How the GDPR will disrupt Google and Facebook

Dr Johnny Ryan:

Google and Facebook will be unable to use the personal data they hold for advertising purposes without user permission. This is an acute challenge because, contrary to what some commentators have assumed, they cannot use a “service-wide” opt-in for everything. Nor can they deny access to their services to users who refuse to opt-in to tracking.[1] Some parts of their businesses are likely to be disrupted more than others.
 The GDPR Scale
 When one uses Google or one willingly discloses personal data. These businesses have the right to process these data to provide their services when one asks them to. However, the application of the GDPR will prevent them from using these personal data for any further purpose unless the user permits. The GDPR applies the principle of “purpose limitation”, under which personal data must only be “collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes”.[2]
 Google and Facebook cannot confront their users with broad, non-specific, consent requests that cover the entire breadth of their activities. Data protection regulators across the EU have made clear what they expect:

Yes, Google Uses Its Power to Quash Ideas It Doesn’t Like—I Know Because It Happened to Me

Kashmir Hill

But the most disturbing part of the experience was what came next: Somehow, very quickly, search results stopped showing the original story at all. As I recall it—and although it has been six years, this episode was seared into my memory—a cached version remained shortly after the post was unpublished, but it was soon scrubbed from Google search results. That was unusual; websites captured by Google’s crawler did not tend to vanish that quickly. And unpublished stories still tend to show up in search results as a headline. Scraped versions could still be found, but the traces of my original story vanished. It’s possible that Forbes, and not Google, was responsible for scrubbing the cache, but I frankly doubt that anyone at Forbes had the technical know-how to do it, as other articles deleted from the site tend to remain available through Google.
 Deliberately manipulating search results to eliminate references to a story that Google doesn’t like would be an extraordinary, almost dystopian abuse of the company’s power over information on the internet. I don’t have any hard evidence to prove that that’s what Google did in this instance, but it’s part of why this episode has haunted me for years: The story Google didn’t want people to read swiftly became impossible to find through Google.
 Google wouldn’t address whether it deliberately deep-sixed search results related to the story. Asked to comment, a Google spokesperson sent a statement saying that Forbes removed the story because it was “not reported responsibly,” an apparent reference to the claim that the meeting was covered by a non-disclosure agreement. Again, I identified myself as a journalist and signed no such agreement before attending.

A Nobel Doesn’t Make You an Expert: Lessons in Science and Spin

Cornelia Dean:

In 1979, there was a partial meltdown at a nuclear plant on Three Mile Island, in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. I was a young newspaper editor at the time, and I was caught up in coverage of the resulting debate about whether nuclear power could ever be safe. I have long forgotten the details of that episode, except for one troubling thought that occurred to me in the middle of it: The experts we relied on to tell us whether a given design was safe, or indeed whether nuclear power generally was safe, were people with advanced degrees in nuclear engineering and experience running nuclear plants. That is, we were relying on people who made their living from nuclear power to tell us if nuclear power was safe. If they started saying out loud that anything about the nuclear enterprise was iffy, they risked putting themselves out of business.

Do Laptops Help Learning? A Look At The Only Statewide School Laptop Program

Robbie Feinberg:

It was the year 2000 and Maine’s governor at the time, Angus King, was excited about the Internet. The World Wide Web was still relatively young but King wanted every student in the state to have access to it.

“Go into history class and the teacher says, ‘Open your computer. We’re going to go to and we’re going to watch an archaeologist explore the Catacombs this morning in real time.’ What a learning tool that is!”

Fast-forward a couple of years and that dream became a reality. Maine became the first, and still only, state to offer a statewide laptop program to certain grade levels.

Alison King, no relation, was just a toddler when the program launched. Back then, kids lugged big, bulky iBooks around all day. In her senior year at Gorham High School, she says she uses her laptop — now much smaller — for most of the day, “We hardly ever use paper.”

Her American politics class is totally paperless. Alison’s teacher, James Welsch, says when he arrived in Gorham seven years ago, he’d never seen so many computers in one classroom. Welsch says it turned the class into an interactive discussion, “It’s like, we can put the world on the desk of each kid.” His students write blog posts, read each other’s work, and share videos and articles — all online.

Then he started to notice that when some students turned in their essays, the writing wasn’t as fluid as it was when the students were putting pen to paper. “You could also see an increase in copy-and-paste,” he says. “Whether it’s from another student, whether it’s from a piece online, digital sharing is what these guys do.”

Trump Damaged Democracy, Silicon Valley Will Finish It Off

Joel Kotkin:

The Silicon Valley and its Puget Sound annex dominated by Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft increasingly resemble the pre-gas crisis Detroit of the Big Three. Tech’s Big Five all enjoy overwhelming market shares—for example Google controls upwards of 80 percent of global search—and the capital to either acquire or crush any newcomers. They are bringing us a hardly gilded age of prosperity but depressed competition, economic stagnation, and, increasingly, a chilling desire to control the national conversation.

Jeff Bezos harrumphs through his chosen megaphone, The Washington Post, about how “democracy dies in the dark.” But if Bezos—the world’s third richest man, who used the Post first to undermine Bernie Sanders and then to wage ceaseless war on the admittedly heinous Donald Trump—really wants to identify the biggest long-term threat to individual and community autonomy, he should turn on the lights and look in the mirror.

The Use of Big Data Analytics by the IRS: Efficient Solutions or the End of Privacy as We Know It?

Kimberly Houser & Debra Sanders

This Article examines the privacy issues resulting from the IRS’s big data analytics program as well as the potential violations of federal law. Although historically, the IRS chose tax returns to audit based on internal mathematical mistakes or mismatches with third party reports (such as W-2s), the IRS is now engaging in data mining of public and commercial data pools (including social media) and creating highly detailed profiles of taxpayers upon which to run data analytics. This Article argues that current IRS practices, mostly unknown to the general public are violating fair information practices. This lack of transparency and accountability not only violates federal law regarding the government’s data collection activities and use of predictive algorithms, but may also result in discrimination.

Why am I a threat? A Muslim PhD student gets targeted as a security risk; now he wants to know why

David Kroman & Lilly A. Fowler

One day last fall, a month before Donald Trump was elected president, Lassana Magassa disappeared from his job with Delta Airlines at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Employees are fired or quit all the time, but Magassa, who is Black and Muslim, had given no indication he was ready to leave and, according to his colleagues, was a perfectly capable ramp agent. So without any word from supervisors or Magassa himself, all that was left to do was speculate.
“It just seemed super weird,” says a former colleague. “One day everything was fine and the next thing he was gone.”

Jorge Harris, another of Magassa’s former co-workers, says “I couldn’t figure out what happened.”

As it turned out, the rank-and-file Delta employees were not the only ones in the dark. A directive to deny him access to the secure areas where he’d worked for over a year had been passed down to the Port of Seattle, Sea-Tac’s operator, from the Transportation Security Administration. And the explanation — to Delta supervisors, to Port of Seattle employees and to Magassa — was thin.

“Mr. Magassa,” reads an almost apologetic one-page note from the Port of Seattle’s head of airport security, “We are in receipt of notification from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), that your status in their vetting system has changed requiring immediate revocation of your security badge.”

“TSA does not provide any further information to the airport operator (Port of Seattle),” concludes the note. Magassa, for all intents and purposes, had been fired.

For Magassa, 36, it was the most puzzling piece in a series of perplexing interactions with federal law enforcement. A year earlier an FBI agent had started efforts to recruit him as an informant. And hours before losing his airport badge, he’d learned that he no longer qualified for U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s global entry program, which expedites security for low-risk travelers.

China’s New Wave of Internet Censorship: Name Verification for Online Commenting

Charlotte Gao:

China’s internet censorship is getting tougher and more comprehensive every day. On August 25, China’s top internet regulator announced new rules to manage internet forums and communities, forbidding unidentified netizens from posting anything on internet platforms. The new rules will become effective on October 1.

As The Diplomat has been following, since Chinese president Xi Jinping took office, China has been systematically increasing online control, and 2017 has witnessed the most fierce wave of internet censorship yet: Banning VPNs and independent multimedia contents, demanding international publishing houses such as Cambridge University Press remove specific content, punishing China’s top three internet giants for failing to manage their online platform properly, to name just a few.

The Cyberspace Administration of China, the top internet censor, just gave Chinese netizens further bad news. On August 25, the administration issued “Management Regulations on Internet Forum and Community,” in order to “promote the healthy and orderly development of online community” and “safeguard national security and public interests.”

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How Online Filter Bubbles Are Making Parents Of Autistic Children Targets For Fake “Cures”

Tom Chivers:

It started simply enough – with suggestions that her child should follow an unremarkable-sounding special diet. “They did these tests: a stool test and a urine test,” Layla (not her real name) tells BuzzFeed News. “I can’t remember where they were from – not the NHS, obviously, but some lab. The results had all these red markers.” The tests, from an alternative medicine practitioner who was recommended by and paid for by a major charity, apparently showed that Layla’s son, an autistic boy who was 3 at the time, had various issues with his gut and his metabolism. “I was shocked,” says Layla. “I didn’t realise – my son had all these deficiencies, these toxins in his system.”

The tests recommended a gluten-, casein-, and dairy-free diet. “It didn’t seem like a really big deal,” says Layla. “I thought, gluten, it’s bread and pasta – it’s not a massive thing.” The practitioner told her to monitor her son’s sleep and behaviour, and to expect improvements in the symptoms of his autism if they followed the diet.

Katherine Johnson, the NASA Mathematician Who Advanced Human Rights with a Slide Rule and Pencil

Charles Bolden

When Katherine began at NASA, she and her cohorts were known as “human computers,” and if you talk to her or read quotes from throughout her long career, you can see that precision, that humming mind, constantly at work. She is a human computer, indeed, but one with a quick wit, a quiet ambition, and a confidence in her talents that rose above her era and her surroundings.

“In math, you’re either right or you’re wrong,” she said. Her succinct words belie a deep curiosity about the world and dedication to her discipline, despite the prejudices of her time against both women and African-Americans. It was her duty to calculate orbital trajectories and flight times relative to the position of the moon—you know, simple things. In this day and age, when we increasingly rely on technology, it’s hard to believe that John Glenn himself tasked Katherine to double-check the results of the computer calculations before his historic orbital flight, the first by an American. The numbers of the human computer and the machine matched.

“the number of teachers was growing faster than student enrollment”

Mike Antonucci

“Financially it’s a ticking time bomb, we think,” Ingersoll said. “The main budget item in any school district is teachers’ salaries. This just can’t be sustainable.”
It’s easy to see what Ingersoll means. NCES produces its survey every four years. Almost all public school staffing took a hit during the 2012 survey, as districts laid off thousands during the recession. Hiring was bound to return to normal levels afterwards.
If we go back to 2008 we get a clear picture of the growth of America’s public school workforce. While, student enrollment in 2015-16 was virtually identical to what it was in 2007-08 — almost 49.3 million students — the number of employees in 2016 was substantially higher.

The population of teachers grew from 3.4 million to more than 3.8 million — an increase of 12.4 percent.
But teachers comprise only half of the public school labor force. Over the past eight years, the numbers of administrators, bureaucrats, specialists and infrastructure support employees have also ballooned. The ranks of vice principals and assistant principals grew by 8.3 percent. Instructional coordinators and curriculum specialists increased by 10.5 percent, and there was between 5 and 12 percent growth in the number of nurses, psychologists, speech therapists, and special education aides.

Again, this larger group of employees is responsible for the same number of students as were enrolled in 2008.

Related: NCTQ “Questions Teacher Shortage Narrative, Release Facts to Set the Record Straight”.

Questions “National Teacher Shortage” Narrative, Releases Facts to Set the Record Straight

NCTQ (National Council on Teacher Quality):

Our nation has open teaching positions that need to be filled by trained teachers. This is not a new national crisis but rather one America has been living with for years due to our unwillingness to adopt more strategic pay approaches. With rare exceptions, states have also shown no interest in limiting the number of teacher candidates their institutions can accept in some teaching fields to bring down the numbers nor in encouraging candidates to consider other teaching areas in shorter supply.

Teacher shortages are largely a product of local conditions, requiring local solutions. For example, until the state of Oklahoma pays its teachers more, it will struggle to fill positions, but solving its problem does not require us to raise teacher pay everywhere. Detroit suffers because its schools are so challenging. No solution will solve its problem until we address these local environments. The teaching field does not need solutions that set us back, like lowering teacher standards, hiring long-term substitutes and handing out emergency teacher certifications. There has been a mad rush by states to adopt these sorts of solutions. Instead, to fully understand the nature of teacher supply and demand trends, it is incumbent upon the nation, states, and school districts to collect better data and put these data into an historical context. States and districts should be able to identify the number of new teachers trained in each subject, how many graduate and do not end up teaching (because we know that nationwide, 50 percent of candidates do not end up in teaching jobs), where candidates apply for jobs, how many vacancies are open in each subject, and where these vacancies are located. In the absence of strong data systems that can pinpoint the broken points along the teacher pipeline, states and districts will continue to look for band-aids without resolving the underlying problems and the very real shortages which are not new but have gone on now for decades.

NCTQ Questions Teacher Shortage Narrative, Release Facts to Set the Record Straight.

Facebook Figured Out My Family Secrets, And It Won’t Tell Me How

Kashmir Hill

Rebecca Porter and I were strangers, as far as I knew. Facebook, however, thought we might be connected. Her name popped up this summer on my list of “People You May Know,” the social network’s roster of potential new online friends for me.
 The People You May Know feature is notorious for its uncanny ability to recognize who you associate with in real life. It has mystified and disconcerted Facebook users by showing them an old boss, a one-night-stand, or someone they just ran into on the street.

What We Get Wrong About Technology

Tim Harford

To understand how humble, cheap inventions have shaped today’s world, picture a Bible — specifically, a Gutenberg Bible from the 1450s. The dense black Latin script, packed into twin blocks, makes every page a thing of beauty to rival the calligraphy of the monks. Except, of course, these pages were printed using the revolutionary movable type printing press. Gutenberg developed durable metal type that could be fixed firmly to print hundreds of copies of a page, then reused to print something entirely different. The Gutenberg press is almost universally considered to be one of humanity’s defining inventions. It gave us the Reformation, the spread of science, and mass culture from the novel to the newspaper. But it would have been a Rachael — an isolated technological miracle, admirable for its ingenuity but leaving barely a ripple on the wider world — had it not been for a cheap and humble invention that is far more easily and often overlooked: paper.
 The printing press didn’t require paper for technical reasons, but for economic ones. Gutenberg also printed a few copies of his Bible on parchment, the animal-skin product that had long served the needs of European scribes. But parchment was expensive — 250 sheep were required for a single book. When hardly anyone could read or write, that had not much mattered. Paper had been invented 1,500 years earlier in China and long used in the Arabic world, where literacy was common. Yet it had taken centuries to spread to Christian Europe, because illiterate Europe no more needed a cheap writing surface than it needed a cheap metal to make crowns and sceptres.

Some Thoughts and Advice for Our Students and All Students: Think for Yourself

Paul Bloom, Nicholas Christakis, Carlos Eire, Maria E. Garlock, Robert P. George, Mary Ann Glendon, Joshua Katz, Thomas P. Kelly, Jon Levenson, John B. Londregan, Michael A. Reynolds, Jacqueline C. Rivers, Noël Valis, Tyler VanderWeele and Adrian Vermeule:

We are scholars and teachers at Princeton, Harvard, and Yale who have some thoughts to share and advice to offer students who are headed off to colleges around the country. Our advice can be distilled to three words:

Think for yourself.

Now, that might sound easy. But you will find—as you may have discovered already in high school—that thinking for yourself can be a challenge. It always demands self-discipline and these days can require courage.

In today’s climate, it’s all-too-easy to allow your views and outlook to be shaped by dominant opinion on your campus or in the broader academic culture. The danger any student—or faculty member—faces today is falling into the vice of conformism, yielding to groupthink.

At many colleges and universities what John Stuart Mill called “the tyranny of public opinion” does more than merely discourage students from dissenting from prevailing views on moral, political, and other types of questions. It leads them to suppose that dominant views are so obviously correct that only a bigot or a crank could question them.

Since no one wants to be, or be thought of as, a bigot or a crank, the easy, lazy way to proceed is simply by falling into line with campus orthodoxies.

Free speech was the left’s rally cry. But the fate of the Daily Stormer, a hate site ‘kicked off the internet’, signals the increasing irrelevance of the first amendment

Julia Carrie Wong:

The primary principle at stake – that the US and the internet both remain free speech zones, even for Nazis – has never been more fraught.

“This is a really terrible time to be a free speech advocate,” said Jillian York, director for international freedom of expression at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “It’s a ‘First they came for the … situation,” she said, referring to the famous Martin Niemöller poem about the classes of people targeted by Nazis, “only in reverse”.

Though these are dark days for American exceptionalism, the US remains distinct in its commitment to freedom of speech. Even as many Americans increasingly favor European-style limitations on hate speech, the constitution’s first amendment ensures that any such legislative effort is likely a non-starter.

But the fate of the Daily Stormer – as vile a publication as it is – may be a warning to Americans that the first amendment is increasingly irrelevant.

Why It’s a Bad Idea to Tell Students Words Are Violence

Jonathan Haidt & Greg Lukianoff:

Of all the ideas percolating on college campuses these days, the most dangerous one might be that speech is sometimes violence. We’re not talking about verbal threats of violence, which are used to coerce and intimidate, and which are illegal and not protected by the First Amendment. We’re talking about speech that is deemed by members of an identity group to be critical of the group, or speech that is otherwise upsetting to members of the group. This is the kind of speech that many students today refer to as a form of violence. If Milo Yiannopoulos speaks on the University of California, Berkeley, campus, is that an act of violence?

Timeless Tips To Sabotage Productivity


Here’s a list of five particularly timeless tips from the Simple Sabotage Field Manual:

Managers and Supervisors: To lower morale and production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.

Employees: Work slowly. Think of ways to increase the number of movements needed to do your job: use a light hammer instead of a heavy one; try to make a small wrench do instead of a big one.
Organizations and Conferences: When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large and bureaucratic as possible. Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.
Telephone: At office, hotel and local telephone switchboards, delay putting calls through, give out wrong numbers, cut people off “accidentally,” or forget to disconnect them so that the line cannot be used again.

Transportation: Make train travel as inconvenient as possible for enemy personnel. Issue two tickets for the same seat on a train in order to set up an “interesting” argument.

Fun vs. Computer Science

James Hague

I’ve spent most of my career working on games, either programming or designing them or both. Games are weird, because everything comes down to this nebulous thing called fun, and there’s a complete disconnect between fun and most technical decisions:

Does choosing C++14 over C++11 mean the resulting game is more fun?

Does using a stricter type system mean the game is more fun?

Does using a more modern programming language mean the game is more fun?

Does favoring composition over inheritance mean the game is more fun?

Now you could claim that some of this tech would be more fun for the developer. That’s a reasonable, maybe even important point, but there’s still a hazy at best connection between this kind of “developer fun” and “player fun.”

Spying on Students: School-Issued Devices and Student Privacy

Gennie Gebhart:

Students and their families are backed into a corner. As students across the United States are handed school-issued laptops and signed up for educational cloud services, the way the educational system treats the privacy of students is undergoing profound changes—often without their parents’ notice or consent, and usually without a real choice to opt out of privacy-invading technology.

Students are using technology in the classroom at an unprecedented rate. One-third of all K-12 students in U.S. schools use school-issued devices.1 Google Chromebooks account for about half of those machines.2 Across the U.S., more than 30 million students, teachers, and administrators use Google’s G Suite for Education (formerly known as Google Apps for Education), and that number is rapidly growing.3

Student laptops and educational services are often available for a steeply reduced price, and are sometimes even free. However, they come with real costs and unresolved ethical questions.4 Throughout EFF’s investigation over the past two years, we have found that educational technology services often collect far more information on kids than is necessary and store this information indefinitely. This privacy-implicating information goes beyond personally identifying information (PII) like name and date of birth, and can include browsing history, search terms, location data, contact lists, and behavioral information. Some programs upload this student data to the cloud automatically and by default. All of this often happens without the awareness or consent of students and their families.

Private Schools First, Public Schools Last in K-12 Ratings

Lydia Saad:

As another school year begins, Americans believe private schools provide students with the best K-12 education of five different types of schools in the U.S. The 71% who rate the quality of private school education as excellent or good exceeds the ratings for parochial, charter, home and public schooling, in that order.

Publish and Prosper

Derek Lowe:

What do you get if you publish a paper in a highly-ranked journal? Some prestige, certainly. If you’re in academia, it certainly helps your application for tenure, and it’s no bad thing come grant renewal time. Looks good on your CV if you’re applying for another job, no doubt. But how about a big pile of cash?

That is apparently just what you get in some organizations and in some countries. This collaboration between Science and Retraction Watch has the numbers, although I wish that there were more information. For example, the top payout found in each country is listed, but I would also be interested in the median, and in the total number of institutions that offer such bonuses. No countries in continental Europe appear, so the practice seems unknown (or at least uncommon) there. The UK and the US both show up, though, with similar top payouts (in the $6000 range), but again, I’d like to know more about just how widespread this is. To give you an idea, the only two US examples actually given in the paper are the $10 that Oakwood University (Huntsville, AL) gives anyone whose published work gets cited, and the Miller College of Business (Muncie, IN), which pays $2000 for publication in a list of approved business journals. Those would make it seem like direct pay-to-publish is not quite in the mainstream of US academia, but it’s hard to say.

Why We Must Still Defend Free Speech

David Cole:

Does the First Amendment need a rewrite in the era of Donald Trump? Should the rise of white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups lead us to cut back the protection afforded to speech that expresses hatred and advocates violence, or otherwise undermines equality? If free speech exacerbates inequality, why doesn’t equality, also protected by the Constitution, take precedence?

After the tragic violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, these questions take on renewed urgency. Many have asked in particular why the ACLU, of which I am national legal director, represented Jason Kessler, the organizer of the rally, in challenging Charlottesville’s last-minute effort to revoke his permit. The city proposed to move his rally a mile from its originally approved site—Emancipation Park, the location of the Robert E. Lee monument whose removal Kessler sought to protest—but offered no reason why the protest would be any easier to manage a mile away. As ACLU offices across the country have done for thousands of marchers for almost a century, the ACLU of Virginia gave Kessler legal help to preserve his permit. Should the fatal violence that followed prompt recalibration of the scope of free speech?

Gender Ideology’s Kindergarten Commissars

Rod Dreher:

Raising little ones is hard these days, particularly because — even by ages five and six — kids on the playground are educating them about topics I didn’t even know much about until I was a preteen. Consequently, my wife and I began talking to the girls about sexuality in age-appropriate ways last year. It’s a sensitive area, but we wanted to go ahead and introduce our values to them early on, before a kid at school did and potentially caused confusion.

In that spirit, last weekend I decided to talk to the girls about the topic of people who identify as transgendered. Shortly after starting the conversation, however, I learned that [their teacher] had already talked to [our daughter] and her classmates about it. This involved her reading a book called “I Am Jazz” and conducting a classroom discussion on the topic.

First of all, let me say this: [my wife] and I think a lot of [the teacher]. She has been an excellent teacher and [our daughter] has seen great progress in her class. Furthermore, she has made a point to encourage us and compliment [our daughter’s] progress anytime she sees us. She’s a good and professional teacher, and I suppose that’s part of the reason we were so disappointed. We wouldn’t have expected it from her. And even though I’m sure she meant well, those good intentions don’t make [our daughter’s] experience any more appropriate, especially because I had already let the school know my wishes about any such discussion with the students.

Redistributed Wisconsin K-12 tax dollars grow in latest legislative plan

Molly Beck:

Overall, Walker proposed $11.5 billion for schools, including the $649 million increase.

A spokesman for budget committee co-chairwoman Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said the Joint Finance Committee reduced the increase to $639 million because of reductions to funding proposed by Walker for rural school districts and for schools in the Milwaukee School District that meet academic achievement goals.

Walker in a statement thanked the committee for its actions after the package was approved 12-4, with all Republicans voting for and all Democrats voting against.

Jesse Opoien:

Darling raised her voice at one point, arguing that Democratic policies before Act 10 had “put the teachers in the back room and put the unions at the table.”

“Come on,” Darling said. “We value teachers. I’m sick of this victimizing teachers. Let’s agree that education is all of our priority.”

One measure would allow people to take online classes to earn teacher certification in high-need subjects like technology, math, engineering and science. Another would offer loans for people seeking additional education and training to become principals or other education administrators.

Lawmakers also approved a measure proposed in Walker’s budget to eliminate expiration dates for teachers’ licenses following a three-year provisional period.

It also offers resources for school districts that elect to consolidate or share some services. Districts that completely consolidate would be eligible for aid equal to $150 per student for five years after the consolidation, gradually tapering off in the following years. Districts that choose to share a grade could receive $150 per student enrolled in that grade for four years, which would taper off in the fifth year. The package also sets aside $2 million for a pilot program to provide aid to districts that share some administrative services.

Also under the plan, districts could only hold referendums during already-scheduled election days or on the second Tuesday of November in odd-numbered years, with allowances made for special circumstances, such as increased costs resulting from a natural disaster.

“Thanks to the members of the Joint Finance Committee for supporting the education portion of my budget,” Walker said in a statement. “Once signed, this budget will include more actual dollars for K-12 education than ever before in our history.”

Locally, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending nearly $20,000 per student.

Additional links:




How the personal data extraction industry ends

Doc Searls:

That direct influence will be far more helpful than anything they’re learning now just by following our shadows and sniffing our exhaust, mostly against our wishes. (To grok how little we like being spied on, read The Tradeoff Fallacy: How Marketers are Misrepresenting American Consumers and Opening Them Up to Exploiitation, a report by Joseph Turow, Michael Hennessy and Nora Draper of the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.)

Our influence will be most corrective when all personal data extraction companies become what lawyers call second parties. That’s when they agree to our terms as first parties. These terms are in development today at Customer Commons, Kantara and elsewhere. They will prevail once they get deployed in our browsers and apps, and companies start agreeing (which they will in many cases because doing so gives them instant GDPR compliance, which is required by next May, with severe fines for noncompliance).

Meanwhile new government policies that see us only as passive victims will risk protecting yesterday from last Thursday with regulations that last decades or longer. So let’s hold off on that until we have terms of our own, start performing as first parties (on an Internet designed to support exactly that), and the GDPR takes full effect. (Not that more consumer-protecting federal regulation is going to happen in the U.S. anyway under the current administration: all the flow is in the other direction.)

Civics: 34 Baltimore cases dismissed after video appears to show officer planting drugs

Justin Carissimo:

Thirty-four criminal cases will be thrown out as authorities investigate three Baltimore police officers accused of planting evidence at crime scenes, officials announced Friday night.

Approximately 123 cases are under review after body camera footage appeared to show an officer planting illicit drugs at a crime scene in January, said Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore’s state’s attorney.

Mosby said her office has dismissed or will dismiss cases that soley relied on the officers’ credibility. “Where these officers are material and necessary witnesses, we are dismissing those cases, which rely exclusively on the credibility of these officers,” she said.

Seventy-seven cases are still under review, while 12 other cases are moving forward, Mosby said.

“As I have stated before, it is incumbent upon us as prosecutors to be the ministers of justice and to do what’s right in the pursuit of justice, over convictions, while simultaneously prioritizing public safety,” she said.

M anaging the State: Social Credit, Surveillance and the CCP’s Plan for China


Social managements’ roots are in the core ideology of the Chinese Communist Party. The CCP defines itself as the “vanguard of the people”—the Leninist idea that a small group of scientifically guided and educated cadres can lead the people in the direction of social equality and prosperity. Mao Zedong’s organizational guide, the “mass line” describes the same concept. The CCP leadership is explicitly at the top of this hierarchical mass line system. It takes the “scattered and unsystematic ideas of the masses” and forms them into “concentrated and systematic ideas” before taking them back to the masses to “propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own”—Meaning management along scientific principles. [3]

Social management describes a “scientific” Leninist machinery for shaping, managing, and responding. It is best summarized as a complex systems management process through which the Party leadership attempts to manage the Party itself, and through which Party leadership attempts to manage the Party’s interactions with society as a whole. Social management is aimed at ensuring China’s “holistic” or “comprehensive” state security (国家安全). This holistic state security concept is not fundamentally new under Xi Jinping. It includes the western “national security” concept, but, more significantly, is focused on two internal security dimensions. First, managing the Party itself, and second is managing social order (Xinhua, April 15, 2014; Qiushi, April 15, 2017; PLA Daily [archive], December 13, 2000).

The Hidden Cost Of College: Rising Student Fees

Jeffrey Sellingo:

With tuition bills arriving as the fall semester starts, students and parents might notice a line with a pretty big number next to it: student fees.

During their college search, many prospective students tend to pay attention to tuition. But in the last decade, fees have started to make up a larger share of the overall bill, particularly at public campuses. Since 2000, student fees have actually grown faster than tuition in percentage terms. Fees rose 95 percent at public four-year colleges (and 61 percent at private colleges), according to a study by Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University. Because the sticker price is often much lower at a public college than a private institution, the hike in student fees hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“Student fees have traditionally been used to fund specific campus programs such as student unions and recreational facilities,” Kelchen wrote in his study, “but the number and types of fees have increased substantially over the past two decades.”

Those include technology fees, library fees, and athletics fees. Nearly half of all subsidies public universities provide to athletics programs come from student fees. Public colleges like using fees when they need to raise overall prices because they typically get to keep the revenue generated from fees, unlike tuition dollars which are sometimes funneled through state coffers. What’s more, students usually get to vote on new fees or fee increases. Many of these measures easily pass because the students who vote mostly have graduated by the time the fees are in place.

As Kelchen noted in his study, fees are a popular way to pay for amenities, such as recreation centers and student unions, needed to keep up with competitors. This arms race on so-called consumption amenities—so named because have no lasting value for students—helps attract relatively low-achieving, high-income applicants who do not receive large financial-aid packages, according to researchers, but raises the cost for everyone else, especially low-income students struggling to pay bills.

Mobility Report Cards: The Role Of Colleges In Intergenerational Mobility

Ram Cherry, John Friedman, Emmanuel Sara, Nicholas Turner and Danny Yagan:

We characterize intergenerational income mobility at each college in the United States using data for over 30 million college students from 1999-2013. We document four results. First, access to colleges varies greatly by parent income. For example, children whose parents are in the top 1% of the income distribution are 77 times more likely to attend an Ivy League college than those whose parents are in the bottom income quintile. Second, children from low-and high-income families have similar earnings outcomes conditional on the college they attend, indicating that low-income students are not mismatched at selective colleges. Third, rates of upward mobility – the fraction of students who come from families in the bottom income quintile and reach the top quintile – differ substantially across colleges because low-income access varies significantly across colleges with similar earnings outcomes. Rates of bottom-to-top quintile mobility are highest at certain mid-tier public universities, such as the City University of New York and California State colleges. Rates of upper-tail (bottom quintile to top 1%) mobility are highest at elite colleges, such as Ivy League universities. Fourth, the fraction of students from low-income families did not change substantially between 2000-2011 at elite private colleges, but fell sharply at colleges with the highest rates of bottom-to-top-quintile mobility. Although our descriptive analysis does not identify colleges’ causal effects on students’ outcomes, the publicly available statistics constructed here highlight colleges that deserve further study as potential engines of upward mobility.

‘The leading edge of a much larger iceberg’: New Jersey high school disbands football team

Jacob Bogage:

The nationwide forces that are beginning to uproot football have converged at a place called High School North.

Demographic shifts, concussions, single-sport specialization and cost — among the same issues that have caused youth football numbers to plummet around the country in recent years — have led West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North to drop varsity football this season. The Knights, with a roster of 37 players, will play a junior varsity schedule.

High School South, the other secondary school in the district, might have to do the same next year, along with high schools from four other neighboring jurisdictions, West Windsor-Plainsboro Schools Superintendent David Aderhold said.

The moves reflect a crisis for football all over the country, but one that has accelerated in this New York City bedroom community.

“We’re the leading edge of a much larger iceberg when it comes to what’s coming in youth athletics,” Aderhold said.

Football participation has dropped precipitously for some time. High school football enrollment is down 4.5 percent over the past decade, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Tuition covered, but challenges remain, for students in MATC’s ‘Promise’ program

Nico Savidge:

Ten days before the start of classes, and nearing the end of a weeklong course meant to prepare them for the fall semester, the members of Team Orange walked one by one to the front of a classroom at Madison Area Technical College and told their peers how ready they were for their freshman year.

The class included 17 of the 210 new MATC students who make up the first cohort of the school’s Scholars of Promise program, which provides scholarships and support services to help low-income students both afford and succeed in higher education.

“College isn’t as scary as everyone’s made it seem,” Zach Smith-Clark said to his classmates in the Learning to Learn course. “It’s something I can accomplish.”

That’s the sort of confidence MATC officials want the Scholars of Promise to have as they start classes on Monday.

The Most Shortsighted Attack on Free Speech in Modern U.S. History

Conor Friedersdorf:

When free-speech advocates point out that the First Amendment protects even hate speech, as the attorney Ken White recently observed, they are often met with extreme hypotheticals. For example: “So, the day that Nazis march in the streets, armed, carrying the swastika flag, Sieg-Heiling, calling out abuse of Jews and blacks, some of their number assaulting and even killing people, you’ll still defend their right to speak?”

In Charlottesville, he declared, something like that scenario came to pass: “Literal Nazis marched the streets of an American city, calling out Jews and blacks and gays, wielding everything from torches to clubs and shields to rifles, offering Nazi slogans and Nazi salutes. Some of their number attacked counter-protesters, and one of them murdered a counter-protester and attempted to murder many others. This is the ‘what if’ and ‘how far’ that critics of vigorous free speech policies pose to us as a society.”

Why Big Business Is Racing to Build Blockchains

Robert Hackett:

One summer morning in a coffee shop on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, I sit behind my MacBook Pro as tens of thousands of machines around the globe prepare to indelibly inscribe a record of my tinkering into their collective consciousness. I am in the midst of creating my own digital tokens—­essentially online currency—on a sprawling, decentralized network known as Ethereum.
 Mike Goldin, a software developer at ConsenSys, an Ethereum development studio based in Bushwick, walks me through the coding process. Goldin is my Sherpa today, graciously attending, with utmost patience, to my every query. (The 10-plus hours I spent downloading software the day prior was unnecessary, he tells me; we’re going to employ some work-arounds that will achieve my goal in a matter of minutes.)
 After considering a variety of names for my token—“fortunecoin,” “hackettoken,” “neither”—I settle on a cheeky one that evokes a spectacular flameout of the great ’90s Internet bubble: “Petsdotcoin.” I click “create.”

Parents, stop teaching your kids to be weak

Karol Markowicz:

What traits do we want our children to possess as they grow up?

In the last year we’ve heard so much about “how to talk to kids” about current events, though much of it has consisted of projecting our own fears about what’s going on in the world onto our heretofore blissfully innocent children. Much less focus is on providing our kids the tools to grow up to be the kind of people who can maintain composure and perseverance in the face of a changing society.

The basic question comes down to this: Do we want our children to “be happy” — that nebulous expression of doting — or do we want them to be resilient in the face of an anxiety-inducing world?

A Pew Research Center study from 2014 found that the trait the majority of American parents, 54 percent, wanted their kids to possess is “responsibility.” Second was hard work, followed by helping others and being well-mannered. Resilience isn’t mentioned — but then, 2014 already seems like a different era from now.

Those are all good traits to instill in your children. All parents want their kids to be happy, of course. All parents would prefer their kid be smart, motivated, kind. But what we’re missing in raising our children are the traits of perseverance. We aren’t focusing on making our kids well-adjusted individuals equipped to handle the problems that come their way.

“There is no deceiver more effective than a public-school-educated Brit”

Spies Like Us: A Conversation With John le Carré and Ben Macintyre :

Macintyre, meanwhile, is a longtime columnist for The Times of London and the author of 11 elegant, authoritative and dryly humorous nonfiction works, focusing most recently on 20th-century British espionage. He has a deep appreciation for the amusing and the absurd. His most recent book is “Rogue Heroes,” about the origins of the British special forces unit; he is working on a new one, about a Cold War spy case.

Early in his writing, le Carré introduced the subversive hypothesis that the spies of East and West were two sides of the same tarnished coin, each as bad as the other. It was a stunning idea, espionage painted not in black and white but in shades of gray. With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the author lost the scaffolding for his fiction. His later books are angrier, more polemical, their worldview darker, reflecting the chaotic morality of the post-Soviet era and often presenting the United States — with its exceptionalism, its flouting of international norms, as he sees it — as the villain in the post-Cold War era.

The Drive for Perfect Children Gets a Little Scary

Tyler Cowen:

There’s a lot of innovation going on in China these days, but perhaps not all of it is good. Chinese fertility centers are going well beyond American practices, using genetic diagnosis to influence how children conceived through in vitro fertilization will turn out. On one hand, the potential for improving human health is enormous. On the other hand, I am uneasy at the prospect of the power this gives parents. I don’t trust people to take so much control over the future of human nature.

Sometimes you hear it argued that the complex nature of genes will prevent major feats of genetic engineering. That may be selling short future advances in Big Data and biomedicine, but even minor changes in genetic diagnosis and selection could have significant effects. Maybe you can’t choose to have a child who will be happy, but you might be able to lower the chance of your kid having depression or social anxiety by some small amount. Over the course of generations, that will exert great influence over the nature of the human experience.

The Boston Rally Exposed the Left’s Intolerance of Free Speech

Andrew Sullivan

Here’s a question: At last Saturday’s massive rally against “hate” in Boston, what were 30,000 or so people actually protesting? The event in question was not organized by a neo-Nazi group, the KKK, or any other recognized hate group, but by an outfit called the Boston Free Speech Coalition. Its Facebook page claims they are “a coalition of libertarians, progressives, conservatives, and independents” aiming to “peaceably engage in open dialogue about the threats to, and importance of, free speech and civil liberties.” In the days before, the organizer, 23-year-old John Medlar, had insisted that “contrary to a lot of the rumors out there, the purpose of the rally is to denounce the kind of political violence that we have seen, a sort of rising tide throughout the country and particularly most recently in Charlottesville.” He said his group is small and young. At 23, he says he is the oldest.

If you want to check him out some more, here’s an interview he gave to the radio station WGBH: “I describe myself as a Libertarian, so I’m very much a small government guy. I think that it’s … I’ve also had a very Catholic upbringing, so my parents raised me to put a very strongly … emphasis on personal responsibility and virtues. And I think that you can’t have virtue when, you know, the government is compelling you to do things. I think society is better off when individuals take it upon themselves to build themselves up and to be the best possible people that they can be rather than, you know, that and shirking those responsibilities and leaving it to government bureaucrats who are less efficient at everything.” Not exactly elegant, but you get the drift.

Wisconsin Elementary Teacher Content Knowledge Exam Results (First Time Takers)

Foundations of Reading Test (Wisconsin) Result Summary (First Time Takers):

May 2013 – August 2014 (Test didn’t start until January 2014, and it was the lower cut score): 2150 pass out of 2766 first time takers = 78% passage rate .xls file

September 2014 – August 2015 (higher cut score took effect 9/14): 2173/3278 = 66% .xls file

September 2015 – August 2016: 1966/2999 = 66% .xls file

September 2016 – YTD 2017: 1680/2479 = 68% .xls file

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending more than most, now nearly $20,000 per student.

Wisconsin hopes to mirror Massachusetts’ test success for teaching reading, by Alan Borsuk.

Notes and links on MTEL

More from the Wisconsin Reading Coalition.

Safe spaces and ‘ze’ badges: My bewildering year at a US university

Madeline Kearns:

As a child in Glasgow, I learned that sticks and stones might break my bones but words didn’t really hurt. I’m now at New York University studying journalism, where a different mantra seems to apply. Words, it turns out, might cause life-ruining emotional trauma.

During my ‘Welcome Week’, for example, I was presented with a choice of badges indicating my preferred gender pronouns: ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘they’ or ‘ze’?

The student in front of me, an Australian, found this hilarious: ‘Last time I checked, I was a girl.’ Her joke was met with stony silence. Later I realised why: expressing bewilderment at the obsession with pronouns might count as a ‘micro-aggression’. Next stop, ‘transphobia’.

It was soon obvious to my fellow students that I was not quite with the programme. In a class discussion early in my first semester, I made the mistake of mentioning that I believed in objective standards in art. Some art is great, some isn’t, I said; not all artists are equally talented. This was deemed an undemocratic opinion and I was given a nickname: the cultural fascist. I’ve tried to take it affectionately.

“83 percent of students of color at Success passed the English test; only 29 percent in public schools did”


rmed with new test scores showing a strong performance by her 15,000 students, the head of the Success Academy network of charter schools takes a victory lap – and seizes an opportunity to bash her long-time sparring partner Mayor de Blasio. NY1’s education reporter Lindsey Christ filed the following report:

The city’s leading charter school operator is back on the offensive, barely a week after she made two humbling apologies — one for ties to the Trump administration, the other for comments by her board chairman.

Eva Moskowitz gathered reporters Thursday to crow about the performance of her students in the most recent round of statewide testing — and berate Mayor de Blasio for celebrating a more modest uptick in public school scores.

“What is going on in a city that is spending $31 billion a year and accepting massive failure?” said Moskowitz, the founder and CEO of the Success Academy charter schools..

“I’m outraged by the educational racisim engendered by the system. I’m also frustrated by the Mayor’s response, and I know the journalists it the room are gonna think it’s personal. It’s not personal. The mayor’s a good man, it’s hard to run the city of New York, but his reaction to the scores is not appropriate,” she said.

Scores out Tuesday show that 95 percent of students of color at her Success Academy schools passed the math exam, compared to 24 percent in city public schools. And 83 percent of students of color at Success passed the English test; only 29 percent in public schools did.

Locally, Madison lacks K-12 Governance Diversity.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Preporatory Academy IB Charter School.

Madison spends more than most, now nearly $20,000 per student, while tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.

Baylor’s New President Turns to Faith

Tim Taliaferro::

In 1991, after finishing the coursework for her Ph.D. in management and organizational behavior at Oklahoma State University, Linda Livingstone headed five hours south to Waco to take a job as an assistant professor at Baylor University. She stayed for eleven years before leaving to work her way up the administrative ranks, first at Pepperdine University and then at George Washington. She returned to Baylor this summer, to serve as its fifteenth president at a time when the school has been ensnared in scandal. In May of last year, her predecessor, Ken Starr, was removed and football coach Art Briles was fired after a report by the law firm Pepper Hamilton revealed systemic failings in how the school had responded to allegations of sexual assault.

Tim Taliaferro: A month in, what is the most common question you get?

Linda Livingstone: Why I decided to come back after having been away for about fifteen years.

TT: Why did you?

LL: It was a great opportunity to return to a place that I love and that had been really important to me and my family. The university’s aspiration to be a preeminent research university while maintaining an unapologetic Christian mission is to me a noble aspiration and one that very few universities have achieved.

TT: What do you mean by “unapologetic Christian mission”?

LL: I mean we don’t shy away from it. It is embedded throughout the experience that people have at Baylor. Lots of universities that were originally faith based drifted over time, and it is no longer a core part of who they are. We intend to stay true to our roots.

TT: What were your biggest impressions of the Pepper Hamilton report?

LL: Every university should read the findings of fact and the recommendations for how to deal with sexual violence on campus. Because I have a history with Baylor, it was painful for me to read. But it’s clear to me now that the university has made tremendous progress. Baylor is a very different place than it was last year.

TT: What was your first experience like at Baylor?

LL: I was working on my Ph.D. at OSU and a colleague asked if I had ever considered Baylor [for a teaching position]. She knew I was a Christian and knew my values. Four years later, when I was looking for a job, Baylor, by good fortune and God’s blessing, had an opening in my field. It was clear when my husband and I came here that it was exactly the right place. We felt God calling us to Baylor.

Are City Schools Becoming Monolithic? Analyzing the Diversity of Options in Denver, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C.

Betheny Gross, Colleen McCann, Shannon Murtagh and Christine Campbell::

As school choice grows in America’s cities, more district leaders are adopting a portfolio approach, giving schools greater autonomy and families more choices while still ensuring accountability. However, some community advocates are concerned that the new school options are not diverse enough to meet students’ needs. For instance, are the pressures of implementing accountability measures forcing districts to offer just two types of schools: traditional public schools and “no excuses” college-prep charter schools?

Given these concerns, and the importance of providing distinct options for an effective choice system, CRPE researchers analyzed school offerings in Denver, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C., to see just how diverse or homogenous the cities’ portfolios really are.

Using publicly available data, their research showed a diversity of school offerings in each district. However, it also revealed why many families aren’t aware of the array of curriculum, instructional approaches, and enrichment activities available. Researchers discovered, for example:

Locally, Madison lacks K-12 Governance Diversity.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Preporatory Academy IB Charter School.

Madison spends more than most, now nearly $20,000 per student, while tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.

50 Years Ago an Economist Worried About Unchecked Corporate Power. Here’s What His Theory Got Wrong

Joshua Gans

This summer marks 50 years since the publication of John Kenneth Galbraith’s The New Industrial State and its quick rise to the top of the New York Times Best Seller list. The book was one of the rare instances where an economist was able to capture public imagination and focus debate on big-picture economic issues. We have only rarely seen its like since — although Thomas Piketty gave it a great go in 2014, with Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

Galbraith’s book is worth revisiting, since its subject is back in the news. Like many people today, he was worried about unchecked corporate power. Yet with the benefit of hindsight, we can see his worries were largely wrong. And therein lies a lesson for economists and policy makers today.

Of course, you would be hard-pressed to find an economist today who has read the book, and you might even find some who have never heard of Galbraith. I’m not one of them. As an undergraduate in Australia, I was exposed to a nonstandard economic curriculum that introduced writers like Galbraith to me early. He had a crisp way of theorizing and took on issues that, let’s face it, seemed far more interesting than the standard textbook fare. I wanted to grow up to be like him. It took four years of graduate school to socialize me out of that aspiration. And so when I recalled this anniversary, I decided to crack open Galbraith’s most famous book with the intention of explaining just how wrong he got it.

Aging Japan Wants Automation, Not Immigration

Daniel Moss:

Japan’s next boom may be at hand, driven by the very thing that is supposed to be bad for its economy.

Japan’s aging and shrinking population has been partly blamed for the on-again, off-again nature of growth and deflation the past three decades. Lately, it’s been driving a different and just as powerful idea: In the absence of large-scale immigration, the only viable solution for many domestic industries is to plow money into robots and information technology more generally.

Humans will still be needed, of course, and that’s behind a separate by-product of Japan’s demographic challenges that I wrote about during a visit there last month. With unemployment down to 2.8 percent, companies are increasingly realizing they need to pay up to attract and keep qualified personnel. The other option — increased immigration — is politically difficult.

3,700-year-old Babylonian tablet rewrites the history of maths – and shows the Greeks did not develop trigonometry

Sarah Knapton:

A 3,700-year-old clay tablet has proven that the Babylonians developed trigonometry 1,500 years before the Greeks and were using a sophisticated method of mathematics which could change how we calculate today.

The tablet, known as Plimpton 332, was discovered in the early 1900s in Southern Iraq by the American archaeologist and diplomat Edgar Banks, who was the inspiration for Indiana Jones.

The true meaning of the tablet has eluded experts until now but new research by the University of New South Wales, Australia, has shown it is the world’s oldest and most accurate trigonometric table, which was probably used by ancient architects to construct temples, palaces and canals.

However unlike today’s trigonometry, Babylonian mathematics used a base 60, or sexagesimal system, rather than the 10 which is used today. Because 60 is far easier to divide by three, experts studying the tablet, found that the calculations are far more accurate.

Universities are broke. So let’s cut the pointless admin and get back to teaching

Andre Spicer::

As students have been celebrating their exam results, pundits from across the political spectrum have been commiserating the state of British universities. Andrew Adonis, an education minister during the Blair years, has excoriated universities for offering costly courses while jacking up the pay of their senior leaders. Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s ex-advisor, thinks UK universities are an unsustainable “Ponzi scheme”. The universities minister, Jo Johnson, has written about the need to put further pressure on seats of higher learning so students get good value for money.

Behind the political point-scoring are more serious issues. The university sector has been growing for decades, but now that growth is going into reverse. The number of undergraduates applying to universities has fallen by 4% this year. Although close to 50% of the population goes through higher education, only about 20% of jobs require an undergraduate degree. One US study found that 46% of students showed no improvement in their cognitive skills during their time at university. In some courses, like business administration, students’ capacity to think got worse for the first few years. And after they graduated, many struggled to find full-time work while being loaded down with debt. Nearly a quarter of graduates were living with their parents or relatives.
Fewer UK students gain place on degree course, Ucas figures show
Read more

On top of all this, UK universities have some significant financial difficulties. The university pension scheme is £17.5bn in the red. Senior managers have been on a building spree that has been almost entirely funded by new borrowing on the bond market. Many institutions are locked into costly private finance initiatives.

Katy ISD Superintendent Lance Hindt: Legacy Stadium will ‘pull community together’

Mike Glenn:

Some of the local bitterness and acrimony over the Katy Independent School District’s new 12,000-seat, $70.3 million Legacy Stadium should subside now that it’s finally ready for “Friday Night Lights” football, Katy ISD Superintendent Lance Hindt said shortly before the official dedication.

“Everybody in this community agreed there was another stadium that was needed. There was just a difference of agreement on the cost and the size,” Hindt said. “You will see how this pulls the community together.”

In 2013, Katy voters rejected a more expensive price tag for the stadium but in 2014 approved a bond that included a $58 million version. However, infrastructure improvements meant another $12 million added to the final cost. But all that’s now in the past, Hindt said, standing on the green field between the home team and visiting team side.

“This is something the community wanted,” he said. “We may be the most expensive stadium for a little bit but another one will come.”

He said 54,000 people voted on the 2014 bond with about 30,000 voting in favor. “But they all support the Katy ISD and the kids of Katy ISD,” Hindt said.

Legacy Stadium will be more than merely a place for football, Hindt said.

“It’s a multi-purpose facility. We’re going to have drill teams, the bands and cheerleaders,” he said. “We’re going to open this up for the community to enjoy and appreciate.”

Unlike Rhodes Stadium, the bands won’t be forced to crowd together at the end zone during game play as they wait for their halftime shows. They’ll have their own space just behind the scoreboard to get ready.

Katy spent about $15,000 per student during the 2016 fiscal year, roughly 33% less than Madison plans to spend during 2017-2018.

A Striking Rise in Serious Allergy Cases

Sympathies Reddy:

The rate of reports of severe allergic reactions to foods like peanuts has increased by nearly five times over the past decade, according to a new analysis of private insurance claims.

The analysis looked at private insurance claims with a diagnosis of an anaphylactic food reaction from 2007 to 2016. Anaphylaxis is a systemic allergic reaction in which the immune system affects multiple parts of the body at the same time, often…

The Quiet Exodus From Mass Schooling

Kerry McDonald:

Parents are fed up. As mass schooling becomes more restrictive, more standardized and more far-reaching into a child’s young life, many parents are choosing alternatives. Increasingly, these parents are reclaiming their child’s education and are refocusing learning around children, family, and community in several different ways.

With back-to-school time upon us, more than two million U.S. children will be avoiding the school bus altogether in favor of homeschooling, an educational choice that has accelerated in recent years among both liberal and conservative families. While homeschooling for religious freedom remains an important driver for many families, 2012 data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveal that a main reason for homeschooling is “concern about the environment of other schools.”

Beyond homeschooling, an additional two million children will be educated this fall in charter schools. According to recent U.S. Department of Education data, the number of students currently enrolled in charter schools increased from 0.9 million in 2004 to 2.7 million in 2014, while the number of children enrolled in traditional public schools declined by 0.4 million during that same period. Taxpayer-funded but administered by predominantly private educational organizations, charter schools allow parents flexibility in choosing a school that is better aligned with their expectations and their child’s needs. Charter schools are often exempt from district policies and collective bargaining agreements that can halt innovation and experimentation, allowing them more instructional and organizational freedom. Demand for charter schools often outweighs current supply, with statewide charter caps, admissions lotteries, and long waiting lists leaving many parents discouraged and angry.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate:n 1 in 3 Americans Have $0 Saved for Retirement

Elyssa Kirkham:

Saving for retirement is not an area of financial strength for Americans. Too often, meeting the financial demands of today means delaying, diminishing or simply never starting to save for tomorrow.

“There are plenty of obstacles Americans claim are in their way when it comes to saving for retirement: credit card debt, student loan debt, low wages, the need to save for a child’s college education, and the list goes on,” said Cameron Huddleston, Life + Money columnist for GOBankingRates. “Although all of these things can put a strain on our budgets, they don’t necessarily make it impossible to save for retirement.”

GOBankingRates asked Americans how much money they have saved for retirement and found that most people are behind on their retirement savings. These survey findings also provide a helpful benchmark against which readers can compare their own retirement savings balances and progress.

Paul Miller Loved Teaching Math So Much That He Did It For Nearly 80 Years

Claudio Sanchez:

Most teachers these days last no more than five to 10 years in the classroom, but Paul Miller taught math for nearly 80. At one point, he was considered the “oldest active accredited teacher” in the U.S.

His career started in his hometown of Baltimore. It was 1934, the Dust Bowl was wreaking havoc in the Plains, Bonnie and Clyde were gunned down by police in Louisiana, and a thuggish politician named Adolf Hitler became president of Germany.

Miller taught elementary school kids by day, college students at night and his mother on weekends.

“I had to teach her how to write her name and the address of her house,” he says.

His parents, Jewish immigrants from Lithuania, had very little schooling. They had arrived in the U.S. long before the Nazis occupied their country in 1941.

“My parents spoke Yiddish,” says Miller. “They didn’t know any English at all.”

Tales From Tibet 4: The Joys of Being a Teacher

Zhang Min:

This summer, I once again returned to my alma mater, Shanghai’s East China Normal University (ECNU), to take advantage of a new preferential policy directed at “free admission” students — those whose tuition fees have been waived in return for a pledge to teach for a set period after graduation. After completing our degrees, we free admission students can also return to our former universities during the summers and take master’s-level classes for free.

Returning to my old stomping grounds is a wonderful feeling. At ECNU, we can engage with some of the most progressive education in the country. However, the person I am now is very different from the person who left a few years ago to work at Lhasa High School in the beating heart of Tibet. Sometimes I wonder whether the didactic theory I’ve learned at ECNU will ever take root in Tibet.

This past year of teaching in Lhasa seems to have passed in the blink of an eye. The best thing about the experience was that even though I was starting as a new teacher in my first post, I was still able to experiment with different styles of teaching, thanks to the liberal teaching culture at Lhasa High.

The KIPP pre-K study doesn’t tell us if KIPP pre-k works


Mathematica just published a study on KIPP pre-k. The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (where I work) funded the study.

The study was well designed and asked a very important question: does high-quality charter pre-k provide benefits above and beyond simply attending a high-quality charter elementary school?

The policy implications of this question are important: if high-quality charter pre-k adds to the achievement of students who attend high-performing elementary charter schools, policies that support both early child funding and charter school growth could accelerate achievement gains.

However, if attending a high-quality charter pre-k has no effect beyond the impact of simply attending a high-quality charter elementary school, then our limited public resources may be best spent on expanding high-quality charter elementary schools and not devoting as much resources to pre-k.

In other words, it’s really important to understand if:

The Strange Disappearance of Cooperation in America

Peter Urchin:

The title of this blog is a paraphrase of a 1995 article by Robert Putnam, “The Strange Disappearance of Civic America.” Robert Putnam is a political scientist at Harvard who over the last 20 years has been documenting the decline of ‘social capital’ in America.

Putnam has argued, in particular, that last several decades saw lower levels of trust in government, lower levels of civic participation, lower connectedness among ordinary Americans, and lower social cooperation.

This is a puzzling development, because from its inception the American society was characterized, to an unusual degree, by the density of associational ties and an abundance of social capital. Almost 200 years ago that discerning observer of social life, Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote about the exceptional ability of Americans to form voluntary associations and, more generally, to cooperate in solving problems that required concerted collective action. This capacity for cooperation apparently lasted into the post-World War II era, but several indicators suggest that during the last 3-4 decades it has been unraveling.

Robert Putnam points to such indicators as the participation rate in voluntary organizations (Masonic lodges, Parent-Teacher Associations, sports clubs and bowling leagues…):

What Happens to Creativity as We Age?

Alison Gopnik and Tom Griffiths:

One day not long ago, Augie, a 4-year-old Gopnik grandchild, heard his grandfather wistfully say, “I wish I could be a kid again.” After a thoughtful pause, Augie came up with a suggestion: Grandpa should try not eating any vegetables. The logic was ingenious: Eating vegetables turns children into big strong adults, so not eating vegetables should reverse the process.

No grown-up would ever come up with that idea. But anyone with a 4-year-old can tell similar stories. Young children’s creativity seems to outstrip that of even the most imaginative adults.

How does the ability to come up with unusual ideas change as we grow older? Does it begin to flag in adolescence? Before then? To investigate these questions, we and our colleagues recently conducted several experiments, which we relate in a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This is How Google will Collapse Reporting from the very near, post-Google future

Daniel Colin James:

Ads weren’t forever
 At its peak, Google had a massive and loyal user-base across a staggering number of products, but advertising revenue was the glue that held everything together. As the numbers waned, Google’s core began to buckle under the weight of its vast empire.
 Google was a driving force in the technology industry ever since its disruptive entry in 1998. But in a world where people despised ads, Google’s business model was not innovation-friendly, and they missed several opportunities to pivot, ultimately rendering their numerous grand and ambitious projects unsustainable. Innovation costs money, and Google’s main stream of revenue had started to dry up.
 In a few short years, Google had gone from a fun, commonplace verb to a reminder of how quickly a giant can fall.

Commentary on Madison’s Lack Of K-12 Governance diversity

Chris Rickert:

I’m guessing there are a lot of parents of black students in Madison who would be happy to have greater access to a Madison public school that works well for their children, rather than wait for the “best” to maybe come along some day.

Instead, while Madison has made closing the racial achievement gap a priority for decades, enthusiasm has waned in recent years for alternatives to Madison’s traditional — and for black children, failing — approach to education.

Notes and links on the Montessori charter proposal.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Preparatory Academy IB Charter School.

Madison spends more than most, now nearly $20,000 per student, while tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.

Private Schools First, Public Schools Last in K-12 Ratings


The 71% of Americans who rate private school education positively is only a bit higher than the 63% positive rating for parochial schools but far outpaces the percentages for charter schools (55%), home schooling (46%) and public schools (44%).

Both Party Groups Rate Private Schools Best

The views of parents with children in K-12 about the quality of the various educational options are largely similar to those of adults without school-aged children.

There are greater differences by party identification. Republicans are more positive than Democrats about parochial, charter and home schooling, and Democrats are more positive than Republicans about public schooling.

Still, both party groups rank private schooling as the most effective, with 76% of Republicans and 68% of Democrats saying it provides students with an excellent or good education. Parochial schools rank second for both. However, charter schools rank third among Republicans, followed by home schooling and then public schools. For Democrats, charter schools tie with public schools at 48%, while home schooling is rated worst at 38%.

The Unsolvable Math Problem


A legend about the “unsolvable math problem” combines one of the ultimate academic wish-fulfillment fantasies — a student not only proves himself the smartest one in his class, but also bests his professor and every other scholar in his field of study — with a “positive thinking” motif which turns up in other urban legends: when people are free to pursue goals unfettered by presumed limitations on what they can accomplish, they just may manage some extraordinary feats through the combined application of native talent and hard work:

A young college student was working hard in an upper-level math course, for fear that he would be unable to pass. On the night before the final, he studied so long that he overslept the morning of the test.

When he ran into the classroom several minutes late, he found three equations written on the blackboard. The first two went rather easily, but the third one seemed impossible. He worked frantically on it until — just ten minutes short of the deadline — he found a method that worked, and he finished the problems just as time was called.

The student turned in his test paper and left. That evening he received a phone call from his professor. “Do you realize what you did on the test today?” he shouted at the student.

“Oh, no,” thought the student. I must not have gotten the problems right after all.

“You were only supposed to do the first two problems,” the professor explained. “That last one was an example of an equation that mathematicians since Einstein have been trying to solve without success. I discussed it with the class before starting the test. And you just solved it!”
And this particular version is all the more interesting for being based on a real-life incident!

On free speech

Carol Christ

This fall, the issue of free speech will once more engage our community in powerful and complex ways. Events in Charlottesville, with their racism, bigotry, violence and mayhem, make the issue of free speech even more tense. The law is very clear; public institutions like UC Berkeley must permit speakers invited in accordance with campus policies to speak, without discrimination in regard to point of view. The United States has the strongest free speech protections of any liberal democracy; the First Amendment protects even speech that most of us would find hateful, abhorrent and odious, and the courts have consistently upheld these protections.

But the most powerful argument for free speech is not one of legal constraint — that we’re required to allow it — but of value. The public expression of many sharply divergent points of view is fundamental both to our democracy and to our mission as a university. The philosophical justification underlying free speech, most powerfully articulated by John Stuart Mill in his book, On Liberty, rests on two basic assumptions. The first is that truth is of such power that it will always ultimately prevail; any abridgement of argument therefore compromises the opportunity of exchanging error for truth. The second is an extreme skepticism about the right of any authority to determine which opinions are noxious or abhorrent. Once you embark on the path to censorship, you make your own speech vulnerable to it. . . .

El Paso boy flourishes after lifesaving surgery

Bill Knight and Mark Lambie:

He is, quite simply, the tiniest of warriors.

Santos Escobar, a beautiful and engaging little boy who has yet to even reach his second birthday, recently underwent surgery at El Paso Children’s Hospital — a surgery to a skull that was fused, a skull that would not grow as the brain grew on the inside.

It is a one-in-a-million case, the doctor said. One requiring a four-hour surgery that was the first of its kind in El Paso.

Santos was born with pansynostosis, a rare condition in which the bones in his skull had fused together, keeping it from expanding to accommodate his growing brain.

The condition left Santos without the ability to walk or really even talk. And, without this surgery and a smaller procedure in April, he would never have danced, never have had that life to enjoy.

The prognosis for the beautiful little boy was simple and grim without the surgery.

America, Home of the Transactional Marriage

Victor Tan Chen:

Over the last several decades, the proportion of Americans who get married has greatly diminished—a development known as well to those who lament marriage’s decline as those who take issue with it as an institution. But a development that’s much newer is that the demographic now leading the shift away from tradition is Americans without college degrees—who just a few decades ago were much more likely to be married by the age of 30 than college graduates were.

Today, though, just over half of women in their early 40s with a high-school degree or less education are married, compared to three-quarters of women with a bachelor’s degree; in the 1970s, there was barely a difference. The marriage gap for men has changed less over the years, but there the trend lines have flipped too: Twenty-five percent of men with high-school degrees or less education have never married, compared to 23 percent of men with bachelor’s degrees and 14 percent of those with advanced degrees. Meanwhile, divorce rates have continued to rise among the less educated, while staying more or less steady for college graduates in recent decades.

The divide in the timing of childbirth is even starker. Fewer than one in 10 mothers with a bachelor’s degree are unmarried at the time of their child’s birth, compared to six out of 10 mothers with a high-school degree. The share of such births has risen dramatically in recent decades among less educated mothers, even as it has barely budged for those who finished college. (There are noticeable differences between races, but among those with less education, out-of-wedlock births have become much more common among white and nonwhite people alike.)

The Unfortunate Fallout of Campus Postmodernism The roots of the current campus madness

Michael Shermer:

In a 1946 essay in the London Tribune entitled “In Front of Your Nose,” George Orwell noted that “we are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.”

The intellectual battlefields today are on college campuses, where students’ deep convictions about race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation and their social justice antipathy toward capitalism, imperialism, racism, white privilege, misogyny and “cissexist heteropatriarchy” have bumped up against the reality of contradictory facts and opposing views, leading to campus chaos and even violence. Students at the University of California, Berkeley, and outside agitators, for example, rioted at the mere mention that conservative firebrands Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter had been invited to speak (in the end, they never did). Demonstrators at Middlebury College physically attacked libertarian author Charles Murray and his liberal host, professor Allison Stanger, pulling her hair, twisting her neck and sending her to the ER.*

Civics, reading and “fake news”

Alia Wong:

During and after the 2016 presidential campaign, questions arose about whether shortcomings in civics instruction had exacerbated polarization in the electorate and influenced the election’s outcome. The questions on civics education were soon accompanied by a related one: What if schools are contributing to a breakdown in democracy by failing to ensure kids are media literate?

The election cycle was fraught with an onslaught of “fake news” and a brazen proliferation of conspiracy theories. Facebook users were sharing blatantly false news stories to such a high degree — either intentionally or inadvertently — that the social network created a tool to combat the trend.

Many observers worried that Americans weren’t being equipped with the critical-thinking skills they needed to consume and redistribute news, to navigate the complex news-media ecosystem, and make constructive decisions based on those skills as members of society.

Media literacy is a subject many schools have long incorporated into the curriculum. Yet with the explosion of online information, teaching media literacy “is vastly more challenging now,” said Amy Guggenheim, the president of Common Sense Media, a research and advocacy organization whose mission is to help kids thrive in a media- and technology-centric world.

Reading is job #1….

485 Days and Counting: NYC’s Education Department Stymies Public Records Requests, Both Big and Small

David Cantor:

Fifty-nine is a small, perhaps statistically probable two-year tally for programs attended by 70,000 children. But as with many other records the public has a right to see, the city has refused for more than a year to provide the case reports, leaving to the imagination whether they involve fraud and poor supervision or more disturbing acts of abuse involving 4-year-olds.

In fact, the Department of Education doesn’t appear to have released hundreds of teacher misconduct reports in all grades, a reflection of its reluctance to share records at all, attorneys, advocates, and reporters say. They complain that the agency delays responding to requests for months or even years, earning a reputation as perhaps the city’s least transparent agency and flouting deadlines for providing records set out in New York’s Freedom of Information Law.

What Is It Like To Understand Advanced Mathematics?

Ji Li:

You can answer many seemingly difficult questions quickly. But you are not very impressed by what can look like magic, because you know the trick. The trick is that your brain can quickly decide if a question is answerable by one of a few powerful general purpose “machines” (e.g., continuity arguments, the correspondences between geometric and algebraic objects, linear algebra, ways to reduce the infinite to the finite through various forms of compactness) combined with specific facts you have learned about your area. The number of fundamental ideas and techniques that people use to solve problems is, perhaps surprisingly, pretty small — see for a partial list, maintained by Timothy Gowers.

You are often confident that something is true long before you have an airtight proof for it (this happens especially often in geometry). The main reason is that you have a large catalogue of connections between concepts, and you can quickly intuit that if X were to be false, that would create tensions with other things you know to be true, so you are inclined to believe X is probably true to maintain the harmony of the conceptual space. It’s not so much that you can imagine the situation perfectly, but you can quickly imagine many other things that are logically connected to it.

How Women Got Crowded Out of the Computing Revolution

Stephen Mihm:

Why aren’t there more female software developers in Silicon Valley? James Damore, the Google engineer fired for criticizing the company’s diversity program, believes that it’s all about “innate dispositional differences” that leave women trailing men.

He’s wrong. In fact, at the dawn of the computing revolution women, not men, dominated software programming. The story of how software became reconstructed as a guy’s job makes clear that the scarcity of female programmers today has nothing at all to do with biology.

Who wrote the first bit of computer code? That honor arguably belongs to Ada Lovelace, the controversial daughter of the poet Lord Byron. When the English mathematician Charles Babbage designed a forerunner of the modern computer that he dubbed an “Analytical Engine,” Lovelace recognized that the all-powerful machine could do more than calculate; it could be programmed to run a self-contained series of actions, with the results of each step determining the next step. Her notes on this are widely considered to be the first computer program.

One Statistics Professor Was Just Banned By Google: Here Is His Story

Zero Hedge:

Statistics professor Salil Mehta, adjunct professor at Columbia and Georgetown who teaches probability and data science and whose work has appeared on this website on numerous prior occasions, was banned by Google on Friday.

What did Salil do to provoke Google? It is not entirely clear, however what is clear is that his repeated attempts at restoring his email, blog and other Google-linked accounts have so far been rejected with a blanket and uniform statement from the search giant.

Here is what happened, in Salil Mehta’s own words.

Don’t do a googol of evil

Freedom is not free unless corporations who exert a large influence in our lives believe in our well-being. I am a statistics professor and understand that there needs to be reasonable standards to control a large social network and make sure everyone is able to enjoy it freely. Invariably people disagree (we all see this), but some principles, such as simply showing probability and statistics with the sole hope of educating others, should be acceptable and in the middle of the distribution. I am for a higher standard, and a higher purpose. There is great care that I have taken to make sure that people treat one other well, admit faults, and present math and probability education to a wide audience.

In troubling times, we count on educators more than ever

Alan Borsuk:

You’re involved in something hugely important. Particularly to all who are going to be teaching this year, the factors that make it hard and often frustrating work are often linked closely to the factors that make it so valuable. For those teaching low-income and/or minority kids, the chances are so high that a good future for any one of them is connected to the great work teachers will do for that student along the way.

For those of us who don’t go to school every day, our support and appreciation for the work being done within all those walls are valuable. As a whole, we fall short on this so often. It’s a new school year. In a way that is broad but can also be deep, it’s a fresh time to support educational success for all kids.

Lexicon of Lies: Terms for Problematic Information

Propaganda, disinformation, misinformation: The words we choose to describe media manipulation can lead to assumptions about how information spreads, who spreads it, and who receives it. These assumptions can shape what kinds of interventions or solutions seem desirable, appropriate, or even possible.

This guide is intended to inform commentators, educators, policymakers, and others who seek appropriate words for describing the accuracy and relevance of media content. Media historian and theorist Caroline Jack traces the specific origins and applications of several forms of problematic information, unpacking lazy usage habits and uncovering buried cultural origins.

Lexicon of Lies attempts to provide nuance to current debates around truth and trust in the public sphere. The lexicon is the second in a series of outputs from the Data & Society initiative on Media Manipulation.

Symmetry, Algebra and the Monster

Scott Martin:

You could forgive mathematicians for being drawn to the monster group, an algebraic object so enormous and mysterious that it took them nearly a decade to prove it exists. Now, 30 years later, string theorists — physicists studying how all fundamental forces and particles might be explained by tiny strings vibrating in hidden dimensions — are looking to connect the monster to their physical questions. What is it about this collection of more than 1053 elements that excites both mathematicians and physicists? The study of algebraic groups like the monster helps make sense of the mathematical structures of symmetries, and hidden symmetries offer clues for building new physical theories. Group theory in many ways epitomizes mathematical abstraction, yet it underlies some of our most familiar mathematical experiences. Let’s explore the basics of symmetries and the algebra that illuminates their structure.

We are fond of saying things are symmetric, but what does that really mean? Intuitively we have a sense of symmetry as a kind of mirroring. Suppose we draw a vertical line through the middle of a square.

SEO Uber Alles

Adrian Jeffries:

Mic started riding the Facebook wave early in 2012. Individual stories kept going viral, pulling in 2 million, 3 million, 5 million unique visitors per piece. Former staffers described the viral power of Mic’s stories as a fluke, something they’d never witnessed before and have never seen again. Every month brought a new record, former staffers told me. It felt like Mic was unstoppable — but it was not to last. In August 2015, Mic’s Facebook traffic dropped dramatically, former staffers said. This happened every so often; traffic would dip, the audience and editorial teams would adjust a bunch of levers, and the crisis would blow over. This time was different, possibly due to changes made by Facebook that included a penalty for clickbait, as indicated by readers clicking on a story but not spending much time with it.
 Mic had already exhausted its outrage vocabulary by the time Trump’s election supercharged civil rights violations
 Mic, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, had already hired Bleacher Report veteran Michael Cahill in May 2015 as its director of search engine optimization. His task was to translate Mic’s Facebook optimization process to Google. This meant analyzing search trends in order to generate key phrases — everything from “What time is the convention” and “Watch Trump’s speech live” to “How to pick up women” — and assigning those key phrases to a staff of SEO writers, who then reverse-engineered stories around them. “He starts building this little team. They’re off in their own world. Garbage shit. Typos everywhere. ‘Keyword keyword 2017 colon how when where why.’ These poor kids are writing like ten of these a day,” said the former staffer who left in late 2016. “That strategy just kind of overtook the entire newsroom. The desk editors would have weekly meetings with his little lackey… they would have a spreadsheet of like 50 different story ideas that had a bunch of keywords in them, and we had to sit down and assign them to writers together

School choice opponents’ arguments against voucher schools ring hollow

Will Flanders::

While creating an incentive to improve, school choice has not come at a cost to the public schools. If, as Taylor claims, school choice is designed to “siphon” money from public schools, it’s making a mess of the job. Per-pupil spending is higher today than it was before the start of the voucher program. And because the voucher amount is substantially less than the amount spent on children attending public schools, the program actually saves money which could, if the Legislature desired, be further redirected to public schools. Under current law, school districts can continue to receive funding for students they no longer educate if they choose to go to a private school with a voucher, meaning that a student leaving actually increases the district’s per-student revenue in the short term. Taylor conveniently ignores these facts.

By repeating the false narrative about school choice, Taylor seeks to propagate a system where Wisconsin families most in need of educational alternatives are stuck in failing schools. An honest look at the voucher sector shows a system that is cheaper for Wisconsin taxpayers and produces better outcomes. Unlike Taylor, I refuse to sacrifice the education of Wisconsin’s children at the altar of the public school establishment. While public schools are and will remain an important part of our educational system, it is time for “advocates” of government-run schools to recognize that they are better served by devoting their energies to education and not politics. Instead of working to deny families choice, they should concentrate on offering a product that parents will choose.

Indeed, Madison school spending grows annually, now approaching $20,000 per student. This, despite its long term, disastrous reading results.

Ongoing Status Quo Madison School Board Governance

Karen Rivedal

The Madison School Board’s narrow rejection of a proposed five-year contract for a public Montessori charter school on Monday isn’t deterring supporters and may not represent the end of the process around the proposal.

Ali Muldrow, described in the proposed contract as one of the school’s seven founders, said Tuesday she isn’t giving up on the fight to see Isthmus Montessori Academy (IMA), a private school since 2012 on Madison’s North Side, become a public school known as Isthmus Montessori Academy Charter School (IMACS) for grades 4K-9.

“We’re absolutely going to keep trying,” said Muldrow, a former School Board candidate who lost to Kate Toews in the April election. Toews voted against the charter school contract in Monday’s 4-3 vote, along with Anna Moffit, TJ Mertz and fellow board newcomer Nicki Vander Meulen.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Preporatory Academy IB Charter School.

Madison spends more than most, now nearly $20,000 per student, while tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.

Eurasian who went to British boarding school in the 1950s breaks his silence over abuse

Ian Gill:

Collins instituted a new system of administering punish­ment. Whereas Farmer had dealt with boys as they presented their “notes”, Collins told boys to meet him outside his office after supper. The idea was to beat them all in one go.

His office was small, so he made boys kneel outside, in a row, with their heads touching the floor and backsides in the air. The line would frequently include a dozen or more boys and would extend into the well of a playroom so that others, sitting on lockers and supposedly engaged in silent reading, had a clear view of the ritual.

I was sometimes one of the kneeling boys, looking left under the tunnel of arched bodies, listening as the thwacks and the whimpering drew ever closer. Being beaten was unenviable, but it was short and sharp. Watching the perfor­mance, however, left a long-lasting impression.

Collins’ “rules” could be whimsical. I copped it once for jumping down a couple of steps instead of walking down them. A friend was beaten for coming in from the rain with wet shoes.

Collins would sometimes be so enraged he would hit us on the spot. A favoured method was to grab a boy by the leg of his short pants with one hand, lift it, and strike his exposed thigh with the other.

Texas could seize control or close campuses if four Dallas ISD schools don’t improve

Corbett Smith:

Despite making big strides with its lowest-performing campuses, Dallas ISD still has a massive task for the upcoming school year: If four campuses don’t do better, the state will either shut them down or take over the whole district.

“The statute provides no discretion,” wrote Texas education commissioner and former DISD trustee Mike Morath, in a letter sent last week to Superintendent Michael Hinojosa and school board President Dan Micciche.

The four long-struggling schools must perform better on state assessments and shake off the “improvement required” label for the upcoming school year or the state will be required to act. Three DISD schools have been on the state’s failing list for five years — Carr and Titche elementary schools and Edison Middle Learning Center — and one elementary campus has missed marks for four years: J.W. Ray Learning Center.
“If one out of 230 schools, one of those four doesn’t make it, our whole conversation changes,” Hinojosa told trustees during last Friday’s board meeting.

Locally, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending nearly $20,000 per student.

Mineral Rights Start Gushing Cash for Colleges

Janet Lorin

At the time OU received the gift in 1976, the mineral rights generated about $30,000 a year. According to the foundation’s records, the attorney who handled the estate expected their value to decline as wells were depleted and sealed. Yet the Mosiers’ mineral rights—which are spread all over Oklahoma, including the patch of land in Kingfisher County pictured below and elsewhere in the so-called Scoop and Stack plays—are located in the third-most active area in the U.S. for oil and gas development and acquisition. As hydraulic fracturing unlocked oil and gas reserves, the donation spun more money for OU. Last year the Mosier mineral rights generated $763,000 in cash flow. In 2014, with a lease bonus, they produced $2.35 million.

“Both track and pharmacy have benefited tremendously from the Mosiers’ largesse—and in a way that Henry and Ida could have never imagined,” says Guy Patton, chief executive officer of the University of Oklahoma Foundation, which oversees investments for OU’s $1.1 billion endowment. The donation helps pay tuition for about a third of the school’s pharmacy students and provides the equivalent of full tuition for about 20 members of the 100-strong track team. It’s also funded new buildings including an indoor track facility.

Genetic Confounding of the Relationship between Father Absence and Age at Menarche

Nicole Barbaro, Brian Boutwell, JC Barnes and Todd Shackelford:

Research in evolutionary psychology, and life history theory in particular, has yielded important insights into the de- velopmental processes that underpin variation in growth, psychological functioning, and behavioral outcomes across individuals. Yet, there are methodological concerns that limit the ability to draw causal inferences about human de- velopment and psychological functioning within a life history framework. The current study used a simulation-based modeling approach to estimate the degree of genetic confounding in tests of a well-researched life history hypoth- esis: that father absence (X) is associated with earlier age at menarche (Y). The results demonstrate that the genetic correlation between X and Y can confound the phenotypic association between the two variables, even if the genetic correlation is small—suggesting that failure to control for the genetic correlation between X and Y could produce a spurious phenotypic correlation. We discuss the implications of these results for research on human life history, and highlight the utility of incorporating genetically sensitive tests into future life history research.
© 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

For years, Richard Florida preached the gospel of the creative class. His new book is a mea culpa.

Sam Wetherell

Geographer David Harvey has argued that the biggest shift in urban economies over the last forty years has been the move from managerialism to entrepreneurialism. City governments that once provided services for their residents in the form of welfare and infrastructure now market themselves to global pools of capital, tourists, and educated workforces.

The notion that creativity could solve these urban problems — either from above, with monumental art galleries, or from below, with bearded clusters of hipsters, is a symptom of this profound transformation.

Richard Florida was right when he said that the “creative economy” is the new way of the world. But its development didn’t happen how he imagined. Rather than launching humanity into a new phase of prosperity, the new economy simply holds the different elements of late capitalism together — making it palatable for some but deepening its crises and contradictions for others.

Poland’s oldest university denies Google’s right to patent Polish coding concept

The Jagiellonian University will demand the withdrawal of a patent application filed by Google in the US on a solution, developed by Dr. Jaroslaw Duda, an employee and lecturer of the university, told PAP the University’s spokesman Adrian Ochalik.  
On Friday, the private Radio ZET broadcaster reported about the issue, involving a patent application on Asymmetrical Numeral Systems coding (ANS), which allows data compression in computers and other electronic devices. Currently it is used by Apple, Facebook and Google. iPhones and Macintosh computers use ANS to register data.
Several years ago, Duda, a lecturer at the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science at Jagiellonian University in Cracow, posted his method on the Internet. “I’m a scientist. I didn’t patent this method as I believe such concepts should be complimentary and accessible to everyone”, Dr. Duda told PAP.
Duda added that since 2014 he had been communicating with Google via e-mail and a public forum – and helping the IT giant to adapt the ANS method for video file compression. “The patent application, filed in the USA, contains exactly the same concepts I wrote for Google. (…) I never meant anyone – including Google – to limit access to this solution by patenting it”, underlined Dr. Duda. “I intend to file an objection with the US Patent and Trademark Office”, he said.

Open Academic Graph

Open academic graph:

This data set is generated by linking two large academic graphs: Microsoft Academic Graph (MAG) and AMiner.

The data set is used for research purpose only. This version includes 166,192,182 papers from MAG and 154,771,162 papers from AMiner. We generated 64,639,608 linking (matching) relations between the two graphs. In the future, more linking results, like authors, will be published. It can be used as a unified large academic graph for studying citation network, paper content, and others, and can be also used to study integration of multiple academic graphs.

The overall data set includes three parts, which are described in the table below:

Madison’s Status Quo Governance: Board Majority Rejects a Montessori (sort of) Charter School Proposal

Karen Rivedal:

But Cheatham urged the board not to see it as an us-vs-them proposition, noting the charter school and its students would be fully part of the district if the contract was approved. The district also should “honor and value” grass-roots proposals that come from the community, she said, especially one like this promising to help the district address its achievement gaps for students of color.

“Many of us see the hope and opportunity there, even if the impact is small,” she said. “We think it’s worth it.”

Burke noted the projected cost per student would be around $9,000, which would rank it on the low side for elementary schools in the district, and Howard made an impassioned plea to his fellow board members to approve the contract to explore whether doing things differently results in better outcomes for minority students.

“It’s all about access,” he said. “All the data around kids of color shows we have not gotten it right. Every one of us has a part of getting it wrong for students of colors.”

“We owe it to our community of color here in Madison to give this a shot, to learn from it,” Burke agreed.


A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Preporatory Academy IB Charter School.

Madison spends more than most, now nearly $20,000 per student, while tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.

One Statistics Professor Was Just Banned By Google: Here Is His Story

Salil Mehta:

Freedom is not free unless corporations who exert a large influence in our lives believe in our well-being. I am a statistics professor and understand that there needs to be reasonable standards to control a large social network and make sure everyone is able to enjoy it freely. Invariably people disagree (we all see this), but some principles, such as simply showing probability and statistics with the sole hope of educating others, should be acceptable and in the middle of the distribution. I am for a higher standard, and a higher purpose. There is great care that I have taken to make sure that people treat one other well, admit faults, and present math and probability education to a wide audience.

On Friday afternoon East Coast Time by surprise, I was completely shut down in all my Google accounts (all of my gmail accounts, blog, all of my university pages that were on google sites, etc.) for no reason and no warning. A number of us were stunned and unsure, but clearly we know at this point it wasn’t an accident. Here are some examples commented from best-selling author Nassim Taleb, and they have been retweeted by government officials, and the NYT and WSJ journalists.

Even his email was disabled by Google.

— NassimNicholasTaleb (@nntaleb) August 19, 2017

My ads-free blog itself is a probability theory site, with 27 million reads and has somewhere near 150k overall followers. It’s been read by Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, Nobel Laureates, multiple governments, celebrity athletes around the world, deans of many universities (on the syllabi of same), and a number of TV news anchors. So it’s been a great boon for Google to be noticed so kindly by essentially a charitable site promoting math education. What great people from all corners of the world and at all levels who can enjoy Google, until it suddenly died Friday afternoon.

Mizzou Pays a Price for Appeasing the Left

Jillian Kay Melchior:

Timothy Vaughn dutifully cheered the University of Missouri for a decade, sitting in the stands with his swag, two hot dogs and a Diet Coke. He estimates he attended between 60 and 85 athletic events every year—football and basketball games and even tennis matches and gymnastics meets. But after the infamous protests of fall 2015, Missouri lost this die-hard fan.

“I pledge from this day forward NOT TO contribute to the [Tiger Scholarship Fund], buy any tickets to any University of Missouri athletic event, to attend any…

But it will soon involve the heart of Google’s business: surveillance capitalism

Jonathan Taplin

The effects of the darker side of tech culture reach well beyond the Valley. It starts with an unwillingness to control fake news and pervasive sexism that no doubt contributes to the gender pay gap. But it will soon involve the heart of Google’s business: surveillance capitalism. The trope that “if you are not paying for it, you aren’t the customer — you’re the product” has been around for a while. But now the European Union has passed the General Data Protection Regulation, which will go into effect next May. This regulation aims to give people more control over their data, so search engines can’t follow them everywhere they roam online. It will be an arrow to the heart of Google’s business.

We have an obligation to care about the values of the people who run Google, because we’ve given Google enormous control over our lives and the lives of our children. As the former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris points out, “Without realizing the implications, a handful of tech leaders at Google and Facebook have built the most pervasive, centralized systems for steering human attention that has ever existed, while enabling skilled actors (addictive apps, bots, foreign governments) to hijack our attention for manipulative ends.”

The future implications of a couple of companies’ having such deep influence on our attention and our behavior are only beginning to be felt. The rise of artificial intelligence combined with Google’s omnipresence in our lives is an issue that is not well understood by politicians or regulators.

The Tenure Track Is Too Rigid to Help Diversity

Tyler Cowen:

Tenure systems don’t always mesh well with potential professors’ child-bearing plans. Let’s say a person starts graduate school at age 26, finishes at 32, and then faces a six- or seven-year tenure clock. That intense period of study, and the resulting race to publish, comes exactly during prime child-bearing years. And many individuals start along this track at later ages yet. I fear that this rigidly structured system, where candidates are go “up or out,” discourages many talented women from pursuing academic careers. Yet this path is the norm at virtually all top or mid-tier research universities, as well as at most highly rated liberal arts colleges.

I don’t think there is a single correct way to restructure all tenure systems, but we could start with more experimentation, as would befit the decentralized system of U.S. higher education. Imagine a greater variety of academic jobs, in areas that are not always valued highly by peer review. They might include jobs devoted to producing policy work, to teaching, to producing materials for online education, and to bringing the lessons of academia to broader audiences, such as through blogs and opinion columns. Furthermore, “up or out” provisions could be weakened, so if an individual didn’t succeed on a research track, but excelled in other areas, employment could be continued with different achievement criteria.

Paul Graham blocked me on Twitter

Wendy Liu:

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that Paul Graham used to be one of my heroes.

My memories of my first steps into the world of software development are no longer crisp. The texture of it, the day-to-day, the mechanisms by which my skills solidified —that’s all faded. Mostly what I remember is the people I looked up to, people whose writing shaped my understanding of software culture and served as rose-tinted windows into a culture I wanted so desperately to be a part of. Some of my favourites: Eric S. Raymond’s The Cathedral and the Bazaar; Neal Stephenson’s In The Beginning was the Command Line; Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture; Jeff Atwood’s Coding Horror blog. Most of all, Paul Graham’s essays, because he had managed to translate software competency into real-world success.

I remember two Paul Graham essays that particularly resonated with me — Hackers and Painters, and Why Nerds Are Unpopular. They were the gateway to a more vibrant and meaningful world that I, trapped in a high school I hated and feeling alienated from my peers, could only dream of. They appealed to me on a level that I can’t really put into words and frankly feel embarrassed thinking about, even now. Here was this brilliant and successful person telling me that I was special, and that immersing myself in this fledgling community would be my ticket to success. A community whose figurative leaders included Paul Graham. How could I not have looked up to him?

Wisconsin Educrats Have a Proposal—but It’s Dull and Conventional

C.J. Szafir and Libby Sobic , via a kind email:

Today state legislators all over the country are deciding how to comply with ESSA. When the last deadline for submitting proposals arrives this September, we may see a crop of promising plans for the future of K-12 education. Yet in Wisconsin, the planning process has been so flawed that Sen. Alexander’s vision of “innovation” and “ingenuity” seems like a pipe dream.

Wisconsin’s woes have little to do with ESSA itself, which largely delivers on the promise of greater flexibility. To receive funding from Washington, states must submit plans that comply with Titles I through IX of the federal education code. The requirements for these plans are basic: States must maintain a statewide report-card system for public schools, establish methods to measure teacher effectiveness, set policies to reform low-performing schools, and so forth. Each plan must be granted final approval by the Education Department.

The Badger State ought to be taking full advantage of the freedom ESSA provides to enact bold education reform. After all, Wisconsin already has a broad range of educational options, including successful voucher programs and charter schools. Gov. Scott Walker and the GOP-controlled Legislature have established a strong record on education.

The problem is that Wisconsin’s plan for complying with ESSA has fallen to the state’s education agency, the Department of Public Instruction. Its leader, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, is a notorious opponent of education reform. Mr. Evers’s greatest hits include calling the expansion of school vouchers “morally wrong” and routinely criticizing Gov. Walker’s Act 10 reforms of public-employee unions. It’s worth noting that in opposing the governor, Mr. Evers may have more than the students’ interest in mind. He recently filed paperwork to enter Wisconsin’s 2018 gubernatorial race, hoping to upset Mr. Walker’s shot at a third term.

So far, the department has cleverly worked to avoid any oversight of its ESSA plan by the legislature. To create the illusion of accountability, Mr. Evers formed the Equity in ESSA Council, an advisory board made up of legislators, school administrators, union leaders and education reformers. In truth, however, the council has no power to set the agenda or control the provisions of the state’s ESSA proposal.


Tony Evers

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

Madison spends far more than most, now nearly $20,000 per student.

Peanut allergy cured in majority of children in immunotherapy trial

Australian Associated Press

Australian researchers have made a breakthrough in the treatment of peanut allergy in children.

A small clinical trial conducted at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has led to two-thirds of children treated with an experimental immunotherapy treatment being cured of their allergy. Importantly, this desensitisation to peanuts persisted for up to four years after treatment.

“These children had been eating peanut freely in their diet without having to follow any particular program of peanut intake in the years after treatment was completed,” said the lead researcher, Prof Mimi Tang.

Peanut allergy is the most common cause of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction, and one of the most common causes of death from food allergy.

To combat this Tang, an immunologist and allergist, pioneered a new form of treatment that combines a probiotic with peanut oral immunotherapy, known as PPOIT. Instead of avoiding the allergen, the treatment is designed to reprogram the immune system’s response to peanuts and eventually develop a tolerance.

It’s thought that combining the probiotic with the immunotherapy gives the immune system the “nudge” it needs to do this, according to Tang.

iPhones are not destroying teenagers

Elizabeth Nolan Brown:

The worst example of this in recent memory was Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?, a particularly panicky Atlantic cover story by psychology professor, corporate consultant, and onetime millennial-whisperer Jean M. Twenge. The Atlantic has a particular affinity for this kind of trendy worrying dressed up as somber big-think — remember Is Google Making Us Stupid? — and Twenge delivered it in droves here, arguing that the time today’s teens spend alone with smartphones is poisoning them forever.

Twenge has been on the youth-scare beat for a while, and it’s notable that she has now turned to post-millennial fearmongering. I first encountered her work back in the mid-2000s, around the time when Twitter was launching and Time magazine was declaring us all “Person of the Year.”

Her first major foray into millennial thinkery was her 2006 book Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled—And More Miserable Than Ever Before. Twenge expanded on the theme in 2009 with The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement.

These books pandered to the same complaints old people have been making about young people since time immemorial, with just enough techno-scare to make them seem fresh and relevant. And they established Twenge as a go-to quote factory for cranky think-pieces on millennials, ushering in a new wave of hand wringing over our supposed shortcomings.

“Why are young adults so miserable?” asked a 2006 Today Show segment on Twenge’s work. “Are social norms steadily unraveling?” wondered USA Today the same year. “Too much self-esteem can be bad for your child,” warned Alternet. Many teens are “overconfident” and “have wildly unrealistic expectations,” said Fox News. A 2009 ABC story on Twenge’s work was headlined “Today’s Teens More Anxious, Depressed, and Paranoid Than Ever.”

Twenge’s “narcissism epidemic” narrative fit perfectly with popular confusion and fears regarding social media, technology, reality TV stars, changes in parenting styles, the disintegration of 20th century social institutions, and the changing workforce. It also echoed popular criticism of the self-esteem movement, and the “participation trophy” fears that our cranky elders had already established about the generation then commonly called “Gen Y.”

In Vietnam, the Best Education Can Lead to Worse Job Prospects

Nguyen Dieu TuUyen:

Nguyen Van Duc graduated two years ago with a bachelor’s degree in economics from one of Vietnam’s best universities. Today, he earns about $250 a month as a motorbike taxi driver in Hanoi.

Duc, whose parents took second jobs so he could be the only one of three children to attend college, is among thousands of Vietnamese college graduates who can’t land jobs in their chosen field, even though the nation’s unemployment rate is just 2.3 percent.

“In university, we only received heavy theoretical training and a lot of Ho Chi Minh’s ideology with communist party history,” the 25-year-old said.

While Vietnam’s schools equip students with basic skills for low-wage assembly-line work, its colleges and universities are failing to prepare youth for more complex work. As wages rise and basic manufacturing leaves for less expensive countries, that may threaten the government’s ambition to attain middle-income status, defined by the World Bank as per capita income of more than $4,000, or almost twice the current rate.

Is the open office layout dead?

April Kilcrease:

Today, the open office layout is back with a vengeance. In a 2013 survey by CoreNet Global, an association for corporate real estate managers, more than 80% of respondents said their company had moved toward an open space floor plan. And once again, the backlash has begun. In the last five years, a slew of articles with alarmist titles like “Death To The Open Office Floor Plan!” and “Open-plan offices were devised by Satan in the deepest caverns of hell” have assailed the supposedly progressive design.

So what exactly is wrong with the modern open office layout and how can we create spaces that fulfill the promise of a happy and collaborative workplace?

What isn’t working

By design, colleagues are more accessible in an open office layout. The minute a question pops into your head, you can easily hop over to a co-worker’s desk, or simply swivel your chair to face them. Unfortunately, these well-intentioned intrusions can lead to real problems.

First among those is reduced productivity. According to a study on the cost of interrupted work, a typical office worker is interrupted every 11 minutes. Even worse, people often take up to 25 minutes to refocus on the original task.

And without physical barriers to block it out, noise may be the number one problem with open office plans. Together, loud phone talkers, gossipy co-workers, and that guy chomping on an apple every afternoon can frazzle your auditory system. Researchers have found that the loss of productivity due to noise distraction doubles in open office layouts compared to private offices, and open office noise reduces the ability to recall information, and even to do basic arithmetic.

As anyone who’s had to call their doctor from their desk knows, one of the worst parts of open office layouts is that you can’t control who you hear—or who hears you. In a 2013 study about the privacy-communication trade-off in open offices, 60% of cubicle workers and half of all employees in partitionless offices said the lack of sound privacy was a significant problem.

The two faces of the 1 per cent The public elite nurse constant material worries, the private elite worry that they are not very interesting

Janan Ganesh:

On top of its book sales, film adaptation and third life as an opera, The Bonfire of the Vanities achieved a rare feat. It turned its author into a 56-year-old enfant terrible. Thirty years have passed since Tom Wolfe’s first novel imagined New York City as an opulent failed state, where millionaires are one wrong turn from barbarian mobs and race card-players on the make.

Critics recognised the virtuosity of the prose but also, in the stereotypes and the gleeful trampling on taboos, an illiberal malice. America’s cognoscenti has since treated Wolfe as somehow below stairs: a shock jock with a poet’s command of the language.

Read now, however, the book has more to say about 2017 than anything written of late. There are the obvious thematic echoes — the besieged rich, racial panics — but also one that Wolfe might never have intended. Bonfire can be read as a book about two different kinds of elite. You might characterise them as the moneyed and the cultured. Or as private enterprise and public life

Schools superintendent Tony Evers to make run for Wisconsin governor official Wednesday

Jason Stein

State schools superintendent Tony Evers will formally announce his gubernatorial run Wednesday, making him the third Democrat to commit to a bid and the first statewide office holder to challenge GOP Gov Scott Walker.

Evers, who heads the state Department of Public Instruction, will announce his run at a suburban Madison park for children, according to an email sent to supporters Sunday and obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The venue at McKee Farms Park in Fitchburg will highlight Evers’ main credential for voters – his years working on behalf of children as a local school leader and state education official.

“On Wednesday, Tony will officially announce his run for governor because we need a real change here in Wisconsin. That change starts with putting our kids first, investing in our schools, and rebuilding Wisconsin’s middle class,” according to an email sent from the personal account of Jeff Pertl, a top aide to Evers in the superintendent’s office.

The Evers campaign had no comment except to note that Pertl is a volunteer.

Much more on Tony Evers, here.

Hot Spot for Tech Outsourcing: The United States

Steve Lohr:

For years, American companies have been saving money by “offshoring” jobs — hiring people in India and other distant cubicle farms.

Today, some of those jobs are being outsourced again — in the United States.

Nexient, a software outsourcing company, reflects the evolving geography of technology work. It holds daily video meetings with one of its clients,, where team members stand up and say into the camera what they accomplished yesterday for, and what they plan to do tomorrow. The difference is, they are phoning in from Michigan, not Mumbai.

“It’s the first time we’ve been happy outsourcing,” said René Lacerte, the chief executive of, a bill payment-and-collection service based in Palo Alto, Calif.

Nexient is a domestic outsourcer, a flourishing niche in the tech world as some American companies pull back from the idea of hiring programmers a world away.

Dunces app

Audrey waters:

ABOUT FIVE YEARS AGO, a cluster of new technologies began to migrate through the nation’s schools like a gaggle of fall geese. Schools have long devised policies and procedures to manage and shape students’ behavior. Sticker charts. Detentions. Referrals. Rewards. Educators routinely point to classroom management as one of the most important skills of being a great teacher, and new teachers in particular are likely to say this is one of their most significant challenges. These novel apps, bearing names like ClassDojo and Hero K12, promised to help by collecting students’ behavioral data and encouraging teachers to project the stats onto their classroom’s interactive whiteboard in order to keep students “on task.” It is, they claim, all part of a push to create a “positive classroom culture.”

The apps come with the assurance of making schools operate more efficiently. But such management technologies don’t simply reflect Taylorism, schoolwork monitored and fine-tuned; they are part of a resurgence of behaviorism in education, and in education technology in particular.

In Ivy League institutions, behaviorism took hold way before the smartphone. Harvard University psychologist B.F. Skinner claimed that he came up with the idea for his “teaching machine” in 1953 while visiting his daughter’s fourth grade class. Skinner believed that all learning was a matter of shaping behaviors and he contended that, much like the animals he trained in his lab, students should be taught through a system of rewards and reinforcement. Machines, he considered, could do this much more reliably than teachers. This machine, Skinner argued, would address a number of flaws in the education system: it would enable students to move at their own pace through lessons and, on top of this, students would receive immediate feedback on their work.

Why didn’t electricity immediately change manufacturing?

Tim Harford:

But given the huge investment this involved, they were often disappointed with the savings. Until about 1910, plenty of entrepreneurs looked at the new electrical drive system and opted for good old-fashioned steam.
 Why? Because to take advantage of electricity, factory owners had to think in a very different way. They could, of course, use an electric motor in the same way as they used steam engines. It would slot right into their old systems.
 But electric motors could do much more. Electricity allowed power to be delivered exactly where and when it was needed.
 Small steam engines were hopelessly inefficient but small electric motors worked just fine. So a factory could contain several smaller motors, each driving a small drive shaft.
 As the technology developed, every workbench could have its own machine tool with its own little electric motor.
 Power wasn’t transmitted through a single, massive spinning drive shaft but through wires.
 A factory powered by steam needed to be sturdy enough to carry huge steel drive shafts. One powered by electricity could be light and airy.
 Steam-powered factories had to be arranged on the logic of the driveshaft. Electricity meant you could organise factories on the logic of a production line.
 More efficient
 Old factories were dark and dense, packed around the shafts. New factories could spread out, with wings and windows allowing natural light and air.
 In the old factories, the steam engine set the pace. In the new factories, workers could do so.