Timeline: The marches that made history


DEC. 9, 1965
Gov. Warren Knowles signs an open housing law that prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental or financing of housing. The law, a watered-down version of a measure proposed by Rep. Lloyd Barbee and other lawmakers, exempts owner-occupied properties with four or fewer units – leaving out the overwhelming majority of the housing stock in Milwaukee’s central city.

Hiding in Plain Sight? The “Right to Be Forgotten” and Search Engines in the Context of International Data Protection Frameworks

Krzysztof Kornel Garstka and David Erdos:

In the wake of the Google Spain (2014) and debate on the “right to be forgotten”, now included in the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it has become widely recognised that data protection law within the EU/EEA grants individuals a qualified right to have personal data relating to them deindexed from search engines. At the same time, however, this outcome has at times been conceptualised as a uniquely EU/EEA phenomena, perhaps even resulting from one idiosyncratic CJEU judgment. This paper questions such a conceptualisation. Through an analysis of five major extra-EU/EEA international data protection instruments, it argues that most of these could on a reasonable interpretation be read as supporting a Google Spain-like result. Further, and in light of the serious threats faced by individuals as a result of the public processing of data relating to them, it argues that the time is ripe for a broader process of international discussion and consensus-building on the “right to be forgotten”. Such an exercise should not be limited to generalised search engines (which undoubtedly raise some uniquely challenging interpretative conundrums within data protection), but should also encompass other actors including social networking sites, video-sharing platforms and rating websites.

Supreme Court Will Hear Case on Mandatory Fees to Unions

Adam Liptak:

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a case that could deal a crushing blow to organized labor.

It was one of 11 cases the justices added to the court’s docket from the roughly 2,000 petitions seeking review that had piled up during the court’s summer break.

In the labor case, the court will consider whether public-sector unions may require workers who are not members to help pay for collective bargaining. If the court’s answer is no, unions would probably lose a substantial source of revenue.

The question was before the justices last year in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, and they seemed poised to rule against the unions when the case was argued in January 2016. But the death of Justice Antonin Scalia the next month resulted in a 4-to-4 deadlock.

Social media terms ‘jargon-busted’ for teens: “found that most children do not understand the agreements they sign when they create social media accounts”

Alli Shultes::

A set of jargon-busting guides that teach children about their rights on social media sites has been published.
 Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield said Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp and YouTube had “not done enough” to clarify their policies.
 She simplified the websites’ terms and conditions with privacy law firm Schillings.
 But Instagram said the simplified version of its terms contained “a number of inaccuracies”.
 The slimmed-down guides are a response to the Commissioner’s Growing Up Digital report, which found that most children do not understand the agreements they sign when they create social media accounts.
 All the sites require children to be over 13 to create an account.

Minorities and Americans without college degrees showed greatest gains in wealth since 2013, new data says

Heather Long & Tracy Jan:

Nearly all American families saw substantial gains in wealth from 2013 to 2016, according to new data released Wednesday from the Federal Reserve, a sign the recovery is picking up.

African-Americans and Hispanic families and people without college degrees had the fastest rise in wealth, a sign that the economic gains are finally spreading to all Americans. Economists say it’s an encouraging sign that the economic gains are finally spreading to all Americans. It’s a marked shift from the period between 2010 and 2013, when wealth feel for all racial and ethnic groups except whites.

“We’re glad the recovery is spreading to a lot of households,” Fed economists said Wednesday. The Fed does its Survey of Consumer Finances every three years, surveying over 6,200 households about their pay, debt, home ownership, stock holdings and other financial assets. It’s considered one of the deepest dives into the total net worth of American families.

Madison has long spent more than most on it’s government/taxpayer funded K-12 schools.

Why Do Some Americans Speak So Confidently When They Have No Clue What They’re Talking About?

Bruce Levine:

The Harvard Business School information session on how to be a good class participant instructs, “Speak with conviction. Even if you believe something only 55 percent, say it as if you believe it 100 percent,” Susan Cain reported in her bestselling book Quiet. At HBS, Cain noticed, “If a student talks often and forcefully, then he’s a player; if he doesn’t, he’s on the margins.”

Cain observed that the men at HBS “look like people who expect to be in charge…. I have the feeling that if you asked one of them for driving directions, he’d greet you with a can-do smile and throw himself into the task of helping you to your destination — whether or not he knew the way.”

Exceptionally Preserved Ancient Ships Discovered in the Black Sea

Jason Daily:

After three field seasons, the Black Sea Maritime Archaeological Project is drawing to a close, but the things the team has discovered on the sea floor will keep researchers busy for a generation. Over the course of the expedition, researchers found 60 incredibly well-preserved ships from the medieval, Roman, Byzantine and ancient Greek eras, which are rewriting what historians know about ancient trade and shipbuilding reports Damien Sharkov at Newsweek.

The project, begun in 2015, wasn’t originally about finding ancient ships. According to a press release, the team set out to use remote operated vehicles laser scanners to map the floor of the Black Sea off Bulgaria to learn more about the changing environment of the region and fluctuations in sea level since the last glacier cycle. But they couldn’t help but locate ships too. Last year, they found 44 ancient vessels during their survey representing 2,500 years of history. “The wrecks are a complete bonus, but a fascinating discovery, found during the course of our extensive geophysical surveys,” Jon Adams, principle investigator and director of the University of Southampton’s Centre for Maritime Archaeology, said at the time.

Public school districts are so ‘democratic’ and accountable that they sue parents for asking too many questions

Citizen Stewart:

Kim Sordyl is a school district’s worst nightmare. A mother of two public school students, a fierce activist, and a former litigator with sharp investigative skills, Sordyl has become a one-woman-wrecking-crew cutting through attempts to hide critical information from the public.

Say her name in Portland and any employee of the Portland Public Schools should know who she is. Her relentless social media campaigns targeted at the PPS have successfully revealed borderline corruption, problems with district staff, eyebrow-raising business deals, and unexplained financial waste.

10 Types of Study Bias

Patrick Kiger::

A patient fills in a questionnaire and sleep diary before undergoing a polysomnography at a sleep center in Switzerland. What are some biasess scientists need to be aware of when conducting studies? AMELIE-BENOIST /BSIP/Getty Images

Arrhythmia, an irregular rhythm of the heart, is common during and soon after a heart attack and can lead to early death. That’s why when anti-arrhythmia drugs became available in the early 1980s, they seemed like a major life-saving breakthrough [source: Freedman].

The problem, though, was that although small-scale trials showed that the drugs stopped arrhythmia, the drugs didn’t actually save lives. Instead, as larger-scale studies showed, patients who received such treatments were one-third less likely to survive. Researchers had focused on stopping arrhythmia as a measure of effectiveness rather than on the problem that they were trying to solve, which was preventing deaths [sources: Freedman, Hampton].

Privacy implications of email tracking

Steven Englehardt, Jeffrey Han and Arvind Narayanan:

We show that the simple act of viewing emails contains privacy pitfalls for the unwary. We assembled a corpus of commercial mailing-list emails, and find a network of hundreds of third parties that track email recipients via methods such as embedded pixels. About 30% of emails leak the recipient’s email address to one or more of these third parties when they are viewed. In the majority of cases, these leaks are intentional on the part of email senders, and further leaks occur if the recipi- ent clicks links in emails. Mail servers and clients may employ a variety of defenses, but we analyze 16 servers and clients and find that they are far from comprehen- sive. We propose, prototype, and evaluate a new defense, namely stripping tracking tags from emails based on en- hanced versions of existing web tracking protection lists.

Linking the Wisconsin Forward Assessments to NWEA MAP Growth Tests*

NWEA.org (PDF):

The results in Table 5 demonstrate that MAP reading scores can consistently classify students’ proficiency (Level 3 or higher) status on Forward ELA test 81-83% of the time and MAP math scores can consistently classify students on Forward math test 86-88% of the time. Those numbers are high suggesting that both MAP reading and math tests are great predictors of students’ proficiency status on the Forward tests.”

Much more, here on the 2017 “Wisconsin Forward Assessments“.

Commentary on academic outcomes and nondiverse K-12 governance

Catherine McKiernan:

But changing that system, DeVos insisted, should be up to states and not the federal government and that Washington needs to “get out of the way.”

“States are different, families are dynamic and children are unique,” the U.S. education secretary added. “Each should be free to pursue different avenues that lead each child to his or (her) fullest future.”

DeVos spoke as part of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Education Policy and Governance conference on “The Future of School Choice: Helping Students Succeed.”

Commentary on College Tuition Price Theory

Frank WU:

At last, as evidenced by more colleges and universities performing a tuition reset, higher education leaders are awakening to the threat of tuition discounting. The increasing rates by which many institutions have had to cut what they wish to charge students should be cause for public concern. On more than one campus, the overall discount rate has surpassed 50 percent on a sharp trajectory, compared to levels less than half that in recent memory.

The situation is alarming for two independent reasons. First, colleges and universities, even those proclaiming a commitment to diversity, are leaving behind disadvantaged students for their own rise in rankings. Second, they are imperiling their continued existence by reducing revenues to sums below sustainability. Even administrators and board members who are indifferent to accessibility should care about bankruptcy. Tuition discounting is like other bets against the future — heavily against the odds.

Tuition discounting has been around for some time. But it is being used for very different purposes than previously. Tuition discounting is the practice, on a significant scale, of advertising a list price for enrollment and offering deals that reduce that amount for select students. It is akin to other forms of differential pricing and dynamic pricing, responsive to supply and demand in the marketplace.

Related: Financial aid leveraging.

The Mathematics of 2048: Counting States with Combinatorics


In my last 2048 post, I found that it takes at least 938.8 moves on average to win a game of 2048. The main simplification that enabled that calculation was to ignore the structure of the board — essentially to throw the tiles into a bag instead of placing them on a board. With the ‘bag’ simplification, we were able to model the game as a Markov chain with only 3486 distinct states.

In this post, we’ll make a first cut at counting the number of states without the bag simplification. That is, in this post a state captures the complete configuration of the board by specifying which tile, if any, is in each of the board’s cells. We would therefore expect there to be a lot more states of this kind, now that the positions of the tiles (and cells without tiles) are included, and we will see that this is indeed the case.

To do so, we will use some (simple) techniques from enumerative combinatorics to exclude some states that we can write down but which can’t actually occur in the game, such as the one above. The results will also apply to 2048-like games played on different boards (not just 4×4) and up to different tiles (not just the 2048 tile). We’ll see that such games on smaller boards and/or to smaller tiles have far fewer states than the full 4×4 game to 2048, and that the techniques used here are relatively much more effective at reducing the estimated number of states when the board size is small. As a bonus, we’ll also see that the 4×4 board is the smallest square board on which it is possible to reach the 2048 tile.

The (research quality) code behind this article is open source, in case you would like to see the implementation or code for the plots.

I asked Tinder for my data. It sent me 800 pages of my deepest, darkest secrets

Judith Duportail

The dating app has 800 pages of information on me, and probably on you too if you are also one of its 50 million users. In March I asked Tinder to grant me access to my personal data. Every European citizen is allowed to do so under EU data protection law, yet very few actually do, according to Tinder.

With the help of privacy activist Paul-Olivier Dehaye from personaldata.io and human rights lawyer Ravi Naik, I emailed Tinder requesting my personal data and got back way more than I bargained for.

Some 800 pages came back containing information such as my Facebook “likes”, my photos from Instagram (even after I deleted the associated account), my education, the age-rank of men I was interested in, how many times I connected, when and where every online conversation with every single one of my matches happened … the list goes on.

More Americans Are Falling Behind on Student Loans, and Nobody Quite Knows Why

Shahid Nasiripour:

More student debtors are falling behind on their federal student loans, after three years of declines in late payments—and with no clear explanation, experts aren’t sure whether to take it as a sign of distress or a temporary blip.

The share of Americans at least 31 days late on loans from the U.S. Department of Education ticked up to 18.8 percent as of June 30, up from 18.6 percent the same time last year, new federal data show 1 . About 3.3 million Americans have gone more than a month without making a required payment on their Education Department loans—up about 320,000 borrowers. 2

The rise interrupts a period of 12 straight quarters of declines in delinquency rates, according to numbers dating to 2013, and comes despite the fact that the U.S. economy has improved, which normally would mean richer borrowers better able to afford their bills.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now

Lee Ann Stephens:

Three truths I wish I’d known as a first-year teacher.

I walked into my first official day in the classroom as an idealistic twenty something with some innate skills, a boatload of ambition, and a newly minted teaching degree from a program that did its best to school me on theory and practice. But what I couldn’t have known, and what my teacher training program didn’t completely prepare me for, was how much I’d have to learn on the job. When it came time for me to turn the teaching theories I’d learned into real, boots on the ground results, I was in for a schooling of a new kind. I call those early months in the classroom my “Fumbling Through” era.

Now nearly three decades later, my rookie learning curve is ancient history. I’ve taught a wide range of subject areas from first grade to high school, and I help other classroom teachers address the racial disparities in education in my current job as a racial equity coach. But even today, I still think about those first days of my career and can’t help but wonder: Can we do better to set new teachers up for success? What skills would have been good to have in my teaching toolbox as I was getting my sea legs?

So many new words it’s not even funny: an OED update


The September 2017 quarterly update of the Oxford English Dictionary includes more than 1,000 new headwords, senses, and subentries. The full list of new entries can be found here.

Not all words that are new to the dictionary are new in the sense of being recent additions to the English language itself. Many additions are ancient and obsolete, but they contribute to the OED’s mission of recording the millennium-long history of English. One evocative obsolete word in the new update is the verb afound meaning ‘to become numb or stiff with cold’, an Anglo-Norman loanword used by Chaucer. Another is through-smite (‘to pierce or run through, as with a spear or other pointed weapon’), which was used by John Gower and William Caxton, among others. By the 19th century, through-smite was only in self-consciously poetic or archaic use, and by the early 20th century it had fallen out of use altogether.

Emails Show How An Ivy League Prof Tried To Do Damage Control For His Bogus Food Science

Stephanie Lee:

The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, a $22 million federally funded program that pushes healthy-eating strategies in almost 30,000 schools, is partly based on studies that contained flawed — or even missing — data.

The main scientist behind the work, Cornell University professor Brian Wansink, has made headlines for his research into the psychology of eating. His experiments have found, for example, that women who put cereal on their kitchen counters weigh more than those who don’t, and that people will pour more wine if they’re holding the glass than if it’s sitting on a table. Over the past two decades he’s written two popular books and more than 100 research papers, and enjoyed widespread media coverage (including on BuzzFeed).

Yet over the past year, Wansink and his “Food and Brand Lab” have come under fire from scientists and statisticians who’ve spotted all sorts of red flags — including data inconsistencies, mathematical impossibilities, errors, duplications, exaggerations, eyebrow-raising interpretations, and instances of self-plagiarism — in 50 of his studies.

Education Isn’t the Key to a Good Income

Rachel Cohen:

One of the most commonly taught stories American schoolchildren learn is that of Ragged Dick, Horatio Alger’s 19th-century tale of a poor, ambitious teenaged boy in New York City who works hard and eventually secures himself a respectable, middle-class life. This “rags to riches” tale embodies one of America’s most sacred narratives: that no matter who you are, what your parents do, or where you grow up, with enough education and hard work, you too can rise the economic ladder.

A body of research has since emerged to challenge this national story, casting the United States not as a meritocracy but as a country where castes are reinforced by factors like the race of one’s childhood neighbors and how unequally income is distributed throughout society. One such study was published in 2014, by a team of economists led by Stanford’s Raj Chetty. After analyzing federal income tax records for millions of Americans, and studying, for the first time, the direct relationship between a child’s earnings and that of their parents, they determined that the chances of a child growing up at the bottom of the national income distribution to ever one day reach the top actually varies greatly by geography. For example, they found that a poor child raised in San Jose, or Salt Lake City, has a much greater chance of reaching the top than a poor child raised in Baltimore, or Charlotte. They couldn’t say exactly why, but they concluded that five correlated factors—segregation, family structure, income inequality, local school quality, and social capital—were likely to make a difference. Their conclusion: America is land of opportunity for some. For others, much less so.

The price of incivility

Christine Porath and Christine Pearson :

We studied this phenomenon with the USC marketing professors Debbie MacInnis and Valerie Folkes. In one experiment, half the participants witnessed a supposed bank representative publicly reprimanding another for incorrectly presenting credit card information. Only 20% of those who’d seen the encounter said that they would use the bank’s services in the future, compared with 80% of those who hadn’t. And nearly two-thirds of those who’d seen the exchange said that they would feel anxious dealing with any employee of the bank.
 What’s more, when we tested various scenarios, we found that it didn’t matter whether the targeted employee was incompetent, whether the reprimand had been delivered behind closed doors (but overheard), or whether the employee had done something questionable or illegal, such as park in a handicapped spot. Regardless of the circumstances, people don’t like to see others treated badly.

Survey: Just A Quarter Of Americans Can Name All 3 Branches Of Government

Daniel Steingold:

A sizable portion of the American public seems to show little interest in the fabric of the country’s government and history, a new survey finds.

Researchers at the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) surveyed over 1,000 American adults, finding a shocking lack of knowledge as it pertains to U.S. politics among the general populace.
United States Constitution
In a new survey of American adults, just a quarter were able to name all three branches of the federal government, while 37% couldn’t name a single right protected by First Amendment.

Fifty-three percent of respondents believed the falsehood that illegal immigrants aren’t granted any constitutional rights, while 37 percent couldn’t even name a single right endowed by the First Amendment.

Thankfully, 48 percent of those surveyed were able to identify freedom of speech as being a right enshrined by the First Amendment, although far fewer could identify other rights accorded.

These include freedom of religion (15 percent), freedom of the press (14 percent), right of peaceful assembly (10 percent), and right to petition the government (three percent).

“Protecting the rights guaranteed by the Constitution presupposes that we know what they are. The fact that many don’t is worrisome,” says Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania, in a press release. “These results emphasize the need for high-quality civics education in the schools and for press reporting that underscores the existence of constitutional protections.”

Superintendent Chris Cerf on returning Newark Public Schools to local control

Elena Knopp, via a kind reader:

For the last 22 years, Newark’s Board of Education has served in an advisory capacity, with it’s power to make decisions severely diminished by a state-appointed superintendent.

But earlier this month, the state’s Board of Education voted unanimously to hand back control to Newark’s elected Board of Education, a decision that has served to usher in a new era of pride, determination and autonomy.

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Newark Public Schools will now work in close partnership with the state, with a full transition plan expected within the next few months.

Newark Public Schools Superintendent Christopher Cerf — likely the last state-appointed superintendent of Newark — took the helm of the district in 2015 after what many call a disastrous run with former school superintendent Cami Anderson, an appointee of Governor Chris Christie who ultimately resigned eight months before her contract expired.

Appointed in 2011, Anderson alienated many parents with the implementation of universal enrollment reorganization plan One Newark, which resulted in school closings, mass firings and months of contentious public board meetings.

Einstein Charter board prepares to fight Orleans school district over its failure to bus students

Marta Jewson:

Einstein Charter Schools is poised to fight the Orleans Parish School Board after being cited for not busing elementary students.

Einstein started to bus some children four years ago after taking over a failing school. But at some point, it apparently stopped. The mother of two children, 5 and 10 years old, said at a public meeting in August that Einstein had offered her public-transit tokens to get them to and from school, WWNO reported.

In a hastily called meeting Monday afternoon, Einstein’s board authorized CEO Shawn Toranto to hire a lawyer “to institute legal action arising from Orleans Parish School Board’s issuance of a notice of non-compliance.”

Einstein received a warning Sept. 19 from Dina Hasiotis, the school district’s executive director of school performance.

The Emoluments Clauses litigation, Part 1: The Constitution’s taxonomy of officers and offices

Josh Blackman and Seth Barrett Tillman:

The Foreign Emoluments Clause provides that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” In a series of coordinated lawsuits brought under the Foreign Emoluments Clause, plaintiffs contend that because “Defendant Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States of America,” he “thus holds an ‘Office of Profit or Trust’ under the United States.” Their argument certainly has an intuitive appeal: How could the presidency not qualify as an “Office of Profit or Trust under the United States” for purposes of this important anti-corruption provision? But an intuition is not an argument, and it is not evidence. Plaintiffs cannot point to a single judicial decision holding that this language in the Foreign Emoluments Clause, or the similar and more expansive phrase, “Office … under the United States” used in other constitutional provisions, applies to the president. Rather, the text and history of the Constitution, and post-ratification practice during the early republic, strongly support the counterintuitive view: The president does not hold an “Office … under the United States.”

Why we went to Bangladesh

Frontier Myanmar:

It is only by listening to each other that we will be able to build understanding and ultimately confront the demons that have plagued Rakhine State for generations.

THIS WEEK, Frontier has covered the Rakhine State crisis from over the border in Bangladesh.

In less than a month, more than 430,000 people, mostly Muslims, have sought refuge there. As The Economist reported this week, it is the worst refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide based on the speed with which it has unfolded.

The scale of the humanitarian calamity in Bangladesh is overwhelming. Many people have literally arrived with nothing; some are in such poor health they may not survive. Most have no idea how they can remain in Bangladesh but are also reluctant to return until their safety can be guaranteed.

An Ivy League professor on what the campus conversation on race gets wrong

Sean Illing:

Glenn Loury is an outlier in this environment — his politics are difficult to pin down exactly, but they’re probably best described as right of center. An author and professor of economics at Brown University, Loury has written books questioning what he sees as the liberal orthodoxy on race and history, including One by One From the Inside Out and The Anatomy of Racial Inequality.

I spoke with Loury earlier this month about his views on political correctness, the legacy of state-sanctioned racism, and his disagreements with the Atlantic writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. Our conversation, edited for length and clarity, follows

Fewer than half of all Wisconsin students scored proficient or above on state Forward Exam

Annysa Johnson:

On the ACT exam, for example, he noted that students on vouchers scored an average 17.2 compared with 16.3 by MPS students overall and 15.6 for MPS students considered economically disadvantaged. Similarly, he said, students in the statewide voucher program, which accepts students from outside of Milwaukee and Racine, scored an average 21.3 on the ACT, compared with a 20 for all statewide students and 17.1 for those considered economically disadvantaged.

In all, more than 453,000 students took the exams in the spring. The Forward and DLM are given to students in grades three through eight; the ACT to high school juniors. The Forward tests English language arts, math and science.

According to DPI:

40.5% of students overall were proficient or above in math, 42.7% in English and 42.3% in science.
Scores for public school students were comparable: 41.4% were proficient or above in math, 43.5% in English and 43.1% in science.

Voucher students scored far below those, with 15.2% proficient or above in math, 20.1% in English and 19.2% in science. Bender said those numbers are skewed by the large numbers of students in the Milwaukee and Racine voucher programs.

There were wide gaps in achievement for several student subgroups. For example, black, Hispanic and poor students scored well-below their peers on the overall ACT composite and across the board in math, English and science.

Karen Rivedal:

Related: Linking the Wisconsin Forward Assessments to NWEA MAP Growth Tests (PDF), via a kind reader:

The results in Table 5 demonstrate that MAP reading scores can consistently classify students’ proficiency (Level 3 or higher) status on Forward ELA test 81-83% of the time and MAP math scores can consistently classify students on Forward math test 86-88% of the time. Those numbers are high suggesting that both MAP reading and math tests are great predictors of students’ proficiency status on the Forward tests.”

80% of U.S. reported less income in 2016 survey than in 2007

Alexandre Tanzi:

Newly released income and wealth data from the Federal Reserve Board’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances show that America’s richest families enjoyed gains in income and net worth over the last decade. Not part of the top 10 percent? Then your income probably fell. The data show that families ranked in the highest percentile saw an income gain of $16,300 from 2007 to 2016. Those below are still making less money.

When it comes to wealth, the gap is even bigger. In 2007, half of families had a net worth of $139,700 or more and half fell below this level. By 2016, the midpoint dropped to $97,300 — a decline of $42,600. Families ranked in the top tenth of net worth have enjoyed a sizable gain since 2007: a $132,100 rise in net worth to reach almost $1.2 million.

Madison’s taxpayer / government funded K-12 schools have significantly increased taxes and spending since the Great Recession. We now spend nearly $20,000 per student despite tolerating disastrous reading results.

Peer Pressure

Will Fitzhugh, via a kind email:

We make frequent use of the influence of their high school peers on many of our students. We have peer counseling programs and even peer discipline systems, in some cases. We show students the artistic abilities of their peers in exhibitions, concerts, plays, recitals, and the like.

Most obviously, we put before our high school students the athletic skills and performances of their peers in a very wide range of meets, matches, and games, some of which, of course, are better attended than others.

While some high schools still have just one valedictorian, fellow students have little or no idea what sort of academic work the student who is first in her class has done. Academic scholarships may be announced, but it is quite impossible for peers to see the academic work for which the scholarship has been awarded. Here again, the contrast with athletics is clear.

We show high school students the artistic, athletic, and other examples of the outstanding efforts and accomplishments of their peers without seeming to worry that such examples will send their peers into unmanageable depressions or cause them to give up their own efforts to do their best.

When it comes to academic achievements, on the other hand, we do seem to worry that they will have a harmful effect if they are shown to other students. I am not quite sure how that attitude got its hold on us, but I do have some comments from authors whose papers I have published in The Concord Review, on their reaction to seeing the exemplary academic work of their peers:

“When a former history teacher first lent me a copy of The Concord Review, I was inspired by the careful scholarship crafted by other young people. Although I have always loved history passionately, I was used to writing history papers that were essentially glorified book reports…As I began to research the Ladies’ Land League, I looked to The Concord Review for guidance on how to approach my task…In short, I would like to thank you not only for publishing my essay, but for motivating me to develop a deeper understanding of history. I hope that The Concord Review will continue to fascinate, challenge and inspire young historians for years to come.”

North Central High School (IN)

“The opportunity that The Concord Review presented drove me to rewrite and revise my paper to emulate its high standards. Your journal truly provides an extraordinary opportunity and positive motivation for high school students to undertake extensive research and academic writing, experiences that ease the transition from high school to college.”

Thomas Worthington High School (OH)

“Thank you for selecting my essay regarding Augustus Caesar and his rule of the Roman Republic for publication in the Spring issue of The Concord Review. I am both delighted and honored to know that this essay will be of some use to readers around the world. The process of researching and writing this paper for my IB Diploma was truly enjoyable and it is my hope that it will inspire other students to undertake their own research projects on historical topics.”

Old Scona Academic High School, Edmonton, Alberta, (Canada)

“In the end, working on that history paper, inspired by the high standard set by The Concord Review, reinvigorated my interest not only in history, but also in writing, reading and the rest of the humanities. I am now more confident in my writing ability, and I do not shy from difficult academic challenges. My academic and intellectual life was truly altered by my experience with that paper, and the Review played no small role! Without the Review, I would not have put so much work into the paper. I would not have had the heart to revise so thoroughly.”

Isidore Newman School (LA)

“At CRLHS, a much-beloved history teacher suggested to me that I consider writing for The Concord Review, a publication that I had previously heard of, but knew little about. He proposed, and I agreed, that it would be an opportunity for me to pursue more independent work, something that I longed for, and hone my writing and research skills in a project of considerably broader scope than anything I had undertaken up to that point.”

Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School (MA)

Now, whenever a counterintuitive result—like this enthusiasm for a challenge—is found, there is always an attempt to limit the damage to our preconceptions. “This is only a tiny fringe group (of trouble-makers, nerds, etc.)” or “most of our high school students would not respond with interest to the exemplary academic work of their peers.” The problem with those arguments is that we really don’t know enough. We haven’t often actually tried to see what would happen if we presented our high school students with good academic work done by their more diligent peers. Perhaps we should consider giving that experiment a serious try. I have, as it happens, some good high school academic expository writing in History to use as examples in such a trial…see tcr.org.

Contact: Will Fitzhugh, fitzhugh@tcr.org

How does Ethereum work, anyway?

Preethi Kasireddy:

Odds are you’ve heard about the Ethereum blockchain, whether or not you know what it is. It’s been in the news a lot lately, including the cover of some major magazines, but reading those articles can be like gibberish if you don’t have a foundation for what exactly Ethereum is. So what is it? In essence, a public database that keeps a permanent record of digital transactions. Importantly, this database doesn’t require any central authority to maintain and secure it. Instead it operates as a “trustless” transactional system — a framework in which individuals can make peer-to-peer transactions without needing to trust a third party OR one another.
 Still confused? That’s where this post comes in. My aim is to explain how Ethereum functions at a technical level, without complex math or scary-looking formulas. Even if you’re not a programmer, I hope you’ll walk away with at least better grasp of the tech. If some parts are too technical and difficult to grok, that’s totally fine! There’s really no need to understand every little detail. I recommend just focusing on understanding things at a broad level.
 Many of the topics covered in this post are a breakdown of the concepts discussed in the yellow paper. I’ve added my own explanations and diagrams to make understanding Ethereum easier. Those brave enough to take on the technical challenge can also read the Ethereum yellow paper.

Wisconsin k-12 state examination results

Wisconsin DPI:

<< What does this graph measure? This graph displays the percentage of students in each performance category on the Forward and DLM (alternate) assessments during the selected year's administration. The Forward assessment is administered to students in grades 3-8 for ELA and Mathematics, 4 and 8 for Science and 4, 8 and 10 for Social Studies. While the DLM assessment is administered to students in grades 3-11, only DLM results for students in grades 3-8,10 are included here. The graph also displays the percentage of students who are indicated as not completing either exam (No Test). This group includes students who were opted out of testing by their parent/guardian and other non-tested students. Explore the data How do the performance outcomes for students in your school change for different subgroups and different assessments? Full Academic Year (FAY) has an effect on some results. Click the Glossary button to learn how FAY is applied. Learn more about this data. Visit Forward About the Data. For Dynamic Learning Maps, visit DLM About the Data.

Student debt: focusing on the symptoms. K-12 math competence

Katelyn Ferral

More people are borrowing more money to pay for college each year. Total student loan debt reached $1.44 trillion this year, held by 44.2 million borrowers nationwide, according to federal government figures. In Wisconsin, there are about 1 million people who together hold more than $19 billion in student loan debt, according to figures from the U.S. Department of Education, the country’s largest student lender.

Decades ago, students could pay for college tuition and living expenses by working throughout school and during summers. Now, college is so expensive — up 237 percent for in-state tuition at public universities since 1997 — that many students are only able to go if they take out loans.

Even with the best attempts at financial planning, changing regulations and compounding interest have made college debt a heavy burden for many borrowers.

Do Tech Companies Really Need All That User Data?

Walter Frick:

The online economy — from search to email to social media — is built in large part on the fact that consumers are willing to give away their data in exchange for products that are free and easy to use. The assumption behind this trade-off is that without giving up all that data, those products either couldn’t be so good or would have to come at a cost.
 But a new working paper, released this week by Lesley Chiou of Occidental College and Catherine Tucker of MIT, suggests that the trade-off may not always be necessary. By studying the effects of privacy regulations in the EU, they attempted to measure whether the anonymization and de-identification of search data hurts the quality of search results.
 Most search engines capture user data, including IP addresses and other data that can identify a user across multiple visits. This data then allows search companies to improve their algorithms and to personalize results for the user. At least, that’s the idea. To determine whether storage of users’ personal data improves search results, Chiou and Tucker looked at how search results from Bing and Yahoo differed before and after changes in the European Commission’s rules on data retention. In 2008 the Commission recommended that search engines reduce the period over which search engines kept user records. In response, Yahoo decided to strengthen its privacy policy by anonymizing user data after 90 days. In 2010 Microsoft changed its policy, and began deleting IP addresses associated with searches on Bing after six months and all data points intended to identify a user across visits after 18 months. In 2011 Yahoo changed its policy again, this time deciding to store personal data longer — for 18 months rather than 90 days — allowing the researchers yet another chance to measure how changes in data storage affected search results. (Google did not change its policies during this period, and so is not included in the study. Some of Tucker’s past research has been funded by Google.)

Unlearning History

Eric Raymond:

Looking back, we can see that between 1865 and around 1914 the Union and the former South negotiated an imperfect but workable peace. The first step in that negotiation took place at Appomattox, when the Union troops accepting General Robert E. Lee’s surrender saluted the defeated and allowed them to retain their arms, treating them with the most punctilious military courtesy due to honorable foes.

Over the next few years, the Union Army reintegrated the Confederate military into itself. Confederate officers not charged with war crimes were generally able to retain rank and seniority; many served in the frontier wars of the next 35 years. Elements of Confederate uniform were adopted for Western service.

The political leaders of the revolt were not executed. Instead, they were spared to urge reconciliation, and generally did. By all historical precedent they were treated with shocking leniency. This paid off.

Of course, not all went smoothly. The Reconstruction of the South between 1863 and 1877 was badly bungled, creating resentments that linger to this day and – in the folk memory of Southerners – often overshadow the harms of the war itself. The condition of emancipated blacks remained dire.

But overall, the reintegration of the South went far better than it could have. Confederate nationalism was successfully reabsorbed into American nationalism. One of the prices of this adjustment was that Confederate heroes had to become American heroes. An early and continuing example of this was the reverence paid to Robert E. Lee by Unionists after the war; his qualities as a military leader were extolled and his opposition to full civil rights for black freedmen memory-holed.

Houston FEMA flood map missed 75 percent of flood damages, says new study

Fernando Ramirez:

FEMA’s 100-year flood plain map doesn’t have the best reputation in Bayou City – just ask any Houstonian whose home was outside the flood risk zone yet still filled with water during one if the city’s many and recent flooding events.

Still, a new study by Rice University and Texas A&M-Galveston suggests FEMA’s hazard mapping may be even less accurate than most people think.

Researchers examined flood damage claims from several southeast Houston suburbs between 1999 to 2009 and found that FEMA’s flood predictive maps failed to show 75 percent of flood damage.

“The takeaway from this study, which was borne out in Harvey, is that many losses occur in areas outside FEMA’s 100-year flood plain,” said study co-author Antonia Sebastian in a prepared statement.

How Not to Recover from a Crisis, Mizzou Edition

Thomas Lambert:

The University of Missouri, where I teach and which I dearly love, is in crisis. Freshman enrollment at the university’s Columbia campus (Mizzou) is down by a whopping 35% from two years ago. Missouri’s governor and legislature slashed Mizzou’s state appropriation by $22 million this year.

Administrators have responded by cutting Mizzou’s operating budget by 12% and laying off 307 employees (474 across the entire University of Missouri system). They’ve also closed seven dormitories to students, instead renting out the rooms for football games and special events like the recent solar eclipse.

Suffice it to say, morale on campus is low.

The primary culprit, of course, is Mizzou’s reaction to the student protests of 2015. In November of that year, a group of students, justifiably angered by three racist incidents on the 35,000-student Columbia campus, presented administrators with a number of unreasonable demands. Among other things, they insisted that the president of the 77,000-student University of Missouri system publicly acknowledge his “white male privilege” and resign his post and that the university adopt patently unconstitutional racial quotas for faculty and staff.

Instead of leading like compassionate, wise adults—joining the protestors’ rightful condemnation of racist conduct but working to convince them that their demands were unreasonable—many Mizzou officials either succumbed to or actively perpetuated the frenzy.

Airport Police Demanded an Activist’s Passwords. He Refuse

Ryan Gallagher:

It was not the first time Muhammad Rabbani had problems when returning to the United Kingdom from travels overseas. But on this occasion something was different — he was arrested, handcuffed, and hauled through London’s largest airport, then put into the back of a waiting police van.

Rabbani is the 36-year-old international director of Cage, a British group that was founded in 2003 to raise awareness about the plight of prisoners held at the U.S. government’s Guantánamo Bay detention site. Today, the organization has a broader focus and says it is working to highlight “the erosion of the rule of law in the context of the war on terror.” Due to its work campaigning for the legal rights of terrorism suspects, Cage has attracted controversy, and Rabbani has faced the government’s wrath.

His trouble at Heathrow Airport in late November began with a familiar routine. Often, on his return to the U.K. from foreign trips, he was stopped by police and questioned under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act — a sweeping power British authorities can use at the border to interrogate and search people without requiring any suspicion of wrongdoing. People questioned under Schedule 7 have no right to remain silent, and they can be interrogated for up to six hours. Rabbani estimates that he has been stopped under Schedule 7 about 20 times. Usually, he was let free after a few questions without any charges or arrest. But not this time.

When charter schools unionize, students learn more, study finds

Matt Barnum:

When charter school teachers push to unionize, charter leaders often fight back.

That’s happened in Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. Unionizing, they argue, would limit the schools’ ability to innovate, ultimately hurting kids.

But a new study of California schools finds that, far from harming student achievement, unionization of charter schools actually boosts test scores.

“In contrast to the predominant public opinion about school unionizations, we find that unionization has a positive … impact on student math performance,” write researchers Jordan Matsudaira of Cornell and Richard Patterson of the U.S. Military Academy.

The analysis is hardly the last word on the question, but it highlights the limited evidence for the idea that not having unionized teachers helps charter schools succeed — even though that is a major aspect of the charter-school movement, as most charters are not unionized.

“Contrary to the anti-worker and anti-union ideologues, the teacher unions in charter schools don’t impede teaching and learning or hurt kids,” said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, which represents teachers in more than 240 charter schools. “And the findings — that schools with teachers who have an independent voice through its unions have a positive effects on student performance — are consistent with common sense and other studies.”

Madison has long spent far more than most government funded school districts (now nearly $20,000 per student), yet we’ve long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Yet, Madison’s non diverse governance model continues unabated, aborting the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter school and more recently a quasi Montessori charter proposal.

How Science Is Unlocking the Secrets of Addiction

Fran Smith:

Patrick Perotti scoffed when his mother told him about a doctor who uses electromagnetic waves to treat drug addiction. “I thought he was a swindler,” Perotti says.

Perotti, who is 38 and lives in Genoa, Italy, began snorting cocaine at 17, a rich kid who loved to party. His indulgence gradually turned into a daily habit and then an all-consuming compulsion. He fell in love, had a son, and opened a restaurant. Under the weight of his addiction, his family and business eventually collapsed.

He did a three-month stint in rehab and relapsed 36 hours after he left. He spent eight months in another program, but the day he returned home, he saw his dealer and got high. “I began to use cocaine with rage,” he says. “I became paranoid, obsessed, crazy. I could not see any way to stop.”

When his mother pressed him to call the doctor, Perotti gave in. He learned he would just have to sit in a chair like a dentist’s and let the doctor, Luigi Gallimberti, hold a device near the left side of his head, on the theory it would suppress his hunger for cocaine. “It was either the cliff or Dr. Gallimberti,” he recalls.

The large parts of America left behind by today’s economy

Kim Hart:

U.S. geographical economic inequality is growing, meaning your economic opportunity is more tied to your location than ever before. A large portion of the country is being left behind by today’s economy, according to a county-by-county report released this morning by the Economic Innovation Group, a non-profit research and advocacy organization. This was a major election theme that helped thrust Donald Trump to the White House.

The University Of California I s handing out generous pensions, and students are paying the price with higher tuition

Jack Dolan:

Last year, more than 5,400 UC retirees received pensions over $100,000. Someone without a pension would need savings between $2 million and $3 million to guarantee a similar income in retirement.

The number of UC retirees collecting six-figure pensions has increased 60% since 2012, a Times analysis of university data shows. Nearly three dozen received pensions in excess of $300,000 last year, four times as many as in 2012. Among those joining the top echelon was former UC President Mark Yudof, who worked at the university for only seven years — including one year on paid sabbatical and another in which he taught one class per semester.

High School Under Fire For Project Reenacting Slavery


Whitney High School junior Timothy Reyes had his hands taped together and was a part of a slave ship reenactment when he was an 8th grader on the Cerritos campus.

A mother complained recently after getting an email from her son’s teacher explaining the “unique classroom activity,” which was to be a surprise. Staff would act as slave ship captains, the email described, and the children slaves.

After lining the kids up, the note said, they’d “use masking tape to ‘tie’ their wrists together, make them lay on the ground, and in a dark room have them watch a clip from the film ‘Roots.’ ”

LaMonica Bryson, a Whitney High English teacher agrees with the decision to pull the activity from campus which students said was announced Monday.

“I think there are other ways to teach tolerance and maybe even better ways and best practices to broach these sensitive topics,” said Bryson.

Some students agree.

What I would do if I was 18 now

Pieter Levels:

I wouldn’t go to university. This was a hard one for me, because I finished a Master’s degree myself. But I did it mostly to prove to society I wasn’t a complete idiot because I’d been kicked off a very elite high school. I can’t say I learnt anything useful in university except how to talk to people better and do presentations in front of large crowds without getting sick.

As I also kinda employ people now, I can tell you from both sides too. I’ve never even asked about people’s academic credentials. I don’t care. I ask them if they can do specific tasks and have specific skills that can make my company better and take work off from me. That’s it. So I feel universities are a scam now (especially in the US where they’re very pricey).

If you do want to go to university, go abroad to a place where it’s cheap like Germany (I think it costs less than $1k/y there). I also heard it’s actually free in some Scandinavian countries (even for foreigners).


Instead of going to university, go online and learn how to code. That’s the most important one. Learn the basics of programming, learn different languages, web and native, whatever is relevant at the time.

Learn design, copy other designers and start putting your own ideas in slowly.

The Speech I Couldn’t Give at Berkeley Free Speech Week

Lisa De Pasquale:

Today I was scheduled to speak at “Feminism Awareness Day” during Free Speech Week at UC-Berkeley. I am extremely thankful to Milo Yiannopoulos for inviting me to debut my new book, The Social Justice Warrior Handbook. I’m also thankful to Milo for taking the fight for free speech to ground zero — college campuses. In a recent radio interview, an NPR host asked him why he doesn’t just rent a theater rather than deal with college campus rules. Milo responded by asking why conservatives should relinquish participation in an arena that should be open to all views.

Unfortunately, events were canceled because of coordinated efforts by the school administration, leftist media, and leftist groups from across the country. Within hours of being included on a leaked list of invited (not scheduled) speakers, I heard from reporters with information they wanted confirmed or denied in order to catch the organizers in some sort of deceit. They went down the line speaker by speaker in order to discredit and disrupt the event. While I’m disappointed students at Berkeley won’t be able to hear from many of the invited speakers, I’m not surprised.

School choice is crucial for African-American students’ success

T. William Fair:

Once upon a time it may have been unheard of for the head of an urban league dedicated to the improvement of lives for African-American children to partner with a Republican to work on school reform. As part of one of his education reform efforts, Florida governor Jeb Bush convinced me to help him go around that state in an attempt to get school choice legislation passed. I leapt at the opportunity because I was desperately concerned about the lack of quality educational options for children in Liberty City, a neighborhood of the city of Miami where a branch of the urban league is headquartered.

But that one achievement 30 plus years ago created a path that has changed lives for the children not only for Liberty City but children across the state. That is why I am compelled to speak up with deep concern and opposition to the statements of late by the NAACP, whose leadership has begun to ignore the reality of communities like mine, and indeed the conditions of African American students all over the country.

Madison has long spent far more than most government funded school districts (now nearly $20,000 per student), yet we’ve long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Yet, Madison’s non diverse governance model continues unabated, aborting the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter school and more recently a quasi Montessori charter proposal.

How a change in the bar exam cut score could alter California legal education

Derek Muller::

Virtually all the deans of law schools in California, of ABA-accredited and California-accredited schools, have come out in favor, at multiple stages, of lowering the cut score for the California bar exam. The score, 144, is the second-highest in the country and has long been this high. Given the size of California and the number of test-takers each year, even modest changes could result in hundreds of new first-time passers each test administration.

The State Bar, in a narrowly-divided 6-5 vote, recommended three options to the California Supreme Court: keep the score; lower it to 141.1; or lower it to 139. As I watched the hearing, the dissenters seemed more in favor of keeping it at 144. At least some of the supporters seem inclined to support the 139 score, or something even lower, but recognized the limitations of securing a majority vote on an issue. Essentially, however, the State Bar adopted the staff recommendation and offered these options to the California Supreme Court.

The Court could adopt none of these options, but I imagine it would be inclined to adopt a recommended standard, and probably the lowest standard at that, 139. (The link above includes the call from the Supreme Court to evaluate the appropriateness of the cut score, a hint, but hardly definitive, that it believes something ought to be done.)

Your union leaders are gouging you

Tom Moran:

Brace yourself: The top five officers earned an average of $764,000 in compensation in 2015. The big winner was the executive director, Ed Richardson, who pulled in $1.2 million, roughly twice what the national union pays its executive director.

These are union folks, remember, the same ones who rail about economic injustice. The middle-class teachers they represent earn $70,000 on average, and pay about $900 of that in annual dues to this crowd.

I wanted to ask Richardson how he can justify this money grab, so I called, over and over, and sent e-mails. But like those little critters, he slithered into the muck to escape the sunlight.

The View From the End of the American Empire

Murtaza Hussein:

Through a network of nearly 800 military bases located in 70 countries around the globe, in addition to an array of trade deals and alliances, the U.S. has cemented its influence for decades across both Europe and Asia. American leaders helped impose a set of rules and norms that promoted free trade, democratic governance — in theory, if not always in practice — and a prohibition on changing borders militarily, using a mixture of force and suasion to sustain the systems that keep its hegemony intact. Meanwhile, although the U.S. generally eschewed direct colonialism, its promotion of global free trade helped “open a door through which America’s preponderant economic strength would enter and dominate all the underdeveloped areas of the world,” wrote the revisionist historian William Appleman Williams in his more-than-half-century-old classic, “The Tragedy of American Diplomacy”.

That strategy of “non-colonial imperial expansion,” as Williams called it, became the basis for U.S. foreign policy over the past century. For American elites, such a policy has provided remarkable benefits, even if the resulting largesse has not always trickled down to the rest of the country. Thanks to its status as the world’s only superpower, the U.S. today enjoys the “exorbitant privilege” of having its dollar serve as the world’s reserve currency, while U.S. leaders dominate the agenda of international institutions promoting governance and trade. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 and the successful creation of a global military alliance to repel Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait that same year, America’s imperial confidence reached a zenith; President George H.W. Bush publicly declared the start of a “new world order” under American leadership.

Pedagogy and the Logic of Platforms

Chris Gilliard:

In his initial New Horizons column in EDUCAUSE Review, Mike Caulfield asked: “Can Higher Education Save the Web?”1 I was intrigued by this question since I often say to my students that the web is broken and that the ideal thing to do (although quite unrealistic) would be to tear it down and start from scratch.

I call the web “broken” because its primary architecture is based on what Harvard Business School Professor Shoshana Zuboff calls “surveillance capitalism,” a “form of information capitalism [that] aims to predict and modify human behavior as a means to produce revenue and market control.”2 Web2.0—the web of platforms, personalization, clickbait, and filter bubbles—is the only web most students know. That web exists by extracting individuals’ data through persistent surveillance, data mining, tracking, and browser fingerprinting3 and then seeking new and “innovative” ways to monetize that data. As platforms and advertisers seek to perfect these strategies, colleges and universities rush to mimic those strategies in order to improve retention.4

That said, I admit it might be useful to search for a more suitable term than “broken.” The web is not broken in this regard: a web based on surveillance, personalization, and monetization works perfectly well for particular constituencies, but it doesn’t work quite as well for persons of color, lower-income students, and people who have been walled off from information or opportunities because of the ways they are categorized according to opaque algorithms.

Request for Education Startups

Karen Lien:

We’re interested in companies re-thinking the entire model of schooling, especially for pre-K and higher education. In the US, new models may rely on technology to personalize or otherwise improve the learning experience. We’re also interested in applications of technology that have the potential to deliver high quality educational experiences to every student in the world. An example:

The Rumie Initiative curates free online educational content, packages it into comprehensive offline curricula, and delivers it to educators working in refugee camps and other remote or under-resourced communities.

Commentary On Milwaukee’s $1.1 Billion K-12 Budget

Annysa Johnson:

In the long term, Driver and board members said, the district may be forced to re-examine its generous employee benefits package and consolidate or close some schools.

MPS’ final $1.1 billion budget is expected to be finalized in November. The district already made a series of cuts in the spring aimed at closing what was then a $50 million budget gap. Those included cutting 96 teaching positions and 98 classroom assistant posts.

Seeking K-12 Governance diversity in Madison

“Bennett said he continues to work closely with the district, noting he recently met with district lawyer Dylan Pauly to work out an agreement for the internal sharing and public posting of any Madison charter school applications that are submitted. Proposals are to be posted on the district’s website within two weeks of the submission date, and on his own office’s website within one week, Bennett said.”

“I’d have to have a proposal approved by the UW Board of Regents and to the (state) Department of Public Instruction by Feb. 1,” Bennett said, for a 2018 opening.

That means school proposers would have to have a completed proposal to him for review within a few months, which seems unlikely, Bennett said.

He declined to characterize in detail the ideas for any Madison proposals he’s seen so far before any official applications are in, but he said they “range from really focused content-area schools to innovative, project-based learning schools.”

“Those conversations are really rewarding,” Bennett said, lauding the opportunity he said his office has “to really grow quality (educational) choices for kids.”

Bennett said he has spent most of the time since his hiring developing a process for office operations and shepherding through the Legislature a drug-addiction recovery charter school favored by GOP lawmakers. The school, approved in July, could go anywhere in the state, with competitive proposals to create it, including a location, due by Dec. 2.

Madison has long spent far more than most government funded school districts (now nearly $20,000 per student), yet we’ve long tolerated disastrous reading results.

Yet, Madison’s non diverse governance model continues unabated, aborting the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter school and more recently a quasi Montessori charter proposal.

Psychology beats business training when it comes to entrepreneurship

The Economist:

MANAGEMENT gurus have chewed over the topic endlessly: is a flair for entrepreneurship something that you are born with, or something that can be taught? In a break with those gurus’ traditions, a group of economists and researchers from the World Bank, the National University of Singapore and Leuphana University in Germany decided that rather than simply cook up a pet theory of their own, they would conduct a controlled experiment.

Moreover, instead of choosing subjects from the boardrooms of powerful corporations or among the latest crop of young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, Francisco Campos and his fellow researchers chose to monitor 1,500 people running small businesses in Togo in West Africa. These are not the sorts of business owners who give TED talks or negotiate billion-dollar mergers. The typical firm had three employees and profits of 94,512 CFA francs ($173) a month. Only about a third kept books, and less than one in 20 had a written budget.

Inside the Madness at Evergreen State

Jillian Kay Melchior:

Biology professor Bret Weinstein has settled his lawsuit against Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. Mr. Weinstein became a pariah last spring when he criticized an officially sanctioned “Day of Absence” during which white people were asked to stay away from campus. He and his wife, anthropology professor Heather Heying, alleged that Evergreen “has permitted, cultivated, and perpetuated a racially hostile and retaliatory work environment.” They claimed administrators failed to protect them from “repeated provocative and corrosive verbal and written hostility based on race, as well as threats of physical violence.”

Last week the university announced it would pay $500,000 to settle the couple’s complaint. Evergreen said in a statement that the college “strongly rejects” the lawsuit’s allegations, denies the Day of Absence was discriminatory, and asserts: “The college took reasonable and appropriate steps to engage with protesters, de-escalate conflict, and keep the campus safe.”

Everyone likes local control of schools, as long it’s local control they like

Alan Borsuk:

A setting for greatness: I was part of a program a few days ago with 40 or so leaders of Milwaukee-area public school districts. One thing I said was that I didn’t see much bold action or big orders coming their way from Washington. And there wasn’t much big news in the state ESSA plan or the new state budget (special-education vouchers being one exception). I said if there’s going to be a rising tide of quality, it’s going to come from people such as them — from the local level.

And in some places, that is happening. Some particularly innovative and nationally recognized school leaders were in the room. You want names? This is not a full list, but I’d mention Menomonee Falls Superintendent Patricia Greco, Kettle Moraine Superintendent Patricia Deklotz and Brown Deer Superintendent Deb Kerr.

School choice is crucial for African-American students’ success

T Willard Fair:

Here’s what I need to say to them, to the people of this nation, to people of color — I am involved in the school choice movement because the future of my life and your life depends upon it. Starting the state’s first charter school was one of the most significant accomplishments of my life. Because of our willingness to look beyond traditional divisions and leave beyond our tendency to only work with those with whom we are comfortable, our children of color are closing the achievement gap. African-American students in charter schools are scoring 4% higher on reading tests than those in traditional public schools and Florida charter school students are more likely to attend college. Hispanic students do 12% better than their peers at traditional public schools. These are but two of the many indicators that point to increased success for students of color because their families were empowered to find schools that better met the needs of their children.

Predicting Crime in Portland Oregon

Jorie Koster-HaleAug:

Predicting future crime poses a particularly interesting data challenge because it has both geospatial and temporal dimensions and may be affected by many different types of features like weather, city infrastructure, population demographics, public events, government policy, etc.

In September 2016, the National Institute of Justice launched a Real-Time Crime Forecasting Challenge to predict crime hotspots in the city of Portland, Oregon. Our team (Maxime and I) made a submission to the challenge. Our goal was to use both geospatial and temporal data to understand underlying factors of crime and predict future hotspots. All of the data are open source, making the project fully reproducible. And in the end, we are very excited to have been announced as one of the winners of the challenge!

How did we do it? In a series of two blog posts, I will walk through our approach to the challenge, which was ultimately a combination of machine learning, time-series modeling, and geostatistics (a combination that was more effective at predicting future crime hotspots than any of these techniques by themselves). This first post will focus on the data we used, and the next post (coming soon) will delve into the analysis of that data.

Social Animal House: The Economic and Academic Consequences of Fraternity Membership

Jack Mara, Lewis Davis and Stephen Schmidt

We exploit changes in the residential and social environment on campus to identify the economic and academic consequences of fraternity membership at a small Northeastern college. Our estimates suggest that these consequences are large, with fraternity membership lowering student GPA by approximately 0.25 points on the traditional four-point scale, but raising future income by approximately 36%, for those students whose decision about membership is affected by changes in the environment. These results suggest that fraternity membership causally produces large gains in social capital, which more than outweigh its negative effects on human capital for potential members. Alcohol-related behavior does not explain much of the effects of fraternity membership on either the human capital or social capital effects. These findings suggest that college administrators face significant trade-offs when crafting policies related to Greek life on campus.

Police use of ‘StingRay’ cellphone tracker requires search warrant, appeals court rules

Tom Jackman

A device that tricks cellphones into sending it their location information and has been used quietly by police and federal agents for years, requires a search warrant before it is turned on, an appeals court in Washington ruled Thursday. It is the fourth such ruling by either a state appeals court or federal district court, and may end up deciding the issue unless the government takes the case to the U.S. Supreme Court or persuades the city’s highest court to reverse the ruling.

The case against Prince Jones in 2013 involved D.C. police use of a “StingRay” cell-site simulator, which enables law enforcement to pinpoint the location of a cellphone more precisely than a phone company can when triangulating a signal between cell towers or using a phone’s GPS function. Civil liberties advocates say the StingRay, by providing someone’s location to police without court approval, is a violation of an individual’s Fourth Amendment right not to be unreasonably searched. The D.C. Court of Appeals agreed in a 2 to 1 ruling, echoing similar rulings in the Maryland Court of Special Appeals and federal district courts in New York City and San Francisco.

The Senate’s Military Spending Increase Alone Is Enough to Make Public College Free

Alex Emmons:

One of the most controversial proposals put forward by Sen. Bernie Sanders during the 2016 presidential campaign was a pledge to make tuition free at public colleges and universities. Critics from both parties howled that the pie-in-the-sky idea would bankrupt the country. Where, after all, would the money come from?

Those concerns were brushed aside Monday night, as the Senate overwhelmingly approved an $80 billion annual increase in military spending, enough to have fully satisfied Sanders’s campaign promise. Instead, the Senate handed President Donald Trump far more than the $54 billion he asked for. The lavish spending package gives Trump a major legislative victory, allowing him to boast about fulfilling his promise of a “great rebuilding of the armed services.”

The bill would set the U.S.’s annual military budget at around $700 billion, putting it within range of matching the spending level at the height of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

To put that in further perspective: If the package becomes law, U.S. military spending would exceed the total spending of its next 10 rivals put together, going off of 2016 military spending estimates from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Contra “We Know Best”

Robert McFadden

“We find when we bring average Americans together that they listen to one another, that they can contribute and that they can build, develop a vision of what they want our society to be like. And it’s really inspiring.”

In a speech at the Drucker Institute in Claremont, Calif., in late 2008, Mr. Yankelovich enumerated overwhelming national problems — the financial meltdown, the soaring debt, lost standing in the world, runaway health and education costs — and, typically, offered his vision of a way out of the mess. He called it “The New Pragmatism,” and insisted that it would soon spread across America.

“It’s going to occur,” he said, certitude rising in his New England accent, “through entrepreneurship and innovative thinking at all levels of society: individual, commercial, public, nonprofit, private, institutional, and all of these in interlocking, interacting ways.”

Boys Are Not Defective

Amanda Ripley:

In fact, across the Arab world, women now earn more science degrees on a percentage basis than women in the United States. In Saudi Arabia alone, women earn half of all science degrees. And yet, most of those women are unlikely to put their degrees to paid use for very long.

This is baffling on the most obvious levels. In the West, researchers have long believed that future prospects incentivize students to invest in school. The conventional wisdom is that girls do better in school as women acquire more legal and political rights in society. But many Middle Eastern women do not go on to have long professional careers after graduating; they spend much of their lives working at home as wives and mothers. Fewer than one in every five workers is female in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman.

This spring, I went to the Middle East to try to understand why girls are doing so much better in school, despite living in quintessentially patriarchal societies. Or, put another way, why boys are doing so badly.

The New Preschool Is Crushing Kids

Erika Christakis

Step into an American preschool classroom today and you are likely to be bombarded with what we educators call a print-rich environment, every surface festooned with alphabet charts, bar graphs, word walls, instructional posters, classroom rules, calendars, schedules, and motivational platitudes—few of which a 4-year-old can “decode,” the contemporary word for what used to be known as reading.

Because so few adults can remember the pertinent details of their own preschool or kindergarten years, it can be hard to appreciate just how much the early-education landscape has been transformed over the past two decades. The changes are not restricted to the confusing pastiche on classroom walls. Pedagogy and curricula have changed too, most recently in response to the Common Core State Standards Initiative’s kindergarten guidelines. Much greater portions of the day are now spent on what’s called “seat work” (a term that probably doesn’t need any exposition) and a form of tightly scripted teaching known as direct instruction, formerly used mainly in the older grades, in which a teacher carefully controls the content and pacing of what a child is supposed to learn.

How Harvard helps its richest and most arrogant students get ahead

Sarah Ruden:

It was the end of a semester at Harvard University, where I was a doctoral student, and I’d been called into a professor’s office. He was the faculty member overseeing the third-year undergraduate Latin course that I had just finished teaching and grading. One of my students was seated in the office when I arrived, with a look of dignified outrage on his face, having already made his case against me. The offense?

I’d given him an A-minus.

That he apparently felt welcome to petition against that grade might tell you everything you need to know about how Harvard coddles certain students.

True, giving an A-minus to a classics major, a potential “friend of the department” (read: likely future donor), didn’t always go over well. But the same professor who was now entertaining that undergrad’s grievance had, that year, briefed us teaching assistants on the tough new guidelines for combating grade inflation, counseling us to be judicious, to think through what a Harvard “A” meant before awarding one. Hence, it had seemed reasonably safe to assign that grade.

Harvard’s complicity in football injuries

Sam Koppelman:

But if an 18-year-old student losing his ability to breathe and walk on his own is not a national news story, if we refuse to ask ourselves how we let this happen, then we are all complicit.

We are complicit in the deaths that take place on the football field, including those that occur at the high school level every year. We are complicit in the head injuries that keep student-athletes out of class. And we are complicit in the long-term health impacts — from post-concussion syndrome to degenerative brain diseases like CTE to depression and even suicide — thousands of football players face across the country.

How to improve the quality of higher education (essay)

Derek Bok:

Many colleges provide a formidable array of courses, majors and extracurricular opportunities, but firsthand accounts indicate that many undergraduates do not feel that the material conveyed in their readings and lectures has much relevance to their lives. Such sentiments suggest either that the courses do not in fact contribute much to the ultimate goals that colleges claim to value or that instructors are not taking sufficient care to explain the larger aims of their courses and why they should matter.

Other studies suggest that many instructors do not teach their courses in ways best calculated to achieve the ends that faculties themselves consider important. For example, one investigator studied samples of the examinations given at elite liberal arts colleges and research universities. Although 99 percent of professors consider critical thinking an “essential” or “very important” goal of a college education, fewer than 20 percent of the exam questions actually tested for this skill.

Now that most faculties have defined the learning objectives of their college and its various departments and programs, it should be possible to review recent examinations to determine whether individual professors, programs and departments are actually designing their courses to achieve those goals. College administrators could also modify their student evaluation forms to ask students whether they believe the stated goals were emphasized in the courses they took.

In addition, the average time students devote to studying varies widely among different colleges, and many campuses could require more of their students. Those lacking evidence about the study habits of their undergraduates could inform themselves through confidential surveys that faculties could review and consider steps to encourage greater student effort and improve learning

Facebook Faces a New World as Officials Rein In a Wild Web

Paul Mozur,Mark Scott and Mike Isaac

On a muggy, late spring evening, Tuan Pham awoke to the police storming his house in Hanoi, Vietnam.

They marched him to a police station and made their demand: Hand over your Facebook password. Mr. Tuan, a computer engineer, had recently written a poem on the social network called “Mother’s Lullaby,” which criticized how the communist country was run.

One line read, “One century has passed, we are still poor and hungry, do you ask why?”

Mr. Tuan’s arrest came just weeks after Facebook offered a major olive branch to Vietnam’s government. Facebook’s head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, met with a top Vietnamese official in April and pledged to remove information from the social network that violated the country’s laws.

While Facebook said its policies in Vietnam have not changed, and it has a consistent process for governments to report illegal content, the Vietnamese government was specific. The social network, they have said, had agreed to help create a new communications channel with the government to prioritize Hanoi’s requests and remove what the regime considered inaccurate posts about senior leaders.

Report: Nearly 30 Percent of Public School Teachers Chronically Absent

Bill McMorris

Public school teachers are three times more likely to miss large chunks of school days than their peers at charter schools, which could hurt student learning, according to a new report.

An analysis by Thomas P. Fordham Institute senior research and policy associate David Griffith found that more than 28 percent of public school teachers miss at least 11 workdays a year.

Hawaii led the country in absenteeism with 79 percent of public school teachers taking off at least 10 days. Educators’ truancy rates are far higher than those in other industries. An average teacher will take eight personal or sick days each year compared to the nationwide average of three-and-a-half, according to the report, titled, “Teacher Absenteeism in Charter and Traditional Public Schools.

“The percentage of teachers in traditional public schools who take more than ten sick and personal days is almost four times higher than the percentage of employees in other industries who take at least ten sick days—despite the fact that teachers have significantly fewer work days than employees in other industries,” the report says.

High absentee rates are unique among public school teachers. About 10 percent of charter school teachers are chronically absent from work—closer to the national average of 7.7 percent of workers with access to paid sick leave.

ETC College Rankings Index

Educate to Career:

Workforce preparedness, maximizing earnings and employability are the primary reasons for a person to attend college. The ETC College Rankings Index quantifies and compares each college’s record for improving the labor market outcomes for students.

The ETC College Rankings Index is the only system that rates colleges by the Economic Value Added delivered to their graduates. Our patent pending methodologies analyze the labor market outcomes of graduates from 1250 four year colleges.

The ETC Index also makes available fee based data ($10 per school) which enables detailed analysis by college and major:

The average net cost – of every college. This is not the list price- this is the annual tuition that in state students actually paid. This information alone can save you $ thousands per year.

Jobs and salaries – for each college and major, we provide a list of the jobs that recent graduates actually landed, with starting salaries.

Loan default and grad rates – enhance your planning and analysis.

Facebook’s war on free will

Franklin Foer:

All the values that Silicon Valley professes are the values of the 60s. The big tech companies present themselves as platforms for personal liberation. Everyone has the right to speak their mind on social media, to fulfil their intellectual and democratic potential, to express their individuality. Where television had been a passive medium that rendered citizens inert, Facebook is participatory and empowering. It allows users to read widely, think for themselves and form their own opinions.

We can’t entirely dismiss this rhetoric. There are parts of the world, even in the US, where Facebook emboldens citizens and enables them to organise themselves in opposition to power. But we shouldn’t accept Facebook’s self-conception as sincere, either. Facebook is a carefully managed top-down system, not a robust public square. It mimics some of the patterns of conversation, but that’s a surface trait.

In reality, Facebook is a tangle of rules and procedures for sorting information, rules devised by the corporation for the ultimate benefit of the corporation. Facebook is always surveilling users, always auditing them, using them as lab rats in its behavioural experiments. While it creates the impression that it offers choice, in truth Facebook paternalistically nudges users in the direction it deems best for them, which also happens to be the direction that gets them thoroughly addicted. It’s a phoniness that is most obvious in the compressed, historic career of Facebook’s mastermind.

Mark Zuckerberg is a good boy, but he wanted to be bad, or maybe just a little bit naughty. The heroes of his adolescence were the original hackers. These weren’t malevolent data thieves or cyberterrorists. Zuckerberg’s hacker heroes were disrespectful of authority. They were technically virtuosic, infinitely resourceful nerd cowboys, unbound by conventional thinking. In the labs of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) during the 60s and 70s, they broke any rule that interfered with building the stuff of early computing, such marvels as the first video games and word processors. With their free time, they played epic pranks, which happened to draw further attention to their own cleverness – installing a living cow on the roof of a Cambridge dorm; launching a weather balloon, which miraculously emerged from beneath the turf, emblazoned with “MIT”, in the middle of a Harvard-Yale football game.

The hackers’ archenemies were the bureaucrats who ran universities, corporations and governments. Bureaucrats talked about making the world more efficient, just like the hackers. But they were really small-minded paper-pushers who fiercely guarded the information they held, even when that information yearned to be shared. When hackers clearly engineered better ways of doing things – a box that enabled free long-distance calls, an instruction that might improve an operating system – the bureaucrats stood in their way, wagging an unbending finger. The hackers took aesthetic and comic pleasure in outwitting the men in suits.

When Zuckerberg arrived at Harvard in the fall of 2002, the heyday of the hackers had long passed. They were older guys now, the stuff of good tales, some stuck in twilight struggles against The Man. But Zuckerberg wanted to hack, too, and with that old-time indifference to norms. In high school he picked the lock that prevented outsiders from fiddling with AOL’s code and added his own improvements to its instant messaging program. As a college sophomore he hatched a site called Facemash – with the high-minded purpose of determining the hottest kid on campus. Zuckerberg asked users to compare images of two students and then determine the better-looking of the two. The winner of each pairing advanced to the next round of his hormonal tournament. To cobble this site together, Zuckerberg needed photos. He purloined those from the servers of the various Harvard houses. “One thing is certain,” he wrote on a blog as he put the finishing touches on his creation, “and it’s that I’m a jerk for making this site. Oh well.”

Boys Are Not Defective Girls in the Middle East do better than boys in school by a greater margin than almost anywhere else in the world: a case study in motivation, mixed messages, and the condition of boys everywhere.

Amanda Ripley:

In fact, across the Arab world, women now earn more science degrees on a percentage basis than women in the United States. In Saudi Arabia alone, women earn half of all science degrees. And yet, most of those women are unlikely to put their degrees to paid use for very long.

This is baffling on the most obvious levels. In the West, researchers have long believed that future prospects incentivize students to invest in school. The conventional wisdom is that girls do better in school as women acquire more legal and political rights in society. But many Middle Eastern women do not go on to have long professional careers after graduating; they spend much of their lives working at home as wives and mothers. Fewer than one in every five workers is female in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman.

This spring, I went to the Middle East to try to understand why girls are doing so much better in school, despite living in quintessentially patriarchal societies. Or, put another way, why boys are doing so badly.

The incredible correlation between IQ & income

Pumpkin Person

In this post, I summarize all that I have learned about the actual test scores of different income levels. In particular, I compare actual psychometric data of seven U.S. economic classes: (1) the homeless, (2) welfare recipients, (3) median Americans, (4) self-made millionaires (5) self-made decamillionaires, (6) self-made billionaires, and (7) self-made decabillionaires, and largely confirm my repeated assertion that average IQ increases by 8-10 points for every ten-fold increase in income, though there may be a few major exceptions to this overall trend. Also, by analyzing the slope of the standardized regression line predicting IQ from income, I find evidence that the true correlation between IQ and income (at least in America) is much higher than the 0.23 reported in a 2006 meta-analysis and even higher than the 0.4 correlation asserted by Arthur Jensen, and may even approach 0.5.

I also find tentative but shocking evidence that the IQ gap between the richest and poorest Americans may exceed an astonishing 70 points!

In this analysis I am limiting myself entirely to test score data so IQ estimates based on ethnic composition or educational achievements of various economic classes are only occasionally mentioned to buttress the actual psychometric results. In several cases, the data is somewhat anecdotal, and speculative statistical inferences are sometimes made.

“We (Madison) cannot spend half a billion $ per year to produce the nation’s largest achievement gap”

Former Madison School Board candidate Ali Muldrow, speaking yesterday on WORT-FM’s A Public Affair (MP3 audio) – via a kind reader.

Madison has long spent far more than most government funded school districts (now nearly $20,000 per student), yet we’ve long tolerated disastrous reading results.

They are all rich white kids and they will do just fine – NOT!

Ali Muldrow notes and links: SIS and duckduckgo.

Yet, Madison’s non diverse governance model continues unabated, aborting the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter school and more recently a quasi Montessori charter proposal.

The rise of tax credits: How Arizona created an alternative to school vouchers — and why they’re spreading

Matt Barnum:

With its recent adoption of a tax credit scholarship program, Illinois became the 18th state to adopt an innocuously named — but highly controversial — policy that critics have described as a “backdoor voucher.”

In some sense, the description is apt. But by injecting a middle layer into the government’s support of private school tuition, tax credits help avoid some of the legal and political obstacles that have dogged efforts by advocates, like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, to promote school choice through vouchers.

Eva Moskowitz, public education and the crisis of neoliberalism

Andrew O’Hehir:

Moskowitz is a powerful and unrepentant example of the oft-derided species “neoliberal,” signifying a belief in market-driven solutions, public-private partnerships and some degree of government downsizing and deregulation. (Most of her New York political battles have involved attempts to limit or shackle the immensely powerful teachers’ unions.) A longtime ally of former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and supporter of Hillary Clinton — but also one who has praised President Donald Trump for his support of charter schools — Moskowitz is arguably one of the last and best of the uncloseted neoliberals. Whether or not you agree with her educational philosophy and her tactics, the case she makes is clear and strong.

No parent, as Moskowitz said in our conversation, can base their decisions on long-term questions of educational policy. They want the best possible education for their kids in the best possible schools, and Moskowitz believes she has cracked the code for doing that in some of New York’s most underprivileged neighborhoods. As I can testify (as the dad of two middle-school kids), any parent who hears Moskowitz talk about the central role poetry plays in the curriculum of Success Academy is likely to swoon a little. She insists that all children need recess every day, no matter how cold or hot it is outside or how the school day is going. She believes in art and drama and music, not as optional activities but regular classes. Her schools are rigorous but do not teach toward standardized tests, she says; her students are challenged but never abused. (To be clear, some of these claims would be contested by Moskowitz’s critics.)

The Black Family Is Struggling, and It’s Not Because of Slavery

Walter Williams:

That the problems of today’s black Americans are a result of a legacy of slavery, racial discrimination, and poverty has achieved an axiomatic status, thought to be self-evident and beyond question.

This is what academics and the civil rights establishment have taught. But as with so much of what’s claimed by leftists, there is little evidence to support it.

The No. 1 problem among blacks is the effects stemming from a very weak family structure.

Children from fatherless homes are likelier to drop out of high school, die by suicide, have behavioral disorders, join gangs, commit crimes, and end up in prison. They are also likelier to live in poverty-stricken households.

But is the weak black family a legacy of slavery?

In 1960, just 22 percent of black children were raised in single-parent families. Fifty years later, more than 70 percent of black children were raised in single-parent families.

Here’s my question: Was the increase in single-parent black families after 1960 a legacy of slavery, or might it be a legacy of the welfare state ushered in by the War on Poverty?

According to the 1938 Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, that year 11 percent of black children were born to unwed mothers. Today about 75 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers.

Is that supposed to be a delayed response to the legacy of slavery?

The bottom line is that the black family was stronger the first 100 years after slavery than during what will be the second 100 years.

How Are Minnesota’s Progressives Tackling School Inequity? By Choking Off Data Exposing Disparities

Beth Hawkins:

The other day my older son told me a revealing story about his final days as a student in Minneapolis Public Schools:

One day last spring, one of his teachers informed the class that if they wanted to take the state science exams, they were welcome to go down to the office and schedule a time. This was the International Baccalaureate section of a hard science course, a dozen kids who presumably would make Southwest High School and its teachers look shiny and successful. And who were all, at the time, prepping for a solid month of IB testing — something the school brags about in its marketing efforts.

As he talked, I looked up the recently released results of the assessments. At his school 43 kids, or a little more than a tenth of the class, took the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments in math. Sixty-one 10th-graders took the reading test. Results involving fewer than 10 students are not reported publicly for privacy reasons; too few 11th graders to count took the math test.

So consider for a moment: Only 104 of about 1,400 kids who were supposed to take the test did.

And what have we heard about it from the higher-ups? Zip.

This is the third year running in which district and state leaders have done nothing when confronted with abundant evidence that teachers are putting up roadblocks to the collection of data. Honestly, when fewer than 10 kids take the math test, how many people had to turn a blind eye — or collude — all the way up to the highest levels of the education system?

Veterans Administration throws suicide stats out the back door on Friday at 5 p.m.

Thomas Ricks

Veterans are about 20 percent more likely than nonveterans to kill themselves, according to a Veterans Affairs press release issued on Friday afternoon at the close of business. (Traditionally, that’s when Washington public affairs types put out bad news they don’t wish to discuss. Mainly they hope to see it tucked into Saturday newspapers that no one reads.)

Also, the suicide rate for female veterans is 250 percent that for female non-vets.

The document itself states that the study is quite significant. “This report is unprecedented in its comprehensive analysis of suicide rates among all U.S. Veterans,” it reads.

Public Money Should Produce Public Code

Timothy Volker:

The Free Software Foundation Europe and a broad group of organisations including Creative Commons are supporting the Public Money, Public Code campaign. The initiative calls for the adoption of policies that require that software paid for by the public be made broadly available as Free and Open Source Software. Nearly 40 organisations and over 6200 individuals have already supported this action by signing the open letter. You can sign it too.

We know that publicly funded educational materials and scientific research should be made available under open licenses for maximum access and reuse by everyone.

The same goes for the digital infrastructure of publicly-funded software. Unfortunately, governments around the world tend to procure mostly proprietary software, and the restrictive licenses that come with it limits our rights as citizens to use (and improve) these tools funded through the public purse and developed for the public good.

Make your voice heard today. The campaign organiser will deliver the signatures to European representatives who are debating software freedom in public administration.


Katherine M. Gehl and Michael E. Porter .

Many Americans are disgusted and concerned about the dysfunction and abysmal results from Washington, D.C., and so are we. However, this paper is not about adding to the depressing national dialog about politics, but about how to change the system by taking action that will work.
Too many people—including many pundits, political scientists, and politicians themselves—are laboring under a misimpression that our political problems are inevitable, or the result of a weakening of the parties, or due to the parties’ ideological incoherence, or because of an increasingly polarized American public. Those who focus on these reasons are looking in the wrong places. The result is that despite all the commentary and attention on politics in recent years, there is still no accepted strategy to reform the system and things keep getting worse.

We need a new approach. Our political problems are not due to a single cause, but rather to a failure of the nature of the political competition that has been created. This is a systems problem.

We are not political scientists, political insiders, or political experts. Instead, we bring
a new
analytical lens to understanding the performance of our political system: the lens of industry competition. This type of analysis has been used for decades to understand competition in other industries, and sheds new light on the failure of politics because politics in America has become, over the last several decades, a major industry that works like other industries.

We use this lens to put forth an investment thesis for political reform and innovation. What would be required to actually change the political outcomes we are experiencing? What would it take to better align the political system with the public interest and make progress on the nation’s problems? And, which of the many political reform and innovation ideas that have been proposed would actually alter the trajectory of the system?

Politics in America is not a hopeless problem, though it is easy to feel this way given what we experience and read about every day. There are promising reforms already gaining traction including important elements of the strategy we propose. It is up to us as citizens to recapture our democracy—it will not be self-correcting. We invite you to personally engage by investing both your time and resources—and by mobilizing those around you—in what we believe is the greatest challenge facing America today.

Free ESPN in Dorm Rooms Gives Comcast Access to Future Customers

Gerry Smith:

For two years, Northwestern University student Ben Pope and his friends have gathered in dorms, connected their laptops to TVs and computer monitors, and streamed multiple sports events at once.

While they were watching, so was Comcast Corp., using data from the online video service it markets on about 100 campuses to gain insights into young audiences who have so far eluded conventional pay-TV providers.

Minneapolis’ black families lead the way in fleeing to other schools


Once it was the biggest school district in the state. Now Minneapolis Public Schools is the biggest loser in Minnesota’s robust school-choice environment, surrendering more kids to charter schools and other public school options than any other district.

And unlike most other school districts in the state, most of the defections in Minneapolis are occurring among black families. The 9,000 departing black students make up more than half of the districtwide total, according to a Star Tribune analysis of state enrollment data.

Families cite a variety of reasons for leaving the city’s school system, ranging from safety concerns to a belief that academics elsewhere are better than in Minneapolis, which has struggled for years to close the more than 50-percentage-point gap between white and black student achievement.

Minneapolis schools officials say they’re confident they can reverse the trend and boost academic achievement so high that families will once again choose the city’s schools.

But some parents can’t wait for promised change. Jessica Rogers, a south Minneapolis mom who used to work for the district’s nonprofit arm, sent her son to a Robbinsdale-run elementary school and has picked Minnehaha Academy for middle school.

“He needs nurturing,” Rogers said. “That’s not going to happen at Minneapolis Public Schools.”


Open enrollment leavers.

Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

They are all rich white kids and they will do just fine – NOT!

Madison now spends nearly $20,000 per student….


John Freeman:

With each passing year, it struck me as a diminishment for literary culture to peer into the future of writing but immediately restrict its keyhole to a nationality—or a genre. What happens if you take these restrictions off, and start reading across generations?

In that spirit The Future of New Writing issue of Freeman’s was born, and for the past two years, sometimes haphazardly or by luck, but with increasing direction, I have gathered names (see below), called in texts, bought and borrowed books, and read with the goal of trying to find out who were the best emerging writers.

Passing what I liked or thought I liked on to Allison Malecha, we read the work of over 100 writers, and relied upon the advice of hundreds of writers and critics, translators, bookstore owners, festival directors, publishers and academics.

Kids Praised for Being Smart Are More Likely to Cheat

Inga Kiderra:

An international team of researchers reports that when children are praised for being smart not only are they quicker to give up in the face of obstacles they are also more likely to be dishonest and cheat. Kids as young as age 3 appear to behave differently when told “You are so smart” vs “You did very well this time.”

The study, published in Psychological Science, is co-authored by Gail Heyman of the University of California San Diego, Kang Lee of the University of Toronto, and Lulu Chen and Li Zhao of Hangzhou Normal University in China.

The research builds on well-known work by Stanford’s Carol Dweck, author of “Mindset,” who has shown that praising a child’s innate ability instead of the child’s effort or a specific behavior has the unintended consequence of reducing their motivation to learn and their ability to deal with setbacks.

The present study shows there’s also a moral dimension to different kinds of praise and that it affects children at younger ages than previously known. Even the kindergarten and preschool set seem to be sensitive to subtle differences in praise.

“It’s common and natural to tell children how smart they are,” said co-author Gail Heyman, a development psychologist at UC San Diego. “Even when parents and educators know that it harms kids’ achievement motivation, it’s still easy to do. What our study shows is that the harm can go beyond motivation and extend to the moral domain. It makes a child more willing to cheat in order to do well.”

Thirty Years from Now the Big University Campuses Will Be Relics. Universities Won’t Survive

Quote Investigator:

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous management guru Peter Drucker apparently made a provocative prediction about education:

Universities won’t survive.
Is this quotation accurate? Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1997 “Forbes” published an interview with Peter F. Drucker under the title “Seeing things as they really are” by Robert Lenzner and Stephen S. Johnson. The interviewers flew to Claremont, California and spent ten hours speaking with Drucker about the future. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Education. Now there’s a subject that interests everyone today. President Clinton says we should pump more money into the present educational establishment. Drucker says the current setup is doomed, at least so far as higher education is concerned.

“Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics. Universities won’t survive. It’s as large a change as when we first got the printed book.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

During the interview Drucker expressed concern about the escalating cost of education:

The short history of global living conditions and why it matters that we know it

Max Roser:

A recent survey asked “All things considered, do you think the world is getting better or worse, or neither getting better nor worse?”. In Sweden 10% thought things are getting better, in the US they were only 6%, and in Germany only 4%. Very few people think that the world is getting better.

What is the evidence that we need to consider when answering this question? The question is about how the world has changed and so we must take a historical perspective. And the question is about the world as a whole and the answer must therefore consider everybody. The answer must consider the history of global living conditions – a history of everyone.

I. Poverty

To see where we are coming from we must go far back in time. 30 or even 50 years are not enough. When you only consider what the world looked during our life time it is easy to make the mistake of thinking of the world as relatively static – the rich, healthy and educated parts of the world here and the poor, uneducated, sick regions there – and to falsely conclude that it always was like that and that it always will be like that.

Take a longer perspective and it becomes very clear that the world is not static at all. The countries that are rich today were very poor just very recently and were in fact worse off than the poor countries today.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Cost Of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Rises Toward $19,000 a Year

Anna Wilde Mathews:

The average cost of health coverage offered by employers pushed toward $19,000 for a family plan this year, while the share of firms providing insurance to workers continued to edge lower, according to a major survey.

Annual premiums rose 3% to $18,764 for an employer plan in 2017, from $18,142 last year, the same rate of increase as in 2016, according to an annual poll of employers performed by the nonprofit Kaiser Family…

UC Berkeley Faculty Calls for Campus-Wide Boycott of Class

Charles Russell::

Over 200 University of California, Berkeley professors and faculty are calling for the shutdown of classes and activities during “free speech week,” an event scheduled Sept. 24 to 27 that features some “alt-right” speakers.

In an open letter to Berkeley community and campus members, the group called for the boycott of classes and for the closing of all buildings, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“Therefore, as faculty committed to the safety of our students and our campus, we are calling for a complete boycott of all classes and campus activities while these Alt-Right events are taking place at the very center of UC Berkeley’s campus,” the letter said.

The faculty believes the university should not ask students and staff to choose between “risking their physical and mental safety,” and coming to campus for class or work.

“As faculty we cannot ask students and staff to choose between risking their physical and mental safety in order to attend class or come to work in an environment of harassment, intimidation, violence, and militarized policing,” the letter said.

The study of languages has long been prone to nonsense. Why is linguistics such a magnet for dilettantes and crackpots?

Gaston Dorren:

h, for the days of fact-free linguistics! The pre-scientific era might have produced a lot of codswallop and hogwash, but how entertaining it is to look back upon. Scholars erred in ways that few modern linguists ever would. Today, their field of study is a respectable social science, exacting in its methods, broad in its scope and generous in its harvest. Without phoneticians, computers wouldn’t be able to process spoken English. Without sociolinguists, prejudice against dialects and non-Western languages would still be rife – or rather, rifer still. Forensic linguists help to solve crimes, clinical linguists treat people with language impairments, historical linguists shed light on language change and even on prehistoric culture and migration – the list goes on and on. As in other disciplines, pertinent questions and rigorous methods to answer them have been at the root of success.

When natural philosophy began to slowly develop into physics and other natural sciences, learned speculation in the human domain did not immediately follow suit. But it too gradually developed into what we now call the social sciences, and the study of language was one of the earliest adopters of the new methods. Its practitioners would pore over ancient texts written in long-dead languages and long-forgotten scripts, and compare them ever more systematically. This led to a breakthrough in the late 18th century, when there emerged new ideas about the historical origins of modern languages. Most of these ideas have stood the test of time.

Public ignorance about the Constitution

Ilya Somin:

A closer look at the First Amendment question reveals that 48% recalled that the Amendment protects the right to freedom of speech. The other rights protected by the Amendment (freedom of religion, freedom of the press, the right to petition the government, and freedom of assembly) are far less well-known. For example, only 15% remembered the right to freedom of religion.

These survey results do not come as a surprise to experts on political knowledge. They are largely consistent with previous data going back several decades, showing widespread ignorance on a wide range of legal and political matters, including the Constitution. As Cilliza points out, the Annenberg results paint an even bleaker picture than earlier polls. For example, surveys typically find that some 35-40% of Americans can name the three branches of government. The Annenberg figure of 26% is unusually low. But even if it is an aberration, the results from previous surveys are nothing to write home about.

Rising exodus of students puts more pressure on Minnesota schools

Anthony Lonetree and MaryJo Webster:

Heaser always considered herself an advocate for St. Paul’s public schools, but the East Side mother of three faced a dilemma a few years ago when her son approached middle-school age.

Stick with a St. Paul public school, or join the tens of thousands of Minnesota students who leave their home districts every year?

Today, Heaser’s seventh-grade son attends John Glenn Middle School in Maplewood, where he has the opportunity to take advanced math and language arts classes lacking in their St. Paul neighborhood schools.

“It has been a great fit so far,” Heaser said.

Minnesota students have had the right to attend school in other districts since 1990, but the number of elementary and high school students exercising that option is surging. Last year, about 132,000 Minnesota students enrolled in schools outside their home district, four times the number making that choice in 2000, a Star Tribune analysis shows.

School choice options — open enrollment and charter schools — have proved especially popular with nonwhite or minority students, according to the Star Tribune’s analysis of the racial breakdown of students who opt out of their home district. While white students represent 60 percent of all students who open enroll, a higher share of nonwhite students make that choice.

Because state education funding follows the pupil, the student exodus from their home district to other cities and charter schools is magnifying budget pressures in districts that lose more students than they gain. It’s also transforming the racial diversity of schools across the Twin Cities.

Open enrollment means some districts, like Columbia Heights and Brooklyn Center, have become revolving doors, losing nearly as many students as they take in from other districts. It means some districts, like Minnetonka, are able to fill classroom seats that would otherwise be empty, while others like Burnsville-Eagan-Savage and Osseo now struggle to attract students who live in the district.

Locally, open enrollment has found more studnts leaving the Madison School District.

The Washington Post’s robot reporter has published 850 articles in the past year

Lucia Moses:

It’s been a year since The Washington Post started using its homegrown artificial intelligence technology, Heliograf, to spit out around 300 short reports and alerts on the Rio Olympics. Since then, it’s used Heliograf to cover congressional and gubernatorial races on Election Day and D.C.-area high school football games, producing stories like this one and tweets like this:

UVA: “Only 15 percent of the student body comes from the bottom 60 percent of the income distribution”

David Leonhardt:

“It is safer to have a whole people respectably enlightened than a few in a high state of science and the many in ignorance.”

That quotation comes from Thomas Jefferson, and he believed it so deeply that he devoted much of his public life to creating the University of Virginia. It became one of the country’s greatest public universities. On Friday, U.Va, as it’s known, named a new president, James Ryan, the highly regarded dean of Harvard’s education school.

Ryan’s appointment is a good time to point out that, in a fundamental way, the University of Virginia is failing to live up to Jefferson’s ideals. It has for years been one of the least economically diverse colleges in the country — of any kind, public or private.

Gloria Ladson-Billings says students of color need teachers who ‘think they can do anything’

Lisa Speckhard Pasque

“Americans are still the greatest innovators in the world; we are the worst implementers,” she said.

But Wisconsin needs to keep working for better education systems, she said. African-American students make up a minority of students in Wisconsin, but their success affects us all, she said.

“It’s sometimes hard to get a largely white state to pay attention to the needs of small minority,” she said. “We have to develop a perspective that lets us see what I like to call ‘the least of these’ as our kids.

Locally, Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results.