reestablished a comparable primary surplus. The authors suggest taxes on labor or consumption can restore fiscal solvency, but higher taxes on capital won’t work, given dynamic and Laffer curve considerations. They do not devote comparable attention to changes in the trajectory of government spending.

Open library For The Humanities Launches

Open Library:

It is with great pleasure that we announce the launch of the Open Library of Humanities. Over two years in the planning and execution, the platform starts with seven journals, supported by 99 institutions. Our estimated publication volume for year one is 150 articles across these venues. The economics of this work out at approximately £4 ($6) per institution per open-access article.

You can read more about the platform in our editorial piece: “Opening the Open Library of Humanities”. Crucially, we will be publishing new material in the OLH Journal on a weekly rolling cycle, so do keep your eyes peeled for fresh articles.

This is, of course, only the beginning. What we have built should be understood as an economic, social and technological platform for a transition to open access, not just a publisher. Certainly, what we’ve built goes well beyond a proof of concept; at launch we are the same size as a small university press and have an underlying economic model with good levels of support and a path to sustainability. Our ambitions are much larger, though, and our plans for the next three years are:

Firm ‘hides’ university when recruits apply

Sean Coughlan:

Professional services firm Deloitte has changed its selection process so recruiters do not know where candidates went to school or university.
It hopes to prevent “unconscious bias” and tap a more diverse “talent pool”.
For next year’s recruitment round for 1,500 graduates and school leavers, an algorithm will consider “contextual” information alongside academic results.
It will take into account disadvantages such as attending an under-performing school or coming from a deprived area.

Court-ordered busing changed Denver forever

Nelson Garcia:

has partnered with iNews of Rocky Mountain PBS to look at data from the 20 largest school districts in Colorado to detect how race plays a role in the academic achievement. We’re looking at the demographics of schools before, during, and after efforts to desegregate schools in Colorado.

Students like Reves were bused away from their neighborhood schools to force racial integration.

“I don’t think people got the full aspect of how busing impacted our city,” Reves said.

She and Desmond say Manual High School thrived under busing. The school had a mix of race and students of different socio-economic backgrounds.

“It didn’t matter if you lived across the park or if you lived across town,” Reves said. “I mean we had kids whose families owned major corporations and nope that wasn’t important.”

The Social-Network Illusion That Tricks Your Mind

Technology Review:

One of the curious things about social networks is the way that some messages, pictures, or ideas can spread like wildfire while others that seem just as catchy or interesting barely register at all. The content itself cannot be the source of this difference. Instead, there must be some property of the network that changes to allow some ideas to spread but not others.

Today, we get an insight into why this happens thanks to the work of Kristina Lerman and pals at the University of Southern California. These people have discovered an extraordinary illusion associated with social networks which can play tricks on the mind and explain everything from why some ideas become popular quickly to how risky or antisocial behavior can spread so easily.

Network scientists have known about the paradoxical nature of social networks for some time. The most famous example is the friendship paradox: on average your friends will have more friends than you do.

This comes about because the distribution of friends on social networks follows a power law. So while most people will have a small number of friends, a few individuals have huge numbers of friends. And these people skew the average.

Here’s an analogy. If you measure the height of all your male friends. you’ll find that the average is about 170 centimeters. If you are male, on average, your friends will be about the same height as you are. Indeed, the mathematical notion of “average” is a good way to capture the nature of this data.

But imagine that one of your friends was much taller than you—say, one kilometer or 10 kilometers tall. This person would dramatically skew the average, which would make your friends taller than you, on average. In this case, the “average” is a poor way to capture this data set.

Fairfax County Budget Proposal tool

Fairfax County Schools:

Start by choosing and dragging items from the “Reductions and Fee Increases” section to the “Proposal” section. If an item has multiple dropdown options, you must drag the item to the “Proposal” area first, and then choose an option. Once you drag an item into the “Proposal” section, the “Budget Deficit” amount on the right side of the screen will be reduced.

To create your own option, click the “Create Option” button and follow the prompts. Your option will show in the “User Created Options” section. In order for your created option to be included in the proposal, it must be dragged into the “Proposal” section.

If you decide to remove an item from the “Proposal” section, drag the item back to “Reductions and Fee Increases” or the “User Created Options” section that the item came from.

Avoiding The Adjective Fallacy

Kalis Azad:

The Adjective Fallacy is trying to learn by mastering the formal rules. Just because a concept can be rigorously defined doesn’t mean we should study it that way.

We didn’t become good at English by studying a chart: we developed an ear for the language and know how it should sound. And “old little lady” sounds off.

Similarly, getting good at math doesn’t mean marching through a gauntlet of rules on every problem. It’s having a native speaker’s feeling about what works or doesn’t.

Are Japanese Humanities Faculties Really Being Shut Down?

Alex Usher:

You may have noticed stories in the press recently about the government of Japan asking national universities to shut down their humanities faculties. Such stories have appeared in the Times Higher Ed, Time, and Bloomberg. Most of these stories have been accompanied by commentary about how shortsighted this is: don’t the Japanese know that life is complex, and that we need humanities for synthesis, etc.? A lot of these stories are also tinged with a hint of early-1990s “these uncultured Asians only think about business and money” Japanophobia.

The problem is, the story is only partly accurate. A lot of background is needed to understand what’s going on here.

Some facts about higher education in Japan: First, “national universities” – that is, big public research universities – only account for about 20% of student enrolment in Japan; the remainder of students are enrolled in private universities. Second, the number of 18 year-olds has fallen from 2 million in 1990 to about 1.2 million; meanwhile the annual intake of students has stayed relatively constant at around 600,000. The problem is that the 18 year-old cohort is set to continue shrinking, and few think that a system with 86 national universities, about as many regional/municipal universities, and 600-odd private universities can make it through this demographic shift. Re-structuring is the name of the game these days.

Teachers Unions at Risk of Losing “Agency Fees”

Mike Antonucci:

Now a case awaits hearing by the U.S. Supreme Court that could dramatically change this picture. The Far Left periodical In These Times calls Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association the case “that could decimate American public sector unionism.” Perhaps that’s simply an ideological overstatement. Nonetheless, the case, if decided for the plaintiffs, could end the practice of “agency” fees—money paid to the union by nonmembers in exchange for collective bargaining services. Unions call them “fair-share” fees and assert that their elimination would create a class of free riders, workers who would pay nothing while still enjoying the higher salaries and other benefits negotiated by unions.

The stakes for teachers unions are high, as a 2011 Wisconsin law illustrates. Wisconsin Act 10, known as the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, eliminated agency fees there and reshaped the collective bargaining process. Since the law’s passage, membership in the Wisconsin Education Association Council and the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin has fallen by more than 50 percent, according to a 2015 report from the National Education Association (NEA). In 2014, NEA membership in agency fee states grew by 5,300. In states without agency fees, it fell by more than 47,000.

Accordingly, at a conference of the California Teachers Association (CTA), the union briefed its activists on the potential consequences should the unions lose in Friedrichs, citing loss of revenue; fewer resources; decline in membership; reduced staffing; increased pressure on the CTA pension and benefit system; and potential financial crises for some locals.

Related: Act 10 and Madison’s Schwerpunkt.

Civics: Total Literary Awareness: How the FBI Pre-read African American Writing

William Maxwell:

Ellen Schrecker, liberalism’s semi-official chronicler of McCarthyism, hints that this dark episode of modern American history deserves a name change. “Had observers known in the 1950s what they have learned since the 1970s, when the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] opened the [FBI’s] files,” she speculates, “McCarthyism would probably have been called ‘Hooverism.’ ”[1] Schrecker’s case depends on a high regard for the functioning of J. Edgar Hoover’s charismatic bureaucracy—the FBI’s design, management, and marketing of a “machinery of political repression” able to install anticommunism as a touchstone of good government during the Cold War.[2] Providing undercover informers to Smith Act prosecutors set on jailing Communists was just one part of this machinery. Under a secret “Responsibilities Program,” established in 1951, the Bureau also dispatched file-based, not-for-attribution blind memoranda to governors and other “appropriate authorities,” warning of possible Reds on the payroll.[3] Well-honed Bureau techniques for indexing dissent directly fed the classic sin of the blacklist, fingering over 400 public employees for firing, most of them school and university teachers. The names the FBI could not legally communicate to state officials it delivered to the Boy Scouts, the Red Cross, and other wholesome quasi-publics. At least until 1953, when Hoover began to fear the senator’s sloppiness, the FBI supplied Joseph McCarthy’s Permanent Investigations Subcommittee with everything it could:

Pope Francis’s Graph of the Day

Ian Vásquez:

shows that in 1896, income per person in the United States and Argentina, two of the richest countries in the world, was about identical. Argentina subsequently eschewed the free market, replacing it with trade protectionism and other corporatist policies intended to help the poor by redistributing wealth. By 2010, Argentine income was a third of that of the United States.

Perhaps Pope Francis doesn’t endorse Argentine economic policies, but having just arrived from Cuba, he missed an opportunity to denounce the lack of freedoms that have kept that island and other Latin American countries poor and repressed. He met with none of the many admirable Cuban dissidents, in or out of prison, who have been peacefully advocating basic rights. Nor did he mention the plight of the Cuban people they represent, even as authorities arrested or detained 250 Cuban activists during his visit.

American Innovation Lies on Weak Foundation

Eduardo Porter:

Those days are long gone. Today, laments Mark Muro of the Brookings Institution, investment in innovation has been balkanized, split between government financed basic research, squeezed by skimpy budgets, and a corporate R&D effort constrained by its focus on the very short term.

What happened? The researchers at Duke and East Anglia reject the argument that tightening regulations have pushed companies to cut their research budgets. Corporate investment in basic research, they note, is waning in Europe, too. This is not exclusively an American dynamic.

They also doubt that science has somehow become less valuable, an argument proposed by prominent economists like Robert Gordon of Northwestern University. Citations of recent scientific research are as common in corporate patents today as they were in the 1980s, suggesting science remains critical to companies’ innovation.

Nix the Math Tricks

Nix the Tricks:

Do you Cringe when a student declares “cross multiply!“ as soon as they see a problem involving fractions?

It doesn’t matter whether you teach elementary or high school, whether you’re a parent or a tutor, having a student yell out a trick without stopping to think is painful.

This book is filled with alternatives to the shortcuts so prevalent in mathematics education and explains exactly why the tricks are so bad for understanding math.

Teachers & Governance: Delaware

Mike Antonucci:

Teachers should teach, and should be in charge of instructing and evaluating teachers. Principals should run schools and administer the operations therein. These should not be controversial notions, but decades of inertia and turf wars gave us the system we have now.

In Delaware, at least they are talking about shaking up that system, and the Delaware State Education Association is supporting those efforts. I am pessimistic about its chances of becoming a nationwide trend, but every little bit helps, and the union deserves credit for moving in this direction. This article has the details , and this video explains the reasons .

Meanwhile, in Madison.

The Middle-Class Squeeze

Charles Moore:

Go back, for a moment, nearly 30 years. In March 1987, Margaret Thatcher visited Mikhail Gorbachev, the reforming leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, in Moscow. Sitting in the Kremlin, the two argued for hours. At one point, Mr. Gorbachev accused Mrs. Thatcher of leading the party of the “haves” and of fooling the people about who really controlled the levers of power. The Iron Lady had an answer: “I explained,” she wrote in her memoirs, “that what I was trying to do was create a society of ‘haves,’ not a class of them.”

In the era of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, those words carried conviction. There was plenty of argument, of course, about whether the means they chose were the best and about the fate of those who got left behind. But even critics reluctantly had to agree about which way history was heading: The society of “haves” in the West was growing; state socialism was imploding.

Meet The Man Who Invents Languages For A Living


If anyone has the credentials to write a book called The Art Of Language Invention, it’s David J. Peterson.

He has two degrees in linguistics. He’s comfortable speaking in eight languages (English, Spanish, French, German, Russian, Esperanto, Arabic and American Sign Language) — plus a long list of others he’s studied but just hasn’t tried speaking yet. He’s also familiar with fictional languages — both famous ones like Klingon and deep cuts like Pakuni (the caveman language from Land Of The Lost).

Education Gap Between Rich and Poor Is Growing Wider

Eduardo Porter:

The wounds of segregation were still raw in the 1970s. With only rare exceptions, African-American children had nowhere near the same educational opportunities as whites.

The civil rights movement, school desegregation and the War on Poverty helped bring a measure of equity to the playing field. Today, despite some setbacks along the way, racial disparities in education have narrowed significantly. By 2012, the test-score deficit of black 9-, 13- and 17-year-olds in reading and math had been reduced as much as 50 percent compared with what it was 30 to 40 years before.

Leading mathematician launches arXiv ‘overlay’ journal

Philip Ball:

New journals spring up with overwhelming, almost tiresome, frequency these days. But Discrete Analysis is different. This journal is online only — but it will contain no papers. Rather, it will provide links to mathematics papers hosted on the preprint server arXiv. Researchers will submit their papers directly from arXiv to the journal, which will evaluate them by conventional peer review.

With no charges for contributors or readers, Discrete Analysis will avoid the commercial pressures that some feel are distorting the scientific literature, in part by reducing its accessibility, says the journal’s managing editor Timothy Gowers, a mathematician at the University of Cambridge, UK, and a winner of the prestigious Fields Medal.

Madison’s Schwerpunkt: Government School District Power Play: The New Handbook Process is worth a look

Wisconsin’s stürm and drang over “Act 10” is somewhat manifested in Madison. Madison’s government schools are the only Wisconsin District, via extensive litigation, to still have a collective bargaining agreement with a teacher union, in this case, Madison Teachers, Inc.

The Madison School Board and Administration are working with the local teachers union on a new “Handbook”. The handbook will replace the collective bargaining agreement. Maneuvering over the terms of this very large document illuminates posturing and power structure(s) in our local government schools.

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham wrote recently (September 17, 2015 PDF):

The Oversight group was able to come to agreement on all of the handbook language with the exception of one item, job transfer in the support units. Pursuant to the handbook development process, this item was presented to me for review and recommendation to the Board. My preliminary recommendation is as follows:

Job Transfer for all support units
(See Pages 151, 181, 197, 240, 261)

Superintendent Recommendation
That the language in the Handbook with regard to transfer state as follows: Vacancies shall first be filled by employees in surplus. The District has the right to determine and select the most qualified applicant for any position. The term applicant refers to both internal and external candidates for the position.

The District retains the right to determine the job qualifications needed for any vacant position. Minimum qualifications shall be established by the District and equally applied to all persons.

Rationale/Employee Concern

It is essential that the District has the ability to hire the most qualified candidate for any vacant position—whether an internal candidate or an external candidate. This language is currently used for transfers in the teacher unit. Thus, it creates consistency across employee groups.
By providing the District with the flexibility of considering both internal and external candidates simultaneously the District can ensure that it is hiring the most qualified individual for any vacant position. It also gives the District opportunities to diversify the workforce by expanding the pool of applicants under consideration. This change would come with a commitment to provide stronger development opportunities for internal candidates who seek pathways to promotion.

Employee Concern:
The existing promotional system already grants a high degree of latitude in selecting candidates, including hiring from the outside where there are not qualified or interested internal applicants. It also helps to develop a cadre of dedicated, career-focused employees.

September 24, 2015 Memo to the Madison government schools board of education from Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham:

To: Board of Education
From: Jennifer Cheatham, Superintendent of Schools
RE: Update to Handbook following Operations Work Group

The Operations Work Group met on Monday September 21, 2015. Members of the Oversight Group for development of the Employee Handbook presented the draft Employee Handbook to the Board. There was one item on which the Oversight Group was unable to reach agreement, the hiring process for the support units. Pursuant to the handbook development process, this item was presented to me for review and recommendation to the Board. There was discussion around this item during the meeting and, the Board requested that members of the Oversight Group meet again in an attempt to reach consensus.

Per the Board’s direction, District and employee representatives on the Oversight Group came together to work on coming to consensus on the one remaining item in the Handbook. The group had a productive dialog and concluded that with more time, the group would be able to work together to resolve this issue. Given that the Handbook does not go into effect until July1, 2016, the group agreed to leave the issue regarding the hiring process for the support units unresolved at this point and to include in the Handbook the phrase “To Be Determined” in the applicable sections. As such, there is no longer an open item. When you vote on the Handbook on Monday, the section on the “Selection Process” in the various addenda for the applicable support units will state “To Be Determined” with an agreement on the part of the Oversight Group to continue to meet and develop final language that the Board will approve before the Handbook takes effect in the 2016-17 school year.

Current Collective Bargaining Agreement (160 page PDF) Wordcloud:

Madison government school district 2015-2016 Collective Bargaining Agreement with Madison Teachers, Inc. (160 page PDF) Wordcloud

Proposed Employee Handbook (304 Page PDF9.21.2015 slide presentation) Wordcloud:

Madison government school district


1. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty has filed suit to vacate the Madison government schools collective bargaining agreement with Madison Teachers, Inc.

2. Attorney Lester Pines has spent considerable time litigating Act 10 on behalf of Madison Teachers, Inc. – with some success.

3. The collective bargaining agreement has been used to prevent the development of non-Madison Government school models, such as independent charter, virtual and voucher organizations. This one size fits all approach was manifested by the rejection [Kaleem Caire letter] of the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school.

4. Yet, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending more than $15,000 per student annually. See also “What’s different, this time?

5. Comparing Madison, Long Beach and Boston government school teacher union contracts. Current Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham has cited Boston and Long Beach government schools as Districts that have narrowed the achievement gap. Both government districts offer a variety of school governance models, which is quite different than Madison’s long-time “one size fits all approach”.

6. Nearby Oconomowoc is paying fewer teachers more.

7. Minneapolis teacher union approved to authorize charter schools.

8. Madison Teachers, Inc. commentary on the proposed handbook (Notes and links). Wordcloud:

9. A rather astonishing quote:

“The notion that parents inherently know what school is best for their kids is an example of conservative magical thinking.”; “For whatever reason, parents as a group tend to undervalue the benefits of diversity in the public schools….”

Madison School Board member Ed Hughes.

10. 1,570,000 for four senators – WEAC.

11. Then Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s 2009 speech to the Madison Rotary Club:

“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).

Schwerpunkt via wikipedia.

Railing against college debt, Warren fires up Feingold event (Question free?)

Bill Glauber:

In travels across Wisconsin, Feingold said, people expressed great concern about the cost of higher education. Feingold said one student even told him that students talk about college loans on first dates.

“We need a better ice breaker for kids,” he said.

He said student debt nationally is “an economic crisis.”

“I believe it is our moral responsibility that you can get a start in life yourself,” he said. “I believe it is a denial of the American dream that you have to put up with this.”

After the speech, Warren waded into the crowd, posing for photos and talking with students.

Madison Teachers, Inc. Commentary on the Proposed “Handbook”

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

Of the grievance procedure, MTI Legal Counsel Lester Pines said:
“I congratulate MTI and its sister Unions of District employees (AFSCME and The Building Trades Council) for achieving an agreement that the Independent Hearing Officer will be mutually selected by the Union and the District (Act 10 would have enabled the Board of Education to unilaterally appoint the Hearing Officer), and that a grievance can be filed regarding extensive provisions included in the Handbook (Act 10 would limit grievances to termination, discipline and issues regarding work-place safety), and further achieving a limit on what the Board can consider should an appeal of the Hearing Officer’s ruling, enabled by the Statute, be made to the Board. That the Unions gained agreement that the Board cannot consider anything other than the evidence, testimony and decision by the Hearing Officer; i.e. the Board cannot consider any new claims, evidence or testimony, ONLY that on which the Hearing Officer based his/her decision. That provides anexceptionalsafeguardforDistrictemployees.MTI leads the way again.

Act 10 prohibits a Union from negotiating the binding arbitration of grievances. The law provides that every municipal employer, including school districts, must adopt a grievance procedure containing: (1) a written document specifying the process that a grievant and the employer must follow; (2) a hearing before an Independent Hearing Officer; and (3) an appeal process in which the highest level of appeal is to the governing body of the local unit of government (i.e., Board of Education). The law limits the grievance procedure to termination, discipline and issues regarding work-place safety and it enables the employer (Board of Education) to unilaterally select the Independent Hearing Officer. As noted, MTI was able to significantly improve the latter two categories to the benefit of Union members.”

Deep dive: Madison Government School District Power Play: The New Handbook Process is worth a look.

Madison Schools’ Annual Report


How is the school year going? What about the behavior improvement plan, community schools, teacher diversity, racial equity, test scores, white flight, and school voucher schools? Today Carousel Bayrd talks with Madison Metropolitan School District Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Cheatham today to discuss the upcoming year and her vision for the future.

Wisconsin Task force for urban education schedules first public hearing

Annysa Johnson:

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ special Task Force on Urban Education will hold the first in a series of public hearings — this one on teacher recruitment, retention and training — at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the State Capitol, Room 412.

The panel will take testimony from the public after hearing from invited individuals and organizations. They include Jennifer Cheatham, superintendent of the Madison Metropolitan School District; University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross; the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction; Teach for America; the Leadership for Educational Equity; and Pablo Muirhead, coordinator of teacher education for Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Vos created the task force in August to address numerous issues affecting urban schools, including retention and training, poor academic performance among some students and low graduation rates. Public school advocates have criticized the panel, saying it is dominated by Republicans with little or no experience with urban schools and, in some cases, have received significant campaign contributions from voucher- and charter-school proponents.

Task force Chairman, Rep. Jessie Rodriguez (R-Franklin), who worked previously for Hispanics for School Choice, said those concerns had not come up in her discussions with educators and lawmakers.

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

Civics: How the American government is trying to control what you think

John Maxwell Hamilton and Kevin Kosar:

NASA tweeting that Congress should give it more money so our astronauts won’t have to ride on Russian rockets. reporting overly optimistic statistics on jobs saved and created by stimulus funds. The Department of Health and Human Service Web site encouraging the public to “state your support for health care reform” during the congressional debate over Obamacare.

These are just some recent examples of the executive branch using our tax dollars to shape our opinions. Unlike the National Security Agency’s personal data collection or the overuse of “secret” stamps to withhold information, this government-produced propaganda receives almost no attention. But that doesn’t mean this “third dimension” of government information is not a problem. America becomes less democratic when the $3 trillion executive branch uses its resources to tilt the debate in its favor.

The Greatest Threat to Campus Free Speech is Coming From Dianne Feinstein and her Military-Contractor Husband

Glenn Greenwald:

There is no shortage of American pundits who love to denounce “PC” speech codes which restrict and punish the expression of certain ideas on college campuses. What these self-styled campus-free-speech crusaders typically – and quite tellingly – fail to mention is that the most potent such campaigns are often devoted to outlawing or otherwise punishing criticisms of Israel. The firing by the University of Illinois of Professor Stephen Salatia for his “uncivil” denunciations of the Israeli war on Gaza – a termination that was privately condoned by Illinois’ Democratic Senator Dick Durbin – is merely illustrative of this long–growing trend.

One of the most dangerous threats to campus free speech has been emerging at the highest levels of the University of California system, the sprawling collection of 10 campuses which includes UCLA and UC Berkeley. The University’s governing Board of Regents, with the support of University President Janet Napolitano and egged on by the State’s legislature, has been attempting to adopt new speech codes that – in the name of combating “anti-Semitism” – would formally ban various forms of Israel criticism and anti-Israel activism.

Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for Colleges

Peter Gray:

A year ago I received an invitation from the head of Counseling Services to join other faculty and administrators, at the university I’m associated with, for discussions about how to deal with the decline in resilience among students. At the first meeting, we learned that emergency calls to Counseling had more than doubled over the past five years. Students are increasingly seeking help for, and apparently having emotional crises over, problems of everyday life. Recent examples mentioned included a student who felt traumatized because her roommate had called her a “bitch” and two students who had sought counseling because they had seen a mouse in their off-campus apartment. The latter two also called the police, who kindly arrived and set a mousetrap for them.

Maths whizz solves a master’s riddle

Chris Cesare:

A mathematical puzzle that resisted solution for 80 years — including computerized attempts to crack it — seems to have yielded to a single mathematician.

Terence Tao, a mathematician at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a winner of the Fields Medal in 2006, submitted a paper1 to the arXiv preprint server on 17 September that claims to prove a number theory conjecture posed by mathematician Paul Erdős in the 1930s.

“Terry Tao just dropped a bomb,” tweeted Derrick Stolee, a mathematician at Iowa State University in Ames, the day the paper detailing the solution appeared online.

Khan Academy in your pocket — new apps available for iPhone and now Android!


“A free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere.” This mission inspires us day in, day out, and we’ve seen over 30M students sign up on Khan Academy to learn almost anything for free. We know you love using Khan Academy more and more on your phones: in fact, over 30% of our sessions are now on mobile devices. We believe strongly that unlocking the potential for anyone, anywhere to learn on 2B+ smartphones worldwide is just getting started. Today, we’re excited to announce a couple steps toward a better Khan Academy in your pocket!

Khan Academy on Android and iPhones

Zimmer accuses Broad charter plan of strategy to ‘bring down’ LAUSD

Michael Janofsky:

It appears show how the organizations involved would be creating the equivalent of a parallel school district, one with a defined goal of serving half the number of students attending LA Unified schools within eight years.

The “Great Public Schools Now Initiative” says the expansion would cost nearly half a billion dollars by 2023, through 260 new charter schools to serve an additional 130,000 students “most in need — low-income students of color.” Currently, about 151,000 students now attend charters in LA Unified, which has more charter schools, 264, than any school district in the country.

The 54-page report, dated “June 2015,” omits the names of authors or sponsoring organizations. But Eli Broad’s name appears at the end of a cover letter accompanying the report that makes a case for charter schools as “the greatest hope for students in L.A.” And alluding to the number of students on waiting lists to get into existing charters, now about 42,000, the need for more charters, he says, is urgent.

Quebec gave all parents cheap day care — and their kids were worse off as a result

Matthew Yglesias:

Programs for young children — whether you call them day care or preschool or even third grade — serve two purposes. On the one hand, they are educational settings that are supposed to help foster the kids’ long-term development. On the other hand, they are safe places where parents can put their children so they can go do other things during the day — things like work for a living. In an ideal world, of course, they do both. The best preschool programs have been shown to have significant lifelong benefits for their students, and they’re doubtless a huge help to parents too. But a sobering new analysis by Michael Baker, Jonathan Gruber (yes, that Jonathan Gruber), and Kevin Milligan of Quebec’s effort to expand access to child care on the cheap is a painful reminder that the two issues can come apart.

Curated Education Information