Doodling: Visual Self-expression Activates Brain’s Reward Pathway

Milla Bengtsson:

During all three activities, there was a measured increase in bloodflow in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, compared to rest periods where bloodflow decreased to normal rates.

The prefrontal cortex is related to regulating our thoughts, feelings and actions. It is also related to emotional and motivational systems and part of the wiring for our brain’s reward circuit.

So seeing increased bloodflow in these areas likely means a person is experiencing feels related to being rewarded.

Wesleyan must pay fraternity nearly $400,000 for shutting it down over coed dispute

Greg Piper::

Warning to social justice warriors in presidential palaces: Juries don’t automatically share your enlightened authoritarianism.

A jury found that Wesleyan University President Michael Roth grossly exceeded his authority when he shut down Delta Kappa Epsilon’s house shortly after it submitted a plan to comply with the school’s new coed mandate on the eve of the 2015-2016 academic year, Hartford Courant reports.

DKE sued the school more than two years ago, claiming it let every other identity group live together in its own housing but fraternities.

Roth’s emails brought to light during the trial suggested he was only willing to take on the fraternities if Wesleyan – a Yale wannabe that’s opening a $220,000-a-year center for social justice – could obtain their valuable real estate in the end.

Cops Sent Warrant To Facebook To Dig Up Dirt On Woman Whose Boyfriend They Had Just Killed


Everything anyone has ever said about staying safe while interacting with the police is wrong. That citizens are told to comport themselves in complete obeisance just to avoid being beaten or shot by officers is itself bizarre — an insane inversion of the term “public servant.” But Philando Castile, who was shot five times and killed by (now former) Officer Jeronimo Yanez, played by all the rules (which look suspiciously like the same instructions given to stay “safe” during an armed robbery). It didn’t matter.

Castile didn’t have a criminal record — or at least nothing on it that mattered. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been allowed to own a weapon, much less obtain a permit to conceal the gun. Castile told Yanez — as the permit requires — he had a concealed weapon. He tried to respond to the officer’s demand for his ID, reaching into his pocket. For both of these compliant efforts, he was killed.

Castile’s shooting might have gone unnoticed — washed into the jet stream of “officer-involved killings” that happen over 1,000 time a year. But his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, immediately live-streamed the aftermath via Facebook. Her boyfriend bled out while responding officers tried to figure out what to do, beyond call for more backup to handle a dead black man sitting in his own vehicle. Only after Yanez fired seven bullets into the cab of the vehicle did officers finally remove his girlfriend’s four year old daughter.

Disturbing images document a time when those with undesirable genetic traits were sterilised or killed in order to ‘cleanse’ society

Phoebe Weston::

These images have been released today from the the Library of Congress archive.

Advocates of eugenics made significant advances during the early twentieth century – and claimed that ‘undesirable’ genetic traits such as dwarfism, deafness and even minor defects like a cleft palate needed to be wiped out of the gene pool.

Scientists would measure the human skulls of felons in an effort to eradicate criminality – whilst other eugenic proponents suggested simply cutting out entire groups of people because of the colour of their skin.

Read more:
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China’s All-Seeing Surveillance State Is Reading Its Citizens’ Faces

Josh Chin and Liza Lin:

Gan Liping pumped her bike across a busy street, racing to beat a crossing light before it turned red. She didn’t make it. Immediately, her face popped up on two video screens above the street. “Jaywalkers will be captured using facial-recognition technology,” the screens said.

Facial-recognition technology, once a specter of dystopian science fiction, is becoming a feature of daily life in China, where authorities are using it on streets, in subway stations, at airports and at border crossings in a vast experiment in social engineering. Their goal: to influence behavior and identify lawbreakers.

Ms. Gan, 31 years old, had been caught on camera crossing illegally here once before, allowing the system to match her two images. Text displayed on the crosswalk screens identified her as a repeat offender.

College panel: Free speech on campus under siege from students

John Sexton:

The National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA) is holding its annual convention this week in Chicago. Inside Higher Ed reports on an interesting discussion that took place today about free speech on campus and how to protect it. Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says campus speech is mostly under assault these days not from misguided administrators, but from students.

Kids to learn how to code before high school

John Gerritsen:

Proposed changes to the school curriculum will require all children to learn how to program computers by the time they finish primary school.

School class learning generic Photo: 123RF
The government released the draft digital technologies curriculum content (PDF, 5.4MB) today, and said it would teach children to be good at both using and creating digital technology.

The draft plan said digital technology education should start at five and six years old, when children should learn how to break tasks down into step-by-step instructions, test those instructions and correct them.

It said that would lay the foundation for creating the algorithms that computer programs are based on.

The document said children should be writing programs and understand how computers store information by their final years of primary or intermediate school.

The release of the draft followed last year’s announcement that digital technologies would remain part of the technology learning area and would not become a learning area in its own right.

That disappointed the IT sector, but IT Professionals New Zealand chief executive Paul Matthews said the draft content announced today was significant.

“This is basically the largest shift in the curriculum in 10 years. So we’re not talking about tweaking around the edges. We’re talking about bringing an area in which is needed, it’s needed to survive and thrive in the digital world, and actually putting it right centre-front within the curriculum, right the way through from primary and secondary schools.”

Mr Matthews said the new curriculum would help close the digital divide, which was no longer about who had technology and who did not, but about who understood how to create and use technology and who did not.

Consultation on the draft content would close at the end of August and it would be available for use from next year and be fully implemented by 2020.

‘Who’s going to be able to bring this into practice?’

A senior lecturer from Otago University’s college of education, Steve Sexton, said teachers would need a lot of help to introduce the new content in such a short time.

“Who’s going to be able to bring this into practice,” he said.

“Classroom teachers cannot be expected to bring in something they don’t know how to do and be told now you need to know how to do it. It’s not just putting the technology into the school, but it’s got to be effectively integrated or effectively implemented or it’s just going to be another headache for teachers to deal with.”

Dr Sexton said schools would also face ongoing costs to keep their technology up to date.

Education Minister Nikki Kaye said the government would spend $40 million on resources and training to introduce the new content.

She said that would include $24m of new spending on training for teachers and $7m to help shift to a digitally-oriented education system.

“This is about supporting more teaching and learning in a digital format, as well as the move to online exams,” she said.

Japan, Short on Babies, Reaches a Worrisome Milestone

Jonathan Soble:

No longer, in the latest discomforting milestone for a country facing a steep population decline. Last year, the number of births in Japan dropped below one million for the first time, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said on Friday.

The shrinking of the country’s population — deaths have outpaced births for several years — is already affecting the economy in areas including the job and housing markets, consumer spending and long-term investment plans at businesses.

For now, the Japanese economy is growing despite a dwindling number of workers and consumers. Output rose for a fifth straight quarter at the start of this year, and the stock market reached its highest level in a year and a half on Friday, with the Nikkei-225 index exceeding the symbolic 20,000 mark. Growing global demand for Japanese products is one reason.

Civics and Privacy: Google anti-trust case

Scott Cleland::

And the FTC’s abrupt and chaotic closure of all Google antitrust matters January 3, 2013, (after Google was publicly credited with successfully helping the 2012 Presidential Reelect campaign, see: Bloomberg,, Bloomberg, Built in Chicago, Time Magazine.), U.S. antitrust scrutiny went from intense before the election to nearly non-existent at the FTC and DOJ after January 3, 2013.
 During this apparent Google antitrust pardon period, Google acquired 85 companies per Wikpedia.
 The recent change in Administrations creates the opportunity for a fresh look at the available evidence without any strictures on which companies the FTC and DOJ can investigate.
 If one considers the clear evidentiary patterns that emerge from a decade of Google antitrust investigations, a slam dunk U.S. v. Alphabet-Google antitrust case can come into sharp focus.
 The Apparent Slam Dunk U.S. v. Alphabet-Google Antitrust Case
 Starting Point: Make the case, not about Google’s discrimination of search results, like the FTC or the EU did, and where Google’s antitrust defense is relatively strongest and most developed, but make the case about the Google anti-competitive behaviors about which Google has virtually no good defenses.
 That would be a pure Sherman Act Section II antitrust case about how Google has monopolized, attempted to monopolize, combined, and conspired with multiple companies and persons to monopolize many parts of the trade and commerce in the search advertising and Internet search syndication markets.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt has been quite active politically.

Sheepskin shuffle: Exploding student loan debt

Grant’s Interest Rate Observer – “Almost Daily”:

That the sting of higher borrowing costs will be felt by a growing membership is a now-self-evident fact; according to data from the New York Fed’s consumer panel, total student loan debt has risen to $1.34 trillion in the first quarter, representing about 10.5% of total consumer liabilities. That compares to $663 billion in student loan debt as of the first quarter 2009 equating to 5.3% of total household borrowings.
 Overall, average Federal debt load per student reached $30,200 in the first quarter, up from $20,500 in the first quarter of 2009, according to the National Student Loan Data System.
 Not only has student debt grown significantly, but it has done so in near lockstep. In each quarterly period going back to at least the beginning of 2003 (when the New York Fed begins its data series) has total student loan debt grown on both a sequential and year-on-year basis.

Mercedes Metal Stampers Brace for Fight as Electric’s Star Rises

Elizabeth Berhman::

In particular, friction is growing between workers who build combustion vehicles — still the mainstay of most carmakers’ profits — and managers seeking to position their companies for a battery-powered future.
 Sedan Shifts
 The latest sign of the tough road ahead came on Thursday. To protest conditions offered by Mercedes parent Daimler as it negotiates adding new battery-making facilities at its Untertuerkheim plant in Stuttgart, Germany, the company said staff will stop working overtime next month. That will will slow engine output, forcing it to cancel shifts for assembling the E-Class sedan, Daimler said.
 Mercedes, which is investing 10 billion euros ($11.4 billion) as it prepares to roll out 10 electric models, expects as much 25 percent of its sales to come from the new technology by 2025, stoking concerns about job security particularly at engine plants.
 “The changes that’ll happen over the next eight to fifteen years will directly hit plants like Untertuerkheim,” said Wolfgang Nieke, worker representative at the site, which employs 19,000 people. “If we don’t lay the groundwork for this shift now, the harder it’ll be down the line.”

Open Meetings And School Board Governance: The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Recent Ruling

Wisconsin Supreme Court:

¶27 Applying these principles, we conclude that CAMRC was a committee created by rule under Wis. Stat. § 19.82(1). First, it qualifies as a “committee” for purposes of the open meetings law because it had a defined membership of 17 individuals upon whom was conferred the authority, as a body, to review and select recommended educational materials for the Board’s approval. This authority to prepare formal curriculum recommendations for Board approval was not exercised by teachers and curriculum specialists on their own. The Board——acting through Rule 361 and the Handbook——provided that the members of review committees would exercise such authority collectively, as a body. Second, CAMRC was created by rule because District employees, when they formed CAMRC, relied on the authority to form review committees that was delegated to them by Rule 361 and the Handbook.
1. CAMRC Was a “Committee”
¶28 The parties appear to agree that CAMRC took the form
of a “committee” for purposes of the open meetings law, and they focus their dispute instead on the second part of the definition. But we are not bound by the parties’ concessions. See State v. Hunt, 2014 WI 102, ¶42 n.11, 360 Wis. 2d 576, 851 N.W.2d 434. We therefore briefly explain why we agree that CAMRC was a “committee” under Wis. Stat. § 19.82(1).
¶29 First, CAMRC was formed as a collective entity with a defined membership of 17 particular individuals. Although these individuals volunteered, and Bunnow suggested that more would have been welcome to join, the 17 nevertheless constituted a defined membership selected pursuant to the procedures set forth in the Handbook. Bunnow testified that all 17 members were present and voting at all CAMRC meetings, except for a final meeting which Bunnow characterized as merely a “subcommittee” meeting.

Patrick Marley:

John Krueger and the parent group Valley School Watch asked the Appleton Area School District to offer an alternative freshman communications course because they didn’t want children reading references to suicide and sex in the book “The Body of Christopher Creed.”

District Superintendent Lee Allinger asked the district’s chief academic officer and humanities director to respond to Krueger’s concerns but didn’t tell them how to specifically handle it.

They declined to form a new course because students already could opt out of reading specific books. Instead, they formed a 17-member committee and Krueger argued its meetings must be conducted in public because it was essentially created by order of a high-ranking official.

The committee did not meet in public and Krueger sued in 2011 with the assistance of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. A Waupaca County judge ruled in the school district’s favor in 2014, as did the District 3 Court of Appeals in 2016.

Madison School Board Annual Retreat Slides

Madison School District Administration (PDF)::

Stronger Professional Development (PD) Guidance-

maximizing the additional PD days- 6 week cycles

time for reflection and team planning
Continued Focus on Intensive Support-

Continued support for teachers K-8 in literacy

Support for Middle School Literacy
— Build capacity of principals and coaches to monitor and support literacy curriculum through professional development & learning labs

Special emphasis on acceleration in grades K-2 — Professional Development & Learning Labs — Software Support

Parent Links to Learning

9th Grade On (9OT) Track

Train school-based facilitators to deepen CLR practices through monthly PD for
all 9th grade core teachers

Direct support to 9th grade teacher teams to deepen 90T systems — Student Led Conferencing with Parents

Route to recovery: how people overcome an opioid addiction

Amanda Holpuch::

More and more people in the US are able to identify a friend, relative or neighbor who has succumbed to opioid addiction as it increasingly damages the nation.

It’s a frightening reality, but there are options available for people hoping to gain control of their condition and live a life that isn’t dictated by these potent drugs.

What are the routes to recovery from addiction? The Guardian explored that question and more as part of a series of pieces this week looking at survivors of addiction and how to tackle it.
Can opioid addiction be cured?

There is no cure for addiction, but the disease can be managed just like other chronic medical conditions including diabetes and high blood pressure.

That’s one of the reasons people who are no longer addicted to drugs or alcohol might describe themselves as being “in recovery”. Recovery means different things to different people but generally describes someone who is able to live life without it being disrupted by addiction.

The Number Of Law School Applicants With 160+LSAT Scores Has Declined 61% Since 2010

Paul Caron Summary::

It describes the big decline in applicants in the high band of LSAT scores. Of course, these are the students who would be admitted to top law schools and/or strong performing law schools with significant merit scholarships. In short, the most sought after students are saying “no thanks” to law school.

This is one of the two big, and often neglected, stories in contemporary law student enrollment & recruitment. (The other is the spiraling discount rate resulting from the increasing arms race among reasonably well-resourced law schools for a smaller pool of students). …

Mental Health Problems Rising Among College Students

Susan Donaldson James:

Amy Ebeling struggled with anxiety and depression throughout college, as her moods swung from high to low, but she resisted help until all came crashing down senior year.

“At my high points I was working several jobs and internships — I could take on the world,” said Ebeling, 24, who graduated from Ramapo College of New Jersey last December.

“But then I would have extreme downs and want to do nothing,” she told NBC News. “All I wanted to do was sleep. I screwed up in school and at work, I was crying and feeling suicidal.”

More than 75 percent of all mental health conditions begin before the age of 24, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which is why college is such a critical time.

Here’s Einstein’s Advice to His Son on How to Accelerate Learning

Jessica Stilan

Geniuses might be distinguished by their ability to grasp incredible complexity, but that doesn’t mean if you somehow managed to corner one the greatest minds in history for a chat you’d be perplexed by what they had to say. According to Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman, the true hallmark of genius is the ability to explain things simply.

If that’s true, it’s yet another sign of Albert Einstein’s incredible gifts (as if we needed further proof).

A glimpse of Einstein as doting dad
In 1915, Einstein was living in Berlin and working on his theory of general relativity while his estranged wife tended his two sons in Vienna. In an age before email and Skype, that meant a regular exchange of letters between the great physicist and his family, one of which was recently dug up by Maria Popova of the always intriguing Brain Pickings blog.

K-12 Tax Base as Madison approaches $500M in annual spending (or nearly $20k/student)

Stephanie Tuder:

For the past year and a half, Tortosa has painstakingly built his personal pipe dream — and it took a hell of a lot more than hopes and wishes. He raised $700,000. His team constructed the space from scratch. He secured all the necessary city permits. He hired staff and created a menu. Now, Robin is ready to open on Thursday, July 6.

Want a real answer to what it takes to open and run a restaurant? Here it is, complete with the hard numbers that typically stay out of public view.

Robin’s Budget
Money Raised From Investors: $600,000

“After just a few years, voucher students perform as well or better than their non-voucher peers while using significantly less public funding,” 

Joanne Jacobs:

Louisiana students who used vouchers to switch from public to private schools did worse in the first year, then improved, concludes a University of Arkansas study. After three years, voucher students were doing as well as similar students who hadn’t switched; low performers did significantly better in English.

The Indiana study looked at students in grades 3-8 who switched from public to private schools. In the first year, they lost ground in math, but they bounced back in the next few years and moved ahead in language arts in the fourth year.

“Overall, voucher students are lower-achieving students from the public sector and enter private schools substantially behind their private school peers, researchers wrote. “During the [Indiana voucher program’s] first few years of implementation, many private schools lacked the capacity or experience in educating new students who are academically behind.”

More, here.

Compare Madison’s spending to voucher schools.

“After just a few years, voucher students perform as well or better than their non-voucher peers while using significantly less public funding,” 

Joanne Jacobs:

Louisiana students who used vouchers to switch from public to private schools did worse in the first year, then improved, concludes a University of Arkansas study. After three years, voucher students were doing as well as similar students who hadn’t switched; low performers did significantly better in English.

The Indiana study looked at students in grades 3-8 who switched from public to private schools. In the first year, they lost ground in math, but they bounced back in the next few years and moved ahead in language arts in the fourth year.

“Overall, voucher students are lower-achieving students from the public sector and enter private schools substantially behind their private school peers, researchers wrote. “During the [Indiana voucher program’s] first few years of implementation, many private schools lacked the capacity or experience in educating new students who are academically behind.”

More, here.

Compare Madison’s spending to voucher schools.

As a Provider Fought a Secret Surveillance Order, Court Denied It Access to Relevant Law

Aaron Mackey:

That Kafkaesque episode — denying a party access to the law being used against it — was made public this week in a FISC opinion EFF obtained as part of a FOIA lawsuit we filed in 2016.

The opinion [.pdf] shows that in 2014, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) rejected a service provider’s request to obtain other FISC opinions that government attorneys had cited and relied on in court filings seeking to compel the provider’s cooperation.

The decision was related to the provider’s ultimately unsuccessful challenge to a surveillance directive it received under Section 702, the warrantless surveillance authority that is set to expire this year.

Teachers Are Now Performing Monthly Mental Health Exams on Your Child

Susan Goldberg:

On paper it reads like a not-so-vague attempt to socially engineer your child’s behavior. In reality, teacher-led mental health assessments coming to a growing number of public schools are a bureaucratic nightmare. One that will no doubt further clog our nation’s public education system with increased paperwork and administrative costs while putting your child’s future at serious risk.

Thanks to Dr. Aida Cerundolo’s piece in The Wall Street Journal, we are beginning to understand the real-life ramifications of these dangerous educational ideas. Want the Cliffs Notes version? Head over to the excellent summation by Emmett McGroarty and Jane Robbins, detailing the ramifications of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a federal bill focused on the buzz-phrase “Social Emotional Learning” (SEL), the latest craze in public education. Schools in states that have ESSA legislation on the books can use the Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA) to fulfill ESSA paperwork requirements.

New Seafloor Map Reveals How Strange the Gulf of Mexico Is

Betsy Mason:

The floor of the Gulf of Mexico is one of the most geologically interesting stretches of the Earth’s surface. The gulf’s peculiar history gave rise to a landscape riddled with domes, pockmarks, canyons, faults, and channels — all revealed in more detail than ever before by a new 1.4 billion-pixel map.

This striking view of the ocean floor off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas was created by a government agency you’ve likely never heard of called the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM). The bureau’s job is to manage exploration and development of the country’s offshore mineral and energy resources. Consequently it has access to all the survey data that private companies collect.p

Your action requested on Wisconsin DPI’s emergency rule (Foundations of Reading/MTEL)

Wisconsin Reading Coalition, via a kind email:

Citing anecdotal evidence of a shortage of fully licensed teachers for available positions, DPI has issued an emergency rule that would allow many in-state and out-of-state individuals to become licensed and act as teachers-of-record in the classroom without passing the Foundations of Reading Test (FORT). The work-around to avoid the statutory FORT requirement involves the creation of one-year and three-year licenses with stipulations. More details are available in this document as well as in the rule itself. (The rule also lowers the bar for gaining admission to an educator preparation program.)

Absent some data, the public has no way of knowing if there is a shortage of candidates in some subjects or geographic areas. Likewise, the public has no way of knowing whether the FORT is creating a significant barrier to individuals becoming licensed. Despite a statutory requirement to post FORT passage rates annually, no reports have been published for the past three years. Even if there is a teacher shortage, and it is caused by failure to pass the FORT, Wisconsin Reading Coalition feels the emphasis should be on improving educator preparation, not creating ways to avoid the test.

If you feel it is important to both our teachers and our students to require successful completion of the FORT for elementary, special education, reading teacher, and reading specialist positions, regardless of the type of license granted, please comment to DPI online by July 21st, or attend the public hearing on Thursday, July 6, from 2:30 to 4:00 in Room P41 of DPI’s GEF 3 building, 125 S. Webster St., Madison, WI 53707.

It will also be helpful if you send a copy of your comments to Sen. Luther Olsen (, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, who was instrumental in putting the FORT requirement into law in 2011, Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, and the legislators from your own district.

Acquiring the knowledge and skills assessed by the FORT is essential for our teachers to be successful teaching all students, and critical to the quality of education our children receive.

Thank you for your help.

Notes and links: Foundations of Reading results (Wisconsin’s first, small attempt at teacher content knowledge requirements)

MTEL (Massachusetts’ extensive teacher content knowledge requirements).

Comment on the Wisconsin DPI’s proposed weakened teacher license standards (and content knowledge).

Post-Secondary Outcomes for Graduates of the Howard County Public School System: 2009-2016 (PDF)


The Howard County Public School System’s (HCPSS) strategic plan, Vision 2018: Fulfilling the Promise of Preparation” is a call to action to ensure that every student is prepared for success in college or a career upon graduation. In alignment with“ Vision 2018 this report examines the postsecondary outcomes for HCPSS graduates using data received from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), a non profit organization that collects and verifies high school graduates’ college enrollment and degree attainment at a national level. The terms “postsecondary institution” and “college” are used interchangeably in this document.

All values in this report are rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent. Calculations were performed using unrounded values and then rounded to the nearest tenth of a percent1.

Much more, here.

Content Knowledge: New Studies Suggest Choice of Curriculum and Textbooks Can Make a Big Difference for Students

Matt Barnum:

The idea that schools can get better simply by improving the content of what they teach may seem at once novel and obvious in an education policy debate dominated by heated battles over school choice, integration, funding, and teacher tenure.

But a significant body of research suggests that choosing better curriculum — often meaning textbooks — can lead to notable gains in student achievement.

“Multiple research studies meeting the highest bar for methodological rigor find substantial learning impacts from the adoption of specific curricula. The impact on student learning can be profound,” wrote Johns Hopkins University’s David Steiner in a review of research.

Take recent studies in California: One analysis found that elementary school students who used a specific math textbook made larger gains on tests than students who used other books. The impact of switching to a better textbook was comparable to results from a separate California study on the impact of reducing class size by 10 students.

Human jobs in the future will be the ones that require emotional labour: currently undervalued and underpaid but invaluable

Livia Gershon:

Early last year, the World Economic Forum issued a paper warning that technological change is on the verge of upending the global economy. To fill the sophisticated jobs of tomorrow, the authors argued, the ‘reskilling and upskilling of today’s workers will be critical’. Around the same time, the then president Barack Obama announced a ‘computer science for all’ programme for elementary and high schools in the United States. ‘[W]e have to make sure all our kids are equipped for the jobs of the future, which means not just being able to work with computers but developing the analytical and coding skills to power our innovation economy,’ he said.

But the truth is, only a tiny percentage of people in the post-industrial world will ever end up working in software engineering, biotechnology or advanced manufacturing. Just as the behemoth machines of the industrial revolution made physical strength less necessary for humans, the information revolution frees us to complement, rather than compete with, the technical competence of computers. Many of the most important jobs of the future will require soft skills, not advanced algebra.

Governance Transparency: Our view: Howard County’s acting superintendent has an excellent plan for handling public information requests — put it all in public view

Baltimore Sun::

The Howard County Public School System might not deserve a failing grade for how well it has kept the public informed over the years, but it sure hasn’t merited any A’s either. That was more or less the conclusion of the state’s public access ombudsman last year, and it wasn’t hard to see why: While the system handled the vast majority of requests acceptably, it failed miserably with a handful. Of particular note, a controversial 13-page interim report on special education was quite the debacle, an 8-month-long legal tug-of-war that included claims by at least two staffers that the report didn’t even exist.

That’s why the recent decision by Michael J. Martirano, Howard’s acting schools superintendent, to make the system something closer to an open book deserves some attention. In a meeting last week with The Sun’s editorial board, Superintendent Martirano said he now wants all requests made under the Maryland Public Information Act — whether from journalists, parents, unions or anybody else — to be posted on a website along with the system’s eventual response. That way anyone can find out what’s been requested, see how long it’s taking to fulfill that request and then read the answer to the query.

Assuming Mr. Martirano follows through on that promise (and that his staff members don’t start devising their own roadblocks when potentially controversial material is being sought), Howard County may set the gold standard for transparency among school districts, or government agencies in general. Rare is the school system that doesn’t at least occasionally deserve criticism for how it mistreats PIA requests, whether intentional or not. Some of the most common techniques? Ignoring them outright, categorizing them erroneously as exempt (treating certain information as a personnel matter when it is not, for example) or charging an outrageously high price for copying or data analysis.

PIA and FOIA requests aren’t the only ways public schools keep their stakeholders informed, of course, but they represent an important avenue for matters that school systems don’t always like to talk about openly. Parents, teachers and others who care about what’s happening in the classroom need to be confident that they’re getting the full story, good and bad. That’s one of the reasons the debacle over a handful of badly handled PIA requests proved so damaging to Superintendent Renee Foose, who stepped down from her position earlier this year. She had already been criticized over how the system reacted to mold in schools beginning with Glenwood Middle, and even her supporters will admit that the system did a poor job of explaining to the public both the problem and the remedy.

Mr. Martirano, a Frostburg native and former supervisor of elementary schools in Howard as well as a longtime superintendent in St. Mary’s County and most recently, West Virginia’s state superintendent of schools, seems to have taken such criticism of his predecessor to heart. In meeting with The Sun, he spoke frequently of a sense of “lost trust” in the school system, widely regarded as the top performing school district in Maryland, which he also perceives as under “great stress.” Whether that’s true (or whether some of the critiques of Ms. Foose were a bit overwrought), it’s clear that he’s adopted the point of view of the school board majority elected last fall that worked so hard to oust his predecessor.

Howard County, Maryland schools spent $808,387,856 (2017) on 55,638 students or $14,529 / student. That’s about 36% less than Madison!

Howard County Post-Secondary Outcomes for Graduates of the Howard County Public School System: 2009-2016 (PDF)

Learning about the world through video

Moritz Mueller-Freitag::

Deep Learning has made historic progress in recent years by producing systems that rival — and in some cases exceed — human performance in tasks such as recognizing objects in still images. Despite this progress, enabling computers to understand both the spatial and temporal aspects of video remains an unsolved problem. The reason is sheer complexity. While a photo is just one static image, a video shows narrative in motion. Video is time-consuming to annotate manually, and it is computationally expensive to store and process.

The main obstacle that prevents neural networks from reasoning more fundamentally about complex scenes and situations is their lack of common sense knowledge about the physical world. Video data contains a wealth of fine-grained information about the world as it shows how objects behave by virtue of their properties. For example, videos implicitly encode physical information like three-dimensional geometry, material properties, object permanence, affordance or gravity. While we humans intuitively grasp these concepts, a detailed understanding of the physical world is still largely missing from current applications in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.

Liberating Black Kids From Broken Schools — By Any Means Necessary

Bradford, Fuller & Stewart:

Education reform is at a crossroads in this country. And it seems the issue of parent choice — who should have it, how much of it there should be, and for what schools — will determine the direction many reformers will take.

While some may have difficulty defining where they stand on “choice,” others of us — who have spent years, decades, and lifetimes advocating for the liberation of Black children from schools that have not worked for them — do not suffer this crisis of clarity. Our belief is that low-income and working-class families need, as one of the few levers of power at their disposal, the power to choose the right school for their children — and that those choices should include traditional public, public charter, and private schools. Our belief is grounded not just in our understanding that no one type of school is the right fit for every type of child, but in the frank, stark, brutal reality and history that colors the pursuit of education by Black people in this country.

Black history teaches us liberation and education go hand in hand, which is why the struggle by Black people in America to be free has also always included the struggle to be educated. Black people are the only Americans for whom laws were passed prohibiting their education. Despite this, from the moment Black folks became “free” we worked to build our own schools and educate our own children. Yet, still today, Black parents must fight to access schools of their own choosing.

“they are just stuck in this strange world of false belief”

“I don’t think any of them are lying,” he goes on, “they are just stuck in this strange world of false belief, which is fascinating. How can you look at NHS guidelines on how to eat healthily and go, ‘Well, I know better than that’? Maybe if you were a professor of dietetics or nutrition, you might disagree with some stuff. But how as a 19-year-old blogger you can look at it and go, ‘No, that’s wrong. This is right,’ I don’t know.”

How did we arrive at a place where avocados outsell oranges, where coconut oil, a once-cheap saturated fat, is reborn as a super-ingredient with miraculous, health-giving properties? (Paltrow’s website Goop also proposes using it as a mouthwash and sexual lubricant, prompting Warner to joke, “Separately, I hope.”)

For Warner, part of the explanation is an adaptation of psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s theory that people are brilliant at creating a narrative from minimal evidence. Kahneman calls the brain “a machine for jumping to conclusions”.

For Warner, part of the explanation is an adaptation of psychologist Daniel Kahneman’s theory that people are brilliant at creating a narrative from minimal evidence. Kahneman calls the brain “a machine for jumping to conclusions”.

“We really struggle with uncertainty,” explains Warner. “We really want to be able to say: ‘Is coffee good or bad for us?’ Well, it’s not good or bad for you, it just is. And we have to accept that; that’s what science says. So your brain goes, ‘I don’t like that level of uncertainty.’ Certainty is really appealing for a lot of people and that’s what a lot of these people are selling – certainly at the darker end.”

Seattle should open its eyes to minimum-wage research

Seattle Times Editorial Board:

The UW study is a seismic event in the hotly contested field of minimum wage research. It runs counter to previous studies, and the study uses an unusually large and deep data set to draw its conclusions. Researchers should have a field day debating its merits and implications.

But Murray’s office is pre-emptively meddling in that debate. Months ago, it asked the lead Berkeley researcher — the one Murray’s office just celebrated — to critique an early draft of the UW study.

Murray’s office said it had concerns about the “methodology” of the UW study. But the strategy is clear and galling: celebrate the research that fits your political agenda, and tear down the research that doesn’t.

Commentary On Madison’s Ongoing Tax And Spending Growth; $494,652,025 Budget Spends Nearly $20k Per Student (Voucher schools operate on 60% less….)

Amber Walker:

On Monday night, in a 7-0 decision, the Madison School Board approved the district’s $494,652,025 preliminary all-funds budget for the 2017-2018 school year.

The Madison Metropolitan School District highlighted it’s balanced operating budget — representing $390,045,697 of the total funds — will result in a $15 per hour minimum wage for the district’s lowest-paid employees, a teacher starting salary of $41,096, an average 3.25 percent increase in across-the-board raises for staff and $5 million dollars in priority actions aimed at narrowing achievement gaps and raising student achievement.

The remainder of the budget — $104,606,328 — is used to fund construction projects, debt service, and food service costs across the district.

Props to Amber for leading with total spending.

The “no flexibility” statement below is incorrect. One can (mostly) restructure debt, change facility requirements and food practices.

Taxpayers fund all of this, so a complete picture is useful.

Karen Rivedal:

The board on Monday also approved what’s known as its “all-funds” budget, at $494,652,025, which includes the proposed operating budget. This fund captures all budget activity, including construction, food service and debt service, for which there is no flexibility in spending.

Not counting Mertz’s amendment, the total spending plan representing a balanced budget raises property taxes by an estimated 3.97 percent. The owner of a $258,367 home — considered average by the district — will pay a projected $3,108, an increase of $74 over the prior year.

District budget director Mike Barry said the district could know by July how much the $74 average increase could rise, as a result of Mertz’s amendment.

Madison spends more than most ( budget details here ), despite long term, disastrous reading results.

Wisconsin per student voucher data

Are Smartphones Making Us Stupid?

Christopher Bergland:

Cognitive capacity and overall brain power are significantly reduced when your smartphone is within glancing distance—even if it’s turned off and face down—according to a recent study. This new report from the University of Texas at Austin, “Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity,” was published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research.

During this study, the UT Austin researchers found that someone’s ability to hold and process data significantly improved if his or her smartphone was in another room while taking a test to gauge attentional control and cognitive processes. Participants who kept their phones in a pocket or bag also outperformed those who kept their phones on the desk while taking the same test. Again, even if the phone was turned off and face down on the desk, the mere sight of one’s own smartphone seemed to induce “brain drain” by depleting finite cognitive resources.

McDonalds Is Replacing 2,500 Human Cashiers With Digital Kiosks: Here Is Its Math

Tyler Durden::

In a report released this week by Cowen’s Andrew Charles, the analyst calculates the jump in sales as a result of the company’s new Experience of the Future strategy which anticipates that digital ordering kiosks (shown above) will replace cashiers in at least 2,500 restaurants by the end of 2017 and another 3,000 over 2018. Cowen also cited plans for the restaurant chain to roll out mobile ordering across 14,000 U.S. locations by the end of 2017 (we did not show that particular math, but the logic was similarly compelling).

Here is a snapshot of the math that Cowen, likely in conjunction with management, used to come up with the cost-savings as McDonalds increasingly lays off more and more minimum wage workers and replaces them with “Big Mac ATMs”

Civics: How the government can read your email

Robyn Greene:

On its surface, it’s a persuasive case, but these arguments are misleading. What matters isn’t whether Americans were targeted—it’s whether their privacy has been violated. So even if Americans are not technically targeted for surveillance under Section 702, the important part is their communications are incidentally collected just the same. More importantly, it’s completely false that the government can collect Americans’ communications only in cases of national security. In reality, the law is far more expansive: The National Security Agency can collect communications that are just relevant to the foreign affairs of the United States, a huge and dangerous loophole that effectively gives carte blanche to intelligence officials to spy on anyone abroad — including journalists, political and human rights activists, lawyers, scientists, students and business people.

The history of how Section 702 became law makes the breadth of surveillance unsurprising. Congress passed this part of the FISA law in the wake of 2005 revelations that President George W. Bush had been illegally spying on Americans’ phone calls and internet communications with foreigners. Instead of calling the White House to account for its actions, Congress passed Section 702 to authorize a version of Bush’s surveillance program. Supporters argued the law would better protect privacy and impose some level of judicial oversight, but, as we learned from the Snowden documents, which showed the NSA collects everything from phone calls to videos to emails, attachments and more, lawmakers painted with such a broad brush that they failed to achieve those goals. Indeed, a Washington Post sampling of approximately 160,000 communications collected under Section 702 found that nine out of 10 account holders identified in them were not surveillance targets; their communications had been incidentally collected, and about 50 percent were U.S. residents.

The Post’s findings are supported by the judicial record. A FISA Court judge who oversees surveillance under Section 702 found that “substantial quantities” of Americans’ communications are swept up under this authority. How much? We simply don’t know: Recently, Coats announced that he’s either unwilling or unable to provide a rough calculation — even by orders of magnitude — of the number of Americans surveilled under Section 702, despite having been asked for this information by members of Congress for the past six years and having promised to fulfill his predecessor’s commitment to do so during his confirmation hearing.

White People Keep Finding New Ways to Segregate Schools

Edwin Rios:

For the past few years, residents in the city of Gardendale, Alabama, have been pushing to take over a county high school, a middle school, and two elementary schools from the greater Jefferson County school system, one of several districts still bound by a federal desegregation order. Residents argue that they want local control. The city’s mayor went so far as to tell the Washington Post that it was about “keeping our tax dollars here with our kids, rather than sharing them with kids all over Jefferson County.” Opponents of the plan, though, claim the move is mired in racial overtones and the pursuit of a divided system that benefits Gardendale’s families at the expense of others in the county.

In April, a federal judge ruled that although the community’s efforts to separate from the countywide district were in fact racially motivated, Gardendale could start its own district of 2,134 students this fall with two elementary schools and could eventually purchase a $55 million high school from Jefferson County, as long as it established a court-approved desegregation plan within three years. That plan, though, is now on hold—both the case’s plaintiffs, who wanted to block the split, and Gardendale’s attorneys, who were upset the judge’s ruling gave them two schools instead of the desired four, opted to appeal the decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Gardendale is just one of many communities—often small, wealthier enclaves—which have attempted to secede from larger school districts across the country over the past 15 years, sparking a nationwide debate about modern segregation

Hayao Miyazaki’s Top 50 Children’s Books

Open Culture:

And while it may be a commonly-held publishing belief that boys won’t read stories about girls, the young Miyazaki seemed to have no such bias, ranking Heidi and Laura Ingalls Wilder right alongside Tom Sawyer and Treasure Island’s pirates.

Several of the titles that made the cut were ones he could only have encountered as a grown up, including 1967’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and When Marnie Was There, the latter eventually serving as source material for a Studio Ghibli movie, as did Miyazaki’s top pick, Mary Norton’s The Borrowers.

We invite you to take a nostalgic stroll through Miyazaki’s best-loved children’s books. Readers, how many have you read?

Civics: New TSA Policy May Lead to Increased Scrutiny of Reading Material

Jay Stanley:

The TSA is testing new requirements that passengers remove books and other paper goods from their carry-on baggage when going through airline security. Given the sensitivity of our reading choices, this raises privacy concerns.

Tests of the policy are underway in some small airports around the country, and DHS Secretary John Kelly recently said that “we might, and likely will” apply the policy nationwide. “What we’re doing now is working out the tactics, techniques, and procedures, if you will, in a few airports, to find out exactly how to do that with the least amount of inconvenience to the traveler,” he told Fox News. The policy may also apply to food items.

The Most Common Errors In Undergraduate Mathematics

Eric Schechter:

I have ; this seems to be the most popular one. FONTS FINALLY REPAIRED November 2009.

Browser adjustments: This web page uses subscripts, superscripts, and . The latter may display incorrectly on your computer if you are using an old browser and/or an old operating system.

Note to teachers (and anyone else who is interested): Feel free to link to this page (), tell your students about this page, or copy (with appropriate citation) parts or all of this page. You can do those things without writing to me. But if you have anything else to say about this page, please with your questions, comments, or suggestions. I will reply when I have time, though that might not be immediately — recently I’ve been swamped with other work. — , version of 11 Nov 2009.

This web page describes the errors that I have seen most frequently in undergraduate mathematics, the likely causes of those errors, and their remedies. I am tired of seeing these same old errors over and over again. (I would rather see new, original errors!) I caution my undergraduate students about these errors at the beginning of each semester. Outline of this web page:

Related: High school mathematics curriculum and college placement.

Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA: Why we’re here and where we’re going

Jim Buatti and Aeryn Palmer:

For the last two years, the Wikimedia Foundation has been fighting in the United States federal courts to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of Wikimedia users from overly-broad government surveillance. We challenged the U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA) “Upstream” mass surveillance of the internet, which vacuums up international text-based online communications without individualized warrants or suspicion. Now, in the wake of an important court ruling in our favor, we take a closer look at Wikimedia Foundation v. NSA.

On May 23, 2017, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Wikimedia Foundation has adequately alleged standing to challenge the NSA’s Upstream surveillance of internet traffic and may proceed to the next stage of the case. Specifically, the court found that the Foundation has adequately alleged the suspicionless seizure and searching of its internet communications through Upstream surveillance. The Fourth Circuit’s decision is an important, but still intermediate, victory for online privacy and free expression. In this blog post, we’ll provide some background on the case and the practices it challenges, look at the most recent ruling, and discuss our next steps.

In the AI Age, “Being Smart” Will Mean Something Completely Different

Ed Hess::

Many experts believe that human beings will still be needed to do the jobs that require higher-order critical, creative, and innovative thinking and the jobs that require high emotional engagement to meet the needs of other human beings. The challenge for many of us is that we do not excel at those skills because of our natural cognitive and emotional proclivities: We are confirmation-seeking thinkers and ego-affirmation-seeking defensive reasoners. We will need to overcome those proclivities in order to take our thinking, listening, relating, and collaborating skills to a much higher level.

I believe that this process of upgrading begins with changing our definition of what it means to “be smart.” To date, many of us have achieved success by being “smarter” than other people as measured by grades and test scores, beginning in our early days in school. The smart people were those that received the highest scores by making the fewest mistakes.

Longest ever personality study finds no correlation between measures taken at age 14 and age 77

Christian Jarrett:

Imagine you’ve reached the fine age of 77 and you hear news of a school reunion. You’re going to have the chance to meet up with several of your former classmates who you haven’t seen since you were fourteen-years-old. They’ll look a lot different, of course, but what about their personality? Will they be broadly the same as they were back then?

Past research that’s looked at trait changes from adolescence to mid-life has shown there tends to be a moderate amount of stability, so too research that’s looked at changes from mid-life into old age. Put these two sets of data together and you might expect to see at least some personality stability across an entire lifespan. Your classmates probably won’t have changed completely.

Demond Means’ parting words as he exits the Milwaukee education scene

Alan Borsuk::

My verdict is kinder. In urban areas that have less severe problems than Milwaukee, the overall climate around education is a lot healthier and more cooperative than around here. Means said the 13,000-student district he will lead in Georgia (four times the size of Mequon-Thiensville) has a wide-range of students, but there is community-wide support for making schools and students successful. He smiled as he said that.

In the Milwaukee area, there have been some positive steps toward working together in recent years, mostly at the grassroots level. But especially in the city, this remains a place where unfriendly competition between sectors and schools, life in organizational silos, and just plain unhappy politics are alive and well. Our motto is not, “We’re all in this together.”

Maybe Means is right that talking together more would be a step forward, especially if it were the right conversation. He asked, “If you’re not having that conversation (on improvement), then what are you doing?”

Wisconsin lawmakers advance bill to suspend or expel students who disrupt campus speakers

Derek Hawkins:

Conservative media commentator Ben Shapiro was just a few minutes into a lecture at the University of Wisconsin last fall when more than a dozen student protesters rose from the audience and began chanting “shame!” and “safety!” in hopes of drowning him out.

Some of the protesters made their way to the front of the room and stood in front of Shapiro, a former Breitbart News editor who was giving a speech titled “Dismantling Safe Spaces,” as the university’s independent student newspaper reported at the time. Eventually, campus police arrived and the group exited, allowing Shapiro to carry on.

Under a new bill approved Wednesday night by the Wisconsin State Assembly, such student protesters in the UW system could be suspended or even expelled if they repeatedly disrupt campus speakers they disagree with.

A fraternity was told it was ‘appropriating culture.’ Administrators won’t say which.

Catherine Rampell:

Don’t blame college students for their hostility to free expression. The fault ultimately lies with cowardly school administrations, who so often cave to student demands for censorship. Or as some now prefer to call it, “empowering a culture of controversy prevention.”

Those are the actual, Orwellian words of an official at American University.

Several weeks ago, a fraternity at AU, Sigma Alpha Mu, began planning a fundraiser for a veterans’ organization. Student groups often center fundraisers on athletic tournaments, fraternity president and sophomore Rocco Cimino told me, but all the popular sports had already been claimed. The fraternity members decided to go with . . . badminton.

Civics: Does US have right to data on overseas servers? We’re about to find out

David Kravets:

The Justice Department on Friday petitioned the US Supreme Court to step into an international legal thicket, one that asks whether US search warrants extend to data stored on foreign servers. The US government says it has the legal right, with a valid court warrant, to reach into the world’s servers with the assistance of the tech sector, no matter where the data is stored.

The request for Supreme Court intervention concerns a 4-year-old legal battle between Microsoft and the US government over data stored on Dublin, Ireland servers. The US government has a valid warrant for the e-mail as part of a drug investigation. Microsoft balked at the warrant, and convinced a federal appeals court that US law does not apply to foreign data.

The Politics & Partisanship of America’s Education Reform Debate: A Growing Blue-Red Divide

Darrell Bradford:

In previous columns, I wrote about the political and policy problems we face as people fighting for change in the education space. But that’s only part of what ails our reform effort.
We also have a partisan problem.

This may be the one that’s easiest to see — though it is perhaps toughest to fix — and it spilled out into the street in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s presidential defeat. It now charges the national debate, around all policy, with a third-rail-like electricity on both sides of the aisle.

Party allegiance is the new litmus test not just for political philosophy, but for personal belief and social inclusion. Answering the wrong way on the wrong question not just on reform — but on anything — carries the weight of possible ostracism from both the left and the right. My own lens on this is through the tribe of Democrats, because those are the primaries in which I vote and the affiliation of most of the folks who are close to me. Folks I admire and from whom I seek counsel and direction during difficult times.

Madison Schools 2017-2018 $494,652,025 Budget Documents

Madison School District Administration (PDF)::

June Preliminary Budget Financial Status

Balanced Operating Budget: $390,045,697

All Funds Budget: $494,652,025

All Funds Budget: $494,652,025

Total Tax Levy $298,495,588

Tax Rate Increase from $11.92 to $12.03 per $1,000 of home value

Tax Impact on Avg. Home Valued at $258K is estimated at $74.57

Under-Levy of $2.0 million (Not Using Full Levy Authority)

2017-2018 Budget Summary (PDF)

Plenty of Resources“.

Madison School District tax and spending history.

Per student spending is approaching $20k (!), far above most public school districts.

Shakespeare’s Politics

Robert Cooper:

The reason we know little of Shakespeare’s politics is that he was a master playwright. He does not lecture. His characters speak, and we can only guess which of them, if any, speak for him. But some themes recur; and some messages in the action of his plays are too powerful to miss.

Such themes are most abundant in the four plays written at the height of Shakespeare’s powers. In Polonius’s classification, they are tragical-comical-historical. They are about the state in moments of stress, and about individual men acting politically. In these four plays, six themes emerge: the importance of order; the perils of regicide; the qualities of the king; the dangers of ambition; the volatility of crowds; and the risks of ungoverned power.

Baby born without an immune system benefits from lessons learned decades ago

Mike Hixenbaugh:

The doctor’s call came in late February, a week after Blanca Romero and her husband brought their third child home from the hospital. She was busy changing newborn Sebastian’s diaper and didn’t notice the phone ringing a room away.

She heard it a few minutes later, but this time it was her husband, Emil, calling from work. He’d just spoken with the pediatrician, he told her, his voice shaky, then added: “You should sit down.”

Sebastian had been born around Valentine’s Day, a hearty 8 pounds, 9 ounces, with a head of thick black hair and chubby cheeks. Now her husband was saying something about the results of his newborn blood screening.

Millennials are the most likely generation of Americans to use public libraries

Abigail Geiger:

A new analysis of Pew Research Center survey data from fall 2016 finds that 53% of Millennials (those ages 18 to 35 at the time) say they used a library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months. That compares with 45% of Gen Xers, 43% of Baby Boomers and 36% of those in the Silent Generation. (It is worth noting that the question wording specifically focused on use of public libraries, not on-campus academic libraries.)

All told, 46% of adults ages 18 and older say they used a public library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months – a share that is broadly consistent with Pew Research Center findings in recent years.

Members of the youngest adult generation are also more likely than their elders to have used library websites. About four-in-ten Millennials (41%) used a library website in the past 12 months, compared with 24% of Boomers. In all, 31% of adults used a library website in the past 12 months, which is similar to the percentage that reported using library websites in late 2015.

Civics: Facebook knows what you’re doing during commercial breaks

Peter Kafka:

On the other hand, since it’s only measuring Facebook usage, it probably understates the case. If you factor in Twitter, texting, Clash of Clans and everything else you can do with your phone when a commercial comes on, those spikes would likely be much sharper.

Those graphs come via a longer blog post/op-ed from Facebook today, which is theoretically about the state of video advertising, and which offers advice about how to make effective ads.

It also includes some new video stats from the company. Among them: On average, Facebook users watch autoplay video for 16.7 seconds per clip; they watch autoplay video ads for 5.7 seconds.

Indiana University’s Brad Wheeler explains how his institution is ditching the college textbook and replacing it with digital alternatives that are accessible to students from day one.

Dian Schaffhauser:

The idea that students could still be over-paying for course materials all over the country really burns Brad Wheeler, the vice president for IT and CIO of Indiana University. A big part of the problem, he believes, is that it’s taken a long time for textbook publishers to own up to the “fundamental flaw” of their industry: “They are obsessed with counting their gross margins on the things they actually do sell.” And, he added, they ignore the enormous amounts they lose through the other 75 percent of the market made up of used and rented books and other kinds of substitutes. Because of those blinders, the publishers have “long pursued a model that has been failing, year over year.”

Wheeler has arguably been one of the loudest voices telling textbook companies to change their ways. In 2009, his university began piloting an e-textbook program that eventually pollinated to numerous institutions and started a movement that led to the founding of an organization dedicated to helping schools reclaim ownership of their decisions and data.

What would “data literature” look like?

Jeni Tennison:

My eldest daughter is now in secondary school and, while she enjoys and is good at Maths, what she really loves studying is History and English. Watching the critical thinking and analysis skills that she is learning and using for those subjects, I have started to wonder if we should be approaching data literacy from a different angle.

The need for children and adults to be equipped with data skills is well recognised. The Nesta paper Analytic Britain: Securing the Right Skills for the Data-Driven Economy contains some recommendations, for example. However, much of this work focuses on the development of what I would frame as data science skills: the basic skills like the ability to clean data, analyse it, display it in graphs and maps, and the more advanced skills of machine learning and interactive visualisations. Data literacy becomes equated with the ability to do things with data.

The Brave New World of Gene Editing

Matthew Cobb

Whether we like it or not, the Dor Yeshorim database and other similar initiatives, such as genetic tests for sickle-cell anemia, which largely affects African-Americans, are enabling us to deliberately change the frequency of certain human genes in the population. This is the technical definition of eugenics and might seem shocking, since eugenics is forever associated with the forced sterilization of the mentally ill and Native Americans in the US or the murder of those deemed genetically defective by the Nazis. But the ability to use genetic testing when deciding whether or not to have children is clearly a form of soft eugenics, albeit one carried out voluntarily by…

Why the Liberal Elite Will Never Check Its Privilege

William Voegeli:

Karen Kipple’s “greatest wish in the world” is that her eight-year-old daughter Ruby will “have a good life.” At the same time, in “accordance with [her] politics and principles,” she aspires to “a life spent making a difference and helping those less fortunate than herself.” Apart from their love for Ruby, Karen and her husband Matt are united by little beyond the same “political outlook and commitment to social justice, combined with their willingness to impugn those who [don’t] share it.”

This tension between maternal love and political ideals propels Class, Lucinda Rosenfeld’s new novel. Its central dilemma concerns how, and where, to educate Ruby. New York City private schools are notoriously expensive. Karen and Matt do own a two-bedroom Brooklyn condominium worth more than $1 million — but only because its value has doubled in the three years since they moved to a gentrifying neighborhood. Karen is a professional fundraiser for Hungry Kids, whose cause is made clear by its name, while Matt is starting a nonprofit of his own after two decades as an attorney “fighting for tenants evicted by greedy landlords.”

Civics: On Twitter

Damon Linker:

Far more fundamental is the way Twitter intensifies and amplifies pathological social tendencies among those who act within, report on, and write about the political world. It turns politicians, political staffers, reporters, editors, pundits, and analysts into petty, vain, childish, showoffy, hostile, vindictive, dogmatic, impulsive, careless versions of their best and most professional selves. This makes Twitter horrible for our politics and equally bad for journalism. The single best thing for both politics and journalism would be for Twitter to go out of business tomorrow.

Would I miss it? You bet I would! Twitter for me is partly a 21st-century teletype machine providing the latest breaking news in real time 24 hours a day; partly an endless, gossipy cocktail party with my peers in the media; and partly an incomparable means of promoting my work and interacting with readers and critics. (If you use Twitter mainly to follow celebrities or communicate with friends, your experience is undoubtedly very different than mine.)

Is American Childhood Creating an Authoritarian Society?

Pratik Chougule:

American childhood has taken an authoritarian turn. An array of trends in American society are conspiring to produce unprecedented levels of supervision and control over children’s lives. Tracing the effects of childrearing on broad social outcomes is an exercise in speculation. But if social scientists are correct to posit a connection between childrearing and long-term political outcomes, today’s restrictive childhood norms may portend a broader regression in our country’s democratic consensus.

Since the early 1980s, American childhood has been marked by a turn toward stringent adult control. Support for “free range” childhood has given way to a “flight to safety” characterized by unprecedented dictates over children’s routines.

More so than any other generation, parents and educators have instilled in millennials the idea that, as Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt put it, “life is dangerous, but adults will do everything in their power to protect you from harm.” Indeed, strong social pressures have so hardened against parents who believe in the value of a free, unsupervised childhood that psychologist Peter Gray likens them to past Chinese norms on foot binding.

DPI Plans To Reduce Wisconsin’s Teacher Content Knowledge Requirements

Wisconsin department of public instruction, via a kind reader:

Through its work with stakeholder groups, the Department has identified administrative rule changes that help school districts address teacher shortages, beginning with CHR 16-086 which became effective on June 1, 2017. Additional changes to PI 34 are being advanced by the Department which build upon the changes made by CHR 16-086 in this emergency rule. In order to continue implementing solutions that help school districts address staffing difficulties, the emergency rule provides further flexibility, transparency, and clarity around the teacher licensing process by doing the following:

• Creating a one-year License with Stipulations (replacing emergency licenses and permits) for:

• Teachers and pupil services professionals from another state who have not met Wisconsin testing requirements;

• Speech Language Pathologists who hold a valid license from DSPS; and

• If a district cannot find a fully licensed teacher or pupil services professional, an individual with a bachelor’s degree.

• Creating a three-year License with Stipulations as part of a district-sponsored pathway for experienced teachers to receive another teacher license in a new subject or developmental level.

• Issuing licenses to teachers from another state who have successfully completed the edTPA or the National Board process (Foundations of Reading Test still required).

• Starting January 1, 2018, allowing Initial and Professional Educators to use professional growth goals and work in Educator Effectiveness as another option to renew or advance their license.

• Allowing educator preparation programs flexibility in their admissions policies by removing specific testing (Praxis CORE) and GPA requirements from rule.

• Allowing teacher and pupil services candidates to demonstrate content knowledge with a 3.0 or higher GPA in license area or by successfully completing a content-based portfolio.

• Removing the master’s degree requirement for the Library Media Specialist License and make it a stand-alone license based on completion of a major.

• Creating a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps teaching license allowing someone who has been certified as a JROTC instructor by a branch of the military to teach JROTC courses in a high school.

Summary of, and comparison with, existing or proposed federal regulations: N/A
Comparison with rules in adjacent states: N/

A Summary of factual data and analytical methodologies:

PI 34 contains the current administrative rules governing the licensure of school personnel. Section 115.425, Wis. Stats., and PI 34.36, Wis. Admin. Code, provide the duties of the Professional Standards Council for Teachers, which advises the State Superintendent of Public Instruction on matters pertaining to the licensure of teachers. In its advisory capacity, the Professional Standards Council reviews and makes recommendations for administrative rules related to teacher preparation, licensure and regulation. The PSC developed a strategic plan for addressing school staffing challenges in Wisconsin with the goal of developing, supporting, and retaining teachers, and some of those recommendations were used in this rule development. Such strategies include fewer licenses with greater flexibility, easing the licensing process for out-of-state license holders, reducing the testing burden, and expanding pathways into the profession. Without this emergency rule, the current rule would still be in effect and the Department would continue to administer school personnel licensure as it exists in PI 34.


Public comments and a hearing on July 6, 2017.

Wisconsin takes a baby step toward teacher content knowledge requirements using one aspect of Massachusetts’ policy (MTEL).

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

How did Wisconsin Teacher candidates perform on the “Foundation of Reading” requirement? Have a look.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: $251B Unfunded Pension Liabilities (Illinois)

John Kass:

Bills pile up; Moody’s Investor Service says taxpayers are on the hook for $251 billion in unfunded public union pension liabilities.

Boss Mike Madigan, king of the Democrats who control things, wants tax increases but no real structural reform to bring stability to The Venezuela of the Midwest.

And the whispers of bankruptcy won’t help the average (remaining) taxpaying chumbolones like you and me who don’t want to leave our homes but who’ll get stuck with the bills.

Since our neighboring states are doing better, taking Illinois jobs and businesses and Illinois workers and taxpaying families, they might as well just take the rest of Illinois, too, dammit.

Wisconsin can have Chicago and begin calling it “South Milwaukee.”

Naturally, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will fight this. He needs a job. And he’ll most likely beg his friends at The New York Times and the Washington Post to write angry editorials to save him. And these will be full of concern for the republic and those dispossessed Midwestern salt-of-the-earth taxpaying Americans, as if.

Sadly, Wisconsin probably won’t want Rahm, either. So to spare hurt feelings, I propose carving out 40 acres around the mayor’s home so Rahm might be prince of his own country:


And Cook County Board President Toni “Taxwinkle” Preckwinkle will fight it, too, so she needs something to soothe her ambitions:

Here’s what American universities can learn from Germany

Joseph Parilla and Martha Ross:

In the United States, educators and employers generally operate in separate spheres. We spend less on active labor-market support — policies that provide direct support like training and job-search assistance — as a share of our economy than all but two countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. As a consequence, young people largely navigate the labor market unassisted. The OECD reports that the share of U.S. youths who are not employed, in school or in training programs is about five percentage points higher than in other advanced economies such as Germany and Japan.

Both workers and the economy suffer due to this lack of structure to help young people enter the workforce. A recent report by an association of human resource officers called the school-to-work transition a “long, painful process,” noting, “(many) employers are reluctant to hire recent college graduates because so many fail at their first, second, and even third jobs.” Employers struggle to fill 5.5 million jobs nationwide, hindering overall economic growth.

My Last Index

Judith Pascoe

A casual reader of authors’ acknowledgment pages will encounter expressions of familial gratitude that paper over years of spousal neglect and missed cello recitals. A keen reader of those pages may happen upon animals that were essential to an author’s well-being—supportive dogs, diverting cats, or, in one instance, “four very special squirrels.” But even an assiduous reader of acknowledgments could go a lifetime without coming across a single shout-out to a competent indexer.

That is mostly because the index gets constructed late in the book-making process. But it’s also because most readers pay no mind to indexes, especially at this moment in time when they are being supplanted by Amazon and Google. More and more, when I want to track down an errant tidbit of information about a book, I use Amazon’s “Search inside this book” function, which allows interested parties to access a book’s front cover, copyright, table of contents, first pages (and sometimes more), and index. But there’s no reason to even use the index when you can “Look Inside!” to find anything you need.

Beijing protesters in rare clash with police over school dispute


About a hundred protesters clashed on Wednesday with police in downtown Beijing after authorities abruptly reassigned their children to a school in a rough neighborhood, a rare display of public anger in the Chinese capital.

Large protests are rare in heavily-guarded and affluent Beijing, but the reassignment plan comes at a time when educational resources have become increasingly stretched, while home prices have soared.

During their hours-long standoff, protesting residents of the city’s northwestern district of Changping skirmished several times with more than 20 unarmed police officers outside the office of the Beijing municipality.

“Our kids need to go to school! We demand a response!” shouted some of the gathered protesters.

On Charter School Accomplishment


CREDO is the best national quasi-experimental data source we have, and its methodology holds up well in comparisons with experimental data.

To the extent you’re suspicious of CREDO or of quasi-experimental design, Rand also did a national study on charters that looked exclusively at experimental studies. The authors found:

“Consistent with many previous studies that have focused on broad sets of charter schools, we found no evidence that, on average, attending charter schools had a positive impact on student achievement. The estimated impact of attending the average charter school in the study was negative but not statistically signicant after adjusting for the multiple hypotheses tested. However, the average impact of attending charter schools in large urban areas or those serving lower achieving or more disadvantaged students was large and positive.”

Surveillance business models: How a Company You’ve Never Heard of Sends You Letters about Your Medical Condition

Kashmir Hill and Surya Mattu:

Yet there’s some medical information that Acurian doesn’t have to guess about: The company pays Walgreens, which uses a privacy exemption for research, to send recruitment letters to its pharmacy customers on Acurian’s behalf, based on the medications they’re using. Under this arrangement, Acurian notes that it doesn’t access the medical information directly; the customers’ identities remain private until they respond to the invitations.
 And that is not the entire story. An investigation by the Special Projects Desk has found that Acurian may also be pursuing people’s medical information more directly, using the services of a startup that advertises its ability to unmask anonymous website visitors. This could allow it harvest the identities of people seeking information about particular conditions online, before they’ve consented to anything.

Teachers, Philly schools reach tentative contract agreement: “described the deal as “expensive” and said it “may require layoffs to fund it.”

Kristen A. Graham:

After four years and a state Supreme Court battle, and with the clock ticking to the end of the school year, the Philadelphia School District and its teachers’ union have reached a tentative contract agreement.

The deal, which comes 1,383 days after the last contract expired, would run through 2020. It was struck with handshakes Thursday night with both sides determined to meet their self-imposed deadline of the end of the term — Tuesday for students, Wednesday for teachers.

Madison School District celebrates its first class of graduates to earn state’s new Seal of Biliteracy

Amber Walker:

After 13 years of dual-language instruction, the Madison Metropolitan School District’s first class of graduates walked across the stage this spring with Wisconsin’s new Seal of Biliteracy, certifying their mastery of a foreign language during high school.

Forty-five students from Madison La Follette High School earned the seal of biliteracy in Spanish. All of the students were a part of the first class of 50 kindergartners at Nuestro Mundo Elementary School’s dual-language immersion program. The majority of the cohort continued with the DLI program at Sennett Middle School and followed the required course of study at La Follette to earn the seal.

Starting next school year, students across the district will have the chance to earn the biliteracy seal with their high school diplomas. With the expansion, MMSD expects the number of qualified students to expand exponentially.

South Carolina Announces $250,000 Fellowships For Educators to Launch Top-Notch Charter Schools

Naomi Mix:

Attention aspiring charter school leaders: South Carolina policymakers are looking to award hundreds of thousands of dollars to talented educators with the skills to launch their own charter schools.
The South Carolina Public Charter School District is starting an incubator program aimed at cultivating high-performing charter schools to educate underserved, low-income and minority students.

While some of the state’s existing charter schools show “promising results” and employ “promising practices,” there are no schools in the state that have achieved the same level of success as well-known networks in other parts of the country — such as those that win the the Broad Prize For Urban Education — said South Carolina Public Charter School District Superintendent Elliot Smalley.

Germany plans to fingerprint children, spy on personal messaging


Germany is planning a new law giving authorities the right to look at private messages and fingerprint children as young as 6, the interior minister said on Wednesday after the last government gathering before a national election in September.

Ministers from central government and federal states said encrypted messaging services, such as WhatsApp and Signal, allow militants and criminals to evade traditional surveillance.

“We can’t allow there to be areas that are practically outside the law,” interior minister Thomas de Maiziere told reporters in the eastern town of Dresden.

Militant attacks in France, Britain and Germany have prompted European governments to tighten up on surveillance of suspected militants. Britain has proposed forcing messaging services to let authorities access encrypted communications.

The Espionage Act’s Troubling Origins

Priscilla Guo:

One hundred years ago, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Espionage Act into law, and since then it has been used to criminalize the disclosure of national defense and classified information.

Dissent-Stifling Roots

At the turn of the 20th century, anti-immigrant, xenophobic sentiments dominated national rhetoric and was consequently reflected in the legislation crafted. On September 25, 1919, the 28th President of the United States Woodrow Wilson gave his final address in support of the League of Nations in Pueblo, CO and in his speech, he spoke of American immigrants with hyphenated nationalities: “Any man who carries a hyphen around with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready.” Wilson specifically targeted Irish-Americans and German-Americans, whom he perceived to be disloyal immigrants and potential spies. In fact, many state governments banned the teaching of German in schools, since it was “a language that disseminates the ideas of autocracy, brutality, and hatred.” The nativism movement continued to grow from the “Know-Nothing” party to the Palmer raids as concerns about espionage and disloyalty swirled.

Google (and Facebook), not GCHQ, is the truly chilling spy network

John Naughton:

During the hoo-ha, one of the spooks with whom I discussed Snowden’s revelations waxed indignant about our coverage of the story. What bugged him (pardon the pun) was the unfairness of having state agencies pilloried, while firms such as Google and Facebook, which, in his opinion, conducted much more intensive surveillance than the NSA or GCHQ, got off scot free. His argument was that he and his colleagues were at least subject to some degree of democratic oversight, but the companies, whose business model is essentially “surveillance capitalism”, were entirely unregulated.

He was right. “Surveillance”, as the security expert Bruce Schneier has observed, is the business model of the internet and that is true of both the public and private sectors. Given how central the network has become to our lives, that means our societies have embarked on the greatest uncontrolled experiment in history. Without really thinking about it, we have subjected ourselves to relentless, intrusive, comprehensive surveillance of all our activities and much of our most intimate actions and thoughts. And we have no idea what the long-term implications of this will be for our societies – or for us as citizens.

Analysis: Janus Ruling Could Force Unions to Compete for Members

Mike Antonucci:

Last week, attorneys for the plaintiff in Janus v. AFSCME filed for review in the U.S. Supreme Court. If the court accepts the case and rules in favor of Janus, it would end the practice of public-sector unions charging agency fees to non-members for costs associated with collective bargaining and other operations.

The media and analysts have focused on the potential effect of an adverse ruling on union membership and finances. Given the choice, as has happened in some states, a significant number of public employees opt out of membership. But there is also the possibility that once freed from financially supporting their old union, public employees will join — and financially support — a different union or professional organization.

When It Comes to Trying to Shake Up K-12, Is College the Problem?

Jen Curtis:

In California, once home to the nation’s most-prized higher education system, the stress of college starts early. “Even at the middle school level, there is pressure,” says Jessica Lura, director of strategic initiatives and partnerships at the K-8 Bullis Charter School in Los Altos, Calif. “Parents worry their child is going to fall behind because they know the [University of California] system is looking for certain requirements.”

Bullis is a progressive charter school with a project-based model that values mastery and student choice over blind promotion. But as college admission throughout California gets more competitive—and parents’ concerns about placement become more salient—system-wide changes can become difficult, even at the elementary and middle school level.

Baby Genome Sequencing for Sale in China

Antonio Regaldo:

Boston-based DNA sequencing company is offering to decode the complete genomes of newborns in China, leading some to ask how much parents should know about their children’s genes at birth.

Veritas Genetics says the test, ordered by a doctor, will report back on 950 serious early- and later-life disease risks, 200 genes connected to drug reactions, and more than 100 physical traits a child is likely to have.

Use And Abuse Of Data

Cliff Maas:

The writer of the story, Lynda Mapes, could not have been more explicit:

The cause of death was climate change: steadily warming and drier summers, that stressed the tree in its position atop a droughty knoll.

So, lets check the data and determine the truth. My first stop was the nice website of the Office of the Washington State Climatologist (OWSC), where they have a tool for plotting climatological data. Here is the summer (June-August) precipitation for the Seattle Urban Site, about a mile away from the tree in question. It indicates an upward trend (increasing precipitation) over the period available (1895-2014), not the decline claimed by the article.

Or lets go to the Western Region Climate Center website and plot the precipitation for the same period, considering the entire Puget Sound lowlands (see below) using the NOAA/NWS climate division data set and for June through September. Very similar to the Seattle Urban Site. Not much overall trend, but there is some natural variability, with a minor peak in the 70s and 80s.


Van Hise’s “special sauce”

Ben Rhodes rhetoric, media and governance

Madison’s English 10 experiment.

Ignoring Educational Productivity Is Immoral (Madison Spends About $18k/student Annually, Far More Than Most)


I. The Morality of Productivity

What if we knew a way to increase educational opportunity at no additional cost?

The benefits would be enormous. We could give more children the education they deserve.

And, by not having to increase educational spending, we could spend these saved tax dollars on families in need, or paying off government debt, or keeping money in the hands of working families.

Increasing educational productivity is one of the great moral issues of our time.

Unfortunately, increasing educational productivity in our country has been enormously difficult to accomplish.

II. Inequity in the City

Madison’s far above average spending has yet to address its long standing disastrous reading results.

Los Angeles Charter Uprising

Wall Street Journal::

One reason public schools in big cities are so lousy is union control of local school boards. This has long been true in Los Angeles, but last week charter-school advocates dealt a major blow to the failing status quo by winning a majority on the district’s Board of Education.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has some of the country’s lowest-performing public schools. In 2015 only one in five fourth-graders rated proficient on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. While Los Angeles boasts more charter schools than any district in the country, they still account for merely 16% of enrollment. Two years ago the Great Public Schools Now initiative, which is backed by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, set a goal of enrolling 50% of the district’s students in charters. The unions naturally went nuts.

As union schools lose students (and thus taxpayer funds) to charters, the school board has become even more reactionary. Last month the board voted to support three bills before the state legislature in Sacramento that aim to limit autonomy for charter schools. One would prevent charters from appealing rejections by local school boards to county and state boards. The appeals process is one reason charters in Los Angeles have been able to expand despite school-board resistance.

A Favorite Subject Returns to Schools: Recess

Tawnell Hobss::

Three kindergarten girls looked close to taking a spill as they sat on the high back of a playground bench at Oak Point Elementary. Feet away, several administrators didn’t make a move to stop them because at this school outside Dallas, playtime is revered.

“As long as they’re safe, we allow kids to be kids,” said Daniel Gallagher, assistant superintendent for educational services in the Little Elm Independent School District.

That’s the mantra in this small school district, where schoolchildren are transitioning from one daily 30-minute recess to one hour a day, taken in 15-minute increments. School officials say children are better focused with more unstructured breaks and do better in school.

School districts throughout the country are reassessing recess—with some bringing back the pastime or expanding it, citing academic and health benefits.

The Minneapolis school board on Tuesday approved a proposal to require 30 minutes of daily recess in elementary schools, moving away from just recommending 20 minutes daily. And in Florida, parents are hoping the governor will soon sign an education bill that includes a required 20 minutes of daily recess for elementary-school students in traditional public schools.

Federalism And Civil Rights Governance

Jessica Huseman and Annie Waldman

The Department of Education has laid out plans to loosen requirements on investigations into civil rights complaints, according to an internal memo sent to staff on June 8 and obtained by ProPublica.

Under the Obama administration, the department’s office for civil rights applied an expansive approach to investigations. Individual complaints related to complex issues such as school discipline, sexual violence and harassment, equal access to educational resources, or racism at a single school might have prompted broader probes to determine whether the allegations were part of a pattern of discrimination or harassment.

The new memo, sent by Candice Jackson, the acting assistant secretary for civil rights, to regional directors at the department’s civil rights office, trims this approach. Jackson was appointed deputy assistant secretary for the office in April and will remain as the acting head of the office until the Senate confirms a full-time assistant secretary. Trump has not publicly nominated anyone for the role yet.

The office will apply the broader approach “only” if the original allegations raise systemic concerns or the investigative team argues for it, Jackson wrote in the memo.

White Professor Fired From Black College Gets $4.9 Million

Joe Harris:

A trial jury awarded Elizabeth Wilkins $1.35 million in compensatory damages and $3.5 million in punitive damages on her claim that she was fired in favor of less senior black teachers. She also claimed Dr. Latisha Smith, the temporary co-chair for Harris-Stowe’s Teacher Education Department, repeatedly proclaimed her belief in “black power” in emails.

Harris-Stowe’s defense was crippled by the fact that it deleted emails in Smith’s account, in violation of a court order.

Public school officials push back on bills aimed at slowing referendums

Annysa Johnson:

A handful of supporters also testified, urging lawmakers to pass the measures.
“These referendums are just out of control. We’re spending way too much money, and our taxes are way too high,” said conservative activist Orville Seymer of the group Citizens for Responsible Government.
The two were among more than a dozen witnesses who testified before the education panel and the Senate’s Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection, whose chairman, Sen. Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg), is spearheading what he calls the “referendum reform initiative” and is the lead sponsor of some of the bills.

These Maps Reveal the Hidden Structures of ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ Books

Sarah Laskow:

Reading a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book can feel like being lost in a maze and running through twists and turns only to find dead ends, switchbacks, and disappointment. In the books—for those not familiar with them—you read until you come to a decision point, which prompts you to flip to another page, backward or forward. The early books in the series, which began in 1979, have dozens of endings, reached through branching storylines so complex that that trying to keep track of your path can seem hopeless—no matter how many fingers you stick into the book in order to find your way back to the key, fateful choice. You might end up back at an early fork again, surprised at how far you traveled only to reemerge at a simple decision, weighted with consequences that you couldn’t have imagined at the beginning.

Civics: Ruminating On Governance

James Howard Kunstler:

Note: it’s now deemed illicit for US government officials to talk to Russian diplomats. I wonder what would happen if government officials in other lands decided that it was improper to talk with US diplomats. The Democratic Party seems to be building a case that the world would be better off without diplomats cluttering up each other’s capital cities. Hey hey, ho ho, Di-plo-macy has got to go! Now that’s a most progressive idea! Apparently, AG Sessions riled Senator Harris by pointing out that the Soviet Union collapsed nearly thirty years ago — a typical white privilege thing to say, right?

Next up was Senator Mark Warner (D – Va), Vice-Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who grilled Sessions about Russia’s electronic warfare capability. Say what? First of all, wouldn’t Senator Warner find more enlightenment on the subject by calling the Secretary of Defense, or the top military brass, or the NSA Director to the witness table? Does he know where the duties of the US Attorney General begin and end?

Secondly, Is there anybody in this country with an IQ above room temperature who thinks that the USA is not similarly disposed to carry out electronic warfare? Or that all the advanced nations of the world are not toying with internet intrusions into each other’s cyber space? Perhaps this is a manifestation of the political neurosis called American Exceptionalism, the idea that we’re so unlike people in other lands that they might as well be space aliens. (A sweet idea for a new Twilight Zone episode.)

Report: How Amazon’s Tightening Grip on the Economy Is Stifling Competition, Eroding Jobs, and Threatening Communities

Olivia LaVecchia:

For all of its reach, Amazon, the company founded by Jeff Bezos in 1995 as an online bookstore, is still remarkably invisible. It makes it easy not to notice how powerful and wide-ranging it has become. But behind the packages on the doorstep and the inviting interface, Amazon has quietly positioned itself at the center of a growing share of our daily activities and transactions, extending its tentacles across our economy, and with it, our lives.

Today, half of all U.S. households are subscribed to the membership program Amazon Prime, half of all online shopping searches start directly on Amazon, and Amazon captures nearly one in every two dollars that Americans spend online. Amazon sells more books, toys, and by next year, apparel and consumer electronics than any retailer online or off, and is investing heavily in its grocery business. Its market power now rivals or exceeds that of Walmart, and it stands only to grow: Within five years, one-fifth of the U.S.’s $3.6 trillion retail market will have shifted online, and Amazon is on track to capture two-thirds of that share.

US Teacher Union State Affiliate Finances

Mike Antonucci:

Each year I gather the financial information from NEA’s state affiliates and publish it in a table. Because the source figures are derived from each union’s filings with the IRS, the information is always a year old.


Ed Reform:

If education reformers are honest with one another, we must admit that our efforts have a hit a wall, according to a new book published today by the Center for Education Reform. The hard reality is, more was accomplished in the first nine years of the movement than in the past 16.

Charting a New Course: The Case for Freedom, Flexibility, and Opportunity Through Charter Schools presents a collection of essays by eight education experts. The book compares the approaches of the two main groups in the charter-school world: those who want to empower bureaucrats and politicians, and those who want to empower parents. The essays were edited by Jeanne Allen, of the Center for Education Reform; Cara Stillings Candal, of the National Academy of Advanced Teacher Education; and Max Eden, of the Manhattan Institute.

The first school of reformers — those who want to empower bureaucrats and politicians — make decisions on the basis of standardized test scores. As a result, which schools can open and which must close are the exclusive province of spreadsheets.

rump’s education cuts aren’t ‘devastating,’ they’re smart

Williamson M. Evers and Vicki E. Alger::

At the behest of the Education Department, the Mathematica Policy Research Group studied a TRIO program and found weaknesses, which it first reported in 2004. The final report found “no detectable effects” on college-related outcomes, including enrollment and completion of bachelor’s or associate’s degrees. In a striking acknowledgement that these programs don’t hold up under scrutiny, lobbyists for the programs got Congress to ban the Education Department from setting up control-group evaluations of TRIO and GEAR UP.

Another sign of dysfunction is that — despite a demonstrable lack of success — grants to run TRIO and GEAR UP programs almost always get renewed. For example, in California, 82% of those who had grants in 2006 to manage this “no detectable effects” TRIO program still had those grants a decade later.

The K-12 programs proposed for elimination in the Trump budget are similarly ineffective.

In 1994, the Clinton administration started the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which promised to provide disadvantaged children with after-school enrichment to improve their academic performance. Nearly $18 billion spent over two decades later, there’s scant evidence of success. “It’s a $1.2 billion after-school program that doesn’t work,” according to Mark Dynarski of the Brookings Institution. He should know.

Dynarski worked at the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton administration and directed the 21st Century Community Learning Centers’ national evaluation while he was a researcher at Mathematica Policy Research. The three evaluations published between 2003 and 2005 concluded that the achievement of participating students was virtually the same, but their behavior was worse, compared with their peers who weren’t in the program.

Leader Tracking Systems:Turning Data Into Information for School Leadership

Leslie M. Anderson | Brenda J. Turnbull | Erikson R. Arcaira:

School districts can improve the chances that a new principal will be ready for success on the job by managing systems of principal preparation, selection, and support. And the management of this kind of principal pipeline, like other work that school districts do, can draw on data to inform decisions.

But just as the idea of intentionally crafting a principal pipeline is a relatively new one for school districts, bringing data together to inform pipeline management is also new. This report explores the possibilities. It describes work already being done in the six districts participating in The Wallace Foundation’s Principal Pipeline Initiative:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, North Carolina

Denver Public Schools, Colorado

Gwinnett County Public Schools, Georgia

Hillsborough County Public Schools, Florida

New York City Department of Education, New York

Prince George’s County Public Schools, Maryland

These districts have taken steps to define what they want from their principals and to improve the chances that principals will be able to deliver (Turnbull, Anderson, Riley, MacFarlane, & Aladjem, 2016). The idea of crafting data systems to support work on principal pipelines had its origins in the practical needs of the evaluation of the initiative, which gathered extensive data from the districts on principals and schools over many years before and during the operation of the initiative. But then, as the districts took more and more intentional approaches to managing the career opportunities of their aspiring and sitting principals, they took advantage of these Leader Tracking Systems (LTSes) in a number of ways. Compelling displays of in- formation are helping district leaders address issues of school leadership.
This report discusses not only ways to use LTSes but also hard-won insights about how to build them and roll them out. It draws on interviews with system developers, directors of talent development, and other district leaders in fall and winter 2016-17. This report is not intended as an evaluation of the districts’ work. Our analysis is intended to inform other practitioners about the lessons learned and the opportuni- ties revealed in the process of building and using an LTS.


Ginger Thompson:

But unlike most places in Mexico that have been ravaged by the drug war, what happened in Allende didn’t have its origins in Mexico. It began in the United States, when the Drug Enforcement Administration scored an unexpected coup. An agent persuaded a high-level Zetas operative to hand over the trackable cellphone identification numbers for two of the cartel’s most wanted kingpins, Miguel Ángel Treviño and his ​brother Omar.

Then the DEA took a gamble. It shared the intelligence with a Mexican federal police unit that has long had problems with leaks — even though its members had been trained and vetted by the DEA. Almost immediately, the Treviños learned they’d been betrayed. The brothers set out to exact vengeance against the presumed snitches, their families and anyone remotely connected to them.
Their savagery in Allende was particularly surprising because the Treviños not only did business there — moving tens of millions of dollars in drugs and guns through the area each month — they’d also made it their home.
For years after the massacre, Mexican authorities made only desultory efforts to investigate. They erected a monument in Allende to honor the victims without fully determining their fates or punishing those responsible. American authorities eventually helped Mexico capture the Treviños but never acknowledged the devastating cost. In Allende, people suffered mostly in silence, too afraid to talk publicly.

Rolling Stone Settles With University Of Virginia Fraternity Over Rape Hoax Article

Chuck Ross:

A source involved at the national level with the fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi, tells TheDC that Rolling Stone will pay $1.65 million to settle the defamation suit.

The magazine’s decision follows a settlement in April with Nicole Eramo, a University of Virginia associate dean who was also smeared in the article, which was written by Sabrina Rubin Erdely.

In the piece, “A Rape on Campus,” Erdely relayed the story of Jackie Coakley, a Virginia woman who claimed she was brutally raped by a group of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity members during a party in Sept. 2012.

Nashville Charter Parents Want to Know Why School Board Members Didn’t Attend Meeting

Amanda Haggard:

At Tuesday’s Metro Nashville Board of Education meeting, the night started with more than half of its members absent from the board floor.

Granted it wasn’t a heavy agenda compared to other meetings, but a large slate of charter school parents, advocates and students were scheduled for public comment and board member Mary Pierce had a resolution item up for a vote. Until Christiane Buggs showed up near the end of public comment, the board didn’t have a quorum and couldn’t have voted on the consent agenda nor Pierce’s resolution.

Pierce says the resolution’s intention was to reiterate a portion of the board’s current policy of advocating for Metro Nashville Public Schools and all of its students. Language in the resolution points to the board supporting charter schools the same way they would support traditional district schools. (You can find the full resolution on Pg. 19 of Tuesday’s agenda.)

Jill Speering missed the meeting because of an ongoing illness, and says she would’ve been there otherwise.

Amy Frogge and Sharon Gentry did not respond to calls requesting comment, but Will Pinkston, while saying he had more pressing commitments Tuesday night, also didn’t feel he was missing anything by being out of the room.

Pinkston says Pierce’s resolution was “intended to put a muzzle on one or more board members. Ultimately, the arbiter of what individuals can say is a matter of the constitution, and that’s what I’ll say when it comes to the floor. But I don’t know how I’ll vote on it.”

Pierce pulled the resolution and pushed it to the board’s meeting on June 27, saying that she felt it was important for all members of the board to be present to discuss and vote on the resolution.

“The resolution is simply a recommitment to our policy (GP3) to advocate for the organization and all of the students it serves,” Pierce said Wednesday when asked to comment on her colleagues’ absences. “Any further comments should be first discussed on the board floor.”

Madison lacks governance diversity.

The Grocery Store Of The Future Is Mobile, Self-Driving, And Run By A

Adele Peters:

For consumers, it’s designed to be an easier way to shop. To use the store, called Moby, you download an app and use your phone to open the door. A hologram-like AI greets you, and, as you shop, you scan what you want to buy or place it in a smart basket that tracks your purchases. Then you walk out the door; instead of waiting in line, the store automatically charges your card when you leave (Amazon is testing a similar system). The tiny shop will stock fresh food and other daily supplies, and if you want something else you can order it using the store’s artificial intelligence. The packages will be waiting when you return to shop the next time. When autonomous vehicles are allowed on roads, the store could also show up at your home, and the company is also testing a set of drones to make small deliveries.

Robot helps children with autism spectrum disorder learn life-skills at elementary school

McKenna Oxenden::

Logan Lucas always had trouble making friends.

Escorted by enthusiastic teachers, Logan’s mother, Nicole Lucas, walked into school ready to meet her son’s newest friend. Instead of a human, she was met with a plastic, smiling face — Milo the robot.

Standing at just 2 feet tall with funky chocolate brown hair and an outfit resembling a Power Ranger, there’s more to Milo than meets the eye.

People with autism spectrum disorder have a difficult time understanding social cues such as facial expressions that most of us take for granted. Milo helps children understand what a smile or frown means, how to calm down and handle themselves when upset and develop lead taking skills, like saying hello to people.

The DEA’s drug slang dictionary is tremendous

Christopher Ingraham:

t’s meant to help law enforcement officials know the difference between Purple Haze (pot) and Purple Rain (PCP), or Scooby Snacks (MDMA) and Kibbles & Bits (Ritalin).

But slang is a tricky, ever-changing thing, and drug slang all the more so. Some of the terms feel hopelessly antiquated, like “Reefer” or “Wacky Tobacky” for marijuana. Others seem ridiculous or highly improbable, like “Movie Star Drug” for cocaine or “Smoochy Woochy Poochy.” (We’ll tell you what that one is later.)

The DEA acknowledges these difficulties. “Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information presented. However, due to the dynamics of the ever-changing drug scene, subsequent additions, deletions, and corrections are inevitable,” the report’s authors write.

Still, the colorful dictionary is a testament to the ingenuity of the illicit drug trade, from Angel Powder to Zapapote. Think you’re up on your drug slang? Try our 10-question quiz below.

CTA Prepping Charter School Moratorium Resolutions for Local School Boards

Mike Antonucci:

The California Teachers Association approved a new business item that reads:

CTA will develop and promote resolutions that local associations can introduce at school board meetings calling for county-wide and statewide moratoriums on new charter school authorizations.
The union has promoted limits on the number of charter schools since the charter law was passed in 1992 but I believe this is the first time it will formally call for a moratorium.

Some unions love moratoriums, but they are rarely put into effect.

Wright Middle School Brings Home National Championship at AAHCB in New Orleans

David Dahmer:

I think at this point it would be hard not to call Madison a national powerhouse on the African American History Challenge Bowl scene. This past weekend, Wright Middle School brought home Madison’s 5th national championship in 23 years, emerging victorious at the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. 31st Annual International Conference and National Competition in New Orleans.

“On top of the five championships, I think we’ve come in second at least three or four times, too,” says 100 Black Men of Madison’s Enis Ragland, who has been involved with the Challenge Bowl since its inception more than 20 years ago. “We’re known now as one of the national powerhouse chapters of the African American History Challenge Bowls.

Much more on the African American History Challenge Bowl, here.