An Unlikely Bargain: Why Charter School Teachers Unionize and What Happens When They Do

Ashley Jochim and Lesley Lavery:

For nearly two decades teachers unions and charter schools have formed an “us vs. them” narrative that pits one against the other. Unionization efforts by charter school teachers could scramble that narrative. With this report we set out to understand trends in charter school unionization, document teachers’ motivations for unionizing, and assess whether collective bargaining agreements in charter schools differ from those in traditional school districts.

We spoke to sixteen teachers at nine schools where teachers had either recently unionized or were undergoing campaigns to decertify their unions. We also compared the content of their collective bargaining agreements with those in local school districts and analyzed national data on charter school unionization. We learned:

Nationally, charter schools are no more likely to be unionized today than they were a decade ago. However, unionization is gaining traction in some localities and states like Illinois, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania

Chinese Education Startup Puts Western Teachers on Notice

Julie Steinberg and Shan Li:

VIPKid, one of China’s most valuable online education startups, has put hundreds of its mostly American teachers on notice for using certain maps in their classes with Chinese students, and has severed two teachers’ contracts for discussing Taiwan and Tiananmen Square in ways at odds with Chinese government preferences, people familiar with the company say. Since last fall, teachers’ contracts state that discussing “politically contentious” topics could be cause for dismissal, according to one reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The moves highlight the balance a Chinese company must strike in fulfilling global aspirations while toeing Beijing’s line. Five-year-old VIPKid is currently in talks to raise as much as $500 million in new funding from U.S. and other investors that could value the company at roughly $6 billion, people familiar with the fundraising said.

“A company must keep good relations with the government and ideology,” said Peter Fuhrman, chief executive of investment firm China First Capital . “But that can cause friction when you’re also courting foreign investors, expanding business overseas and employing a large American workforce.”

The college admissions scandal: a modest proposal

Jim Stovall:

The journalists and commentators have consistently used the terms elite colleges or elite universities. They have done without any critical assessment of the terms themselves, and therein lies a problem — possibly The Problem. We are in the habit of thinking about certain colleges or universities as “elite” or “better” or something that they are not. A student at one of these places is no more likely to get a good or an excellent education than a student at any state university or small liberal arts college.

My four decades of experience in academia, as well as my common sense, tells me that.

The faculty and facilities in the places we term as “elite” are no better — and sometimes much worse — than you would find at most large state universities. Many undergraduate courses in so-called elite universities are taught by graduate students — not by high-powered professors — as they are at state universities with good graduate programs.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: The Debt Crisis is Coming Soon

Martin Feldstein:

The most dangerous domestic problem facing America’s federal government is the rapid growth of its budget deficit and national debt.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the deficit this year will be $900 billion, more than 4% of gross domestic product. It will surpass $1 trillion in 2022. The federal debt is now 78% of GDP. By 2028, it is projected to be nearly 100% of GDP and still rising. All this will have very serious economic consequences, and the CBO understates the problem. It has to base its projections on current law—in this case, the levels of spending and the future tax rules and rates that appear in law today.

Those levels don’t match realistic predictions. Current law projects that defense spending will decline as a share of GDP, from a very low 3.1% now to about 2.5% over the next 10 years. None of the military and civilian defense experts with whom I’ve spoken believe that will happen, given America’s global responsibilities and the need to modernize U.S. military equipment. It is likelier that defense spending will stay around 3% of GDP or even increase in the coming decade. And if the outlook for defense spending is increased, the Democratic House majority will insist that the nondefense discretionary spending should rise to match its trajectory

Locally, Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district’s spending has grown substantially over the last few decades. We now spend around $20,000 per student – far more than most.

The Cost and Risk of Regulations That Make Information ‘Own-able’

Sam Lessin:

The internet is forcing us to engage with a far broader definition of the economy than in the past. Instead of thinking of the economy primarily in terms of physical goods and services, the internet is putting front and center a fuller picture of the economy—including other forms of value and trade, such as information and social, moral and even sexual capital.

I believe you can trace many of the political and social challenges we face today back to our expanding awareness of—and ability to measure—the size of the broader economy. In particular, debates about who “owns” data, the right to be forgotten and privacy regulations can easily be seen effectively as a debate about how to value information and formally assign its ownership. So too can a lot of the consternation about the scale and size of internet companies that have large amounts of this previously under-appreciated data-as-asset.

The Takeaway
The information economy is putting increasing pressure on the physical economy, creating lots of debates about ownership of data and privacy. But it would be dangerous to write regulations for the information economy that are based in the physical economy.

More broadly, it is easy to view things like Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign narrative about the idea of “soft corruption” in Washington—where policy makers favor the rich over everyone else—as really a discussion about how power operates across different forms of capital. A lot of the unrest among people on the left is based on the idea that the deck is stacked against the working class. The reason that they feel that way has a lot to do with uneasiness about how these alternative unregulated economies function.

Remember, It’s Their College Years, Not Yours

Sue Shellenbarger:

But there are plenty of other, less damaging ways the college-admissions frenzy causes even conscientious parents to mess up by getting too involved in their child’s application process.

One mother became so immersed in her daughter’s college decision that she wrote her own name on an application, says Alyssa McCloud, vice president for enrollment management at Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J. Dr. McCloud detected the error after the mother called the admissions office repeatedly last year, asking why her daughter hadn’t gotten a response to her application. In fact, her daughter’s file was incomplete, because her transcripts and other documents didn’t match the name on the application.

“She said, ‘Oh, I must have written in my own name,’ ” Dr. McCloud says. While the student was well-qualified and eventually was admitted, she would have been a stronger applicant if her mother had kept her distance, she says.

Moms and dads sometimes place more importance than students on colleges’ status and prestige. Some recycle their own dreams through their children, pushing them to get into the Ivy League because they couldn’t, college admissions counselors say. This pattern, called projection, is common among parents whose identities are closely entwined with those of their children, according to a 2013 study in the journal PLOS One.

They often do this without realizing it, in hopes of feeling more successful themselves, the study reported. It analyzed 73 parents of 8- to 15-year-old children.

The Reckoning of Morris Dees and the Southern Poverty Law Center

Bob Moser:

In the days since the stunning dismissal of Morris Dees, the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, on March 14th, I’ve been thinking about the jokes my S.P.L.C. colleagues and I used to tell to keep ourselves sane. Walking to lunch past the center’s Maya Lin–designed memorial to civil-rights martyrs, we’d cast a glance at the inscription from Martin Luther King, Jr., etched into the black marble—“Until justice rolls down like waters”—and intone, in our deepest voices, “Until justice rolls down like dollars.” The Law Center had a way of turning idealists into cynics; like most liberals, our view of the S.P.L.C. before we arrived had been shaped by its oft-cited listings of U.S. hate groups, its reputation for winning cases against the Ku Klux Klan and Aryan Nations, and its stream of direct-mail pleas for money to keep the good work going. The mailers, in particular, painted a vivid picture of a scrappy band of intrepid attorneys and hate-group monitors, working under constant threat of death to fight hatred and injustice in the deepest heart of Dixie. When the S.P.L.C. hired me as a writer, in 2001, I figured I knew what to expect: long hours working with humble resources and a highly diverse bunch of super-dedicated colleagues. I felt self-righteous about the work before I’d even begun it.

The first surprise was the office itself. On a hill in downtown Montgomery, down the street from both Jefferson Davis’s Confederate White House and the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, where M.L.K. preached and organized, the center had recently built a massive modernist glass-and-steel structure that the social critic James Howard Kunstler would later liken to a “Darth Vader building” that made social justice “look despotic.” It was a cold place inside, too. The entrance was through an underground bunker, past multiple layers of human and electronic security. Cameras were everywhere in the open-plan office, which made me feel like a Pentagon staffer, both secure and insecure at once. But nothing was more uncomfortable than the racial dynamic that quickly became apparent: a fair number of what was then about a hundred employees were African-American, but almost all of them were administrative and support staff—“the help,” one of my black colleagues said pointedly.

More, here.

Concerned about reading instruction, state cracks down on teacher prep programs, starting with Colorado’s largest

Ann Schimke:

In a 15-page reauthorization report, state officials detail a number of specific problems with the university’s core literacy courses, including that they emphasize prospective teachers’ beliefs about reading rather than forcing them to draw science-based conclusions.

“A lower bar for education prep [candidates] versus the students they’ll be teaching is concerning,” the report states.

Obtained by Chalkbeat through an open records request, the report grants the usual five-year reauthorization term, but requires the prep program to meet five conditions by February 2020. They include aligning course syllabi to state standards and increasing science-based reading instruction. (Read the full report at the end of this story.)

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Evers, has granted thousands of waivers to elementary teachers who failed to pass our one content knowledge requirement: Foundations of Reading. Related: MTEL.

Syria’s broken schools will make it difficult to fix the country

The Economist:

AFTER EIGHT years of civil war, Syria’s education system is a wreck. Nearly 3m school-age children, a third of the total, do not attend classes. That is, in part, because 40% of schools are unusable. Some have been damaged in the fighting; others are being used by armed groups or the displaced. The schools that still function are crammed and there are fewer teachers to run them—around 150,000 have fled or been killed. Unsurprisingly, students are way behind. Ten-year-olds in Syria read like five-year-olds in developed countries, says Save the Children, an aid agency. The literacy rate has plummeted.
The consequences are stark. Syrians lack the skills needed to rebuild their country or to escape the grinding poverty in which 80% of them live. The uneducated are easier prey for jihadists and militiamen offering money and a bit of power, or for Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which will gladly give them a spot in the army. Shattered schools are yet another reason for more affluent Syrians to leave the country—and for those who have fled to stay abroad. “We’ll see the catastrophic results over the next decade as children become adults,” says Riyad al-Najem of Hurras, a charity that supports over 350 schools in Syria.

What Made Apollo A Success?

NASA (PDF):

On July 20, 1969, man first set foot on another planet. This “giant leap for mankind” represented one of the greatest engineering achievements of all time. This artide and the others in this document describe and discuss some of the varied tasks behind this achievement.

We will limit ourselves to those tasks that were the direct responsibility of the

NASA Manned Spacecraft Center: spacecraft development, mission design and mission planning, flight crew operations, and flight operations. We will describe spacecraft design principles, the all-important spacecraft test activities, and the discipline that evolved in the control of spacecraft changes and the closeout of spacecraft anomalies; and we will discuss how we determined the best series of flights to lead to a lunar landing at the earliest possible time, how these flights were planned in detail, the techniques used in establishing flight procedures and carrying out flight operations, and, finally, crew training and simulation activities — the activities that led to a perfeet flight execution by the astronauts.

In short, we will describe three of the basic ingredients of the success of Apollo: spacecraft hardware that is most reliable, flight missions that are extremely well planned and executed, and flight crews that are superbly trained and skilled. (We will not discuss two equally important aspects of Apollo — the launch vehicles and launch operations. These elements, the responsibility of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center and the NASA Kennedy Space Center, go beyond the scope of this series of articles. )

The Needless Complexity of Academic Writing

Victoria Clayton:

“Persistence is one of the great characteristics of a pitbull, and I guess owners take after their dogs,” says Annetta Cheek, the co-founder of the D.C.-based nonprofit Center for Plain Language. Cheek, an anthropologist by training who left academia in the early 1980s to work for the Federal Aviation Commission, is responsible for something few people realize exists: the 2010 Plain Writing Act. In fact, Cheek was among the first government employees to champion the use of clear, concise language. Once she retired in 2007 from the FAA and gained the freedom to lobby, she leveraged her hatred for gobbledygook to create an actual law. Take a look at recent information put out by many government agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—if it lacks needlessly complex sentences or bizarre bureaucratic jargon, it’s largely because of Cheek and her colleagues.

The idea that writing should be clear, concise, and low-jargon isn’t a new one—and it isn’t limited to government agencies, of course. The problem of needlessly complex writing—sometimes referred to as an “opaque writing style”—has been explored in fields ranging from law to science. Yet in academia, unwieldy writing has become something of a protected tradition. Take this example:

Key Ingredient in College-Admissions Scheme: A Harvard-Graduate Test Whiz

Jennifer Levitz and Brian Costa:

Mark Riddell, a 36-year-old Harvard University graduate, used his uncanny ability to boost scores fraudulently on college-entrance exams for teens of wealthy families participating in the scheme, according to federal filings.

“He did not have inside information about the correct answers,” the U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Andrew Lelling, said after announcing Tuesday’s federal charges. “He was just smart enough to get a near-perfect score.”

Prosecutors say Mr. Riddell, who lives outside Tampa, Fla., was central to the cheating scheme. He has agreed to plead guilty to mail fraud and a money-laundering-related charge, according to court documents, and is scheduled to appear in court in Boston in April.

After the charges, Mr. Riddell issued a statement apologizing for the damage and grief he caused. “I understand how my actions contributed to a loss of trust in the college admissions process,” he said.

Prosecutors said William Rick Singer’s testing scheme took place at least 30 times back as far as 2011. Of the 33 parents who were charged Tuesday, at least 16 are linked in court documents to Mr. Riddell, who was referred to as “Cooperating Witness 2.”

He has been helping with the investigation since February in hopes of leniency, federal filings say.

Statement on campus free speech executive order

Foundation on individual rights in education:

Since 1999, FIRE has defended freedom of expression on our nation’s campuses by fighting for public universities to honor the First Amendment and for private universities to fulfill their voluntary promises of free speech and academic freedom. Today’s executive order directs federal agencies to “take appropriate steps” to “promote free inquiry” at institutions that receive federal research and education grants, including through compliance with the First Amendment or fulfillment of their institutional promises. To the extent that today’s executive order asks colleges and universities to meet their existing legal obligations, it should be uncontroversial.

At $75,560, housing a prisoner in California now costs more than a year at Harvard

Associated Press:

Cost per prisoner has doubled since 2005

The price for each inmate has doubled since 2005, even as court orders related to overcrowding have reduced the population by about one-quarter. Salaries and benefits for prison guards and medical providers drove much of the increase.

The result is a per-inmate cost that is the nation’s highest — and $2,000 above tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses to attend Harvard.

Since 2015, California’s per-inmate costs have surged nearly $10,000, or about 13%. New York is a distant second in overall costs at about $69,000.

Critics say with fewer inmates, the costs should be falling.

“Now that we’re incarcerating less, we haven’t ramped the system back down,” said Chris Hoene, executive director of the left-leaning California Budget & Policy Center.

For example, the corrections department has one employee for every two inmates, compared with one employee for roughly every four inmates in 1994.

why does it cost so much?

Related: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone

Bryan Caplan :

First and foremost: From kindergarten on, students spend thousands of hours studying subjects irrelevant to the modern labor market. Why do English classes focus on literature and poetry instead of business and technical writing? Why do advanced-math classes bother with proofs almost no student can follow? When will the typical student use history? Trigonometry? Art? Music? Physics? Latin? The class clown who snarks “What does this have to do with real life?” is onto something.

The disconnect between college curricula and the job market has a banal explanation: Educators teach what they know—and most have as little firsthand knowledge of the modern workplace as I do. Yet this merely complicates the puzzle. If schools aim to boost students’ future income by teaching job skills, why do they entrust students’ education to people so detached from the real world? Because, despite the chasm between what students learn and what workers do, academic success is a strong signal of worker productivity.

Suppose your law firm wants a summer associate. A law student with a doctorate in philosophy from Stanford applies. What do you infer? The applicant is probably brilliant, diligent, and willing to tolerate serious boredom. If you’re looking for that kind of worker—and what employer isn’t?—you’ll make an offer, knowing full well that nothing the philosopher learned at Stanford will be relevant to this job.

The labor market doesn’t pay you for the useless subjects you master; it pays you for the preexisting traits you signal by mastering them. This is not a fringe idea. Michael Spence, Kenneth Arrow, and Joseph Stiglitz—all Nobel laureates in economics—made seminal contributions to the theory of educational signaling. Every college student who does the least work required to get good grades silently endorses the theory. But signaling plays almost no role in public discourse or policy making. As a society, we continue to push ever larger numbers of students into ever higher levels of education. The main effect is not better jobs or greater skill levels, but a credentialist arms race.

Lest I be misinterpreted, I emphatically affirm that education confers some marketable skills, namely literacy and numeracy. Nonetheless, I believe that signaling accounts for at least half of college’s financial reward, and probably more.

I know college admissions offices from the inside — schools basically sign off on scandal

Sara Haberson:

Schools and their admissions officials are not the target of the conspiracy investigation embroiling testing proctors, SAT/ACT tutors, college athletic coaches and parents, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Admissions officers and deans of admissions appeared to be the victims in this case. That is hard to believe. After years of working in an Ivy League admissions office where I handled the recruited athletes’ applications and being a dean of admissions at a small liberal arts college, I know better.

No matter how much influence the indicted individuals had, we are overlooking the fact that none of them signed off on admissions decisions. Every single student who was admitted under false pretenses received their offer from the admissions office signed by the dean or another high-ranking member of the staff.

Let’s be clear: It is the responsibility of the admissions office to verify applicants, their applications and their viability to succeed at the institution.

Colleges Rethink Athletic Special Admissions in Wake of Indictments

Brian Costa, Melissa Korn and Rachel Bachman:

The largest college-admissions fraud ever prosecuted by federal authorities was engineered by a college-admissions consultant and a sprawling web of wealthy parents and allegedly corrupt coaches. But it was made easier by a system that is largely unpoliced and ripe for exploitation: the conferring of special admissions status to nonscholarship athletes.

The scandal is prompting a rethinking of this approach. On Friday, Yale President Peter Salovey said the school—whose former longtime women’s soccer coach, Rudy Meredith, was charged in the case—will ask outside advisers to recommend changes to “help us detect and prevent efforts to defraud our admissions process.”

Football and men’s basketball teams, which generate most of the revenue for athletic departments, are largely filled out with scholarship athletes. Division I men’s basketball teams, for instance, can have up to 13 scholarship players, enough for an entire roster. These athletes are far more valuable to schools and are more carefully evaluated than the phony athletes Mr. Singer put forward.

US consultants market the key to gates of the Ivy League

Joshua Chaffin:

The young woman was nearly hyperventilating 30 minutes later.

“So, it’s been like half an hour, and I’m like, semi-calmed down — to the point where I’m not shouting expletives any more . . .” she explained, addressing her camera phone. “But, yeah. I got into Yale. Oh, my God! I got into Yale!”

In the community of college admissions consultants, who help students snare closely fought-over places in US universities, this was the money shot. The selfie video appears on the website of one of the premiere practitioners of the art: Manhattan-based IvyWise.

Interlaced with the promise of Yale the company also offers what may be unnerving advice for anxious parents: they should start early — ideally signing their children up by the time they are in the eighth grade — and be prepared to spend upwards of $100,000.

“The reality is there is an ‘arms race’ in the admissions process but it was not created by our profession,” Katherine Cohen, who founded IvyWise 21 years ago and boasts degrees from Brown and Yale — as well as a certificate in college admission counselling from UCLA — wrote in an email from Asia.

The real culprit, Ms Cohen argued, was that US university places had remained stagnant even as applications surged in recent years, including from abroad. Many secondary schools have a single counsellor who is meant to guide hundreds of students through the minefield.

The role of admissions consultants and their place in the university ecosystem is attracting fresh attention with the revelation last week that dozens of parents had paid approximately $25m in bribes through a crooked California consultant, William “Rick” Singer, to secure places for their children at top schools.

The screen time debate is pitting parents against each other

Lauren Smiley:

Before the smartphone backlash, before apps were likened to cigarettes for kids or Facebook co-founder Sean Parker mused that “God knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains” or Tim Cook revealed he doesn’t let his nephew touch social media, and before the demands for studies and regulations and shutting down apps, Riddhi Shah was en route to a weekend trip to unplug from tech-ified San Francisco.

It was late 2015, and riding in the car with her husband and another couple, Riddhi, a friend of mine, was many months pregnant, and racked with questions about how she would inhabit her new role as a mom. That makes her the same as every first-time parent in the history of the world. However, the terms of parenthood changed abruptly back in 2007 when Steve Jobs introduced the shiny object that many humans would either spend the next decade staring at or consciously telling themselves not to focus on. Now, parenting has gone, as one pediatrician told me, to “a 3.7 difficulty Olympic dive – up from a 2.8” a decade ago.

The Four Unspoken Rules for Getting Into College

Richard Vedder:

The recent college admissions scandal is spectacular in its size and scope, but hardly surprising. Let me make four major points.

Whenever there are scarce resources in much demand and a non-market solution is used to allocate those resources, there are bound to be problems.
At the schools involved in this admissions scandal, there are probably at least five applicants for every student admitted. In a competitive market, prices will be forced up to the point that the number of buyers equals the quantity supplied. Harvard has an Admissions Committee; McDonald’s does not. Selective universities gain prestige by turning away customers. Universities deliberately sell their services at below equilibrium prices, benefiting mainly relatively affluent kids who make up the bulk of the applicant pool. Admission to a top-ranked school may be worth one million dollars over four years, yet is sold by the school for dramatically less ($250,000 or less). Therefore, some parents think it makes good sense financially to use shady, morally reprehensible means of achieving admissions.

This is particularly true for those wanting in the very top schools. Raj Chetty and his team of researchers have estimated the average family income of students at many Ivy League schools is about $500,000 a year (the median is “only” around $200,000). Rich kids want to network and bond with other rich kids, and if necessary, using an unscrupulous “private admissions counselor” to bribe your child into Elite U is money well spent. It is unfair, immoral, and prevents admission of some more deserving kids – but it happens. And rich kids then network with other rich kids and get super jobs through family connections.

This problem has existed at some level for decades, probably as long as there have been selective admissions.

Is Elite College Worth It? Maybe Not

Greg Ip:

We’re told ad nauseam that college is the key to success. Is it any wonder that some parents broke the law to get their child into the best?

Of course, the parents accused by the FBI of bribing coaches and test administrators are an extreme case, but even some law abiding parents can relate: Some donate millions to their alma mater or hire $1,000-per-hour consultants to land a coveted spot at a top school.

And yet from an economic standpoint, this makes no sense. The evidence shows that a college degree delivers a large and sustained income premium over a high school diploma, but a selective college doesn’t make the premium bigger. There are exceptions, but most people who prosper after graduating from such a college would likely have prospered if they had attended a less prestigious institution as well. After all, the children whose parents were charged last week were born with wealth, connections, and devoted parents willing to do almost anything for them, a recipe for success no matter where they graduate from.

“ the shift from information scarcity to information abundance”

David Perell:

America’s biggest Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies are losing market share. Across consumer goods industries, brand loyalty is dying. The percentage of affluent consumers in the top 5% of household income who can identify their favorite brand is in sharp decline (see Figure 1).

The reason is simple: brands are about trust and signaling. They’re a substitute for incomplete information. When information is scarce and asymmetric, consumers flock to trusted brands. But in many parts of the economy, when consumers have reviews at their fingertips, they no longer defer to brands when they make a purchasing decision.

To be sure, the internet has made some brands stronger, particularly in domains of incomplete information where people don’t know each other very well. The more an industry is about signaling, the more brand matters. That’s why brands matter so much in industries like fashion and beauty. Signaling brands are context-dependent. Signaling brands thrive in environments with high geographic and social mobility. When mobility is high, information asymmetry is the norm. As a result, we use heuristics such as brand associations to gauge strangers. Just consider the differences in behavior between big cities and small towns. Big cities are full of strangers, but small towns are brightened by hugs and handshakes all the way down. In small cities, where everybody already knows each other, the utility of signaling brands is diminished.

Useful.

One can see the tension playing out in school choice: the battle of legacy, taxpayer supported institutions vs. upstarts offering new models.

Meritocracy doesn’t exist, and believing it does is bad for you

Clifton Mark:

Although widely held, the belief that merit rather than luck determines success or failure in the world is demonstrably false. This is not least because merit itself is, in large part, the result of luck. Talent and the capacity for determined effort, sometimes called “grit,” depend a great deal on one’s genetic endowments and upbringing.

This is to say nothing of the fortuitous circumstances that figure into every success story. In his book Success and Luck, the U.S. economist Robert Frank recounts the long-shots and coincidences that led to Bill Gates’s stellar rise as Microsoft’s founder, as well as to Frank’s own success as an academic. Luck intervenes by granting people merit, and again by furnishing circumstances in which merit can translate into success. This is not to deny the industry and talent of successful people. However, it does demonstrate that the link between merit and outcome is tenuous and indirect at best.

According to Frank, this is especially true where the success in question is great, and where the context in which it is achieved is competitive. There are certainly programmers nearly as skilful as Gates who nonetheless failed to become the richest person on Earth. In competitive contexts, many have merit, but few succeed. What separates the two is luck.

Civics: Fremont Destroyed Decades of Police Misconduct Records Shortly Before Transparency Law Took Effect

Darwin BondGraham:

Last fall, Fremont’s city council also changed their police department’s records retention policy, reducing the amount of time that investigative files of officer-involved shootings must be saved from 25 years down to 10. (Darwin BondGraham/KQED)

Last year, while state lawmakers were considering a landmark bill to open up previously confidential police misconduct records to the public, the city of Fremont quietly destroyed a large archive of papers, cassettes and computer files documenting over four decades of internal affairs investigations and citizen complaints. It is not known if the destroyed records covered officer-involved shootings.

Last fall, Fremont’s City Council also changed the Police Department’s records retention policy, reducing the amount of time that investigative files of officer-involved shootings must be saved from 25 years to 10.

Fremont’s city attorney, city manager and Police Department did not respond to emails and phone calls seeking comment for this story.

There’s no evidence Fremont violated any state laws or its own policies, but few other Bay Area cities have been as aggressive in purging police files.

But some find the city’s actions troubling.

“Fremont’s decision is problematic because the Legislature made a decision, they made specific findings that transparency around police shootings, uses of force and incidents of serious misconduct is necessary to building public trust,” said Peter Bibring, director of police practices for the American Civil Liberties Union of California.

Lawmakers passed SB 1421 in August. The law allows public access to previously confidential police records about use of force incidents resulting in great bodily harm and confirmed cases of sexual assault or dishonesty by an officer.

Civics: U.S. Firms Are Helping Build China’s Orwellian State

Lindsay Gorman & Matt Schrader:

When a Dutch cybersecurity researcher disclosed last month that Chinese security contractor SenseNets left a massive facial recognition database tracking the movements of over 2.5 million people in China’s Xinjiang province unsecured on the internet, it briefly shone a spotlight on the alarming scope of the Chinese surveillance state.

But SenseNets is a symptom of a much larger phenomenon: Tech firms in the United States are lending expertise, reputational credence, and even technology to Chinese surveillance companies, wittingly or otherwise.

The SenseNets database logged exact GPS coordinates on a 24-hour basis and, using facial recognition, associated that data with sensitive personal information, including national ID numbers, home addresses, personal photographs, and places of employment. Nearly one-third of the individuals tracked were from the Uighur minority ethnic group. In a bizarre juxtaposition of surveillance supremacy and security incompetence, SenseNets’ database was left open on the internet for six months before it was reported and, according to the researcher who discovered it, could have been “corrupted by a 12-year-old.”

The discovery suggests SenseNets is one of a number of Chinese companies participating in the construction of a technology-enabled totalitarian police state in Xinjiang, which has seen as many as 2 million Uighurs placed into “re-education camps” since early 2017. Eyewitness reports from inside the camps describe harsh living conditions, torture, and near constant political indoctrination meant to strip Uighurs of any attachment to their Islamic faith. Facial recognition, artificial intelligence, and speech monitoring enable and supercharge the Chinese Communist Party’s drive to “standardize” its Uighur population. Uighurs can be sent to re-education camps for a vast array of trivial offenses, many of which are benign expressions of faith. The party monitors compliance through unrelenting electronic surveillance of online and physical activities. This modern-day panopticon requires enormous amounts of labor, but is serving as a testing ground for new technologies of surveillance that might render this process cheaper and more efficient for the state.

A Few Simple Steps to Vastly Increase Your Privacy Online

Keith Axline:

Online privacy is important for everyone, not just tinfoil hat wearers. First, it’s more in line with what a user’s expectation is when they browse the internet. Not many people understand all the tracking that happens by default.

Second, it’s more how we operate in real life. You don’t have someone following you around from store to store writing down every product you touch or look at, and then block you from entering other stores until you watch an ad.

Third, the principled view of not giving away valuable data to companies for them to sell is beneficial for everyone. Yes, in some cases you happily give up your data to sites that you enjoy so that they can stay in business. But you can’t opt-in to the sites you choose until you put the tools in place to block every site.

By the end of this post, you’ll be leaving much lighter footprints in the internet forest. Certainly more so than your average web surfer. We’ll switch up your browser and search engine, add some plugins to block surveillance, and get a little technical with DNS servers.

Don’t worry, the faster browsing and smug satisfaction of being a savvy internet user will make up for the discomfort of changing your routines.

Is Elite College Worth It? Maybe Not

Greg IP:

High-end college consultant Allen Koh was shocked to learn his colleague and competitor Rick Singer pleaded guilty to crimes including conspiracy and racketeering. WSJ sat down with Koh for insight into the multimillion-dollar college-consulting industry and what is driving parents to such desperate measures.

We’re told ad nauseam that college is the key to success. Is it any wonder that some parents broke the law to get their child into the best?

Of course, the parents accused by the FBI of bribing coaches and test administrators are an extreme case, but even some law abiding parents can relate: Some donate millions to their alma mater or hire $1,000-per-hour consultants to land a coveted spot at a top school.

The College-Admissions Scandal and the Banality of Scamming

Naomi Fry:

For years, it’s been known that the college-admissions process itself is a kind of scam. In his book “The Price of Admission,” from 2006, the investigative journalist Daniel Golden reveals the ways in which wealthy parents secure their children’s acceptance to prestigious colleges through hefty donations. In one example, he describes how Charles and Seryl Kushner used a two-and-a-half-million-dollar donation to obtain an admission to Harvard for their son, Jared, who is now the President’s son-in-law. (The Kushners have denied that the gift was related to Jared’s admission.) In an interview with my colleague Isaac Chotiner, on Tuesday, Golden noted that, although participating in allegedly criminal activities, the parents involved in the current scandal were simply pushing an already corrupt system to its logical conclusion. There is no doubt of the continuity between the two types of admission schemes, and that the technically legal one isn’t any more ethical than the other.

This week’s exposure of the college-admissions scam is significant exactly because, in its trite ordinariness, it makes granular and concrete what is usually abstract and difficult to pin down. The parents who responded “I love it” to Singer’s criminal propositions reminded me, viscerally, of Donald Trump, Jr.,’s breezy e-mail reply when, in 2016, he was told of a Russian source’s ability to share dirt on Hillary Clinton: “If it’s what you say I love it.” When the e-mail was revealed, in 2017, I felt a similar satisfaction. In both cases, casual corruption, usually obscured by several layers of secrecy and legal trickery, was finally laid bare. The people involved were so self-satisfied and secure in their power that they greeted unethical, perhaps felonious proposals with complete nonchalance.

U.S. Students Have Achieved World Domination in Computer Science Skills—for Now

Tekla Perry:

When the researchers tabulated the results, the U.S. students came out ahead in every category. U.S. seniors outperformed their peers overall; students from elite U.S. schools outclassed their counterparts at the other countries’ elite institutions; and the same was true for students at non-elite universities. (The differences among the scores of students in China, India, and Russia were not statistically significant, the researchers indicated.)

The study sets in relief an important but rarely mentioned point with regard to the sheer numbers of computer science graduates. U.S. universities graduate about 65,000 computer science students annually, compared with an annual total of 417,000 for institutions in the other countries studied. But those figures don’t tell the story of who will fill the most coveted slots at the world’s premiere tech companies. Loyalka and his collaborators note that the number of graduates supplied by China’s elite programs is approximately half the total number of graduates supplied by those in the U.S. India’s elite programs turn out only one-eighth the total number of graduates supplied by comparable U.S. schools)

The skills gap between the U.S. and the other countries studied is not a huge surprise (though the gap in performance is smaller at the elite schools), Loyalka told IEEE Spectrum. “CS departments and CS education in general have a longer history and are much more established in the United States than in China or India especially. A lot more is spent per student in the U.S. than in the other three countries. [But] given time and resources, the other three countries could catch up to the United States.”

US college cheating scandal snares fund sector executives

Jennifer Thompson:

Hollywood actors grabbed the headlines but a clutch of big names in asset management featured in the group of wealthy parents accused of paying millions of dollars to buy places for their children at elite American universities.

Those charged as part of Operation Varsity Blues include Douglas Hodge, former chief executive of investment manager Pimco, John Wilson, former independent member at one of Franklin Templeton’s fund boards, and Bill McGlashan, a former top executive at private equity firm TPG and poster boy for the impact investing sector.

In a criminal complaint filed in Boston, the Department of Justice accused 50 individuals of engaging in a scheme to bribe college entrance-exam administrators and university coaches.

An FBI affidavit filed in support of the complaint listed Georgetown, Stanford and Yale among the eight institutions affected in one of the biggest cheating scandals in US higher education.

Mr Hodge, a Pimco veteran who led the $1.7tn California investment group between 2014 and 2016 before retiring, is alleged to have used bribery to get two of his children into college “as purported athletic recruits” and to have considered the use of bribery to help a third child into college.

US higher education crisis: lessons from the Chicago schools

Edward Luce:

Making college free is one of the biggest rallying cries among Democratic White House hopefuls. Given the lengths to which many wealthy parents go to game the system that is unsurprising. Last week’s FBI arrest of dozens of parents, coaches and college administrators shows just how valuable admission to the best universities has become. One Yale applicant’s parents lavished $1.2m in bribes and fake profiles to gain entry.

The contrast to how the other 99 per cent fares could hardly be starker. The price of US higher education has skyrocketed. A four-year college degree now costs anywhere between $80,000 and $300,000 for tuition alone, while America’s median household annual income is $61,000.

Meanwhile, a growing share of Americans have been dropping out. Less than half of students complete their degree within six years. Many are saddled with debts, now totalling more than $1.5tn, that take a generation to pay off.

Led by Bernie Sanders, the “democratic socialist” who popularised the pledge when he first ran four years ago, free college has become a litmus test with the party’s base. Yet the Democrats are silent about the deepest problems in American education. Even if tuition were free, many Americans still do not want to go to college because other costs are steep and not everyone is cut out for four years of college. Many fail to complete high school because the sole purpose of doing so is to qualify for university.

The result is a stubbornly large precariat of semi-skilled and underemployed Americans. “We don’t have a person to waste in America,” says Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s outgoing mayor. “Too many kids are still slipping through the cracks.”

The solution, according to a growing number of governors and mayors, Republican and Democratic, is to reboot the antiquated system of technical education. Loosely speaking, America’s 1,332 community colleges are the equivalent of Germany’s vocational institutes. The biggest difference is that in Germany a trade is still highly valued. In America, the community college suffers from the “soft bigotry of low expectations”, says Bridget Gainer, a senior executive at Aon, the Chicago-based insurance company.

Admissions scandal hits ‘university of spoiled children’

Mark Vandevelde and Joshua Chaffin:

The University of Southern California’s campus was unusually quiet this week. As undergraduates took off for spring break, a group of high schoolers hoping to one day replace them toured the Gothic-inspired red-brick quadrants and manicured lawns near downtown Los Angeles.

But behind the scenes, USC was in the midst of a frantic damage-control exercise.

The school is at the centre of a $25m bribery scandal alleged by federal prosecutors on Tuesday in a criminal complaint that documents, in agonising detail, how dozens of wealthy US families bought places for their children in top universities with the help of a crooked admissions consultant, William “Rick” Singer.

USC admitted more of Mr Singer’s clients — many of them falsely depicted as student-athletes — than any other school mentioned in the complaint. This week, it fired a senior associate athletic director, Donna Heinel who, authorities allege, was on Mr Singer’s payroll at $20,000 a month, and its acclaimed water polo coach, Jovan Vavic. Two former USC coaches have also been charged by authorities.

USC on Thursday said it would toss out any current applicants tied to Mr Singer while beginning the messy business of determining what to do with those previously admitted. 

Why we should be honest about failure

Janan Ganesh:

On a long-haul flight, Can You Ever Forgive Me? becomes the first film I have ever watched twice in immediate succession. Released last month in Britain, it recounts the (true) story of Lee Israel, a once-admired, now-marginal writer who resorts to literary forgery to make the rent on her fetid New York hovel. Her one friend is himself a washout who, as per the English tradition, passes off his insolvency as bohemia. Lee pleads with her agent to answer her calls and, in the rawest scene, confesses her crime with a wistful pang for the success it brought her.

There are serviceable jokes (including the profane farewell between the two friends) but the film is ultimately about failure: social, financial, romantic, professional. Put it down to the lachrymose effects of air travel — a phenomenon that has no definitive explanation — but I found the film unusually affecting. Or perhaps it was the shock of seeing failure addressed so unsentimentally, and from so many angles.

Failure — not spectacular failure, but failure as gnawing disappointment — is the natural order of life. Most people will achieve at least a little bit less than they would have liked in their careers. Most marriages wind down from intense passion to a kind of elevated friendship, and even this does not count the roughly four in 10 that collapse entirely. Most businesses fail. Most books fail. Most films fail.

You would hope that something so endemic to the human experience would be constantly discussed and actively prepared for. Instead, what we hear about is failure as a great “teacher”, or as a staging post before eventual success. There are management books about “failing forward”. There are educational methods that teach children the uses of failure. Consult an anthology of quotations about the subject, and it is not just the Paulo Coelho types who sugar-coat it. Churchill, Edison, Capote, at least one Roosevelt: people who should know better almost deny the existence of failure as anything other than a character-building phase.

There are good intentions behind all this. There is also a lot of naivety and squeamishness. For many people, failure will be just that, not a nourishing experience or a bridge to something else. It will be a lasting condition, and it will sting a fair bit.

A modest proposal regarding college admissions

Frederick Hess:

Here’s another way to look at this: This isn’t an indictment of America but of the elite college cartel and the pathologies that it has enabled and exploited. It’s an indictment of the way elite colleges sell fast-passes to lucrative jobs on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, of the manufactured scarcity that they have cultivated, and of the way they have avidly marketed that scarcity. When colleges sell access, or are so inept that they make it easy for the rich to buy access, this isn’t an indictment of American parents who pay for tutors or who diligently use their 529s to save for their kids’ tuition. This is an indictment of elite colleges.

If admissions offices cannot detect even rudimentary corruption and institutions can’t stop themselves from selling access, it raises the question of whether we can trust them to make subtle distinctions when it comes to sensitive issues like race and merit. What we’ve learned this week can’t help but raise questions, for instance, about affirmative action and whether the courts can in good faith give admissions offices the latitude to make fraught decisions about how to incorporate consideration of race within the delicate bounds of constitutional propriety.

Given all this, here’s a modest proposal: Maybe elite colleges should put their money where their mouth is when they pontificate about the need to democratize opportunity, take a page out of the K-12 charter school book, and switch to lottery admissions.

Commentary on Madison’s Taxpayer Supported K-12 School Discipline and Achievement Climate

Kaleem Caire:

Our School District has an obligation to learn from these incidents and to ensure that our staff, students and parents have clear guidelines about how to address similar situations when they arise, and how they can also avoid such challenges as well.

After reading the police reports, it is clear to me that the student’s actions and behavior leading up to the confrontation was unacceptable. As a father, I would never support my children behaving that way in school, in the community, at home or anywhere. I am left wondering what MMSD and the child’s parents have done, or could have done, together, to proactively address the challenges this student might be having that led to her inappropriate conduct. At the same time, there are other ways Mr. Mueller-Owens could have handled this situation that would have avoided him putting his hands on the student.

No matter how we look at this, the incident has been a painful and unfortunate situation for everyone involved, and for our entire community as well. The worst thing we can do is avoid talking about this incident, or worse, fighting with each about who was right and who was wrong. Madison clearly has challenges. We have to address them, not avoid them.

David Blaska:

feel sorry for the lady, I really do. It’s tough to see someone’s closely held belief system come crashing down all around them.

Madison’s school superintendent broke down in tears today (03-20-19) addressing Madison Downtown Rotary.

God knows, Jennifer Cheatham has walked through the valley of disruption. Three of the last six monthly school board meetings have broken down in chaos — the school board and its administrators driven from the meeting auditorium by raucous social justice warriors wielding the race card. Again this Monday (03-18-19), school district leadership retreated behind closed doors. Main topic on the agenda (irony alert): the overly legalistic behavior education plan — a plan that is more cause than symptom.

The school board that can’t keep order at its own meetings? No wonder the school classrooms erupt in chaos. Then again, when you throw your specially trained “positive behavior coach” under the school bus when he tries to restore order, what do you expect? (Reaction to the Whitehorse middle school incident.)

Which must just tear at Dr. Cheatham’s heart because the lady lives and breathes identity politics, repents her white privilege, and focuses Madison’s taxpayer-supported education through the refractive prism of racial equity. As opposed to more productive goals such as personal responsibility and individual achievement.

More chaos at the school board:

Go figure. The Madison school board ONCE AGAIN retreats behind locked doors. Because it cannot keep order at its own meetings

To do what? To fine-tune its cadaverous Behavior Education Plan! Oh, the irony!

The school board can’t even control its own meetings! No wonder it cannot keep the classrooms from erupting in chaos. (More here.)

2013: What will be different, this time? Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham’s Rotary Club talk.

December, 2018: “The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before::

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

Italy bans unvaccinated children from school

BBC:

Parents risk being fined up to €500 (£425; $560) if they send their unvaccinated children to school. Children under six can be turned away.

The new law came amid a surge in measles cases – but Italian officials say vaccination rates have improved since it was introduced.

Under Italy’s so-called Lorenzin law – named after the former health minister who introduced it – children must receive a range of mandatory immunisations before attending school. They include vaccinations for chickenpox, polio, measles, mumps, and rubella.

Children up to the age of six years will be excluded from nursery and kindergarten without proof of vaccination under the new rules.

What students know that experts don’t: School is all about signaling, not skill-building

Bryan Caplan:

Parents, teachers, politicians and researchers tirelessly warn today’s youths about the unforgiving job market that awaits them. If they want to succeed in tomorrow’s economy, they can’t just coast through school. They have to soak up precious knowledge like a sponge. But even as adulthood approaches, students rarely heed this advice. Most treat high school and college like a game, not an opportunity to build lifelong skills.

Is it possible that students are on to something? There is a massive gap between school and work, between learning and earning. While the labor market rewards good grades and fancy degrees, most of the subjects schools require simply aren’t relevant on the job. Literacy and numeracy are vital, but few of us use history, poetry, higher mathematics or foreign languages after graduation. The main reason firms reward education is because it certifies (or “signals”) brains, work ethic and conformity.

It’s therefore sensible, if unseemly, for students to focus more on going through the motions than acquiring knowledge.

The justifications for propping up universities, which often act as little more than elite sorting mechanisms as well as left-wing indoctrination centers, are growing thin.

Inez Feltscher Stepman:

Yesterday, 50 wealthy parents and university officials, among them actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, were charged in the nation’s largest and most expensive college admissions corruption case ever prosecuted.

If it seems weird to most Americans to spend half a million bucks bribing the University of Southern California to admit your daughters as crew recruits, it’s because they haven’t spent much time in what Charles Murray calls Super ZIPs, the uber-wealthy coastal enclaves that increasingly measure self- and social worth according to placement on the U.S. News & World Report ranking.

The legal way to go about these things, of course, is to put up a campus building with your family name on it. Illegal new money bribery aside, the justifications for propping up universities, which often act as little more than elite sorting mechanisms as well as left-wing indoctrination centers, are growing thin.

The federal government spends $75 billion a year on higher education. Taxpayers also hold the ultimate dance card for the $1.5 trillion in outstanding student loan debt, much of which will likely not be fully repaid. For public universities, state-level funds also play a large role.

The Yale Dad Who Set Off the College-Admissions Scandal

Jennifer Levitz and Melissa Korn:

The Justice Department charged 50 people with participating in a fraudulent scheme to get undeserving students into elite colleges. This scandal could have political implications. WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib explains.

The tipster who led federal authorities to the biggest college-admissions scam they have ever prosecuted was Morrie Tobin, a Los Angeles financial executive who was being investigated in a securities fraud case, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

Mr. Tobin was being questioned in an alleged pump-and-dump investment scheme—in which people conspire to inflate the price of a stock so they can sell it at a profit—when he offered a tip to federal authorities in an effort to obtain leniency, according to people…

8 Alternatives to College Financially Strapped Families Should Consider

Kira Davis:

For parents (and students) who might be out there right now fretting over college tuition and applications and aren’t rich Hollywood players , here are some college alternatives to consider. Free yourself from the “labels” of elite institutions. If they’re thinking of becoming a lawyer (but seriously, how many more of those do we need??) or an engineer then obviously you’ll need to pursue institutional options. But if they’re just not sure about their paths and/or might have skills that are immediately marketable, here are some ideas to give some serious thought. I’ve seen plenty of parents and students take these paths, and almost to a person they are far, far ahead of their peers in terms of earning, achievement and job satisfaction.

Teach English in a foreign country. I headed straight to college from high school but I had a few friends who headed overseas to teach English to the students of hopeful and/or rich parents desiring to give their kids an advantage by learning Western culture. Typically, you don’t need any type of special training or education. Often times living expenses are paid for. It’s a great way to earn for a year or two and learn about different cultures and lifestyles firsthand. It’s basically getting paid to be educated!
The military. Somewhere in the last few decades the idea that the military was the “last resort” for people who are too dumb or too poor for college became pervasive. This idea couldn’t be further from the reality that military service can be a fantastic conduit to a successful and fulfilling career. Military life teaches discipline and teamwork, two extremely valuable skills in the civilian job market. They’ll also educate you for free and provide healthcare and housing subsidies. There are a plethora of non-combat tracks to pursue that can lead to incredibly elite and specialized careers, including information tech, health services and other support personnel. You can pursue a lifetime career or serve for a limited amount of time and leave with a degree, money in the bank and the very distinguished resume enhancer of having served your country. It is a legitimate career path that boasts some of our greatest minds.
Charitable service. The Peace Corps, missions work through a religious organization, volunteering with a UN or WHO organization that provide healthcare and sustenance in third world countries — if you’ve got a child with a heart for serving others and a thirst for new experiences, it might be a great idea to look at volunteering for a fixed time. Again, often the basics are paid for and you’re learning skills in an intense environment that could offer an invaluable advantage in the job market back home. Also, the quickest and best way to find contentment in your own life and a perspective that makes you flexible and resilient is to see firsthand how challenging life is for most of the rest of the world. Like military service it is also a fantastic resume-enhancer. Few things are more valuable to potential employers than an employee who can easily shift gears and refocus when things get tough.
Work on a cruise ship. This isn’t for everyone, but it can be a great option for those who endeavor for careers in the arts. Cruise lines need entertainers and often hold mass auditions once or twice a year in port-of-call regions like California or Orlando. They’re always in need of comedians, dancers, singers, musicians and also production staff…pretty much any position in stage entertainment. Not only are your accommodations paid for but you’re also earning a competitive salary, one that often ends up being far and above the yearly income for a struggling artist on land. It can be an adventure and an opportunity to intimately connect with other artists who will no doubt be the one to lead you to more work once your cruise stint is over.
Take a gap year…or two. The bourgeois fantasy of a gap year includes travel and adventure, but it doesn’t have to be that. A gap year can just be taking some time off to simply work and get a better feel for what you want to do in the future. It’s also a great way for parents to help their kids when they aren’t in a position to pay for college tuition. You may not be able to pay for four years of college, but you can allow your child to continue to live at home rent-free, get any job they can find and then save their money to pursue something more fulfilling once they’ve figured out what it is. Don’t turn your nose up at a year or two behind the counter at McDonald’s. Some of the wealthiest people in America started right there.
Instead of paying for four years of college, pay for a couple of years of living expenses. A young friend of mine decided that she would like to pursue a career in film production. Her parents had some means to pay for schooling but they made her an offer — they would pay for a few years of college or pay for two years of reasonable living expenses and she could move to L.A. and start working her way up the food chain. She chose the latter, found some less than ideal roommates in L.A. and began volunteering for every crap job on every indie film set she could get close to. By the time the two years were up she had worked her way into a steady job in the industry, earned enough money to get her own place and is now a working executive producer in Hollywood for the independent film scene. If you’ve got a child who is disciplined enough to take on the challenge of forging their own way, this is a great alternative to college. There’s no replacement for real-world experience and some career paths aren’t really enhanced by a degree. In some industries, employers only need to know you can do the job. If you can earn while you learn, you should!
Trade school. A Gender Studies degree might get you a job teaching Gender Studies to other Gender Studies students but more likely (statistically speaking) it will get you a minimum wage job to help pay the bills while you search for another career path. You know who does work steadily and lucratively? Plumbers. Electricians. Morticians. Mechanics. Even if you’re the type of snob who feels those jobs aren’t “elite” enough, don’t worry…there are actually elite positions in most trade jobs that can satisfy that perverse need. Someone has to fix the toilets at Buckingham Palace. The Queen poops too!
Nothing. Let your kid figure out how to pay for school or travel or whatever all by herself. Offer her advice on budgeting, living frugally, give her a timetable for complete independence and then back away. The notion that we parents are obligated to pay for our kids’ higher education is a big part of our debt problem in America. Your children are in the prime of their lives. They have energy to burn. They can go to school, work/party through the night and get up the next day to do it all over again. You remember the days! You (and I) on the other hand are nearing retirement age. Our window for earning enough money to carry us through our later years is closing quickly. There’s nothing wrong with just letting your child pay their own bills and choose their own path while they’re in the physical position to be able to work hard, work long and work smart. Let them take advantage of their youth and concentrate on padding your future so you don’t overly-burden them down the road with the financials of your care just as they’re incurring their own family financial burdens. I know it’s a shocking thought, but it’s really not that crazy to about 99% of the rest of planet Earth. The idea that we’re supposed to provide every single privilege for our kids no matter the cost is embarrassingly Western and relatively new. I’m not saying you have to choose this option, I’m just telling you it is an option and there’s nothing wrong with it.

Harvard President Bacow’s Speech to Peking University

Lawrence Bacow:

Turning to the role and values of higher education, Bacow then drew upon his Harvard installation address, last October, emphasizing that universities are venues for pursuing the hard work of finding the truth, by airing the most diverse opinions and insisting on excellence and opportunity. Lest anyone doubt that those principles have practical meaning, he said:

I have been president of Harvard for less than a year. In that short span of time, no less than half a dozen controversial issues have arisen on our campus, generating impassioned discussions—and even some spirited arguments and public protests—among students, faculty, and staff, as well as alumni and friends of the University. Such arguments can cause discomfort. But they are signs of a healthy community and of active and engaged citizenship. In fact, it would be unusual and, frankly, unsettling if a semester went by without any episode of disagreement. When conflict does arise, it forces us to ask: What kind of community do we want to be? And that question sustains and strengthens us—and enriches our search for truth.

In many circumstances, my role as president is not to define the “correct” position of the University but to keep the channels of discussion open. From a distance, Harvard can appear to be a place that speaks in one voice. It is, in fact, a place of many voices. And one of the most important—and most difficult—of our tasks is to ensure that all members of the community feel empowered to speak their minds.

Given current conditions in China, particularly during this year of politically charged anniversaries, many members of the Peking University community may recognize the principles Bacow elaborated more than they can now enjoy their own scope for local action, even on their country’s campuses.

He closed with a call both for continued scholarly ties between Harvard and Beida (and by implication their countries), and a resonant invocation of the spirit of intellectual exploration in a verse by the late Abdurehim Ötkür:

Along life’s road I have always sought truth,
In the search for verity, thought was always my guide.
My heart yearned without end for a chance of expression,
And longed to find words of meaning and grace.
Come, my friends, let our dialogue joyfully begin.

A Mild-Mannered Radical

Katherine Mangu-Ward:

A Mild-Mannered Radical
Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels’ totally insane, very practical ideas about how to fix college debt, reform entitlements, and redefine social justice
Katherine Mangu-Ward from the April 2019 issue – view article in the Digital Edition
At first glance, Mitch Daniels seems rather bland. His hair is straight and tidy. His suits are understated but tasteful. He speaks slowly and in quiet tones. He gently declines to answer questions about the failings of other politicians. And he seems genuinely mortified when he accidentally refers to his interviewer as Meghan.

But Daniels’ record as governor of Indiana could best be described as radical. During his governorship, which ran from 2005 to 2013, he decertified all government employee unions on his first day in office, managed to defeat teachers unions in a pitched battle for school choice, imposed tough spending austerity and raised taxes to balance the books, and inspired the Democrats in Indiana’s legislature to walk out at the beginning of his second term over a right-to-work bill. In his previous gig as the head of George H.W. Bush’s Office of Management and Budget, his nickname was “the Blade.”

In his regular Washington Post column, Daniels seems to delight in triggering his readers. He has advocated relocating all the major federal agencies away from Washington, D.C., defended the morality of genetically modified foods, and most recently called for the abolition of the “tasteless, classless spectacle” of the State of the Union.

He also rides a motorcycle and was indicted for marijuana possession as an undergrad at Princeton.

In 2010, he told The Weekly Standard that the next president “would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues” in the face of a mounting fiscal crisis. Between the kerfuffle caused by those remarks and his desire for privacy about an unorthodox relationship history—he and his wife married each other twice, with a break in between—he ended up stepping back from politics.

Since 2013, Daniels has been running Purdue University. If you talk to one of the people on his team, they refer to him as “President Daniels.” On the phone, it’s all too easy to imagine he’s calling from an alternate dimension where he actually ran for president of the United States—as many of his associates and the national media believed he would in 2012—and won. And after a wide-ranging conversation in January, it’s hard not to think that might have been a better, freer, calmer timeline than our own.

Civics: Google Assets and Free Speech

Tennessee Star:

Google banned a video explaining Christian teaching on same-sex marriage from advertising on YouTube after backlash from upset employees, according to internal Google communications reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

The video was flagged in June 2018 in an internal listserv, “Yes at Google,” which is run by Google’s human resources department, according to those communications and other internal documents, which a source shared with TheDCNF on condition of anonymity.

The listserv has more than 30,000 members and is devoted to policing “microaggressions” and “micro-corrections” within the company, according to its official internal description.

The internal backlash to the video grew large enough to merit a response from a Google vice president, who said the video would no longer be eligible to run as an advertisement, the human resources team announced to the listserv.

Christian radio host Michael L. Brown argues in the video that gay people are welcome as Christians but that, like every other person, they are called to follow Christian teachings on sex and marriage.

Brown has spoken out in the past against “homo-hatred” and “ugly rhetoric” directed at gay and lesbian people by fringe groups like the Westboro Baptist Church.

In the video, he describes same-sex relationships as “like other sins, but one that Jesus died for.”

Many taxpayer supported school districts, including Madison, use Google services.

“required them to keep the documents from the public, including their school boards”

Bethany Blankley:

The documents DPI sent to school superintendents are the very documents WILL requested.

DPI also sent school superintendents the final “joint federal notification packets” on ESSA, which also stipulated that the information not be made public before March 5.

As a result, DPI could be applying a federal accountability system to schools and districts without having any state legal authority to do so, WILL argues.

Wisconsin’s DPI unilaterally wrote Wisconsin’s state plan with very little input from the state legislature and governor, WILL argues. WILL’s testimony before the Wisconsin Assembly Education Committee expressed that state law requires DPI, and other state agencies, to follow specific laws before creating regulations.

The Wisconsin DOI was lead by current governor Tony Evers for many years. The DPI has waived thousands of elementary teacher reading content knowledge requirements.

Much more on the foundations of reading, here.

Teaching in America’s prisons has taught me to believe in second chances

Andrea Cantora:

In 2007, I gave someone a second chance. I was in Danbury Federal Correctional Institution recruiting women for a new program for people returning from prison that I was running in New York City.

A woman approached me and handed me her portfolio. It was basically a detailed resume of her accomplishments, skills and goals for the future.

Over a two-year period before this, I had visited at least six female facilities in New York and Connecticut and met hundreds of women looking to enter our program. But when Jamila approached me, something stood out.

She was bold, persistent and confident about her future. Her portfolio showed that she took advantage of every educational program available to her while in prison. When she was released in 2007, I hired her as an administrative assistant intern. Over the next several years she worked her way up to a top management position at the same organization that ran the program.

A decade later I met another person, Chris Wilson, who created a master plan of what he hoped to accomplish in life. He, too, had embraced books, self-education and formal education while incarcerated. Even though he was serving a life sentence, he believed he could get out of prison and persisted until his judge gave him a second chance by reducing his sentence.

Some literary scholars would like to escape politics. But is that even possible?

Bruce Robbins:

On April 7, 2003, less than three weeks into America’s invasion of Iraq, Bruno Latour worried aloud, in a lecture at Stanford, that scholars and intellectuals had themselves become too combative. Under the circumstances, he asked, did it really help to take official accounts of reality as an enemy, aiming to expose the prejudice and ideology hidden behind supposedly objective facts? “Is it really the task of the humanities to add deconstruction to destruction?,” he wondered.

Latour’s name for this project of distrust was “critique.” Critique in his somewhat eccentric, “suspicion of everything” sense was not in fact what most progressive scholars and intellectuals thought of themselves as doing, whether in opposition to the war in Iraq or in general. When Latour’s lecture came out the following year under the title “Why Has Critique Run Out of Steam?,” it was an extremely influential bit of theater. Latour had made his career as a critic of science and purveyor of an all-purpose distrust. “I myself have spent some time in the past trying to show ‘the lack of scientific certainty’ inherent in the construction of facts,” he confessed in the essay. “Is it enough to say that we did not really mean what we said?” A famous intellectual revolutionary now seemed to be renouncing the revolution, and to many it seemed that the revolution itself was over. A number of other scholars came forward to testify that they too had had it up to here with critique. Postcritique was born.

We asked, they answered: Teachers weigh in on how they learned to teach reading

Ann Schimke:

When we invited teachers to respond to a survey on reading instruction, we received nearly 70 responses. We heard from teachers in Colorado and several other states who said their educator preparation program didn’t provide the skills they needed to teach reading. We also learned that most respondents agreed with recent critiques that American schools pay little attention to the science behind reading instruction. Here’s a sampling of responses.

“While methods vary from school to school, on the whole we have neglected explicit, systematic phonics instruction, which has disproportionately affected our students with the highest needs … In [Denver Public Schools], a host of factors, particularly flexibility with curriculum, has led to very inconsistent phonics instruction in the early grades, even when schools have adopted curriculum with a high-quality phonics program.”

Civics: Kentucky legislature passes college free speech bill opposed by ACLU

Morgan Watkins:

Miller cited concerns that certain provisions in HB 254 could be used to prevent speech by counter-protesters on campus. She also emphasized that the ACLU doesn’t believe in censoring speech, even if it is “repulsive.”

“We believe that, first and foremost, the First Amendment does a fine job of protecting free speech and that we should rely on the protections enshrined in our Constitution rather than putting into place these types of state regulations,” she said.

The Kentucky Senate passed HB 254 Thursday afternoon in a 30-7 vote, with many Republicans and a couple of Democrats supporting the measure. State Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, expressed concerns similar to the ACLU’s and voted against it, along with many other Democrats in that chamber.

The state House of Representatives already passed the bill in a 64-33 vote earlier this week, which means it can now head to Gov. Matt Bevin for consideration. (Bevin has the power to sign bills into law or veto them.)

Concerns about protecting people’s right to free speech on college campuses has periodically landed in the national spotlight in recent years.

One flashpoint involved 2017 protests at the University of California, Berkeley, in opposition to a planned appearance by Milo Yiannopoulos, a right-wing personality who has made comments that were decried by many as hate speech.

Civics: Media FOIA Requests to EPA Spiked After Trump Election, Data Reveal

Brent Scher:

The New York Times, for example, made just 13 FOIA requests during the four years of Obama’s second term, sending 3 in 2013, 1 in 2014, 7 in 2015, and 2 in 2016. The number of FOIA requests the Times sent for Obama’s entire second term was nearly quadrupled in the first year of Trump’s presidency alone, when the Times sent 59 FOIA requests to the EPA.

Reporters at the Times have made 100 FOIA requests since Trump took office just over two years ago, a 669 percent increase of the number of FOIA requests it made during the four years of Obama’s second term.

Reporters at the Washington Post sent just a single FOIA request to the EPA during Obama’s entire second term, and have sent 43 FOIA requests to the agency since Trump took office.

The sharp increase in FOIA requests to the EPA was also apparent at Politico (15 requests in Obama’s second term, 198 since Trump took office), The Hill (20 requests in Obama’s second term, 67 since Trump took office), CNN (25 requests in Obama’s second term, 47 since Trump took office), Buzzfeed (18 requests in Obama’s second term, 38 since Trump took office), and ABC News (4 requests in Obama’s second term, 32 since Trump took office).

Database Architecture Blog

Architecture Database:

In a computer program, the database is the heart of handling data. It provides an efficient way of storing and retrieving data fast. Learning Database internal architecture in code level is not that so easy since Database has complex architecture. Looking into a complex database is not that easy because of the complexity. But, SQLite is a nice little compact database that used in millions of devices and operating systems.

Cornell, Harvard Drop GRE for English Ph.D.

Scott Jaschik:

The basic fee for the GRE general test is $205, with additional fees for other tests and services, and fee waivers available for low-income students.

Glenda Carpiom, professor of English and director of graduate studies at Harvard, said via email that in the first year in which the department didn’t require the GRE, applications from underrepresented minority and international students were up. She said that the department was pleased with the results.

ETS has in recent years stressed that while it believes the GRE enhances admissions committees’ decision making, it also believes that departments should not overemphasize scores, or adopt cutoff scores, even informal ones.

Civics: DARPA Is Building a $10 Million, Open Source, Secure Voting System

Kim Zetter:

Switzerland made headlines this month for the transparency of its internet voting system when it launched a public penetration test and bug bounty program to test the resiliency of the system to attack.

But after source code for the software and technical documentation describing its architecture were leaked online last week, critics are already expressing concern about the system’s design and about the transparency around the public test.

Cryptography experts who spent just a few hours examining the leaked code say the system is a poorly constructed and convoluted maze that makes it difficult to follow what’s going on and effectively evaluate whether the cryptography and other security measures deployed in the system are done properly.

“It is simply not the standard we would expect.”

How to Write Original Creative Writing Essays: Complete Guide for Arts Essays

Word Atlas:

The importance of a journal can never be over emphasised. Journals help you build patience, consistency, good observatory skills and an ability to write whether you are inspired or not. Journals also make excellent muses when you need inspiration to write. Reading through past writings can birth ideas that make good foundations for a different story entirely. You don’t have to record day to day experiences, you can record dreams, memories, quotes, phrases and songs that strike deep chords between you. Record moods, feelings, observations and certain bouts of ideas that seem to pop from nowhere. When you write your creative essay and you seem stuck, get out your journal and write anything that comes to mind.

School superintendents to Gov. Kate Brown: No thanks on a 180-day school year

Betsy Hammond & Eder Campuzano:

Gov. Kate Brown is working to make good on her campaign pledge to extend Oregon’s notoriously short school year to the national benchmark of 180 days, the single most expensive item on her list of school upgrades she’d bankroll with a promised $2 billion corporate tax hike.

But a panel composed largely of school district superintendents, assembled at Brown’s request to guide the state in making the switch to a longer school year, came back with a different take: Think long and hard before you force districts to lengthen the school year and, whatever you do, do not mandate 180 days.

Brown’s spokeswoman said Tuesday that the governor is undaunted in her drive to ensure that all Oregon students get a longer school year.

Brown’s takeaway from the work group report, spokeswoman Lisa Morawski said, is that its members feel strongly that extending the school year alone won’t improve results – a position the governor agrees with. That’s why she’s also working to come up with money for more preschool, smaller class sizes, additional career-technical courses and improved teacher effectiveness, Morawski said.

8-year-old living in homeless shelter wins New York chess championship: ‘I want to be the youngest grandmaster’

Ashley May – via a kind reader:

“I want to be the youngest grandmaster,” Tanitoluwa Adewumi, a Nigerian refugee who goes by Tani, told The New York Times.

Tanitoluwa placed first in the New York State Scholastic Championships tournament for kindergarten through third grade — a remarkable win for anyone.

“It’s unheard of for any kid, let alone one in a homeless shelter,” Russell Makofsky, who oversees Manhattan’s P.S. 116 chess program, told USA TODAY.

Nothing funny

Karen Uhlenbeck first woman to win the Abel Prize

The Abel Prize:

Uhlenbeck is a mathematician, but she is also a role model and a strong advocate for gender equality in science and mathematics. As a child, she loved reading and dreamed of becoming a scientist. Today, Uhlenbeck is Visiting Senior Research Scholar at Princeton University as well as Visiting Associate at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS). She is one of the founders of the Park City Mathematics Institute (PCMI) at IAS, which aims to train young researchers and promote mutual understanding of the interests and challenges in mathematics.

She is also the co-founder of the Institute’s Women and Mathematics program (WAM), created in 1993 to recruit and empower women to lead in mathematics research at all stages of their academic careers.

Commentary on proposed Wisconsin K-12 Tax and spending increases and effectiveness

Bethany Blankley:

Slinger and Hartford school districts spend significantly less than the state average on education but their students’ Forward Exam performances are significantly higher than other districts, the report found. By comparison, White Lake and Bayfield districts have “woeful proficiency rates despite spending far more than the average district,” the report states.

In Evers’ budget address, he said, “more than one million Wisconsinites have raised their own property taxes to support local schools in their communities,” Matt Kittle at the MacIver Institute notes. “But they chose to do so,” Kittle says, “through the mechanism of referendum that offers school districts the ability to set their own priorities and not make taxpayers elsewhere pick up an ever-increasing portion of the tab.”

Evers’ budget plan calls for a return to the state picking up two-thirds of K-12 funding, but would put more money into the state’s long-failing schools, Kittle notes, “while he looks to punish Wisconsin’s school choice program.”

Locally, Madison spends around $20,000 per student, yet we have long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”.

The admissions-cheating scandal prompts an investigation of other shameful developments, like the rising cost of college and the declining payoff for younger grads

Jack Hough:

New York University charges $6,500 for Calculus I. That’s tuition and fees, not books, residence, and a Vespa scooter. The rules of calculus were laid down more than 300 years ago by two guys in wigs. You can learn everything for free on YouTube. So where does all this pricing power come from? Hold that thought.

It’s not just math, and it’s not just NYU. The sticker price for the average private four-year college is now over $50,000 a year, including room and board. Do you know what else $200,000 in cash can buy a 22-year-old? A $3 million retirement, if the money is invested at about a 6% year return until age 68.

Stanford University let in 4.3% of applicants last year. It ranks among the top U.S. schools. The number of applicants has more than tripled over the past 30 years, but yearly enrollment has barely budged.

Managed Obsolescence: Homelessness in America’s Gilded Cities

Jacob Siegel:

It was last July, somewhere around Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway, when I first noticed the RVs. Miles and miles of vintage cream-colored RVs parked bumper to bumper along the inland shoulder of the PCH. My first thought was that they must have belonged to tourists spending a day at the beach. But they were still there at night, stretching down the shoulder of the highway like a caravan caught in purgatorial gridlock, no closer to entering the city than to escaping it.

I started reading about the homeless camps spreading across the western United States around 2014. My initial impression was that the stories were paranoid allegories about late capitalism and American greed—postscripts of a sort to the rumors of encroaching FEMA camps from the previous decade, not meant to be taken literally. But the reports didn’t go away, and at some point I started to wonder if they could possibly be true, and—if they were true, and dust-bowl-era settlements were cropping up across American cities—how it wasn’t bigger news.

I’d read in one account that it was a crisis of rising housing costs and stagnating wages, and then, in another, that it was a crisis of drug addiction, mental illness, and deinstitutionalization. Were warm weather and welfare benefits drawing homeless people from other states to the West Coast? Had progressive governments, fearful of infringing on the rights of even the most disturbed people on the streets, effectively ceded public spaces to unincorporated settlements? Were business interests and real estate developers to blame, or was this the consequence of family breakdown and social atomization?

I wanted to see for myself, so I went out west.

Civics: Above the Law

Tony Bartelme and Joseph Cranney:

South Carolina sheriffs have embezzled, bribed and dipped into public funds for expensive chauffeurs. They’ve driven drunk and bullied other public officials. They’ve been accused of leveraging their power to sexually assault their female employees.

While many South Carolina sheriffs have strong records of serving the public, others served themselves and their cronies, a five-month Post and Courier investigation found.

In the past decade, no fewer than 11 of South Carolina’s 46 counties have seen their sheriffs accused of breaking laws — nearly one in four.

Like the sheriff in Orangeburg who funneled public funds into bogus credit union accounts to buy a $72,000 motor home. The missing money was discovered only after the sheriff died.

And the sheriff in Chesterfield County who embezzled money, gave weapons to inmates — even let a prisoner host a dinner at the sheriff’s home. A judge sentenced the sheriff to two years.

It is always useful to dive into taxpayer expenditures, particularly those that grow annually.

South Dakota Legislature passes intellectual diversity bill

Graham Piro:

After multiple legislative failures, the South Dakota Legislature has passed a bill to promote intellectual diversity on campus. HB 1087 is on its way to the governor’s desk after the House passed the Senate-amended bill, 51-12, on Tuesday.

“We are thrilled that South Dakota has become the first state in the nation to adopt legislation requiring universities to promote intellectual diversity and not simply be dominated by the left,” Rep. Sue Peterson, a sponsor of the bill, told The College Fix in an email.

She called this leftist domination “a national epidemic which has undermined the education of thousands of students and fueled out-of-control political correctness at the expense of hard-working taxpayers.”

Of the 12 representatives who voted against the bill, nine were Democrats, and three were Republicans. Seven representatives were excused from voting.

A Successful School, a Progressive Target

Allysia Finley:

Monroe College is a higher-education success story. Believe it or not, progressives want to shut it down.

Founded in 1933, it focuses on practical learning: There are no seminars on intersectionality or cultural appropriation, no rock-climbing walls, organic vegetable gardens or ethnic theme houses. In other respects, Monroe is similar to other small colleges. It has dining halls, libraries, student clubs and a Title IX coordinator. “I have 850 athletes, 1,000 people in dormitories, 1,000 foreign students,” says Marc Jerome, Monroe’s president and something of a force of nature, on a recent visit to the Journal’s offices. “We look and feel like a traditional college—an urban college.” Its main campus in the Bronx, on New York City’s northern rim, and it has sites in nearby New Rochelle and the Caribbean nation of Saint Lucia.

Monroe provides training in fields like information technology, nursing and culinary arts, and its student outcomes are exemplary. A Monroe student is 10 times as likely to graduate on time as one who enrolls at a nearby community college, and the college’s 3.9% student-loan default rate is among the lowest in the state. It also ranks among the top three colleges in New York for graduating Latino and black students.

Don’t become success robots

Peggy Noonan:

Here is some­thing I think is part of the story. In the past decade or so I’ve ob­served a par­tic­u­lar par­ent­ing style grow­ing preva­lent among the up­per mid­dle class and wealthy. It is in­tense. They love their kids and want the best for them, they want to be re­spon­si­ble, but there’s a de­gree to which one won­ders if they don’t also see them as nar­cis­sis­tic ex­ten­sions of them­selves. They are hy­per-at­ten­tive, pro­vid­ing metic­u­lous aca­d­e­mic groom­ing—pri­vate schools, pri­vate tu­tors and coaches, pri­vate classes in Chi­nese lan­guage and cello. They don’t want their chil­dren fat—that isn’t healthy, by which they mean at­trac­tive. They com­mu­ni­cate the civ­i­lized opin­ions of the best peo­ple and sig­nal it would be best to hew to them.

They are sta­tus mon­keys cre­at­ing suc­cess robots.

Amazon Pulls 2 Books That Promote Unscientific Autism ‘Cures’

Tiffany Hsu:

Amazon has removed the online listings for two books that claim to contain cures for autism, a move that follows recent efforts by several social media sites to limit the availability of anti-vaccination and other pseudoscientific material.

The books, “Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism” and “Fight Autism and Win,” which had previously been listed for sale in Amazon’s marketplace, were not available on Wednesday. The company confirmed that the listings had been removed, but declined to discuss why or whether similar books would be taken down in the future.

Several such books were still listed on Wednesday. In an article published this week, Wired magazine noted that Amazon is crowded with titles promoting unproven treatments for autism that include “sex, yoga, camel milk, electroconvulsive therapy and veganism.”

Rigor: Many Guidelines For Heart Care Rely On Weak Evidence

Richard Harris:

Doctors turn to professional guidelines to help them identify the latest thinking on appropriate medical treatments, but a study out Friday finds that in the realm of heart disease, most of those guidelines aren’t based on the highest level of evidence.

A paper in JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, that was released online ahead of print, finds that less than 10 percent of cardiovascular guidelines are based on the most carefully conducted scientific studies, known as randomized controlled trials. A lot of the rest are based on much weaker evidence.

Renato Lopes, a cardiologist at Duke University and his colleagues decided to dig into the guidelines from the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association. The scientists also reviewed the European Society of Cardiology guidelines, and found a similar pattern.

Colleagues who had done a similar analysis a decade ago came up with a surprising and disappointing observation: Only 12.5 percent of these guidelines are based on the highest level of evidence.

The State of American Trade Schools

Chuck Thompson:

This is a golden time for postsecondary trade and tech schools. Not just because they’re becoming more profitable than ever. But because, at least according to some, they’re finally shaking off the stigma that has dogged their students, instructors, and administrators for so long. Over the past year, media from The Wall Street Journal to PBS have hailed technology schools and programs as harbingers of a new economy and reformers of a postsecondary education system that’s become over-priced, over-valued, and often irrelevant.

Statistics are a big part of the story. Between 1988 and 2018, the cost of a four-year college degree increased by 213 percent at public schools and 129 percent at private schools. Over the same period, wages for most Americans remained stagnant. Meanwhile, unemployment rates among young college graduates have grown from 4.3 percent in 2000 to 5.6 percent in 2017. Young male college graduates have been particularly hard hit. Their unemployment rate spiked from 4.1 percent in 2000 to 7.1 percent in 2017. At the same time, a scarcity of skilled workers has led to a nationwide labor shortage that’s resulted in increased wages for a number of blue-collar occupations. The lesson for many is obvious.

“We are lending money we don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back to train them for jobs that no longer exist,” says Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe, summing up a widespread viewpoint for Fox News.

The Persistent Economic Advantage of America’s Suburbs

Richard Florida:

The rise of the city and the decline of the suburbs has emerged as a common meme in recent years. The young, the educated, and the affluent have come streaming back to the urban core, driving up rents, driving out the poor, and giving rise to patterns of gentrification. The story goes that the suburbs have lost their long-held position as the premier location, being besieged by poverty, economic decline, and other problems once thought to be the province of the inner city.

The trouble is that this picture does not match reality—not by a long shot, according to a detailed new paper published in the journal Urban Studies. Authored by Whitney Airgood-Obrycki of Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, it looks at the change in the economic status of urban and suburban neighborhoods from 1970 to 2010, a period that overlaps with notions of the resurgence of America’s urban centers and the decline of its suburbs.

Airgood-Obrycki’s study classifies neighborhoods according to three categories—urban core, inner-ring suburbs, and outer-ring suburbs—based on their proximity to the urban center and their density. It further breaks out the suburbs into three additional categories based on when they were developed: prewar, postwar, and modern. Airgood-Obrycki defines the economic status of neighborhoods according to a series of key economic and demographic indicators, including income, college education, employment in professional occupations, home values, rents, vacancy rates, older households (60 years of age and over), and female-headed households.

Her data come from the U.S. Census Longitudinal Tract Database for the period 1970 to 2010, and cover roughly 40,000 census tracts across America’s 100 most populous metro areas.

Related: Where have all the students gone?

Only 7 Black Students Got Into N.Y.’s Most Selective High School, Out of 895 Spots

Eliza Shapiro:

Only a tiny number of black students were offered admission to the highly selective public high schools in New York City on Monday, raising the pressure on officials to confront the decades-old challenge of integrating New York’s elite public schools.

At Stuyvesant High School, out of 895 slots in the freshman class, only seven were offered to black students. And the number of black students is shrinking: There were 10 black students admitted into Stuyvesant last year, and 13 the year before.

Another highly selective specialized school, the Bronx High School of Science, made 12 offers to black students this year, down from 25 last year.

These numbers come despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vow to diversify the specialized high schools, which have long been seen as a ticket for low-income and immigrant students to enter the nation’s best colleges and embark on successful careers.

But Mr. de Blasio’s proposal to scrap the entrance exam for the schools and overhaul the admissions process has proved so divisive that the state’s most prominent politicians, from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have mostly avoided taking a definitive position — even as black and Hispanic students are grappling with increasingly steep odds of admission into the city’s eight most selective public schools.

College entrance bribery scandal resonates on Georgia campuses

Jennifer Brett and Ty Tagami:

“A lot of this stems from how narrowly we define success,” she said.

In addition to criminal charges, Operation Varsity Blues has spurred class-action litigation. Students suing Yale University, Georgetown University, Stanford University and other schools caught up in the wide-ranging scheme contend the elite institutions “took the students’ admission application fees while failing to take adequate steps to ensure that their admissions process was fair and free of fraud, bribery, cheating and dishonesty.”

Todd Rose, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, predicts more revelations to come and doubts the charges will put an end to attempts to game the college-admission system.

“Anytime you create a system that has a very singular view of success, this will always happen,” he said. “It sort of guarantees not only cheating and corruption, but really, unhappy kids. As long as we treat higher ed like a designer handbag, it creates these incentives for corruption.”

Rose, who’s also co-founder of the Boston-based think tank Populace, thinks reform could start from the private sector. Top firms that make it clear they hire for ability and work ethic instead of focusing on a certain diploma, he said, could ease the frenzied competition for limited spots at a handful of prestigious colleges and universities.

“If we’re not willing to have the conversation about how we define success, this problem isn’t going away,” he said.

The Disability Gambit

Joanne Jacobs:

Affluent parents are getting their kids extra time on the SATs and ACTs by paying for a disability diagnosis, writes Doree Lewak in the New York Post.

Such accommodations, meant to level the playing field for students with disabilities, have more than doubled since 2003, when testing services stopped telling colleges who gets extra time.

“To get extra time, parents can pay thousands of dollars to have their child evaluated for a learning disorder by a private neuropsychology evaluator, typically a psychologist of some sort,” writes Lombardo.

Candidates wade through complex issues facing the Madison school board

Jenny Peek:

As for charter schools, Blaska says the more the better. “Competition is what made America great,” he says. “My whole pitch is to bring Madison schools back to their former excellence status and we’ve gone the opposite way. We have parents voting with their feet.”

Muldrow supports charter schools — like Nuestro Mundo — that are overseen by the district, because they create an opportunity to develop creative curriculum. She notes that two independent charter schools — Isthmus Montessori Academy, where her daughters go, and One City Schools — would prefer to be part of the district. Both applied but were rejected.

To address the achievement gap, Blaska sees a lack of discipline as the problem and would revise the district’s Behavior Education Plan. Muldrow champions making arts a core part of curriculum. She’d also encourage the district to step back from standardized testing and make schools more inclusive and welcoming.

“Our attachment to ‘sit still, in a desk, fill out a worksheet,’ I don’t think we’re attached to that because it’s a necessity of learning, I think were attached to it because we’re used to it,” Muldrow says. “And I think we’re attached to the achievement gap because we’re used to it. And I think that we need to get used to something else.”

Much more on the 2019 Madison School District election, here.

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”.

Madisonspends far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts, now around $20,000 per student. Yet, we’ve long tolerated disastrous reading results.

The Unstoppable Snowplow Parent

Claire Cain Miller and Jonah Engel Bromwich:

So Ms. Eisenberg and others in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., the affluent suburb where she lives, helped him start a charity with friends that raised more than $250,000 over four years.

“The moms — the four or five moms that started it together — we started it, we helped, but we did not do it for them,” Ms. Eisenberg, 49, recalled. “Did we ask for sponsors for them? Yes. Did we ask for money for them? Yes. But they had to do the work.”

She even considered a donation to the college of his choice. “There’s no amount of money we could have paid to have got him in,” Ms. Eisenberg said. “Because, trust me, my father-in-law asked.” (Ms. Eisenberg’s son was admitted to two of the best musical theater programs in the country, she said, along with nine more of the 26 schools he applied to.)

China may overtake the US with the best AI research in just two years

Will Knight:

The most detailed analysis of Chinese AI research papers yet suggests that China is gaining on the US more quickly than previously thought.

China’s vibrant tech scene has come up with a number of recent breakthroughs, and the government has recently launched a major initiative to dominate the development of the technology within a matter of years (see “China’s AI awakening”).

Still, it isn’t easy to measure progress in a broad and complex area of technology like artificial intelligence. Previous studies have shown that China already produces a larger number of research papers mentioning AI terms like “deep learning.” But it has always been difficult to ascertain the quality of that research.

The new study aims to solve that problem. It comes from the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (Ai2), a nonprofit in Seattle created by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen that is focused on fundamental AI research. The institute previously created a tool, called Semantic Scholar, that uses artificial intelligence to make it easier to search and analyze scientific research papers published online.

The Bitter Lesson

Rich Sutton:

The biggest lesson that can be read from 70 years of AI research is that general methods that leverage computation are ultimately the most effective, and by a large margin. The ultimate reason for this is Moore’s law, or rather its generalization of continued exponentially falling cost per unit of computation. Most AI research has been conducted as if the computation available to the agent were constant (in which case leveraging human knowledge would be one of the only ways to improve performance) but, over a slightly longer time than a typical research project, massively more computation inevitably becomes available. Seeking an improvement that makes a difference in the shorter term, researchers seek to leverage their human knowledge of the domain, but the only thing that matters in the long run is the leveraging of computation. These two need not run counter to each other, but in practice they tend to. Time spent on one is time not spent on the other. There are psychological commitments to investment in one approach or the other. And the human-knowledge approach tends to complicate methods in ways that make them less suited to taking advantage of general methods leveraging computation. There were many examples of AI researchers belated learning this bitter lesson, and it is instructive to review some of the most prominent.

In computer chess, the methods that defeated the world champion, Kasparov, in 1997, were based on massive, deep search. At the time, this was looked upon with dismay by the majority of computer-chess researchers who had pursued methods that leveraged human understanding of the special structure of chess. When a simpler, search-based approach with special hardware and software proved vastly more effective, these human-knowledge-based chess researchers were not good losers. They said that “brute force” search may have won this time, but it was not a general strategy, and anyway it was not how people played chess. These researchers wanted methods based on human input to win and were disappointed when they did not.

Radical Change Is Coming To Data Science Jobs

Nate Oostendorp:

The Path Forward For Data Scientists

Over the coming years, I foresee data scientists dividing into at least five types of workers:

1. Generalists: The first group will be data science generalists, who will interpret data and make it usable. These generalists will focus on educating end users, helping users ask questions of the data rather than finding all the answers themselves. This will likely be a transitional role, more common in five years than in ten.

2. Industry specialists: The second and largest group will comprise industry specialists, who will apply data science techniques and tools in specific verticals like manufacturing, medical sciences and finance. This is where I believe the bulk of the jobs will be. However, these won’t be considered data science jobs. This worker won’t be a data scientist who understands manufacturing but rather a manufacturing leader who understands data science. Today’s equivalent is the researcher who is a statistics ace.

3. Deep specialists: The third and smallest group will be deep specialists in specific data science technologies. This is where the remaining pure data science jobs will be. Their role will be pursuing data science in the abstract, improving the performance of algorithms and designing new generalized approaches. They will be like today’s computer scientists, building theoretical foundations rather than solving everyday problems.

IQ is largely a pseudoscientific swindle

Nassim Nicholas Taleb:

Background : “IQ” is a stale test meant to measure mental capacity but in fact mostly measures extreme unintelligence (learning difficulties), as well as, to a lesser extent (with a lot of noise), a form of intelligence, stripped of 2nd order effects. It is via negativa not via positiva. Designed for learning disabilities, and given that it is not too needed there (see argument further down), it ends up selecting for exam-takers, paper shufflers, obedient IYIs (intellectuals yet idiots), ill adapted for “real life”. The concept is poorly thought out mathematically by the field (commits a severe flaw in correlation under fat tails; fails to properly deal with dimensionality; treats the mind as an instrument not a complex system), and seems to be promoted by

racists/eugenists, people bent on showing that some populations have inferior mental abilities based on IQ test=intelligence; those have been upset with me for suddenly robbing them of a “scientific” tool, as evidenced by the bitter reactions to the initial post on twitter/smear campaigns by such mountebanks as Charles Murray. (Something observed by the great Karl Popper, psychologists have a tendency to pathologize people who bust them by tagging them with some type of disorder, or personality flaw such as “childish” , “narcissist”, “egomaniac”, or something similar).
psychometrics peddlers looking for suckers (military, large corporations) buying the “this is the best measure in psychology” argument when it is not even technically a measure — it explains at best between 2 and 13% of the performance in some tasks (those tasks that are similar to the test itself)[see interpretation of .5 correlation further down], minus the data massaging and statistical cherrypicking by psychologists; it doesn’t satisfy the monotonicity and transitivity required to have a measure (at best it is a concave measure). No measure that fails 80–95% of the time should be part of “science” (nor should psychology — owing to its sinister track record — be part of science (rather scientism), but that’s another discussion).

State lawmakers pushing for laxer vaccine rules despite measles outbreaks

Victoria Colliver:

We still get messages that say these diseases are good for you. And that old ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,'” said Oregon state Rep. Mitch Greenlick, who is pushing for stricter vaccination requirements. He has introduced a bill, OR HB3063, to eliminate all vaccine exemptions except for those based on medical grounds.

Greenlick, a retired Kaiser Permanente research executive, said harassing phone calls drove him to send all calls to voicemail after he announced the legislation. He attributed the vitriol to the combination of misinformation online and the state’s strong independent streak.

Vaccine policy isn’t a red-state, blue-state issue. Mississippi and West Virginia — both GOP stalwarts — have the most restrictive policies in the country, for historical reasons, and have staved off legislative and legal efforts to loosen them. Exemptions in both states are allowed only for medical reasons, and even those medical exemptions are subject to review. West Virginia this session is considering a bill, WV SB454, that would add back the religious and personal objection exemptions.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate:

Joseph Stieglitz:

The world’s advanced economies are suffering from a number of deep-seated problems. In the United States, in particular, inequality is at its highest since 1928, and GDP growth remains woefully tepid compared to the decades after World War II.

After promising annual growth of “4, 5, and even 6%,” US President Donald Trump and his congressional Republican enablers have delivered only unprecedented deficits. According to the Congressional Budget Office’s latest projections, the federal budget deficit will reach $900 billion this year, and will surpass the $1 trillion mark every year after 2021. And yet, the sugar high induced by the latest deficit increase is already fading, with the International Monetary Fund forecasting US growth of 2.5% in 2019 and 1.8% in 2020, down from 2.9% in 2018.

Many factors are contributing to the US economy’s low-growth/high-inequality problem. Trump and the Republicans’ poorly designed tax “reform” has exacerbated existing deficiencies in the tax code, funneling even more income to the highest earners. At the same time, globalization continues to be poorly managed, and financial markets continue to be geared toward extracting profits (rent-seeking, in economists’ parlance), rather than providing useful services.

Stanford students file first lawsuit against colleges implicated in admissions scandal

Ellie Bowen and Erin Woo:

Two Stanford students have filed a federal class action lawsuit against Stanford and seven other universities implicated in the admissions bribery scandal, claiming that they and others did not have a fair chance to apply to these schools.

Erica Olsen ’21 and Kalea Woods ’20 alleged that while they both applied with strong applications, they “did not receive what [they] paid for — a fair admissions consideration process.”

Olsen and Woods further alleged that their Stanford degrees are “now not worth as much as [they were] before, because prospective employers may now question whether [they were] admitted to the university on [their] own merits, versus having parents who were willing to bribe school officials.”

Olsen and Woods declined to comment.

In addition to Stanford, Yale, the University of Southern California (USC), UCLA, the University of San Diego, UT Austin, Wake Forest University, and Georgetown University were named in the lawsuit, whose class includes all students who applied to, paid an application fee and were ultimately rejected from these colleges from 2012 to 2018.

William Singer, the Key and the Key Worldwide Foundation — the drivers behind the multimillion-dollar scheme that saw parents pay to artificially inflate their children’s standardized test scores and in some cases bribe athletic directors to position their children as recruits — are included as defendants in the lawsuit.

The College Admissions Scandal Is About More Than Just Bribery

Tyler Cowen:

America’s latest academic scandal has something for anyone who resents or is offended by elitist universities and wealthy celebrities, which is almost everyone. And though their wrongdoing seems obvious, the deeper lessons are mostly about our own hypocrisy — and the rather unflattering view too many Americans hold of higher education.

On Tuesday prosecutors charged dozens of parents for bribing college and test administrators for helping to get their kids into better colleges. The parents paid for their children to receive preferential and indeed illegal privileges, such as inflated test scores and phony athletic credentials. To make the story more salacious, some of those arrested were celebrities, such as Felicity Huffman of “Desperate Housewives,” and the institutions involved were highly prestigious, such as Stanford and Yale.

First, these bribes only mattered because college itself has become too easy, with a few exceptions. If the bribes allowed for the admission of unqualified students, then those students would find it difficult to finish their degrees. Yet most top schools tolerate rampant grade inflation and gently shepherd their students toward graduation. That’s because they realize that today’s students (and their parents) are future donors (and potential complainers on social media). It is easier for professors and administrators not to rock the boat. What does that say about standards at these august institutions of higher learning?

Alternatively, you might think it is rather arbitrary who is admitted to any given university, and that many of those denied admission could get through the program competently, even if classes and grading were made harder. I agree with you. But what does that say about our understanding of these institutions as meritocracies? Parents pay illegal bribes, in part, because many of these institutions just don’t give enough students a fair chance to get in. It is even worse for the many poorer students whose parents are not in a position to offer either bribes or significant donations.

My second worry is that the number of bribery cases suggests that many wealthy Americans perceive higher education to be an ethics-free, law-free zone where the only restraint on your behavior is whatever you can get away with.

3 Great Untruths Universities Push That Ruin Students

Art Carden:

Lukianoff is president and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)—a campus free speech advocacy organization originally established by Alan Charles Kors—and author of Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate (2012) and Freedom From Speech (2014). Haidt is a social psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business and author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom (2006) and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion (2012).

They argue that we are treating students precisely the way we shouldn’t if we are trying to help them become resilient, functioning, and free people and exactly the way we should if we are intent on creating an army of neurotics. They focus on what they call “Three Great Untruths,” which they call “The Untruth of Fragility,” “The Untruth of Emotional Reasoning,” and “The Untruth of Us Versus Them.”

The Untruth of Fragility

So how do these work and how are they Untruths? The first, “The Untruth of Fragility,” mangles Nietzsche’s maxim “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” into “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Weaker.” It counsels avoidance of the unpleasant, the uncomfortable, and the inconvenient and accomplishes precisely the opposite of what real learning should do.

West Salem eighth-grader’s essay wins her spot on Discover Crew European river cruise

Emily Pyrek:

It was the West Salem Middle School eighth-grader’s winning prose and enthusiastic photo that earned her one of 56 spots on the Discover Crew AmaWaterways river cruise, departing March 27 for a weeklong excursion of exploration, education, cultural immersion and local delicacies.

Hosted by AAA, more than 1,000 eighth-graders in 11 states entered the Discover Crew contest, which entailed answering essay questions and snapping a self portrait showcasing their thirst for travel.

Priya was one of five Wisconsin students selected for the trip, her photo depicting her at the water’s edge, traditional wooden clogs on her feet and passport in hand.

“We were amazed by the passionate responses from the many students who expressed their interest in going on this trip,” said Deborah Haas, vice president of travel products and services for AAA. “The winners chosen are different in many ways, but each shares a similar enthusiasm for travel. Soon these students will immerse themselves in different cultures and see what it’s like to be an eighth-grader in two different countries. This truly has the potential to be a life-changing experience.”

Priya will be joined by her mother and fellow student winners and chaperones on the flight to Amsterdam and all-expenses-paid cruise through the North Sea, porting in the Netherlands and Belgium for tours of the Anne Frank House, biking past the Holland windmills and smelling the blooms in the Keukenhof garden, which spans 32 hectares in Lisse.

Along the way, lessons will encompass local history, science, nature, sustainability, art and an immersive classroom experience in each country.

Civics: Facebook, Axios And NBC Paid This Guy To Whitewash Wikipedia Pages

Ashley Feinberg:

Axios had previously hired Sussman to beef up its Wikipedia page (mostly with benign — if largely flattering — stats about Axios’ accomplishments) in February 2018. A week after Swan’s Trump interview aired, Sussman was hard at work on the reporter’s Wikipedia page, arguing that the entry was unfair to Swan and used “sensationalistic language” instead of the “dispassionate voice” Wikipedia requires. To correct the issue, he suggested a total overhaul of the description.

About a month later, Sussman proposed a list of extensive edits to Swan’s page. Some were clearly in service of his original argument about the Trump interview; others, such as his suggestion that Wikipedia editors add an “Awards and Honors” section, seemed focused on promoting Swan himself. He also asked editors to remove a sentence noting that Swan had once incorrectly reported that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had verbally resigned. Sussman then suggested the following paragraph be placed in its stead:

A Madison youth climate march to the Capitol (no reading result discussion)

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Madison School Board candidate Ali Muldrow also spoke at the rally, saying the nation needs to “walk the walk” on climate change.

“We are going to have to walk the walk. If we want plastic-free schools, city-wide composting, we are going to need new people who have big dreams,” Muldrow said. “And we are going to have to aim for what is best for everyone.”

Many students decried decades of inaction by political leaders to prevent the rapid-moving effects of climate change. They hope the strike helps kickstart conversations and actions about what can and should be done.

“I’m frustrated with myself,” said Ella Roach, a Middleton High School junior and climate strike organizer. “Because when I get frustrated with myself about climate change, I don’t do anything about it. I let my frustration sit inside of me and let me feel helpless. But that’s going to end today. This strike is my turning point — it has to be if we are going to save this planet in 11 years.”

Roach called for schools to revamp their sustainability curricula, saying they don’t go far enough to teach all there is to know about sustainability.

“The data clearly indicate that being able to read is not a requirement for graduation at (Madison) East, especially if you are black or Hispanic”

Some Regulations Deter Private Schools from Participating in Voucher Programs

Corey DeAngelis:

Regulations of school voucher programs can be well-intended. Policymakers may hope to prevent “bad” schools from operating or may limit schools’ ability to be selective in their admissions procedures in the name of establishing equal access to private options. But do top-down regulations of school voucher programs come with any unintended consequences? Our just-released study suggests some do.

We used surveys to randomly assign different regulations commonly found in school choice programs to 4,825 private school leaders in the states of California and New York and asked them whether or not they would participate in a new private school choice program during the following school year. Here’s what we found.

Relative to no additional regulations, open-enrollment mandates – preventing private schools from having specific admissions policies – reduced the likelihood that private school leaders were certain to participate in a hypothetical choice program by 60 percent. State standardized testing requirements reduced the likelihood that private school leaders were certain to participate by 29 percent. However, we found no evidence to suggest that mandating private schools to accept the voucher as full payment or requiring them to administer a nationally norm-referenced test of their own choosing affected the willingness of private school leaders to participate.

These overall results largely mirror what we found in our previous experiment in Florida. Statistically significant overall effects can be found in the figures below.

College no longer a value proposition, why not just learn a trade?

Orange County Register

We continue to encourage our kids to go to awful colleges and load up on stifling student loan debt, resulting in unfulfilled dreams, when many of these kids need to just get a job or learn a trade.

Access to higher education is important for those who truly want to attend, but we send way too many kids away to college who are unsuited and unprepared for it. They party, and come back indoctrinated, not educated. Many become angry, entitled and virtually unemployable.

Talk to some of these “college kids.” Half think Shariah law is a daytime TV show hosted by a no-nonsense African-American lady judge.

A recent study by Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation found that only 36 percent of Americans cannot pass a basic citizenship test (74 percent of those 65 and older could, while only 19 percent of 45 and younger could). Educators note that this is the worst score on the citizenship test since 1916, when this country was founded.

That’s the problem. Kids are getting pie-in-the-sky advice and, judging by obesity rates, they are also eating the pie.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: a planned Madison tax increase for bricks and mortar? Will space utilization and attendance boundaries be addressed first? 1% spent on maintenance

Logan Wroge:

Wiese said the district has an annual maintenance budget of about $5.4 million for 4.5 million square feet of space. The high schools alone have deferred maintenance needs of $154 million, according to a study completed in 2017.

In 2015, district voters overwhelmingly passed a $41 million facilities referendum targeting improvements in 16 school buildings. Those projects, primarily at elementary and middle schools, wrapped up last summer and focused on creating accessible and secure entrances, adding classroom space and putting in elevators.

“There was the potential of a bigger ask coming down the way once we finished those projects,” Wiese said.

To get a referendum on the November 2020 presidential election ballot, the School Board would need to take action by May of next year.

Mr Wroge fails to mention total taxpayer spending for our K-12 school District $518,955,288.

Where did the money go? Unanswered questions on a 2005 maintenance referendum.

the most important thing for parents to know

Philippa Perry:

When I was about 12, one of my parents’ friends asked me whether I was having a happy childhood. I replied that no, I wasn’t having a particularly happy time of it.

My father overheard and was furious. “You have an idyllic childhood. You are very happy. What nonsense!” And because he was my father, my beloved but scary father, I felt I was somehow wrong and bad.

Parents so want their children to be happy that sometimes they try to scold them into it. What my father missed back then, something we can often miss, was an opportunity to connect with his child. After our guest had gone, my father could have asked what I was feeling and decided not to take the answer, whatever it may have been, as an attack on him.

To understand and validate a child’s feelings is invaluable to them. I’m not saying he had to let go of his perspective; after living through the second world war and witnessing terrible things, he would have seen my childhood as idyllic. But that would not preclude his helping me to articulate what I felt and trying to see things from my point of view.

Civics: Google Tracking when Location

Google Executive Will DeVries:

the processing of personal information is necessary to simply operate the service the user requested.” He asserted that “requiring” individuals to control every aspect of data processing “can create a burdensome and complex experience that diverts attention from the most important controls without corresponding benefits,” and therefore a “specific consent or toggle” should not be required for every use of data.

Many taxpayer supported school districts, including Madison, use Google services.

David Rogers, Who Took on New York’s School Board, Dies at 88

Sam Roberts:

“It has an almost unlimited capacity for absorbing protest and externalizing blame, for confusing and dividing the opposition, ‘seeming’ to appear responsive to legitimate protest by issuing sophisticated and progressive policy statements that are poorly implemented, if at all,” Mr. Rogers wrote.

“The system is like a punching bag,” he added. “Protest groups can hit it in one place, and it simply returns to an old equilibrium.”

Even with a Democrat in the governor’s mansion, don’t bet much will change on vouchers

Alan Borsuk:

There was a window from 1995 to 1998 when it wasn’t clear what the future of private school vouchers would be in Wisconsin.

The state Legislature voted in 1995 to increase the number of vouchers available to low-income Milwaukee children and, for the first time, to allow students attending religious schools to take part. A court challenge followed, of course.

I remember a piece of wisdom I heard at that time from Jeanette Mitchell, a former president of the Milwaukee School Board who had connections with people on both sides of the voucher issue. She said it would be very hard to turn on the voucher faucet. But if it was turned on, it would be very hard to turn off.

In 1998, the Wisconsin Supreme Court turned on the faucet, ruling that it was constitutional to allow public money to go to religious schools by way of vouchers. In a historic way, the faucet was opened.

I predict we are about to demonstrate the truth of the second part of Mitchell’s wisdom. Turning off the faucet — or even reducing its flow? Despite Gov. Tony Evers’ proposals to crimp and eventually shrink school choice in Wisconsin, don’t bet on it.

Googling Strangers: One Professor’s Lesson On Privacy In Public Spaces

Time to Put the College Admissions System on a Rocket and Shoot It Into the Sun

Robby Soave:

“I don’t know how much of school I’m gonna attend,” Olivia Jade, a YouTube star and daughter of Full House actress Lori Loughlin, told her fans just before she moved to the University of Southern California (USC) to begin freshman year. “But I’m gonna go in and talk to my deans and everyone, and hope that I can try and balance it all. But I do want the experience of like game days, partying….I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.”

With that attitude, one might have hoped Jade could not earn admission to USC. But her parents paid half a million dollars to a man named William Singer, and Singer bribed all the necessary officials so that Jade’s dream of going to college for the partying could come true.

Now Loughlin is one of 50 people facing federal fraud charges for participating in Singer’s schemes to trick various colleges and universities into admitting wealthy but underqualified applicants. The perpetrators—which include another actress, Desperate Housewives’ Felicity Huffman—gave Singer millions of dollars to guarantee their kids would be admitted to first-choice schools like Yale, Stanford, University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Texas at Austin.

Commentary on “Restorative Justice”

Bob McManus:

The policy is called “restorative justice.” Based on a highly dubious proposition — that black and Hispanic offenders are punished disproportionately to white students engaged in similar behavior — DOE has blinded itself to the impact of schools teeming with aggressive, disruptive students.

There is virtually no evidence that white (or Asian) students are unruly in significant numbers. But there is no question that too many black and Hispanic students are.

But to avoid accusations that black and Hispanic students are disciplined unfairly, increasingly nobody is disciplined. The result, predictably, is chaos.

Lost in all this is the profoundly negative impact on children who come to school to learn. And because black and Hispanic children comprise almost three-quarters of the system’s 1.1 million students, the ill effects of “restorative justice” fall most heavily on them.

The DOE not only permits the dysfunction, it wallows in it, doing everything possible to avoid imposing order. Indeed, Hizzoner brags about having reduced suspensions — a time-tested disciplinary tool — by 50 percent since taking office. No doubt he has. It shows.

Teachers, even United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew, have noticed.

Much more on ”Restorative Justice”, here.

Mainland to improve conditions for Taiwan youth to pursue education, careers

Xinhua:

A mainland spokesperson on Wednesday said that continous efforts were ongoing to facilitate young people from Taiwan to realize their education and career dreams on the mainland.
An Fengshan, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, made the remarks at a regular press conference when commenting on Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authority’s attempts to prevent compatriots and the youth from Taiwan from coming to the mainland to explore development opportunities.

“The DPP authority will never make itself popular by obstructing normal exchanges and cooperation between the two sides of Taiwan Strait, sabotaging Taiwan youth employment and development opportunities, and creating difficulties for Taiwan compatriots,” An said.

Assessment of Changes in the Geographical Distribution of Opioid-Related Mortality Across the United States by Opioid Type, 1999-2016

Mathew V. Kiang, Sanjay Basu and Jarvis Chen:

Question How has opioid-related mortality changed over time across the United States, and how have the types of opioids associated with these deaths changed?

Findings In this cross-sectional study of 351 564 US residents who died from opioid-related causes, the age-standardized mortality rate from opioids increased more than 2-fold every 2 years in 24 eastern states, reflecting an expansion from lower-income, rural states. The life expectancy lost at age 15 years from opioids is now greater than that lost from deaths due to firearms or motor vehicle crashes in most of the United States.

Felicity Huffman, Lori Loughlin among 50 indicted in largest-ever case alleging bribery to get kids into colleges

Joey Garrison and Maria Puente:

Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin and nine college coaches are among the 50 people charged Tuesday in what federal officials say is the nation’s largest-ever college admissions bribery case prosecuted by the Justice Department.

The Justice Department charged 33 affluent parents, which include CEOs and television stars, with taking part in an elaborate conspiracy that involved cheating on the SAT and ACT and parents paying coaches “enormous sums” to accept students who fabricated their athletic credentials at elite universities and colleges.

In some cases, coaches agreed to pretend that students applying to their school were highly recruited athletes when, in fact, they didn’t even compete in that particular sport.

Wake Forest University says it has suspended its head volleyball coach Bill Ferguson amid the investigation. Ferguson has been placed on administrative leave after being accused of accepting $100,000 to recruit a student who had been on the North Carolina school wait list.

Others charged included three people who organized the scams, two ACT and SAT exam administrators, one exam proctor, and one college administrator.

At the center of the case, according to federal prosecutors, was an admissions consultant named William Rick Singer, who pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy charges of racketeering, money laundering, defrauding the United States and obstruction of justice.

Related: Financial Aid Leveraging and Ivy League Subsidies.

A Basketball Star Is Taking 100,000 Shots This Year. She’s in Sixth Grade.

Ben Cohen:

When she started getting serious about basketball last year, it was very clear very quickly that Lanie Grant was a natural. This 11-year-old girl who plays in braided pigtails loved almost everything about the sport. Except for shooting. Lanie was scared to shoot the ball.

“I was awful at it,” she said.

She had no idea how much she was about to improve. Lanie spent the summer before sixth grade in the driveway of her home in the Richmond suburbs taking hundreds and even thousands of shots per day. By the first day of middle school, Lanie was no longer hesitant to shoot. It was the only thing she wanted to do. And she does it a lot.

Lanie Grant has taken nearly 65,000 shots since last summer. She’s now on pace to shoot the ball 100,000 times in one year.

What makes that even more astonishing is that she can watch every single one of those shots. Lanie has a comprehensive history of her own basketball development in the palm of her hand. She is young enough that her parents monitor her Instagram account, but she already has access to shot-tracking technology worthy of NBA teams.

Many Families Aren’t Sending Their Kids to Small Liberal Arts Colleges Anymore. Mine Isn’t, Either. Here’s Why

Laura McKenna:

n January, two small liberal arts colleges, Green Mountain College in Vermont and Hampshire College in Massachusetts, announced that they were going to close or merge with other schools. They joined the ranks of other small schools that have closed in recent years, such as Mount Ida College in Massachusetts, St. Gregory’s University in Oklahoma, and Marygrove College in Detroit. Sweet Briar College in Virginia was flatlining in 2015 before being resuscitated from certain death, thanks to extreme fundraising efforts by alumnae.

Small private schools suffer from a multitude of problems, including endowments that are tangled in strings, a declining interest in liberal arts, a decreasing pool of college-age kids, competition from online education, and growing administrative expenses. But most importantly, they can’t get families like mine to send their kids to their schools. They don’t have enough students who can pay full freight and are interested in the slower pace of a small liberal arts campus.

Curated Education Information