deja vu: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results

Laurie Frost and Heff Henriques:

Children who are not proficient readers by fourth grade are four times more likely to drop out of school. Additionally, two-thirds of them will end up in prison or on welfare.

Though these dismal trajectories are well known, Madison School District’s reading scores for minority students remain unconscionably low and flat. According to the most recent data from 2017-18, fewer than 9 percent of black and fewer than 20 percent of Hispanic fourth graders were reading proficiently. Year after year, we fail these students in the most basic of our responsibilities to them: teaching them how to read.

Much is known about the process of learning to read, but a huge gap is between that knowledge and what is practiced in our schools. The Madison School District needs a science-based literacy curriculum overseen by licensed reading professionals who understand the cognitive processes that underlie learning how to read.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

Routing around Madison’s non-diverse K-12 legacy governance model:

In March 2016, Cheatham said that it was her intent to make OEO “obsolete — that our schools will be serving students so well that there isn’t a need.”

Since then, the district has tried to keep tabs on any new charter proposals for Madison, going so far as to send former School Board member Ed Hughes to a September meeting of the Goodman Community Center board of directors to express the district’s opposition to another proposed charter school, Arbor Community School, which was looking to partner with the Goodman center.

Hughes gave the board a letter from Cheatham to UW System President Ray Cross that expressed the district’s dismay at allegedly being kept out of the loop on Arbor’s plans, pointed to alleged deficiencies in Arbor’s charter proposal, and asked that Arbor either be rejected or at least kept out of Madison.

Hughes also told the board that as a Goodman donor, he did not think other donors would look kindly on a Goodman partnership with Arbor.

Becky Steinhoff, Goodman executive director, later told the Wisconsin State Journal that Goodman was “experiencing a period of enormous change,” including the recent opening of a new building, and chose not to work with Arbor.

“I understand the climate and the polarizing topic of charters” in Madison, McCabe said, but he wasn’t concerned the district would attempt to thwart Milestone and he said it would “be a dream come true” if Milestone were one day folded into the district.

He said Community—Learning—Design has an application due to the state Feb. 22 for a federal planning grant.

Much more on our 2019 school board election:

Seat 3

Kaleem Caire, 7856 Wood Reed Drive, Madison

Cristiana Carusi, 5709 Bittersweet Place

Skylar Croy, 502 N. Frances St., Madison

Seat 4

David Blaska, 5213 Loruth Terrace, Madison

Laila Borokhim, 2214 Monroe St., Madison

Albert Bryan, 4302 Hillcrest Drive, Madison

Ali Muldrow, 1966 East Main St., Madison

Seat 5

TJ Mertz, 1210 Gilson St., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Sarah Manski and Ed Hughes “withdrew” from their respective races in recent elections. The timing, in both cases was unfortunate for voters, and other candidates.

The Union Fight That Defined Beto O’Rourke’s City Council Days

Walker Bragman:

At the height of the conflict, O’Rourke publicly mused about disbanding the police union, calling it “out of control” and lamenting his colleagues’ unwillingness to stand up to the powerful political force. A year later, he was calling for “better checks on collective bargaining in the public sector.”

The fight came at one of the bleakest moments of the Great Recession, and the city was stuck in contracts with the police and firefighters unions that provided for annual raises and benefits. The city manager was proposing a 5 percent property tax increase and other hikes in fees to pay for them, but the city council wanted the unions to defer some of the wage increases and forfeit some of the holidays. The Firemen and Policemen’s Pension Fund was in need of more money, which meant they were open to negotiations, but O’Rourke was frustrated at how dug in he said they were.

Police unions have increasingly found themselves in conflict with progressive Democrats in cities across the country, and are notorious for defending even the worst officers on the force against charges of assault or murder. Chris Evans, O’Rourke’s spokesperson, said that when he relayed The Intercept’s inquiry to O’Rourke, O’Rourke’s first memory of the fight was that police were demanding a provision that would give officers a 48-hour window after a police shooting before they would have to answer an investigator’s questions. That provision is indeed in the contract; O’Rourke’s remarks at the time, however, were focused on officer compensation and El Paso’s strapped budget.

O’Rourke, in public, took particular exception to some of the demands from the police union in the ongoing negotiations, including its continued insistence on maintaining the wage increases, which he said amounted to 8 percent each year. In an August 3, 2010, meeting, a seemingly exasperated O’Rourke went so far as to ask the city’s attorney if there was a way to eliminate the union altogether.

“In my opinion, the basic problem with this whole setup is you’ve got a very powerful police union that’s been able to extract an unsustainable increase in salaries year over year and an unsustainable series of additional benefits,” he said, following an exchange over the city manager’s proposal to create a second police academy. “What are the provisions or opportunities for the voters of El Paso to go back to some other form of representation for the police officers?”

Related: WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators.

Civics: The U.S. Government Has Amassed Terabytes of Internal WikiLeaks Data

Emma Best:

On January 4, 2011, a sealed order filed in the Eastern District of Virginia requested all emails, address book, subscriber information, and other account information associated with Appelbaum’s email address ioerror@gmail.com, and another order would target his internet traffic. Appelbaum was a friend and confidant of Assange as well as a WikiLeaks volunteer. In 2010, Appelbaum was known as “the American WikiLeaks hacker,” and he was, at that time, referred to as WikiLeaks’ only known American member. In a private chat in 2015, WikiLeaks described Appelbaum as being “sort of” part of the group, though following multiple accusations of sexual abuse, the group publicly distanced itself from him. The emails obtained by the government extended from November 2010 at least through January 2011. The timing of the government’s acknowledgment of the order, along with other similar orders, suggest that the monitoring of the account may have continued through late 2014, when it and several orders were made public.

In China, they’re closing churches, jailing pastors – and even rewriting scripture

Lily Kuo:

In late October, the pastor of one of China’s best-known underground churches asked this of his congregation: had they successfully spread the gospel throughout their city? “If tomorrow morning the Early Rain Covenant Church suddenly disappeared from the city of Chengdu, if each of us vanished into thin air, would this city be any different? Would anyone miss us?” said Wang Yi, leaning over his pulpit and pausing to let the question weigh on his audience. “I don’t know.”

Almost three months later, Wang’s hypothetical scenario is being put to the test. The church in south-west China has been shuttered and Wang and his wife, Jiang Rong, remain in detention after police arrested more than 100 Early Rain church members in December. Many of those who haven’t been detained are in hiding. Others have been sent away from Chengdu and barred from returning. Some, including Wang’s mother and his young son, are under close surveillance. Wang and his wife are being charged for “inciting subversion”, a crime that carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.

Now the hall Wang preached from sits empty, the pulpit and cross that once hung behind him both gone. Prayer cushions have been replaced by a ping-pong table and a film of dust. New tenants, a construction company and a business association, occupy the three floors the church once rented. Plainclothes police stand outside, turning away those looking for the church.

One of the officers told the Observer: “I have to tell you to leave and watch until you get in a car and go.”

2019 Election: Why are all of the Madison School Board seats at-large? (Curious statute words limiting legislation to Madison)

Negassi Tesfamichael m:

Why are all of the Madison School Board seats at-large?

The answer lies in state law.

Tucked into a section of state statutes about how school boards and districts are organized is a requirement that applies directly to MMSD. The requirement says that unified school districts — such as MMSD — “that encompass a city with a population greater than 150,000 but less than 500,000 shall be elected at large to numbered seats.”

Madison, whose population is just over 252,000, is the only Wisconsin city the requirement applies to.

The state statute was introduced as part of a bill in 1984 under a Democratic Legislature and Gov. Tony Earl. According to state Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, who served as Senate president at the time, he worked with former state Rep. David Clarenbach on an earlier bill that failed to pass both chambers but made its way under the larger 1984 bill Act 484.

Nan Brien, who served on the School Board in the 1980s, said Madison had an entirely at-large system before the state statute was put in place. Former School Board member and former state Rep. Rebecca Young spearheaded efforts to get the state statute put in place, according to Brien.

“There was a sense of, if everyone was in one general race, that it simply would come down to name recognition,” Risser said of the previous structure.

Under the old at-large structure, if three seats were up for an election, everyone would run against everyone else for those three seats. The top three finishers would be elected.

“People wanted to facilitate the opportunity for an individual to challenge a candidate based on that candidate’s position,” Brien said of the School Board before the numbered seats were introduced. “The idea was that the change in structure would become more policy driven instead of just having people who decided they wanted to be on the School Board just for the heck of it.”

A 1973 report from the Wisconsin Legislative Council, which was submitted as the Legislature considered having numbered seats for some School Boards around the state, backs Brien’s assertion.

2019 Madison School Board Candidates, notes and links:

Seat 3

Kaleem Caire, 7856 Wood Reed Drive, Madison

Cristiana Carusi, 5709 Bittersweet Place

Skylar Croy, 502 N. Frances St., Madison

Seat 4

David Blaska, 5213 Loruth Terrace, Madison

Laila Borokhim, 2214 Monroe St., Madison

Albert Bryan, 4302 Hillcrest Drive, Madison

Ali Muldrow, 1966 East Main St., Madison

Seat 5

TJ Mertz, 1210 Gilson St., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Many Parents Are Happier Than Non-Parents — But Not in the U.S

Belinda Luscombe:

On the face of it, parenting is a very poor route to take if your final destination is happiness. Having children is an open invitation to the universe to visit misery upon you. Suddenly, a formerly carefree human who has just about figured out how to meet his or her basic needs has to provide for the needs of another human, who is (a) completely dependent (b) apparently intent on self-destruction and (c) incapable of expressing what those needs are — or anything resembling gratitude. And that’s just when they’re teenagers.

Students in Rural America Ask, ‘What Is a University Without a History Major?’ Image The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, facing declining enrollment and revenue, is weighing major changes to its degree programs.

Mitch Smith:

The locations of college campuses can be a reflection of a bygone America. Most universities were founded generations ago, when rural communities were thriving and when traveling across a state to a larger urban campus was more complicated. As people moved toward cities and the Sun Belt, and as cars and planes connected the country, many rural universities have fallen on hard times.

“There is and ought to be a bit of a scramble to redefine and resituate themselves,” said David Tandberg, a vice president for the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association. “There’s nothing they can do about birthrates. That’s something they have no control about. So it’s opening up different markets and offering different services.”

Civics & K-12 Technology: I helped Google screw over James Damore

Tired of Lyong for Google:

I was involved in the internal decisions involving James Damore’s memo, and it’s terrible what we did to him.

First of all, we knew about the memo a month before it went viral. HR sent it up the reporting chain when he gave it as internal feedback, but we did nothing. There wasn’t anything we could do, except admit to wrongdoing and lying to our employees. We just hoped that no one else would see his document.
Unfortunately, the memo started spreading within the company. The floodgates opened and previously silent employees started talking. To quell dissent, we: told executives to write to their employees condemning the memo;
manipulated our internal Memegen to bias the ratings towards anti-Damore posts (the head of Memegen is an “ally” to the diversity cause); and gave every manager talking points on what to tell their reports about the memo. In all our communications, we concentrated on how hurt employees purportedly were and diverted attention from Google’s discriminatory employment practices and political hegemony, never mind the science.

We needed to make an example of Damore. Looking for some excuse to fire him, we spied on his phone and computer. We didn’t find anything, although our spying probably made his devices unusably slow, preventing him from organizing support within the company. When we did fire him, our reputation and integrity took a hit, but at least other employees were now afraid to speak up.

Firing him without an NDA was a huge risk though. He was a top performer and knew too many compromising secrets, like Dragonfly, the secret censored search project in China. He had also reported several legally dubious practices in Search that still exist. Only God knows why he never leaked Dragonfly or the other issues, but I think it’s because he actually cared about Google.

Our response after we fired him was equally disgraceful. We were supposed to have a Town Hall TGIF to answer employees’ questions about the controversy. However, after questions started coming in that we couldn’t reasonably answer, we had to cancel it. We shifted the blame onto “alt-right trolls” and have avoided talking about it openly since then.

Many taxpayer supported K-12 School districts use Google services, including Madison.

Commentary on A Diverse K-12 Governance Model – in Madison (outside the $20k/student legacy system)

Neil Heinen:

There is so much to like about One City’s structure and operation, starting with founder, President and CEO Kaleem Caire. Caire’s bedrock passion for education has always been part of what hasn’t always been a straight-line career path. But all of the elements of his business, civic, nonprofit and activist education ventures have come together at One City as an exceptionally well-run, financially sound, academically rigorous place for kids and families.

His support team is strong, his board is smart, engaged and strategically composed most notably of parent leaders from One City’s enrollment. He has built important relationships with both University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Education and Edgewood College with some of the most respected faculty and researchers from both institutions actively participating in One City’s programming, operation and evaluation of results. He attracted one of Madison’s most talented educators, Nuestro Mundo Community School founder Bryan Grau, as One City principal of the senior preschool and as the founding principal of One City’s planned elementary school. Teachers seem excited to work at One City. And Caire is building an impressive group of supportive civic leaders. Most importantly, and tellingly, Caire has a smart, collaborative and mutually supporting relationship with MMSD Superintendent Jen Cheatham. That says something about both of them.

As hot a word as innovation has become in the world and 21st century economy, it has not always been embraced by the education sector in the United States, at least not in the public education sector. One City is what innovative education looks like. The UW–Madison-born Families and Schools Together, or FAST, Program is part of the family support component of One City’s mission, and FAST founder, Dr. Lynn McDonald, is on the board. The schools employ the Expeditionary Learning curriculum of active, purposeful learning. And it is the first school in the country to offer the AnjiPlay learning model developed in China. The model was created by an educator who has welcomed One City’s use of site-specific environments, unique materials and integrated technology to enhance learning and cognitive development. Eventually One City will be where other interested U.S. educators come to learn about AnjiPlay.

After some serious reflection, Caire and the board of One City have decided to add an elementary school rather than just grow the preschools. That’s going to require a new building and more funding for operations. There will be a capital campaign in the spring. One City’s potential is unlimited. It is already part of the answer to the achievement gap, to the disparities uncovered in the Race to Equity report and in the critical need to ensure all of our kids are ready to succeed in order to make Madison the city we all want it to be.

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

One City Schools Admitted to EL Education’s National Network of Schools

Kaleem Caire, via a kind email:

One City Schools, Inc., a local nonprofit operating an independent preschool and public charter school, announced today that it has been accepted into a coveted network of more than 150 schools nationwide in the EL Education (EL) program.

EL Education (formerly Expeditionary Learning) is an educational model that balances both personalized and social learning to help students succeed in learning and in life. For over 25 years, EL has been bringing to life a three-dimensional vision of student achievement that includes mastery of knowledge and skills, character, and high-quality student work. EL promotes active classrooms that are alive with discovery, problem-solving, challenge, and collaboration. Through the partnership, One City will receive, and complete, intensive on-the-job training, co-teaching and mentoring required for teachers and school leaders.

The EL program is research-based, and has shown academic gains for children. After three years in an EL program, students outpace their peers in reading and in math; and further in standardized test-scores.

One City Founder and CEO Kaleem Caire hailed the achievement “Our leadership, our teachers, and our families are fully vested in this school and what it will do for children. With EL, our teachers will be given the very highest opportunities to impact learning for children.”

EL Education focuses its work on schools in diverse communities across the country. For eligibility, at least 40% of the students in a school must be from low-income families. It also requires intense commitment from teachers who facilitate learning as well as be required to document and measure results required by EL.

“Our teachers came to One City because they are dedicated to the cause. EL will make sure we are fitted with the best tools to achieve success” said Bryan Grau, One City’s principal of the Senior Preschool. EL schools are provided resources and support from other schools across the nation through open-source sharing. EL is also working closely with One City on its plans to expand into elementary school starting in the fall 2019.

“This is another huge achievement for One City. We are dedicated to providing the best for our kids, and to demonstrating our results to stakeholders. We will continue to move forward to help our parents and community create pathways to an awesome future for our kids.” Caire said.

Why aren’t kids being taught to read?

Emily Hanford, via a kind reader:

But this research hasn’t made its way into many elementary school classrooms. The prevailing approaches to reading instruction in American schools are inconsistent with basic things scientists have discovered about how children learn to read. Many educators don’t know the science, and in some cases actively resist it. The resistance is the result of beliefs about reading that have been deeply held in the educational establishment for decades, even though those beliefs have been proven wrong by scientists over and over again.

Most teachers nationwide are not being taught reading science in their teacher preparation programs because many deans and faculty in colleges of education either don’t know the science or dismiss it. As a result of their intransigence, millions of kids have been set up to fail.

Related: Why are we still teaching reading the wrong way?

Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read? “The study found that teacher candidates in Mississippi were getting an average of 20 minutes of instruction in phonics over their entire two-year teacher preparation program”.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

In the old days, before the babyfication of children

Citizen Stewart:

Childhood ain’t what it used to be. Our fluorescent colored, artificial fruit scented, bubble-wrapped perversion today of the growing years of children may seem like evolution but in truth, it’s a regression.

No, I’m not casting nostalgia as fact and pandering to your generation X (or boomer) illusion of your rugged past captured in Polaroids of Big Wheels, Evil Knieval ramps for banana seat bikes, or those golden years when kids were allowed to be kids, get dirty, and play so hard they needed the reinforced knees of Tough Skins from Sears.

The ironically mature childhood I speak of was long before then.

Before James Maury Henson gave birth in 1955 to Kermit the Frog, ancestor to all Muppets we know and love; before 1957 when Belgian artist Pierre Culliford created Les Schtroumpfs (The Smurfs); and before 1929 when Walter Elias Disney produced “Silly Symphonies,” a historic movie that introduced friends of Mickey Mouse including Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, and Pluto; before all of that was a mischevious tiny army whose adventures were meant to teach children life lessons.

They were known as The Brownies and they were sprung from the imagination of Palmer Cox, a Canadian-born (1840) railroad worker and carpenter in California before who became a full-time illustrator in New York 1875. The Brownies series made him a millionaire and resourced him well enough to build a “Brownie castle” as his home back in Quebec where he died in the summer of 1924

Petition Launched To Remove Law Professor For “Discriminatory” Comments

Tom Gould:

A petition to remove Emeritus Professor of Law and Legal Philosophy John Finnis from teaching has attracted three hundred and fifty signatures in five days. Finnis has been accused of having “a long record of extremely discriminatory views against many groups of disadvantaged people”, including the LGBTQ community. Finnis co-teaches a series of seminars for postgraduate students who choose to take the jurisprudence and political theory course in the BCL or M.Jur degree.

Remarks highlighted by the authors of the petition as particularly discriminatory include a comment from his Collected Essays in which he suggests that homosexual conduct is “never a valid, humanly acceptable choice and form of life” and is “destructive of human character and relationships” because “it treats human sexual capacities in a way which is deeply hostile to the self-understanding of those members who are willing to commit themselves to real marriage”. This essay was published in 2011 but refers to arguments he made in a previous essay from 1994.

The essay also argues that “just as a cowardly weakling who would never try to kill anyone, yet deliberately approves of the killings of innocent people in a terrorist massacre, has a will which violates the good of life, so even a person of exclusively and irreversibly homosexual inclination violates the good of marriage by consenting to (and deliberately approving) non-marital sex acts such as solitary masturbation”.

The 1994 essay entitled “Law, Morality and Sexual Orientation” claims that “copulation of humans with animals is repudiated because it treats human sexual activity and satisfaction as something appropriately sought in a manner that, like the coupling of animals, is divorced from the expressing of an intelligible common good – and so treats human bodily life, in one of its most intense activities, as merely animal. The deliberate genital coupling of persons of the same sex is repudiated for a very similar reason.”

German homeschoolers consider appeal after human rights court decision

ADF International :

“We are extremely disappointed with this ruling of the Court. It disregards the rights of parents all over Europe to raise their children without disproportionate interference from the state. Petra and Dirk Wunderlich simply wanted to educate their children in line with their convictions and decided their home environment would be the best place for this. Children deserve this loving care from their parents. We are now advising the Wunderlichs of their options, including taking the case to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights,” said Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International and lead counsel for the Wunderlich family.

German ban on homeschooling

In August 2013, more than 30 police officers and social workers stormed the home of the Wunderlich family. The authorities brutally removed the children from their parents and their home, leaving the family traumatized. The children were ultimately returned to their parents but their legal status remained unclear as Germany is one of the few European countries that penalizes families who want to homeschool.

After courts in Germany ruled in favour of the government, the European Court of Human Rights agreed to take up the case in August 2016. Now, the Court has ruled against the German family, disregarding their right to private family life. This leaves the family with the option of bringing the case to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, the highest level of the Court.

“the observation that within the union sector, wages are more compressed than outside the union sector”; notes on academic inequality

Douglas Clement interviews David Card:

Results: of 677 respondents, 66% have an academic or college educated parent and around 26 are first gens. Only 11% have academic parents, which is admittedly a bit lower than I expected. Results surprisingly very stable as the N went from around 100 upwards.

First of all, the presumption that unions might have an effect on men is based on the observation that within the union sector, wages are more compressed than outside the union sector. There are several institutional reasons for this. For one thing, unions try to equalize wages for people doing similar jobs. They also try to lower the differences between higher-wage and lower-wage people, largely for political reasons. Both features tend to lower inequality in the union sector.

The same thing is not as true for women, largely because unionized women work in sectors where there is already a lot of institutional wage setting, like teaching. In these settings, whether or not there is a union involved makes less difference. In any case, you don’t see much difference in the variability of wages among women who are unionized, or not once you control for education.

What I had done was look at the decline of unionization and how that has affected overall inequality for men. One thing that countervails the equalizing effect of trade unions for men is that unions raise wages. If they raise pay for one group and leave it the same for another, that in itself increases dispersion. The starting point for any analysis is to measure how the equalizing tendency within the union sector plays off against the fact that wages are now higher for an arbitrary group of workers.
The answer for men has always been that the equalizing effect is bigger. Actually, this wasn’t really understood in the literature until the early 1970s when Richard Freeman conducted the first detailed empirical studies of unions and inequality. Prior to his work people didn’t realize the equalizing effect was so much bigger.
My results suggest that the decline in unionization is a small but noticeable part of the overall increase in inequality for men over the past 30 years—maybe 10 to 20 percent of the total. It was most important for workers at the middle of the wage distribution. Typically, a unionized worker is not somebody at the bottom of the distribution, but somebody at the middle. In the 1970s, unionization was pushing this group a little closer to the top and narrowing the degree of wage variability across jobs. As unionization has gone away, there has been some downward drift in the level of wages (relative to the top skill groups) and an opening up of wage inequality in sectors like trucking and manufacturing. Both effects are important, but they’re only a small part of the overall trend.

And within the female labor force, there’s really no effect because unions don’t really equalize wages much for women.

Family Resource Guide: Preparing for a Los Angeles Teacher Strike

Los Angeles Public Schools:

The cost of living is high in California. Why doesn’t L.A. Unified offer teachers higher wages?

In June 2018, the L.A. Unified Board of Education approved a 6% salary increase for all employees, including teachers. In addition, teachers received a 10% salary increase phased in for years 2014-17. L.A. Unified offers competitive teacher salaries compared to other large districts in the State of California, and while we would love to offer teachers more, we must operate within our financial means. The average L.A. Unified teacher salary is $75,000 and the average total compensation, which includes full health care benefits for themselves and dependents, is $110,000.

Re-thinking integration, Parents and the Madison Experience

The Grade:

There are two main reasons why Eliza Shapiro’s New York Times piece, Why Black Parents Are Turning to Afrocentric Schools, is this week’s best.

The first is that it’s a really well-written piece of journalism. The second is that it addresses an important and previously under-covered topic: parents of color interested in alternatives to integrated schools.

Focused on a half-dozen or so Afrocentric schools in central Brooklyn, the piece describes a surge of African-American families choosing schools “explicitly designed for black children” rather than pursuing the elusive goal of an integrated but still supportive school environment.

“For the last few years,” Shapiro writes, “NYC’s integration debate has largely revolved around the hopes and anxieties of white parents.” Indeed, it has. By and large, the presumption has been that parents of color prioritize integration as much as or more than anyone else. But, as Shapiro’s piece notes, that’s not entirely the case. It never has been.

Even where it’s been achieved, integrated schools have not been an unmitigated success for students of color. Negative experiences with integrated schools is one factor motivating these families. Much-publicized resistance from white families to integration is another.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Madison Teachers Union and the 2019 school board election: Commentary, Spending and Academic Results

Chris Rickert:

The questionnaire also includes several questions about teachers’ ability to have a say in their compensation and working conditions, and asks whether the candidates “support the reinstatement of collective bargaining rights for all public employees (currently prohibited by Act 10)?”

Act 10 is the controversial 2011 law passed by Republicans that stripped most collective bargaining rights from most public-sector employees. MTI mounted a failed legal challenge to the law.

“School staff experienced a reduction in take home pay after Act 10 was passed and salary increases have not kept pace with the cost-of-living,” one question states. “The District is experiencing increasing difficulties in attracting and retaining qualified employees. If elected to the Board of Education, what is your plan to increase pay for school staff?”

Much more on Act 10, here.

Madison Teachers, Inc.

2019 Madison School Board Candidates, notes and links:

Seat 3

Kaleem Caire, 7856 Wood Reed Drive, Madison

Cristiana Carusi, 5709 Bittersweet Place

Skylar Croy, 502 N. Frances St., Madison

Seat 4

David Blaska, 5213 Loruth Terrace, Madison

Laila Borokhim, 2214 Monroe St., Madison

Albert Bryan, 4302 Hillcrest Drive, Madison

Ali Muldrow, 1966 East Main St., Madison

Seat 5

TJ Mertz, 1210 Gilson St., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

India’s education system needs cultural change

Manjul Bhargava:

Manjul Bhargava is the first person of Indian origin to have won the coveted Fields Medal in Mathematics for his path-breaking work in Number Theory.

The 44-year-old professor of mathematics at Princeton University, who was in Bengaluru last week, enthralled the audience at the tenth Infosys Science Foundation Awards by explaining why all mathematics is a search for patterns and the reason why such patterns exist.

Earlier, in an exclusive conversation — anchored by ET — Bhargava discussed a plethora of issues ranging from the importance of early childhood education to the need for a borderless world of ideas with Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy. Edited Excerpts:

Murthy: Is it true that both Harvard and Princeton fought hard to attract you as a faculty and, in the process, you became the youngest professor appointed by Princeton?

Kurt Vonnegut diagrams the shapes of stories.

Lapham’s Quarterly:

I want to share with you something I’ve learned. I’ll draw it on the blackboard behind me so you can follow more easily [draws a vertical line on the blackboard]. This is the G–I axis: good fortune–ill fortune. Death and terrible poverty, sickness down here—great prosperity, wonderful health up there. Your average state of affairs here in the middle [points to bottom, top, and middle of line respectively].

This is the B–E axis. B for beginning, E for entropy. Okay. Not every story has that very simple, very pretty shape that even a computer can understand [draws horizontal line extending from middle of G–I axis].

Now let me give you a marketing tip. The people who can afford to buy books and magazines and go to the movies don’t like to hear about people who are poor or sick, so start your story up here [indicates top of the G–I axis]. You will see this story over and over again. People love it, and it is not copyrighted. The story is “Man in Hole,” but the story needn’t be about a man or a hole. It’s: somebody gets into trouble, gets out of it again [draws line A]. It is not accidental that the line ends up higher than where it began. This is encouraging to readers.

Privacy? I don’t have anything to hide.

Privacy.io:

Glenn Greenwald: Why privacy matters Over the last 16 months, as I’ve debated this issue around the world, every single time somebody has said to me, “I don’t really worry about invasions of privacy because I don’t have anything to hide.” I always say the same thing to them. I get out a pen, I write down my email address. I say, “Here’s my email address. What I want you to do when you get home is email me the passwords to all of your email accounts, not just the nice, respectable work one in your name, but all of them, because I want to be able to just troll through what it is you’re doing online, read what I want to read and publish whatever I find interesting. After all, if you’re not a bad person, if you’re doing nothing wrong, you should have nothing to hide.” Not a single person has taken me up on that offer.

Kenya will start teaching Chinese to elementary school students from 2020

Abdi Latif Dahir:

Kenya will teach Mandarin in classrooms in a bid to improve job competitiveness and facilitate better trade and connection with China.

The country’s curriculum development institute (KICD) has said the design and scope of the mandarin syllabus have been completed and will be rolled in out in 2020. Primary school pupils from grade four (aged 10) and onwards will be able to take the course, the head of the agency Julius Jwan told Xinhua news agency. Jwan said the language is being introduced given Mandarin’s growing global rise, and the deepening political and economic connections between Kenya and China.

“The place of China in the world economy has also grown to be so strong that Kenya stands to benefit if its citizens can understand Mandarin,” Jwan noted. Kenya follows in the footsteps of South Africa which began teaching the language in schools in 2014 and Uganda which is planning mandatory Mandarin lessons for high school students.

Kenya is currently in the midst of rolling out a new educational curriculum to improve educational quality and focus on skills that would make graduates more employable in the labor market. Just last year, education officials rolled out the roadmap for the first pilot of the new curricula for students in pre-school and standards one and two.

German 270: Sovereignty and the Limits of Globalization and Technology

Russell Berman and Peter Thiel :

The current historical moment appears to be marked by opposition to globalization, which has emerged in many countries in the vanous forms of populism, restrictive trade policies, attacks on “neo-liberalism,” protest parties and localism. These positions are sometimes accompanied by appeals to national interests and cultural traditions. This new mood is viewed as a break with a previous paradigm of international institutions and “world citizenship.”

This seminar proceeds from this contemporary reassertion of state sovereignty against market processes and internationalist claims in order to inquire into the historical, theoretical and cultural roots of the problem. Has the process of globalization stalled? What are the implications for the state and its aspiration for sovereignty? And how does technology, which contributed so much to the process of globalization, fit into this picture, especially in the guise of new technologies? This seminar therefore explores the tensions between state and maricet, their cultural contexts, technological innovation, and the importance of community belonging.

Enrollment is limited: To be considered for enrollment in this course, please complete and submit the short application available at the Explorecourses site by October 19, 2018, ll:59pm P5T. Students accepted to participate in this course will be notified on October 26, 2018 by 6:00pm. Auditors are not permitted. Application:

Crippling long-term debt isn’t leaving L.A. schools much wiggle room in averting a teacher strike — and may doom the district to takeover

Taylor Swaak:

The looming teacher strike in Los Angeles, no matter how it’s sliced, comes down to money — but not the salary raises and cost of new hires that have kept the district and its teachers union apart during nearly two years of contract negotiations.

The real money problem, experts say, lies with the district’s skyrocketing long-term debt.

Experts warn that for the district to stay out of bankruptcy, it must slash its billions in long-term liabilities, much of it tied to massive retiree health benefit costs.

Their prescriptions ranged from making employees and retirees pay premiums to offering early retirement incentives. Most agreed that a local solution is needed to right the ship as California faces — or could already be in — a recession, meaning state taxpayers may be unable to bail out the district.

But United Teachers Los Angeles has rejected the district’s proposal to shave off costs by adding two years to how long it takes new employees to become eligible for free lifetime health benefits — something other L.A. Unified unions have already accepted. Union officials dispute the district’s claim that it is cash-strapped, and says it is “hoarding” nearly $2 billion in reserves.

Stanford Professor Bruce McCandliss found that beginning readers who focus on letter-sound relationships, or phonics, increase activity in the area of their brains best wired for reading.

Stanford News:

In other words, to develop reading skills, teaching students to sound out “C-A-T” sparks more optimal brain circuitry than instructing them to memorize the word “cat.” And, the study found, these teaching-induced differences show up even on future encounters with the word.

The study, co-authored by Stanford Professor Bruce McCandliss of the Graduate School of Education and the Stanford Neuroscience Institute, provides some of the first evidence that a specific teaching strategy for reading has direct neural impact. The research could eventually lead to better-designed interventions to help struggling readers.

“This research is exciting because it takes cognitive neuroscience and connects it to questions that have deep meaning and history in educational research,” said McCandliss, who wrote the study with Yuliya Yoncheva, a researcher at New York University, and Jessica Wise, a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results. This, ,a href=“https://mmsdbudget.wordpress.com/”>despite spending far more than most K-12 taxpayer supported school districts.

11,000 Digitized Books From 1923 Are Now Available Online at the Internet Archive

Open Culture:

Whether your interest is in winning arguments online or considerably deepening your knowledge of world cultural and intellectual history, you will be very well-served by at least one government agency from now into the foreseeable future. Thanks to the expiration of the so-called “Micky Mouse Protection Act,” the U.S. Copyright Office will release a year’s worth of art, literature, scholarship, photography, film, etc. into the public domain, starting with 1923 this year then moving through the 20th century each subsequent year.

And thanks to the venerable online institution the Internet Archive, we already have almost 11,000 texts from 1923 in multiple digital formats, just a click or two away.

Will Congress Penalize Colleges That Increase Tuition?

Edward Zalinsky:

enator Charles Grassley of Iowa will serve as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee during the upcoming 115th Congress. Senator Grassley’s decision to lead the Finance Committee may have important consequences for the nation’s colleges and universities. Grassley, a Republican, has criticized increased tuition charges in the face of the pronounced, tax-free growth of many college endowments.

In light of his prior statements and the current political environment, a Grassley-led Finance Committee may scrutinize higher education endowments. On the committee’s agenda could be legislation aimed at the tax benefits such endowments enjoy and the benefits of tax-exempt entities more generally. …

It is likely that a Grassley-led Finance Committee will consider changes to directly regulate the tuition levels of endowed educational institutions. That consideration will take place in a Congress in which Republicans only control the Senate and House Democrats will have to choose either bipartisan cooperation or confrontation with the Senate.

Financial aid leveraging.

Bill Daley proposes merging Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges

Fran Spielman:

Bill Daley wants to turn America’s third-largest school system into what he calls the “nation’s first pre-K-through-14” system — by merging the Chicago Public Schools with the City Colleges of Chicago.

By turning two giant bureaucracies into one, Daley hopes to generate as much as $50 million worth of administrative savings — enough to provide free community college to all CPS graduates, not just those who maintain a B average.

But the ground-breaking merger is not about saving money. It’s about positioning CPS to produce more students prepared and trained for jobs without the back-breaking burden of student loans.

The Relentlessness of Modern Parenting

Clair Cain Miller:

Parenthood in the United States has become much more demanding than it used to be.

Over just a couple of generations, parents have greatly increased the amount of time, attention and money they put into raising children. Mothers who juggle jobs outside the home spend just as much time tending their children as stay-at-home mothers did in the 1970s.

The amount of money parents spend on children, which used to peak when they were in high school, is now highest when they are under 6 and over 18 and into their mid-20s.

Renée Sentilles enrolled her son Isaac in lessons beginning when he was an infant. Even now that he’s 12, she rarely has him out of sight when he is home.

“I read all the child-care books,” said Ms. Sentilles, a professor in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. “I enrolled him in piano at 5. I took him to soccer practices at 4. We tried track; we did all the swimming lessons, martial arts. I did everything. Of course I did.”

Newly Released FOIA Documents Shed Light on Border Patrol’s Seemingly Limitless Authority

Max Rivlin-Nadler:

These details and others were revealed in more than 1,000 pages of previously unseen Customs and Border Protection training documents, which were obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union after a four-year legal battle and shared exclusively with The Intercept. The documents were finally released to the ACLU’s Border Litigation Project this past August in response to a 2014 Freedom of Information Act request that focused on the policies of Border Patrol’s “roving patrols” — units that operate outside of ports of entry and checkpoints, often venturing far into the country’s interior. These roving patrols can question, detain, and arrest individuals they suspect of having illegally crossed the border or having smuggled drugs or other contraband into the country.

During the course of the FOIA litigation, CBP argued that releasing the documents would be a violation of attorney-client privilege between CBP’s legal branch and its officers in the field. A federal judge dismissed that claim last year, after finding that the Enforcement Law Course did not contain confidential information flowing from client to attorney. Despite this finding, parts of the course, including the entire section related to the use of surveillance, have been redacted. A judge also allowed a chapter on instructions regarding courtroom testimony to be redacted, finding that it conveyed litigation strategy.

What’s included in the documents, however, is a portrait of an agency that acknowledges that citizens and noncitizens alike are covered by the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures, while also instructing officers on expansive ways to circumvent it.

I work with kids. Here’s why they’re consumed with anxiety.

John Thornton, Jr.:

As the retreat group started to tell me more about why they felt such a collective sense of stress and pressure, a few major themes emerged. All of them said they voluntarily get their grades pushed to their phones through notifications. It took me a minute to realize just how annoying and agonizing that must feel. It means that at any moment, they could find out they bombed a test or missed an assignment. Instead of having the time to mentally prepare to receive a bad grade when a teacher returns an assignment, they receive a notification as soon as the teacher posts their grade to the online portal they all use. Further, their parents sometimes receive the same notifications.

In addition to grades, they use multiple apps such as Remind through which their teachers can send them updates or reminders about upcoming assignments and tests. Like their grades, these can come through to their phone at any time of day or night.

For all the fear I hear from adults about screen-addicted kids, this seems like a far more destructive relationship to technology. It’s not one in which they use their phones to avoid their friends or family, but one in which technology serves as a source of constant intrusion into their lives, never allowing them to forget about their schoolwork or grades.

This was just one of the pressures these students felt they faced to ensure survival in the adult world. And the more I spoke with these kids, the more scared I became for the world we adults have created for them.

APA Guidelines for the Psychological Practice with Boys and Men

American Psychological Association (PDF):

Boys and men have historically been the focus of psychological research and practice as a normative referent for behavior rather than as gendered human beings (O’Neil & Renzulli, 2013; Smiler, 2004). In the past 30 years, researchers and theorists have placed greater emphasis on ecological and sociological factors influenc- ing the psychology of boys and men, culminating in what has been termed the New Psychology of Men (Levant & Pollack, 1995). For instance, socialization for conforming to traditional masculinity ide- ology has been shown to limit males’ psychological development, constrain their behavior, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict (Pleck, 1981, 1995; O’Neil, 2008; O’Neil & Renzulli, 2013), and negatively influence mental health (e.g., O’Neil, 2008, 2013, 2015) and physical health (Courtenay, 2011; Gough & Robertson, 2017). Indeed, boys and men are overrepresented in a variety of psychological and social problems. For example, boys are dispro- portionately represented among schoolchildren with learning dif- ficulties (e.g., lower standardized test scores) and behavior prob- lems (e.g., bullying, school suspensions, aggression; Biederman et al., 2005; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015). Likewise, men are overrepresented in prisons, are more likely than women to commit violent crimes, and are at greatest risk of being a victim of violent crime (e.g., homicide, aggravated assault; Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2015).
Despite these problems, many boys and men do not receive the help they need (Addis & Mahalik, 2003; Hammer, Vogel, & Heimerdinger-Edwards, 2013; Knopf, Park, & Maulye, 2008). Research suggests that socialization practices that teach boys from an early age to be self-reliant, strong, and to minimize and manage their problems on their own (Pollack, 1995) yield adult men who are less willing to seek mental health treatment (Addis & Mahalik, 2003; Wong, Ho, Wang, & Miller, 2017). Further complicating their ability to receive help, many men report experiencing gender bias in therapy (Mahalik et al., 2012), which may impact diagnosis and treatment (Cochran & Rabinowitz, 2000). For instance, sev- eral studies have identified that men, despite being 4 times more likely than women to die of suicide worldwide (DeLeo et al., 2013), are less likely to be diagnosed with internalizing disorders such as depression, in part because internalizing disorders do not conform to traditional gender role stereotypes about men’s emotionality (for a review, see Addis, 2008). Instead, because of socialized ten- dencies to externalize emotional distress, boys and men may be more likely to be diagnosed with externalizing disorders (e.g., con- duct disorder and substance use disorders) (Cochran & Rabinowitz, 2000). Indeed, therapists’ gender role stereotypes about boys’ externalizing behaviors may explain why boys are dispropor- tionately diagnosed with ADHD compared to girls (Bruchmüller, Margaf, & Schneider, 2012). Other investigations have identified systemic gender bias toward adult men in psychotherapy (Mahalik et al., 2012) and in other helping services such as domestic abuse shelters (Douglas & Hines, 2011). B

How China’s worsening economic woes are shattering the dreams of its top graduate students

He Huifeng:

Hiring freezes and job cuts suggest a worse than expected employment outlook in China for the hi-tech and finance sectors. Photo: AFP

But in December, things took an unexpected turn. The company he had agreed to work for, Shenzhen Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics, told him that due to a change in the company’s recruitment plans, the job offer was invalidated. Mindray, China’s largest medical equipment maker, said it would give Tan 5,000 yuan (US$727), roughly a third of what would have been his salary for one month, as compensation.

China’s central bank to pump US$210 billion into ailing economy

The change has thrown Tan’s life into chaos, coming as the “campus recruitment season” winds down and China’s economic health continues its recent downward trend.

“I chose Mindray because I wanted to work as a researcher for an innovative firm, and that’s why I turned down all other job offers,” Tan said. “Now I have to start again … I had rarely thought about the economic downturn before, but now I guess I am one of its victims.”

Tan is not the only graduate student caught off guard.

Eric Li had accepted a job offer from Mindray with a starting annual income of 200,000 yuan. When he too was told the offer had been withdrawn, he said his dreams were shattered.

“I had planned to make good use of the money to buy milk powder for my nephew every month,” Li said. “I had planned to save 120,000 yuan a year to prepare for my marriage to my girlfriend.

“And I dreamed of the day when I could afford a down payment on a small flat in Shenzhen,” he said. “That’s now all vanished.”

The “skills gap” was a lie

Matthew Yglesias:

Five or six years ago, everyone from the US Chamber of Commerce to the Obama White House was talking about a “skills gap.”

The theory here was that high unemployment reflected a structural shift in the labor market such that jobs were available, but workers simply didn’t have the right education or training for them. Harvard Business Review ran articles about this — including articles rebutting people who said the “skills gap” didn’t exist — and big companies like Siemens ran paid sponsor content in the Atlantic explaining how to fix the skills gap.

But nothing was really done to transform the American education system, and no enormous investment was made in retraining unemployed workers. And yet the unemployment rate kept steadily falling in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 as continued low interest rates from the Federal Reserve let a demand-side recovery continue. Donald Trump became president, injected a bunch of new fiscal stimulus on both the spending and tax sides, and in 2017 and 2018 the unemployment rate kept falling and the labor force participation rate kept rising.

Are Teachers Quitting at Record Rate? Actually, They Leave Their Jobs at Lower Rates Than Almost Everyone Else

Mike Antonucci:

The Wall Street Journal left a present under the tree for the education press when it published a Dec. 28 story with the headline “Teachers Quit Jobs at Highest Rate on Record.” The Journal cited U.S. Department of Labor figures revealing that public education employees quit at a rate of 0.83 percent per month in 2018, the highest rate since that statistic was first compiled in 2001. The rest of the story was devoted to why this might be so.

Media outlets from the left, right, and center picked up the story. All of them cited the Journal’s findings, but none of them bothered to go to the source data for additional context — which do not support that conclusion. Somehow, context doesn’t lend itself easily to alarmist tweets and subheads about teachers who “abandon the classroom in droves.”

To be fair, the Journal reporters included some context about the numbers, and they don’t write the headlines. But their story clearly repeats the erroneous narrative that public education is undergoing a retention crisis.

The government statistics cited in the story came from the department’s “Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey” — referred to, fittingly, as JOLTS. It is released every month and details the number of hires, fires, resignations — quits, in department parlance — and retirements in every major category of the U.S. economy. What it does not have — and this is specifically noted in its frequently asked questions — is “turnover rates by occupation.”

Neither the U.S. Department of Labor nor the Wall Street Journal knows how many public school teachers are quitting.

Empathy and Failures of Democracies What is the Role of Empathy in Political Discourse?

Matthew Eric Bassett:

This is a meandering discussion about empathy’s role in public policy debates and popular culture’s role in affecting empathy. So can popular culture help to nurture or destroy empathy in politics? I try to set up a framework for exploring this, but raise more questions then I answer.

While driving between Atlanta and Asheville I turned into conservative talk radio. It was a replay of a show from September discussing Portland State University’s doubts about hiring armed campus policy officers 1. The discussion wasn’t about the pros or cons of the policy, or why someone might take a position so antithetical to conservative principles. Rather it was chiefly of callers taking turns in new ways of dismissing the views of Portland’s liberal politicians and residents by accusing them of lying, being stupid, or having malicious motives for all of American society 2. Such a callous discussion of a policy decision by political opponents isn’t limited to American society. Following the Brexit referendum the Remain-friendly media could hardly contain their low opinion of Leavers while they were penning articles suggesting that their opponents did not know what they were voting for 3.

A Pirate’s take on Strategy vs. Tactics

Diogo Monica:

Are strategy and tactics really different concepts, or just different levels of the same thing? If different, in what do they differ? Should they be handled differently? The goal of this blog-post is to describe strategy and tactics from the point of view of the Captain of a pirate ship, in the hope that the analogy will be sticky enough to allow remembering the concepts the next time this topic comes up. Let us first set up the context, and then clarify the concepts.

A Pirate’s conundrum

In March 1699, after a years-long voyage as a privateer, Captain Kidd found himself in the Caribbean commanding a captured, undermanned, treasure-laden vessel (the Quedagh Merchant). There, he learned that he and his crew had been declared pirates and were to be arrested. The accusation of piracy stemmed from having captured two ships (the Quedagh being one of them), which led to an immense diplomatic and political upheaval. However, Kidd had in his possession the French passes presented to him by those ships, which made the captures legal (at least technically), and thus constituted his proof of innocence against the piracy accusations.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: U.S. Health Care Spending Highest Among Developed Countries

Johns Hopkins:

The United States, on a per capita basis, spends much more on health care than other developed countries; the chief reason is not greater health care utilization, but higher prices, according to a study from a team led by a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researcher.

The paper appears in the January issue of Health Affairs.

The researchers determined that the higher overall health care spending in the U.S. was due mainly to higher prices—including higher drug prices, higher salaries for doctors and nurses, higher hospital administration costs and higher prices for many medical services.

The paper finds that the U.S. remains an outlier in terms of per capita health care spending, which was $9,892 in 2016. That amount was about 25 percent higher than second-place Switzerland’s $7,919. It was also 108 percent higher than Canada’s $4,753, and 145 percent higher than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) median of $4,033. And it was more than double the $4,559 the U.S. spent per capita on health care in 2000—the year whose data the researchers analyzed for a 2003 study.

The researchers, along with the late Princeton health care economist Uwe Reinhardt, who died in 2017, came to the same conclusion in their well-known 2003 study, “It’s the prices, stupid: why the United States is so different from other countries.” The new analysis is in part a tribute to the late Reinhardt.

Madison spent 25% of its K-12 taxpayer supported budget on benefits during the 2014-2015 budget cycle.

The Atomic Bomb Considered As Hungarian High School Science Fair Project

Scott Alexander:

A group of Manhattan Project physicists created a tongue-in-cheek mythology where superintelligent Martian scouts landed in Budapest in the late 19th century and stayed for about a generation, after which they decided the planet was unsuitable for their needs and disappeared. The only clue to their existence were the children they had with local women.

The joke was that this explained why the Manhattan Project was led by a group of Hungarian supergeniuses, all born in Budapest between 1890 and 1920. These included Manhattan Project founder Leo Szilard, H-bomb creator Edward Teller, Nobel-Prize-winning quantum physicist Eugene Wigner, and legendary polymath John von Neumann, namesake of the List Of Things Named After John Von Neumann.

The coincidences actually pile up beyond this. Von Neumann, Wigner, and possibly Teller all went to the same central Budapest high school at about the same time, leading a friend to joke about the atomic bomb being basically a Hungarian high school science fair project.

But maybe we shouldn’t be joking about this so much. Suppose we learned that Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach all had the same childhood piano tutor. It sounds less like “ha ha, what a funny coincidence” and more like “wait, who was this guy, and how quickly can we make everyone else start doing what he did?”

In this case, the guy was Laszlo Ratz, legendary Budapest high school math teacher. I didn’t even know people told legends about high school math teachers, but apparently they do, and this guy features in a lot of them. There is apparently a Laszlo Ratz Memorial Congress for high school math teachers each year, and a Laszlo Ratz medal for services to the profession. There are plaques and statues to this guy. It’s pretty impressive.

Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship

James A. Lindsay, Peter Boghossian and Helen Pluckrose:

This essay, although hopefully accessible to everyone, is the most thorough breakdown of the study and written for those who are already somewhat familiar with the problems of ideologically-motivated scholarship, radical skepticism and cultural constructivism.

Part I: Introduction

Something has gone wrong in the university—especially in certain fields within the humanities. Scholarship based less upon finding truth and more upon attending to social grievances has become firmly established, if not fully dominant, within these fields, and their scholars increasingly bully students, administrators, and other departments into adhering to their worldview. This worldview is not scientific, and it is not rigorous. For many, this problem has been growing increasingly obvious, but strong evidence has been lacking. For this reason, the three of us just spent a year working inside the scholarship we see as an intrinsic part of this problem.

We spent that time writing academic papers and publishing them in respected peer-reviewed journals associated with fields of scholarship loosely known as “cultural studies” or “identity studies” (for example, gender studies) or “critical theory” because it is rooted in that postmodern brand of “theory” which arose in the late sixties. As a result of this work, we have come to call these fields “grievance studies” in shorthand because of their common goal of problematizing aspects of culture in minute detail in order to attempt diagnoses of power imbalances and oppression rooted in identity.

We undertook this project to study, understand, and expose the reality of grievance studies, which is corrupting academic research. Because open, good-faith conversation around topics of identity such as gender, race, and sexuality (and the scholarship that works with them) is nearly impossible, our aim has been to reboot these conversations. We hope this will give people—especially those who believe in liberalism, progress, modernity, open inquiry, and social justice—a clear reason to look at the identitarian madness coming out of the academic and activist left and say, “No, I will not go along with that. You do not speak for me.”

This document is a first look at our project and an initial attempt to grapple with what we’re learning and what it means. Because of its length and detail, it is organized as follows, putting the factual information up front and more detailed explanations thereafter.

Looking for higher achievement in Milwaukee schools? Go where the arts are offered

Alan Borsuk:

Involvement in music or drama or similar activities, either during the school day or after school, is a big plus in the high school careers of many students. The Reagan choir is a good example of how such groups can be creative, fun and demanding. Participation expands students’ talents, increases self-esteem and requires rigorous commitment and close teamwork. It gets many students more connected to school as a whole.

But while the picture for such enrichment is good at Reagan and some other Milwaukee high schools, the picture overall for MPS is not good. And the arts scene at high schools strongly parallels the academic scene at those schools.

In short, the highest performing schools academically are also the ones with the most arts programs. And there are six high schools in MPS, all with low academic records, that have almost nothing to offer in performing arts.

My interest in this was piqued by an email I got last fall during the Shorewood High School controversy over whether to perform “To Kill a Mockingbird.” An MPS teacher wrote, “When I hear of this and all the ‘inequalities’ concerning MPS vs. suburban districts, the one thing that comes to my mind is, ‘what schools in MPS even have plays anymore?’ ”

Annual Open Letter to the People of Purdue from Mitch Daniels

Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr.:

Last year I ventured the hope that one of these letters might start by reporting a “placid, relaxed year” in higher education. Well, 2018 was not yet that kind of year, but it’s fair to say that some of the turmoil and difficulty of recent times did abate a bit.

Tuition across the sector continued to increase, but at an apparently slower pace. I say “apparent” because, especially in the private colleges, the practice of back-door discounting, raising the stated “sticker price” while simultaneously offering bigger and bigger financial aid to favored students, clouds the picture. Reported “net tuition,” which attempts to account for the discounting, climbed 2.8% at private schools, and 1.5% at public institutions. Of course, these are relatively small percentage increases on top of what have become astronomical price levels in so many cases.

Abridgements of free speech and academic integrity diminished somewhat, too. Reported serious incidents of speaker harassment or disinvitations fell from 36 to 9 in 2018, with none reaching the disgraceful level of recent events at Williams, Yale, or Berkeley. At the same time, it’s impossible to know how much of the amelioration is the result of hosts avoiding potentially challenging speakers in the first place. Encouragingly, the number of schools adopting what we refer to as the Chicago Principles, as Purdue did three years ago, rose to 54.

But any honest report on the sector must be on balance highly cautionary. The multiyear decline in enrollments continued, with total student population falling another 1.7%. The flattening pool of 18-year-olds is the primary driver, but it was joined in 2018 by a new factor, the slippage of international student applications.

Between 2017 and ’18, the number of new foreign students coming to study in the U.S., after many years of strong increases, dropped by 6.6%, following a 3.3% decline in the previous year. A growing list of colleges have been aggressively marketing to young people abroad as an offset to their eroding enrollments. In late 2018, our neighbors at the University of Illinois announced that they had taken out an insurance policy, at a premium cost of $424,000, against a loss of international students in future entering classes.

Some have suggested that a more restrictive posture toward immigration by the current national administration is a cause of this reversal, and that may well be a part of the change. But competition is ramping up elsewhere, in places like Australia and the Netherlands, not to mention the inception of new and expanded institutions in China and other sending countries. And all of these alternatives are substantially less expensive than coming to the U.S.

At Purdue, we had anticipated a possible diminution of the flow of international students, and it was one reason for a rebalancing of our enrollment goals which I will discuss later in this letter.

Commentary a review of Wisconsin’s K-12 redistributed taxpayer fund policies

Will
Flanders
:

The commission has some interesting ideas for encouraging district consolidation. Without a doubt, Wisconsin has far too many school districts for its size and population. Consider Florida and Wisconsin, two states of very similar land area but very different populations. Wisconsin has about 5.7 million people and 422 school districts. Florida has about 21 million people and 67 school districts—one per county.

The commission proposes incentivizing consolidation by providing additional per pupil funding on a short term basis for schools that enter grade sharing, and additional funding per pupil of $150 per student for consolidated districts. Because the cost savings from consolidation could be substantial, these seem like reasonable moves that ought to be encouraged.

Consolidation is not the answer for every area of the state—some areas are doubtless too remote for reasonable transportation times. But a substantial reduction in the number of school districts in the state ought to be encouraged.

The Blue Ribbon Commission has proposed some valid ideas, but do not go far enough if we truly want to transform education funding in Wisconsin. Nonetheless, their proposals can serve as welcome jumping off point for a school funding debate that needs to happen in our state.

Spending effectiveness…

‘Dear NIMBYs’ — An Open Letter From A Homeless Woman In LA

Jill Replogle:

Keanakay Scott cried when she read a story about a public meeting over a proposed emergency shelter and permanent housing for the homeless. One of the local homeowners who attended the meeting later told LAist that he thought authorities should build a “reservation” for homeless people “somewhere out in the desert.” Scott has been homeless for a decade. She said the story “broke” her.

“I went over to my supervisor crying, and I’m just like, ‘I’m a person. And what did I do for these people to hate me?'”

Scott decided to write an open letter to the people who are against housing the homeless in their neighborhoods. She sent us the letter and we decided to publish it because it’s a perspective we don’t often hear, and a voice too often absent from these debates.

Here is her letter, reprinted in full:

‘Hidden Figures’ NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson to release autobiography next year

Michael Schaub:

Katherine Johnson, the pioneering NASA mathematician and computer scientist whose work was integral to the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, will release an autobiography for young readers next year.

The 100-year-old Johnson, who was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson in the hit 2016 movie “Hidden Figures,” will tell her life story in “Reaching for the Moon,” a book for middle-grade readers, publisher Atheneum Books for Young Readers announced in a news release.

Johnson, a West Virginia native, was hired by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, the predecessor to NASA, in 1953. She worked as a “human computer,” or a mathematician who could perform complicated calculations manually.

The digital revolution isn’t over but has turned into something else

George Dyson:

Two things then happened. As computers proliferated, the humans providing instructions could no longer keep up with the insatiable appetite of the machines. Codes became self-replicating, and machines began supplying instructions to other machines. Vast fortunes were made by those who had a hand in this. A small number of people and companies who helped spawn self-replicating codes became some of the richest and most powerful individuals and organizations in the world.

Then something changed. There is now more code than ever, but it is increasingly difficult to find anyone who has their hands on the wheel. Individual agency is on the wane. Most of us, most of the time, are following instructions delivered to us by computers rather than the other way around. The digital revolution has come full circle and the next revolution, an analog revolution, has begun. None dare speak its name.

Childhood’s End was Arthur C. Clarke’s masterpiece, published in 1953, chronicling the arrival of benevolent Overlords who bring many of the same conveniences now delivered by the Keepers of the Internet to Earth. It does not end well.

“This year alone, LAUSD will spend $314 million on [retiree healthcare] benefits, which is the equivalent of more than $500 per pupil or $12,500 per teacher. Those costs are project to rise significantly over time.” –

Chad Aldeman:

Consider the graph below, using data from the Census Bureau’s Public Education Finances reports. From 2001 to 2016, LAUSD increased overall spending by 55.5 percent, but its spending on salaries and wages increased just 24.4 percent. Meanwhile, employee benefit costs soared 138 percent.

LAUSD is an extreme example, but this situation is playing out across the country. More and more of our nation’s education spending is going toward benefit costs, due to significant increases in pension and healthcare costs.

Another way to slice the same data is to look at the percentage of our education budgets that are being spent on the salaries and wages of teachers who work in instructional roles. Again, the national trend is not positive, and LAUSD is no exception. In 2001, L.A. devoted 44 percent of its budget to teacher salaries and wages; by 2016, that figure had fallen to 33.5 percent.

On Teacher Compensation (Madison Spent 25% of its budget on benefits in 2014-2015).

Will Half Of All Colleges Really Close In The Next Decade?

Michael Horn:

Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen consistently turns heads in higher education by predicting that 50% of colleges and universities will close or go bankrupt in the next decade. Christensen and I made a more measured prediction with more nuance in the New York Times in 2013: “a host of struggling colleges and universities—the bottom 25 percent of every tier, we predict—will disappear or merge in the next 10 to 15 years.”

Some higher education media have, in turn, used the predictions to lampoon the idea that disruptive innovation has a role to play in creating more affordable, accessible and convenient higher education options for people who would otherwise have no educational option.

But the truth of the matter is that disruptive innovation is only part of why Christensen originally made his prediction.

The prediction arose out of an observation that the business model of traditional colleges and universities was broken.

Many colleges and universities are increasingly unable to bring in enough revenue to cover their costs. Indeed, the average tuition discount rate was a whopping 49.9% for first-time, full-time freshmen in 2017–18, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers. That means that students are paying roughly only half of what colleges and universities say they charge. A tuition discount rate above 35% puts a college in a danger zone, particularly when it is heavily dependent on tuition. Many institutions have discount rates far above that now.

What makes this even worse is that the natural pressure in higher education is for costs to increase—thanks to the lack of economies of scale and the complexity of higher education operations.

Commentary on Redistributed Taxpayer Funds and the Madison School District (no mention of total spending or effectiveness)

Former Madison School Board Member Ed Hughes:

It turns out that this isn’t true. Explaining why gets a bit complicated, but here goes.

Mr. Hughes voted against the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School.

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

Madison Wisconsin High School Graduation Rates, College Readiness, and Student Learning.

Mr. Hughes curiously intervened in the recent Arbor Community School proposal.

”an emphasis on adult employment”.

Mr. Hughes, 2005::

This points up one of the frustrating aspects of trying to follow school issues in Madison: the recurring feeling that a quoted speaker – and it can be someone from the administration, or MTI, or the occasional school board member – believes that the audience for an assertion is composed entirely of idiots.

Los Angeles teachers set strike date, saying ‘enough is enough’ after negotiations fail

Sarah Favot:

On Tuesday, the district announced a third-party fact-finder recommended that the union accept the district’s offer of a 6 percent salary increase, with 3 percent retroactive to July 1, 2017 and 3 percent retroactive to July 1, 2018. Also on Tuesday, the California Public Employee Relations Board issued a complaint against UTLA for refusing to meet and negotiate in good faith.

Tensions rose between the district and the union Tuesday after L.A. Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner held his own news conference to release the fact-finding report and to announce the union had agreed to the 6 percent raise. Hours later UTLA issued a statement accusing Beutner of lying, saying there was no agreement on salary nor any other aspect of the contract.

The union has asked for a 6.5 percent salary increase retroactive to 2016.

Debt Worldwide Hits Record $184 Trillion, or $86,000 Per Person

Katia Dmitrieva:

Global debt hit a record $184 trillion last year, equivalent to more than $86,000 per person — more than double the average per-capita income.

Borrowing is led by the U.S., China, and Japan, the three biggest economies, the International Monetary Fund said Thursday, highlighting potential risks to global expansion given that their share of debt exceeds that of output. Overall, the amount of worldwide public and private debt is equal to about 225 percent of gross domestic product.

The IMF debt figure is $2 trillion higher than the fund’s previous estimate released in October, adding end-2017 data and several countries that had not previously reported updated numbers. The agency uses data for 190 countries dating back to the 1950s.

How tech baffled an elderly Congress

Avi Selk:

Zach Graves, who regularly commutes between Silicon Valley and D.C. for his work at a free-market tech advocacy group called the Lincoln Network, has been wincing through congressional tech hearings since long before the Google and Facebook spectacles became viral dark comedy.

“There’s lot of run-of-the-mill hearings where that’s about par for the course,” he said. “It’s clear from the kinds of questions they were asking they weren’t prepped properly.”

In particular he remembers the House Agriculture Committee’s attempt to take on cryptocurrency. Premised on the possibility that bitcoins might fall into the same regulatory category as soybeans and corn, July’s hearing opened with a panel of technologists trying to explain blockchain technology.

A CEO with purple-dyed hair made a particularly diligent effort to connect with the Congress members. “Email allows you to send a digital version of a birthday card to a grandchild instantly,” she wrote in her prepared statement. “Cryptocurrency like bitcoin gives you the ability to put the digital equivalent of $10 inside that card.”

But the generational chasm became apparent when the 74-year-old ranking Democrat, Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, took the microphone and announced, “Um. I don’t know where to start.” He explained that he was still uncomfortable with President Franklin Roosevelt’s decision to abolish the gold standard in 1933, and liked this new idea no better. “They’re just creating this money out of nowhere!” he said.

“The problem you’re having is you DON’T UNDERSTAND TECHNOLOGY YOU 8-track listening fools,” countered one of several hundred cryptocurrency enthusiasts watching the proceedings live on YouTube.

There is a counterargument to this criticism, which issues from the offices of the lawmakers themselves. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R.-Utah, who left office Thursday at age 84, was pilloried during April’s Facebook hearings for asking Zuckerberg: “How do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?”

This is a chart about the world through the eyes of the US.

Russell Goldenberg:

There is always that one country on our collective conscious, and I wanted to know how that has changed over time. So I turned to the newspaper, since headlines have long been the catalyst for daily conversations about what is going on in the world. Most of that content is still preserved thanks to the New York Times archive. After looking at 741,576 section front headlines, I found out which countries around the world have preoccupied Americans the most each month since 1900.

2019 Madison Mayoral Election: Ongoing Disastrous K-12 Reading Result Indifference?

Dean Mosiman:

The candidates are focusing on racial and economic inequities and the need for more low-cost housing despite a Soglin initiative supported by the City Council that’s delivered 1,000 lower-cost units. And they are talking about education, health care, transportation, public safety and climate change, especially in the wake of severe flooding that punished the city in the late summer.

The next mayor will also guide major projects such as Judge Doyle Square, the Madison Public Market, and whatever emerges as the next big thing.

All of the ideas and positions, however, will be weighed in the context of maintaining or improving basic services, state levy limits and holding the line on property taxes.

Today, the State Journal offers an introduction to the candidates who will be on the primary ballot to lead the state’s capital city into the next decade.

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

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

Madison Wisconsin High School Graduation Rates, College Readiness, and Student Learning.

‘Alternative’ at Madison’s Shabazz City High also means whiter, more affluent

Chris Rickert:

In June, after she’d lost her bid for a second term on the board, Moffit emailed district general counsel Matthew Bell and executive director of student services John Harper a copy of a letter sent to a prospective Shabazz student letting the student’s family know that the student hadn’t met the criteria for getting into Shabazz. She said it’s not the same student as the one whose family filed the formal complaint.

“I am surprised that this is legal, since Shabazz is a public school,” Moffit wrote Bell on June 6. “Are you aware that their Principal is sending out this information?”

Moffit never received a response.

DPI data show the percentage of students with disabilities at Shabazz last year, about 19 percent, was higher than in the district as a whole (about 14 percent). Twenty-four percent of students at Capital High, however, had disabilities.

Fralin said he’s hoping changes to Shabazz’s eligibility requirements will be in place by the start of the next school year.K-12 school districts.

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

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 school districts.

The man turning China into a quantum superpower

Martin Giles:

On September 29, 2017, a Chinese satellite known as Micius made possible an unhackable videoconference between Vienna and Beijing, two cities half a world apart. As it whisked across the night sky at 18,000 miles (29,000 kilometers) per hour, the satellite beamed down a small data packet to a ground station in Xinglong, a couple of hours’ drive to the northeast of Beijing. Less than an hour later, the satellite passed over Austria and dispatched another data packet to a station near the city of Graz.

The packets were encryption keys for securing data transmissions. What made this event so special was that the keys distributed by the satellite were encoded in photons in a delicate quantum state. Any attempt to intercept them would have collapsed that state, destroying the information and signaling the presence of a hacker. This means they were far more secure than keys sent as classical bits—a stream of electrical or optical pulses representing 1s and 0s that can be read and copied.

Germany’s Leading Magazine Published Falsehoods About American Life

James Kirchick:

The word spiegel means “mirror” in German, and since its postwar founding, Der Spiegel has proudly held a mirror up to the world. When the magazine published top-secret information about the dire state of West Germany’s armed forces in 1962, the government accused it of treason, raided its offices, and arrested its editors. The resulting “Spiegel affair” led to mass demonstrations against police-state tactics and established an important precedent for press freedom in the young democracy. Throughout its history, the newsweekly has helped set the national agenda, like Time in its heyday.

Over the past weeks, however, the name of the magazine has assumed a new relevance. Der Spiegel has cracked, and revealed ugliness within the publication as well as German society more broadly.

On December 19, the magazine announced that the star reporter Claas Relotius had fabricated information “on a grand scale” in more than a dozen articles. Relotius has been portrayed as a sort of Teutonic Stephen Glass, the 1990s New Republic fabulist. “I’m sick and I need to get help,” Relotius told his editor. While that may very well be the case, his downfall is about more than just one writer with a mental-health problem.

A motif of Relotius’s work is America’s supposed brutality. In one story, he told the macabre tale of a woman who travels across the country volunteering to witness executions. In another, he related the tragic experience of a Yemeni man wrongly imprisoned by the United States military at Guantánamo Bay, where he was held in solitary confinement and tortured for 14 years. (The song that American soldiers turned on full blast and pumped into the poor soul’s cell? Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.”) Both stories were complete fabrications.

Routing Around Madison’s Non-Diverse K-12 Governance Model

Chris Rickert:

In March 2016, Cheatham said that it was her intent to make OEO “obsolete — that our schools will be serving students so well that there isn’t a need.”

Since then, the district has tried to keep tabs on any new charter proposals for Madison, going so far as to send former School Board member Ed Hughes to a September meeting of the Goodman Community Center board of directors to express the district’s opposition to another proposed charter school, Arbor Community School, which was looking to partner with the Goodman center.

Hughes gave the board a letter from Cheatham to UW System President Ray Cross that expressed the district’s dismay at allegedly being kept out of the loop on Arbor’s plans, pointed to alleged deficiencies in Arbor’s charter proposal, and asked that Arbor either be rejected or at least kept out of Madison.

Hughes also told the board that as a Goodman donor, he did not think other donors would look kindly on a Goodman partnership with Arbor.

Becky Steinhoff, Goodman executive director, later told the Wisconsin State Journal that Goodman was “experiencing a period of enormous change,” including the recent opening of a new building, and chose not to work with Arbor.

“I understand the climate and the polarizing topic of charters” in Madison, McCabe said, but he wasn’t concerned the district would attempt to thwart Milestone and he said it would “be a dream come true” if Milestone were one day folded into the district.

He said Community—Learning—Design has an application due to the state Feb. 22 for a federal planning grant.

Much more on our 2019 school board election:

Seat 3

Kaleem Caire, 7856 Wood Reed Drive, Madison

Cristiana Carusi, 5709 Bittersweet Place

Skylar Croy, 502 N. Frances St., Madison

Seat 4

David Blaska, 5213 Loruth Terrace, Madison

Laila Borokhim, 2214 Monroe St., Madison

Albert Bryan, 4302 Hillcrest Drive, Madison

Ali Muldrow, 1966 East Main St., Madison

Seat 5

TJ Mertz, 1210 Gilson St., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Sarah Manski and Ed Hughes “withdrew” from their respective races in recent elections. The timing, in both cases was unfortunate for voters, and other candidates.

Skylar Croy withdrawing from 2019 Madison School Board race, name will still appear on ballot

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Madison School Board candidate Skylar Croy said in an interview with the Cap Times Friday that he would suspend his campaign and withdraw from the Seat 3 race, citing personal reasons.

Because Croy turned in his verified nomination signatures on Wednesday to the city clerk’s office, the third-year University of Wisconsin law student’s name will still appear on the ballot during the Feb. 19 primary election.

“Once you turn in signatures and they’re all proper, you’re on the ballot and can’t withdraw,” Eric Christiansen, an official at the City Clerk’s office said. He noted that even if a candidate died after their nomination signatures were turned in, their name would still appear on the ballot.

Croy serves in the Army National Guard and worked as an engineer before entering law school. Croy, 26, told the Cap Times on Wednesday that he was excited to have a chance to bring a younger voice to the seven-seat School Board.

His parents worked in schools, which Croy said helped developed his interest in education issues.

Much more on our 2019 school board election:

Seat 3

Kaleem Caire, 7856 Wood Reed Drive, Madison

Cristiana Carusi, 5709 Bittersweet Place

Skylar Croy, 502 N. Frances St., Madison

Seat 4

David Blaska, 5213 Loruth Terrace, Madison

Laila Borokhim, 2214 Monroe St., Madison

Albert Bryan, 4302 Hillcrest Drive, Madison

Ali Muldrow, 1966 East Main St., Madison

Seat 5

TJ Mertz, 1210 Gilson St., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Sarah Manski and Ed Hughes “withdrew” from their respective races in recent elections. The timing, in both cases was unfortunate for voters, and other candidates.

University seminar teaches faculty not to judge ‘quality’ of writing when grading

Jeremiah Poff:

American University is hosting a seminar next month to teach faculty how to assess writing without judging its quality. In the seminar’s own words: “grading ain’t just grading.”

It’s led by Asao Inoue, a University of Washington-Tacoma professor, and the purpose is to pursue “antiracist ends” through writing assessments.

A national scholarly organization that preaches its “commitment” to academic excellence came out swinging against the seminar, telling The College Fix that Inoue’s ideas are “destroying the very idea that composition classes should teach all students to write well.”

In an email, National Association of Scholars spokesperson Chance Layton said Inoue is “substituting social justice ideologues’ bigotry for instruction in composition”:

It’s probably time to learn Chinese

Eric Meltzer:

For over a century, learning English has been one of the highest ROI things a non-English speaker could do. English went from being a language spoken by a few million people on an island to the the language of a world-spanning empire to a de-facto global language in a few centuries. I think, despite accusations of provincialism from polyglot Europeans, English is still by far the most useful language in the world and that being a monolingual English speaker isn’t the worst thing in the world. I say that as someone who loves learning languages; realistically, there are many interesting things to learn in the world and our time is pretty limited.

However, the benefits of learning Mandarin have grown a lot over the past two decades. We’re in a critical period where the demand for bilingual English/Mandarin speakers is extremely high from maturing Chinese institutions looking to go abroad, but the supply of those speakers remains relatively low. The world also seems to be moving from a unipolar America-led situation towards a bi-or-multipolar one where China assumes a lot more importance, so speaking Chinese is a good hedge in that sense.

Learning Mandarin has been one of the most rewarding I’ve ever done, up there with learning how to program.

Before I explain how to quickly learn Mandarin, here are a few explicit reasons why you may want to:

Indian technology talent is flocking to Canada

Economist:

The starting-point is pretty promising. Toronto already has expertise in artificial intelligence (AI) and an array of promising firms such as Wattpad, a storytelling platform with 65m readers. The city added more tech jobs in 2017 than the San Francisco Bay area, Seattle and Washington, DC, combined. Ottawa is home to Shopify, a publicly traded e-commerce platform valued at C$19bn ($14bn). Montreal, another AI hotbed, has Element AI, a lab co-founded by Yoshua Bengio, a specialist in deep learning—and newish labs opened by Facebook and Samsung.

Yet Canada is in the third tier of destinations globally, says a study on venture-capital investment, “The Rise of the Global Start-Up City”, co-authored by Richard Florida, an urbanologist. To move up, the government has tweaked both its permanent and temporary immigrant programmes. Applicants for permanent residence get extra points for tech skills. Temporary visa holders are told their spouses will be allowed to work. Justin Trudeau, the prime minister, often underlines that in multicultural Canada, diversity is welcomed. Publicly funded health care sometimes gets a mention. “All of this is designed to pivot Canada away from the nativist policies of Trump,” says Ravi Jain, a Toronto immigration lawyer who has many tech clients.

Such tactics seem to be working, especially with Indians, a mighty force in Silicon Valley, where they form the largest group of immigrant tech workers. Indians from America and elsewhere snapped up almost half of the new temporary visas (processing time: two weeks) that Canada began issuing in June 2017 at the behest of the tech industry. The number of Indian nationals taking the slightly longer route to permanent residency surged between 2016 and 2017—up by 83% for those who entered under a federal skills programme, up by 122% for those selected by provinces to fill specific vacancies, and up by a whopping 538% for those who entered based on work experience. “I can clearly see the reason why people are shifting to us,” says Allen Lau, the chief executive of Wattpad. “The US is becoming less friendly.”

What We Learned From a Year of Americans ‘Risking It’ Without Insurance

John Tozzi:

For many Americans, 2018 was the year that health care reached a breaking point.

Insurance was still too expensive to buy. It didn’t cover nearly enough. And as the country’s politics festered, the government once again failed to solve the insurance conundrum, even as a large majority of Americans who flocked to voting booths said health care was their top concern.

My colleagues and I spent much of this year talking to people who had weighed the health benefits against the financial burden of purchasing insurance. Most decided to risk it, betting that going without made more sense than paying for coverage.

Max Planck Society discontinues agreement with Elsevier; stands firm with Projekt DEAL negotiations

Max Planck:

The President and scientific council members of the Max Planck Society (MPS), one of the world’s largest research performing organizations, counting 14,000 scientists who publish 12K new research articles a year—around 1500 of which in Elsevier journals, have mandated the Max Planck Digital Library to discontinue their Elsevier subscription when the current agreement expires on December 31, 2018. With this move the Society joins nearly 200 universities and research institutions in Germany who have already cancelled their individual agreements with Elsevier in the course of 2016 and 2017 and affirmed their support of the national licensing framework Projekt DEAL, led by the German Rector’s Conference.

In response to the untenably increasing cost of access to scholarly journals and, more importantly, the stifling effect of the antiquated paywall system on the research process, Projekt DEAL was established to negotiate nationwide transformative agreements as a means to transition from the current subscription system to one based on open access publishing models that enable complete and immediate access to the latest research for scholars and citizens alike, free of cost or other barriers. “DEAL is fully in line with the objectives of the OA2020 Initiative, which is strongly supported by the Max Planck Society,’ emphasized MPS President Martin Stratmann.

The transformative agreement that the DEAL negotiators propose to the major academic publishers is a “publish and read” model covering open access publication of all scholarly articles by authors affiliated with German institutions and, at the same time, grant reading access for German institutions to the publisher’s entire portfolio of electronic journals still behind paywalls.

“Perhaps the real pipeline is that the Madison School District is unable to teach too many students of color basic reading skills”

Merrilee Pickett:

I attended a Madison City Council police oversight committee meeting and was surprised that I was one of only a handful of citizens in attendance. The others in attendance were the usual people who are quoted in the local media, and who evidently have great influence over members of the City Council.

Was the poor attendance because of the location or the time of the meetings? Are Madison residents apathetic about police issues? Or is it because the majority of residents (black, white, brown and members of the LGBT community) think the Madison Police Department is run well and well-staffed? Are they generally very supportive of a fine police department?

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

Civics: Is the Virginia Education Association Running Its Own “Wildcat” Group?

Mike Antonucci:

The Virginia Educators United web site states the group is a grassroots organization and “Our structure does not report to other organizations.”

That may be true, but VEU has enough links to VEA to make you wonder whether it matters who’s reporting to whom.

The one-day “strike” just happens to coincide with VEA’s lobby day at the state Capitol. VEA doesn’t mention anything about VEU, and VEU doesn’t mention anything about VEA, which is odd since they must have coordinated the date. Plus the VEU march ends at the Capitol just as the VEA rally is set to begin.

It bears mentioning that VEU says nothing about a strike or a walkout, and VEA advises members to “secure leave” for the event.

Some digging turned up four people who are deeply involved in running VEU. At least three of them are office-holders in a VEA affiliate. At least one of them recruits members for a VEA local.

Oh, and the January 28 rally ends with an open house at VEA headquarters.

2019 Madison School Board Candidates; Competitive Races!

Seat 3

Kaleem Caire, 7856 Wood Reed Drive, Madison

Cristiana Carusi, 5709 Bittersweet Place

Skylar Croy, 502 N. Frances St., Madison

Seat 4

David Blaska, 5213 Loruth Terrace, Madison

Laila Borokhim, 2214 Monroe St., Madison

Albert Bryan, 4302 Hillcrest Drive, Madison

Ali Muldrow, 1966 East Main St., Madison

Seat 5

TJ Mertz, 1210 Gilson St., Madison

Ananda Mirilli, 1027 S. Sunnyvale Lane Unit A, Madison

Amos Roe, 5705 Crabapple Lane, Madison

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

A majority of the Madison School Board rejected the proposed Madison Preparatory IB Charter School (2011).

Madison has long tolerated disastrous reading results, despite spending far more than most taxpayer supported K-12 School Districts.

Compare Madison, WI high school graduation rates and academic achievement data.

The Madison School District’s “Strategic Framework”.

2005: When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before:

On November 7, Superintendent Art Rainwater made his annual report to the Board of Education on progress toward meeting the district’s student achievement goal in reading. As he did last fall, the superintendent made some interesting claims about the district’s success in closing the academic achievement gap “based on race”.

According to Mr. Rainwater, the place to look for evidence of a closing achievement gap is the comparison of the percentage of African American third graders who score at the lowest level of performance on statewide tests and the percentage of other racial groups scoring at that level. He says that, after accounting for income differences, there is no gap associated with race at the lowest level of achievement in reading. He made the same claim last year, telling the Wisconsin State Journal on September 24, 2004, “for those kids for whom an ability to read would prevent them from being successful, we’ve reduced that percentage very substantially, and basically, for all practical purposes, closed the gap”. Last Monday, he stated that the gap between percentages scoring at the lowest level “is the original gap” that the board set out to close.

Unfortunately, that is not the achievement gap that the board aimed to close.

2006: “They’re all Rich White Kids, and they’ll do just fine, NOT!”

2009: An emphasis on adult employment.

2013: What will be different, this time?

Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham, 2015:

Shortly after the office was proposed, Cheatham said non-district-authorized charter schools have “no consistent record of improving education for children, but they do drain resources from public schools, without any control in our local community or school board.”

Rather than invest in what we know works in education, this proposal puts resources in strategies with mixed results at the expense of our public school students,” she said in May 2015

2013: What will be different, this time?

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, lead by Governor Elect, Tony Evers, has waived Massachusetts’ style elementary teacher content knowledge requirements for thousands of teachers.

China Thwarts U.S. Effort to Promote American Culture on Campuses

Jane Erlez and Luz Ding:

The American ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, wanted to make what in most nations would have been a routine trip.

One of his favorite schools, Iowa State University, had opened a center to promote American culture in an inland Chinese province, and the laid-back former governor of Iowa was eager to take questions from Chinese students.

The center’s program, largely financed by the State Department, was deliberately benign so as not to offend Chinese government sensibilities. Politics was off the agenda. English lessons focused on fashion, music and sports. An essay-writing contest was called “Bald Eagle & Panda” after well-known fauna in both countries.

But Henan Normal University, a campus set on the Yellow River with a prominent statue of Mao Zedong out front, denied Mr. Branstad permission to visit the center this fall — and offered no explanation.

Madison La Follette High School principal Sean Storch set to step down at end of school year

Negassi Tesfamichael:

Storch, who previously attended and served as a teacher at La Follette prior to becoming a principal, said he would continue to work for the Madison School District at the district level.

Storch’s decision to leave La Follette follows what has been a rocky year for the high school. In early November, MMSD placed its executive director for curriculum and instruction, Marcey Sorensen, on a special assignment at the school, where she is set to serve until June 30.

Sorensen was placed at La Follette to help reinforce the leadership team, according to the November announcement from MMSD officials.

The added administrator came after feedback from parents in October called on school officials to find proactive approaches to deal with ongoing climate and behavioral issues, which escalated after several gun-related incidents early in the school year.

A 16-year-old boy was accidentally shot in the leg by another student on a Madison Metro bus near the school on Sept. 19. Just a week later, a teen was shot several blocks away from the school.

After approval from the Madison School Board in November, the district is set to install electronic locks on classroom doors at La Follette before rolling out upgraded classroom locks at Madison East, West and Memorial high schools by the start of next school year.

Much more on Madison LaFollette High School, here.

Civics: Security flaws threaten our privacy and bank accounts. So why aren’t we fixing them?

Cooper Quintin:

America’s cellular network is as vital to society as the highway system and power grids. Vulnerabilities in the mobile phone infrastructure threaten not only personal privacy and security, but also the country’s. According to intelligence reports, spies are eavesdropping on President Trump’s cellphone conversations and using fake cellular towers in Washington to intercept phone calls. Cellular communication infrastructure, the system at the heart of modern communication, commerce and governance, is woefully insecure. And we are doing nothing to fix it.

This should be at the top of our cybersecurity agenda, yet policymakers and industry leaders have been nearly silent on the issue. While government officials are looking the other way, an increasing number of companies are selling products that allow buyers to take advantage of these vulnerabilities.

Spying tools, which are becoming increasingly affordable, include cell-site simulators (commonly known by the brand name Stingray), which trick cellphones into connecting with them without the cellphone owners’ knowledge. Sophisticated programs can exploit vulnerabilities in the backbone of the global telephone system (known as Signaling System 7, or SS7) to track mobile users, intercept calls and text messages, and disrupt mobile communications.

These attacks have real financial consequences. In 2017, for example, criminals took advantage of SS7 weaknesses to carry out financial fraud by redirecting and intercepting text messages containing one-time passwords for bank customers in Germany. The criminals then used the passwords to steal money from the victims’ accounts.

Civics: China’s Bizarre Program to Keep Activists in Check

Jianying Zha:

Recently, the Beijing police took my brother sightseeing again. Nine days, two guards, chauffeured tours through a national park that’s a World Heritage site, visits to Taoist temples and to the Three Gorges, expenses fully covered, all courtesy of the Ministry of Public Security. The point was to get him out of town during the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, held in early September. The capital had to be in a state of perfect order; no trace of trouble was permissible. And Zha Jianguo, a veteran democracy activist, is considered a professional troublemaker.

While President Xi Jinping played host to African dignitaries in the Great Hall of the People, the police played host to my big brother at various scenic spots in the province of Hubei, about a thousand kilometres away. A number of other Beijing activists and civil-rights lawyers, including several whom Jianguo knows well, were treated to similar trips. Pu Zhiqiang headed for Sichuan, Hu Jia to the port city of Tianjin, He Depu to the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, and Zhang Baocheng to Sanya, a beach resort on Hainan Island. Kept busy in the midst of natural beauty and attended to closely, they had no chance to speak to members of the foreign media or post provocative remarks online.

This practice is known as bei lüyou, “to be touristed.” The term is one of those sly inventions favored by Chinese netizens: whenever law enforcement frames people, or otherwise conscripts them into an activity, the prefix bei is used to indicate the passive tense. Hence: bei loushui (to be tax-evaded), bei zisha (to be suicided), bei piaochang (to be johned), and so on. In the past few years, the bei list has been growing longer, the acts more imaginative and colorful. “To be touristed” is no doubt the most appealing of these scenarios, and it is available only to a select number of troublemakers. In Beijing, perhaps dozens of people a year are whisked off on these exotic trips, typically diehard dissidents who have served time and are on the radar of Western human-rights organizations and media outlets. Outside the capital, the list includes not just activists but also petitioners (fangmin)—ordinary people from rural villages or small towns who travel to voice their grievances to high government officials about local malfeasances they have suffered from.

Teachers Quit Jobs at Highest Rate on Record

Michelle Hackman and Eric Morath:

Teachers and other public education employees, such as community-college faculty, school psychologists and janitors, are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate on record, government data shows.

A tight labor market with historically low unemployment has encouraged Americans in a variety of occupations to quit their jobs at elevated rates, with the expectation they can find something better. But quitting among public educators stands out because the field is one where stability is viewed as a key perk and longevity often rewarded.

The educators may be finding new jobs at other schools, or leaving education altogether: The departures come alongside protests this year in six states where teachers in some cases shut down schools over tight budgets, small raises and poor conditions.

How Apps on Android Share Data with Facebook

Privacy international:

Previous research has shown how 42.55 percent of free apps on the Google Play store could share data with Facebook, making Facebook the second most prevalent third-party tracker after Google’s parent company Alphabet. In this report, Privacy International illustrates what this data sharing looks like in practice, particularly for people who do not have a Facebook account.

This question of whether Facebook gathers information about users who are not signed in or do not have an account was raised in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal by lawmakers in hearings in the United States and in Europe. Discussions, as well as previous fines by Data Protection Authorities about the tracking of non-users, however, often focus on the tracking that happens on websites. Much less is known about the data that the company receives from apps. For these reasons, in this report we raise questions about transparency and use of app data that we consider timely and important.

Facebook routinely tracks users, non-users and logged-out users outside its platform through Facebook Business Tools. App developers share data with Facebook through the Facebook Software Development Kit (SDK), a set of software development tools that help developers build apps for a specific operating system. Using the free and open source software tool called “mitmproxy”, an interactive HTTPS proxy, Privacy International has analyzed the data that 34 apps on Android, each with an install base from 10 to 500 million, transmit to Facebook through the Facebook SDK.

All apps were tested between August and December 2018, with the last re-test happening between 3 and 11 of December 2018. The full documentation, including the exact date each app was tested, can be found at https://privacyinternational.org/appdata.

In America, we’ve deified “intelligence.”

Interview with Adam Robinson:

And the problem with “intelligence” is that it works against you. If you’re intelligent, you shouldn’t have to work too hard. Things should come pretty quickly, and if you aren’t intelligent, what’s the point? The better belief is that your success is determined by how hard you work. Then, it’s just a matter of choice. If you want something, work for it, and you will if you want it.

I think it’s important that parents let their children know, just to talk about parents for a sec, that learning is hard. You need to know that learning is hard. It’s not easy. Right? The reason you need to know it’s hard is that if you think it’s easy, as soon as you encounter difficulty, you’re going to think the problem is you. So you need to know it’s hard, going in.`

Mental Models I Find Repeatedly Useful

Gabriel Weinberg:

Around 2003 I came across Charlie Munger’s 1995 speech, The Psychology of Human Misjudgment, which introduced me to how behavioral economics can be applied in business and investing. More profoundly, though, it opened my mind to the power of seeking out and applying mental models across a wide array of disciplines.

A mental model is just a concept you can use to help try to explain things (e.g. Hanlon’s Razor — “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by carelessness.”). There are tens of thousands of mental models, and every discipline has their own set that you can learn through coursework, mentorship, or first-hand experience.

There is a much smaller set of concepts, however, that come up repeatedly in day-to-day decision making, problem solving, and truth seeking. As Munger says, “80 or 90 important models will carry about 90% of the freight in making you a worldly‑wise person.”

This post is my attempt to enumerate the mental models that are repeatedly useful to me. This set is clearly biased from my own experience and surely incomplete. I hope to continue to revise it as I remember and learn more.

The Coming Commodification of Life at Home

Joe Pinsker:

As internet-connected devices and appliances accumulate, one academic foresees “the monetization of every move you make.”

“Imagine this,” says an advertising consultant named Barry Lowenthal. “I’m a smart toaster, and I’m collecting data on how many times the toaster is used.”

I’ve just asked Lowenthal what he, as an advertiser, would be able to do with data transmitted from an internet-connected appliance, and I happened to mention a toaster. He thought through the possibility of an appliance that can detect what it’s being asked to brown: “If I’m toasting rye bread, a bagel company might be interested in knowing that, because they can re-target that household with bagel advertising because they already know it’s a household that eats bread, toasts bread, is open to carbs. Maybe they would also be open to bagels. And then they can probably cross that with credit-card data and know that this is a household that hasn’t bought bagels in the last year. I mean, it’s going to be amazing, from a targeting perspective.”

A year of staggering revelations is a reminder of how much Facebook has corrupted life online, with the effect of making the internet seem a little less bearable and a little less human

Brian Phillips:

What’s on your mind? Right now, as I’m writing this, The New York Times is breaking the news that Facebook, after a year of staggering revelations concerning everything from misuse of private data to enabling Russian election interference to knowingly providing inflated metrics publishers used to remake the media landscape, has been caught giving other big companies access to its users’ information outside the framework of its normal privacy rules. “Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent,” the Times reports. It gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read users’ private messages. It allowed Yahoo to view real-time feeds of friends’ posts, despite the fact it publicly claimed to have ended that kind of snooping years ago and despite the fact the feature in whose service Yahoo supposedly required this information had been discontinued in 2011.

What’s on your mind? I keep thinking that as bombshells go, this one has the distinction of being both outrageous and utterly unsurprising. When someone shows you who they are, believe them, as Oprah used to say. (Oprah might not be famous as a tech analyst, but she knows a thing or two about getting people to share their personal data.) Facebook has long since shown itself to be a conspiracy of moral ghouls harvesting human intimacy for ad dollars; as sickening as it is to imagine Netflix browsing your private messages, these new disclosures don’t change your basic understanding of the operation any more than, say, a snowstorm changes your understanding of December. But each new Silicon Valley betrayal has the effect of making the internet seem a little less bearable, a little less human.