In Latest Court Filing, Newark Public School District and Superintendent Christopher Cerf Concede “Last In, First Out” Teacher Layoff Law Hurts Students

Matthew Frankel, via a kind email:

In Latest Court Filing, Newark Public School District and Superintendent Christopher Cerf Concede “Last In, First Out” Teacher Layoff Law Hurts Students

Trenton, New Jersey — The Newark Public School (NPS) district and NPS Superintendent Christopher Cerf, defendants in HG v. Harrington, yesterday submitted an answer to the lawsuit filed in November 2016 by six Newark mothers challenging the constitutionality of New Jersey’s quality-blind “last in, first out” (LIFO) teacher layoff law. Newark’s answer includes admissions that overwhelmingly concede the allegations put forward by the plaintiffs. This filing is significant for two reasons: 1) the district admits that New Jersey’s LIFO law causes harm to students and 2) these admissions undermine the credibility of motions to dismiss the lawsuit filed by the teachers’ unions, who intervened as defendants in the case in December 2016.

Newark’s court filing is attached to this email. In the filing, the district defends strides it has made to better serve students, and also makes the following selected admissions:

NPS admits that laying off teachers without any consideration of their quality prohibits children from being educated in the constitutionally mandated manner (paragraph 14)

NPS admits that enforcement of LIFO in Newark will remove quality teachers, which leads to lower test scores, lower high school grad rates, lower college attendance rates, and sharply reduced lifetime earnings (paragraph 104)

NPS admits that its current practice of keeping ineffective teachers on the district payroll, including those in a pool of “educators without placement schools” (EWPS), is harmful and unsustainable (paragraphs 80-81) and that the EWPS pool would be wholly unnecessary were it not for LIFO (paragraph 89)

NPS admits that LIFO undermines its ability to attract and retain effective teachers (paragraphs 96-103)

NPS notes that the statutes governing termination proceedings for tenured teachers do not address the impact of quality-blind layoffs on students through the retention of low-performing teachers in times of budget cuts (paragraph 93)

In response to Newark’s answer, Partnership for Educational Justice Executive Director Ralia Polechronis said:

“Instead of battling over procedural issues, NPS has taken a stand in favor of students’ best interests. The district admits that NJ’s LIFO law ‘protects the interests of adults over the rights of the children of Newark’ and forces the district into an impossible dilemma: either divert increasingly limited resources to avoid layoffs or deny high-performing teachers to 8,000 students per year. These admissions are a giant step forward for the HG plaintiffs to prove their constitutional claims in a court of law.”

This is the first case of its kind in which all original defendants submitted an answer to the lawsuit, rather than moving to dismiss the case, signaling that these cases can and should be heard by a court of law. Earlier this month, the New Jersey Department of Education and New Jersey’s Acting Education Commissioner Kimberly Harrington submitted an answer to the parents’ complaint. All legal filings related to HG v. Harrington are available online here, including the answers filed by Newark and the State, and motions to dismiss the case filed by national and local teachers’ unions.

Click to download the plaintiffs’ complaint [PDF].

To learn more about the parent-led lawsuit to end LIFO in New Jersey, please go to edjustice.org/nj.

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Matthew Frankel
MDF Strategies
41 Watchung Plaza, Suite 355
Montclair NJ 07042
917.617.7914
matthew@mdfstrategies.com
mdfstrategies.com

Abolish women’s studies

New Criterion:

So-called “women’s studies” programs began cropping up on campuses across the country in the 1970s. Although they started largely in imitation of the militant black studies programs that had swept the country’s colleges and universities in the late Sixties, they soon vastly outstripped black and other minority studies programs in size and influence. Today, there is hardly a college campus that doesn’t sport a women’s studies program or department. At many institutions, it is even possible to major in women’s studies.

The very familiarity of these developments has lulled many people into forgetting how odd they are. For what “women’s studies” describes is not an academic discipline but rather a knot of grievances searching for recognition. Like black studies and—a more recent phenomenon—homosexual (“gay”) studies, women’s studies exists primarily to promote a species of political solidarity. Intellectually, women’s studies has always been a terrible embarrassment. That is one reason its advocates are so truculent: like the Wizard of Oz, they must work overtime to keep up the illusion that their subject even exists. Comparing what goes on in the name of women’s studies to genuine scholarship is like comparing the “space program” said to have been undertaken by a small African country to compete with America’s Apollo missions: there were plenty of rockets, but, being made of wood, they didn’t get very far.

Harvard Professors Sign Statement Endorsing ‘Freedom of Expression’

Mia C. Karr and William L. Wang:

Eleven Harvard professors and one fellow have signed a statement affirming a commitment to engaging with—and opposing efforts to “silence”—those with opposing views.

The statement, entitled “Truth Seeking, Democracy, and Freedom of Thought and Expression” is co-authored by African and African-American Studies Professor Cornel West and Robert P. George, a Princeton professor. It was published on the program’s website on March 14, and over 600 professors, students, and college affiliates have signed the statement as of Sunday.

“The pursuit of knowledge and the maintenance of a free and democratic society require the cultivation and practice of the virtues of intellectual humility, openness of mind, and, above all, love of truth,” the statement reads.“That’s why all of us should seek respectfully to engage with people who challenge our views. And we should oppose efforts to silence those with whom we disagree—especially on college and university campuses,” it continues.

Although the statement does not mention any one institution or incident, its publication follows a recent highly-publicized confrontation between Middlebury College students and controversial social scientist Charles Murray. Student protesters repeatedly disupted Murray, who had been invited by a conservative student group, pulling fire alarms during his talk, throwing objects at his car when he left, and ultimately injuring a Middlebury professor accompanying Murray.

Populism: The Phenomenon

Bridgewater:

This report is an examination of populism, the phenomenon—how it typically germinates, grows, and runs its course.
Populism is not well understood because, over the past several decades, it has been infrequent in emerging countries (e.g., Chávez’s Venezuela, Duterte’s Philippines, etc.) and virtually nonexistent in developed countries. It is one of those phenomena that comes along in a big way about once a lifetime—like pandemics, depressions, or wars. The last time that it existed as a major force in the world was in the 1930s, when most countries became populist. Over the last year, it has again emerged as a major force.

To help get a sense of how the level of populist support today compares to populism in the past, we created an index of the share of votes received by populist/anti-establishment parties or candidates in national elections, for all the major developed countries (covering the US, UK, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain) all the way back to 1900, weighting the countries by their population shares. We sought to identify parties/candidates who made attacking the political/corporate establishment their key political cause. Obviously, the exercise is inherently rough, so don’t squint too much at particular wiggles. But the broad trends are clear. Populism has surged in recent years and is currently at its highest level since the late 1930s (though the ideology of the populists today is much less extreme compared to the 1930s).

Why Americans have come to worship their own ignorance

Brian Bethune:

A five-time undefeated Jeopardy! champion and a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, Tom Nichols is the author of several books on international relations, Russian affairs and nuclear weapons—as well as a former adviser on foreign and defence affairs for the late senator John Heinz of Pennsylvania. In short, an expert in his field. He’s also a staunch conservative of the Never Trump persuasion, a man deeply worried about the state of public discourse in his country and the author of The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why it Matters. He spoke with Senior Writer Brian Bethune about his new book, the unprecedented way in which “sullen and narcissistic” Americans “worship their own ignorance,” and what everyone from students to journalists and experts themselves should do about it.

Commentary On Wisconsin K-12 Governance Options

Erin Richards:

To qualify for a voucher in the statewide program, students have to come from families earning no more than 185% of the federal poverty level, or about $45,000 for a family of four or about $52,000 if the parents are married. The income limit for the Racine and Milwaukee programs is 300% of the federal poverty level.

Vouchers are different than charter schools, which are fully public schools that are privately operated, often by nonprofits. Charter schools receive freedom from some state rules and school district oversight in exchange for demonstrating higher-than-average student achievement, the terms of which are outlined in their charters, or contracts.

“School choice” refers to vouchers and charters and other options parents can choose outside their assigned neighborhood school. But vouchers are the most controversial because they usually support religious schools that don’t have to follow all the same rules as public schools. Private schools that accept vouchers are not legally obligated to serve all children with special needs, and they do not have to disclose all the same data as public schools.

Madison’s non diverse government K-12 system has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

This, despite spending more than most, now around $18,000 per student. .

An ancient memorization strategy might cause lasting changes to the brain

Rachel Becker:

There’s been a long-standing debate about whether memory athletes are born with superior memories, or whether their abilities are due to their training regimens. These tend to include an ancient memorization strategy called the method of loci, which involves visualizing important pieces of information placed at key stops along a mental journey. This journey can be an imaginary walk through your house or a local park, or your drive to work. The important thing is that you can mentally move back through it to retrieve the pieces of information you stored. (The ancient Greeks are said to have used it to remember important texts.)

Jonah and the Whale, Call me Ishmael.

Laura Waters:

Excuse the melodrama but right now my husband and I feel like we’re about to embark on a dark, god-less, soul-crushing journey. Our son Jonah (whom I’ve written about before) just turned 21 and will age out of the school system this year. Parents of children with disabilities call this milestone “falling off a cliff.”

The cliff in question is the cessation of Jonah’s rights, inscribed in federal law, for services that nurture his development, education, and relative independence. For eighteen years he’s been cradled within the sheltering arms of laws and regulations that protect children with disabilities: the right to a free education within the least restrictive environment, the right to therapies that foster his ability to learn, and the right to “transition” services, like the job-training program he attends right now.

ENDREW F., A MINOR, BY AND THROUGH HIS PARENTS AND NEXT FRIENDS, JOSEPH F. ET AL. v. DOUGLAS COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT RE–1

Supreme Court:

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) offers States federal funds to assist in educating children with disabilities. The Act conditions that funding on compliance with certain statutory re- quirements, including the requirement that States provide every eli- gible child a “free appropriate public education,” or FAPE, by means of a uniquely tailored “individualized education program,” or IEP. 20 U. S. C. §§1401(9)(D), 1412(a)(1).
This Court first addressed the FAPE requirement in Board of Ed. of Hendrick Hudson Central School Dist., Westchester Cty. v. Rowley, 458 U. S. 176. The Court held that the Act guarantees a substantive- ly adequate program of education to all eligible children, and that this requirement is satisfied if the child’s IEP sets out an educational program that is “reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits.” Id., at 207. For children fully integrated in the regular classroom, this would typically require an IEP “reasona- bly calculated to enable the child to achieve passing marks and ad- vance from grade to grade.” Id., at 204. Because the IEP challenged in Rowley plainly met this standard, the Court declined “to establish any one test for determining the adequacy of educational benefits conferred upon all children covered by the Act,” instead “confin[ing] its analysis” to the facts of the case before it. Id., at 202.

Stanford researchers show we’re sending many children to school way too early

Jenny Anderson:

Parents wondering whether to wait a year to send their kids to kindergarten, take note: A new study from Stanford University shows that Danish kids who postponed kindergarten for up to one year showed dramatically higher levels of self-control.

“We found that delaying kindergarten for one year reduced inattention and hyperactivity by 73% for an average child at age 11,” Thomas Dee, one of the co-authors and a Stanford Graduate School of Education professor, said in a release.

Dee did his research with Hans Henrik Sievertsen of the Danish National Centre for Social Research, who told Quartz that the impact was strong and lasted a long time: “We were a bit surprised at how persistent the effect was.” The effect of delaying school on hyperactivity and inattention didn’t diminish over time, as they expected, but increased: in fact, waiting one year virtually eliminated the chance that an average kid at age 11 would have higher-than-normal scores on those measures.

K-12 Financial Literacy

American Banker (PDF):

ankers believe that cultivating financial literacy within their communities, particularly among school-age children, is a fundamental part of their mission. A public with good saving, budgeting and financial planning skills and habits dovetails
with financial institutions’ core civic role in safekeeping deposits, providing credit to households and building wealth. With financial literacy education mostly absent from standard school curriculums, it is often up to the industry to provide it, a responsibility it welcomes both out of a sense of duty and a recognition of the opportunity to shape a reputation that has been damaged by periodic scandals and bailouts.

Financial institutions often struggle with establishing a direct business case for supporting K-12 financial literacy, however, and frequently fail to optimize the funds they devote toward educational initiatives.

Experienced partners with proven records of quality school programming can be decisive in achieving positive outcomes among students and enhancing sponsors’ images in the community, and programs can be tailored to drive and measure return on investment.

To better understand the industry’s convictions about financial education; its level and modes of involvement; and its challenges, pain points and objectives, NTC Corporate commissioned the research unit of SourceMedia, the publisher of American Banker, to survey 235 executives at financial institutions with K-12 financial literacy programs. All respondents lead, manage or are otherwise involved in the K-12 initiatives at their institutions, which are headquartered across the United States, range the asset-size spectrum and include retail banks, thrifts, credit unions and investment banks (see Figures 1 and 2)

How do Unschoolers Turn Out?

Peter Gray has studied how learning happens without any academic requirements at a democratic school. The Boston College research professor also wrote about the long history and benefits of age-mixed, self-directed education in his book Free to Learn. Over the years, as he encountered more and more families who had adopted this approach at home (these so-called “unschoolers” are estimated to represent about 10 percent of the more than two million homeschooled children), he began to wonder about its outcomes in that setting. Finding no academic studies that adequately answered his question, he decided to conduct his own.

Green Bay Voucher Opportunities

Will Flanders:

Governor Scott Walker’s budget proposal was big on money for K-12 public education – to the tune of more than $600 million over 2 years – but small on expanding education options for Wisconsin families. Fortunately the Governor isn’t the only one with a say on this matter. A day after Walker’s budget address, State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said lifting the caps on enrollment for the statewide school voucher program, Wisconsin Parental Choice Program was “absolutely” something the Senate Republicans would consider.

This is promising news. The current unfair enrollment caps and income limitations placed on the choice program are arbitrarily hindering growth and shutting the schoolhouse door on Green Bay families looking for education options.

The Green Bay Area Public School District is failing their most vulnerable students—those from economically disadvantaged and minority backgrounds. Only 19.7% of students from low-income families are proficient in English. A staggeringly low 11.4% of African American students are proficient in English. Even among the general student population, proficiency rates in these subjects are only in the low 30s. These problems are not unique to public schools in Green Bay but it is painfully obvious that something else needs to be tried.

Suicides in Rural America Increased More than 40% in 16 Years

Alex Berezow:

Rural America is facing an existential crisis. As cities continue to grow and prosper, small towns are shrinking. That fundamental divide played itself out in the recent presidential election.

Consider this shocking chart produced by the Brookings Institution. It shows that, in 2000, George W. Bush won 2,397 counties (compared to Al Gore’s 659), and those counties represented 46% of America’s GDP. Fast forward to 2016. Donald Trump won an even larger share: 2,584 counties (compared to Hillary Clinton’s 472). Yet, counties that voted for Trump accounted for only 36% of the nation’s GDP. Since most Bush counties also voted for Trump, that means — in a span of just 16 years — economic productivity shifted by 10 percentage points, away from small town America and toward the big cities.

A new “Mathematician’s Apology”

Jesse Johnson:

In the two and a half years (or so) since I left academia for industry, I’ve worked with a number of math majors and math PhDs outside of academia and talked to a number of current grad students who were considering going into industry. As a result, my perspective on the role of the math research community within the larger world has changed quite a bit from what it was in the early days of may academic career. In the post below, I explore this new perspective.

In “A Mathematician’s Apology”, published in 1940, G. H. Hardy argued that the study of pure mathematics could be justified entirely by its aesthetic value, independent of any applications. (He used the word “apology” in the sense of Plato’s Apology, i.e. a defense.) Of course, Hardy never had to apply for an NSF grant and his relatives probably never asked him why someone would pay him to solve problems without applications.

High anxiety as SF public school assignments run late

Nanette Asimov:

A school district glitch has parents biting their nails in San Francisco this week.

Thousands of dollars are on the line for families that are prepared to lay out hefty deposits for private schools by this week’s deadlines — but hope they won’t have to if they can get into a public school of their choice.

The trouble is, the San Francisco Unified School District may not be able to tell them about their public school options, from elementary through high school, before private-school down payments are due Wednesday through Friday. The district missed its March 17 deadline for sending out school-assignment letters because of “unforeseen staffing emergencies,” said spokeswoman Gentle Blythe.

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Event

Lisa Speckhard::

Common Core educational standards may not seem like a subject asking for fiery debate, but the candidates for the April 4 election for Wisconsin state superintendent proved their passion for the issue on TV Sunday.

Incumbent Tony Evers, running for his third term, and Dr. Lowell Holtz, former district superintendent for Beloit and Whitnall schools, appeared on this week’s installment of “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” and ended a joint appearance on a rocky note.

The candidates talked over each other while debating the Common Core State Standards, which Holtz argued was a mandatory “federal intrusion.”

“We had no choice, Tony,” Holtz said.

“This is not federal intrusion. If you’re worried about federal intrusion, you should be worried what Betsy DeVos is doing to us with the new budget,” Evers said. “We’re cutting our after-school programs. That is federal intrusion, my friend.”

Duke Reports a Sexual Assault Rate 5 X as High as Our Most Dangerous City

KC Johnson:

Over the last few years, we have become all but immune to what, under any other circumstances, would be a fantastic claim—that one in five female undergraduates will be victims of sexual assault. This rate would translate to several hundreds of thousands of violent crime victims (with almost all of the incidents unnoticed) annually, and, as Emily Yoffe has pointed out, implies that about the same percentage of female college students are sexually assaulted as women in the Congo where rape was used as a war crime in the nation’s civil war.

Even within this environment of pie-in-the-sky statistics, a recent survey from Duke stands out. According to the survey, 40 percent of Duke’s female undergraduates (and 10 percent of Duke’s male undergraduates) describe themselves as victims of sexual assault. This data would mean that each year, a female undergraduate at Duke is 5.5 times more likely to be a victim of violent crime than a resident of St. Louis, which FBI statistics listed as the nation’s most dangerous city in 2016. And yet, incredibly, parents still spend around $280,000 to send their daughters into this den of crime for four years.

Student Loan Federalization

investors:

President Obama had a great idea back in 2010: nationalize the student loan program, and its problems would soon go away. It didn’t happen. Instead, more people are refusing to pay their student loans than ever before.

In a study released last week, the Consumer Federation of America found that millions of people were in arrears on $137 billion in federal student loans in the first nine months of 2016, an increase of 14% from 2015. All told, the federal government’s portfolio of student loans now stands at a whopping $1.3 trillion.

As the Washington Post notes, “What’s striking about the findings is that Americans have a variety of repayment options to avoid default. The Obama administration expanded programs that cap monthly payments to a percentage of earnings, but even though millions of people

America may miss out on the next industrial revolution

Nick Statt:

Robots are inevitably going to automate millions of jobs in the US and around the world, but there’s an even more complex scenario on the horizon, said roboticist Matt Rendall. In a talk Tuesday at SXSW, Rendall painted a picture of the future of robotic job displacement that focused less on automation and more on the realistic ways in which the robotics industry will reshape global manufacturing.

The takeaway was that America, which has outsourced much of its manufacturing and lacks serious investment in industrial robotics, may miss out on the world’s next radical shift in how goods are produced. That’s because the robot makers — as in, the robots that make the robots — could play a key role in determining how automation expands across the globe.

Danielle Steel Loves the Weather and Elmore Leonard Hates Exclamation Points: Literature by the Numbers

Ben Blatt:

The first literary mystery to be solved by numbers was a 150-year-old whodunit finally put to rest in 1963. Two statistics professors learned of the long-running debate over a dozen contested essays from The Federalist Papers, and they saw that they might succeed where historians had failed. Both Alexander Hamilton and James Madison claimed to have written the same 12 essays, but who was right?

The answer lay in how each writer used hundreds of small words like but and what, which altogether formed a kind of literary fingerprint. The statisticians painstakingly cut up each essay and counted the words by hand—a process during which “a deep breath created a storm of confetti and a permanent enemy.” And by comparing hundreds of word frequencies, they came up with a clear answer after so many years of speculation: the contested essays were distinctly the work of James Madison.

Mothers Who Regret Having Children – “I Wish I’d Never Had Kids”

Sarah Treleaven:

Here’s the thing about realizing that you shouldn’t have had kids,” says Laura*, 37, a journalist based in Los Angeles. “You can’t take the decision back.”

Laura once believed that she wanted to be a mother. She had little direct experience with children—no siblings young enough to need tending to, no babysitting jobs—and when she and her husband decided to start a family, she wondered if she knew enough about what that meant. “I asked some friends if we could get the basics from them and they ran us through the general infant care stuff in maybe 45 minutes,” she says. “In retrospect, it was laughably insufficient. I really didn’t know what I was in for.”

Boston public schools map switch aims to amend 500 years of distortion

Joanna Walters:

When Boston public schools introduced a new standard map of the world this week, some young students’ felt their jaws drop. In an instant, their view of the world had changed.

The USA was small. Europe too had suddenly shrunk. Africa and South America appeared narrower but also much larger than usual. And what had happened to Alaska?

In an age of “fake news” and “alternative facts”, city authorities are confident their new map offers something closer to the geographical truth than that of traditional school maps, and hope it can serve an example to schools across the nation and even the world.

Trump’s budget abandons two bipartisan education efforts

Alan Borsuk:

Two of those goals were improving teaching and providing kids who have a lot of needs with time in constructive settings beyond the school day.

That was then, when Congress passed a new national education law with strong bipartisan support.

This is now, and two of the things that would be dropped entirely under President Donald Trump’s budget outline released last week are programs that fund efforts to improve teaching and provide low-income kids good places to go after school.

The budget plan said that $2.4 billion a year in money for professional development programs for teachers (principals, too) “is poorly targeted and spread thinly across thousands of districts with scant evidence of impact.” And cutting $1.2 billion for “Community Learning Centers” for kids is justified because “the program lacks strong evidence of meeting its objectives, such as improving student achievement.”

The Price Of Elites Creating Monopolies (Madison’s Non Diverse K-12 Governance)

DARON ACEMOGLU, JAMES ROBINSON

For the record, however, before cheerleading Slim, Gates might want to read the OECD’s 2012 report on telecommunications policy and regulation in Mexico, which estimates the social costs of Slim’s monopoly at U.S. $129 billion and counting. (The latest Forbes list of the world’s richest people puts Slim’s net worth at U.S. $79 billion). So in what way is Mexico better off exactly? Gates also complains in his review that we “ridicule modernization theory.” We don’t. We try to articulate an alternative theory of extractive growth — which takes place under extractive, authoritarian political institutions — where countries grow because their leadership controlling these extractive institutions feels secure and able to control and benefit from the growth process. This occupies a large part of our book because it is a central feature of economic and political development over the last several thousand years. Our theory suggests why extractive growth doesn’t automatically lead to more inclusive institutions: Growth is made possible, at least in most cases, by the leaders and dominant elites’ belief in their relative security.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school. This, despite our long term, disastrous resding results.

72 Taiwan schools found to have signed ‘inappropriate’ study pledges

Focus Taiwan:

Taipei, March 17 (CNA) A total of 72 colleges and universities in Taiwan have signed pledges relating to the so-called “one China” consensus, the Ministry of Education said Friday, asking these institutes to stop such “inappropriate” behavior.

During a two-week investigation, 72 schools reported to the ministry that they signed such study pledges with their Chinese counterparts from 2005-2017, Education Minister Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) said. The ministry “does not recognize” such pledges, he added.

New rules will require all Taiwanese colleges and universities to submit agreements to be signed with schools in China for the approval of the ministry, before they can be inked, Pan said.

Eight candidates vie for four Milwaukee Public Schools board of directors seats

Annysa Johnson, and Brittany Carloni

Four of the nine seats on the Milwaukee Public Schools board of directors are up for grabs in the April 4 election, with two incumbents facing challengers and two others making way for newcomers to join the board.

The election comes at a critical time for MPS, the largest and one of the poorest and lowest-performing districts in the state. It has repelled two legislative takeover attempts in recent years and has embarked on a series of new reforms aimed at improving academic performance. At the same time, it is facing budget constraints and continued competition from charter and private voucher schools.

Civics: Reining In Warrantless Wiretapping of Americans

Jennifer Granick:

The United States is collecting vast amounts of data about regular people around the world for foreign intelligence purposes. Government agency computers are vacuuming up sensitive, detailed, and intimate personal information, tracking web browsing,1 copying address books,2 and scanning emails of hundreds of millions of people.3 When done overseas, and conducted in the name of foreign intelligence gathering, the collection can be massive, opportunistic, and targeted without any factual basis. While international human rights law recognizes the political and privacy rights of all human beings, under U.S. law, foreigners in other countries do not enjoy free expression or privacy rights, so there are few rules and little oversight for how our government uses foreigners’ information. And while foreign governments are certainly legitimate targets for intelligence gathering, reported spying on international social welfare organizations like UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders raises the specter of political abuse without a clear, corresponding national security benefit.4

War on girls in India, visualized

visual loop

Usually, we leave interactive data visualizations to be featured here on Visualoop on Fridays, when we compile all the interesting projects that came our way during the week.

But in this case, we are making an exception to present to you “Unwanted – The ongoing war against daughters in India“, developed by designer Tania Boa, with the help of Gerhard Bliedung (Development) and Benjamin Wiederkehr (Design Advisor). Tania is part of the Interactive Things team, and started a couple of months ago this self-initiated project about a topic that’s sad, tragic and undoubtily in need of more awareness.

War on girls in India, visualized

visual loop

Usually, we leave interactive data visualizations to be featured here on Visualoop on Fridays, when we compile all the interesting projects that came our way during the week.

But in this case, we are making an exception to present to you “Unwanted – The ongoing war against daughters in India“, developed by designer Tania Boa, with the help of Gerhard Bliedung (Development) and Benjamin Wiederkehr (Design Advisor). Tania is part of the Interactive Things team, and started a couple of months ago this self-initiated project about a topic that’s sad, tragic and undoubtily in need of more awareness.

Is Fakebook A Structural Threat To Free Society?

Truthhawk:

Facebook is the sixth-largest company in the world by market cap. It is approaching two billion users across its platforms, and user growth remains steady. It collects an unprecedented amount of data on those billions of users.

It is possible, if not probable, that Mark Zuckerberg’s company will become the largest in the world. Facebook’s share structure reserves exclusive control of voting power for Zuck, so he will maintain control of the behemoth. It is also not out of the question that as Facebook grows, Zuckerberg will become the world’s wealthiest individual.

As Facebook grows, so will its ownership of the social graph and our digital selves. Systemic risk is highest in centralized systems. Extrapolating trends, I consider it possible, if not probable, that Facebook will become a systemic risk center for free society. The argument goes:

No effects of gluten in patients with self-reported non-celiac gluten sensitivity after dietary reduction of fermentable, poorly absorbed, short-chai…

Biesiekierski JR, et al:

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Patients with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) do not have celiac disease but their symptoms improve when they are placed on gluten-free diets. We investigated the specific effects of gluten after dietary reduction of fermentable, poorly absorbed, short-chain carbohydrates (fermentable, oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols [FODMAPs]) in subjects believed to have NCGS.

METHODS: We performed a double-blind cross-over trial of 37 subjects (aged 24-61 y, 6 men) with NCGS and irritable bowel syndrome (based on Rome III criteria), but not celiac disease. Participants were randomly assigned to groups given a 2-week diet of reduced FODMAPs, and were then placed on high-gluten (16 g gluten/d), low-gluten (2 g gluten/d and 14 g whey protein/d), or control (16 g whey protein/d) diets for 1 week, followed by a washout period of at least 2 weeks. We assessed serum and fecal markers of intestinal inflammation/injury and immune activation, and indices of fatigue. Twenty-two participants then crossed over to groups given gluten (16 g/d), whey (16 g/d), or control (no additional protein) diets for 3 days. Symptoms were evaluated by visual analogue scales.

In 18 Years, A College Degree Could Cost About $500,000

Venessa Wong:

People worried about college affordability today can at least take this to heart: Getting a degree now is an absolute bargain compared to what it could cost if tuition keeps rising this fast for the next couple of decades.

Tuition has been rising by about 6% annually, according to investment management company Vanguard. At this rate, when babies born today are turning 18, a year of higher education at a private school — including tuition, fees, and room and board — will cost more than $120,000, Vanguard said. Public colleges could average out to $54,000 a year.

Migrant Parents Pen Letter to Government About School Quota

Wang Lianzhang:

With fewer than 90 days to go until primary school registration begins, migrant workers sent a letter earlier this month to the education bureau of Guangzhou, the capital of southern China’s Guangdong province, to request more places for their children in public schools.

Migrant workers do not hold permanent residency in Guangzhou and thus do not automatically qualify for free public schooling in the city. The quota for out-of-town students who can attend the city’s schools has increased this year, but parents are still worried that their children will miss out.

“Many friends of mine have no choice,” 26-year-old Zhang Yongqiang, one of the parents behind the letter, told Sixth Tone. “As migrant workers, they couldn’t enroll their children in public schools and had to send them to private schools.” Yearly tuition fees for private schools start at around 6,000 yuan ($870), a significant sum in a region where the average migrant worker earns little over 3,200 yuan per month.

Mission vs Organization: Madison School Board candidate rhetoric

Lisa Speckhard:

We can’t change too much too fast when we have one of the largest achievement gaps in the country,” said candidate Ali Muldrow, who faces Kate Toews in the race for Seat 6 on the board. “My children don’t have 10 years for us to improve …

Notes and links on seat 6 and seat 7 candidates.

More on organization vs mission:

Muldrow’s campaign issued the statement after her answer to a question — about what candidates would say to families who had children in an underperforming school and viewed vouchers as a way out — sparked criticism on social media from some in the community.

A Wisconsin State Journal article published Friday morning paraphrased Muldrow’s answer, alluding to the idea that she supported private school vouchers for students who don’t feel successful in a public school environment.

The article stated: “If the opportunity for students’ success doesn’t exist at a school, Muldrow said, private school vouchers should be offered to students who would learn better at a private school. But Muldrow said she opposes public money going to religious schools.”

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending more than most – now about $18k per student annually.

Report card time for schools: California Dashboard goes live today, but some find it impossible to navigate

Mike Szymanski:

A statewide public school rating system is available today, but some find it difficult to understand.

Rather than having a simple one-number score, the new California School Dashboard Report uses a series of colors to rate various aspects of each school. Some community groups say that makes it hard for parents to compare schools.

Former school board member David Tokofsky told LA School Report on Tuesday, “What do you look at your car dashboard for? To see if you have gas, to see if there’s an emergency, and see how fast you’re going, that’s it. What does this have? A grid with 25 boxes? This dashboard has too much. Parents will be mystified on how to use this.”

4 Things That Surprised me About Self-Publishing an Academic Book

Joshua Gans:

Last year, I wrote a book about scholarly publishing that I knew would not fit well into traditional publishing models. It wasn’t one of those books that claimed the whole traditional publishing system was broken and advocated dumping publishers altogether. Instead, my book was motivated by a distinct, albeit related, concern: that in the scholarly world, journal publishers had too much market power and that academics, despite the best of their intentions, had been mostly unable to do anything about it. Academics had tried boycotts, forming their own journals, and lobbying governments, but the power and profits of the big publishers were undaunted.

The traditional publishing path has worked for me

Google DeepMind and healthcare in an age of algorithms (privacy)

Julia Powles:

Data-driven tools and techniques, particularly machine learning methods that underpin artificial intelligence, offer promise in improving healthcare systems and services. One of the companies aspiring to pioneer these advances is DeepMind Technologies Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Google conglomerate, Alphabet Inc. In 2016, DeepMind announced its first major health project: a collaboration with the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, to assist in the management of acute kidney injury. Initially received with great enthusiasm, the collaboration has suffered from a lack of clarity and openness, with issues of privacy and power emerging as potent challenges as the project has unfolded. Taking the DeepMind-Royal Free case study as its pivot, this article draws a number of lessons on the transfer of population-derived datasets to large private prospectors, identifying critical questions f

Why Virtual Classes Can Be Better Than Real Ones

Barbara Oakley:

I teach one of the world’s most popular MOOCs (massive online open courses), “Learning How to Learn,” with neuroscientist Terrence J. Sejnowski, the Francis Crick Professor at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. The course draws on neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and education to explain how our brains absorb and process information, so we can all be better students. Since it launched on the website Coursera in August of 2014, nearly 1 million students from over 200 countries have enrolled in our class. We’ve had cardiologists, engineers, lawyers, linguists, 12-year-olds, and war refugees in Sudan take the course. We get emails like this one that recently arrived: “I’ll keep it short. I’ve recently completed your MOOC and it has already changed my life in ways you cannot imagine. I just turned 29, am in the middle of a career change to computer science, and I’ve never been more excited to learn.”

18-year-old running for Pearland ISD School Board

Brandi Smith:

Michael Floyd isn’t your typical high school senior.

The Dawson High School student says he’s been involved in politics since he was in fourth grade.

“I was the one kid who had a Barack Obama bumper sticker on my bike as I rode around town,” Floyd said. “Since then, I’ve worked on two Congressional campaigns, I’ve managed a state representative race, and I worked on a presidential campaign, managing it for our county.”

This spring break, while his classmates are enjoying their time off, he’s campaigning for a position on the Pearland ISD Board of Trustees.

“As a student, I’ve seen a lot more than the trustees have,” Floyd said. “I’ve been with teachers, students and faculty members for nine and a half months out of the year for 40 hours a week. I just see flagrant issues in our district.”

Man graduates from Texas A&M University at Galveston at 74 years old

Samantha Ketterer:

Galveston resident Mike McAfee knows that it’s never too late in life to learn something new.

At age 74, McAfee completed his college degree and graduated from Texas Texas A&M University at Galveston with a Bachelor of Science in university studies.

McAfee finished his education solely because he wanted to, he said — he was already retired when he graduated in December 2016.

“I didn’t do this to further my career,” he said. “It was the kind of thing in the back of my mind that always bothered me, that I didn’t finish my degree.”

McAfee, who is now 75, attended college in Missouri and Oklahoma earlier in life but said he pulled out to focus on his family and career. He’d been in the business industry for most of his life, and before he retired in 2014, McAfee had worked at Del Papa Distributing Company for 20 years.

Should California teachers have to pay state income tax?

Taryn luna:

A California Senate bill proposes a new way to solve the teacher shortage: Let them keep their state income tax.

California is struggling to recruit and retain teachers as baby boomers retire and meager starting salaries do little to attract young people to the profession. Making matters worse, nearly one in three teachers leave the profession in the first seven years, according to the California Teachers Association.

Mather Heights Elementary School first grade teacher Andy Kotko helps Elmira Hakobyan, left, and Ryan Workman with a math lesson during class on Thursday, September 1, 2016 in Sacramento.
Mather Heights Elementary School first grade teacher Andy Kotko helps Elmira Hakobyan, left, and Ryan Workman with a math lesson during class on Thursday, September 1, 2016 in Sacramento. Randy Pench rpench@sacbee.com
Senate Bill 807, introduced by Democratic Sens. Henry Stern of Los Angeles and Cathleen Galgiani of Stockton, offers an incentive for teachers to remain in the classroom. After teaching for five years, California educators would be exempt from paying a state income tax. The bill would also provide a tax deduction for the cost of attaining a teaching credential. The Legislature has not yet calculated the estimated loss in tax revenue to the state if the measure is approved.

Edina police ask for whole city’s Google searches, and a judge says yes

Mike Mullen:

As detailed in a report from Tony Webster earlier this week, a Hennepin County judge has granted the Edina Police Department an extraordinary degree of access to citizens’ Google history, as cops attempt to crack the case of an attempted wire transfer fraud.

In specific, police want to know who has searched for a particular name used as part of that fraud. Typed into Google, a search for the same name — “Douglas” something, according to a warrant — also turns up photos that were used on a fake passport by the criminal, who was seeking a fraudulent wire transfer of $28,500.

Cops figure if they could just find out who in that affluent suburb has Googled that name, they’d narrow their suspect list right down. Of course, people’s Google search history not only isn’t public, it’s not usually available to local cops trying to bust a small-time swindler.

Teach for America making its mark in Milwaukee

Alan Borsuk;

And in the fall of 2013, she began teaching at Reagan High School, the International Baccalaureate school that has become one of brightest spots in the Milwaukee Public Schools system.

“I loved it,” she says. “I still love education.” After her two-year commitment to TFA ended, she stayed on. She is now an International Baccalaureate program coordinator and teacher at the school, and she envisions being there for years to come.

For good reason, hers is the kind of story TFA is eager to spotlight. There are others who have had less successful involvement and less kind things to say about TFA and its high-profile effort nationwide to attract bright college graduates to work at least two years in schools serving some of America’s most high-needs students.

The Power of Persuasion: A Model for Effective Political Leadership by State Chiefs


Paul Hill, Ashley Jochim:

State chiefs have new responsibilities under the Every Student Succeeds Act, but their formal powers are still limited. Despite these constraints, CRPE analysis finds that chiefs can make a difference by wielding their powers strategically, to build coalitions and persuade others. While turnover in the field is high, with 70% of current chiefs on the job less than two years, newcomers are taking their seats at a time of opportunity.

Drawing on interviews with current and former state chiefs, authors Hill and Jochim identify chiefs’ opportunities for influence in light of the ideas in Richard E. Neustadt’s 1960 book Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: The Politics of Leadership. The analysis and concrete examples are intended to help current and aspiring chiefs understand how to use their authorities as the basis of bargaining, build their professional reputation, and approach decisionmaking.

Key takeaways include:

Chiefs should fully understand their own advantages and think hard about how to bargain effectively with others in the state capital and in school districts

State gives St. Paul school board blessing for secret meetings

James Shiffer:

The members of the St. Paul school board realized they had a problem, starting with themselves.

So as they search for a new superintendent to replace the one they forced out, they will meet in secret to figure out how to get along better.

In September, the board approved a plan to engage the public in searching for a new schools chief. Board members are eager to get beyond the acrimony of the departure of Valeria Silva, the target of the newly elected “Caucus for Change” board majority that took over in January.

Adobe semaphore code cracked by Tennessee high school teacher

Sal Pizzaro:

Waters discovered the project, San Jose Semaphore, last summer while he was looking up something about Thomas Pynchon’s 1966 novel, “The Crying of Lot 49.” The text of that work was the code originally programmed by New York-based artist Ben Rubin in 2006. Seeing there was a new message, Waters began trying to decipher it while watching and writing down the sequences online from Tennessee.

He discovered a pattern that led him to believe it could represent a space — or a silence — in an audio file, and when he graphed the results it looked like an audio wave. He dismissed that as being too difficult but came back to it and eventually ran his results into a program that would convert his numbers to audio. The first results came back sounding like chipmunks squeaking.

Oaks Academy: Vouchers May Not Be a Panacea But They Are Really Working For Some Families

Barato Britt:

True advocates of choice through vouchers shouldn’t suggest vouchers to be the panacea, the proverbial be all end all for education in our nation, no matter how much our President or Education Secretary maintain this assertion.

Vouchers, like all educational options, are one means through which we provide students and families the ability to choose their child’s school, free from arbitrary designations or systems that have for too long demonstrated an inability to serve all students.

While most supporters, generally conservative folks, use phrases like “free market” to bolster the case, vouchers are liberal, almost socialist in nature, when considered from a means tested standpoint with the mission of providing poor families with the same options that wealthier families already enjoy.

Nearly 35,000 Hoosier students today can boast direct access to the private school of theirs and their parent’s choice as a result of this program. And while that number is dwarfed by the nearly 1.05 million Hoosier students in a public school, there is evidence that suggests this effort has not been fought in vain.

Such is the case for 373 students who, through vouchers and Scholarship Granting Organization (SGO) opportunities, are being blessed by the opportunity to attend The Oaks Academy. An unabashedly faith based institution, Oaks affords students a high quality classical education, complemented by a commitment to follow students as they matriculate to and through post-secondary opportunities. Based in Indianapolis Near East Side, the school has grown from 53 students in 1998 to 732 students in grades Pre-K through 8th grade, on three campuses purposely housed within close proximity of one another.

Academically, school data bear out the contention for its distinction as a high-quality school. Oaks Academy students are consistently among the state’s top performers on standardized assessments, with 82.2 percent passing both the Language Arts and Math portions of the ISTEP last year.

The schools’ 300 alumni who are tracked carefully after graduation, and the school has determined its 4-year college matriculation rate to be 87 percent.

Additionally, parental involvement is not optional for all Oaks Families, but mandatory as a caring, committed adult must participate in various activities during the admissions cycle and school year to ensure all stakeholders have skin in the game.

Teach Yourself Computer Science

teachyourselfcs

If you’re a self-taught engineer or bootcamp grad, you owe it to yourself to learn computer science. Thankfully, you can give yourself a world-class CS education without investing years and a small fortune in a degree program 💸.

There are plenty of resources out there, but some are better than others. You don’t need yet another “200+ Free Online Courses” listicle. You need answers to these questions:

The Ideology Behind Intolerant College Students

Stephen L Carter:

Here’s what’s scariest about the last week’s incident at Middlebury College, where protesters shouted down the social scientist Charles Murray and injured a professor who was escorting him from the venue: It felt like an everyday event. So common has such odious behavior become that it’s tempting to greet it with a shrug.

According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, 2016 saw a record number of efforts to keep controversial speakers from being heard on campus — and that’s just in the U.S. To be sure, not all of the attempts succeeded, and the number catalogued, 42, is but a small fraction of the many outsiders who give addresses at colleges and universities each year. The real number of rejected speakers is certainly much higher, once we add in all the people not invited in the first place because some member of this or that committee objects to their views, or because campus authorities fear trouble. But even one would be too many.

Civics: Rand Paul Is Right: NSA Routinely Monitors Americans’ Communications Without Warrants

Paul’s explanation is absolutely correct. That the NSA is empowered to spy on Americans’ communications without a warrant — in direct contravention of the core Fourth Amendment guarantee that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause” — is the dirty little secret of the U.S. Surveillance State.

As I documented at the height of the controversy over the Snowden reporting, top government officials — including President Obama — constantly deceived (and still deceive) the public by falsely telling them that their communications cannot be monitored without a warrant. Responding to the furor created over the first set of Snowden reports about domestic spying, Obama sought to reassure Americans by telling Charlie Rose: “What I can say unequivocally is that if you are a U.S. person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls … by law and by rule, and unless they … go to a court, and obtain a warrant, and seek probable cause.”

Bottling Politics

John Robb:

PS> Bots come in two flavors:

software or a combination of software and hardware (robots).

While hardware based bots like drones have some scary/amazing (yet largely unexplored) tactical utility, most of the real action is in software bots or more specifically, social bots. Social bots can be run from a single computer using multiple social networking accounts. Others are operate as a network, using PCs compromised by malware. In general, social bots can do the following:

Civics: US spies still won’t tell Congress the number of Americans caught in dragnet

David Kravets:

In 2013, a National Security Agency contractor named Edward Snowden revealed US surveillance programs that involved the massive and warrantless gathering of Americans’ electronic communications. Two of the programs, called Upstream and Prism, are allowed under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That section expires at year’s end, and President Donald Trump’s administration, like his predecessor’s administration, wants the law renewed so those snooping programs can continue.

That said, even as the administration seeks renewal of the programs, Congress and the public have been left in the dark regarding questions surrounding how many Americans’ electronic communications have been ensnared under the programs. Congress won’t be told in a classified setting either, despite repeated requests.

We Need More ‘Useless’ Knowledge

Robbert Dijkgraaf:

Albert Einstein, honorary chair of the fair’s science advisory committee, presided over the official illumination ceremony, also broadcast live on television. He spoke to a huge crowd on the topic of cosmic rays, highly energetic subatomic particles bombarding the Earth from outer space. But two scientific discoveries that would soon dominate the world were absent at the fair: nuclear energy and electronic computers.

The very beginnings of both technologies, however, could be found at an institution that had been Einstein’s academic home since 1933: the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. The institute was the brainchild of its first director, Abraham Flexner. Intended to be a “paradise for scholars” with no students or administrative duties, it allowed its academic stars to fully concentrate on deep thoughts, as far removed as possible from everyday matters and practical applications. It was the embodiment of Flexner’s vision of the “unobstructed pursuit of useless knowledge,” which would only show its use over many decades, if at all.

Illiberal arts colleges: Pay more, get less (free speech)

Richard V. Reeves and Dimitrios Halikias:

The case of Murray v. Middlebury has generated plenty of interest, and for good reason. For those who missed it, Charles Murray, a distinguished if often controversial social scientist, was prevented from speaking at Middlebury College by repeated noisy disruptions to both a public and hastily-arranged private webcast. Things turned nasty when Murray went to leave and an angry mob confronted him. Murray was pushed and shoved. His interlocutor, liberal political science professor Allison Stanger, was grabbed by the hair, and later had to be put in a neck brace in hospital. Once she and Murray managed to get inside the car, protestors banged on the doors and jumped on the hood.

Much more can and is being said about these events, but no better testimonies can be found than those of Murray and Stanger themselves. As Frank Bruni put it in the New York Times, the students at this “liberal” college were in fact displaying “illiberalism…issuing repressive rules about what people should be able to say and hear”. Jonathan Haidt, the NYU social psychologist says the incident “was a modern-day auto-da-fé: the celebration of a religious rite by burning the blasphemer.”

These activists want greater home-school monitoring. Parent groups say no way.

Lisa Grace Lednicer:

Sarah Hunt makes her living educating fellow Republicans about climate change. It requires the cool detachment of the well-trained lawyer that she is.

But for years she has also been building a life advising young women who have fled their sheltered, fundamentalist Christian home-schooling families in search of independence and opportunity. So when a call came from her friend and former Georgetown law school classmate Carmen Green last spring, she listened intently.

A young woman in Oregon was trying to escape her family, Green told her. She had been home-schooled and was eager to go to college. But the woman said her fundamentalist parents believed higher education wasn’t part of “God’s plan” for her. When she insisted, they took away her laptop and cellphone.

Machine Learning And Judges

Tom Simonite:

hen should a criminal defendant be required to await trial in jail rather than at home? Software could significantly improve judges’ ability to make that call—reducing crime or the number of people stuck waiting in jail.

In a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, economists and computer scientists trained an algorithm to predict whether defendants were a flight risk from their rap sheet and court records using data from hundreds of thousands of cases in New York City. When tested on over a hundred thousand more cases that it hadn’t seen before, the algorithm proved better at predicting what defendants will do after release than judges.

A troubling contagion: The rural 4-day school week

Paul T. Hill and Georgia Heyward:

The first few localities to adopt the four-day school week hoped to save money on transportation, heating, janitorial, and clerical costs. The idea was to add roughly 30 to 90 minutes to each day that students are in school, then on the fifth day (usually Friday) to assign projects and encourage parent and community groups to organize study halls and enrichment activities.

However, savings have been elusive because so many costs—most importantly teacher salaries and equipment leases—are fixed. Even on days off, sports teams use buses and drivers for away games. Savings must come from expendables (for example, fuel for buses and heating, food for student lunches, and pay for hourly employees). There are also offsetting cost increases. School buildings must be kept open longer four days each week and on the fifth day for teacher meetings. Students who spend 90 minutes more per day in school need afternoon snacks.

Power, class, and the new campus religion

William Deresiewicz:

Let us eschew the familiar examples: the disinvited speakers, the Title IX tribunals, the safe zones stocked with Play-Doh, the crusades against banh mi. The flesh-eating bacterium of political correctness, which feeds preferentially on brain tissue, and which has become endemic on elite college campuses, reveals its true virulence not in the sorts of high-profile outbreaks that reach the national consciousness, but in the myriad of ordinary cases—the everyday business-as-usual at institutions around the country—that are rarely even talked about.

A clarification, before I continue (since deliberate misconstrual is itself a tactic of the phenomenon in question). By political correctness, I do not mean the term as it has come to be employed on the right—that is, the expectation of adherence to the norms of basic decency, like refraining from derogatory epithets. I mean its older, intramural denotation: the persistent attempt to suppress the expression of unwelcome beliefs and ideas.

Civics: There Really Was A Liberal Media Bubble

Nate Silver:

But those other three conditions? Political journalism fails miserably along those dimensions.

Diversity of opinion? For starters, American newsrooms are not very diverse along racial or gender lines, and it’s not clear the situation is improving much.6 And in a country where educational attainment is an increasingly important predictor of cultural and political behavior, some 92 percent of journalists have college degrees. A degree didn’t used to be a de facto prerequisite7 for a reporting job; just 70 percent of journalists had college degrees in 1982 and only 58 percent did in 1971.

The political diversity of journalists is not very strong, either. As of 2013, only 7 percent of them identified as Republicans (although only 28 percent called themselves Democrats with the majority saying they were independents). And although it’s not a perfect approximation — in most newsrooms, the people who issue endorsements are not the same as the ones who do reporting — there’s reason to think that the industry was particularly out of sync with Trump. Of the major newspapers that endorsed either Clinton or Trump, only 3 percent (2 of 59) endorsed Trump. By comparison, 46 percent of newspapers to endorse either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney endorsed Romney in 2012. Furthermore, as the media has become less representative of right-of-center views — and as conservatives have rebelled against the political establishment — there’s been an increasing and perhaps self-reinforcing cleavage between conservative news and opinion outlets such as Breitbart and the rest of the media.

Tony Evers seeks a third term after battles with conservatives, cancer and Common Core

Molly Beck:

“The ability for school boards to use charters as kind of an incubator — I think that’s great,” Evers said, who lamented that the public often conflates private voucher schools with charter schools.

Evers, who now opposes the expansion of taxpayer-funded school vouchers in Wisconsin, also once voiced support for them in 2000 — when only students in Milwaukee could use them.

“To me, the key is student learning. I don’t care if we find success in voucher schools, charter schools or Milwaukee public schools. The idea is to find what works and replicate it as soon as possible. So from that standpoint, I believe the (voucher) experiment needs to continue,” Evers said in 2000.

By 2001, however, while running against former West High School principal Libby Burmaster, who would go on to beat him, Evers had publicly opposed the expansion of vouchers beyond Milwaukee and said the system’s level of financial and academic accountability must increase.

Evers said he has tried to “thread the needle” on the issue since then.

Much more on Tony Evers, here.

For Pi Day, key figures on math and education in the U.S.

Monica Anderson:

For almost 30 years, math enthusiasts have been taking part in festivities on March 14 to honor an infinitely long number beginning with 3.14 – the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, otherwise known as pi.

The first official Pi Day was March 14, 1988, when physicist Larry Shaw led staff and visitors to San Francisco’s Exploratorium in a celebration of all things pi-related. Since then, it has been celebrated across the globe, with universities, conferences and even pizzerias honoring the day.

To mark Pi Day, here are four findings about math and education in the United States:

Related: Math Forum audio and video.

Bill: Workers who decline genetic testing could face penalties

Lena Sun:

Employers could impose hefty penalties on employees who decline to participate in genetic testing as part of workplace wellness programs if a bill approved by a House committee this week becomes law.

Employers, in general, don’t have that power under existing federal laws that protect genetic privacy and nondiscrimination. But a bill passed Wednesday by a House committee would allow employers to get around that if the information is collected as part of workplace wellness programs.

A troubling contagion: The rural 4-day school week

Paul Hill Georgia Heyward:

Americans are waking up to the plight of rural and small town areas. Rural students and workers need government and philanthropic help to link to jobs, higher education, and career opportunities, whether near their homes or in cities.

But rural residents need to avoid making matters worse for themselves. One troubling development, adopted totally by local initiative, is for rural schools to operate only four days per week (usually Monday through Thursday). This phenomenon is sweeping the Intermountain West, spreading to 88 districts in Colorado, 43 in Idaho, 30 in Oregon, and nearly half of the districts in Montana. Other parts of the country will likely follow suit.

Parents, report to my office immediately!

Sian Griffiths:

For more than a decade Clarissa Farr has headed up one of the top private schools in the country. St Paul’s Girls’ School — where fees are more than £23,000 a year and the daughters of QCs, doctors and bankers compete to gain admission — turns out “terrifyingly” brilliant high-flyers.

Alumni include the Labour politician Harriet Harman, the broadcaster Rachel Johnson and the actresses Rachel Weisz and Jennifer Saunders. Farr has presided over this hothouse for bluestockings, which regularly tops exam league tables, for the past 11 years. Unexpectedly, however, a few weeks ago she announced she was to step down.

Tall, glamorous, formidable, clad in a chic, dark two-piece with a string of pearls around her neck, she pours me tea in her airy…

Scientists’ march on Washington is a bad idea – here’s why

Andrea Saltelli:

I’ve seen no serious attempt to rebalance this unequal context.

A third victim of present times is the idea – central to Polanyi’s argument for a Republic of Science – that scientists are capable of keeping their house in order. In the 1960s, scientists still worked in interconnected communities of practice; they knew each other personally. For Polanyi, the overlap among different scientific fields allowed scientists to “exercise a sound critical judgement between disciplines”, ensuring self-governance and accountability.

Today, science is driven by fierce competition and complex technologies. Who can read or even begin to understand the two million scientific articles published each year?

Elijah Millgram calls this phenomenon the “New Endarkment” (the opposite of enlightenment), in which scientists have been transformed into veritable “methodological aliens” to one another.

One illustration of Millgram’s fears is the P-test imbroglio, in which a statistical methodology essential to the conduit of science was misused and abused for decades. How could a well-run Republic let this happen?

The classic vision of science providing society with truth, power and legitimacy is a master narrative whose time has expired. The Washington March for Science organisers have failed to account for the fact that science has devolved intowhat Polanyi feared: it’s an engine for growth and profit.

The Most (and Least) Worthwhile Degrees

Martin Armstrong:

For a great many young people, the decision of whether to extend their education and attend university is a tough one to make. As our infographic below shows, not all that choose to do a bachelor’s degree graduate with the feeling that it was all worthwhile. Emolument surveyed 1,800 UK graduates to reveal that the most regretted major is psychology. Only 33 percent of bachelors of this particular science said their degree was worth it. On the other end of the scale, 87 percent of chemistry and natural sciences alumni said they felt their studies were worth it.

How should our kids play at recess? Alameda schools offer lessons

Jill Tucker:

At one school in Alameda, tag is banned. So is walking up the slides or stopping while going down. There’s no crouching under the play structure, no swinging jackets around one’s head, no playing with sticks and no hiding behind trees.

There are a lot of recess rules at Bay Farm Elementary.

On the opposite side of the island city, kids stuff themselves into car tires and squeal as they fly across the blacktop on the wheels of an old office chair. They can play tag, run up the slide, hide behind trees and crouch pretty much anywhere they want, including within wobbly forts and under the play structure.

There aren’t a lot of recess rules at William G. Paden Elementary.

Want to Raise Successful Boys? Science Says Do This (but Their Schools Probably Won’t)

Bill Murphy:

News flash: Most boys are rambunctious. Often they seem like they’re in a constant state of motion: running, jumping, fighting, playing, getting hurt–maybe getting upset–and getting right back into the physical action.

Except at school, where they’re required to sit still for long periods of time. (And when they fail to stay still, how are they punished? Often by being forced to skip recess–and thus they sit still longer.)

It’s not just an American issue. Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland recently tried to document whether boys actually achieve less in school when they’re restricted from running around and being physically active.

They studied 153 kids, aged 6 to 8, and tracked how much physical activity and sedentary time they had during the day. Sure enough, according to a report by Belinda Luscombe in Time, the less “moderate to vigorous physical activity” the boys had each day, the harder it was for them to develop good reading skills:

THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF THE CHILDREN OF IMMIGRANTS TO SCIENCE IN AMERICA

STUART ANDERSON:

An impressive 83 percent (33 of 40) of the finalists of the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search, the leading science competition for U.S. high school students, were the children of immigrants. Moreover, 75 percent – 30 out of 40 – of the finalists had parents who worked in America on H-1B visas. That compares to 7 children who had both parents born in the United States. The science competition has been called the “Junior Nobel Prize.” These outstanding children of immigrants would never have been in America if their parents had not been allowed into the U.S.

Today, both the Trump administration and some members of Congress would like to impose new restrictions on legal immigration, including on high-skilled immigrants. Policymakers seeking to restrict high-skilled immigration should note that an important, underappreciated benefit of high-skilled foreign nationals is the contributions made by their children. The findings tells us that if we prevent high-skilled foreign nationals from coming to America, we will not only lose their contributions but the significant contributions that will be made by their children. It is likely there are many more children of H-1B visa holders who will make outstanding contributions beyond those who qualified for one of the coveted 40 finalist spots in the 2016 Intel Science Talent Search.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: California exports its poor to Texas, other states, while wealthier people move in

Phillip Reese:

Kiril Kundurazieff, 56, is among the low-income residents who left California. He spent more than a decade working in a small bookstore, then at Target, then at a Verizon call center, in Southern California. After some medical issues that hampered his eyesight, he found himself unemployed in Santa Ana, with monthly rent of about $1,000 in 2012.

“There was really nothing left for me in California,” said Kundurazieff, who also writes a blog about his cats. “The cost of living was high. The rent was high. The job market was debatable.”

Friends in Texas suggested he relocate. He now works at a Walmart in Houston, making a little north of $10 an hour. He works 40 hours a week, riding his bike about 7 miles to work many days. He does not pay state income tax. His rent is just over $500, with utilities.

About the same time that Kundurazieff was leaving, Tamara and Kit Keane were arriving from Oklahoma. Both had been working on their doctorate degrees at Oklahoma universities, Kit in biology and Tamara in education.

The Keanes already knew California. Kit, 34, was born and raised in Sacramento. Tamara, 31, spent most of her life in Southern California. They met at UC Davis about a decade ago.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: “The Reality Is, Half Of Americans Can’t Afford To Write A $500 Check”

Tyler Durden:

It is what he said next that caught our attention: “The reality is, half of Americans can’t afford to write a $500 check,” Colberg said. He spun that stunning statistic by saying that when US customers sign up for a cellular plan, they’re willing to buy protection in case “they lose that phone or something happens to it.”

In other words, there are millions of Americans who don’t have $500 in the bank but are willing to dish out more than that on a cell phone, and then are stupid enough to make monthly payments that ultimately end up being far higher than $500 to protect their purchase… which they clearly couldn’t afford in the first place.

Americans have lost faith in institutions. That’s not because of Trump or ‘fake news.’

Bill Bishop:

Sustained collective action has also become more difficult. Institutions are turning to behavioral “nudges,” hoping to move an increasingly suspicious public to do what once could be accomplished by command or law. As groups based on tradition and consistent association dwindle, they are being replaced by “event communities,” temporary gatherings that come and go without long-term commitment (think Burning Man). The protests spawned by Trump’s election are more about passion than organization and focus. Today’s demonstrations are sometimes compared to civil-rights-era marches, but they have more in common with L.A.’s Sunset Strip riots of 1966, when more than 1,000 young people gathered to object to a 10 p.m. curfew. “There’s something happening here,” goes the Buffalo Springfield song “For What It’s Worth,” commemorating the riots. “What it is ain’t exactly clear.” In our new politics, expression is a purpose itself.

A polarized and distrustful electorate may stymie the national government, but locally most communities are either overwhelmingly Republican or Democratic. In 2016, 8 out of 10 U.S. counties gave either Trump or Hillary Clinton a landslide victory. In these increasingly homogenous communities, nobody need bother about compromise and the trust it requires. From anti-abortion measures to laws governing factory farming, the policy action is taking place where majorities can do what they want without dealing with “those people” who live the next state over or a few miles down the road. At last count, 1 in 4 Americans supports the idea of their state seceding from the union.

Solutions and action shrink to the size of the individual. Increasing numbers of New York state parents have been holding their children out of end-of-year school tests in a kind of DIY education reform. In some Los Angeles schools, so many parents opt out of the vaccination regime that inoculation rates are on a par with South Sudan’s as people make their own scientific judgments. The “we medicine” of community health, writes Donna Dickenson, is replaced by the “me medicine” of individual genetic testing, tailored drug regimes and all manner of personal “enhancement” technologies. And where once antitrust laws were used to break up monopolies in food markets, Michael Pollan concludes that today, we must “vote with our fork.”

What the CIA WikiLeaks Dump Tells Us: Encryption Works

Associated Press:

Documents purportedly outlining a massive CIA surveillance program suggest that CIA agents must go to great lengths to circumvent encryption they can’t break. In many cases, physical presence is required to carry off these targeted attacks.

“We are in a world where if the U.S. government wants to get your data, they can’t hope to break the encryption,” said Nicholas Weaver, who teaches networking and security at the University of California, Berkeley. “They have to resort to targeted attacks, and that is costly, risky and the kind of thing you do only on targets you care about. Seeing the CIA have to do stuff like this should reassure civil libertarians that the situation is better now than it was four years ago.”

Raising the Bar is the Right Move for Students

Katrina Boone:

Seventy-eight percent of the high school’s students qualify for free or reduced lunch, which indicates a high level of poverty for a district. And until the recent focus on setting the bar equally high for all students, they had the lowest college going rate. But the focus on helping every student select the appropriate college-ready courses has improved their graduation and college-going rate dramatically.

Students feel inspired by the attitude that all students were expected to rise to the occasion and would inevitably persevere. “It was the way [the principal] talked to us, like we actually had a chance…There wasn’t any doubt in her voice,” one student explained.

To many of us who believe in the value of setting high standards for all students, regardless or family income, or zip code, this story sounds familiar.

Senate passes bill on inappropriate teacher-student relationships

Mariana Alfaro:

School principals and superintendents who fail to report teachers involved in inappropriate relationships with students could face criminal charges under a bill passed unanimously Wednesday in the Texas Senate.

Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, said he introduced Senate Bill 7 in response to an uptick of cases in the past eight years where Texas elementary, middle and high school teachers were found in romantic and sexual relationships with their students. In fiscal year 2016, the Texas Education Agency opened 222 investigations that involved inappropriate relationships.

In Defense Of Free Speech

American Political Science Association (APSA):

The American Political Science Association (APSA) condemns the violence surrounding a talk by political scientist Charles Murray at Middlebury College on March 2, 2017, which resulted in an injury to the talk’s moderator, Allison Stanger, the Russell J. Leng ’60 Professor of International Politics and Economics The violence surrounding the talk undermined the ability of faculty and students to engage in the free exchange of ideas and debate, thereby impeding academic freedom on the Middlebury campus.

The American Political Science Association is a scholarly association that represents more than 13,000 U.S. and internationally based professors and students of political science. The Association is committed to upholding the core tenet of academic freedom in the study of political science.

The APSA works to promote scholarly understanding of political ideas, norms, behaviors, and institutions, in order to inform public choices about government, governance and public policy. Necessarily, this can at times involve intense exchanges and debates about ideas and evidence – including ideas or arguments that some consider suspect or wrong. Violence, however, is not an appropriate answer to speech. The Association condemns these violent actions on March 2 and it reiterates its support for peaceful discourse to explore, debate, and challenge speech on the range of issues that matter to our society and political system.

David A. Lake, President
Jennifer Hochschild, Past-President Kathleen Thelen, President-Elect
Steven Rathgeb Smith, Executive Director

Seven-year-old Bana al-Abed, the ‘face of Aleppo’

Mehul Srivastava:

Bana has her mouth full, so I speak with Fatemah. She’s 27, and had been training to become a lawyer when the war came to Aleppo. I have to ask her how she feels about her child being used “as a tool for propaganda” — first for the anti-government forces and now by the Turkish government. When the Turkish government brokered the chaotic retreat of fighters and civilians from east Aleppo, they found Bana and her family in a makeshift camp in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, and flew them by helicopter to Ankara. She and her two younger brothers ended up in front of the cameras, sitting on President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s lap. Now, even as Turkey sends in its own military, arms opposition fighters and demands the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, they are presented as symbols of his magnanimity.

Fatemah has been thinking about this, she says. She worries what it will do to her child. Her sons, aged three and five, have known nothing but war and even today are scared to be alone, crying in their sleep. “Bana wants to help, but also I want the world to understand that Bana is a child,” she says. “We want her to be a normal child, and live like a child of the world, without war, without anything.”

But Bana has a strong personality, she adds. “For my Bana, it’s different because when her father and I raised her, we gave her her own personality. We don’t want to make her what we want — we don’t want a robot, do like this or do like that.” she says.

“The war itself, it’s a big teacher,” she adds. “Even for the children. They know and they recognise that when they hear the bombs, they know the sound, which bomb it is. They know if it was a cluster bomb, if it was a barrel bomb, if it was phosphorus bombs. They know everything.” They pick it up, from listening to adults, from reacting to their fear, from what they hear on the television. “If you ask a little one, three years old, where’s your house, he’ll say it’s destroyed. Why? Because of the bomb. Who sent this bomb? The war plane. He knows.

“But they don’t know real life. If you say, ‘Draw something’, maybe they will draw a rocket, maybe they draw a bomb. [Normal] children draw flowers, butterflies, because they imagine life.”

How small is too small? Friess Lake and Richfield school districts talk merger

Brittany Carloni:

To save money and increase opportunities for students, the Friess Lake School District is considering merging with the neighboring Richfield Joint 1 School District in Washington County.

Although McKenna understands the potential benefits of a consolidated district, she doesn’t want to lose what she knows at Friess Lake.

“It’s the fear of the unknown,” McKenna said. “We know what we’re getting at Friess Lake. I don’t know the staff in Richfield.”
District consolidations are relatively rare in Wisconsin, and in the past 10 years they’ve only occurred among small districts in northern or central parts of the state. The fact that the conversation is now happening in the greater Milwaukee metro area signals the continued pressures on small districts grappling with the one-two punch of declining enrollment and decreased revenue.

How Friendships Change Over Time

Julie Beck:

In the hierarchy of relationships, friendships are at the bottom. Romantic partners, parents, children—all these come first.

This is true in life, and in science, where relationship research tends to focus on couples and families. When Emily Langan, an associate professor of communication at Wheaton College goes to conferences for the International Association of Relationship Researchers, she says, “friendship is the smallest cluster there. Sometimes it’s a panel, if that.”

Staggering number of college students using student loans to pay for spring break

Jon Street:

With March in full swing, millions of college students across the country are gearing up to head south for a week of alcohol-infused beach parties. And a new study has found that many of those students won’t actually be paying for their relaxing getaway — at least not anytime soon.

LendEdu, a student loan news website, asked 500 college students who are going on spring break whether they plan on using money from their student loans to help pay for their travel, whether it be for lodging, airfare or otherwise. Amazingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, nearly one-third (30.6 percent) of those polled said they did plan to apply at least some of their student loan funds toward their spring break vacation.

19 Women Leading Math and Physics Top women in mathematics and physics discuss how they got to where they are—and why there aren’t more of them.

Natalie Wolchover:

n an interview with Quanta Magazine last fall, the eminent theoretical physicist Helen Quinn recalled her uncertainty, as a Stanford University undergraduate in the 1960s, about whether to pursue a career in physics or become a high school teacher. “There were no women in the faculty at Stanford at that time in the physics department,” Quinn said. “I didn’t see myself there.” Her adviser warned her that “graduate schools are usually reluctant to accept women because they get married and they don’t finish.” (He kindly added that “I don’t think we need to worry about that with you.”)

Boundaries and barbarians: ontological (in)security and the [cyber?] war on universities

Jana Bacevic:

In this context, it should not be surprising that many academics fear digital technologies: anything that tests the material/symbolic boundaries of our own existence is bound to be seen as troubling/dirty/dangerous. This brings to mind Kavafy’s poem (and J.M. Coetzee’s novel) Waiting for the Barbarians, in which an outpost of the Empire prepares for the attack of ‘the barbarians’ – that, in fact, never arrives. The trope of the university as a bulwark against and/or at danger of descending into barbarism has been explored by a number of writers, including Thorstein Veblen and, more recently, Roy Coleman. Regardless of the accuracy or historical stretchability of the trope, what I am most interested in is its use as a simultaneously diagnostic and normative narrative that frames and situates the current transformation of higher education and research.

As the last line of Kavafy’s poem suggests, barbarians represent ‘a kind of solution’: a solution for the otherwise unanswered question of the role and purpose of universities in the 21st century, which began to be asked ever more urgently with the post-war expansion of higher education, only to be shut down by the integration/normalization of the soixante-huitards in what Boltanski and Chiapello have recognised as contemporary capitalism’s almost infinite capacity to appropriate critique. Disentangling this dynamic is key to understanding contemporary clashes and conflicts over the nature of knowledge production. Rather than locating dangers to the university firmly beyond the gates, then, perhaps we could use the current crisis to think about how we perceive, negotiate, and preserve the boundaries between ‘in’ and ‘out’. Until we have a space to do that, I believe we will continue building walls only to realise we have been left on the wrong side.

How medicalized language and the therapeutic culture came to dominate Anglo-American institutions of higher education.

Frank Furedi:

Some months back I read a circular issued to Oxford University postgraduate students on the potentially traumatic consequences of social science research. Promoting the availability of “Vicarious (Secondary) Trauma Workshops for post-grads participating in the university’s ‘Social Sciences Research and Skills Training’ programme,” the blurb explained that:

It is increasingly recognised that some social science research places exceptional emotional demands on the researcher, and that managing these emotional demands can be an essential component of the work. In particular, researchers whose fieldwork entails hearing about and engaging with the traumatic experiences of others may be at risk of developing symptoms of vicarious trauma (sometimes called “secondary trauma”) which can parallel symptoms of traumatic stress.

That social science research now comes with a health warning is testimony to the ascendancy of therapy culture in Western institutions of higher education.

Since the 1960s, universities have been in the forefront of promoting theories and practices that encourage people to interpret their anxieties, distress, and disappointment through the language of psychological deficits. Until recently, however, how students and faculty coped with their existential problems remained a personal matter. Today, the therapeutic outlook pervades campus culture so thoroughly that it influences how courses are taught, which topics are discussed, and how verbal exchanges are regulated. Teaching, some educators believe, can be trauma inducing, and so they have adopted an explicit “trauma-informed perspective.”

Outside of hospitals, the university has arguably become the most medicalized institution in Western culture. In 21st-century Anglo-American universities, public displays of emotionalism, vulnerability, and fragility serve as cultural resources through which members of the academic community express their identity or make statements about their plight. On both sides of the Atlantic, professional counselors working in universities report a steady rise in demand for mental-health services.

Politics And Income Inequality

Scott Adams:

Speaking of jobs, if Trump’s job-creation hype evolves from anecdotal to real, that’s a great way to reduce income inequality too. As I have often said, economies run on psychology, and Trump is a master of psychology. He proved that already by injecting enough optimism into the system that it goosed the stock market, and business confidence in general. That should translate into more investments and a better economy.

The Trump administration also recently tightened their connection to historically black colleges to see how they can help. The best way to reduce income inequality is to address the hardest cases first, to get the most bang for the buck. And the African-American community is coming from the deepest hole. We see no results there yet, but the move makes sense from the perspective of addressing income inequality.

Locally, Madison has continued with its long-term nondiverse governance model, this, despite decades long disastrous reading results.

We spend more than most, now around $18,000 per student!

DeepMind just published a mind blowing paper:

Théo Szymkowiak:

Since scientists started building and training neural networks, Transfer Learning has been the main bottleneck. Transfer Learning is the ability of an AI to learn from different tasks and apply its pre-learned knowledge to a completely new task. It is implicit that with this precedent knowledge, the AI will perform better and train faster than de novo neural networks on the new task.

DeepMind is on the path of solving this with PathNet. PathNet is a network of neural networks, trained using both stochastic gradient descent and a genetic selection method.

Report accuses Milwaukee of foot-dragging on mandate to sell vacant MPS buildings

Annysa Johnson:

At least 40 Milwaukee Public Schools buildings are vacant or underused, according to a new report by a conservative law firm that wants to see them sold off to private and public charter schools that will compete with the state’s largest public school system.

The study by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, which represents school choice advocates, says only five buildings are currently for sale, despite interest from potential buyers.

It accuses the City of Milwaukee, which owns the buildings, of violating a 2015 state law aimed at forcing the sale of surplus MPS school buildings. And it calls on the Legislature to add enforcement measures, including the awarding of attorney’s fees “if the aggrieved party prevails,” a measure that could bankroll choice schools’ lawsuits against the city and directly benefit WILL.

Federalism And Education Governance

Dana Goldstein:

It is customary for federal agencies to issue detailed regulations on how new laws should be put into effect, and Mr. Obama’s Department of Education did so in November. But some lawmakers from both parties saw the regulations as unusually aggressive and far-reaching, and said they could subvert ESSA’s intent of re-establishing local control over education and decreasing the emphasis on testing.

Last month, the House of Representatives overturned a broad swath of the rules using the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to spike federal regulations. The Senate passed a similar resolution on Thursday, and President Trump has indicated that he will sign it. That would leave ESSA on the books, but Ms. DeVos would have more flexibility in how to apply it.

The Obama regulations pushed states to weight student achievement measures, such as test scores and graduation rates, more heavily than other factors in labeling schools as underperforming. The regulations also required schools to provide parents and the public with an annual report card detailing schoolwide student achievement data and other indicators of success.

Among the most contentious of the Obama rules was one that required schools to test at least 95 percent of their students.

There were some good reasons for such a policy. To avoid the sanctions that come with low scores, schools have sometimes pressured or forced low-performing students to stay home on testing days. But conservatives said the 95 percent rule was excessive federal intervention, while some on the left said it prevented parents and students from “opting out” of standardized tests — a popular protest tactic.

Digital Privacy at the U.S Border: A New How-To Guide from EFF

Electronic Frontier Foundation

San Francisco – Increasingly frequent and invasive searches at the U.S. border have raised questions for those of us who want to protect the private data on our computers, phones, and other digital devices. A new guide released today by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) gives travelers the facts they need in order to prepare for border crossings while protecting their digital information.

“Digital Privacy at the U.S. Border” helps everyone do a risk assessment, evaluating personal factors like immigration status, travel history, and the sensitivity of the data you are carrying. Depending on which devices come with you on your trip, your gadgets can include information like your client files for work, your political leanings and those of your friends, and even your tax return. Assessing your risk factors helps you choose a path to proactively protect yourself, which might mean leaving some devices at home, moving some information off of your devices and into the cloud, and using encryption. EFF’s guide also explains why some protections, like fingerprint locking of a phone, are less secure than other methods.

Colleges are ground zero for mob attacks on free speech, lawyer says

Robert Shibley:

Free speech on campus is facing a profound threat.

Not at the hands of President Trump, nor even at the hands of the administrators and lawyers who have done so much to erode academia’s respect for freedom of expression.

No, as highlighted by the violent disruption and end of Charles Murray’s visit to Middlebury College in Vermont last week, the immediate crisis comes from one of freedom’s most ancient enemies: the angry mob.

It’s time for college leaders and law enforcement to take a stand: In our nation, this is not what democracy looks like.

While Americans rightly tend to focus on threats to freedom of speech from the authorities, we cannot overlook the danger of allowing people to be silenced by groups prepared to be violent.

History is littered with such warnings, from Diogenes to Robert F. Kennedy, who, on the day after the Rev. Martin Luther King’s assassination, said, “A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people.”

That voice of madness led to Murray being forced to give his talk on social stratification in America by videolink after disruptive protesters made Murray’s actual presence before the audience impossible.

Ivy League Schools Don’t Care About You and That’s an Education Right There

Matthew Strauss:

One sleepless night during the fall semester of my sophomore year at Columbia University, I told my then-girlfriend that all my friends were better than me. I was just a boring guy, and they were all cool. My response: shave my beard (which I grew to update my identity post-high school) down to a mustache using her leg razor. I cried while doing it.

If I couldn’t be good at anything, I was at least going to be the guy with a damn mustache. When she and I broke up about a month later, the mustache stayed.

I can laugh at myself three years later, but that night was the breaking point I needed. Even though I felt weak, giving in to myself was the strongest thing I could have done. That semester I took a course called The History of the State of Israel with about 400 pages of reading a week; this was one of five classes, the university’s unofficial norm. That load was a big reason why I couldn’t keep up as I had in my first year, and my anxiety built steadily. What would happen to me? Surely I’d have to drop out. Everyone would know. This was the end. That anxiety metastasized into depression. I was always hungry, but I wouldn’t eat. My joints ached constantly, which made getting in and out of bed a task. My girlfriend and I both were careening into existential crises, helpless to help the other. Feeling awful about school made me feel awful about everything else. The Ivy League, so often scorned as a refuge for legacy brats and coddled alpha-nerds, turned out to be a fucking crucible.

What students should learn from Uber’s recent troubles

Vivek Wadhwa:

The criticism of Uber continues to pile up.

This week, the car service was found to use secret software to evade government regulators and a video showed its chief executive in a verbal altercation with one of the company’s drivers. Previously, the company’s self-driving cars raised safety concerns in San Francisco when, because of faulty and incomplete technology, they reportedly barreled through red lights and crossed over bike lanes. Uber has recently been accused of sexual harassment, intellectual property theft and other questionable behavior.

Uber isn’t alone. Silicon Valley is gaining a reputation for being obsessed with making money at any cost, i.e. Theranos, which made false claims and risked lives. The tech industry is becoming too much like the finance industry, which a decade ago caused the Great Recession with its greed.

The irony is that both industries compete for top engineering talent from our colleges. And each corrupts these students in a different way. Finance uses their knowledge to engineer our financial system, while tech focuses it on making money rather than on uplifting humanity.

Civics: Feds Blame ‘Self-Styled FOIA Terrorist’ for Their Own Stonewalling Journalists shouldn’t have to sue to get public information.

C.J. Ciaramella:

BuzzFeed News reporter Jason Leopold is a prodigious Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requester who files hundreds of public records requests and dozens of lawsuits a year against federal agencies. In fact, the only news organization that filed more FOIA lawsuits against the government last year was The New York Times.

Most transparency advocates and journalists would think of this as a feather in Leopold’s cap, but according to government lawyers, filing too many lawsuits against agencies for failing to abide by federal records law is a good reason to delay further transparency.

U.S. Justice Department lawyers filed a motion Monday in response to one of Leopold’s many FOIA lawsuits, asking a federal court to allow the National Security Agency to delay releasing a large tranche of documents to him, citing in part his extensive litigation to get public records.

“A Typical Well-Funded But Underperforming School District”

Because of its location near the nation’s capital, its charming historic Old Town, and its median family income of $109,228 (the highest of any city in Virginia), outsiders might think that Alexandria boasts a first-rate public-school system. It doesn’t. The quality of the public schools within the city varies greatly, and system as a whole lags behind those in neighboring Arlington and Fairfax Counties. Pick your measuring stick: U.S. News & World Report, Zillow, GreatSchools.org, Trulia, parental chat boards, the Washington Post ranking of local high schools. Alexandria performs poorly by any metric. SchoolDigger ranks the district 96th out of 130 districts in the state. This isn’t to say Alexandria schools are bad, exactly, but some of them are particularly subpar for an area with such relative wealth.

Jefferson-Houston, which teaches students from pre-K to eighth grade, lost its accreditation in 2012. The school, which is 67 percent black, narrowly avoided being taken over by the state in a subsequent court battle. A little more than 15,000 students attend 16 public schools in Alexandria, and the district spends $16,999 per student, according to the latest statistics. Class sizes are small, averaging 18 students in elementary school, 20 in middle school, and 22 in high school. Despite those advantages, students in Alexandria’s public schools underperform the statewide average in subject after subject. In the 2015–16 school year, 80 percent of Virginia students passed English proficiency exams; 73 percent of students in Alexandria did. In math, 80 percent statewide passed; 68 percent of Alexandria students did. Statewide, 77 percent of students passed a test of writing proficiency; 69 percent of Alexandria students did. In history, 86 percent of students passed statewide; 77 percent of Alexandria students did. In science, 83 percent of students statewide passed; 69 percent of Alexandria students did.

Madison spends more, about $18,000 per student. Despite this far above average spending, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“An emphasis on adult employment“.

When Algorithms Don’t Account for Civil Right

Gilian White:

As people live more of their lives online, the necessity of figuring out how to extend offline protections to virtual practices becomes even more important. One way in which this problem is evident is bullying. Schools have long had punitive systems in place that, though far from perfect, sought to make their classrooms and hallways safe environments. Extending those same systems to the online world has been a significant challenge—how can they monitor what happens online and in private? And what’s the appropriate punishment for bad behavior that happens on the internet?

Another area that has proven difficult for this act of offline-to-online translation is the rules that protect Americans from discriminatory advertising. The internet is chock-full of ads, many of which are uncomplicated efforts to get people to buy more home goods and see more movies and so on. But things get a lot more tricky when the goods being advertised—such as housing, jobs, and credit—are those that have histories of being off-limits to women, black people, and other minorities. For these industries, the federal government has sought to make sure that advertisers do not help further historical oppression, via laws such as the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

In Puerto Rico, Teachers’ Pension Fund Works Like a Ponzi Scheme

Mary Williams Walsh:

The teachers’ pension fund in Puerto Rico looks very much like a legalized Ponzi scheme — one that might hold a warning for teachers across America.

Puerto Rico, where the money to pay teachers’ pensions is expected to run out next year, has become a particularly extreme example of a problem facing states including Illinois, New Jersey and Pennsylvania: As teachers’ pension costs keep rising, young teachers are being squeezed — sometimes hard. One study found that more than three-fourths of all American teachers hired at age 25 will end up paying more into pension plans than they ever get back.

“I think they’re really being taken advantage of,” said Richard W. Johnson of the Urban Institute, a co-author of the research. “What’s so tragic about this is, often the new hires aren’t aware that they’re getting such a bad deal.”

Milwaukee Public Schools bracing for $50 million-plus budget gap

Annysa Johnson and Erin Richards:

Driver said the gap between projected revenues and expenditures is being driven in part by proposed cuts in federal funding and legacy costs for retiree health-care benefits.
She said the district is evaluating programs to ensure it is funding only those that are working and will continue to pursue philanthropic dollars, which have more than doubled to $36 million this year, to offset its costs.

“This requires us to make some difficult decisions,” said Driver who is in the midst of the district’s so-called budget carousels, brief meetings with every school and department as the budget takes shape.

Curated Education Information