NoHo school budget cuts due to high white student percentage sparks outrage

John Gregory:

Outrage has grown at Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, as the school faces layoffs and increased class sizes due to a law limiting funds for schools with a higher white student body.

The Los Angeles Unified School District provides more funding for schools where the white population is below 30 percent.

In a letter to parents, the district noted the highly regarded middle school had been above the percentage for the past couple years.

The racial formula was a condition imposed by court decisions dealing with desegregation in the 1970s.

Parents, however, remain frustrated with what the cuts might mean for their children.

“When your class sizes are getting larger and you’re taking resources away from students, I mean ss parents, you do want your kid to go out to college,” one parent, Rosemary Estrada, said.

Free College (online)

Scott Adams::

At the moment, the in-person college experience is superior to taking classes online. Today, online teaching is mostly simple videos of people talking and pointing at things. But that advantage of in-person college over online classes won’t last forever. The in-person experience will stay largely as it is, but online lessons will evolve indefinitely toward better techniques, more content, and more scientifically-proven methods. Best practices will propagate quickly online.

Only three things are missing to make this vision of universal free online college a reality:

1. You need an open online platform on which anyone can post a lesson plan, and anyone else can use it or improve it.

2. You need a law that says copyrights are suspended for the online education platform (only), so anyone can copy and improve the work that came before.

Metro Nashville Teachers Union Hosts Organizational Meeting For Progressive Activist Group

Wendy Wilson:

Pronounced “sock-em,” SOCM is an activist group that has been working for “social, economic, and environmental justice” for more than 40 years, according to the group’s website. The group was known for many years by its original name, Save Our Cumberland Mountains, which reflected its early mission of helping in poor coalfield communities in five northern counties in the Cumberland Mountains.

The group continues to be heavily involved in environmental issues with its opposition to mountaintop removal mining and fracking and its promotion of “water quality justice.” However, it has also expanded its reach into other areas. It lists the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) as one of its partner organizations.

The Trickle-Down Effect of Lowering Teacher Standards

Alima Adams:

“I read that New York teachers don’t have to be literate, anymore. Is that true, Mom?,” my seventh-grader asked last week. He’s recently become determined to “fix all education in America” (I have no idea where a son of mine could have picked up such an interest), and was on the Internet doing research. He’d already expressed his surprise at New York City’s less than 50% college readiness graduation rate and the fact that the most frequently failed college course was Algebra.

Now, he wanted to know about the NY Board of Regents decision to eliminate the Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST) for prospective teachers.

My thirteen year-old son isn’t the only one puzzled by the ruling. I am, too.

Among the move’s supporters are deans of Education Schools. Michael Middleton of Hunter College was quoted by The New York Times as saying, “We already know that our licensure candidates have a bachelor’s degree, which in my mind means they have basic literacy and communication skills.”

First of all, is “basic” really where we want to set the bar for those who educate our children? Don’t we all hope our children progress beyond “basic” themselves?

Related: relaxing Wisconsin’s K-12 teacher licensing requirements.

And, Madison’s long-term disastrous reading results.

Documentary on Yale Reveals How Scary U.S. Campuses Have Become

Jon Miltimore:

But I have seen nothing better on this front than the 12-minute YouTube video I watched this morning, We the Internet TV’s short documentary “Silence U Part 2: What has Yale Become?” It’s the follow-up to its 2016 viral hit “Silence U: Is the University Killing Free Speech and Open Debate?

According to our friends at FEE, “We the Internet TV is a comedy news channel that has earned millions of views, started important conversations about the role of government in society, received press coverage in major publications, and won two honorable mentions in the online video category from the prestigious Webbys.”

The new documentary explores Yale’s infamous attempt to tell students what types of Halloween costumes were appropriate for students, and the fallout that ensued when one faculty member asked if such a policy was really necessary.

May a college expel a student for ‘unprofessional speech’ in Facebook posts?

Eugene Volokh:

Say a student is in a professional education program at a college — law school, medical school, nursing school, business school, school of education or the like. May the college expel him from the program, on the grounds that certain speech of his is “unprofessional” and therefore casts doubt on his professional temperament and likely future behavior?

We’re not talking here about speech within a curricular assignment — a thesis, a term paper, a practicum client counseling session or even a seminar discussion in which participation is graded. Colleges have to evaluate the content of such curricular speech, though even there they may be constrained. (If I grade class participation at UCLA, for instance, I can only count it as part of the final grade, and I’m supposed to grade it in a way that’s as ideologically neutral as possible.) Rather, we’re talking about speech outside such graded discussions, often outside class and sometimes even outside school.

The ‘Postmodern’ Intellectual Roots of Today’s Campus Mobs

Crispin Sartwell:

We are witnessing the second great era of speech repression in academia, the first coming during the “culture wars” of the late 1980s and early ’90s. One force behind the new wave is a theory of truth, or a picture of reality, developed the first time around. This theory, which we might call “linguistic constructivism,” holds that we don’t merely describe or represent the world in language; language creates the world and ourselves. A favorite slogan of our moment, “Words have power,” reflects that view.

Back in the day,…

Anti-voucher candidate is a good advertisement for vouchers

Chris Rickert:

Madison School Board candidate Ali Muldrow might be Republicans’ best advertisement for school vouchers in a part of the state that opposes them.

Whether Muldrow and her supporters realize that, though, is not entirely clear.

At a candidates forum last week, Muldrow seemed to endorse the use of vouchers, although she said public dollars shouldn’t go to religious schools.

Vouchers are a source of consternation in liberal, Democratic, teachers-union-friendly Madison. While “school choice”-advocating Republicans have repeatedly made more of them available in more places, Democrats see them as a way to strip funding from public education and undermine one of their main political supporters.

So it wasn’t terribly surprising that the day after the forum, Muldrow sought to clarify her stance. Turns out, she doesn’t support vouchers.

Facial recognition database used by FBI is out of control, House committee hears

Olivia Solon:

Approximately half of adult Americans’ photographs are stored in facial recognition databases that can be accessed by the FBI, without their knowledge or consent, in the hunt for suspected criminals. About 80% of photos in the FBI’s network are non-criminal entries, including pictures from driver’s licenses and passports. The algorithms used to identify matches are inaccurate about 15% of the time, and are more likely to misidentify black people than white people.

These are just some of the damning facts presented at last week’s House oversight committee hearing, where politicians and privacy campaigners criticized the FBI and called for stricter regulation of facial recognition technology at a time when it is creeping into law enforcement and business.

Explaining The Inexplicable

Leila Abboud:

It took 25 pages of its annual report for educational publisher Pearson Plc to explain the inexplicable: its decision to award CEO John Fallon a 20 percent pay increase for a year’s work that led to a profit warning, dividend cut and plunge in the stock.It’s a less than auspicious start for new chairman Sidney Taurel, the former CEO of drugmaker Eli Lilly & Co.Shareholders would be right to vent their outrage at the company’s annual general meeting in May — even if their vote will be merely symbolic.

Good Gig

Pearson CEO’s pay increased in 2016, even as the shares have fallen

The Concord Review: Author Letter

Via Will Fitzhugh:

Mr. William Fitzhugh
Editor and Publisher, The Concord Review
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776, USA

Sunday, March 12, 2017
Dear Mr. Fitzhugh,

Intellectual ruminations frequently take place within the minds of those exposed to history, philosophy, art, science, mathematics, and other fields of scholarly pursuits. Yet, it is the systematic process of examination, classification, and composition that produces from these ruminations fruitful and insightful contributions to individual and shared learning. I would like to thank you, sir, for giving to high school students the opportunity to share their thoughts about the world around them. Thank you for giving me the honour of sharing my thoughts in The Concord Review.

The Concord Review gave me an outlet to conduct a formal research enquiry into an area of historical study that had always interested me—late imperial Chinese history. Although I am fortunate enough to attend a school where I am given an abundance of learning resources in helping me develop my writing, critical thinking, and argumentative skills, as well as being guided by the aid of superb teachers, this research enquiry was the first time I had formally delved deep into an academic interest outside of school curriculum, out of my own accord. Without the scaffolding provided by a course of study, I had to independently formulate thoughts, define my research parameters, and reevaluate my findings and deductions.

Writing my paper was doubtlessly one of the most academically challenging, but nonetheless one of the most formative and empowering experiences of my high school career. Mr. Fitzhugh, thank you for providing an opportunity where the driven, the curious, and the audacious may dare to think, question, and discover.

Respectfully Yours,

Jason Qu

St. George’s School, Vancouver, BC, Canada. Class of 2017
Author of China’s Self-Strengthening Movement: A Noble Plan Detached from Reality,
[13,760 words] published in the Spring 2017 Edition of The Concord Review.

Mr. Qu’s paper [PDF].

TCR 30th Anniversary Remarks

Will Fitzhugh:

Will Fitzhugh, Founder, The Concord Review, Inc.
23 March 2017, Harvard Faculty Club

Thanks, Bill, [Bill Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Harvard College] for the kind introduction, and for decades of encouragement and support. You know, in addition to managing 40,000 applications, he also runs marathons…

Thanks also to our High School string quartet, [for playing Mozart], organized by the violinist Elizabeth Kim, whose interesting paper on the career of Leni Riefenstahl was published in our Winter issue this year. [She is headed for a gap year at the Sorbonne.]

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and thanks for coming to this 30th Anniversary Dinner for The Concord Review.

I would like to talk to you about college readiness, about History and academic writing in the schools, and about The Concord Review’s three decades of work to promote the idea to: “Teach with Examples.”

A few years ago, I went to a dinner at the Harvard Club of Boston, and the president welcomed us all and then said: “None of you would get in now.”

I loved my boarding school in California, but when I arrived at Harvard, 61 years ago, I had never been asked to read one history book or to write one term paper, so I arrived unprepared for the academic reading and writing Harvard offered.

Then 30 years ago, during a sabbatical from teaching at the High School in Concord, Massachusetts, I got the idea for The Concord Review.

I had a couple of questions. Were there secondary students in the English-speaking world who were writing good History papers and would they send them to me? And could we use those exemplary papers to inspire some of their peers to read more History and to work on serious papers of their own, so they would be more ready for college than I had been?

In August 1987, I sent a four-page brochure calling for papers to every Secondary School in the United States and Canada and 1,500 overseas, and the answer to the first questions was yes.

The serious papers started to come in. We have now published 112 issues, with 1,230 exemplary History research papers by students from 44 states and 40 other countries.

As to using those papers to inspire other students, we have had much less success, in spite of support from many wonderful people, such as Steven Graubard, Theodore Sizer, Diane Ravitch, Harold Howe, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Albert Shanker, Bill Fitzsimmons, John Silber, and others. Most donors and foundations turned us down, either because they believed that publications all fail, or because they saw both History and this journal as elitist.

School and public libraries have Young Adult Sections, but librarians would not put The Concord Review in those, even though the essays were written by Young Adults and for Young Adults. It just didn’t fit in with the Teen Romances and the Vampire Fiction.

David Brooks, in a review of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers in the New York Times, wrote: “As the classical philosophers understood, examples of individual greatness inspire achievement more reliably than any other form of education.”

To give you an idea of the reaction to this among some educational leaders, I sent that comment to the Dean of the School of Education at Boston University, and he replied with this email: “The myth of individual greatness is a myth.” (sic).

There are too many reasons to go into now, but History and academic writing are in big trouble in our schools. Social Studies has taken over History, and some Massachusetts high schools are suggesting that History courses be folded into a Humanities department and taught by English teachers.

When it comes to writing, that has always been the property of the English department, and the vast majority of American public High School students now graduate without ever having been asked to read one nonfiction book or to write one term paper.

There are consequences for students: on the last NAEP test of U.S History, only 12% of our HS Seniors passed, leading some to suggest that perhaps 88% of them would not be able to pass the U.S. citizenship exam.

Permit me one anecdote: Last December 7, The Boston Globe reported that a survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor had asked a HS girl what she knew about Pearl Harbor? And the girl said: “Who is she?”

Enrollments in History courses in colleges are falling off, even at Harvard, and most universities, including Harvard, have remedial writing courses for first-year students. The courses are not called that, but they exist, because, as one of our HS authors wrote me: “We are told we will learn to write in college.” In High School they are doing personal and creative writing, five-paragraph essays, and the 500-word college “essay.”

We are now sending most of our students to college unprepared. In Texas, recent estimates suggest 65% of their HS graduates are not ready for college. And there are consequences beyond college. There are constant complaints in the workplace about employees who can’t write. A few years ago, the Business Roundtable did a survey of its member companies and they reported spending $3.1 Billion every single year on remedial writing courses for their employees, evenly distributed among new hourly, new salaried, current hourly and current salaried employees.

There are also consequences for their lack of experience in reading nonfiction books and for their ignorance of History. Many of our High School graduates are entering college with their reading ability at the 7th grade level.

The Concord Review has, so far, been a small effort, but the History papers we have published have been longer, more serious, more interesting, and better-written than I had imagined would be possible when I started. We don’t tell students what to write about. We say we are interested in papers on any historical topic, ancient or modern, domestic or foreign, and, naturally, papers on topics the authors are interested in are better than those on assigned topics.

It has been a wonderful privilege for me to read so many serious and interesting History research papers by secondary students over these last 30 years.

Could I have a show of hands of those published in The Concord Review? Including those now with a Ph.D. in History?

Professor Ferguson may remind us that History is probably more important for us now than it has ever been, but I must say I am deeply grateful for the thousands of good strong student history papers that have kept The Concord Review going for the last thirty years.

Now, thanks to support from John Thornton and David Rubenstein, it looks like The Concord Review and its efforts will continue to encourage many more students to read History and work on serious papers of their own in the future.

Of the many good stories about these efforts over the last three decades, permit me to mention one. When Robert Nasson and I started the National History Club 15 years ago to encourage the reading, writing, discussion and enjoyment of History—the first chapter was at a girls’ school in Memphis, Tennessee.

They called their chapter: “The Cliosophic Society,” and they chose as their symbol a flower: The Forget-Me-Not…When it comes to History, that strikes me as perfect.

Thanks again for coming, and I hope you enjoy the dinner, after which we will have the privilege of hearing some of the thoughts of historian Niall Ferguson.


“Teach with Examples”
Will Fitzhugh [Founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Academic Coaches [2014]
TCR Summer Program [2014]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
Varsity Academics®

The collapse of academic standards

Chester E. Finn:

While ersatz “credit recovery” and grade inflation devalue the high school diploma by boosting graduation rates even as NAEP, PISA, PARCC, SAT, and sundry other measures show that no true gains are being made in student achievement, forces are at work to do essentially the same thing to the college diploma.

Observe the new move by CalState to do away with “remediation” upon entry to its institutions and instead to confer degree credit for what used to be the kinds of high-school-level content and skills that one had to master before gaining access to “credit-bearing” college courses.

The new term for these bridge classes for entering college students is “corequisite” and California isn’t the only place that’s using them. One study at CUNY—dealing with community colleges, not four-year institutions—says greater success was achieved when ill-prepared students were placed in “regular” college classes but given “extra support” than when they were shunted into “remediation.” Perhaps so. Perhaps placement tests aren’t the best way to determine who is actually prepared to succeed in “college level” work. But that’s not the same as saying—as CalState seems to be saying—that anyone emerging from high school, regardless of what they did or didn’t learn there, deserves entry into “regular” college classes.

That essentially erases the boundary between high school and college, and not in the good way being undertaken by sundry “early college” and “Advanced Placement” courses, the purpose of which is to bring college-level work into high schools. Now we’re seeing high-school-level work being brought into college, there to count for credit toward bachelor’s degrees.

This will surely cause an upward tick in college completions and degrees conferred (much as credit recovery has done for high school diplomas) but it will also devalue those degrees and cause any employer seeking evidence of true proficiency to look for other indicators. In the end, it will put pressure on many more people to earn post-graduate degrees and other kinds of credentials, thus adding to the length of time spent preparing for the “real world” and adding to the costs—whether born by students, families, or taxpayers—of that preparation.

All this is, of course, a consequence of misguided notions of equity and opportunity. But what it really does is perpetuate the illusion of success in the absence of true achievement and weaken all versions of academic standards at the very moment most states have been taking steps to strengthen them.

Related: Foreign students say US high school classes are absurdly easy.

High school principal accused of keeping Catholic school kids off admission list

Aaron Short & Susan Edelman:

“I’m working two jobs as it is,” Guarneri said. “His first choice was to go to Maspeth.”

More than 4,000 eighth-graders applied ​to the school, ​including 500​ Catholic-school kids,​ the city Department of Education said. But the principal failed to “mark for priority” 207 Catholic-school ​​students who had attended a Maspeth information session. None got offered seats.

The school sent acceptance letters to 370 students — all from public schools.

Maspeth HS is a “limited unscreened” school — one of 225 in the city — which gives admission priority to students who live nearby and attend its information sessions or open houses.

The Art of Paying Attention

Michelle Dean:

Paying attention is the only thing that guarantees insight. It is the only real weapon we have against power, too. You can’t fight things you can’t actually see. The power a writer has is the power to make things visible, and they are the things that we don’t typically look at or think about. Telling a story about someone has enormous power. People forget a headline. They remember a story.

A Tale of Two Bell Curves

Bo Winegard and Ben Winegard:

To paraphrase Mark Twain, an infamous book is one that people castigate but do not read. Perhaps no modern work better fits this description than The Bell Curve by political scientist Charles Murray and the late psychologist Richard J. Herrnstein. Published in 1994, the book is a sprawling (872 pages) but surprisingly entertaining analysis of the increasing importance of cognitive ability in the United States. It also included two chapters that addressed well-known racial differences in IQ scores (chapters 13-14). After a few cautious and thoughtful reviews, the book was excoriated by academics and popular science writers alike. A kind of grotesque mythology grew around it. It was depicted as a tome of racial antipathy; a thinly veiled expression of its authors’ bigotry; an epic scientific fraud, full of slipshod scholarship and outright lies. As hostile reviews piled up, the real Bell Curve, a sober and judiciously argued book, was eclipsed by a fictitious alternative. This fictitious Bell Curve still inspires enmity; and its surviving co-author is still caricatured as a racist, a classist, an elitist, and a white nationalist.

Myths have consequences. At Middlebury college, a crowd of disgruntled students, inspired by the fictitious Bell Curve — it is doubtful that many had bothered to read the actual book — interrupted Charles Murray’s March 2nd speech with chants of “hey, hey, ho, ho, Charles Murray has got to go,” and “racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray go away!” After Murray and moderator Allison Stanger were moved to a “secret location” to finish their conversation, protesters began to grab at Murray, who was shielded by Stanger. Stanger suffered a concussion and neck injuries that required hospital treatment.

It is easy to dismiss this outburst as an ill-informed spasm of overzealous college students, but their ignorance of The Bell Curve and its author is widely shared among social scientists, journalists, and the intelligentsia more broadly. Even media outlets that later lamented the Middlebury debacle had published – and continue to publish – opinion pieces that promoted the fictitious Bell Curve, a pseudoscientific manifesto of bigotry. In a fairly typical but exceptionally reckless 1994 review, Bob Hebert asserted, “Murray can protest all he wants, his book is just a genteel way of calling somebody a n*gger.” And Peter Beinart, in a defense of free speech published after the Middlebury incident, wrote, “critics called Murray’s argument intellectually shoddy, racist, and dangerous, and I agree.”

The Bell Curve and its authors have been unfairly maligned for over twenty years. And many journalists and academics have penned intellectually embarrassing and indefensible reviews and opinions of them without actually opening the first few pages of the book they claim to loathe. The truth, surprising as it may seem today, is this: The Bell Curve is not pseudoscience. Most of its contentions are, in fact, perfectly mainstream and accepted by most relevant experts. And those that are not are quite reasonable, even if they ultimately prove incorrect. In what follows, we will defend three of the most prominent and controversial claims made in The Bell Curve and note that the most controversial of all its assertions, namely that there are genetically caused race differences in intelligence, is a perfectly plausible hypothesis that is held by many experts in the field. Even if wrong, Herrnstein and Murray were responsible and cautious in their discussion of race differences, and certainly did not deserve the obloquy they received.

Populism is the result of global economic failure

Larry Elliott:

The answer seems pretty simple. Populism is the result of economic failure. The 10 years since the financial crisis have shown that the system of economic governance which has held sway for the past four decades is broken. Some call this approach neoliberalism. Perhaps a better description would be unpopulism.

Unpopulism meant tilting the balance of power in the workplace in favour of management and treating people like wage slaves. Unpopulism was rigged to ensure that the fruits of growth went to the few not to the many. Unpopulism decreed that those responsible for the global financial crisis got away with it while those who were innocent bore the brunt of austerity.

White families with children drawn to less diverse neighborhoods, schools

Science Daily:

Racial segregation is declining, but it remains higher for families with children than those without, a new study shows. Race appears to be a ‘proxy’ for school quality for many white families with children as they decide where and in which school districts they want to live, suggests a new report.

“Neighborhood racial segregation has been in decline since the 1970s, but my findings show it declined more slowly among families with kids,” said USC Assistant Professor Ann Owens, who analyzed 2010 and 2000 U.S. Census data to examine racial segregation trends.

“This means that children are surrounded by greater racial homogeneity in their neighborhoods than adults,” added Owens, a sociologist at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “A lack of diversity could have a significant effect on the development of their racial attitudes and future education and employment.”

In neighborhoods, housing and urban policies have been key for curbing segregation, she said. The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule of 2015, for example, reiterated the aims of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, requiring municipalities that receive federal housing funds to conduct fair housing assessments.

Why College Graduates Still Can’t Think

Rob Martin:

I wrote about all this in a recent post on The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Vitae website, mostly as background for a larger point I was trying to make. I assumed that virtually all the readers would agree with this definition of critical thinking—the definition I was taught as a student in the 1980s and which I continue to use with my own students.

To my surprise, that turned out not to be the case. Several readers took me to task for being “cold” and “emotionless,” suggesting that my understanding of critical thinking, which I had always taken to be almost universal, was mistaken.

I found that puzzling, until one helpful reader clued me in: “I share your view of what critical thinking should mean,” he wrote. “But a quite different operative definition has a strong hold in academia. In this view, the key characteristic of critical thinking is opposition to the existing ‘system,’ encompassing political, economic, and social orders, deemed to privilege some and penalize others. In essence, critical thinking is equated with political, economic, and social critique.”

Black kids across Dallas are getting ‘the talk’ their white friends won’t hear FILED UNDERDALLAS AMBUSH ATJUL 28 SHARE FACEBOOK TWITTER EMAIL Print This Story Written byProfile image for Sarah Mervosh Sarah Mervosh

Sarah Mervosh:

It’s a conversation parents of black boys wish they never had to have — and one their white counterparts typically never will.

In the aftermath of the Dallas police shooting this month, many black parents have had “the talk” with their kids — a discussion about how to rise above perceptions about race and how to respond if confronted by police.

This conversation, happening across town with children of all ages, from first-graders to grown men, is just one example of how race divides our experience on a daily basis.

American College of Trial Lawyers on campus sexual assault investigations: ‘Under the current system everyone loses.’

American College of Trial Lawyers:

ACTL, an organization that “seeks to improve the standards of trial practice, professionalism, ethics, and the administration of justice” and selects only members who have demonstrated “the very highest standards of trial advocacy, ethical conduct, integrity, professionalism and collegiality,” acknowledges that colleges and universities are “in a double bind” when it comes to addressing sexual misconduct claims. Institutions risk both the loss of federal funding if the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights proceeds with an enforcement action under Title IX, and lawsuits from accused students who say they were “railroaded” through unfair campus proceedings.

Madison School District Healthcare Cost Summary

Tap for a larger version.

March, 2017 School Board Presentation (PDF).

Notes and links: health insurance.

2015: Health Insurance premiums account for 16% of the Madison School District budget

MMSD will spend $61 million on health insurance this year.

One of Every Six Dollars is Spent on Health Insurance in the MMSD budget.

Health Insurance premiums account for 16% of the MMSD budget.

Over 3,900 employees are enrolled in the MMSD plan

New Madison School District Magnet School Policy

Dylan Pauly:

We are currently working through the final steps of transitioning James C. Wright Middle School from a charter school to a magnet school. As part of that process, we have developed a draft magnet school policy. The purpose of the policy is to provide a common, local definition of the terms “magnet school” and “magnet program.” The draft policy also sets forth the basic methods for developing magnet schools and program.

It is recommended that the Board approve Board Policy 10,100 (Magnet Schools and/or Programs) as set forth in the materials prepared for the March 27, 2017 Regular Meeting, effective immediately.

Following approval of the policy, the Board is also being asked to formally recognize Spring Harbor as a magnet school pursuant to and in accordance with Policy 10100. Given Spring Harbor’s history, we do not believe it is necessary or appropriate for a new proposal process. Essentially, the school would be grandfathered into the policy.

Madison School District Proposed Magnet School Policy.

Much more on Wright Middle School, here.

21 Industries Other Than Auto That Driverless Cars Could Turn Upside Down

CB Insights:

It’s all but a certainty that autonomous or driverless vehicles will be widely used in the United States at some point over the next two decades. Already, over two dozen major corporates including Google, Apple and Mercedes Benz are hard at work building their own self-driving vehicles. Tesla’s Model S already includes an autopilot mode where the car drives itself on highways.
 Clearly tech and auto companies stand to gain, but many other industries could face serious upheavals unless they are able to adapt to the many changes self-driving cars will bring to the market.

The Academy’s Assault on Intellectual Diversity

Robert Boyers:

t is tempting to describe the battles convulsing American campuses with epithets like “the politics of hysteria.” More than a bit of hysteria was unleashed at Middlebury College this month, when protesters prevented Charles Murray from delivering a scheduled lecture. In spite of eloquent rebukes delivered by the college president and several prominent faculty members, some on the Middlebury campus defended the protest by citing the poisonous views expressed by Murray in his ugly and notorious book, The Bell Curve. Though it’s a violent instance of so-called free-speech controversies lately ignited on the nation’s campuses, the Middlebury incident doesn’t begin to reveal the depth or virulence of the opposition to robust discussion within the American professoriate, where many self-described liberals continue to believe that they remain committed to “difference” and debate, even as they countenance a full-scale assault on diversity of outlook and opinion.

Confront contemporary left-liberal academics — I continue to regard myself as a member of that deeply troubled cohort — with a familiar passage from John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty, and they will be moved at once to proclaim that Mill espouses what virtually all of us have long taken for granted. Of course we understand that “the tyranny of the majority” must be guarded against — even when it is our majority. Of course we understand that “the peculiar evil of silencing”— or attempting to silence — “the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing … posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: If wrong, they lose … the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”

Survey Finds Foreign Students Aren’t Applying to American Colleges

Ron Allen:

Educators, recruiters and school officials report that the perception of America has changed for international students, and it just doesn’t seem to be as welcoming a place anymore. Officials point to the Trump administration’s rhetoric surrounding immigration and the issuing of a travel ban as having an effect.

“Yes, we definitely are sounding the warning,” said Melanie Gottlieb, deputy director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, adding, “We would hope that the [Trump] administration would say [to] cool the rhetoric a bit around immigration.”

Former and potential foreign exchange students told NBC News that they’re leery of what might happen to them once they step foot into the United States.

Google’s AI Explosion in One Chart Surging investment in machine learning is vaulting Google into the scientific stratosphere.

Antonio Regalado:

Behind the surge is Google’s growing investment in artificial intelligence, particularly “deep learning,” a technique whose ability to make sense of images and other data is enhancing services like search and translation (see “10 Breakthrough Technologies 2013: Deep Learning”).

According to the tally Google provided to MIT Technology Review, it published 218 journal or conference papers on machine learning in 2016, nearly twice as many as it did two years ago.

Despite pushback, education panel votes to close five schools in de Blasio’s turnaround program

Alex Zimmerman:

“They buried us while we were breathing,” said Deidre Walker, a math teacher at J.H.S. 145, a Bronx middle school that will now close at the end of the school year. “The resources weren’t given.”

All five schools are part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Renewal initiative, a program designed to flood them with additional academic resources and social services to help sow improvements rather than closing them outright — the approach favored by the Bloomberg administration.

Given previous mergers and closures, the education panel’s vote will mean that, starting next school year, 78 schools will remain in the program, down from an original 94.

Kansas City’s spending explosion.

DPI race between Tony Evers, Lowell Holtz centers on future of education in Wisconsin

Annysa Johnson:

“Wisconsin is the worst in the nation for achievement gaps and graduation gaps,” said Holtz, who believes public charter and private voucher schools could do a better job than some public schools. “We’re leaving a generation of students behind.”

Evers says Wisconsin schools have raised standards, increased graduation rates and expanded career and technical education programs during his tenure. He characterized Holtz as a political opportunist who would expand the state’s voucher program at the expense of public schools and shepherd in the massive cuts proposed by President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that would eliminate before- and after-school programs, teacher training grants and a host of other programs that benefit Wisconsin students.

Edgewood seventh grader Martius Bautista is Wisconsin’s top speller

Judy Newman:

The fourth time proved to be the charm for Madison seventh-grader Martius Bautista.

Bautista, 12, a student at Edgewood Campus School, outspelled 45 competitors from around Wisconsin to win the first-place prize at the Badger State Spelling Bee on Saturday after correctly spelling “rhizograph,” a device that traces the movement of roots in the soil.

As other students stumbled over words more popular a few decades ago — such as “kahuna” (an important person), “nosh” (snack) and “gestapo” (a reference to the Nazi secret police), Bautista soldiered on, mastering esoteric words such as “jacamar,” a type of tropical bird; “serdab,” an ancient Egyptian tomb; and “benzoin,” a balsamic resin.

In the 25th round at Madison Area Technical College’s Mitby Theater, only Bautista and Hanna Ghouse, a Kenosha seventh-grader, remained on stage. Ghouse tripped on the word “apteryx,” a flightless kiwi bird. Bautista spelled it correctly and took on the next word, rhizograph, to win the top award.

Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance rows against hyperpartisan current

Patricia Simms:

Q. How has your role in the Wisconsin political landscape changed in the last five to 10 years? Is there more or less of a hunger for “impartial” data?

A. In Wisconsin, the political landscape has evolved over the past 30 to 40 years with the advent of the full-time professional legislature, the centralization of power in the offices of legislative party leaders and the governor, and the increasingly take-no-prisoners partisanship that has developed among activists on the far left and far right. Respect, kindness, polite behavior, decorum are much less evident in capitol buildings today.

This has resulted in the last five to 10 years in the increasing inability of government at state and federal levels to work through and solve difficult problems. That gridlock and dysfunction has led to increased citizen alienation from public institutions. Regardless of party or ideology, both the 2008 and 2016 presidential elections were really protest elections with voters begging for problem-solving, for results, and willing to take a chance on anyone who might deliver that.

Q. Are you experiencing a decline in financial support for what you do?

A. We are a nonprofit 501(c)(3) and like all charitable organizations, every year presents new challenges. The irony is that “white-hat” truth-telling and fact-finding are not what most easily motivate financial giving in the public arena. Reflecting our politics today, it is anger and emotion and simplistic answers that move many donors to act.

For us, this is complicated by the fact that what we offer is a public good. Anyone can request most of our work for free: our civic and community lectures are free, part of our public service mission; serving as a resource to media reporters and editors is free; answering inquiries from citizens and local officials is free. People can benefit from much of our work without having to pay for it.

And although our research, writing, and speaking remain mostly free as part of our commitment to public service, it costs to provide all those services.

Another challenge for many local charities is the business mergers and acquisitions that strip the state of company headquarters, civic leadership and a commitment to finance state and local nonprofits.

Teachers More Likely to Use Private Schools for their Own Kids

Paul E. Peterson and Samuel Barrows:

The Supreme Court, in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (CTA), is now considering whether all teachers should be required to pay union-determined “agency fees” for collective bargaining services, whether or not the teacher wants them. When making their case, unions would have the public believe that school teachers stand solidly behind them. When it comes to school choice, for example, CTA insists that “Teachers do not support school voucher programs, because they hurt students and schools by draining scarce resources away from public education.” But facts on the ground tell a different story.

A fifth of all school teachers with school-age children has placed a child in a private school, and nearly three out of ten have used one or more of the main alternatives to the traditional public school— private school, charter school, and homeschooling. What is more, the teachers who exercise choice are more likely to support school choice for others, avoid union membership, and oppose agency fees.

We discovered this when we asked, as part of a nationally representative survey of the general public and of school teachers, whether those with school age children have sent them to public, private, or charter schools, or homeschooled them. The survey was conducted in June 2015 by Knowledge Networks under the auspices of Education Next, a journal for which one of us serves as editor. Altogether, we surveyed approximately 4,000 adults, including 851 parents of school-age children, 206 of whom were school teachers. Polling details and overall results are available online at

The chilling effect of a McGill University tweet on its scholars

Emmett MacFarlane:

Controversy erupted over an opinion piece authored by Andrew Potter, director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, published on the Maclean’s website Monday. Potter connected a winter storm stranding hundreds of commuters on a Montreal highway to what he argued was the “almost pathologically alienated and low-trust society” in Quebec. The next day, Potter posted an apology on Facebook, stating that he went too far in some of his analysis and that he extrapolated too much from personal anecdotes with respect to some of his claims.

But the real scandal came at about the same time, in the form of a statement from McGill University’s official Twitter account that distanced the university from Potter’s op-ed. “The views expressed by @JAndrewPotter in the @MacleansMag article do not represent those of #McGill,” it read.

This may seem, on the surface, a relatively innocuous statement. But it is in fact a reprehensible attack on the core of the academic mission, and specifically on academic freedom.

Is there a (transracial) adoption achievement gap?

Elizabeth Raleigh and Grace Kao:

In one of the first longitudinal population-based studies examining adopted children’s educational achievement, we analyze whether there is a test-score gap between children in adoptive families and children in biological families. Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, we find in aggregate adopted children have lower reading and math scores than their counterparts living in biological families. Yet there is significant variation among adoptive families by their race and health status. On one hand adoptive parents tend to be White and have more economic capital than their non-adoptive counterparts potentially contributing to educational advantages. However adopted children are also more likely to have special educational needs, contributing to greater educational disadvantages. Untangling these variables through a multivariate regression analysis, we find that transracially adopted children have similar test scores to White children living with biological parents. We point to the interaction between race, family resources and children’s health status and how these characteristics differentially shape achievement outcomes for adopted children.


A national benchmark of educational performance of adopted children.

We untangle the effects of adoption from family resources and child characteristics.

Through a longitudinal analysis, we examine how the achievement gap widens over time.

We find adopted children have lower test scores than children in biological families.

But transracial adoptees have higher test scores than White non-adopted children.

There were hopes that the flood of Chinese students into America would bring the countries closer. But a week at the University of Iowa suggested to Brook Larmer that the opposite may have happened

Brook Larmer:

As the plane descended over Iowa, Fan Yijia could see a quilt of green and yellow cornfields extending to the horizon. It had taken more than 24 hours – and one missed flight – for the first-year University of Iowa student to travel from Jiaxing in eastern China to the American Midwest. To her weary eyes, accustomed to the crowded streets of her home city of 4m people, the cornfields looked not comforting but disorienting. “I had no idea if I could fit in.”

Before the missed flight, Fan – who goes by the English name Sophie – had arranged online to get a lift from the airport to the campus from the Chinese Students and Scholars Association, a student-run group partially funded by the Chinese government. Her delayed arrival forced her to cancel the reservation. So she turned to the only other group offering a helping hand at the airport, Bridges International, an evangelical Christian outreach group. “It might be a little confusing and you’re probably really tired,” the Christian group’s online ad says. “Wouldn’t it be great if there was someone there to greet you? We would love the privilege of getting to welcome you into the US from the moment you arrive.”

Foreign Students Say U.S. High School Classes Are Absurdly Easy

Tom Loveless:

The survey asked students the following: Compared to students in your home country, do you think U.S. students spend more, less, or about the same amount of time on schoolwork? … In 2001, 34.0% said much less, a figure that grew to 44.0% in 2016.

In the 2001 survey, foreign exchange students reported that high school classes in the U.S. seemed easier than classes in their home countries. When asked to rate the relative difficulty of U.S. classes, 56% replied “a lot easier” and 29% said “a little easier.” Only 6% said “a little harder” and 5% said “much harder.” […]

Students from abroad are even more likely today to describe U.S. classes as easier than they were in 2001. The combined “much easier” and “a little easier” responses grew from 85.2% in 2001 to 90.0% in 2016. The change in the “much easier” rating, increasing from 55.9% to 66.4%, is statistically significant.

Related: English 10, small learning communities, TAG complaint and Madison’s disastrous long term reading results.

What if Sociologists Had as Much Influence as Economists?

Neil Irwin:

Walk half a city block in downtown Washington, and there is a good chance that you will pass an economist. People with advanced training in the field shape policy on subjects as varied as how health care is provided, broadcast licenses auctioned or air pollution regulated.

Turn on cable news, and the guests who opine on the weighty public policy questions of the day quite often have some title like “chief economist” underneath their name. And there are economists sprinkled throughout the government — there is an entire council of them advising the president in most administrations, if not yet in this one.

Lowell Holtz says graduation rates soared for minority students when he ran the Beloit schools

Dave Umhoefer:

In his bid to unseat Tony Evers as state school superintendent, self-described “kidservative” Lowell Holtz criticizes Wisconsin’s dubious distinction of graduating white high school students at much higher rates than minority students.

On his campaign blog, Holtz says his attention to safety and discipline as Beloit school superintendent from 2006 to 2009 improved the completion rate among high school students of color.

Specifically, he claimed: “Our minority graduation rate went from levels below Milwaukee and Madison, to above 80%.”

Mortality and morbidity in the 21st century

Anne Case and Sir Angus Deaton:

In “Mortality and morbidity in the 21st Century,” Princeton Professors Anne Case and Angus Deaton follow up on their groundbreaking 2015 paper that revealed a shocking increase in midlife mortality among white non-Hispanic Americans, exploring patterns and contributing factors to the troubling trend.

Case and Deaton find that while midlife mortality rates continue to fall among all education classes in most of the rich world, middle-aged non-Hispanic whites in the U.S. with a high school diploma or less have experienced increasing midlife mortality since the late 1990s. This is due to both rises in the number of “deaths of despair”—death by drugs, alcohol and suicide—and to a slowdown in progress against mortality from heart disease and cancer, the two largest killers in middle age.

Reclaiming the conversation: new rules for the ed reform debate

Citizen Stewart:

he narrative of people who oppose ‘school choice’ is well documented. The same talking points are brought up again and again and usually dominate the conversation. It’s time to re-frame the narrative, get real about the misinformation being spread and lead these conversations with a children-first line of thought. Here are Citizen Stewart‘s 26 new rules for the education reform debate:

1. If you’ve never agonized about selecting a school for your kid, don’t oppose choice.

2. If you aren’t currently responsible for closing the achievement gap, shut up about those who are – you are not an expert. Just listen.

3. If you don’t believe that poor children and children of color can learn at high levels, don’t teach in their schools.

4. If you benefited from a private school education, don’t come up with fancy reasons to deny others the same.

5. If your only experience in teaching low-income students is bad experience, don’t write a book about education.

Why did McGill fail to defend Andrew Potter’s academic freedom?

Globe and Mail:

McGill University’s decision to accept the resignation of a staff member whose published opinion displeased Quebec’s political and chattering classes is extremely troubling. It is only made worse by the university’s refusal to explain itself properly.

Suzanne Fortier, president and vice-chancellor, says the school accepted Andrew Potter’s resignation as director of McGill’s Institute for the Study of Canada on the grounds that he failed to uphold MISC’s vague mission “to promote a better understanding of Canada.” That is unconvincing, to say the least.

Did Mr. Potter, a professor of philosophy and former newspaper editor, truly resign voluntarily from his “dream job,” as he described it? Or did someone inside or outside the school apply undue pressure? Why didn’t the university defend his academic freedom?


We need to know. The right of university professors to speak their minds without fear of sanction is critical in a free society.

It matters not a whit that the online Maclean’s column that got Mr. Potter in trouble was poorly thought out – something he acknowledged when he apologized for its content this week.

Mr. Potter tried to argue that a breakdown in communications that left hundreds of people stranded overnight in their cars on a highway during a snowstorm was connected to an “essential malaise” in Quebec. “It is close to inconceivable that this could happen anywhere else in the country,” he wrote.

Politicians and commentators denounced his contention. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said it was “based on prejudices.” Mr. Potter apologized. It should have ended there. But suddenly, on Thursday, he resigned as director of MISC, while staying on as a contract professor.

Let’s be perfectly clear: In a liberal democracy, the writing of an ill-considered magazine column is a trifling concern compared to the possible sanctioning of a university professor for writing the column in question.

Texas can’t improve special education without data

Carl & Suzanne Shepherd:

A child’s academic progress is every parent’s concern; tracking that progress is a fundamental responsibility of our schools. Good educational data and metrics, with evidence-based instruction, can change the outcome of a child’s life.

For a child like our son, who has Down syndrome and does not take Texas’s suite of standardized tests, that data is largely missing. If it exists at all, it’s defined one student at a time, in a special education student’s Individual Education Plan, or IEP. Objective data on the academic progress of groups of special education students, if they don’t take standardized tests, doesn’t seem to exist at all. Without it, evidence-based choices about instruction, services and materials can’t be made.

Until recently we thought the lack of data was due to a lack of funding. Now, we’re pretty sure it’s not.

In November 2015, we began meeting with the superintendent of our local school system to discuss how our proposed donation of $500,000 might be used to collect this data and improve the outcomes for kids in special education. We weren’t naïve enough to expect instant acceptance and implementation of the proposal, but we did hope the district would move quickly to embrace the idea and the money. It didn’t work out that way.

Student Aid Tool Held Key for Tax Fraudsters

Brian Krebs:

Citing concerns over criminal activity and fraud, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has disabled an automated tool on its Web site that was used to help students and their families apply for federal financial aid. The removal of the tool has created unexpected hurdles for many families hoping to qualify for financial aid, but the action also eliminated a key source of data that fraudsters could use to conduct tax refund fraud.

Last week, the IRS and the Department of Education said in a joint statement that they were temporarily shutting down the IRS’s Data Retrieval Tool. The service was designed to make it easier to complete the Education Department’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) — a lengthy form that serves as the starting point for students seeking federal financial assistance to pay for college or career school.

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

Jenny Anderson:

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

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

Commentary On New York City’s Elite High Schools

Damon Hewitt:

If the administration is truly committed to admitting black and Latino students who deserve to be in specialized high schools, it must find the courage to disrupt the status quo and ask the harder questions. For example, why not ask how the schools could do a better job — not of expanding or improving the applicant pool, but of recognizing the talent we know exists among black and Latino students? What if the school district (still under significant mayoral control) and the State Legislature (which mandates a test-only policy for three of the schools) started from scratch to create an admissions process that rewards those who do well in middle school? What if school officials and the public actually believed there are many talented black and Latino students who can succeed in an elite setting? What if they were willing to create a process that recognized their merit?

These are the big questions. Asking these types of questions will help to shift the false, prevailing narrative that only a few black and Latino students are good enough for the city’s best high schools. It will help New Yorkers get to some real solutions and a fairer process — not only for those students, but for everyone.

Texas Senate panel OKs bill requiring schools to teach teens about interacting with police

Jonathan Silver:

Texas would require high school students, drivers-in-training and police officers to be taught how law enforcement and civilians should interact under a measure approved by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday. The proposal now heads to the full Senate.

Senate Bill 30 is a bipartisan response to deadly encounters between law enforcement and civilians seen in recent years throughout the country. In Texas, it comes after the high-profile case of Sandra Bland, an Illinois woman arrested in Waller County after a traffic stop whose videotaped argument with an officer became national news after she was found hanged to death in her jail cell three days later.

Monasteries Of The Mind

Victor Davis Hanson:

An increasing number of American don’t take all this seriously. And that’s not new. In reaction to the growing globalization of the Roman Empire, elite corruption, the banality of bread-and-circuses, and the end of the agrarian Italian Republic, the Stoics opted out, choosing instead a reasoned detachment from contemporary life. Some, like the worldly court philosopher Seneca, seemed hypocritical; others, such as the later emperor Marcus Aurelius, lived a double life of imperial engagement and mental detachment. Classical impassiveness established the foundations for the later monastic Christians, who in more dangerous times increasingly saw the world around them as incompatible with the world to come — and therefore they saw engagement as an impediment to their own Christian belief. More and more Americans today are becoming Stoic dropouts. They are not illiberal, and certainly not reactionaries, racists, xenophobes, or homophobes. They’re simply exhausted by our frenzied culture.

America’s 100 Richest Places

Vincent del Giudice and Wei Lu:

Cities and towns with ties to Wall Street and the Silicon Valley, and a smattering of communities in between, boasted the highest U.S. household incomes in 2015, according to a Bloomberg analysis of census data.

Atherton, California, in the technology corridor between San Francisco and San Jose, topped the list as America’s wealthiest town, while more than one-third of the nation’s 100 richest households were located within 50 miles of New York City.

Warfare helps explain why American welfare is different

The Economist:

Pushing against Adolph Wagner’s law is another, newer tendency. Americans who recalled the Depression and the second world war tended to look more favourably on the redistribution of income. Ilyana Kuziemko of Princeton and Vivekinan Ashok and Ebonya Washington, both of Yale, have found that support for redistribution has dropped among retired people over the past few decades (see chart). One explanation for this is that people retiring now have no memory of the two big, unifying events of the 20th century. It may be no coincidence that this reluctance to redistribute, which comes out particularly strongly in the opposition among current pensioners to extending health insurance, followed a surge in immigration at the end of the 20th century. In the 1950s, immigration to America averaged 250,000 people a year; in the 1990s, it reached 1m a year.

Should Parents of Children With Severe Disabilities Be Allowed to Stop Their Growth?

Genevieve Field:

icky gazed up toward the pine trees as his mother, Cindy Preslar, pushed him along the village road in an orange jogging stroller. She was marking the route for the Summer 2014 Run Through the Clouds 10K, a fund-raiser for the public schools in Cloudcroft, N.M. “You’ll run with Dad and Max tomorrow,” she said. “Right, Ricky?” She ruffled his fine blond hair. By “run” she meant “ride” — Ricky was 7, but his legs were unable to bear his full weight. As a result of a complication during pregnancy, Cindy says, he was born with a form of cerebral palsy known as spastic quadriplegia with static encephalopathy, which meant permanent brain damage and severely limited eyesight because of cortical vision impairment.

Ricky’s problems were not recognized immediately. He was a fussy eater but an otherwise genial baby; the Preslars’ friends commented on the twinkle in his eyes. Then, at about 3 months, he began to jolt awake at night, the back of his pajamas soaked with sweat. One afternoon, when Cindy laid him on his changing table, he arched and crossed his arms, and his eyes rolled back in his head as if he were in the throes of a seizure. A CT scan taken soon after that revealed a scarred, atypically small, or microcephalic, brain. The Preslars don’t know how much Ricky understands, but based on medical assessments, he is thought to have the developmental age of a 6-month-old infant.

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

Matthew Frankel, via a kind email:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click to download the plaintiffs’ complaint [PDF].

To learn more about the parent-led lawsuit to end LIFO in New Jersey, please go to


Matthew Frankel
MDF Strategies
41 Watchung Plaza, Suite 355
Montclair NJ 07042

Abolish women’s studies

New Criterion:

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

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

Harvard Professors Sign Statement Endorsing ‘Freedom of Expression’

Mia C. Karr and William L. Wang:

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

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

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

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

Populism: The Phenomenon


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

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

Why Americans have come to worship their own ignorance

Brian Bethune:

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

Commentary On Wisconsin K-12 Governance Options

Erin Richards:

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

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

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

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

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

An ancient memorization strategy might cause lasting changes to the brain

Rachel Becker:

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

Jonah and the Whale, Call me Ishmael.

Laura Waters:

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

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


Supreme Court:

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

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

Jenny Anderson:

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

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

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

K-12 Financial Literacy

American Banker (PDF):

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

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

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

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

How do Unschoolers Turn Out?

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

Green Bay Voucher Opportunities

Will Flanders:

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

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

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

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

Alex Berezow:

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

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

A new “Mathematician’s Apology”

Jesse Johnson:

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

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

High anxiety as SF public school assignments run late

Nanette Asimov:

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

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

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

Wisconsin DPI Superintendent Candidate Event

Lisa Speckhard::

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

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

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

“We had no choice, Tony,” Holtz said.

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

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

KC Johnson:

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

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

Student Loan Federalization


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

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

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

America may miss out on the next industrial revolution

Nick Statt:

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

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

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

Ben Blatt:

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

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

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

Sarah Treleaven:

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

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

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

Joanna Walters:

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

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

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

Trump’s budget abandons two bipartisan education efforts

Alan Borsuk:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Focus Taiwan:

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

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

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

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

Annysa Johnson, and Brittany Carloni

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

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

Civics: Reining In Warrantless Wiretapping of Americans

Jennifer Granick:

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

War on girls in India, visualized

visual loop

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

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

War on girls in India, visualized

visual loop

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

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

Is Fakebook A Structural Threat To Free Society?


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

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

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

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

Biesiekierski JR, et al:

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

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

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

Venessa Wong:

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

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

Migrant Parents Pen Letter to Government About School Quota

Wang Lianzhang:

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

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

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

Mission vs Organization: Madison School Board candidate rhetoric

Lisa Speckhard:

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

Notes and links on seat 6 and seat 7 candidates.

More on organization vs mission:

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

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

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

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

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

Mike Szymanski:

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

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

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

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

Joshua Gans:

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

The traditional publishing path has worked for me

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

Julia Powles:

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

Why Virtual Classes Can Be Better Than Real Ones

Barbara Oakley:

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

18-year-old running for Pearland ISD School Board

Brandi Smith:

Michael Floyd isn’t your typical high school senior.

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

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

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

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

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

Samantha Ketterer:

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

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

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

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

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

Should California teachers have to pay state income tax?

Taryn luna:

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

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

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

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

Mike Mullen:

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

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

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

Teach for America making its mark in Milwaukee

Alan Borsuk;

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

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

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

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

Paul Hill, Ashley Jochim:

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

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

Key takeaways include:

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

State gives St. Paul school board blessing for secret meetings

James Shiffer:

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

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

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

Adobe semaphore code cracked by Tennessee high school teacher

Sal Pizzaro:

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

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