K-12 Governance: Proposal May Change Madison’s Non-Diverse School Governance/Choice Model

Molly Beck:

“We are confident the proposal can fundamentally transform the educational opportunities that are available to students in Wisconsin’s two largest school districts,” he said.

Delaporte pointed to Department of Public Instruction data that shows less than 40 percent of Madison students have tested proficient in reading in recent years — slightly higher than the statewide average.
But Madison School District superintendent Jennifer Cheatham blasted the proposal, saying in a statement: “We are incredibly determined, and we are making progress on behalf of all children. But at every step of the way, the Legislature puts more barriers in our way and makes our jobs more difficult.”

Madison School Board member Ed Hughes called the proposal “breathtaking.”

“It looks like the UW President is required to appoint someone who could then authorize as many publicly funded but potentially for-profit charter schools in Madison as that unelected and unaccountable person wanted,” he said.

The proposal requires DPI to reduce a school district’s funding by the same amount that is paid per student to independent charter schools, currently about $8,000.

Cheatham also said independent charter schools have no consistent record of improving education and drain school districts’ funding.

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

A majority of the Madison school board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School.

I’m astonished by what some parents complain about

The Secret Teacher:

I can honestly say I never thought I would make it. I’m nine years into a teaching career and the mental exhaustion at times is overwhelming. But this year has been the worst by far. I’ve been constantly under scrutiny and made to feel like nothing I ever do is good enough.

Around this time last year, my headteacher announced our classes for the year; once again, I had the class that other teachers spoke of with much disdain and damnation, as if they were almost feral. Having been at the school for two years, I knew that this wasn’t the case – the children just needed a firm set of consistent boundaries and expectations. I was up for the challenge. Looking back, I would not change my students for the world. I would change their parents, however.

In September, we took the year group on an outward-bound activity day. The weather, rather predictably, took a turn for the worst, with gale-force winds and torrential downpours. Nevertheless, the children had a great time. Back at school the next day, I was asked to call a particular parent who had reported he was unhappy with the trip. Somewhat curious, I called to hear his complaint, which was about the weather. He had already called the activity centre complaining for 45 minutes to them. When I asked what he would like me to do, he stated that I needed to guarantee there would be better conditions when we returned to the centre. I said I had no control over this, but was rather fiercely told it “was not good enough”. I placated him as much as possible then, shaking my head in disbelief, I returned to class thinking little of it. He has since complained about the weather again; this time it was too hot at lunchtime.

An Intimate Look at the Rise of Data Totalitarianism

Dave Eggers:

One of the greatest challenges faced by cyber scholars and policymakers is how to predict the undesired social consequences of technological developments and to design the best policies to address them. Digital technology makes this challenge even harder: change is swift and getting swifter, and is often formulated in technical terms.

This is where legal scholarship and policymaking could benefit from a novel. The Circle by Dave Eggers is a dystopian novel about the digital era. Many legal scholars have written over the past decade on the surveillance society, big data, contextual privacy, the right to privacy, the right to be forgotten, transparency and accountability. However, the analysis of these issues in the legal literature remains abstract. The Circle offers a mirror image of our daily digital experiences, helping us to imagine what it would be like to live in a society of total transparency, and to experience the gradual loss of autonomy. The Circle tells a story about the human condition in the info era, the ideology of the digital culture, and the political structure which serves it. It could help us see in real time the social implications of digital technology, identify the forces that come into play, and design more concrete strategies to address them.

The book tells the story of Mae Holland, a young middle-class woman, who has accepted a coveted position at the digital corporation—The Circle. The Circle is everything you might expect of a typical multinational internet company, such as Facebook, Google or Twitter: young, innovative, professional, and exciting. Mae is drawn into the work and social life at The Circle which quickly becomes her entire world. It takes over her relationships with her parents, friends and lovers, as the outside world fades around her. Like her fellow employees, she becomes a living example of the services, the life style and the values that the Circle generates, and eventually becomes an object of the service she provides.

A Counter-Cultural High School Summer Reading List

Gilbert Sewall:

Parents often think fate has singled their children out for poorly chosen school reading assignments. It hasn’t. A distressed father recently told me about seeing his high-school-age daughter’s summer reading list and realizing that it was devoted exclusively to contemporary writers such as David Eggers, Malcolm Gladwell and Barbara Ehrenreich. “This Boy’s Life,” Tobias Wolff’s highly regarded autobiography, published in 1989, was the oldest book assigned.

Whatever the list’s merits—and this is an ambitious set of books for 16- and 17-year-olds—the choices added up to a melancholy landscape of contemporary injustice, distress and dysfunction. The student’s father, a Thomas Hardy admirer, mourned the opportunity cost. I told him that summer-reading assignments are often a lot worse—at least there was no Young Adult dreck or Hobbit Lit here—but he asked if I could come up with an alternative reading list.

How Poor And Minority Students Are Shortchanged By Public Universities

Molly Hensley-Clancy:

In the pursuit of prestige, revenue, and rankings, more public universities have turned to dangling merit-based scholarships to attract more out-of-state students, according to a report by the New America Foundation released earlier this week. The result: shortchanging both poor students, who are less likely to receive such aid, and students in the states the universities are funded to serve.

Public colleges once devoted the biggest chunk of their financial aid money, some 34%, to students in the bottom income quartile, giving just 16% to the wealthiest students, the report says. That has now shifted dramatically: Financial aid at public colleges now goes equally to the top and bottom quartile of students, with wealthy students receiving 23% of financial aid. The poorest students now receive only 25%.

The push toward funneling aid to privileged out-of-state students reflects a change in the nature of public higher education. “By bringing in more and more wealthy nonresident students, these colleges are increasingly becoming bastions of privilege,” the report says.

Schools that provide merit aid, it found, tend to enroll far more students from out of state, who typically pick up more merit-based scholarships than in-state students. They also tend to enroll fewer poor students — and charge those poor students more money.

A New Chancellor at The University of Texas

<A href=”https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/04/22/u-texas-systems-new-chief-gets-work“>Doug Lederman</a>: <blockquote><i>Not that he thinks he’ll be tested, mind you: the University of Texas System’s new chancellordoesn’t expect to face the same pressures his predecessor faced from some regents to dump the president of its flagship campus, among other things. 

But as he takes the reins of the university after several years of turmoil in governance, McRaven is persuasive when he says nonchalantly, “I’m not somebody who is easily pressured when it comes to making decisions.”

He’s persuasive in part because of his background — 37 years in the military, the final 10 or so in special operations, where, among other things, he designed and executed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. And, in part, because he speaks with a mix of confidence and self-awareness about what he knows and still needs to learn just three months into his new role.</i></blockquote> 

What’s Left After Higher Education Is Dismantled

Mike akin zeal:

[T]hese stories tell us what is likely to happen as the public university system weakens: nothing. No one will step in to fill this crucial role of providing quality, mass higher education. In the first case, resources will go to bidding wars over whose name will go on a fancy building – vanity projects perfect for this age of inequality that will do nothing to provide education. In the second case, resources are extracted out to shareholders and executives in imploding Ponzi schemes, leaving behind nothing but students with poor educations saddled up to their eyeballs in debt.

Mass higher education – starting with the land-grant schools in the Nineteenth Century, and continuing through the GI Bill and the mid-century expansion – has always been a public project. And we need to embrace it.

This is why the recent proposals to expand and solidify public free higher education are essential.

We are no longer living in the 19th century….

Schools Can’t Innovate Until Districts Do

Robin Lake, via
a kind Deb Britt email

Every sector of the U.S. economy is working on ways to deliver services in a more customized manner. In the near future, cancer treatment plans will be customized to each patient based on sophisticated genetic data and personal health histories. If all goes well, education is headed in the same direction. Personalized learning and globally benchmarked academic standards (a.k.a. Common Core) are the focus of most major school districts and charter school networks. Educators and parents know students must be better prepared to think deeply about complex problems and to have skills that are relevant for jobs that haven’t yet been created.

Comments On proposed Voucher Funding changes… ($37M in a 4.5B Budget)

Molly Beck

Overall, roughly $4.5 billion annually is devoted to general school funding in the proposed state budget. The cost for new students in the program over the next two years is projected to be about $37 million. In the last state budget, about $384 million was appropriated for the state’s three voucher systems.

Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Cross Plains, said the proposed state budget further harms already financially struggling public school districts. Barca characterized the estimated cost as funds “stolen” from public schools and diverted to the “private voucher school experiment.”

“We simply cannot afford to build two parallel school systems in this state,” said Barca.

Jim Bender, president of voucher lobbying group School Choice Wisconsin, said he could not respond to the memo because it was speculative. He added the memo was created to grab headlines. “Without seeing how they came up with the calculation, it’s very difficult to respond to,” he said.

More from Erin Richards.

It is useful to see an article with complete spending perspective data!

Much more on vouchers, here.

Democratically controlled, co-operative higher education

Joss Winn:

n the last 12 months, I have attended three conferences that have provided academics from all disciplines with the space to talk about these issues: Governing Academic Life at the LSE; Academic Identities at Durham; and Universities in the Knowledge Economy in Auckland. There is no doubt that academics are pissed off. Sometimes the blame is individualised: there are too many managers and administrators! When it’s not individualised, it’s politicised: the problem lies with neo-liberalism, or even ‘extreme neo-liberalism’. The concluding response to “what then should be done?” is often along the lines of a manifesto or collection of essays, a mailing list or web site to continue the conversation, or even to treat the misery of our condition as research data, effectively documenting the decline of our vocation.

Students are more viscerally outspoken about the need for fundamental changes in the governance of their universities. In occupation – most recently at UCL, Goldsmiths, KCL, LSE, UAL, and in Amsterdam – they too demand democracy as a basic requisite for a free university.

Graduation: A Time of Silence

Meghna Sridhar

A character in some obscure British film I watched once said something that really stuck with me: the best way to forget something, he said, is to commemorate it.

What does it mean to go out into the world with the experiences of four years at Amherst — and what does it mean to hold an Amherst degree? Graduation should be a time where that question presses against us with all its weight and force; where the implications of that question burn within us with constant, raw, energy. Graduation is a time where the meaning of our place in the world must unsettle us — not just personally, but collectively, as a graduating class, as a body of students representative of Amherst and its supposed values. Graduation is a time to ask ourselves what these four years have meant to us, how they have changed us, broken us, questioned us and made us question Amherst; how much our education may have coopted us in structures of power, and how much it has enabled us to challenge these structures when we face “the real world.” (And what does that mean, too? Why is Amherst unreal, isolated, distant? Why is it that our education and experiences here must count for nothing except a degree credential and a leg up to the capitalist job network?)

Yet, too often, we let the institution answer this question for us — we let these answers be foreclosed, predetermined. What does graduation from Amherst mean? Easy. We’re all in this together. Best four years of our lives. Lives of consequences, investment banking jobs, the ability to talk about Plato over drinks in a meeting with a client or at a dinner party, to rave about your “diverse” classmates and “free curriculum,” terras irradiant. We’ve won. We did it.

“Less Corruption, More Democracy”

Guillermo Lastarria:

On Thursday, April 16th more than 150,000 students, teachers, workers and citizens marched down Santiago’s main thoroughfare under the slogan “Less Corruption, More Democracy”. The protest had been called by the national roundtable of student federations, known as the CONFECH, as the first in a promised series of renewed mobilizations. The turnout was impressive and marked an upsurge in social agitation, reversing the trend of demobilization seen since the election of Michelle Bachelet in November of 2013. The strength of the march testifies to two significant developments in the relationship between society and politics. First is the denuding of the intimate relationship between the economic and political elite and second the ability of social forces to mobilize against a government that at least in rhetoric backs their demands.

$20 Million No-Bid Contract Spells Trouble for Chicago’s Byrd-Bennett

Efucation News:

A federal investigation concerning a $20.5 million no-bid contract Chicago Public Schools awarded to a training academy where CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett once worked as a consultant has caused her to take a paid leave of absence.

Federal corruption investigators are now asking for additional records related to the Wilmette-based SUPES Academy. The scandal has focused on Byrd-Bennett, who once worked for the nonprofit education group who won the no-bid contract to train school principals. She announced her leave of absence late last week at the same time as school officials announced the federal subpoenas to look for records such as contracts, invoices and emails. She will remain on leave as long as the investigation is ongoing.

Why Technology Will Never Fix Education

Kentaro Toyama:

Sadly, what we found was that even when technology tested well in experiments, the attempt to scale up its impact was limited by the availability of strong leadership, good teachers, and involved parents — all elements that are unfortunately in short supply in India’s vast but woefully underfunded government school system. In other words, the technology’s value was in direct proportion to the instructor’s capability.

Over time, I came to think of this as technology’s Law of Amplification: While technology helps education where it’s already doing well, technology does little for mediocre educational systems; and in dysfunctional schools, it can cause outright harm.

When I returned to the United States and took an academic post, I saw that the idea applies as much to higher education in America as it does to general education in India. This past semester, I taught an undergraduate course called “IT and Global Society.” The students read about high-profile projects like One Laptop Per Child and the TED-Prize-winning Hole-in-the-Wall program. Proponents argue that students can overcome educational hurdles with low-cost digital devices, but rigorous research fails to show much educational impact of technology in and of itself, even when offered free.

Civics & the Madison School Board

Eugene Volokh:

But government-run K-12 schools can’t just restrict speech because they think it “depict[s] negative stereotypes.” Speech that is likely to cause substantial disruption can be restricted, as can speech that contains vulgarities, or promotes drug use or other dangerous conduct that’s illegal for minors. But speech that simply expresses views that some see as negative toward particular races, sexes, religions, sexual orientations, and so on cannot be restricted. As the Seventh Circuit (the federal appeals court that is in charge of federal cases from Wisconsin) held in Zamecnik v. Indian Prairie School Dist. #204,

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

“A Question of Silence”: Why We Don’t Read Or Write About Education

Houman Harouni:

Nothing in the public debate on schooling suggests that education matters. Whether test scores do or don’t measure learning; whether schools should be privatized; whether Wikipedia will replace the teacher; whether we will ever escape Algebra; whether we can measure the ways in which kids of color “fail” or “succeed” on exams; whether to teach like a “champion”, a “guide”, or a “pirate”; whether the arts are a right or a privilege: all these questions owe their importance to the system of schooling that turned them into questions in the first place. The entire debate keeps folding back onto itself. It takes its own parameters for granted. The more one asks such self-referential questions (without, say, asking what on earth sets “success” apart from “failure”), the more one contributes to the education system as is—a system that has stagnated for seven generations.

PBS News Hour on Ohio 3rd Grade Reading Guarantee

Matthew Ladner:

Balanced piece on Ohio’s reading policies. Interesting that opponents make complaints about retention happening at all and then about the bar being set too low. The firm but incremental approach advocated by Senator Lehner demonstrates both wisdom and resolve in m

Civics Biorder Patrol Agents Tase an Unarmed Woman Inside the U.S.

Conor Friedersorf:

“If you want to know how Cooke ended up on her back, screaming in pain as the barbs from a stun gun delivered incapacitating electricity into her body, there are several possible answers,” Reason’s Jacob Sullum writes. “You could say this indignity was caused by her own stubbornness, her refusal to comply with the seemingly arbitrary dictates of a Border Patrol agent who was detaining her … Or you could blame the agent’s insistence on obeisance to his authority, which led him to assault an unarmed 21-year-old woman who posed no threat to anyone. But the ultimate responsibility lies with the Supreme Court, which has invited this sort of confrontation by carving out a disturbing and dangerous exception to the Fourth Amendment.”

Big fish eat little fish?

Jonathan Rees:

In other words, the little fish (a.k.a all-online start-ups) will eventually eat the big fish (or all the big fish’s fish food) and the strategy will fail. The disruptors will in turn be disrupted themselves. This is indeed a very slippery slope

In the meantime, we will all have to cope with the fact that education technology has just become weaponized. Arizona State is now the first predator university. They are willing to re-define what education is so that they can get more students from anywhere. If they don’t kill other universities by taking all their students with a cheap freshmen year, they’ll just steal their fish food by underselling 25% of the education that those schools provide and leaving them a quarter malnourished. The result is that schools which stick to reasonable standards with respect to the frequency and possibility of teacher/student interaction now have to fear for their very existence.

While this is good for nobody, it is especially bad for faculty at all levels. Remember the good old days of MOOCs when the only people teaching those courses were going to be the best of the best – the superprofessors? Well, now that edX sees deflected tuition money on the table, they’ve thrown out that particular aspiration. No disrespect to the faculty of Arizona State University (which I’m sure has more than a few really outstanding professors on it), but I find it hard to believe that students are gonna say to themselves, “I need to take all my MOOCs from ASU because they have the best professors in every field.”

What we have here then are mostly ordinary faculty agreeing to participate in a scheme to steal the bread and butter of other ordinary faculty so that they won’t have their bread and butter stolen first. While I understand that the first rule of academia is every man and woman for themselves, in the long run the only folks who will benefit from this kind of inter-professional death match will be (to use a name coined by my old friend Historiann) the Lords of MOOC Creation…and whoever controls the endowments of Harvard and MIT.

LAUSD deal with teachers means fingers crossed for more state money

Vanessa Romo:

LA Unified’s ability to pay for a new teacher contract that gives the union’s 35,000 members a 10.4 percent raise — their first in eight years — relies on two factors: One, a stronger than expected boost in tax revenues from the state. And two, a solution to the systemic problem of declining enrollment.

That, or the district faces program cuts and budget deficits.

If approved, the new deal will cost a total of $633 million over three years, plus an additional $31.6 million for three labor groups with “me too” clauses, also over three years, according to LA Unified officials.

The district had initially allocated $353 million for UTLA, which means the additional money from the state and from enrollment increases could be crucial to forestalling deficits in the years to come. Superintendent Ramon Cortines told board members that the district faces potential deficits as much as $559 million over two years through 2016-2017 if the additional state money is only a one-time occurrence.

Wisconsin Teacher Licensing Standards

Erin Richards:

The proposal comes amid continuing discussion over the rigor and selectivity of university teacher education programs.

Jon Bales, executive director of the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators, said there are issues in Wisconsin around the recruitment of would-be teachers and the quality of their preparation. But he said the provision championed by Czaja is shortsighted and wouldn’t solve the problem.

“This is characteristic of bad and ineffective policy,” Bales said. “We think this puts all kids at risk.”

Christina Brey, spokeswoman for the state teachers union, said teaching requires more than subject-matter expertise. Licensure, she said, provides some assurance that the person has received training in how to teach children.

“Children all across the state deserve to have teachers who have proven they can do the job,” Brey said.

In a 4-page letter this week to Assembly and Senate lawmakers, the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education said the changes would compromise the quality of adolescent education.

The association urged lawmakers to amend the budget, saying that putting unprepared teachers into classrooms was not only unwise and unfair, but “threatens the very foundation of a strong, competitive workforce.”

The state budget proposal is not final. It must be passed by both houses of the Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker. Walker had proposed easing teacher certification provisions in his original budget request.

The quality of Wisconsin teacher licensing schools has been in question recently.

When “A” stands for average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education receive sky high grades. How smart is that?

University Of Wisconsin Symposium: Become A Thief

David Hookstead, via a kind reader:

An upcoming workshop scheduled to take place at the University of Wisconsin-Madison aims to teach campus radicals and socialists how to manipulate campus resources to advance their agenda.

“Undercommoning: A workshop on becoming a thief in the university,” was the exact wording of the subject line in a recent group email sent to University of Wisconsin-Madison scholars and others announcing the event, set for June 4.

The symposium, which will also be transmitted to a wider audience via Google Hangout, is described as a chance for campus radicals – students and scholars alike – to brainstorm ideas among their “newly formed Undercommoning Collective” on how to influence university resources and advance their socialist agenda and provocative causes.

Organizers did not respond to repeated requests for comment by The College Fix.

Their promotional literature – although rife with esoteric jargon, victimization claptrap, and academic gobbledygook – essentially explains that the daylong conference aims to equip participants with ideas on how to attack and exploit the American university from within.

One of the group’s overall goals, according to their website, is to “reveal and challenge the North American university as a site working at the junction of settler-colonialism, neoliberal capitalism, hetero-patriarchy, white supremacy and other systems of domination and exploitation.”

Details, here.

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences throwing shade at The New Qing History


The idea of Manchu Sinicization is a hobgoblin unlikely to die anytime soon in China. Historians affiliated with what has become known as the “New Qing History” have been attempting to complicate this narrative for nearly three decades, and while scholars overseas — and even a few within China — are starting to come around, the dominant narrative inside China remains that the Manchus succeeded in ruling because, unlike earlier non-Han dynasties, they assimilated and adopted Chinese styles of rule and other cultural values. Indeed, according to the most strident adherents of “Sinicization”, the Manchus couldn’t help but assimilate once they encountered the vastly superior civilization of China.

Earlier this month, I came across an article in the China Daily on the study of Manchu language in China today and how this “archaic language is helping historians to solve Qing mysteries.” Sadly, after a few mentions of Manchu-language sources on the architectural and material culture of the Forbidden City and other imperial sites, the article descends into hoary and outdated old tropes:

A Letter to the Humanities: DH Will Not Save You

Adeline Koh:

I am often asked about the digital humanities and how it can update, make relevant, and provide funding for many a beleaguered humanities department. Some faculty at underfunded institutions imagine DH is going to revitalize their discipline — it’s going to magically interest undergraduates, give faculty research funding, and exponentially increase enrollment.

Well, the reality is this: what has until recently been commonly understood as real “Digital Humanities” is already belated and is not going to save humanities departments from ever bigger budget cuts and potential dissolution.

Yes, of course, everyone will tell you that there are multiple debates over what actually defines Digital Humanities as a field, whether it is a field or not, yadda yadda yadda. But the projects which have until very recently dominated the federal digital humanities grants — the NEH grants, the ACLS grants, among others — are by default, the definition of the field, or the “best” the field has to offer. This means that until very recently and with few exceptions, the list of awardees rarely includes digital work that focuses more on culture than computation, projects that focus on digital pedagogy, or digital recovery efforts for works by people of color.

Opinion: All of My Special Education Students Are Ready for State Tests

Lisa Friedman:

When educators blame low test scores on the high number of special-needs students in their school, or exempt special education kids from having to meet the same standards as their general-education peers, it makes me angry.

These actions are grounded in an educational approach that gives up on children with disabilities. As someone who was written off mistakenly as having a learning disability when I was a child, I know how damaging that attitude can be to the self-esteem and educational future of these children.

Disparities in expectations yield disparate results; lowering the bar for students rather than helping them reach the higher one denies them the learning all children are entitled to and robs them of their potential.

Review of “Designing the New American University”

Robert Kelchen:

Since Michael Crow became the president of Arizona State University in 2002, he has worked to reorganize and grow the institution into his vision of a `New American University.’ ASU has grown to over 80,000 students during his time as president through a commitment to admit all students who meet a relatively modest set of academic qualifications. At the same time, the university has embarked upon a number of significant academic reorganizations that have gotten rid of many traditional academic departments and replacing them with larger interdisciplinary schools. Crow has also attracted his fair share of criticism over the years, including for alleged micromanaging and his willingness to venture into online education. (I’ve previously critiqued ASU Online’s program with Starbucks, although many of my concerns have since been alleviated.)

Crow partnered with William Dabars, an ASU professor, to write Designing the New American University (Johns Hopkins Press, $34.95 hardcover) to more fully explain how the ASU model works. The first several chapters of the book, although rather verbose, focus on the development of the American research university. A key concept that the authors raise is isomorphism—the tendency of organizations to resemble a leading organization in the market. Crow and Dabars contend that research universities have largely followed the lead of elite private universities such as Harvard and the big Midwestern land-grant universities that developed following the Civil War. Much has changed since then, so they argue that a new structure is needed.

Madison Schools’ Discipline Policies

Pat Schneider:

“Usually the first quarter is a honeymoon period when students are excited to be in school and behaviors are good. So when things were already deteriorating rapidly, it was a sign to me that this was not going in a good direction,” said Bush, 50, who has taught at Jefferson Middle School on Madison’s west side her whole career.

It wasn’t a specific incident, but the piling on of several serious incidents so early in the school year that troubled her.

“I’m seeing behaviors on a regular basis that I haven’t seen in 20 years of teaching,” Bush said. Some of this alarming conduct included students swearing at teachers, kicking trash cans, walking out of class, and kids wandering the hallways and in and out of classrooms, she said.

The behavior policy, implemented at the start of this school year, requires teachers to ask for outside help if they can’t control a misbehaving student. But Bush says such calls for help often go unanswered by overwhelmed support staff, who are supposed to walk an out-of-control student out of the classroom and “intervene” to get a sense of the causes of the misbehavior.


Madison’s disastrous long term reading results.

Deja vu: 2005: Gangs and school violence audio/video. More, here.

Police calls: 1996-2006.

Commentary from David Blaska

A historian sets a personal moratorium on taking on any new doctoral students

Vicki Ruiz:

In a recent article on migratory, temporary employment, Leonard Cassuto, who writes a monthly column on graduate-school issues for The Chronicle, wrote: “The problem is not limited to historians, of course. They just have the best data.” In their 2013 report to the association, called “The Many Careers of History Ph.D.’s,” L. Maren Wood and Robert B. Townsend provided a benchmark survey of the career paths of historians who received their doctorates from 1998 to 2009. Based on a sample of 2,500 out of a universe of almost 11,000, Wood and Townsend found that 51 percent of the respondents had secured tenure-track jobs at four-year institutions with an additional 2 percent on the tenure track at community colleges. To make a finer point, only a sixth of recent Ph.D.’s secured employment at major public and private research universities.

Does the academic job crisis for historians vary according to subfield?

According to Wood and Townsend, only 44 percent of both North American and world historians find tenure-track jobs at four-year institutions, compared with 52 percent of Europeanists and “65 percent or more of specialists in the histories of Africa, Asia, Latin America, or the Middle East and Islamic World.” And time-from-degree does matter when on the job market, with five years as a mark of diminishing marketability.

The Power of Validated Learning pt1

Mark Ponterelli:

Part 1: People not pixels, experiences not exposures

Articulating the value of any new experience through a problem statement is difficult. Potential users often don’t value what they can’t see. And ‘ideating’ use cases was simply not data driven enough to motivate the company to trust the opinions of the venture team. How could we deviate from the company’s traditional sustaining innovation processes (see Clayton M. Christensen’s The Innovator’s Dilemma) to quickly and cheaply test whether people would embrace this technology?

We knew that ‘computational photography’ was a mouthful for most people. We also knew that any discussion of disparity algorithms and depth maps was beyond the target user who just want to focus on people, not pixels and experiences, not exposures. (Having a tagline doesn’t hurt the cause, by the way). We started by using tools like storyboards and animations to test what people might expect from this new camera. You could call this stage exploring the value of “better” – would people value better dynamic range in photos? Would they like better slow motion video? Would they like better sharpness? Of course. But it should not have been a surprise that we had limited success describing the real potential of something disruptive with usages that are much more sustaining in nature. Using these traditional practices, we learned that better was indeed better but better wasn’t ‘Wow!’

Wisconsin Legislature’s High School Civics Requirement

Alan Borsuk:

The content of the 100-question quiz I found on the website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service is not like a college admission test. Some of the questions were easy.

(Who was the first president? What ocean is on the west coast of the United States?)

Others were not so easy.

(Name the chief justice. What did Susan B. Anthony do? What are the first three words of the Constitution? (“We the people…”) Quite a few involved provisions in the Constitution.

But, hey, you’d only need to get 60 out of 100 correct. And Edming said students could take the test as many times as they needed to.

Is the test so easy as to be no real problem? Or is the lack of civics knowledge so compelling that it calls for a graduation requirement? Advocates seem to argue both.

There is ample evidence of ignorance of civics. The National Assessment of Educational Progress released fresh results a few days ago from testing of samples of eighth-graders nationwide, concluding that only 23% were proficient or better in civics and 18% proficient or better in American history.

Wisconsin now has a set of requirements for graduation from public high schools, mostly relating to what courses are taken and total credits. But there is no requirement that students pass any test to graduate. There was a big controversy over a broader high school graduation test 15 years ago, but the idea died.

As far as private schools, this would be the first time there would be a state-imposed graduation requirement.

As much as any of us would like students to know about American government, would you want to stop someone from going to college or getting a job because they didn’t have a diploma due to a shaky grasp on the Constitution?

Why Not Adjunct Administrators Instead of Adjunct Instructors? It Makes Far More Sense

Scott Rank:

Most of the growth of university costs comes from administrative bloat. Non-faculty staff has grown at more than twice the rate of instructors – you know, the people who are the ostensible reason a university exists. As tenured professors retire, administrators kill those tenure lines and replace them permanently with part timers. Administrators do this so they can gorge on a higher salary while demanding more from the refugee ration-packet salary of academics. Think I am not being generous? Some administrators earn $300,000 a year to fundraise for new football stadium skyboxes. Vice Presidents at the University of Maryland saw their salaries increase by 50 percent between 1998 and 2003, as faculty positions were slashed. All the while adjuncts try to get by with the help of Medicaid or food stamps.

Survey: YouTube Stars More Popular Than Mainstream Celebs Among U.S. Teens

Susanne Ault:

That’s the surprising result of a survey Variety commissioned in July that found the five most influential figures among Americans ages 13-18 are all YouTube faves, eclipsing mainstream celebs including Jennifer Lawrence and Seth Rogen. The highest-ranking figures were Smosh, the online comedy team of Ian Andrew Hecox and Anthony Padilla, both 26.

Despite having minimal exposure in the mainstream media, another comedy duo, known as the Fine Bros., Benny and Rafi, finished a close second, followed by the Swedish videogamer who has the most subscribers on all of YouTube, Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg — otherwise known as PewDiePie. Interestingly, the highest-ranking non-YouTuber is Paul Walker, who tragically died in a car accident late in 2013.

40% of millennials get financial help from their parents

Jillian Berman:

But everywhere I go, I’m followed by a constant reminder that I haven’t completely left the financial nest: My cell phone.

This makes me part of the 40% of millennials who are still getting help from their parents, according to a survey published this week by USA Today and Bank of America Better Money Habits. The survey asked 1,000 adults aged 18-34 whether their parents pitch in on things like rent, credit card and cell phone bills or just regularly send them a check.

The Old Boys: The Decline and Rise of the Public School by David Turner – review

Jenny Turner:

ike contemplating Hamlet without the ghost: that’s what one historian calls anything about education in England that doesn’t mention the Endowed Schools Act of 1869. Before it, England had no such thing as a secondary-education system. If you were rich you might go to Eton or Rugby or Winchester or Harrow; if you were lucky you might live near a city merchant’s charitable foundation. But for most people there was nothing much at all. The 1869 act changed that by seizing the endowments that had been left, over the centuries, to the ancient grammar schools and distributing the money in what was, in some ways, a more sensible fashion: for example, by funding schools for girls. But the act also abolished provisions made for educating poor scholars completely free – this wasn’t the something-for-nothing society, this was Victorian England. And it helped split schools into three basic types, for working-class, middle-class and upper-class children – a divide, buried though governments have tried to make it, that continues to distort and disfigure the education system today.

There’s something else people need to know about the 1869 act. The heads of the endowed schools hated it, and set up a club, the Headmasters’ Conference, to defend themselves against it. It is now called the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, but it’s still the main body representing the elite education providers in Britain, the schools that, even now, can promise pupils a much better chance than average of gaining wealth, power, Ucas points, and membership of the mysterious old boys’ networks that continue to gird the globe. “More than half of the top medics, civil servants, lawyers, media figures and Conservative MPs” in Britain attended an HMC school, says David Turner, not to mention “pop stars – 22% of them, according to the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission”. Worse, the very fact such privilege exists causes many people to feel that state schools, no matter how good they are, are never good enough. Academies, free schools and grammar schools, and church places, music places and places for whatever else: all spring from a sense of inadequacy that goes back decades.

Texas Sends Poor Teens To Adult Jail For Skipping School

Kendall Taggert & Alex Campbell:

The 11th-grader in the courtroom wore braces, loved Harry Potter movies, and posted Katy Perry lyrics on Facebook. She also had a bad habit of cutting school, and now, a judge informed her, she owed $2,700 in truancy-related fines. But Serena Vela, who lived in a trailer with her unemployed mother, couldn’t afford to pay.

Serena was offered “jail credit” at a rate of $300 per day. She was patted down, touched “everywhere,” and dispatched to adult lockup, where she would stay for nine days, missing a week and a half of classes. The first school day after she was released, administrators kicked her out.

She had gone to jail because of a law intended to keep kids on the path to graduation. Instead, her high school career was over.

Serena is one of more than 1,000 Texas teenagers who have been ordered to jail in the last three years on charges stemming from missing school, a BuzzFeed News investigation has found. The students get locked up with adults, sometimes inmates charged with assault, robbery and other violent crimes.

Higher Ed Lobby Quietly Joins For-Profit Schools to Roll Back Tighter Rules

Alec MacGillis

The Obama administration is set to achieve one of its top domestic policy goals after years of wrangling. For-profit colleges, which absorb tens of billions of dollars in U.S. grants and loans yet often leave their students with little beyond crushing debt, will need to meet new standards or risk losing taxpayer dollars.

But as the July 1 deadline approaches, the troubled industry has been mounting a last-ditch effort to avert or roll back the new rules. And suddenly it’s getting a lift from a set of unlikely allies: traditional colleges and universities.

For years, the higher education establishment has viewed the for-profit education business as both a rival and an unsavory relation — the cousin with the rap sheet who seeks a cut of the family inheritance. Yet in a striking but little-noticed shift, nearly all of the college establishment’s representatives in Washington are siding with for-profit colleges in opposing the government’s crackdown.

Most of the traditional higher education lobbying groups signed onto a recent letter to Congress stating their support for Republican legislation that would block the new restrictions on for-profit colleges, as well as undo or weaken other accountability rules for colleges. And a new report on higher education regulation commissioned by the Senate and overseen by the American Council on Education, the leading lobby group for traditional schools, slammed the rules on for-profit colleges as part of a broader critique of the administration’s approach.

The corrosive cult of compliance in our schools

Kayleb Moon-Robinson is a 12-year-old boy who lives in Virginia. One day at school, he kicked a trash can and was charged with disorderly conduct in juvenile court. A few weeks later, he disobeyed a new rule (made just for him) that he stay behind in the classroom while his peers left. When the school resource officer (SRO) arrived to take him to the principal’s office for disobedience, Kayleb reportedly struggled and swore. The officer allegedly slammed the boy down on a desk and handcuffed him. Kayleb is now being charged with felony assault on a police officer, and his future is very much in doubt.

Kayleb is autistic and African-American. The state of Virginia wants to brand him a criminal. The Center for Public Integrity names it as the state most likely to send students to jail. Virginia was also home to the Reginald “Neil” Latson case, in which a young man with autism encountered a police officer, didn’t comply with orders, started walking away and ended up in a brutal fight. He spent years in solitary confinement as a result before finally being pardoned.

Machine Teaching

Helen Wright:

Machine teaching is machine learning turned upside down: it is about finding the optimal (e.g. the smallest) training set. For example, consider a “student” who runs the Support Vector Machine learning algorithm. Imagine a teacher who wants to teach the student a specific target hyperplane in some feature space (never mind how the teacher got this hyperplane in the first place). The teacher constructs a training set D=(x1,y1) … (xn, yn), where xi is a feature vector and yi a class label, to train the student. What is the smallest training set that will make the student learn the target hyperplane? It is not hard to see that n=2 is sufficient with the two training items straddling the target hyperplane. Machine teaching mathematically formalizes this idea and generalizes it to many kinds of learning algorithms and teaching targets. Solving the machine teaching problem in general can be intricate and is an open mathematical question, though for a large family of learners the resulting bilevel optimization problem can be approximated.

How Not To Drown In Numbers

Alex & Seth

If you’re trying to build a self-driving car or detect whether a picture has a cat in it, big data is amazing. But here’s a secret: If you’re trying to make important decisions about your health, wealth or happiness, big data is not enough.

The problem is this: The things we can measure are never exactly what we care about. Just trying to get a single, easy-to-measure number higher and higher (or lower and lower) doesn’t actually help us make the right choice. For this reason, the key question isn’t “What did I measure?” but “What did I miss?”

To see the dangers of big data untethered to any other kind of analysis, consider the story of Zoë Chance, a marketing professor at Yale. In a TEDx talk that has been watched hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube, she discusses her experience with a pedometer. She became so obsessed with increasing the count of her steps that she lost all proportion, taking walks at all hours and in all places. She told us that she even put the pedometer on her daughter so that her daughter’s steps would contribute to her number. She was able to “detox,” as she put it to us, only after she suffered an injury while walking in the basement, exhausted, in the wee hours of the night.

My Academic Pretension


I want to be a computational social scientist. Not all aspects of my work are subject to simplification. In some cases, the right mathematical or computational abstraction expresses an idea perfectly. It’s almost magical. And, some branches of knowledge really are unreachable without abstraction. That is why we painstakingly learn to think with and manipulate these abstractions. It’s not (always) fun. But, it is the price of admission.

In formal academia, writing papers and submitting them to journals is also part of being a scientist (TM).[1] These papers are constraining in many ways, mostly because of how the journals work. Sometimes, constraints are liberating. But, I’ve started to question one particular constraint — the academic style of writing. What happened? When I finished my previous ‘final’ draft proposal, I sent it to my father. A few days later, he told me he couldn’t read it. It was “above his head.” This made me proud.

Love Song for a Neoliberal University: StarbucksU

David Perry:

They are the problem, not a bureaucratizing corporate system that extracts wealth from students in exchange for the lowest possible standard of education that for-profits like ASU Online can provide. Yes, there are lots of problems with our system. Yes, I think the ways in which our prestige economy rewards research over teaching is an issue. But I am quite sure that faculty members pursuing grants is not what’s threatening higher education in America today.

Moreover, the forces driving the kind of quantitative assessment of scholarly productivity, where all that counts is what can be counted, are the same forces that create massive over-bureacratization, the for-profit wings of ASU, drive college costs ever higher, and otherwise contribute to a world in which StarbucksU looks like a solution. It may be, but it’s coming out of the same world that created the problems in the first place.

From braille to iPad: a new app enables the blind to learn online

Carole Beal:

You’ve tried screen reading software but it hasn’t worked very well. Your teacher has tried to help but no one in the school really knows how to set up, maintain and trouble-shoot assistive technologies.

The program isn’t available in braille, so you end up doing some basic worksheets instead of participating with your classmates.

The growth of online learning has thrown up new challenges for those with visual impairment as the learning tools are often not available. It’s also been a challenge for those working on making websites accessible to the visually impaired. It takes extra work and testing.

Release of China’s draft security law sparks fears of further erosion of citizens’ freedoms

Verna Yu:

The newly released draft of China’s national security law, which covers a range of topics including stressing the preservation of the Communist Party’s political regime, has stoked fears citizens’ freedoms will be further eroded under the pretext of state security.

The full text of the sweeping draft law, which underwent its second reading during a session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee last month, was revealed for the first time late Wednesday after being posted on the legislature’s website for public consultation.

The first clause of the law stated that the purpose of the law was to “safeguard national security, defend the people’s democratic dictatorship and the socialist system with Chinese characteristics”, to protect the people’s fundamental interests, the smooth-running of economic reforms, the modernisation of socialism, as well as the “realisation of the great rejuvenation of the nation”.

Green Eggs & Ham In The Video Era


Cindy Holland, VP of Original Content for Netflix
threw her quote into the mix:

“We think this will be a hit
Green Eggs and Ham is a perfect fit
for our growing slate of amazing stories
available exclusively in all Netflix territories.

You can stream it on a phone.
You can stream it on your own.
You can stream it on TV.
You can stream it globally.”

On mathematical intelligence and how it grows

Leo Kozachkov

In his three recent and awesome posts on intelligence, Scott Alexander describes what it’s like to grow up intellectually lopsided (high verbal IQ and a low-ish math IQ, in his case). I’ve always been interested in intelligence (who isn’t), and I was struck by how similar Scott’s experience with lopsidedness is to mine. So that’s where this post is coming from. Note: whenever I say “IQ” hereafter I’m referring to math IQ. Let’s get started.

My daughter, who lost her battle with mental illness, is still the bravest person I know

Doris Fuller:

I lost my darling daughter Natalie to mental illness last month. She killed herself a few weeks short of her 29th birthday by stepping in front of a train in Baltimore.

Natalie and I wrote a book together when she was 16: “Promise You Won’t Freak Out: A Teenager Tells Her Mother the Truth About Boys, Booze, Body Piercing, and Other Touchy Topics (and Mom Responds).” The idea of a teenager telling the truth about her secrets was such a startling concept that we were feature-page headliners in the Baltimore Sun and about two dozen other newspapers, went on TV coast to coast, including on one of the morning shows, and got paid to give speeches. “Oprah” called.

In the book, we used a device to signal whenever a wild turn was about to take place: And then . . . . In the introduction, I defined an And then . . . moment as “one of those critical junctures when my cheerful sense that all was right in the world collided with inescapable proof that it wasn’t.”

Teachers’ Unions Fight Standardized Testing, and Find Diverse Allies

Kate Taylor & Motoko Rich :

In Florida, the teachers’ union has lobbied to limit the use of standardized tests, and the governor last week signed a bill that limits the number of hours students can spend taking them.

The union in New Jersey financed an advertising campaign in which a grim-faced father talks about his son crying because of tests.

And in New York, where local unions have worked closely with parent groups that oppose testing, the president of the state union went so far as to urge parents to opt out of the annual tests, which began last week.

Campus Rhetoric: 2015

Kaitlyn Schallhorn:

Feminists at Oberlin College, upset that a student group would bring Christina Hoff Sommers to campus, hung posters that individually declared Republican and Libertarian students as “perpetuating rape culture.”

A photo of the posters was sent by an anonymous student to Reason. The publication did not name the student because the student feared retribution.

Six posters named individual students; Reason blurred the students’ last names in the photo.

“You are part of the problem!” one additional poster read.

Reason reported that approximately 10 student-activists hung the posters.

There’s more to mathematics than rigour and proofs

Terence Tao:

One can roughly divide mathematical education into three stages:

The “pre-rigorous” stage, in which mathematics is taught in an informal, intuitive manner, based on examples, fuzzy notions, and hand-waving. (For instance, calculus is usually first introduced in terms of slopes, areas, rates of change, and so forth.) The emphasis is more on computation than on theory. This stage generally lasts until the early undergraduate years.

The “rigorous” stage, in which one is now taught that in order to do maths “properly”, one needs to work and think in a much more precise and formal manner (e.g. re-doing calculus by using epsilons and deltas all over the place). The emphasis is now primarily on theory; and one is expected to be able to comfortably manipulate abstract mathematical objects without focusing too much on what such objects actually “mean”. This stage usually occupies the later undergraduate and early graduate years.

The “post-rigorous” stage, in which one has grown comfortable with all the rigorous foundations of one’s chosen field, and is now ready to revisit and refine one’s pre-rigorous intuition on the subject, but this time with the intuition solidly buttressed by rigorous theory. (For instance, in this stage one would be able to quickly and accurately perform computations in vector calculus by using analogies with scalar calculus, or informal and semi-rigorous use of infinitesimals, big-O notation, and so forth, and be able to convert all such calculations into a rigorous argument whenever required.) The emphasis is now on applications, intuition, and the “big picture”. This stage usually occupies the late graduate years and beyond.

Data visualization has finally grown up and gotten a job.

Mark Wilson:

A few years ago, the Internet was awash in groundbreaking data visualizations. There was Aaron Koblin’s deeply influential map of flight patterns around the U.S. Periscopic’s exhaustive, haunting portrait of gun violence in the United States. Jer Thorp and John Underkoffler’s Minority Report-like interface for exploring the galaxy.

Today, you’d be lucky to find a cheap knockoff in a world dominated by crappy promotional infographics churned out for viral attention. Nicholas Felton, the data viz guru who once designed Facebook’s Timeline, now builds apps. Jer Thorp is as interested in reverse-engineering algorithms and data art as he is in producing pure data visualization. Even the infographics on the portfolio-sharing site Behance are on the downswing. “Infographic posting generally rose steadily from 2007 to 2012, where it peaked, and has begun to decline since then,” Sarah Rapp, Head of Behance Community Data & Insights, Adobe, writes in an email.

Beijing Police Use Facebook in International School Drug Bust


Facebook was employed by police in Chaoyang District in a drug investigation that began April 17 and resulted in the detention of five foreign international school students for marijuana use and three foreign drug dealers carrying marijuana, ice, and heroin, The Beijing News reported Friday night

The revelation was part of a bevy of new details that emerged from a police report released Friday detailing an investigation that started when four international school students were caught smoking marijuana in the Beijing Riviera home of two of the suspects April 17.

It is unclear which of the suspects are still in custody, three weeks after the first arrest.

The report indicates police were initially tipped off by an unnamed informant who pointed out the suspects’ Facebook activity to police. Using that as a lead, investigators were able to catch the students in the act at home on the evening of April 17, with a camera crew in tow (video here).

The report names the four students detained in the original raid as being two New Zealanders and two Americans. From previous reports it is known that three of the suspects are 18 years old and the fourth, 17.

Majorities Have Low Levels of Trust in Government

John Horrigan & Lee Rainie:

Only a minority of Americans believe any level of government can be trusted most or just about all the time, though four-in-ten Americans believe this about local government.

Younger Americans are somewhat more likely to trust the federal government most of the time (28% of adults under the age of 30 do), as well as Hispanics and African Americans (33% and 29%, respectively, trust the federal government to do the right thing).

Those who say they trust the government at least most of the time are more likely than those who do not to say open data initiatives could have positive impacts. Those who are likely to trust the federal government most or about all the time are very likely to see positive impacts from government data initiatives.

How 43 Students Disappeared Into The Night

Ryan Devereaux:

HE NIGHTMARE BEGAN just after sundown. At a dimly lit intersection in Iguala, police with automatic weapons surrounded three buses loaded with college students. The police opened fire. Screaming that they were unarmed, the students fled down darkened alleys, pounding on doors, desperate for shelter. Gunmen put the city on lockdown, stalking the streets in a drizzling rain.

By the time the gunfire finally stopped, two dozen people were wounded and six were dead at three locations, the youngest only 15 years old. One student was shot in the head, leaving him brain dead. A bullet ripped through the mouth of another. Two young men bled to death in the streets, left for hours without medical help. First light brought fresh horrors when the mutilated body of one of the students was discovered in the dirt.

Vassar president: Institutions must reallocate for core educational missions

Tara Garcia Mathewson:

Vassar College has proven it is possible to substantially increase the portion of low-income students on a selective campus. And the college did it right through the Great Recession, committing to its income diversity model at a time when finding extra money for financial aid was especially difficult.

The college’s success with low-income students recently earned it the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s inaugural $1 million no-strings-attached award.

Vassar President Catharine Bond Hill said increasing the financial aid funding available to students required a number of hard decisions, including shrinking the staff. With two-thirds of the budget consumed by employee compensation, Bond Hill said Vassar had no choice but to cut there. While the campus used to have its own post office, and employees to staff it, Vassar now relies on the local post office. Where it used to allow courses to run with only a handful of students, the college now requires minimums, reducing the costs in faculty compensation of its entire course catalog.

A 26-year-old MIT graduate is turning heads over his theory that income inequality is actually about housing (in 1 graph)

Greg Ferenstein:

Rather than taxing businesses and wealthy investors, “policy-makers should deal with the planning regulations and NIMBYism that inhibit housebuilding and which allow homeowners to capture super-normal returns on their investments.” In other words, the government should focus more on housing policy and less on taxing the wealthy, if it wants to properly deal with the inequality problem.

This is precisely the problem in my home city, San Francisco. The tech-fueled economy has been great for most San Franciscans, where a booming tech sector has increased wages and protected the local economy from the ravages of the recession

Proposed Changes To Wisconsin k-12 Governance & Curricular Requirements

Molly Beck:

The added funding comes from a $250 per student special funding stream for school districts in the second year of the budget, according to the legislation package proposed by Republican co-chairs of the Joint Finance Committee.

At the same time, the 1,000-student cap on the statewide voucher program would be lifted and students with disabilities would be eligible to apply for vouchers for the first time under a separate program. No more than 1 percent of a school district’s enrollment could receive vouchers, however.

The plan assures that private schools receiving school vouchers would receive about $7,200 for each K-8 student and about $7,800 for each high school student, the committee leaders said Tuesday. Walker’s proposed expansion would provide schools considerably less per student.

The voucher expansion would be paid for in a manner similar to the state’s open enrollment program for public schools — tax money would follow a student from the public district to the private voucher school. The plan could ultimately cost school districts about $48 million over the biennium, according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo drafted last week for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester.

The package also proposes to adopt Walker’s budget language that prohibits the state superintendent from promoting the Common Core State Standards, and from adopting new academic standards created by the Common Core State Standards Initiative, though there are none in the works.

Erin Richards & Jason Stein:

Special-needs vouchers would allow parents of children with special needs to use taxpayer money to send their child to a private school. Standalone bills have been defeated twice in recent years, in large part because every established advocacy organization for those with disabilities have opposed the bills in public hearings.

Their chief concern: Private schools are not obligated to follow federal disability laws. They point to examples in other states where, in their view, under-qualified operators have declared themselves experts and started tapping taxpayer money to serve such students.

Critics also say the proposal would erode taxpayer funding for public schools.

Patrick Marley, Jason Stein & Erin Richards:

The GOP proposal would also phase out the Chapter 220 school integration program, put the Milwaukee County executive in charge of some low-performing Milwaukee Public Schools, create an alternative system for licensing teachers and require that high school students take the civics test given to those applying for U.S. citizenship.

Another provision would allow home-school students, virtual school students and private school students to participate in public schools’ athletic and extracurricular programs.

The plan would also reshape how the Racine Unified School Board is constituted, requiring it to have members representing different regions of the school district. Some of the students in that district are represented by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine).

Republicans were able to come up with more money for public schools and voucher schools in part by making a $105.6 million payment to public schools in July 2017 — outside of the two-year spending plan they are developing. That means the payment wouldn’t be counted in the budget lawmakers are writing, even though taxpayers would ultimately bear those costs.

Jessie Opoien

The funds will restore a $127 million cut next year that was proposed in Walker’s budget, and will provide an additional $100 per pupil in state aid the following year.

“It was really a challenge, but it was everybody’s first priority, and we made it,” said Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills.

Darling and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, said Republicans also plan to move forward with a statewide expansion of the voucher program, capped at 1 percent of the students in each district.

The expansion would be modeled after the state’s open enrollment system, and would increase the amount of per-pupil aid for taxpayer-funded voucher schools to $7,200 per K-8 student and $7,800 per high school student.

That expansion will change the amount of funds that public schools receive, but Darling and Nygren declined to say by how much it could be.

“We don’t want the schools to suffer,” Darling said. “What we want to do is have the strongest education system we can for every child.”

The Economy Is Still Terrible for Young People

Derek Thompson:

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about the labor market for a longer forthcoming piece, and one of the mysteries I’ve been grappling with is: How do you describe how this economy is treating young people?

Let’s start by singing the necessary praises. Last year was was the best for job-creation this century. We’re in the middle of the longest uninterrupted stretch of private-sector job creation on record. After creating mostly low-paying service jobs for the first few years of the recovery, the labor market is finally churning out more high-skill jobs. All of these things should be great news for young people.

Equality Of Opportunity Project


Phase 2: Causal Effects of Neighborhoods

The Effects of Neighborhoods on Intergenerational Mobility: Childhood Exposure Effects and County-Level Estimates
Slides [PDF, PPT], Videos [Part 1, Part 2]
Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren

The Effects of Exposure to Better Neighborhoods on Children – New Evidence from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment
Slides [PDF, PPT]
Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren and Lawrence Katz

Kids in the US don’t know much about money

Libby Nelson:

Graduating high school seniors in Oklahoma last year had to meet the strictest financial literacy education requirements in the country. They had to demonstrate their understanding in 14 different areas of personal finance — everything from household budgeting and basic investing to the consequences of gambling and bankruptcy.

It’s an ambitious set of standards that many adults couldn’t meet. But it might not work.


Carl Straumshein:

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has chosen an unusual partner for its online M.B.A. program: massive open online course provider Coursera.

The program, known as iMBA, will deliver most of its course content through Specializations, Coursera’s term for course sequences. Students will be able to take those sequences in four different ways — two that award credit and two that don’t.

As with any MOOC, the content is available for free. Learners who wish to earn a credential but have no need for academic credit can pay a small fee, $79 a course, for an identity-verified certificate. Students can also apply to the College of Business and, if accepted, pursue the full M.B.A. degree. Finally, students can choose to take the courses individually for credit, postponing a decision about whether to go for a degree until they are well into the program.

Student Debt: Who Borrows Most? What Lies Ahead?

Sandy Baum & Martha C. Johnson:

This report describes the levels of cumulative education debt among students with different levels of educational attainment and examines factors associated with high borrowing levels. Those with the most debt tend to be among those who have pursued graduate study. Among undergraduate borrowers, students enrolled in for-profit institutions, those who are independent of their parents, and those who stay in school longer are more likely than others to accumulate large debts. Students from low-income families are not more likely than others to borrow large amounts, at least in part because they tend to stay in school for fewer years.

The tools I use to teach and some remaining niches.

Suraj Rai:

The tools I use to teach and some remaining niches.

Eight current tools and four potential opportunities to benefit schools everywhere.

It’s my first year teaching, so far it’s been challenging and incredibly fun. I teach Biology, Chemistry and Physics in rotation to 136 students. The tools below have been very useful in creating resources, saving time and contributing to the learning of my students.

NJEA Goes Off the Rails: PARCC, Pensions, and Camden School Choice 

Laura Waters:

NJEA is on a roll. Just over the couple of months New Jersey’s primary teacher union leaders have mounted a $15 million campaign (also see here) to urge parents to opt out of PARCC tests in order to sabotage new data-driven teacher evaluations, have decided to hold their breath until their faces turn blue instead of collaborating with Christie’s Pension Reform Commission to find meaningful ways to preserve retirement benefits, pushed for legislation to shut down all charter school expansion, and filed a complaint with the state against Camden City Schools’ lawful strategy to improve student outcomes in N.J.’s worst school district.

One hardly knows where to begin, but let’s look at the last piece. Here’s NJEA’s press release:

The Five C’s of a High Performing Education System

Teach For All:

Teach For All network partners share the longterm goal of developing leaders who will positively impact their countries’ classrooms, schools, and, ultimately, education systems. To inform this work, we look to the world’s highest performing systems to understand what drives their success. Recently, representatives of Teach For All, Teach First, and Teach For America were joined by members of the British Council on a visit to Ontario, Canada, to learn from its education system and consider how to use those lessons to achieve systemic change in countries around the world.

Higher Ed Lobby Quietly Joins For-Profit Schools To Roll Back Tighter Rules

Alec MacGillis:

The Obama administration is set to achieve one of its top domestic policy goals after years of wrangling. For-profit colleges, which absorb tens of billions of dollars in U.S. grants and loans yet often leave their students with little beyond crushing debt, will need to meet new standards or risk losing taxpayer dollars.

But as the July 1 deadline approaches, the troubled industry has been mounting a last-ditch effort to avert or roll back the new rules. And suddenly it’s getting a lift from a set of unlikely allies: traditional colleges and universities.

For years, the higher education establishment has viewed the for-profit education business as both a rival and an unsavory relation — the cousin with the rap sheet who seeks a cut of the family inheritance. Yet in a striking but little-noticed shift, nearly all of the college establishment’s representatives in Washington are siding with for-profit colleges in opposing the government’s crackdown.

Most of the traditional higher education lobbying groups signed onto a recent letter to Congress stating their support for Republican legislation that would block the new restrictions on for-profit colleges, as well as undo or weaken other accountability rules for colleges. And a new report on higher education regulation commissioned by the Senate and overseen by the American Council on Education, the leading lobby group for traditional schools, slammed the rules on for-profit colleges as part of a broader critique of the administration’s approach.

Common Core vs. Common Knowledge

Mike Atonucci:

For those who are in – or, in my case, marginally associated with – the business of public education, it is easy to assume that others share your enthusiasm equally. We are constantly told that education is one of the nation’s top issues, we spend vast amounts of money on it, and we argue about it incessantly.

The delicious irony is that time and again we discover that the general public is paying virtually no attention to any of it. They are highly uneducated about education.

Poll after poll over the years have indicated that Americans don’t know how much we spend on education, don’t know what a charter school is, don’t know what teachers make, and now, don’t know what the Common Core State Standards are.

College Counsel for the Poor

Josh Mitchell:

Erin Kelley grew up poor with parents who never went to college, but she is about to do something only 11% of Americans like her do: earn a degree.

The Boston College senior is the latest success story of Bottom Line, which counsels disadvantaged youth on how to get into college—and graduate. About 80% of the nonprofit’s clients earn a degree. And in an era of skyrocketing college costs and debate about the value of higher education, they typically leave with relatively little debt and a job waiting for them.

The work of Bottom Line, and other groups that provide intensive counseling, is increasingly being studied by academics seeking to boost the prospects of low-income, first-generation college students.

On Universities

Gülden Özcan and Ersin Vedat Elgür

Gülden Özcan & Ersin Vedat Elgür (GÖ&EVE): Before getting into the details of your work, we would like to discuss with you the university as an institution and the current positions of academics in relation to politics. At the very beginning of your book Imagining the State you mention how the number of polemic style books and articles has been decreased and indeed almost become invisible as a result of academic research and evaluation practices that had been taking away the self-​confidence of academics under capitalism. With your work in general in a sense you re-​claim this right of producing polemical texts in the world of academia which has been dominated by the culture of capitalism. You not only claim but also practice this right by writing polemical books such as Imagining the State, The Fabrication of Social Order, Critique of Security and most recently, perhaps the most controversial of all, your edited book called Anti-​Security. In these works while dealing with the conventional assets of the discipline of political science such as the state, law, fascism and civil society on the one hand, you also introduce new terms, or rather the terms that only certain disciplines take issue with, to the area of political science such as police power, security, monstrous, the dead and pacification on the other hand. Can you tell us the kind of experience you have had while being in academia and producing such work? Also, our journal Kampfplatz, too, aims to offer a space for polemics (as, we hope, its name tells it all) and thus aims to have a kind of publication policy that stays away from academic rituals. Do you think there are ways to stay out of the academia in the act of producing knowledge, or is it possible to institutionalize knowledge-​production besides the academia? What would be the place for such activity: independent journals, independent academy-​like institutes, or perhaps community libraries?

Keeping Great Teachers, With a Personal Touch

Kate McGovern:

Give us the bigger picture here. What’s your philosophy of teacher retention?

The way we approach retention at DCPS is less about general retention and more about trying to make sure we’re keeping the teachers who have the greatest impact on kids. Everything we do at DCPS—the way we recruit and hire teachers, the way we support them and the way we approach retention—is based on teacher effectiveness.

It’s important to note, though, that we don’t necessarily see retention to mean being in front of students all day, every day. That’s not how careers work anymore. Many of our most talented educators aren’t interested in teaching in the same classroom for 30 years. I taught in DCPS for two years, and one of the reasons I left was because the career path seemed so linear. Today, we’ve really tried to layer in opportunities for teachers to grow and evolve their careers in different ways, inside and outside the classroom.

Why American Workers Without Much Education Are Being Hammered

Neil Irwin:

The last couple of decades have been terrible for American workers without much education. New research calculates just how bad, and offers some evidence as to why that is.

In short, they face a double whammy. Less-educated Americans, especially men, are shifting away from manufacturing and other jobs that once offered higher pay, and a higher share are now working in lower-paying food service, cleaning and groundskeeping jobs. Simultaneously, pay levels are declining in almost all of the fields that employ less-educated workers, so even those who have held onto jobs as manufacturers, operators and laborers are making less than they would have a generation ago.

Perhaps the single most shocking number in a new review of employment and earnings data by researchers at the Hamilton Project, a research group within the Brookings Institution, is this one: The median earnings of working men aged 30 to 45 without a high school diploma fell 20 percent from 1990 to 2013 when adjusted for inflation.

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

2/3 of people in the Valley who have completed their college education are foreign born.””

Danny Lin:

From the beginning, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs saw themselves in direct opposition to their East Coast counterparts. The westerners saw themselves as cowboys and pioneers, working on a “new frontier” where people dared greatly and failure was not shameful but just the quickest way to learn a hard lesson. In the 1970s, with the influence of the counterculture’s epicenter at the corner of Haight and Ashbury, only an easy drive up the freeway, Silicon Valley companies also became famous for their laid-back, dressed-down culture, and for their products, such as video games and personal computers, that brought advanced technology to “the rest of us.”

Mobile phone bans improve school exam results, research shows

Richard Adams:

Schools that ban pupils from carrying mobile phones show a sustained improvement in exam results, with the biggest advances coming from struggling students, according to research published by the London School of Economics.

The findings calculated that pupils at mobile-free schools benefitted by the equivalent of an extra hour’s teaching per week, meaning many schools would benefit from taking a tough line on keeping phones out of pupils’ pockets.

The large-scale study found schools in Birmingham, London, Leicester and Manchester that banned mobiles enjoyed a boost in the proportion of pupils getting five good passes at GCSE, compared with schools that allowed pupils to keep their phones, even if switched off.

Punishing parents who deviate from the government-enforced norm

George Will:

Controversies about “free-range parenting” illuminate today’s scarred cultural landscape. Neighbors summon police in response to parenting choices the neighbors disapprove. Government extends its incompetence with an ever-broader mission of “child protection.” And these phenomena are related to campus hysteria about protecting infantilized undergraduates from various menaces, including uncongenial ideas.

The Meitivs live in suburban Montgomery County, which is a bedroom for many Washington bureaucrats who make their living minding other people’s business. The Meitivs, to encourage independence and self-reliance, let their 10- and 6-year-old children walk home alone from a park about a mile from their home. For a second time, their children were picked up by police, this time three blocks from home. After confinement in a squad car for almost three hours, during which the police never called or allowed the children to call the Meitivs, the children were given to social workers who finally allowed the parents to reclaim their children at about 11 p.m. on a school night. The Meitivs’ Kafkaesque experiences concluded with them accused of “unsubstantiated” neglect.

The Facebook “It’s Not Our Fault” Study

Christian Sandvig:

Today in Science, members of the Facebook data science team released a provocative study about adult Facebook users in the US “who volunteer their ideological affiliation in their profile.” The study “quantified the extent to which individuals encounter comparatively more or less diverse” hard news “while interacting via Facebook’s algorithmically ranked News Feed.”*

The research found that the user’s click rate on hard news is affected by the positioning of the content on the page by the filtering algorithm. The same link placed at the top of the feed is about 10-15% more likely to get a click than a link at position #40 (figure S5).

The Facebook news feed curation algorithm, “based on many factors,” removes hard news from diverse sources that you are less likely to agree with but it does not remove the hard news that you are likely to agree with (S7). They call news from a source you are less likely to agree with “cross-cutting.”*

The study then found that the algorithm filters out 1 in 20 cross-cutting hard news stories that a self-identified conservative sees (or 5%) and 1 in 13 cross-cutting hard news stories that a self-identified liberal sees (8%).

Finally, the research then showed that “individuals’ choices about what to consume” further limits their “exposure to cross-cutting content.” Conservatives will click on only 17% a little less than 30% of cross-cutting hard news, while liberals will click 7% a little more than 20% (figure 3).

Starbucks and Arizona State University are collaborating to help cafe workers get college degrees. Is this a model for helping more Americans reach the middle class?

Amanda Ripley:

But those objections missed the purpose of the program, which, admittedly, Schultz had glossed over in his soaring rhetoric about creating “access to the American dream.” The goal was not to print a pile of get-out-of-tuition-free coupons. It was something less expensive and possibly more important: to help more students finish what they’d started.

The most revolutionary part of the program had nothing to do with tuition and got far less media attention. In their announcement, Starbucks and Arizona State also committed themselves to providing all enrolled employees with individualized guidance—the kind of thing affluent American parents and elite universities provide for their students as a matter of course. Starbucks students would each be assigned an enrollment counselor, a financial-aid adviser, an academic adviser, and a “success coach”—a veritable pit crew of helpers. Like a growing number of innovative colleges around the country, Starbucks and Arizona State were promising to prioritize the needs of real-life students over the traditions of academia.

Starbucks and Arizona State granted The Atlantic exclusive access to the first semester’s students, advisers, and detailed results. Despite all the hype, no one at either institution knew how many employees would sign up—or how they would fare once enrolled. Working students attending college online drop out at notoriously high rates, but if the experiment succeeded, it might suggest that college, designed differently, could still become the equalizer it was meant to be. “We’re not trying to save the world,” Arizona State’s president, Michael Crow, told me. “We’re trying to show that the world can be saved.”

Real Finnish Lessons: The true story of an education superpower

Gabriel Heller Sahlgren:

Why did Finland’s pupils do so well? Popular explanations include the country’s focus on equity, the high standard of teacher training, a comparatively low workload, and the lack of market reforms and school accountability. But research does not support any of these conclusions. In fact, Finland’s rise began well before most of these policies were able to take eff ect – and its recent decline started soon after they took hold.

Instead, Finland’s success appears to be the result of deep-rooted historical, socioeconomic and cultural factors, combined with a resistance to the rising global tide of progressive teaching methods. Its current fall can in turn be linked to cultural changes and recent reforms which may have undermined the causes of its achievements. The findings of this monograph shed new light on Finland’s educational performance and provide important lessons for policymakers.

Q: Is there something mysterious about mathematics?

Scott Aaronson:

In one sense, of course, there’s less mystery in math than there is in any other human endeavor. In math we can really understand things, in a deeper way than we ever understand anything else. (When I was younger, I used to reassure myself during suspense movies by silently reciting the proof of some theorem: here, at least, was a certainty that the movie couldn’t touch.) So how is it that many people, including mathematicians, do feel there’s something “mysterious” about this least mysterious of subjects? What do they mean?

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Early & Often Moody’s, citing pension crisis, downgrades Chicago’s debt to junk status

Fran Spielman:

Moody’s Investor’s Service on Tuesday dropped Chicago’s bond rating two more notches — to junk status — turning up the heat on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to raise property taxes and on the Illinois General Assembly to approve a Chicago casino.

“It is irresponsible to play politics with Chicago’s financial future by pushing the city to increase taxes on residents without [pension] reform,” Emanuel was quoted as saying in an emailed statement.

The decision to drop the bond rating that determines city borrowing costs — from Baa2 to Ba1 with a negative outlook — comes just days after the state Supreme Court unanimously overturned state pension reforms and placed Emanuel’s plan to save two of four city employee pension funds in similar jeopardy.

The rating applies to $8.1 billion in general-obligation debt, $542 million in outstanding sales tax revenue debt and $268 million in outstanding and authorized motor fuel tax revenue.

Michigan Lawmaker Proposes State Registry Of Homeschooled Children

CBS Detroit:

A Michigan lawmaker proposed legislation Friday to create a state registry of homeschooled students following the deaths of two Detroit children who were found in a freezer.

The measure from State Rep. Stephanie Chang, a Detroit Democrat, would require visits with children at least twice per year by someone such as a licensed social worker or law enforcement officer. The bill would also require that parents who want to homeschool their children provide their names and ages, along with the name and address of a parent or guardian, to the superintendent of the school district in which they reside.

Chang cited the case of Stoni Ann Blair and Stephen Gage Berry as a reason for planning the legislation. Investigators believe Stephen was 9 when he died in August 2012 and that Stoni was 13 when she died the following May. Their mother, who is accused of torturing and killing them and then stuffing their bodies in the freezer, had said she homeschooled them.

The 1% of scientific publishing

Erik Stokstad:

Publishing is one of the most ballyhooed metrics of scientific careers, and every researcher hates to have a gap in that part of his or her CV. Here’s some consolation: A new study finds that very few scientists—fewer than 1%—manage to publish a paper every year.

But these 150,608 scientists dominate the research journals, having their names on 41% of all papers. Among the most highly cited work, this elite group can be found among the co-authors of 87% of papers.

The new research, published on 9 July in PLOS ONE, was led by epidemiologist John Ioannidis of Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, with analysis of Elsevier’s Scopus database by colleagues Kevin Boyack and Richard Klavans at SciTech Strategies. They looked at papers published between 1996 and 2011 by 15 million scientists worldwide in many disciplines.

Life in the Accelerated Academy: anxiety thrives, demands intensify and metrics hold the tangled web together.

Mark Carrigan:

When questioned by a friend in 1980 as to whether he was happy at Princeton, the philosopher Richard Rorty replied that he was “delighted that I lucked into a university which pays me to make up stories and tell them”. He went on to suggest that “Universities permit one to read books and report what one thinks about them, and get paid for it” and that this is why he saw himself first and foremost as a writer, in spite of his already entrenched antipathy towards the philosophical profession which would grow with time. It’s a lovely idea, isn’t it? This is the thought that keeps coming back to me as I’m preparing to participate in the Time Without Time symposium in Edinburgh later this week.

The problem is that employment in a university no longer requires that one simply reads books and reports what one thinks about them. Was this ever really the case? Either way, it’s a seductive vision. Unfortunately, it is belied by the over one hundred metrics to which each academic working within UK higher education is potentially subject. Contrary to Rorty’s ideal of scholars reading books, writing about them and occasionally deigning to share their reflections with students, we’re instead measured constantly in matters such as workload, teaching and research within institutions that are themselves ranked in a way constituted through the measurement of the individuals within them.

Can there be an excuse to block a Milwaukee ‘no excuses’ school?

Alan Borsuk:

Don’t want excuses about why things aren’t going better on Milwaukee’s education scene? Well, meet the people who don’t want schools that demand no excuses.

A significant number of the latter are on the Milwaukee School Board. How significant the number is will become clear in coming months.

But it looks like they make up a growing force in deciding what kind of change there will be (or not be).

One of the interesting questions raised by School Board actions in the last two weeks is whether resisting a proposal to open a school will have an impact on Republican legislators in Madison who are considering ideas for taking some power, some schools, or both away from the board.

First, let’s describe “no excuses.” That is a label applied, sometimes in praise, sometimes in criticism, to schools nationwide that pursue ambitious goals with highly structured and strong (sometimes very) discipline. They strongly push, even down to kindergarten, a message that every student, most of them low-income minority kids, will get a college degree.

Basically, the schools stand for accepting no excuses for kids not succeeding. That includes downplaying or dismissing poverty as an explanation for low success rates.

In many instances, the “no excuses” schools have had notably higher rates of graduation and better test scores than nearby conventional schools. But in places such as New Orleans, there has been a lot of blowback against schools that are too demanding and too strict on discipline. Some schools have moderated their practices.

Social Networks Affect The Brain Like Falling In Love

Adam Penenberg:

The essence of affection. The cuddle chemical. In other words, oxytocin.

This hormone, produced daily by your brain and mine, is the reason I’m on my back, trying to remain perfectly still inside a magnetic-resonance-imaging machine secreted in the basement of a cheerless building at the California Institute of Technology. Even though I am cocooned by earplugs and noise-cancellation headphones, it’s freakishly loud in here, a mix of jackhammer pulses and a hurricane whoosh of air. In other words, it’s your typical MRI experience — save for the Apple laptop bolted a couple of feet above my head, the mouse on my chest, and the unbearably sad video playing on the MacBook screen.

I have volunteered for this, signing up to be a test subject for Dr. Love, aka Paul J. Zak, a professor at Claremont Graduate University who popularized “neuroeconomics,” an emerging field that combines economics with biology, neuroscience, and psychology. In this first of three experiments, I’m helping Zak’s researchers gauge the relationship between empathy and generosity. While best-selling behavioral economists such as Dan Ariely (Predictably Irrational) and Steven D. Levitt (half of the Freakonomics duo) ponder how we make economic decisions, Zak wants to figure out why we do what we do.

U.S. cracks down on female teachers who sexually abuse students

Richard Goldberg:

A “Saturday Night Live” skit about a male student having sex with his female high school teacher painted the relationship as every teen boy’s dream, but drew a firestorm of criticism on social media.

The reaction to the comedy sketch reflected a growing view among law enforcement and victims’ advocacy groups that it is no laughing matter when a woman educator preys on her male students.

In U.S. schools last year, almost 800 school employees were prosecuted for sexual assault, nearly a third of them women. The proportion of women facing charges seems to be higher than in years past, when female teachers often got a pass, said Terry Abbott, a former chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Education, who tracked the cases.

This year’s numbers are already slightly ahead of last year with 26 cases of female school employees accused of inappropriate relationships with male students in January compared to 19 cases the previous January.

Tough Times Ahead For 16,000 Students Of Disgraced College Chain

Molly Hensley-Clancy:

Don’t tell Natalie Anderson that she is better off without Everest College.

Until Sunday, Anderson was a student in medical assisting at Everest College in Phoenix. That day, she saw a message on Facebook: “This campus has been permanently closed.”

Anderson is unemployed, supporting two children on disability payments, and living in a Budget Suites of America, the only place she could find that came fully furnished. She’s “barely surviving,” she said, but dreams of becoming a nurse: “I want to get my kids off of the system.”

When she saw that Everest had closed, stranding her partway through her nine-month certificate, Anderson said, “I cried. Seriously, I did, because this was my chance.” Her voice broke: “Now I’m going to cry again.”

The saga of America’s largest for-profit college shutdown began last June and ended last week, when Corinthian Colleges abruptly shuttered 28 of its Everest and Heald college campuses. Since the beginning, when Corinthian began to teeter on the verge of collapse, there has been a tug between those who say Corinthian’s students are better off with their campuses closed — eligible to have their students loans forgiven — and those who say students should be allowed to finish their educations.

Creepy Scholarship

Andrew Pilsch:

There is a lot of talk of the “weird” in today’s humanities. From Karen Gregory’s “Weird Solidarities” to Graham Harman’s Weird Realism, we are going through a “weird” moment in humanities (we’re also going through a weird moment, if you catch my drift). “Weird” is, as you probably know, entering our academic lexicon not only through our own perplexity at emerging digital culture but also specifically through an engagement with the horror fiction of H.P. Lovecraft as a possible guide to that perplexed state of affairs.

A term I want to consider in this post, though, is another term in the horror lexicon: “creepy.” “Creepy,” according to the OED, comes from the “chill shuddering feeling caused by horror or repugnance,” a “creeping of the skin.” Recently, I’ve been thinking about creepy scholarship, as a possible related discourse to weird scholarship, sharing some of the same antecedents, though arriving at different results and deploying different methods.

Identifying manuscripts in social media

Michael Schonhardt:

Some days ago a number of articles and blogposts appeared in my twitter timeline criticizing “twitter streams that do nothing more than post ‘old’ pictures and little tidbits of captions for them”1 , e.g. https://twitter.com/medievalreacts

Sarah Werner (whose blogpost I highly recommend!) and others rightly criticized these accounts for using unattributed and unidentified historical pictures for their own commercial purpose, making it impossible to access the underlying historical context of those pictures.

Following the debate on twitter, however, I stumbled across a few tweets (quoted below) that prompted me to scrutinize my own social media practice as a historian, especially the limitations and potential of scientific work using social media, and twitter in particular.

An increasing number of scholars not only employs the microblogging network for channeling private messages, but also to provide glimpses into their professional work and expertise. I have characterized this as a revival of the so called context of discovery (Reichenberg)2 .

Following both the logic of social media and the nature of historical research on the Middle Ages, a good deal of this information shared on twitter consists of digitized images of medieval manuscripts, to which sometimes additional information is added.

The Nation’s First Vegetarian Public School Is Thriving

Fast Company:

A few years before Queens elementary school PS 244 became the first public school in the nation to go vegetarian, it decided to stop serving chocolate milk. That had never been done before in New York City’s school meals program. Robert Groff, the school’s principal, says even that first simple step took a lot of time and effort.

Groff, whose grandfathers both died of heart attacks in their 50s, co-founded PS 244 in 2008 on the premise that health and wellness is closely tied to academic performance. The chocolate milk removal, suggested at first by a third grader who was learning about nutrition labels, was followed by other menu changes that maximized healthy eating.

It soon became apparent that meat-free meals were the way to go, given that the city—which serves 850,000 meals a day—can’t necessarily afford top-of-the-line lean meat. “We had no focus on vegetarianism specifically,” says Groff. “If we were presented with a free-range, organic chicken, that’s something we would talk about.”

What is it like to be poor at an Ivy League school?

Brooke Lea Foster :

WHEN ANA BARROS first stepped into Harvard Yard as a freshman, she felt so out of place she might as well have had the words “low income” written on her forehead. A girl from Newark doesn’t belong in a place like Harvard, she thought, as she marveled at how green the elms were, how quaint the cobblestone streets. Back home, where her family lives in a modest house bought from Habitat for Humanity, there wasn’t always money for groceries, and the world seemed gray, sirens blaring at all hours. Her parents, who immigrated to the New York area from Colombia before she was born, spoke Spanish at home. It was at school that Barros learned English. A petite 5-foot-2 with high cheekbones and a head of model-worthy hair, Barros found out in an e-mail that she’d been accepted to Harvard — a full scholarship would give her the means to attend. “I knew at that moment that I’d never suffer in the way that my parents did,” she says.

Collecting And Measuring Classroom Data

Motoko Rich:

In this small suburb outside Milwaukee, no one in the Menomonee Falls School District escapes the rigorous demands of data.

Custodians monitor dirt under bathroom sinks, while the high school cafeteria supervisor tracks parent and student surveys of lunchroom food preferences. Administrators record monthly tallies of student disciplinary actions, and teachers post scatter plot diagrams of quiz scores on classroom walls. Even kindergartners use brightly colored dots on charts to show how many letters or short words they can recognize.

Data has become a dirty word in some education circles, seen as a proxy for an obsessive focus on tracking standardized test scores. But some school districts, taking a cue from the business world, are fully embracing metrics, recording and analyzing every scrap of information related to school operations. Their goal is to help improve everything from school bus routes and classroom cleanliness to reading comprehension and knowledge of algebraic equations.
On a recent morning at Riverside Elementary School, Alyssa Walter, 7, opened her first-grade “data binder,” in which she recorded progress on reading and math tasks throughout the year. On one page, she showed a visitor six colored circles pasted into a drawing of a gumball machine, each dot representing her successful completion of a three-minute addition quiz.

The fate of Los Angeles Charter Schools

Joshua Enpmerson Smith:

When Highland Park resident Liz Martinez talks about charter schools, she speaks with the same kind of pride she reserves for her children’s accomplishments. Her youngest daughter graduated from PUC Cals Charter Early College High School in 2010 and then Brown University. Her son graduated from another PUC charter school and was accepted to Notre Dame.

“They care about the kids,” Martinez says of the neighborhood charter schools where she opted to send them. “They know the kids by name. They know us by name, too. When you come to the high school, you feel welcome.”

The 46-year-old mother of three wasn’t as pleased with Franklin High School, a traditional LAUSD school her older daughter attended while the other children went to charter schools.

The public school is just five minutes down the street from Cals High School, but Martinez’s assessment of the two couldn’t be further apart.

“There’s a big difference,” she says. “At the charter schools, they told them they had to go to university. In Franklin High School, they don’t even care about the kids

Accessibility & Apple Watch

Molly Watt:

The new setting “Prominent Haptic” is perhaps my favourite in accessibility.

On putting the Apple Watch on my wrist although on my small wrist it appeared large, it felt light and comfortable.
After a little playing I discovered by holding down the face of the watch you can vary how the time is displayed, a standard clock face but typically Apple quirky or large numbers and digital.

Convicted defendants left uninformed of forensic flaws found by Justice Dept.

Spencer Hsu:

Justice Department officials have known for years that flawed forensic work might have led to the convictions of potentially innocent people, but prosecutors failed to notify defendants or their attorneys even in many cases they knew were troubled.

Officials started reviewing the cases in the 1990s after reports that sloppy work by examiners at the FBI lab was producing unreliable forensic evidence in court trials. Instead of releasing those findings, they made them available only to the prosecutors in the affected cases, according to documents and interviews with dozens of officials.

In addition, the Justice Department reviewed only a limited number of cases and focused on the work of one scientist at the FBI lab, despite warnings that problems were far more widespread and could affect potentially thousands of cases in federal, state and local courts.

How the legal system often ignores the constitutional rights of parents

Ilya Somin

By Ilya Somin April 21 at 8:13 PM

In a recent post on the notorious Maryland case where authorities have repeatedly detained two children in order to force the Meitiv family to stop them from walking home alone, I noted that the parents have the Constitution and Supreme Court precedent on their side. At Above the Law, experienced public interest lawyer Sam Wright agrees that the parents have the Constitution on their side, but cautions that bureaucrats and lower court judges routinely ignore such petty issues as constitutional rights when it comes to enforcing the their conceptions of “the best interests of the child”:

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, law professor Ilya Somin notes that the application of child welfare laws is subject to some (seemingly) robust constitutional constraints: there’s case law providing that the Fourteenth Amendment protects the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit and that it also, in the words of Justice O’Connor’s plurality opinion in Troxel v. Granville, creates a “presumption that fit parents act in the best interests of their children.”

But the reality facing most parents in court is that that “presumption” isn’t actually a thing. Take the experience documented in a well-publicized essay on Salon last year: the author left her four-year-old unattended in a car for a few minutes on a mild day, the police were called, she found herself charged with a crime…. [Her lawyer] warned her that “juvenile courts are notorious for erring on the side of protecting the child” and suggested that fighting the case might lead her to lose her child. Faced with that possibility she, of course, folded. Anyone would…

And that’s been my experience as an advocate too. When I worked for a legal aid organization, one of my tasks was to represent parents in child welfare proceedings. No one in those sad, sequestered courtrooms cited Supreme Court cases; everyone just argued over what was in the best interest of the child….

So parents, be cautious: yes, there’s Supreme Court precedent on your side, but if you find yourself in court then the system’s conception of the “best interests of the child” will likely overrule yours.

Wright also notes that vaguely worded child welfare statutes give bureaucrats wide discretion that they sometimes exert in ways that punish perfectly reasonable and safe parenting practices, a problem I wrote about in this 2012 post.

Wright’s note of caution is well-taken. When I wrote that the Maryland situation “should be a relatively case,” I meant that applicable precedent clearly supports the parents, and that they should ultimately prevail if the constitutional issue is raised and courts take Supreme Court precedent seriously. However, achieving such a victory against determined bureaucrats could require prolonged and costly litigation. Sometimes, seemingly novel constitutional issues won’t be taken seriously until a case reaches the appellate level, where judges are more used to addressing constitutional questions. Many parents understandably lack the time, resources, and emotional stamina for a lengthy legal battle. And even a small risk of defeat might be unacceptable if it could mean losing custody of your children or suffering continued official harassment. I don’t blame parents who decide that such a fight isn’t worth it. The purpose of my earlier post was to analyze the relevant constitutional issue, not give advice to parents facing a potentially difficult legal battle with child welfare bureaucrats.

At the same time, it is important to recognize that, in the cases Wright cites, the constitutional issue mostly wasn’t even raised, much less decided. Anxious parents generally give in without putting up a fight. If the issue were raised in a sufficiently egregious case, and effectively pursued by determined parents with strong legal representation, the chances of ultimate victory might well be good. And such a victory could create an important precedent that helps deter similar official misconduct in the future, especially if the government agency is forced to pay damages as well as cease its harassment of the parents.

Welcome to the Education-Industrial Complex

socialist worker.org

That night, the Warren school district’s testing coordinator received a call from a state official informing her about the “breach” and requesting that the student be suspended. The next morning, Warren school superintendent Elizabeth Jewett e-mailed her colleagues about the incident:

The DOE informed us that Pearson is monitoring all social media during PARCC testing. I have to say that I find that a bit disturbing–and if our parents were concerned before about a conspiracy with all of the student data, I am sure I will be receiving more letters of refusal once this gets out.

At the time, the Jewett didn’t even know that Pearson was doing far more than “monitoring” social media. Because the student’s Twitter handle didn’t involve her name, Pearson got Twitter to turn over her private personal information, on the grounds that she had violated the testing company’s “intellectual property.”

As Jewett predicted, the spying revelations added fuel to the fire for parents and educators who were already upset at the state’s cozy relationship with Pearson, and their joint agenda to implement a mandatory testing regime in line with the Common Core standards that have reshaped schools across the country with virtually no democratic discussion about their educational merits.

Starving the Beast: The UNC System in 2015

Amanda Ann Klein:

Maybe I’m biased, but I was always under the impression that the most important commodity at a university is the quality of its teaching staff, not the quality of its administrators. When I graduated from college in 1999 I didn’t think back fondly on all the administrators I had encountered along the way. So what explanation could possibly be given for proposing that university administrators deserve “competitive salaries” but the university’s teachers don’t? Why is the Board of Governors only concerned with attracting and retaining top administrative talent, not top teaching or research talent?

What, exactly, is going on? My university, you see, is very slowly being converted from an institution of education into a business. “Can’t it be both?” some of you might be thinking? “Wouldn’t academia, that dying giant, benefit from trimming the fat and keeping an eye towards pleasing the customer?” The answer, as someone who has slowly watched her university transition from a university into a Wal Mart over the last 8 years, is a resounding no.