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

Tyler Cowen:

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

Open library For The Humanities Launches

Open Library:

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

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

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

Firm ‘hides’ university when recruits apply

Sean Coughlan:

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

Court-ordered busing changed Denver forever

Nelson Garcia:

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

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

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

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

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

The Social-Network Illusion That Tricks Your Mind

Technology Review:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fairfax County Budget Proposal tool

Fairfax County Schools:

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

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

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

Avoiding The Adjective Fallacy

Kalis Azad:

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

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

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

Are Japanese Humanities Faculties Really Being Shut Down?

Alex Usher:

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

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

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

Teachers Unions at Risk of Losing “Agency Fees”

Mike Antonucci:

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

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

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

Related: Act 10 and Madison’s Schwerpunkt.

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

William Maxwell:

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

Pope Francis’s Graph of the Day

Ian Vásquez:

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

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

American Innovation Lies on Weak Foundation

Eduardo Porter:

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

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

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

Nix the Math Tricks

Nix the Tricks:

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

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

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

Teachers & Governance: Delaware

Mike Antonucci:

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

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

Meanwhile, in Madison.

The Middle-Class Squeeze

Charles Moore:

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

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

Meet The Man Who Invents Languages For A Living


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

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

Education Gap Between Rich and Poor Is Growing Wider

Eduardo Porter:

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

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

Leading mathematician launches arXiv ‘overlay’ journal

Philip Ball:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rationale/Employee Concern

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

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

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

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

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

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

Current Collective Bargaining Agreement (160 page PDF) Wordcloud:

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

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

Madison government school district


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

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

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

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

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

6. Nearby Oconomowoc is paying fewer teachers more.

7. Minneapolis teacher union approved to authorize charter schools.

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

9. A rather astonishing quote:

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

Madison School Board member Ed Hughes.

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

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

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

Schwerpunkt via wikipedia.

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

Bill Glauber:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Madison Schools’ Annual Report


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

Wisconsin Task force for urban education schedules first public hearing

Annysa Johnson:

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Maxwell Hamilton and Kevin Kosar:

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

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

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

Glenn Greenwald:

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

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

Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for Colleges

Peter Gray:

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

Maths whizz solves a master’s riddle

Chris Cesare:

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

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

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

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


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

Khan Academy on Android and iPhones

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

Michael Janofsky:

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

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

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

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

Matthew Yglesias:

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

The typical male U.S. worker earned less in 2014 than in 1973

David Wessel:

read that right: The median male worker who was employed year-round and full time earned less in 2014 than a similarly situated worker earned four decades ago. And those are the ones who had jobs.

This one fact, tucked in Table A-4 of the Census Bureau’s annual report on income, is both a symptom of an economy that isn’t delivering for many ordinary Americans and at least one reason for the dissatisfaction, anger, and distrust that voters are displaying in the 2016 presidential campaign.

What about women? Well, they haven’t closed the pay gap with men, but the inflation-adjusted earnings of the median female worker increased more than 30% between 1973 and 2014, to $39,621 from $30,182, according to census data.

But back to men. Why are wages for the typical male worker stagnating? After all, the U.S. economy has grown substantially since 1973. Output per person in the U.S. has nearly doubled since 1973, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. And output per hour of work (minus depreciation) has increased nearly 2.5 times, according to a recent analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank that produces reliable statistical analyses.

Meanwhile, local property taxes continue their annual growth.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: US Debt Bombs Bursting

William Edstrom:

The severity of this debt collapse around in the USA, coupled with the impotence of the US government, the emperor has no clothes, their inability to mount a rescue of the US economy – because Fed Funds interest rates have been at 0% since December 2008, and cannot be lowered, and because the US Treasury already printed $4.5 trillion out of thin air (QE1, QE2 & QE3); more money printing on that scale will lead to hyper-inflation which will cause the US dollar to become worthless – will accelerate the economic collapse of the USA and worse. An example of worse is an increased likelihood of states such as Texas seceding from the Union.

Vast cultural differences between US regions – like the Rockies, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast and West Coast – will be exacerbated during the USA’s economic collapse 2016-2021, which will increase the likelihood of states or even entire regions seceding from the overly-indebted economically collapsing USA. State defiance of national laws (e.g. marijuana laws) coupled with the far right movement (e.g. Tea Party, Libertarian Party) has set the stage for secession fever to catch fire against the capitol district, Washington DC.

Happily, the USA enjoys the ability to print money, at least until others no longer accept the great game. History is always useful.

An innovative form of cheating emerges in MOOCs

Andrew Ho:

What if Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) aren’t actually courses at all?

Our research teams at Harvard and MIT have shown over and over again that MOOC students look and act nothing like conventional students of either residential universities or online programs.

With a broader age distribution, a more diverse and international student body, wide variation in commitment, and a surprising number of teachers, the MOOC “classroom” looks like no physical classroom on earth.

Now, I and my colleagues, Curtis Northcutt and Ike Chuang of MIT, have discovered a different novel behavior on the MOOC frontier: a new form of cheating, that only MOOCs can enable.

Why Is College So Expensive if Professors Are Paid So Little?

Michelle Chen:

Faculty activists acknowledge the consumer concerns about higher education’s value today, including poor completion rates, but link these to a cycle of underinvestment on the teaching side: The “churning of the faculty workforce…low salaries and over-reliance on part-time appointments” erode the quality and attentiveness of instruction, with long-term impacts on public institutions that have historically served the most challenged populations—the poor, people of color and first-generation college students. And as disinvestment and declining academic outcomes deepen, the overall institutional integrity of higher- education systems erodes.

One example is the California State University system: Between 2004 and 2013, the number of faculty teaching full-time or the equivalent ticked up 8 percent, but the population of full-time-equivalent students simultaneously jumped by 20 percent. SEIU’s adjunct-organizing project estimates that as of 2013, “22 percent of part-time faculty live below the poverty line,” significantly higher than the overall poverty rate nationwide.

K-12 tax & spending climate: higher healthcare deductibles take toll on family incomes,

Guy Boulton:

The average premium for single coverage is $6,251 this year, with workers on average paying $1,071 of the cost. The average premium for family coverage is $17,545, with workers on average paying $4,955 of the cost.

Premiums have increased an average of 5% a year since 2005, compared with 11% a year between 1999 and 2005, according to the survey by Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy research organization, and the Health Research & Educational Trust, an affiliate of the American Hospital Association.

However, premiums still have increased at a much faster pace than inflation and wages.

The relatively modest increase in premiums over the past decade also stems partly from an increase in deductibles for most health plans.

The annual survey found that 81% of workers who have health benefits this year are in plans with a deductible, compared with 55% in 2006.

Udacity Expands Services And Announces Scholarships In India

Cat Zakrrzewski:

Online computer programming educator Udacity announced on Monday it would expand on the ground in India, the country where the service is growing the fastest.

Udacity’s free and nanodegree services are available worldwide, but with Monday’s announcement, the company will begin accepting rupees for the service and expanding its staff in the country. Nanodegrees are credentials recognized by many companies, such as Google and Salesforce.

Courses will cost 9,800 rupees a month, which is about $50 less than the price in the United States of $200 per month.

“Udacity’s mission is to democratize education, and India is one of the world’s fastest growing economies,” said Udacity CEO Sebastian Thrun in an interview with TechCrunch.

Google and Tata Trust will each offer 500 full Android nanodegree scholarships to students in India. Google will also host a job fair in India for standout nanodegree graduates and potential employers next year. Udacity said it is seeking to increase partnerships with more companies based in India.

The future of programmers

Zoltan Toth-Czifra:

The programmer is a species destined for extinction.

As I watched this excellent video from CGP Grey arguing that in the near future most jobs will be done by machines, I felt a little relieved. Many professions, from truck drivers to doctors, will disappear or change dramatically in the very near future, creating a whole new generation of Neo-Luddites. However, as it seems, future computer programs will spare their creators: programmers. After all, to create self-driving cars, medical diagnostic systems, butcher robots you need programmers, right?

Facebook’s Restrictions on User Data Cast a Long Shadow


few months ago, social psychologist Benjamin Crosier was building an app to look for links between social-media activity and ills like drug addiction.

Then, he was stopped in his tracks after Facebook Inc. limited outsiders’ access to information about its roughly 1.5 billion users. Dr. Crosier, a postdoctoral fellow at Dartmouth College, is petitioning the company to get some of that data back.

His experience highlights how Facebook’s restrictions on its user data, which were announced last year and put into effect in May, are rippling through academia, business and presidential politics.

Dozens of startups that had been using Facebook data have shut down, been acquired or overhauled their businesses. Political consultants are racing to find new ways to tap voters’ social connections ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

“Facebook giveth and Facebook taketh away,” said Nick Soman, who collected the locations of Facebook users’ friends to enhance his anonymous-chat app, Reveal. He later sold the app to music service Rhapsody International Inc. Mr. Soman said he admires Facebook, but learned a lesson about relying on third parties for a key component of his app.

Unsolved problems with the common core

Lior Pachter:

The Common Core State Standards Initiative was intended to establish standards for the curriculum for K–12 students in order to universally elevate the the quality of education in the United States. Whether the initiative has succeeded, or not, is a matter of heated debate. In particular, the merits of the mathematics standards are a contentious matter to the extent that colleagues in my math department at UC Berkeley have penned opposing opinions on the pages of the Wall Street Journal (see Frenkel and Wu vs. Ratner). In this post I won’t opine on the merits of the standards, but rather wish to highlight a shortcoming in the almost universal perspective on education that the common core embodies:

The emphasis on what K–12 students ought to learn about what is known has sidelined an important discussion about what they should learn about what is not known.

Why is China Talking ‘Democracy’ and ‘Freedom’ in Schools?

Wall Street Journal:

Plastered on city walls and billboards in Chinese cities these days are posters depicting the words “Democracy” and “Freedom.”

Not from a dissident underground, the posters are part of a government campaign. Through billboards, rhymes, pop quizzes and newly penned songs, the effort aims to promote what the ruling Communist Party calls “core socialist values.” A dozen in all, the values include rule of law, patriotism, honesty and justice as well as democracy and freedom. Schools in particular are a focus of the push.

While it might seem incongruous for a government that recently detained scores of human rights lawyers and ranks 6.5 for freedom on the 7-point human rights index (7 is the worst) maintained by the nonprofit Freedom House, the campaign is part of a broader quest to diminish the attraction of Western values and revitalize party ideology by melding traditional Chinese culture with communist principles.

“No evidence’ that success at university is linked to achievement in professional assessments, accountancy firm Says”

Chris Havergal:

One of the UK’s biggest graduate recruiters is to remove degree classification from the entry criteria for its hiring programmes, having found “no evidence” that success at university was correlated with achievement in professional qualifications.

Accountancy firm Ernst and Young, known as EY, will no longer require students to have a 2:1 degree and the equivalent of three B grades at A level to be considered for its graduate programmes.

Instead, the company will use numerical tests and online “strength” assessments to assess the potential of applicants.

Maggie Stilwell, EY’s managing partner for talent, said the changes would “open up opportunities for talented individuals regardless of their background and provide greater access to the profession”.

“Academic qualifications will still be taken into account and indeed remain an important consideration when assessing candidates as a whole, but will no longer act as a barrier to getting a foot in the door, she said. “Our own internal research of over 400 graduates found that screening students based on academic performance alone was too blunt an approach to recruitment.

On American History

Joel Kotkin:

In contrast to the physical sciences, and even other social sciences, the study of history is, by nature, subjective. There is no real mathematical formula to assess the past. It is more an art, or artifice, than a science.

Yet how we present and think of the past can shape our future as much as the statistics-laden studies of economists and other social scientists. Throughout recorded time, historians have reflected on the past to show the way to the future and suggest those values that we should embrace or, at other times, reject.

Today we are going through, at both the college and high school levels, a major, largely negative, reassessment of the American past. In some ways, this suggests parallels to the strategy of the Bolsheviks about whom Serge wrote. Under the communists, particularly in the Stalinist epoch, the past was twisted into a tale suited to the needs of the state and socialist ideology. This extended even to Bolshevik history, as Josef Stalin literally airbrushed his most hated rivals – notably Leon Trotsky, founder and people’s commissar of the Red Army – into historical oblivion.

The Secret of Good Humanities Teaching

Julius Taranto and Kevin J.H. Dettmar

This past May, when a former student was back at Pomona College to see his sister graduate, he (Julius) and I (Kevin) managed to steal away amid all the commencement festivities for a bit of Scotch in my living room. There, unbidden and (he claims) accidentally, he explained what I’ve since come to think of as the hidden structure of effective humanities teaching.

He said that his best professors “took texts that seemed complicated, made them look simple, and then made them complex again.”

Something in that formulation rang true for me — this was what humanities teachers should do. In trying to explain it later to my wife, however, I felt like the idea was slipping away. (I blame the Scotch.) So I reverted to my role as professor and wrote Julius asking him to put the idea in writing — to clarify, please. What follows is our joint attempt at a more thorough explanation.

Wisconsin DPI “Rule Making” vs. Legislation in the Courts..

Molly Beck:

The conservative legal group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty in a court filing this week asked the state Supreme Court to reverse an appeals court decision that upheld Evers’ rule-making authority related to education.

The brief was filed on behalf of the state’s largest business lobbying group Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, School Choice Wisconsin, former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and former Democratic Assembly member Jason Fields.

Department of Public Instruction spokesman John Johnson said every rule DPI makes faces legislative review and approval no matter what happens in this case.

“There’s really no impact on the legislature’s ability to do education reforms,” he said. Johnson also noted that the Legislature could act to remove a state law that allows school districts to adopt their own academic standards.

The Wisconsin DPI spent many millions on the oft criticized WKCE

College Degrees or College Education?

Johann Neem:

The much-awaited, much-debated Obama College Scorecard has just been released. Some reports have described it as a retreat by the administration, with President Obama caving to pressure from a chorus of college and university leaders. But if the failure to include a numerical ranking of the evaluated schools is a compromise, it is an insignificant one. Close examination shows that the Scorecard effectively supports the administration’s broader effort to redefine the purpose of higher education as the preparation of young Americans for high-paying jobs. The real question, of course, is whether we should be happy about this administration victory.

To be sure, the Scorecard provides Americans with some useful information on schools’ average annual costs, graduation rates, and graduates’ incomes. For example, despite posted tuitions, many private universities and colleges offer significant discounts and financial aid, making them much more affordable than their sticker price would suggest. Revealing this fact may inspire more applicants to consider schools that they thought were out of reach. It may even inspire more schools to devote resources to financial aid.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Life’s Most Important Dramas Are Being Disrupted

Charles Hugh Mith:

The End of Secure Work and the diminishing returns of financialization are disrupting these core human dramas and frustrating those who are unable to proceed to the next stage of life:

1. Teenagers are being pressured to focus their lives on achieving a conventional financial success that is becoming harder to achieve.

2. Young adults without secure full-time careers cannot afford marriage or children, so they extend the self-absorption of late adolescence into middle age.

3. The middle-aged are finding financial security elusive or out of reach as they struggle to fund their young adult children, aging parents and their own retirement.

4. Increasing longevity is pressuring the late-middle-aged’s stage of fulfillment, as elderly parents may require care even as their children reach their own retirement (65-70).

Reading Faster

Hacker News:

I’ve always been bothered by reading. I love reading, but I’m never proud of how much book I’ve read.
One problem is with reading speed. If average reading speed is 250wpm, then a average book of 200,000 words would take more than 10 hours, and you have to take into account the opportunity cost and the time for breaks between concentrations, and if the book is less interesting but is mandatory for you OR it requires more careful reading(i.e. College textbook), it would take more time.

Another problem is with how much you can remember after a while. I have a pretty bad memory, I often forget almost all of the stuff I read from a book as time goes. Which means that it’s a waste of time to even read it. This year I’m trying to take notes and write summary after I read a book. But that doesn’t help you to read faster.

How to read more? Can I increase my reading speed somehow? Or is there better ways to grasp the idea of the book faster? Is there a way to train your reading speed?

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Milwaukee: Still riding along in Madison’s wake

Tom Hefty:

The Twin Cities of Wisconsin are Madison, metro population 633,000, and Milwaukee, metro population 1.57 million. Both cities are dominated by Democratic politics, yet the economies of the two cities have taken decidedly different paths.

Madison is prospering; Milwaukee is not.

Madison has a median family income of $77,700; Milwaukee’s is $40,800. Fifty-three percent of Madison’s population has a bachelor’s degree or higher; it’s 22% in Milwaukee.

In the past 30 years, metro Madison grew 45%; metro Milwaukee grew just 11%.

What caused the difference in outcomes for two cities separated by only 75 miles? The answer lies in Wisconsin politics, particularly the politics of the Democratic Party. The post-World War II Democratic Party revival in Wisconsin was led by Democrats in Madison, not Milwaukee.

Madison was the seat of government; Milwaukee was the commercial capital of Wisconsin. Government won.

Three factors have driven overall growth: the impact of higher education and new technology; entrepreneurship and new businesses; and the expansion of government services since the Great Society and the Obama administration’s stimulus spending. For each factor, Madison won and Milwaukee lost.

More than 40 years ago, “The History of Wisconsin” noted that Milwaukee Democrats provided the votes to elect Madison Democrats to statewide office. Since World War II, five Democrats have been elected governor. None was from Milwaukee. (Lt. Gov. Martin Schreiber, a Milwaukee Democrat, became governor in 1977 after Patrick Lucey resigned.)

The numbers tell the story: 2014 was a watershed year for Wisconsin’s Twin Cities. For the first time in history, the average wages in Madison’s Dane County exceeded the average wages in Milwaukee County.

Let’s look at the three factors that drove the two cities apart.

Embracing Participatory Culture in Education


GitHub is on the brink of growing from a platform for software projects, and into a mainstream collaboration platform for other domains as well. An unexpected area where GitHub’s collaborative workflow holds the potential to bring groundbreaking changes is education and learning. In fact, educators have already begun to use GitHub to support teaching and learning. In some cases using it to replace certain aspects of the traditional learning management systems (e.g., Blackboard, Moodle), while in other cases gaining new benefits and capabilities.

Open data on campus

campus data:

Welcome to the Campus Data Guidebook!

We hope this can help you start your campus data project. This is a living document created by students from a variety of schools; we’d like to give you tips and share our stories. This book contains different experiences from various institutions, so we might not agree all the time, but we’re all striving towards the same goals. Figure out what works best for your school. As you work on campus data and overcome hurdles, send us a pull request to share your story. Help us fight for open data everywhere!

Average dissertation and thesis length, take two

R is my friend:

About a year ago I wrote a post describing average length of dissertations at the University of Minnesota. I’ve been meaning to expand that post by adding data from masters theses since the methods for gathering/parsing the records are transferable. This post provides some graphics and links to R code for evaluating dissertation (doctorate) and thesis (masters) data from an online database at the University of Minnesota. In addition to describing data from masters theses, I’ve collected the most recent data on dissertations to provide an update on my previous post. I’ve avoided presenting the R code for brevity, but I invite interested readers to have a look at my Github repository where all source code and data are stored. Also, please, please, please note that I’ve since tried to explain that dissertation length is a pretty pointless metric of quality (also noted here), so interpret the data only in the context that they’re potentially descriptive of the nature of each major.

A Message from MTI President Andrew Waity

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

The only guarantees in life are death, taxes and MTI’s powerful advocacy for Union members, public schools and education. That amended saying is one that holds true as much now as it ever has. We know that we are facing a year filled with many challenges, but with all the change comes the potential for MTI to emerge even stronger and more united. Challenges include another recertification election, and a Handbook to become effective next July.

Even after the passage of Act 10, which was designed to kill union representation, MTI is still here and still strong. MTI staff and elected leadership will continue to provide the high level of service and strong advocacy for Union members that it has provided over the last 50 years.

MTI and other public sector unions continue to face political and economic attacks designed to destroy us and public education. These attacks have been crafted by those interested in expanding their own political, social and economic power. MTI has resisted these attacks and continues to thrive. The success of our ongoing efforts rests on each of us. Each of us are the “I” in MTI. As we begin the new school year, MTI staff and leadership will continue to assist and support all members. We look forward to working with you to strengthen and build MTI for the future.

ELL Case Management in Oasys What You Need to Know

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

The process for establishing an Individual Plan of Service (IPS) for ELL Students is being converted to a more formalized online documentation system in Oasys for the 2015-16 school year. This will help bring the District into compliance with state and federal laws. Developing an IPS includes surveying parents and delivering a language assessment for all new students. The burden for completing these plans falls on ELL Case Managers who are typically BRT or ESL teachers. The deadline for completing these Individual Plans of Service (IPS) for all ELL students is October 16, 2015. Given the tight deadline and the significant workload increase, the Office of Multilingual and Global Education (OMGE) is offering additional support as follows:

Renew Your Commitment to MTI: Recertification Elections Again this Fall

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

The anti-union legislation passed in 2011 at Governor Walker’s request requires public sector unions to undergo an annual recertification election for the union to maintain its status as the representative of all workers covered by the union. MTI has again filed petitions with the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) calling upon them to conduct the election for each of MTI’s five bargaining units (teachers, educational assistants, supportive educational employees, security assistants, and substitute teachers). The elections will be conducted November 4-24, 2015.

Unlike political elections that require the prevailing candidate win only the majority of votes cast, Act 10 requires public sector unions to win 51% of all eligible votes – in each unit – for the Union to remain the certified representative. If a person represented by MTI does not vote, it is considered a “no” vote. Last year, MTI employees in each of the five bargaining units voted overwhelmingly to recertify. Now, we have to do it again. Over the summer, MTI staff, elected leaders, and member organizers began developing this year’s election plans. Additional information will be distributed as this important election approaches. It is time once again to roll up our sleeves, reach out to each other, and renew our commitment to “Our Union”, MTI.

Educator Effectiveness Evaluation System

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

Educator Effectiveness is the new educator evaluation tool required of all teachers and principals throughout Wisconsin. This new system is a new culture for MTI members: it utilizes a new language (SLO, PPG, artifacts); a new set of values (students’ academic achievement is a part of the process); and a new calendar (it’s a year-long process). And all teachers, whether or not they are being formally evaluated in a given year, will be involved in parts of the process.

Educator Effectiveness has two main parts. It balances educator practice (using the Charlotte Danielson model) with student performance outcomes. Each year, all teachers are to develop a Professional Practice Goal (PPG) and a Student Learning Objective (SLO) which must be documented in the Teachscape Software module. One aligns their PPG with an area within the Danielson model framework that the teacher wishes to develop or focus upon. It could have to do with planning, instruction, assessment, or any professional responsibility (for example: communication or collaboration). One’s SLO focuses on developing content area skills for a particular group of students you are working with. Both the PPG and SLO must be completed by October (date uncertain). The District’s website has resources relating to Educator Effectiveness https://staffdevweb.madison.k12.wi.us/educatoreffectiveness.

Commentary on tenure change survey

Nico Savage:

University of Wisconsin faculty are raising concerns about a survey they received Tuesday that many said posed leading questions about changes to tenure and did not make clear it was funded by a conservative think tank.

The survey was the work of professor William Howell, who studies politics at the University of Chicago. It asked faculty a series of questions gauging how they would feel about replacing tenure with renewable contracts, and was sent to every professor in the UW System.

Since the survey went out, Secretary of the Faculty Steven Smith said he has heard from about 100 professors, each of whom expressed concerns about it.

The decline of the French intellectual

Sudhir Hazareesigh

One of the most characteristic inventions of modern French culture is the “intellectual.”

Intellectuals in France are not just experts in their particular fields, such as literature, art, philosophy and history. They also speak in universal terms, and are expected to provide moral guidance about general social and political issues. Indeed, the most eminent French intellectuals are almost sacred figures, who became global symbols of the causes they championed — thus Voltaire’s powerful denunciation of religious intolerance, Rousseau’s rousing defense of republican freedom, Victor Hugo’s eloquent tirade against Napoleonic despotism, Émile Zola’s passionate plea for justice during the Dreyfus Affair, and Simone de Beauvoir’s bold advocacy of women’s emancipation.

Above all, intellectuals have provided the French with a comforting sense of national pride. As the progressive thinker Edgar Quinet put it, with a big dollop of Gallic self-satisfaction: “France’s vocation is to consume herself for the glory of the world, for others as much as for herself, for an ideal which is yet to be attained of humanity and world civilization.”

Georgia opens first prison charter school

Greg Bluestein:

About 250 educators, administrators and other staffers have been hired to teach prisoners. Nearly 100 inmates have signed up for charter school courses. And 19 high school diplomas have already been awarded in a pilot program.

But the evolving program is about to face its biggest test. The first of what Gov. Nathan Deal envisions to be a statewide network of prison-based charter schools officially opened Thursday at the Burruss Correctional Training Center in Middle Georgia, and state policymakers and education analysts will carefully chart its progress.

Software Is Smart Enough for SAT, but Still Far From Intelligent

John Markoff:

The achievement, in which the program answered math questions it had not previously seen, was reported in a paper presented by computer scientists from the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence and the University of Washington at a scientific conference in Lisbon on Sunday.

The software had to combine machine vision to understand diagrams with the ability to read and understand complete sentences; its success represents a breakthrough in artificial intelligence.

The lowest taxed school districts in New Jersey

New Jersey Education Aid:

The following fifty districts have the lowest Local Tax Levies relative to their Local Fair Share.

As you can see, most of these districts are at the Shore. Thirty of the fifty are in Cape May, Atlantic, Ocean, or Monmouth Counties. These districts have very few students and large property valuations, hence no need to tax their residents very highly.

It isn’t something that gets a lot of attention, but Jersey Shore microdistricts districts are among the worst aid hoarders in New Jersey. In some cases they get tens of thousands of dollars per student when they need virtually nothing. Allenhurst, for instance, has four students and yet gets $47,475 in state aid! Allenhurst’s school tax rate is 0.0060! Cape May Point also has four students and yet gets $26,803. Cape May Point’s school tax rate is 0.0082.

The kids of today’s working class have it worse in so many ways that climbing the socioeconomic ladder has become dauntingly difficult.

Charles Murray:

Race is not a big deal in “Our Kids.” The voices include many whites along with Latinos and blacks, and the problems are similar across ethnicities. Nor do the Latinos and blacks treat discrimination as a decisive factor in their problems. Sometimes they explicitly discount the importance of discrimination.

Such observations are heartening, and they correspond to my own experience living in a part of rural Maryland with a Southern heritage and a significant black presence: race is not the angst-ridden issue in working-class America that you would assume if you based your expectations on the highly publicized problems in Ferguson or Baltimore. The same observations are disheartening insofar as “Our Kids” drives home how widely the problems it describes have spread throughout the working class. We’ve got a national affliction on our hands, not pockets of affliction.

California’s Upward-Mobility Machine

David Leonhardt:

Among the most notable patterns from this year’s College Access Index:

Economic diversity has stagnated. The median share of first-year students receiving Pell grants at these colleges was 17 percent last year. That was up marginally from 16 percent the previous academic year, but unchanged from 17 percent the prior two years.

This stagnation means that many elite colleges remain overwhelmingly well-off. For every student from the entire bottom half of the nation’s income distribution at Dartmouth, Penn, Princeton, Yale and more than a few other colleges, there appear to be roughly two students from just the top 5 percent (which means they come from families making at least $200,000).

How education lobbyists are schooling D.C. lawmakers


Among the biggest spenders on lobbying are the National Education Association and American Federation of Teachers, the two teachers’ unions.

The NEA spent $1.2 million during the first six months of 2015, second only among public employee unions to the $1.3 million lobbying bill paid by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group. AFT ranked fourth with $668,068.

Related: WEAC: $1,570,000 for four senators.

Commentary On Wisconsin’s State School Superintendent

Alan Borsuk:

Being superintendent was a pretty low profile matter for much of the last 166 years, but no more.

Here are three reasons why:

Vouchers: DPI oversees administration of the private school voucher program. Evers and his two predecessors were big advocates of the conventional public school system.

Voucher advocates generally regard all of them and the DPI as a whole as foes.

Common Core: In 2010, Evers signed up Wisconsin to be part of the Common Core effort to create consistent standards across the nation for what children should learn.

Didn’t seem like such a big deal then. Now, of course, it’s highly unpopular, especially among Republicans.

State tests: Evers signed Wisconsin up to be part of a multistate consortium developing tests aligned to the Common Core.

The resulting test had its first full run last spring. There were big problems with the launch and the Legislature killed that test. New tests are coming, but controversies over testing remain.

Every College Should Issue a Transparency Report About Government Requests for Student Data

April Glaser:

The University of California–Berkeley has become the first university in the United States to publish a set of transparency reports that detail government requests for student, faculty, and staff data.

In the tech world, transparency reporting has become an industry standard. After Snowden leaked the names of companies assisting with government surveillance in 2013, businesses eager to earn back public trust began a race to let users know as much as possible about how their personal information is handled. When companies release a transparency report, it’s always voluntary. In fact, the law actually limits what companies are allowed to disclose via a mix of gag orders and other burdensome restrictions.

Colleges aren’t exactly tech companies—but they aren’t so different, either. Like many higher-ed institutions, UC–Berkeley essentially functions like an Internet service provider unto itself. It has more than 37,000 students, 77,000 active university email accounts, and the potential for upward of 100,000 devices connected to the network at any one time. Unsurprisingly, the school occasionally fields requests from law enforcement for data.

A dangerous myth about who eats fast food is completely false

Roberto Ferdman:

But there’s a problem with saying that poor people like fast food better than others. It’s not true.

New data, released by the Centers for Disease Control, show that America’s love for fast food is surprisingly income blind. Well-off kids, poor kids, and all those in between tend to get about the same percentage of their calories from fast food, according to a survey of more than 5,000 people. More precisely, though, it’s the poorest kids that tend to get the smallest share of their daily energy intake from Big Macs, Whoppers, Chicken McNuggets, and french fries.

Do Angry Birds Make for Angry Children? A Meta-Analysis of Video Game Influences on Children’s and Adolescents’ Aggression, Mental Health, Prosocial Behavior, and Academic Performance

Christopher Ferguson:

The issue of whether video games—violent or nonviolent—“harm” children and adolescents continues to be hotly contested in the scientific community, among politicians, and in the general public. To date, researchers have focused on college student samples in most studies on video games, often with poorly standardized outcome measures. To answer questions about harm to minors, these studies are arguably not very illuminating. In the current analysis, I sought to address this gap by focusing on studies of video game influences on child and adolescent samples. The effects of overall video game use and exposure to violent video games specifically were considered, although this was not an analysis of pathological game use. Overall, results from 101 studies suggest that video game influences on increased aggression (r = .06), reduced prosocial behavior (r = .04), reduced academic performance (r = −.01), depressive symptoms (r = .04), and attention deficit symptoms (r = .03) are minimal. Issues related to researchers’ degrees of freedom and citation bias also continue to be common problems for the field. Publication bias remains a problem for studies of aggression. Recommendations are given on how research may be improved and how the psychological community should address video games from a public health perspective.

When not to enroll: U. of Louisville’s admissions chief gives straight talk

Nick Anderson

some of these cases, Sawyer said she wonders: “Why pay to be at a four-year institution?” Sometimes she will advise prospective freshmen to enroll elsewhere — especially at a low-priced community college — if the initial burden is too high. “You should not be going here,” she will tell some cash-strapped students. “This is a bad financial decision.”

That doesn’t mean giving up on a university diploma. “There are many ways to become a University of Louisville graduate,” she said, “and they don’t all begin with starting here.”

Sawyer spoke with The Washington Post as she was waiting to greet Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who stopped in Louisville Thursday to tour the campus and speak with college-bound students. Duncan was on a seven-state back-to-school bus tour that wraps up Friday in Pittsburgh.

Civics: 75% in U.S. See Widespread Government Corruption (contemplate Government Schools)


These figures are higher than some might expect, and while the lack of improvement is somewhat disconcerting, the positive takeaway is that Americans still feel fairly free to criticize their government. This is not the case in some parts of the world. Questions about corruption are so sensitive in some countries that even if Gallup is allowed to ask them, the results may reflect residents’ reluctance to disparage their government. This is particularly true in countries where media freedom is restricted.

This is why it is most appropriate to look at perceptions of corruption through such lenses as the Freedom House’s Press Freedom rankings. Ratings vary among countries with a “free press,” including the U.S., and range from a high of 90% in Lithuania to a low of 14% in Sweden. The U.S. does not make the top 10 list, but notably, it is not far from it.

What problems in education can technology help solve?

Emrys Westacott:

The computer revolution has transformed education over the past quarter century. PowerPoint, greatly improved graphical and multi-media capabilities, e-books, Wikis, online student collaboration, flipped classrooms, clicker quizzes, open-access online courses (MOOCs), and the inexhaustible wealth of material available on the internet have opened up all sorts of interesting possibilities. (At the same time, discretely hidden smart phones, college-essay mills, and the inexhaustible wealth of material available on the internet have raised new challenges to teachers worried about academic dishonesty.)

The possibilities opened up by the revolution have educational administrators excited. But we need to separate two quite distinct grounds for excitement:

Bar Exam Scores Drop to Their Lowest Point in Decades

Natalie Kitroeff:

American law graduates are increasingly getting a taste of failure before they start their careers. Performance on the bar exam has continued to slip, early results show.

The average score on the multiple-choice portion of the July test fell 1.6 points from the previous year, reaching its lowest level since 1988, according to data provided to Bloomberg by the National Conference of Bar Examiners. The mean score on this summer’s exam was 139.9, down from 141.5 in July 2014.

“It was not unexpected,” says Erica Moeser, the president of the NCBE, which creates the multiple choice part of the test. “We are in a period where we can expect to see some decline, until the market for going to law school improves.”

Law schools have been admitting students with lower qualifications who “may encounter difficulty” when taking the bar, Moeser says.
About a dozen states have published their pass rates, and the numbers are even worse than last year, when graduates performed historically badly. Pass rates for students who took the test in July were down in most states that have reported results.

Heroin in the Midwest

The Economist:

EVEN street-savvy former gang members are shocked by the spread of heroin to Chicago’s suburbs. Earlier this year, when Roberto Hernández, a Puerto Rican, was in the final stages of preparation of a big push by Gangs to Grace, a church ministry on the west side, to save Latino gang members from lives of violent crime, he explained that white girls from the suburbs go to neighbourhoods even he wouldn’t set foot in to buy heroin. Many of them are as young as 14 or 15. Some prostitute themselves to fund their addiction.

Stop treating teachers like commodities

Thomas Arnett:

Fortunately, the tides in education policy are finally pushing the system to realize the importance of its teachers. Test-based accountability is forcing districts to look past their myopic focus on enrollments, course offerings, and graduation rates and to take students’ academic performance more seriously. And because modern research has shown that teachers are the most important school-level factor influencing student achievement, many of today’s most prominent reform efforts focus on ensuring there is an effective, expert teacher in every classroom.
If schools and districts intend to fulfill the mandate to boost student achievement, they will need to adopt new strategies that place paramount emphasis on recruiting and retaining the best teachers. This shift in district strategy should then put individual teachers in a position to negotiate their salaries and working conditions based on the value their individual expertise brings to their schools.
But unfortunately, even in this era of increased accountability, many districts still operate as if teachers are commodities. Instead of recruiting strategically from the best teacher preparation programs in the country, they take the teachers that the nearest regional state school has to offer. Instead of putting together competitive and attractive salary and benefit packages and then working in the early spring to attract the best teachers to their schools, they wait until just before the start of the school year to frantically fill their open teaching slots. Instead of giving principals control over staffing so that they can build great faculty teams across multiple years, they move teachers around capriciously from one year to the next—and sometimes during the middle of the school year—and prioritize allocation targets over effectiveness. Instead of working with individual teachers to find roles where their particular areas of expertise are most relevant, districts often shift teachers at the last minute to grade levels or subject areas that are technically within their certification but realistically outside the domains where those teachers are most experienced, passionate, and able to excel.

Related: a focus on adult employment.

Udacity Says It Can Teach Tech Skills to Millions, and Fast

Farhad Manjoo:

I’m the least experienced person on my engineering team at Google,” Kelly Marchisio, a 25-year-old computer programmer, told me recently. “I frankly might be one of the least experienced engineers at Google, period.”

Ms. Marchisio was not assuming false modesty. Like many Googlers, she has an enviable academic background, including a master’s degree from Harvard. But her degree, from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, had to do with the interactions between neuroscience and teaching, a field far removed from software engineering. In 2013, Google hired Ms. Marchisio as a customer service representative, a job that paid the bills but failed to ignite her intellectual passions.

Wisconsin Schools’ Superintendent Rhetoric

Molly Beck:

“I know our entire party is not happy with a public school system that can’t even get 37 percent of the students proficient in reading.”

According to DPI data, 36.6 percent of the state’s students were considered proficient in reading in the 2013-14 school year, the latest data set available.

DPI spokesman John Johnson said Evers was not available Monday for an interview. Johnson called the proposal “divisive.”

“It’s just unfortunate that there’s a single legislator that wants to re-politicize a battle around public education,” Johnson said. “It’s just a divisive distraction. It seems odd to put politics in front of kids.”

When asked if Johnson believes proposals made by Evers that have been unsuccessful, such as the funding formula change, might have a better shot at being implemented if the state schools chief were appointed, Johnson said no.

Much more on the Wisconsin DPI, home of the oft criticized WKCE.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: 2014 real median income number is 6.5 percent below its 2007, pre-crisis level. It is 7.2 percent below the number in 1999.

Neil Irwin:

The 2014 real median income number is 6.5 percent below its 2007, pre-crisis level. It is 7.2 percent below the number in 1999.

A middle-income American family, in other words, makes substantially less money in inflation-adjusted terms than it did 15 years ago. And there is no evidence that is reversing. Those families lost ground in 2014. And as we’ve reported previously, the data on wages in 2015 so far does not suggest there is a meaningful acceleration on the way.

A drop in the price of oil, though, has created a short-term drop in inflation numbers that may create a temporary bump in inflation-adjusted incomes for 2015 anyway.

The depressing data on middle-class wages is true across almost all groups based on race and age. (One exception is a 5.3 percent gain in median wages among Hispanics in 2014, though that is within the statistical margin of error and so may not be meaningful).

Madison’s property taxes continue to grow, far beyond incomes…

A Look at What the Public Knows and Does Not Know About Science


A new Pew Research Center survey finds that most Americans can answer basic questions about several scientific terms and concepts, such as the layers of the Earth and the elements needed to make nuclear energy. But other science-related terms and applications, such as what property of a sound wave determines loudness and the effect of higher altitudes on cooking time, are not as well understood.

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

Enrollment in Humanities Ph.D. Programs Declines as More Graduate Schools Slim Down

Vimal Patel:

Do American universities produce too many Ph.D.s?

It’s a decades-old question that has intensified in recent years as worries about a stagnant academic-job market, record graduate-student debt, and the often-tough working conditions for doctoral students have grown. The situation has led some university administrators and students to call for a reduction in the number of Ph.D.s, especially in the arts and humanities, where those problems seem most acute.

New data show that such efforts may be having an effect.

First-time doctoral enrollment in history, English, and other arts-and-humanities disciplines fell 0.5 percent from 2013 to 2014, according to a report published on Thursday by the Council of Graduate Schools and based on a survey of 636 universities. The small decline caps a steady downward trend in enrollment from 2009 to 2014, when it fell an average of 1 percent a year.

Why Bother Educating Smart Kids?

Chester Finn & Brandon Wright:

Why pay special attention to high-ability girls and boys? Won’t they do fine anyway? Shouldn’t we concentrate on kids with problems? Low achievers? Poor kids?

Good questions all, particularly when American education leaders (and their counterparts in most other advanced countries) are preoccupied with equalizing opportunity, closing gaps, and giving a boost to those most challenged—and when resources are chronically scarce. Yet such questions have two compelling answers.

Time to Rein in Public Sector Unions

James Sherk:

The union movement has changed considerably since American workers began observing Labor Day more than a century ago. Unions in the 1880s consisted of private-sector workers voluntarily banding together to fix horrendous working conditions. This is what most Americans envision when they think about unions: workers on the assembly line, or on a construction site, bargaining for safety or higher wages.

But half of today’s union movement works in government-sector jobs. A movement formed to defend blue-collar laborers now fights primarily to help white-collar workers expand government.

These transformations have been underway for the past half century. The problems that initially attracted members to unions vanished a long time ago. Federal law, for example, prohibits child labor and requires safe working conditions. Workers comp programs provide for those injured on the job. The forty-hour workweek has been standard since before any employees today started working.
As unions scored these protections, employee interest in unionizing waned. It has been many years since unions organized more new workers than they lost to unionized firms going out of business. In the 1950s, one out of every three workers belonged to a union. Today less than 7 percent of private-sector workers do.

Am I a good parent? Don’t ask me — or UBS

Lucy Kellaway:

Last week online readers of the FT, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal were accosted by this question in a big white banner advertisement paid for by UBS. As I glanced at it two further questions occurred to me: a) what business is that of a bank? and b) what about mothers?

“For some of life’s questions you are not alone. Together we can find an answer” the advertisement went on.

So I clicked through, and it turns out that the bank has found an answer already. The trick to being a good father is to hand over your money to UBS. “We can . . . help you plan for the future, and provide the life you want for your loved ones.”

This raises a further question: whether chutzpah and disingenuity work as a marketing strategy. I pondered this for a bit, but then lost interest and returned to the FT website. There the question was again. Am I a good father?

And am I a good mother?

It might seem odd given that I’ve had 24 years in which to consider the matter, but until now I have avoided asking myself this question. That is partly because of the pointless guilt that comes with it, but it’s also because I have four children, who have needed very different things from me at different times. Some of those things, like fish fingers and early bedtimes, have been easy to provide. Others have been much harder. Sometimes things go to plan. More often they don’t.

Barbie Wants to Get to Know Your Child

James Vlahos:

It looked like a child’s playroom: toys in cubbies, a little desk for doing homework, a whimsical painting of a tree on the wall. A woman and a girl entered and sat down in plump papasan chairs, facing a low table that was partly covered by a pink tarp. The wall opposite them was mirrored from floor to ceiling, and behind it, unseen in a darkened room, a half-dozen employees of the toy company Mattel sat watching through one-way glass. The girl, who looked about 7, wore a turquoise sweatshirt and had her dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. The woman, a Mattel child-testing specialist named Lindsey Lawson, had sleek dark hair and the singsong voice of a kindergarten teacher. Microphones hidden in the room transmitted what Lawson said next. ‘‘You are going to have a chance to play with a brand-new toy,’’ she told the girl, who leaned forward with her hands on her knees. Removing the pink tarp, Lawson revealed Hello Barbie.

Pay Teacher More, But Don’t Give Them Tenure, Says New PDK Poll

PDK/Gallup Poll:

• A majority of Americans don’t support tenure for teachers: 59% of all Americans and 54% of public school parents oppose tenure. However, responses from black Americans differ: More blacks (47%) support rather than oppose tenure (32%). Republicans are less likely than Democrats to favor teacher tenure (15% versus 35%, respectively).

• 62% of public school parents said they trust and have confidence in the nation’s teachers. Republicans, however, are evenly split on the question, with 42% saying they do trust and have confidence in teachers, and 43% saying they do not.

• About half of U.S. adults said high-achieving high school students should be recruited to become teachers. But two in 10 Americans said they didn’t know what they believed on that question.

• About three-quarters of Americans said teachers should be required to pass board certifications in addition to earning a degree, a process that would be similar to professions like medicine and law.

• Teacher salaries in their community are too low, according to a majority of Americans. Republicans are less likely than Democrats to think these teacher salaries are too low (44% compared with 72%). No group said teacher salaries are too high.

Of “Bomb Clocks,” Engineers and the $70 Million High School Football Stadium

Bob Frump:

Of “Bomb Clocks,” Engineers and the $70 Million High School Football Stadium

Some 19.6 miles from the Texas school where a smart 14-year-old kid with a dream of being an engineer was arrested the other day, a high school is building a $20 million stadium for its football players.

And 30 miles in the other direction, stands a $60 million high school football stadium.

The smart money says that if the kid, Ahmed Mohamed, could juke and run a quick slant pattern, he would have gotten an A+ just for being able to tell time.

But that’s all speculative.

What we do know is that he was so smart that he was able to build an electronic clock at home, and so proud that he brought it in to school.

On Manovich

McKenzie Wark:

Maybe we could think of it as a sort of meta- or hyper-avant-garde, that wanted not just a new way of communicating in a media but new kinds of media themselves. Kay and Nelson in particular wanted to give the possibility of creating new information structures to the user. For example, consider Richard Shoup’s, Superpaint, coded at Parc in 1973. Part of what it does is simulate real-world painting techniques. But it also added techniques that go beyond simulation, including copying, layering, scaling and grabbing frames from video. Its ‘paintbrush’ tool could behave in ways a paintbrush could not.

France bids to reverse tech brain drain

Hugh Schofield:

A popular French TV advert for pasta sauce from the 1980s showed a jolly rustic fellow chasing after a train that was laden with all sorts of lovely food.

“Reviens Leon! (Come back, Leon!),” shouts his portly wife. “I’ve got the same at home.”

Today the catchphrase “Reviens Leon!” has been commandeered for a very different campaign: to lure back to France the thousands of tech whizz-kids who spent the last decade fleeing abroad.

In an open letter in Le Monde, the heads of 10 successful French start-ups pleaded with Silicon Valley expatriates to book their return flights to Paris.

vy League Professor Gives Students the Alf Test

Ben Collins:

Some would sign up for his class only to see if it was easy, then bail after the first session if it wasn’t. But only Howley thought to counter this quiet menace with something that could stop it: a cat-eating space alien who was expelled from Earth to face his inevitable death in 1990.

The assistant classics professor stuck a command for his students to send him a picture of Alf—the ’80s sitcom star and alien from the planet Melmac—into the middle of his syllabus to see if anybody noticed.

From the number of Alf images he received, he figured he’d be able to find out early on if he’d have enough students to keep the class engaged, or even to keep it going. And maybe, he thought, he’d teach them something along the way.

Education Law Center Files Complaint about DOE Bureaucracy; Can We Talk About Kids?

Laura Waters:

The members of New Jersey’s “review” of the Common Core State Standards are faced with a thankless task: fussing over highly-regarded academic standards that were successfully implemented in all the state’s public schools five years ago simply because this past summer Gov. Christie, in a desperate attempt to revive a dead presidential campaign, announced that the standards “weren’t working.”

NJ Spotlight reports today on the composition of the task force, which includes twenty-four people plus another seventy on subcommittees.

Here’s Emil Carafa, past president of N.J. Principal and Supervisors Association, member of the Education Leaders Cadre, and principal of Lodi High School:

It Ain’t About Charters, It Ain’t About Traditional Public Schools, It’s About Kid

One Oakland United:

Common Enrollment came up in a recent school board meeting in Oakland, the school district I work in. My job is Community Engagement and as such I work to listen to how the community is receiving information. Well, this conversation around Common Enrollment led to a conversation accusing the process of being a tool for charter schools. Once the work ‘charter’ is evoked, it becomes a new conversation. The term is so charged, so visceral.

To put it simply, common enrollment is an enrollment system that would make the process for finding and selecting schools easier by having parents fill out one ‘common’ form that includes both traditional public schools and charters.

Listen, I’m not pro or anti-charter, I’m pro-child. I don’t care what the delivery system is as long as poor Black kids are being educated. Period. So with that thought, I believe parents should have the access and ability to choose the school that they feel is best for their child. It’s that simple for me. I see common enrollment as a tool for equity. It allows poor parents to have the same footing as someone with means.

Intelligent machines: Making AI work in the real world

Eric Schmidt:

As part of the BBC’s Intelligent Machines season, Google’s Eric Schmidt has penned an exclusive article on how he sees artificial intelligence developing, why it is experiencing such a renaissance and where it will go next.

Until recently, AI seemed firmly stuck in the realm of science fiction. The term “artificial intelligence” was coined 60 years ago – on August 31 1955, John McCarthy proposed a “summer research project” to work out how to create thinking machines.

It’s turned out to take a bit longer than one summer. We’re now entering the seventh decade, and just starting to see real progress.

Welcome To Academic Torrents

Academic Torrents:

Currently making 9.16TB of research data available.

Sharing data is hard. Emails have size limits, and setting up servers is too much work. We’ve designed a distributed system for sharing enormous datasets – for researchers, by researchers. The result is a scalable, secure, and fault-tolerant repository for data, with blazing fast download speeds. Contact us at joecohen ‘@’ cs.umb.edu.

There Is No Excuse for How Universities Treat Adjunct

Caroline Frederickson:

In early June, California labor regulators ruled that a driver for Uber, the app-based car service, was, in fact, an employee, not an independent contractor, and deserved back pay. The decision made national news, with experts predicting a coming flood of lawsuits. Two weeks later, FedEx agreed to a $288 million settlement after a federal appeals court ruled that the company had shortchanged 2,300 California delivery drivers on pay and benefits by improperly labeling them as independent contractors. The next month, the company lost another case in a federal appeals court over misclassifying 500 delivery drivers in Kansas. Meanwhile, since January, trucking firms operating out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have lost two major court battles with drivers who claim that they, too, have been robbed of wages by being misclassified as independent contractors.

“Picture yourself as a stereotypical male”

Michelle G.:

There have been hundreds of equally alarming studies regarding stereotype threat and of similar identity-related conditions that impair performance. I don’t think we have time to recount every one in detail, but I’ll leave you with some more interesting findings. Regarding women in math: research at Indiana University found that females’ performance decreases significantly after simply watching a video showing “dominant” male behavior, and at Harvard they found that Asian-American women perform better or worse on math assessments depending on which identity is highlighted to them. A 2005 study showed that girls score much lower than boys on an identical test when it was described as a “math test,” but slightly (though non-significantly) better than them when it’s a “problem solving” test. Another study suggested that female AP Calculus test-takers would benefit if the demographic bubble-filling were postponed until after the exam.

Similar findings have been shown regarding racial identities: for example, asking black students to indicate their race before a test both significantly increases their anxiety and lowers their test scores. Black students’ performance under a “diagnostic” condition is improved when the test administrator is black as opposed to white (that 2.9% black MIT faculty tho) and black participants taking what was actually an IQ test scored better when the same questions were presented as a test of “hand-eye coordination.” Unsurprisingly, the same stereotype threat effects that were initially found for black test-takers were also found to apply to Latinos and students of low socioeconomic status.

Jerry Brown’s University of California Perma-Temp Problem

Danny Feingold:

When California Governor Pat Brown helped create the modern University of California system in the early 1960s, he envisioned many things: a world-class structure of higher education, universal access to students from every background, a gateway to middle-class careers, cutting-edge research centers. All of that has come to pass, making UC an enduring part of Brown’s legacy.

One thing Brown did not foresee, however, was UC becoming embroiled in an emblematic fight over economic inequality, with critics charging that one of the nation’s most prestigious public institutions is perpetuating poverty.

The controversy over UC’s use of thousands of contract workers who earn low wages with few, if any, benefits has taken center stage in Sacramento, where legislation that would end such practices is expected to clear the Assembly floor this week. The fate of Senate Bill 376, sponsored by state Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), likely will rest with Pat Brown’s son, current California Governor Jerry Brown, who has yet to indicate whether he would sign or veto the legislation. The bill would require UC contractors to meet the same wage and benefit standards as the university for comparable labor — what backers call “equal pay for equal work.”