Opinions Professors like me can’t stay silent about this extremist moment on campuses

Lucía Martínez Valdivia:

At Reed College in Oregon, where I work, a group of students began protesting the required first-year humanities course a year ago. Three times a week, students sat in the lecture space holding signs — many too obscene to be printed here — condemning the course and its faculty as white supremacists, as anti-black, as not open to dialogue and criticism, on the grounds that we continue to teach, among many other things, Aristotle and Plato.

In the interest of supporting dissent and the free exchange of ideas, the faculty and administration allowed this. Those who felt able to do so lectured surrounded by those signs for the better part of a year. I lectured, but dealt with physical anxiety — lack of sleep, nausea, loss of appetite, inability to focus — in the weeks leading up to my lecture. Instead of walking around or standing at the lectern, as I typically do, I sat as I tried to teach students how to read the poetry of Sappho. Inadvertently, I spoke more quietly, more timidly.

The man who ‘discovered’ 780 Indian languages

Soutik Biswas:

When Ganesh Devy, a former professor of English, embarked on a search for India’s languages, he expected to walk into a graveyard, littered with dead and dying mother tongues.

Instead, he says, he walked into a “dense forest of voices”, a noisy Tower of Babel in one of the world’s most populous nations.

He discovered that some 16 languages spoken in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh have 200 words for snow alone – some of them ornately descriptive like “flakes falling on water”, or “falling when the moon is up”.

He found that the nomadic communities in the desert state of Rajasthan used a large number of words to describe the barren landscape, including ones for how man and animal separately experience the sandy nothingness. And that nomads – who were once branded “criminal tribes” by British rulers and now hawk maps for a living at Delhi’s traffic crossings – spoke a “secret” language because of the stigma attached to their community.

K-12 Tax & spending climate: Madison closes in on a $500,000,000 Taxpayer Funded School Budget

Logan Wroge:

The Madison School Board adopted a $393 million operating budget for the 2017-18 school year Monday.

Board members voted unanimously on a budget that will increase the tax bill on the median value Madison home of $263,000 by $24.48. The budget relies on a $297 million tax levy, an increase of 3.52 percent compared to the last school year’s levy amount.

Board members added $1.6 million to the budget Monday evening: $1 million for special-education staffing and $600,000 for building maintenance.

Madison has long spent far more than most, despite long term, disastrous reading results.

Amber Walker:

“We made some (strategic choices) that we were going to invest more in teachers and shift the balance from SEAs,” she said. “I wonder if that is the pain we may be experiencing and hearing about in the district.”

Cheatham told the board that the special education team has a process for evaluating staffing needs in classrooms beyond the beginning of the year and a reserve of money is available to hire more staff. Cheatham suggested that the board wait until its November conversation around staffing to make those decisions.

“My concern is we have one week before the levy has to get established,” she said. “We agreed as a group that we were going to take a big step back and (assess) what are our goals when it comes to staffing… inclusive of special education.

Act 10 savings torpedoed: Federal regulations force school districts to spend that money or face funding cuts

Dan Benson & Julie Grace:

Savings that Wisconsin taxpayers could have realized through implementation of Act 10 in 2011 — sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single district — were lost because federal regulations penalize school districts that find ways to spend less money.

The Oostburg School District in Sheboygan County, for example, experienced a “huge reduction in expenses for the special education fund” following the passage of Act 10, says Kristin DeBruine, the district’s business manager.

Special education programs, however, are funded with federal as well as local tax dollars — and full, ongoing federal funding continues only if local and state funding remains constant or increases from year to year.

In order to avoid a federal funding cut, the Oostburg district spent the Act 10 savings in other ways, including almost $60,000 to install an elevator in its middle school. At the time, and to this day, the school does not have any students who use wheelchairs. So the elevator sits largely unused, DeBruine says.

While installing the elevator also helped the district meet federal disability compliance rules, “We would not have put it in without the required use of the money, as it is only used for after-school activities, and the cost would not have allowed us to do it otherwise,” DeBruine says. “That simply just doesn’t make sense at all.”

Beastly births, ass-popes and satanic hybrids: nothing distils the weirdness of the early moderns like their woodcuts

John Crabb:

Divine visions, terrifying monsters, bizarre beasts. The intricate woodcut prints of the 16th and 17th centuries capture the fear and wonder of a world transfixed by invention and transformed by knowledge. Known as the early modern period or, more lavishly, the Age of Discovery, these years represent a temporal space that was a liminal world: transitional, ambiguous, straining against thresholds.

According to the philosopher A C Grayling writing in The Age of Genius (2016), this time was witness to ‘the greatest change in the mind of humanity than had occurred in all history beforehand’. Bloody battles – both intellectual and physical – were fought between the acolytes of science and magic, religion and mysticism, orthodoxy and heresy, democracy and monarchy. The path was violent and wending, but by the mid-17th century in Europe, humans had radically revised their place in the Universe, and were groping towards modernity.

Why we need a 21st-century Martin Luther to challenge the church of tech

John Naughton:

A new power is loose in the world. It is nowhere and yet it’s everywhere. It knows everything about us – our movements, our thoughts, our desires, our fears, our secrets, who our friends are, our financial status, even how well we sleep at night. We tell it things that we would not whisper to another human being. It shapes our politics, stokes our appetites, loosens our tongues, heightens our moral panics, keeps us entertained (and therefore passive). We engage with it 150 times or more every day, and with every moment of contact we add to the unfathomable wealth of its priesthood. And we worship it because we are, somehow, mesmerised by it.

In other words, we are all members of the Church of Technopoly, and what we worship is digital technology. Most of us are so happy in our obeisance to this new power that we spend an average of 50 minutes on our daily devotion to Facebook alone without a flicker of concern. It makes us feel modern, connected, empowered, sophisticated and informed.

Much more on Martin Luther and the Reformation.

Universities abandon core curriculums, offer ‘thin and patchy education,’ survey finds

Sophia Buono:

A recent national survey found that a genuine, well-rounded college education is a thing of the past at many colleges and universities. Instead, most institutions offer a patchwork of niche grad requirements that often skip over vital subjects such as history, government and economics.

Those are just some of the findings in “What Will They Learn? 2017-18” survey released this month. The ninth annual survey is conducted by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a nonprofit that promotes academic freedom, liberal arts and high academic standards.

The group evaluated more than 1,100 colleges and universities based on their requirements in seven “key areas of knowledge”: composition, literature, foreign language, U.S. history, economics, mathematics and science. The results showed that 66.5 percent of the schools required only three or fewer of those subjects.

Miami-Dade Schools Hide Suspension Numbers by Shipping Students Off-Campus

Isabella VI Gomes::

When 14-year-old Kim Mitchell got in trouble for being a bystander in a fight at Miami Edison Senior High School two years ago, she was worried about getting suspended. But she says her punishment ended up being much worse: She was forced to spend three school days in a dingy office building without any classwork or instruction, whiling away time between restless naps and staring contests with a clock on the wall.

“[They] don’t teach us anything, and there are no guidance counselors,” Mitchell says. “It’s a waste of time. I might as well have been suspended and gone home.”

This Company Wants to Gather Student Brainwave Data to Measure ‘Engagement’

Sydney Johnson:

If Blade Runner had a classroom scene, it might look something like the promotional video by BrainCo, Inc. Students sit at desks wearing electronic headbands that report EEG data back to a teacher’s dashboard, and that information purports to measure students’ attention levels. The video’s narrator explains: “School administrators can use big data analysis to determine when students are better able to concentrate.”

BrainCo just scored $15 million in venture funding from Chinese investors, and has welcomed a prominent Harvard education dean, who will serve as an adviser. The company says it has a working prototype and is in conversations with a Long Island school to pilot the headset.

The headband raises questions from neuroscientists and psychologists, who say little evidence exists to support what the device-and-dashboard combination aims to do. It also raises legal questions, like what BrainCo will do with students’ biometric data.

The Trinet

Andre Stalz:

The internet will survive longer than the Web will. GOOG-FB-AMZN will still depend on submarine internet cables (the “Backbone”), because it is a technical success. That said, many aspects of the internet will lose their relevance, and the underlying infrastructure could be optimized only for GOOG traffic, FB traffic, and AMZN traffic. It wouldn’t conceptually be anymore a “network of networks”, but just a “network of three networks”, the Trinet, if you will. The concept of workplace network which gave birth to the internet infrastructure would migrate to a more abstract level: Facebook Groups, Google Hangouts, G Suite, and other competing services which can be acquired by a tech giant. Workplace networks are already today emulated in software as a service, not as traditional Local Area Networks. To improve user experience, the Trinet would be a technical evolution of the internet. These efforts are already happening today, at GOOG. In the long-term, supporting routing for the old internet and the old Web would be an overhead, so it could be beneficial to cut support for the diverse internet on the protocol and hardware level. Access to the old internet could be emulated on GOOG’s cloud accessed through the Trinet, much like how Windows 95 can be today emulated in your browser. ISPs would recognize the obsolence of the internet and support the Trinet only, driven by market demand for optimal user experience from GOOG-FB-AMZN.
 Perhaps a future with great user experience in AR, VR, hands-free commerce and knowledge sharing could evoke an optimistic perspective for what these tech giants are building. But 25 years of the Web has gotten us used to foundational freedoms that we take for granted. We forget how useful it has been to remain anonymous and control what we share, or how easy it was to start an internet startup with its own independent servers operating with the same rights GOOG servers have. On the Trinet, if you are permanently banned from GOOG or FB, you would have no alternative. You could even be restricted from creating a new account. As private businesses, GOOG, FB, and AMZN don’t need to guarantee you access to their networks. You do not have a legal right to an account in their servers, and as societies we aren’t demanding for these rights as vehemently as we could, to counter the strategies that tech giants are putting forward.

Blue Cell Dyslexia

Mark Seidenberg:

An article about dyslexia appeared last week in the prestigious Proceedings of the Royal Society B (“The [British] Royal Society’s flagship biological research journal, dedicated to the fast publication and worldwide dissemination of high-quality research”). A week is a long time in blog-years, I know, but impact of the article is rippling far and wide. The authors claim to have identified a visual basis for dyslexia: an anomaly involving the distribution of a type of receptor in a part of the retina. This anomaly may provide “the biological and anatomical basis of reading and spelling disabilities”, with “important implications in both fundamental and biomedical sciences.” They also seemed to demonstrate that the anomaly could be easily eliminated by changing lighting conditions.

As might be expected, the media picked this up as scientists maybe having at long last found the cause of dyslexia.

Dyslexics, their families and teachers, reading researchers and treatment specialists, and the organizations that represent them are asking: did someone just discover the cause and cure for dyslexia? (I know this: I get email.) As someone who has conducted research in the area, my question is different: how did this terrible article get published and how can its harmful impact be counteracted?

Nothing whatever can be concluded about the causes of dyslexia from this study, as it is described in the article. Basic information about the methods and results are not provided; the procedures used in collecting the data raise numerous concerns; the link between the purported anomaly and dyslexia is conjectural; and the impairment does not explain other, better established facts about reading impairment. The study is based on some of the hoariest stereotypes about dyslexia—that it results from reading letters backwards and/or pathological persistence of visual images, that can be corrected by manipulations that affect color perception.

At first I was hesitant to evaluate the study because I’m not a vision scientist, but then I realized that hadn’t prevented the authors from publishing it. Albert Le Floch and Guy Ropars are affiliated with the Université de Rennes, France. Their primary area of expertise appears to be laser physics. The study does deal with some obscure aspects of the visual system that are well outside my expertise so caveat emptor, but the problems with the study are far more basic.

Here’s what they report, in brief.

Much more on Mark Seidenberg, here.

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

Elizabeth Warren Says Campus Free Speech Means No Censorship or Violence

Zaid Jilani :

The U.S. Senate waded into the debate about free speech on college campuses Thursday, as a panel of experts offered their views on what has emerged as an increasingly controversial issue on college campuses.

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions convened the hearing amid a national debate on how to protect free speech on campuses, including by protecting the rights of those who may harbor hateful views. Chaos ensued at the University of Florida last week when white nationalist Richard Spencer spoke on campus, and protests against former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopolous at the University of California, Berkeley earlier this year turned violent. In August, activist Heather Heyer was killed at a march protesting a white supremacist rally at the University of Virginia.

Some Muslim students reconsider university in Quebec after Bill 62

Michelle McQuigge:

A new law in Quebec banning face coverings for anyone who receives or provides public services has some Muslim students reconsidering the idea of pursuing their education in that province.

The passing of Bill 62, which would prohibit anyone wearing a face covering from receiving a provincial or municipal service such as public transit, has sparked a strong public backlash.

Amid criticisms that the controversial bill uniquely targets Muslim women, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has even opened the door to federal intervention.

Wall Street’s Best-Kept Secret Is a 72-Year-Old Russian Chess Expert

James Tarmy:

On East 83rd Street there’s a squat brick walk-up that’s a viable contender for the least fancy apartment building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. But for the past 25 years, Wall Street machers and captains of industry have marched up to its gray-carpeted third floor to learn the secrets of attack and defense from Lev Alburt, a three-time U.S. chess champion and one of the most prominent Soviet defectors of the 1970s. Alburt has long been giving ­patter-filled private lessons to New Yorkers from all walks of life, encouraging, cajoling, and reprimanding men and women as they attempt to learn the so-called game of kings.

Wall Street has a fairly well-trodden history with games: During off-hours and downtime, games of chance and risk mitigation such as ­backgammon and bridge offer the opportunity for high-level betting, and chess, with its ­corollaries with game theory, occupies a prime position. In 2015 at the Sohn conference, hundreds of finance professionals such as Bill Ackman paid $5,000 to watch Magnus Carlsen, the Norwegian grandmaster, play simultaneously against three people, blindfolded. George Soros is a well-known and aggressive chess player, as is Saba Capital founder Boaz Weinstein, a chess prodigy who reportedly got his start at Goldman Sachs & Co. when an executive at the bank who’d played him competitively set him up at the trading desk.

American Regional English dictionary closing after 54 years

Mark Johnson:

“A dictionary is never done,” said George Goebel, the third and, it turns out, final editor of the Dictionary of American Regional English, also known as DARE.

In January, 54 years after it was launched in an age of print and paper, America’s last national dialect dictionary and one of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s signature humanities projects, will close its doors forever.

The university archivist has hauled away boxes. Many more remain, containing decades’ worth of research and fieldwork. The shelves are emptying of books, the files of their paper slips describing each word. Some of the words themselves have vanished from use.

In the end, it was a lack of funding that did in DARE.

But on Friday, the staff refrained from tears, choosing instead to go out with a farewell celebration in the Lowell Center dining room, not far from the dictionary offices.

Additional Property Tax Increase Discussion on Madison’s $494,652,025 2017-2018 K-12 Taxpayer Budget

Amber Walker:

Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said the stories about shortages were “hard to hear” after the district continued investment in staffing.

“We made some (strategic choices) that we were going to invest more in teachers and shift the balance from SEAs,” she said. “I wonder if that is the pain we may be experiencing and hearing about in the district.”

Cheatham told the board that the special education team has a process for evaluating staffing needs in classrooms beyond the beginning of the year and a reserve of money is available to hire more staff. Cheatham suggested that the board wait until its November conversation around staffing to make those decisions.

“My concern is we have one week before the levy has to get established,” she said. “We agreed as a group that we were going to take a big step back and (assess) what are our goals when it comes to staffing… inclusive of special education.

Related links:

The Madison School District’s recent spending history

A District Administration 2017-2018 budget summary (PDF).

Enrollment history.

25,239 students were enrolled in the taxpayer supported Madison School District during 2016-2017. We plan to spend roughly $19,598 per student during the 2017-2018 school year.

This is far more than most K-12 organizations, and despite our long term, disastrous reading results.

This Paschal senior has Down syndrome – and a passion for her school color guard

Ryan Osborne:

Kendall Walker did little to stand out Thursday night as the Paschal High School band performed on the turf of Farrington Field.

And that’s part of why her story is so inspiring.

Walker, a senior at Paschal, has Down syndrome. But on Thursday, as she has for several years now, Walker twirled her orange-and-black flag and danced as well as anyone else in the Paschal color guard.

“For a parent of a special-needs child, this is inclusion at its very best,” said Tracy Walker, her father. “I think we sell special-needs people short. We just make the assumption that she doesn’t have the intellect or she doesn’t have the capability.”

“What kind of society do you want to live in?”: Inside the country where Down syndrome is disappearing.

How to teach technical concepts with cartoons

Julia Evans:

But! There actually is a skill to explaining technical concepts to people with drawings. And I think I’ve become pretty good at that skill! It is just a different skill than like “drawing an elephant that looks like an elephant”

This post is about a few patterns I use when illustrating ideas about computers. If you are interested in using drawings to teach people about your very favorite computer topics, hopefully this will help you!

Let’s talk about how to structure cartoons and how to translate computer concepts into pictures!

Rust Belt Cities and Their Burden of Legacy Costs

Stephen Eide::

Rust Belt cities have long been trying to respond to social and economic decline. Some officials continue to pursue a revival of manufacturing. Academics and, to a lesser extent, policymakers have tried to develop “shrinking city” agendas that start by recognizing that postindustrial cities are not likely to return soon to postwar economic health. But political necessity forces most city officials to focus more on revitalization than on how to manage decline.

Any policy designed to revive the Rust Belt must come to terms with the deep fiscal challenges faced by these city governments. Despite steadily weakening tax bases, Rust Belt local officials have continued to increase debt and retirement-benefit burdens. The result is tremendous strain on city budgets.

How a bizarrely complex structure blocks change for Milwaukee students

Alan Borsuk:

What if we’ve created an education landscape in Milwaukee where it is impossible to bring serious improvement?

There are many powerful and painful reasons why so many kids in the city aren’t doing well in school and aren’t on track for good futures. Start with the daily circumstances of their lives.

But with another school year underway with no big sign of improvement, and with a fresh round of test results from last spring that show the needle has (once again!) not really moved, I find myself looking at the bizarrely complex structure of Milwaukee schooling and wondering what it would take to change things.

I have company. Michael R. Ford, an assistant professor of public administration at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, worked previously for organizations that support the Milwaukee private school voucher program, School Choice Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (which changed its name recently to the Badger Institute). Ford got a Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee along the way.

He’s not an ideologue and he’s interested in the realities of how students, in all streams of schools in Milwaukee, are doing.

Xi Jinping Thought to be taught in China’s universities

Tom Phillips::

Earnestly, resolutely, purposefully, consciously, conscientiously and, above all, constantly.

That is how China’s 89 million Communist party cadres are now expected to study and implement the thoughts of their leader, Xi Jinping, after his political ponderings were enshrined in its constitution earlier this week.

According to reports in China’s party-run media, they have already begun.

Two university departments dedicated to the examination of Xi Jinping Thought have this week been created while “study groups” are being promoted across the country as officials scramble to follow the zeitgeist of what Xi has dubbed his “new era”.

The first and most prominent of the Xi-related departments will be at Beijing’s Renmin or People’s University, one of China’s top institutions.

The Beijing Daily newspaper reported that following Xi’s elevation, the university had tasked top scholars with probing what is officially called Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era. They include Ai Silin, president of the School of Marxism at Tsinghua University, Xi’s alma mater, and Han Qingxiang, a senior academic from the Communist party’s Party School.

OMB: Top 20% pay 95% of taxes, middle class ‘single digits’

Paul Bedard:

Any tax cut for middle income earners will also provide a benefit for those further up the income scale, including the top 20 percent who now pay 95 percent of all income taxes, according to the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

In explaining the complicated tax system the administration and congressional Republicans are trying to simplify, Mick Mulvaney played the role of professor at Georgetown University Wednesday night and dished the eye-popping numbers and impact of a middle class tax cut.

The Unfortunate Fallout of Campus Postmodernism

Michael Shermer:

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

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

How Americans really feel about Facebook, Apple, and more

Casey Newton, Nick Statt, and Michael Zelenko :

This year marked a sea change in our attitude toward tech’s largest players — and not for the better. Facebook, with a user base twice the size of the Western Hemisphere, seems to be in the midst of an identity crisis: CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent much of 2017 on a national tour that The New York Times billed as a “real-world education.” Meanwhile, the platform has become embroiled in a national debate that started with fake news and has evolved into an investigation into how the Russian government weaponized the network to influence the 2016 presidential election. Next week, the company will be brought to testify in front of Congress on the matter.
 Amazon made considerable headway in its quest to serve every part of our lives, from acquiring Whole Foods this summer to rolling out a plan to get keys to our front doors just this week. Apple continues to amass a vast reserve last valued at $260 billion, but its top-tier devices have lost their luster, and it’s been years since the company released a truly game-changing product. Twitter has come under increased scrutiny for harassment and bot armies of nefarious origin, which may explain its tepid user base growth despite becoming the new unofficial platform for American politics. And there’s a growing sense, underlined by this summer’s $2.7 billion EU antitrust ruling against Google, that the entire cabal of big tech companies have turned the corner from friendly giants to insidious monopolies.

Many junior scientists need to take a hard look at their job prospects


Most PhD students will have to look beyond academia for a career.

For his 2012 PhD thesis, the sociologist Chris Platts surveyed and interviewed more than 300 young footballers — aged 17 and 18 — at UK club academies who were hoping to pursue a career in the game. He told the newspaper The Guardian this month that just four of them currently have gained a professional contract. That’s a drop-out rate of 99%.

For our Careers section this week, Nature surveyed more than 5,700 early-career scientists worldwide who are working on PhDs. Three-quarters of them, they told us, think it’s likely that they will pursue an academic career when they graduate, just like Platts — now a senior lecturer in sport development and sport business management at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. How many will succeed?

Statistics say these young researchers will have a better chance of pursuing their chosen job than the young footballers. But not by much. Global figures are hard to come by, but only three or four in every hundred PhD students in the United Kingdom will land a permanent staff position at a university. It’s only a little better in the United States.

A provocative view of globalisation’s future

Adam Pilarski:

The past few decades are the age of globalisation. The world is getting smaller and much more interconnected. Trade has been growing in line with regional specialisation. These developments have been welcomed worldwide by economists, who always believe globalisation and the resulting trade will lead to a better allocation of scarce resources, the holy grail of our science. All those movements of people and goods have been a boon to aviation.

The fact that globalisation is not necessarily good for everybody has been also recognised for a long time. The Luddites were smashing machines two-and-a-half centuries ago protesting against progress, which they saw reducing their welfare. Recently, anti-globalisation movements have been gaining strength, asserting their influence via the political mechanism. Ironically, the two countries which introduced the free-trade ideology to the world and benefited for a long time from globalisation (the UK and US) have turned recently against these principles at the ballot boxes.

The negatives of worldwide globalisation have been widely discussed. While few people argue for downright isolationism, the trade-offs between the overall improved welfare of the world as a whole versus the local costs experienced in some places have been more in focus in the past few years.

The Criminal Justice Gospel Religious leaders in Texas are on a crusade to end cash bail.

Caromah Townes:

In April, Chief Judge Lee H. Rosenthal decided in their favor, writing that it was unconstitutional to jail people because they can’t afford bail. Rosenthal ruled that Harris County would have to ask defendants about their financial backgrounds and release them if they didn’t have enough money to pay their bonds. The county challenged the decision, and the case now sits with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, known as one of the most conservative courts in the country. In light of this setback, the plaintiffs and their lawyers have been searching for allies to support their case. They now have a powerful group on their side: religious leaders that say they have a duty to fight for the poor.

What It Looks Like When a University Tries to Revoke a Professor’s Tenure:

Sarah Brown::

Over the past year, Wayne State University officials have been taking the rare step of trying to strip tenure from five medical-school professors. The transcript from one former professor’s hearing offers an inside view into how that process plays out.

Administrators argue the faculty members in question haven’t been doing their jobs well for years and are therefore abusing their tenure. Faculty union representatives dispute that, and argue that the attempt to revoke tenure is a result of a perverse shift in priorities among the university’s leadership. According to union leaders, M. Roy Wilson, the president, and several senior administrators drastically ramped up the pressure on medical-school faculty members to bring in outside grant funding a couple of years ago. Officials then deemed those who fell short “unproductive” and began trying to dismiss some of them.

More evidence that Ivy League students average IQ 122

Pumpkin Person:

How does this compare to their SAT scores? If all American late teens (not just the college bound elite) took the SAT in the 1970s, the average combined score would have been about 770 (see The Bell Curve, pg 422), suggesting 770 equated to IQ 100 (U.S. norms). Meanwhile, Mensa requires SAT scores obtained before 1974 to be at least 1300, suggesting 1300 = IQ 130 (U.S. norms). From these two data points, we might guess that 1357 before 1974 equaled IQ 133 (U.S. norms); 132 (U.S. white norms).

Come together and take action to close achievement gaps in Milwaukee schools

Alan Borsuk:

But the ice-breaker question was to name our favorite childhood book.

I said, “Horton Hears a Who,” by Dr. Seuss.

I’ve given that answer pretty often over the years. There are several reasons I think it’s a great book. One is that, in the end, the community of “Whos” is saved when all of them join together to raise their voices. And it’s not until the last, silent Who lets out a “yop” that the totality of their voices is heard, to great benefit.

What if that were true, at least in some way? What if we all raised our voices to insist on better things for Milwaukee and on better ways for meeting the needs of so many people here?

If you don’t let children take risks, you are damaging them

Lenore Skenazy:

When we keep our kids constantly supervised by an adult, we think we are keeping them safe. But in fact we are doing the opposite. Kids need some independence — and even a little risk.

A study on risky play published in Evolutionary Psychology found that kids ‘dose’ themselves with the level of risk they can handle. The thrill they feel when climbing ever higher on the monkey bars, for example, is their reward for being brave. The more they tiptoe to the edge of their comfort level, the braver they become. Facing your fears has what psychologists call an ‘anti-phobic effect’.

Children deprived of these opportunities can end up more anxious. They haven’t been able to build up their bravery, organise their own games or solve their own spats. They have never got lost and had to find their way home, scared and then triumphant. Their coping skills are stunted.

Commentary on Democracy

Washington Post:

A long-standing defect in U.S. suffrage law is the treatment of the electoral franchise as a privilege that is denied too easily and often because of an ugly prejudice or a convenient pretext. Let’s reimagine the democratic right of voting as a citizen’s obligation. In our doppelganger ally down under, Australia, voting is compulsory. They have far higher turnouts, and their elections boast greater legitimacy.

Stronger Nation now features easy search, data browsing

Courtney Brown:

Facts are friendly, the saying goes. And often, the friendliest ones are the facts you can easily look up yourself.
That’s the thought behind the new edition of Lumina Foundation’s report on educational attainment beyond high school, Stronger Nation.

The big picture: Just under 46 percent of Americans ages 25 to 64 have earned college degrees or workforce certificates. And while there’s good news — attainment is increasing among all races and ethnicities — large gaps persist.

The New State Role Models

Joel Kotkin:

But what has been good in the aggregate has not worked so well for most Californians. Despite all the constant complaining about inequality and racial injustice, California, notes progressive economist James Galbraith, has also become among the most economically unequal parts of the country, topped only by Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Particularly damaged have been the prospects for the young and minorities, particularly in terms of achieving homeownership.

Texas and the red state alternative

Texas, California’s only real rival for national power and influence over the past 20 years, has out-performed its golden rival almost two to one in job growth, including in many high and middle-income sectors. It has also still managed to produce more jobs per capita since 2010. The Texas model is now being tested by the oil bust, and the controversy over Hurricane Harvey, both of which have intensified criticism of its development model.

Launching a Preschool Movement and a Public Charter School in Dane County!

One City Early Learning Centers:

A high quality preschool education, from birth to age 5, should be available and accessible to every child in the United States of America. Please join us on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 from 11:30am to 1:00pm for lunch and an important presentation and dialogue.

We would like to get your input and feedback about two significant steps One City is taking to make high quality preschool available and accessible all children. First, we are planning a major community fundraising event for 2018 that we hope to draw 7,000 to 8,000 people to attend. One City will be the host and organizer, but we plan to dedicate funds generated from the event to support tuition scholarships and teacher training at other high quality preschools so that more children have access, and more children are better prepared for school success.

Register to Attend

Science and Creation

Mainz University:

“All of our observations find a complete symmetry between matter and antimatter, which is why the universe should not actually y exist,” Christian Smorra, the study’s lead author, said in a statement. “An asymmetry must exist here somewhere but we simply do not understand where the difference is. What is the source of the symmetry break?”


C. Smorra et al., A parts-per-billion measurement of the antiproton magnetic moment, Nature 550, 371-374, 19 October 2017,


Americans Agree More Than They Realize

A Barton Hinkle:

Some days, it can seem as if half the country has come down with rabies. A lot of people seem willing to tear your head off over the smallest thing.

Part of it probably comes from the disinhibiting effect of social media—where the lack of filters or personal contact makes it easy to fire off a nasty personal attack in the heat of the moment… which only encourages people to respond in kind.

Chicago enrollment drops over 20K in two years; Schools get their ratings

Lauren Fitzpatrick:

Chicago Public Schools on Friday announced another five-figure enrollment drop, counting 371,000 students in the country’s third largest school district.

District officials also released school ratings, blaming the Cubs in part for a dip of schools with the top rating, and named four privately-managed schools that aren’t performing well enough to stay open past June.

CPS has lost about 21,000 students from its rolls in the last two years and now has just about 26,000 more students than the fourth largest, Miami-Dade County Public Schools in Florida. District-run schools serve 289,506 students and privately-managed charter schools account for about 62,435 according to a count taken earlier this month, on the 20th day of school.

Tenure debate brewing at the University of Arkansas

Max Brantley :

Much remains to be explored on this topic, but take note of a brewing debate in the University of Arkansas System, a proposal to change tenure policy.

The general counsel’s office of the University of Arkansas has drafted a proposal to “update” the promotion and tenure policy, a System spokesman confirms. It was sent to the campuses in mid-September for feedback. The spokesman characterizes this as part of an ongoing effort in recent years to update board policies to “align them with current law and practice.”

More Columbus schools data scandal officials finally facing state discipline

Alissa Widman Neese:

Five more Columbus school principals connected to the district’s data-manipulation scandal could lose their state-educator licenses.

The Ohio Department of Education sent the administrators letters Aug. 8 informing them that disciplinary action had been initiated against their licenses, according to public records The Dispatch obtained Monday.

Five years ago, The Dispatch first revealed that Columbus City Schools administrators were falsifying student data to make the district’s performance appear better on its state report cards. The most-recent notices accuse administrators of misconduct during the 2010-11 school year.

Chicago Schools Responds To WBEZ Investigation On Special Education


Chicago Public Schools is criticizing a WBEZ investigation on the school district’s overhaul of special education. WBEZ stands firmly behind the quality of its reporting and its conclusions.

The investigation found that CPS last year scaled back special education funding and services after secretly instituting new rules. WBEZ also found wide disparities in special education spending per student based on race and income. In the year before the overhaul, schools with wealthier student populations spent the most per student while schools with mostly low-income students low-income spent the least.

In a letter to WBEZ, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said the station presented “erroneous information and false conclusions.” He questioned information in WBEZ’s findings around special education staffing levels, reductions in student services, and demographic information on CPS’ special education population.

In our rigorous reporting and analysis, WBEZ relied on CPS data. In addition, most of our analyses and methodologies were vetted by school district officials before publishing. WBEZ listened to their concerns and incorporated them into the analyses. In his letter to WBEZ, Claypool presented different interpretations of the data, even though in some cases his own staff instructed WBEZ not to present the data in that way.

Paglia: The Dumbing Down of America Began in Public Schools

Annie Holmquist :

Camille Paglia recently revealed the answer to that question. Paglia, a long-time Democrat, feminist, and college professor, believes the problem started in the earliest stages of education in the nation’s public schools:

“It’s really started at the level of public school education. I’ve been teaching now for 46 years as a classroom teacher, and I have felt the slow devolution of the quality of public school education in the classroom.”

According to Paglia, teachers at elite institutions are unable to see this decline in knowledge because their students often come from private schools and wealthy homes, which presumably still retain some elements of rigorous education. The great majority of students, however, can be described in the following way:

“What has happened is these young people now getting to college have no sense of history – of any kind! No sense of history. No world geography. No sense of the violence and the barbarities of history. So, they think that the whole world has always been like this, a kind of nice, comfortable world where you can go to the store and get orange juice and milk, and you can turn on the water and the hot water comes out. They have no sense whatever of the destruction, of the great civilizations that rose and fell, and so on – and how arrogant people get when they’re in a comfortable civilization. They now have been taught to look around them to see defects in America – which is the freest country in the history of the world – and to feel that somehow America is the source of all evil in the universe, and it’s because they’ve never been exposed to the actual evil of the history of humanity. They know nothing!”

There’s one exception to this, however. Even while today’s students have not been taught knowledge, they have also been taught not to bully a person on the basis of their race, class, gender, or any other trait.

Commentary on Madison Taxpayer Funded Schools’ PTO Budgets and Activity

Chris Rickert:

Allis Elementary currently has no active PTO and its fundraising when it did have one last year was “very, very little,” according to interim principal Sara Cutler. Allis’ percentage of economically disadvantaged students last year was 67.9, according to state Department of Public Instruction data, or higher than the district percentage of 46.1. Allis’ non-white population is 77 percent, higher than the district’s 57.1 percent.

The PTO for Huegel Elementary, with an economically disadvantaged population of 41.4 percent, has an annual budget of around $22,000 a year, according to PTO co-treasurer Tony Parisi. The PTO for Schenk Elementary, whose percentage of poor students is 63.5, has an annual budget of about $6,000, according to president Heather Daniels.

The Lowell Community Organization, the PTO-like group for Lowell Elementary, where I’ve had at least one child enrolled since 2009, has a proposed budget this year of about $14,500. Budgets over the past five years have been in the $8,000 to $14,000 range, according to LCO treasurer Kerry Martin. Lowell’s rate of economically disadvantaged students is 37.3 percent.

Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools (Van Hise Elementary and Hamilton Middle), while tolerating long term, disastrous reading results.

MBA programs are disappearing.

Valentina Zarya and Grace Donnelly:

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the University of Wisconsin is in the process of reviewing its graduate business degree programs, a process that may result in the discontinuation of its two-year full-time MBA program. (According to the Journal, the business school’s faculty will vote on the decision early next month.)

The Midwestern school’s program may become the latest casualty in a string of closures of MBA programs around the country. The University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business announced in August that it would end its full-time MBA program. In recent years, Wake Forest University, Thunderbird School of Global Management, Virginia Tech, and Simmons College (the country’s only all-female business school) have shuttered their traditional two-year programs.

‘Front Row Kids’ and values have taken over our courts

Glenn Reynolds:

In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, we heard a lot about America’s division into two mutually hostile camps: A largely coastal, urban party run by educated elites, and a largely rural and suburban “Flyover Country” party composed of people who did not attend elite schools and who do not see themselves as dependent on those who do. This divide is more fundamental than mere partisan identification, as there are Democrats and Republicans in both groups.

One of the best formulations of this division comes from photographer Chris Arnade, who has spent years documenting the lives of America’s forgotten classes. In his characterization, America is split between the “Front Row Kids,” who did well in school, moved to managerial or financial or political jobs and see themselves as the natural rulers of their fellow citizens, and the “Back Row Kids,” who placed less emphasis on school and who resent the pretensions and bossiness of the Front Row Kids.

Class of ’78: Studying in the US Post-Cultural Revolution

Liang Chenyu:

In the late ’70s, China was still steeped in poverty. So when the nation prepared to send students to the U.S., it had to make sure the delegation looked decent. The Ministry of Education provided each student with one tailored wool coat and two suits, all in gray or black. At a reception held by then-first lady Rosalynn Carter, the visiting scholars took off their coats and put them together, and afterward many could not identify their own from the pile.

More than 300,000 Chinese nationals now study at American universities, and most are millennials. But Liu Baicheng was 45 years old when he traveled to the U.S. to study in 1978 as part of that first group of state-sponsored students after the Cultural Revolution.

Earlier that year, the government had resolved to increase the number of Chinese students studying overseas to drive the country’s development, particularly in STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and math. But after a decade of disrupted scholarship, there were few young people with the necessary qualifications. “The Cultural Revolution had devastated higher education,” Liu recalled. “It was impossible to send youth.”

The assault on academic freedom at UCLA

Kathryn Hindrekaer:

Over the past few years, UCLA has lost four prominent scholars: James Enstrom, Keith Fink, Val Rust and Tim Groseclose.

Each incident is different, whether they left, resigned, or were forced out. But they all have a common thread: each professor took a stance against left-liberal principles at UCLA — and now they are no longer teaching there.

This attack on conservatism is not unique to UCLA, but the school has become the perfect case study for the phenomenon.

Google’s quantum computing plans threatened by IBM curveball

Mark Kim:

Just when it was looking like the underdog, classical computing is striking back. IBM has come up with a way to simulate quantum computers that have 56 quantum bits, or qubits, on a non-quantum supercomputer – a task previously thought to be impossible. The feat moves the goalposts in the fight for quantum supremacy, the effort to outstrip classical computers using quantum ones.

It used to be widely accepted that a classical computer cannot simulate more than 49 qubits because of memory limitations. The memory required for simulations increases exponentially with each additional qubit.

Student test engagement and its impact on achievement gap estimates

Jim Soland:

Achievement gaps are one of education’s most important policy metrics. Gaps between boys and girls, as well as white and racial minority students, are often used to measure the effectiveness and fairness of the education system at a given point in time, over the course of decades, and as children progress through school. Major policy initiatives related to accountability, assessment, and funding are partially motivated by a desire to close gaps.

As is so often the case, however, estimates of achievement gaps are not as straightforward as practitioners and policymakers might like. Gaps result from the sum total of students’ schooling, after-school activities, home life, and neighborhood experiences. Further, gaps are not measures of intelligence or ability, but of performance. Therefore, observed scores are impacted by factors that adults control (like what students are taught), and by factors that may be unrelated to achievement (like motivation to perform).

The Long Story of the Movement Toward College Cost Clarity

Ron Lieber:

Once upon a time, paying for college was a relatively simple task.

Parents who could often did. Teenagers with parents who lacked either the ability or the willingness to pay worked their way through school, which was easy enough to do at many schools before 1985 or so.

But then came rising costs and student loans, of which there are countless iterations, from the federal government and state agencies and private entities. Repayment plans proliferated, too, depending on your income and profession and the type of loan you had. And many colleges split their own grants and discounts into those based on financial need (where the aid offer is sometimes predictable) and ones based on academic merit (where the offers are often unpredictable).

Federal Judge Unseals New York Crime Lab’s Software for Analyzing DNA Evidence

Lauren Kirchner:

A federal judge this week unsealed the source code for a software program developed by New York City’s crime lab, exposing to public scrutiny a disputed technique for analyzing complex DNA evidence.

Judge Valerie Caproni of the Southern District of New York lifted a protective order in response to a motion by ProPublica, which argued that there was a public interest in disclosing the code. ProPublica has obtained the source code, known as the Forensic Statistical Tool, or FST, and published it on GitHub; two newly unredacted defense expert affidavits are also available.

“Everybody who has been the subject of an FST report now gets to find out to what extent that was inaccurate,” said Christopher Flood, a defense lawyer who has sought access to the code for several years. “And I mean everybody — whether they pleaded guilty before trial, or whether it was presented to a jury, or whether their case was dismissed. Everybody has a right to know, and the public has a right to know.”

Caproni’s ruling comes amid increased complaints by scientists and lawyers that flaws in the now-discontinued software program may have sent innocent people to prison. Similar legal fights for access to proprietary DNA analysis software are ongoing elsewhere in the U.S. At the same time, New York City policymakers are pushing for transparency for all of the city’s decision-making algorithms, from pre-trial risk assessments, to predictive policing systems, to methods of assigning students to high schools.

Commentary on The state of Journalism

Simple Justice:

Michael Goodwin was weaned on Abe Rosenthal’s New York Times, rising to City Hall Bureau Chief before becoming Executive Editor of the Daily News and, now, chief political columnist for the New York Post. He’s been around, so when he says this, it comes from experience:

It’s not exactly breaking news that most journalists lean left. I used to do that myself. I grew up at The New York Times, so I’m familiar with the species. For most of the media, bias grew out of the social revolution of the 1960s and ’70s. Fueled by the civil rights and anti-Vietnam War movements, the media jumped on the anti-authority bandwagon writ large. The deal was sealed with Watergate, when journalism was viewed as more trusted than government—and far more exciting and glamorous. Think Robert Redford in All the President’s Men. Ever since, young people became journalists because they wanted to be the next Woodward and Bernstein, find a Deep Throat, and bring down a president. Of course, most of them only wanted to bring down a Republican president. That’s because liberalism is baked into the journalism cake.

This is the sort of statement that really needs context, as the left-leaning of the Nixon era wasn’t the same left as today. There were similarities, of course, in that Nixon was viewed as inherently evil and must be taken down. The lives of young men in Viet Nam depended on it, so the platitudes were born.

Once, robots assisted human workers. Now it’s the other way around.


When David Stinson finished high school, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in 1977, the first thing he did was get a job building houses. After a few years, though, the business slowed. Stinson was then twenty-four, with two children to support. He needed something stable. As he explained over lunch recently, that meant finding a job at one of the two companies in the area that offered secure, blue-collar work. “Either I’ll be working at General Motors or I’ll be working at Steelcase by the end of the year,” he vowed in 1984. A few months later, he got a job at Steelcase, the world’s largest manufacturer of office furniture, and he’s been working at its Grand Rapids metal plant ever since.
Stinson is now fifty-eight. He has a full, reddish face, a thick head of silver hair, and a majestic midsection. His navy polo shirt displays his job title—“Zone Leader”—and, like everyone else in the plant, he always has a pair of protective earplugs on a neon string draped around his neck. His glasses have plastic shields on the sides that give him the air of a cranky scientist.
“I don’t regret coming here,” Stinson said. We were sitting in the plant’s cafeteria, and Stinson was unwrapping an Italian sub, supplied by a deli that every Thursday offers plant workers sandwiches for four dollars instead of eight. “There’s been times I’ve thought about leaving, but it’s just getting to be a much more comfortable atmosphere around here. The technology is really helping that kind of thing, too. Instead of taking responsibility away from you, it’s a big aid. It’s definitely the wave of the future here.”

Tech Firms Seek Washington’s Prized Asset: Top-Secret Clearances

Gerrit De Vynck , Nafeesa Syeed , and Chris Strohm::

Under siege for letting their platforms be co-opted by Russian hackers during the 2016 election, Silicon Valley companies are learning what many businesses with interests in Washington have long known: It pays to have staff with government security clearances.

Major players in technology are bolstering their workforces with former government employees holding top-secret and higher clearances needed to share classified information, as congressional probes and a federal investigation led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller continue to unearth information about Russia’s meddling in last year’s election.

“We are starting to see platforms in the social-media arena being used by bad actors — in ways for which for they were never intended,” Ned Miller, chief technology strategist for the public sector for McAfee, said in an interview. “So the folks that build those newer platforms are now demonstrating interest in acquiring talent that has a lot more cybersecurity resources and background.”

How a generation of political thinkers has underestimated the abilities of ordinary people and undermined democracy

Nicholas Tampio:

In early 2017, Scientific American published a symposium on the threat that ‘big nudging’ poses to democracy. Big Data is the phenomena whereby governments and corporations collect and analyse information provided by measuring sensors and internet searches. Nudging is the view that governments should build choice architectures that make it easier for people to pick, say, the more fuel-efficient car or the more sensible retirement plan. Big nudging is the combination of the two that enables public or private engineers to subtly influence the choices that people make, say, by autofilling internet searches in desirable ways. Big nudging is a ‘digital sceptre that allows one to govern the masses efficiently, without having to involve citizens in democratic processes’. The symposium’s authors take for granted that democracy – the political regime in which the people collectively determine its common way of life – is better than epistocracy, or rule by experts.

Remarkably, many social scientists today do not share the belief that democracy is better than epistocracy. On the contrary. In recent years, numerous political theorists and philosophers have argued that experts ought to be in charge of public policy and should manipulate, or contain, the policy preferences of the ignorant masses. This view has its roots Plato’s Republic, where philosophers who see the sun of truth should govern the masses who dwell in a cave of ignorance, and in Walter Lippmann’s Public Opinion (1922), where expert social scientists rule behind the scenes and control the population with propaganda. While there are differences between the views of Christopher H Achen and Larry Bartels in Democracy for Realists (2016), Jason Brennan in Against Democracy (2017), Alexander Guerrero here in Aeon, and Tom Nichols in The Death of Expertise (2017), these social scientists share in common an elitist antipathy towards participatory democratic politics.

The shape of work to come Three ways that the digital revolution is reshaping workforces around the world.

Emily Anthes:

Last year, entrepreneur Sebastian Thrun set out to augment his sales force with artificial intelligence. Thrun is the founder and president of Udacity, an education company that provides online courses and employs an armada of salespeople who answer questions from potential students through online chats. Thrun, who also runs a computer-science lab at Stanford University in California, worked with one of his students to collect the transcripts of these chats, noting which resulted in students signing up for a course. The pair fed the chats into a machine-learning system, which was able to glean the most effective responses to a variety of common questions.

Next, they put this digital sales assistant to work alongside human colleagues. When a query came in, the program would suggest an appropriate response, which a salesperson could tailor if necessary. It was an instantaneously reactive sales script with reams of data supporting every part of the pitch. And it worked; the team was able to handle twice as many prospects at once and convert a higher percentage of them into sales. The system, Thrun says, essentially packaged the skills of the company’s best salespeople and bequeathed them to the entire team — a process that he views as potentially revolutionary. “Just as much as the steam engine and the car have amplified our muscle power, this could amplify our brainpower and turn us into superhumans intellectually,” he says.

The past decade has seen remarkable advances in digital technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, cloud computing, data analytics and mobile communications. Over the coming decades, these technologies will transform nearly every industry — from agriculture, medicine and manufacturing to sales, finance and transportation — and reshape the nature of work. “Millions of jobs will be eliminated, millions of new jobs will be created and needed, and far more jobs will be transformed,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, who directs the Initiative on the Digital Economy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

You’re Invited: One City to Launch Preschool Movement and Charter School

One City Early Learning, via a kind Kaleem Caire email:

A high quality preschool education, from birth to age 5, should be available and accessible to every child in the United States of America. Please join us on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 from 11:30am to 1:00pm for lunch and an important presentation and dialogue.

We would like to get your input and feedback about two significant steps One City is taking to make high quality preschool available and accessible all children. First, we are planning a major community fundraising event for 2018 that we hope to draw 7,000 to 8,000 people to attend. One City will be the host and organizer, but we plan to dedicate funds generated from the event to support tuition scholarships and teacher training at other high quality preschools so that more children have access, and more children are better prepared for school success.

Second, we will also talk with you about our plans to establish a public charter school that would provide economically disadvantaged families greater access to high quality preschool, and potentially create a pathway to educational success for children beyond kindergarten.

These two initiatives will be central to our efforts to initiate an effective and impactful preschool movement in Dane County. It’s one that we hope will positively impact children all across Wisconsin in the future, as well. We truly hope that you will join us.

Madison has long tolerated a non diverse K-12 governance structure, despite long term disastrous reading results.

Madison spends nearly $20,000 per student.

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

Civics: Third Way, for its part, announced in January it would spend $20 million on what it called the “New Blue” campaign to “provide Democrats with a path out of the wilderness.”

Molly Ball:

Third Way, for its part, announced in January it would spend $20 million on what it called the “New Blue” campaign to “provide Democrats with a path out of the wilderness.” Like many of their peers, the think tank’s brain trust had been stunned by the election. On November 9, too devastated to work, its staff had simply sat together and cried.

For all intents and purposes, it was Third Way’s vision that had been on the ballot in 2016—and lost. The think tank, inspired by the New Democrat centrism of the 1990s, had advised Hillary Clinton on her 2016 policy platform. In debates within the Democratic Party, Third Way advocated for the sensible center. It argued that a left-wing platform could not win elections, and that what voters preferred was a pragmatic, moderate, technocratic philosophy, socially liberal but pro-business and wary of big government. It used research and data to demonstrate that these policies made good politics.

This was slightly disingenuous. Third Way, while not officially affiliated with a party, is an organization with a policy agenda, from gun control to entitlement reform, that it seeks to advance within the Democratic Party and with the broader public. Most of its funding comes from corporations and financial executives. Critics on the left call the group the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party, and accuse it of advancing its donors’ interests over the greater political good. Third Way has called for cutting Social Security and Medicare and vehemently attacked the soak-the-rich economic populism of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Voters, it claims, are not interested in a party that’s all about big government and tax-and-spend.

Does A Professor’s Scholarly Productivity Decline With Age?

Paul Caron:

Despite the persistent conventional narrative and expectations about productivity, individual people have incredibly diverse careers,” s
aid Samuel Way, a postdoctoral research associate in computer science at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the paper’s lead author. “This is a cautionary tale to administrators and other people in power in the sciences as to why they shouldn’t expect everyone’s career trajectory to look the exact same way.”

The majority of academics who don’t fit the mold “aren’t errors, they’re people,” he added.

Way said the finding has implications for hiring and funding decisions and tenure and retirement policies. If only a fraction of academics — approximately 20 percent in the study — peak in productivity early in their careers, faculty search committees might do well to look beyond younger, prolific candidates, for example. Institutions, meanwhile, might worry less about older professors delaying retirement. …

AMA: Our World In Data

Max Roser:

Now I am working with a great team and we want to cover global development as broadly as we can to show how our world is changing. Our World in Data now includes data and research on global health, violence, poverty, inequality, economic growth, environmental changes, food and agriculture, energy, technological change, education and more specific topics.

While much of the news is focussing on what happened yesterday or even what is currently “breaking news”, I think that many of the very important changes, which fundamentally reshaped the world that we are living in, happen very slowly and persistently over the course of decades or centuries. On ‘Our World in Data’ we don’t report the ‘breaking news’ and instead zoom out to show the slow trends that dramatically change our world.

Other than that I am a researcher – mostly focussing on inequality and poverty – at the University of Oxford. (My personal site is here.)

It is easy to be cynical about the world and to maintain that nothing is ever getting better. I am working on this because I don’t want this cynical view dominate our understanding of the world we live. Because our hopes and efforts for building a better future are inextricably linked to our perception of the past it is important to understand and communicate the global development up to now. If you want to see some of the positive changes in the world you could have a look at my Short history of global living conditions and why it matters that we know it.

Globally we face so many very difficult challenges and I think we are making a mistake to not study good data and the empirical research that shows us what these challenges really are and how we were able to sometimes overcome those challenges in the past. If we see how far we have come, we can start to ask what made this progress possible so that we seek more of what works. I got into research on global development because I just couldn’t believe the very substantial progress the world has made and I hope that visualizing this data and making it accessible maybe motivates some others to work on these questions too. We have lots to do!

WBEZ Investigation: CPS Secretly Overhauled Special Education At Students’ Expense

Sarah Karp:

After Julie Rodriguez enrolled her 10-year-old autistic son at a public school on Chicago’s Southwest Side last year, she found herself navigating a maze of paperwork that she said seemed designed to prevent her son from getting the special education services he needed.

Rodriguez had just moved to the city from the suburbs, and she brought with her a legally binding special education plan for her son from his suburban public school. She also had a thick binder detailing his behavioral and academic problems, including a detailed analysis from some of the most highly respected doctors in Chicago.

In addition to autism, he suffers from attention deficit disorder, speech delays, and oppositional behavior disorder.

Buffalo shows turnaround of urban schools is possible, but it takes a lot more than just money

Amadou Diallo::

Although Say Yes’s allure of free college tuition was immediately obvious in a city where 54 percent of children live in poverty, many initially viewed the program with skepticism. Dedecker, who was instrumental in bringing the program to Buffalo, recalled low expectations at the outset from almost everyone.

“One of the most common statements I heard when I was meeting with all the stakeholders,” Dedecker said, “was ‘This will never work here.’ Because people just didn’t get along. There was so much acrimony and such a history of distrust and malfunction.”

Among those who held little hope for success was Samuel Radford, president of the Buffalo Schools District Parent Coordinating Council. “I came to Say Yes as a skeptic,” he said, noting previous broken promises to fix the city’s schools. “In Buffalo we’d had 25 percent graduation rates for African-American males for the last 50 years. Can you imagine the devastation to a community … year after year after year?”

Buffalo’s 2017-2018 Budget is $930,000,000 for 34,000
Students or 27k (!) per student.

Here’s A Superhuman Volleyball Play From Three Different Angles

Lauren Theisen:

Coming to you from Decatur High School in Texas is what has to be one of the best amateur sports highlights of the year, courtesy of senior Autumn Finney. Finney covered an incredible distance to get to a lost-cause ball in the back, laid out with a dive, and somehow mustered enough power to return it across the court.

This is a point that normal high schoolers should not be able to win. (Seriously, I can’t get over how superheroic she looks in that above still.) Watch the whole incredible sequence:

“the strength of the nanodegree program is that students are required to complete projects”

Jeffrey Young

Shen stressed that the problem with the old MOOC model is a focus on video libraries for teaching. She said the strength of the nanodegree program is that students are required to complete projects. “We care about completion rates, projects student build, and ultimately career readiness,” she said. “MOOCs have been too content-only focused and not a model that engages our students deeply. They are an improvement on pure content libraries when done well, but as a product not what we felt achieved success for our students and industry partners.”

Asked whether the company might phase out free courses, she said that the company’s latest programs continue to include free versions. “There is no change there,” she added.

Dhawal Shah, co-founder of Class Central, which tracks MOOCs, says that “it’s plausible” that the company would move away from making new courses free at some point. “Free courses are a marketing channel to feed learners into the paid programs,” he said in an e-mail interview. “But Udacity is able to generate huge amounts of press at a regular basis by launching nanodegrees like the Self-Driving Car Nanodegree or the recently announced Flying Car nanodegree. So the free courses might not provide the same returns as they did early on.”

Shah argues that Udacity and other providers of large-scale online course have gradually created more and more paid services, and made it harder for students to find their free offerings.

Word embeddings in 2017: Trends and future directions


The word2vec method based on skip-gram with negative sampling (Mikolov et al., 2013) [49] was published in 2013 and had a large impact on the field, mainly through its accompanying software package, which enabled efficient training of dense word representations and a straightforward integration into downstream models. In some respects, we have come far since then: Word embeddings have established themselves as an integral part of Natural Language Processing (NLP) models. In other aspects, we might as well be in 2013 as we have not found ways to pre-train word embeddings that have managed to supersede the original word2vec.

This post will focus on the deficiencies of word embeddings and how recent approaches have tried to resolve them. If not otherwise stated, this post discusses pre-trained word embeddings, i.e. word representations that have been learned on a large corpus using word2vec and its variants. Pre-trained word embeddings are most effective if not millions of training examples are available (and thus transferring knowledge from a large unlabelled corpus is useful), which is true for most tasks in NLP. For an introduction to word embeddings, refer to this blog post.

Is Estonia a Preview of Our Tech Future?

Vivienne Walta>:

Given Estonia’s history, the invention of Skype in this country was ironic. While Americans were buying their first cell phones, about a quarter-century ago, Estonians were shut off from the world as an outpost of the Soviet Union. You could easily wait 10 years to be assigned a landline phone. By the time the Soviet Union imploded in 1991, the country was in a time warp. “We did not have anything,” says Gen. Riho Terras, the commander of Estonia’s armed forces, who had been a student activist at the time. The country had to reboot from zero. Terras says each citizen was given the equivalent of 10 euros, or $10.60. “That was it,” he says, laughing. “We started from 10 euros each.”
 One generation on, Estonia is a time warp of another kind: a fast-forward example of extreme digital living. For the rest of us, Estonia ­offers a glimpse into what happens when a country abandons old analog systems and opts to run completely online instead. That notion is not fanciful. In various forms, governments across the world, including those in Singapore, Japan, and India, are trying to determine how dramatically they can transform themselves into digital entities in order to cut budgets and streamline services (and for some, keep closer tabs on citizens). Estonia claims its online systems add 2% a year to its GDP.

Déjà vu: Madison elementary school students explore the district’s new math curriculum

Amber Walker:

MMSD highlighted the success of the new math curriculum in its annual report, released last July. The report said the first cohort of schools using Bridges saw an eight-point increase in math proficiency scores and nine-point gains in math growth in one school year on the spring Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) exam for third through fifth grade students.

By comparison, fifth grade MAP proficiency scores across the district increased eight points in the last four years.

“(Bridges) focuses on developing the students’ understanding of math concepts,” Davis said. “It is not about how students can memorize certain skills, but really around their ability to problem solve and look at math in more complex ways…and explain their reasoning to their teachers and peers.”

Related (deja vu):

Connected Math

Discovery Math

Math task force

Math forum

Singapore Math

Stretch targets

Youth prison guard: ‘I am afraid of getting killed’

Molly Beck:

Inmates at the state’s youth prison have kicked in glass windows, stolen pepper spray and threatened to rape female staff members since a federal judge told state Department of Corrections officials to make drastic changes to how they manage behavior of the prison’s inmates, records show.

Ten staff members at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls in Irma told Sen. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, through interviews with his staff that they fear for their lives and that the facility is no longer safe.

The comments came after U.S. Judge James Peterson ordered prison officials in July to no longer keep inmates in solitary confinement around the clock for weeks, excessively pepper spray inmates and put them in shackles regularly.

“Kids now believe they have nothing to lose” one staff member told Tiffany’s aides.

Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017 m

Aleks Kajstura :

With growing public attention to the problem of mass incarceration, people want to know about women’s experience with incarceration. How many women are held in prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities in the United States? And why are they there? While these are important questions, finding those answers requires not only disentangling the country’s decentralized and overlapping criminal justice systems, but also unearthing the frustratingly hard to find and often altogether missing data on gender.

This report provides a first-of-its-kind detailed view of the 219,000 women incarcerated in the United States, and how they fit into the even larger picture of correctional control. Since 2014, the Prison Policy Initiative has quantified the number of people incarcerated in the United States, and calculated the breakdown of people held by each correctional system by offense in an annual Whole Pie: Mass Incarceration report. This report, done in collaboration with the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice, finally provides similar data on women incarcerated in the Unites States. We break the data down to show the various correctional systems that control women, and to examine why women in the various systems of confinement are locked up:

We Can’t Stem the Tide of Language Death

Laura McPherson:

BEFORE THE TURN of the next century, more than half of India’s 780 languages may die out. In this respect, India can be seen as a microcosm of the world, with experts warning that thousands of little-spoken languages are at risk for extinction within the century.

These reports might act as a call to keep teaching these languages to new users and ensure they are passed on to the next generation. But we have to be realistic, too. Without an unlikely transformation in political, socioeconomic, and ethnic conditions, it is naïve to think we can stem the tide of language death.

What we can and must do is document this rapidly diminishing linguistic diversity and archive these astonishing displays of creativity for the future. These cultural materials hold the key to understanding the range of human ingenuity in expression, and ultimately to giving these endangered languages a chance to bounce back, even if slim.

A world without hate speech

Zach Greenberg :

It takes as little as a flyer, a speech, a newspaper article, or a comedian to trigger calls for “hate speech” bans on college campuses. Considering that many college students support the prohibition of hate speech, let’s imagine if the would-be censors got their way — what would our society look like?

First, we must acknowledge that, in the United States, hateful speech is fully protected by the First Amendment. There’s no “hate speech versus free speech” debate raging in our nation’s judiciary. Nor is there a balancing test, an exemption, or a special constitutional provision allowing the government to prohibit it — hateful speech is categorically protected in our nation, including at public colleges and universities, and that’s not changing anytime soon.

Oxbridge access data

David Lammy:

Today (20th October) I have published data on Oxbridge access following Freedom of Information requests. You can download the data in full here and read the press release in full below. You can read more in The Guardian here and here, or on BBC news here. You can read my article for The Guardian here.


Former Higher Education Minister David Lammy MP brands Oxbridge colleges “fiefdoms of entrenched privilege” and “the last bastion of the old school tie” as data released under the Freedom of Information Act reveals a shocking lack of progress on widening participation and access to Oxbridge:

Civics: Little to Gain: Why U.S. Senators Face Tradeoffs to Casting Moderate Roll Call Votes

Christopher Donnelly:

This paper asks whether legislators are able to benefit from opposing their party on one or more high-profile issues. Such a strategy likely entails a tradeoff, as it might on the one hand attract cross-over support from opposite-party voters but, on the other hand, alienate co-partisan voters who make up the legislator’s “primary constituency.” Using data from a 2006 national survey in which citizens are asked their own positions on seven high-profile issues voted on by the U.S. Senate, as well as how they believe their state’s two senators to have voted on these issues, I find that senators generally do not benefit from voting against their party. First, same-party voters who oppose a senator’s party-deviating stance are more likely to notice this behavior than are opposite-party voters who should be pleased by a legislator’s vote against her party. Second, the uptick in electoral support that senators receive from the small subset of opposite-party voters who do notice their deviation on a particular issue is substantively small, while the decrease in their job approval among their co-partisan constituents–the voters upon whom senators must rely to win re-nomination–is non-trivial. These findings have important implications for legislators’ strategic incentives and offer hints as to why the last decade has seen a substantial number of re-election losses by moderate senators representing states in which their party is not favored, as well as a non-trivial number of serious primary challenges–some of which have succeeded–to senators who compile moderate voting records.

Matt Damon Seems Blissfully Ignorant of Many Things. So Why Should We Listen to Him on Schools?

Andrew Rotherham

In other words, his protestations of ignorance seem as disingenuous as his claim that his family, with their exceptional means, had no possible alternative to private school. Still, let’s give Damon the benefit of the doubt and assume he was the one person in the film business who didn’t know what Weinstein was up to. I’m surely not going to take my educational cues, let alone parenting advice, from someone that unaware of what’s happening all around him.

You might want to think twice, too.

How Teach for America Lost Its Way

Sohrab Ahmari:

Has the most celebrated education-reform organization in the U.S. transformed itself into an arm of the progressive movement? Teach for America, or TFA, the national corps of recent graduates who commit two years to teaching in underserved classrooms across the country, was founded to help close the achievement gap between rich and poor students. But now it increasingly functions as a platform for radical identity politics and the anti-Trump “resistance.”

In remaking itself, TFA has subtly downgraded the principles that had won it allies across the spectrum. George W. Bush, Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn, Chris Christie, and Meg Whitman are a few of the Republicans who championed TFA. The group attracted such boldface names, and hundreds of millions of dollars from some of the largest American firms and philanthropies, because it stood for a simple but powerful idea: that teacher quality is the decisive factor in the educational outcomes produced by schools.

Judging by its interventions in recent debates, it isn’t all that clear that senior TFA executives still believe this. These days, TFA’s voice on charters, accountability, and curricular rigor is decidedly muffled. Such education-reform essentials have been eclipsed in TFA’s discourse by immigration, policing, “queer” and transgender-identity issues, and other left-wing causes. TFA’s message seems to be that until numerous other social ills are cured—until immigration is less restricted, policing becomes more gentle, and poverty is eliminated—an excellent education will elude the poor. That was the status-quo defeatism TFA originally set out to challenge.

Wendy Kopp conceived TFA when she was a senior at Princeton in 1989. Unable to get a New York City teaching job without a graduate degree and state certification, Kopp wrote a thesis calling for the creation of a nontraditional recruitment pipeline that would bring America’s most promising young people to its neediest classrooms. TFA members would teach for two years, applying their energy and ambition to drive achievement at the classroom level. She speculated that some would stay in education, while others would go on to careers in law, medicine, business, journalism, etc. But all would remain “lifelong leaders in the effort to end educational inequity.”

Civics: The ruling classless

Andrew Ferguson:

Ingeniously, Quinn has outfitted the book with a literary device guaranteed to discourage bad reviews. Her fellow scribblers can only kick themselves for not thinking of it first. Quinn begins with a loving portrait of her childhood in Georgia, where the family servants schooled her in voodoo. Her mother was already initiated. When the local vet misdiagnosed the family dachshund, Quinn tells us, Mom lost her temper and cried, “I hope you drop dead!”

“And,” she writes laconically, “he did.”

In the next chapter we learn that 10-year-old Sally came under the care of a doctor who upset her mother. Mom fed him the same line she gave the vet, and “he died shortly thereafter.”

Well, life goes on—not for the vet and the doctor, of course, but for Sally. She grew up and moved to Washington and dated a yummy reporter. Once he flirted with another woman. “I won’t say exactly what I did—even now it would be bad luck for me,” she writes. “I worked on the hex for several days.” The woman killed herself. In his reading chair, the reviewer stirs uneasily.

Next we read about Clay Felker, the editor of New York magazine, who commissioned a scurrilous profile of Quinn. She put a hex on him. Suddenly the magazine was sold and Felker was fired and publicly humiliated. “Clay never recovered professionally,” she tells us. “Worse, he got cancer, which ultimately led to his death.”

Here the reviewer pauses to reflect. That’s four hexes and four corpses, two undertaken by Sally when she got extremely upset. And bad reviews can be extremely upsetting to an author. By the time the reviewer reads about the fortune teller—she foretold an unhappy future for Quinn’s son and, after Sally worked her mojo, died of a cerebral hemorrhage—why, the glowing review practically writes itself.

Sally Quinn has been writing books and articles for more than 40 years, yet her prose retains a childlike, disarming artlessness that makes Finding Magic and its serial revelations all the more arresting. She buys a house, she switches jobs, she kills someone with a hex…the tone never changes. “During my college years I had occasional psychic moments,” is how she begins one chapter, as if daring you to stop reading. Another chapter begins: “I love the Tarot.” She talks to ghosts. On her first visit to the Middle East, she faces her own personal Arab–Israeli conflict: She is torn, she tells us, between sleeping with the Israeli defense minister and “the Palestinian leader, an incredible hunk wearing traditional robes.” (She decides to stay faithful to her beau back home.) She reads minds and thinks you can, too: “It is just a matter of time before we don’t have to speak to one another anymore.” She has sex frequently and ardently. It’s all here.

Young people and their inventions


On 15 September 1997, two young Stanford University students registered the Google domain which sought, with a play on words, to catalyse the infinite quantity of information on the Internet. The name was chosen by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, inspired by the mathematical term googol, indicating a number beginning with a 1 and followed by 100 zeros. It was coined by American mathematician Edward Kasner in 1938 to convey the difference between a huge number and infinity. Google boasts that it can index a huge number of web pages, certainly more than the figure achieved by its rivals. It marked the birth of an invention characterised by young people who, with their own ideas and desire to be a part of the world, created a parallel world populated with virtual visitors every day. We have all smiled at the doodles, modified versions of the Google logo that, on various occasions or for special events, celebrate figures from past and contemporary history, welcoming us to the search engine when we connect via our mobile phones or any other electronic device. It is a distinctive trademark that has, over the years, stood out as original and unique, that has no equal and that now arouses the curiosity of users, accustomed to being amused by these brilliant periodical expedients.

Mass. sees increase in educator misconduct investigations

Ben Dempsey:

Massachusetts education officials have been investigating a growing number of educators for alleged misconduct — including sexual assaults, substance abuse, and criminal activities — which has resulted in the reprimand, suspension, or revocation of 371 licenses over the past five years, according to a state report released this week.

Nearly one-third of the 774 investigations launched by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education since 2012 involved educators who potentially crossed boundaries with children or adults in areas including sex, pornography, or touching.

On Citizenship

Charles Murray

That American life has coarsened over the past several decades is not much argued, but the nature of the beast is still in question. Gertrude Himmelfarb sees it as a struggle between competing elites, in which the left originated a counterculture that the right failed to hold back. Daniel Patrick Moynihan has given us the phrase “defining deviancy down,” to describe a process in which we change the meaning of moral to fit what we are doing anyway. I wish to add a third voice to the mix, that of the late historian Arnold Toynbee, who would find our recent history no mystery at all: We are witnessing the proletarianization of the dominant minority.

The language and thought are drawn from a chapter of “A Study of History,” entitled “Schism in the Soul,” in which Toynbee discusses the disintegration of civilizations. He observes that one of the consistent symptoms of disintegration is that the elites–Toynbee’s “dominant minority”–begin to imitate those at the bottom of society. His argument goes like this:

The growth phase of a civilization is led by a creative minority with a strong, self-confident sense of style, virtue and purpose. The uncreative majority follows along through mimesis, “a mechanical and superficial imitation of the great and inspired originals.” In a disintegrating civilization, the creative minority has degenerated into elites that are no longer confident, no longer setting the example. Among other reactions are a “lapse into truancy” (a rejection, in effect, of the obligations of citizenship), and a “surrender to a sense of promiscuity” (vulgarizations of manners, the arts, and language) that “are apt to appear first in the ranks of the proletariat and to spread from there to the ranks of the dominant minority, which usually succumbs to the sickness of `proletarianization.’”

That sounds very much like what has been happening in the U.S. Truancy and promiscuity, in Toynbee’s sense, are not new in America. But until a few decades ago they were publicly despised and largely confined to the bottom layer of Toynbee’s proletariat — the group we used to call “low-class” or “trash,” and which we now call the underclass. Today, those behaviors have been transmuted into a code that the elites sometimes imitate, sometimes placate, and fear to challenge. Meanwhile, they no longer have a code of their own in which they have confidence.

Building of the Week: St. Coletta of Greater Washington

Jacqueline Drayer:

Across the street from the Stadium-Armory Metro Station is perhaps the most carefully-considered school design in DC. St. Coletta of Greater Washington is a non-profit public charter school serving children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Its campus was designed by famed architect Michael Graves, who drew on discussion with and feedback from the school’s leadership and staff.

After touring the school with St. Coletta’s Principal Christie Mandeville and discussing the building’s evolution with CEO Sharon Raimo, the lesson from this school’s careful planning is clear: firms should think more about the needs of students and how schools can facilitate desired behavioral and learning outcomes.

What’s Really Keeping Pakistan’s Children Out of School?

Nadia Naviwala:

On a visit to a village school in the mountains near Abbottabad in northwestern Pakistan, I asked a group of third graders to spell “Pakistan.” They stared at me, silent and bewildered. The school had 20 students; only two have survived till the fifth grade. The two fifth graders were somewhat literate. One of them had learned to read and write at a private school, but even he struggled to write simple, misspelled sentences.

Less than half of third graders in Pakistan can read a sentence in Urdu or local languages. Thirty-one percent can write a sentence using the word “school” in Urdu, and 11 percent can do it in English.

Children in government schools report that teachers have them clean, cook, massage their feet and buy them desserts. Children are categorized as smart or stupid as soon as they start school. Corporal punishment is severe. Parents will send their kids to a private school if they can afford a few dollars a month, but they do not see government schools as worth it.

Since 2010, Pakistan has more than doubled what it budgets for education, from $3.5 billion to $8.6 billion a year. The budget for education now rivals the official $8.7 billion military budget. The teaching force is as big as the armed forces.

Ai Weiwei Explores the “Human Flow” of Refugees and Finds an America That Lost Its Conscience

Elizabeth Rubin :

“Do you think our asylum policy is broken? Do you really think that? That’s what you wrote,” the red-faced lawyer from Homeland Security shouted at me.

We were in immigration court at Federal Plaza in New York City. He was young and outraged that I had written those words in an op-ed and was now testifying as an expert witness on Afghanistan on behalf of an Afghan asylum-seeker. Clearly I had a conflict of interest.

“Actually I think we have a pretty good asylum policy, but we are not implementing it,” I said.

The judge interrupted.

“With all due respect, what she thinks of our immigration policy is irrelevant to why we are here today which is to determine whether there is a 10 percent chance of persecution if he returns to Afghanistan. That’s it.” I was relieved, but the Homeland Security lawyer kept on — I was a paid immigration advocate, I was biased, I was not really an expert since I had no academic expertise. The judge didn’t seem impressed by any of these arguments to disqualify my testimony, which went on for two hours.

I left the tiny courtroom. In the halls, mothers from Central America waited with young children tugging, leaning, falling, bored mostly. He’s lucky to be in New York, I thought. The judge was considerate and fair. In Texas, the judge denied the asylum-seeker’s claim and sent him to prison in Alabama where he was left to his own devices for nearly two years.

Civics: America Is Waking Up to the Injustice of Cash Bail

Bryce Covert:

On any given morning, some 20 people in orange jumpsuits sit in a pen in a courtroom at the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court in New Orleans, Louisiana. Most rest their handcuffed wrists in their laps; a chain connects the cuffs to shackles around their waists and ankles. They’ve been arrested for allegedly committing a range of offenses, from possessing drugs to stealing a girlfriend’s car to strangling a domestic partner. But at this point, none of these people have been formally charged with a crime, let alone convicted of one. As far as the law is concerned, they’re innocent.

As they make their appearance before Magistrate Judge Harry Cantrell, each defendant gets approximately three minutes to meet with a public defender, if they’re found poor enough to need one, and explain why the charges they’re facing should be dismissed or, barring that, why their bail should be low. This meeting takes place in a Plexiglas booth that resembles a bank teller’s window, with the public defender, who serves every indigent person in court that day—in New Orleans, over 85 percent of criminal defendants are represented by a government-appointed lawyer— separated from her clients by a wall of clear plastic.

Cornell’s Black Student Disunion

Naomi Shaffer Riley:

A century ago, colleges cared if your ancestors came over on the Mayflower. Now some are demanding that when universities admit black students, they give preference to descendants of those who arrived on slave ships. Black Students United at Cornell last month insisted the university “come up with a plan to actively increase the presence of underrepresented Black students.” The group noted,

Denmark Student Privacy Policy


Det skal være muligt for gymnasier at gennemsøge elevers private computere for at forhindre eksamenssnyd.

Det mener undervisningsminister Merete Riisager (LA) ifølge Information.

Også elevernes aktivitet på sociale medier skal gymnasierne have adgang til at undersøge i samme forbindelse.

Det fremgår af et udkast til en ny bekendtgørelse om reglerne for prøver og eksamener, som ministeren har sendt i høring.

I udkastet står der blandt andet, at eksaminanden skal give skolen adgang til at undersøge hjælpemidlers indhold, søgehistorik og logfiler samt anvendelsen af materialer, konti på sociale medier med videre på internettet.

The Looming Decline of the Public Research University

Jon Marcus

Four floors above a dull cinder-block lobby in a nondescript building at Ohio State University, the doors of a slow-moving elevator open on an unexpectedly futuristic 10,000-square-foot laboratory bristling with technology. It’s a reveal reminiscent of a James Bond movie. In fact, the researchers who run this year-old, $750,000 lab at OSU’s Spine Research Institute resort often to Hollywood comparisons.

Thin beams of blue light shoot from thirty-six of the same kind of infrared motion cameras used to create lifelike characters for films like Avatar. In this case, the researchers are studying the movements of a volunteer fitted with sensors that track his skeleton and muscles as he bends and lifts. Among other things, they say, their work could lead to the kind of robotic exoskeletons imagined in the movie Aliens.

The complex and cutting-edge research here combines the expertise of the university’s medical and engineering faculties to study something decidedly commonplace: back pain, which affects as many as eight out of every ten Americans, accounts for more than 100 million annual lost workdays in the United States alone, and has accelerated the opioid addiction crisis.

“The growth of the technology around us has become so familiar that we don’t question where it comes from,” says Bruce McPheron, an entomologist and the university’s executive vice president and provost, looking on. “And where it happens consistently is at a university.”

Oxbridge uncovered: More elitist than we thought

Hannah Richardson:

The sheer dominance by the top two social classes of Oxford and Cambridge University admissions has been revealed in newly released data.

Four-fifths of students accepted at Oxbridge between 2010 and 2015 had parents with top professional and managerial jobs, and the numbers have been edging upwards.

The data, obtained by David Lammy MP, also shows a “shocking” regional bias, with more offers made to Home Counties pupils than the whole of northern England.

Mr Lammy said he was “appalled to discover” Oxbridge is actually moving backwards in terms of elitism.

Unveiling the data, covering offers to students in England and Wales in the years 2010 to 2015, he described the universities as the “last bastion of the old school tie” and highlighted stark regional divisions.

Related: “They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT!

Gene therapy helped these children see. Can it transform medicine?

David Crow:

When Caroline Carper was 10 years old she saw rain falling from the skies for the first time. “So I was in grammar class, and it started to pour down. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what is that?’ And my friend goes, ‘That’s rain, you’ve never seen rain before?’ It was like a whole new world.”

Caroline’s eyesight problems emerged shortly after birth, but it was not until her younger brother Cole was also born with poor vision that doctors realised something more serious was afoot. The pair were eventually diagnosed with Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA), a rare inherited retinal disease that left them with severe impairment in both eyes. “I just told people that I was half-blind. That’s really the only way they’d understand,” says Cole.

Their parents decided not to tell them the disease was likely to progress to the point where they would go completely blind. “I just felt like there was no point in burdening them with it at that age, when they’re little,” recalls their mother Ashley. “If you’re an adult, you might be able to handle that – but as a child? I think that’s too much. Privately, sometimes, our hearts might have hurt a little bit, but we have never felt sorry for them.”

None of that heartache is evident when I meet the family at their home in Little Rock, Arkansas, on a hot and humid Saturday morning. Over home-made brownies and iced tea, Caroline and Cole tell me how they received a pioneering treatment known as gene therapy on a clinical trial in 2014, which restored much of their sight. “Basically, they take a gene and they put it in your eye,” explains Caroline, before she is interrupted by her brother, who is apparently outraged that she is leaving out the gory bits. “They put you to sleep and they slice open your eye,” he interjects with a broad grin. “And then they give you a popsicle. The popsicles are the best part.”

With giddy excitement, the pair recall the weeks and months following the treatment, when they saw things properly for the first time — stingrays at the aquarium, the intricate structure of a snowflake, a starry night sky. Cole, now 11, could not contain his excitement when he saw the toy section in the supermarket, especially when he happened upon the shelves with his favourite Nerf guns (he is fiddling with a loaded one as we speak).

Civics: Leaked ICE Guide Offers Unprecedented View of Agency’s Asset Forfeiture Tactics

Ryan Devereaux, Spencer Woodman:

An internal handbook obtained by The Intercept provides a rare view into the extensive asset seizure operations of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, an office that trains its agents to meticulously appraise the value of property before taking it.

HSI’s 71-page “Asset Forfeiture Handbook,” dated June 30, 2010, underscores the role seizures play in “helping to fund future law enforcement actions” and covering costs “that HSI would otherwise be unable to fund.” It thus offers an unprecedented window into ICE’s wide-ranging asset forfeiture operations and the premium the agency places on seizing valuable property. Forfeiture proceeds can bolster ICE’s partnerships with local police departments, which are now the subject of heightened debate given the Trump administration’s hard-line immigration agenda.

An unlikely consequence of Trump’s immigration policies? Declining enrollment at U.S. business schools

Kim Gittleson :

An unlikely consequence of Trump’s immigration policies? Declining enrollment at U.S. business schools

Mention Nottingham in a conversation, and it’s pretty likely the first thing to come to mind is Robin Hood.

But the story being told here is very different from the fable of old.

Instead of stealing from the rich to give to the poor, students today who hope to get rich are flocking to this charming city two hours north of London.

Nottingham Business School – which is part of Nottingham Trent University – has seen a 25 percent uptick in interest from international students.

That’s partially due to an unlikely source: Donald Trump.

After decades of pushing bachelor’s degrees, U.S. needs more tradespeople

Matt Krupnick:

At a steel factory dwarfed by the adjacent Auto Club Speedway, Fernando Esparza is working toward his next promotion.

Esparza is a 46-year-old mechanic for Evolution Fresh, a subsidiary of Starbucks that makes juices and smoothies. He’s taking a class in industrial computing taught by a community college at a local manufacturing plant in the hope it will bump up his wages.

It’s a pretty safe bet. The skills being taught here are in high demand. That’s in part because so much effort has been put into encouraging high school graduates to go to college for academic degrees rather than for training in industrial and other trades that many fields like his face worker shortages.

Why Are Millennials Wary of Freedom?

Gray Matter:

Young Americans seem to be losing faith in freedom. Why?

According to the World Values Survey, only about 30 percent of Americans born after 1980 believe it is absolutely essential to live in a democratic country, compared with 72 percent of Americans born before World War II. In 1995, 16 percent of Americans in their late teens and early adulthood thought democracy was a bad idea; in 2011, the number increased to 24 percent.

Young Americans also are disproportionately skeptical of free speech. A 2015 poll from the Pew Research Center found that 40 percent of millennials (ages 18 to 34) believe the government should be able to regulate certain types of offensive speech. Only 27 percent of Gen-Xers (ages 35 to 50), 20 percent of baby boomers (ages 51 to 69) and 12 percent of the silent generation (ages 70 to 87) share that opinion.

Could do better: my first half term as a maths teacher, “I still see the electronic white board as my sworn enemy, but I am sometimes able to make it bend to my wishes”

Lucy Kellaway:

There are rules governing where I need to be, what I wear and how I comport myself

An even more radical change is that I have come to love rules. Pre-teaching, my life had been almost entirely rule-free. I was educated at a liberal school that viewed rules as an impediment to creativity. Later, as a journalist, I made a point of disregarding the few rules there were. It was my job to mock corporate rigidity. I even wrote a column once, boasting about how I had never read my own company’s code of conduct.

Now I live in a world where rules rule. Mossbourne is famous for its strict ways — uniform is worn perfectly and students move around the school in silence. “No excuses” is one of the school’s two values (the other being excellence) and that applies to the staff as much as to the students.

There are rules governing where I need to be, what I wear and how I comport myself. Bells ring every 55 minutes, and as students move between lessons I station myself on the staircase and try to bark “hands out of pockets!” as authoritatively as my colleagues.

By lunchtime I am so ravenously hungry that I fall on a plastic tub of soft pasta

These rules, and the punctilious way in which they are upheld, daily save my bacon. It is thanks to them that no one has thrown furniture at me. That no one has sworn at me. That instead, students come to lessons ready to learn.

I welcome the rules in another, less obvious, way. They have freed me from the ambiguity that has dogged my professional life. For the first time I know precisely what is expected of me — with the result that I feel oddly calm.

Theme 1: The information environment will not improve. The problem is human nature

Janna Andersen and Lee Rainie:

Misinformation and “fake news” have been around for as long as people have communicated. But today’s instant, low-budget, far-reaching communications capabilities have the potential to make the problem orders of magnitude more dangerous than in the past.
 Mankind has always lied, and always will; which is why the winners of wars get to write the history their way and others have no say, but with the internet, the losers have a say!
 William L. Schrader