Cal State’s Growth in Hiring of Managers Exceeds Other Staff, Audit Finds

Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz:

The California State University system has increased its hiring of managers at a steeper rate than its hiring of other employees over the past 10 years, according to a new state audit.

And in a report on the audit released on Thursday, the state auditor, Elaine M. Howle, wrote that the system could not sufficiently explain why it needed all the new managers, including deans, head coaches, and vice presidents, among other positions.

From the 2007-8 to the 2015-16 fiscal years, the system’s growth rate for full-time managers was 15 percent, but the growth rate for its non-faculty support staff was 6 percent and for faculty members was 7 percent, the audit shows.

Daniel Suarez AMA (ask Me Anything)


Hi Reddit! I used to write code for an audience of machines, but then I self-published my first thriller, Daemon, which went on to become a NYT bestseller. Now I write books full-time.

Here is proof:

My latest sci-fi thriller, Change Agent ( ), explores the implications of CRISPR genetic editing technology. I’m ready to answer your questions about that or other topics.

Let’s do this!

Update: I’m going to stick around to answer some of these remaining questions.

Let me say how much fun this has been, and I greatly appreciate your questions!

Update #2: Wow — just looked up and realized the time. I have to go. But I am constantly amazed by my readers. Whenever I meet you at events, I invariably think how fortunate I am to have such a thoughtful readership. I will always endeavor to deserve you. Thank you, one and all!

Boston charter school educator named national teacher of the year

James Vaznis:

Sydney Chaffee’s (center) classroom lessons at Codman Academy Charter School in Dorchester focus on the intersection of history and literature.

By James Vaznis GLOBE STAFF APRIL 20, 2017
At Codman Academy Charter School in Dorchester, Sydney Chaffee likes to put the spotlight on her students during a weekly schoolwide assembly — having them write the scripts, act out the skits, and fully take charge of an event that is integral to the Codman’s identity.

But on Thursday morning, in the midst of school vacation week, it was Chaffee who stepped into the spotlight, with the announcement that she had been named National Teacher of the Year, making her the first Massachusetts educator to receive the top award in teaching.

Chaffee’s selection made history in another way: She appears to be the first charter-school teacher to win, although a handful of those from alternative, magnet, and private schools have received the honor, according to the Council of Chief State School Officers, a professional organization that runs the 65-year-old competition.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The fading American dream: Trends in absolute income mobility since 1940

Raj Chetty, David Grusky, Maximilian Hell, Nathaniel Hendren, Robert Manduca and Jimmy Narang:

We estimated rates of “absolute income mobility”—the fraction of children who earn more than their parents—by combining data from U.S. Census and Current Population Survey cross sections with panel data from de-identified tax records. We found that rates of absolute mobility have fallen from approximately 90% for children born in 1940 to 50% for children born in the 1980s. Increasing GDP growth rates alone cannot restore absolute mobility to the rates experienced by children born in the 1940s. However, distributing current GDP growth more equally across income groups as in the 1940 birth cohort would reverse more than 70% of the decline in mobility. These results imply that reviving the “American dream” of high rates of absolute mobility would require economic growth that is shared more broadly across the income distribution.

Madison School District budget data.

K-12 Civil Rights Data Issues

Nathan Hansen:

Despite collecting the information, by law, for more than 40 years, public schools continue to struggle to report accurate and comparable civil rights data to the Department of Education.

“The issue is whether different districts are providing the same type of data and working on the same definition,” said outgoing Sparta Superintendent John Hendricks, when asked about comparing his district’s attendance data with other districts.

Sparta Superintendent John Hendricks

He said it was only valid to compare Sparta attendance figures among district schools, not across district lines.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has been collecting data on the nation’s public school districts since 1968 when Congress passed the first laws mandating the reporting. The office collects information broken down by race and gender on such topics as advanced placement enrollment, student and teacher absenteeism, disciplinary action and bullying, producing almost 2,000 variables in the process.

Wisconsin DPI link.

Neuroscience can now curate music based on your brainwaves, not your music taste

Nona Tepper:

Companies and composers have begun using software to make music customized to your brainwaves. Soon you will be able to plug in your headphones, lean back in your chair, and relax to a playlist so synchronized with your brain’s chemistry that it increases your productivity, sleep quality, and even fights anxiety.

The frequency at which your brain resonates defines your state of mind. Need to chill out? Try alpha activity. Or what about a pre-workout pep-up? Pop on some beta waves.
As consumer desire for personalized information and outcomes increases, the ability to listen to music that is literally in tune with your brain will provide a whole new business opportunity in the world of music streaming.

Students demand Pomona rescind offer to prof because she’s white

Toni Airaksinen:

Students at Pomona College have published a demand letter urging administrators to rescind their offer to hire Sociology Professor Alice Goffman because she’s white.

The “Letter to the Pomona College Sociology Department,” published last Friday argues that by hiring Goffman, the administration has neglected their commitment to promoting diversity and supporting women of color.

“This practice is detrimental to Pomona’s goal of supporting students of color.”

Reviewing Madison School District Financial Practices

Karen Rivedal:

Fralin said the financial review stemmed from a district initiative in November or December that started as a general attempt to get “better clarity on our financial protocols at the school level” but was soon narrowed to just Black Hawk and the district’s central office because officials “wanted to go deeper at Black Hawk.”

Fralin declined to identify specific red flags at Black Hawk that prompted the deeper review, only noting, “We had some questions about how some of the financial vehicles were being used.”

Fralin said the review should be finished “very shortly” and promised to report the results to Black Hawk parents and staff soon after. The Wisconsin State Journal has also requested the results of the review under the state’s open records law.

Fralin also confirmed that after hearing the parents’ concerns about money missing from the T-shirt fund, he authorized sending Black Hawk $1,000 from the district “since (the T-shirt fund) is still part of the review and we don’t want students to go without” in the meantime.

Much more on the District’s $460M budget, here.

Where College Seniors Are Falling Short

Kelsey Gee:

Parents rejoice: 2017 is shaping up to be another healthy year for college hiring.

The latest forecast from the National Association of Colleges and Employers finds that employers expect to hire 5% more graduates than they brought on last year, the eighth year in a row that companies say they are increasing their college hires.

Yet a separate survey of employers and college seniors suggests that, when it comes to courting recruiters, the Class of 2017 has some homework to do.

This year’s job-seeking seniors are ill-prepared for the job hunt and many coveted positions, concludes a survey of roughly 400 employers and 400 college students conducted by iCIMS Inc., a recruiting-software company. Among other things, employers reported that one-third of all applications for entry-level roles come from unqualified candidates.

More than 60% of employers in the survey said applicants ought to be more familiar with the company and industry, and must ask better questions in interviews. Plus, those employers say, three out of four applicants fail to send thank-you notes after interviews.

On Madison’s Lack Of K-12 Governance Diversity: “Cheatham declined to address that question”

Chris Rockert:

Attendance, graduation rates and college enrollment were generally on the upswing beginning five to seven years before Hancock started moving toward selective enrollment. More to the point for Madison and West High is that improvements began happening at Hancock before Boran took over or even worked there.

Regardless of who or what is responsible for Hancock’s performance, though, that performance is not universally good. Test scores and the growth in test scores at Hancock, for example, are below national averages. The average ACT score last year was 16.9, or below the Chicago district average of 18.4.

Despite spending around $18k/student annually – far more than most K-12 government school districts, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Related: an emphasis on adult employment.

107 cancer papers retracted due to peer review fraud

Cathleen O’Grady:

The journal Tumor Biology is retracting 107 research papers after discovering that the authors faked the peer review process. This isn’t the journal’s first rodeo. Late last year, 58 papers were retracted from seven different journals— 25 came from Tumor Biology for the same reason.

It’s possible to fake peer review because authors are often asked to suggest potential reviewers for their own papers. This is done because research subjects are often blindingly niche; a researcher working in a sub-sub-field may be more aware than the journal editor of who is best-placed to assess the work.

But some journals go further and request, or allow, authors to submit the contact details of these potential reviewers. If the editor isn’t aware of the potential for a scam, they then merrily send the requests for review out to fake e-mail addresses, often using the names of actual researchers. And at the other end of the fake e-mail address is someone who’s in on the game and happy to send in a friendly review.

Fake peer reviewers often “know what a review looks like and know enough to make it look plausible,” said Elizabeth Wager, editor of the journal Research Integrity & Peer Review. But they aren’t always good at faking less obvious quirks of academia: “When a lot of the fake peer reviews first came up, one of the reasons the editors spotted them was that the reviewers responded on time,” Wager told Ars. Reviewers almost always have to be chased, so “this was the red flag. And in a few cases, both the reviews would pop up within a few minutes of each other.”

Chip Conley:

I also learned that my best tactic was to reconceive my bewilderment as curiosity, and give free rein to it. I asked a lot of “why” and “what if” questions, forsaking the “what” and “how” questions on which most senior leaders focus. I didn’t know any better. Being in a tech company was new for this old fart. My beginner’s mind helped us see our blind spots a little better, as it was free of expert habits. We think of “why” and “what if” as little kid questions, but they don’t have to be. In fact, in my experience it can be easier for older people to admit how much we still don’t know. Paradoxically, this curiosity keeps us feeling young. Management theorist Peter Drucker was famously curious. He lived to age 95, and one of the ways he thrived later in life was by diving deeply into a new subject that intrigued him, from Japanese flower arranging to medieval war strategy.

Although some older folks in the tech world feel they have to hide their age, I think doing that is a missed opportunity. Being open helped me succeed in tech; I’ve spent a lifetime being curious about people and things, which, I guess, means I’m well-read and well connected. I’m not sure there’s anyone in Airbnb who’s been asked to chat by a more diverse collection of employees. I always did my best to respond with an enthusiastic yes to these invitations. And I’m grateful. Because if I were to plot all of those conversations across the various islands (or departments) of the company, you’d see a rich web of relationships and knowledge. This served me even more as a strategic advisor to the founders, since I had a real sense of the pulse of the company and its various teams.

Will Forcing High School Kids to Make a Post-Graduation Plan Actually Help Them?

Will Greenberg:

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel got a lot of attention two weeks ago when he announced a new graduation requirement for high school seniors: They would have to have a plan. Starting with the class of 2020, Chicago Public School students will be required to show proof of their next step after graduation—such as a college acceptance letter or a job offer. It may seem like a good motivational tool, but in a city where access to resources depends on your neighborhood, and where budget cuts have strained existing programs, some observers consider the mayor’s proposal “deeply insulting.”

“It spits in the face of everything we know about CPS right now.”
So says Stacy Davis Gates, the political and legislative director for the Chicago Teacher’s Union, who adds, “It spits in the face of everything we know about CPS right now.”

Emanuel announced the proposal (“Learn. Plan. Succeed: A Degree For Life”) in early April. Students will have to show a school counselor that they have a post-secondary plan. It needn’t be college or a job: A kid also can enlist in the military or find an apprenticeship or a “gap-year” program, among other options. There are exceptions for students facing special circumstances, including incarceration. Emanuel wants to “make 14th grade universal,” as he told CBS. Graduates of the school system, meanwhile, are automatically eligible to attend the City Colleges of Chicago.

CMU CS: 15-883: Computational Models of Neural Systems


This course is an in-depth study of information processing in real neural systems from a computer science perspective. We will examine several brain areas, such as the hippocampus and cerebellum, where processing is sufficiently well understood that it can be discussed in terms of specific representations and algorithms. We will focus primarily on computer models of these systems, after establishing the necessary anatomical, physiological, and psychophysical context. There will be some neuroscience tutorial lectures for those with no prior background in this area.

I used to support legalizing all drugs. Then the opioid epidemic happened

German Lopez:

By the time I began as a drug policy reporter in 2010, I was all in on legalizing every drug, from marijuana to heroin and cocaine.

It all seemed so obvious to me. Prohibition had failed. Over the past decade, millions of Americans had been arrested and, in many of these cases, locked up for drugs. The government spent tens of billions of dollars a year on anti-drug policies — not just on policing and arresting people and potentially ruining their lives, but also on foreign operations in which armed forces raided and destroyed people’s farms, ruining their livings. Over four decades, the price tag for waging the drug war added up to more than $1 trillion.

Yet for all the effort and cost, the war on drugs had little to show: Drug use had actually trended up over the past several years, and America was in the middle of the deadliest drug crisis ever in the opioid epidemic.

The Countries Most (and Least) Likely to be Affected by Automation

Michael Chui, James Manyika and Mehdi Miremadi:

Around the world, automation is transforming work, business, and the economy. China is already the largest market for robots in the world, based on volume. All economies, from Brazil and Germany to India and Saudi Arabia, stand to gain from the hefty productivity boosts that robotics and artificial intelligence will bring. The pace and extent of adoption will vary from country to country, depending on factors including wage levels. But no geography and no sector will remain untouched.

In our research we took a detailed look at 46 countries, representing about 80% of the global workforce. We examined their automation potential today — what’s possible by adapting demonstrated technologies — as well as the potential similarities and differences in how automation could take hold in the future.

Underprivileged student quota at top schools has improved access to education


Underprivileged student quota at top schools has improved access to education

Students from rural areas walk into Nantong Middle School, East China’s Jiangsu Province on June 6, 2015, to sit Tsinghua University’s 2016 independent recruitment program which is for rural candidates. Those who pass the program receive bonus points on the college entrance exam. Photo: IC

Wang Tian, an 18-year-old girl from one of the most underdeveloped counties in Northwest China’s Qinghai Province, never anticipated studying law at the prestigious Peking University.

The stunning twist in her life is largely thanks to a national program to provide poor rural students with the chance to access top universities.

With vast disparities in teaching standards among different regions, high school graduates from underdeveloped areas have very little chance of making it into the best universities.

A sweeping reworking of the higher education system has worked to change this and students from underdeveloped areas now compete on a more equal footing with those from more affluent parts of the country.

Enrollment quotas have increased the recruitment of students from central, western and remote rural areas.

How vouchers transformed Indiana: Private schools now live or die by test scores, too

Dylan Peers McCoy:

With Central Christian cut off from hundreds of thousands of dollars in state aid, board members contemplated closing the school.

Losing voucher dollars was “catastrophic,” said David Sexauer, who served on the board before taking over as head of school this year. “If it wasn’t for the fact that the church was willing to step in and help us kind of keep going, we would’ve had to close our doors.”

Ultimately, Central Christian Academy had its grade revised upward to an A because of changes to the way Indiana evaluates schools and its own improved passing rate on state tests. Now, instead of closing down, the school is hoping another round of solid scores this year will allow it to begin accepting vouchers again.

“The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure”

Matt Taibi:

Many of the government officials who were involved in the decisions surrounding the GSE conservatorship are now in the private sector, working on proposals for much-anticipated GSE reform.

Without getting too deeply into the weeds of this even more complicated tale, government officials have been working with Wall Street lobbyists for years on a plan to have a consortium of private banking interests step into the shoes of Fannie and Freddie.

If this concept actually goes through, it would be the unlikeliest of coups for Wall Street. Having nearly triggered a global depression eight years ago, the usual-suspect, too-big-to-fail banks would essentially be put in control of the same housing markets they all but wrecked last time around.

This would be a nonstarter politically, the ultimate public-relations disaster, were it not for the fact that Fannie and Freddie are about the only companies on earth less popular than the Wall Street banks. Still, replacing the one with the other would be madness by any objective standard.

Are the gory details of that plan what the government is working so hard to keep under seal?

We may never know. Judge Sweeney has yet to rule on the vast majority of the documents, and there’s no guarantee that she will ultimately unseal the remainder of the material. We may never find out what the government was so keen on keeping secret.

The only thing that is clear is that there’s something odd going on, with the Obama administration asserting privilege over a volume of papers so large, it would make Nixon blush.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” says David Thompson of Cooper and Kirk, one of the attorneys fighting to unseal the material.

Related: sharing only part of Madison’s $460,000,000 k-12 budget.

“We Know Best”…


For my money the best analysis of what happened was inadvertently penned by Hugh Trevor-Roper in his 1967 essay on “The Crisis of the 17th Century”. Trevor-Roper argued that the mid-17th century saw a succession of revolts, right across Europe, of the “country” against the “court”. The court had become ever more bloated and self-satisfied over the decades. They existed on tributes extracted from the country but treated the country as collection of bigots and backwoodsmen. Many members of Europe’s court society had more to do with each other than they did with their benighted fellow-countrymen. The English civil war, which resulted in the beheading of a king and the establishment of a Republic, was the most extreme instance of a Europe-wide breakdown

A familiar topic, unfortunately.


Alex Emmons:

IN HER FIRST APPEARANCE representing the American public before the top-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2015, Amy Jeffress argued that the FBI is violating the Fourth Amendment by giving agents “virtually unrestricted” access to data from one of the NSA’s largest surveillance programs, which includes an untold amount of communications involving innocent Americans.

The NSA harvests data from major Internet companies like Facebook, Google and Apple without a warrant, because it is ostensibly “targeting” only foreigners. But the surveillance program sweeps up a large number of Americans’ communications as well. Then vast amounts of data from the program, including the Americans’ communications, are entered into a master database that a Justice Department lawyer at the 2015 hearing described as the “FBI’s ‘Google’ of its lawfully acquired information.”

The FBI routinely searches this database during ordinary criminal investigations — which gives them access to Americans’ communications without a warrant.

Jeffress, a former federal prosecutor now serving as an independent “friend of the court,” expressed frustration over the casualness with which the FBI is allowed to look through the data. “There need be no connection to foreign intelligence or national security, and that is the purpose of the collection,” she told Thomas Hogan, then the chief judge of the court. “So they’re overstepping, really, the purpose for which the information is collected.”

How Three Howard Graduates Are Breaking Tech’s Glass Ceiling With On-Demand Haircuts

Sean Collins:

The tech crowd knows — the last few years, every elevator pitch around has started with the phrase, “It’s Uber for…”

Three black women have a new spin on the Uber for x concept, and it’s a dope one.

You’re busy, you’re running errands, doing school work, living life — how are you supposed to have the time to sit around in a barbershop waiting half the day to get a fresh cut?

You don’t have to worry about it with HausCall, a new service that brings the barber to you.

Formed by Howard graduates Morgan Winbush, Killian Lewis and Crystal Allen-Washington, HausCall works like this: you download the app, and can either book on demand or schedule an appointment. Barbers are sorted by user rankings; like in ridesharing apps, you can track your barber as they make their way to your location. Payment and tips are all done through the app as well.

Law Profs to Antitrust Enforcers: To Rein in Super-Platforms, Look Upstream

Ariel Ezrachi and Maurice Stucke:

When it comes to antitrust enforcement, we largely focus on the dangers corporations with too much market power pose to parties like consumers. But of equal, if not greater, concern today are the dangers the super-platforms—like Facebook, Google, and Amazon—pose to the supply side, namely those, including authors, who create the content that the super-platforms use to turn massive profits through ad sales. Ultimately, consumers lose out when content suppliers, forced to accept unreasonable terms, have less to invest in quality content.

Chess Tactics Explained in English

Ward Farnsworth’s Predator at the Chessboard

1. The first part explains chess tactics: how to make moves that win the other player’s pieces or that lead to checkmate. Everything is explained progressively and in plain English. You can read it by clicking anyplace in the table of contents below. The headings can be expanded one at a time by clicking on the [+] signs, or click here to expand all of them at once. There are 20 chapters, about 200 topics within them, and over 1,000 positions discussed.

Calcutta to Bihar: an artist’s journey

Asian and African studies blog

As part of the Visual Arts collections at the British Library, we hold an extensive collection of drawings, sketches and watercolours by amateur British and European artists who travelled through the Indian subcontinent. In 2015, we acquired a wonderful little sketchbook, measuring a mere 80 x 204 mm, by an unknown artist who documented his/her journey from Calcutta to Bihar in the winter of 1849. Unfortunately, none of the sketches are signed or offer any details regarding the artist’s identity. The sketchbook contains 12 double-sided pages, each filled with sketches in either pen-and-ink or done in watercolours. The subjects include topographical views, portraits studies of locals, as well as documentation of crafts and transportation methods. Each illustration is annotated by the artist providing details of the subjects and documenting the shades of colour – such as ‘very white’ or ‘yellowish’. It is most likely that this incomplete series of sketches were preparatory studies that could be worked up at a later stage.

“Kids who have only the basic skills are in deep trouble.”

Alan Borsuk:

That is a quote from Marc Tucker, president and CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, who keynoted the session in Madison at which about 60 educators, politicians, business people and others considered what Wisconsin can and should do with recommendations such as the ones from the task force.

Calling for stronger curriculum and higher expectations, Tucker sounded remarkably optimistic for someone who described a lot of reasons to be worried about the state of education. In a world where educational success is increasingly linked to economic success, the U.S. is puttering along in the middle of the global pack. Wisconsin is an example of a place where many students are achieving only that basic level of skills and where low-paying jobs and weak economic success are keys to the forecast for coming decades without substantial improvement.

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

The Decline of Black Business And what it means for American democracy.

Brian Feldman:

At the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., a hallway of glass display cases features more than a century of black entrepreneurial triumphs. In one is a World War II–era mini parachute manufactured by the black-owned Pacific Parachute Company, home to one of the nation’s first racially integrated production plants. Another displays a giant time clock from the R. H. Boyd Publishing Company, among the earliest firms to print materials for black churches and schools. Although small, the exhibit recalls a now largely forgotten legacy: by serving their communities when others wouldn’t, black-owned independent businesses provided avenues of upward mobility for generations of black Americans and supplied critical leadership and financial support for the civil rights movement.

This tradition continues today. Last June, Black Enterprise magazine marked the forty-fourth anniversary of the BE 100s, the magazine’s annual ranking of the nation’s top 100 black-owned businesses. At the top of the list stood World Wide Technology, which, since its founding in 1990, has grown into a global firm with more than $7 billion in revenue and 3,000 employees. Then came companies like Radio One, whose fifty-five radio stations fan out among sixteen national markets. The combined revenues of the BE 100s, which also includes Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions, now totals more than $24 billion, a ninefold increase since 1973, adjusting for inflation.

18 spectacularly wrong predictions made around the time of first Earth Day in 1970, expect more this year

Mark Perry

Harvard biologist George Wald estimated that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”

2. “We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation,” wrote Washington University biologist Barry Commoner in the Earth Day issue of the scholarly journal Environment.

3. The day after the first Earth Day, the New York Times editorial page warned, “Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”

4. “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Paul Ehrlich confidently declared in the April 1970 issue of Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”

5. “Most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born,” wrote Paul Ehrlich in a 1969 essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe! “By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”

Obfuscating Madison K-12 Spending, redux


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We Few, We Miserable Few

Heather MacDonald:

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

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

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

Kurt Gessler:

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

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

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

America is Regressing into a Developing Nation for Most People

Lynn Paramore:

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

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

Two roads diverged

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

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

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

Larry Gordon:

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

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

The Crucible of the Application Process

Dillon Bowen:

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

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

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


Micah Lee & Lauren Feeney:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Parent Concerns About Data Collection and Use

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Calculus Made Easy (1914)

Silvanus P Thompson PDF Book:

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Where did language come from?

Cormac McCarthy:

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

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

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

The E-Scraper and E-Monopsony

Ariel Ezrachi and Maurice Stucke:

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

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

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

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

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


Rachel Chanter

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

Tracing Spam: Diet Pills from Beltway Bandits

Brian Krebs:

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

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

Entique Dans:

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

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

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

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

To What Extent Does Your State Rely on Property Taxes?

Morgan Scarboro:

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

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

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

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

Jonathan Allen:

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

Marie Antoinette couldn’t have put it better.

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

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

Hashi Mohamed:

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

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

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

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

Abigail Becker:

The state of education in Madison is stuck.

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

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

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

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

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

Richard Fry:

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

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

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

Kristen Brown:

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

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

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

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

David Sirota and Josh Keefe:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laura Kusisto:

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

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

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

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

Stunning College Dorms, Preposterous Luxury | Raising Teenagers

Jane Parent:

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

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

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

William Douglas:

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

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

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

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

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

Universities require scholars pledge commitment to diversity

Kate Hardiman:

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

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

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

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

Dan Katzir and Marcia Aaron:

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

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

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

Commentary On The Recent Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Election

John Nichols:

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

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

Much more on Tony Evers, here.

How are Wisconsin students doing?

Mission Vs Organization: Shades Of Cutting Strings….

Valerie Strauss:

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

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

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

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

An emphasis on “adult employment“.

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

Alyssa Shuman:

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

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

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

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

The De-Professionalization of the Academy

Alex Southwell:

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

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

How many jobs really require college?

Devin Helton:

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

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

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

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

School Choice Commentary

Jason Blakely:

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

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

The Real Reason Black Kids Benefit From Black Teachers

David Jackson:

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

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

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

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

Karen Rivedahl:

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

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

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

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

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

Much more on Gary Bennett, here.

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

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

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

Marta Jewson:

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

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

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

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

Teaching a Class With Big Ability Differences

Todd Finley:

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

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

Charles Murray’s ‘Provocative’ Talk

Wendi Williams & Stephen Ceci:

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

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

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

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

Wisconsin GOP lawmakers take aim at mounting school referendums

Annysa Johnson:

The bills would:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

American students lose interest in China studies

Paul Mooney:

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

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

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

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

How Chinese schools discriminate against 65% of the population

The Economist:

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

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

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

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

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

Electronic Frontier Foundation

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

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

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

United Air Lines – an OODA loop perspective

Chet Richards:

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

Income Tax And Then And Now

Americans for tax reform:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lawmakers may order audit of UW System foundations

Nico Savage:

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

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

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

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

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

A ‘Free Speech Area’ in Los Angeles

James Freeman:

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

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

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

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

Carolyn Thompson:

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

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

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

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

Our Very Own Grand Challenge

Chris Grundling:

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

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

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

Michael Milken and Igor Tulchinsky:

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

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

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

The Silencing of Heather Mac Donald

William McGurn:

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

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

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

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

Wall Street Journal:

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

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

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

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

Jennifer Senior:

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

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

Peking University Calls Out Fake Affiliates

Fan Yiying:

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

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

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

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

Chicago Schools Miss Out On Retirement Incentive Savings

Sarah Karp:

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

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

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

School Board Dynamics

Zachary Olson:

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

Censuring Speed does not jeopardize his place on the board.

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

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

Catherine Brown, Scott Sargrad, and Meg Benner:

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

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

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

Why Talented Black and Hispanic Students Can Go Undiscovered

Susan Dynarski:

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

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

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

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

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

Newark School Board Election

Laura waters:

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

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

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

Good Schools, Affordable Homes: Finding Suburban Sweet Spots By 


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

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

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

Starting With the “Why” in Personalized Learning

Bethany Gross:

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

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

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

Dan Oko:

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

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

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

Any Kamenetz:

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

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

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

University of Wisconsin Faculty Find Widespread Bullying

Colleen Flaherty:

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

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

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

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

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

The Blaze:

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

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

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

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

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

Wall Street Journal:

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

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

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

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

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

Judy Lin:

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

None of the proposals has made it onto the ballot.

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

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

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

Mitchell Gunter:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carolina Milanesi:

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

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

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

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

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

Chelsie Arnold

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

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

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

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

An Interview With Robert Caro

New York Review of Books:

Did you grow up in a house full of books?

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

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

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

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